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促销活动天天有,顾客买账吗?

李维斯公司首席执行官齐普·伯格还记得,开学季购物促销以前也就持续一到两周的时间,但如今似乎天天都在上演。

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尽管促销活动接连不断,但挑战在于如何让客户不断返店。图片来源:Jeffrey Greenberg—Universal Images Group/Getty Images

伯格在回忆往昔短暂的开学季购物促销时段时说:“在以前,开学季的店面购物场面就像是斗殴。”如今,“这类促销已延长至五个星期。”

加长版开学季购物促销也成为了其他年度促销活动的真实写照,而零售商们也会为了招揽顾客而延长这些促销活动的时长。黑色星期五依然是年终促销大餐的头菜,但如今也出现了一个跟班——网络星期一这个线上购物节。然而,假日销售的大部分业绩依然源自于打折活动满天飞的12月。

即便是亚马逊发起的仲夏促销活动Prime Day也被延长至两日的时间,而其前后端则充斥着其竞争对手们的加长版促销活动。

无止尽的促销活动

对于服饰连锁店来说,此举通常意味着相互之间的促销渗透,而各大公司也是绞尽了脑汁,为的是让消费者在本轮促销结束之前就开始关注下一轮的打折活动。

咨询公司Customer Growth Partners LLC总裁克雷格·约翰逊说:“如今,促销活动实在是太多,以至于人们可能都司空见惯了,而且对此感到厌烦。”

无休止的促销已经改变了购物者心态,如今很多消费者希望在任何时段都能享受到折扣,而不是一年中的某几个特定时段。

李维斯的伯格说:“消费者对于所有的促销活动已经感到麻木不仁。因此,开学季20%的折扣与9月初即将开展的促销活动没有什么区别,反正届时也会是20%的折扣。”

痛苦的库存

这一现象正在迫使零售商更加灵活地管理其库存,并保持新产品管线的流动,这样,消费者在任何购物季多次返店时也会有新品可供选择。

如果产品的流动速度不够快,那么零售商可能会陷入麻烦,不断堆积的库存会侵蚀盈利能力,因为库存的存储和管理都需要费用,而且公司不得不进一步打折才能把库存卖出去。Gap公司和 J.C. Penney Co.近些年来都遇到了积压库存的高成本问题,后通过减价才将其清理掉。

约翰逊说:“公司希望摆脱库存,然后引进一些新产品,因为公司并不愿意产品上架两个月之后还在销售。”

库存的正确管理会带来很高的回报:RetailMeNot的一项调查称,今年,美国父母预计在衣服、电子产品和其他与学校相关的物品上的平均花费将达到507美元,较去年的465美元有所上升。与此同时,德勤发现,幼儿园到12年级开学季购物开支今年共计达到了278亿美元,较2018年增长了1.8%。

维持顾客的兴趣

为了在竞争中脱颖而出,各大连锁店祭出了新招,例如通过将目光转移至孩子自身来获取灵感。

Gap旗下的特价服饰连锁店Old Navy正在销售印有8-12岁孩子画作的T恤。American Eagle最近组建了一个年轻成年人“理事会”,部分原因是为了帮助给今年的产品选择提供指导。在他们的推荐下,该连锁店如今在店面增加了尺码规格的供应范围。与此同时, J.C. Penney正在为小学和中学学生提供10美元的理发服务

American Eagle Outfitters Inc.是一家以青少年和年轻成年人为主要目标群体的公司,其全球品牌业务总裁查德·克斯勒称,顾客每人选择来店的次数并非只有一次,而是多次。其中一个原因在于同伴压力。

克斯勒说:“孩子们回到学校,看到其他孩子的穿着之后,会回店选一些新款式。”

李维斯的伯格也有同感,他说:“很多孩子都会先等等,看看Instagram上有哪些热门服饰,以及其他耍酷的孩子在回到学校后穿的是什么。他们会推迟购买,并等到真正了解自己想要什么之后才出手。”

鉴于开学季购物之后的返店购物逐渐成为常态,这意味着“我们得确保每个月都有新货推出,这样,客户每一次返店都能有新发现”,克斯勒说道。

Customer Growth Partners的约翰逊表示,零售商成功的关键在于要成为顾客肚子里的蛔虫。

约翰逊说:“如果你是一家服饰零售商,你就得确保能够紧跟时尚潮流。如果你的赌注下的太大,而且没有人购买,那么就会因此而陷入困境。”(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

“Back-to-school used to be a moment,” Bergh said, recalling the briefer periods of yore “where it was like a fistfight in the stores.” Today, “it’s morphed into five weeks.”

The prolonged back-to-school season mirrors what’s happened with other annual sales events, as retailers drag out the moments that bring shoppers in the door. Black Friday, still the kickoff for the crucial year-end period, is now followed by the online deals of Cyber Monday—but the lion’s share of holiday sales come in discount-fueled December.

Even Prime Day, the mid-summer event invented by Amazon.com Inc., has been stretched to encompass two days, with competitors extending their promotions on the front and back ends.

Endless sales

For apparel chains, this often means that sales bleed into each other, and companies struggle to get shoppers excited for the next round of discounting before the current one has ended.

“Everything is so over-promoted these days,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners LLC. “People can be promoted out. They get bored with it.”

The endless sales have changed shoppers’ attitudes, with many now expecting discounts available at any given moment, rather than at designated times of the year.

“Consumers are numb to all the promotional activity,” Levi’s Bergh said. “So a 20% back-to-school offer is no different than whatever is going to happen in early September, when it’s going to be 20% off anyway.”

Inventory woes

This is forcing retailers to manage their inventories more nimbly and keep the pipeline of new products flowing so the selection feels fresh for shoppers who visit several times during any given season.

Failing to move product quick enough can be detrimental for retailers—piled up inventory erodes profitability because it costs money to store and organize it, and companies have to discount deeply to get rid of it. Both Gap Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. have gone through costly buildups of inventory in recent years that required markdowns to clear up.

“You want to get rid of it and then you want some new product coming in,” Johnson said. “You don’t want to keep selling the same stuff that you’ve been selling for two months.”

The stakes are high to get it right: This year, American parents are expected to spend $507 on average for clothing, electronics and other school-related items, according to a study from RetailMeNot. That’s up from $465 in 2018. Deloitte, meanwhile, sees back-to-school spending for kindergarten through 12th grade totaling $27.8 billion this year, a rise of 1.8% from 2018.

Keeping customers interested

To stand out amid the crowd, chains are trying new tactics—such as turning to the kids themselves for inspiration.

Old Navy, the off-price apparel chain owned by Gap, is selling T-shirts featuring drawings by 8-to-12-year-olds. American Eagle recently formed a “council” of young adults that was created, in part, to help guide its product selection this year. On their recommendation, the chain now stocks a larger range of sizes in its stores. J.C. Penney, meanwhile, is offering $10 haircuts for elementary and middle school students.

American Eagle Outfitters Inc., which caters to mostly teenagers and young adults, is seeing shoppers opt for multiple trips to the store per season instead of just one, according to Chad Kessler, the company’s global brand president. Part of it is driven by peer pressure.

“Kids go back to school, see what the other kids are wearing and come back for something new,” Kessler said.

Levi’s Bergh echoed that sentiment. “A lot of the kids want to wait until they see what’s hot on Instagram and what the cool kids are wearing when they go back to school,” he said. “They can defer that purchase and wait until they really know what they really want.”

With repeat back-to-school shopping visits becoming the norm, that means “making sure that we have delivery every month, so every time the customer comes back, they have something new,” Kessler said.

Johnson, of Customer Growth Partners, said the key to success is for retailers to have a detailed understanding of their customers.

“If you’re an apparel retailer, you want to make sure you’re in tune with the styles,” Johnson said. “If you place too big a bet and nobody’s buying it, then you can get hurt.”

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