Retail TouchPoints - Your Source For The Latest Retail News And Trends - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Tue, 26 May 2015 01:06:26 -0400 RTP en-gb Sales Down, But Sales Per Shopper Up For Physical Stores Sales Down, But Sales Per Shopper Up For Physical Stores

instoretrafficThe spring season has been one of mixed emotions for brick-and-mortar retailers. Merchants boosted year-over-year average transaction value (ATV) and sales per shopper (SPS), but lost sales and traffic numbers in March and April 2015.

In the two month span, sales and traffic rates respectively fell 5.2% and 9.4%, according to the Retail Performance Pulse from RetailNext. At the same time, ATV jumped 2.5%, SPS leapt 4.7% and conversion rates increased 0.7%.

{loadposition GIAA}“Consumers are being much more productive in the store,” said Shelley Kohan, VP of Retail Consulting at RetailNext. “They’re buying more per visit, and they’re converting higher than they have in the past. On the flip side, since the traffic is down, the sales naturally go down along with it. Retailers can make up for that traffic variance by converting higher and by selling more.”

The numbers do not necessarily signify a decline for brick-and-mortar. If anything, it represents an evolution in the relationship of the consumer and the retailer, and a change in the direction of purchasing habits. This puts the spotlight on the retailer to adapt their models to these consumer trends, according to Kohan.

“Retailers are now forced to look into the formats of their stores, which I actually think is a positive for the economy overall,” Kohan said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They’re closing the unproductive locations, and they’re putting more capital, dollars and effort into stores that are more profitable, and making those relevant to the shopper. You see this with Walmart playing around with their formats, going from 160,000 square foot stores to 20,000 square foot stores. Macy’s, which is traditionally a department store, has acquired Bluemercury and they are starting to play in the specialty store environment. The key for retailers is finding the most productive use of that physical retail space.”

April 25 garnered the highest sales and traffic of the month, whereas conversion rates and SPS were highest on May 1. Easter Sunday (April 5) was the lowest across all performance metrics, which is in line with historical performance. Excluding Easter, the lowest sales occurred on the April 20, while the lowest traffic and transactions occurred on the April 13.

The Northeast region of the U.S. encountered the steepest traffic and sales declines of the four major regions classified with respective regressions of 19.2% and 16.6%. Weather patterns and the placement of Easter Sunday and Spring Break are considered large factors for the declines, according to Kohan. While all four regions (Northeast, Midwest, West and South) experienced declines in traffic and sales, every region boosted its conversion rate, meaning more shoppers who enter the store are making purchases. All regions except the Midwest increased their ATV and SPS from the year before.

“I think we’re going to continue to see a positive trend on the KPI metrics, such as the conversions, the ATV and the SPS,” Kohan stated. “One of the biggest challenges that retailers face is the knowledge deficiency gap, which is the difference in knowledge that customers have walking into a store versus the sales associates on the floor. I think retailers are understanding that they have to fix that, and going into the summer, you’ll probably see a better, well-trained associate on the sales floor. You’re going to see a lot of effort put in — whether it’s training or technology — in the stores to make a better experience for the customer.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Store Operations Fri, 22 May 2015 13:06:05 -0400
Google Set To Launch ‘Buy’ Button For Mobile Search Google Set To Launch ‘Buy’ Button For Mobile Search

googlemobileGoogle will launch a ‘buy’ button next to products listed on its search result pages, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. The buttons will accompany sponsored search results, which Google displays under a “Shop on Google” heading at the top of a search results page.Buttons will not appear with the nonsponsored results driven by Google’s basic search algorithm.

Google spokespersons have not commented on the matter.

{loadposition GIAA}The buttons will first roll out on mobile devices in “coming weeks,” according to the report. Clicking on the buttons directs shoppers to another Google product page to complete the purchase. On that page, they can pick sizes, colors and shipping options, as well as complete the purchase.

Google’s retail partners sell the products directly. Although no partners have been confirmed, Macy’s has been in talks to take part in the program, according to the WSJ report.

The continued surge in mobile device usage spurred this venture into mobile commerce, and later e-Commerce. Jerry Dischler, VP of Product Management at Google, noted that Google searches on mobile devices now outnumber those on personal computers in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan.

Given the competitive atmosphere demonstrated between Google and e-Commerce giants Amazon and eBay, retailers have shown concern about Google’s entrance into the commerce space.

“Some retailers said they worry the move will turn Google from a valuable source of traffic into a marketplace where purchases happen on Google’s own websites,” the report stated. “The retailers, who wouldn't voice their concerns publicly, fear such a move will turn them into back-end order takers, weakening their relationships with shoppers.”

Google plans to alleviate these concerns by enabling consumers to opt into the same marketing programs that retailers would have shown had they made the purchase on the their own websites, allowing retailers to obtain customer contact information. In addition, Google is reportedly promising to brand the product pages where the consumers will go to make the purchase, with recommendations for further purchases only coming from that retailer.

The search engine’s plans to further leverage mobile do not appear to stop with the buy button. Earlier in May, Google revealed that mobile users could order food listed on search results via six food delivery provider partners — Seamless, Grubhub, Eat24,, BeyondMenu and

If a user searches for a restaurant offering delivery through one of those providers, an option for “place an order” will show up in its Google information. Users then receive links to delivery services and can finish the order directly on their sites. In the post, Google said it plans to add more providers in the future.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 22 May 2015 11:16:31 -0400
Rite Aid Introduces Wellness+ With Plenti Marketing Campaign Rite Aid Introduces Wellness+ With Plenti Marketing Campaign

plenti-cardRite Aid has launched an integrated marketing campaign designed to promote its wellness+ with Plenti loyalty program. The new loyalty offering combines the Rite Aid wellness+ program with Plenti, a coalition loyalty program.

Advertising agency MARC USA created the campaign, which is designed to show how Rite Aid consumers can benefit from the collaboration. The Plenti rewards program, which is spearheaded by American Express, launched May 4 and allows consumers to earn and redeem points from AT&T, Direct Energy, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, ExxonMobil, Hulu, Macy's, Nationwide and Rite Aid.

{loadposition GIAA}“Customer loyalty is such a critical business driver today,” said John Learish, SVP of Marketing at Rite Aid. “Wellness+ is already one of the most robust retail loyalty programs, so it was such a natural fit for Rite Aid to join Plenti and take our program to the next level. We also want to make sure Rite Aid customers know that in addition to earning Plenti points, which can be used for at least two years for savings at Rite Aid and certain Plenti partners, all the great benefits of wellness+ remain — including the ability to earn 20% off almost the entire store for a year.”

The campaign features a 30-second TV spot explaining the wellness+ with Plenti program, which follows a shopper eagerly offering to buy a cold remedy for her sick husband. Along the way, she visits several Plenti partners to purchase things she wants and needs. She ventures to Macy’s to purchase jeans, AT&T for headphones and ExxonMobil for fuel, before she arrives at Rite Aid — where she ultimately gets the cold medicine for free by redeeming her Plenti points.

“It’s quite unusual for a retail spot for one brand to feature other brands this way,” said Bryan Hadlock, Chief Creative Officer for MARC USA. “It’s proof of the tremendous collaboration and coordination within the Plenti coalition and really demonstrates the ease and simplicity of the customer experience.”

In addition to the TV spot running on major cable networks, there are two other 30-second advertisements running on network radio. Rite Aid also is leveraging direct mail campaigns, in-store signage, circular and multi-platform digital activation with six online videos, email, search, display, pre-roll and social media strategies, to drive awareness of the new offering.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 22 May 2015 11:03:00 -0400
Lumber Liquidators CEO Resigns Amid Toxic Flooring Allegations Lumber Liquidators CEO Resigns Amid Toxic Flooring Allegations

Lumber Liquidators CEO and President Robert Lynch has “unexpectedly” resigned from his position, according to a company statement. Although the retailer has started a national search for Lynch’s replacement, there is no set timetable for to find a replacement. Thomas D. Sullivan, Founder of Lumber Liquidators, will serve as the company’s acting CEO effective immediately.

In addition, John M. Presley, the lead independent Director at Lumber Liquidators, has been appointed as non-executive Chairman of the Board of Directors effective immediately.

{loadposition GIAA}Lumber Liquidators currently is under federal investigation over allegations stemming from a “60 Minutes” report aired in March 2015, which indicated that the retailer sold Chinese-made laminate flooring with toxic levels of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is probing the allegations.

Despite asserting that the “60 Minutes” report was inaccurate in a March SEC filing, Lumber Liquidators suspended sales of all laminate made in China and formed a special board committee this month to review suppliers across the country. The retailer hired former FBI director Louis Freeh to help with the investigation. Company spokespeople have not further commented on the allegations or the investigation.

On the heels of these allegations, Lumber Liquidators stock has taken a tremendous hit. The stock plunged 18% in premarket trading before opening May 21, and has tumbled 62% year-to-date, according to MarketWatch.

In reaction to the report, home improvement retailer Lowe’s has stopped selling a line of Chinese-made laminate flooring, according to Bloomberg.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Fri, 22 May 2015 06:18:24 -0400
Urban Outfitters Post Record Sales But Lags Behind Expectations Urban Outfitters Post Record Sales But Lags Behind Expectations

urbanoutfittersUrban Outfitters, posted record sales during Q1 2015, but it still fell short of Wall Street expectations for net income, sales and earnings per share. The retailer posted $0.25 in earnings per diluted share for the three months ended April 30, 2015, missing the $0.30 projection on sales of $757.6 million, according to Thomson Reuters.

Same store sales for the retailer’s Anthropologie, Free People and Urban Outfitters brands increased 4%, missing analysts’ expectations of 5.3%.

{loadposition GIAA}While the retailer experienced a 7.7% increase to $739 million in quarterly sales, net income dropped 13% to $32.78 million from $37.48 million in Q1 2014.

Expenses related to the Urban Outfitters e-Commerce business and the relocation of its South Carolina distribution center to a new facility in Pennsylvania were both major factors in dropping margins from 34.8% to 33.3% in 2015, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Richard A. Hayne, CEO of Urban Outfitters, remained positive in his outlook for the company.

“I am pleased to announce record first quarter sales and positive retail segment comparable net sales at each of our brands,” Hayne said. “I believe our retail segment comparable net sales growth is being driven by the success of our omnichannel strategy.”

During the quarter, the retailer opened seven new stores, which includes four Free People stores, two Anthropologie Group stores and one Urban Outfitters store. The company closed one Urban Outfitters store in the quarter.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Thu, 21 May 2015 10:34:40 -0400
Bezos Selects First Woman To Take On “Shadow” Advisor Role Bezos Selects First Woman To Take On “Shadow” Advisor Role

mariarenzAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos has named Maria Renz, CEO of Quidsi, as his newest technical advisor — or
“shadow,” as the position is often referred — according to a report from Re/code. Renz, an Amazon veteran who first joined the company in 1999, is the first woman to hold this position.

The position, which Bezos created more than a decade ago, serves as his sounding board on key decisions, sits with him during daily meetings and confers with him to close most workdays. It has been described as the most coveted job at Amazon, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. Shadows usually last approximately two years in their role, according to Business Insider. Bezos got the idea to implement the technical advisor position from venture capitalist John Doerr.

Previous shadows include Andy Jassy, now head of the company’s Amazon Web Services unit; Amit Agarwal, VP and Country Manager of Amazon India; Greg Hart, VP of Amazon Echo; Dilip Kumar, a VP at Amazon presently working on a closely guarded project; and Ian Freed, VP of Amazon Devices who oversaw marketing of the Fire Phone before taking a sabbatical.

The appointment of Renz to the position could influence the future executive structure of the company. Presently, Amazon has seven executive officers in addition to Jeff Bezos, but only one, Worldwide Controller Shelley Reynolds, is a woman.

Renz replaces Jay Marine, a former VP for Kindle, who is moving out of the shadow role to head the company’s Amazon Instant Video business in Europe. Renz has held numerous roles throughout her tenure at Amazon, including VP of Physical Media, VP of Amazon Canada, President of the MyHabit flash sales business and VP of Jewelry & Watches, Shoes and

Emilie Scott, who most recently served as VP of General Merchandising at Old Navy, will take Renz’s place as CEO of Quidsi.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Thu, 21 May 2015 12:18:29 -0400
Grotto Pizza Boosts Triples Loyalty Club Memberships With Paytronix Grotto Pizza Boosts Triples Loyalty Club Memberships With Paytronix

With successful loyalty programs in place, retailers and restaurants have the ability to boost engagement and sales, turning one-time buyers into loyal customers.

Grotto Pizza, a casual dining restaurant with 21 locations in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, has ramped up its loyalty efforts using the Paytronix Rewards Platform. Within a month of re-launching its Swirl Rewards Club program on Paytronix, overall membership tripled.

{loadposition GIAA}The Swirl Rewards Club program has a far reach among Grotto Pizza guests, with almost half (48%) of all customers serving as registered members. Of the guests signed up for the loyalty program, 86% have opted in to receive email updates and promotions. 

With its new loyalty program, Grotto Pizza gives consumers more ways to participate and collect their rewards. Loyalty club members can redeem rewards using a physical card, their registered phone number or the Grotto Pizza Rewards mobile app.

“With that app, we’re actually exploring opportunities for geo-fencing for when Swirl Rewards Club members get close to a Grotto Pizza,” said Vinnie DiNatale, Director of Marketing at Grotto Pizza. “We can just alert them with something as simple as reminding them they have a free junior birthday pizza on their account. If they walk close by a location at 2:30, we can send them a pop-up asking them to join our happy hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m..”

Grotto Pizza began its relationship with Paytronix two years ago when it first migrated the Swirl Rewards Club to the Paytronix Rewards Platform. The primary goals, according to Grotto Pizza executives, were to boost guest traffic during off-peak winter hours and increase traffic on weekday evenings.

“We have a lot of locations in the beach and resort areas, so we’re closer to being full in the summer season,” DiNatale explained in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “You don’t have to do as many discounts and promotions. In January, during the post-holiday period, traffic slows down and some of our stores are closed. So we asked ourselves: What we could do to generate more business? The low-hanging fruit was the big Grotto fan base that lives in these areas year round, and we targeted the promotion toward those best guests.”

To address these challenges, Grotto Pizza rolled out a “Winter Wednesday” promotion, which was designed to help increase off-season traffic. And with the “Winter Wednesday” promotion in place, Grotto Pizza was able to increase store traffic by 84%. The restaurant chain also experienced a 65% increase in loyalty guest spending, and checks for loyalty club members were 10% higher on average.

A Data-Driven Approach To Customer Loyalty

Prior to working with Paytronix, the loyalty program functioned independently from the restaurant’s gift card system and email database. The overall lack of integration between systems and inability to collect and respond to customer data made promotion planning extremely difficult. But with Paytronix, Grotto Pizza can ensure more seamless integration and, in turn, craft more data-driven offers and promotions.

“Working with Paytronix, we can take all three of those functions — email, gift cards and loyalty — and put them all under one umbrella,” DiNatale said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Now, we can collect data from loyalty members and use the email program through Paytronix to communicate with them, drive them to locations and spend more.”

Having access to this data enables DiNatale and the Grotto team to look at the rewards programs in a more analytical fashion, and encourages them to ask more questions about their customer profiles. Now, team members have a clearer understanding of customers’ average age, their location, the number of times they visit a location, and their average spend throughout the year.

“Those were just all unknown questions,” DiNatale explained. “We had a feel for our main demographic, but we didn’t know for sure. You could ask different managers and they would have different ideas. Some of the intuition was right, while some results ended up totally surprising us. There’s a lot of information there that we didn’t have before.”

Advanced features and capabilities within the Paytronix platform also have empowered Grotto Pizza to experiment with different rewards tactics. For example, during National Pizza Month (October), the restaurant chain implemented an Instant Wins program. During the promotion, every registered loyalty member that entered a restaurant had a special reward or coupon added to their account. Over the years, Grotto Pizza also has implemented birthday rewards, win back campaigns designed for infrequent guests and even rewards for donating to charitable causes.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Thu, 21 May 2015 10:00:00 -0400
Target To Roll Out RFID In All Stores Target To Roll Out RFID In All Stores

TargetstoreTarget will roll out RFID-enabled “smart labels” on price tags in an effort to improve inventory accuracy and visibility, as well as optimize in-store stock. Keri Jones, EVP of Global Supply Chain and Operations of Target, made the announcement in a company blog post.

The RFID rollout will start in a small number of stores towards the end of in 2015 and will then expand to all Target stores in 2016. The technology will be implemented across categories, including women’s, baby and kids’ apparel and home décor, according to the blog.

{loadposition GIAA}With increased inventory visibility, Target intends to better inform online shoppers about which stores have the items they’re seeking. Additionally, Jones expects that RFID will help the retailer better fulfill online orders placed for in-store pickup, which currently represent 15% of purchases.

“You probably wouldn’t notice these new RFID tags on your own, necessarily, but that’s the point,” Jones wrote in the blog. “This unobtrusive but significant technology will increase efficiencies by providing greater visibility into our inventory.”

Jones also announced that Target is a sponsor of the RFID Lab at Auburn University, which opened its facility on May 20. As part of the sponsorship, the RFID Lab will research additional ways RFID tags can enhance the shopping experience.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 21 May 2015 06:58:31 -0400
Digitally Empowered Brand Mavens Exert Purchasing Power Digitally Empowered Brand Mavens Exert Purchasing Power

Shadow CASH CS001 SURV Brand Maven Mar 2015The future of retail may lie in the power of a shopper group called Brand Mavens: digitally engaged, brand-loyal consumers who are looking for the ability to use one source for completing payments, accessing loyalty points and redeeming coupons and promotional offers.

Brand Mavens — the ultimate brand advocates — currently comprise approximately 53% of the buying population in the U.S., according to a recent consumer survey conducted by Retail TouchPoints and CashStar, in conjunction with the Texas A&M Center For Retailing Studies.

Brand Mavens are tapping what's called branded currency during their shopping journeys. Branded currency is a unified and seamless way to manage purchases across channels, devices and geographies. It could be in the form of a gift card integrated with payments, loyalty rewards, coupons and promotional offers.

The recent Brand Mavens survey focused specifically on the group's gifting habits as a reflection of their purchasing influence. Brand Mavens spend approximately $1,100 annually purchasing gift cards and $700 redeeming them. That total of $1,800 in direct purchasing power can be combined with Brand Mavens' indirect influence over others to purchase gift cards and support brands, resulting in significant total purchasing power.

Brand Mavens Are Pervasive, Omnichannel, Informed And Social

A variety of unique factors affect how, when and where Brand Mavens shop and influence others. Brand Mavens are:

  • Pervasive: They use gift cards most frequently at restaurants (86%), department stores/big box (73%) and apparel stores (64%).

  • Omnichannel: They visit stores (90%) and the e-Commerce site (79%) most frequently; as well as mobile (37%) and social (8%) channels.

  • Informed: Most (66%) collect product information before completing a purchase and 61% consult friends, family or co-workers during the shopping journey.

  • Social: Close to one third (28%) share feedback about shopping experiences via Twitter, Facebook, Google and other social channels.

To find out more about Brand Mavens and the recent consumer survey, fill out the for below to download a pdf of the full report.

]]> (Debbie Hauss) CRM / Loyalty Wed, 20 May 2015 03:12:40 -0400
How Physical Retailers Can Benefit From Partnering With Digital Businesses How Physical Retailers Can Benefit From Partnering With Digital Businesses

RR Interactions2 ImageUp to 90% of consumers prefer to look at products in-store, even if they ultimately complete their transactions online, according to a recent survey from A.T. Kearney. Additionally, the U.S. Commerce Department reports that 94% of sales still take place through traditional retail channels.

But the reality is: We’re living in an omnichannel world, and consumers enjoy learning about — and buying from — cutting-edge online-only retailers.

{loadposition GIAA}Rather than competing against each other, brick-and-mortar and digital retailers can converge to build profitable relationships. An article from the Retail News Insider newsletter, titled: Online Goes In-Store, uncovered how brick-and-mortar stores benefit from partnering with eTailers.

1. Get a boost to the bottom line: Brick-and-mortar retailers can charge partner retailers rent for the space they occupy in a store. For example, e-Commerce company BaubleBar has presence in more than 135 Anthropologie and Nordstrom locations, and Bonobos has mini stores in more than 100 Nordstrom and Belk locations.

2. Gain expertise in new areas: Retailers can leverage these partnerships to learn more about e-Commerce best practices that many pureplays have already acquired. Improving the digital experience creates yet another opportunity to improve customer engagement, loyalty and overall sales.

3. Expand specialty offerings and capture new audiences: By featuring an online-only retail partner in stores, brick-and-mortar retailers can take more chances, break into different markets and acquire new customers. Items that a retailer may consider too risky to add to its inventory may be more desirable once they sell in stores.

4. Offer great convenience and value: A partnership between two different retailers can create a new value proposition for the consumer, in that they will have the chance to end up with multiple brand products in their shopping cart. The report pointed to two UK retailers, Sainsbury and Argos, as an example of a successful partnership that offered exceptional value to consumers. In this case, consumers grocery shopping at Sainsbury stores can then visit an in-store Argos shop to purchase a complementary barbecue grill, cake pan or knives set.

Click here to access the piece.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Omnichannel / Cross-Channel Strategies Tue, 19 May 2015 06:00:00 -0400