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Online retailers expect to increase revenue by 17%

BY Dan Berthiaume

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. — Retailers anticipate accelerated growth for 2015. According to a study from eBay Enterprise, an eBay Inc. company, 72% of more than 1,000 online retailers surveyed anticipate online revenue to increase by 17% in 2015.
 
Confidence in commerce infrastructure is also high, with 95% of respondents stating they are very or somewhat confident their e-commerce experience meets consumers’ needs and expectations.
 
Online engagement emerged as the top area to fuel growth in 2015 (33%) followed by global ecommerce expansion (23%), mobile commerce (22%), digital targeting (22%) and product innovation (22%). Retailers are also planning to experiment with brick and mortar innovation in 2015, with initial investment in in-store experiences (14%), global brick-and-mortar expansion (12%) and pop-up expansion (11%).
 
Twenty-eight percent of retailers of all sizes are afraid of new competitors entering the market, while large retailers prioritize the speed of innovation (25%), staffing (23%) and the risk of re-platforming (22%) as secondary concerns.
 
Retailers pointed to fast growing mid-sized and business-to-consumer organizations as driving the most innovation in the commerce space according to 51 and 55% of respondents, respectively. Large retailers ($50 million to $250 million in online revenue) define innovation as identifying new channels to engage consumers, while mid-sized retailers ($10 million to $50 million in online revenue) define innovation as engaging consumers across multiple channels.
 
Among those investing in the mobile arena, mobile device optimization (54%) and mobile application development (46%) emerged as new priorities of investment (vs. continued areas of investment). And of those investing in mobile commerce, 51% of respondents plan on building a unique Android application and 50% plan on building a unique iOS application.
 
Cloud is also an increasing focus for retailers with 26% of large scale retailers ($50 million to $250 million), claiming that the technology is critical to their company’s future growth. Additionally, 20% of large retailers claim that the cloud is the most important technology over other recent innovations.
 
In 2015, retailers plan on bringing ecommerce hosting (55%), inventory management (46%), marketing program management (40%) and CRM (40%) into cloud environments. Although cloud infrastructure is increasingly top of mind for retailers, top obstacles to adoption include security concerns (26%), shared resources (17%) and a lack of IT support staff (16%).
 
Forty-seven percent of respondents stated they’re prepared for global expansion, with 73% noting that they’re ahead of the curve when it comes to this initiative.
 
Despite being the second largest global economy, China emerges as the second priority for global shipping expansion and third priority for global e-commerce expansion and global brick and mortar expansion.
 
Thirty-nine percent of respondents stated that ecommerce localization was the top barrier to global expansion and 87% of respondents are very or somewhat concerned about the dilution of brand values and integrity when entering new markets.
 
Partners were highlighted as playing an important role in enabling localization with 45% of respondents enlisting technology partners that provide solutions, 41% working with services partners to help optimize the business and 41% working with channel partners to help distribute products across retail networks.
 
Recent negotiations surrounding the West Coast port closures have significantly impacted retailers’ strategic approach in 2015, with 43% recording delays in fulfilling consumer orders and 40% experiencing delays in available inventory.
 
These closures have created significant operational inefficiencies. Nearly a third of respondents stated they had to reroute inventory to the East Coast – 39% of respondents noted their primary fulfillment is on the West Coast and 42% indicated the majority of their consumers are located on the West Coast.
 
Staffing continues to be critical in enabling growth and a critical area of investment to fuel growth. Of those investing in staffing, 56% plan on investing in ecommerce and marketing professionals with anticipated hiring peaks in the second and third quarters in advance of holiday 2015. Additionally, 52% of respondents plan on investing in customer service staff, and 45% plan on investing in fulfillment staff.

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Walmart annual report points to sustainability progress

BY Katherine Field Boccaccio

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Global responsibility and sustainability continue to be priorities for Walmart Stores. The company filed its proxy statement ahead of its June 5 annual shareholders meeting, and also issued its annual report, and the 2015 Global Responsibility Report and Global Compliance Program Report.
 
The Global Responsibility Report outlined social and environmental work over the past year. Accomplishments, according to the company, include:  
 
• Accelerating job mobility: Last February, Walmart announced a $1 billion investment in higher wages, job training and scheduling enhancements.
 
• Empowering women: Since the launch of its Women’s Economic Empowerment initiative in 2011, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have made $110 million in grants to support women’s economic empowerment. In addition, Walmart has sourced $11.24 billion from women-owned businesses since 2011.
 
• Hiring and supporting veterans: Since Memorial Day 2013, Walmart has hired more than 77,000 veterans, nearly 16,000 as part of its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment.
 
• Lowering the environmental footprint of Walmart’s operations: Advancing toward goal of 100% renewable energy, Walmart continues to expand the development of on-site and off-site solar, wind, fuel cells and other technologies. Today, 26% of the company’s electricity is supplied by renewable sources.
 
• Reducing waste across global operations: Walmart has set a goal of creating zero waste by providing solutions to improve waste data management and reduce and divert food and materials from turning into waste. Walmart U.S. operations operational waste diversion improved to 82.4% in 2014.
 
Walmart Stores’ annual shareholders meeting will be held on Friday, June 5, at 7:30 a.m. in Bud Walton Arena on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville.

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Crisco rolls out new organic oil

BY Ryan Chavis

ORRVILLE, Ohio — J.M. Smucker Co.’s Crisco brand on Thursday announced the addition of Organic Coconut Oil to its portfolio of products, giving consumers a substitute in recipes that call for butter, margarine and other oils. The product doesn’t have a coconut aroma or flavor, so consumers can use it without changing the taste of the food, the company said. 
 
“For consumers looking for a substitute to other oils and butters, Crisco Organic Coconut Oil is the perfect solution in the kitchen,” said Maribeth Burns, VP corporate communications, The J.M. Smucker Company.”  “We’re proud to be expanding our Crisco product offerings with such a versatile product.” 
 
Crisco Organic Coconut Oil may be used a 1:1 replacement ration with oils and butters. The company offered the following tips for cooks:
 
  • Heat the product in a microwave for 20 seconds at a time until melted;
  • When measuring for recipes, use Crisco Organic Coconut Oil in solid form when replacing butter or shortening; using in a liquid form when replacing liquid oils; and
  • Pour melted Crisco Organic Coconut Oil into ice cube trays for pre-measured servings, freeze until firm and then store in the refrigerator until it’s time to use.
Crisco Organic Coconut Oil is available in grocery stores for a suggested retail price of $6.99 for a 27 fl. oz.-jar. 

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