Direct-to-Customer Commerce

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Strategic insights into the direct commerce industry, including ecommerce, direct marketing and related fields

Monthly Retail Sales Numbers

The Economics & Statistics Administration released its, Advance Monthly Sales for Retail and Food Services

Retail sales in October 2010 were $373.1 billion, an increase of 1.2 percent from September and an increase of 7.3 percent from October 2009.  Excluding autos, retail sales were $306.1 billion, up 0.4 percent from last month and up 6.0 percent from last year.

Retail sales peaked back in Nov 2007 at $379.4 billion.  So, you can see we’re getting close to a complete recovery from a pure sales point of view.  Retail sales have been growing at a rate of $1-3 billion per month for most of 2010.

However, Electronic and Mail order sales dipped in Dec 2007, after peaking at $17.6 billion.  Sales wobbled up and down in a very narrow window for a number of months, but surged passed the Dec 2007 peak in Aug 2009 and has not looked back.

In Sep 2010 (the most recent monthly report available), Electronic and Mail Order Sales reach $23.3 billion a full 30% higher than Sep 2009.

Direct Commerce is where the action is, but Brick & Mortar retail is still the name of the game.

Direct Commerce constitutes only 6.321% of total retail sales.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, News, Opinion, , , ,

Kevin Hillstrom: MineThatData – A/B Testing: Here’s An Example

Kevin Hillstrom: MineThatData – A/B Testing: Here’s An Example.

In the article linked above, Kevin makes a great point — some sales happen without marketing.

Do you know what that percentage is for your business?  Kevin outlines a testing strategy to find out.

It’s worth looking into.

Filed under: Direct Commerce, Ideas, , , ,

New Dimensional Weight Factor to Boost Shipping Costs

Here’s a link to an important article in Multichannel Merchant  — New Dimensional Weight Factor to Boost Shipping Costs.

This is a huge change.  The article documents a coming change by FedEx and UPS to reduce the factor used to calculate Dimensional Weights from 194 to 166.  The article explains the calculation, if you’re unfamiliar with it.

This change is important and noteworthy in both the short-term and the long term.  In the short-term, because it will mean an immediate rate increase on many packages.  And it will also increase the percentage of packages to which DIM weights will apply.

In the longer term, it portends a move towards DIM weights becoming the default or de facto method for rating the cost of shipping parcels.  After all, it’s generally accepted that planes and trailers are most likely to fill up space-wise before they fill up weight-wise.  So carriers will make the most money, if they charge based upon DIM Weights.

An example for comparison.  Let’s assume a 3# packaged being shipped to Zone 5 — the generic average parcel bound for a residential address.  Further, let’s assume a parcel 12″ x 12″ x 8″ — not huge, not small.  This parcel calculates to a DIM weight of 5.938 using the 194 factor; 6.94 using the 166 factor.

Here are UPS Ground rates (without accessorial charges, based upon the current rate table):

  • 3# Z5          = $6.24
  • 5.938# Z5 = $7.10 (an increase of 14% over actual weight)
  • 6.94# Z5    = $7.29 (an increase of 17% over actual weight)

This change by FedEx & UPS should result in a lot of work on product packaging, in an effort to reduce parcel sizes.  And it will put increased pressure on “free shipping offers.”

Filed under: Direct Commerce, News, , , , , , ,

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