February Sales Dip: The US Census Bureau estimates retail sales in February reached $492.0 billion, down 0.1% from January on a seasonally adjusted basis. However, the total was up 4% year over year. The National Retail Federation (NRF) released sector-specific sales data, and online (and other nonstore) sales posted the highest growth rate, up 10.5% year over year, followed by clothing and accessory stores (up 5.2%). Sporting goods stores were the only sector that decreased, falling 3.4%.
Home Delivery: Walmart, the largest retailer in the US, is a relative latecomer to same-day grocery delivery. But it has signaled serious intent, announcing plans to expand delivery to 100 cities by the end of 2018. Online orders will be gathered in-store and delivered by third-party services, one of which will be Uber, which the retailer has already used in tests. Delivery services will require a $30 minimum order and carry a $9.95 fee. Instacart, used by Whole Foods, has a $10 minimum threshold but has a variable fee depending on the order size and delivery time.
Conversational Commerce: Dunkin’ Donuts just launched a Google Assistant integration for iPhone and Android that enables on-the-go mobile ordering with voice commands. DD Perks Rewards members can just say “Hey Google, talk to Dunkin’ Donuts,” and the app will show nearby stores on Google Maps. Users can then pick a location and place an order, with their payment processed using the rewards account. Supposedly, your coffee and cruller will be ready when you show up.
Sales Growth: Williams-Sonoma reported that its ecommerce revenue grew 8.4% in Q4 2017 and 5.5% for the full year, reaching $2.78 billion. Ecommerce revenue was responsible for a majority (52.5%) for total company revenues in 2017, and according to eMarketer's Retail Database, Williams-Sonoma’s ecommerce penetration first tipped over the half-way mark (50.4%) in 2014. Continued investments in digital advertising, tech and the customer experience were promised for 2018 by president and CEO, Laura Alber.