Retail TouchPoints - Your Source For The Latest Retail News And Trends Thu, 27 Oct 2016 02:16:50 -0400 RTP en-gb OnStar Go Puts Retail In The Driver’s Seat OnStar Go Puts Retail In The Driver’s Seat

Shoppers interact with brands at numerous points across their purchase journey, whether on a desktop, on a mobile phone or within the store itself. But now IBM and General Motors have teamed up to power a solution that gives consumers one more interaction point — their car.

The technology and automotive giants have combined the vehicle connectivity of OnStar and the data capabilities within IBM Watson APIs to deliver cognitive mobility platform OnStar Go. Debuting in early 2017, OnStar Go is designed to enable drivers of General Motors vehicles to interact directly with the dashboard of their car to access personalized content from their favorite brands.

The cognitive mobility platform enables brands to design Watson-powered consumer experiences. Examples of potential uses include:

  • OnStar Go taps Watson Personality Insights and Watson Conversation APIs to remind a working father to pick up diapers and formula at the pharmacy a few miles before his exit, so he won’t have to leave the house again once he gets home;

  • The platform employs Watson Tradeoff Analytics to give a traveling foodie dining recommendations from celebrity chefs when driving in a new city; and

  • Watson Retrieve and Rank, used by OnStar Go, lets the driver know that her order is ready for pickup at a nearby retail store and one of the store’s employees will load the purchases into the car.

{loadposition GIAA}Brands such as Macy’s and The North Face already use IBM Watson’s AI and machine learning capabilities to power more interactive consumer experiences. While there haven’t been any retail brands tied to OnStar Go yet, Mastercard and ExxonMobil are two of the first brands to use the platform.

With OnStar Go, Mastercard will enable drivers and passengers to pay for goods and services from their cars, completing transactions using credit or debit cards stored in their Masterpass wallets.

ExxonMobil will use the cognitive mobility platform to help drivers locate Exxon and Mobil retail fuel stations, recommend the best fuel and lubricant product for their vehicle and authorize fuel payment from inside the vehicle.

“On average, people in the U.S. spend more than 46 minutes per day in their car and are looking for ways to optimize their time,” said Phil Abram, Executive Director of GM Connected Products and Strategy. “By leveraging OnStar’s connectivity and combining it with the power of Watson, we’re looking to provide safer, simpler and better solutions to make our customers’ mobility experience more valuable and productive.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 26 Oct 2016 14:49:42 -0400
Etsy Enhances Global Payment Platform With New Partnership Etsy Enhances Global Payment Platform With New Partnership

1etsyEtsy, the online marketplace, has partnered with  Adyen to enhance the payment experience for its global buyers and sellers. The marketplace will be adding redundancy and resiliency to its payment platform, which will enable buyers to use their preferred local currencies and payment methods. 

The partnership will cover the U.S., Europe and other key areas where Etsy operates marketplaces and provides services to its 1.7 million sellers. 

“Our goal at Etsy is to leverage technology to bring people together through commerce,” said James Esposito, Senior Director of Payment Operations at Etsy in a statement. “Working with Adyen enables us to further optimize the buying and selling environment for our community. We believe that this relationship will strengthen our ability to disburse payments to sellers quickly and reliably as well as our ability to offer our buyers the opportunity to pay with their payment method of choice.”


]]> (David DeZuzio) News Briefs Wed, 26 Oct 2016 13:15:17 -0400
PayPal-Intuit Integration Speeds Payments For SMBs PayPal-Intuit Integration Speeds Payments For SMBs

Building on its existing partnership with accounting software provider Intuit, PayPal is helping SMBs that use QuickBooks Online to streamline their payment processes.

"Without leaving the digital invoice that has been sent to them via QuickBooks, a supplier can pay the invoice amount with just the click of the PayPal button," said Dan Leberman, VP and General Manager for North American SMB at PayPal. "If they are already launched in PayPal when they get the invoice, it just takes one touch to pay — there's no password or other data entry needed."

{loadposition GIAA}The new capability was initially tested in Australia starting in November 2015. "The Australian merchants using PayPal as an invoicing tool are getting paid, on average, twice as fast as those that aren't," said Leberman in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. "Having that cash flow is a huge accelerant for these businesses to grow."

In addition to improving cash flow, the PayPal-Intuit integration can help SMBs:

• Simplify tracking of unpaid invoices, which are automatically marked "paid" in QuickBooks when a customer pays via PayPal;

• Ensure valuable customer information stays up to date by automatically synching data from PayPal into QuickBooks;

• Securely download other transactions, such as expenses and bank transfers, into default categories within QuickBooks; and

• Improve accuracy by eliminating manual data entry errors.

SMB retailers can take advantage of other PayPal services as they shift more payments to this method. "When you process more through PayPal over time, you qualify for other services such as PayPal Working Capital," said Leberman. "These are loans that, for example, allow a company to build inventory for the holiday season or finance business growth via marketing."

The Intuit integration currently is available to customers in Australia and the U.S. Dates for further geographic expansion are not yet available.

]]> (Adam Blair) News Briefs Wed, 26 Oct 2016 12:47:44 -0400
Amazon Adds 66 New Dash Buttons Amazon Adds 66 New Dash Buttons

1-Amazon DashWhat was once considered an April Fool’s joke is now an exponentially growing service. Consumers worried about running out of soft drinks, crackers, coffee or treats (either pet or human) can rest easy. Amazon has added 66 new Dash buttons to its lineup, bringing the total to 226 buttons.

Among the new brands and products that can be ordered via the ultra-convenient one-touch buttons are Coca-Cola, including Diet Coke, Powerade and Dasani water, plus well-known consumer brands like Purell, Similac, Folgers, Meow Mix, Milk Bone, Pup-peroni and Cheez-It.

Amazon has also expanded the number of Dash buttons featuring its private label products to Prime members. The three new options are Amazon gift cards, Amazon Basics batteries and Amazon Basics pet supplies. These join the Amazon Elements diapers Dash button that was previously available.

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The Dash are designed to be placed anywhere around the consumer's house, and are programmed via an Amazon mobile app. Each button costs $4.99, and a customer’s first button order includes a $4.99 credit toward the first product order.

“We’re seeing exponential growth for the program; orders increased over five times in the last year,” said Daniel Rausch, Director of Amazon Dash in a statement. Amazon also reported that some popular itemsfrom brands such as Hefty, Peet’s Coffee and Arm & Hammer, are seeing a majority of their Amazon orders being made through the Dash button.

In addition to adding brands for U.S. consumers, today, Amazon recently expanded the offering internationally. In August, it launched in Austria, Germany, and the UK, and Dash Buttons for many of the brands sold out in a single day.

]]> (David DeZuzio) News Briefs Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:56:42 -0400
Walmart Invests $50 Million In Same-Day Chinese E-Commerce Delivery Walmart Invests $50 Million In Same-Day Chinese E-Commerce Delivery

1-walmart chinaWalmart’s latest salvo against e-Commerce titan Alibaba is a $50 million strategic investment in New Dada. The company is China's largest local on-demand logistics and grocery online-to-offline (O2O) e-Commerce platform. 

Walmart's investment is an extension of its broader agreement with and cooperation with New Dada, which includes using New Dada’s network to offer customers two-hour delivery on groceries ordered from Walmart stores through the JD Daojia Dada app.

“All around the world, we’re creating seamless shopping experiences that bring together our stores, sites and apps to make shopping faster and easier,” said Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart in a statement. “Our alliance with JD and cooperation with New Dada will enable seamless shopping to millions of customers across China.”

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The two-hour delivery service is available to customers within a two-mile radius of more than 20 Walmart stores that are currently part of the program. The number of Walmart stores offering two-hour delivery is expected to double by the end of the year. Walmart operates 426 stores in nearly 170 cities in China.

New Dada, an independent joint venture of and Dada, boasts more than 25 million registered customers and provides local on-demand delivery capabilities, deploying 2.5 million crowd-sourced deliverers across more than 300 cities in China. 

While Walmart seems to be setting itself up to compete with Alibaba in China, another big U.S. retailing name, Macy’s, is aligning itself with the e-Commerce behemoth. Looking to double down on it big bet on digital, Macy's recently jumped into the Chinese e-Commerce fray as a partner in Alibaba’s Tmall Global.

]]> (David DeZuzio) News Briefs Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:43:50 -0400
Container Store Co-Founder: 5 Ways To Make Sustainability Practical Container Store Co-Founder: 5 Ways To Make Sustainability Practical

1blairWhen people think about shrinking their carbon footprint, the image that comes to mind is going “off the grid”: raise (or kill) your own food, fill your car’s tank with old French-fry oil, home-school the kids. Since this extreme lifestyle isn’t desirable for most of us in today’s highly connected society, many people just shrug their shoulders and do the minimum required. Not Garrett Boone. He is deeply involved in making the sustainable practical — and potentially profitable.

You may know Boone as one of the co-founders of The Container Store, but while he’s justly proud of his work building that unique retail experience, Boone’s latest project is also out of the ordinary. It’s TreeHouse, a home improvement and design store focused on the idea that all homes should be sustainable, beautiful and healthy. The retailer’s products are non-toxic and manufactured with minimal environmental impact, and the overall goal is to make customers’ homes as energy-efficient as possible.

{loadposition GIAA}While TreeHouse currently has just one store, in Austin, Tex. (a second location is slated to open in Dallas in spring 2017), the store’s philosophy is far-reaching:  to help reduce the damage we’re doing to the planet.

“We’re looking to change the paradigm of home remodeling and home building,” said Boone. “The idea is that these products will have less impact on the earth when they’re produced, and less impact on the earth, and the people using them, when they’re installed.”

It’s a lofty goal, but Boone and TreeHouse CEO Jason Ballard are working hard to turn it into reality, as Boone revealed at the Retail Innovation Lounge event held September 26-28 in Dallas. In a conversation with event presenter REVTECH’s Managing Director David Mathews, Boone explained what makes TreeHouse work:

• Practice What You Preach: The new Dallas store is being designed to be energy-neutral. In fact, if all goes according to plan, TreeHouse may even be able to produce more energy than it uses. The south-facing sawtooth-style roof is designed to maximize the effectiveness of a 530-panel solar array, while north-facing clerestory windows will allow the interior to be lit primarily by daylight, supplemented by efficient LEDs. A Tesla Powerpack, located in the store’s center where everyone can see it in operation, will gather energy for nighttime operations and to sell back to the local power grid. “The building itself is 70% more efficient than a typical building, and all the materials we’re using are certified non-toxic. It’s a commercial building that’s like the kind of homes we want to offer our customers,” said Boone.

• Maintain A Sense of Humor: Should the Dallas area have a string of cloudy days and chilly weather, “We’ll have fleeces on hand if it’s cold, and hats equipped with coal miner’s headlamps,” chuckled Boone.

• Pay Attention To The Customer Experience: Sustainability and fleeces are all well and good, but even the best-intentioned retailer will fail if it doesn’t meet customers’ needs. TreeHouse addresses one of the biggest pain points of home remodeling — the lack of day-to-day information on the progress of the projects — with a web portal for each customer’s project. “It’s their web site within our web site, so they can see exactly what’s happening that day and what will be happening in the future,” said Boone. It’s a smart way to scale up the personal attention that homeowners who are spending thousands to improve their dwellings demand.

• Use The Latest Technology: As design and construction of the Dallas location progress, TreeHouse executives are using virtual reality (VR) glasses to visualize what the finished store will look like. “You look in the glasses and see the whole design in them,” said Boone. “You’re really in this alternate reality.”

• Use The Best People: A key learning from The Container Store is the importance of hiring the right people and providing them with extensive training. “We focused on getting people who weren’t the usual retail people,” Boone noted. “We wanted people who would be successful in any organization, and to create an environment where they can be entrepreneurs. We are looking to have a strong culture that’s based on their interactions with each other and with our customers.”

Will Boone and his buddies succeed in saving the earth? Let’s hope so.

]]> (Adam Blair) Editor's Perspective Thu, 20 Oct 2016 12:07:37 -0400
Girl Power: Women Helping Women In Retail Girl Power: Women Helping Women In Retail

1klaudiaI’ve been having issues with a large number of news items related to women lately. From Trump’s obscene comments about women and Kim Kardashian being blamed for her attack in Paris, to female-related news in retail such as the pink tax and the plus-size debate, women just can’t seem to catch a break.

As a woman, it’s distressing for me to see our beliefs, looks and even shopping habits being either ignored or attacked outright.

While mainstream media has done enough coverage on Trump and Kardashian, I’d like to shed some light on female entrepreneurs in retail and the media outlets that are guiding them to bigger opportunities. I recently spoke with Aihui Ong of a cool start-up called Love With Food, and Samantha Skey, CRO of SheKnows Media, about its Pitch program for female entrepreneurs. Ong’s innovative approach to Love With Food resulted in her winning the Pitch program competition and receiving guidance to further grow her business.

Women helping women succeed in their business ventures, in a world where women still earn about 80 cents for every dollar men earn? Now that’s female-related news I can get behind.

Female Entrepreneurs Gain Strategic Advice Through The Pitch

SheKnows Media started its Pitch program two years ago in an effort to help women looking for advice on launching their businesses.

“We had an amazing opportunity to work in a more strategic way with female entrepreneurs who are coming to us through various channels,” said Skey. “We had a growing group of women looking for advice when they were launching their businesses, such as how to market themselves, gaining consumer insights and help with venture capital. We thought we can organize our efforts to empower female entrepreneurs under a program called ‘The Pitch.’”

Ong founded Love With Food, a big data marketing platform that helps food manufacturers connect with consumers directly through a subscription box service. The service partners with health food companies to send products to consumers who are eager to find out what’s coming out in the market.

The customers then provide feedback through pre-curated multiple choice questions about the products. The companies get insight into what consumers like and dislike, in order to make product improvements or get ideas for future product development.

“Consumers love that their voices are being heard by manufacturers because they’re helping brands understand what goes on inside the minds of consumers and help them form the future of food,” said Ong. “Their feedback helps get actionable insight to help brands improve on their current products.”

Honing The Elevator Pitch

Skey said The Pitch is an umbrella program that allows SheKnows to support female entrepreneurs across a range of businesses, including food products, family and parenting products, and health and beauty. “A problem a lot of women had was how to describe their business in short-form elevator speech, so we work on that first,” she said.

The company works with women on editorial coverage to help them build their brand through its audience of women. SheKnows also hosts a Pitch competition during its BlogHer events, which invites mentor feedback and allows the audience to vote on which company receives a marketing package from SheKnows.

“We look for products and services that were not only relevant to our users but would solve a specific problem,” said Skey. “We look for people who are diverse and represent different backgrounds. We also make sure it is a viable business that provides solutions to a big chunk of our audience. Love With Food has all that.”

Making Mom Understand Your Business Plan 

As The Pitch program’s big winner, Ong received invaluable guidance for her business. She shared a major learning point in terms of pitching a business: being very clear in your talking points.

“If you explain it to your mom and she doesn’t understand what you do, then nobody else will,” said Ong. “You have to break it down to really simple terms — everyday terms — to make the business easily digestible and understandable within less than a minute.”

“I think the point of The Pitch is really focused around condensing your company description into a very salient, short, accessible description,” Skey added. “That’s something that we see female entrepreneurs in particular struggle with because they want to be thorough and explain all aspects of their business. That’s hard to do in 30 to 60 seconds.”

Ong concluded our conversation with her own piece of advice for female entrepreneurs:

“At the end of the day, it’s really about grit and perseverance. I always say entrepreneurship is ‘raining sh*t with a chance of sunshine,’ because every day is always a crisis with very, very little good news. It’s like a roller coaster ride. But, at the end of the day, going through that with grit and perseverance to keep on going and believing in your passion is what makes the business that you’re building.”  

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) Editor's Perspective Tue, 25 Oct 2016 11:54:41 -0400
Payment Focus Shifts From EMV To Friction-Free Digital Commerce Payment Focus Shifts From EMV To Friction-Free Digital Commerce

A funny thing happened on the way to full EMV adoption in the U.S.: the effort to remove checkout friction from digital commerce — particularly in the fast-rising mobile commerce realm — stole EMV's thunder. Increasingly, consumers want to complete purchases right on their mobile devices, but the checkout experience is still time-consuming and clumsy. Enter: one-click digital payment.

Download this special report to learn more about today's fractured payments landscape, including:

  • How EMV acceptance is pushing fraud risk to SMBs and digital commerce;
  • What's behind the slow adoption of mobile wallets; and
  • 5 steps for mitigating payment fraud risk.

Fill out the form to download now!

]]> (Adam Blair) Special Reports Tue, 25 Oct 2016 12:00:09 -0400
Machine Learning Solution Optimizes Google Shopping Campaigns Machine Learning Solution Optimizes Google Shopping Campaigns

Criteo has introduced a new search solution following beta tests with leading retailers including Revolve Clothing, Teleflora and Camping World. The automated, end-to-end solution, powered by machine learning, is designed to systematically improve results from Google Shopping using predictive optimization across every aspect of a campaign.

Criteo Predictive Search continuously optimizes remarketing lists, campaign structure, campaign settings and bidding, allowing paid search marketers to:

            • Re-engage high-value users via behavioral targeting technology that programmatically sets bids based on each user's propensity to make a purchase;

            • Increase ROI with multi-dimensional bidding that reflects a granular understanding of product characteristics, performance history, user intent, device and user behavior; and

            • Consistently meet targets, even during seasonal and promotional peaks, with campaigns that automatically and accurately adapt.

{loadposition GIAA}"Google Shopping is a huge opportunity for retail marketers, with Shopping quickly becoming the biggest e-Commerce performance driver for retailers," said Jason Lehmbeck, General Manager for Search at Criteo in a statement. "Yet the tools available are overly complex and time-consuming, and do not sufficiently help marketers connect with consumers who are actively shopping for their products. Our goal with Predictive Search is to eliminate the guesswork of managing Shopping Campaigns."

Criteo Predictive Search is available immediately in the U.S., with further global availability to be added throughout 2017.

]]> (Adam Blair) News Briefs Tue, 25 Oct 2016 11:42:45 -0400
Seeing The Forest For The Trees: The Taming Of Big Data Seeing The Forest For The Trees: The Taming Of Big Data

0aSanjay Sidhwani SynchronyThe quandary of big data in recent years is similar to looking at a rainforest. There is so much of it, it is not an issue of seeing where and what it is, it is the fear of not seeing the forest for the trees. A rainforest has so many important ecosystems and tiny elements that may be hugely important, similar to big data. Many businesses have the challenge of seeing the thousands of types of data and identifying which elements of the data are important, and what to do about those elements.

At Synchrony Financial, we are a consumer finance company with a deep heritage in the retail sector. As such, we have a very large quantity of data, from several sources, which could include SKU data on purchase transactions, marketing touch points, channel interactions, payment history, etc. Our data is not only credit card data normally gathered from an issuer perspective, it is also data we gather to provide value to a retailer. As such, our data tools must be top notch — both scalable and flexible — in order to provide greater insights.

{loadposition GIAA}And with the accumulation of data comes the responsibility of safeguarding the storage, access and transfer of data, and ensuring the proper usage of key data elements. The security and protection of private customer data also needs to be a top priority.

In our experience, one strategy that is very helpful in identifying the important elements of the data available is data visualization. Data visualization tools can be crucial in identifying important factors, trends and outliers in data. After these important factors are uncovered, the question becomes how to create programs that address the important items that can positively impact a business. This can be done with agile methodology. We have found that programs using agile methodology (created using the partnership of IT and Analytics), can have a large impact on business success, as described in more detail below.

Data Visualization – Translating Data Into Actionable Insights

Data visualization can be a powerful tool to quickly observe trends and take action on the data observed. These tools make it easier for leaders across all disciplines to access key data without having to dig through thousands of data points and charts. It is more helpful to let the data tell a story through visual formats. These can include heat maps, infographics and a combination of pictures and graphs. Four types of tools are especially helpful:

  1. Executive dashboards. By translating data into a visual format, dashboards help users more clearly identify business insights, trends and performance gaps, and to more easily share the results across the company. Once the dashboards are created, business leaders and analysts know what to look for and can easily interpret the data presented.

  1. Pictures and graphs. Using pictures and graphs to portray data can sometimes be the differentiating factor in observing an insight that could otherwise go unnoticed. Paying attention to outliers and unique patterns can help highlight potential opportunities and areas of improvement.

  1. Sensitivity modeling. Data visualization software can be used as an interactive tool for running sensitivity models on a particular variable. For instance, the impact of price changes on profitability can be assessed, or the impact of weather changes on sales. Once these models are put into place, the risk of uncertainty can be reduced.  

  1. Heat maps. Another example of an effective way to display data is heat mapping. Individual values are represented in a tabular or graphical format in various colors to denote a range of performance from low to high. This visual representation allows users to hone in on where performance is strong, and where opportunities exist.

Data visualization tools are valuable to help organizations simplify large amounts of information into insights through a visual format. Letting the numbers tell the story often results in bringing insights to life and communicating them across the organization. And now that they see the data and understand its implications, the organization can impact change by using the agile process, as described below.

The Agile Process – Using The Partnership Of IT And Analytics To Impact Change

Creating a partnership between the Analytics and IT teams is extremely important. Working together with a common vision and goal, the two departments can use agile process to effectively produce workable solutions quickly and efficiently. By simplifying and speeding up the process of analyzing big data, companies are able to improve their marketing efforts and build better customer relationships.  

Let’s take a look at the traditional data model. When a customer engages with a business, whether to make a purchase, pay a bill, or make an inquiry, the interaction and the resulting data are recorded in one of its operational systems.

Traditionally, analytics processes have been separated from operational systems, because these processes demand considerable resources that can slow down the system and impact business. Consequently, businesses move data to a data warehouse platform so analysts can study the information without impacting the operational system. These commercial tools can be difficult to use and result in long cycle times.

The agile approach can solve these issues. With an agile process, the IT and Analytics teams can work together toward a common business goal from the start. The analytics team works with IT to develop insights from big data and then use the data in a timely manner — yielding improved customer personalization and more impactful marketing programs. 

The agile process also allows for:


  1. Minimization of data movement. The goal of the process is to engage the customer at the moment of decision. To react with that kind of speed, you need a platform that minimizes the number of times you move the data. A data lake provides a scalable platform where data is ingested from the operational system very quickly, without moving to the analytics environment.


  1. Availability of the tools. Open source tools are simpler and more affordable. Analysts run the data in real time and leverage tools in parallel to perform analysis.


  1. Shorter cycle times. Performing analytics at scale requires a platform that is integrated with customer channels. This moves analytics closer to the customer, resulting in shorter cycle times and greater meaningful engagement.


Once an agile infrastructure is in place, there are essential steps for helping to harness the power of that data. First, make the implication of the data clear — not just to the analysts, but also to key stakeholders. A data platform can be used for both “push” and “pull” reporting on key business metrics so performance of your business can be tracked.


Data in today’s world is ubiquitous. Some is clear and definable — like a specific tree in a forest. Others are more unstructured and free flowing — the ecosystem and co-relationships, for instance. In order to interpret the data and have an impact, data visualization can be used to see specific issues or trends, and the agile process can be used to provide the solutions and immediacy required to provide the solutions.


Please see our white papers on both topics:


Data Visualization: translating data into actionable insights for retailers; and Taming Big Data: using the partnership of IT and Marketing Analytics to maximize marketing impact



Sanjay Sidhwani is Senior Vice President of Marketing Analytics for Synchrony Financial, responsible for creating the overall data/analytics strategy, developing data platforms and generating actionable insights to drive profitable growth for all sales platforms across the business. Prior to assuming the analytics leader role in 2011, Sanjay was the targeting and segmentation leader for GE Capital Retail Finance. In this role, he was responsible for developing enterprise-wide advanced analytics tools and targeting strategies for all retail card clients. Previously, Sanjay was the analytics leader for several specialty retail clients. Prior to joining GE in 2007, Sanjay held multiple analytics and consulting roles at Merkle Inc., Ernst & Young and FedEx Corporation.

]]> (Sanjay Sidhwani, Synchrony Financial) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 25 Oct 2016 09:55:06 -0400