Facebook offering e-retailers sales tracking tool

SAN FRANCISCO, Fri Nov 16, 2012 – Facebook Inc. wants more credit for making online cash registers ring.

Facebook will begin rolling out on Friday a new tool which will allow online retailers to track purchases by members of the social network who have viewed their ads.

The tool is the latest of the new advertising features Facebook is offering to convince marketers that steering advertising dollars to the company will deliver a payoff.

Facebook, with roughly 1 billion users, has faced a tough reception on Wall Street amid concerns about its slowing revenue growth.

“Measuring ad effectiveness and outcomes is absolutely crucial to all types of businesses and marketers,” said David Baser, a product manager for Facebook’s ads business who said the “conversion measurement” tool has been a top customer request for a long time.

The sales information that advertisers receive is anonymous, said Baser. “You would see the number of people who bought shoes,” he said, using the example of an online shoe retailer. But marketers would not be able to get information that could identify the people, he added.

Retailers to tout size in absence of substance in TV aisles

NEW YORK, Thu Sep 13, 2012 – Television retailers are going to have one simple message for shoppers this coming holiday season: Supersize it.

The lack of anything really new to tout means that mass merchants, online and specialty retailers will try to get people to trade in that once fancy 42-inch flat screen TV for one that is 60- or even 90-inches, and at lower prices that wouldn’t have been fathomable a couple of years ago.

The only problem: If consumers play hard to get, then margins – for manufacturers and to some extent, retailers – could get slammed.

The margin pressure “is being felt on all sides,” said Ben Arnold, NPD Group’s director of industry analysis, adding that manufacturers are being squeezed harder.

On average, a 50- to 52-inch LCD TV is expected to sell at $829 this year versus $1370 last year. But the price of a 50-inch LCD TV could fall to as low as $529 or even $499 on Black Friday, the kickoff to the biggest selling season of the year, said Tamaryn Pratt, principal of Quixel Research.

While retailers can try to combat the profit hit by selling more high-margin installation services or TV accessories, manufacturers have fixed production costs to meet no matter what they earn on the televisions they sold, Arnold added.

Top retailers Best Buy, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart and Target told Reuters they were planning to carry a bigger assortment of large screen TVs this year.

That is different from what they have done in the past few years when they played up features like 3-D technology and the ability to directly stream online content, to win shoppers.

“There is nothing out there that consumers are saying, you know what, I need to get rid of the TV I have and buy this new thing,” said Frank DeMartin, Vice President, Retail & Distribution Sales, Mitsubishi Electric Visual Solutions America. “This is why the TV business is in a bit of a plateau.”

Data from NPD DisplaySearch on Tuesday showed that global TV shipments fell for the second straight quarter, declining 8 percent in the second quarter of 2012 from the year-ago period.

Nike sets new rules to beef up store, customer safety: WSJ

BEAVERTON, Ore., Tue Aug 21, 2012 – Nike Inc. has come up with new rules for retailers, prompted by unruly crowds outside stores selling its shoes, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to a company memo reviewed by the paper, the world’s largest sportswear maker told sporting-goods stores that they will not be allowed to pre-sell or take reservations for new shoes.

The retailers, which include Foot Locker Inc. and Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc., will also have to give up midnight releases of shoes that had prompted customers to camp outside and stampede stores, the paper reported.

“Retailers should assess what measures are necessary to secure the store and ensure the safety of personnel and consumers,” the Nike memo said, according to the Journal.

Nike representatives were not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.

Citi cuts retailers on lower high-end consumer spend

NEW YORK, Wed Jun 27, 2012 – Citi Investment Research & Analysis downgraded retailers Macy’s Inc., Nordstrom Inc. and Saks Inc. to “neutral” from “buy,” citing contraction in spending by high-end consumers.

April-May comparable sales at high-end department stores fell 3 to 4 percentage points from a year earlier, Citi said.

Confidence among high-end consumers slowed to 80.7 in May from 86.0 in April, the brokerage wrote in a note.

High-income consumers, who account for about half of spending in the United States, will likely be hurt by a volatile stock market, it added.

“We are incrementally more concerned about the health of the consumer, given the softening U.S. economic outlook and declining consumer confidence,” Citi analysts said.

The brokerage said it expects slowing same-store sales to pressure Macy’s repurchase program, and cut its price target on the retailer’s stock to $37 from $49.

Aggressive investment will limit upside for Nordstrom, Citi said, lowering its price target on the stock to $52 from $63.

It also cut its price target on Saks to $11 from $14 and said it expects weakness in the women’s designer apparel to likely weigh on its same-store sales growth.

Macy shares were down nearly 2 percent in premarket trading. They closed at $34.20 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Shares of Saks fell about 3 percent in premarket trading. They had closed at $10.03 on Tuesday on the same exchange.

Nordstorm’s stock had closed at $48.62 on Tuesday.