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New blended strategy a must

New blended strategy a mustFor all of you already at warp speed, either selling or buying during this week's Las Vegas Market, here's something else to think about - 2014 seems to have brought some new retail trends that you can't afford to miss.
     The new blended strategy - a non-negotiable for retailers. Not that many years ago, the term "blended strategy" found its way into our sector's vocabulary. At the time, it referred to a game plan whereby a supplier or retailer would stock a mix of imported and domestic products.
     Today, as online sales continue to outpace sales made in traditional brick and mortar retail locations, the new blended strategy calls for retailers to allow customers to buy from them online and in the store. A quick look at the numbers underscores why I think this has to be a non-negotiable for retailers.
     During the last week of December, Shopper Trak, a firm that monitors shopper traffic, noted a 3.1% dip in holiday in-store sales and a massive 21% decline in store traffic during this crucial shopping period.
     Meanwhile, IBM Digital Analytics determined that during that same week, online sales spiked 37% year-to-year, with mobile traffic representing two-fifths of all online traffic. Additionally, IBM confirmed that consumers buying from their mobile devices sent mobile sales up 53%, accounting for almost 22%of all online sales.
     And while retailers can't afford to miss out on this online growth, they need to remember that, at least for the time being, consumers are still spending the bulk of their money at brick-and-mortar stores.
     The challenge of successfully embracing both brick and click was underscored in a recent CIT retail outlook survey that found that 42% of the retailers it surveyed viewed online and mobile channels as significant challenges to their brands and to their retail models.
     Only 18% of the retailers polled by CIT believe that their brands work well enough in the online and mobile worlds to outperform similar electronic initiatives of their competitors.
     A picture is still worth 1,000 words. Clever and informative content is certainly part of the overall sales proposition but consumers on your sites are shopping for furniture, bedding and accessories. Good product photography helps them validate what they are shopping for, so while the right words to accompany the photograph are important, the picture often seals the deal.
     All the best in the New Year. See you in Vegas!

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