Man holding tablet computer in cafe

20 Years of eBay [INFOGRAPHIC]

With eBay celebrating its 20th birthday on September 3rd, the folks over at SnapParcel felt it fitting to create an infographic on the e-commerce giant.

The infographic contains fascinating statistics on the history of eBay, as well as some of the most expensive items purchased on the site in the last 20 years. The graphic also focuses eBay’s strategy under new CEO David Wenig, particularly after the spin-off of PayPal.


Lands' End spins off of Sears

Using Data to Rethink Localized Assortments in an Omnichannel World

As retailers continue to hone their omnichannel strategies, the role of assortment planning is shifting toward creating more localized and personalized offerings for consumers. It is no longer a method to merely select merchandise. Instead, optimized, location-aware assortments are increasingly influencing strategies to strengthen consumer brand loyalty, increase revenue and drive out excess inventory and costs from the demand chain.Effective customer-centric assortment planning can be achieved by better leveraging both structured and unstructured data to pinpoint the product and customer attributes that really matter. In harnessing more insightful data, organizations should also align their business processes, governance, and measurement to improve business adoption and implement localized assortment decisions.

Personalization: Putting the customer front and center
The availability of information that enables anytime, anywhere shopping has changed the way customers make buying decisions and upped the ante for retailers to improve customer engagement. It is now more important than ever for retailers to create a personalized shopping experience across channels. One way to create this engagement is through the execution of customer- or segment-specific assortments. While not a new concept for apparel retailers, many brands fall short when creating customer-centric offerings.

Retailers tend to differentiate their assortments by grouping stores using characteristics such as region, volume, space or climate. Many companies continue to manage data and base decisions on these standard attributes (as they are accessible via existing reporting tools) rather than include data from new avenues — a practice that keeps brands’ assortments predominantly product-focused versus customer-based. But these standard attributes tell only part of the story.

Coupling this data with more contextual data — what’s trending in the market, knowledge of the customer’s lifestyle, and how the customer will use the product — allows retailers to move beyond traditional attributes and make decisions based on analytics relating to the consumer’s preferences. Apparel retailers should adopt and integrate more digital consumer-facing touch points, such as web-based kiosks, beacons, digital signage, smartphones, store associate tablets and social channel listening, and manage them on a scalable, centralized platform accessible to all key decision-makers.

However, while a centralized platform is key to this effort, that alone won’t lead to significant progress. Companies should consider an integrated data collection and analysis process across all lines of business and channels to break down data silos. By operating separate business divisions, each with disparate data sets and reporting tools, apparel brands find themselves managing redundant, even erroneous sources, that support one-dimensional assortment planning and inventory management decisions. Besides over- or under-estimating merchandise levels and planning for the average store instead of personalizing for the consumer, these decisions are increasing operating costs, leaving brands at risk of failing to respond to market trends, and more importantly, consumer demand, that may jeopardize loyalty, reduce sales and erode margin.

Yet the positive impact can be significant. As an example, a fashion retailer recently re-evaluated which attributes really represented the characteristics of their customers to drive new assortment plans across clustered locations. Instead of focusing exclusively on sales history and traditional attributes such as volume group or geographic region, the retailer incorporated a new demand forecast using unstructured data to sense and respond to real-time changes in customer demand based on what’s trending in social media. With these new insights and resulting assortment plans, the retailer quickly saw an increase in revenue by localizing just a small portion of their product assortment. Now, newer styles that are of high value to loyal customers who like, friend and tweet about them are well-stocked in locations those customers are most likely to shop, further increasing brand loyalty.

Rethinking assortments
To successfully tailor local market assortments in a way that is scalable, consumer-centric, easy to manage, and still remains highly predictive, retailers must identify the driving attributes or specific characteristics that are catalysts in helping to increase sales. Every line of business needs to agree to a universal set of data points that will help define the product assortment by location. For example, this could include data around color choices, fabrication, neckline, garment weight, and price points for the specific customers who shop at a particular location.

The move from using a handful of base attributes to incorporating analytics of unstructured data requires a roadmap designed to expertly execute a brand’s consumer-centric, space-aware assortment plans. With this, integrating the systems, processes and people across organizational silos is critical. With attention to new data and the ability to manage an integrated process from demand identification to customer receipt, assortments will become more tailored and consumers will feel more connected to brands that they consider a better match for their lifestyles.

Retailers should consider the following key elements when creating an ROI-driven assortment planning strategy:

1) Achieve a Master Source for Master Data: Compile enterprise-level data from multiple data sources, across organizational silos, encouraging brands, channels, divisions, and departments to share one system of record and one source for customer and product data.

2) Analyze Unstructured Data: By applying analytics to unstructured data and social listening, brands can uncover the key attributes and associated correlations and affinities that support assortment decisions among personalized customer profiles and segments, rather than create all-encompassing plans that cater to groups of stores in similar locations.

3) Integrate Technology and Business Processes to Move Data to Action: Apparel retailers can implement a range of best-of-breed technology, from ERP systems to merchandising and supply chain optimization engines. Yet all of these technologies used in a vacuum won’t improve the retailer’s ability to react to real-time changes in customer demand. The transformation toward personalization comes from a cultural change in conjunction with the application of technology. Integrating streamlined business processes with enabling technology sets retailers up for consensus-driven, scalable supply and demand plans to respond to changing market trends much faster.

4) Establish Governance and Measure Business Adoption: ROI is improved by redefining a collaborative set of metrics that measures performance across teams instead of within teams. To increase cross-functional teams’ collaborative success, retailers should strive to optimize overall profitability versus individual financial metrics. This often requires a new organizational design and, almost always, new governance.

Putting it in perspective
To deliver a relevant shopping experience in an omnichannel world, data-determined, localized product assortments will likely continue to gain relevance. By focusing product and inventory decisions on proven consumer preferences, and pinpointing the key attributes that are truly driving sales, apparel retailers can more effectively execute consumer-centric assortment plans. To be successful, retailers should take a broader perspective to create personalized assortment plans based on the right structured and unstructured data, integrate processes and technology, establish governance and drive business adoption by measuring key collaborative performance indicators. As a result, they stand to benefit from sales lift, increased margins, inventory reductions and improved long-term customer value.

By Lindsey Mazza — April 07, 2015

Lindsey Mazza is a Senior Manager in the North American Supply Chain Technologies practice at Capgemini, a global provider of consulting, technology and outsourcing services.

An Infographic: Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day Spending

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are right around the corner. Together, they represent the first big retail opportunities on this year’s retail calendar. Yet each shares certain distinctions that, if addressed separately, will increase store profits and help retailers get the most out of the season.

Firefly Store Solutions created an infographic in order to highlight some interesting facts and distinctions between spending habits for each. We hope that this will assist in recognizing these distinctions and preparing for each holiday in such a way as to sell more merchandise and boost your bottom line.

Infographic: Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day

Infographic by Firefly Store Solutions, the source for all your store’s display and store solutions.

Dialing it In: Telcos Look to Big Data and New Services

A new series sponsored by SAP on presents a weekly coffee break talk with some of the business world’s hottest industry trends. Last week, experts EY Snowden, RBM Technologies; Johan Bergh, DigitalRoute; and Rick Constanzo, SAP called into ‘Coffee Break” to talk about the latest trends in the telco industry and how telco’s should be embracing technology and big data to provide customers with an optimal experience.

Telcos provide the backbone of our always-connected digital lives. As customers, we expect a dazzling array of services that were considered virtual magic, or perhaps elite perks, a mere 25 years ago. But deregulation and the web have eroded their traditional revenue streams.With declining voice revenues and cloud-based data taking over, how can Telcos make us happy, stay profitable, and still keep the digital foundation of our economy at 5-nines reliability (hint: remember the landline)?

Click below to listen to Dialing it In: Telcos Look to Big Data and New Services

VIDEO: RBM Technologies and SAP talk about future of mobile retail at Mobile World Congress

RBM Technologies’ strategic partnership with SAP brings leading cloud technology to the telco and wireless retail industry over the past 10 years. RBM’s solutions with visual merchandising, planogram automation, precise merchandise assortment execution and mobile in-store compliance solutions are featured SAP’s booth at Mobile World Congress this week. SAP and RBM Technologies’ Dan Wittner speak on the future of mobile retail and personalizing the customer experience.

Retail’s Big Show 2015 – Best Featured Products

In the iLab (Booth 1151), NRF attendees were able to see, touch and experience some of the most interesting and innovative products finding their way into the marketplace (and some that are still on the drawing board) from the worlds of health, food and beauty to home decor, personal technology, wearables, sustainable living and more. MerchandisingMatters was able to pick out some of the most unique and eye-popping products in the consumer electronics industry:


PetChatz is a first-of-kind Greet & Treat videophone that allows pet parents to interact with their pet from anywhere. With PetChatz, you can see, hear, speak to, provide a comforting scent and give your pet a treat using a smart phone or computer.



The HAPIfork, is an electronic fork that helps you monitor and track your eating habits. It also alerts you with the help of indicator lights and gentle vibrations when you are eating too fast. Every time you bring food from your plate to your mouth with your fork. The HAPIfork also measures:

* How long it took to eat your meal
* The amount of “fork servings” taken per minute
* Intervals between “fork servings”



The company was inspired by the work of Ivan Pavlov, is known for his work in classical conditioning. Its makers describe it as a “personal coach on your wrist”, and it can dole out electric shocks if its users are doing something that they shouldn’t. Pavlok uses mild electric shock to help you break any habit. It can also shut down access to your phone and make users pay a fine.



“The Cicret Bracelet: Like a tablet but on your skin.” The bracelet is still in prototype and is not yet available. But a quick video was shown that showcasing some impressive technology that eliminates a number of inconveniences experienced by owning a smartphone. Check out the video here, we think it was the most interesting concept of the show:

The Art of Window Displays



Window displays are like billboards for retail stores. Agreed on by experts,  attractive window displays and well-planned shop floors are key to driving sales. Below are samples of some of the most impressive window displays from top brands and questions just why they are so effective.

Infographic produced and created by ShutterCo


The secret strategy of TJX


On the surface, what TJX does is straight- forward: Its various chains sell mostly name-brand goods at a discount to traditional retail prices. How it continuously makes money doing this when so many others have failed is another tale—and that’s the mystery Fortune Magazine has set out to uncover. Fortune spent months talking to 50 former TJX employees and other retail insiders—including analysts, consultants, suppliers, and competitors—to re-create the company’s secret playbook. Here’s what they’re found.

Play No. 1:

Sell “new,” not a “sale.”

TJX shipped over 2 billion units this year. Their secret – keep merchandise fresh and create demand by controlling and limiting supply. Brand consultant Bill D’Arienzo calls the “buy now or cry later” mentality,  which gives customers a sense of urgency and entices them to buy.

TJX is selling hot new items at a lower price, instead of selling last seasons items at a “sale” price.

Play No. 2:

Put real treasure in the treasure hunt.

TJX’s off-price chain model for product placement is much different than normal retailers. Instead of new products being displayed in the front of the store, followed by a massive marketing campaign with print, social media, advertisements; a $1,250 Stella McCartney dress would be tucked back on a rack somewhere sold for $499.99.

Fortune explains, TJX makes a point of hiding gems for the well-heeled as well as the middle class. TJX is trying to create an experience sort of like a “treasure hunt,” where customers feels the rush when they find an item they might not know they’ve wanted, at a price point that feels like they are getting a steal for.

Play No. 3:

“The money is in the buy.”

The company’s buying organization is considered one of the best. In order to develop an expertise in a specific category of goods, TJX’s buyers focus much more narrowly than their department store counterparts; rather than be responsible for accessories, a TJX buyer might specialize in just handbags.

TJX buyers spend years perfecting their craft, and go through a rigorous training program. All because buyers are negotiating millions of dollars.



Play No. 4:

Have the vendor make it for you.

One of the biggest myths about T.J. Maxx is that the retailer sells merchandise that department stores or designers couldn’t sell. TJX finds some of its deals through other retailers who routinely return or cancel orders from manufacturers,

Surprisingly, many suppliers purposefully create excess merchandise for T.J. Maxx to buy, according to Fortune.

T.J. Maxx produces its own merchandise, too. About 10% of merchandise is under in-house labels such as Frou Frou for pet products or Mercer & Madison for leather handbags.


Play No. 5:

Take it all

Even though TJX is buying upfront, it can still secure a good price, because of the volume of orders it places for its thousands of stores.

“The magic sentence manufacturers wants to hear is, ‘We’ll take it all,’” a CEO of a rival retailer told Fortune.

“Outside of true luxury brands, anyone who tells you TJX isn’t one of their top five customers is either lying or doesn’t have a successful business,”Paul F. Rosengard, president and CEO of supplier Boston Traders. Some vendors actually make more money selling to TJX than to the other retail outlets.

Play No. 6:

Suppliers aren’t used-car dealers.
One reason the supplier relationship with TJX is so strong is that it has gotten so bad with the department stores. Department stores want concessions for advertising and markdown allowances. They want money for delayed deliveries and returns. Suppliers have given department stores hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in markdown money to a department store for a product that didn’t sell.

Fortune says the buyer-supplier relationship with TJX has historically been more of a partnership. TJX buyers are taught to make the vendor feel like it’s a win-win and to leave the door open if they can’t come to an agreement this time around. TJX also pays on time, which seems like a given, but suppliers can go out of business because they don’t always get paid.


Play No. 7:

Find a CEO who gets retail.

Carol Meyrowitz is no stranger to retail, growing up her father was a wholesaler and Meyrowitz started her career in retail as an assistant buyer straight out of college.

People who have worked with Meyrowitz say she has an intuitive sense of the business because she’s been on the frontlines.

“She’s one of the few executives that could do almost any merchant job in the company,” Sweetenham says. Meyrowitz has upgraded the stores, taking merchandise out and replenishing more frequently so they’re not as messy.

She’s also raised the stores’ taste level, expanding T.J. Maxx’s Runway collection; expanding into European market and introducing the retail giant to the world of e-commerce.

This story is from the August 11, 2014 issue of Fortune. Click here to view the full article