All Articles Tagged "online shopping"
Some major retailers are struggling big time. Not only are they still recovering from the economic crisis, but they are facing tough competition from e-commerce as more and more shoppers go online. Even though total U.S. retail sales grew 3.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 compared to the same quarter in 2013, e-commerce sales grew a whopping 14.6 percent in the fourth quarter.
According to the Department of Commerce, there was a decrease in department store sales from an average of $14.3 billion a month in 2013 to $14 billion per month in 2014, which amounted to a decline of 2.1 percent. But sales by non-store retailers, such as via mail order and e-commerce, saw an increase from a monthly average of $37.3 billion in 2013 to $39.9 billion in 2014, a boost of 6.9 percent for the same period.
All this adds up to store closures at various major retailers.
But some of the names of retailers closing the most stores may come as a shock to many. Macy’s, for example, according to a 24/7 Wall St. analysis is one of the three major department stores decreasing their outlets. They announced earlier this year it would close 14 stores as part of a restructuring plan to increase online sales. The closures involve fewer than two percent of the chain’s 830 stores, but more than 1,300 people will lose their jobs when this happens in spring. Macy’s will, however, open three other locations.
And Family Dollar Stores, which was acquired by Dollar Tree, is closing as many as 500 Family Dollar outlets. Dollar Tree is the No. 1 dollar store chain in North America. When all is done, Dollar Tree will have more than 13,000 stores with almost $19 billion in sales and more than $2 billion in earnings.
Another of the top 10 retailers closing the most stores is Staples. The retail chain said it would close 225 underperforming stores in North America by mid-2015. Staples can’t compete with larger retailers such as Wal-Mart and Amazon.com, both of whom offer office supplies. Even more stores will close if the merger of Staples and Office Depot goes through.
“One retail analyst estimates a merger would result in more than 1,000 store closings, especially since most Office Depot stores are located just down the street from a Staples,” reports The Huffington Post.
While Staples recognized the trend to online shopping and tried to develop its online sales, the company actually saw a drop of 5.9 percent in its fiscal 2014.
Also on the list of top closings are: JC Penney, Abercrombie & Fitch, Radio Shack, Aeropostale, Barnes & Noble, Office Depot, and Sears.
Obviously, the retail industry is changing — even faster than some predicted.
With an estimated buying power of $1.3 trillion by the year 2017, how and where African Americans spend their money will become increasingly important to business and to the Black community. One Minority Development Business Agency report showed that though the amount of minority-owned businesses are increasing, “they are still smaller in size and scale compared to non-minority-owned firms.” Supporting minority-owned businesses will be crucial to the growth and development of the minority economy in coming years.
De J Lozada is the founder of My Culture Hub, a minority-owned online retailer for online shoppers seeking to buy quality merchandise from ethnic vendors worldwide. De J built the company around her mission of tapping into the spending power of the African, Latino, and Asian-American community by providing e-consumers with a shopping destination that celebrates their heritage and reflects their culture.
Check out her interview below to learn more about why “spending with a purpose” is so important to the mission of the organization.
MadameNoire (MN): What inspired you to start My Culture Hub?
De J Lozada (DL): I was trying to find a doll for a young niece that looked like her. What followed was five stores and a couple of frustrating conversations with store managers all telling me, “Yeah, we had two or three and when they are gone it’s hard to get them in stock.. If you call and complain maybe they’ll send more. Go online…” That whole experience made me feel like my cultural needs were an after-thought. The concept of conscientious buying came to mind. I said I don’t want to shop in stores that take me for granted.
MN: Why are “authentic” ethnic items so hard to find offline and online?
DL: In the past, if you want something that is authentically made, you had to do destination shopping. You can easily go to eBay or Amazon and get a “Chilean” blanket, but when you receive it, it’s stamped “made in China.” We can and should do better. It takes people three to four times as many searches to identify websites that sell authentic items geared towards ethnic communities than it takes to locate similar items that are geared towards mainstream shoppers who are looking for items that appeal to those with European heritages. For example, Irish lace made in Ireland is easier to find versus Kente cloth made in Ghana.
MN: How does My Culture Hub work?
DL: Our goal is to develop an online web portal that speaks to ethnic identities and provides quality unique merchandise at an affordable price. We don’t just sell merchandise. We tell stories. People who care enough to create ethnic items are people who care enough to tell the history and legacy that comes with the item. You can go on our site and learn how cloth is woven back in Africa. You may then pick up a baby doll for someone on our site that is dressed in that same cloth.
We include information about who and how the product is made. You won’t get items on our site stamped “made in China.” The item becomes an heirloom and something you can use to reinforce your culture with your family and friends. We are seeking a conscientious shopper — that middle, upper class, or person who may not have the means but understands the value of saving up to purchase what you want. Some people think our items are too expensive. I say to my staff, “Remind them: That which is cheap is most expensive in the long run.”
MN: How is the internet helping you to reach your customer and carry out the mission of the site?
DL: The internet is the great equalizer. If you live in a community that doesn’t readily have the product you are looking for, you have to turn to the internet. There’s a great growth opportunity there. Blacks and Latinos are the new emerging markets in online shopping. What are we buying? Where is the thoughtfulness behind what we buy? Is it that we only desire the cheapest product and don’t care about quality? I reject that. There are plenty of people of color who make decent livings, are educated, and are thoughtful in their purchases that would like to have items in their homes that reflect who they are and celebrates their identity.
MN: What makes My Culture Hub so different?
DL: The untapped market is the ethnic market. While everybody is chasing that traditional customer, we’re very content to spend our time in ethnic communities who are just really starting to realize their spending power and deciding purposely to shop online and not in the stores that are just around them. Online shopping opens the world. How do you know where to find what you are looking for? That’s the beauty of our model. We’ll do that for you. We’ll find products that are representations of what destination shopping should be instead of going to Kenya or Mali to find that special item for your home.
We are operating a cooperation that is 100 percent self-funded by people of color. It takes a lot of money and time. The thing that has sustained us is talent. There are very few sites that who actually reflect the cultures that they represent. The majority of my leadership team is comprised of people of color. It’s important to have people making decisions about what we buy based on sound practices and personal experiences being people of color.
MN: What challenges have you faced while building My Culture Hub?
DL: TD Jakes has a quote that I use often: “ You should never try to share a giraffe decision with turtles. They will never be able to see what you see.” We [constantly] have to explain, “Other sites lack the sensitivity. You can go to sites and not see a Black model or obviously Hispanic model anywhere. You go to sites and women are all size 0 or 2. That’s not a reality in communities of color.” No one is really speaking to the truth of the African-American community at large. People tell us they don’t think it will work. People won’t buy on your site. They won’t support something that is Black-owned. We’ve heard it all. We’re doing it anyway.
MN: Why are minority-owned companies so important?
DL: There is nothing wrong (and everything right) about also supporting your own community interests. We need to be focused on growing Black wealth in the United States. With money comes freedom. It’s not always okay to have to ask someone else for permission to do what needs to be done in the best interests of your family. When you have wealth, you have the power and the freedom to do some of the things that we all know we need to do to strengthen our standing in society on a socioeconomic value. We need banks that lend to African Americans and Latinos and not be limited by somebody’s else’s possibility bias for our success. African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans in 2017 will have $4.5 trillion worth of spending power in the United States. We’re spending that money. We’re not investing. It’s very important that while we spend, we spend with a purpose.
As people of color get more education and become more aware of the world and what their place in it is, there will be a demand in higher quality merchandise that is fair trade [and] ethically made. We have the ability to pick what we buy. Because we are sensitive to us, nobody has to come in to train us, we don’t have to hire a group of people to come in and run an “ethnic division.” We are the ethnic division.
MN: What are your future plans for the site?
DL: In addition to having our mainstream board which has some amazing people on it, we also will have a junior board where we have young people (18 and younger) making decisions. We are going to groom those students to be the next leaders in business for our future. Learning how to fail is part of learning how to be successful. It’s really unfortunate in minority population communities that our kids don’t get that opportunity to learn how to fail. We have a low tolerance for risk because we don’t have a safety net.
MN: How will you measure your “success?”
DL: Our success will be measured by how much an impact we can make on our communities and our students. Of course we want to make money. Our biggest goal is to be an example of what can be accomplished when we work together as a community. We’re always thinking about how we can give back as we grow at the same time. It’s part of our vision that we have to support education, student entrepreneurship, and commercialization. When people come and shop on our site, they know that they are reinvesting in their own communities. Where else can you do that?
The internet sure has made things a heck of a lot more accessible. With the click of a button you can have practically anything delivered these days. This is one of the reasons why Amazon has become a major retailer known for amazing prices and swift shipping. Does this mean they are the best in all they sell? Not necessarily. The company actually has a well-documented issue with counterfeits.
Here are some things you probably shouldn’t buy on Amazon. It’s not to say you can’t get a deal — just that there could be something better elsewhere. Do you think they are getting more expensive?
If there’s anything that we’ve learned from Target and eBay‘s massive security breaches, it’s that data theft is very real. Shoppers have become increasingly leery about their debit and credit card usage — especially online. In fact, 24 percent of Americans, USA Today reports, have turned away from e-commerce sites.
As cybercriminals penetrate systems of major retailers, consumers are asking, “Am I truly safe shopping online?” More than half, 56 percent to be exact, have cut down on the number of online retailers they visit, according to a survey of 790 internet users. Online shoppers stuck by well-known e-commerce sites that are less prone to hackers.
“If you put something on the Internet, you might as well be putting it on a billboard,” said Yolanda Machado, an LA blogger who purchases almost everything online. “Nothing is ever secure. You have to take active measures to ensure your own security.”
Machado, 35, adds that she never stores her credit card information on sites and she now has a habit of changing her passwords quite often. Of those surveyed, a huge 64 percent revealed that they have changed their passwords due to security breaches.
Though cyberattacks are unfavorable, they do bring favorable outcomes (if you’re looking for a silver lining). More shoppers (55 percent) are double-checking their bank accounts for signs of theft.
Even with cybercrime, Machado, thinks it would be ridiculous to stop shopping online all together.
“I mean, at Christmas, chances of being robbed are increased, but do we leave our purses and wallets at home? No. We just do things like shop in pairs, in lit areas etc. So we have to change our passwords and actually be on top of our accounts, I’m OK with that,” she said.
Lisa Tecarr, a 49-year-old from Zephyrhills, Fla., offers sound advice for reluctant online shoppers: Instead of using a credit card, use a prepaid card. Here are a few extra tips to protect yourself:
1. When shopping, look at the URL. Check to see if there’s an “https”, not “http” at the start. Also look for a lock symbol; this will tell you the site’s encryption is protected.
2. Digital devices are particularly vulnerable to cybercriminals. Use a passcode!
3. Credit cards are safer than debit cards. Many companies will reimburse you for transactions made on sketchy sites.
4. Using the same password for all your sites may be convenient, but it’s an identity thief’s dream!
Have you lost faith in online shopping?
Calling out shopping junkies! Together, Twitter and Amazon have joined forces to bring you: #AmazonCart. According to AllTwitter, the hashtag allows shoppers to put products in their Amazon cart. The process works as such: if users see a tweet that contains a product, they respond to the tweet using the hashtag. Thereafter, Amazon will contact the client on Twitter and will also email a confirmation email. For consumers who are interested in using this, they would have to connect their Twitter account to their Amazon account. This special feature is only available for users in the United States.
Although this process sounds amazing, Gigaom reported, all purchases clients tweet to Amazon are public unless they make their Twitter account private. Another hiccup in the system: sometimes the Twitter handle @MyAmazon customer service does not work.
The purpose of the partnership is to play on the impulse of buyers and those who follow their favorite brands. Therefore, users will not become distracted by switching apps on their digital device. This also allows Twitter to carve out a special niche for themselves to entice investors interested in aspects of e-commerce.
Below is the commercial for this social media service. Look like something you might find useful?
Some of those overnight gift deliveries didn’t make it under the tree this year. United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) and FedEx Corp. failed to to deliver packages in time for Christmas, exposing the dangers of retailers promising to get last-minute gifts to customers, reports Bloomberg.
This of course upset many consumers. Now such chains as Kohl’s, Amazon.com, and 1-800-Flowers.com are offering gift cards and refunds to calm angry shoppers who vented on social media about missed shipments. UPS tried to explain the situation on its website by saying the volume of last-minute air packages exceeded its capacity to process them.
“A very small percentage of our gifts were affected due to the widely reported issue regarding UPS deliveries,” Yanique Woodall, a spokeswoman for the company, told Bloomberg an e-mail. “In some cases, we were able to substitute their gifts with our same-day delivery floral arrangements from our florists. In addition, to apologize for any inconvenience, we offered a $20 savings pass to our customers.”
When 1-800-Flowers.com realized their shipments were going to miss the delivery dates, they reached out to customers immediately. Over at Amazon they offered customers $20 gift cards and refunds on purchases that UPS didn’t get to their destinations on time. Kohl’s is contacting affected customers and will fully cover the cost of all items not delivered on time.
According to experts this shipping snafu won’t deter people from shopping online. But shipping companies need to be ready for the influx of orders, especially during holiday season.
UPS spokeswoman Peggy Gardner says it is working on the problem by conducting an analysis of what caused the delayed air shipments.
FedEx meanwhile said in an email to Bloomberg that said it had shipped 99 percent of its ground deliveries on time and didn’t specify a percentage for its air shipments.
Usually last-minute purchases bought two to three days before Christmas are shipped by air. UPS refunds air and international packages that don’t arrive on time during peak shipping season. However, there were no guaranteed delivery times for shipments by ground ordered after Dec. 11.
Volume was one reason for the missed deliveries. ComScore Inc. reported that merchandise purchased via personal computers rose 10 percent this year to $42.75 billion. Another problem as that the season was six days shorter than last year.
UPS and FedEx “may need to increase investments to handle such volume surges,” Anthony Gallo, an analyst at Wells Fargo & Co., wrote in a note to investors. “The 2014 Thanksgiving and Christmas calendars will be similar to 2013.”
Word to online shoppers: Next year order earlier.
Just in time for the shopping-filled holiday season, a new report commissioned by the University of Miami School of Business and posted on PRNewswire explains exactly how to optimize your online store for consumers cruising around your site.
Consumers love pictures! Graphics and visuals are all the rage — but this is solely if you have a small selection of products to offer. If your online site offers a wide range of selections, drawing in some sales might actually be more difficult. The study calls it “choice overload” — consumers are so overwhelmed by the amount of options, they don’t buy anything at all. Honestly, this is why MN Biz has trouble making it through Zappos.
Surprisingly, if you offer a lot of items for purchase, using more text (not pictures) will heighten the consumers’ chances of pressing “buy.” The more products there are on your online page, the more erratic the buyers will be in examining your page. By offering more information for your potential customer, he or she will be more likely to take their time and analyze which choice is best for them. This way, you’re more likely to score a sale.
“Although images are attractive and fun, when a large product set is shown with images only, there is a tendency among consumers to gloss over them rather than make a purchase,” said Claudia Townsend, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Miami School of Business.
Retailers that create mobile apps often fall prey to relying on visuals rather than clarifying text to lure in customers. Townsend insinuates that this sole focus on graphics just isn’t the way to go.
Through a series of five experiments, lead investigators came to this conclusion: although visuals are preferred, if you know your site will trigger “choice overload,” it’s best to add some text to facilitate the buying process. “Because consumers prefer to see products visually, we suggest that online retailers design a home page that uses visual information upfront, emphasizing ease-of-purchase and variety,” said Townsend.
“They should then make the product-offering pages more text based in order to cause the shopper to slow down, review each option more carefully, and buy,” she concludes.
Store openings on Thanksgiving day took the bite out of Black Friday, with retailers tallying a 13.2 percent drop in sales compared to 2012. But total sales for the two days were actually up 2.3 percent to $12.3 billion. Over the course of the entire four-day weekend, sales are estimated to come in at $57.4 billion, down 2.9 percent versus last year. Cold temperatures and a storm seemed to keep shoppers home in the Northeast, which tallied the lowest sales. A total of 141 million people went shopping over the holiday weekend.
Experts say that the super early start to the holiday sales along with the option of shopping on turkey day sucked some of the excitement out of Black Friday. Also playing a big role is the continued budget crunch that many average Americans are feeling. The amount that each consumer said they would be spending this weekend was $407.02, down from $423.55.
This is a big deal for retailers who usually look to take in 20 to 40 percent of their annual sales during the holidays; 10 to 15 percent are from this Thanksgiving holiday alone, reports The New York Times.
A bright spot was mobile and online shopping, with an IBM survey of 800 retailers showing that sales on mobile devices were up 40 percent versus last year. Tablet sales made of 14 percent of the total sales on Black Friday, and online sales were up 19.7 percent on Thanksgiving and up 19 percent the following day, says CNN Money.
Which brings us to Cyber Monday. Hopes are high for online sales this year, so much so that retailers like Amazon and Walmart are declaring this Cyber Week. Some of the deals include 40 percent off at H&M and Banana Republic, a 16GB Kindle Fire HD tablet down to $119 from 169 on Amazon, and a Dyson Multifloor Vaccum down to $399 from $549 at Best Buy. Lots of news sites are offering a round up of Cyber Monday, but honestly, if you go to any site or receive daily emails from your favorite retailers, then you probably know what to buy where. Airlines and travel companies are also offering deals today. So if you’re thinking of taking a trip to recover from the holidays, today might be the day to get a deal.
Even with fewer people out and about there was mass craziness at retailers across the country. ICYMI, here’s a taste of what some people were doing while you were chilling out with family and friends. Happy holidays.
Sooner or later many of us are going to begin our holiday shopping efforts for the perfect gift. Some will hit up malls and shopping centers while others will use their electronics for online purchases. While purchasing gifts is expected this time of year, it’s important to remember there are bad people waiting in the wings in hopes of taking your items and even your information.
Gone are the days when one could just enjoy the holidays without thinking about the lurking technology dangers. As we all at some point will use our phones to check our balances and possibly move money around, we need to be conscious of closing the door to virtual theft. Here are some mobile banking dangers and safety tips.
If you aren’t a fan of crowded fitting rooms and shops, then online shopping is for you. During my college days, online shopping was a must. I would hunt for bargains on Karmaloop, Urban Outfitters and eBay (no shame in my game) for 20 minutes and still make it to class on time. The site deals and discounts are even more tempting to the eye of a fashionista, but I’ve learned that even the most tempting sites and deals can leave you more exposed than Instagram on Throwback Thursday. Here’s why, along with some things to remember when shopping online.