By Debbie Hauss, Kim Zimmermann and Alicia Fiorletta
About a week ago I came across an email promoting International Women’s Day (IWD) (which is March 8), and I was inspired to share my thoughts on a woman in retail that has had a meaningful impact on the world (in my humble opinion). Then I was inspired to invite our two other female editors to share their thoughts on this topic. Below you’ll find some stories about a few women who have been personal inspirations to the three of us.
During this process I also learned a lot about IWD, which I was not aware of. Here’s a quick overview of the annual event:
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. IWD has been observed since in the early 1900’s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.
IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia. The tradition sees men honoring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc. with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
By Netta Kivilis, Head of Marketing, Custora
For U.S. retail overall (offline + online), 2014 started with a slight decline: U.S. retail sales declined 0.4% in January 2014 compared to last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. However, there was a bright spot in the lukewarm retail environment: E-Commerce sales grew a healthy 8% in January over last year. This is based on The Custora Pulse's latest U.S. E-Commerce data, tracking e-Commerce transactions from over 100 U.S. retailers and 70 million shoppers.
All key e-Commerce indicators exhibited substantial growth in January ‘14 compared to January ‘13: Traffic to e-Commerce stores was up 6%, and the average conversion rate grew to 2.2% (from 2.1% in January ‘13). These factors combined resulted in a strong 7% growth in online orders.
Moreover, e-Commerce Average Order Value, or AOV, was up as well in January: It grew 1.3% over January 2013. This indicates that the e-Commerce environment remained stable and did not become more promotional and discount-driven compared to last year.
Image Source: Brick Meets Click
Since the dawn of omnichannel retailing, industry analysts and experts have indicated that consumers don’t see channels, only brands.
So when the shopping experience is in some way fragmented or unpleasant, it’s only natural that consumers chalk it up to a poor brand experience.
And as more consumers browse and buy on the web, it’s clear that the e-Commerce site is becoming a more central part of that brand journey. That is why 76% of e-Commerce decision makers in the U.S., UK and Canada believe that the web site experience has a direct impact on their brand’s public perception, according to research from PEER 1 Hosting.
Because e-Commerce has a greater influence on brand perception, businesses will be focusing on improving the following in 2014:
Although the survey alludes to the start of a long journey towards e-Commerce optimization, respondents noted that despite some flaws, the 2013 holiday season was a success.
Nearly all (86%) respondents reported excellent/good conversion rates during the 2013 holiday season. Changes that contributed to this success included improved:
But what was most interesting about the survey results were the subtle differences in UK companies versus U.S. companies. While 74% of UK organizations reported an improvement over 2012, only 56% of U.S. companies shared the same sentiment.
UK e-Commerce decision-makers also are more likely to be concerned about site speed and performance:
What are your thoughts on these findings? Do you think the e-Commerce experience has a larger influence on brand perception? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
By Alicia Fiorletta, Senior Editor
As someone who loves discovering new brands and is, undeniably, fashion obsessed, I was thrilled to receive an email in my inbox about runway2street, a new e-Commerce marketplace designed to connect fashionistas with the latest, hottest brands.
runway2street was developed to create the ultimate destination for women in their 30’s and 40’s with the disposable income to drop any amount necessary for the edgiest, most unique goods. But that doesn’t mean the eTailer discriminates: runway2street was built on the foundation of brand and product discovery. So if you have a passion for fashion, runway2street is for you.
In fact, Co-Founder and CEO Rathna Sharad revealed in an interview that she started building the plans behind runway2street because of her love of discovering new brands.
“I’m an avid follower of fashion and have been all my life,” Sharad told me during a phone call the day of the site launch. “Finding new brands is what I love to do.”
Discovering new brands and buying unique items was even a passion for Sharad when she worked for Microsoft. During her tenure, she traveled extensively, and instead of buying a souvenir from an airport gift shop, she sought out local designers.
Whether she brought home a ring, necklace or handbag, “all my friends started noticing what I was wearing, and they wanted to know where to get it,” Sharad reflected. “I started looking for the brands online and found it was almost impossible for someone in the U.S. to buy from them. That’s how I started exploring the idea.”
Rather than acting as a standard e-Commerce site or commerce marketplace for small brands, runway2street uses its platform to create a community of fashion enthusiasts that are hungry for content and beautiful products. Editorial-quality images create a feast for the eyes, offering shoppers multiple views of products: either on their own or on a model.
Visitors also can delve into the runway2street blog, which now is chock-full of Fashion Week outfits and trends. Brands also have the opportunity to show some face by participating in blog Q&As.
In fact, this community-focused, digital marketplace model is one of the key selling points for runway2street. The eTailer acts as a “connector” for brands and consumers. Most importantly, runway2street offers a way for brands “to reach their audience internationally, which is key in this day and age of globalization,” Sharad said. runway2street promotes all brands on social media and other marketing channels, so they can boost awareness among consumers and fashion influencers.
To ensure customers have a high-quality, luxurious experience, runway2street has established a set of criteria that will help streamline the brand curation process. First, Sharad looks at the quality and craftsmanship of pieces, then price points. Then, she makes sure that the brand in consideration has a strong collection of products that tell a specific brand story. “I think this is really important for our segment,” she said, “because women want to know how things are made. We want to find those gems and tell that story.”
Although runway2street has just officially launched to the public, I think this is going to be a very eventful year for the company, to say the least. In addition to spreading the word on Pinterest, Instagram, Polyvore and other social sites, runway2street plans to hold a series of “girls’ night out” events, “where women can try on shoes and jewelry and sip champagne.”
First stop? Seattle.
Stay tuned, readers. I have a feeling we’ll be providing an update soon!