DSW tries to increase e-sales in stores
Jan 20, 2013 (The Columbus Dispatch - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
DSW spokeswoman Christina Cheng explains it this way: "If you happen to be in a store and they didn't have your size, they can look up the store within the nearest proximity and complete the sale for you from that location in a seamless transaction."
VendorNet, a Web-based supply-chain management firm, and its StoreNet software represent the engine behind the online-sales concept.
"The partnership with VendorNet allows us to fulfill store or online orders from other stores," Cheng said.
DSW's CEO, Michael MacDonald, spoke recently about the various ways in which customers can buy shoes from the chain, and this is one of the final steps in that multi-pronged approach.
Of course, the first -- and still main -- way of selling shoes is by going into one of DSW's more than 300 stores and picking up a pair in person.
But in recent years, shoe chains have faced rising competition against such online retailers as Shoes.com and Amazon-owned Zappos.
To answer that challenge, DSW has been moving quickly to ramp up its online sales, too. Shoephoria, DSW's stock locator system, allows in-store customers to order shoes from the dsw.com e-commerce site when the store doesn't have their size in stock.
Leveraging that system, the retailer revived its children's shoe line, too.
The idea was simple: Sell kids' shoes online and via its mobile site, and use the real-world stores as return depots, if needed.
Those who think that the two-pronged children's shoe system is some kind of last-gasp strategy of an old-fashioned retailer should consider this: E-commerce brand Amazon, which consultancy ChannelAdvisor believes will pass Walmart as the world's biggest retailer by 2017, is considering brick-and-mortar stores of its own.
In fact, National Retail Federation executive director Vicki Cantrell recently shared a few thoughts about this integration of in-person and e-commerce, noting, "Companies today don't need to choose between their website and their physical stores. They need both."
Speaking of Amazon, the e-commerce giant was among the "Things to Watch in 2013" retail report recently released by marketing communications brand JWT.
It's little surprise that the eighth annual forecast of key trends had Amazon as its top trend.
Amazon may have started out as a big threat to booksellers, but its expansion into selling everything from apparel to wine has struck fear into the hearts of retailers.
Amazon gave retailers a nasty jolt a year ago when it encouraged shoppers -- with a 5 percent bonus discount -- to use its Price Check smartphone app while "showrooming," going into a brick-and-mortar store and comparison shopping online.
This past holiday, the early information suggests that Amazon continued to eat other retailers' breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The National Retail Federation's Shop.org estimated that 39 percent of U.S. holiday shopping would be done online, and while ShopperTrak reported that national retail sales and shopper traffic increased a relatively meager 2.5 percent from the holiday shopping season the year before, Amazon reported record-breaking sales.
The numbers are truly staggering: On its peak day, Nov. 26 (or Cyber Monday), Amazon sold more than 26.5 million items, about 306 items per second.
But lest anyone think it's all a matter of offering the lowest prices, it turns out that customer satisfaction is becoming an ever bigger part of Amazon's success. ForeSee.com's eighth annual E-Retail Satisfaction Index reports that during the recent holiday season, Amazon had the highest customer satisfaction ever attained, with LLBean.com coming in second.
Among local retailers, VictoriasSecret.com was the only one in the top 25.
Ascena Retail Group, the operator of the Columbus-based Justice and Lane Bryant chains, as well as Maurices, Dress Barn and Catherines brands, saw a big difference in sales at its physical stores versus online sales during the holiday period.
The company recently reported that same-store sales declined by 2 percent during November and December while online sales increased 30 percent.
The combined sales increased by 1 percent, prompting Ascena to lower its expectations for earnings during the current fiscal year, which ends July 27.
While tween girl brand Justice had an in-store sales increase of 5 percent and plus-size brand Catherines had an increase of 4 percent, plus-size retailer Lane Bryant declined 9 percent, Maurices fell 2 percent, and Dress Barn declined 8 percent.
In a conference call with analysts, company CEO David Jaffe described the holiday sales season as "challenging." As a result, the company has had to bite the bullet and offer price markdowns to clear away lingering inventory before the spring lineup arrives.
The National Retail Federation this month presented a lifetime achievement award to John C. Mahaney Jr., president and CEO of the Ohio Council of Retail Merchants.
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