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PRINT CATALOGUES DRIVE ONLINE SALES: Shoppers spend more money buying online after they have browsed lavish print ads, according to marketers who work for Neiman Marcus, Williams-Sonoma, and other retailers. Nearly 12 billion catalogues were mailed to shoppers in 2013, but that’s far below the 2007 peak of nearly 20 billion. However, many online retailers are now experimenting with print catalogues, such as Bonobos, a men’s clothing company. In fact, roughly 20% of Bonobos’ first-time customers now place orders after receiving one of the company’s catalogues, and spend 1.5 times longer shopping on its website than those who didn’t receive a catalogue. (Wall Street Journal)
THE CASE FOR WHY AMAZON SHOULD ACQUIRE SEARS: Amazon might be one of the world’s largest online shopping sites, but it’s still missing out on sales that occur in stores. If Amazon acquired a struggling retailer, such as Sears Holdings, it could be Jeff Bezos’ answer to multi-channel commerce, says industry strategist Robin Lewis. With Sears, Amazon would get roughly 2,400 stores in the U.S. and major brands such as Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools. Lewis argues that Amazon is the retailer that younger Americans identify with, while Sears and K-Mart (owned by Sears) are dying brands. This sort of a deal would not only expand Amazon’s business overnight, but it could also help revive Sears, a major retail institution. (The Robin Report)
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GOOGLE TESTS PRODUCT ADS: Google is testing a new ad product that promotes retail offerings in the carousel section of its search results. Between carousel ads and promoted search results, pretty much everything above the search webpage fold could soon be ad placements. Nonetheless, the new product ads could become an important marketing strategy for retailers to drive online sales. Search is among the most effective forms of advertising for retailers, because it allows them to target consumers who are already looking for something in particular. (Search Engine Land)
GAP CLOSES THE GAP BETWEEN OFFLINE AND ONLINE: Gap is expanding its pickup in store program, making it available in all of its stores by the end of summer. The initial pilot was billed as a huge success as Gap customers reserved approximately 500,000 items that they then picked up in stores. Furthermore, the program has driven higher transactions, according to Art Peck, Gap’s president of growth. The retailer is seeing so much success in bridging its online and offline strategies that it’s now working on a system that will allow shoppers to order items online while in store. This could help convert more store sales in situations when a particular size is out of stock, allowing the customer to order the item from the online Gap store or a different Gap location. (Internet Retailer)
WAL-MART DISSES MONEYGRAM, CONTINUES PAYMENTS PUSH. Wal-Mart will begin offering money-transfer services from its 4,000 domestic retail locations, in direct competition with the retail giant’s own contract with MoneyGram. Called “Walmart-2-Walmart,” the new initiative joins a string of other payments and banking offerings from the nation’s largest retailer. Earlier this month, Wal-Mart partnered with MasterCard to issue store-branded credit cards, ending a nine-year relationship with Discover. In 2012, the company began offering Bluebird pre-paid debit cards in partnership with American Express. Wal-Mart’s in-store sales lean heavily toward cash and cash-equivalent transactions, with only 15% of transactions paid by credit card, the company has said.
Nevertheless, Wal-Mart is gunning hard at the payment card networks on interchange fees. Last month, it slapped Visa with a civil antitrust suit claiming $US5 billion in damages, which could triple under federal law in the event of a verdict in Wal-Mart’s favour. Industry experts have speculated that the suit is part of a broader payments bid from Wal-Mart, in the form of a mysterious mobile wallet from the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX). But Morningstar analyst Kenneth Perkins isn’t convinced that Wal-Mart is straying fundamentally from retail. “If you have those consumers who don’t go to traditional banks, giving them access to capital through services within stores may encourage them to spend in those stores,” he told us. “It makes sense.” (Keith Griffith, BI Intelligence)
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