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George Murray, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Sterling Jewelers Inc.

By George Murray

Today’s retail environment is witnessing the convergence of competition and innovation evidenced by the growing trend in “show-rooming.”  Every company is looking for ways to make the consumer’s omni-channel shopping experience more convenient, and while the keys to achieving this are fairly universal the journey to integrating them in a relevant way is not.

At Sterling Jewelers, we launched ecommerce for our Kay® Jewelers and Jared® the Galleria of Jewelry brands as an additional means of meeting our customers’ evolving needs.  Since the introduction of our online platform, we have worked to develop a true digital eco-system, which is focused on how a shopper experiences, interacts with and ultimately purchases our products. Continue Reading »

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February 14th, 2013
13:06
 

Jill Puleri, Global Retail Leader, IBM

By Jill Puleri
 
The 2012 holiday shopping season could arguably be considered the greatest digital shopping period in history.
 
According to the latest IBM Retail Online Index that captured shopping data from the fourth quarter of 2012, online sales increased 15 percent over the same period last year and were triple the sales growth of traditional retail stores. Retailers who found a way to seamlessly bridge the gap between the online and in-store buying experience were the real winners this holiday season.
 

Mobile shopping also played a large role this past holiday as consumers reached for their smartphones and their tablets to shop. Overall sales from mobile devices increased 43 percent over 2011 and mobile site traffic increased close to 69 percent over the same period. It’s clear that more and more consumers are engaging in “couch commerce,” buying clothes, home goods, and other items from the comfort of their own couch. As consumers shop with the swipe of a finger, the iPad continues to be the device of choice, making up 35 percent of all mobile traffic – more than any other device. Continue Reading »

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Dr. Trevor Davis, Consumer Products Expert, IBM Global Business Services

By Dr. Trevor Davis

Today, smart retailers are using sentiment analysis and social listening to keep one step ahead of trends as they develop – identifying which trends have staying power, when to act on them, and how to use them to their best advantage.

Some social media trends come and go in a day.  Some can remain unnoticed for years until they spring into public consciousness and everyone realises that the trend had been there all along – suddenly, like the exclusive model of automobile you just bought, ‘it’ is everywhere.

Some trends, like ‘steampunk,’ take decades to build momentum and make the break into the mainstream. Perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. What is steampunk and why should you care?

Steampunk is usually defined as a sub-genre of science fiction that concentrates on alterative world stories inspired by the technology, clothing and social mores of Victorian society. The stories of Jules Verne and H G Wells are often cited as inspirations. If you are a film fan you may have had a taste in the Will Smith movie “Wild, Wild, West” with steam-powered machines set in the Old West. Maybe you were in New York at Christmas 2011 and saw Macy’s holiday window dressed by designer Paul Olszewski in steampunk style.

Click the image to view an infographic of the Birth of a Trend.

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January 11th, 2013
12:00
 

Karen Lowe, General Manager, Global Retail Industry, IBM

By Karen Lowe

The beginning of every new year is a fresh opportunity to define strategies for success in the year ahead. Once again, I look forward to discussing the state of the retail industry with clients and influencers at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF’s) BIG Show when it kicks off this weekend.

This year, IBM continues its focus on making retail smarter, enabling retailers to put their customers first. One of the most profound challenges facing retailers today is the need to allow customers to connect and shop anywhere, anyhow and anytime.

We all know that technology has driven major changes in how we browse, compare and purchase products. Shopping from mobile devices is increasing exponentially. In fact, 70 percent more consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site on Cyber Monday in 2012 than 2011, according to the IBM Digital Analytics benchmark. Continue Reading »

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Katrina Read, Business Analytics Solution Architect, IBM

By Katrina Read

For retailers, the busy holiday season brings the opportunity for significant revenue, but also the added stress of making sure shelves are stocked to provide maximize returns. Which begs the question: how do you know what products should be stocked in which stores?

The use of predictive analytics in the retail industry is not new – in fact it was one of the first commercial industries to really adopt the use of mathematical algorithms to predict future sales. And yet, I often find myself standing in front of empty shelves wondering how they could get it so wrong.

While this is the giving season, my gift to you, fellow retailers, is this advice: WWW. No, I’m not talking about the World Wide Web. WWW is short for, Who, What and When – the three W’s that every retailer must focus on in this new world of smarter commerce.
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Kathleen Ryan, Writer, IBM Communications

By Kathleen Ryan

Universal Product Codes (UPCs) are part of our everyday lives. Whether we’re checking out groceries at the supermarket, getting medicine from the pharmacy, or shipping a package, the bar code and scanner are standard technologies for capturing and registering pricing and other retail information.

But it wasn’t always this way. Before bar codes, the process of pricing was laborious, time consuming and a drain on resources. Prices were placed on individual products by hand, usually with the thump of a price “stamper,” and then read by a cashier who then tapped the price into the cash register, by hand. Weekly price changes started the process all over again.

That all changed in June of 1974 when a clerk scanned a pack of Wrigley’s gum at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The technology rapidly took hold and today it shows up on virtually every retail product. Today the non-profit governing body for bar codes says that uniform standards for UPC codes are used by more than one million companies around the world.

One of the pioneers of bar code technology, retired IBM employee N. Joseph Woodland, died this week. He was 91.
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Craig Hayman, General Manager, IBM Industry Solutions

By Craig Hayman

We’ve seen some interesting holiday shopping trends again this year. Consumers took serious advantage of early promotions, driving a 17.4 percent increase in online sales on Thanksgiving Day. This set the stage for 20.7 percent growth on Black Friday. And the biggest surge came from mobile consumers, with sales hitting 16.3 percent.

Impressive stats – which made for some happy retailers – to lead into the holidays. But where do these numbers come from? What are they based on? And who do they represent?
Continue Reading »

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Dr. Kiseol Yang, Assistant Professor-Merchandising & Digital Retailing, University of North Texas

By Dr. Kiseol Yang

(Third in a Series on the Holiday Shopping Season. For the Complete Package Go to the Bottom of this Post.)

The sales and consumer shopping patterns that came about on Thanksgiving and Black Fridaydemonstrated that consumers are more technologically empowered when it comes to finding better deals across channels.

This was evident in a 17.4 percent and 20.7 percent increase in online sales on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, respectively. When compared with the same weekend in 2011, an increasing number of consumers chose to shop online with their PCs, smartphones or tablets as opposed to waiting in lines at brick-and mortar stores.

Continue Reading »

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By Jay Henderson, Global Strategy Program Director, Enterprise Marketing Management at IBM

There is a reason why back to school sales start earlier every year. It’s a retail goldmine, second only to the grand daddy of them all, the winter holidays. Last year alone, families spent $7.7 billion at clothing stores in August, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And with record numbers of students heading off to college this year, the expectation was that we would see huge sales heading into the Labor Day weekend.

At least that’s what many thought would happen. While it’s very possible September could deliver a spike in back to school sales, at this juncture it appears while parents were off packing up the mini-van the majority of students opted not to cash in on big back to school deals.

As a parent do you remember the days when you offered to buy your child something and they politely declined? No? That’s because it doesn’t happen.  That’s what made this back to school season so interesting. A recent New York Times article touched on this topic, stating that according to August research from the National Retail Federation only 8 percent of consumers with school-aged children had completed their back-to-school shopping, the lowest figure in four years. One reason for this may be that students are waiting to see what hot new items their peers have chosen before taking the plunge themselves.

What this leaves us with is a classic “Chicken and Egg” scenario with students waiting to see who buys what pair of jeans and whether messenger bags are still cool before diving in themselves. And that was the case for most returning students…but not all. Continue Reading »

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By Jill Puleri, IBM Global Retail Leader

Two weeks ago I sent my oldest son off to college. Leading up to this moment, we spent a lot of time (and money) stocking up his freshman dorm room with things to make him feel at home. Like any mom, I’ve spent the past 18 years shopping for my kids.

Well, that’s all about to change. I now have an empty bedroom in the house and a little bit of extra time to spend money on myself. While my son has his nose in the books this fall, my nose will be sniffing out updates to my wardrobe and home décor to spruce up my new guestroom.

According to IBM’s latest analytics-based retail forecast for Q3, I’m not the only mom who shares this sentiment. Here are a few of our predictions:

Category                                Percent Increase

 Women’s Clothing                   8.81%

Beauty                                     12.11%

Home                                      8.39%

 

Last year, we saw great increases in men’s categories, but this year’s projected numbers show a category swap. With men outfitted in a new wardrobe last year, women are taking advantage of the bit of extra money to spend on themselves.

Continue Reading »

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