Holiday 2015: 6 product and pricing predictions
OTTOWA, Canada — Product and pricing data provider 360pi is out with its take on what retailers and brands can expect this holiday season.
According to 360pi, retailers that offer real-time data, regionalized pricing and exclusive products will shine during the 2015 holiday shopping season. The firm puts more meat on the bone with its six holiday predictions, including:
- Retail winners will connect staff with competitive data and insight: Without a doubt, online data will again be a retailer’s golden ticket to a successful holiday shopping season. By giving customer-facing employees the tools to be informed on their relative competitive position in real-time including pricing and product availability, winning retailers will better connect with shoppers and garner more holiday sales.
- So-called “must-win” dates will continue to lose relevance and consumer traction: Over the past few years, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have devolved to regular holiday shopping days as an extended promotional frenzy has taken hold. This has led consumers to question the actual best time to purchase. 360pi suggests putting discount plans in place long before and after Black Friday and Cyber Monday to capture the greatest share of shoppers’ minds and wallets.
- Targeted and regionalized promotional pricing will grow in importance: Several major retailers have enabled “hyper-local” online pricing and promotional tactics down to the individual ZIP code, often to capitalize on a physical store footprint that offers shoppers immediate gratification. Online product intelligence with zone (or regional) insights into competitive pricing and product availability lets winning retailers offer the “right product” at the “right price” for the local market.
- There will be more exclusives and differentiated products: Competition for share of a shopper’s holiday budget will again be fierce in 2015 – how can a retailer stand out among their competitors and win the sale without driving down the price? 360pi predicts that winning retailers will avoid direct head-to-head price battles by offering a unique differentiated assortment including products with different options (i.e. colors, sizes and features), exclusives and private labels. This will allow retailers to recapture not only share, but also margin by avoiding price wars.
- The perception of free shipping will matter: Retailers know that many consumers see free shipping as table stakes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean shipping must be free all the time. A recent survey from Pitney Bowes highlighted that 88% of consumers find free shipping with a 5-7 day delivery time more attractive than paying a fee for a 1-2 day delivery guarantee. This holiday season, retailers should implement free shipping options, or at least free shipping via a specified spending benchmark this holiday season, with product intelligence to help define and refine competitive shipping rules.
- Winners will capitalize on competitive out-of-stocks: With online and mobile information influencing nearly 70% of all retail transactions this season, online product availability becomes a key factor in the shopper purchase decision. Now more than ever, retailers must consider the influence and impact that online availability has on offline transactions and store foot traffic. Winning retailers and brands will have a solid understanding of current stock positioning and strategically adjust inventory and pricing accordingly.
EPA honors Food Lion associate
SALISBURY, N.C. — An associate at Food Lion has been honored by the Environmental Protection Agency for his efforts to reduce the chain’s refrigerant emissions.
Nick Cordasci has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2014 Distinguished Partner Achievement Award, one of the agency's individual honors for commercial refrigeration achievements, by the GreenChill Partnership.
The agency specifically recognized Cordasci, who is Food Lion's refrigerant compliance specialist, for being its liaison and making sure Food Lion continued to be a sustainability leader in the grocer industry. The award goes to the individual or organization that has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and initiative in achieving GreenChill's mission in the past year.
"Food Lion is being recognized with the Distinguished Partner award for the energetic involvement of its refrigerant compliance specialist, Nick Cordasci," said Tom Land, GreenChill manager.
Cordasci has provided leadership in developing and implementing effective corporate refrigerant management plans at Food Lion, Land said, and also been instrumental in the company's efforts to reduce refrigerant emissions. Food Lion has reduced its refrigerant emissions rate for four consecutive years.
Food Lion has pioneered various technologies that save energy and reduce harmful refrigerant leaks, from GreenChill's partnership to building two Leadership in LEED) Energy and Environmental Design certified stores, in North Carolina and South Carolina.
"We are proud of Nick and his accomplishments because this award shows his continued dedication and commitment to the company's sustainability efforts," said Susan Sollenberger, director of energy, maintenance and equipment purchasing at Delhaize America South, which includes Food Lion stores.
Food Lion has more than half of the nation's Energy Star stores, with more than 980 certified stores. In addition, the company has partnered with utilities to evaluate a variety of energy saving opportunities.
Food Lion has more than 1,100 stores in 10 Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic states.
EPA's GreenChill Partnership works with supermarkets to reduce refrigerant emissions and decrease their impact on the ozone layer and climate change.
Amazon’s sales surge in Q3
SEATTLE — Amazon’s third quarter sales increased 23% to $25.4 billion and the online retailer and tech giant posted a huge improvement in profitability.
The company said operating income increased to $406 million in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, compared to an operating loss of $544 million in third quarter 2014. Net income increased to $79 million, or 17 cents a share, compared with net loss of $437 million, or 95 cents a share, the prior year.
The company also said it expects fourth quarter sales to increase between 14% and 25%, to $33.5 billion to $36.7 billion, and not that the majority of units shipped would be to Prime members. The company also offered an extraordinarily wide range of guidance on profitability. Amazon.com said its fourth quarter operating income could range from $80 million to $1.28 billion compared to $591 million in the fourth quarter last year.
While the total sales growth number is impressive, coming on top of a large base, Amazon’s services business outstripped product sales. Of the $25.4 billion in total sales, product sales increased 15.2% to $18.5 billion, while service sales increase 55.3% to nearly $6.9 billion. North America showed strength, with sales growing 28.3% to $15 billion with the broad category Amazon.com calls “electronics and other general merchandise,” growing 34.6% to $11.8 billion.
Meanwhile, profitability improved as expenses grew at a slower rate than sales. Operating expenses for such things as product, fulfillment, marketing, technology and contend, increased 18.1% to $24.9 billion.
The stellar financial report caused the company’s shares to surge in after-market trading and again top the $600 mark.
The strength of Amazon’s sales growth is not a comforting thought for brick-and-mortar retailers heading into the holiday season. Just days before reporting its Q3 results, Amazon announced plans to expand its Prime Free same- day delivery service to Chicago and Orlando, Florida, and new locations in the Greater New York, Northern New Jersey and Philadelphia areas. Other markets where the same day delivery is available include Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas-Ft Worth, Indianapolis, the Greater Los Angeles area, Phoenix, San Diego, the San Francisco Bay area including Oakland and San Jose, Seattle-Tacoma, the Tampa Bay area and Washington, D.C.
The service, which does require an annual $99 Prime membership fee, promises that orders for an assortment of more than one million items placed before noon with be delivered the same day as long as the order size is above $35.