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Celebrating excellence in e-commerce: entry deadline nears for Online Retail Awards Thursday, 18th April 2013
With less than two weeks to go until the entry deadline for the Online Retail Awards (ORA), My-Retail Media met with Matthew Davies, director of the awards, to discuss what to expect from this year’s line-up.
Taking place at the Royal Garden Hotel on 5 September, the ORAs look to highlight excellence in online retailing on an international scale, judged by an impartial, independent group of 14 panels of retail experts from across the world.
Now in its fifth year, the ORAs celebrate excellence in the sector, focusing on retailers with a great website design and a brand that holds their customers’ experience at the heart of their offering.
“Judges will be on the look-out for retailers’ ability to stimulate their customers in the right way, whether that’s through photographic excellence, video clips, virtual fitting rooms- or simply their ability to merge the experiences of bricks and mortar and online,” Davies said, adding:
“It’s vital that a retailer’s website design is personal, and looks and feels right for the brand.”
The awards are open to both high street brands and online-only retailers, with entrants judged on the calibre of their content, whether it’s found online, on mobile, or on a multichannel basis. Last year's results saw fast-fashion moguls ASOS scoop the Online Retail Prix d'Or Award, while Tesco Home plus in South Korea was presented with the Online Retail Award for Innovation under the Judges' Special Award.
As the official international media partner of the ORAs, My-Retail Media will be covering all the latest news, updates and results on the awards.
Online retail sales rise 16% y-o-y to March Tuesday, 16th April 2013
Sales made online beat expectations in the first quarter of 2012, rising 15 per cent year-on-year in what has been described as a "very solid first quarter" for 2013.
The latest results from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index found online retail sales rose 16 per cent year-on-year for March, with the online clothing sector reporting record growth of 15 per cent year-on-year, outpacing the fashion sector's performance on the high street for the same period.
As the high street battled through the highest snowfall in March for 30 years, growth in sales from mobile devices including smartphones and tablets managed to pull back up to the impressive rate of growth seen in 2012, with sales up 243 per cent year-on-year. The growth suggests users are now adopting mobile phones to access retail sites for multiple uses, such as conducting research into brands at home and when on the move, as opposed to just making direct purchases.
“Unseasonal weather patterns can impact some online retail sectors just as much as on the high street, so with the freezing weather in March it was a real surprise to see the clothing sector up by 15% year-on-year," Andrew McClelland, chief operations and policy officer at IMRG said, adding:
"In 2012 for example, we saw the wettest April on record and the online clothing sector was badly impacted, recording its lowest ever growth of 1%. What this demonstrates is that e-commerce is fairly unique in the retail industry, as it doesn’t always reflect analysts’ expectations; online shopping is so ingrained in the culture now, the market seems to keep up its double-digit growth irrespective of potentially disruptive external factors.”
Looking at how retailers can continue to ensure the growth of their omnichannel operations, Omid Rezvani, director of mobile solutions at eCommera said:
“The growth of mobile commerce continues unabated with all the statistics showing what an increasingly important channel mobile is becoming for retailers to sell their products directly to consumers. All of the metrics show positive growth with the exception of the conversion ratio which seems to have gone slightly into reverse. Why is this? Are consumers now using the mobile retail services as more of a discovery channel rather than a transactional channel and are they being put off by poorly designed mobile services which do not allow for rapid product discovery followed by a decent payment experience?
“Our experiences show that if retailers deliver a clear and intuitive mobile service then customers will use the mobile channel to complete purchases. Evaluate and improve each user journey through the service, make them as simple as possible and then complement this with a robust yet easy payment experience. With this the conversion ratios will improve as well as purchasing frequency and basket values,” Rezvani added.
Founded in April 2000, the IMRG Capgemini Index tracks online sales from over one hundred e-retailers, using data of transactions completed fully, including payment, via interactive channels' from any location, including in-store.
PayPal to expand its offline transactions service Friday, 12th April 2013
Image Credit: PayPal / eBay Inc
PayPal is expected to face significant challenges in its move to offer payment services in American retail stores.
The online payment business will enter into a partnership with Discover Financial Services on April 19th. The deal will allow customers to use PayPal for transactions in any store that currently accepts Discover credit cards. However, the eBay owned online payment services faces a challenging task in trying to convince consumers to move away from the familiarity of swiping a credit debit or card.
A payments industry analyst at Aite Group, Rick Oglesby, told NBC News, “Consumers need to be convinced they need a single digital wallet or card that links to all their other cards. That’s a huge mindset shift and the average consumer wonders why they would need it”.
PayPal executive Don Kingsborough has stated that the company intends to launch an app which will make it easier for customers to begin using the service. It will also be giving a new card to consumers who would rather continue swiping cards, rather than using PayPal's number typing system.
NBC News reported that Kingsborough stated in an interview that “An average credit card user uses the card 18 to 20 times a week. For us to get those kind of levels will take time. But by Christmas PayPal will be a more prevalent way to pay”.
Share values for eBay, the parent company of PayPal, have increased around 75 per cent since PayPal first indicated its intent to offer transactions in high street retail stores in mid-2011.
Argos increases focus on internet and mobile sales Friday, 12th April 2013
Photo Credit: Home Retail Group
Marketingmagazine.co.uk has reported that Argos intends to revamp its stores and business strategy to focus more on online sales and to better compete with Amazon.
The move is in response to growing pressure from leading online retailer Amazon, which has begun using a system of collection lockers in partnership with The Co-operative. Argos has started to revamp its stores, offering web browsers and Wi-Fi connections to take advantage of the increasing popularity of both e-commerce and m-commerce.
According to Marketingmagazine.co.uk, Argos has acknowledged that 43 per cent of its sales are now made through the internet, a figure which has increased by 40 per cent since last year. Meanwhile, the amount of Argos sales made through mobile devices has risen by 117 per cent. The retailer closed 11 of its physical locations last year.
Argos achieved a like-for-like sales increase of 5.2 per cent in the 8 weeks leading to 2nd March.
Waterstones founder to launch digital books business Thursday, 11th April 2013
Photo Credit: My Retail Media
Tim Waterstone, the founder of book store chain Waterstones will be launching a new online book business.
The new company will be called Read Petite and will have a focus on short stories. It will also feature longer stories published in separate segments over time, in a similar style to the serialised novels which were once popular in magazines and newspapers. The content will include obscure works by a number of well-known authors.
Waterstone explained his vision for the new business to the Daily Telegraph, stating “It worked for Dickens and it worked for us. If you are going to read on a laptop, or a smartphone or a tablet, [a short story] is about as much as you want”. He added “This is not slush pile publishing. There is an absolutely staggering treasure trove [of material] available”.
The service is expected to be launched near the end of this year. Customers will pay a monthly rate and in return will be able to access as much reading material as desired, in a similar style to the music streaming service Spotify.
KFC to trial new mobile payment app Thursday, 4th April 2013
Photo Credit: KFC
KFC is to launch an app which will allow customers to pay for purchases through mobile devices.
With m-commerce rapidly increasing its importance in the global market, a number of restaurants have recently begun to integrate smartphones into their retail services. McDonalds began offering a contactless card payment service in 2011. The following year Starbucks signed a deal with Square to use the company’s mobile transaction technology.
The app, which was developed by Airtag and will be called KFC Fast Track, will be tested in 10 of the fast food restaurants sites in the UK, with plans to increase its use globally if it proves to be popular with customers.
Amazon receives over 30 million unique visits in December Tuesday, 26th March 2013
Photo Credit: Amazon
A report by comScore Inc. has revealed that Amazon is currently attracting more unique visits from European consumers than any other e-commerce site.
The statistics in comScore’s results were obtained both from web servers and from a panel of European consumers currently totalling 2 million.
The results show that Amazon received over 30 million unique visits in December 2012. Of these visits, 6.6 million were from a mobile device, an increase of 87 per cent compared to December 2011, highlighting the rapid rise of m-commerce over the last few years.
The rise in mobile transactions is the inevitable result of the continual increase in the percentage of the European population owning a smartphone. Mobile devices reached a new milestone in December 2012, as the overall number of smartphone owners in France, Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK surpassed 50 per cent for the first time.
Of the other European retail sites mentioned in the report, home products retailer Home Retail Group received the second highest number of unique visits at 13.3 million, with visits from mobile devices rising by 80 per cent to a total of 2.4 million.
4G could increase m-commerce sales by £1.8 billion Monday, 25th March 2013
The imminent arrival of 4G mobile connections could potentially increase m-commerce within the United Kingdom by 113 per cent.
The amount of customers making retail purchases through mobile devices has been continually increasing over the last few years, with a 55 per cent rise over the last year alone. A new report by eBay suggests that the faster and more reliable connection which will be delivered by 4G could lead to an even more rapid increase in m-commerce.
The report indicated that almost a third of adults in UK now use a mobile device for at least some element of commerce. However, many do not use their devices to carry out the actual transaction, instead using their smartphones to browse or to compare the price of products with other retailers. Issues with internet connection have been indicated to have a role in this, with around half of consumers reporting irritation with speed and/or reliability.
The senior director of mobile commerce at eBay, Olivier Ropars, indicated that 4G would lead to a surge in mobile transactions, stating that “Consumers today want convenience and speed. The arrival of universal 4G will bring with it a more immersive, instant and intimate shopping experience than ever before – putting the most exciting features of mobile retail as we know it into high definition”.
The report estimated that 4G could result in an increase of £1.8 billion in m-commerce sales.
Fingerprint recognition technology may boost consumer confidence in m-commerce Friday, 22nd March 2013
Photo Credit: My Retail Media
Recent statistics show that the number of sales made through mobile devices in the U.S has been increasing rapidly over the last few years. It is speculated that the next iPhone model will be designed to further encourage this trend by using fingerprint recognition to ease security worries.
Statistics revealed recently by eMarketer show that in-store mobile payments in 2012 increased to a total of 640 million USD, compared to 170 million the year before. A poll by consumer researcher Harris Interactive indicated that 66 per cent of the population could foresee mobile device transactions eventually replacing card payments in the future.
Currently, one of the most significant obstacles deterring customers from mobile device transactions is security fears, with many consumers not comfortable using their smartphones to store or transmit personal information. Apple reportedly intends to address this concern when the next version of the iPhone is released.
Apple acquired AuthenTec last year and there is speculation that it intends to use the brand’s fingerprint recognition technology in its next smartphone model. This speculation is substantiated by the fact that Apple has filed a patent for “motion based payment confirmation”.
A fingerprint recognition system would theoretically be more secure than the current password or PIN systems which are generally used for m-commerce at present.
Alibaba reports 600% increase in m-commerce transactions Wednesday, 20th March 2013
Photo Credit: Alibaba Group
Alibaba Group, currently China’s largest e-commerce group controlling an 80 per cent share of the market, has reported that the number of customers making their purchases via mobile devices increased by 600 per cent last year as smartphones continue to rise in popularity in the country.
Alibaba has reported that its e-commerce site Taobao Marketplace received 300 million unique visitors over 2012, of which 57 million (19 per cent) ultimately made a purchase through the site. Of these transactions 6.87 per cent were made through a mobile device, compared to 1.77 per cent the previous year.
An official blog by Alibaba quoted Alex Qiu, vice president and general manager of mobile business at the company, as stating that “The speed of mobile adoption has been faster than we thought it would be. Mobile is changing how we operate our platform and how online merchants operate their businesses. These are revolutionary changes, similar to the change from offline to online more than 10 years ago”.
The increase in sales made through smartphones is expected to increase over the next few years. Qiu acknowledged this, stating, “Three years from now, the amount of time people spend on mobile devices will have increased significantly, as will the amount of money you spend online”.
Alibaba is currently ranked at No. 1 on the Internet Retailer Asia. The company, which recently rebought about half of the 20 per cent stake which Yahoo had owned in it, is currently estimated to be worth around 40 billion USD.