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Forget Black Friday, Is Your eCommerce Store Ready for Thanksgiving?

target pressWalmart, Target, K-Mart, Staples – they’re just a few of the stores that will open their doors on Thanksgiving with hopes of getting a jump on the holidays sales season. Many believe this is another step in the decline of the human race but honestly, is it more crazy to go shopping at 8 pm on Thanksgiving (leaving family members behind to clean up the mess) or stand in line at 1 am on Black Friday?

(Can we all take a moment to appreciate the blond woman in this press shot from Target. She’s simply having a wonderful Christmas time.)

The good news for online retailers is that a large portion of holiday bargain hunters aren’t going to venture out until it’s officially Black Friday. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to shop.

Facebook Leads Social Shopping Conversions but Polyvore Has Highest AOV

polyvoreDavid Selinger, CEO of RichRelevance says that social shopping accounts for less than 1% of the total online shopping sessions but hey, that’s still money in the bank, right? So, his company put together this lovely, holiday-themed infographic that shows how the top social shopping channels stack up.

The first thing you’ll notice when you review the panels is the inclusion of a site we don’t often talk about – Polyvore. This social site asks user to curate sets of products from a variety of online retailers. The example you see on the right is someone’s idea of a cool living room. Click on the objects and you get a detail page including the price and where to buy it. One more click and you’re on the site that sells it.

Traditional Stores Opening Silicon Valley Labs In Attempt to Compete Online

Silicon-Valley-MapIt’s taken many years and lots of proclamations from the Internet industry that it has taken over shopping (which it hasn’t by any stretch of the imagination but it’s great PR hype, isn’t it?) but the world of traditional brick and mortar retailers is giving in just a little.

How? They are setting up labs in the Silicon Valley area to be closer to the innovation so they don’t get left behind. The Associated Press reports

Software engineers wearing jeans and flip flops test the latest smartphone apps. Walls and windows double as whiteboards where ideas are jotted down. And a mini basketball net is in the center of it all.

At first glance, this workplace resembles any Silicon Valley startup. There’s just one exception: Target’s trademark red bulls-eye at the entrance.

US Consumers Would Switch Online Stores before Switching Grocery Stores

In the retail business, loyalty is everything. Returning customers are the bread and butter of most businesses and you can’t afford to lose even one. Unfortunately for online shops, customer loyalty is iffy at best.

switching online retailers

The Nielsen Global Survey of Loyalty Sentiment report shows that online retailers come in last by a pretty wide margin.

They surveyed 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries across 16 categories and found that people were more likely to be loyal to brands / companies they use everyday such as banks, mobile phone service and cable providers.

I see it a different way. It’s not loyalty that keeps customers hanging on – it’s lack of options coupled with the hassle factor (not to be confused with the Hassle-hoff.) Changing your mobile phone provider often means paying a penalty for ending a contract early or losing upgrade benefits you’ve accrued over time.

Flipboard Embraces eCommerce with Catalogs For and By the People

br-catalog-coverFlipboard, the image-heavy, mobile news aggregator is encouraging readers to shop with a new “create your own catalog” tool.

To get you started, they’ve contracted with some heavy hitters to create catalogs of their own. InStyle, The Verge and Nylon Guys have created collections of their favorite things. You’ll also find curated catalogs from Chef Daniel Boulud (“Holiday Favorites”), designer Cynthia Rowley (“All Things Cynthia”), singer Sara Evans (“A Real Fine Place”) and actress Alyssa Milano (“Gifts for the Woman in Your Life”).

These catalogs are a mix of products from a variety of brands that fit into a theme. Then there are the brand specific catalogs from Banana Republic, Birchbox, eBay, Etsy, Fab, Levi’s and ModCloth.

Is Amazon’s Sunday Delivery Scheme a Good Idea or Just PR?

o9rdPbSAmazon made a big noise this week when they announced Sunday delivery courtesy of the US Post Office. It sounds like a monumental move – no one delivers packages on Sunday, not Fedex, not UPS. And the US Postal Service has been fighting to eliminate Saturday mail delivery but now they’re going to add a day instead?

The reality is that Saturday delivery is costing the post office a fortune but Sunday delivery will be profitable since Amazon is presumably spending a pretty penny to make it happen.

But Sunday mail delivery is like opening a retail store on Thanksgiving in order to capitalize on Black Friday. Sure, it may be profitable but there’s a large portion of the American population that thinks it’s simply not right. I wonder how the mailmen (and women) feel about having to work Sundays.

Study Shows the Old Fashioned Print Catalog is Good for Internet Sales

1962-sears-christmas-bookWhen I was little, my sisters and I nearly burst with excitement when the Sears Christmas Wish Book landed on our doorstep. We’d sit together on the couch and slowly go through it page by page (even the boring pages because the anticipation was part of the fun), working our way back to the toy section. We’d play “pick,” choosing our favorite item on each page as if we were creating the world’s biggest wish list.

I wonder if today’s kids feel that way about the Toys R Us catalog that shows up in the Sunday newspaper?

The excitement level may not be the same but a study by global management consulting firm Kurt Salmon shows that print catalogs actually help boost online sales.