To Marketplace Or Not To Marketplace?

Retailers are clamoring to find new ways to reach their target audience and expand their brand reach. Some are turning to marketplaces to reach this goal. The fact is: As many as 64% of shoppers start their journey on an online marketplace, compared to 48% who search merchant web sites and 40% on search platforms like Google, according to a 2015 study from PYMNTS.com and Amazon.

As many as 32% of retailers planned to spend more on online marketplaces in 2015 compared to 2014, according to an NRF report. But does that mean a retailer should focus on selling via Amazon or other third parties? Or does it mean opening up a branded marketplace?

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The Returns Debate: Is Leniency The Way To Go?

As e-Commerce traffic continues to rise, consumers count on the ability to easily return purchases. According to a study by the NRF, total annual returns were expected to reach $260.5 billion, or 8% of total retail sales, in 2015. Disturbingly for retailers, $9.1 billion of those annual returns were projected to be fraudulent.

Retailers tempted to institute strict return policies in an attempt to choke off fraud, reduce the costs associated with legitimate returns, or both, run the risk of alienating customers. Like it or not, consumers judge retailers partially by their return policies. Research from The University of Texas at Dallas found that lenient return policies have a positive effect on consumer’s shopping decisions, leading to increased purchases.

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Best Buy Abandons Online Marketplace, Citing Low Revenues And Confused Customers

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1bestbuyBest Buy has shut down its online Marketplace after a five year run as of Feb. 24, 2016. The electronics retailer plans to invest the Marketplace budget in other areas of strategic growth.

The Marketplace only brought in 1% of domestic revenue, according to Best Buy spokesman Jeff Haydock. It also created confusion among buyers who thought they were able to return the third-party merchandise, 70% of which overlapped with the retailer’s own inventory, in Best Buy stores.

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Kohl’s To Close 18 Underperforming Stores

On the heels of recent executive level cutbacks, Kohl’s announced it would shutter 18 underperforming stores this year in an attempt to cut costs and balance physical locations with its digital storefront.1Kohls

The store closures are expected to generate $55 million in savings (representing less than 1% of total sales) and were selected based on overall sales and momentum, overhead costs and the amount of overlap they had with nearby stores.

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China Sets The Mobile Commerce Bar High, Demonstrating Room For Growth In U.S.

This past holiday season saw a surprising surge in mobile commerce, which captured nearly a third of online sales. Yet the U.S. is actually still far behind mobile-loving consumers in other world markets.

In fact, while 22% of American shoppers make a mobile purchase on a monthly basis, shoppers in countries such as China (66%), India (59%) and Turkey (41%) are much more inclined to shop on their mobile devices that often, according to the PwC 2016 Total Retail report. With this in mind, it is clear that the bar is set very high for how far mobile commerce adoption could go in the U.S.

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Online SMBs Praise ‘Protection Commerce’ As Means To Boost Revenue

More than half (57%) of online SMBs believe attaching commission-based protection plan offerings to items during the checkout could increase annual revenues by as much as 25%, according to data from Assurant Solutions.

In today’s climate, where the consumer has more control over purchases, retailers may want to consider providing protection plans or warranties. Particularly when they are buying online, consumers want to know that the product they receive is exactly what they saw online. They also want to guarantee that they can return the product at their own convenience.

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Visa Streamlines And Simplifies Customization For Online Checkout

Visa has unveiled an update to its Checkout service to make the process both easier and more customizable. The redesigned Visa Checkout experience includes a new user interface and will be available to consumers and merchants in April 2016.

The new experience is released at an appropriate time, as retailers are being tasked with prioritizing simplicity at the checkout. As many as 84% of U.S. consumers would abandon their e-Commerce order if presented with a complicated web form upon checkout, a strong indication that many retailers still struggle with providing a user-friendly experience. A clean web design, minimal buttons and clear navigation are absolute necessities for online retailers looking to provide optimal checkout service.

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Zooz Onboards Former Worldpay Exec As EVP Of Sales

1chesterritchiePayment technology provider Zooz has hired Chester Ritchie as its EVP of Sales and Business Development. In this role, Ritchie will oversee the sales team in customer acquisition efforts and expansion into new markets.

The Zooz platform is designed to connect merchants to multiple financial and technological entities and payment methods via a Smart Routing feature that directs each payment to the most appropriate provider for that transaction.

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No Review Is A Bad Review At PureFormulas

With as much as 65% of revenue coming from repeat customers, consumer satisfaction is vital to the PureFormulas online brand. While retailers often look for positive reviews to bolster their brand, they can even discover benefits from reviews that don’t speak as highly of the product experience. In the case of PureFormulas, the retailer uses all reviews to specifically address feedback in a timely manner.

With the implementation of consumer review platform Trustpilot, PureFormulas outsourced its review process to a third party, enabling the retailer to build additional transparency and trust with the consumer. Using Trustpilot, PureFormulas has been able to generate customer reviews that can:

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