RETAIL NEWS

Report: Consumers prefer personalized offers, content

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

There is an increasing gap between retailers’ marketing methods and the campaigns that realistically drive consumers’ purchase decisions.

In addition to wanting more personalized experiences, consumers want to discover brands and affirm purchase decisions through social influencers, according to “Retail 2018: The Loyalty Divide,” a report from Oracle.

According to the data, 69% of respondents note personalized offers based on preferences are appealing, while 66% find personalized offers based on purchase history as appealing. Fifty-eight percent of consumers said personalized content and communications are appealing.

Consumers also indicated that retailers must have a strong social presence, and want to use social influencers when discovering new brands and affirming purchases. For example, 53% are likely to research brands on social media before buying, and 46% are likely to save ideas on social media about products or retailers.

Forty-three percent are likely to share photos of retail experiences/products on social media, and are likely to follow influencers that post about favorite retail brands, respectively.

Consumers also believe in the integrity of social influencers, as 41% of consumers agree that YouTube reviews are more trustworthy than branded advertising or communications, and 37% of consumers believe that retailers used and recommended by social media influencers are more trustworthy than those recommended by celebrities.

Despite this trend, 28% of retailers will only take into account measures of loyalty based on activities such as loyalty card membership or transaction frequency, the study revealed.

“The future of loyalty will be a balancing act between consumers desire for more anonymity, or at least direct control of their data, and an expectation for meaningful personalization that is targeted and timely,” said Mike Webster, senior VP and general manager, Oracle retail and hospitality. “We believe the answer is a new approach to segmentation that integrates advanced algorithms and machine learning into the retail business process that govern planning, inventory and pricing.”

There is less of a gap when it comes to using artificial intelligence (AI). Only 26% of consumers find AI on a mobile device that gets to know the user through voice recognition and then makes intelligent recommendations as unappealing compared to 91% of retailers that think this would be appealing to consumers.

Other findings include:

  • 91% of consumers note it is appealing to accept or reject offers so that the retailer loyalty program can learn what products and offers are of most interest.
  • 86% of consumers note that it is appealing when a retailer’s staff and customer support uses their personal preferences to provide better service.
  • 52% of retailers think consumers are concerned about data being passed onto third parties, yet 81% of consumers would consider removing their personal information if they could. Meanwhile, 53% are concerned that their data is being passed onto third parties.

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Walmart details spending for store openings, remodels

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart plans to spend invest more money in its stores in Texas this year than any other state.

The discounter detailed its spending plans for store openings and remodels along with in-store technology initiatives. The spend is part of Walmart’s total capital expenditures guidance of approximately $11.0 billion for its current fiscal year.

As previously announced, the chain’s store spends this year leans more toward remodeling than new store openings. The retailer also plans to expand several in-store services, including adding more online grocery pickup locations, and more high-tech pickup towers.

Here is how the discounter’s plans shape up in several states:

  • Texas: Walmart will invest $277 million in the Lone Star State to open four stores and remodel more than 40 locations, with many in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Texas is Walmart’s largest state, with 508 Walmart stores, 85 Sam’s Club stores and 19 distribution centers.
  • Florida: Walmart will spend about $200 million during the next year through the opening and remodeling of 43 stores in Florida.
  • New stores are planned for Central Florida (one), Jacksonville (two) and Miami-Fort Lauderdale (three), with remodels in in Central Florida, the Panhandle, Tampa Bay, West Palm Beach, and other parts of the state. Walmart will open a new distribution center in the City of Cocoa later this year.
  • California: Walmart is making a $145 million investment in its California stores. The money will be used to remodel 33 stores in the state, and open a new location in Fresno.
  • Ohio: The retailer will spend $94 million on its Ohio footprint, with 27 remodels planned.
  • New Jersey: Walmart is spending $68 million to extend its presence in the Garden State. It will open one new store, in Mount Laurel, and remodel 11 existing sites.

The discounter also plans to expand its grocery pickup service to 13 additional locations.

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Bed, Bath & Beyond dips in 4th quarter

BY Marianne Wilson

Bed Bath & Beyond, the parent company of Harmon, issued its fourth-quarter sales and earnings, which beat the Street but also reported gloomy guidance for its current year.

Bed Bath & Beyond said it earned $194 million, or $1.41 a share, in the quarter ended March 3, compared with $269 million, or $1.84 a share, in the year-ago period. Excluding items, the retailer reported adjusted earnings of $204.59 million or $1.48 per share, better than analysts had expected.

Sales rose 5.2% to $3.7 billion in the quarter. Same-store sales fell by about 0.6%.

The company said it expects fiscal 2018 per-share net earnings to be in the low-to-mid $2 range. Analysts had expectations of $3.07 a share for the year.

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