H&M at home, Shops at Target, Wal-Mart groceries

Cheap chic retailer H&M is launching its housewares collection in the U.S. in early 2013.

H&M housewares The H&M Home collection is heading to the U.S. in 2013. (H&M)

The collection, which is already available in Europe, will include moderately priced linens, cushions and other accessories for the home based on “themes seen on the runways,” according to Women’s Wear Daily.

The home collection debuted in 2009 in Sweden, Great Britain, Austria and Germany. Much like the quick turnaround of its apparel business, where a top can go from design table to store rack in a matter of weeks, H&M will introduce a number of new home items every two weeks.

–Target Corp. is continuing its collaborations with local retailers by teaming up with four new partners to produce limited-time apparel and home collections for the fall.

Called the Shops at Target, these partnerships bring on small boutiques that design items to be sold exclusively at the discount retailer. Debuting Sept. 9, Target will unveil products from the minds behind New York’s Kirna Zabete and Odin stores, Francisco’s the Curiosity Shoppe and Boston’s PATCH NYC.

Products will include apparel, bedding, kitchenware and home accessories.

–Discount giant  Wal-Mart Stores Inc.  announced plans for a grocery-centric Neighborhood Market in Downey.

The nearly 33,000-square-foot grocery store, which is sliding into a space formerly occupied by a party supply shop, will open later this year. It continues the retailer’s aggressive expansion into the Southland supermarket business.

Wal-Mart’s plans have been welcomed in some communities and spurred fierce opposition in others. A planned grocery store in downtown Los Angeles’s Chinatown neighborhood has sparked multiple protests.

Downey City Council member Mario Guerra said in a statement that he is pleased to see Wal-Mart “breathing new life” into an empty retail spot.

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Biggies bet on to go smaller.

Office Depot, other retailers pushing big to go smaller

Supersizing is out, and when it comes to retail stores, smaller is better.

Despite predictions a decade ago that brick-and-mortar stores would die, that has not happened.

Instead, smaller-format stores have debuted in response to competition from Internet sellers, rising costs and the overall economic downturn.

“It is the biggest trend. The most dramatic example would be Wal-Mart, obviously. It is 10 percent of U.S. sales. They are building smaller inner-city stores,” said Howard Davidowitz, president of Davidowitz & Associates, a national retail consulting and investment banking firm based in New York.

“Best Buy, Kohl’s, Staples, Target and Office Depot are building smaller stores as well. Frankly, almost everybody is downsizing their stores,” Davidowitz said.

“The overhead is less. The rent is less. The investment is less.”

Boca Raton, Fla.-based Office Depot Inc. is revamping many of its stores, remodeling them into more compact and shopper-friendly versions.

They range from about 5,000 square feet, one-fifth the size of a traditional Office Depot, to about 15,000 to 17,000 square feet.

“Customers say the smaller format makes sense from a shopping perspective,” Office Depot Chairman and CEO Neil Austrian told investors this week.

“I don’t think anyone in the retail business today can look ahead and say that a large box is what is going to make sense over time.”

So far, 41 Office Depots have been transformed.

On Tuesday, Office Depot reported a second-quarter loss of $64 million, or 23 cents a share, compared with a loss of $29 million, or 11 cents per share, a year ago.

Total company sales for the quarter fell by 7 percent to about $2.5 billion.

Its management team estimates that converting a couple of hundred stores to the smaller format could reduce operating costs by as much as $100 million a year.

Steven Schmidt, Office Depot’s International Division president, said competition is increasing globally, particularly on the Web.

“Category killers, just as in North America, continue to pop up all over the world,” Schmidt said.

“We are seeing more competitors show up on the Web every single day. We have to provide a customer experience that is better than or equal to competition so customers want to do business with us.”

Office Depot has committed $30 million this year to remodel or downsize 30 to 35 stores and relocate 25 to 30 stores with expiring leases.

Leases on more than 60 percent of its North American stores — with 1,111 stores in the United States — are expiring within five years, Austrian said.

The company’s strategy includes such options as retaining their format and location, downsizing, relocating within the same market or closing.

In 2013, more than 100 stores could be affected, Austrian said.

Why Wal-Mart Is Worried About Amazon?

Five years ago, the world’s largest retail chain didn’t have to worry much about the world’s largest online mall. Only about a quarter of Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) customers shopped at Amazon.com (AMZN), according to data from researcher Kantar Retail. Today, however, half of Wal-Mart customers say they’ve shopped at both merchants. That’s leaving the mega-retailer—which long ago bested local brick-and-mortar merchandise stores and supermarkets across America—with a massive online competitor that is too tough to ignore.

Threatening Wal-Mart’s dominance are two trends: The discounter’s traditional customers—bargain hunters making less than $50,000 a year—are getting more tech-savvy, and more-affluent shoppers who began frequenting Wal-Mart during the recession are returning to Amazon as their finances improve. Amazon has moved into merchandise categories that Wal-Mart traditionally has sold, from diapers to vacuum cleaner bags. In its last fiscal year, Amazon posted 41 percent revenue growth, to $48.1 billion, vs. 8 percent at Wal-Mart. The chain’s 2011 online sales amounted to less than 2 percent of its $264 billion in U.S. revenue, says Kantar. “Amazon is always in our sights,” says Jeremy King, chief technology officer at the retailer’s @ WalmartLabs skunkworks in Silicon Valley. “My biggest issue is playing a catch-up game.”

In the last year Wal-Mart has increased its investment in its online business. The company has spent more than $300 million acquiring five tech firms since May and hired more than 300 engineers and code writers in the U.S. and India. Wal-Mart is also launching a program to allow the 20 percent of its customers without credit cards or bank accounts to make online purchases.

Wal-Mart’s acquisitions include Kosmix, a social-media firm, and iPhone app creator Small Society. The company hopes the newcomers can find a way to stop shoppers from engaging in scan and scram. That’s when would-be customers use their smartphones in stores to scan an item’s bar code and then buy it online from a rival merchant. The chain’s tech team also is working on a concept called Endless Aisle, which would let shoppers immediately order from Walmart.com via smartphone if an item is out of stock. “You can’t ask people to leave their phones at the door. So you have to give them value and an experience,” says Venky Harinarayan, @WalmartLabs’ senior vice president of global e- commerce. The former Amazon executive joined from Kosmix.

Wal-Mart is trying to improve links between its store inventory, website, and mobile phone apps so that more customers can order online and pick up their purchases at stores, which half of Web customers do already. Wal-Mart is trying Web-based shopping tactics, like its Pay With Cash program for Wal-Mart customers who don’t have credit cards. The new program allows them to reserve products online and pay cash at their nearest store. To cater to its affluent customers, Wal-Mart is selling more expensive items—for example, high-end televisions from Sony (SNE) and Samsung—only online.

Harinarayan’s team is also trying to tackle a new problem for Wal-Mart. Last year the chain was the No. 1 destination for holiday shoppers, with 53 percent of U.S. customers visiting its stores. That was down from 59 percent the year before. To lure gift shoppers, the techies have developed a Shopycat feature that scans the social media preferences of a consumer’s Facebook friends and suggests gift ideas sold on Walmart.com. About 150,000 users have installed the app.

To roll out more such innovations, Wal-Mart must improve its in-house e-commerce technology, so King will hire 87 engineers and coders to bolster the links between the stores and the website. “We’re starting from scratch to build a foundation,” says the EBay (EBAY) veteran. “Ideally, we’d have this platform built a couple of years ago.”

 

The bottom line: Wal-Mart, which gets less than 2 percent of its U.S. sales online, aims to bolster its technical capabilities to compete with Amazon.

 

WalMart leads latest m-payments initiative

Store giant joins with two dozen US retailers to take leadership of NFC wave away from Google and Isis

Mobile payments’ progress has been held back by the sheer number of vested interests battling to take the upper hand in driving the platform. This is seen best in the US, where the main parties each have one or more initiatives – three of the top four cellcos in Isis; Google Wallet; schemes led by the credit card giants such as Visa; and separate programs by PayPal and others. Now the retailers, too, want a say, and about 25 stores, including Walmart and Target, have formed a consortium to develop their own m-payment system.

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, citing several unidentified sources with direct knowledge of the deal, the retailers are eager to limit the influence of either Google or the operators in this area. They would have various advantages in bringing store-based mobile payments, such as NFC-enabled systems, to market. They have an existing trusted brand for consumers, and would get round one of the major blocks in NFC’s path – merchant indifference or unwillingness to deploy terminals.

There are few details as yet, but Target said in a statement to the WSJ: “We are exploring potential solutions that would help us to deliver the fastest, most secure mobile-payment experience possible for our customers.”

However, Google claims 22 large US retail chains now support its Wallet initiative, even though that suffered recently from security issues, and is available only on the Sprint network and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset. Google is working with MasterCard and its PayPass network, while Isis is working with most of the major card processors, including Visa, MasterCard and Amex, and will start trials of its services this year.

IBM Buys Retail Forecasting And Merchandising Software Company

IBM has made a major purchase today in the commerce and retail world—DemandTec, a retail marketing and merchandising software company. IBM is acquiring DemandTec (which listed on the Nasdaq) in an all cash transaction at a price of $13.20 per share, or approximately $440 million.

DemandTec provides retailers and e-commerce companies with tools to transact, interact, and collaborate on core merchandising and marketing activities. DemandTec’s cloud-based analytics software allows businesses to examine different customer buying scenarios, both online and in-store, so retailers can spot trends and shopper insights to make better price, promotion, and assortment decisions that increase revenue and profitability.

For example, retailers can predict how consumers will respond to a price change before making the change. Or a merchant and supplier can work together to understand how one shopper segment differs from another to create a targeted merchandise plan.

DemandTec’s use of cloud-based price, promotion and other merchandising and marketing analytics helps companies better define the best price points and product mix based on customer buying trends. Essentially, DemandTec uses data analysis and forecasting to make the retail world smarter.

DemandTec customers include Best Buy, ConAgra Foods, Delhaize America, General Mills, H-E-B Grocery Co., The Home Depot, Hormel Foods, Monoprix, PETCO, Safeway, Sara Lee, Target, Walmart, and WH Smith. DemandTec also has a portfolio of 31 patents in the areas of pricing, response analysis, and promotion analysis.

For IBM, the acquisition is all about its smarter commerce initiative. IBM estimates the market opportunity for Smarter Commerce at $20 billion in software alone.

IBM’s recent acquisitions include Algorithmics, and Tririga.

Black Friday Sales Hits Record, Retail traffic and Foot-falls up.

Preliminary reports for Black Friday indicate that retailers may have seen their strongest sales ever during the all-important kick-off to the holiday shopping season.

black friday sales

Retail sales on Black Friday climbed 6.6% this year to an estimated $11.4 billion, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks foot traffic at malls and stores. Last year, sales climbed just 0.3% to $10.7 billion, which was a record one-day sales amount at the time, according to the company.

“This is the largest year-over-year gain in ShopperTrak’s National Retail Sales Estimate for Black Friday since the 8.3 percent increase we saw between 2007 and 2006,” said ShopperTrak founder Bill Martin. “Still, it’s just one day. It remains to be seen whether consumers will sustain this behavior through the holiday shopping season.”

However, sales have been strong throughout the entire month of November with retailers rolling out holiday deals earlier than ever. In the two weeks leading up to the week of Black Friday, retail sales were up 3.6% and 3.8%, respectively, ShopperTrak reported.

“Retailers continue to stretch out Black Friday weekend by enticing shoppers with doorbuster deals weeks in advance,” said Martin.

Online sales have also proven to be strong, with many big-box retailers and department stores offering deals online earlier this year.

Black Friday online sales surge 24%

Online sales were up 39.3% on Thanksgiving Day and 24.3% on Black Friday compared to the same days last year, according to IBM’s (IBM,Fortune 500) Coremetrics, which tracks real-time data from 500 retailers in the apparel, department store, health and beauty and home goods categories.

“This year marked Thanksgiving’s emergence as the first big spending day of the 2011 holiday season with a record number of consumers shifting their focus from turkey to tablets and the search for the best deals,” said John Squire, chief strategy officer at IBM’s Smarter Commerce division.

Consumers also spent slightly more than they did last year, although they spent most of that money on themselves. According to NPD Group consumers spent about 3% more on purchases during Black Friday. However, about 44% were self purchases up from 33% last year, the research group said.

Retail traffic on Black Friday up 2%

Total US visits to the top 500 Retail websites increased 2% on Black Friday as compared to 2010 and received more than 173 million US visits. Traffic has increased each day leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday and the total visits dipped slightly (-1%) on Black Friday compared Thanksgiving Day 2011. Early Black Friday sales resulted in a shift of online traffic, which climbed prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, however, continued heavy promotional activity helped to drive significant online traffic on both Thanksgiving and Black Friday. While Black Friday has been the top day for online retail traffic over the past two years, warm weather and early store openings encouraged shoppers to go online sooner this season.
DMS Retail 500 11-25-2011.png

Among the categories driving the growth in traffic on Black Friday were Department Stores (e.g. Amazon and Wal-Mart) Apparel & Accessories, Appliances & Electronics (e.g. Best Buy) and Video & Games (e.g. Game Stop).
DMS Retail Categories 11-25-2011.png

Below is a list of the top visited retail sites on Black Friday:
DMS Retail 500 Sites 11-25-2011.png

Many of the major retail websites experienced growth on Black Friday, including Amazon, Best Buy, JC Penney, Sears and Kohl’s. Amazon.com was the most visited website on Black Friday for the 7th year in a row.

Target Opens 23 New Stores, Creates 4,000 Jobs

Retail Discounter Opens 17 General Merchandise Stores With Expanded Food Options

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Target (NYSE:TGT) today announced the opening of 23 new stores. Of these, four are general merchandise stores, 17 are general merchandise stores with expanded food options and two are full-grocery SuperTarget stores. All 23 stores will celebrate their grand opening on Sunday, July 26, 2009.

General Merchandise Stores

Locations receiving a general merchandise store include:
* Kona, Hawaii
* Warren, Mich.
* Bronx Terminal, N.Y.
* Cheltenham, Pa.

The general merchandise stores feature a blend of everyday essentials including household products, electronics, clothing, and an assortment of food and seasonal merchandise. These stores offer amenities such as a Starbucks®, Target CaféSM and Target PharmacySM. Target also balances a wide range of national brands with its own Target brands like Archer Farms™, Choxie™, Market Pantry™ and up & upTM. Each general merchandise store employs 100-250 team members and is approximately 127,000 square feet.

General Merchandise Stores Receiving Expanded Food Options

Locations receiving an expanded food format store include:
* Vista South, Calif.
* Exeter Township, Pa.
* Lisbon, Conn.
* Hanover Twp., Pa.
* Spring Hill East, Fla.
* Lower Nazareth, Pa.
* West Melbourne, Fla.
* West Pottsgrove Twp., Pa.
* Cedar Falls, Iowa
* Huntsville, Texas
* Hammond, La.
* Hampton, Va.
* Las Vegas N. Decatur, Nev.
* Martinsburg, W.Va.
* Greenland, N.H.
* Waukesha South, Wis.
* Chili, N.Y.

The 17 expanded food stores offer all of the merchandise found in our general merchandise stores with the added convenience of fresh food. This new format has an open-market layout and features new food additions including basic fresh produce, fresh meat and bakery goods. Each expanded food format store employs 100-250 team members and is approximately 135,000 square feet.

SuperTarget Stores

Locations receiving a SuperTarget include:
* Murrieta North, Calif.
* Wylie, Texas

SuperTarget stores offer a complete, one-stop-shopping destination by combining the convenience of a general merchandise store with a full-scale grocery. Additional merchandise options include a complete assortment of fresh produce, and an on-site bakery and deli. Each SuperTarget employs 200-300 team members and is approximately 186,000 square feet.

About Target

As of Sunday, July 26, Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) serves guests at 1,719 stores in 49 states nationwide and at Target.com. Target is committed to providing a fun and convenient shopping experience with access to unique and highly differentiated products at affordable prices. Since 1946, the corporation has given 5 percent of its income through community grants and programs like Take Charge of Education. Today, that giving equals more than $3 million a week.

Note: Target welcomes the media to its stores. To contact your local store about store events, merchandise and community programs please visit “Find a Store” at http://www.Target.com. Images can be found at http://www.Target.com/Pressroom under the category “Target Stores.”

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