Tag: Retail

Home Depot closing 15 underperforming US Stores

Home Depot announced that they are closing 15 underperforming stores affecting ~1300 store associates.   It appears that the housing market problems have gone on for too long and Home Depot has to make adjustments.  They say that they are still planning on opening 55 new stores in their 2009 fiscal year. 

Shopping is done!

Yesterday I completed my national civic duty to the economy and to the retail industry by finishing up my shopping for the holidays and spending twice the amount I budgeted.  It started at 4am on black Friday and finished up yesterday at Circuit City for a few last minute stocking stuffers. 

My wife was able to score a Wii for the kids on the first try at EB Games by waiting in line before they opened yesterday.  Getting there a couple hours early, she was still third in line.  I received txt messages every 20 minutes with updates on how it was going.  When she completed payment and I received the call, she sounded like she picked 5 numbers in the Florida lottery.  It really makes me wonder if they would have sold as many Wii’s if they were available in every store. 

Well, I’ve done my part.  Let’s hope that UPS and Fedex do theirs in getting the last online orders delivered by Monday. 

 Now I’ve got to go grocery shopping for Christmas Eve dinner.  <sigh>

Dillards escorts out a disabled vet with his service dog

I’m not sure I can think of a worse story to come out at Christmas time for a retailer.  Right in the middle of the peak of the holiday shopping season, a store manager at Dillards in Texas decided to eject a disabled Marine Iraq war veteran out of the store because he had a service dog with him to help keep his balance. 

 What was that manager thinking?  It’s been in the news and all over the blogosphere.  I did some searching to see how many blog posts were out there, but unfortunately couldn’t get an accurate number due to spam in the Google blog index.  From a cursory glance, it was quite a bit.  Obviously these posts also generated quite a few comments.  A post at the Consumerist had 114 comments and 602 Diggs since posting their message and has been viewed more than 18,000 times in less than 3 days. 

 Word of mouth marketing is working over time on this one. 

Ikea will focus on stores, not ecommerce

Strong words from the CEO of Ikea.  Furniture Today has an article today that says that a memo is making the rounds in Sweden from Anders Dahlvig, CEO and President.

“According to the memo, which came from Anders Dahlvig, Ikea’s CEO and president, the Swedish company will focus on the in-store experience as “the only sales channel,” putting a halt on “further investments to develop the Home Shopping or Online sales channel(s).”"

An Ikea spokesman followed up later stating that there are no plans to discontinue ecommerce in the US.

This is a surprising move for Ikea, given the fact that their supply chain and merchandise is specifically designed to be small and transportable before reaching the consumer.  Out of all of the furniture retailers, these guys are set up perfectly to excel in the ecommerce market. 

I’m a firm believer in focusing on a few things you can do really well, but abandoning the ecommerce market is a bit too narrow for me.   Either way, it’ll be interesting to watch.

Store Search – Google Custom Search Engine

I just created a Google Custom Search Engine for searching the top retail ecommerce sites on the net.  Hopefully this will be useful in finding that special gift with the holidays coming up.  I added it to the navigation bar up top. 

Personally, I’m having fun looking at the search results that google is providing.  It’s interesting to look at the various ecommerce sites and their SEO optimization as it is clearly coming into play here.  When you take out the millions of other pages google would have included in the mix, you can start to compare multiple retailers and how they’ve been optimized for organic search.

I’ll have the top ~ 500  ecommerce retail websites in the search engine by Tuesday or so.  I’m currently up to 128 for testing purposes.  The top 500+ ecommerce sites in the US are currently in the search engine which should give a wide array of stores to search.   Over time I’ll add & subtract from the overall list to improve the searching.

I have another search engine in the works for retail industry research.  It should be done in the next week or so. 

If you try it out, please send me an email or leave a comment on how well it works for you.  I’m still trying to tweak it. 

Microsoft Silverlight in Retail RIA

Yesterday I attended the JeffNJoe MSDN .NET Tiki Hut Roadshow in Palm Beach.   Jeff and Joe presented Expression Web, Silverlight 1.0 and 1.1, and a mash-up using Virtual Earth.   By far, the most interesting topic was Silverlight, Microsoft’s new Rich Internet Application(RIA) cross browser, cross platform plug-in.  The 1.0 version available now, definitely looks and feels like Adobe Flash, however it has much improved video playback functionality including High Definition playback.  Beyond the use for video, I wouldn’t seriously consider using it for RIA applications on a major ecommerce site because of limitations to available controls, development language availability, and that it’s a 1.0 environment.   Beyond those issues, pervasive adoption of the plug-in is not there yet.  If you decided to utilize Silverlight, your site will probably be the first one that a consumer would be exposed to it, therefore they will have to download the 1.1 meg plug-in and go through the installation, even though Microsoft has made it very seamless and easy to do.

The 1.1 version of Silverlight due out sometime next year on the other hand shows a lot of promise.  Beyond the capabilities existing in 1.0, it is also expected to include support for many controls such as button, textbox, scrollbar, listbox, and checkbox which will bring the basic abilities up to the bare basics compared with Adobe Flex.  You’ll also see support for additional language support beyond javascript including C#, VB.Net, Python, and Ruby.

Three of the most interesting demo’s shown that retailers can relate to were live streaming video of the HSN channel, Silverlight Airlines travel booking, and a prototype  for viewing different home goods and furniture items in a room.  (continue reading…)

Microsoft produces poor packaging for Halo 3

On my way home Friday night, I picked up Halo 3, Limited Edition from Best Buy.  Once I got home I opened the metal trifold case to find both DVD’s banging around inside the case.  On both discs were deep scratches from them floating around while in transit.  It appears that Microsoft didn’t do a very good job in designing the package as the nub that normally holds the disc secure was too short and the disc popped off easily. 

 I was able to play the first few chapters Friday night without having to return to Best Buy immediately.  After the fourth chapter or so, I started getting errors and gave up for the evening.  I returned to Best Buy the next morning and was met with smiles as I passed store associates as they clearly knew why I was there. 

(continue reading…)

What happens in Vegas is blogged about – shop.org

shop.org in underway and it’s grown 10x in the last 6 years.  6 Years ago, shop.org had about 200 attendees and for 2007 the unofficial attendee number is about 2000 consisting of about 500 retail organizations with a 70% larger exhibit hall than last year.  The show is focusing on 4 main areas that were requested by its membership. 

1.  Analytics
2. Merchandising for conversions
3. Search & SEO
4. Web 2.0

I’ve got to get back to the show, but later tonight I’ll cover the main points from the keynotes and what I’ve heard and learned.  Looks like it’s going to be a great event.

Implementing Buy Online, Pick up in Store

Nikki Baird of Retail Systems Research has written a great article about implementing buy online & pick up in store in their weekly column Retail Paradox.  She talks about the ROI potential and if it is necessary for retailers to implement these capabilities. 

Is buy online/pick-up in the store (BOL/PUIS from here on out) the cross-channel activity with the highest ROI? The panel’s consensus: the ever-popular answer, “It depends.” It certainly can provide a solid ROI – despite fears of channel cannibalization, whether coming from stores or from online, BOL/PUIS actually offers growth opportunities. It captures online sales that would have been lost because the consumer needed it “right now.” It also is additive to in-store sales, as consumers coming into stores tend to purchase more than just the item they came in to pick up.”

I agree with these statements and they are all very valid.  I also think that it’s beyond the ROI you are able to measure directly in same store sales year over year.  It comes down to customer experience and the loyalty that the positive experience generates.  We know that 17% of store sales, about $400 billion, is currently influenced by online research.  Forrester predicts this to be over $1 trillion in the next 5 years.  As the reliance on information on the web continues to increase, customers will demand to be able to do business in whichever channel suites them at that particular time.  If a consumer is not able to achieve the experience they are looking for, their loyalty will go elsewhere.  (continue reading…)

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