NBA Betting Picks: LA Lakers at Detroit Pistons

The defending champions Los Angeles Lakers travel to Motown to take on the scrappy Detroit Pistons.  Diamond Sportsbook International (DSI) has the latest NBA betting odds and has posted the Lakers as eight point road favorites for this game.

After losing back-to-back games against theDenver Nuggets and the Phoenix Suns the Lakser rebounded quite nicely with a road win over the Milwaukee Bucks by the final score of 118-107. Kobe Bryant chipped in 31 points and seven rebounds and bench player Shannon Brown helped out with 21 in the winning effort. The team will have to play in back-to-back nights against the rested Pistons. The Lakers have had little trouble their last two road games against the Pistons, winning by a comfortable average of 13.5 points.

The Pistons had the night off after a game against the Golden St Warriors and will be playing at home after finishing up a four game west coast swing. The Pistons have had major problems of late with the relationship between the players and head coach John Kuester.

Kuester was challenged by point guard Rodney Stuckey when he refused to come in during a game and Kuester benched him for the next two games. In the last game against the Warriors things got so bad they became physical. Tayshaun Prince was beat defensively on back to back plays and Kuester called a time out and on the way to the bench engaged in a shouting match with Prince. Prince slammed his towel down, yelling at Kuester and walked away from the huddle. Kuester responded and had to be restrained by assistant coaches as the yelling continued. Not a very good sign for a team that is struggling on the young season.

The Lakers are 4-1 against the spread (ATS) in the last five meetings in Detroit and the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings. The Pistons are 0-5 ATS in their last five home games against a team with a winning road record and 4-10 ATS in their last 14 home games against a team with a road winning percentage of greater than .600.

Meanwhile the Lakers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game and 4-1 ATS in their last five games as a favorite of 5.0-10. The Pistons are having too many internal problems to deal with the well-oiled machine that is the LA Lakers.

The Lakers win big and cover the number.

Play on the Lakers -8

KENT ANDERSON LEADS THE MACY’S BRAND INTO CYBERSPACE; MACYS.COM PRESIDENT TALKS ABOUT BUILDING AN E-COMMERCE SITE FROM SCRATCH.

Daily News Record February 14, 2000 | McKinney, Melonee Kent Anderson, president of macys.com, has been in the retail business most of his professional career, taking on everything from buying and operations to merchandising, advertising and promotions. He was also CFO for Macy’s during its bankruptcy. This variety, he says, is precisely what has enabled him to drive one of the country’s best-known retail names into the growing e-commerce business. Anderson sat down with DNR over coffee to talk about how Macy’s got started in e-commerce, how it’s going and how long it will be until the business turns a profit.

DNR: Macy’s has been in the e-commerce business since 1996. Why was the company a pioneer on the Net and how did you personally get involved?

KENT ANDERSON: We actually started with a bridal content site and very quickly the consumer said to us, “Where’s the beef? We want to buy gifts.” We thought that sounded like a good idea, so we put the registry online and started what would become macys.com. At that point, the Internet was gaining momentum and interest, so the company started an internal search for who would be the person interested in doing this — who had the right skill sets. I had financial background, some merchandising background, the marketing and sales promotion background. I put together a business plan and presented it to the senior management and convinced them we should take a run at this Internet thing. Macy’s was a very well recognized brand, a national player, and I thought we should go after it, so we did.

DNR: How was it organized in the beginning?

ANDERSON: We built it as a separate business unit called macys.com with a separate staff, which now has about 150 people, based in San Francisco. Although Macy’s is a very diverse company, one of the original concepts of the Macy’s business model continues to be the standalone business unit. My original concept was that I could extract from the mothership what was the best-selling merchandise and the hot vendors and basically translate that to an experience on the Web. And I wanted to leverage Macy’s systems infrastructure.

DNR: How was early business online?

ANDERSON: Nineteen ninety six was our first Christmas online and I think we did $30,000. In 1997, we were a little more robust and had migrated into our first database-driven site and I think we did about $500,000. It’s a tiny number, but it was more than 10 times the previous year and we weren’t putting much effort into it at that point. I think that’s when the corporation said: “Wow, those numbers are not meaningful, but the growth rate is.” DNR: Then what happened? web site macys printable coupons

ANDERSON: We partnered with IBM in June of 1998 and put our first Web site out there in a big way in November of 1998. We had a very exciting Christmas. I think a lot of dot-coms that got out of the gate in `98 got overwhelmed by the customer response and didn’t have big enough front-ends. In the beginning, we were having problems with our Web servers and that kind of thing. But we learned from that experience and had a spectacular increase versus the previous year. As we moved through `99, we rebuilt the site several times, changed some of the merchandising concepts, got much more robust in our assortments, became much more focused and just finished up another super-duper Christmas.

DNR: Can you be more specific?

ANDERSON: I can’t give you exact numbers, but traffic was up four times and so was the business. We are continuing to move along with these 350 and 400 percent increases this year to last year. It’s nice to have a “this-year-to-last-year” now because we didn’t have a comparison in the beginning. We have been constantly learning about what sells, how to sell it and what the complexities of this business are.

DNR: So what is selling?

ANDERSON: It’s interesting, from the bridal registry we learned the power of the gift business. It played very well into the convenience of the Internet. A gift is a different kind of purchase than something you purchase for yourself. The fit and some of the issues that the Internet is still struggling with in the ready-to-wear categories could be overcome in gift items. We were also successful in the home business, so we were in a position where we could grow those businesses pretty aggressively. We’re also finding that fragrances and cosmetics are selling as are certain categories of men’s. We are starting to do better and better. The real growth will come when we [figure out how to sell] men’s and women’s ready-to-wear at the same percent-to-total-business as we do in the real world.

DNR: Is that possible?

ANDERSON: There are some barriers to overcome regarding a customer’s reluctance to buy certain categories online. I don’t think tailored clothing will ever be a big success online. I think the issue of alterations is a very real one. But we have had a growing success in other areas. We do a substantial business online in basics, as you would imagine. We have a very strong partnership with Nick Graham of Joe Boxer. I think in his particular category of business [underwear], macys.com is the ninth or tenth largest store in all of Macy’s West in terms of volume. So there are meaningful businesses that we can go after.

DNR: What apparel is selling online?

ANDERSON: Basics, of course. Shirts have proved to be another business we do well with, along with some of the more casual elements of the business. Levi’s, Dockers, Slates, Nautica, private label, Alfani have all been selling. This last Christmas, luxury items such as cashmere sold. We also sold a ton of leather jackets.

DNR: What percentage of macys.com’s assortment is is apparel?

ANDERSON: Ballpark, I’d say it’s about 30 percent with a lot of room for expansion. I’d like to see it get to 50 to 60 percent. My vision is to get the same percents to the total business that exist in the brick-and-mortar world.

DNR: Is there anything that isn’t selling online?

ANDERSON: The only business right now we can’t seem to get much interest in is kids. Other than that I don’t see any business that couldn’t be a growth strategy for the Internet.

DNR: What key technologies are you currently using?

ANDERSON: This last Christmas we added a new little piece of technology. It is just a simple pop-up window with a zoom that allows the consumer to see the tailoring elements of the garment. We found that dramatically improved the sell-through on some of the ready-to-wear items. And I think the technology is just in its infancy. We are evaluating virtual technologies that will allow you to rotate items and try them on — fitting room concepts and such. That’s really where our efforts will be in 2000: developing the user interfaces in our sites to help the customer make an informed decision.

DNR: Will those technologies help overcome the obstacles of buying fashion apparel on the Internet?

ANDERSON: The catalog guys, Lands’ End and Eddie Bauer, have done a good job translating their direct mail business to the Internet. They have educated the consumer on how to do business in that model. The Internet has a very powerful aspect to it that direct mail just can’t match, and that’s personalization. We can get feedback from consumers and develop a one-to-one relationship with the consumer. What we are working on as we speak is taking that information and using it to present a more compelling experience to the consumer. So as broadband technology becomes more and more available and the speed of Internet connections goes up, your ability to present a richer experience online becomes that much better.

DNR: Who is your online customer and does that customer differ from the one shopping in the stores?

ANDERSON: I would not say we’ve gotten to the bottom line yet, but we are getting to know more about our customer. We know our customer is younger than the one who is shopping in the department stores, which is very appealing to us and something we intuitively thought was going to happen. Attracting a younger customer to the department store model is a very important aspect of what macys.com is all about. The customer is also more affluent, which is interesting, because the Macy’s customer is fairly high in the income scale anyway, but the Internet shopper was substantially higher.

DNR: What is the percentage of men to women shopping at macys.com?

ANDERSON: When I first put the site up, people thought [the Internet] was all a bunch of geeky guys and Macy’s is all about fashion. People also said the core customer in the store is predominantly female. About 60 to 65 percent of our online customers are female and 35 percent male, compared to about 70 percent female in the stores. However, men’s was the second largest category for me in the month of December. The male shopper is out there if you have the right content to lure him in.

DNR: How are you integrating macys.com with the stores and can one benefit from the other?

ANDERSON: Taking the image of Macy’s and making it national and international through the Internet gives us a very powerful business model. We are building a click-and-mortar strategy integrating macys.com and the brick-and-mortar stores. In addition,there are problems I can solve in the online world that are difficult to solve in the real world. For example, building assortments or suggestion selling. It’s all part of the personalization. We are beginning to learn that if consumers buy one thing, they might also buy something else. We might suggest it as you are browsing through the online store. That’s sometimes difficult in the real world. I know at the downtown San Francisco Macy’s Men’s store, it’s five or six floors. Clothing and slacks are on one floor, shirts are in one place, shoes another. Pulling it all together online should be [a lot easier]. The relationship with the stores is also a competitive advantage for me because [the Internet shopper] is able to return something to a store or to the fulfillment center that sent it. see here macys printable coupons

DNR: Do you also see people coming into the store to try on something so they know what size to order online?

ANDERSON: I don’t know, but probably yes. When I find something that I like that fits me well, I tend to buy multiple items. Take khakis for example. I don’t just have one pair. A lot of men know their sizes: waist, neck, inseam [so they can buy online]. Another thing we’ve learned is that there’s a `size factor’ and a `schlep factor.’ Consumers are using the Internet to purchase bigger, bulkier items from us and have them shipped. We seem to be doing a pretty good business in things like comforters and luggage. The other thing is large items such as furniture. This is not a business that I think we have optimized at this point.

DNR: How will the Internet shopper affect the shopping experience in the store?

ANDERSON: The Internet customer is definitely more demanding. So to some degree I am forcing service levels up at brick-and-mortar stores. Believe me, the store people are not just sitting back, wringing their hands and saying: “What are we going to do?” We are energizing them to revisit some of their business models and improve things such as service levels and speed.

DNR: Talk about your product assortment and the range of sizes and styles available in apparel at macys.com.

ANDERSON: We have been getting a lot of feedback from customers about expanding our size scales online and offering special sizes, such as Big & Tall or shorts for the guy who doesn’t fit into the normal size ranges. I think this is an example of how the Internet can become a very powerful tool. Stores are never going to carry a broad assortment of sizes on a day-in and day-out basis. However, the Internet can do that. By also giving Internet access to the salesclerks in the stores, if a customer comes in and we don’t have the size they are looking for, we can get it for them and put it on their doorstep in 48 hours. Providing the customer with a personalized experience is really where we see this thing going.

DNR: How are you going to leverage Macy’s as a brand online?

DNR: How will the Internet affect Macy’s other businesses such as Macy’s By Mail?

ANDERSON: I think the Macy’s By Mail customer to some degree is a different customer. But will there be cannibalization of sales? We used to sort of tap dance around that issue, but the answer today in my mind is probably yes. But cannibalization may be the wrong word. We have evidence of a lot of cross shopping. I think the consumer wants a choice. They may not want to do all their shopping online. This way, they have options. On the other hand, macys.com is a great place to test new concepts. We will go out and test something in three or four stores and if it works, we will expand it across the chain.

DNR: How long before you see a profit?

ANDERSON: Good question. Based on my current projections, I think I am still a couple of years away, assuming that I continue on the track that I’m on. I think I’m in a little bit of a different position because I am bearing a lot of cost associated with building infrastructure. To some degree, I’m out there blazing new grounds. Because of that, I’m bearing a larger capital investment. But I think most of my counterparts in the dot-com world are struggling to achieve profitability. In most cases they have substantial marketing and branding costs, as do I, but here, leveraging the [Macy's name] has allowed me to avoid some of the extreme marketing expenses.

DNR: How do you feel about where you are now vs. 1996?

ANDERSON: When I went back and revisited the original business plan that I put together, I wanted to see how close we were to matching that plan. I think we are right on track, maybe a little ahead of schedule. The thing I am very encouraged about today is sales growth. We just finished January and are clearly experiencing the same four-times-last-year sales growth. So I think we have momentum. The second is margin. If you don’t have sufficient margins, no matter how big you get, it will never pan out. Our margins are better today than what we are generating in the stores. The question now is getting the infrastructure built, which is costly, and then continuing to make it more and more productive, which will bring those costs as a percent of total sales back in line.

DNR: Is macy’s.com discounting at all?

ANDERSON: I’ve seen price pressure my entire career. The way you can overcome it by having the right merchandise at the right time, and being a marketing company instead of just selling “stuff.” So developing a relationship with the customer and rewarding them for their loyalty are very powerful elements to overcoming the: “It’s all about price” mentality. The Internet adds a couple of sweetners to that, such as convenience and personalization. My focus is not about being the lowest price. You have to be competitively priced, no question, but I think there is an opportunity for successful retailers to enjoy profitable margins on the Internet as well.

As business on the Internet continues to gain importance in the apparel world, DNR has decided to supplement the “Retailer Speaks” features with a new series based on Internet businesses called: “E-Tailer Speaks.” This is the first installment in a series that will run periodically throughout the year.

McKinney, Melonee

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