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If you don't live in the US and need some background on Pier 1, the company was founded in 1962 and did $1.8bn revenue in 2013.
There are more than 1,000 stores in the US, with the brand importing goods from more than 30 countries.
The company has been on a steep learning curve in its ecommerce business and has come a long way in the last two years. Now in-store and online are increasingly integrated, with Pier 1 committed at all levels of the organisation to providing a consistent customer experience.
I was at Demandware's Xchange 2014 conference, where I listened to Andy Laudato, CIO at Pier 1 imports, as he discussed the company's journey from having to close a poor performing ecommerce website in 2007, to efficiently joining up online and offline business today.
Andy gave some context for the current state of retail and then shared some really interesting stats from Pier 1's work. Take a look.
Nothing frustrates the mobile consumer more than forcing them to view your desktop site on mobile.
Today’s consumers are educated and nimble on mobile and their expectations are significantly heightened when engaging a brand on tablet.
With 43% of tablet users spending more time on tablet than on desktop, companies are increasingly optimizing tablet browsing and shopping to make it easier for consumers who want a seamless experience across all channels.
There’s a stat that every retailer should sit up and take notice of. It’s this: half (49.5%) of total U.S. retail sales today are impacted by the web in some way.
What this means is that although online sales represent roughly 10% of all retail, a large majority of your customers interact with your brand online as part of their unique customer journey.
This raises a particular question about in-store tech. Are we about to see a convergence of point of sale (POS) systems and ecommerce platforms?
That’s essentially the nub of this article. Will retailers start to see no difference between online and off-, in terms of data, logistics, shipping and ultimately customer experience? Do some consumers, or even retailers, already think this way?
I’ve been looking at the results of a survey of 200 retail business and technology executives in the US and Europe, conducted by The University of Arizona in association with the National Retail Federation and Demandware.
To add some perspective, here are some of the findings in the context of five fallacies of bricks and mortar retail. Five arguments for a changing customer who is driving many retailers to consider a single platform.
UK consumers are far ahead of Europe in terms of using smartphones for online shopping.
Out of 18 European countries surveyed, the UK has the highest percentage of people who make a monthly purchase on their smartphones, with 32%. This is compared to just 8% in France, 15% in Germany and 19% in Sweden.
These findings come from the latest TNS research commissioned by Google, which explores the growing importance of online platforms in the consumer journey, from research to purchase.
The research also looks more broadly at internet usage across devices. Here is the online state of the UK in 2014, compared to last year:
Ecommerce is simple. Don’t let anyone trouble you with thoughts on mobile, social or personalisation. The beating heart of ecommerce is the triangulation of data and uniting your best products with your best customers to make the most profit.
I had the pleasure of listening to Mike Baxter, an Econsultancy long-time friend and consultant (author of the Checkout Optimisation guide, amongst other things), talking about data triangulation at a recent breakfast briefing with Ometria.
Mike detailed his deceptively simple philosophy of selling online and I thought it worthwhile to put his thoughts down in full, over a couple of posts. Everything you read in these posts comes out of Mike’s presentation.
I think it’s worthwhile dwelling on this idea of knowing your products and customers ahead of anything else. Ultimately it’s the nub of your site design but also your marketing efforts including media spend.
As marketers start to join up data sources, they need to be wary of jumping the gun, trying to stitch up remarketing, social CRM, personalization, before they’ve truly looked at optimising product mix and display.
Here’s what Mike had to say…
UK retailers Tesco and Morrisons came first and second respectively in The Search Agency UK's latest mobile experience scorecard.
Last week in the importance of responsive design for B2B companies I looked at the scorecard in relation to the suitability of using the FTSE 100 as a test group for mobile experience, due to its large percentage of B2B companies and major international corporations.
As it turned out, despite the plethora of retail chains in the FTSE 100, only two companies listed used responsive design and they were both B2B. Of the remaining 98 companies, 42 use dedicated mobile sites, while the other 56 do not provide a separate mobile experience from the desktop version of their site.
Each of the FTSE 100 companies were evaluated and ranked according to load speed, site format, download speed, social media presence and app presence.
The top scorers in the test were in fact retailers: Tesco, which came in first with a score of 4.38 out of five and Morrison Supermarkets, which came in second with 4.12 out of five.
The average score for all companies in the study is 1.99 out of five, which is slightly below the US average of 2.29.
In the above mentioned article I go into greater depth in regards to the importance of responsive design versus hosting a mobile dedicated site for both retailers and B2B companies. Here I’ll be taking a look at the top companies Tesco and Morrisons, which both operate a dedicated mobile site rather than a responsive desktop site, to see if I agree with the findings.
I’ve written two posts already about Marks & Spencer's new website. It’s not a love-in, in fact both posts have generated some good debate.
Should it be so editorially led? Could the navigation be slicker? Should there be a guest checkout? Despite these issues, I’m a fan of the new look and aside from the intricacies, the new site is about finally aligning the brand's image with top quality high street fashion.
But it’s about more than just a new website, M&S is investing across the multichannel customer journey, in the knowledge that a multichannel customer can be worth four times as much as one that only shops either on- or offline.
Here are 11 ways Marks & Spencer is enriching its multichannel business, aside from its new desktop and mobile sites and revamped apps.
We’ve looked previously at the state of digital retail in London and found that bricks and mortar, in most cases, is still exactly that.
A lack of wi-fi and interactive devices was identified as an issue for Oxford Street's retailers.
Of more interest, perhaps, is not the overall picture, but how individual retailers are using technology, how this affects the customer experience and for what product types.
Home electrical, technology and automotive retailers have been shown to make greater use of digital media in-store. These products are purchased by informed customers and part of the in-store experience is about providing the customer with information via digital devices.
Of course, many of the products in these sectors are digital themselves and are on display for use in store.
80% of the home electrical/technology retailers on Oxford and Regent Streets had interactive devices for customers to use, versus just 16% of fashion, shoe and accessories retailers.
But let’s look at some specific retailers for best practice or otherwise. Again, this information comes from eccomplished's latest research.
Russia is currently in the spotlight, preparing to host the Winter Olympics, with all the associated negative press for its government.
But whatever the irregularities of Vladimir Putin, Russia has the third highest economic growth rate in the world.
Although online sales in Russia account for just 2% retail sales, this is estimated to rise to 5%, or $46bn, by 2015 according to Morgan Stanley.
And Russian internet users are in thrall to overseas brands. In 2013 the top 25 brands searched for on Yandex, the top Russian search engine with 61% share, were all overseas fashion brands.
So what are international ecommerce outlets waiting for? Shouldn’t everyone be importing into Russia?
One new hurdle to expansion into Russia is increased complexity in shipping since new import laws were implemented in December 2013.
What do you need to know about Russia, who’s already taking advantage and how can you follow suit? This post and our Russia Digital Market Landscape report can help.
In 2013, 30m people were shopping online in MENA according to PayPal. This was an increase of 65% from 2011.
Saudi Arabia was the top buying country in a region of high average income per capita (e.g. more than $100k in Qatar).
But what of the rest of the region? How does it compare with the rest of the world and what sort of numbers are we talking about?
In this post I’ve rounded up some stats shared by the COO of Aramex, Iyad Kamal, at MetaPack’s Delivery Conference this week.
When it comes to wi-fi, customers expect free, fast and legally compliant access wherever they are, from retail outlets to bars, restaurants and leisure facilities.
This is far from a new development, and our always-on society has created a strong international wi-fi market, which is expected to be worth more than $93 billion by 2018, according to a recent report by Markets and Markets.
That's great news for the consumer, and for the wi-fi providers, but to date it has offered little in the way of value for the venues that provide it.
However, the balance is now beginning to be addressed through social wi-fi, which offers venues a range of advantages that can help to build profit and develop a loyal customer base.
In 2013, 83% of retailers gave customers a choice of home delivery options, though less than half (47%) of retailers offered three or more services.
Micros has released its 2014 Multichannel Retail Delivery Report, in which 239 retail websites were tested for their delivery flexibility, customer service and delivery performance.
Here we’ll be taking a specific look at the range of delivery options available from retail websites and how they compare year-on-year.