Can anyone convince North American shoppers to buy groceries online?
The last frontier that e-commerce has yet to make much of a dent in is grocery shopping, particularly in North America. While there are a number of online merchants that offer grocery delivery across the country, including Amazon, Peapod and FreshDirect, as well as Instacart, which uses smartphones to deploy personal shoppers to buy and deliver groceries to consumers’ homes, and home meal delivery services like BlueApron, only 12% of North Americans say they buy groceries online. That percentage pales in comparison to China and other markets, according to a recent Nielsen survey. Why? And why hasn’t anyone figured out a way to make online grocery shopping mainstream? Both Wal-Mart and Amazon are making big pushes to solve the puzzle. Wal-Mart, which gets 56% of its annual U.S. revenue from grocery sales, wants to grow that business online. That’s why it is testing home grocery delivery in San Jose, Calif., pickup and delivery options in Denver, curbside pickup in Huntsville, Ala., and Phoenix and a dedicated grocery pickup location in Bentonville. Amazon too has a number of projects in the works. In May it began offering 1-hour grocery delivery in Manhattan via its Prime Now service, last fall it worked with the U.S. Postal Service to deliver meat, vegetables and other groceries to consumers in the San Francisco area and in April 2014 it rolled out Prime Pantry, which lets Prime customers virtually fill a 4-cubic-foot box with up to 45 pounds of items from the e-retailer’s pantry section for a $5.99 flat shipping fee. Delivering groceries efficiently enough to sustain low prices isn’t an easy business, particularly outside of dense urban markets. This story will explore how and why North American shoppers have been slow to embrace online grocery shopping, how e-commerce giants like Wal-Mart and Amazon, as well as startups like Instacart, are trying to change that and whether those efforts are likely to work.
Internet Retailer Survey: Retailers' e-commerce technology spending plans
This exclusive Internet Retailer survey will find out what e-retailers' IT priorities are and how they plan to spend their technology and services budgets in the next 12 months. They'll also be asked how much of the work they will do on their own and in which areas they'll engage vendors for help. It will also examine the size of their tech teams, and what they're doing to attract and retain scarce e-commerce tech talent. E-commerce experts will comment on the results and explain the significance of these statistics for web retailers crafting their own technology budgets and hiring plans.
Topics: Tech-spending survey
Capturing holiday shoppers’ attention on social media
How do you get shoppers to pay attention to your ad when they’re on Facebook, Twitter or other social networks to read up on what their friends and celebrities are up to? Some retailers are using the Buy buttons that have recently rolled out across various social networks—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Wanelo—while others are using new ad formats such as video ads, the latest iteration of which Pinterest and Twitter have just recently rolled out. This story will look at the new tools retailers can incorporate in their social media marketing campaigns this year to try to spot this year’s likely holiday trends. Those trends may look very different from those last year because this will be the first year that Pinterest and Snapchat let marketers advertise, not to mention the slew of new tools that Instagram has rolled out recently. And that’s not to mention, non-advertising tools retailers can leverage such as Meerkat and Periscope.
Topics: Holidays, social media
The holiday return problem
If online retailers want to keep up with the competition, they have little choice but to make returns easy for shoppers, or at least easy to understand. After all, 66% of the retailers in The E-tailing Group’s 2014 annual Mystery Shopper Study during last holiday season offered a single return policy for all orders (as opposed to different rules based on the product or whether the item was opened) last year, versus 60% a year earlier; 38% allowed shoppers to begin the returns process online, an increase from 27%, and 64% offered a prepaid return label, up from 59%. But the easier it is for shoppers to return items, the more likely it is that they’ll do so. And that can prove costly. This story will examine what it takes for retailers to keep their return costs down, particularly during the holiday season when returns peak. In particular, it should answer how retailers use their order management and returns-processing technologies to offer the convenience consumers want without hurting their bottom lines. It will also examine the kind of product information retailers can offer on their web sites—such as videos, sizing charts and 360-degree product views—that can make it more likely a shopper gets the right product, and therefore doesn’t have to return it.
What’s happening with the online sales tax?
In late May, Washington State legislators took a crucial step that could enable it to collect online sales and use taxes from online retailers regardless of whether they have a building, office, distributor or physical presence in the state by introducing the Washington State Marketplace Fairness Act. The move follows U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy earlier this year (http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/03/03/justice-kennedys-opinion-supporting-states-collecting-taxes-on-internetmail-order-transactions/) inviting states to petition the Supreme Court to overrule the ruling that gave rise to the current order of things—Quill Corp. v. North Dakota. That could offer a workaround the stalled Marketplace Fairness Act of 2015 (the bill, which was introduced in March, is stuck in the House Judiciary Committee). It could also have big implications because it could lead individual states to begin implementing their own sales tax collection policies. This story will provide an overview of the current online sales tax landscape, examine how likely it is that any movement will occur in the near-future, as well as the potential impact of the move from both a sales and operations perspective for e-retailers.
Topics: Online sales tax
The five steps IT departments need to address to keep hackers out
Retailers are a prime target for hackers given the amount of consumer data they collect and their sometimes out-of-date security protocols. That explains why retail e-commerce sites accounted for 42% of the investigations Trustwave conducted last year, making it the most-compromised industry, according to a report set to be released June 9. To avoid falling prey to these sophisticated criminals, retailers’ IT departments need to be ready. This story will offer five areas that IT departments need to address to combat hackers and include pertinent details, such as how often retail security managers have to review their defenses in each area.
The global bankrollers
Private equity funding is flowing to developing e-commerce markets, and a handful of investment firms are going deep. This article will profile three of these private equity firms and their e-commerce investments in developing global markets: Tiger Global (global, but many in Asia), Rocket Internet (global, but they do a lot in Latin America) and Naspers (Africa). The story will introduce readers to the equity managers that analyze and direct these firm’s e-commerce/digital investments, detailing what they look for in a target company and their outlook for e-commerce development in these developing markets. It will also include the voices of e-retailers these firms have invested in, speaking on the trajectory their online businesses are taking.
Topics: Equity firms
Holiday Readiness: Getting ready for Profitable holiday
35% of annual e-commerce sales took place in the October to December period last year among Top 500 retailers, which means the holiday season accounts for an outsized proportion of annual revenue. While there may not be time for e-retailers to make major changes to their platforms and properly test them in time for the holiday shopping season, there's still plenty of time to make smaller moves that can boost sales and customer satisfaction. The key is to identify simple changes that have the power to deliver a big impact and to implement them with a sense of urgency, rather than invest in last-minute, costly capital projects, say experts. This special report looks into the various technology and service areas retailers can act on now prepare for the big holiday rush.
Topics: Holiday readiness