IR Magazine: Coming in the June Issue
Cover Story

Today's real web shopper

Virtually every U.S. adult who uses the Internet has bought a product online in the last year, and e-retail is close to accounting for 10% of retail sales of goods that can be bought online. 10% is a threshold experts identify as a point where change accelerates. Internet Retailer is conducting a survey of U.S. online adult consumers to more precisely identify their changing shopping habits, how they incorporate the Internet into their shopping, what they spend and where, and their response to methods commonly used by online merchants to encourage sales. June’s cover story will break down the results, and highlight how e-retailers are adapting to consumers’ changing habits—or not. It will include commentary on retail’s changing foundation and how the ever-greater role of web shopping is likely to change the way retailers and brands sell to consumers.

Topics: E-Retail

Strategies of the Second 500

North America’s mid-sized and smaller e-retailers are honing their competitive edges to grow sales. They better, because giants like Amazon, Wal-Mart and Nike are doing everything they can to vacuum up every available dollar in online purchases. In this story, several e-retailers appearing in the newly published Internet Retailer Second 500 reveal what they are doing to differentiate themselves from e-commerce giants, how they turn their smaller size into an advantage by engaging consumers more directly than bigger companies can, and how they use other sales avenues beyond their own websites, such as online marketplaces, to drive revenue. The Second 500 ranks e-retailers with $28 million or less in annual revenue, and regularly provides the first sightings of up-and-coming web retailers like Dollar Shave Club and Sole Society that soon move into the Top 500. How is this year’s batch planning to move up, despite the intense competition? This story will analyze their trajectories and include details on their digital marketing, customer service and fulfillment strategies.

Topics: Showcase, Second 500

Talent for hire?

In the past year, a pair of major e-retailers took legal actions to prevent high-level employees from joining competitors. In March, Amazon filed a lawsuit to prevent Arthur Valdez from joining Target as its chief supply chain and logistics officer, citing a non-compete clause in his employment agreement. Last summer, Kohl’s sued to prevent Janet Schalk from joining Hudson’s Bay as its chief information officer on the same grounds, with a Milwaukee court eventually ruling in Schalk’s favor. This story will examine how common these clauses are in employment agreements at e-retail companies, whether their prevalence is growing and why, how often a perceived violation lands an executive up in court and how enforceable non-compete clauses actually are. It will also look at how much compensation an online retailer will likely have to offer to induce an executive to accept a non-compete clause. The story will draw on input from executive recruiters, employment lawyers and e-retail executives to help e-retailers understand whether and how extensively to use these restrictive employment agreements, and what other strategies they can use to keep company leaders from defecting to the competition.

Topics: Recruitment

eBay's second life

2015 was a big transition year for eBay Inc. In July, the company finalized the split of its eBay marketplace business from payment services arm PayPal, and in November finalized the sale of its e-commerce services arm eBay Enterprise. Coinciding with these moves eBay CEO Devin Wenig set out to transform eBay into a “discovery-based marketplace” supportive of small and medium-sized brands and merchants. EBay’s performance in subsequent quarters has been middling, with full-year GMV effectively flat. This feature—a follow-up on IR’s well-received June 2015 cover story on the company—will analyze eBay’s progress and challenges as it works to grow on its own.

Topics: eBay

A digital prescription for healthcare’s future

E-commerce in healthcare is booming as consumers increasingly use the web to manage their own healthcare, from buying insurance online to scheduling digital visits with doctors. Over the next five years spending on e-commerce technology by the healthcare industry could top $32 billion annually, according to investment banking firm Goldman Sachs. As a direct result of government mandates and the trend of employers passing more of the cost and management of healthcare on to their employees, consumers will likely generate millions of new digital transactions annually, says consulting and research firm Accenture. The rapid rise of e-commerce opens up new opportunities for established web merchants such as Walgreen and CVS and startups such as as well as others taking to the web to sell prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and related products and services directly to consumers and businesses. Digital healthcare also is attracting new initiatives from consumer brand manufacturers such as Apple, Under Armour and others as they seek to develop new forms of web-enabled mobile devices and clothing that enable consumers better manage more aspects of their health and fitness. This story examines the growth in healthcare e-commerce, what’s driving the change from paper-based medicine to digital healthcare and which online retailers and manufacturers are making a concerted move in healthcare.

Topics: E-commerce in healthcare

Amazon’s automated warehouses

Amazon last fall had roughly 30,000 robots in operation at 13 fulfillment centers, up from 15,000 in 10 fulfillment centers at the end of 2014, and 1,300 in May 2014. The e-retailer is incorporating robots into its newly built fulfillment centers and estimates indicate the robots enable workers to process two to three times as many orders than they can with more manual filling processes. Amazon opened one of these highly automated warehouses last fall in Kenosha, Wis. last fall, and Internet Retailer got an inside look at how the robots, which can lift up to 800 pounds, and the 2,000 human employees interact in the 1-million-square-foot warehouse. This story will look at what other online retailers can learn from the implementation of robots by Amazon, and include expert commentary on whether we’re on the verge of a new wave of automation of e-commerce distribution centers.

Topics: Fulfillment, Showcase

Do e-retailers need apps?

Having an app is part of an e-retailer’s mobile strategy. Right? Maybe not. This story will explore if retailers really need an app and if it is worth the time and investment. The initial development cost is significant, and even after it’s launched a retailer or brand has to keep working to get consumers to use it. The story will include commentary from e-retailers that have developed apps, describe their successes and failures, and their reasons for abandoning their apps or trying another approach to make them work. It will look at key challenges faced by app owners, such as generating downloads and keeping consumers engaged and using them. The story will also explore how retailers with some of the more successful apps keep their app at the top of a shoppers’ minds and provide expert commentary on whether apps are likely to be a necessary part of every retailer’s arsenal or a big expense that many can live without.

Topics: Mobile apps

Anatomy of a viral hit

There's no magic formula for going viral. But most viral hits share several common elements. This story will use several examples of viral hits to examine what common elements exist among those posts and what the basic mechanics of the campaigns involved. For instance, how big a budget did the retailer have, how many people worked on the post, etc. It will also explore how big an impact a much-talked-about social phenomenon has in the long term and whether it’s worth adjusting hiring and training practices and everyday social media marketing tasks to win the buzz game.

Topics: Trends, Showcase

Card not present fraud update

U.S. banks have slowly been issuing chip-based cards since last fall to help reduce fraud in stores. But chip cards do nothing to increase protections for online merchants, who have to validate payment data without physically handling a card. There’s evidence from other countries that the introduction of chip cards has driven criminals to focus more on online fraud as offline fraud becomes more difficult. In the U.S., card-not-present fraud rates were rising even before the chip-card rollout, and every convenience retailers offer legitimate shoppers invariably provides an opening for criminal gangs to commit fraud. For example, there’s been a rise in fraudulent activity attributed to card-not-present transactions among retail chains that offer buy online, pick up in store, in which retailers don’t require the shopper to rescan their card when they pick up their order. And some safeguards that work when a consumer is shopping on a PC don’t work when she’s on a smartphone. This story, presented as a Q&A with a leading, independent payment security expert, will address the latest issues in securing card-not-present transactions and advise on steps merchants can take to safeguard transactions.

Topics: Fraud protection, Showcase
Special Report

The next stage of fulfillment and delivery

Consumers may not see all that happens’ behind the scenes to get their order picked, packed, out the door and to their doorstep after they place an order with an e-retailer, but they certainly know when something goes wrong. Excellent performance in fulfillment and delivery is crucial to pleasing web shoppers.

An e-retailer’s fulfillment and delivery processes have to be as flawless as possible. This special report and advertising section, “The next stage of fulfillment and delivery,” will provide online retailers with insights from specialist firms that know how to address outbound fulfillment and delivery challenges as well as returns management.

It will provide information about how a retailer can organize its own or contract for a direct-to-consumer warehouse to meet the needs of its business. It also will look at the latest warehousing equipment and fulfillment software that enable e-commerce distribution centers to store, pick, pack and ship goods as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. It will also look at the controls e-retailers can put in place to ensure delivery carriers deliver as expected, and how accurate forecasting of shipment volumes can ensure they get the possible service from carriers at the lowest cost during peak periods.

This special report and advertising section, “The next stage of fulfillment and delivery,” will make retailers aware of the latest tools and services available to make sure shipping a product is almost as easy as ordering it.

Topics: Fulfillment and delivery
Special Report

Picking your technology path

Today’s e-commerce platforms are retail sales engines that, among other things, provide consumers with real-time inventory counts, allow them to track the status of their shipments, read product reviews, deliver streamlined navigation paths so they can quickly find the products they are looking for, and enable retailers to coordinate marketing initiatives across online, mobile and, in the case of chain retailers, store channels.

E-retailers have lots of choices when shopping for an e-commerce platform, and finding the right one isn’t easy. Web merchants must balance a platform’s cost, ease of use, functionality and scalability to help them make a selection, and manage the push and pull among stakeholders with differing opinions. And that’s all before a single keystroke is struck or line of code gets generated.

The special report and advertising section “Picking your technology path” will address these essential steps and also will introduce the latest e-commerce platform advancements from vendors and their service models, such as cloud-hosted software as a service and licensing, and how to understand which supplier has the best fit for a business’ needs. Industry leaders will share their perspectives on how to evaluate platforms effectively to work through the decision-making process and get to the implementation stage and an on-time and on-budget launch of an advanced online retail site.

Topics: Technology

This Month's Issue

Contact a Sales Rep

For information about the latest ad opportunities, contact your regional representative.

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Cindy Wilkins

Midwest / Intl. Advertising Manager

Nancy Bernardini

Northeast Advertising Manager

Dave Cappelli

Western Advertising Manager

Judy Dellert

Southeast Advertising Manager

Oliver Love

Classified Advertising Manager

Important Dates

05/06/2016:Ad Close Date

05/12/2016:Ad Materials Due