Archive for January, 2011


A record number of consumers are using mobile phones to access retail websites, research from ForSee Result has found.

Just under one third (32%) of consumers have used their mobile phone to view store sites, while the same number (32%) intend to use their mobile phones to access retail websites in the future.

A total of 8% of web shoppers said they had made purchases using their phones during the Christmas period, compared to just 2% over the same period in 2009.

Kevin Ertell, Vice President of retail strategy at ForSee Result, said retailers not developing mobile platforms and apps risk losing market share to competitors. He added, “They cannot afford to ignore or even neglect the mobile experience and assume it won’t hurt their traditional online or in-store businesses.”

The research also found that shoppers highly satisfied with their mobile experience are 32% more likely to buy from that retailer online and 31% more likely to buy offline.

Larry Freed, President and CEO of ForSee Results, said consumer expectations are being set by the best websites and the best mobile experiences, adding “They aren’t going to have a lot of patience for excuses about the challenges that mobile shopping presents when it comes to design and usability.”

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

More than half of US retailers believe that customers have much better access to technology than their sales staff and are losing sales as a result, a new study has found.

The Motorola Solutions report found that 55% of retail employees thought that shoppers during the holiday season were better connected to consumer information than in-store workers.

Online tools and mobile apps have allowed customers to compare prices, access coupons and use social networking to find a better deal, and the report argues that retailers need to be prepared for this by equipping and educating their workers with the same tools to avoid losing trade.

Frank Riso, Senior Director of Retail Solutions for Motorola Solutions said “ Retailers have put their associates at a significant disadvantage to connected consumers with the majority citing that shoppers are better connected than their in-store associates.

“With 87% of surveyed retail associates noting that shoppers can easily find a better deal, offering the best customer experience is more important than ever.

“Retailers need to arm their mobile associates with access to real-time information to level the shopping playing field.”

The report found that 39% of store walk-outs are due to customers making checks on their smartphones regarding prices and availability.

It remains to be seen if this research would be reciprocated in the UK but the way the speed at which technology is being developed and the increasing number of tech savvy smartphone users would suggest the results would not differ greatly.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

Severe snowfall at the start of December led UK retail sales volumes to drop by 0.3% on a like-for-like (LFL) basis, The British Retail Consortium has revealed.

The data, published in association with KPMG’s Retail Sales Monitor shows that non-food was hit hardest by the poor weather, as total sales grew a paltry 1.5% year-on-year compared to the 6% rise in December 2009.

Internet, mail order and phone sales saw an increase of 18% in the month, which helped to offset consistently poor non-food sales which were down 0.8% LFL on a three-month weighted average to the end of 2010.

Stephen Robertson, Director General of the BRC, said of the results, “The unusually early winter weather made a difficult Christmas worse. With mounting concerns about the impact of spending cuts and the wider economy, sales growth has been weak since last summer.

“December was always likely to be similarly unspectacular but the snow and ice dealt an extra blow to business for many retailers.”

Trading at grocers fared better than at other retailers during the three months to December, with food sales increasing by 4.4% in total and 2.1% on a LFL basis.

This Christmas period saw much slower trade than was hoped, however, and it puts many retailers in a difficult position at the start of 2011.

Despite the drop in sales, the BRC is remaining positive about the long-term economic outlook for UK retail but insists that the government must not strangle the industry further with red-tape when it is in a fragile position.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

Research from Responsys, a global on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions provider, has found that more than one third (34%) of ‘e-tailers’ do not ‘welcome’ or ‘thank’ customers when they actively subscribe to email communications, meaning many are not engaging customers when they are most captive, incentivising them to shop.

The research, carried out by IMRG, analysed email programmes from the top 50 online retailers in the UK.

The majority (67%) of welcome emails did not include a call to action such as ‘start shopping now’ or offer promotions of any relevance. One third (33%) of welcome emails arrived as plain text without any messaging, branding, rich content or imagery.

Just over half (52%) did not use the customers’ name or personalise the content, and 42% did not send communications from the brand name but instead chose to send from ‘info’, ‘do not reply’, ‘help’ or ‘customer services’.

None of the companies surveyed included mobile integration and only three retailers embedded any social media into their email programmes. Responsys said that, despite the hype in the marketing industry for dynamic content and social and mobile engagement, few are putting this into practice with their email conversations.

Simon Robinson, Responsys marketing and alliances director in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, commented “The results show that many e-tailers fall short on welcome email programmes, with many failing to engage with customers using dynamic content, cross-channel integration or personalisation.

“Email is still the most popular communication channel for retailers, so I am surprised to see so many not even thanking customers for signing up to email communications. It is clear that many retailers lack the tools needed to boost customer engagement and brand loyalty, pointing to a gap between retailers talking about the importance of personalisation and cross-channel integration and acting on it. The reality is the majority have long way to go if they want to truly capture customer attention over email, and boost sales conversations.”

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

HMV has announced it will be closing around 60 stores over the next 12 months as sales continued to wane over the Christmas period.

HMV Group said in a statement that the reduction in its store portfolio would help it to better manage its cost base as the business looks to adapt to an ever changing marketplace.

Slow trading over Christmas heading into what is expected to be a tough year for the retail industry as a whole has lead to the board issuing a warning four months before the end of its financial year.

The retailer, to make way for the arrival of American fashion retailer Forever 21, has already sold one store, in the prime location of London’s Oxford Street.

The group stated that “Compliance with the April covenant test under the group’s banking facility will be tight and the board is taking further mitigating actions during the next four months to address this.”

The decision came after like-for-like sales at the retailer in the 10 weeks to 1 January 2011 were down 13.3% year-on-year, with trading down most notably in the UK and Ireland where like-for-like sales dropped by 14.1%.

Simon Fox, CEO of HMV Group, commenting on the business year said, “ Whilst HMV has had a challenging year to date, it remains a profitable and cash-generative business and a powerful entertainment brand.

“The pace of change in the markets in which we operate underlines the urgency with which we must continue to transform this business.”

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

Department Store giant House of Fraser has joined the burgeoning number of retailers to revisit or launch new mobile sites in the past six months, allowing customers to buy items listed online at houseoffraser.co.uk for the first time.

Visitors to the site from mobile handsets will be automatically directed to the m-commerce platform, designed in collaboration with mobile specialists Usablenet.

Users are able to browse products by department or use the built-in search tool to find items they are interested in, with more than 800 brands to choose from.

The move by House of Fraser follows that of John Lewis, Tesco and Marks & Spencer who have all developed and released mobile specific sites.

This is set to continue with other retailers following suit, as phones develop and phone manufacturers improve technology and handset capabilities.

Recent research by GfK Retail and Technology found that smartphone users visit an average of 24 different websites each day using their mobile handsets.

The survey, carried out by the company’s Network Intelligence Solution, also found that 4.30pm was the busiest time for mobile internet usage in the UK.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

The number of retailers that fell into administration during 2010 was significantly lower compared to the previous 12 months, research from the Centre for Retail Research has found.

In 2008 and 2009, 54 and 37 companies failed respectively, only 26 companies experienced a similar fate in the last 12 months.

The Centre for Retail Research (CRR) suggests that 944 stores and 10,390 employees have been affected by businesses failing, a significant number which is however, still more favourable that compared with the last two years.

Among the companies that went into administration in 2010 were Faith Shoes, whose £14 million debt is now under control of retail restructuring experts Hilco, and fashionwear chain Envy!, which is understood to be considering continuing in a reduced format.

A separate study, conducted by the CRR and online shopping comparison site Kelkoo this week indicated that difficult times are ahead for the UK retail industry.

The study predicts that consumer spending will decrease by 0.5% year-on-year during the first quarter of 2011, with the VAT increase to 20% expected to cost each UK household an average of £520.

Professor Joshua Bamfield, Director of the CRR, told the magazine Retail Gazette “ It has been difficult to find companies that are going bust this year, which is quite good news.

“The retailers that have survived the tough 2008-09 period are credible businesses and are now being careful.”

He added “ Independents and multiples will close stores, with some of the larger businesses reducing their network stores by 10-15%, partly because of the growth of online retail and partly due to consumer spending reducing.”

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com

Walmart, the US Retail giant that owns Asda, has pledged to be 10% cheaper than any of its rivals or to refund the difference to its customers in light of the recent VAT increase to 20%.

The announcement means the retailer makes a marked improvement to its price guarantee, introduced in April 2010, to be at least 10% cheaper than any of its competitors.

The current price promise enables customers to check the price of their grocery shopping online through independent price checker mysupermarket.com

If Asda is not the cheapest, it refunds the difference, plus a penny.

As part of the new scheme, if the retailer is not 10% cheaper than all large rivals, it will refund the difference through a voucher to make up the shortfall, which customers can spend at their next shopping trip.

Asda would not disclose the amount that the price promise will cost.

Andy Clarke, Chief Executive of Asda, denied that the move would create any additional pressure for suppliers.

He also rejected the notion that the scheme was a gimmick or the start of a new supermarket price war.

Mr Clarke added that Asda was cheaper on nine out of 10 baskets of supermarket items compared through the price guarantee, and its was 8% cheaper on those nine baskets.

A number of rivals have suggested that customers were looking for cheaper prices in-store rather than through complex promotions, and that the amount refunded through the price checker so far was modest.

Please note the views expressed in this blog are the views of the author, Andre Brown and do not represent the view of Locayta, its employees or its shareholders. For more information about Locayta, visit www.locayta.com