Retail TouchPoints - Your Source For The Latest Retail News And Trends - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:00:32 -0400 RTP en-gb Cardlytics Acquires $70 Million In Funding

, a card-linked marketing technology company, has received $70 million in its latest financing round. 

The series, which was led by Discovery Capital, brings Cardlytics’ total venture funding to more than $170 million. The money will be used to help Cardlytics extend its capabilities to help make marketing more relevant and measurable for clients.

Because of its support of Cardlytics, a representative from Discovery Capital will be added to the advertising company’s board of directors. In addition, DigitasLBi North America CEO Tony Weisman will join the board due to his knowledge of the advertising space. A 25-year industry veteran, Weisman leads an agency known for digital media, creative and technology acumen and, in turn, will bring experience to Cardlytics as the company continues to grow.

“These board additions come at an important time for Cardlytics,” said Scott Grimes, CEO of Cardlytics. “As we expand the power of Card-Linked Marketing beyond our private banking channel, we’re excited to bring on the deep expertise in technology and media that these board members represent.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Financial News Thu, 30 Oct 2014 15:01:59 -0400
Noerr Programs Spreads Holiday Cheer With Seasonal Pop-Ups Noerr Programs Spreads Holiday Cheer With Seasonal Pop-Ups

Pop-up shops have become a mainstay in the retail industry, with businesses of all sizes opening up locations throughout the year.

Some retailers rely on pop-ups as a core part of their businesses. Noerr Programs, for example, provides pop-ups in regional shopping centers around Christmas and Easter. Due to its growing success, Noerr Programs has even experimented with other holiday-themed shops around Halloween and even Shark Week.

Noted as the first organization to venture into pop-ups 26 years ago, Noerr Programs was created by Rudy Noerr to reflect her love for the holidays, according to Ruth Rosenquist, Director of PR and Cause Marketing for the company.

Since its inception, Noerr Programs pop-ups have been rolled out in hundreds of shopping centers, hotels and other venues. Because the pop-ups give customers the opportunity to purchase photos, frames, stuffed animals and other accessories, they are retail establishments at their core.

“We’re very much a retailer because we provide digital photo packages and accessories,” said Rosenquist in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We’re generally contracted by the mall developer and are very much a part of the financial model for the shopping center.” She added that Simon Property Group is Noerr Programs’ largest contractor.

{loadposition GIAA}To maintain successful partnerships with mall contractors, Noerr Programs needs to ensure its marketing campaigns are up to par. From a marketing standpoint, the Noerr Programs marketing team collaborates with developer partners throughout peak seasons to “make sure all publicity stories are handled properly,” Rosenquist said. “During the holiday season, we coach each regional Santa for TV interviews and appearances, for example.” Additionally, both parties collaborate on social campaigns across Facebook, Twitter and other networks by holding contests and campaigns throughout the season.

Success for each pop-up hinges on getting “boots on the ground,” and having both teams collaborate on an ongoing basis, according to Rosenquist. “We truly consider ourselves the holiday anchor — we bring the heart and warmth to each property. But it has to be a collaboration to get the word out.”

Optimizing Inventory And Financial Planning

Because Noerr Programs relies on seasonal events and holidays, the company has a “scarcity” model that requires intricate inventory and financial planning.

“We only have 53 days or less to operate in 2014, so every single day counts,” Rosenquist said. Noerr Programs relies on NetSuite to provide real-time reporting, so the team can react to what’s happening in the field.

“Our planning never ends,” added Jay Ballou, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis at Noerr Programs. “Even if we have a definite beginning and end of the season, our planning truly is year-round and entails inventory, shipping and logistics.”

Typically, Noerr Programs has an intense 13-week operating period during Christmas and Easter, Ballou noted. “So we need to be ready. There are certain tasks we need to complete, like preparing inventory and knowing how much product to order and how it is going to be distributed at various mall locations.”

Noerr Programs has an inventory system in place in which seasonal employees conduct weekly cycle counts. However, if someone misses a cycle count and a location runs out of a product, the company works with regional managers to overnight ship items to anywhere around the nation.

But with NetSuite, Noerr Programs has the ability to “literally watch sales as they occur,” according to Ballou, and all mall partners have access to that data. That way, if one location is struggling to sell specific products, they can come up with a marketing plan to drive traffic and sales.

“Partners have an account in NetSuite and have all the information they need to improve their businesses,” Ballou said. “The real-time feedback of information is something that has taken our business to a completely different level.” 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0400
Retail Orphan Initiative Launches Campaign To Provide Ebola Relief Retail Orphan Initiative Launches Campaign To Provide Ebola Relief

The Retail Orphan Initiative (RetailROI) has rolled out a major campaign designed to encourage the retail community to collaborate on fighting Ebola in Liberia.

#RetailFightsEbola was positioned to rally retailers, manufacturers and individuals to provide medical, hygienic and food supplies to Liberia. RetailROI hopes to raise more than $1 million in goods requested by partners and the Liberian Ministry of Health. In addition, the charitable foundation is aiming to raise more than $250,000 in financial contributions to provide immediate relief to the 3,400-plus children newly orphaned from the disease.

“The goods that Liberia has requested are readily available from nearly any supercenter, drug, clothing, or grocery store in the U.S.,” said Greg Buzek, Co-Founder and donor trustee at RetailROI. “We are asking retailers and manufacturers to donate products at their cost from overstocks or out-of-season goods. This is retail’s chance to make a difference in the lives of people that desperately need our help at the source of the outbreak and will be key to helping contain this epidemic.”

{loadposition GIAA}Reported as one of the world’s poorest countries, Liberia has an annual national income of approximately $412 per person. The country also has been hit extremely hard by the Ebola outbreak, potentially seeing another 90,000 deaths and 171,000 infections by the end of 2014, according to research from the World Health Organization.

Several RetailROI partners, including More Than Me, have helped reduce the number of new Ebola cases by up to 90% by providing education and community outreach, and delivering basic supplies to those impacted by the disease.

To learn more about #RetailFightsEbola, watch this video or access an on-demand webinar discussing the official launch

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:37:00 -0400
Deliv Expands Services To Four New Metropolitan Areas Deliv Expands Services To Four New Metropolitan Areas

delivDeliv has expanded its same-day delivery service, adding four new geographies, including Seattle, Houston, Northern New Jersey and Washington, D.C., to its roster in time for the holiday season.

The expansion is “fueled by both strong consumer demand and retailer interest,” according to a company statement. Previously, Deliv provided same-day delivery services in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose.

Deliv will expand its delivery services to 18 new malls across the U.S., and has started partnerships with mall operators PREIT and Taubman. The delivery service provider now operates in the PREIT-branded Springfield Town Center in Washington, D.C. and Taubman’s Beverly Center in Los Angeles. By the end of 2015, 30 malls are expected to offer the Deliv-powered service.

“This growth is a testament to the fact that our retail and mall operator partners are deriving enormous value from their ability to offer an enhanced customer experience, through convenience and choice, with the Deliv same-day delivery option,” said Daphne Carmeli, Founder and CEO of Deliv. “It is incredibly strong demand that is pushing us to rapidly expand the offering into more cities and from more retail stores across the country.”

Customers who use the service within a certain radius of a participating shopping center can have items they purchase online or in-store delivered the same day. Shoppers using the service at the mall also can drop off recently purchased items at a kiosk and have them delivered at a later time that day.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:21:00 -0400
CurrentC Hacked, Emails Of Pilot Program Participants Obtained

CurrentCThe Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), which consists of major retailers such as Best Buy, Gap and Walmart, announced that its mobile payment solution CurrentC has been hacked. 

This news comes on the heels of MCX members, specifically Rite Aid and CVS, reversing their acceptance of mobile payment competitors Apple Pay and Google Wallet. Although both chains had NFC card readers compatible with the mobile payment systems, both companies eventually blocked NFC recognition.

“Within the last 36 hours, we learned that unauthorized third parties obtained the email addresses of some of our CurrentC pilot program participants and individuals who had expressed interest in the app,” the company said in a statement. However, a representative confirmed that “many” of the email addresses that were compromised were dummy accounts used for testing purposes only. The app itself was not affected.

Merchant partners were notified of the incident and MCX engaged directly with program participants who were impacted.

“We take the security of our users’ information extremely seriously,” the company concluded. “MCX is continuing to investigate this situation and will provide updates as necessary.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 29 Oct 2014 12:32:03 -0400
BCBGMAXAZRIA Extends Flagship Line To 100 Countries BCBGMAXAZRIA Extends Flagship Line To 100 Countries

Brands and retailers are expanding their online presence to take advantage of the booming e-Commerce market. 

Women’s fashion house BCBGMAXAZRIA Group, for example, has implemented the cross-border e-Commerce solution from Borderfree to extend its brand to international online shoppers.

The BCBGMAXAZRIA flagship line is now available in 100 countries, with the brand offering free shipping to all countries with a minimum spending threshold. All purchases also will be duty-free in all countries except Japan and Canada. Later this year, BCBGMAXAZRIA will expand its international e-Commerce assortment to include its BCBGeneration and Hervé Léger brands.

With the Borderfree technology, BCBGMAXAZRIA was able to quickly bring international, cross-border shipping to its e-Commerce site, according to Alex Golshan, VP of International e-Commerce and Omnichannel at BCBGMAXAZRIA. Team members receive accurate calculations of taxes and duties for each product, and have access to catalog review, customs compliance and restricted product management tools.

{loadposition GIAA}“Borderfree’s technology and services platform manages all aspects of the international shopping experience and allow retailers to maintain the brand experience they seek to provide,” said Golshan in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The company also offers local market intelligence and strategic marketing support to help merchants successfully grow their presence in key international markets.”

Because all prices and taxes are managed and updated automatically, customers receive a guaranteed price at checkout, eliminating any last-minute charges before the final purchase is made. “This is very important to us as it helps remove any element of surprise for the customer,” Golshan said. “Once customers complete a purchase on our site, they are guaranteed the amount they approved during checkout in their currency and will not be charged any additional fees.”

BCBGMAXAZRIA partnered with Borderfree because the team has “the deepest experience with global logistics and integration with our e-Commerce platform,” Golshan explained. “We also felt that we can enable International shipping for our brands in the fastest timeframe with this solution.”

In the short term, BCBGMAXAZRIA has established plans to provide local sites in several languages, including French and Spanish, that will tout customized and localized content. The brand also will focus on enhancing site navigation and checkout to create a more seamless and delightful shopping experience.

“We may consider providing local fulfillment capabilities for countries where we have a large retail presence in the future,” Golshan said. “Last but not least, we plan to continue to improve our customer service and multi-lingual international customer support.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Wed, 29 Oct 2014 09:42:49 -0400
Brickstream Acquires NOMi Brickstream Acquires NOMi

has acquired fellow location analytics provider NOMi to position itself as a leader in the in-store analytics space. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The combined organization will reportedly have the largest number of global deployments, partner network, application suite and assortment of smart devices, according to a company press release. With a new integrated platform, Brickstream is expected to provide retailers with a complete view of the customer journey across all channels.

“This deal represents the natural evolution of a tremendously successful partnership,” said Marc Ferrentino, CEO of NOMi. “In the past three months alone, NOMi and Brickstream have jointly signed and deployed 27 new clients. That number will grow exponentially thanks to Brickstream’s global network of 50 channel partners covering 65 countries.” 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Mergers & Acquisitions Wed, 29 Oct 2014 09:33:48 -0400
The Omnichannel Challenge: Strategies That Work The Omnichannel Challenge: Strategies That Work

Shadow RTP RT034 SURV Omnichannel FinalWhether they call it “omnichannel” or something else, most retail executives agree that delivering a consistent brand experience across all channels is a vital component of go-forward retail strategies. In fact, close to 95% of retailers define their retail strategy as “omnichannel,” up from 88% last year.

For our third annual omnichannel survey, titled: The Omnichannel Challenge: Strategies That Work, we received responses from 124 retailers and wholesalers who shared insights on their progress as well as challenges they are working to overcome in the omnichannel era.

This 2014 Retail TouchPoints omnichannel survey report benchmarks the changes, struggles and successes retailers are experiencing.

Fill out the form below to download the complete report and learn how retailers are meeting and beating the odds when it comes to succeeding in today’s challenging retail marketplace.

]]> (Debbie Hauss) Special Reports Wed, 29 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0400
Pure Romance Decreases Site Load Times, Increases Conversions With Yottaa Pure Romance Decreases Site Load Times, Increases Conversions With Yottaa

Online shoppers expect web sites to load quickly, especially when they’re browsing on their smartphones and tablets.

To improve the online shopping experience for desktop and mobile visitors, Pure Romance partnered with Yottaa, an automated app optimization service provider. Since completing the implementation process in June 2014, the direct-selling party company specializing in relationship enhancement products has seen mobile load times drop by 44%. In addition, as site bounce rates dropped, the company saw conversions improve by 17%.

The majority of Pure Romance’s sales derive from private parties that women hold in their homes, which Dan Ashbridge, Director of e-Commerce for the company, describes as the “traditional Tupperware Party” model.

{loadposition GIAA}“That is still the vast majority of our business,” said Ashbridge in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “With around 20,000 consultants around the world, this is our largest revenue source.”

Over the past year, though, Pure Romance began to shift attention to increasing its e-Commerce presence as a way to serve another portion of the target audience. 

“There are always going to be customers who are interested in our brand and our products, but aren’t looking for the party experience,” Ashbridge said. “The e-Commerce experience also allows us to sell to men, since our parties are exclusively for women. Men actually make up about 25% of our online audience.”

In 2013, Pure Romance launched a new web site and implemented an “aggressive digital marketing strategy,” Ashbridge explained. This was something “very new for a traditional company used to spending ad dollars on TV and radio.”

However, as its e-Commerce business grew, Pure Romance was plagued with long load times, especially on the mobile site that was built using responsive design. With smartphones accounting for more than 50% of the company’s traffic, it was paramount that Pure Romance tackled the issue head on.

“Our CEO was pressing the website team to find ways to improve web performance, and Yottaa came along with the perfect solution to our problem,” Ashbridge said. “Since our site operates on responsive design, many of the large desktop site files and images were loading first, even though they weren’t necessary for displaying on the mobile web site. So potential customers were waiting too long for our site to load and many were choosing to simply bounce.”

Pure Romance is now partnering with Yottaa to further improve site performance, as well as test and refine the online shopping experience across all devices, Ashbridge reported. “Now that our internal development team has more free time on their schedules, we are looking forward to partnering with Yottaa to further improve our web site performance. I feel like Yottaa will be vital in our efforts to segment our traffic and provide the best shopping experience possible with our learnings from A/B and multivariate testing.”


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Tue, 28 Oct 2014 07:33:33 -0400
Menasha Packaging And Shelfbucks Partner On New Smart Display Technology Menasha Packaging And Shelfbucks Partner On New Smart Display Technology

shelfbucks menashaMenasha Packaging and Shelfbucks have collaborated to launch point-of-purchase (POP) displays incorporating iBeacon technology that enables brands to measure in-store shopper behavior more effectively. Menasha and Shelfbucks expect to launch the first in-store Smart Displays in early 2015. 

Shoppers can interact with Smart Displays by using their smartphones to access product content, promotional offers, ratings and reviews in real time. With the displays in place, brands and retailers can track deployment of in-store POP displays and determine the effectiveness of specific in-store promotions by gathering data on shopper engagement and store-level merchandising performance.

“The addition of Shelfbucks technology to POP displays instantly provides CPG manufacturers and retailers with access to millions of new data points for measuring the impact of merchandising on local, regional and national levels, as well as historically unavailable indicators for determining product performance,” said Will Phillips, Director of Retail Insights and Innovation for Menasha Packaging. “And because we can now provide near real-time performance data, brands and retailers can rapidly adjust in-store campaigns based on timely information on shopper behavior.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:04:15 -0400
Revising The Supply Chain For An Omnichannel Era Revising The Supply Chain For An Omnichannel Era

Following is Part 1 of the feature Supply Chain Management In A Global Marketplace, which outlines how retailers can revise their supply chain operations for omnichannel success. Part 2 will address new complexities that emerge when brands expand internationally.

Retailers across categories, such as Cabela’s, IKEA and Target, are offering new order delivery and fulfillment options to provide customers with a seamless and hassle-free shopping experience.

Tactics such as: ship-to-home and return-to-store; order online and pickup in-store; and even providing anytime, anywhere access to inventory availability all are on the upswing, according to Aberdeen Group research. A recent report, titled: Rethinking Merchandise Optimization In The Connected-Customer Era, indicated that more than 61% of retailers have implemented these fulfillment streams as part of their offerings, up from approximately 50% in 2013.

{loadposition GIAA}“Retailers are being challenged to provide omnichannel inventory shopping and fulfillment,” said Bob Heaney, Research Director and Principal Analyst for the Retail and Consumer Markets division of Aberdeen Group.“Today’s customers desire the option to start their shopping process in one channel and finish, fulfill or even return through another.”

To succeed in an omnichannel world, retailers need to meet and exceed customer expectations by supporting them regardless of the channel. This means order processing, fulfillment, pickup and even returns must be seamless.

“Supply chains need to be ambidextrous and flows should be dynamic,” said Raj Kumar, who is a partner and also leads the retail operations practice at A.T. Kearney. “This involves supporting customers with e-Commerce centers and stores, offering store pickup and even offering SKUs not sold in stores. Retailers also will need to have the ability to share inventory across channels.”

Making The Supply Chain Agile And Flexible

Successfully aligning inventory management, order delivery and fulfillment with customer demands requires agility and flexibility across the entire supply chain. 

Most retailers understand this sentiment: 65% of retailers agree or strongly agree that they are going to have to constantly rethink their supply chain design in the next five years because of emerging cross-channel fulfillment, according to Retail Systems Research. In the report, titled: Retail Supply Chain Strategy: The Next Big Thing, 39% of retailers also indicated that how they fulfill orders has changed due to cross-channel shopping.

For example, outdoor retailer Cabela’s has successfully optimized its supply chain operations to more effectively compete in an omnichannel world. The retailer currently has a complex business consisting of 20 destination stores and three distribution centers that house more than 300,000 SKUs from 5,000-plus vendors.

In order to optimize people, systems and capital to meet the needs of its customers, Cabela’s tapped Manhattan Associates for assistance. Using the Warehouse Management, Replenishment and Assortment planning solutions, Cabela’s is able to better predict demand based on geographic region, sporting season and even customer skill level.

Now, Cabela’s can better manage stock in DCs and stores to meet customer expectations. Additionally, the retailer can better manage forecasting and replenishment across its multichannel network and even tailor assortments to each channel.

Coordinating Multiple Brands

The need to constantly coordinate and refine the supply chain is especially important if a customer order consists of multiple brands and vendors.

“There are many inventory process flow issues around order split/merge orchestration and segmentation,” Heaney explained. “At both the order creation and execution level, the fulfillment challenge may require a ‘merge in transit’ as retailers coordinate with supplier or B2B partners to tackle delivery. This requires the capability to virtually have orders coming from multiple sources of supply, met in transit and arrive as one order.”

Managing transportation costs to support rapid fulfillment requires a transportation management system, Heaney noted. This system should be equipped to manage all variables across the transportation network, and have visibility into any and all opportunities to minimize cost and increase speed.

A Supply Chain Evolution

Refining supply chain operations to keep pace with customer demands and omnichannel trends requires constant work and refinement, according to Brandi Slaughter, Senior Solutions Marketing Manager at Demandware.

To help retailers facilitate this process, Slaughter outlined three key tips for retailers:

  • Create a cleaner inventory data set to gain actionable insights into customer preferences;
  • Create packing and shipping “muscle” to enhance the delivery process and timeline; and
  • Adopt measurement tools to recognize the effectiveness of efforts made.

“These three changes give retailers the ability to gain greater visibility into inventory, effectively removing the traditional approach of identifying products as part of online or in-store inventory,” said Slaughter in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. However, this can be an extremely complicated process, as retailers are tasked to constantly re-evaluate the channels customers prefer to make purchases from, and “how to leverage inventory across locations to meet purchase demands quickly and cost-effectively.”

Just as consumers require anytime, anywhere access to product availability, retailers also need to have real-time access to detailed intelligence in order to better understand customer preferences and demands.

“Customers have raised their expectations of retailers,” Kumar said. “So retailers have to focus on their ‘Customer Promise’ offer, which includes speed, assortment, quality, availability and price.”

Speed is becoming especially important, most notably in the grocery and electronics category, according to Kumar. “Same day and next day service is becoming table stakes and split packages are increasingly being viewed as a negative.”

Target, for one, is striving to boost customer satisfaction during the competitive holiday season by offering more shipping and order pickup options. More than 65,000 items now are available for store pickup on, with 80% of orders now fulfilled within one hour, according to a company press release. The retailer also has plans to offer free shipping on all e-Commerce orders through Dec. 20, 2014.

Free shipping is an obvious perk for consumers who are eager to cross off their holiday shopping lists, but as the number of online sales increases, will Target’s supply chain be equipped to handle the boost in demand?

Target, and other retailers that implement these strategies, must “always be prepared to quickly re-position ‘hot’ products when needed, as well as make sure they’re in the optimal pick location within distribution centers before releasing orders to the floor,” said Jeff Primeau, Senior Manager in the Supply Chain practice at West Monroe Partners. “Failing to do so will only slow down distribution of high-demand items, as it'll take workers more time to find each product in the warehouse and load it to the truck.”

Aligning Supply Chain Strategies With Customer Demands

As shopper preferences continue to shift and become more unpredictable, a retailer’s supply chain must remain nimble and able to respond quickly.

“There are a number of disruptive trends in play,” Slaughter said. “And these trends, combined with the large percent of retailers that are complacent about their supply chain operations, will generate a number of challenges going forward. To be successful, retailers need to adopt a new operating model that keeps supply chain at the heart.”

IKEA is one retailer that refines supply chain operations based on shopper demands, according to Slaughter. The furniture and home goods retailer has visibility into the development products through to the sale, and shares detailed “stock prognosis” information with shoppers.

“Customers can have a better shopping experience by knowing when the best chance will be to get the product they want from a nearby store,” Slaughter explained. “Not only does this information impact when customers go to a store, but it also influences what consumers are looking for across all other stores.”

Next-Gen Supply Chain: Taking A Customer-Centric Approach To Assortment 

Today’s savvy, technology-wielding shoppers are in control, and they want more relevant product assortments that are available at any time and through any channel.

As a result, progressive retailers are evolving their businesses and supply chains to create unified, customer-centric experiences.

“The supply chain is becoming much more customer-specific,” explained Lora Cecere, Founder and CEO of Supply Chain Insights. “People want localized assortments, they items when they want it, and they’re not as patient with out of stocks.”

Supporting this point, Aberdeen Group research found that 54% of retailers indicate a need to create tailored, specific and precise merchandise assortments for customers segments and even specific channels.

Retailers have a lucrative opportunity to customize assortments and provide unique products for specific demographics. Yet many retailers are stuck in the old way of doing things, which primarily consists of one-size-fits all merchandising tactics across all stores.

“One of the issues retailers have is their past successes blind them to how they need to prepare and organize for the future,” Cecere noted. “They typically did well with the same mass-merchandising across all stores. But the new retail environment doesn’t work that way.”

Creating highly relevant assortments requires redesigning the supply chain and maintaining perpetual inventory signal. This means keeping a constant pulse on which products are in demand across locations and channels.

“When retailers were selling through a single channel and had more traditional merchandising, it wasn’t as important to have a good, perpetual inventory signal,” Cecere noted. “But as we become more omnichannel, the retailers that are going to win are going to have real-time availability information.”

Moving forward, retailers must focus on revising assortments based on customer preferences and demands. From there, supply chain operations must adapt and ensure product availability across all channels.

Part 2 of the Supply Chain Management feature will appear in the November 4 newsletter.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Special Reports Mon, 27 Oct 2014 09:31:49 -0400
Retail, NSA Breaches Influence Security Strategies Retail, NSA Breaches Influence Security Strategies

RR Breaches ImageMore than half (52%) of businesses believe that a cyber-attacker is currently on their network, or has been in the past year, according to the Global Advanced Threat Landscape Survey from CyberArk.

Additionally, more than two thirds (68%) of organizations said the NSA breach (37%) and major retail breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus (31%) impacted their security strategies the most in the past year. While the NSA breach was an inside attack and the retail breaches were from external sources, both events occurred due to the theft and exploitation of “privileged accounts,” which are employee credentials used to gain access to systems.

For the report, which focuses on identifying global cyber-security trends, CyberArk surveyed 373 IT security and C-level executives across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

{loadposition GIAA}“Loss of IP and competitive advantage, diminishing brand value, loss of customers and negative shareholder impact are just a few of the business impacts many organizations felt as a result of cyber-attacks this year,” said Adam Bosnian, EVP of CyberArk. “This year’s survey results demonstrate that whether it’s an insider like Edward Snowden, or an outside-based attack like the retail/POS breaches, attackers require the exploitation of insider credentials to successfully execute their attacks.”

While security concerns are flooding all industries, including retail, 60% of businesses still allow third-party vendors remote access to their internal networks. More than half (58%) of these respondents said they have no confidence that the third-party vendors were securing and monitoring their privileged access to the network.

To mitigate or even prevent future security breaches, 31% of organizations have already deployed security analytics as part of their internal infrastructure, while 23% plan to do so over the next 12 months. Nearly one third (33%) of organizations said they have no plans to implement security analytics.

With the majority of businesses either deploying or planning to deploy security analytics in the near future, it is not surprising that 87% of organizations believe that detecting and alerting unusual privileged activity would be valuable to their overall security strategy.

Respondents pointed to several technology trends that are impacting their security strategies:

  • BYOD (30%);
  • Cloud computing (26%);
  • Regulatory compliance (21%);
  • The Internet of Things (16%); and
  • Social media (7%).

Click here to download a complimentary copy of the report.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Security / PCI Compliance Mon, 27 Oct 2014 09:19:51 -0400
5 Things To Look For When Switching To A Modern POS 5 Things To Look For When Switching To A Modern POS

VP Bindo head shot3In recent years, small business owners have likely faced one opponent more formidable than even the liveliest competitor: the changing face of retail. Customers have decided they want it all from retailers. You need to be sustainable and have a social impact component; and you need to have every product they want, when they want, and where they want it. Meet these demands or face the repercussions of stinging Web reviews.

Switching to a modern point-of-sale system can revolutionize the way you do business, but it’s no easy decision to make. To help you out, here are five features a great modern POS system should offer that will catapult your business into the new age of retail:

1. Ease Of Use And Service

{loadposition GIAA}Just because the changing face of retail makes running your business more complicated doesn't mean the solution can’t be simple. A modern POS system should be as simple as plug-in, create an account, and go. Look for: an intuitive interface and helpful customer service. Part of the reason you’re switching is for better time management; you shouldn’t have to spend hours relearning a new system and teaching your employees. From installation to SKU integration, choose a POS provider who will be there every step of the way, via email, phone, or even Skype.

2. Tablet- And Cloud-Based

First off, having customer’s checkout on a cool, new iPad is a surefire step above your antique gray cash register. But more than being “cool”, a tablet-based POS allows you to check customers out anywhere in the store, conduct sales on the road, and access inventory reports virtually anywhere. Storing your data in the cloud keeps your data safely tucked away from hackers, and easily accessible from any of your multiple stores.

3. Comprehensive Inventory Management

When catering to demanding customer preferences, the last thing you should have to do is manually tabulate inventory changes. On your cloud-based tablet POS, you should be able to check stock reports in real-time, receive instant notifications when you’re running low, and even place orders to suppliers all from the ease of your automated tablet-based system. An effective POS provider also integrates with your existing SKU systems to prevent re-scanning all of your items.

4. Rich CRM Options And Data Reporting

Currently, the customer-relationship capabilities of your legacy POS are limited to a small “Thank You!” printed on the receipt likely thrown away within five minutes. Many new POS systems help generate customer information right at the point of sale. An effective POS system will come fully decked out with a loyalty program built right in. From your tablet, you would be able to email create/edit customer profiles, redeem loyalty points, and keep in contact with your customers. All of this data should be readily accessible in rich data reports, easily exported to Excel spreadsheets, and, ultimately, make running your business simpler.

5. Multi-Channel Commerce

Your customers want it all, so why not give it to them? Today, an in-store experience is only part of the picture. With the rise of e-Commerce, what about your online and mobile presence? An effective POS provider should aggregate your product and service listings on the cloud, and make it accessible on the Web, on the go, and in-store. In the facing of ever-demanding customer needs, you don’t have to overcomplicate things--choose the right POS that will go where you go and grow as you grow.

Michelle Yuan is the Director of Sales and Marketing at Bindo, a cloud-based iPad point-of-sale with a web and mobile storefront enabling online shopping for the end consumer. Previously, she worked at J.P. Morgan Chase and has a Bachelors of Economics from Columbia University. She can be reached at

]]> (Michelle Yuan, Bindo) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 27 Oct 2014 09:56:05 -0400
Olerti Helps Retailers Tackle Shopping Cart Abandonment Olerti Helps Retailers Tackle Shopping Cart Abandonment

SS Olerti imageUp to 72% of digital shopping carts are abandoned, according to research from Listrak. A key factor influencing whether shoppers convert or abandon their purchases is price.

Olerti is a cloud-based application designed to re-engage consumers with their shopping carts by allowing them to set price alerts for specific products. If original prices are reduced to shoppers’ initial target, they will receive an SMS or email alert notifying them that the target has been reached. The alert includes a product detail page link to motivate shoppers to complete their transaction.

With the solution, retailers can collect a plethora of data regarding the price points customers are interested in. By allowing shoppers to set their own price tags, companies can learn which products consumers perceive as overpriced.

"This newly developed solution is truly a catalyst for improving conversion rates and boosting sales,” said Ripal Patel, Chief Strategist and Co-Founder of Olerti. “Many e-Commerce companies always struggle with lower conversion rates and higher cart abandonment rates.”

Olteri is built on the Microsoft Azure Platform and can be integrated into virtually every e-Commerce portal.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 27 Oct 2014 07:47:34 -0400
Building A Culture Of Optimization: What’s In It For You? Building A Culture Of Optimization: What’s In It For You?

VP King site only head shotInstead of going with a gut feeling that a new website banner, page, campaign, or offer is going to hit it out of the ballpark, retailers are bringing data-driven strategies and methodologies to their web and mobile experiences, with measurable and impressive results.

Web site testing and optimization has been widely adopted in the highly competitive market of online retail, where companies are parlaying the conversion wins of the digital marketing team into expanded ownership of optimization to include UX, product management, and the development team.  But, all three teams have different goals and motivations for testing and optimization, so how can they come together to create a new Culture of Optimization? The answer is: by uniting behind one overriding company goal of increased customer engagement, conversions, and subsequently, revenues.

{loadposition GIAA}First, what exactly is a Culture of Optimization? It is the shift that takes place when an organization has seen numerous and measurable wins from its testing program, and as a result, has expanded experimentation beyond marketing to become part of the corporate culture. As a result, teams from marketing, product management and web/mobile development (and other departments) use testing to prove or disprove their hypotheses. Gut feelings and opinions take a back seat to data-driven decisions that are driving multichannel optimization of the customer experience.

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the teams driving this new Culture of Optimization:

  1. Marketing – The marketing team is concerned with driving traffic to the site, creating highly engaging promotions, offers, and campaigns, and ensuring that visitors stay and purchase. This team uses testing to optimize marketing content by creating a targeted and engaging customer experience to drive conversions.
  2. Product Management – The product management team is usually on a tight deadline to create new site features and functionality. They’re generally focused on testing new feature releases in order to mitigate risk and the functionality of on-site search algorithms.
  3. User Experience  – The UX team cares about testing new site designs, process flow changes, (such as checkout and registration) and the overall look and feel of the site. 
  4. Development – The dev team is tasked with programming the content, features, and functionality of the site, working closely to the specifications of Product Management. So they’re focused not only with the tests that PM is running, but also other experiments such as those concerning website performance (site speed).

Progression Of An Optimization Culture

VP site only graphic for article

Source: SiteSpect

In an organization that has embraced an ongoing commitment to testing and optimization, these four teams break through the silos of the past and come together to create an organizational testing team in order to find new opportunities for conversion, run more tests in less time, and create measurable wins for the organization. Instead of running dozens of tests a year, they’re running hundreds – if not thousands. Instead of running basic tests on content, such as buttons, fonts, headlines, and placement, the new team is running much more sophisticated tests, including:

  • Check-out flow;
  • Pricing & shipping offers;
  • Dynamic content;
  • New features;
  • Whole site releases; and
  • Search algorithms.

The Barriers Stopping The Culture Of Optimization From Taking Hold

Believe it or not, one of the biggest barriers to making this new organizational-wide Culture of Optimization a reality can be the testing tool itself.  For example, tag-based tools can limit the number of tests that can be run because they can’t easily test features and functionality. But that’s where many of an organization’s next conversion opportunities actually live! From site search, pricing and shipping, check-out flow, to new features and whole site releases, the opportunities for testing are almost limitless. And, the more tests run, the more site improvements are made, the more lift in conversions the team will see. The other issue to consider with tag-based testing tools is that they can introduce page-loading latency as well as flicker effect while images load, creating a poor user experience.


Creating a Culture of Optimization by extending testing beyond marketing can be done, and some of the world’s largest and most successful retailers are proving it. Take, for example, one of SiteSpect’s clients, an online retailer that tested four different free shipping threshold prices. The winning threshold resulted in a 23% lift in average order value. Another customer tested a five-step check-out process versus a one-step process. The winner produced a 4.3% conversion lift and 2.9% lift in average order value.  When you’re not bound by the types of test you can run, every part of your site and/or app can be optimized. There is room for constant improvement, and after your organization adopts this new Culture of Optimization, the more wins it will rack up.

Once marketing, product management, UX, and the dev teams unite and work towards a common goal, each team scores more wins and the company benefits as a result. The best part is, once your company reaches this tipping point, you’ll never want to go back to the old, siloed way of running tests. Good luck!


Kim Ann King is an award-winning marketing executive and has been a B2B software marketer for more than two decades. She currently serves as the Chief Marketing Officer of web and mobile optimization firm SiteSpect.

]]> (Kim Ann King, SiteSpect) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 27 Oct 2014 07:35:11 -0400
Bleu Station Starter Kit Provides In-Store Beacon Technology Bleu Station Starter Kit Provides In-Store Beacon Technology

SS site only BleuStation imageA variety of retailers, such as American Eagle, Apple and Macy’s, are rolling out beacon technology in stores to create one-to-one engagement with consumers through their mobile devices.

With beacon technology, retailers can track customer journeys throughout the store, share more relevant deals and help shoppers find the products they’re seeking. Twocanoes Software is empowering retailers to implement beacons in their stores with the Bleu Station Beacon Starter Kit.

The Starter Kit includes:

  • Three iBeacon-compliant beacon modules;
  • A beacon configuration iOS app;
  • Access to a complete software development kit for testing and integrating beacon proximity detection; and
  • 90 days of phone and email technical support from software developers.

The beacon uses USB-format modules powered by a standard USB AC charger/adapter.

Retailers can test and develop the product so that it integrates into their own branded mobile app. After setup, Bleu Station will instantly start broadcasting over Bluetooth and is ready to be used in the app. For fine-grained proximity control, the Bleu Setup app provides additional advanced settings for refining the solution for any environment.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 27 Oct 2014 08:25:07 -0400
Money20/20 Launches Payment Conference In Europe Money20/20 Launches Payment Conference In Europe

money2020Money2020 LLC, organizer of the payments and financial services event Money20/20, has announced the launch of the Money20/20Europe conference and exhibition. The event is set to take place in spring 2016, but the location and specific date have not been revealed.

Money20/20Europe will focus on opportunities and challenges present in the payments and financial services industries throughout the country. After seeing success with the U.S. installment of the event, Co-Founders Anil D. Aggarwal and Jonathan Weiner wanted to extend the event to Europe so they could highlight “new and disruptive ways in which consumers and businesses manage, spend and borrow money.”

The conference has already garnered support from a variety of partners including American Express, First Data, Google and MasterCard.

The third annual Money20/20 conference and exhibition will be held in Las Vegas, Nev., on November 2-5, 2014.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:07:16 -0400
Former J.C. Penney, Apple Exec Spearheads New Startup Project Former J.C. Penney, Apple Exec Spearheads New Startup Project

Ron Johnson, who has held executive positions at a variety of retailers, including Target and Apple, and most recently served as CEO of J.C. Penney, is focusing on the startup world.

Johnson is helping to launch a new service called Enjoy, which is designed to change the way people buy and use “things that matter,” according to reports from The Wall Street Journal. Specifically, Enjoy is positioned to help consumers better “connect” with new products and understand their capabilities while shopping online.

To date, Enjoy has raised $30 million in funding, collecting $25 million from its latest funding round spearheaded by Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and Oak Investment Partners.

Johnson has not shared many details regarding the new service, which is expected to officially launch in 2015. However, the details he did share in the WSJ article allude to creating a more high-touch and high-definition online shopping experience, especially for complex and expensive items such as technology. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:45:30 -0400
Rite Aid No Longer Supports Apple Pay Rite Aid No Longer Supports Apple Pay

rite-aidRite Aid has reportedly disabled Apple Pay capabilities in its stores, according to a report from MacRumors. The pharmacy chain has yet to confirmed or deny the shutdown of the service.

Apple Pay is compatible with any POS system that supports NFC technology, but customers who used the service on October 22 and 23 found their payments were denied. The chain reportedly also deactivated support for the Google Wallet payments service at the same time. A report from Forbes described the moves as "bizarre."

In order to deny mobile payments, "you have to specifically design your back end to look for transactions using those IDs and then halt them while still allowing ordinary NFC-equipped cards to pass through," said Mark Rogowsky, a contributor at Forbes. "In other words, you have to spend effort to inconvenience your customers."

The restriction may be one of competitive nature, as Apple Pay is supported in more than 8,200 Walgreens and Duane Reade pharmacies. Rite Aid is a member of the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), which expects to release a payments service of its own, CurrectC, in 2015. CurrentC will not operate via NFC technology, so MCX retailers will be able to prevent Apple Pay transactions by turning off NFC functionality on their POS hardware.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:59:01 -0400
Lolli And Pops Improves Customer Experiences With Video Analytics Lolli And Pops Improves Customer Experiences With Video Analytics

Lolli and Pops, a candy retailer with a growing presence nationwide, is focused on driving customer delight. 

Self-described as “the purveyors of sweetness,” the Lolli and Pops team uses video analytics technology from Prism Skylabs to keep a pulse on store operations across all 10 locations.

{loadposition GIAA}The solution “allows me to be in all our stores every day,” noted Marc Schwarzbart, VP of Merchandising at Lolli and Pops. As part of his day-to-day obligations, Schwarzbart refers to video feeds to analyze customer shopping patterns, dwell times and each stores’ compliance with planograms and merchandise displays.

“I can very easily give feedback to stores or operations and buying teams to indicate what looks great in a specific store, what should be replicated across then chain or even what inventory may be in the wrong place,” said Schwarzbart in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Most of the time, I put the solution in privacy mode so I can remove consumers from the images and stare at the shelves, analyzing them from a merchandising standpoint.”

Images of stores also can be accessed from any device, which allows Schwarzbart and his Lolli and Pops team members to have anytime, anywhere access to stores.

“I no longer need to be in the office to look at footage,” Schwarzbart explained. “I can just look at my cell phone and it’s just as fast and simple as being in the office.”

Having real-time access to stores empowers Lolli and Pops to deliver on its promise of delighting each customer every time they enter a store.

“I only wish I could be in my stores more often,” Schwarzbart said. “With Prism, I can manage inventory centrally. Every retailer does that, but what the inventory looks like on paper and what it looks like in a store to a customer are two completely different things.

Previously, Lolli and Pops relied solely on traditional security cameras, which are limited in their capabilities.

“Like many retailers, we have security cameras and DVRs, but there are limitations, especially if we need to queue up the DVR to access old footage,” Schwarzbart said. “It could take several minutes to get that view and the footage could be slow and choppy.”

Because Schwarzbart can access store images quickly and easily, store managers no longer need to connect with him on daily calls to discuss store design, inventory management or even customer service.

“Instead of having the head of stores connect with managers every day on calls, we can give store managers and employees every possible moment to engage with customers,” Schwarzbart said. In some cases, Schwarzbart noted that he will use Prism to track the front of each store, where employees are encouraged to greet guests and hand out samples. “I will occasionally use the camera to look at the front door and make sure someone’s there. But if it’s exceptionally busy they will move away from there to help guests on the floor.”  

Real-Time Access To Detailed Analytics

In order to determine the overall impact of merchandising displays and overall store layouts, Lolli and Pops taps Prism Analytics, which is designed to transform real-world patterns and trends into detailed reports and visual summaries of each store.

Heat mapping plays a key role in helping Schwarzbart evaluate what’s happening in each store, he noted. “The high level of analytics allows me to track the overall flow of traffic and understand which areas of the store are effective and which I need to better isolate and refine to improve the customer experience.”

For example, a specific product line was underperforming in a certain store, and there were many factors to consider, according to Schwarzbart. “Was it pricing, location or storytelling that was the issue?” he asked. “Most retailers have to get feedback from a store manager but then tend to just look at the numbers. We were able to use heat mapping on cameras and noticed that customers just weren’t congregating in that area of the store.”

When employees moved a table to alter the natural traffic flow within the store to help funnel customers to the other side of the room, Schwarzbart explained, “we immediately saw an uptick in sales for that product.”

Paired with traffic counting capabilities, the analytics provide Lolli and Pops a comprehensive view of store traffic on an hourly, daily, weekly and monthly basis. This data allows the retailer to optimize employee scheduling and, in turn, the customer experience.

“Improving staffing is the most important benefit of the counting solution,” Schwarzbart said. “The benefit of having technology that counts more accurately is having a better view of traffic at any point in the day. I get a more accurate and detailed view of what time of day that traffic count is higher and then can make sure staff is there to create that delightful experience I’m striving for.”


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Fri, 24 Oct 2014 06:41:46 -0400
Target Holiday Plans Include Free Shipping, New Apps And Seasonal Deals Target Holiday Plans Include Free Shipping, New Apps And Seasonal Deals

Target has announced a series of new initiatives for the holiday season to provide customers with more valuable and memorable experiences.

With overall conversions on digital channels increasing by 20% this year, Target is improving the online shopping experience by providing free shipping on all e-Commerce orders through December 20. Additionally, the retailer has expanded the number of products eligible for in-store pickup. More than 65,000 items are now available for in-store pickup, with 80% of orders able to be fulfilled within an hour.

Consumers also can receive extra holiday help with the Wish List app, which will be released on October 31. Designed for parents and their children, the Wish List app allows kids to add must-have items to their list, while the parents can share the list with family and friends. An augmented reality feature also works with the Target Kids’ Gifting catalog, creating a seamless connection between print content and mobile shopping. The app will be available for Android and iOS devices. Target’s other smartphone and tablet apps also will be updated with a series of enhancements, including interactive store maps, shopping lists and more streamlined checkout via Apple Pay.

Weekly sales, weekend promotions and exclusive deals will be available on and through the Cartwheel mobile app throughout the holiday season. Between November 2 and December 24, Cartwheel will offer users 50% off a different toy every day. The app also will tout deals for top users and personalized recommendations. Target also has extended the timeframe for its holiday price match policy. If a guest purchases a qualifying item between November 1 and December 21, then finds it for less online or on a printed ad, Target will match the price. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:39:53 -0400
Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions Joins Motorola PartnerEmpower Program Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions Joins Motorola PartnerEmpower Program

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 11.05.07 AM
Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions
, a provider of POS technology for the retail industry, has joined the Motorola PartnerEmpower Program to further expand its omnichannel offerings.

In signing the Global Systems Integrator Agreement from Motorola, Toshiba now is certified to resell Motorola scanners, mobile computers and wireless network solutions to retail customers. Toshiba also will be able to provide end-users with value-added services, such as consulting, education, staging and integration.

As part of the PartnerEmpower program, Toshiba will gain access to Motorola’s complete portfolio of retail solutions, as well as comprehensive certification and training programs, as well as marketing and sales training and resources.

"Knowing that one company cannot provide all the components of an omnichannel solution, our customers look to Toshiba because of our long history of collaborative partnering," said Patricia Pepper, VP of Worldwide Services at Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions. "We know how to facilitate bringing multiple technology, software, and service companies together, providing one face and one solution to our clients.  Combining that with Toshiba's unique retail industry knowledge and thought leadership delivers compelling customer value."

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:01:25 -0400
Sonic Automotive Improves Product Sales By 38% With MicroStrategy Sonic Automotive Improves Product Sales By 38% With MicroStrategy

CS SonicMicro ImageMore retailers are arming their sales associates with mobile technology so they can properly inform shoppers about products, pricing and more. One particular automotive retailer is staying ahead of the competition by implementing this mobile strategy company-wide.

Sonic Automotive enlisted MicroStrategy to develop and deploy its mobile application, FIRE (Financial and Insurance Reporting Engine), resulting in an increase in car product sales by 38%. Since rolling out FIRE, Sonic Automotive has gone from selling between $800 and $900 in products per car, to nearly $1,100.

FIRE is designed to graph the sales team’s performance within a single platform, essentially making it a scorecard for salespeople. Each sales associate at Sonic uses an iPad throughout the sales process to access a wealth of information, whether it’s vehicle price, interest rates or financing options.

{loadposition GIAA}Sonic Automotive initially participated in the MicroStrategy Mobile QuickStrike program to become more well versed in mobile strategy and build a prototype app. Pleased with the service, Sonic Automotive went on to spend more than six months working with MicroStrategy to develop FIRE.

“When it came to mobile, we had a real need in the Finance and Insurance area of our business, where we sold aftermarket products, warranties and service contracts,” said Mark Starnes, Director of BI Reporting Solutions at Sonic Automotive. “Within two months of the release, we started to see that the amount we were realizing on a deal would jump substantially, where previously, it stagnated and had been a little volatile.”

In addition to the monetary benefits of the mobile strategy, Sonic Automotive realized that making sales performance more visible through the application encouraged associates across the company to improve performance.

“We had an ability to give every performer in our organization their personal results, as well as how they compared to others in the same position at different stores,” Starnes said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “As part of our data warehouse initiative, we really opened up as much data to the organization as we could. The key in this application is that all stores can see any other individual store’s data. We give them rankings across the company, across their region and their brand.”

Streamlining Internal Processes

Using MicroStrategy, Sonic Automotive also built dashboards to address internal company issues and simplify certain processes. The retailer implemented an internal financial control dashboard that monitors every store on a monthly basis to ensure there are no company-wide financial irregularities, as well as a playbook dashboard, which provides employees with a series of best practices based on their position in the business.

“Early on when we wrote the playbook, there were teams that would go out once a year with a clipboard and a piece of paper to write down the scores for each region,” Starnes explained. “The people who took the scores didn’t enter the scores; they faxed them back to a team that would manually input them. Then, you had opportunity for mis-transcribing, and the data came in a couple days later before it got fully entered and the reporting would take place in a different location.”

With the re-branded MicroStrategy app, Sonic Automotive can send out a team of people who are “playbook inspectors” to a specific region to monitor if stores are executing key processes. These inspectors can capture scores at individual stores, take photos and immediately upload the data into the app using their iPads.

“Now with this dashboard, that data can be validated at the time of input,” Starnes said. “The person can enter what they meant to enter without any miscommunication. We have one team of five or six people that can support themselves in entering the dashboard to run their own reports immediately. Beforehand, all that data was captured manually by approximately 20 to 25 people and took days to compile.”

While turnover in the auto retail industry tends to be high among sales associates, Sonic Automotive has weathered the storm, even after the recession period began in the late 2000s, according to Starnes. He attributes this positive performance to the commitment the company has made to eliminate layoffs during the period, as well as its new focus on training new associates with the MicroStrategy-powered solutions.

“I know from supporting the business that people really struggled with the tools that we used to have,” Starnes explained. “They’d say ‘Why can’t I get this report,’ but we don’t hear any of that anymore. It’s not completely the reason that our turnover is down, but it’s helped for sure.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:44:19 -0400
This Time, J.C. Penney Picks A CEO With Operations Savvy This Time, J.C. Penney Picks A CEO With Operations Savvy

Kim head shot
The CEO position at J.C. Penney has been a bit tenuous as of late, to say the least. Former Apple exec Ron Johnson tried to turn things around by attempting to end the retailer’s reliance on almost-constant promotions and rolling out an updated store design. And the store in my local mall did seem fresher, cleaner and more inviting. But in the end, that wasn’t enough.

After a few years of straying from its core strategy, the retailer signaled a “back to basics” approach with the recent naming of Home Depot exec Marvin Ellison as its new CEO. They hired a guy who knows a lot about nuts and bolts — pun intended — to help put their retail operation back together again.

At Home Depot, Ellison amassed an impressive background in operations, and that may be just what is needed to reboot the struggling retailer.

Sure, Ron Johnson was an extraordinary merchandiser that many wanted to emulate. But sometimes you’ve got to give the customers what they want — clean stores that are stocked appropriately. Operations is not the sexiest part of retail, but when it goes wrong, it is a killer.

For J.C. Penny, chasing the next hot trend just alienated its reliable customer base and didn’t bring in enough new ones.

Hopefully, the board will give Ellison the time and space needed to right the ship. 


]]> (Kim Zimmermann) Editor's Perspective Thu, 23 Oct 2014 06:51:45 -0400
Zumur Receives $700,000 In Seed Funding Zumur Receives $700,000 In Seed Funding

Zumur, an online shopping engine, has received the first half of a $1.4 million seed round. The funds will be used to help the company refine the engine for its initial closed beta and extended beta launch. The site is expected to officially launch in time for the 2014 holiday season. 

The early stage investment was led by Lewis Smoak, a founding partner of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart. Several other South Carolina investors in the industrial and consulting industries also participated.

A free service for shoppers, Zumur is designed to provide a fast and unbiased online search experience, showing results from a large list of merchants and allowing consumers to find the best deal.

Information from approximately 50 online and brick-and-mortar retailers, conventional shopping aggregators, auction sites, classified ads and even sites, such as Groupon and LivingSocial, is collected and published on the Zumur site. On the back end, Zumur collects detailed data regarding the types of products, specs and price points consumers are seeking.

“Our goal with Zumur is to eliminate the friction, frustration and wasted time that now goes along with conventional online comparison shopping,” said Abhishek Tiwari, Founder of Zumur. “This seed investment is firm validation of our model and our mission, and we’re eager to give consumers a faster, easier and better way to buy with confidence.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Financial News Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:17:16 -0400
B2X Raises $15 Million, Acquires The Service Solutions

B2X Care SolutionsB2X, a provider of customer care solutions for smartphones, has raised $15 million in a Series B round of funding led by Earlybird Venture Capital. The company also announced that it has acquired majority share in The Service Solutions (TSS), an Apple authorized service provider and reseller in India that provides managed care services to smartphone manufacturers worldwide. All TSS service stores will be rebranded to B2X Care Solutions, and with this acquisition, B2X plans to transfer its SMARTBAR model into a multi-brand service and retail stores in India.

“We couldn’t be happier to announce our funding and acquisition of TSS at the same time,” said Thomas Berlemann, CEO of B2X Care Solutions. “The financing will help us to aggressively grow our engineering and sales efforts in response to the expanding demand for our Smart Service Platform.”

{loadposition GIAA}TSS operates 19 Apple authorized service locations, with plans to expand in 2015. In addition to operating these locations, TSS built its own cloud based CRM system and develops and licenses its After Market Support Platform software to OEMs, distributors and service providers for managing after sales processes.

“We have truly built a technology-enabled services company with our own software development and evolved a cloud-based After Market Support Platform,” said Sreevathsa Prabhakar, Founder and Managing Director of TSS. “This will further increase B2X’s customer service focus in one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world.”

TSS’ existing management team will be retained, with Prabhakar maintaining the managing director title for the new entity.

“For us to be successful in India, we know that it will require very strong local capabilities,” Berlemann said. “TSS is a rising star in India and their cloud-based capabilities completes the B2X technology roadmap. In addition, the TSS leadership team has a strong background and is extremely well connected in our industry in India, which opens up great opportunities for future growth.”

]]> (Rob Fee) Mergers & Acquisitions Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:10:21 -0400
Last-Minute Marketing Tips And Tactics For A Successful Q4 Last-Minute Marketing Tips And Tactics For A Successful Q4

Total holiday sales in 2014 are expected to reach up to $986 billion, a 4.5% increase over the 2013 season, according to Deloitte

With the holiday season rapidly approaching, retailers need to ensure they have a solid marketing plan in place for the most competitive time of year. Luckily, there’s still plenty of time for organizations to tweak their digital marketing programs and maximize end-of-year revenue.

{loadposition GIAA}During a recent webinar, Stephen Dumas, Product Marketing Manager at Silverpop, an IBM Company, shared ideas and best practices to help retailers get the most out of their email marketing programs during the highly competitive holiday season.

Key takeaways and best practices from the session, titled: Last-Minute Holiday Marketing Tips, include:

  • Design emails to be mobile-friendly: During the 2013 holiday season, 21.9% of all site traffic derived from smartphones, while 13.2% came from tablets, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. To ensure emails are aesthetically pleasing, even on the smallest of screens, retailers should convert their email templates to responsive design or other mobile-friendly formats, and then test messages accordingly.
  • Use content to drive engagement: Content is paramount to success in the new omnichannel era and allows retailers to share more detailed and memorable stories about their brands, according to Dumas. He recommended that retailers share what makes them unique and make holiday shopping easier with gift guides that share relevant information, such as free shipping thresholds and gift shipping deadlines.
  • Craft messages that drive store traffic and sales: Dedicate individual emails to local stores. For example, consider using messages to promote in-store events, flash sales and unique promotions. Most importantly, retailers should include information that can impact customer visits, such as extended holiday hours.

Although there are a variety of new channels and tactics to engage customers, email remains the hub of consumers’ everyday lives. To stand out in a crowded inbox and boost bottom-line results, retailers must think strategically and creatively when it comes to email marketing.

Want to receive more email marketing tips and best practices to drive Q4 success? Access the on-demand webinar and download the complementary brief!  


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:05:56 -0400
Ethan Allen Rolls Out New Store Concept In 300 Locations Ethan Allen Rolls Out New Store Concept In 300 Locations

Shopping for furniture can be an inundating, time-consuming process. It may take consumers several months, or more than a year, to make a decision.

Ethan Allen is hoping to ease this process and help consumers craft the home of their dreams by unveiling a new content-rich web site and a new retail concept designed to enrich the customer experience. The new initiatives come on the heels of the retailer releasing more than 600 new product designs influenced by rustic beach houses and more chic, urban homes.

Approximately 300 Ethan Allen locations will be touting a more casual and relaxed lifestyle and attitude, but still maintain the DNA of the brand, “which is craftsmanship, design, classic style and great value,” said Farooq Kathwari, CEO of Ethan Allen. In addition to new flooring, windows and an art gallery space, the retailer also will unveil a deal center, designed to cater to consumers looking for sales and special offers in a more relaxed atmosphere.

“People live more relaxed lifestyles today; there's less formality in everything, from the clothes we wear to the restaurants we go to,” said Kathwari in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “That's why you'll see a more casual, comfortable attitude not only in the look of our Design Centers, but also in the hundreds of new designs we're introducing this fall. We're calling these new designs ‘The Next Classics’ because they embody something we define as ‘livable luxury.’”

Improving Engagement And Collaboration With Technology

{loadposition GIAA}While the new store design will help create a more immersive shopping experience, new technology will empower Ethan Allen onsite designers to provide better customer service and, in turn, drive more sales. By adding tablets and touchscreens to the store, the designers will have fingertip access to extensive collections of wallpaper, fabric, drapery and window treatments.

Although the total number of devices in each location varies, each Design Center has at least one touchscreen kiosk and every designer has a tablet, according to Kathwari. Tablets can be used to pull up products not displayed on the floor, visualize and configure customized products, share inspiration and place orders online.

“Our designers are the ambassadors of our brand, and nobody can bring to life the advantages of Ethan Allen the way they can,” Kathwari said. “They know the breadth of products and options available as well as how to create that ideal personalized design solution for every client. That's why our designers create relationships as well as beautiful spaces.”

The designers also have access to the Ethan Allen CRM system for clienteling, as well as POS software, room planning software and the proprietary My Projects software, which is used to create virtual design idea boards.

The My Projects feature, in fact, plays and will continue to play a central role in Ethan Allen’s omnichannel strategies, allowing designers and customers to interact and share ideas on a more ongoing basis.

“The My Projects app will allow a designer and customer to collaborate virtually on a design project through the use of an interactive virtual design board,” Kathwari explained. “A customer can go to our web site and use the My Projects app to start a design board at home and then engage with a designer online for help. They can also visit one of our design centers to work directly with a designer on their design board, which can be pulled up on one of the touchscreens. A designer can also create a design board and then share it to the customer’s online account so the customer can access it online from home.”

When Ethan Allen designers aren’t engaging with employees, they’re training. Taking a multichannel, multiplatform approach, the retailer provides live, online and remote webinars, and other e-learning options.

“Training begins on day one for all design consultants,” Kathwari noted. “All aspects of our brand are covered, including product knowledge, design principles, sales skills, and the importance of combining personal service with technology. Company-provided training is supported by local training efforts in each Design Center. This may include meeting with local sales reps to become versed on various product options, being mentored by top performing design consultants, and receiving systems support.”

After all, the more educated and empowered design consultants are, the more successfully they can engage and sell to customers. 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Wed, 22 Oct 2014 01:30:55 -0400
Staples Investigates Potential Data Breach Staples Investigates Potential Data Breach

staples3Staples may be the next in a line of retailers experiencing a payment card data breach. The retailer is presently investigating the potential breach and has contacted law enforcement, according to Mark Cautela, Sr. Public Relations Manager at Staples.

“We take the protection of customer information very seriously, and are working to resolve the situation,” said Cautela in an email. “If Staples discovers an issue, it is important to note that customers are not responsible for any fraudulent activity on their credit cards that is reported on [in] a timely basis.”

{loadposition GIAA}Computer and data security logger Brian Krebs initially reported the breach on his blog, indicating that “it appears likely that fraudsters have succeeded in stealing customer card data from some subset of Staples locations, including seven Staples stores in Pennsylvania, at least three in New York City, and another in New Jersey.”

Krebs reported that a number of banks traced a pattern of fraudulent transactions on a group of cards that had been used at the affected Staples locations. The fraudulent charges reportedly also occurred at other businesses, including supermarkets and big-box retailers.

Staples provided no additional details on the potential breach.

Over the past 12 months, payment card data breaches have been reported at Kmart, The Home Depot, SuperValu, Target, Neiman Marcus and Michaels Stores.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:57:54 -0400
ETailers Open Stores To Improve One-To-One Relationships With Shoppers ETailers Open Stores To Improve One-To-One Relationships With Shoppers

FEAT ETail image“Omnichannel” continues to be one of the most-used buzzwords in the retail industry today. While all retailers strive to create seamless, compelling and personalized interactions across channels, a number of pure-play e-Commerce retailers are jumping into brick-and-mortar by putting their own, unique spin on the in-store experience.

Nearly half (49%) of consumers believe the best action retailers can take to improve the shopping experience is to better integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping channels, according to Accenture. Although many online-only retailers have been successful in a single-channel environment, they are not able to capitalize on the most dominant sales channel — the store. As much as 95% of all retail sales in 2013 were captured by businesses that have some form of brick-and-mortar presence, according to the A.T. Kearney Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study.

{loadposition GIAA}Some e-Commerce retailers are at an advantage when moving into brick-and-mortar, if they are part of a larger corporate organizations. For example, women’s athletic apparel eTailer Athleta, a subsidiary of Gap Inc., didn’t have a brick-and-mortar presence until 2010, but expects to expand its physical store count to 100 by the end of its fiscal year on Jan. 31, 2015. Microsoft, which first sold branded products through the now-defunct Windows Marketplace, opened its first two stores in October 2009, and now operates a total of 104 locations throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Additionally, Microsoft announced that it will open a Fifth Avenue flagship store, but has yet to confirm an opening date.

Startup businesses don’t experience expansion quite as fast, but some certainly have built successful and strong brands as they transitioned into the physical retail world. Eyewear manufacturer and retailer Warby Parker took its first foray into brick-and-mortar by partnering with larger retailers to sell their products in stores. Warby Parker has grown from managing small boutiques in 2011 to operating nine retail stores and seven showrooms throughout the U.S.

Bonobos took a similar approach by partnering with Nordstrom in 2012 before launching a physical presence. The men’s clothing brand and retailer has since built 10 retail stores, known as “Guideshops.” The retailer expects to open an additional 30 Guideshops across the U.S. by 2016.

Fashion And Apparel Lead The Way

Of all categories, it is evident that fashion and apparel retailers represent a substantial share of the online retailers that have made the move to brick-and-mortar.

Boston Proper, JustFab and Frank & Oak are only a sample of brands that have opened brick-and-mortar stores to complement their online presence, while J. Hilburn recently opened its first full showroom in Dallas, Tex.

“Fashion and apparel are encompassed in one of every shopper’s three emotional needs,” said Veeral Rathod, President, CEO and Co-Founder of J. Hilburn. “You’ve got food, shelter and clothing. While fashion isn’t necessarily a need, there’s something that’s very emotional and personal about it, and it’s a very difficult product to buy online only.”

The rapid growth of, an e-Commerce retailer that sells “preppy” apparel, drives home the potential for successful online-only retailers to venture into brick-and-mortar. The Charlottesville, Va.-based business was founded in 2012 by two then-attorneys on the premise of being “Zappos for prepsters.” The brand experienced early success by achieving a 600% annual growth rate. opened its first brick-and-mortar retail store in August 2014.

“We wanted to create a marketplace; it seemed like there was a high demand for these types of products but no concise or attractive marketplace to buy them,” said Stephen Glasgow, Co-Founder at “It was something we and all our friends wanted so it seemed like a great space to jump into.”

In creating a store environment, the retailer can reinforce the brand lifestyle in a personal way that is more difficulty to illustrate online, thus building a true omnichannel experience, according to Glasgow. As part of the store experience, the retailer has held “game day weekends” during college football season. During the events, shoppers are invited into the store before the game to drink mimosas and purchase bow ties. The overarching goal, Glasgow explained, is to engage store visitors who embrace the “preppy lifestyle” and convert them into lifetime customers.

“The best customers to reach are the ones who have already purchased from us,” said Matt Watson, Co-Founder of “We’re not a brand unto ourselves. We’re a retailer and we carry a lot of great brands, but they also can be found elsewhere on the web. The question remains: How do we make sure they come to us versus another retailer? By offering free shipping and returns all the time. I think that’s a must in the online ordering environment. We need to find a way to wow the customer with any way they contact us. It’s important that we really focus on the people who have already purchased from us, and make sure our message is getting to them.”

On the heels of the first store opening, Glasgow and Watson already anticipate opening a second location near the University of Kentucky this fall.

Will Amazon Become An Even Larger Competitor For Retailers?

While apparel retailers appear to be a significant source of eTailers jumping into the brick-and-mortar space, online behemoth Amazon has managed to grab headlines yet again. The e-Commerce giant, which dominates the landscape by offering low prices on a variety of different product categories, has decided to take the competition to brick-and-mortar with The Wall Street Journal reporting that the retailer will open a physical location in New York City in time for the 2014 holiday season.

Little is known about what products the Amazon store will sell or what impact it will have on the industry as a whole, but reportedly it would primarily serve as a mini-warehouse where customers can return and exchange products, as well as pick up online orders. While hasn’t confirmed the store opening or any details surrounding it, the company confirmed plans to open pop-up kiosks in San Francisco on October 22 and Sacramento, Calif. at a later date.

ETailers Explain The Online-to-Physical Store Paradigm Shift

Making the leap from online to brick-and-mortar can be both time-consuming and expensive for businesses. Retailers that successfully take this step must not only stand out, but also truly understand the desires of their customers. During a September 2014 panel, titled: “Online’s Day Off,” executives from Rent the Runway, Bonobos and Birchbox discussed the changing landscape of the retail industry and the role their companies played in adapting to these changes.

Retail Success Story: Rent the Runway
Like many online-exclusive retailers, designer dress rental service Rent the Runway initially had a focus on capturing as many loyal shoppers as possible. After experiencing successful showroom launches in New York City and Las Vegas, the company opened its first freestanding store in New York’s Flatiron business district in September 2014. The store offers approximately 850 dresses and 200 accessories to rent, and incorporates personal stylist appointments for shoppers who want to try out items before they make a commitment.

“After we heard enough requests for a physical store, we said ‘let’s test it out, what harm could it do?’” explained Jennifer Fleiss, Co-Founder of Rent the Runway. “We know every single customer who comes into the store, and we’re able to sync their online account to their physical in-store account. I often take that for granted, but it’s a very rare thing for a retailer to be able to do. The data that we have on the customer enables us to service her faster and better in the store, and then after her in-store experience, it links with her online profile so she becomes a more repeat customer both online and offline.”

Retail Success Story: Bonobos
Bonobos, which is known for its men’s dress pants, started considering a brick-and-mortar strategy when the company realized it wasn’t selling its new line of dress shirts as well as expected. The company conducted an experiment in 2011, placing two fitting rooms in its New York City headquarters lobby for men to try on a variety of the shirts. Consumers began to spread the news of the fitting room via word of mouth. After approximately 90 days, revenue from the fitting rooms had a projected run rate of $1 million, with no marketing of the program, according to Andy Dunn, Co-Founder and CEO of Bonobos. Dunn revealed two conclusions from the experiment: “Number one, people still like to touch and feel clothes and try them on. Number two — and this was the mind-blowing insight for us — was that the customers didn’t have to walk out with the product to be happy. All of a sudden we could reimagine what a retail store might be without having to stock physical inventory.”

This experiment led to the opening of the first Bonobos Guideshop in May 2012 in New York City. The Guideshop carries a limited number of items on display, with none of them actually being sold in-store. The shop is designed to allow customers to try on apparel with the help from store “guides” before they make a specific purchase online.

“We want to offer great customer service,” Dunn said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “That was always a founding pillar of the brand. My assumption was that a traditional retail store might break that because of inventory. I’ve worked with Marshall Field’s, before it became part of Macy’s, and I worked at Abercrombie & Fitch folding sweaters, and when you’re working in those stores, you’re just playing defense all day against inventory. Employees try to keep the store organized more so than they pay attention to the human beings in the store.”

Retail Success Story: Birchbox
Beauty products sample provider Birchbox launched in 2010 as a subscription service, in which members receive a monthly box including an assortment of sample cosmetics, fragrances, skin care products, lotions and nail polishes. Birchbox has 80,000 subscribers, with the subscriptions priced at $10 per month for women and $20 per month for men. Customers who like the specific products in the shipment can then purchase those products — and many similar and complementary products — on the Birchbox e-Commerce site, which accounts for approximately 30% of the company’s business.

In July 2014, Birchbox leveraged its swelling online popularity by opening a brick-and-mortar location in the heavily populated SoHo neighborhood in Manhattan.

“We never imagined that we would be opening a brick-and-mortar store, because the whole premise of Birchbox — the whole reason we started the business — was that it was difficult to purchase beauty products on the Internet and we wanted to make that easier,” said Katia Beauchamp, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at Birchbox. “Before Birchbox, women only went online to purchase products they already knew.”

The retail store is intended to reflect the online Birchbox experience, so naturally, the store includes a row of products that can be sampled and tested by customers that are still on the fence about making a purchase. In addition, the store provides personal hair styling services and a Build Your Own Box (B.Y.O.B.) section that enables shoppers to purchase $15 worth of samples that they want.

“We recognized that it would probably be exciting to offer samples to customers, especially since we knew the kind of products they wanted beforehand,” Beauchamp said. “Compare that to a retailer that isn’t sure if they’re selling the right product, and isn’t even sure how it’s being distributed. We also realized that a brand would probably like to know what the return on investment was from a sample, when they’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars producing these products. Trial is the No. 1 reason why someone buys a beauty product.”

E-Commerce driven retailers such as Birchbox, Bonobos and Rent the Runway have an advantage in the brick-and-mortar space in that they can carry very limited inventory in their stores, or none at all.

“The challenge brick-and-mortar retailers have is that their whole business is so centered on high-fixed costs and a very expensive, large square-foot retail center, and online is used as the channel to supplement that,” said Rathod of J. Hilburn. “The benefit for us is we only need a little bit of space and we can show a bunch of shirts without carrying all the sizes.”

Established brick-and-mortar retailers also have consumer bases that expect to make purchases through a specific business model. Any major change to the business model could potentially be greeted with some initial confusion at best — and outrage at worst — so it is rare to see these retailers take drastic steps such as inventory slashing or a full customer service overhaul.

Leveraging Data To Build The Proper Brick-And-Mortar Experience

A major factor in the transition from e-Commerce to brick-and-mortar involves determining where to locate the stores. A store can offer the best products and have optimal customer service, but if it is in a location no one will travel to, then the entire investment can go to waste.

“If a traditional retailer wanted to optimize its physical store network, it would have to use geo-demographic data at a low level of geography,” said James Buckley, SVP and General Manager of Location Intelligence at Pitney Bowes. “We’ll project what the population and the income level in that area will be. A retailer, in the traditional sense, would then start looking at adjusted drive times or travel times based on their ideal customer profile. They can then look at their network and determine what tolerable distance their customers are willing to travel.”

Now, with access to mobile data, eTailers can more easily make the decision to dive into brick-and-mortar, because they no longer have to rely solely on traditional geo-demographic data. Customers engage with online storefronts through a variety of channels and physical locations, enabling retailers to determine exactly where consumers are while they interact with the site. Retailers can then analyze that data to gauge where the store should be built, and most importantly, determine what type of store design and experience would be most valuable.

“If the retailer has a physical network, they can re-optimize it based on better, more comprehensive data,” Buckley said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “In the online world that’s really the data retailers need so they can start sending out promoted tweets or time- and location- relevant advertising and promotional opportunities. That could then be a draw to get customers into the retail store, or at the very least, a more accurate way of delivering messages so that customers receive them when they’re at home in the evening rather than when they are at the office.”

The Rent the Runway team credits the ability to leverage customer data points as a major factor in the brand’s successful move from e-Commerce to the physical store environment.

“We were able to learn from a data perspective about the type of inventory people wanted, the type of customers that were coming to our site and we were able to target and market to them more effectively,” Fleiss noted. “We’ve really continued to leverage and iterate that data and it’s actually been the biggest benefit for us as we’ve gone into retail.”

Continuing To Bridge The Physical And Digital Gap

Many online-only retailers are re-establishing themselves with new identities and creating new revenue streams by embracing innovative brick-and-mortar strategies. While it may not be easy for retailers to stake a claim at an appropriate physical location, there is still plenty of room for e-Commerce pure-plays to dip their toes into the brick-and-mortar pool. As customers continue to expect shopping experiences that span across all channels, more eTailers will take a similar leap into brick-and-mortar in the future.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Trend Watch Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:01:36 -0400
Has Social Media Helped Democratize The Fashion Industry? Has Social Media Helped Democratize The Fashion Industry?

FEAT Fashion Week imageThis year, magazine editors, tastemakers, bloggers and even designers figuratively ripped down the velvet ropes and gave consumers an inside look at Fashion Week festivities.

Typically known as the most exclusive event of the year, Fashion Week has evolved into a highly digitized and social event. More attendees are turning to Instagram, Twitter and other social networks to share behind-the-scenes footage of shows from coveted designers, such as BCBG Max Azria, Marc Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta.

“Style doesn’t have to just come from Vogue anymore,” said Apu Gupta, CEO of Curalate. “The democratization of style is being played out on the social web and there is profound acknowledgement that bloggers and tastemakers actually know what they’re doing and can influence consumers’ decisions. By incorporating others into the mix, brands can also make everything feel a lot more authentic.”

{loadposition GIAA}Of all social networks, designers favored Instagram the most because of consumers’ overall activity on the network. Analysis from Forrester Research confirms that overall engagement on Instagram is significantly higher than other social sites — even Facebook.

Through a study of more than three million user interactions with more than 2,500 brand posts across seven social networks, Forrester Research discovered that top brands’ Instagram posts generated an engagement rate of 4.21%. Facebook and Twitter only garnered engagement rates of .07% and .03%, respectively.

“If your brand is looking for social engagement — and if you’re not finding it on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks,” said Forrester analyst Nate Elliott, “you should start using Instagram today.”

During Fashion Week, overall engagement and participation on Instagram increased significantly between the fall/winter 2014 and spring/summer 2015 shows, according to research from Curalate. Total number of images shared on Instagram increased more than 25% from 92,334 to 115,912. Most surprisingly, total engagement — which includes image “likes” and comments — swelled by 101%, from 5.4 million to 10.8 million.

“These results prove to brands that Instagram isn’t just a novelty anymore,” Gupta said. “You have to figure out how, as a brand, Instagram plays a role in how you tell your story.”

Luxury Brands Relinquish Control

Traditionally, luxury brands were “very manicured” and prevented everyday consumers from getting an inside look at exclusive events and fashions, Gupta explained. However, a significant challenge with maintaining this buttoned-up image is consumers today have an “insatiable” appetite for content from the brands they love. “Brands need to produce more content and really draw consumers into their world.” Brands and retailers alike viewed Fashion Week as an opportunity to bring consumers behind the curtain, tapping Instagram for its simplicity and overall impact.

For example, Saks Fifth Avenue timed the release of its #SaksStyle user-generated content hub with the kick-off of fall/winter Fashion Week. The retailer “knows style is something people celebrate on social and specifically on Instagram,” Gupta said. “What better way to highlight that than to bring that user-generated content to the e-Commerce site?”

Even the most high-end brands, such as Alexander Wang and Prada, took to social media to publish photos and videos of their fashion shows; they also streamed the fashion shows live on their web sites. Designers Zac Posen and Tory Burch went the extra mile by publishing photos of the creative process, showing unfinished items and fittings with models before their fashion shows.

Some brands and designers also partnered with solution providers to make their social feeds shoppable during Fashion Week. BCBG Max Azria tapped LiketoKnow:It, an application from RewardStyle, which gives Instagram commerce capabilities.

“Looks posted by influencers on their Instagram accounts during the show were available for purchase to those signed up to LiketoKnow:It service,” noted Rachel Arthur, Global Senior Editor at WGSN, a trend forecasting organization for the fashion industry. “It’s a little bit clunky, but doing so enables users to ‘like’ an image to instantly have an email sent to them with details about the items featured, then click to purchase from there.”

Oscar de la Renta, Zac Posen and Libertine partnered with mobile marketplace Spring to offer exclusive items available for purchase immediately after their shows.

Social Insights Help Deliver Better Product Lines

Social media enables brands to connect with consumers in a more direct and personal way. This has become an imperative as more Millennials — who tap into social networks on a daily basis — acquire more spending power. In fact, Millennials aged 17 to 34 will account for $1.4 trillion in spending by 2020, according to Accenture research.

Although breaking down social barriers can undoubtedly help brands and retailers boost engagement and bottom-line results, there also is an opportunity for brands and designers to better understand customer preferences and develop more profitable product lines.

More designers are looking at customer feedback to guide their product designs, colors and patterns, rather simply pushing products out to consumers and hoping they stick, according to Andrea France, Retail Industry Principal at SAP. “I think we’re at an inflection point where things are changing.”

Using social media analytics, brands can combine structured and unstructured feedback to collect detailed intelligence that allows them to make better decisions.

Progressive organizations leverage “active listening,” which involves monitoring social media feedback and applying those insights to the overall business, according to Aberdeen Group research. The report, titled: Social Powers Activate: Engineering Social Engagement To Win The Hidden Sales Cycle, indicated that key capabilities of these best-in-class businesses include: 

  • Monitoring social channels for content and mentions specific to the company (70%);
  • Identifying key social influencers in a market for engagement (55%);
  • Identifying and prioritizing social posts for engagement (45%); and
  • Identifying customer advocates for outreach and engagement (42%).     

“There needs to be a way to take all that data and capture true sentiment,” France noted. “In doing so, designers will get greater insight and different opinions, sentiment and feedback.”

Recently, SAP used social media analytics to track social feedback and sentiment from critics and the entire social web. Looking at color specifically, SAP learned that black and white received the most mentions (27,535) on social networks, followed by pinks (16,853) and blues (12,155). However, purples, nudes and metallic garnered the most positive net sentiment, receiving social scores of 94%, 93% and 92%, respectively.

“Although they weren’t talked about as much, the overall sentiment of these colors was higher,” France said. “Those are insights brands can use to determine which trends are happening and, in turn, determine where they should be going.”

Social feedback and sentiment also can help retail buyers and merchandisers make more profitable decisions. After a fashion show, buyers venture to the designers’ studios to shop the lines and purchase products for their stores, France explained. With social data in hand, designers can better determine which items should be mass-produced.

“There may be overwhelming feedback from consumers that says they really like a pink dress, for example,” France said. “But the designer may not make the product because the buyer or merchandiser did not select that design on their own. We should be listening to social chatter because there could be a discrepancy between what the buyer or merchandiser purchases from a brand and what the general public likes.” 
As more consumers rely on social media to get a glimpse into Fashion Week festivities, designers will focus on developing organization-wide strategies for tracking and listening to feedback, engaging advocates and influencers, and applying their feedback to marketing campaigns and product development.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Tue, 21 Oct 2014 09:48:28 -0400
29% Of Consumers Don’t Trust Retailers To Keep Data Secure 29% Of Consumers Don’t Trust Retailers To Keep Data Secure

RR ACI ImageMore than one quarter (29%) of consumers worldwide do not trust retailers and restaurants to protect their stored personal and financial information against data breach attempts, according to a report from ACI Worldwide and Aite.

The report, titled: Global Consumers: Concerned And Willing To Engage In The Battle Against Fraud, surveyed more than 6,100 consumers across 20 countries in March 2014.Confidence in financial institutions such as community banks and credit unions is higher among survey respondents, as 58% believe they protect data more effectively than any other institution. Conversely, 31% of respondents said they think governments and law enforcement agencies are doing a “very bad” or “poor” job at fighting fraud.

As a result of recent data breaches at major retailers, 77% of consumers said they are “very interested” in being contacted about suspicious activity on their cards or accounts via a phone call, email or text message. Nearly three quarters (73%) of respondents prefer that their banks do not post transactions to their cards until they personally respond to fraud alerts. 

{loadposition GIAA}To prevent data breaches and fraud from affecting their lives, shoppers need to know which precautionary measures they can and should take. However, 42% of consumers said they don’t recall receiving information from their financial institutions about how to protect themselves against fraud.

“Consumers want to engage in the battle against fraud,” said Shirley Inscoe, an analyst at Aite Group. “Financial institutions must take a proactive role in not only engaging customers in fraud-alerting activities, but educating them on preventative measures to take to most effectively combat it.”

Fraud risk also extends to prepaid cards, although their fraud rates are much lower than debit or credit cards. Internationally, cards from India (18%) and China (17%) had the largest fraud rates by a wide margin in 2014. Prepaid cards in Indonesia had the third highest fraud rate percentage (11%), and saw the greatest increase in fraud of all countries monitored since Q3 2012, up from 4%.

Click here to access the 2014 Global Consumer Fraud Survey.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Security / PCI Compliance Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:40:55 -0400
BrandVerity Monitors Product Listing Ad Performance BrandVerity Monitors Product Listing Ad Performance

SS BrandVerity ImageRetailers use Product Listing Ads (PLAs) to display specific items at the top of a search engine pages. Managing these ads can be a hefty task, especially if the retailer has no way to monitor the success of each one.

BrandVerity has launched an extension to its Paid Search Monitoring service that is designed to monitor and provide users with visibility into PLA performance. Users can track top sellers that appear with a set of keywords, evaluate competition on specific products and monitor searches to see which PLAs are displayed most frequently.

The solution provides reporting into a variety of metrics, including:

  • PLA frequency, or percentage of search engine results pages that include PLAs;
  • PLA share of both the user and/or other specific sellers;
  • Price ranking, or how frequently a seller has the lowest price;
  • Average price for a particular product; and
  • Top PLA Keywords.

“As search advertising continues to evolve,” said Dave Naffziger, CEO of BrandVerity, “we will prioritize features that expand our clients’ visibility and insights so they can ensure that their brands are represented strongly.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:34:58 -0400
The Retail Internet Of Things (IOT): Turning Your Store Into An App The Retail Internet Of Things (IOT): Turning Your Store Into An App

VP Schwartz head shotRetailers are an innovative bunch. We adopt and trial new technologies at a more nimble rate that other verticals. In a world where shopper marketing, field marketing and consumer insights have all been merged into an unending list of “mobile path-to-purchase” solutions, the retailer gets an A for effort.

Before we celebrate our successes, let’s look at another vertical: Cities. Like stores, their consumers are changing, their services need to adapt. IBM invested approximately $350 million in smart city technology and marketing trying to reinvent the metropolitan centers globally and have perhaps made 10 % return on this effort. But 557,000 cities spend $4.5 trillion per year, 10% of the global GDP.

According my colleague, Sascha Haselmayer, the CEO of CityMart in Barcelona, 0% of cities publish their needs, a mere 10% of cities engage with business that have new solutions and 70% only trust existing solution providers. Killer apps such as Shared Bicycles globally have taken 20 years to reach 0.1% of the market.

{loadposition GIAA}Why? Because cities look at a problem: Say, street lights for the blind and they focus on procuring a solution for street lights. Whereas, they should be looking to find a solution for the blind. Minnesota spent their budget on a talking street lights. Stockholm, on the other hand did not. It provided a device to its blind population that empowered them all the time (not just at street lights) and made them feel 90% less disabled and saved the city 20 million per year.

Innovators Unite!

Why am I talking about cities in an article on stores?

Because we need to understand the challenges we face and embrace what we do well in order to do it better.  Yes, are inundated with vendors that offer to change our world and it is a challenge to weed through the solutions and find pilots and trials. But we do.  

I cannot tell you how many times I have sent an article on something that Jason Newport at Carat is doing with Macy’s and have been asked to investigate how we can do this in our store. Maybe it is because we feel that we are under siege in the retail vertical and need to trial and innovate?

Well to all the innovators that are reading this article, I want to ask you to explore a very simple sea change in the way you need to adapt the world in 2015. The retail mall, the city and the shopper are all about to change profoundly.

This change is not based on a technology as much as a new way of looking at the mobile landscape. Until now, we have seen the store as Minnesota saw their traffic light challenge: “How do we adapt our streetlights to service our blind population?”

Minnesota got their best and brightest on the task and solved this problem. However, we know that Minnesota should have asked a different question: “How do we best service our blind population?”

“Spend 90% of the time framing the question. And 10% on the solution,” as Albert Einstein once said. 

Retailers are very good at finding solutions for “traffic lights.” We have trials and jettisoned countless solutions and won industry accolades for them in the process. We celebrate innovation but we often miss the ROI award.

The App Store Dilemma

What are the questions? Well perhaps they are:

  • “How do we drive more loyalty doorswing?”
  • “How do we better address showrooming in our stores?”
  • “How we build a better mobile app?”

Or maybe we need to refashion the questions with the independent, mobile empowered shopper at the center:

  • “How do I help the shopper find me?”
  • “How do I help the shopper reach the web through my portal?”
  • “What is a mobile app?”

Take our retail marketing departments. Our CMOs go to work every day and try to better position their products and services to the marketplace. They get to work and instead of marketing these products and services, they try and drive their app download.

Instead of marketing themselves they are marketing Apple.

Now, this understandable. Apple makes its money selling hardware. One of the reasons it has always succeeded is because it can bundle content seamlessly with an iPod or iPhone. To do this, Apple spends a large amount of its marketing dollars on helping developers. It publishes simple SDKs to help developers build better apps faster. Then they provide a virtual main street and allow retailers to publish their stores to their storefront.

There is nothing wrong with this; however, let me ask the following questions:

“What is a mobile app?” Could it be that our stores are apps? Could our shelves be apps? Could our products be apps? And the phone could be the trigger.

The Internet Of Things

There is a new term in town, The Internet of Things (or IoT for those in the know). This is big. Why? Because it could force us to ask the correct questions.

The IoT is really an extension of good old machine-to-machine (M2M) communications. What the industry calls telemetry (tele – distance metry = measurement). With mobility, we have consumerized telemetry. Every modern phone has a compass, gyroscope, accelerometer ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, and many other ways of seeming sentient and smart. These sensors allow apps on your phone to also be smart and capture all sorts of information on the phone user and adapt accordingly. It also allows the app to transmit this data for medical, wellness, business needs to the cloud.

The phone was the first IoT thing. We took a rotary dial object, made it portable with a mobile network and then gave it all these smart sensors to allow it to be an ambient device.

In the IoT of 2015, everything you can shake a stick at has the potential of being an IoT thing. The lighting system in your store, the POS, the electric switches and garbage disposal units.  All inanimate things have the ability with sensor and business logic of becoming much more efficient and intelligent in their tasks.

So when a retailer looks at their store this year, do they want to think of putting their store on the app store or making their store into an app? When the digital web is becoming a physical web (See Google’s Github post:, perhaps we need to repatriate the interactivity of our stores from the app store and infuse it into our bricks and mortar?

How Do We Make Our Stores Into An App?

Ah, good question. Well the first thing that many well says is use a $20 beacon. This is a good answer. If you have an investment in apps and need to connect the app to the store, a beacon is a good solution.

But if you want to go IoT on the status quo and put the store back in the center, start to delight your mobile consumer by offering smartphone like services in the aisle and counter.

Does your store have Wi-Fi? Well a mobile consumer is a connected consumer. Let them offload their social Wi-Fi data needs onto your network. Act as a gateway to the web and be the concierge.

If this simple move did not intimidate Apple, they would not have made such a privacy fuss about nothing by hashing the phone unique identifier. (Privacy for pseudonymous consumers can be addresses without Apple’s deus ex machina approach.)

Wi-Fi offers the store (from basic VAS to super enhanced value):

  1. A way of being a social concierge
  2. Basic heat mapping of the store
  3. A digital hub to drive manufacturer promotions and smart coop dollars
  4. A loyalty platform to opt in shoppers and tether their phone to a OTT communication channel like email or SMS.
  5. A IoT network where every store now can communicate directly to a loyalist phone without the need for an app download.
  6. A proximity smart digital out of home engagement network to allow the store to identify and based on certain business logic drive street to aisle marketing for itself and its manufacture partners.
  7. A media network that can not only ask for coop budget from their manufacture partners but real media dollars to drive targeted, proximity-based engagement.

The store becomes the smart IoT things and the phone becomes the IoT trigger. The investment is back in the store’s domain and cannot not be disintermentiated.

Tie this engagement to wallet and coupon, and the solution becomes more and more sexy. And you thought IoT was something futuristic? Start being the innovators you are and begin asking the right questions.

Gary is the CEO of Impact Mobile, Inc. and author of The Impulse Economy and Fast Shopper, Slow Store, which were published by Simon & Schuster, Atria Imprint. He also is working on a new book, covering the Internet of Things as the new app store. Schwartz founded and chaired the mobile committee for the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) helping to establish a joint task force between the IAB, Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and the Media Rating Council (MRC) to develop global mobile measurement standards for which he received an IAB award for industry excellence in 2009. He was elected for three terms as the Chairman of MEF North America and currently is the Global Director of Location Based Marketing Association; the Executive Chairman of 4More Innovation (Thinkwire platform on Twitter) and Special Adviser to The Wireless Registry.

]]> (Gary Schwartz, Impact Mobile) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 21 Oct 2014 07:20:47 -0400
Epicor Acquires QuantiSense Epicor Acquires QuantiSense

Epicor Software Corporation
has announced that it will acquire QuantiSense, a provider of cloud-based and on-premise analytic solutions for the retail industry. The deal is expected to close on Oct. 31, 2014. 

With the purchase of privately owned QuantiSense, Epicor will be able to expand its range of solutions for midsize and large chains, adding advanced retail analytics and business intelligence to its retail portfolio.

"The acquisition of QuantiSense is a smart choice for Epicor,” according to Nikki Baird, Managing Partner for Retail Systems Research, as reported in the press statement. “I'm looking forward to the addition of powerful analytics on top of Epicor's vast set of transactions and customer data. This combination promises to help mid-market retailers rapidly turn their Big Data into meaningful and actionable insights."

The QuantiSense platform is designed to consolidate large volumes of data from disparate sources into a cohesive view of the business. QuantiSense currently is working with a variety of Epicor clients, including Michael Kors, Carters, FGL Sports, Nexcom, and Reitmans.

QuantiSense solutions will be an “important strategic addition” to Epicor’s offerings, said Noel Goggin, Executive Vice President and General Manager at Epicor Retail. The company shares “our focus on delivering advanced solutions to help retailers transform their organizations, create exceptional customer experiences and develop new opportunities to drive profitability."

Once the acquisition is closed, QuantiSense Founder and CEO Jeff Buck, as well as CTO Juan Pereira, are expected to join Epicor Retail to lead the company's retail analytics and Big Data initiatives. 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Mergers & Acquisitions Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:00:10 -0400
Think You Need An Independent Consultant To Optimize Your Retail Operation? Consider These Four Questions

As a retailer, your technological needs run the gamut. Many pertain to human capital management — payroll, time and attendance, workforce management, employment law compliance and more. Additionally, there’s employee engagement, turnover and other concerns. 

In the processes of evaluating and deciding on which solution to purchase, the temptation is to seek an independent consultant. Often, that’s the right move. But independent consultants’ effectiveness varies widely. Their expertise and experience can provide a retailer with valuable insight, yes, but just as often consultants’ involvement causes more problems than it solves. Why? Some consultants are more aptly described as third-party sellers. They promote generic processes and cookie-cutter approaches. Communication might be command-and-control, keeping vendors from interacting directly with you. It’s all designed to bring about outcomes that benefit their bottom line — at the expense of clients.

{loadposition GIAA}You need a dynamic relationship with a consultant. You need open interaction with solution providers. You need a solution tailored to handle your organization’s top business issues. Before plunging into any commitment, consider the following four questions. These and the discernments they encourage will help you to avoid conflicts of interest, identify value-added consulting, and ensure positive outcomes for you, your career, and the company.

1. Do you really need a third party consultant? Or is it an insurance policy?

Most retailers are savvy and know their business. Through discussions for all to see in the public domain, analysts, industry press and other retailers usually reveal who the main providers are and how they have been successful. Compare and contrast this with the views of third-party consultants: Their knowledge of the marketplace and solution providers’ capabilities may lag by a few years. Furthermore, they tend to focus on process improvements, not necessarily on the technology that puts it into application and practice. More of an insurance policy, a third party might shield retail executives from failure. If the project falls short, the consultant can be blamed — and exited. Understand your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. Typically, the more current solution providers can provide the partnering your team needs.

2. Are there signs of bias toward one or more providers? Could this have an impact on an objective evaluation and selection?

Consultants get business for their expertise in a particular industry, field or discipline. Check their opinions against the marketplace. Some have a good grasp on current offerings, whereas others simply repeat familiar content and knowledge. For instance, depending on the age and experience of a consultancy, it may be steeped in on-premise or legacy-hosted systems and lack knowledge of true software-as-a-service provisioning, which offers superior outcomes for retailers today. Even worse, these ill-informed or self-serving consultants may push retailers in the wrong direction, down a path of no return. Conflicts of interest compound the danger, especially when evaluation and implementation consultants are one and the same. Working together, they might steer you toward the provider with whom they are most familiar and able to influence through previous relationships and projects.

Who are the up-to-date consultants? They frequent user groups of all providers in their discipline. They also regularly blog on current topics and moves in the market. A single report from secondary research does not equal expertise. Primary research defended by experience and first-hand knowledge does. Short of an up-to-date consultant, retailers are better off reading reports themselves, defining their own evaluation and selection process, and investing saved time, resources and money into the project itself.

3. Of the most recent prior evaluations a consultant has performed for other retailers, which solution did each select and why?

It is always good to understand where consultancies have provided similar services to other retailers in the past 24 months, what was shared and how engagements were different. 

Consultants are apt to re-use evaluation documents from one retailer to another. Nothing tailored to your business comes of it. Remember, too, that consultants may be breaking confidentiality agreements by re-using materials from a prior engagement’s contract. You and the consultant may become liable.

How can you spot these conflicts? Read the RFP or criteria before anything is published. Make sure everything matches your needs. Check the documents’ properties: Are they original materials, owned by the consultant? Look for patterns of the same results. The provider selected may be the best on the market, yes. But potential biases toward one provider over another arise from conflicts of interest, too, including formal business relationships, integrated business models, integrated technology offerings, comfort and bench knowledge, and joint product market strategies. Are any contractual referral fees in place? Joint planning or business model arrangements could spell a lack of independence in how the selection is run, what criteria are being used, and the exposure and opportunities provided to each of the providers vying for your business.

4. How many new ideas or recommendations has the consultant added to your original needs?

Remember, consultants bill by the hour and number of deliverables. From experience, good consultants will help retailers save money, time and effort. Others will add scope to your process in order to benefit their own practices and revenue. For instance, beware of this creep in scope, automatically applied to all providers. Additionally, old-school techniques of fear and uncertainty may surface as consultants attempt to justify the additional, unplanned scope they propose. Remember, you know your culture and business: Don’t be too quick to accept. Sell-side providers are interested in driving their revenue regardless of value to the retailer’s business. Generally, buy-side partners are preferable. They remain focused on the value delivered. There’s a huge difference.

Do Your Homework, Be Honest With Yourself And Demand Transparency

Analyze why your organization seeks the advice of outside consultants. You may already have the necessary information to make the changes you suspect your stores need. Should you still determine that an independent expert’s input is essential, choose your consultant wisely. Demand transparency. Seek one that exercises impartiality and demonstrates a depth of experience in and knowledge of the industry. These precautions will help to ensure a successful engagement and positive business outcomes.

John Orr is the Senior Vice President of Retail Strategy & Execution at Ceridian HCM, a leader in human capital management delivering trusted results and transformative technology. Offerings include the award winning, cloud-based Dayforce HCM, LifeWorks and International Payroll. For more information, visitwww.Ceridian.comor contact John by


]]> (By John Orr, Ceridian HCM) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 20 Oct 2014 15:52:36 -0400
Artifi Simplifies Product Customization For Online Retailers

SS site only Artifi imageRetailers are striving to differentiate their brands by allowing customers to personalize product designs, colors and styles.

Artifi is helping retailers provide more relevant online shopping experiences with its cloud-based, mobile-friendly customization engine. The solution is designed to replace personalization configurators and make product customization more cost-efficient and less time consuming for e-Commerce businesses.

“Now more than ever, companies are looking to offer customers the opportunity to customize products,” said Rupesh Agrawal, Founder and CEO of artifi. “Until now, developing personalization configurators to support this effort has been time-consuming, costly and the customization capabilities limited.”

The solution integrates with a variety of existing e-Commerce platforms, including Demandware, hybris and Magento. Businesses using the solution can maintain complete control of their user interface in order to provide a unique brand experience for their consumers. Artifi also provides 3D product design customization, allowing retailers to show customers every side of their products in an effort to make the online shopping experience more detailed and compelling.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:05:10 -0400
The Perils Of Not Knowing Your Assortment Speed To Market The Perils Of Not Knowing Your Assortment Speed To Market

VP Ugam head shotRetailers are currently operating in an era of hyper-competitive commerce in which competing retailers have the same products, match prices, provide similar shipping options to consumers, and enjoy flexible supply chains. There isn’t much differentiating one retailer from another.

As far as today’s consumer goes, the social, mobile and technology revolution has resulted in a shopper who is connected, informed and vocal. These shoppers are always on the lookout for the best deals and are acclimatized to dynamically changing prices. They have access to tools that help them get to the right product, on the right channel and at the best price. The modern consumer is more empowered than ever, bringing an added level of complexity to the competitive landscape.

{loadposition GIAA}Given these realities, not having products listed on an e-Commerce site on time and at the right price can certainly be perilous for retailers. In the long run, it may create a gradual shift of loyal and high-lifetime-value customers to competing sites. This naturally impacts market share and in turn, sales. It can also create a perception that competitors are one-upping you in terms of getting new products to market. You appear to be the laggard and may have lost your competitive edge.

High stakes, information transparency and to need to be relevant to their customers are driving retailers to benchmark assortment speed to market metrics with respect to their competitors.

However, this cannot be an ad hoc effort. It requires focused attention in terms of continuously monitoring a number of products and product categories across key competing retailer sites over an extended period of time — something that can be difficult and time-consuming to do alone. Depending on the category, this is a potential Big Data challenge and calls for relevant analytics expertise.

Understanding your time to market for a particular brand and product category combination enables you to go back and focus on one or all of the following:

  1. Strategic relationships — Retailers have long-standing relationships with their vendors, but what worked in the past may not hold well in today’s fast-paced digital environment. Backed with data, you are able to go back to your vendors to renegotiate supply timelines for products and / or categories where you feel you are at a disadvantage.
  2. Operational concerns — In many cases, vendor timelines may not be the problem. Operationally, your products may be taking a while to get online due to the volume of new products, lack of bandwidth or know-how to set these up online. If the data suggests your competition is getting their products to market much faster, you may need a revamp in the way you set up products on your website.

Several retailers are unable to create product descriptions for a large inventory of new products at a quick pace. A smart and cost-effective method of ensuring speed to market is to create templates to generate product descriptions. Templates can be made for all broad categories with placeholders for product-specific information. These templates ensure that product descriptions can be generated en masse, thus resolving speed issues.

Policy or system challenges — Retailers may have policies or systems in place where they wait for an entire batch of products from a particular vendor / designer before the merchandise appears online. Evaluating your competitors’ speed to market and potential opportunity lost in terms of lost sales may warrant a relook at these policies or systems.

One way a retailer can make up for slower speed to market is to plan assortment farther in advance by predicting which products will be hot and when. This will provide extra time, and can give a retailer a huge competitive advantage. Predictive analytics can help retailers identify what assortment to add, keep and drop. Knowing what assortment is likely to be a best seller before competitors or knowing what items to stop carrying before others can be a useful competitive edge to aid speed to market decisions. Predicting trends is regularly listed as a key risk factor on annual reports — being one step ahead of competitors could mean the difference between a profitable or unprofitable quarter.

In today’s retail environment, it has become imperative for forward-looking retailers to benchmark their assortment speed to market, investigate the likely causes of delay and take appropriate action as quickly as possible.

Mihir Kittur is Chief Innovation Officer and Co-Founder at Ugama global leader in managed analytics. 

]]> (Mihir Kittur, Ugam) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 20 Oct 2014 08:59:46 -0400
Obama Makes Payment Security Top Of Mind With New Executive Order Obama Makes Payment Security Top Of Mind With New Executive Order

President Obama has signed a new Executive Order, onboarding the government to lead the charge in better securing transactions and sensitive data.

The BuySecure Initiative was crafted to better assist victims of identity theft, improve the government’s payment security. It also is intended to  accelerate the implementation of more robust security technologies and development of payment security tools.

{loadposition GIAA}“Last year, more than 100 million Americans had information that was compromised in data breaches in some of our largest companies,” Obama said. “Identify theft is now America’s fastest growing crime. These crimes don’t just cost companies and consumers billions of dollars every year, they also threaten the economic security of middle class Americans who worked really hard for a lifetime to build some sort of security.”

With the Executive Order, the government is pushing the move towards enhanced security measures. For example, standard mag stripe cards will be replaced with credit, debit and other payment cards with EMV microchips. Notable businesses already are unveiling major plans to accelerate chip and PIN adoption, including:

  • American Express will launch a $10 million program to assist small business customers in upgrading their POS terminals starting January 2015.

  • Home Depot recently completed a payment security project that provides enhanced encryption to payment data at the in-store POS. Up to 85,000 POS terminals also were transitioned to support chip and PIN in stores. 

  • Target has installed chip and PIN readers in all 1,801 stores nationwide. In addition to accepting all chip-enabled cards in stores, the retailer will reissue more than 20 million chip and PIN enabled Target-branded credit and debit cards beginning early 2015.

  • Visa plans to invest more than $20 million to educate consumers and merchants on secure technologies, while sending experts to 20 cities in a national public service campaign.

  • Walgreens has rolled out chip and PIN readers in all 8,200 stores and will begin accepting enabled cards in early 2015.

  • Wal-Mart will activate chip and PIN readers in nearly all 5,000 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores across the U.S. by Nov. 1, 2014.

The President also announced the White House Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection, which will be held later this year. The Summit is positioned to encourage key players to converge and discuss how all members of the financial system can collaborate and better protect U.S. consumers and their financial data. 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Mon, 20 Oct 2014 06:12:54 -0400
TUMI Breaks Down Organizational Barriers To Drive Omnichannel Success TUMI Breaks Down Organizational Barriers To Drive Omnichannel Success

Because luggage brand and retailer TUMI has such a recognizable name and product design, it may be fair to assume that the business operates in a very strict fashion. However, TUMI CIO Jim Walsh describes the company as a “SMB with a big name.” Meaning, the retailer focuses on innovation and operates as nimbly as possible.

Flexibility, collaboration and communication all are playing an important role in TUMI’s omnichannel strategy. In fact, TUMI recently established an omnichannel business council consisting of team members from e-Commerce, IT, distribution, retail operations and retail sales departments.

{loadposition GIAA}“Like any council, we were so dysfunctional in the beginning,” said Walsh in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The main topic in the beginning was: Who gets credit for the sale? Once we bypassed that everything started going well.”

The entire goal of the omnichannel council was to bring different areas of the business together so there was clear visibility into future goals and investments.

From an inventory perspective, it was vital that the supply chain team learned more about omnichannel and how it would move the TUMI brand forward, according to Walsh. “There was definitely an educational process. You say omnichannel and certain business units don’t understand what that means. It was healthy and important for us to take a step back and get everyone up-to-speed on what the e-Commerce side knew, and share that back with the supply chain.”

In addition to breaking down organizational barriers, TUMI had to make several technological advancements that acted as the foundation of its omnichannel strategy. The brand re-platformed its POS system with Epicor in 2013 and currently is re-platforming its e-Commerce site on hybris.

“We have a solid foundation for the omnichannel world,” Walsh noted. “By leveraging inventory feeds between all systems we have a detailed view into e-Commerce and in stores regarding where our inventory is.”

Multiple “What-If” Scenarios

Since implementing more flexible order delivery and fulfillment options, such as buy online, pick up in-store, TUMI has kept a constant pulse on store performance and continuously applies best practices.

“We sent an army of young interns into the field to run different scenarios,” Walsh explained. “They ran a report of how long it took for them to be notified about an online order, what would happen if they showed up to a store to pick it up early, what would happen if they were late and even what would happen if someone else came to pick up the product for them. We ran these different scenarios to determine what TUMI needed to do to provide a great customer experience.”

While advancing toward with a more flexible approach to delivery and fulfillment, TUMI also implemented a different approach to sales attribution. The merchant now identifies sales as “omnichannel” and allows different channels to take credit for the same sale.

“There’s no reason to put a sale in one specific area,” Walsh explained. “We have the visibility into data and can report indirect contribution to a channel, so they can get some form of credit for a sales lift.”

Amazon Or Better

TUMI’s goal moving forward is to provide an “Amazon or better” experience, Walsh reported. “Everyone looks to Amazon as the gold standard for e-Commerce, and by looking at their model we had some great a-ha moments.”

Walsh and the team concluded that although TUMI is so much smaller than the online giant, “we have advantages in that changes can happen on a dime,” he said. “We have access to resources faster, and our knowledge transfer is better.”

However, achieving this “Amazon or better” status requires up-to-date information on sourcing, improved inventory accuracy and faster cycle counts — even in stores. TUMI implemented iPads in store locations to empower associates to sell better, faster, and manage inventory faster and more efficiently.

“Retail associates and warehouse associates live in two different worlds,” Walsh said. “Retail associates want to sell—they are not back-office people. The KPIs they care about are how much they sold, not how accurate they were. The iPads are fun and engaging for the associates, and cycle counts were cut in half.”


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Mon, 20 Oct 2014 07:01:00 -0400
American Express Brings Membership Rewards Program To McDonald’s American Express Brings Membership Rewards Program To McDonald’s

AmexMcDAmerican Express and McDonald’s announced that Membership Rewards program members will have the ability to use their points to purchase food and beverages at the chain’s restaurants. The new offering is expected to be rolled out in 14,000 participating McDonald’s locations nationwide by December 2014.

The American Express Membership Rewards program enables Card Members to earn one point for virtually every dollar charged on eligible, enrolled American Express Cards. With the McDonald’s partnership, American Express also will donate $1 to the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) every time an American Express card member uses points for their McDonald’s orders. To use points at participating restaurants, members must:

  • Pay with an eligible American Express card at the counter;
  • Click the option to use points on the payment screen; and
  • Press the green “Yes” button to use points for the order.
{loadposition GIAA}After using their points, customers will receive an on-screen confirmation.

Card Members can use points at a McDonald’s drive-thru using the American Express Mobile app after paying with an eligible American Express Card.

“We’re constantly looking for ways to make life easier for our customers, including multiple payment options,” said Kevin Newell, EVP and Chief Brand and Strategy Officer at McDonald's USA. “American Express has been on the cutting edge of commerce innovation, complementing our mission to add more value to our customers’ overall restaurant experience. In addition, American Express’ commitment to donate to RMHC makes using Membership Rewards points at McDonald’s even more rewarding.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:42:30 -0400
Starbucks Introduces Mobile Order, New Store Formats, Contest For Holiday Campaign Starbucks Introduces Mobile Order, New Store Formats, Contest For Holiday Campaign
Starbucks-reserveStarbucks will roll out a Mobile Order and Pay feature across all U.S. stores in 2015. Initially, the technology will be implemented in cafés in the Portland, Ore., area before the end of 2014. 
The service is integrated with the Starbucks mobile app and is designed to enable customers to place orders in advance of their visit. Customers who use the service will have their order ready for them once they arrive at their selected Starbucks location. 
Prior to its implementation in the U.S., Starbucks initially tested a variation of the service in Korea earlier this year, called “Siren Order.” The Korean app let customers provide the details of their order to a barista via a QR code, but it is unclear exactly how the American app will report the order.
During its Leadership Experience conference in Seattle, Starbucks executives shared more information regarding new café formats, a new contest and its 2014 holiday campaign to more than 2,000 district managers.
{loadposition GIAA}On December 5, Starbucks will open its first interactive Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room dedicated to roasting and coffee education. With this new initiative, the company will be able to expand its Starbucks Reserve coffee line to 1,500 locations worldwide. Starbucks also plans to open more than 100 stores designed to highlight the coffee line exclusively.
Along with these long-term goals, Starbucks plans to unveil several new offerings for the 2014 holiday season. For example, the company announced the release of the Chestnut Praline Latte, its first handcrafted beverage in five years. During the holiday season, the chain also will offer the Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee and release a full collection of 100 uniquely designed Starbucks Cards.
Starbucks also introduced the “Starbucks for Life” contest, which will enable customers to swipe their Starbucks Card or pay using their mobile devices for a chance to win a free drink or food item every day for 30 years. Starbucks will randomly select 10 winners in the U.S. The contest will run from December 2 to 26.
“Holiday 2013 witnessed a seismic shift in consumer behavior in which many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers experienced a decline in foot traffic compared to significant growth in online shopping,” said Howard Schultz, Chairman, President and CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company. “Customers researched, compared prices and then bought the brands and items they wanted online, frequently utilizing a mobile device to do so. Since that time, we have been focused on radically redefining the Starbucks retail experience for our partners, customers and stores.”
]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:16:03 -0400
Wal-Mart Boosts Investment In E-Commerce, Reduces Store Openings Wal-Mart Boosts Investment In E-Commerce, Reduces Store Openings

Wal-Mart Stores has announced plans to focus more investments in e-Commerce and digital initiatives in FY2016 up to $1.5 billion, a 50% increase from the $1 billion estimate for FY2015.

In contrast, the retailer will add fewer store space in FY2016: approximately 30 million square feet down from 34 million in FY2015. The company expects to open between 60 and 70 supercenters and 200 to 220 Neighborhood Markets in FY2016, both reduced from the 120 supercenters and 240 Neighborhood Markets projected to be built by the end of FY2015.

“We will change the mix of our capital spend through reductions in areas we have invested in historically to fund investments in new growth opportunities,” said Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart. “Overall capital range will be slightly lower than last year with a mix difference toward more e-Commerce dollars.”

{loadposition GIAA}The retailer revealed capital expenditure plans for FY2016 at the annual Investment Community meeting. Total capital spending for FY2016 is projected to range between $11.6 and $12.9 billion.

Wal-Mart also projected net sales growth for FY2015 to range between 2% and 3%, down from the 3% to 5% estimate released in October 2013.

As part of the e-Commerce investments, Wal-Mart plans to build two new 1-million-square-foot online fulfillment centers in Atlanta, Ga. and Bethlehem, Pa. The company anticipates e-Commerce growth to average 30% to 40% per year from 2016 through 2018.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 17 Oct 2014 11:18:45 -0400
Is Amazon Breaking Into Brick-And-Mortar? Is Amazon Breaking Into Brick-And-Mortar?

Amazon has been recognized as an innovator and retail industry game-changer, helping to make online shopping the norm for consumers worldwide. But will the online giant be putting a new spin on brick-and-mortar?

Representatives have confirmed that Amazon will open pop-up kiosks in San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif., next week that will remain open through the end of the holiday season. The locations will sell Amazon-branded hardware, including Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets and Fire Phones.

Most conversations, however, are centered on reports from The Wall Street Journal indicating that the eTailer plans to open a brick-and-mortar location in New York City in time for the holidays.

{loadposition GIAA}Up to 40% of consumers said they are open to purchasing any kind of product on Amazon, according to the Future Of Retail study from Walker Sands Communications. Should the eTailer create an in-store experience, Mike Santoro, President of Walker Sands Communications, believes there is an opportunity to “move the needle on the 60% opposed to purchasing products such as beds, couches and other items without seeing and feeling them first.”

Although an Amazon representative told Retail TouchPoints that the company has made “no announcements about a location in Manhattan,” The Wall Street Journal provided in-depth details regarding the store, its purpose, location and even inventory assortment.

The more permanent location reportedly will be located across the street from the Empire State Building, at 7 West 34th St. — placed one block east of the Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square. 

Initially, the store will serve as a mini warehouse to facilitate same-day delivery in New York, product returns and exchanges, and online order pickups. Amazon eventually will add a more diverse assortment of its branded hardware.

“It makes sense to focus on same day delivery items and items that differentiate Amazon from its competitors, said Michael Dart, a partner in the Private Equity practice at A.T. Kearney and co-author of The New Rules Of Retail — Competing In The World’s Toughest Marketplace. Current reports will “undoubtedly not reflect the full plans or how the concept will likely revolve,” Dart added.“In the long run, this platform should give Amazon the ability to maximize all aspects of its business.” The platform potentially could one day include marketplace brands and partners.

Improving Customer Satisfaction

The clear focus of the New York City store is to accelerate order fulfillment and delivery times in order to create a more enjoyable customer experience.

This move could be part of “a major shift, notonly for Amazon, but for retail at large,” Santoro noted. Results from the company’s Future Of Retail study indicated that two thirds of consumers are more willing to shop somewhere with one-day shipping, and another 44% with same-day shipping. “If Amazon's store could facilitate faster shipping speeds for more mainstream shoppers, that would certainly make an impact on the market.”

There are additional benefits. With the new store, Amazon also will have an opportunity to engage with customers in a more intimate, one-to-one fashion, which isn’t as easy to create through the web.

“The store will give Amazon a new vehicle to interact more closely with their customers and collect more valuable feedback than they have historically been able to do,” explained Jason Goldberg, VP of Commerce Strategy at Razorfish, a marketing and experience agency. “A physical store will allow Amazon to observe portions of the pre-shopping process that they don't have access to online.”

Amazon has developed a reputation for having an exemplary customer service team, but if the location is more focused on order fulfillment and logistics, an entirely different skill set may be required.

“It has been easy for Amazon to have a strong brand voice because they’re speaking through one channel or megaphone,” said Jim Dion, President and Owner of Dionco. “But there’s something about having someone stand two feet in front of you explaining the product. It’s a whole different world that Amazon has never experienced.”

Dion added: “I’ve had customer service reps respond minutes if not an hour after I reach out to Amazon and I have always been very happy and pleased with their customer service. But you have to wonder which side will own the retail experience, customer service or the operations side, which is made up of tough taskmasters. They have an entirely different culture.”

Generating Brand And Product Buzz

Many facts regarding Amazon’s brick-and-mortar location are still up in the air, however, the store will undoubtedly generate buzz for the brand.   

“Brick-and-mortar stores are great advertising vehicles for online businesses,” Goldberg said. “Online retailers with regional brick-and-mortar presences always see the majority of their traffic come from the regions where they have stores. While Amazon obviously already enjoys great brand recognition, the physical store will still be a powerful reminder to New York City shoppers that Amazon can fulfill their needs.”

Opening a brick-and-mortar location also allows Amazon to have more points of contact with customers — a concept Dart calls “pre-emptive distribution.”

With pre-emptive distribution, retailers can “always be ahead of competitors,” Dart said. “Opening exciting new stores in New York City and elsewhere is part of this pre-emptive distribution strategy. Amazon also is creating a neurological connection with consumers by creating buzz and excitement around the brand, and making itself increasingly relevant to every shopping occasion for its customers.”

Although consumers can touch and feel Amazon hardware by visiting partner stores, such as Target and Walmart, having the products in a branded environment with knowledgeable associates may help the eTailer generate more sales for its line of products.    

“Clearly some Amazon-branded products, such as the Fire Phone, would have benefited from better first party physical merchandising,” Goldberg said. “Features like Dynamic Perspective require an in-person demonstration to appreciate, and Amazon was totally dependent on third parties to deliver that demonstration experience. A physical store will give Amazon its own laboratory to test and learn how customers want to pre-shop for physical goods.”

Needless to say, the retail industry is anxiously waiting to find out what Amazon has in store for the 2014 holiday season and beyond.   


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Thu, 16 Oct 2014 23:00:00 -0400
Blimpie Integrates Digital And Physical Marketing With Anniversary Campaign

Many retailers are improving collaboration between their brick-and-mortar, e-Commerce and marketing departments to create more seamless and consistent experiences across all channels. For some organizations, however, integrating departments can be a challenging process, making successful cross-channel campaigns difficult to achieve. 

Blimpie tackled this integration challenge and saw success with campaigns designed to celebrate the sandwich chain’s 50th anniversary. For the FANmercial and Golden Giveaway initiatives, customers were encouraged to stay engaged with the franchise through social media, email and when visiting the restaurants. To ensure success, different departments within Kahala, the parent company of Blimpie, converged.

“Instead of having to call up an agency and tell them what we wanted to do, we sat around the table together, creating the marketing calendar and executing ideas,” said Courtney Nush, Director of Digital Media at Kahala.

Kahala has an interactive marketing team that discusses different components of campaigns — both online and offline.

“We saw there was a huge opportunity to close the loop and have all digital and in-store efforts complement each other,” added Steve Evans, VP of Marketing at Kahala. “We’re now constantly collaborating.”

As a result of this successful collaboration, Blimpie reported a 34.2% increase in Facebook fans through August 2014, saw a more than 10% boost in memberships to its loyalty eClub and an email conversion rate of 65%.

{loadposition GIAA}For the FANmercial campaign, which began in January 2014, Blimpie fans submitted ideas for commercials focused on the chain’s 50th birthday. FANmercials were published and promoted on the Blimpie Facebook page and customers were encouraged to vote for their favorite to win a variety of prizes. More than 11,000 fans voted for their favorite ideas, and the top three concepts were put into production. During the second phase of the campaign, than 34,000 consumers voted for their favorite of the three television spots.

The Golden Giveaway, however, was designed to reward all Blimpie fans by giving them the opportunity to win prizes ranging from food items to a trip to Hawaii. Customers who purchased a combo meal at any location received a scratch-off card to instantly win free food or beverages from Blimpie. Every card also included a unique code that could be entered online for a chance to win the grand prize. Facebook users also had the opportunity to win Blimpie gift cards via a Facebook app. App users also were encouraged to visit a store, purchase a combo and receive a code to win higher-value prizes such as free subs for a year, a Samsung tablet or the trip to Hawaii.

“We took this two-tier approach to engage digital fans, as well as in-store customers,” Nush said. “We want our in-store customers to become digital fans and we want digital fans to eventually become customers.”

Rather than relying on vanity metrics such as “likes,” Blimpie focuses on building more long-term connections with fans, Nush explained. “We’re trying to reach out to fans and customers on a more ongoing basis and reward people who allow us to market to them every day on networks. We want to reward the customers who purchased a combo, but also the people who haven’t purchased from us recently and give them a reason to visit us again.”

Due to the success of the 50th birthday campaign, Blimpie plans to create more initiatives that tie the digital and in-store worlds together.

“We’re really happy to see for the first time that our traditional, in-store point-of-purchase advertising connect to something on a web,” Evans said. “Everything we learned from this campaign will be applied again throughout our 2015 marketing calendar.”


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Fri, 17 Oct 2014 07:37:54 -0400
Apple Pay Launches October 20 Apple Pay Launches October 20

Apple Pay on iPad Air 2Users of Apple’s latest mobile devices can start loading credit cards and make payments on Monday, October 20 when iOS 8.1 is pushed for release. Apple Pay allows shoppers to pay for items using their iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus devices in participating stores and within apps. The newly announced iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 also will include Apple Pay, however these devices do not include NFC chips, so functionality is limited to payments within apps.

“Our team has worked incredibly hard to make Apple Pay private and secure, with the simplicity of a single touch of your finger,” said Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Software and Services at Apple. “The reaction to Apple Pay has been amazing. We continue to add more Apple Pay ready banks, credit card companies and merchants, and think our users will love paying with Apple Pay.”

{loadposition GIAA}At launch, Apple Pay will offer support for credit and debit cards from American Express, MasterCard and Visa that are issued from banks including Bank of America, Capital One Bank, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo. More than 500 banks signed on to the service since its original announcement on September 9, and additional banks are expected to be added to the service, including Barclaycard, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC Bank, USAA and U.S. Bank.

Apple’s own stores are among the first to accept Apple Pay for in-store payments. Other participating retailers at launch include Aéropostale, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Bloomingdale’s, Foot Locker, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Petco, Sports Authority, SUBWAY, Toys”R”Us, Walgreens and Whole Foods Market. Additional retailers are expected to be added before the end of the year, and equipment vendors and payment solution providers are working with retailers to allow them to accept payments with Apple Pay.

“We are excited to make it easier and more convenient for our customers to shop at Whole Foods Market,” said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. “We are thrilled to be one of the first retailers to accept Apple Pay across all of our locations nationwide as it offers our shoppers a fast, private and secure check out option at our stores.”

Retailers who will offer support for in-app payments at launch include the Apple Store app, Groupon, OpenTable, Panera Bread, Staples, Target and Uber. More companies, including Airbnb, Sephora, Starbucks, StubHub, Ticketmaster and, are expected to add support by the end of 2014.

For more information on Apple Pay, including how it works, click here to view our earlier coverage.

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:02:17 -0400
TiVo And HSN Turn The TV Into A Shopping Touch Point TiVo And HSN Turn The TV Into A Shopping Touch Point

Shop By RemoteTiVo and HSN have partnered to launch Shop By Remote, an interactive shopping tool that allows TiVo users to shop for products featured on HSN through their televisions. This new shopping tool is available to all TiVo users.

“HSN is excited to partner with the creators of TiVo and to bring to our shared customer a fantastic TV shopping experience,” said Peter Ruben, EVP of Affiliate Marketing and Sales for HSN. “The ease and convenience of HSN Shop by Remote is a natural fit with TiVo’s intuitive, highly user-friendly interface.”

{loadposition GIAA}To use Shop By Remote, viewers can launch the HSN app from the Apps & Games menu on TiVo Central and view items featured on HSN’s programming or browse through more than 40,000 products. To begin a purchase, customers must either log in to an existing HSN account or create a new one.

“TiVo understands that consumers have come to expect more from their television viewing experience — they expect valuable content, delivered conveniently and easily on one platform,” said Tara Maitra, SVP and GM of Content and Media Sales at TiVo. “By partnering with HSN, TiVo is doing just that. No longer will television viewers need to leave their TV to search online to find what they just saw on HSN. Instead, they can pause their favorite shopping show and buy it directly through TiVo Central, all from the comfort of their home.”

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Thu, 16 Oct 2014 15:11:06 -0400
Adore Me Puts A Gamified Twist On Charitable Giving Adore Me Puts A Gamified Twist On Charitable Giving

adoreme-press-3Adore Me, an online-only lingerie retailer, has launched a branded online gaming platform designed to reward consumers and their favorite charities.

The Adore Me Play For Good(s) online game is designed to allow shoppers to play games while winning prizes and contributing to a charitable cause. The first game release is based on the well-known game 2048, in which players need to slide numbered tiles on a grid and combine them to create a tile with the number 2048. More games will be released in the near future.

“The Adore Me online game is a way for us to redefine how fashion brands engage with their customers,” said Morgan Hermand-Waiche, Founder and CEO of Adore Me. “We work hard to provide our customers with the most engaging and immersive experience possible, and our online game is a pioneer in this field.”

The gaming experience was developed in partnership with Onor, which provides a marketing platform that touts several skill-based game templates, self-serve features for experimenting with prizes and other elements that marketers can quickly alter throughout the duration of the campaign.

“We really see Onor’s technology as an important data-driven platform that drives new customer acquisition, customer engagement and loyalty,” said Hermand-Waiche in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The platform is native and opt-in — not forced on the user or distractive — driven by earned media through its customer friendly social features and it builds relationships, so it is not only focused on the next transaction.”

{loadposition GIAA}Players can access Play For Good(s) from any device — desktop, tablet and mobile — and can select a charity they want to sponsor. Adore Me currently has partnerships with the Check Your Boobies cancer awareness fund and Third Wave Fund for gender justice. For every game played, Adore Me will donate 5 cents to the selected cause. Customers also have the opportunity to win a variety of prizes, including up to $20 off their next purchase and free lingerie sets.

“The Adore Me online game is an extension of our approach to including core values as an integral part of our business model,” Hermand-Waiche said. “Our commitment to being affordable, inclusive and empowering women has been key in driving our super-fast growth. It was very natural for us to put our commitment to female-oriented causes in the forefront, and to reward our customers when they do the same.”

Adore Me is promoting the game on its web site and mobile app, so customers can easily access it across all devices. “We also will be featuring the game in our upcoming customer newsletters and leverage our wide social reach — with over 665,000 followers on Facebook — to drive awareness to the game,” Hermand-Waiche said. “We hope that many of our customers will share the love and the experience with their friends, so they too could do well while doing good.”


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Thu, 16 Oct 2014 00:00:00 -0400
Chico’s Embraces Social Media To Raise $25,000 For Breast Health Awareness Chico’s Embraces Social Media To Raise $25,000 For Breast Health Awareness

Chico’s FAS
and its family of brands — Chico’s, White House Black Market, Soma and Boston Proper — have developed a set of core values and principles supporting a commitment to giving back.

Over the past 10 years, Chico’s FAS has developed a strong relationship with Living Beyond Breast Cancer, an organization dedicated to connecting people with trusted breast cancer information with a community of support. To date, Chico’s FAS has donated more than $2.1 million to the organization.

“In our lives and in our business, we are constantly touched by the individual power of women,” said Jessica Wells, VP of Social Marketing at Chico's FAS. “We are deeply committed to helping organizations that improve their health and wellbeing, like Living Beyond Breast Cancer, a resource where everyone touched by the disease can go for information and support. Our customers and associates have told us that they appreciate this commitment to giving back.”

In conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Chico’s FAS has launched a new campaign called Pink My Pic, which encourages customers to upload photos, treat them with pink coloring and include the hash tag #TOGETHER. The multichannel campaign was developed in partnership with HelloWorld, and will run through the end of October.

“This year, we created Pink My Pic, an innovative and engaging digital campaign,” said Wells in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “While White House Black Market is leading the effort this year, Pink My Pic is supported by all four of our brands.”

{loadposition GIAA}At its core, Pink My Pic “is a way for our customers to show their support for breast cancer awareness,” Wells explained. “It also is designed to make people more aware of the work that Living Beyond Breast Cancer is doing to help women and their families who have been affected by this terrible disease. Our goal is virality — the more people who engage, the more attention is brought to the cause.”

The campaign is hosted on a mobile-optimized microsite branched off from each Chico’s FAS brand web site. Upon visiting the site, customers are asked to connect to Facebook, select or upload a photo and add a pink filter as well as the hash tag #TOGETHER to the photo.

For every individual who saves a Pink My Pic image as their Facebook profile photo, White House Black Market will donate $1 to Living Beyond Breast Cancer, with an additional $1 donation for every share via Facebook, Twitter and email. The retailer’s goal is to raise $25,000 through the multichannel campaign. All user-generated content will be syndicated on a photo gallery on the White House Black Market homepage.

Chico’s FAS decided to incorporate user-generated content into the Pink My Pic campaign after seeing success with a fall 2014 initiative in which customers were asked to upload images of themselves wearing White House Black Market clothing.

“Though Pink My Pic is different,” Wells acknowledged, “we took a cue from that experience by leveraging the power of customer photos to help spread the word about breast cancer awareness and Living Beyond Breast Cancer.”

Putting a charitable spin on multichannel marketing initiatives has significantly improved customer engagement and overall loyalty. Wells explained: “Our customers tell us, via Facebook and other social sites, how much they love participating and how pleased they are to see that their favorite brands are supporting a cause.”


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Thu, 16 Oct 2014 05:01:36 -0400
There And Back Again There And Back Again

Rob FeeA lot can change in 10 years. In 2004, I had just left a position covering retail for one that focused on the pharmaceutical industry. Much of the retail news of the time centered around two things: The promise of RFID and the looming deadlines for compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of 2002. The buzzword of the time was multichannel.

Now, having joined Retail TouchPoints in August, I am back in the retail fold and amazed at how different the landscape is. Yes, RFID is still a promising technology, but the SOX deadlines have passed and, hopefully, been met. Multichannel has given way to omnichannel, and the focus now seems to be where it should have been all along — with the customer. Initiatives such as buy online, pickup in store were limited in 2004. These options are now becoming the norm.

{loadposition GIAA}Shoppers have more options of where to make a purchase, how to receive a purchase and what method to use to pay for it. These options didn’t exist 10 years ago and are a direct result of smartphone adoption in the U.S. This also means that the ways retailers can interact with potential customers in 2014 is far beyond anything they could have done in 2004, when smartphone usage was in its infancy and you still saw people using Palm Pilots.

There are now 163.9 million smartphone users in the U.S. 2014, according to a report from eMarketer. These users can search for the best deals and have access to user reviews while shopping in store. They can use their devices to pay, or they can even skip the store altogether and simply order what they want on the fly. The hardware is just one piece, though, and none of this would be possible without app developers.

I recently had a chance to meet with Chris Fagan, Co-Founder and CEO of Key Ring, a smartphone app recently named best mobile app for e-Commerce/retail in Digiday’s Mobi awards. Key Ring stores loyalty cards, creates sharable shopping lists, provides information on weekly specials and offers coupons or reminders on deals. It boasts 11 million users acquired through a process Fagan described as organic, which means minimal marketing is involved. It also is a tool that uses several technologies to provide benefit to both customers and retailers. Beacons using Bluetooth in a phone, for example, alert shoppers about the best deals as soon as they walk through the door.

Key Ring’s success illustrates how important mobility has become to both shoppers and retailers.

Technology moves fast. In 2004 I was excited by my recent iPod purchase and amazed at how much music I could fit onto its 15GB hard drive. Now, I can stream just about anything that comes to mind without taking up hard drive space. I can store more photos than I’ll ever know what to do with, and it has never been easier to catch up with friends through social media or even simply texting them. All this is done on a device that easily fits into my pocket. It’s the stuff of Star Trek, but will most likely seem antiquated when I look back in 2024.

]]> (Rob Fee) Editor's Perspective Wed, 15 Oct 2014 15:09:54 -0400
SAP Partners With IBM To Expand Cloud Services

sap ibm logo
has selected IBM as a premier strategic provider of cloud infrastructure services for its business applications. With the partnership SAP aims to accelerate customers' ability to run their businesses in the cloud. 

The SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud offering is now available through the IBM cloud, allowing the company to expand into new markets, domestically and globally. 

“This is a win/win/win for joint customers, SAP and IBM,” said Holger Mueller, Principal Analyst and VP at Constellation Research, Inc. “Customers get an enterprise friendly cloud infrastructure with a high number of geographical locations, SAP gets a partner in building out Infrastructure-as-a-Service and can focus more on enterprise software investments and IBM get key load for its cloud on a worldwide scale.”

The new partnership is positioned to help customers:

  • Put data to work with SAP HANA and business applications in the IBM Cloud;
  • Have access to an open-standards-basedapproach, enabling easier integration with existing technology investments;
  • Apply and extend their security best practices into a cloud environment.
  • Start locally and scale globally in the cloud; and
  • Comply with data residency and other regulatory mandates.

“We look forward to extending one of the longest and most successful partnerships in the IT industry," said Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP. "This global agreement with IBM heralds a new era of cloud collaboration."

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:23:49 -0400
Ensighten Acquires Anametrix To Add Marketing Analytics Technology To Platform

, a global omnichannel data and tag management provider, has acquired Anametrix, a cloud-based, multichannel marketing analytics platform. The news comes following Ensighten’s March 2014 purchase of tag management company TagMan.

The acquisition of Anametrix is positioned to help Ensighten build out its data-driven marketing offering, which initially enabled brands to collect, own and act on data generated across the customer journey. Organizations also will be able to unify and analyze data across paid, owned and earned media to make better marketing decisions. The solution will combine data from dozens of digital and offline sources, including web sites, mobile apps, social media, digital campaigns, CRM and internal systems.

"I'm excited by Ensighten's acquisition of Anametrix," said DK Ray, Director of Digital Traffic, Analytics and Optimization at T-Mobile, an Ensighten customer. "The ability to easily run advanced analytics and modeling within Ensighten's open marketing platform, and then use those insights to optimize advertising spend and drive real-time personalization is a huge competitive advantage.” 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Mergers & Acquisitions Wed, 15 Oct 2014 10:39:47 -0400
Office Depot Implements Supplier Collaboration Solution From HighJump Software

Office Depot
Office Depot
has selected the Atlas Products network-based supplier collaboration platform from HighJump Software to better manage its European trading operations. 

A global provider of products, services and solutions for the workplace, Office Depot currently serves consumers through its more than 2,000 retail locations, e-Commerce web sites and a business-to-business sales channel.

The Atlas supplier enablement network will provide Office Depot with an electronic platform to facilitate collaboration and commerce with more than 4,000 suppliers across eight countries and seven languages. The platform is designed to enable product catalog and pricing synchronization, and supports European business-to-business standards, multiple currencies and value-added tax compliance.

In addition to providing the network-based technology platform, HighJump Software is delivering supplier on-boarding and enablement programs.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 15 Oct 2014 08:30:39 -0400
JCPenney Names Home Depot Exec President And CEO-Designee

EllisonThe JCPenney Board of Directors has selected Marvin Ellison, current EVP of U.S. Stores at The Home Depot, as the company’s next President and CEO-Designee effective November 1, 2014. Ellison also will officially succeed current CEO Myron “Mike” Ullman III as CEO and a member of the JCPenney Board of Directors when Ullman steps down on August 1, 2015.

Ellison has nearly 30 years of retail experience, serving in his current position since August 2008. He has worked at Home Depot in numerous executive roles for 12 years, including President of the company’s Northern Division and SVP of Global Logistics. Prior to joining Home Depot, Ellison spent 15 years with Target in a variety of operational roles, including Corporate Director of Asset Protection.

“[Ellison] brings to the role, among other assets, an extensive knowledge of store operations and supply chain management as well as a demonstrated ability to successfully run large retail organizations,” said Thomas J. Engibous, Chairman of the JCPenney Board of Directors. “In light of these attributes, we believe he is well equipped to return the Company to profitable growth.”

After stepping down, Ullman will become the Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors for  one year.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Wed, 15 Oct 2014 08:19:37 -0400
DICK’S Sporting Goods Improves Customer Engagement, Satisfaction With New Mobile App DICK’S Sporting Goods Improves Customer Engagement, Satisfaction With New Mobile App

Over the past few years, DICK’S Sporting Goods has seen a significant uptick in mobile traffic and sales. To keep mobile-savvy shoppers engaged and satisfied, the sporting goods retailer has re-designed and re-launched its mobile app for Android and iOS smartphones.

“We are aware of our customers' affinity for their mobile device and are committed to ensuring they have the best mobile experience to engage with us when and where they would like,” said Rafeh Masood, VP of Customer Innovation Technology at DICK’s Sporting Goods. “We are placing a high emphasis on how our customer’s mobile device can enhance their in-store shopping experience.”

With the updated app, consumers will have anytime, anywhere access to their ScoreCard Rewards Program accounts, points, special offers and store ads, as well as all product inventory.

“Integration with ScoreCard allows us to provide a seamless experience across channels,” explained Masood in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Our focus is to improve our customer experience by offering the convenience of retrieving ScoreCard information on devices at checkout, check point balance, as well as redeem any available certificates. It also provides a platform to continue to build and offer convenience across all customer channels.”

{loadposition GIAA}While on the go, consumers also will be able to more easily engage with the DICK’s brand on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Foursquare, and look up nearby locations. However, while in-store, consumers have access to a wealth of resources and information to enrich their brick-and-mortar shopping experience.

For example, the app has built-in barcode scanner functionality, so shoppers can scan product and marketing QR codes to access more detailed descriptions, relevant news, prices and user reviews.

“Customers are looking for the convenience of mobile to complement their shopping experience,” Masood explained. “Connecting our customers with rich content to assist their shopping experience or providing them information on their activity of choice is essential.”

Shopper feedback plays a “very important” role in the DICK’S Sporting Goods roadmap, according to Masood. The retailer continuously monitors and analyzes feedback from app stores, within the mobile app and through usability studies.

Since simplifying the overall experience and adding the new features, DICK’S Sporting Goods has seen mobile engagement levels rise.

“More and more customers are downloading the current version of the app than previous releases,” Masood said. “Features such as Scorecard and in-store mobile are definitely adding value and driving adoption.Customers love the simplified look and feel and the convenience of having the information at their fingertips, which is reflected in the uptick of downloads we’re experiencing in comparison to previous versions of the app.”

Although customer sentiment is high, DICK’S Sporting Goods plans to continue to enhance the app experience based on the feedback retrieved from users. 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Wed, 15 Oct 2014 07:20:33 -0400
EarthLink Unveils PCI Compliance Solutions Suite EarthLink Unveils PCI Compliance Solutions Suite

EarthLinkPCIEarthLink Holdings Corp., an online services and cloud solutions provider for multi-location businesses, has launched the PCI Compliance Solutions suite designed to help retailers achieve and maintain PCI DSS 3.0 compliance while ensuring financial breach protection.

“When we speak with retail CIOs, the increasing risk of data breaches and cost-effective PCI compliance remain top of mind,” said Rick Froehlich, EVP of Products and Consumer at Earthlink. “But many do not know where to start or lack the in-house expertise to tackle the issue.”

{loadposition GIAA}EarthLink partnered with ANXeBusiness Corp. (ANX), a compliance solutions provider, to develop the suite, which includes three solutions: PCI Protect, PCI Assist and PCI Certify. PCI Protect is designed to deliver financial data breach protection and a self-service PCI portal with a set of tools to help retailers meet PCI requirements. These tools include: Web-based employee training, a self-assessment questionnaire, security policy templates, record-keeping, quarterly self-service vulnerability scans and breach protection for each location.

PCI Assist includes portal usage guidance, vulnerability remediation assistance, a PCI compliance management roadmap as well as expert assistance to help ensure compliance tasks are met throughout the year. PCI Certify provides professional services designed to validate the self-assessment questionnaire or deliver a full-service PCI audit.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:32:07 -0400
Progressive Retailers Differentiate With Content Marketing Progressive Retailers Differentiate With Content Marketing

shadow RTP RT034 SR ContentandCommerce Oct 2014 1With more competition throughout the industry than ever before, retailers are identifying new opportunities to stand out from the crowd by turning to content marketing.

While content marketing is a practice that has primarily been used in the B2B space, merchants now see the e-Commerce site, social media and branded publications as outlets to provide consumers with compelling information that may lead to a purchase.

Retailers such as BeachMint, Pet360, Duane Reade, Net-a-Porter and Gilt Groupe are implementing creative content marketing initiatives to engage consumers throughout the purchasing process and further build the consumer-retailer relationship.

Fill out the form below to download the complete, complimentary report.


]]> (Glenn Taylor) Special Reports Tue, 14 Oct 2014 09:10:38 -0400
How To Get To Omnichannel…Fast How To Get To Omnichannel…Fast

VP Shopvisible head shotAs consumers, we’ve been experiencing omnichannel retail in our everyday lives.  Retailers know that today’s shopper uses all channels available to them, including multiple channels for a single purchase.  Consumers want to go online and quickly serve themselves, gleaning pricing, availability and delivery times from a retail website. Based on that information, they’ll place orders and choose how they want to receive them, with options such as direct shipping or in-store pickup.  With time and convenience being critical factors to customer satisfaction. 

To provide one personal real-world omnichannel example, I’ll share the experience of walking into Nordstrom’s. An associate there had the ability to look instantly to see whether a shirt I wanted was available in my size in the store, online or in another store. Then, upon finding the desired shirt, that associate placed an order to have the item shipped right to a Nordstrom’s of my choice, or even more conveniently, to my doorstep. We only need to have this experience once to realize, this is the way it is supposed to be. And each day our newest omnichannel experiences raises the bar higher.

Before the adoption of new technology there always seems to be a cycle...first there is customer demand, then there’s awareness as marketers start to talk about it, ultimately leading to execution.  The world now realizes it is time to execute the omnichannel strategy. The reality is that the standard has been set, and it is high. However seamless the Nordstrom’s experience may appear to the consumer, it requires a combination of strategy, business process and technology to provide a true omnichannel experience. 

Todays’ retailers are being delivered their marching orders — know thy customer and know thy inventory — to make this a reality. Being omnichannel means you can answer questions, such as “’Where are my products?”, “What are the best processes available to serve my customers?”, “How can I get my product(s) to the customer at the time and place of their choosing?”, and “How can my customers make returns regardless of how the item was purchased? “ It’s a lot to control. 

So how do you get to “omnichannel” as soon as possible? Some companies are taking the lengthy route, tearing out all their systems and building new ones from scratch, but that is a time consuming, costly and disruptive process.

Others are learning that they can solve the Omnichannel Imperative by integrating a distributed Order Management System (OMS) to their current systems. Doing so can quickly facilitate today’s omnichannel experience via a centralized hub that connects all customer channels with their existing operations and systems.

Integration is key to realize the visibility you need to provide an omnichannel experience.  According to Peter Sheldon at Forrester Research, 52% of eBusiness professionals ranked omnichannel integration as a top technology investment priority in 2014.  Most retailers HAVE the data, they have an inventory record, they have their customer’s records, they have a product catalog, and hopefully they have a website too. The trouble is that too many do not have the systems in place to connect all of this information.

An intelligent OMS provides connectivity between disparate systems and acts as a hub for customer data, product data and inventory in a well-orchestrated choreography. Your OMS can completely integrate with all types of systems, such as your ERP and financial systems, warehouse management system and even drop shippers, retail systems such as a POS, marketplaces such as Amazon,, and eBay, as well as comparison shopping engines, like NexTag and PriceGrabber.  In complex B2B environments, an OMS can access pre-negotiated process lists, contract terms, configurations and more.  Then it matches this information with available inventory and shipping options and executes the order.

A few examples of what an integrated OMS can provide include:

  • Visibility of inventory in your warehouse, in your stores and distribution centers;
  • Flawless logic to synchronize shipment of a complex order from multiple distribution centers;
  • Ability to understand dissimilar drop shipper formats, order processing, account set up and billing practices; and
  • Ability to store multiple suppliers with varying inventories at different levels to optimize fulfillment of orders.

An integrated OMS satisfies the growing demand of retailers, manufacturers, brands and more to provide a single integrated 360 degree view of their customers. The nature of the supply chain requires now that companies have immediate visibility into their inventory across the enterprise, and the orchestration of customer information and orders to and from all possible points of purchase and all possible points of fulfillment. Whether you are a retailer or manufacturer, an OMS can work in concert with whatever existing systems you have in place, leading to the type of omnichannel buying scenario your customers want.


Sean Cook is CEO of ShopVisible. His career spans 30 years of innovation, leadership, and providing extraordinary value to businesses, employees, and his local community. In early 2006, Cook joined with ShopVisible's co-founders to build an award winning SaaS commerce platform. Prior to ShopVisible, Sean held several leadership positions in companies such as Earthlink, BellSouth and iXL. As the author of Evolving Commerce and as a recognized industry thought leader, Sean has been published in publications such as Forbes, 1to1 Magazine, Internet Retailer and He is also a frequent presenter at events such as IRCE, and Online Digital Summit. Sean's entrepreneurial spirit was recently recognized with a top 10 placement as one of Atlanta's Top Entrepreneurs.

]]> (Sean Cook, ShopVisible) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:05:09 -0400
Kmart Investigates Payment System Breach Kmart Investigates Payment System Breach

Kmart is investigating a store payment data system breach, according to President and Chief Member Officer Alasdair James.

On Oct. 9, 2014, the Kmart IT team determined that the payment data systems at Kmart Stores had been infected with a new form of malware in early September 2014. The malware has been removed.

Following the discovery of the potential breach, Kmart contracted an IT security firm to conduct a forensic investigation. To date, the investigation has determined that no personal information, credit/debit PIN numbers, email addresses or social security numbers were obtained by the cybercriminals. There also is no evidence that online shoppers were impacted. Kmart is collaborating with federal law enforcement, banking partners and security experts to rectify the situation.

“The privacy and security of our customers’ information is of utmost importance to us, and we are committed to doing everything we can to safeguard our customers’ information in the face of a recent surge of data attacks,” James said. “To further protect our members and customers who shopped with a credit or debit card in our Kmart stores during the month of September through Oct. 9, 2014, Kmart will be offering free credit monitoring protection.”

Customers potentially impacted by the breach can receive more information at or by calling the customer care center at 888-488-5978.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:08:22 -0400
CPG And Retail M&A Activity Reaches Highest-Valued First Half Since 2007 CPG And Retail M&A Activity Reaches Highest-Valued First Half Since 2007

RR Mergermarket image 1CPG and retail mergers and acquisitions (M&A) increased 3.3% in the first half of 2014 to $140.7 billion, marking the highest-valued first half of activity since 2008 ($147.7 billion), according to a global consumer trend report from MergerMarket.

Activity in the first half of 2014 improved 44.7% over the second half of 2013. The retail sector had its most active first half since 2007, accumulating $49.1 billion.

Data points from the report are based on announced transactions over $5 million within the consumer packaged goods (CPG) and retail sectors. Deals with undisclosed values are included if the target’s turnover exceeds $10 million.

Despite the strong half-year performance, Q2 2014 activity throughout the sectors decreased 35.3% over Q1, fall from $85.4 billion to $55.3 billion. Additional concerns stem from a 42.3% decrease in cross-border consumer M&A activity between Q1 and Q2 2014. Consumer M&A appears to be a “lagging indicator” for the decrease in worldwide consumer spending in Q1 2014, according to the report. Domestic numbers fell 28.4% during the same time period.

Consumer M&A contributed 8.9% to the global M&A market in the first half of 2014, which is in line with the 8% contribution in the second half of 2013 but below the 13.5% share contributed in the first half of the year.

Activity in the CPG sector in Q2 2014 amounted to $21.7 billion, a 53.3% improvement from Q1 2014, marking a fourth consecutive increase in quarterly values. However, transaction totals from the first half of 2014 were down 43.6% from those made in the first half of 2013.

Goldman Sachs was a top advisor based on its involvement in M&As. The company advised four of the top 10 consumer deals. Goldman advised 19 deals that were worth a combined $36.2 billion. Rothschild advised the most transactions, with 31 deals totaling $18.6 billion.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Mergers & Acquisitions Tue, 14 Oct 2014 08:57:57 -0400
Retailers And Suppliers Optimize Merchandise Planning With Market6 Vantage Suite Retailers And Suppliers Optimize Merchandise Planning With Market6 Vantage Suite

SS Vantage image3Retailers and suppliers need to consistently collaborate and share information to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and sales.

Retail analytics provider Market6 has released Market6 Vantage, a suite of applications designed to automate and simplify joint business planning and retail-supplier collaboration. The suite automates the development and maintenance of joint merchandising plans and enables retailers and suppliers to share information more seamlessly and standardize planning processes.

Market6 Vantage includes three modules: Insight, Plan and Evaluate. Vantage Insight allows businesses to automate data collection and integration to establish a fact-based view of inventory and sales. With the module, retailers and suppliers can determine whether or not past results have met expectations and overall goals. With the Plan module, both parties can run simulations to test the potential impact of plans.

Vantage Evaluate is designed to track and report in-flight execution daily at the item and store level. The module alerts retailers and suppliers when results start to deviate from the initial store plan, pinpointing the exact cause of the issue so action can be taken immediately.

“Consumers today expect not only a flawless shopping experience, complete with the perfect assortment of products, helpful friendly store personnel and a convenient comfortable store atmosphere, but also prices that match their expectations of value," said Jim Kelly, CEO of Market6. “The only way retailers and suppliers can meet that increasingly high expectation is to work closely together to deepen their understanding of shoppers and deliver targeted merchandising programs that are more efficient and effective than in the past.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Tue, 14 Oct 2014 09:53:58 -0400
Luxottica CEO Resigns After Six Weeks In Position

Luxottica Group, a designer, manufacturer and distributor of luxury and sports eyewear, held an emergency Board of Directors meeting after Enrico Cavatorta, CEO of the company, resigned on Oct. 12, 2014.

Cavatorta, who previously served as Chief Financial Officer for the Milan-based organization, reportedly resigned over disagreements with founder Leonardo Del Vecchio, according to The Wall Street Journal. Specifically, “the two had conflicting views over the scope of Cavatorta’s powers...” He initially joined Luxottica in September 2014, taking over as CEO after Andrea Guerra stepped down from the position.

In the interim, Massimo Vian, current Chief Operations Officer, will be named co-CEO for Operations and Product, according to a company press release. Del Vecchio will take on executive responsibilities while Luxottica Group selects a new co-CEO of Markets “based on a high profile list of candidates.”

Reporting revenue totaling more than $9 million (€7.3 million) in 2013, Luxottica operates 16 retail brands in 10 countries including Sunglass Hut International, Lenscrafters, Peale Vision, Sears Optical and Target Optical. In total, Luxottical Retail has more than 7,000 retail locations.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Movers & Shakers Tue, 14 Oct 2014 08:12:27 -0400
BoldChat Extends Live Chat To Mobile Devices BoldChat Extends Live Chat To Mobile Devices

SS site only Boldchat imageNow that mobile consumers can access their favorite retailers with just the tap of a screen, they have higher expectations of their shopping experiences. To adhere to these expectations and provide optimal customer support, retailers need to empower shoppers to reach them at any time.

BoldChat, a live chat and multichannel customer engagement offering from LogMeIn, is designed to allow retailers to extend chat capabilities to their mobile web sites and apps.

The release includes an in-app mobile software development kit and provides sample iOS and Android apps to help speed live chat deployments. Additionally, the solution provides mobile reporting across both app environments, as well as mobile browsers designed to help businesses create targeted plans for optimizing engagement.

“With more customers using mobile devices to shop and research, it's essential that we approach customer engagement with a mobile mindset," said Tim Taggart, Director of Customer Service and Fulfillment at Sundance Catalog Company, a BoldChat user. "Whether it's through our mobile website or our traditional website, our goal is to provide our customers with a consistent experience, and to offer them the best possible means of interacting with our team. The new capabilities in BoldChat open up a wealth of possibilities to better serve this rapidly growing percentage of our customer base, while engaging them when and where it matters most."

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Tue, 14 Oct 2014 08:35:20 -0400
Turning Showrooming Into A Retail Advantage Turning Showrooming Into A Retail Advantage

VP site only Pop-Up Artists head shotBrick-and-mortar retailers are howling about “showrooming.”  Someone comes into the store to see, touch and experience the product, only to return home to the Internet to compare prices and buy it elsewhere. But what if retailers could turn “showrooming” into their advantage?

The good news is retailers can! By displaying samples of e-Commerce brands, taking orders through the existing e-Commerce brand web site and getting a cut of the action. Savvy retailers can even charge a base rent, calculated on sales per square-foot, the model that Bloomingdale’s uses for shop-in-shops. 

Test New Categories

Here’s how the retailer wins. First, they can test new categories without financial risk. The biggest risk in retail is removed!  And, instead of laying out cash for inventory, the retailer can take it in with the base rent, adding to profitability.   

{loadposition GIAA}For example, a clothing boutique can test jewelry.  A small sample presentation can remain live for six weeks in brick-and-mortar, with the store staff taking orders through the brand’s website.  If successful the retailer can continue the relationship.  If not, the retailer simply brings in a new brand and it’s a risk-free way to build their business!   

Expand Business, Not Footprint

Now that you understand the basics, take it a step further. Brick-and-mortar retailers now have a vehicle to expand their businesses using their existing footprint. Without adding any square footage, the possibilities of expanding the business across categories are unlimited.

Picture this: Some well-merchandised little nooks displaying a dozen samples from multiple new categories, with a handy tablet, along with a trained and incentivized staff to help customers “round out the brand” using the tablet to close the sale! Every square foot in the store becomes endlessly efficient and without financial risk.

Concerned about keeping customer relationships intact? Just enter new customers into your own database when they purchase. Your customer is also likely buying stuff online anyway. Why not be the resource that makes the introduction? 

Besides, as a brick-and-mortar retailer, you are providing a valuable benefit to growing online brands.  That is an opportunity for consumers to touch and try on the brand. Or in the case of cosmetics, even to smell it! Today’s buzz is about “experience and entertainment” over “acquiring” but I believe that the most exciting stores have the best merchandising and the best experiences.

Looking To The Future

Let’s take it even one step further into the future. If retailers can spend less time on the trade — buying inventory and selling it — and more time getting to know their customers, we really have something. 

Retailers and store associates can start to understand their customers’ lives. What style home do they have?  Do they commute to work? How? What do they do for fun? Are they married?  Do they have children? Where do they vacation? The list goes on. The retailer can get to know these people as friends and solidify loyalty. 

But what’s the benefit for the store? Well, birthday, anniversary and holiday gifts for starters. If you sell a certain type of clothing, what’s the best fit? In terms of home décor, what does your customer like for their homes? And for the fitness inclined, how about activity trackers? The more the focus goes to the customer, and the less the focus goes to the managing inventory, the better off you are.

From a creative standpoint, there’s another major benefit.  The better the retailer understands the customer’s lifestyle, the more exciting the merchandising can become and the more finely focused in-store events can become. Not only is the shopping experience better but your store also becomes the destination for your customer for their lifestyle. 

Independent brick-and-mortar retailers should not fear showrooming because now they can get everything the big guys have. That’s how to make showrooming work for you!

Pop-Up Artists is a strategic marketing agency that creates focused physical shops integrating e-Commerce for retail and luxury brand clients. Janet Valenza, who is President at Pop-Up Artists, is a former c-suite executive from the Young & Rubicam family of companies.  She can be reached at 917.497.5319 or   

]]> (Janet Valenza, Pop-Up Artists) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 14 Oct 2014 08:19:36 -0400
TOMS Uses Salesforce Service Cloud To Fuel One For One Movement TOMS Uses Salesforce Service Cloud To Fuel One For One Movement

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Some retailers are focusing on social good and responsibility by forging relationships with charities and non-profits. But there are other retailers, like TOMS, that could be described as “movement-based organizations,” and have social good and charitable giving at their core, according to Zita Cassizzi, Chief Digital Officer at TOMS. 

Since its inception in 2006, TOMS has extended its “One for One” business model to consumers worldwide. For each item sold, the company will give one to a person in need. While TOMS is known for its slip-on shoes, the product line has expanded to include reading glasses, sunglasses and even coffee.

“We are a movement-based business and even the way TOMS started in 2006 was very focused on word-of-mouth and organic growth,” said Cassizzi in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Having that relationship with our customers is most important for us. It’s so much more than just selling shoes; we’re having our ‘tribe members’ join a movement with us.”

To activate and nurture meaningful relationships with its “tribe members,” TOMS uses the Salesforce Service Cloud, which helps provide a 360-degree view of customers, their past purchases and interactions, and overall sentiment.

{loadposition GIAA}“We wanted the best tool possible to help us deepen that relationship with our customers,” Cassizzi said. As the company grew, and expanded to include a strong e-Commerce presence, two brick-and-mortar stores and distribution partnerships with multiple retailers, it became more difficult to keep deep connections with customers. “We turned to Salesforce because we want to build even stronger and longer lasting relationships with customers, and connect our employees.”

A Service Revolution

Initially, call center agents in the U.S. and Europe used Service Cloud so they could better manage phone calls and social media inquiries. But TOMS doesn’t focus on traditional performance metrics, such as average handle time—or the total time it takes to resolve customer issues. Instead, the brand and retailer focuses on customer happiness and their overall influence on the entire TOMS movement.

“We have a customer happiness guarantee, so we’re not going to use average handle time as a key metric to make decisions,” Cassizzi said. “We’re a story, we’re a movement and we want to have relationships with customers. We measure success by figuring out if we took care of the issue the customer had, if they’re satisfied and if they joined the movement. It’s more about those metrics than just efficiency.”

Because the primary customer base for TOMS is Millennials, the brand finds it paramount to be present and active across channels, especially social media.

“Most of our customers are using social media as a regular channel versus an outlet to rant or rave about something,” Cassizzi said. “It is a key channel for all types of conversations.” Although TOMS has a dedicated social media team, call agents also have access to social media and consumers’ social accounts and feedback via Service Cloud.

Implementing Service Cloud was the first phase of working with Salesforce, and TOMS is collaborating with the solution provider to develop a plan for 2015, according to Cassizzi. She added that because the Service Cloud platform is so scalable, the company can easily build on the technology as time goes on.


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:00:00 -0400
La Cage Aux Sports Increases Table Income By 10% With Motorola La Cage Aux Sports Increases Table Income By 10% With Motorola

Consumers said they planned to spend 9.1% less per restaurant meal in 2014, according to a survey from consulting firm AlixPartners. However, if customers have a positive and memorable dining experience, they will more likely spend more time and money at a restaurant.

Helping to address this trend, La Cage Aux Sports, a Canadian restaurant and bar chain, has increased average table income by 10% since implementing a mobile ordering system powered by a wireless local area network (WLAN) solution and ET1 tablets from Motorola. The restaurant chain collaborated with POS Terminal 2000 Inc., a Motorola PartnerEmpower Silver partner, to test and roll out the technology.

“We’re always trying to be up-to-date with the newest technologies to help our servers and management provide a better client experience,” said Mathieu Laliberté, director, Information & Technologies for La Cage Aux Sports. “We were looking to do some up-selling while also reducing labor costs, which is the biggest cost for our business.”

{loadposition GIAA}Combining the WLAN with tablets has empowered service staff to engage in more personable conversations with consumers, while also boosting cross-sells and upsells and improving overall order accuracy. Depending on the size of the restaurant, each location has one or two WLAN access points and between seven and 10 tablets.

“There definitely has been an improvement in customer satisfaction,” reported Laliberté in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They get their food faster because orders go straight into the kitchen as soon as they’re entered through the tablets. Servers no longer need to go to the fixed POS system to enter everything manually, which also has greatly reduced order errors. Servers can stay next to customers during the order-taking process and ask questions along the way. It’s much easier for them.”

An Immersive Sales Experience

With improved ordering processes, employees also are able to serve more customers, which allows them to get more tips. Laliberté noted this as a key selling point as La Cage Aux Sports got employees on board with using the technology.

“It was difficult to get employees to embrace a new way to work,” Laliberté noted. “Some servers have been with us for 10 to 15 years, and at first they didn’t want to use the tablets because they were used to the same old way of working. But we implemented a plan to show how it could help them better serve clients and get more money, too.”

Each of La Cage Aux Sports’ 50 locations is designed to welcome customers to eat and drink at their leisure — especially as they’re watching sporting events on one of the restaurant’s many big-screen TVs. This is another “huge upselling opportunity,” according to Laliberté. Now, with the mobile ordering system, people can stay three or four hours “and never run out of drinks.”

La Cage Aux Sports initially tested the mobile technology and WLAN in a single location, and is in the process of rolling it out across the entire chain, Laliberté reported. The entire process should be completed by the end of 2015.

“The competition is harsh these days, so we have to do something different to get customers to remember us,” Laliberté said. “By trying new things like this we’re able to improve the experience and get our customers to come back to our restaurant.”

Want to learn more about La Cage Aux Sports’ mobile journey? Watch the below video: 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Mon, 13 Oct 2014 07:00:00 -0400
Halloween Express Improves Inventory Efficiency During Peak Selling Times Halloween Express Improves Inventory Efficiency During Peak Selling Times

Seasonal businesses face the challenge of managing inventory in light of ebbs and flows in demand. 

With more than 200 stores and an e-Commerce site, Halloween Express sees majority of its sales fall within an eight-week period. Preparing for this peak time, as a result, takes a full year.

“Our business model doesn’t allow for any error, so we have to have be on point with ordering inventory because of the quick turnaround,” said Holly Bowling, COO of Halloween Express. “We do two to three re-orders during the span of eight weeks, which is lightning fast, so it’s important to know what’s selling and what’s not. The corporate team also needs accurate sales data quickly from the first two days of the selling season to order more of the hottest selling items and stock them before the final week of the season, which accounts for 50% of sales.”

{loadposition GIAA}Real-time inventory visibility and extreme coordination also is required for Halloween Express to facilitate omnichannel order fulfillment. Three years ago, the retailer connected its brick-and-mortar and online sales “to offer our customers information about what’s in stock in each individual store,” Bowling explained in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Our web presence has been a major help in building our brand. We implemented shop online pick up in-store, so customers can comb through what’s available online and come to the store knowing what they are looking for is in stock.”

Halloween Express onboarded RICS Software to help ensure inventory is updated in real time. Data within the RICS system allows the retailer to show consumers item availability in local stores and the distribution center, according to Bowling. “This allows us to stay ahead of our competitors and offer products sold online to be picked up in stores within minutes of purchase.”

Now, the retailer manages more than 40,000 SKUs on the web site and with the solution, team members can “analyze sales in many different ways, including by vendor to determine what is profitable,” Bowling said. “With RICS Software, we have the ability to perform balancing transfers, which prevents store owners form losing money through reordering items that other stores already have abundances of in stock.”

RICS reports also provide detailed data and projections for in-demand items. Shortly after the Halloween selling season begins, the corporate team relays information to store owners, Bowling noted. “The store owners then use this data to guide decision-making and eliminate the guesswork in inventory, ultimately leading to greater profits.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Fri, 10 Oct 2014 09:00:00 -0400
Gap CEO Steps Down Gap CEO Steps Down

GAPMurphyGlenn Murphy has announced that he will retire from his position as CEO of Gap Inc. effective February 1, 2015. The retailer’s board of directors unanimously agreed to appoint Art Peck, current President of Growth, Innovation and Digital at Gap, to succeed Murphy as CEO.

During Murphy’s seven-year tenure as CEO, GAP reported a 160% total shareholder return and a six-year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) on earnings per share of 17%. Under Murphy’s leadership, the company acquired new brands and expanded the store locations globally, from 10 to 50 countries.

“Today, Gap Inc. is a formidable global fashion retailer with a strong foundation in place for long-term growth, therefore making this an appropriate inflection point for me to pass the baton to a leader who will take our portfolio of brands to even greater heights,” Murphy said. “With consumer expectations rapidly evolving, Art is the right leader at the right time to build on our success and ensure a compelling experience for our customers across both our physical and digital channels.”

{loadposition GIAA}In his present role, Peck is responsible for leading the company’s omnichannel and digital strategies, and managing the Athleta, Intermix and Piperlime brands.

As part of the transition, Peck will join the board effective February 1, 2015. Bob Fisher, son of Gap Inc. co-founders Donald and Doris Fisher, will become non-executive Chairman of the Board.

Gap Experiences Minimal September Sales Increase

In other news, Gap reported September 2014 net sales growth of 1% over the previous year, increasing to $1.48 billion from $1.46 billion. Comparable store sales were flat throughout the five-week period, representing an improvement from a 3% decrease in 2013. Gap store sales decreased 3%, while Banana Republic and Old Navy boosted sales 2% and 1%, respectively.

Due to the Gap brand’s flat performance, the company expects gross margins for Q3 2014 to be moderately below Q3 2013 totals.

“September proved to be more challenging than we expected,” said Murphy. “While Old Navy and Banana Republic are performing well, we are working aggressively to ensure our entire portfolio of brands delivers to its potential.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Thu, 09 Oct 2014 14:06:15 -0400
What’s Next In Retail Payment What’s Next In Retail Payment

Mobile PaymentsThe race to replace cash has spawned a crowded landscape of innovative payments technologies, from wearable devices to chip-enabled cards. But while some seem better suited to a sci-fi flick than a retail store, others are fast gaining a foothold in the mainstream market. In fact, from 2012 to 2013, the volume of traditional cash transactions dropped by 10%, a total of $86 billion, and is forecasted to plummet further over the next six years, according to a 2014 report by Javelin Strategy & Research.

Among the most recent cash-replacement contenders is Apple Pay. With an expected launch date in October 2014, Apple Pay is a mobile payments system that works with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Featuring a built-in Near Field Communication (NFC) antennae, device owners simply tap their iPhone on a store’s contactless credit card terminal to make a payment. Actual card numbers are not stored on the device or on Apple servers; and Apple’s Touch ID sensor technology — which uses a customer’s fingerprint as a passcode — helps to prevent fraud.

{loadposition GIAA}Apple is not the first company to roll out an NFC-powered contactless payments system: Google and Softcard (formally Isis Wallet) already offer their own versions. But Apple’s brand name power could give the emerging technology a much-needed nudge towards mainstream acceptance.

“Apple is one of the few players in the world that can move the market because they have such a strong followership of users,” said Daniela Mielke, Chief Strategy and Product Officer for Vantiv, a provider of payment processing solutions and a member of the Retail Solutions Provider Association (RSPA).

This clout could help to increase adoption among both consumers and retailers. “There’s a real chance now that NFC will become the de facto standard for proximity payments,” said Mielke.

Another upside of Apple Pay is the convenience it offers both merchants and consumers. From a merchant perspective, Apple Pay does not require the implementation of any proprietary technology.

Solutions like Apple Pay also simplify the payment process. “On all other digital wallets, you have to authenticate your phone, then you have to open your app or digital wallet, and then you may have to enter another password,” said Mielke. “Many times there are at least three additional steps the consumer has to take.”

Increasing Consumer Adoption

The most successful mobile payment systems are the ones that have minimized additional steps needed to complete transactions. Convenience, for example, is central to the ongoing success of Starbucks’ mobile payment system. In addition to recently adding a barista tipping module and shake-to-pay features to its mobile app, the beverage behemoth currently is testing a new service that will let customers pre-order coffee and food, anytime, anywhere. More than 11% of Starbucks’ customer payments are generated via its mobile app — a success story that analysts say could give merchant-branded mobile initiatives a significant leg-up over digital wallets from players like Google, Amazon and PayPal.

“When it comes to in-store transactions, no one has figured out how to get consumers to adopt digital wallets,” said Nikhil Joseph, a Mercator Advisory Group analyst. “Starbucks has been the only success story. They’ve built their own app from scratch, and they use a simple QR code implementation, which is why they’ve grown very fast.”

James Wester, Research Director of Global Payments at IDC, agrees: “All these digital wallets are trying to do the same thing that Starbucks did — to capture that lightning in a bottle and see if they can bundle it across merchants. But I’m not exactly certain they can just yet.”

Competing In A Crowded Space

The number of technologies available to implement mobile payments can present obstacles to adoption and implementation. A disadvantage of NFC payments is that the technology requires often requires upgrades for both retailers and shoppers. Some options ease this burden.

LoopWallet is one new entrant in the payments technology space that’s shaking things up by not requiring any modifications to a merchant’s card reader, or a consumer’s phone. The system allows users to make purchases using either a detachable fob with a built-in card reader, or a smartphone case that’s capable of communicating with more than 90%of existing POS devices via a magnetic field, not unlike the magnetic stripe found on a credit card. Both LoopPay Fob and LoopPay ChargeCase work in tandem with a mobile app that stores all of a users’ credit and debit card information.

“Right now, Loop requires some add-ons from consumers, but I expect that they will move quickly to make it a more seamless experience and embed [digital wallet] capabilities into a handset as well,” said Denee Carrington, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research.

Other payment technologies on the horizon include Coin’s replacement for the credit card. The company is currently taking pre-orders on a device that can store up to eight payment options, such as a debit card and a corporate credit card, on a single, credit card shaped device. By pressing a button on the card, shoppers can choose how they’d like to pay. The device swipes exactly like the cards shoppers are already used to, and removes the necessity to carry multiple cards. Coin is currently in beta testing, and the company expects a full release in 2015.

There is, however, a cautionary case study Coin could examine. Similar to Coin, iCache’s Geode also promised the ability to store multiple payment options on a single device — focusing on Apple’s iPhone 4. Geode aimed to combine an iPhone case with a card that served as a payment option. It received more than $350,000 in funding on Kickstarter — well more than the company’s $50,000 goal. Unfortunately, manufacturing problems led to delays and anxiety for the Kickstarter backers. Once the devices shipped, some users reported problems getting the programmable magnetic stripe card to work. Finally, the company did not adapt when Apple changed the form factor of its iPhone with the release of the iPhone 5. Former employees and consultants filed lawsuits, the board of directors shrank to just one member and the company pulled down its web site. The Kickstarter page, however, is still live.

In the meantime, the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) is gearing up for the 2015 launch of its own mobile payment system. Dubbed CurrentC, the QR-code smartphone payment platform was built by a consortium of retailers including Walmart, Best Buy and Target. Consumers will be able to use the network to complete purchases at more than 110,000 store locations across the U.S., while at the same time earning merchant loyalty rewards and coupon savings. Currently, CurrentC is in private pilot mode in select locations across the U.S.

“It’s an open field as far as digital wallets go,” said Joseph.  

Another development shaping the future of payments technology is the growing adoption of EMV chip technology. This summer, big-box retailers Walmart and Sam’s Club rolled out a chip-enabled MasterCard, prompting cardholders to embrace a payment process more secure than swiping. Until now, U.S.-based retailers have been slow to accept EMV compared to other countries, but as the October 2015 deadline looms, big-box retailers’ adoption of EMV is “a positive sign that we’re moving in the right direction,” said Carrington, noting that EMV still requires “an enormous investment” from both merchant and credit card issuers.  Arguably, EMV adoption also will succeed in large part based on consumer acceptance.

The retail payment environment is fast-moving and quickly changing. While debating the benefits of NFC and EMV, retailers also have their eye on the next frontier: Wearable technology. BeautifulLab, for example, has developed a wearable payment app that lets consumers pay for items with their Pebble smartwatch. And mobile payments company Wallaby Financial recently unveiled a new smartwatch app for Samsung’s Gear 2, hoping to secure terrain in what’s sure to be another hot payments trend. 

]]> (Cindy Waxer, Contributing Writer) POS / Payments / EMV Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:57:26 -0400
Sport Chalet Relaunches E-Commerce Site With MarketLive Sport Chalet Relaunches E-Commerce Site With MarketLive

SportChaletImageRetailers looking to build an effective experience across all platforms usually start with the e-Commerce site. The functionality and appearance of this channel can have a large impact on how potential customers perceive the brand as a whole.

Action sporting goods retailer Sport Chalet is no exception and relaunched its e-Commerce site in August 2014 with the help of the MarketLive Total Commerce technology platform in an effort to grow the company brand and foster further in-store engagement. The relaunch included a complete renovation of the site, as well as the incorporation of features such as Find in Store and gift cards.

“Whether it’s through click view capabilities or sophisticated search capabilities through the web site, we’re able to present the products in a much faster way,” said Craig Levra, Chairman and CEO of Sport Chalet. “Conversely, for those athletes who just want to learn about a particular sport or a particular item, there’s a whole set of content and video that didn’t really exist on the site before that truly speaks to the product and the specialty services that we offer.”

{loadposition GIAA}Social engagement is a major priority for the Sport Chalet team, as evidenced by the creation of the site’s community section. The community section integrates customer stories, how-to guides, pictures and experiences from experts to engage more consumers with the store.

“If you really think about our business, very few items we offer are any fun to participate in by yourself,” Levra said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “When you go snowboarding and skiing, you go with your friends, and it’s a requirement in scuba diving, ice climbing and rock climbing. There’s a social component to all of the sports and activities that we offer, and yet our prior web site couldn’t bring that component to life.”

The process to implement MarketLive took less than a year, with the solution provider collaborating with Sport Chalet on a seven-days-a-week basis. The retailer has since used the solution to leverage the “reverse showrooming” trend many shoppers partake in after browsing the e-Commerce site.

“We’re certainly happy with the relaunch,” said Levra. “One of the great learnings from our relaunch is that we’re able to dig into the reverse showrooming behavior that exists today. We clearly see athletes and customers walk into our store who have done their homework at and are ready to learn more from talking to one of our experts face to face.

The retailer is no stranger to innovative ideas, as it opened a “next-generation” concept store in downtown Los Angeles in the summer of 2013. The store was designed to provide a “physical version of the online experience,” according to Levra, and provided an Expert Center that facilitates customer interaction with in-store experts on all topics related to the purchase and usage of the products. Consumers can order Sport Chalet products on iPads located throughout the store.

“We gauged the experience and how we connect with the athletes and the customers before serving in that environment,” said Levra. “The relaunch of takes that brand engagement experience to a different level.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Wed, 08 Oct 2014 09:00:00 -0400
Caterpillar Vapes Taps Zing To Integrate In-Store POS And The E-Commerce Site Caterpillar Vapes Taps Zing To Integrate In-Store POS And The E-Commerce Site

Caterpillar VapesAs a brand expands, its IT infrastructure can become more complex. However, in today’s omnichannel world, it is imperative that retailers of all sizes have a comprehensive view of sales and inventory.

To create this more 360-view of the business as it expanded from e-Commerce to brick-and-mortar, e-cigarette products retailer Caterpillar Vapes integrated APIs from POS platform provider Zing into its e-Commerce platform powered by Bigcommerce. With the Zing APIs, the retailer manages its inventory, e-Commerce and POS functions in one central location.

“Right now, we deal with inventory prediction software,” said Eric Johnson, principal owner of Caterpillar Vapes. “We actually have a process that pulls down all the inventory and orders from Zing. Based upon that inventory and those orders, we are able to provide this application with a number of days we want on hand for inventory, and it will automatically create a purchase order of the different items we want. For a company that only has 100 items, tracking all this inventory by hand wouldn’t be so difficult. For a company like ours that has thousands of SKUs, doing that manually is impossible, making the Zing integration an absolute requirement for us.”

Initially, the Caterpillar Vapes team considered building an in-house e-Commerce solution to host the web site. Despite having the manpower to build one, the team determined that the time and effort would be better used elsewhere. By onboarding Bigcommerce to power its e-Commerce site, Caterpillar Vapes learned its in-store POS system could integrate with its online storefront.

“When we opened our shop, we realized that integrating our in-store POS and e-Commerce site wasn’t as easy as we thought,” said Johnson in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “And I went around looking for other e-Commerce providers that had integrations with POS services. It was just something that wasn’t really prevalent, and when it did happen it was incredibly clumsy. The more that I delved into how much Bigcommerce worked with Zing, and how they were not only partners but neighbors, that told me that this was going to be a partnership that was going to last.”

Zing’s main mission is to create a seamless brick-and-mortar commerce environment, starting at the point of sale. However, the integration layer underneath the POS solution is where the heart of the company lies, according to Nate Stewart, Founder and CEO of Zing.

“We want to be defined by how many things a retail business can do in a limited amount of time,” Stewart explained. “Right now, if you’re a small brick-and-mortar retailer, you’re competing against companies 1,000 times your size, and those companies are only getting bigger and more competitive. We’re trying to make it seamless to connect the different data points you have and different products you work with.”

By integrating Zing, Caterpillar Vapes created a “hands-off” IT situation where e-Commerce operations team members were relieved from dealing with servers, hard integrations, upkeep and maintenance. Since the platform allows retailers to manage inventory across multiple locations, the retailer can continue to expand into a second brick-and-mortar location.

“Next year, I’m not going to have to worry about moving my entire platform,” Johnson said. “This ensures that I won’t have any migration issues that invariably bite you and cost you thousands of dollars.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Thu, 09 Oct 2014 07:12:11 -0400
The State Of Payments The State Of Payments

The past year has seen a rise in credit spending and significant advances in mobile wallet technology. The worldwide leader in mobile payment adoption: Kenya, where more than 80% of the population pays for goods and services with their smartphone.

This infographic, courtesy of Merchant Warehouse, provides an overview of worldwide payments in 2014, with a glimpse into the upcoming winter shopping season.

The past year has seen a rise in credit spending and significant advances in mobile wallet technology. The worldwide leader in mobile payment adoption: Kenya, where more than 80% of the population pays for goods and services with their smartphone.

This infographic, courtesy of Merchant Warehouse, provides an overview of worldwide payments in 2014, with a glimpse into the upcoming winter shopping season.

[click to expand]


]]> (Mike Santos) Infographics Thu, 09 Oct 2014 04:03:01 -0400
National Retail Federation Forecasts Holiday Sales To Increase 4.1% National Retail Federation Forecasts Holiday Sales To Increase 4.1%

NRF Holiday SalesThe National Retail Federation (NRF) expects sales in November and December to increase 4.1% to $616.9 billion. The forecast is a full percentage point higher than the 3.1% increase experienced in 2013 and the first time it has topped 4% since 2011. The NRF attributes this potential growth to a number of factors that include a longer holiday shopping season than 2013 and issues that will not impact shoppers this year, such as the government shutdown. Lower utility costs due to a mild summer and falling gas prices also contributed to the higher forecast.

The NRF holiday sales forecast is based on an economic model that uses indicators that include consumer credit, disposable personal income and previous monthly retail sales releases. This year’s forecast also included non-store categories, such as direct-to-consumer, kiosks and online sales.

{loadposition GIAA}“Retailers could see a welcome boost in holiday shopping, giving some companies the shot in the arm they need after a volatile first half of the year and an uneventful summer,” said Matthew Shay, President and CEO of NRF. “While expectations for sales growth are upbeat, it goes without saying there still remains some uneasiness and anxiety among consumers when it comes to their purchase decisions. The lagging economic recovery, though improving, is still top of mind for many Americans”

Although positive economic indicators, such as jobs and housing data, contributed to the higher forecasts, NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz also pointed to economic recovery and reminded retailers that shoppers will still be looking for bargains.

“Though we have only seen consumer income and spending moderately — and erratically — accelerate this year, we believe there is still room for optimism this holiday season,” said Kleinhenz. “In the grand scheme of things, consumers are in a much better place than they were this time last year, and the extra spending power could very well translate into solid holiday sales growth for retailers; however, shoppers will still be deliberate with their purchases, while hunting for hard-to-pass-up bargains.

Retailers are expected to hire between 725,000 and 800,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, according to the NRF. The number of new hires could exceed the 768,000 hired during the 2013 holiday season, which was an increase of 14% over 2012.

In a related announcement, forecasted online sales to grow between 8% and 11% this holiday season, increasing to as much as $105 billion. 

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Wed, 08 Oct 2014 12:08:05 -0400
Differentiation Will Keep Offline Customers From Going Online

Let’s be honest. It’s far more convenient to shop from your couch than drive to the store, find what you need, load it in the car, and then unload it when you get home. Isn’t it easier to have everything delivered to your doorstep?

With recent large-scale closings by Staples and RadioShack, it seems like retail is on the verge of oblivion. But brick-and-mortar retail isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Retailers will survive if they resist the urge to drown in digital and embrace what makes them stand out: the shopping experience.

Ordering a sweater from your couch doesn’t offer a dressing room, a helpful salesperson, or the satisfaction of snagging a sale because you outlasted others’ clearance rack commitment.

Brick-and-mortar stores still stand out to customers. Here’s how you can capitalize on the points of differentiation and persist through the digital age.

Engage The Senses

Shopping is a tangible experience. You touch the fabric, feel the weight of products, and sample perfume to ensure it suits you.

Online shopping is convenient, but it offers no sensory experience. It’s impossible to know how a product actually looks, feels, or smells. By playing up your in-store experience, you’ll solidify the reasons customers come back, even when they could order online. Try these ways to amplify guests’ experience:

  • In-store events: People outside your customer base might pass your store and see the event or hear about it from a friend. These potential customers will learn about your brand and be more likely to visit your store if something exciting is happening.

  • Referral programs: Give customers a reason to bring their friends by rewarding them. Offer store credit, free items, or raffle prizes in exchange for referrals.

  • In-store seminars: Teach customers how to use your product. By providing added value, you’ll establish a reciprocal relationship that will increase their likelihood of making a repeat purchase.

Get Personal

Having a real person help you and interacting with technology to personalize the experience is something online retailers can’t match. These kinds of promotions set physical stores apart from their discount-happy online counterparts.

  • Georgetown Cupcake tweets a secret, not-on-the-menu cupcake every day. The first 100 customers to request the secret cupcake at each location get one free cupcake. If a free cupcake doesn’t draw customers to your business, I don’t know what will.
  • Burberry live-streamed London Fashion Week and invited customers to its stores to watch. After it was over, associates distributed iPads to customers so they could browse and purchase the items they just saw.
  • Make Up For Ever put iPads in its stores to let shoppers virtually try makeup combinations by uploading their own photos.

Although it may seem that e-commerce is king, brick-and-mortar retailers are here to stay as long as customers have good reasons to shop with them. While it’s appropriate to incorporate digital into your store’s shopping experience, remember that ultimately, the tangible shopping experience is what keeps customers coming back.

Sam Bahreini, a seasoned operations officer and agile entrepreneur, is co-founder and COO of VoloForce, a company that helps enterprise retail brands understand organization implementation through automation and simplification.


]]> (Sam Bahreini, VoloForce) Executive ViewPoints Wed, 08 Oct 2014 10:11:09 -0400
Target Pilots Curbside Pickup In 10 Locations Target Pilots Curbside Pickup In 10 Locations

CurbsideRetail powerhouse Target is testing curbside pickup at 10 stores throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. The new fulfillment option is available through a partnership with Curbside, which provides a mobile commerce app that allows consumers to find, purchase and redeem products at their local stores faster and easier.

“At Target, we are always looking for new ways to improve the shopping experience,” said Casey Carl, President of Omnichannel at Target. “We’re excited to see how our Bay Area guests respond to the Curbside service, which provides an extremely convenient way for guests to get what they need on those days when every moment counts.”

{loadposition GIAA}Using the Curbside app on iPhone or Android devices, consumers can search for and purchase products, even if they’re from multiple stores. Inventory levels and product information is shared based on local store availability. Once a transaction is made, store employees fulfill the order and are notified via the app when consumers are approaching the location.

Since receiving $9.5 million in funding and support from several notable investors, including Sue Decker, former Yahoo! President and current Costco board member, Curbside is now available throughout the greater San Francisco Bay Area and plans to branch out to other areas in the near future. This expansion comes following a successful beta test in the San Jose, Calif. Area.

Target’s foray with Curbside is the latest in a series of significant investments in omnichannel inventory strategies. The retailer initially rolled out buy online, pickup in-store in 2013. During its Q2 2014 earnings call, Target revealed that digital sales, including flexible fulfillment, increased more than 30% during the quarter. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 08 Oct 2014 11:09:07 -0400
Capital Teas Launches Mobile App With LevelUp Capital Teas Launches Mobile App With LevelUp

CapitalTeasAppCapital Teas, a specialty tea provider, has selected LevelUp to power its mobile payment and loyalty app. The app is designed to provide one place for customers to access their method of payment and loyalty rewards. The app is scheduled to launch in November and will be available as a free download on the App Store and Google Play.

"Our customers demand high-quality loose teas, herbal infusions and excellent customer service,” said Peter Martino, Co-founder and CEO of Capital Teas.  “They also expect a simple, user-friendly mobile experience, and we intend to give them exactly that. We don't want our customers to have a disjointed payment and loyalty experience by having to open one app to pay, then another app to track their loyalty progress. We want them to simply open up their mobile wallet, see all their payment options in one place and pick the one that's going to provide them with the ability to pay, and get rewarded, with a single tap."

{loadposition GIAA}The Capital Teas app automatically places the Capital Teas branded card in the Passbook iOS application, as well as other payment options, including Visa, Amex and MasterCard. Customers who pay with the card will automatically accrue and redeem rewards each time they reach a specific threshold at Capital Teas

The online retailer plans to incorporate in-app ordering in a second release.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 08 Oct 2014 09:20:18 -0400
MasterCard Launches Tool To Identify Security Attacks MasterCard Launches Tool To Identify Security Attacks

MastercardMasterCard announced the launch of SafetyNet, a tool designed to reduce the risk of cyber hacking of banks and processors. SafetyNet uses MasterCard’s global network to identify potential attacks before they start — in some cases before the bank or processor is aware of the attack.

SafetyNet is one part of MasterCard’s multilayer defense, which includes tools for banks, consumers and retailers. It is offered complementary to the issuing bank and uses algorithms to monitor different channels and geographies. The tool is already integrated into MasterCard’s payment network

{loadposition GIAA}“With SafetyNet we are really fast tracking the next generation of security solutions, which are designed to stop fraud or attacks before many of our partners have even noticed it is happening,” said Ajay Bhalla, President of Enterprise Security Solutions at MasterCard. “We can do this because MasterCard’s SafetyNet operates as intelligent technology, which can identify fraud in real time and decline a transaction before any exposure takes place.”

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Wed, 08 Oct 2014 10:11:24 -0400
Walmart Cuts Health Benefits for 30,000 Part-Time Workers Walmart Cuts Health Benefits for 30,000 Part-Time Workers

WalmartWalmart will no longer be offering health insurance benefits to its U.S. employees who work less than 30 hours per week, according to a company blog post.

The benefit cuts are expected to impact approximately 2% of the company’s workforce, or close to 30,000 employees. The retailer will work with third party provider HealthCompare Insurance Services to guide associates to alternative plans.

Walmart cites rising health care costs as a major reason for the policy changes: “Like every company, Walmart continues to face rising health care costs,” said Sally Welborn, SVP of Global Benefits at Walmart. “This year, the expenses were significant and led us to make some tough decisions as we begin our annual enrollment.”

The cuts follow in the footsteps of Target, Home Depot, Walgreens and Trader Joe’s: all retailers that have eliminated health benefits for part-time employees.

Walmart also will increase its premiums for all associates in 2015 to combat the costs. The retailer’s most popular and lowest-cost plan will increase by $3.50 to $21.90 per pay period.

The company will continue to provide health care options that include no lifetime maximum, preventative care covered at 100%, and $250 up to $1,000 to help pay for medical expenses.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 08 Oct 2014 08:23:14 -0400
Sunoco To Roll Out VeriFone-Powered Payment Terminals At All Locations

gilbarco verifone pumpmedia close
Sunoco, Inc.
has selected VeriFone as the exclusive media provider for its fueling islands. With the partnership, VeriFone will provide Sunoco with dispenser card readers that tout integrated video screens and dynamic streaming content to help enhance the fueling experience.

Sunoco initially sought a payment platform that was PCI compliant and EMV-ready. The Secure PumpPAY solution from VeriFone offers this security, as well as a mix of advertiser-funded offers, coupons and other relevant content through a media service called VNET - At the Pump.

LiftRetail, also known as VNET – InStore has been rolled out in locations and integrated with the Sunoco POS system. Customer-facing screens powered by LiftRetail will display real-time targeted offers and upsell opportunities to store visitors. Consumers can touch the screens to accept offers.

Drew Kabakoff, Director of Marketing at Sunoco explained: “The combination of VeriFone’s indoor/outdoor video experience, our consumer loyalty programs, and our forthcoming mobile payments app will provide Sunoco’s consumers with a dynamic two-way communication platform.” 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Tue, 07 Oct 2014 13:36:26 -0400
Saddleback Revamps E-Commerce Site With NetSuite Saddleback Revamps E-Commerce Site With NetSuite

SaddlebackSaddleback Leather, an online retailer of leather bags, luggage, wallets and accessories, has re-launched its e-Commerce site with the help of NetSuite SuiteCommerce. The retailer leveraged the SuiteCommerce solution to operate its business on a unified cloud platform that manages e-Commerce, financials, inventory management, order management, marketing and customer service.

Since the re-launch in July, Saddleback has seen an increase in overall sales. The retailer has reported other benefits including:

  • Improved site load times;
  • Increased average time onsite;
  • Increased page views per session;
  • Decreased cart abandonment; and
  • Reduced bounce rate among mobile users.

As part of the SuiteCommerce solution, Saddleback Leather has access to responsive web design to offer a mobile-optimized experience for smartphone and tablet users. The retailer plans to deliver a streamlined checkout and integrate the solution’s existing capabilities, including image zoom and 360-degree rotated viewing, to showcase different attributes within product detail pages.

Additionally, the SuiteCommerce self-service My Account capabilities enable shoppers to track order status, manage account details and view purchase history.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 07 Oct 2014 12:17:29 -0400
New Retail Roles Focus On Innovation, Transformation New Retail Roles Focus On Innovation, Transformation

Shadow RTP RT033 SURV ChangingRoles FinalNew retail roles are popping up across industry segments, designed to help organization improve the customer relationship through a focus on transformation, innovation and omnichannel.

The most-tapped new retail title is Chief Customer Officer, chosen by 14% of retailers responding to a recent survey conducted by Retail TouchPoints. The Changing Roles In Retail survey also found that an equal number of retail organizations (11%) are implementing titles featuring the terms Strategy, Transformation and Innovation.

As many as 61% of retail organizations have added or changed C-level roles and/or functions in the past two years; and another 8% are planning similar changes.

The survey report includes input from 167 retail and CPG respondents. To download a complimentary copy of the full report, fill out the form below.



]]> (Debbie Hauss) Special Reports Fri, 10 Oct 2014 06:30:00 -0400
Content Marketing Strategies Boost Customer Loyalty Content Marketing Strategies Boost Customer Loyalty

FEAT ContentCommerce imageIn an industry where many companies rely on selling products that are the same or similar to competitors’ offerings, retailers are embracing content marketing as a means to stand out from the crowd and provide value to the customer.

Leading retailers such as Pet360, boohoo, BeachMint, and Duane Reade understand that content marketing strategies can only turn into revenue if the content makes the brand relatable to the consumer.

{loadposition GIAA}To successfully engage customers with content, retailers are banking on numerous delivery vehicles, such as the e-Commerce web site, digital publications and social media. Merchants also are tapping a variety of content types to deliver their brand message, including but not limited to: blog posts, how-to guides, videos, advertisements, images and infographics.

The State Of Content Marketing In Retail

Content marketing has become a priority investment for B2B organizations over the past few years, but has only recently become a focus for retailers looking to foster customer loyalty. In fact, only 39% of B2C content marketers have a documented content strategy, according to a report from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

With the advent of social media, the average consumer can gather product reviews and information from sources more relatable to them than any mass medium. Thus, traditional advertising is taking on a less prominent role in the daily consumption habits of the consumer, according to Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy at Newscred.

“One of the big aspects of confusion is the notion that content marketing is an individual piece of content or a different kind of ad, as opposed to a mentality or culture,” Brenner said. “Whether via print, radio, TV and now the Internet, advertisers as brands have simply shifted their approach to continuously trying to get that promotional message in front of our consumers using whatever mass medium they’ve been shifting towards. The retailers that are getting it right are realizing that they need to create stories and tell them in a larger, more consistent way than just promoting what they do through traditional advertising.”

In particular for retailers with niche products or a long timeline between purchases, linh a zorfish. ar a couple times a year,"ortunities for customers a, blended resultscontent marketing can create frequent touch points with shoppers in between purchase periods.

“If I’m an underwear retailer, a customer is only going to shop for underwear a couple times a year,” said Jason Goldberg, VP of Commerce Strategy at Razorfish. “If the customer is only going to come to us twice a year when they need underwear, I don’t have a great opportunity to build the relationship with that customer and my brand. I need to give the customer more reasons to visit me more often, and it can’t all be to replenish my drawer.”

Video Content Enhances The Visual Experience

Video has become one of the most popular content marketing vehicles, offering a 360-degree online view of products that otherwise could only be experienced in-store. Retail site visitors who view videos stay on the site two minutes longer on average and are 64% more likely to purchase than other site visitors, according to comScore research.

“One of the impediments to buying from certain product categories online is that you’re not sure exactly what you’re going to get,” Goldberg said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “You’ve lost the ability to see that item on the mannequin in the store, try clothes on for yourself, or see exactly how big that television is and whether it’s going to fit in your living room. Video is a much more immersive way to help customers have confidence that what they’re ordering is what they want.”

Retailers are using a variety of video types, depending on their brand goals and product lines. Videos can provide product information, how-to guides, user-generated feedback, cross-sell ideas and more., for example, created a library of videos designed to illustrate how to choose the right window treatment, and how to measure and install the products. While the content initially added value to the web site, it wasn’t until enlisted the services of video commerce solution provider LiveClicker that the content could be managed and measured for effectiveness.

“Before we were working with LiveClicker, we had minimal information available to us, and I didn’t necessarily know what that information was telling me,” said Robert Reed, Video Producer at “I could see the number of plays and I couldn’t see much detail beyond that. Because we can see these metrics now, we can be more strategic and put videos in a particular order or put them in a certain place on the site that increases conversion rates.”

Comparing Q1 2013 to Q1 2014, the video engagement rate on the web site increased by 99%. Revenue increased by 92%, while orders and conversion rates both increased by approximately 70%.

“There’s so many different ways that you can try to help customers through additional measuring and installation to show them that this is something they can do themselves,” Reed said. “Video is a great way to help customers come to the realization that these processes aren’t that hard to put together.

Other retailers use video solutions to promote their products, but also strive to differentiate their brands from the rest of the pack. Women’s fashion retailer boohoo built up its own video channel, boohoo TV, to accompany the retail site, giving consumers detailed video guides on how to wear clothing from the boohoo brand. The television site includes information regarding fashion trends, a section dedicated to boohooMAN, the retailer’s menswear collection, as well as advertisements promoting the brand clothing and lifestyle.

The value of boohoo TV doesn’t end with the videos, as the retailer implemented the Amplience video merchandising solution to create digital commerce experiences.The online video merchandising solution enables boohoo TV to merchandise products directly alongside the video channel, creating a direct link from brand-building content to product collections. The solution is designed to streamline the buying process and increase average order value, giving consumers relevant purchasing options on a sidebar while they browse new trends.

The Benefits Of Professional Vs. Amateur Video

Professionally produced video optimized for e-Commerce outperforms user-generated (UGC) video by 30%, delivering a 24.7% lift compared to an 18.7% lift for the UGC video, according to comScore.

“A lot of people say that video doesn’t have to be professionally done, and I think there’s a place for [UGC video],” said Robert Rose, Chief Strategist at the Content Marketing Institute. “But I’m actually a big believer that the better the video quality is, the better it is for the brand. A lot of brands have taken the advice that video can be shot using an iPhone, and then when they go through with it the video ends up looking unprofessional and not very good.”

Brenner shared similar sentiments, advising that brands need to understand the economics behind their video strategies in order to make them work. He recommended retailers hire videographers and trained directors that not only know how to use video to tell a story effectively, but also help create a content-centric culture throughout the organization.

“Consumers are choosing what they want to watch and when they want to watch it,” Brenner explained. “Why do we consume more video? We’re becoming a more visual society and I think it’s becoming harder to entertain us. It’s not that people don’t read print, it’s just that if you want to be entertained, we’re more easily and quickly entertained through moving visual content.”

Engaging The Consumer Throughout The Purchasing Process

Video content is certainly not the only successful vehicle retailers are using to build their brands. Other content marketing strategies are helping retailers such as Duane Reade and Pet360 drive their e-Commerce strategies. Additionally, retailers and publishing departments are converging more frequently to create digital and print publications for consumers to read during their shopper journeys.

These content marketing methods are designed to help retailers connect with the consumer throughout numerous touch points and throughout the purchasing process, even when they are not considering purchasing an item. The retailers that are implementing these methods successfully are getting a leg-up against the competition.

The next installment of this special report will explore more examples of content marketing in the retail industry, including social content, digital publications and steps to successful content marketing.

Part 2 of the Convergence of Content and Commerce feature will appear in the October 14 newsletter.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Shopper Experience Tue, 07 Oct 2014 08:39:36 -0400
Nearly Half Of CMOs And CIOs Think Internal Collaboration Has Improved Nearly Half Of CMOs And CIOs Think Internal Collaboration Has Improved

RR Accenture ImageAs many as 43% of CMOs and 50% of CIOs think their relationship with each other has improved over the past year, according to research conducted by Accenture.

However, 45% of CMOs believe there still needs to be more collaboration with CIOs and only 23% of marketers believe the level of collaboration between CMOs and CIOs is at or approaching the right level.

The report, titled: Cutting Across The CMO-CIO Divide, gleaned insights from more than 1,100 senior marketing and IT executives worldwide.

For the majority of CMOs (52%) and CIOs (53%), marketing IT is considered a high priority. These numbers represent a 16% and an 8% increase, respectively, over 2012. Both parties agree the top five marketing IT priorities are: Customer experience, customer analytics, social media, the corporate web site, and other web development initiatives. 

While both departments are collaborating more extensively, there still are several challenges, especially regarding the ability to adapt in an increasingly digital environment. Up to 40% of CMOs believe their IT team doesn’t understand the urgency to address market conditions quickly. On the other hand, 43% of CIOs believe marketing departments’ requirements and priorities change too often for them to keep up.

Both parties agree, however, that combating organizational silos remain a top challenge. Up to 45% of CIOs say channel-specific experiences are too complex to be managed by one platform; 42% agree that the technology is siloed and too difficult to use for cross-channel experiences.

But marketers and IT professionals are eager to work together to address enterprise challenges and create exceptional customer experiences. As many as 83% of IT execs want to interact with their company’s marketing department, while 69% of marketers want to interact with the IT department.

Accenture provided four best practices to help CMOs build trust and improve alignment with IT executives:

  • Collaborate with IT to establish a joint vision;
  • Unify around the customer experience to create a digital business;
  • Reevaluate the operating model to integrate customer-focused skills throughout the company; and
  • Frame the marketing model and budget to align with a new ecosystem of marketing services.

Click hereto download the complete Accenture report. 

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Store Operations Tue, 07 Oct 2014 07:31:44 -0400
Shoe Carnival Raises Breast Cancer Awareness With Pink Wristbands

Shoe Carnival
Breast Cancer Awareness Month began on October 1, and Shoe Carnival is raising awareness by selling pink wristbands in all domestic locations throughout the month.

In each of its 396 stores nationwide, Shoe Carnival is encouraging consumers to contribute money to breast cancer research by purchasing the wristbands for $1 each. Last year, Shoe Carnival raised more than $100,000 for the cause.

“Families are the core of our business, they are the people we serve and the people that have helped us grow into who we are; Breast Cancer touches so many of those families lives,” said Cliff Sifford, CEO of Shoe Carnival. “We are very excited to participate in the search for a cure, and hope to surpass the amount we were able to donate last year.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Tue, 07 Oct 2014 08:31:16 -0400
Is That A Cash Register In Your Pocket? Is That A Cash Register In Your Pocket?

VP Iterate head shotIt's hard out there for a credit card company nowadays — everybody's getting in your business. In a moment when new technology is disruptively looking to squeeze extra efficiency out of everything, from the empty seats in our cars (Uber) to the unoccupied rooms in our homes (Airbnb), the 2% to 3% interchange fees that banks and credit card companies charge on every transaction make for a fat, juicy target.

Apple’s NFC-enabled iPhone 6 comes equipped with Apple Pay, the company’s highly touted mobile payment technology. Apple Pay stores users’ payment card information, allowing in-store payments with one-touch checkout when a shopper holds their phones up to a reader. This comes with the added security of never exposing the user’s credit card number to the light of day, allowing the expected reduction in fraud expenses to justify the costs of rolling out the new system. Apple boasts participation from 220,000 stores as well as the major credit card companies and banks, showing that they will work within the existing credit card-based ecosystem familiar to users (at least for the time being).

But it’s not just Apple looking to shake up the credit ecosystem. In many ways, the Amazon Fire phone is a portable payments system cleverly disguised as a phone. Of the 24 apps pre-loaded on the Fire phone, nine of them point to Amazon-exclusive properties. Firefly is one of the more prominently advertised apps, which uses the phone’s camera to recognize real world items and help users check them out on

Registering a new Fire phone requires inputting individual Amazon log-on credentials, connecting Firefly to the shopper’s credit card numbers, ship-to addresses and other user preference information. This enables one-click checkout and Amazon Prime Shipping capabilities, which creates an easy and efficient purchase integration. All of this makes Amazon’s Fire phone a powerful mobile cash register, and a dangerous one to competing retailers. Outside retailers can — and will — see shoppers easily scanning and purchasing products through Amazon even while browsing items at brick and mortar stores.

With 200 million credit cards stored on, hundreds of millions of ship-to-addresses, and one-click checkout, the Fire phone is an aggressive retailer’s dream shopping tool. The phone is designed to enable Amazon’s core services, with Firefly and eight other Amazon properties prominently displayed on the home screen. As the iPhone was originally designed with music in mind, grown out of Apple’s success with iTunes and the iPod, the Fire phone is a strategically designed, custom pocket shopping device with music/gaming/web/phone capabilities as a secondary priority.

It’s unclear at this point if the Fire phone will be successful, and the phone’s first version certainly does include some unpolished features. However, as demonstrated by Kindle, Amazon Prime, EC2 and S3 (both part of Amazon Web Services), Amazon is renowned for its patience and willingness to play the long game. Expect Amazon to aggressively support the Fire phone with continual updates and offers, like the recent drop to a 99-cent price point, siphoning attention from the iPhone 6 launch, for the next five years at a minimum.

The Fire phone’s 3D camera and Amazon’s initiative on Same-Day Delivery also serve the core strategy of creating smartphone-driven shoppers.  Amazon’s 3D camera is ideal for visual product recognition, and only figures to improve. If it can reach the point where it reliably matches real-world objects to exact products in Amazon’s catalog, shoppers will have a powerful showrooming tool in their pockets connected to Amazon’s 1-click checkout. Users could make a purchase on their pocket cash register faster than they could walk to the register at the front of the brick and mortar store. The other piece of this is Amazon’s Same-Day Delivery, available in a dozen cities so far. With Same-Day Delivery, a shopper leaning toward a purchase at a brick and mortar store because they want it immediately can still expect their Amazon purchase to be received that day.

In the longer term, we may see Amazon, and even Apple, launch an attack on credit card and bank interchange fees. At the innovation lab of a major bank and credit card issuer I visited two months ago, they surprisingly no longer considered other banks to be their key competitors. Amazon, Google, and Apple have become their most feared competitors as we go deeper into the 21st century. Google Wallet and similar services like Square have been out for a few years now, and have user bases of people utilizing their pay-by-phone feature. In a nod to the competition around digital wallets, Amazon completely stripped Google service properties out of the custom version of Android used on its Fire phone.

Both Amazon and Apple are racing to own the digital payment space, and have billions of dollars to gain by threatening established credit card companies on the interchange fee front. For Amazon, removing a 1.5% interchange fee on its $100 billion in volume would be worth $1.5 billion per year. The same story is true for Apple, considering iTunes and other sales.

If Amazon were to successfully remove interchange fees by allowing shoppers to use an Amazon-owned credit card instrument, the company could offer shoppers a 1-2% credit on any purchase made anywhere (even at competing businesses). Amazon could give this kind of incentive to complete purchases through Firefly. By eliminating interchange fees, discounts like that could be free to Amazon – not a bad deal.

My advice for retailers is not to dismiss the potential for major changes in the pricing transparency and payments landscapes, and to understand and anticipate the moves being made by these tech giants. Know what their phones mean to their strategies. Be ready for Amazon Prime shoppers (20 million+ already) browsing brick and mortar stores with thinly veiled Amazon cash registers in their hands, and keep looking for new ways to compete.

Jon Nordmark is the CEO at Iterate Studio, a digital proof-of-concept lab that discovers and curates emerging technologies, then implements proof-tests for an exclusive members-only group of non-competing retailers.

]]> (Jon Nordmark, Iterate Studio) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 07 Oct 2014 07:19:21 -0400
Rue21 Partners With A Glimmer Of Hope To Promote Breast Cancer Awareness

rue 21
Specialty apparel retailer rue 21 has launched its annual breast cancer awareness campaign, called "Big or Small, Let's Save Them All!"

As part of the campaign, rue21 will sell breast cancer awareness merchandise and host a social media contest to support those affected by the disease. Through the end of October, rue21 will donate a percentage of profits from the merchandise sold to the Glimmer of Hope Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based non-profit organization that is funding a premenopausal breast cancer research study in the U.S. 

Past donations from rue21 have allowed Glimmer of Hope to purchase a SenoClaire machine, GE Healthcare's new breast tomosynthesis solution that provides three-dimensional imaging technology.

"Rue21 has been such a tremendous partner for us over the years, bringing awareness and funds to this important cause," said Diana Napper, executive director of A Glimmer of Hope. "The continued support of rue21 to our organization helps us deliver on our commitment of funding studies for premenopausal women impacted by breast cancer.
Tomosynthesis is the next step in the battle to detect early breast cancer."

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Tue, 07 Oct 2014 08:26:28 -0400
Affirm Split Pay Allows Online Shoppers To Pay In Monthly Installments Affirm Split Pay Allows Online Shoppers To Pay In Monthly Installments

SS Affirm Image 1Shoppers may be hesitant to purchase an expensive item online due to fear of debt and hidden fees and taxes that may result from the transaction.

A new solution from Affirm, called Split Pay, allows consumers to split their online purchases into smaller monthly payments to mitigate the impact of a large transaction. Retailers can offer Split Pay as a payment option on their e-Commerce site.

Split Pay is designed to provide clear terms and fixed payment installments, preventing consumers from being hit with surprise fees that may be applied after they buy an item with their credit cards.

The solution also is designed to provide no risk for retailers, as Affirm pays its merchants in full at the time of settlement. Affirm charges merchants 2% to 3% of each transaction, with shopper fees starting at 6%, depending on payment history and amount of payment installments.

“Consumers want and need an easy-to-use alternative to credit cards when they’re shopping online, especially underserved populations like Millennials, enthusiasts and the vast population of debit card users,” said Max Levchin, Co-Founder and CEO of Affirm. “Consumer financing has been available to the largest online and many brick and mortar merchants for years. We’re now bringing this powerful financing to all online merchants, large and small.”

To register for the service, consumers provide basic information such as their name, mobile phone number and date of birth. 

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Tue, 07 Oct 2014 08:11:46 -0400
The Small Business Retailer’s Guide To Preparing For The Holidays The Small Business Retailer’s Guide To Preparing For The Holidays

VP site only head shot 1The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is potentially the most profitable time of the year for retailers, which also makes it one of the most competitive. Small businesses may think they are in for a tough contest with the many deep-pocketed, big-box chain retailers.  Using tailored marketing and smart planning, any small business has the potential to attract shoppers and their holiday season spending.

The Importance Of An Online Presence

Most shoppers start by turning to the web to find the best gifts for family and friends. It may not be possible for your small business to sell products online just yet, but having a web presence of some kind is vital. First, your competitors are online so you need to be too, even if it’s just a basic web site with your store’s information. Many times, the average gift buyer is browsing online for the best deals in town. Having your business’ web site come up on search engines will expand your audience and make your business more discoverable to new customers. If you’re unable to set up an entire e-Commerce platform, posting photos of the products available for purchase in-store is an effective way to get potential customers intrigued by what you have to offer.

Also, more and more web traffic is coming from smartphones and tablets.  If possible, your web site needs to be mobile-friendly to let your potential customers access your site from their favorite device.  Even if you are simply showing an address and phone number, presenting the right information with mobile-ready features is another way to take advantage of holiday shopping traffic.

Social media is a must for retail.  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram may seem confusing and overwhelming at first, but these free platforms can be used as powerful marketing tools to lure in and connect with holiday shoppers. Don’t be afraid to get creative and show your store’s personality! On Facebook, post pictures of employees dressed up in holiday costumes. Engage with your followers on Twitter by posting questions like, “What’s your favorite holiday tradition?” On Instagram, post photos of the most popular items available at your store or pictures of local customers doing their holiday shopping inside. With social media, it’s about creating a community for your customers so they know to keep checking your pages throughout the year for the latest store news and potential discounts.

Promotions, Deals And Events

Corporate retailers can take advantage of offering deep discounts and promotions to drive customers into their stores.  It can be hard to match on price, but it’s still important to have some sort of holiday promotion to attract shoppers, particularly those who are hunting for a good deal.  

Many of these corporate retailers are also offering free shipping deals online, so try offering a cost-effective incentive to have customers physically come into your store. One idea is to offer a free or discounted gift wrapping service. Display the offer on your web site and social media pages.  Just that one small incentive could bring in many shoppers with busy schedules who may have been tempted to order everything online.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, dubbed Small Business Saturday, is your day to shine and set the stage for the rest of the holiday season. Use it to your business’ full advantage and build promotions around the whole day to gain customers that could keep coming back year-round. Consider hosting an event at your store with entertainment like coloring and puzzles for the little ones so parents can shop in peace while also offering free coffee and snacks. Implement extended hours for the day, display balloons outside, or offer one-day-only discounts to reward customers for supporting the local small business community.

Stocking Up And Thinking Ahead

Every day is as important as the last during the holiday shopping season, so think ahead and have a plan in place for your business to save time and prevent stress. Start your inventory planning now; build a sales forecast by analyzing past holiday season sales and based on those numbers, you can estimate the amount of inventory your business will need to last through the end of the year. Don’t be afraid to overestimate on products that don’t expire, especially if your business has unique marketing plans that differ from last year.

One issue many small businesses run into at this junction is finding the working capital to purchase ahead. It can be difficult to go through the traditional banking loan process because many times the amount needed is rather small; usually less than $100,000 and the process can take a long time. Working with alternative finance providers is one option to consider as these providers specialize in smaller amounts of capital. One advantage of applying for this type of working capital is that funding is typically available within days, compared to the traditional process of three weeks or more. Whichever working capital option your business chooses, be sure to carefully analyze its cost over time to ensure that it’s the best decision for your small business.

As your business starts to put together its holiday plans, don’t think of it as a quarterly project. Think of it as a long-term plan to convert holiday customers into regular customers. Remember, there will always be birthdays, anniversaries and other holidays that bring the need for presents and more shopping.


James Mendelsohn is the Chief Marketing Officer for CAN Capital. He is a 20-year executive with deep experience in financial and consumer marketing. Most recently, he was at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, where he advised global clients in the financial services sector on marketing analytics, market intelligence, digital strategy, and customer experience. Prior to McKinsey, Mendelsohn spent 12 years at Capital One, where he most recently served as the Vice President of Corporate Strategy and led marketing, digital, and customer experience strategy across the credit card, banking, and financial services lines of business. He helped launch many of Capital One’s signature marketing programs, including the award-winning “What’s In Your Wallet?” advertising campaign and the Capital One Bowl.

]]> (James Mendelsohn, CAN Capital) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 06 Oct 2014 16:49:06 -0400
Zendesk Insights Measures Customer Service Effectiveness Zendesk Insights Measures Customer Service Effectiveness

SS site only Zendesk ImagePreserving a successful and profitable customer-retailer relationship depends significantly on the level and quality of service provided by the retailer. However, some retailers might think they are doing a better job at connecting with their consumers than they actually are.

To alleviate this issue, customer service software provider Zendesk crafted Insights, an analytics tool for organizations that want to measure and visualize the impact of their customer service interactions.

Insights is designed to deliver simple visualizations and reports, so organizations can measure customer support effectiveness and benchmark results against industry peers.

“Organizations today are facing a data deluge, and they want information that they can use to reshape their operations and customer relationships,” said Sam Boonin, VP of Products at Zendesk. “With Insights, Zendesk does the heavy lifting to help support leaders apply their data and make business decisions that improve their relationships with customers.”

Companies that actively use analytics in their support operations record a 12% faster first-response time to customer inquiries, according to the quarterly Benchmark report from Zendesk, and a 16% faster inquiry resolution time.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 06 Oct 2014 16:42:29 -0400
Pandora Exec Delves Into Mobile Payment Trends Pandora Exec Delves Into Mobile Payment Trends

With the recent release of Apple Pay, mobile payment is coming back to the forefront. And retailers seemingly are more eager to hop on board and create a more seamless and enjoyable customer experience. However, there are a variety of factors retailers need to consider before hopping on the mobile bandwagon. 

In the below Q&A, Leon Sikes, Global Director of Retail Technology at jewelry designer, manufacturer, and retailer Pandora, discusses retail mobilization trends, challenges and best practices.

With 24 years of global business and technology experience, Sikes brings a unique perspective and understanding of the pressures retailers face with regard to driving the customer experience through mobile enablement. Sikes is slated to speak at the 2014 fall Mobile Payments Conference (MPC), which is being held October 6-8, 2014, in Chicago.

 Retail TouchPoints (RTP): What is the biggest mobile payment topic/trend you’re looking forward to talking about at the 2014 Fall Mobile Payments Conference?

Sikes: Mobile payment is a topic that’s been talked about for years, but hasn’t yet become widely adopted by the majority of retailers. Advances in digital wallet technologies and the growing acceptance of digital currencies such as Bitcoin are helping to move mobile payment adoption forward. The fact that major companies such as Dell,, Expedia, Amazon, Tiger Direct and others are now accepting Bitcoin is a big deal, and I’m excited to share the reasons why at the show.

RTP: Despite some big-name companies accepting Bitcoin, why are so many other retailers not yet following suit?

{loadposition GIAA}Sikes: There’s a lot of negative publicity about Bitcoin and other digital currencies. The real issue here is that not enough people really understand digital currency and its potential to make a positive impact in the world. For example, retailers will like the fact that there are no chargebacks with digital currency.

With regards to the misunderstood side of digital currency, it’s no different than any emerging or disruptive technology. We can go back 20 + years to the emergence of the Internet to Smartphones today. Most people did not understand the Internet or email and today they cannot live without it! The financial industry will go through a similar change, either adopt and embrace or get left behind.

RTP: What are the biggest obstacles that prevent retailers from adopting mobile payment solutions?

Sikes: Legacy POS systems presents the biggest obstacle. Many of the current legacy systems don’t support new commerce platforms, mobile payments/digital currencies, and retailers are hesitant to make technology investments before fully understanding what the industry standard will be. Fortunately, we’re seeing adoption from companies such as VeriFone and Ingenico that allow retailers to accept new types of payments.

A second obstacle — especially for international retailers is addressing the inconsistent legislation among various mobile payment governing bodies. Some governing bodies have specific compliance regulations in place that differ significantly from the rules adopted by other countries’ standards and it’s a challenge to choose solutions that comply with every country’s requirements.

RTP: What is it going to take to overcome these obstacles?

Sikes: Perseverance is a trait retailers must possess, especially when it comes to educating themselves and mobile payment governing bodies. Public – Private Partnership with governments and governing bodies to foster education, innovation, and governance will be key to successful adoption.

Flexibility is another must-have trait retailers must possess with regard to mobile payment. Instead of waiting to see which mobile wallet or digital currency emerges as the de facto standard, we need to invest in technologies that support multiple payment options. This approach brings the topic back to the most important point, which is allowing customers to engage with retailers however they want rather than retailers trying to dictate what they think is best.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Mon, 06 Oct 2014 08:25:25 -0400
Tilly’s Launches “SNAP SHOP” Visual Search Feature On Mobile Site Tilly’s Launches “SNAP SHOP” Visual Search Feature On Mobile Site

Tillys ImageWhen consumers see a product they like, they often have an impulse to purchase it right then and there. But if a shopper sees a product in a print item, such as a catalog, they cannot act on this impulse successfully.

Tilly’s, a retailer specializing in action sportswear and accessories, has unveiled the “Tilly’s SNAP SHOP” service, which was developed by visual search platform provider Slyce. The “snap-to-buy” functionality is designed to enable Tilly’s shoppers to open the mobile web site on their smartphone, snap photos of items in Tilly’s seasonal collection catalogs and immediately purchase these items via their personal devices.

{loadposition GIAA}Customers will have access to Tilly’s SNAP SHOP starting in early October 2014, when the retailer’s fall catalog is released.

Image recognition technology, which is integrated into the mobile web site, opens the camera function instantly. Once a shopper snaps an image from the catalog, the service performs a match based on the product and brings the customer to the instant purchase page for the product.

“There’s two kinds of visual search technologies,” said Mark Elfenbein, CEO of Slyce. “The one we use with Tilly’s is what we like to call 1-to-1 matching, in which the product you’re looking at is the exact product you can get driven to purchase. The other technology we find retailers are interested in involves relevancy matching. If you’re inspired by a certain product, and you like the color or the style, you may want to reference your favorite retailer’s catalog instantly to see what the closest match is to that item.”

Elfenbein noted that retailers that use these visual search options are poised to compete against the Firefly feature embedded on the Amazon Fire smartphone, which contains image- and audio recognition technology of its own.

Taking A Progressive Approach

Before partnering with Slyce, Tilly’s started to establish plans to bridge its online and offline retail strategies by encouraging customers who read the company’s seasonal catalogs to purchase on the e-Commerce site. Tilly’s found, after engaging with Slyce at a mobile conference early in 2014, that the visual search platform would help the retailer meet this goal.

“Tilly’s is definitely more progressive compared to other brands that we have seen, and they’re an early adopter for sure,” Elfenbein said. “Typically, the only way shoppers could transact from catalogs is by circling a picture of an item as a reminder before walking into a store. With our technology, we look to eliminate all the friction in acquiring all your favorite products out of the catalog.”

The visual search technology is not only designed to eliminate friction in the purchasing process, but also creates a digital showroom out of every product, helping to boost impulse purchases.

“Retailers and brands are trying to figure out a visual product search and image recognition solution for their customers,” Elfenbein said. “They’re thinking that a lot of customers aren’t necessarily physically in the stores or surfing their direct web sites, but they’re coming into contact with products in the real world that they’re inspired by. They want these products right at the moment of impulse. Tilly’s realized that they have to be able to capitalize on impulse purchasing wherever their customers are in the real world.”

For now, SNAP SHOP will only be integrated within the Tilly’s mobile web site. However, the retailer plans to integrate the service into its mobile app. 

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Fri, 03 Oct 2014 07:12:13 -0400
Fjällräven Enlists Junction Solutions To Implement Microsoft Dynamics AX Fjällräven Enlists Junction Solutions To Implement Microsoft Dynamics AX

fjallraven-store-exteriorFjällräven North America, a manufacturer and retailer of outdoor equipment and clothing, selected retail software provider Junction Solutions to implement Release 2 of the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 solution. The implementation was deployed in 12 weeks, according to a company statement.

Fjällräven first went live with Dynamics AX 2012 at its Boulder, Colo. office to assist employees with financials, purchasing, inventory and retail front office and back office applications. As part of the next implementation phase, the company will roll out the solution to an additional eight stores in the U.S. and Canada.

“Junction Solutions consultants provided impressive expertise in Microsoft technology and multi-channel retail operations that led to a rapid and smooth implementation at our Colorado location,” said Giordano Biondani, IT Manager at Fjällräven North America. “This was a true out-of-the-box implementation which delivered a fast go-live that came in under budget.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 02 Oct 2014 10:17:15 -0400
360pi And IBM Collaborate On Dynamic Pricing Solution 360pi And IBM Collaborate On Dynamic Pricing Solution

360piIBM360pi and IBM are collaborating on a solution designed to facilitate more automated and dynamic pricing for joint customers. The solution combines the real-time price intelligence of 360pi with the cloud-based omnichannel pricing platform from IBM.

With the integration, joint customers are poised to accelerate time-to-market for intelligent dynamic pricing and lower ownership costs.

“One of the key ways retailers can effectively compete and grow margins today is to price in time with strategic inter- and intra-day price changes,” stated Alexander Rink, CEO of 360pi. “By embedding our real-time price intelligence directly into IBM’s omnichannel pricing engine, retailers are able to realize real-time pricing even more efficiently and effectively.” 

The joint solution also will allow retailers to support real-time zone pricing and act on pricing insights for similar products including private brands.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 02 Oct 2014 10:58:33 -0400
34% Of Consumers Plan To Spend More This Holiday Season

Holiday ShoppingThe holiday season will officially kick off in a few short weeks, however some shoppers already are developing their shopping strategies and plan to start buying earlier than ever.

In fact, 34% of consumers said they plan to start shopping in October, according to new estimates from HookLogic. The same amount (34%) of consumers said they plan to spend more than they did during the 2013 holiday season. However, because there are more days between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2014 than there were in 2013, HookLogic predicts that buying will span beyond the usual Black Friday and Cyber Monday bulk spending.

{loadposition GIAA}“Last year, the holiday season was particularly short, so it all depends on where the calendar falls,” said Elizabeth Jackson, CMO at HookLogic. “This year there are additional days, but some years there are six additional days. Retailers are really collapsing the amount of shoppers into the amount of days they have.”

Approximately two thirds (36%) of shoppers said they plan to shop more online this year. “As online shopping becomes more of the norm, more spending will be taking place online,” noted Jackson. However, the store will still play a key role, as more consumers admitted that they will be showrooming and webrooming to find the best deal. “Both are very important, and many consumers are participating in both. Manufacturers and brands should encourage it and make sure they provide the information customers need to make the best decision.”

But shoppers also plan to embrace omnichannel capabilities, such as buy online, pickup in-store, which will see an uptick this year, according to Jackson.

“One of the largest variables for e-Commerce is shipping costs,” Jackson said. “But when a customer orders something, they can pick it up in a store, and they often go in and end up buying more. There’s a real opportunity there.”

When shopping online, consumers consider a multitude of factors being hitting the “add to cart” button. The top influencers on purchases include: Price, product descriptions, product ratings/reviews and product images.

“Price is always going to be a factor, but that alone isn’t going to sell an item,” Jackson explained. “It’s the features, elements and product details that also are extremely important.”

Consumers also are influenced by the social objectives of product ratings and reviews, Jackson added. “Even three- or four-star ratings have an impact. Influencers also depend on the category. For example, product ingredients are especially important for beauty brands.”

Click here to learn more about top holiday marketing trends and tactics.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Shopper Experience Thu, 02 Oct 2014 11:11:33 -0400
49% Of Shoppers Plan To Shop Early This Holiday Season 49% Of Shoppers Plan To Shop Early This Holiday Season

Holiday ShippingShoppers plan to finish their online holiday shopping early this year to ensure their gifts arrive on time, according to new research from Pitney Bowes.

Nearly half (49%) of the U.S. consumers who plan to shop online this holiday season said they will do so earlier. The primary reason for this decision (63%) is to ensure packages are delivered before their celebrations with friends and family.

{loadposition GIAA}Up to one third (33%) of shoppers said they plan to pay more attention to shipping this year versus last year. They are doing so by tracking packages once or twice (33%), three to five times (21%) or even six or more times (23%).

The second annual Pitney Bowes Holiday Shipping Survey, which was conducted by ORC International, includes insights from approximately 1,000 U.S. consumers.

“Last year, holiday shipping challenges stemmed from a perfect storm of record-breaking weather combined with over-promises to deliver orders on time and a last-minute shipping surge,” said Christoph Stehmann, President of e-Commerce and Shipping Solutions at Pitney Bowes. “To help capture holiday sales this year and meet customer expectations, retailers should prepare well in advance for the unexpected, and provide real-time visibility on shipping packages and reliable delivery estimates.”

Consumers’ decision to purchase holiday gifts earlier could be inspired by the fact that they prefer free shipping to fast shipping. In fact, 82% of respondents said free five-to-seven-day shipping is more valuable to them than having products delivered in one or two business days for an additional fee.

The consumers who find fast shipping more attractive than free shipping, however, said they would pay an average of $8.50 for two-day delivery. Fewer (19%) respondents said they’d be willing to pay more than $10 for faster shipping.

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:58:13 -0400
Smocked Auctions Tackles Social Selling With Soldsie Smocked Auctions Tackles Social Selling With Soldsie

The e-Commerce landscape is flooded with an endless amount of retailers looking to distinguish their brand from the pack. With social media further bridging the consumer-retailer relationship, more companies are being creative in using it to market and sell their products.

Smocked Auctions, an online retailer of designer baby and children’s clothing, has driven more than $1.5 million in sales and more than 50,000 transactions since selecting social shopping platform Soldsie along the implementation of e-Commerce solution Magento.

{loadposition GIAA}The Soldsie platform has been available on the Magento Connect extensions marketplace since August 2014, making the two solutions a package deal for Smocked Auctions. When the retailer ultimately selected Magento to help expand its online operations, the company also tapped Soldsie to expand its social media sales and create a singular checkout experience across all social media channels.

“It’s a great unified experience for the consumer, because they’re able to check out in the same place across all social networks and the Smocked Auctions e-Commerce site,” said Chris Bennett, CEO of Soldsie. “It also improves the lives of the Smocked Auctions team, because they can manage everything in one place. They manage all inventory on Magento, but they’re able to sell across all of these channels.”

Additionally, Smocked Auctions leveraged Soldsie to streamline its comment selling process, all while maintaining the personal nature that attracted people to it in the first place. The solution enables Smocked Auctions to sell its products across both its Facebook and Instagram pages without having to re-paste the listings, and allows the retailer to manage both pages separately. Since implementing Soldsie, Smocked Auctions has brought in an average of $350 in revenue per social media posting.

The retailer’s business model is designed to engage potential consumers through social media auctions on Facebook and Instagram platforms. In an attempt to “bid” on listed items, consumers can comment under product photos with the word “sold,” their preferred size of the item and their email address.  Bid winners, who are determined by the order of comments, receive an immediate email from Smocked Auctions with a link to an online shopping cart so they can pay for the item.

In implementing Soldsie, Smocked Auctions discovered a new stream of revenue with the Second Chance sales feature, which increased the company sell-through rate 12%. This feature enables customers who just missed out on the winning bid to be put on a waiting list in case faster bidders don’t pay for their item. The retailer increased the number of items sold after an auction ended by offering up additional inventory to shoppers who had put themselves on a waitlist.

“Smocked Auctions isn’t known in most e-Commerce communities, because they’re a social commerce company,” Bennett said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Smocked Auctions started their business on social. The reason we work with them is because they started to notice that the market was moving in that direction. Omnichannel doesn’t just mean brick-and-mortar and e-Commerce anymore, it also means social, and that’s where we come into play.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Wed, 01 Oct 2014 10:00:00 -0400
NetSuite And ChannelAdvisor Build Integrated SuiteApp NetSuite And ChannelAdvisor Build Integrated SuiteApp

netsuitechanneladvisorCloud-based omnichannel commerce software provider NetSuite and e-Commerce solution provider ChannelAdvisor have integrated their platforms to build the ChannelAdvisor SuiteApp. The integrated suite is available at to ChannelAdvisor and NetSuite customers and streamlines product and order data exchange between the two solutions.

The ChannelAdvisor SuiteApp is designed to save time for retailers by helping them handle the challenges of meeting expectations for a broad selection of products, immediate order fulfillment, lower prices and a consistent customer experience across multiple channels. It also enables retailers to overcome the limitations that come from using third-party packaged or custom-built integrations. With the integration, retailers are positioned to take advantage of online marketplaces by expanding their business through a revenue stream in domestic and international markets.

“In today’s omnichannel environment consumers are demanding virtually unlimited assortment and complete transparency into product availability,” said Andy Lloyd, General Manager of Commerce Products for NetSuite. “By utilizing Channel Advisor in conjunction with NetSuite, our customers are able to reach their consumers wherever they shop while utilizing NetSuite’s responsive storefront, global inventory visibility, distributed order management and comprehensive customer profiles to sell more goods and increase customer satisfaction."

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 01 Oct 2014 09:09:28 -0400
Derek Jeter And The Sports Superstar’s Effect On Retail Derek Jeter And The Sports Superstar’s Effect On Retail

Glenn head shotAnyone who has followed the sports world recently (and many who haven’t) know about the retirement of baseball star Derek Jeter. Jeter arguably is the most popular player in the sport, appearing in seemingly endless ads for Nike, Gatorade, Gillette and Ford among other top-shelf brands.

Jeter is the perfect example of how a singular athlete can become just as big, if not bigger, than the brands that sponsor him. In fact, summer sales revenue for Jeter-related items increased 1,114.57% year-over-year for one national sporting goods retailer, according to data from e-Commerce order management provider Shopatron. Orders had a similar increase of 1,077.77%.

The retailer also benefitted significantly from the team association, because shoppers buying Jeter merchandise also are likely to purchase another item related to his team, the New York Yankees. Yankees merchandise increased seasonal sales in 2014 by 37% and customer orders were up by 48%.

Jeter’s commercial success can be compared to basketball superstar Michael Jordan. Jordan earned an estimated $90 million in 2013 as part of his Jordan Brand partnership with Nike, even though he hasn’t been an active basketball player for more than a decade. Jeter has been signed to the Jordan Brand since 1999, surely making a greater impact on Nike’s sales as a whole, having more shoes than any athlete under the brand other than Jordan himself. With his popularity, I can see Jeter taking a similar route to Jordan, in that his merchandise will likely be sold in large quantities long after his retirement.

Obviously, the vast majority of professional athletes do not move the needle with this kind of impact carried out by Jordan and Jeter, so I can only imagine that sporting goods retailers across the board must have been thrilled with the results in 2014. However, there is further room for a popularity increase for present stars. With that said, retailers need to find ways to capitalize on these athletes who transcend their respective sports in the same way brands do.

Modell’s actually posted a section dedicated to Jeter’s merchandise on the front page of its e-Commerce site in celebration of the “Countdown To His Final Game.” When clicked, the site navigates to 163 Derek Jeter-related items, includingshirts,hats and other memorabilia. Every sporting goods site I searched had plenty of promotions for items and collections that caught my eye, but none with promotions tailored for specific individuals. To find merchandise of popular stars, I would have to either search by name or click through specific sports and teams.

The most well-known athletes are celebrities by definition; we already know how much of an effect celebrities have in influencing consumer purchases. People want to buy the clothing and items their favorite television or movie stars wear, and this same hero worship holds true for the people who can perform impressive athletic feats.

This is why it may be good business for sporting goods retailers to take advantage of the celebrity aspect of these athletes more often. The way some of these players are hyped, especially with the proliferation of television contracts, fantasy sports leagues and overall greater visibility, has provided casual fans with even more individuals to root for than in the past. These retailers should now have more incentive than ever to market these individuals when taking into account the potential revenue that can be made.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Editor's Perspective Wed, 01 Oct 2014 08:33:48 -0400
eBay And PayPal To Split In 2015 eBay And PayPal To Split In 2015

eBay Incpaypal-ebay. announced plans to spin off its PayPal division and form two independent publicly traded companies in 2015. Current President and CEO John Donahoe and company CFO Bob Swan will lead the separation of each business. Following the transaction, neither will have an executive management role in the new companies, though they do expect to serve as board members for one or both companies. eBay expects to complete the transaction as a tax-free spin-off in the second half of 2015, subject to market, regulatory and certain other conditions.

“For more than a decade, eBay and PayPal have mutually benefited from being part of one company, creating substantial shareholder value,” said Donahoe. “However, a thorough strategic review with our board shows that keeping eBay and PayPal together beyond 2015 clearly becomes less advantageous to each business strategically and competitively. The industry landscape is changing, and each business faces different competitive opportunities and challenges.”

{loadposition GIAA}The separation was intended to sharpen strategic focus for both companies, according to a statement released by eBay. The board also stated that it believed the benefits of the existing relationship would decline over time and both units would be better suited to create operating agreements. “This is the best path for delivering sustainable shareholder value,” the board concluded in the statement.

Current president of eBay Marketplaces, Devin Wenig, will become the CEO of the new eBay company. Dan Schulman, who was unveiled as president of PayPal in the same announcement, will become CEO of PayPal upon completion of the transaction. Joining PayPal from American Express, Schulman was president of the company’s Enterprise Growth Group and has held senior executive and CEO roles at AT&T, Priceline and Virgin Mobile, prior to joining American Express.

“As both a leading global technology platform and a financial services business, PayPal requires a diverse blend of leadership skills and operating experience in its president and future CEO,” said Donahoe. “Dan has a proven track record of leading complex technology businesses at scale, driving sustainable growth and understanding how to innovate to drive competitive advantage and deliver compelling experiences for customers.”

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:42:16 -0400
Smarter Remarketer Taps Michael Osborne As New President Smarter Remarketer Taps Michael Osborne As New President

Michael OsborneSmarter Remarketer, a provider of customer intelligence for multi-channel retailers, named Michael Osborne as its new President. Prior to joining Smarter Remarketer, Osborne served as the Chief Revenue Officer at Bazaarvoice and helped lead the company through its initial public offering in 2012. In his new role, Osborne will oversee and assist in company development, strategy and growth. He will report directly to Howard Bated, Chairman and CEO of Smarter Remarketer.

“Our board of directors and I are honored to have Osborne join the Smarter Remarketer leadership team in such an important role,” said Howard Bates, CEO of Smarter Remarketer. “We believe he will have a tremendous positive impact on the success of the company. With his more than 16 years of successful experience in high growth SaaS-based marketing technology companies, all of which serve similar customers to ours, he is an excellent addition.”

{loadposition GIAA}Osborne spent nearly seven years at Bazaarvoice, helping grow its annual sales from $1 million to more than $130 million. He helped oversee the growth of its sales force to 120 members and assisted in establishing multiple international offices. Prior to joining Baazarvoice, Osborne built and managed the client services team at Coremetrics, achieving a near 100% enterprise client renewal rate.

“Joining Smarter Remarketer is truly thrilling,” said Osborne. “Beyond the innovative technology, I love the passion Smarter Remarketer has and they aren’t alone. Smarter Remarketer customers share that passion and excitement. The company is a true industry innovator and their raving customer base knows it.”

Osborne’s hiring follows Smarter Remarketer securing $7 million in venture funding provided by Battery Ventures and another $7 million in venture debt financing from City National Bank earlier this year.

]]> (Rob Fee) Retail Movers & Shakers Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:48:33 -0400