Friday, January 21, 2011

Retailers count on gift cards to shore up their January sales

Did you buy or receive a gift card recently?

In a post-holiday survey by ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) consumers said 14.5% of their total holiday gift purchases were in the form of gift cards or certificates, up from 13.1% in 2009. That was the highest since 2007, when the reported average share was 14.7%.

ICSC predicts only 36.3% of gift cards will be redeemed this month, down from 45% last year and 46.4% in 2009.

Tolu Babalola, spokesman for, which buys unwanted gift cards and lets people exchange them for others, believes more consumers are putting off redemption because of new federal gift card rules. The rules limit expiration dates to five years after purchase and prohibit dormancy fees for non-use until after the first year. As of Feb. 1, the dates and fees also must be disclosed right on the cards.

You can read more at article:

Happy Shopping !


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Why The Web Has Won

Rachel Ryan, Director of Finance at the National Retail Federation (NRF) has a terrific posting on Retail's BIG Blog. Here is an excerpt:

"In the past decade there have been two winners in the retail space -- warehouse clubs and Web-based stores, according to Patti Freeman Evans, research director at Forrester Research. Why has the Web superseded other channels? Evans shares three reasons for the success of the Web, as well as what changes retailers need to make to compete.

So, why has the web won?

The web has created a new competitive market in which geography is no longer the driving force. Companies cite Amazon, eBay, and small online shops as their competition, in addition to traditional players. The web has created a border-less world in which much broader and global markets exist. Successful retailers must have conversations about how best to manage that marketplace.

The web has empowered brands allowing companies to enforce their brand image and message. 57% of U.S. respondents agreed with the statement, “When I find a brand I like, I stick to it.” It is therefore up to retailers to ensure that the consumer experience with their brand is consistent. For example, store associates should have access to the web to educate themselves and sell product – thereby having access to the same information that the consumer has access to.

Channel sales are getting blurred. In the next two years, over half of U.S. retail sales will be influenced or impacted by the web. Nike refers to this new world as “bricks and mobile” and internally stresses the importance of watching what is happening online, both at digital interfaces such as Facebook and competitors’ websites." provides "bricks and mortar" retailers another channel to sell locally via our 1-Hour Personal Shopping & Delivery program.  This 100% turnkey Rapid Online Order Fulfillment (ROOF) program increases customer loyalty and store sales while reducing the usual e-commerce return rates (normally 30%) by getting products into the customer's hands within the hour rather than in days.

The ROOF program is currently offered at Aventura Mall, FL with over 300 retailers and restaurants.  Customers browse and order online (or by phone) via Network whose CyberValet Shoppers go to the store, purchase the items and deliver them to the customer usually within the hour.

National rollout of the ROOF program is in conjunction with other regional malls.

Happy Shopping !


Saturday, January 15, 2011

The National Retail Federation (NRF) publishes great articles.

Here is an excerpt from Retail's BIG Blog January 12/11 posting "Not on Facebook? Here’s why you should be" by Margaret Case Little, Communication Manager.

Margaret interviewed Bernie Brennan to get his views on social media and mobility as a retail game changer. With a recently published best-selling book on the significant opportunities that retailers have to build market share by amplifying their culture and strategy through these new digital channels, Bernie’s insights into this component of the evolving industry are worth a read.

"In your book, “Branded!: How Retailers Engage Consumers with Social Media and Mobility”, you write about retailers who are successfully implementing social media and mobility strategies. What made you want to write the book?

We believe that the rapid emergence of the “digital era” represents the most dynamic change in the relationship between retailers and consumers in the history of retail. Because this paradigm change is so dramatic, the degree of implementation on the part of retailers varies substantially. We were encouraged by industry leaders as well as executives of NRF to write a book directed to the executive leadership of retailers, as opposed to a technical book.
What are the three most innovative social media tactics you’ve seen utilized recently?

Frankly, there are many, and new initiatives are being implemented almost daily. To answer your question specifically, here are three compelling initiatives:

1. Commerce on Facebook. This enables customers to be interactive, discussing planned purchases, while they shop online. There are three proactive retailers: was the pioneer, Best Buy, and JCPenney, who are executing this strategy and are featured in Branded!

2. Localization is a compelling strategy that relates to dealing with customer needs on a local level. Now with the use of social media networks and location-based mobility, the retailer can truly serve individual stores’ local needs. Macy’s and Best Buy are leaders in this initiative.

3. Effective use of Twitter. Success of Twitter is based on a company’s open culture, and hiring, empowering, and inspiriting associates to be ambassadors of the company. Zappos is the industry leader in the social media channel."

We invite you to read the balance of Margaret's NRF blog posting. is a locally-focused sales, marketing and distribution network enabling retailers and restaurants to offer 1-Hour Personal Shopping & Delivery as an additional channel for consumers to purchase their favorite products online.

Please let us know if you'd like us to publish more of similar retail-oriented articles on blog.

Happy Shopping !


Friday, January 14, 2011

Aspirational Shoppers

Are you "Aspirational" ?!  "Aspirational" shoppers -- consumers who have fancy tastes but cannot afford the most expensive items -- are feeling more confident.

"Rich shoppers have recovered far more quickly from the recession than middle and lower income consumers, and are hitting stores in droves to snap up cashmere sweaters, designer dresses and diamond necklaces at stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus" according to this Reuters article

"Upscale retailers have had the extra benefit of catering to a clientele willing and able to pay full price, unlike middle-of-the-road chains like J.C. Penney Co and Liz Claiborne's Lucky Brands stores, which still have to watch their prices."

Whether you're Aspirational or just feel inspired to shop but find it hard to get out, if you live in Aventura, FL, you can shop online for retail, groceries and restaurant meals (including Food Court yummies) and get 1-Hour personal shopping and delivery via