Latest Retail News - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Sat, 18 Aug 2018 06:06:06 -0400 RTP en-gb Wayfair Adds Professional Designer Service To Platform Wayfair Adds Professional Designer Service To Platform

Wayfair has launched an e-design platform called Design Services, which allows shoppers to interact with interior designers with both online and phone collaboration.

The personalized process begins with a style survey about the customer’s preferences and goals, followed by the choice of a designer to work with. The shopper and designer work together throughout the process to review concepts and room designs, then create a shopping list.

The service comes in two tiers: the Lite Package has 30 minutes of phone time, while the Classic Package includes 60 minutes of phone time, a 2D design rendering and a custom floor plan. Both tiers offer unlimited online messaging with the designer and a customized shopping list, among other features.

Wayfair also has enhanced its home improvement offerings through the introduction of an alternate reality (AR) feature on Android devices. The software lets shoppers move virtual items around the screen to determine how they would fit and look in a given room.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Fri, 17 Aug 2018 13:01:46 -0400
Nordstrom Digital Sales Rise 23% In Q2, Now Accounting For 34% Of All Sales Nordstrom Digital Sales Rise 23% In Q2, Now Accounting For 34% Of All Sales

Digital sales led a strong quarter at Nordstrom, rising 23% in Q2 2018, up from a 20% increase in Q2 2017. Digital sales now account for 34% of all sales at the retailer, up from 29% a year ago. Other highlights of the financial results include:

  • Comparable sales increased 4.1% at full-price locations, such as Nordstrom and Trunk Club;
  • Comparable sales at off-price locations, including Nordstrom Rack, were up 4%;
  • Net revenue was $4.1 billion, up 7.1%; and
  • Fiscal 2018 adjusted earnings per share (EPS) reached $3.50 to $3.65.

The retailer’s loyalty program was part of the growth: Nordstrom Rewards shoppers represented 58% of all sales during the quarter, up from 56% in 2017. The company’s anniversary sale was also a success, with the first day’s digital demand surpassing the previous record by 80%.

The good quarter was a reversal of Q1 2018, when disappointing results resulted in a 10% stock price dip. The retailer also was coming off a failed bid to be taken private by members of its founding family.

Nordstrom continues to reinvent itself through new initiatives, including plans to open nine Casper mattress stores-within-a-store. The retailer’s digital initiatives include the acquisition of two tech startups: BevyUp, a platform that helps sales associates communicate with each other, and MessageYes, a solution that enables retailers and brands to text their customers and ultimately, let them make purchases from their phones.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Fri, 17 Aug 2018 11:58:05 -0400
With $100 Million In Net Losses, Is It Time For JCPenney To Panic? With $100 Million In Net Losses, Is It Time For JCPenney To Panic?

JCPenney slashed its full-year outlook for 2018 after the department store experienced significant net losses and poor revenue growth in Q2, again raising questions of whether the company will ever be able to bounce back. The company saw Q2 net losses of $101 million, doubling its loss of $48 million the year prior, with net sales decreasing 7.5%, from $2.99 billion down to $2.76 million, and a comparable sales lift of only 0.3%.

The department store downgraded its 2018 guidance from an initial range of expectedlosses between $0.07 to $0.13 per share all the way down to expected losses between $0.80 to $1.00 per share. Wall Street reacted to the earnings report accordingly, with shares plunging more than 25% after the market opened on Aug. 16. The retailer’s stock price dipped below $2.00 per share for the first time ever.

JCPenney said in the report that it now had just $182 million in cash left, a more than 40% drop from a year ago. Although the retailer has $2.2 billion in total liquidity, it also reported having nearly $4 billion in long-term debt.

Department store rival Macy’s is slowly engineering a turnaround of its own, in large part with disciplined inventory management. JCPenney has had opposite results on this front and hasn’t figured out how to curb these losses. Inventory buildup at JCPenney is outpacing sales due to prior purchase commitments, the department store’s CFO Jeffrey Davis revealed in a statement. In other words, the company has a lot of unsold goods within its stores and has to rely on markdowns to try and move the merchandise.

“It is not enough simply to buy less,” wrote Neil Saunders, Managing Director of GlobalData Retail in a research note. “JCPenney needs to have a clear view of who it is buying for and then relentlessly focus on producing a well-targeted range that is differentiated and inspiring. In our view, JCPenney is a long way from getting this right. As such, even with modest improvements, the results from fashion are unlikely to improve significantly over the balance of this year.”

In the midst of this chaos, the company still is searching for its next CEO — three months after former chief exec Marvin Ellison departed to head up Lowe’s. There hasn’t been much news about who the next CEO may be, but JCPenney Chairman Ronald Tysoe said that the Board has “met with highly qualified candidates” and that hiring the next chief exec is the brand’s “top priority.”

JCPenney has tried to reinvent itself in recent years via partnerships with companies such as Sephora and Fanatics as part of its pivoted focus to beauty products and stores-within-stores, and will launch expanded baby shops within 500 stores starting Aug. 30. Additionally, since the beginning of 2017 the company has closed 140+ stores and laid off more than 5,000 employees to cut costs. Yet despite these massive changes, nothing appears to have given JCPenney the consistent boost necessary to get the retailer back on its feet.

The company’s top performing divisions during Q2 included children's, jewelry, Sephora, women's apparel and salon products, so there are a handful of categories to work with. But if neither the inventory issues nor the identity crises plaguing the retailer are figured out, JCPenney is going to have a hard time returning to profitability.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 16 Aug 2018 14:59:24 -0400
Walmart Same-Store Sales Up 4.5% in Q2, Marking Strongest Growth In 10 Years Walmart Same-Store Sales Up 4.5% in Q2, Marking Strongest Growth In 10 Years

Walmart experienced its most robust same-store sales growth in a decade during fiscal Q2 2019, led by the strong performance of grocery, apparel and seasonal items. Highlights of the results include:

  • Comparable sales at stores open for at least 12 months increased 4.5%, supported by traffic and ticket growth each exceeded 2%;
  • Sam’s Club comparable sales grew 5%, the biggest increase in six years;
  • Net revenue of $128 billion, up 3.8%;
  • E-Commerce sales grew approximately 40%; and
  • Fiscal 2019 adjusted earnings per share (EPS) reached $4.90 to $5.05 expected, excluding Flipkart.

The retail titan’s e-Commerce growth was partially driven by its expanded online assortment, which included the introduction of 1,100 new brands. Walmart is currently in discussions to add even more brands to the site, and is on track to provide grocery delivery to 40% of the U.S. population by the end of 2018.

Walmart has been making other substantial changes to its e-Commerce experience as well. The retailer:

Partnerships with technology firms have helped Walmart further enhance its online presence. The company recently signed on with Microsoft to work on cloud and AI innovations, and joined forces with to invest $500 million in Dada-JD Daojia, a Chinese grocery delivery company. Walmart ended its grocery delivery relationships with Uber and Lyft, but now offers the service in Japan through Rakuten.

“We continue to partner in the areas where it makes sense,” said CEO Doug McMillon in a statement. “The recent announcement with Microsoft is related to our ongoing digital transformation. Our ongoing relationships with Google, Rakuten and are productive and we enjoy building win/win collaborations to serve customers more effectively.”

Overall net sales at Walmart International were $29.5 billion, an increase of 4% for the quarter. Sales from outside the U.S. currently account for 24% of all revenue, according to Moody’s. International revenue has been growing approximately 3% annually.

The realignment of the international business has included Walmart’s acquisition of Flipkart and the sale of majority stakes in British subsidiary Asda and Walmart Brazil. Taken together, these moves prepare Walmart to tap the explosive online growth expected in India, giving it an advantage over Amazon, according to Moody’s.

“The strategic shift will be expensive, at least initially,” said Moody’s in a research note. “Walmart is taking a $4.5 billion charge to exit Brazil, and is paying $15 billion for the unprofitable Flipkart. But these major moves, which vastly reduce its presence in two significant markets — and going 'all-in' in India — show that Walmart is not wedded to assets that don’t fit with its growth strategy.”

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Thu, 16 Aug 2018 12:33:45 -0400
eBay ‘Retail Revival’ Brings Akron Entrepreneurs To New York City eBay ‘Retail Revival’ Brings Akron Entrepreneurs To New York City

eBay is giving SMBs from Akron, Ohio an opportunity to display and sell their products on a much bigger stage.

The e-Commerce giant sent 17 SMBs to set up shop in The New Stand, a retail concept store in New York City with locations in Brookfield Place and the Union Square subway station, to bring shoppers a new collection of original items from Akron. The products will remain on sale at Brookfield Place through Aug. 24.

Earlier this year, the city of Akron and eBay piloted Retail Revival, a mentorship program designed to support the growth of more than 100 of the city’s local businesses by providing its entrepreneurs with the tools and resources to keep their businesses running online.

"We're bringing the best of Akron's entrepreneurs and artisans to New York City to help them expand their reach to new audiences," said Chris Librie, Head of Global Impact at eBay in a statement. "Through the power of eBay's platform and shoppers in New York and beyond, we're committed to making a positive impact on the growth of local retailers and their communities."

For shoppers who can’t make it to either of the locations, eBay is offering a “Taste of Akron” — limited edition boxes that include fair-trade coffee beans, hand-drawn cards, sustainable fruit snacks, augmented reality (AR) gaming devices, and an all-natural beeswax moisturizer, all of which are produced by companies in Akron. The limited-edition boxes, which retail for $35, will be given away to the first 10 shoppers who visit each New Stand store.

eBay also plans to expand the Retail Revival program to its second city, Lansing, Mich. in the coming months.

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) News Briefs Thu, 16 Aug 2018 10:46:16 -0400
SureDone Launches International Support for Amazon Australia SureDone Launches International Support for Amazon Australia

SureDone, a multichannel e-Commerce listing and order platform, has updated its software to connect to the Amazon Australia marketplace. The software helps retailers from any region reach Australian shoppers through the platform.

The e-Commerce giant wants to avoid shipping products internationally to Australia because the country applies a 10% sales tax on imported online goods worth less than A$1,000, or $756, according to Reuters. As a result, retailers from other countries must sell directly through the Amazon Australia marketplace.

Amazon launched its Australian marketplace in late 2017. The retailer started offering Amazon Prime to Australians in June 2018, and has opened a Fulfillment By Amazon warehouse near Melbourne.

"Within six months of launching, Amazon made it into the top five e-Commerce marketplaces in Australia, and it's continuing to grow," said Chris Labatt-Simon, EVP at SureDone in a statement. "Utilizing SureDone's multichannel e-Commerce software, sellers can leverage this fast growth to rapidly increase their own revenues and customer base."

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Thu, 16 Aug 2018 09:34:15 -0400
Best Buy Acquires GreatCall For $800 Million, Expands Eldercare Services Best Buy Acquires GreatCall For $800 Million, Expands Eldercare Services

Best Buy has acquired GreatCall, a provider of connected health and personal emergency response services to more than 900,000 subscribers, for $800 million in cash.

The electronics retailer has sought new growth opportunities since implementing its Best Buy 2020 strategy in March 2017, particularly through building out its IoT and smart home services and expanding its Geek Squad tech support services. The acquisition of GreatCall falls in line with Best Buy’s growth strategy and fits in with the company’s desire to address key human needs with the help of technology products, services and solutions.

GreatCall sells mobile devices and connected devices specifically designed to help aging consumers access urgent care 24/7. The company offers a range of services, including a one-touch connection to trained, U.S.-based agents who can connect the user to family caregivers, provide general concierge services, answer service-related questions and dispatch emergency personnel. With approximately 50 million Americans above age 65, a number that is expected to increase by more than 50% within the next 20 years, Best Buy sees this growing demographic as an opportunity to branch out into health services.

This isn’t Best Buy’s first attempt to break into health services for senior citizens. Last year, the company unveiled the Assured Living service, an elder care smart home service designed to help people remotely check in on the health and safety of their aging parents. The service offers families a free in-home assessment to determine which monitors and wireless sensors to deploy within the parent’s home.

Once the sensors are deployed, family members can use the Assured Living app to:

  • Receive real-time alerts on their phone if anything seems out of the ordinary;
  • Remotely activate door locks and lights; and
  • Set reminders for the parent to take medication or for appointments.

It is unknown whether the GreatCall technology will be integrated in the Assured Living service, or if the two services will remain separate.

“Best Buy’s acquisition of GreatCall, a provider of connected health and emergency services to the aging population, will allow the company to continue to expand and broaden its services and deepen its customer relationships with a massive and growing segment of the U.S. population, and is therefore a positive,” said Moody’s Lead Retail Analyst Charlie O’Shea in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The $800 million price tag can easily be covered out of existing cash balances and operating cash flow, and we view this transaction as a long-term investment, with short-term profitability a secondary consideration.” 

GreatCall will maintain its San Diego headquarters, as well as its Care Centers in Carlsbad, Calif. and Reno, Nev. Davis Inns will remain CEO of GreatCall upon the transaction’s completion.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Mergers & Acquisitions Wed, 15 Aug 2018 17:40:55 -0400
Sears CEO Eddie Lampert Bids $400 Million For Kenmore Brand Sears CEO Eddie Lampert Bids $400 Million For Kenmore Brand

Sears Holdings CEO Eddie Lampert is offering to buy the retailer’s Kenmore brand for $400 million through his hedge fund, ESL Investments. The bid comes four months after Lampert wrote a letter to the Sears Board of Directors, urging the company to divest the brand as well as the Sears Home Improvement and PartsDirect businesses.

A separate proposal valued Sears Home Improvement at $70 million, with a potential extra $10 million if the company met certain financial benchmarks.

“Completing the acquisitions of Kenmore and Sears Home Improvement will enable Sears to improve its debt profile and liquidity position, creating the runway to help continue its transformation, and allow these businesses to unlock their considerable potential by further expanding their presence in the marketplace,” according to a statement from Lampert.He has said he’s prepared to close on the deal in as little as 60 to 90 days.

With the beleaguered retailer continuing to see rapid sales and income declines at both Sears and Kmart, a sale of still-valuable assets would once again infuse cash into the long-struggling company. Sears is no stranger to this strategy: it spun off the Lands’ End brand into a public company in 2014, selling 235 locations to a real estate investment trust that Lambert chairs in 2015 and selling the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million in 2017.

Despite the sales of these assets — on top of ESL’s roughly $2 billion in combined loans to Sears — the retailer has experienced absolutely no signs of a turnaround. Sears has lost $11.2 billion since 2010 — its last profitable year — and sales have plunged 60% in that time.

Like many of the moves Lampert has made in an effort to revive Sears, the Kenmore bid faces criticism due to allegations that it would further strip Sears of any remaining value it has. On top of that, Lampert would still own the property and still make money on it via ESL Investments, while the retailer would likely continue its downward spiral.

“Selling off assets to fund a loss-making operation will not make Sears sustainable,” said Neil Saunders, Managing Director at GlobalData Retail in a RetailWire discussion. “At best it buys time, at worse it just accelerates the eventual demise as it weakens the balance sheet and means Sears will eventually be worthless. In some ways, the move is quite appalling. It means that Lampert is able to carve out the few remaining bits of Sears that are successful and integrate them into his other companies. If Sears then goes down the drain, Lampert has separate control of the good bits and can recoup his losses/loans from Sears through a full liquidation.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Mergers & Acquisitions Wed, 15 Aug 2018 14:17:21 -0400
Office Depot Expands B2B Service Portfolio Office Depot Expands B2B Service Portfolio

Office Depot is expanding the business services offered through its Workonomy platform, which was formerly known as BizBox. The program provides small- and medium-sized business customers access to a number of products, services and resources. The new options on the Workonomy platform include:

  • Workonomy Hub Pilot: An Office Depot in Los Gatos, Calif., houses a coworking area alongside its retail space;
  • Tech Services Kiosks: A total of 141 stores in Florida, Georgia and Texas will offer installation and consultation support through a dedicated team of technology experts;
  • Self-Service Print & Copy Kiosks: More than 1,000 stores across the U.S. will offer printing and scanning to and from multiple sources, including email and cloud storage; and
  • Pack & Ship: Shoppers will be able to generate labels at and drop off shipments at any Office Depot or OfficeMax location.

The retailer’s investment will include hiring new employees and training existing workers. Office Depot will create a team of 6,000 certified technicians nationwide for home or office installations and consultations, as well as small business field sales teams called Business Pros who will assist in delivering a variety of Workonomy solutions.

Office Depot has been expanding its B2B offerings, starting with the $1 billion acquisition of CompuCom in October 2017. The retailer also boosted its service offerings through the adoption of the Oracle Cloud Applications solution.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Wed, 15 Aug 2018 13:35:41 -0400
Sephora Boosts Benefits For Higher-Tier Loyalty Members Sephora Boosts Benefits For Higher-Tier Loyalty Members

Sephora is revamping its Beauty Insider Program, adding new features based on feedback and requests from members, according to Allure. The changes give shoppers a wider range of rewards and make it easier for them to see the benefits they’ve earned.

The program will retain its three tiers, with Insider status available to all customers, VIB for those who spend at least $350 annually, and Rouge for shoppers who spend $1,000 or more every year. Many of the new perks are aimed at higher-tier members:

  • Points: Insiders will still receive one point for every dollar spent, but VIB members will receive 1.25 points and Rouge members will earn 1.5 points;
  • Rewards: More options will be available, including full-size products for VIB and Rouge members and gift cards for Rouge members;
  • Gifts: All three tiers will still include birthday gifts, but VIB and Rouge members will be able to choose between a gift or extra points; and
  • Profile Access: The profile system will be simplified and streamlined to make it easier for shoppers to determine their status, point totals and potential rewards.

Enhancements to the upper tiers of membership could prove a draw for shoppers: 37% of consumers would pay more for an enhanced loyalty program, according to a May 2018 study by Bond Brand Loyalty. That share was up from 30% in 2017.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Wed, 15 Aug 2018 13:29:11 -0400