Unwrap the Savings in Retail

Holiday season or not, everybody wants a piece of the retail action


By the time you read this, you will probably have already completed your holiday shopping—whether you stood in line at 4 a.m. on Black Friday with the other brave souls outside of Best Buy; or added items into your virtual shopping cart over a cup of Joe on Cyber Monday. Then again, we can’t eliminate the number of last minute shoppers who get to enjoy bumping into fellow consumers at the checkout line days before Christmas. Whatever the case, this month we’re giving you the exclusive on the conditions and trends that are changing the retail industry; what consumers need to be prepared for in the coming years; and how businesses and supply chain service providers must compete in order to stay in the game.

From your local store to the Web

Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar store, an exclusive online retailer or a combination of the two, at the end of the day, retail comes down to two things: profit for global businesses; and meeting consumer demand on both products and services.

And how retailers address such factors continues to change due to a generation of new consumers.

Today’s digitally-empowered consumer continues to drive retail business models from traditional brick-and mortar stores to an omni-channel marketplace. We felt the impact when such retail giants as Borders and certain Best Buy and Staples locations closed their doors across the country in recent years. Such developments come as no surprise when 82 percent of consumers across the country agree that mobile shopping is the way to go—whether via tablets, mobile apps or computer, according to Apigee Corp.

About 48 percent of consumers use their mobile device to do a price comparison on an item from inside a store. Additionally, 40 percent also using a mobile device to find a retail store, according to the API platform provider.

But perhaps even more indicative of the mobile demand putting pressures on retailers, is the increasing number of online retailers who do bring different service to market.

Most recently, eBay delivered a major platform redesign to provide consumers added features for online shopping—the biggest of which impacted its homepage, which now enables visitors to “follow” brands, product type and any items sold via eBay.

Earlier this year, Amazon.com Inc. made its move into the B2B marketplace with the debut of AmazonSupply. And as the new Website is designed to provide customers with competitive prices on a wide selection of products in business and industrial categories—from drill bits to polyimide tubing—it also has a major impact on distributors.

“What AmazonSupply has done, is they’ve gone out after several large companies that service the aftermarket parts—things like air conditioners, hot water heaters and furnaces,” said Dr. James A. Tompkins, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Tompkins International, Raleigh, N.C. “And that is very dangerous because many of the companies make the majority of their money on the aftermarket service—not on selling the original unit. The B2B sector has to be aware that this is a huge potential impact on them and on distributors.”

In the case of Yumani, sellers compete to bid for the customer, instead of traditional online retail platforms. With nearly 400,000 items available in the Yumani database, sellers work to deliver the lowest price on an item to provide the closest match that a consumer can pay. As a result, the price of an item actually goes down. Launched this past October, the company already met its January 2013 goal.

“Of all of our visitors to the Website, 10.8 percent of all unique traffic registered,” explained Michael O’Hara, Chief Executive Officer, Yumani. “And 76 percent of those actually request an item. That is another extraordinarily high conversion metric.”

Designed to benefit both consumers and sellers, the platform differentiates in the marketplace because it does allow sellers to compete to match for a consumer’s purchase. Via a Yunite group, consumers can post an item they want to buy, then recruit others interested in the same item to buy with you—adding to its value.

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