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Research: Personalization of store experience is key to retail growth

BY DSN STAFF

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Personalization of the in-store customer experience will be a key objective for retailers over the next two years, according to two new Aberdeen Group reports sponsored by HP.

According to the 100 senior retail executives surveyed from such industries as apparel, grocery and department stores, 76% do not possess the technology tools or the business processes for executing Web, catalog or special orders from stores. This challenge is being fueled by rising consumer expectations of rich, multimedia in-store shopping experiences.

The research advised retailers to make customer-centric store improvements that utilize digital signage, point-of-sale systems and kiosks to further in-store product information, promotions, sales and service personalization for customers.

“To remain competitive and profitable in today’s connected society, retailers must be able to engage with consumers at all points of service throughout the shopping experience with real-time, personalized information,” said Ray Carlin, VP retail solutions global business unit at HP. “HP’s broad technology portfolio, consumer insights and partnerships empower retailers around the world to deliver a more alluring and differentiated customer experience.”

According to the Aberdeen reports, interactive solutions located throughout a store will play an increasingly important role in delivering a highly personalized sales strategy.

In other findings:

  • Forty percent of retailers reported plans to adopt digital signage to deliver the right message at the right time;

  • Twenty-seven percent of retailers will look to deploy interactive solutions that enhance audio and video communication, which in turn will help shoppers more easily find products and provide retailers with another chance to interact with consumers; and

  • One-third of retailers surveyed also are likely to invest in kiosks designed for customers who want to experience Web commerce and check inventory while inside a store, a key reason HP continues to innovate in customer-facing in-store technology.

According to the Aberdeen research, retailers that provide customers with this type of in-store activity — e.g., the ability to place Web or catalog orders in the store — are 1.4 times more likely to see higher than 80% customer satisfaction in stores, compared with retailers that do not provide cross-channel order capabilities in stores.

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Fred’s sees positive numbers for Q4, full year

BY Allison Cerra

MEMPHIS — Net income for Fred’s jumped 49% during the fourth quarter to $8.6 million, or 22 cents per diluted share, compared with the year-ago period.

Despite the challenging retail climate and concerns that rising gas prices will take a toll on retailers’ financial well-being, Fred’s noted it will continue to forge ahead with its plans.

"These results … reflect the hard work and dedication of our team and [its] successful execution of our updated strategies — all within the context of a challenging retail climate," Fred’s president and CEO Bruce Efird said. "Through [our team’s] efforts, we made significant progress during 2010 in upgrading our stores, improving our merchandise selection and strengthening our customer service levels, which in turn helped drive increased sales and higher customer traffic."

"While we expect that tough retail conditions will continue across our markets in 2011 due to ongoing concerns about higher petroleum prices and their effects on the economy, the progress we made last year provides a solid foundation to expand market share and continue our push for higher operating margins," Efird added. "Our team is well-positioned to capitalize on these accomplishments. [Its] efforts, coupled with our new 2011 programs, will ensure a more exciting and pleasant shopping trip for our growing customer base, while continuing to drive strong financial returns."

 

Fred’s total sales for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010 increased 3% to $485.6 million from $473.1 million for the same prior-year period. Comparable-store sales for the quarter increased 2.3%, compared with a decline of 0.9% for the prior fourth quarter.

On a full-year basis, Fred’s net income income increased 25% to $29.6 million, or 75 cents per diluted share, for the period ended Jan. 25, compared with the prior-year period. Fred’s total sales for 2010 increased 3% to $1.84 billion from $1.78 billion for the same period in 2009. Comparable-store sales for 2010 increased 2.2% on top of an increase of 0.4% in 2009.

During 2010, Fred’s opened 15 stores and 21 pharmacy locations, and closed seven stores and 15 pharmacy locations. The company said it also revamped 196 of its stores with its new Core 5 elements.

Looking ahead, Fred’s projected total sales for first quarter 2011 will increase in a range of 2% to 4%, while comparable-store sales are expected to rise 1% to 3%. Earnings per diluted share are forecast to increase 14% to 24% to a range of 24 cents to 26 cents for the first quarter.

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Arm & Hammer celebrates Power Gel’s first birthday with online contest

BY Allison Cerra

PRINCETON, N.J. — Arm & Hammer’s gel laundry detergent is celebrating its first birthday and has invited parents to share messy first birthday moments for a chance to win a dream birthday party for their child.

Arm & Hammer Power Gel is sponsoring a contest where through June 15, parents can upload an unforgettable, messy moment from their child’s first birthday, along with a caption, to PowerGelParty.com.

From there, the top five finalists, as determined by Arm & Hammer, will be unveiled on the site on July 18, and consumers will be invited to vote for their favorite until July 31. The grand-prize winner will receive the “Ultimate Kid’s Birthday Party,” valued at up to $5,000, while other top four finalists will receive a one-year supply of Arm & Hammer Power Gel laundry detergent and a $250 party supply gift certificate.

Arm & Hammer also is giving all entrants the opportunity to win 1-of-500 free bottles of Arm & Hammer Power Gel laundry detergent through a random drawing.

Click here for more information about the contest.

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