Santa Clara University


News and Events

  •  RMI's Director Speaks to KGO Radio

    Friday, Aug. 29, 2014
  •  RMI Hack-a-thon Video

    Monday, Jun. 30, 2014
    Watch the Hack-a-thon Video
  •  RMI In the News!

    Monday, Jun. 16, 2014
  •  RMI In the News!

    Friday, May. 9, 2014
    RMI's Director, Kirthi Kalyanam speaks on the Target cyber security breach and the real reason Target's CEO left the company.
  •  RampUp 2014: From the CEO: The Future of Data in Marketing

    Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2014
  •  RMI In the News

    Monday, Mar. 10, 2014
  •  Kalyanam CBS Bay Area Interview

    Monday, Feb. 3, 2014
    Kalyanam CBS Bay Area Interview
  •  Proof That Online Search Ads Can Boost Offline Store Sales by RMI's Director, Dr. Kirthi Kalyanam

    Monday, Jan. 13, 2014
    Can online search ads impact offline store sales? The connection seems counterintuitive, but the answer is a firm "yes." Get the full story.
  •  RMI Alums! Orchard Supply Hardware is looking for a Visual Merchant!

    Monday, Jan. 13, 2014
    Orchard Supply Hardware Logo
    Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) is a leading regional home improvement retailer operating more than 70 full-service hardware and garden stores located throughout California and Oregon. Orchard stores offer a comprehensive selection of hardware, lawn and garden, and specialty products.
  •  Outlook for Holiday Shopping 2013!

    Monday, Dec. 2, 2013
    Get RMI's Exec. Director, Dale Achabal and Director, Kirthi Kalyanam's perspective on the hot holiday topic.
  •  Attention RMI Alums!

    Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013
    Charlotte Russe Is Looking for a Pricing Coordinator!
  •  Alums! Stella & Dot is looking for an Inventory Accountant!

    Friday, Nov. 1, 2013
    Have an eye for fashion? Team Leader driven by success? If ‘mediocrity’ and ‘just good enough’ make you cringe, if you are a brilliant, energetic, organized, creative, self-motivated and ready to take charge in a key role at an innovative company with an entrepreneurial spirit this could be the job for you.
  •  Event: The Ethics of Online Price Discrimination

    Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013
  •  MOSEY is Looking for a Sr. Application Architect/Backend Developer!

    Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013
    Mosey is an online + mobile ecosystem of user-generated micro-guides. Think of it as a digital platform for friends, influencers and brands to build the perfect 4 hours—like The New York Times 36 Hours, but more digestible and in a socially connected space of following, sharing and experiencing.
  •  Stella & Dot is looking for TWO Inventory Planners!

    Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013
    Join a world-class, hyper growth company with a seasoned executive team. Stella & Dot, one of INC 500’s fastest growing companies (rank 67) is a dynamic boutique style jewelry company with unlimited opportunity.
  •  Stella & Dot is looking for TWO Inventory Planning Analysts!

    Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013
    Join a world-class, hyper growth company with a seasoned executive team. Stella & Dot, one of INC 500’s fastest growing companies (rank 67) is a dynamic boutique style jewelry company with unlimited opportunity.
  •  Shop. org Annual Summit 2013

    Monday, Jul. 8, 2013
    The Annual Summit Student Program Agenda is here!
  •  Retailing of Tomorrow

    Monday, Jul. 8, 2013
  •  The Fit Club: How Service Solves the Sizing Problem

    Thursday, Apr. 25, 2013
  •  Is Google the new Apple?

    Monday, Feb. 25, 2013
  •  Fall 2012 Newsletter

    Friday, Feb. 8, 2013
  •  G. Hensler has two job openings!

    Monday, Jan. 7, 2013
    Attention RMI Alums and Seniors! G Hensler has two current job openings! One for an Account Manager and one for a Production Assistant.
  •  CBS Bay Area Interviews RMI Director, Kirthi Kalyanam!

    Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012
    Dr. Kalyanam discusses JC Penny, the retailer's one and only sale of the year and how their "every day low prices" philosophy affects consumers.
  •  RSSA President Awarded the Ray M. Greenly Scholarship

    Friday, Nov. 30, 2012
    Alyssa Tomasello '13, RSSA President, was awarded the R M. Greenly Scholarship!
  •  CCTV Interviews RMI Executive Director, Dale Achabal!

    Friday, Nov. 30, 2012
  •  RMI Directors in the News this Holiday Season!

    Friday, Nov. 30, 2012
    Retail Management Institute executive director Dale Achabal and director Kirthi Kalyanam were in heavy demand by local, regional, national and even international media outlets for their insights into Black Friday.
  • President joins RMI Advisory Board

    Friday, Aug. 3, 2012
    The Retail Management Institute welcomes Kent Anderson as the newest Advisory Board member.
  •  Retail Studies students awarded the Jill Curran Scholarship

    Friday, Jul. 27, 2012
    Four Retail Studies students receive the 2013 Jill Curran Retail Studies Endowed Scholarship New York Trip.
  •  Congratulations to the 2012-13 RMI Scholarship Recipients!

    Saturday, Jun. 30, 2012
    We are pleased to announce that 9 of our Retail Studies Program students were awarded RMI Scholarships for the 2012-13 academic year.
  •  Walmart Executive joins RMI Advisory Board

    Friday, Jun. 29, 2012
    The Retail Management Institute welcomes Gisel Ruiz (SCU / RMI '92) as the newest Advisory Board member.
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News and Events

News and announcements from the Retail Management Institute.

  •  RMI's Director Speaks to KGO Radio

    Friday, Aug. 29, 2014

    Dr. Kirthi Kalyanam spoke to KGO radio about Target's declining market position.

  •  RMI Hack-a-thon Video

    Monday, Jun. 30, 2014

    Check out the Retail Management Institute's 2014 Hack-a-thon Video>>

    Watch the Hack-a-thon Video
  •  RMI In the News!

    Monday, Jun. 16, 2014

    Kirthi Kalyanam, J.C. Penney Research Professor and Director, Retail Management Institute of Santa Clara University speaks on Tesla and how the company is 'channeling the king of the automobile industry'.

  •  RMI In the News!

    Friday, May. 9, 2014
  •  RampUp 2014: From the CEO: The Future of Data in Marketing

    Wednesday, Mar. 12, 2014

    Kirthi Kalyanam, J.C. Penney Research Professor and Director, Retail Management Institute of Santa Clara University and Pat Connolly of Williams-Sonoma chatted about Connolly’s experience as a retail CMO and the importance of data in marketing

  •  RMI In the News

    Monday, Mar. 10, 2014

    Women in Business: Chantel Waterbury RMI'97 Interviewed by the Huffington Post regarding her company, Chloe + Isabel.




  •  Kalyanam CBS Bay Area Interview

    Monday, Feb. 3, 2014

    Watch the Kirthi Kalyanam (Director, RMI) interview featured on CBS.

    Kalyanam CBS Bay Area Interview
  •  Proof That Online Search Ads Can Boost Offline Store Sales by RMI's Director, Dr. Kirthi Kalyanam

    Monday, Jan. 13, 2014


    Can online search ads impact offline store sales? The connection seems counterintuitive, but the answer is a firm "yes." A milestone meta-analysis of experiments with 13 top U.S. retailers, conducted by Applied Predictive Technologies, proves that search ads drive incremental offline sales. Results vary by industry and advertiser, but the research offers guidance for multi-channel retailers: Create a seamless connection between your channels and use digital to efficiently drive sales across the board.


    Retailers have long relied on search advertising to increase online sales. It’s an obvious part of the online shopping process, as a search ad is only a few clicks away from an easy purchase, for both buyer and seller.

    What’s not so obvious is the impact online search ads have on offline sales in brick-and-mortar locations. Multi-channel retailers use a variety of traditional and digital channels to connect with consumers, and it can be difficult to see if and how their digital marketing investments translate to in-store activity and sales. Yet, it’s an important question, and the answer could determine how marketing dollars are allocated and measured.

    But let’s step back for a moment. The reality is that almost all retailers intuitively know that people shop digitally before going into the store, and shopping trends support that intuition. As many as 88% of consumers are researching items online and then buying in a physical store, according to Accenture.1 And this increasingly digital consumer behavior is having a growing impact on retail. A recent study by Forrester estimates more than 50% of U.S. offline retail sales will be influenced by the web by 2017; and in this same period, those web-influenced in-store sales will rise to $1.8 trillion (from $1.2 trillion last year).2

    These trends show a clear link between online researching and offline purchasing, which should be encouraging to digital marketers and multi-channel retailers. But even so, marketers are looking for direct, causal evidence that search ads directly impact offline sales. And now they’ll have it.

    Between 2008 and 2011, Applied Predictive Technologies, an independent third-party firm specializing in matched-market testing and research, conducted a series of search advertising and retail studies with 13 major Google advertisers. These participating brands are top, household-name retailers, with more than 1,000 U.S. stores each, on average. They represent a variety of staple categories, including apparel, baby products, electronics, toys, cosmetics, sporting goods, furniture, pet food, and home improvement.

    These retailers participated in 15 real-world experiments in the U.S. to measure how their online desktop search spend impacted their in-store sales. In these geo-based experiments, retailers increased their search spend in test markets, while holding constant their regular search spend in comparable control markets, and resulting in-store sales were measured.

    I took the findings from those 15 experiments and examined them in a comprehensive meta-analysis, and here’s what I found.

    Search ads show clear impact on in-store sales and ROAS

    Woody Allen famously said, “80% of success is showing up.” This couldn’t be more true as it applies to search advertising and store sales. Investing in search ads, even at a modest level, increased incremental offline store sales by an average of 1.46% (see fig. 1). Since the compound annual growth rate for the retail industry was 1.55%3 for the period of the study, being able to attribute a 1.46% increase to online search campaigns is significant.

    Figure 1.

    The sales return on search ad spend was significant as well — between two and 14x, according to the meta-analysis (see fig. 2). For example, one participating retailer invested $466K in search ads over a six-week period and saw an in-store sales increase of $5.6 million.

    Figure 2.

    Advertisers not only saw an increase in in-store sales, they also experienced an increase in category level sales, with test categories seeing an average sales lift of 5.8%. Each retailer chose specific categories to test, and heavied up its spending on key category terms (for example, flooring or flat-screen TVs). Sales lift per category ranged from 1.5% to as high as 16.9%.

    Figure 3.

    These are significant findings for digital marketers and multi-channel retailers. How best to take advantage of them?

    Play to your strengths

    Unlike pure-play competitors, multi-channel retailers can connect with consumers in both the physical and digital worlds. Create a seamless cross-channel experience that puts online search advertising to work driving in-store and online purchases. It’s also important to note that the experiments I looked at were only testing online desktop search. We can expect the impact of search ads on offline sales to likely increase substantially if we account for constantly connected consumers, and the mobile search opportunities they bring with them when they shop.

    In closing, we already knew that investing in search ads is a proven way to boost digital purchases. But if the effectiveness of digital ads is only being tracked through online sales, multi-channel retailers are likely missing a piece of their ROAS.

    And that’s important to correct. This study demonstrates that the impact of search ads on offline sales should be accounted for in your attribution models for media spend allocation. While results will certainly vary based on industry and specific methodologies used, retailers who understand the full value of search in driving both online and offline sales can make smarter spending decisions, know which channels to invest in, and realize bigger returns on that investment.

    Kirthi Kalyanam, Professor of Marketing and Director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University, conducted a meta-analysis of 15 field experiments performed by Applied Predictive Technologies with Google advertisers to gauge the success of online desktop search ads on in-store sales.

    The experiments on which the meta-analysis is based were conducted between August 2008 to November 2011 in the United States, with 13 retail brands participating. The retailers, whose names were hidden, had an average of 1,115 stores across the United States, and nine of the retail brands are in the National Retail Federation’s Top 100 list.

    The average number of test markets for each experiment was 29, while the average number of test stores was 157. Search spend was increased in test markets and held constant at normal levels for comparable control markets. Retailers spent an average incremental $287,031 on search ad budget per experiment. Total spend for each experiment exceeded $5 million. The testing period for each experiment lasted an average of four weeks. The average number of categories featured in each test was four, but 54 unique category types were tested overall.

    [1] Accenture, Accenture Seamless Retail Study, April 2013
    [2] Forrester Research, Online Retail Forecast 2012 to 2017, February 2013
    [3] NRF Retail Insight Center, Annual Retail Sales, September 2013
    • Kirthi Kalyanam, Ph.D.Kirthi Kalyanam, Ph.D.

      Professor of Marketing and Director, Retail Management Institute, Santa Clara University

  •  RMI Alums! Orchard Supply Hardware is looking for a Visual Merchant!

    Monday, Jan. 13, 2014
    Orchard Supply Hardware Logo

    Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH) is a leading regional home improvement retailer operating more than 70 full-service hardware and garden stores located throughout California and Oregon. Orchard stores offer a comprehensive selection of hardware, lawn and garden, and specialty products. Headquartered in San Jose, California, the company has a rich heritage and was founded in 1931 as a farmers' cooperative in the Santa Clara Valley offering supplies to local growers. Over subsequent years, the company focused on the retail customer and the do it yourself customer. We became known for offering a strong in-stock availability, high customer service, and a broad assortment of products.
    In September 2013, the Lowe’s Corporation acquired Orchard. The plan identified by Lowes is to use Orchard as a means to expand in California and the West Coast with the Orchard store format, which is a smaller box, known for its service and in-stock product availability. Lowe’s will operate the business as a stand-alone entity which will continue to be based in San Jose, California.
    Visual Merchant
    The Visual Merchant is responsible for development, communication and auditing execution of in-store merchandise presentation. The role partners directly with the Merchandising, Marketing and Store Planning teams to accomplish business objectives and to ensure execution of top-notch merchandise presentation and display with the ultimate goal of driving sales.
    Job Responsibilities
    •       Works with category Merchant to develop visual strategies for merchandise presentation including fixture design, signage and overall merchandising direction
    •        Defines, prepares and delivers strategic direction for all fixtures, signage and merchandising strategies for execution of materials
    •        Works with category Merchant and global sourcing to identify all packaging needs
    •        Coordinates with vendors to achieve brand standards and presentation support for stores fixtures, graphics, displayers, props, etc.
    •        Presents design concepts and inspirations for store fixtures, seasonal props, etc.
    •        Responsible for forecasting and follow up to ensure budget requirements
    •        Prepare merchandise display(s) in Lab and lead floor set walk-throughs including signage, packaging, etc.
    •        Attend all category reset meetings and relevant planning meetings
    •        Document meeting outcomes in the form of approvals, revisions, action items, etc.
    •        Develops and produces the Visual Directive (including photographing, preparing instructions, working with Merchant on sku details, etc)
    •        Prepares written visual merchandising direction of changes and substitutions
    •        Walk and audit merchandising presentations in stores on a monthly basis with Merchant/Store Team
    •        Partner with Project Manager to manage and communication all timelines and dates to ensure visual production processes are met
    •        Develop consistent visual standards which outline merchandising guidelines, signage, fixture design process, and floor plan templates for various store formats
    •        Regularly audit execution and provide feedback to ensure visual standards are executed and maintained
    •        Partners with Marketing to ensure the creative and brand standards are consistently presented in stores
    •        Work with the merchandising team to present merchandise in the most creative, brand appropriate, and financially responsible manner
    •         Provide direction to produce plan-o-grams for resets, display directives , seasonal campaigns, etc
    •        Prepares and delivers all signage, décor, and specialty fixture needed for new and remodeled stores
    •        Perform misc business and role related tasks, as needed
    Required Qualifications
    •       Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Merchandising, Industrial Design, Architecture, Store Planning, or related field preferred
    •       3 – 5 years of retail experience, with concentration in visual merchandising
    •       Self-reliant, self-motivated, and has the ability to achieve goals and meet deadlines with little supervision
    •       Highly organized, process-oriented, and strong time-management skills
    •       Excellent written and verbal communication skills with all levels of management
    •       Project planning, management, and organizational abilities
    •       Idea-driven, takes initiative and a creative problem solver
    •       Positive, constructive, and open to give and receive feedback
    •       Ability to build strong working relationships and collaborate with others
    •       Proficient in Adobe Creative Suite (In-Design, Photoshop, and Illustrator) and Microsoft Office software
    •       Auto CAD knowledge a plus
    •       Knowledge of photography and ability to use a digital camera/smart-phone
    •       Able to physically set up product and visual merchandising displays, move fixtures, and use common household tools

    Interested applicants should contact Hayley Redburn via email for instructions on how to apply.


  •  Outlook for Holiday Shopping 2013!

    Monday, Dec. 2, 2013

    The number-one item on CardHub’s holiday wish list was a gift-wrapped package full of expert insight on the outlook for holiday-season spending. We must have been very good this year, because Santa delivered early. And we’re ready to share it all with you.

    2013 has been a tumultuous year for many Americans, with sequestration, the government shutdown, and now the uncertainties associated with Obamacare casting a long shadow over the impulse to spend freely.

    The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) recommends that consumers give themselves the gift of not overspending this season. That may be a gift within reach, as a recent NFCC poll indicates that 86% of respondents intend to either spend less than they did last year on holiday purchases or to spend nothing at all. Only 11% of respondents intend to spend much as they did last year, and a mere 3% reported that their financial positions are strong enough to spend more than last year. It’s worth noting that poll respondents were all visitors to the NFCC website, but signs of malaise can be found elsewhere as well. The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index, for example, dropped over 10% between September and the end of October.

    On the other hand, the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts an uptick in holiday spending. The stock market hit record highs this year, and a strong stock market tends to increase the discretionary spending of the wealthy. While employment and wage levels have not increased much, they haven’t decreased either.

    Economic indicators aside, everyone agrees that E-Commerce continues to be on the increase, with so-called Omni-channel retailers enjoying a particular advantage. Those are the retailers that market their wares through multiple venues such as brick-and-mortar stores, online services, mobile devices, and catalogues. Gift cards will continue to play a major role in holiday giving—no surprise there.

    If you’ve looked at a calendar lately, however, it might have surprised you to see that this year there are only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The two holidays cannot possibly get any closer together, and that’s going to put a squeeze on retailers. Some of the major outlets are responding by making the controversial decision to be open on Thanksgiving Day. Will that provide a new opportunity to bring in eager shoppers, or will it backfire? We’ll find out soon enough.

    One thing’s for sure: in the coming weeks, we’ll all be hearing jingle bells. But is that sound more likely to be coming from cash registers ringing up millions of purchases or from the loose change that people refuse to spend? There’s no clear consensus on that yet, but our experts have some very interesting observations to share.

    The Experts: Who’s Who

    • Dale Achabal, L. J. Skaggs Distinguished Professor, Executive Director, Retail Management Institute, Santa Clara University, Leavey School of Business
    • Robert Blattberg, Professor Emeritus of Marketing, Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
    • Christopher Groening, Assistant Marketing Professor, Kent State University
    • Kirthi Kalyanam, J.C. Penney Research Professor, Director – Retail Management Institute, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University
    • Amanda Nicholson, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs, Professor of Retail Practice, Syracuse University, Whitman School of Management
    • Akshay R. Rao, Professor of Marketing, General Mills Chair in Marketing, University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management
    • David Strutton, Professor of Marketing & Logistics, Director, New Product Development Scholars Program, University of North Texas

    Dale AchabalDale Achabal, Santa Clara University

    •  What is your forecast for the 2013 holiday shopping season?  What trends should we be on the lookout for, and how will this year differ from years past?

    Expect sales overall to be up slightly, with significant growth continuing in online retail as consumers continue to find the convenience and savings (prices) attractive.

    Strength of the Omni-channel efforts of traditional B&M [brick and mortar] retailers will help them mitigate the efforts of pure-plays who don’t offer consumers the chance to look at and feel the product.  Store-based retailers don’t need to be the lowest price (for most purchases), they just need to be in an “acceptable zone” and offer service and immediate availability.  Big ticket items will continue to be impacted by show-rooming if retailers don’t differentiate themselves through product knowledge, service, targeted assortments, etc.

    •  To what extent will the government shutdown affect consumer buying habits this holiday season?

    I don’t think the shutdown will have a major impact on buying for the general population now that a short-term resolution has been developed to carry us into 2014.  Those most impacted (government employees furloughed in the 2013 shutdown) will be cautious and put aside a little “rainy day” money in case Congress continues to fight like spoiled children.

    •  Which retailers stand to be the biggest winners and losers this holiday season?

    Winners will be those companies that are truly Omni-channel, giving consumers choices in purchasing via stores, web, catalog, and mobile in a seamless manner. This would range from Nordstrom to WalMart.  Also, some “pure plays” like Amazon with their ‘endless aisle’ assortments and rapid fulfillment.

    •  Will gift cards continue to be the most popular type of present?

    Gift cards are with us to stay as they make it easier for the gifters and are well accepted by the receivers.   I don’t see a continued surge (in growth) as consumers place more emphasis on personalizing their holiday gifts vs. just spending money and ‘getting it over with.’

    •  What is the outlook for holiday travel this year?

    It appears that demand is up, along with prices of tickets, as airlines continue to restrict capacity.


    Robert BlattbergRobert Blattberg, Northwestern University

    •  To what extend will retailers need to adjust their marketing pitches and expectations for the holiday sale in the light of the government shutdown and lingering economic concerns?

    I think the bigger issue is actually Obamacare. The shutdown was too early…it might have a very small effect. But the people are back working, they’re getting paid, and they got back-paid. I think it would be a major distraction for the economy if it’d gone on but in terms of the holiday season, I think it’s a minor distraction.

    •  You mentioned Obamacare. How do you think that will play into things?

    Well, I think it’s the uncertainty that people have about what’s going to happen to their healthcare, what’s going to happen to the cost of their healthcare and so on. And so when consumers are…highly uncertain about their economic prospects and concerned about risk, it can affect their willingness to spend. So, you know, I don’t know what the data are, how many people are really affected, but I think there’s a lot of fear out there about what Obamacare is going to mean. “Am I going to lose my insurance?” “Are my premiums going to go up?” “I can’t sign up” etc. And it’s all going to happen over the holiday season and so it could be disruptive. It’s hard to know because nobody really knows what’s going to happen.

    •  How do you think the shopping season this year will compare to previous years? Are there mainly any particular trends that are unique to this year?

    I did an analysis a number of years ago and I was able to show that how the stock market did affected holiday spending. And the stock market has done phenomenally well this year. Obviously there are some headwinds in the economy and so on but the richer segment, they’re feeling significantly because of the 20 – roughly 25% increase on the stock market. So actually I think this is going to be a better year. On the high end, it’s going to be what the stock market does, and with the lower-income groups it’s going to be issues associated with what’s going to happen with respect to their…what I call cash flow. Things like our oil prices are high, so the gasoline is expensive. So I think that in spite of all the negative discussions about what’s going on with the consumer, things are actually better than they were last year.

    Unemployment is coming down a little. That’s a deceptive statistic because it’s really how many people are employed, not how many people are unemployed and that number isn’t really increasing very much but it’s not declining. Government debt is coming down.

    There was a big drop in government employment last year at a state and local level. That’s changing and it’s starting to come back. So things are actually, in spite of everything, better than they were last year.

    •  How does that jibe with the kind of reports and surveys on holiday shoppers that said they’ll be spending less on average this year?

    Well, people say that. The question’s going to be what they do, and I always like to think about what is the cash that they have in their pocket? The question is, “Do they have more cash this year than they did the last?” The answer is on the high end definitely yes. On the low end, you know, that’s where Obamacare could really have an impact. But if Obamacare doesn’t have an impact, people are about as well-off this year as they were last year in the lower and middle income groups. So people may be saying that, but the data expects that things are a little better. I’m not saying it’s a boom year but I don’t think it’s as dire as some people have been saying.

    •  An increasingly important issue is the trade offer on consumers based on shopping in brick and mortar stores versus online. How big of a showroom effect will there be this holiday season and which particular retailers would be most susceptible to that?

    Well I think everybody always uses electronics retailers as the most susceptible to that effect. You go into Best Buy and find out that you want to buy a 48 inch flat screen TV. It’s a Samsung or a Sony or whatever the brand name is. You then go online, search for the lower price, and all of a sudden you’re buying it online.

    So I think that’s where the goods are easily purchased once you know the model numbers. That’s where the showroom effect is significant. So electronics, photography, all those types of products are more easily shopped online after you’ve seen the products in the showroom. But I think the general trend is more and more online shopping. For two reasons: One is convenience and secondly…if you know what you want, you can get the inventory that you want and they’ll tell you right on the spot is it available or not. So when you go to a store and you’re buying a gift, you may not be buying what you want and so online is a lot more efficient for consumers. And you know all the trends are that online is growing at a much faster rate than brick and mortar obviously and brick and mortar may be depending upon the category decline. So you know, I would say that in the Christmas season online is just going to continue to grow and you know, whether you want to call it a showroom effect or an efficiency effect, it’s here to stay and so it’ll obviously have an effect on brick and mortar retailers.

    •  What are the best practices in terms of turning increased holiday traffic into year-round sales increases?

    One efficient way to do it are things like gift cards. And so the advantage of a gift card is that you can get people into the store after the season ends. Now of course most gift cards January is the month that they’re redeemed so that then at least it increases the number of visits that you get. In terms of really translating the Christmas traffic into long-term purchasing behavior, it depends upon how novel your idea is and how sophisticated your use of database marketing is. But even with sophisticated users of database marketing there’s a limit. You know, there’s so much competition at the retail level that there are a few exceptions. But in general it’s tough to convert the Christmas traffic into real loyalty because consumers are out looking for better prices. Obviously people like Amazon are providing very good service, good prices and so they’re likely to keep consumers. But if I go to a typical department store, everybody is selling the same products. So uniqueness is really important. And so to the extent you can find retailers that have unique offerings. They may be able to translate that into loyalty but there aren’t very many of those.

    •  What effect will there be from stores pushing up their Black Friday hours?

    I think what they know is that it’s the busiest day of the year and the more people they can get in the store during that day, the better off they are. Plus consumers want to shop earlier and earlier. I mean some people want to go at 1:00 in the morning. The only issue with that is, is there a dip after a Black Friday, you know, the day after Thanksgiving, what happens in terms of the sales in the next week or two weeks? So, to the extent that it’s incremental sales, it’s advantageous. If it’s not incremental—and I don’t know the answer as to whether it will be incremental—to the extent that it’s not incremental, then you just increased your cost. But everybody’s trying to be out there early because the competition is going to be out there early. And so if the consumers are going to be in my competitor’s stores, I’d better be open. So there’s a name for this, it’s called the prisoner’s dilemma. I won’t go through it but the idea is that if I don’t do it and my competitors do, I lose. If I do it and they don’t do it, I win. And if we both do it, we’re worse off. But that’s what’s happening. And they’re probably both a little worse off because their costs have gone up

    •  Is there any risk of alienating consumers by pressuring them be out shopping on Thanksgiving afternoon or evening when the sales start?

    I’m not sure. It depends upon how long the sales and the offers are. I think that the reason the stores want to do it is that a lot of people have Thanksgiving say at lunchtime. Or they want to go shopping before, and then they go and have Thanksgiving dinner. So it’s a day when people aren’t working. What’s really happening in retail is that it’s all about convenient hours and when consumers want to shop. So if consumers want to shop on Thanksgiving, you know, I’m not going to shop on Thanksgiving but it doesn’t alienate me. Now I don’t want to over-generalize from myself but you know, all they’re doing is giving greater convenience to the consumers and I don’t think that’s a negative.


    Chris GroeningChristopher Groening, Kent State University

    •  To what extent will retailers need to adjust their marketing pitches and expectations for holiday sales in light of the government shutdown and lingering economic concerns?

    I don’t see any effect. All government workers were paid in full and the disruption occurred before the holiday shopping season got underway. Moreover the workers were told they would be paid in full one day after the shutdown began.

    •  How will holiday marketing efforts in 2013 differ from those in 2012?  Will there be any new themes, tools, technological advances, etc.?

    I suspect the stories will be much the same as last year. Increases in online purchasing, faster online delivery times (see Amazon on Sunday delivery). Stores trying to combat show-rooming. Giant discounts. Stories about underemployed people not purchasing as much as they’d like for the holidays interspersed with stories about segments able to afford bigger purchases this year because they did get a job. The economy is a bit less of an issue this year. New gaming consoles are coming out.

    One things that may occur is that we may see advertising for apps or online retailers to a much larger extent than in the past. If not this year then next year. Firms are spending a lot on resources to improve the online shopping experience, and apps are launching entire companies.

    •  How are retailers dealing with the ease with which consumers can compare prices and shop online?

    This issue is a tough one. We discuss this issue in my class every semester. Price matching helps and there was a recent WSJ article about Best Buy where they claimed that price matching would solve show-rooming. However, many online places will have some form of free shipping, especially around the holidays. So, why purchase something, wrap it, then mail it to someone when I can just order it online and have it shipped to the recipient for free?  Another possible alternative is for stores to carry unique items that cannot be purchase online from a competitor. In my opinion, that sounds great but is very hard to execute. Target carrying a unique version of Taylor Swift’s recent release is probably a good example. People come in the store for that and then purchase other items.

    •  How can retailers use marketing to turn holiday shoppers into year-round customers?

    Again, this is a tough issue. We’re driven by price to such a great extent. The usual convenience, customer service, and quality items will help to some extent. It is very difficult to compete on price alone so firms must figure out other unique competitive advantages—things to develop a relationship with the customer. Giant Black Friday type sales are not likely to accomplish the goal.


    Kirthi KalyanamKirthi Kalyanam, Santa Clara University

    •  What is your forecast for the 2013 holiday shopping season?  What trends should we be on the lookout for, and how will this year differ from years past?

    There are fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year—26 days, which is the low end of the 26-32 day window.  I believe this has some impact. However retailers know this, and should have forecasted this and planned for it.

    There is also quite some disparity between forecasts from the National Retail Federation, and other sources. This suggests uncertainty in the environment.  I think the government shutdown has a role, but is there is something else going on that we are missing?

    E-Commerce is going to have an edge.  E-Commerce historically has been able respond to demand signals faster and quicker than multi-channel retailers.  They have better analytical capabilities.  Amazon has added Sunday delivery with USPS. Google has announced Shopping Express a same day delivery service.


    Amanda NicholsonAmanda Nicholson, Syracuse University

    •  What is your forecast for the 2013 holiday shopping season?  What trends should we be on the lookout for, and how will this year differ from years past?

    Cloudy with occasional bursts of sunshine.

    • Fewer shopping days this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas—a big factor for retailers—dropping from 32 in 2012 to 26 this year.
    • Continued uncertainty over the economy.
    • Early promotions indicate retailer nervousness and consumers bargain-consciousness.
    • Negative impact of higher social security taxes is fading—a plus.
    • NRF predicting a 3.9% increase to $602 billion – they are generally the most optimistic forecasters.
    •  To what extent will the government shutdown affect consumer buying habits this holiday season?

    Some analysts are predicting that consumers will reduce their holiday gift budgets this year by about 2% (NRF), plus slow job growth and small wage gains appear to have made Americans more nervous about charging goods and services to their credit cards.

    Borrowing appears to be more focused on urgent needs—the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s quarterly report (2nd quarter) showed that student loan debt has been the biggest factor in borrowing increases since the end of the great recession.

    Statistically measured policy uncertainty has a very weak and very short term relationship with retail spending (ICSC).

    The confidence curve measured by household income shows strength at the high end, but remains weak at the low end (ICSC).

    •  Which retailers stand to be the biggest winners and losers this holiday season?

    Those that offer promotions earlier will be shopped by consumers who are planning to take advantage of prices and promotions. Target, Macy’s, JC Penney, and Kohl’s are all planning to be open Thanksgiving Day.  Toys R Us hosted its annual holiday preview in September. K-Mart aired its first holiday ad in early September.

    Other winners will be Omni-channel retailers who provide a seamless experience. Browse and buy online, pick up in stores, etc.

    Mobile commerce growth is anticipated to be the highest. 2013 figures are estimated to be arou

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