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"51% of (consumer) respondents said that, in the next eight years (by 2020), they expect retail locations to be showrooms for selecting and ordering products." - CapGemini Study (*)

As a follower of both technology and retail, this is the season to think about what gadgets need to be on the holiday shopping list.

In preparation for Black Friday in the United States, let's start this week with Bloomberg's "Top 15 Technology Gifts for 2012" (**):

  1. Samsung Electronics ES8000 Series LED TV - Cost $2100
  2. Fitbit Zip Activity Tracker - $60
  3. Parrot Zik Headphones - $400
  4. Lytro Light Field Camera - $400
  5. Novatel Wireless Verizon Jetpack Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4620L - $50 with 2 year contract
  6. HiddenRadio Bluetooth Speaker - $190
  7. Snaptrack / Qualcomm Tagg GPS Pet Tracker - $100 plus $8 monthly service
  8. Google / Asus Nexus 7 Tablet - $199
  9. Dish Network The Hopper Whole Home HD DVR with Joey - Depends on package
  10. Logitech Alert Home Security System - $650
  11. Innergie mMini Combo Duo Travel Charging Kit - $50 - Iphone / USB charger
  12. Epson BT-100 Wearable Display Personal Viewing Headset - $700
  13. Apple iPhone 5 - $199
  14. Samsung DA-E750 Audio Dock - $630
  15. Acer Aspire S7 Series Ultrabook Computer - $1399

This past week's favorite post was a reminder of the improving economy in the United States and how shopping continues to be reshaped by technology.

  • New Accenture Holiday Retail Survey Showrooming a "Key Factor" for majority of shoppers.

Summarizing some of the key content from this past week's favorite post from Apparel Magazine:

  • 51% of USA consumers have already made their shopping plans this year.
  • Average spend will be $582. 23% will spend more than $750. 52% expect to increase spending by more than $250.
  • 53% plan to shop on Black Friday. This reverses a three year trend of declining interest in shopping on Black Friday. In 2011, only 44% planned to shop the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Pressure on consumer finances is easing as fewer people are planning to cut back. 40% this year versus 46% in 2011 and 52% in 2010.
  • 51% will be paying with cash for gifts from money saved during the year. 33% plan to use credit cards, down from 47% in 2011.
  • 82% cite promotions as a driver to selecting a store. 78% say at least half of purchases will be discounted items.
  • 25% plan to use smartphones / tablets for online shopping, up from 17% in 2011.
  • 54% prefer to shop online if the retailer offered the same product as in the store.
  • 75% of shoppers will be buying gifts at discount stores. 39% will be shopping in a department store.
  • Top on shopping list this year is apparel (51%) followed by gift cards (52%).
  • 56% of shoppers plan to participate in "Showrooming".

Leading retailers expect their holiday season same store sales to rise 3.7% this year, according to a new BDO study. This is the most optimistic forecast since 2007 (International Business Times, November 6, 2012).

Technology will be a key category both as a shopping destination and as tools to exploit getting better deals. This will be the year where showrooming as a concept will be tested in retail stores. According to a CrossView Study ( published earlier this year, two strategies are key to combating showrooming:

  • Buying on Line, Picking up in the Store - Improved customer satisfaction from being able to pick up the goods the same day, without paying shipping charges or having to wait. As the study pointed out, there is room for improvement for retailers in driving greater inventory visibility across all channels. 80% of the top 10 retailers showed in-store product availability from their e-commerce sites, while only 39% of the remaining retailers did so.
  • Consistent Pricing and Promotions - Getting the same deal online and offline in the store. As the study pointed out, retailers fared better in cross channel pricing and promotions. 100% of the top 10 retailers and 97% of the remaining retailers provided pricing on their e-commerce sites.

As discussed in an earlier post, Macy's is one of the retailers driving onmi-channel initiatives. Their focus is on utilizing all their inventory to fulfill online and offline orders. Macy's has made substantial investments in mobile technology and in-store WiFi to encourage customer onmi-channel interaction. Macy's has also rolled out item level RFID to drive greater inventory visibility and accuracy. Goal is to optimize inventory across all channels, increase productivity, and inventory turns.

The 2012 retail holiday season in the United States will be interesting to watch. It will answer and potentially accelerate key trends into 2013 and beyond:

  • Can retailers utilize interactive technology to combat showrooming?
  • Will inventory visibility solutions such as RFID prove that onmi-channel retailing is the future of retail?
  • Will mobile POS become mainstream? What happens to stationary POS?
  • How will security respond to the new shopping technology this holiday season?
  • What investments in security need to be part of the 2013 budget to increase the level of security in a much more mobile environment?
  • Will the new JCPenney strategy of down playing promotions in favor of more stabilized pricing work?
  • Will progressive retailers that invested ahead of the curve in technology be able to drive a more profitable holiday season?

Now about those Top 15 Tech Gifts for 2012. Which should make the list? Should it be more than one? Are any of these gadgets "Hot Deals" for Black Friday? Should showrooming be part of the strategy in selecting where the buy them? So many questions? So little time to shop? Happy Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving Image

(**) Follow this link to see the details / images on these 2012 Top 15 Tech Gifts

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