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This Week’s Fierce Retail News


July 01, 2016
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Today’s Top Stories

1. Amazon’s Alexa can now order from Amazon

2. Dick’s wins Sports Authority brand

3. Casper brings sleep experience to West Elm stores

4. Pottery Barn bows new format

5. 42% of purchases happen in first hour online

Also Noted

Spotlight: Lands’ End tries to be urban chic

Stories from around the web

News from the Marketing & Retail Industry

Amazon Prime Day returns July 12

Walmart Pay rolls to 500 more stores

Nordstrom closes Trunk Club fulfillment center

Today’s Top News

1. Amazon’s Alexa can now order from Amazon

Friday, July 1, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) artificial intelligence Alexa can now place orders on Amazon, making it even easier for shoppers to use the service with more frequency.

Alexa is the digital voice assistant inside the company’s Echo Bluetooth speakers. It previously could only re-order items that had already been purchased, but now it can order anything that is available to Amazon Prime members, with some exceptions.

Users simply ask Alexa for a product available with Prime, she makes a suggestion, reports the price and a simple “yes” buys it.

There are millions of items now available for ordering through Alexa and quite a few that are not, including Amazon Fresh, Amazon Prime Pantry and Amazon Prime Now items.

Still, Amazon is adding new features at a rapid clip. “We launch things when they are ready,” an Amazon spokeswoman told CNET. “Our speech science engineers have made something very complicated and difficult to do so exceedingly easy for customers.”

Smart home products are gaining in awareness and popularity with consumers. Google and Apple are reportedly working on similar products.

For more:
– see this CNET story

Related Articles:
Amazon bumps Walmart as No. 2 in electronics sales
Amazon to invest $3B in India, offer grocery delivery in UK
Amazon to open third store

2. Dick’s wins Sports Authority brand

Friday, July 1, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Dick’s Sporting Goods now owns the Sports Authority brand, having bid $15 million at auction for the intellectual property.

Counted among the defunct retailer’s intellectual property are the e-commerce website and the loyalty club with its 28.5 million members and accompanying data, according to Reuters.

U.K.-based Sports Direct had the second highest bid at $13 million. The deal still needs to be signed off on by the U.S. bankruptcy court.

Dick’s will also take over 31 Sports Authority locations for another $8 million, which is significantly more stores than expected. Dick’s could open discount outlets under the Sports Authority brand, an analyst told Reuters.

The assets were auctioned off earlier this week, although naming rights for Denver’s football stadium are still in limbo.

Sports Authority filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March and originally intended to reorganize.

For more:
– see this Reuters story

Related Articles:
Sports Authority bidders back away
Sports Authority files for bankruptcy
Sports Authority could sell stores to Dick’s

3. Casper brings sleep experience to West Elm stores

Friday, July 1, 2016 | By Laura Heller

E-commerce mattress startups have purported to operate a better model and offer better prices than national brands with retail distribution. But now Casper is headed to physical stores and will be sold in West Elm stores.

Casper does operate two showrooms – in New York and Los Angeles – where consumers can try out the beds, but now the brand will be sold in more than 75 West Elm stores, in catalogs and on the West Elm website.

Additionally, Casper is expanding internationally and will now be sold in Europe.

“The past two years have been a period of incredible growth,” said Philip Krim, Casper co-founder and CEO. “What many people aren’t aware of is that there has been a parallel demand for Casper products in other countries — particularly in Europe — since day one. We’ve seen everything, from thousands of international customer inquiries, to individuals trying to ship mattresses overseas. This launch is another important step toward Casper’s goal of becoming the world’s first global sleep company.”

Casper is one of several mattress companies, including Lull, Saatva and Tuft & Needle, disrupting the mattress category. Even Sealy has developed a sub-$1,000 product aimed at competing with these upstarts.

Much like e-commerce startups in other product categories, Casper is discovering that brick and mortar is a much-needed component in a retail operation.

For more:
– see this Casper press release
– see this New York Business Journal story

Related Articles:
Mattress Firm to buy Sleepy’s for $780 million
Mattress Firm acquires Mattress King and Bedmart for $35 million
Stone & Strand opens first brick-and-mortar

4. Pottery Barn bows new format

Friday, July 1, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Pottery Barn has unveiled a new format intended to embrace today’s design aesthetic, complete with salvaged wood and barn doors.

In fact, the 12,288-sq.-ft. store is inspired by a modern farmhouse, with high ceilings, exposed wood beams, a skylight and 11-ft. high steel framed doors that open to an outside seating area.

“Designed to showcase a relaxed lifestyle, the new store design blends rustic and modern elements to create a space that feels comfortable and timeless, and embodies how Pottery Barn customers live today,” according to a company statement.

The location at The Village at Corte Madera in Corte Madera, California, even uses salvaged wood from buildings at the Oakland Army Base.

There is also a Design Studio with new tools and resources to help shoppers visualize and customize projects. Free consultations are available, and in-home installation services are offered for a small fee.

“The new store design is a beautiful contemporary canvas for showcasing our relaxed, inviting and timeless home furnishings and decor collections,” said Laura Alber, president and CEO of parent company Williams-Sonoma. “This store represents a refreshing evolution of Pottery Barn’s signature spirit. We’ve created an exciting destination full of inspiration for visitors that encourages a sense of discovery, is easy to shop, and offers unique services to help our customers create their dream homes.”

Williams-Sonoma’s (NYSE:WSM) brands have been adding design studios to new stores. The West Elm Makers Studio opened last spring in Brooklyn, and Williams-Sonoma debuted a version at its showroom in Atlanta last summer.

For more:
– see this Pottery Barn press release

Related Articles:
Williams-Sonoma launches shoppable videos
Laura Alber, director, president and CEO, Williams-Sonoma
West Elm opens Brooklyn design studio

5. 42% of purchases happen in first hour online

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 | By Laura Heller

Impulse purchases could soon be a thing of the past thanks to the internet, as shoppers are more likely to consider a purchase over a short period of time than spontaneously click to buy.

Just 42 percent of purchases happen during the first hour of online shopping sessions, according to a new report from personalization platform Monetate.

Monetate analyzed data from the first quarter of 2016 and found that shoppers browse heavily during the workday – in fact, the biggest workplace distraction could well be shopping.

Desktops dominate during the day. Between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., desktop’s share of page views never fell below 75 percent and peaked at 84 percent around 2 p.m. Outside of typical work hours, mobile devices account for 40 to 45 percent of page views during commuting hours, early mornings and late nights.

Smartphones beat out tablets for viewing and desktop beats out mobile. The device of choice is important, according to Monetate, because the first device used is most likely to be the device used to complete the purchase.

When browsing starts on a desktop, 99 percent of those purchases occur on the desktop. When it begins on a mobile device 64 percent finish there, and 84 percent of tablet browsers buy on the tablet.

Desktop users accounted for more page views and higher average orders, leading Monetate to suggest that merchants are better off pushing mobile browsers to desktop while trying to keep desktop browsers where they are.

What about those impulse buys? Monetate tracked purchase behavior over the course of 48 hours and found that after one hour (when 42 percent of purchases are complete), just 9 percent of shoppers finalized their purchase in the six hours after the first 60 minutes concluded. Sixteen percent bought roughly a day later and 5 percent of purchases occurred nearly two days after the first site visit.

Still, returning customers could be more profitable. An earlier report from Monetate found that returning visitors spent nearly $5.3 billion online, compared to $2.7 billion by new customers.

For more:
– see this Monetate report

Related Articles:
Sales up, but key e-commerce metrics in decline
Returning shoppers spend 2X that of new
Online sales top $300B

Also Noted

Spotlight: Lands’ End tries to be urban chic

Lands’ End recently launched the Canvas collection as part of a new, more sophisticated design aesthetic paired with a membership program. Now the company has added a new marketing campaign called “Portraits on Canvas” that features stylish New York women. Related Content

Stories from around the web

>> Hershey rejects takeover bid (Bloomberg)

>> Shoppers prefer retail payment apps (Mobile Commerce Daily)

>> Amazon picks up rights to PBS Kids (The New York Times)

>> Alibaba gets serious about fakes (Fortune)

>> Historic theaters get second chance as retail outlets (Los Angeles Times)

And Finally… Lands’ End releases a special-edition coat for Independence Day so you can dress like a Founding Father (PR Newswire)

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