NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Social media, digital communication and the Internet are dramatically transforming the retail industry, says Burt Feinberg, Group Head of CIT Commercial & Industrial at CIT Group Inc. (NYSE: CIT), a leading provider of financing to small businesses and middle market companies. Feinberg discusses technology trends, financing opportunities and consumer confidence in Retail Industry Trends, the latest in a series of in-depth executive Q&As featured in CIT’s Executive Spotlight series (cit.com/executivespotlight).
The convergence of social media, e-commerce and mobile technologies are changing the consumer experience. According to Feinberg: “Consumers today are able to actually comparison shop as they walk through a store. We’re also seeing consumers use social media to communicate with their friends to articulate their discovery of a particular product or deal in areas like high fashion apparel or electronics…. In addition, retailers can optimize their marketing dollars by understanding and mining the data they now accumulate about their customers via their electronic platforms.”
Fluctuations in commodity prices are also affecting the retail chain, Feinberg says: “Since cotton is such a major component in much of our clothing, its cost can obviously have a significant effect on the apparel segment of retail. The question is who bears the cost. In order to maintain price in this highly price-conscience market, retailers face considerable pressure from consumers and suppliers face pressure by retailers. Everyone in the chain is being squeezed.”
Private equity firms continue to maintain an interest in the retail sector, whether it’s the ability to expand an existing concept or rebuild a franchise, Feinberg adds: “If a private equity firm finds the right concept, it can realize considerable growth due to the scalability factor, greater than in most other industries. The other opportunity is finding situations where companies may have been managed incorrectly and could potentially be revitalized by a change in strategy. Improving sourcing, optimizing labor hours, managing inventory levels and stock-keeping units (SKUs), combined with strategic store expansion and e-commerce strategies collectively have had a powerful impact on profit growth that is hard to find in other industries.”
CIT is scheduled to release its Third Annual Retail Outlook Study in mid-October. Complimentary copies of its 2010 and 2009 reports are available for download at cit.com/retailoutlook2010.
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Founded in 1908, CIT (NYSE: CIT) is a bank holding company with more than $35 billion in financing and leasing assets. A member of the Fortune 500, it provides financing and leasing capital to its more than one million small business and middle market clients and their customers across more than 30 industries. CIT maintains leadership positions in small business and middle market lending, factoring, retail finance, aerospace, equipment and rail leasing, and global vendor finance. cit.com