Retail TouchPoints - Your Source For The Latest Retail News And Trends - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Thu, 18 Sep 2014 05:38:05 -0400 RTP en-gb Why There Really Is Value In A Name Why There Really Is Value In A Name

Debbie head shotWhile most industry experts and executives agree that a focus on innovation, transformation and customer-centricity are key to a successful future in retail, there’s an ongoing debate about whether or not they need to assign specific titles bearing those terms.

In an exclusive survey report conducted by Retail TouchPoints, scheduled to be released on October 7, 2014, you’ll learn that many retail organizations are adding new titles to their C-level list, such as: Chief Strategy Officer, Chief Customer Officer, Chief Innovation Officer or Chief Transformation Officer.

The survey, titled: Changing Roles In Retail, will show that retail organizations are adding these roles with key business goals in mind, such as:

ü     Creating more consistent cross-channel experiences;

ü     Gaining better insights into customer behaviors; and

ü     Improving customer loyalty.

But still others wonder whether or not they need to define new roles in order to deliver effective change.

In my discussions with retail leaders, I’ve found that actually defining the roles is valuable because it enables organizations to definitively emphasize the importance of the new direction, from the top down.

To grab that important buy-in from the C-level to the store level, business leaders and their teams must believe that the entire organization is standing behind the initiative. If a Chief Innovation Officer is in place, there’s no question that innovation is a vital imperative moving forward.

Not Enough Just To Give It A Name

Of course, there’s a big “But” when it comes to defining new roles. There has to be some meat behind them. They have to stand for something more than just the name.

For some time, analysts have been pondering questions like “What makes a good Chief Innovation Officer?” In a recent article, identified five different mindsets of business leaders and which ones make a good innovator/leader.

Capgemini’s Jude Umeh also has pontificated on the subject, noting that a good innovation leader knows how to connect people and ideas and introduce a “cool tech factor” into the organization.

The bottom line is: If you’re moving forward with a new direction and perspective, focused on innovation, transformation or the like, do it thoughtfully. Name the right role or roles, define the roles properly and be sure to assign the titles to leaders who will bring the organization to the next level. Good luck!

]]> (Debbie Hauss) Editor's Perspective Wed, 17 Sep 2014 09:47:21 -0400
Butcher And The Burger Implements Mobile POS To Improve Customer Service Butcher And The Burger Implements Mobile POS To Improve Customer Service

Infinite PeripheralsButcher and the Burger, a Chicago-based “build your own burger” restaurant, has seen success since rolling out a mobile POS solution that includes Infinite Peripherals, Inc. (IPC) hardware and Digital Dining software.

Upon implementing the IPC Infinea Tab 2 device for iPad 2 and DD Mobile Digital Dining software, Butcher and the Burger has cut line times in half, improved customer service and established more efficient and organized reporting processes.

“We approached Digital Dining and Infinite Peripherals because we wanted an mPOS system based on iPad technology, and they delivered the best system when it comes to customized orders,” said Preston Owen, General Manager of Butcher and the Burger. “Our menu is based upon ‘building your own burger,’ so we needed a flexible POS system with many options for order customization all on one screen.”

With the mobile POS solution, employees can customize orders by tapping into the “instructions” option. This feature has helped improve order accuracy, according to a company press release. Although orders are typically placed at a counter, employees can easily venture to tables and take orders using their iPads as needed.

The joint solution from Digital Dining and Infinite Peripherals also provides Butcher and the Burger with detailed reporting features, allowing restaurant owners and managers to track hourly and daily sales, inventory, employee clock-ins and clock outs, labor reports, pay periods and more. 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:37:06 -0400
Brookstone Names Interim President And CEO

James M. SpeltzBrookstone announced the resignation of James M. Speltz, President and CEO and appointed its current Chief Merchandising Officer , Steve Schwartz, as Interim President and CEO. Speltz joined Brookstone in 1998 and recently guided the retailer through bankruptcy proceedings.

“Jim took on the President and CEO role at a challenging time, helping the company navigate through a difficult period,” said Piau Phang Foo, Chairman of the Brookstone Board of Directors. “He successfully helped Brookstone emerge from Chapter 11 in June. We are grateful to him for his leadership and contributions”

{loadposition GIAA}For the last three years, Schwartz led the merchandising, product development and marketing teams at Brookstone.

“Moving forward, we are investing more in design and engineering through our award winning Brookstone Design Lab, as well as expanding our partnerships with inventors, global innovators and crowdfunded partners,” said Schwartz. “These initiatives will help us strengthen our offering of unique and innovative products and gifts.”

]]> (Rob Fee) Retail Movers & Shakers Wed, 17 Sep 2014 12:24:36 -0400
LightSpeed Receives $35 Million To Expand Product Line

LightSpeed Cloud family funding image 1
, a provider of cloud-based commerce solutions, has closed $35 Million in new funding led by iNovia Capital and Accel Partners. This is the second round of funding for LightSpeed, bringing the company’s total capital raised to $65 million. LightSpeed will use the money to help accelerate the development and release of new solutions. 

“LightSpeed is deeply ingrained in the challenges and needs of today’s retailer,” said Chris Arsenault, Managing Partner at iNovia Capital. “They’ve figured out how to make big box retail tools easy and accessible to independent retailers to help them thrive in a highly competitive market. We are thrilled to be their partner in this journey.”

Over the past year, LightSpeed released a series of new solutions designed to help retailers build, manage and grow their businesses, including LightSpeed Web Store for Cloud, LightSpeed Cloud for iPad, and Advanced Reporting.

LightSpeed also has plans to venture into the payments space as a result of a partnership with Element Payment Services. The new platform, called LightSpeed Payments, eliminates the need for a third-party solution to accept payments or access critical financial information.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Financial News Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:08:27 -0400
The Pearl Source Increases Click-Through Rates By 38% With Trustpilot The Pearl Source Increases Click-Through Rates By 38% With Trustpilot

Although it is imperative that retailers have a consistent marketing strategy that extends across all channels, more consumers are relying on peer feedback, ratings and reviews to make their buying decisions.

The Pearl Source, an online retailer specializing in pearl jewelry, struggled to provide customers with an outlet where they could share their thoughts and opinions about products and their overall brand experiences. The company partnered with Trustpilot to develop a dedicated location for customers to share reviews. Within 30 days of implementing the solution, The Pearl Source witnessed a 38% increase in click-through rates and a 5% decrease in cart abandonment.

“Companies can try to fill up the web site with as much content and information as possible,” explained Emma Schrage, Marketing Director at The Pearl Source, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “But at the end of the day, there will still be customers that require a certain amount of trust before they can finally make a purchase — especially with high-value purchases like jewelry.”

{loadposition GIAA}Trustpilot is a community-driven review platform where consumers can share their unique experiences with different brands and retailers. All reviews that are published on Trustpilot are then syndicated on retailers' web sites and product pages.

Schrage explained that providing consumers with an area where they can see credible feedback only enhances the shopping experience. “With Trustpilot, we are already proving to potential customers that we are legitimate before they even land on our web site.”

An active community of consumers flock to Trustpilot to share their experiences, opinions and insights with others. Schrage noted that the reviews that are automatically published on the Trustpilot web site do not span over a prolonged period of time; the platform refreshes with the latest reviews shortly after they are created.

The platform not only gives retailers additional exposure to potential customers, but also provides shoppers with an outlet to view merchandise before they even click through to an e-Commerce site. The platform automatically updates widgets placed on the company’s web site in order to reduce the retailer’s need to manually interact with customer reviews.

“Trustpilot doesn’t require any activity on our end,” Schrage noted. “The platform accurately updates the reviews not only on our homepage and the Trustpilot site, but throughout the entire web site so  customers have the information they need prior to purchase.”

]]> (Brian Anderson) Retail Success Stories Wed, 17 Sep 2014 07:14:42 -0400
Sears Expands Curbside Returns Sears Expands Curbside Returns

Sears Curbside ReturnsSears expanded the Shop Your Way mobile app to allow curbside returns and exchanges via its In-Vehicle Pickup service. Launched earlier this year, the Shop Your Way mobile app provides access to reviews, product comparisons and pricing information. The app also offers coupons and personalized offers to shoppers located in or near a Sears or Kmart store.

To use the new service, members must first visit, click on the customer service link and choose “Returns & Exchanges.” Customers are asked to identify the item they wish to return and, if desired, select a replacement. They are notified via email once the replacement is ready for pickup. To finalize the transaction, shoppers park in designated In-Vehicle spots, notify the store of their arrival via the Shop'In feature in the Shop Your Way app and wait approximtely five minutes for a Sears employee to complete the return or exchange.

{loadposition GIAA}“Buying what you really want should be easy — that’s why we continue to make it more convenient to pick-up, return and exchange items that you have purchased right from your car,” said Leena Munjal, SVP, Sears Holdings. “We’re all living busy, on-the-go lives, and this latest expansion to Sears integrated retail conveniences means that you can spend less time making a return or exchange and more time shopping.”

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:12:52 -0400
Build-A-Bear Appoints Todorovic As CFO Build-A-Bear Appoints Todorovic As CFO

Todorovic2Build-A-Bear Workshop has appointed Voin Todorovic as the company’s new CFO, effective Sept. 15, 2014. In this role, Todorovic will be responsible for global finance, accounting, tax, capital management and investor relations.

Todorovic succeeds Tina Klocke as CFO of Build-A-Bear, and will report to Sharon John, the company’s CEO. Klocke will remain the COO of Build-A-Bear until Q1 2015.

Todorovic most recently served as a head of finance and operations at global footwear and apparel company Wolverine World Wide. He oversaw the company’s Lifestyle Group, which includes brands such as Hush Puppies, Keds, Sperry Top-Sider and Stride Rite. Prior to his tenure at Wolverine World Wide, he held positions at Payless Shoe Source and Collective Brands.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Tue, 16 Sep 2014 13:42:33 -0400
Inventory Optimization Tops Retailers’ Omnichannel Priorities

shadow RTP RT027 SR InventoryJS Sept 2014Today’s savvy, digitally connected consumers don’t see separate commerce and marketing channels. Instead, they see brands and experiences.

As a result, consumers expect that their favorite brands and retailers provide a real-time, 360-degree view of products, offers and more. Most importantly, they want to be able to complete a purchase on the channel of their choice, and have it delivered through any channel and at any time.

 Further illuminating consumers’ heightened expectations, 71% of shoppers said they expect to view in-store inventory online, while 50% expect to buy products online and pick them up in a store of their choice, according to findings from Accenture and Forrester Research.

Complete the form below to access the complete report, which delves into current omnichannel inventory trends, and how Commonwealth Lacrosse, GameStop and TUMI revised their organizations to ensure success.



]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Tue, 16 Sep 2014 08:01:39 -0400
Macy’s Invests In New Omnichannel Strategies Macy’s  Invests In New Omnichannel Strategies

Macy’s, Inc. has unveiled new developments in its omnichannel strategies and technology investments as the retailer focuses on innovatively engaging and serving customers. Implementations at both Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores include Apple Pay, shopBeacon, same-day delivery and smart fitting rooms.

Among the series of initiatives is Apple Pay, which will be implemented in all Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores. The new payment offering, which will be available via iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus mobile devices, is expected to help simplify the payment process for shoppers. In addition, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s both have introduced new mobile wallets, which are designed to allow shoppers to easily store and access coupons and offers for the Macy’s Star Rewards and Bloomingale’s Loyallist programs. The wallets will be included in both mobile apps beginning November 2014.

After testing shopkick in Macy’s flagship locations in New York and San Francisco during the 2013 holiday season, the retailer announced plans to expand the shopBeacon technology to all Macy’s stores nationwide. The mobile location-based technology, which is built on Apple’s iBeacon Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol, will be placed throughout stores, allowing shopkick app users to receive more personalized deals, discounts, recommendations and rewards. The rollout is expected to be complete in early fall 2014.

Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s also announced plans to pilot same-day delivery for online purchases this fall. Macy’s will test the offering in eight U.S. markets — Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New Jersey, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Washington, D.C. — while Bloomingdale's will offer same-day delivery to customers in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Jose. All same-day deliveries will be fulfilled by Deliv — a crowd sourced same-day delivery provider — and major mall owners, such as General Growth Properties, Simon and Westfield Corporation. This news comes on the heels of the retailer rolling out buy online/pick up in-store to all Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s stores nationwide. To ensure inventory accuracy, Macy’s will continue to roll out RFID tagging in fashion categories through 2015.

Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s also are introducing and expanding in-store technology to enrich the brick-and-mortar experience. Macy’s, for example, is piloting handheld POS devices and tablets for store associates to improve engagement and boost sales. Macy’s also is testing Connect@Macy’s Centers, which will serve as in-store pick up locations for online orders. Associate staffing will increase to meet demand. Consumers also will be able to browse assortment in pilot stores using electronic kiosks and interactive “lookbook” displays.

Bloomingdale’s has introduced “smart fitting rooms” touting wall-mounted tablets so associates and customers can scan merchandise and access other colors and sizes, as well as research more detailed product information. Customers also can tap a “call” button to receive assistance from store associates. The smart fitting rooms are available in five locations: Century City, San Francisco and Palo Alto, Calif.; Short Hills, NJ; and Garden City, NY.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Tue, 16 Sep 2014 09:21:10 -0400
Using Mobile Ads To Drive Customers To The Cash Register Using Mobile Ads To Drive Customers To The Cash Register

VP 4INFO imageThe path to purchase has changed with the times. Many marketers still associate mobile ads with mobile commerce, but that’s yesterday’s thinking. Today’s reality is that mobile ads lead to in-store cash registers, and there are numbers to prove it.

Your customers are on a mobile device 150 times a day. Most shop online before they hit the stores, and their smart phone is virtually always in hand. Mobile advertising delivers an average 7.5% sales lift — and more than 90% of those sales are happening in stores.

{loadposition GIAA}The ability to touch a customer anywhere, anytime with mobile ads presents an opportunity to connect the digital world to your brick-and-mortar store. That means getting customers through the doors, but mobile marketing doesn’t stop there. Done right, it can influence brand decisions and lead your prospect all the way to the cash register.

It can even redirect customers from a competitor’s store to yours, with well-timed ads that reach them while they’re out shopping.

Careful targeting and precise measurement turn mobile marketing into a powerful tool that paves a clear path to sales growth (yes, 7.5%) and market share gains. The average return on ads spend (ROAS) is 382% and can soar as high as 800% or more. The potential is tremendous for marketers who are able to send the right message to the right target at precisely the right moment.

To do this well, and with the ability to measure your results, you need to know exactly who receives your mobile ad. It isn’t easy to do, but it is possible. And it’s essential to measuring your mobile campaign’s success, because it clearly shows you where, along the path, you touched your customer and drove them to purchase.

A Peek At The Path

To understand the path to purchase, it’s helpful to consider three basic factors:

  1. Where is your customer? If she’s home on the couch, you’ll use mobile advertising in a different way than if she’s out running errands. It’s all about context. I’ll explain more later.
  2. What is your customer actually doing at this moment? Good data analytics can tell you whether she’s at home or on the road at any given time or day of the week.
  3. What device(s) is she using at this moment? Again, it’s about context. Engagement levels differ from smart phone to laptop, for example.

Having identified the three components that factors your attention, let’s look at how it all comes together to create an effective mobile ad campaign.

The first step, of course, is to identify customers within a store’s trading area. These are the ripest prospects, and retailers are defining their store trading area with increasing sophistication. Rather than simply targeting people within five miles of the store, retailers are using drive times and other factors to create more purposeful boundaries in what is known as “geofencing.”

Savvy retailers also do audience targeting, often through CRM data. You want to understand what your customers buy, and when. Ideally, you want to supplement a broad audience targeted campaign with additional geofencing-specific messaging to create highly targeted messages in something we call Bullseye HyperLocal.

As an example, a major soda brand might target heavy soda buyers when they’re in the vicinity of a convenience store. They’ll serve these buyers a mobile ad promoting a 68-ounce drink special. The idea here is to convert the consumer to a buyer on a more immediate basis.

In another example, a pet food retailer might run a campaign using basic audience targeting to send general messages, but when the dog owner drives within a mile of the store, the retailer swaps out the creative to serve up a more promotional mobile ad. Again, the intent is to shorten the path to purchase by providing both an at-home/anywhere experience, along with a perfectly timed location-based impression.

It takes careful analytics and — as mentioned earlier — context is important. If you know your customer is out driving, you don’t want to send a video. Instead, serve a branding or promotional ad and send them to a store locator page so they can find you easily. If, on the other hand, you know your customer is couch shopping, that higher engagement rate may call for more robust creative, such as a video. And that brings me to my next point:

Remember The Fun Factor

People are engaged with mobile devices for gaming, shopping, e-mailing friends and more. They expect content to be fun. Make your mobile ads entertaining and relevant. Also make sure they’re engaging and useful. Store locator information, for example, eases the road to the cash register. Catch attention with fun creative, and then clear obstacles with useful information and a memorable message or offer. That means more than all the clicks you can count.

For example, a car manufacturer did an in-home/out-of-home campaign. Ads served in the home included video content and a fun call to action to “build your own model” online. The out-of-home campaign offered promotional interest rates and a link with directions to the nearest dealer.

Another example involves a state lottery.  When the jackpot exceeded a certain amount, this triggered ads featuring the jackpot amount to be delivered within a geofence of lottery retailers.  The key was to provide a map to the nearest lottery retailer, to take advantage of a consumer’s impulse to act now.  The jackpot amount gave the mobile ad a newsworthy air and the action was useful — go to one of these retailers to buy your ticket.

Then it’s time for measurement. When you use mobile advertising to coax consumers along the path to purchase, you want to measure what matters most: sales lift. Accurate measurement requires tying your sales directly to the mobile users who received your ad.

You need the ability to compare your sales results by looking at two groups from within the same customer segment — the only difference being whether they were exposed to your mobile ad. That will tell you with certainty how your campaign performed.

The mobile marketplace continues changing, and it gives you countless opportunities to touch your customer along their path to purchase. What used to be a blind shot in the dark is now a carefully planned and fully measurable mobile ad campaign. With today’s technology, we can see at which point or points along the path to purchase we touched the customer. We can see what’s boosting sales, and we have access to data that helps ensure we’re sending a tailored message to the right customers at the right time.

Most important of all, we can measure our success at the cash register so marketers can clearly see their ROAS. And a 7.5% sales lift is enough to give just about anybody the confidence to invest more of their media budget in mobile.

Tim Jenkins is the CEO of 4INFO and a seasoned Silicon Valley veteran with more than 25 years in executive roles at tech companies including Apple and Stratacom (acquired by Cisco). At Apple, Jenkins was responsible for developing the education business division in Europe. Employing a unique channel and product strategy he helped this division grow to over $500 million in annual revenue. While at Stratacom he was a key player in the company’s global expansion, entering 11 new major geographies in Europe and Asia as Stratacom grew to more than $250 million in revenue. Jenkins also was the CEO of Simpata, an SaaS based HR and benefits platform licensed to major medical carriers.

]]> (Tim Jenkins, 4INFO) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 16 Sep 2014 08:47:37 -0400
RSi Intelligent Crowdsourcing Helps Improve Retailer-Supplier Collaboration RSi Intelligent Crowdsourcing Helps Improve Retailer-Supplier Collaboration

SS RSi imageTo maintain a positive relationship with supplier partners, retailers must ensure product availability and comply with brand requirements regarding store planograms, merchandising techniques, in-store signage and more.

Real-time intelligence provider Retail Solutions and Gigwalk have partnered to release the RSi Intelligent Crowdsourcing solution. Using the solution, suppliers can accurately detect store and event conditions, send real-time fix notices to store teams, share observations with the value chain and reclaim lost sales. The solution is designed to streamline the execution of new item planograms and promotional displays, as well as preventing product out-of-stocks.

The solution combines RSi’s downstream data and alerting capabilities with Gigwalk’s enterprise platform, which includes access to a public network of 550,000 mobile-enabled independent contractors. Retailers and brands can collaborate more efficiently by gathering and sharing in-store intelligence, identifying gaps in the supply chain and triggering actions at the store level to correct errors in near real time.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Tue, 16 Sep 2014 07:39:50 -0400
“Everyday Earners” Prefer High-Frequency Loyalty Programs “Everyday Earners” Prefer High-Frequency Loyalty Programs

RR Pointscom imageMore loyalty program members (83%) earn points and miles on everyday purchases than through any other rewards-collecting method, according to research data from Points. As many as 81% of loyalty members seek out bonus point offers, while 69% make big purchases on reward-earning credit cards.

Retailers that implement loyalty programs have the opportunity to provide customers with extra value and show their appreciation for their ongoing purchases. The loyalty industry currently is valued at $48 billion, according to COLLOQUY, and includes 2.65 billion U.S. loyalty membership accounts.

The report, titled: From Everyday To Extraordinary: How Retailers Can Woo Shoppers With Points And Miles labels consumers who prefer the everyday purchasing approach, even when earning small amounts, as “Everyday Earners.” In fact, two thirds of respondents agreed with the statement: “Earning points/miles in my favorite programs is important to me, even if I am only earning a small number of points/miles.”

{loadposition GIAA}For the report, Points surveyed a panel of more than 1,500 people who claimed they were members of multiple loyalty programs. The survey was designed to uncover respondents’ attitudes towards “high-frequency earning opportunities,” which is defined as the act of being rewarded with a handful of points/miles during frequent inexpensive purchases.

Everyday Earners will go out of their way to earn rewards, with 60% saying they actively look for promotions that will help them earn more points and miles. In fact, many Everyday Earners will even push brand loyalty to the side, as 69% of program members said they would choose a different brand at least sometimes to earn more points and miles. More than half (54%) stated that they buy more from companies that reward them for their purchases. Similarly, 48% of consumers said they would shop at a different store to earn rewards.

Loyalty programs appear to shape the long-term shopping behaviors of these consumers, as well: 88% of respondents said they would continue collecting points even after redeeming rewards. Up to 79% of respondents agreed that a store offering rewards in a program they already participating in would encourage them to return again.

Click here to access to the full report.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) CRM / Loyalty Tue, 16 Sep 2014 06:34:24 -0400
RadioShack Reports Soft Q2 Amidst Bankruptcy Fears RadioShack Reports Soft Q2 Amidst Bankruptcy Fears

RadioShackRadioShack reported declining sales in Q2 2014 and an operating loss of $119.4 million — more than double the prior year. The electronics chain reported total net sales and operating revenues of $673.8 million, compared to$861.4 million last year. The company also reported a 20% decline in comparable store sales, driven, by traffic declines and soft performance in its mobility business.

The results prompted industry analysts to predict the retailer could be close to bankruptcy, prompting some to offer predictions even before the retailer released its Q2 results. Wedbush Securities, for example, lowered its target stock price for RadioShack to $0 on Sept. 9.

{loadposition GIAA}“In May, RadioShack announced that it was unable to successfully negotiate consent from its lenders under the 2018 Credit Agreement and Term Loan to close up to 1,100 stores,” wrote Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities. “The terms offered by lenders were not acceptable to the company. RadioShack's operational decisions are now being vetted by creditors and equity investors are no longer relevant to management decisions — the creditors clearly are in control of the ship and, in our view, the ship is sinking.”

In response to the financial results, RadioShack CEO Joseph C. Magnacca stated: “We are actively exploring options for overhauling our balance sheet and are in advanced discussions with a number of parties. We are also working with our key financial stakeholders, including our existing lenders, bondholders, shareholders and landlords seeking to create a long-term solution. This may include a debt restructuring, a store base consolidation program and other measures to make significant reductions in our cost structure.”

In a separate announcement, RadioShack appointed Holly F. Etlin as its interim CFO — replacing John Feray, who resigned on Sept 12. A Managing Director of AlixPartners, Etlin previously served as RadioShack’s interim CFO from July 2013 through Feb. 2014.

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:43:55 -0400
Finding The Right Audience With Social Analysis Finding The Right Audience With Social Analysis

VP site only Networked Insights head shotThe World Cup dominated the news this summer, even in publications that don’t typically cover sporting events. Despite the early U.S. elimination, American consumers and brands stayed involved in the action from their introduction to Cristiano Ronaldo to Luis Suarez’s bite to Germany’s impressive win. More importantly for marketers, the Cup provided evidence that real-time marketing has come a long way since Oreo’s legendary Super Bowl 2013 Blackout tweet.

Regardless of World Cup sponsorship status, brands leveraged the excitement in marketing activities, some more successfully than others. Examples include the anticipated Nike Risk Everything campaign, the commercial from Cup newbie Beats by Dre’s Game Before the Game campaign and the inevitable Coca-Cola v. Pepsi battle.

{loadposition GIAA}No one expected JCPenney to cause a stir this summer. Yet its #JCPFanaticas campaign did just that. The retailer wanted to expand market share bytargeting Hispanic women in the U.S. because it believes its company growth depends on catering to Latinas. Hispanics comprise just 9% of JCPenney’s current customer base, but they account for a disproportionately high percentage of sales, and the retailer does not see this trend dwindling any time soon. In fact, Hispanic shoppers are projected to be its fastest-growing shopper base this year.

To reach this consumer group, JCPenney decided to leverage the World Cup excitement. More Hispanic women watch the World Cup than non-Hispanic men in the U.S. Knowing this, JCPenney developed a social media and mobile real-time marketing campaign. It used text message offers, World Cup apparel offered on a mobile app and a bracket featuring spirited fashion looks on its Latino Facebook page. In terms of social media, the marketing team created a hashtag campaign in which fans could retweet to win free “kicks.” Each of the retailer’s #JCPFanaticas free kick tweets garnered an average of 500 retweets and 70 favorites. This campaign also serves as the official kick-off to JCPenney’s marketing focus on the Hispanic customer.

This campaign had all the elements of a smart social media campaign. It included timely, relevant content combined with a clear promotion and call-to-action. And guess what? It worked! According to data from Networked Insights, a marketing analytics firm, brand awareness increased 49% among Latinas in the U.S. during the World Cup. In the same period, brand awareness only increased 29% for Coca-Cola — a World Cup sponsor with far more brand recognition to begin with.


Among U.S. Female Consumers

Among U.S. Hispanic Women

Change in Campaign Awareness for JC Penney



Change in Campaign Awareness for Coca-Cola



More surprising, the JCPenney campaign actually resonated more strongly with women at large than with the target audience. While the change in campaign awareness for JCPenney grew by 49% among U.S. Hispanic women, it grew by more than double at 116% for all female consumers in the U.S. This is not to say that the campaign was unsuccessful, but it demonstrates how hard it can be to create a campaign that resonates exclusively with a particular audience.

Marketers know all too well that identifying the perfect mix of messaging, channels and creative to reach niche audiences is a tough feat. Opting for broader audiences is easier but leaves great room for error. The more niche marketers get, the more difficult the task becomes — but this also yields a greater reward.

Advances in social media analytics makes finding and speaking with niche audiences easier. Although many brands use social listening platforms to uncover brand mentions and shares, these tools leave much to be desired. Social analytics takes this one step further by helping marketers find new audiences, discover consumer interests and measure campaign success by analyzing conversations on the social web.

Find New Audiences

Finding the right audience for a brand is no longer the impossible task it once was. For example, many brands would be surprised to learn that adults adopted products designed for children. Brands can now predict and leverage a shift, whether dramatic or slight. Consumers tell you how they use or feel about products and brands all over the Internet. When marketers view those conversations in aggregate, they gain a good idea of their real customer, which informs their brand messaging.

For example, we could assume that cities with a strong local soccer team would have been most interested in this summer’s World Cup, but the truth may surprise us. A Networked Insights analysis revealed that Washington, D.C. topped the list in World Cup anticipation across the U.S. Their residents also over-indexed for obvious sites like ESPN and less obvious ones like Just Jared. In both cases, social insights can help brands locate audiences, both online and in the real world.

Discover Consumer Interests

Once brands know who their audiences are, they need to find common interests. Knowing what else the target audience likes improves communication between brands and consumers. This information helps marketers develop content strategy, messaging and targeting to execute more effective campaigns. The best way to do this is to look outside of the brand’s product category to discover their brand’s top affinities. The association between a brand and something unrelated to it that consumers like creates a positive brand affiliation.

Revisiting the World Cup audience reveals that their interests are diverse and extend beyond soccer. World Cup fans are more interested in U.S. football, documentaries, international travel and luxury cars than the general consumer. Some of these may seem obvious affiliations, but others are surprising. Regardless, marketers who incorporate these other interests into their marketing activities will perform well.

Measure Campaign Success

Marketers constantly measure their success by ROI — except for social media. There, they rely on likes, comments and shares rather than the efforts’ impact on sales or the purchase potential of a given like or comment.

That doesn’t have to be the case. By fully understanding customers’ interests and demographics, brands can determine purchase intent and therefore give meaning to social conversations. Conversations in context paint an overall picture of brand health and inform existing KPIs.

For example, we tracked purchase intent amongst World Cup fans during the tournament. Across brands, purchase intent decreased 14% when compared to pre-tournament levels. Budweiser, on the other hand, experienced a jump in brand awareness conversations by more than 112% during the same period.

Without context, Budweiser might not have understood the impact of its “Man of the Match” campaign or official sponsorship. Though sales may not spike right away, brands can see consumer awareness and intent by analyzing social conversations.

Purchase intent is perhaps the most powerful metric that social analysis can provide brands. It helps determine the success of a campaign and predict future sales. While JCPenney moved the needle with both Latinas and a general female audience in terms of brand awareness, it is unclear yet if #JCPFanaticas did much to affect sales.


Rick Miller is Vice President of Data and Insights at Networked Insights, an analytics company that uses online conversations to help marketers make better decisions.

]]> (Rick Miller, Networked Insights) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:21:55 -0400 And Man Made London Unveil Social Media Pop-Up And Man Made London Unveil Social Media Pop-Up

Luxury brand Marc Jacobs caused a stir when it launched a pop-up Tweet Shop supporting its line of Daisy fragrances. Consumers were asked to use #MJDaisyChain in tweets, as well as Facebook and Instagram posts. The more the hash tag was used, and the more influential the posts, the more “digital currency” was aggregated.

Now,, an online destination for men’s grooming products, and Man Made London are partnering on a social media barbershop to generate buzz and engagement for both brands.

“We are both start-ups that launched around the same time in the same industry,” explained Rupa Ganatra, Co-Founder of, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We actually first met on Twitter, which is quite fitting for our current collaboration!”

{loadposition GIAA}Initially, and Man Made London partnered on a series of “how-to” videos on grooming for the YouTube channel, Ganatra explained. “Then we came up with the idea to launch the first ever social media barber shop shortly afterwards.”

The shop, which will be open Sept. 18-20, 2014 in London, will exchange Facebook posts, tweets and Instagram posts as payment for a wet shave or beard trim. All customers have to do is share photos and messages using the hash tag #SHAVEMESIR.

All customers who visit the pop-up shop will be able to browse and purchase items from the brand, enter competitions and snack on popcorn and beer.

“We are in the same industry, attracting the same clientele but in a slightly different way, so it seemed a no-brainer to connect and work together,” said Dan Gregory, Founder and Creative Director at Man Made London. “The overall planning was simple; keep it about the client, and let's offer them something that they will remember and enjoy.”

The ongoing partnership between and Man Made London has been mutually beneficial, according to Ganatra. “Both of our businesses are very like-minded, and we want to push the boundaries and explore new opportunities for our businesses.”

Both companies will be tracking overall social engagement to determine the overall success of the pop-up shop, and then track whether customers acquired during the campaign continually engage with both brands.

“I think the measurement of success for this event will be of we trend on Twitter and we grow our followers and ‘likes’ on our social media sites,” Gregory said. “If it's a success it will hopefully bring clients back to either shop with or future bookings at Man Made. I feel this is just another great collaboration between the two brands and we use the same philosophy as we have every time.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:17:36 -0400
Emma For Shopify Extends Real-Time Targeting To Email Marketers Emma For Shopify Extends Real-Time Targeting To Email Marketers

SS site only Shopify imageAs consumers continue to demand more personalized offers, messages and incentives, retailers must put more effort into understanding their browsing and buying habits, as well as their overall preferences. In doing so, retailers will be able to efficiently deploy more targeted messages and campaigns.

Emma for Shopify is an email marketing solution designed to allow retailers to organize customer sales data into segments based on purchasing history, enabling real-time customer targeting. All data is updated in real time as behaviors change. The solution can track purchases that result from clicked links within an email so retailers can instantly see the ROI achieved from an email marketing campaign.

Emails can be personalized and delivered based on a number of data points, such as number of purchases or total amount spent. Users can adjust their communication strategies in real time based on customer response in order to boost revenue and customer engagement.

“As a small business owner, I’m always looking for ways to make my message more relevant to my customers,” said Stephen Rose, Owner of The Peach Truck. “The fact that my Shopify audience is segmented by purchase history automatically within Emma means I’m able to personalize my email marketing even further — that helps my brand and my business.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 15 Sep 2014 09:13:30 -0400
CMT Partners With VeriFone To Offer Universal Mobile Taxi Payment App In NYC CMT Partners With VeriFone To Offer Universal Mobile Taxi Payment App In NYC

verifone way2rideCreative Mobile Technologies (CMT) and VeriFone have teamed up to offer increased mobile payment options in nearly 20,000 yellow and green taxis in New York City. Previously, taxis in the city were equipped with either RideLinQ from CMT or VeriFone’s Way2ride, both of which allowed cab riders to pay fares using their smartphones. The two payment options are now universal in New York City Taxis.

“With this initiative, we heeded the call from our passengers by providing them with new payment tools to enhance the riding experience,” said Jason Poliner, Vice‐Chairman of CMT. “The universal functionality of both apps allows users — for the first time — total freedom to take any of the almost 20,000 taxis and Street Hail Liveries on New York City streets and know that they can pay quickly, confidently, and securely with one app.”

{loadposition GIAA}RideLinQ and Way2ride allow users to load multiple payment options into an account, pay fares through their mobile device and review ride history with detailed cab and fare information. The apps work in equipment that is already in the vehicle — removing the burden of running the payment through a driver’s phone or other payment device.

“We purposely built Way2ride on an open API cloud platform to allow developers to easily create apps with secure payment, messaging and other value-added services leveraging VeriFone’s secure mobile commerce network,” said Amos Tamam, SVP of Taxi Systems for VeriFone. “In many ways, this collaboration is a testament to the value of Way2ride’s open platform, which not only allows us to provide passengers with increased payment convenience, but also progress farther with our commerce enablement solutions and integration with other networks.”

The two companies plan to take this collaboration national by implementing cross functionality between the two apps in more cities.

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Fri, 12 Sep 2014 15:00:48 -0400
Whole Foods Launches Wine Delivery Service Whole Foods Launches Wine Delivery Service

wineclubOn the heels of the announcement of one-hour grocery delivery, Whole Foods Market has partnered with to launch Wine Club, a subscription-based wine delivery service.

 “We were the first national grocer to open wine bars in our stores and the first to serve wines from kegs in order to preserve freshness and encourage sustainability,” said Doug Bell, Global Beverage Buyer. “The Wine Club by Whole Foods Market marks another first for the company, and we see it as the next evolution to satisfy and delight our very passionate wine shoppers.”

Wine Club will offer members four shipments of six bottles each per year, priced at $125 per shipment. The wines will be hand-selected by Whole Foods Market’s wine experts.

Shoppers may select between one and four shipments for gift memberships and can choose the date they’d like the first shipment to be delivered. Ongoing subscribers will receive new shipments in February, May, September and November and will receive their first shipment within a week of signing up.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 12 Sep 2014 11:43:53 -0400
A Vote For Apple Pay: How It Will Impact Retail Loyalty Marketing A Vote For Apple Pay: How It Will Impact Retail Loyalty Marketing

Zach-Goldstein-Thanx-HeadshotApple made a big splash on September 9 announcing Apple Pay — finally enabling consumers to make purchases with their iPhones at participating retailers.

With such a dramatic entry and a new, imposing entrant into mobile payments, retail loyalty marketers need to grasp the ramifications of how purchasing and retention marketing will evolve.

Why Apple Pay

Apple isn’t the first big company to foray into mobile payments. But in Tim Cook’s keynote speech last week, Apple repeatedly stressed the effortlessness of its approach. Until now, three consistent challenges have hampered mobile payments: limited uptake, high-effort participation, and uncertain security. Understanding how Apple addressed each can also help shed light on how to develop an effective customer loyalty program that is similarly effortless for consumers.

Many previous mobile pay solutions have attempted to create an entirely new payments infrastructure; Apple instead chose to integrate directly with the banks and credit card networks. This makes sense — those existing networks process more than $12B each day in the United States. With one click, consumers can link existing credit cards and be ready to go, thus drastically lowering the barriers to signup for merchants and consumers alike.  

{loadposition GIAA}Apple realized that changing consumer behavior is challenging and only truly hassle-free solutions see broad adoption. After all, paying by credit card isn’t all that hard. Instead of introducing new in-store hardware, added steps at checkout, or even the need to unlock the phone, Apple Pay reduces the act of paying to a single, effortless tap.

And finally, with regard to security, Apple engineered and elegant solution to engender consumer trust: transactions remain between the customer, merchant, and bank. By anonymously linking credit card data to the consumer’s phone using a technology called tokenization, customers don’t have to worry about a potential breach or malicious use.

Painless. Frictionless. Effortless. Apple wants to change the way customers pay and they are banking on simplicity to make it happen.

How Apple Pay Can Teach Us About the Future of Loyalty Marketing

Targeted retail marketing involves the same customer/merchant/bank relationship that is integral to payments. Marketers looking to develop their loyalty capabilities can learn from Apple’s approach to innovation.

Modern consumers will only respond to retention marketing programs that invoke the same three tenets of the Apple Pay approach: (1) painless enrollment; (2) frictionless participation; and (3) effortless security.

Signing up for most traditional loyalty programs is a pain — sometimes requiring lengthy paper applications or at-home registration. Instead of introducing added complexity into a store visit, next-generation loyalty solutions must focus on simplification and optimizing around customers’ valuable time.

Take for example private label credit cards, which suffer from limited customer adoption. Pragmatically, everything from a fear of high fees to the added responsibility of yet another payment account prohibits most consumers from even considering such a program — no matter how valuable the rewards. Instead, retailers should focus on loyalty programs that accept and enhance the ways customers actually want to pay. Doing so will drastically increase adoption and lay the foundation for successful loyalty initiatives.

Similarly, actually participating in the program on each subsequent visit has to be frictionless. Think about what makes customers loyal to a brand. Sure, incentives such as BOGO discounts or rebates attract interest. Maximizing lifetime value, however, requires VIP treatment — the “everybody knows your name” feeling.

Punch cards and plastic loyalty cards are a thing of the past. Everyone can relate to piles of half-redeemed loyalty cards in a personal lost-but-never-found drawer. The issue with cards is that they introduce too much customer agency. It's no wonder that nearly 60% of loyalty memberships go inactive within the first year according to Mintel and that over 30% of reward value goes unredeemed each year according to Colloquy. Earning rewards in traditional loyalty programs is a hassle.

As a result, brands risk fatigue — or even worse, resentment — as loyal customers cannot redeem their hard-earned benefits. Apple made payments frictionless by using an already-familiar checkout flow and making it even easier. The same result is achievable with loyalty if the focus is on changing as little as possible about the way customers shop (a second plastic card with your name on it simply doesn’t fit that mold). The technology now exists for loyalty to be layered on top of existing payment methods — from credit cards to Apple Pay — in order to eliminate any added hassle during the purchasing process.  

Finally, loyalty programs — just like payments — need to establish effortless security. Customers that even sniff a privacy risk will not only reject loyalty programs, but also warn away their friends. No other reputation is easier to lose than security.

For example, several early movers in the loyalty and mobile payments space have relied on routing payments through their own network to track consumer spend. Consequently, transactions relied on less secure barcodes or signals generated by third-party apps and hardware. If a third-party has credit card data stored on their system, it represents a major risk to both consumer and retailer. Even Apple stayed away from it. Instead, loyalty programs must guarantee security measures for all sensitive information in ways similar to Apple’s use of tokenization.

The Future Of Loyalty Programs

Utilizing existing infrastructure to streamline enrollment, delivering a seamless customer experience, and establishing foolproof security — this is now table-stakes for loyalty marketing. Traditional point-of-sale integrated solutions haven’t yet caught up.

Payments are evolving; Wedbush Securities Analyst Gil Lauria envisions the future as "walking through Macy's and getting an offer for 15% off sent right to your phone and then being able to apply that just by flashing your phone at the register.” But this vision is not yet a reality.

New technologies like Apple Pay don’t deliver the consumer insights and actionable marketing tools that merchants demand; Apple actually obfuscates name and other personally identifiable information for Apple Pay purchases. Beyond purchase data, Apple Pay does not provide any of the more sophisticated data or tools needed for a merchant to act. As a result, alternative technologies will step in to address this data gap.

This is a huge opportunity for innovative loyalty marketing programs that can provide the coveted demographic, behavioral and transaction data merchants need to foster personalized customer loyalty. Plastic cards may have sufficed previously, but for the retail marketer looking to win over a modern consumer, any successful solution must abide by the same three tenets driven home in Apple’s big launch last week:

Painless enrollment. Seamless user experience. Effortless security.

Zach Goldstein is the CEO and Founder of Thanx. Thanx helps merchants identify, engage and retain their best customers without the hassle associated with traditional reward programs. Goldstein previously spent several years at Bain and Company with a focus on customer satisfaction and retention for leading retail and high-technology companies.

]]> (Zach Goldstein, Thanx) Executive ViewPoints Fri, 12 Sep 2014 11:00:00 -0400
Schwan’s Becomes Go-To Source For Tailgating Needs With HelloWorld Schwan’s Becomes Go-To Source For Tailgating Needs With HelloWorld

SchwansWith the college football season underway, many consumers like to spend their weekends watching games and eating their favorite foods. During this time, food brands and consumer packaged goods companies strive to stand out and engage customers across all channels to drive in-store sales.

Schwan’s Consumer Brands launched its college football web site to promote its pizza brands: Freschetta, Red Baron and Tony’s. Digital and mobile marketing agency HelloWorld launched the mobile-optimized site, which is designed to offer consumers an online destination for all their home tailgating needs. The site includes sweepstakes, recipes, tailgate hosting tips, contests, trivia, an interactive “Football Blitz” game and a scavenger hunt. The promotion went live on Aug. 1, 2014, and will run until Jan. 10, 2015.

{loadposition GIAA}On the site, consumers can select a college football theme based on a selection of 15 teams. Participants then see a virtual living room decorated with their selected schools’ colors.

“This is the second year of our college sponsorship, so we learned quite a lot from our first year experience,” said Marcie Anderson, Integrated Marketing Manager at Schwan’s. “We had jumped in fairly late to the game last year. This year, with more planning, we are able to ask ourselves: ‘How can we take this to a new level? How can we make this into a more integrated campaign with all touch points around the whole path-to-purchase? How are we going to influence the purchase at that crucial moment in the freezer section?’ It’s reaching them on all the different devices: Mobile, tablets, laptops, all the way to the physical stores.”

Participants who register are automatically entered into a sweepstakes to win more than $150,000 worth of prizes. Grand prizes include five monthly sweepstakes of $10,000 in cash, a home entertainment makeover and a kitchen makeover.

The sweepstakes is compatible with social media platforms. Consumers can enter by “liking” Facebook pages, as well as sharing the promotion and recipes on their personal Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts.

“What’s great about this program in particular is the strategy,” noted Sara Kowal, VP of Product Innovation at HelloWorld. “It’s using that chance to win the sweepstakes to drive people to register, but then it’s the actual content and that personalization that will drive people back on a regular basis. I think that’s what makes a program like this so successful, especially over an extended period of time like the college football season. All these aspects make it a holistic experience and drive the engagement with the brands.”

To determine the success of the omnichannel program, Anderson and the Schwan’s team will consider multiple factors. “We’re not only going to take into account how many people visited and registered, or how much time people spent on the site or the Facebook page,” Anderson said. “We’re going to keep in mind how the promotion is actually driving the rest of our business. We’re going to be working with our Nielsen partners and try to measure what impact it has had on the store level, specifically on in-store displays.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Fri, 12 Sep 2014 09:00:00 -0400
PunchTab Appoints Citrix Alum As New CEO PunchTab Appoints Citrix Alum As New CEO

mikemansbachOmnichannel engagement and insights platform PunchTab has named Mike Mansbach CEO of the company.

Mansbach previously served as head of the Global Sales and Client Services team for the SaaS division at Citrix. Ranjith Kumaran, former and founding CEO of PunchTab, will maintain an active role on the company’s board of directors.

“[PunchTab CTO] Mehdi Ait Oufkir has built a unique technology and data analytics platform, and Mike Mansbach is a proven leader with both a clear vision and a unique talent for scaling next generation technologies to meet customer needs,” said Katherine Barr, a lead investor and board member at PunchTab. “This combination is incredibly powerful. Mike’s reputation for exceeding customer expectations, defining and leading markets and scaling strong global teams is well-known, and we look forward to supporting PunchTab’s exponential growth under his and Mehdi’s leadership.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Fri, 12 Sep 2014 08:03:57 -0400
GameStop Launches Credit Card With Alliance Data GameStop Launches Credit Card With Alliance Data

GameStop Store Front 0GameStop and Alliance Data Systems are introducing a GameStop-branded private label credit card program. Alliance Data’s Retail Services business will equip GameStop with a customized, loyalty-driven private label credit program designed to enhance the retailer’s relationship with more than 28 million members of its two-tiered PowerUp Rewards loyalty program.

The GameStop PowerUp Rewards credit card offers a number of benefits for loyalty members:

  • Promotional financing for large purchases;
  • Online and mobile card management and payment;
  • No annual fee; and
  • Additional savings offers to cardholders.

{loadposition GIAA}PowerUp Rewards Pro members who sign up for the card will be awarded 15,000 bonus points as incentive for opening an account, while a Basic member will receive 5,000 points. These points can be used for merchandise rewards or discounts.

“Recently, many of our customers have asked us for a financing solution to extend their purchasing power,” said Frank Hamlin, CMO at GameStop. “We are pleased to give them one in time for the holiday season .Now, the GameStop PowerUp Rewards credit card gives even more power to our customers, allowing them to get bonus points, and if they desire, pay over time for all the great new and pre-owned items we sell.”

GameStop will receive access to Alliance Data’s digital and mobile capabilities connected to the program and plans to leverage its multi-channel approach for new cardholder acquisition. Alliance Data also will provide GameStop with greater analysis of purchasing behaviors — adding to the retailer’s existing reporting analytics.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Alliance Data to partner with a brand that is focused on building strong relationships with its members and understanding how they like to shop and be rewarded,” said Melisa Miller, President of Alliance Data Retail Services. “We look forward to collaborating closely with this industry leader to help them drive long-term loyalty, grow sales and give its valued members even more reasons to shop frequently.”

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:44:55 -0400
Oracle Completes MICROS Acquisition Oracle Completes MICROS Acquisition

OracleMicrosOracle has completed its acquisition of MICROS Systems for $68 per share in cash, or $5.3 billion. Following the merger, MICROS will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oracle, and MICROS common stock will no longer be listed on NASDAQ.

Combined, the company created a new Hospitality Global Business Unit focused on the hotel, food and beverage industry. The new unit will be led by Mike Webster, SVP and GM of Oracle Retail.

With the addition of MICROS. Oracle will be able to extend its offerings by combining MICROS’ industry specific applications with Oracle’s business applications, technologies and cloud portfolio.

“Together, Oracle and MICROS will help hospitality and retail companies respond to rapidly evolving customer expectations, increase revenue and drive operational improvements with complete, open and integrated solutions,” said Webster. “Our customers will appreciate our deep domain expertise across both Retail and Hospitality as we deliver mission-critical solutions to solve our customers’ most important business initiatives.”

The Board of Directors of MICROS unanimously approved the transaction when it was made public in June. The acquisition officially closed after MICROS shareholders tendered a majority of their outstanding shares and the European Commission approved the transaction.

"The commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would not raise competition concerns because the combined market share of MICROS and Oracle is limited and many strong competitors would remain after the acquisition," the European Commission said in a statement.

The acquisition is Oracle’s largest transaction since it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010 for $7.4 billion.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 11 Sep 2014 12:08:35 -0400
Stein Mart To Open Six New Stores In 2014 Stein Mart To Open Six New Stores In 2014

Stein MartStein Mart, a discount retailer of fashion apparel, accessories, home décor and shoes, will open six new stores this fall as part of an extensive store expansion plan.

In total, Stein Mart plans to open nine new locations in key growth markets and relocate seven stores. The retailer will be operating more than 270 locations nationwide once the new stores open.

The six new stores opening this fall will be located in:Albuquerque, New Mexico; Carlsbad, Calif.; Citrus Heights, Calif; Clovis, Calif.; Delray Beach, Fla.; and Gainesville, Va. The four relocated stores opening this fall will be stationed in: Franklin, Tenn.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Mobile, Ala.; and Rocklin, Calif.

The news of the store openings comes on the heels of a two-year period of ongoing sales growth. Stein Mart has seen same-store sales increase by 2% in 2014 to date. For the 2013 fiscal year, same-store sales increased a total of 3.7%.

"We are extremely pleased with the stores we opened during the firsthalf of the year and are very excited about our new locations openingthis fall," said Jay Stein, CEO of Stein Mart. "Our 2014 store expansion is the perfect way to introduce even more Stein Martcustomers to our great offering of designer and name brand merchandise,at affordable prices, in an attractive, easy-to-shop setting."

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Financial News Thu, 11 Sep 2014 08:14:20 -0400
The Move Toward Mobile POS The Move Toward Mobile POS

FEAT Payments 922014For retailers looking to foster customer loyalty and enhance in-store service, mobile POS is becoming an increasingly attractive complement to more traditional devices. In fact, according to an IHL Group study, Mobile POS: Hype To Reality, mobile POS will cannibalize 12.4% of traditional POS shipments in North America by 2016. And a report by Infogroup indicates that the number of retailers using mobile POS systems will triple by 2018.

Driving this movement toward mobile POS is the sheer number of smartphone-wielding shoppers — a whopping 58% of Americans, according to Internet analytics firm comScore. Hoping to tap into this burgeoning demographic, retailers are reaching for a widening array of mobile POS tools, aiming to strike a better balance between traditional tools and more innovative POS devices.

{loadposition GIAA}Amazon is one of the most recent entrants into the growing mobile POS vendor landscape. In August, the eTail behemoth unveiled Local Register, a secure card reader and mobile app that lets local businesses accept credit and debit cards anywhere from a smartphone or tablet. That a retailer known for its e-Commerce prowess is entering the brick-and-mortar fray with a mobile POS solution is no surprise to Jordan McKee, a Senior Analyst with the 451 Research Mobility Team.

“The majority of commerce occurs offline,” said McKee. “Only 10% is e-Commerce; the rest occurs in the physical world so that’s where the real opportunities lie. And that’s what Amazon is hoping to tap into.”

For Amazon, Local Register promises to open the doors to treasure troves of customer transaction data. Retailers, on the other hand, are using mobile POS tools to gather email information, reduce wait times and free up floor space. And small and medium-size businesses, in particular, are fast recognizing how mobile POS can provide a cost-effective leg-up over deep-pocketed competitors.

Consider, for example, In The Pink. A chain of Lilly Pulitzer Signature Stores, In The Pink recently rolled out a custom mobile POS cart featuring a retail management solution from Springboard Retail in its Newbury Street, Boston store, one of eight locations in the Massachusetts area that will be part of its mobile transformation. Approximately 41 days after implementing the system, In The Pink saw sales increase 60%. Transaction volume and total units per transaction also improved.

Larger retailers are also turning to mobile POS to enhance in-store traffic flow, boost sales and free up store space. Upscale department store chain Nordstrom has long been eliminating checkout lines through the use of mobile POS devices enabled with a solution from Infosys. Using modified iPod Touch devices with credit card scanners attached, employees can check out customers from anywhere in the store, as well as tap into inventory data and place special orders without having to scurry to the stockroom.

Another retailer taking advantage of mobile technology is Urban Outfitters. The hipster clothing retailer also uses the iPad and iPod Touch devices running mobile POS software from Starmount to conduct sales transactions, handle returns and check inventory.

“For the big players, it’s less about payment acceptance and more about customer engagement and trying to make the shopping experience more unique and tailored for the customer,” said McKee.

Mobile POS Providers React To Increased Competition

In the meantime, Amazon is up against its fair share of mobile POS competitors. Square, PayPal and Intuit are among those offering similar services. To gain a foothold, Amazon is offering 1.75% transaction rate for merchants who sign up for the service by Oct. 31. That’s compared to Square’s 2.75% and PayPal’s 2.7% per transaction fees. 

“The No. 1 advantage right now for Amazon’s Local Register is its introductory pricing,” said McKee. “Essentially, Amazon is looking to promote its pricing in hope of gaining some critical mass.” A positive customer service track record also promises to buoy Amazon as a formidable competitor in the mobile POS space. In the past, both Square and PayPal have come under fire for poor phone-based customer service and mistakenly freezing customers’ accounts.

But retailers also face challenges adopting mobile POS. For one, established retailers often rely on legacy POS systems, many of which are built on client-server architectures. In this case, data is stored on a server inside the store or corporate headquarters. Most mobile POS systems, on the other hand, are cloud-based and may require an overhaul of IT infrastructure and processes.

The result is a slow-and-steady march toward mobile POS that is more about supplanting existing technologies with more nimble and user-friendly tools than outright replacing traditional POS systems.

“I can picture a future where traditional POS is phased out and we start to see more tablets rather than these big, bulky computers that sit on top of cash counters,” predicted McKee. “But it’s certainly not going to be a light-switch event where all of a sudden legacy infrastructure is thrown out the door and these nice mobile solutions are everywhere.”

]]> (Cindy Waxer, Contributing Editor) POS / Payments / EMV Wed, 10 Sep 2014 14:05:26 -0400
U.S. Imports Rise As Longshoreman Contract Remains Unresolved

China-shipping-lineImport volume at U.S. ports is expected to reach 1.47 million containers in September, a slight decrease from the 1.53 million high in August, according to the Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates. However, the total anticipated volume is higher than the five-year average for September, which is 1.42 million containers.

Retailers are stocking up early to prepare for the upcoming holiday season in the event that contract negotiations break down and a dockworker strike ensues.

The six-year agreement between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union expired in July. A tentative agreement on health benefits was developed in August but the two sides are negotiating on other issues as dockworkers continue to operate.

“The negotiations have made progress and retailers have been stocking up, but there’s still cargo that needs to arrive before the holiday season kicks off,” said Jonathan Gold, VP for Supply Chain and Customs Policy for the NRF. “Retailers are making sure that consumer demand during the holidays will be met.”

The number of units shipped is expected to increase consistently through the rest of 2014. U.S. ports followed by Global Port Tracker are expected to handle 1.51 million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in October, 1.39 million TEU in November and 1.37 million TEU in December.

Although cargo levels are increasing, recovery is not as significant as in previous recessions, according to Ben Hackett, Founder of Hackett Associates: “The North American economy is certainly growing, but at lower rates than one would expect coming out of a deep recession. It remains hesitant, growing in spurts rather than in a sustained pattern.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:49:48 -0400
Francesca’s Q2 Earnings Dip, Lowers Full Year Outlook Francesca’s Q2 Earnings Dip, Lowers Full Year Outlook

francescasFrancesca’s Holdings Corp., parent company of specialty retailer Francesca’s, reported a net income of $10.3 million in Q2 2014, declining from $14.6 million in Q2 2013. In response, the company lowered its sales outlook for FY 2014.

Net sales grew 9% to $97.3 million, driven by revenue from the 90 new boutiques opened since the end of Q2 2013. Total apparel sales and accessories sales increased 14% each, with gift sales increasing 25%. The gains were offset by a 12% decrease in jewelry sales. Year over year comparable store sales dipped 7%.

“We are making progress in reversing the negative trends in jewelry as reflected in improved performance of new merchandise in late July and August,” said Neill Davis, CEO and President of Francesca’s. “We expect the improving sales trend that started at the end of the second quarter to continue through the third quarter as jewelry sales continue to strengthen and our customers increasingly respond to our seasonal gift and apparel assortments. Our balance sheet remains strong giving us the ability to continue to open new boutiques, which are meeting our expectations of paybacks under one year while investing in the infrastructure to support our growth.”

Francesca’s issued guidance for the rest of 2014, modifying expected per-share earnings for the year to range from $0.88 to $0.98 on net sales of $373 million to $383 million. The company had previously forecast per-share earnings to range from $1.05 to $1.17 on net sales of $387 million to $399 million.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:18:48 -0400
Small To Mid-Size Businesses: The New Target For Hackers Small To Mid-Size Businesses: The New Target For Hackers

VP Heartland head shotBefore the Target breach, which shook the data security industry to the core, many big companies didn’t see the need to make security a top priority. Many executives thought “good enough” was enough to protect them and their customers.

Target is paying nearly $200 million for its breach, and the big box retailer’s Q2 earnings of $234 million are dismal compared to earnings of $611 million in the same period last year. The cost of being “good enough” is no longer good enough.

{loadposition GIAA}Because of the media coverage the Target breach has received, many large retailers have refocused their priorities and are now putting security at the top of the list. As large businesses gin up security practices and software, hackers have started to migrate to small and mid-size businesses (SMB), which unfortunately, too often view data security as an afterthought. Or owners want to increase their protection, but cannot afford to, resulting in SMBs becoming the new target for hackers.

The Threat To SMBs Is Real And Growing

According to the 2013 Global Security Report by Trustwave, 71% of small business owners were victims of a data breach because they are the least equipped to protect themselves against an attack. Additionally, hackers want to stay under the radar of those authorities investigating and looking for high profile convictions. Hackers have also realized they can steal as much card data from 10 smaller merchants as a single large merchant. And authorities don’t have the resources to thoroughly investigate 10 smaller breaches vs. one large highly publicized breach.

What should be scary for SMBs is that of those businesses that suffered a breach, 60% close their doors after six months, according to Experian.

And while the financial responsibility of a data security breach may fall today with the bank or even a credit/debit card processor, after the October 2015 EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) deadline, the financial burden will lie solely with the retailer if they are not EMV compliant and cannot receive chip and pin cards.

With technology being so prevalent in all businesses, few can afford to leave their business and assets unprotected. And hackers are becoming more sophisticated every day, so SMB owners have to stay a few steps ahead of them because breaches are not going away. Case in point, there were 91 breaches reported in the first 43 days of 2014, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. So, if you think you can’t be breached, you’re being naïve.

What Can Retailers Do?

One way to outsmart the hackers is by implementing a three-prong approach to security. We recommend a combination of EMV, end-to-end encryption technology and tokenization. We call this combined effort Heartland Secure™.

So, why do we recommend a three-step approach? Simple. The reality is that no single countermeasure is enough, which is why merchants need to move to a more comprehensive approach. EMV is a good first step to data security breaches, but unfortunately, it’s not enough to prevent future attacks by sophisticated hackers. EMV alone would not have prevented the Target breach because the theft occurred as a result of malware in the POS that interfaces Target’s signature pad payment devices.

EMV is simply an electronic chip card technology that proves a consumer’s card is genuine. End-to-end encryption technology immediately encrypts card data as it is entered so that no one else can read it. And tokenization technology replaces card data with “tokens” that can be used for returns and repeat purchases, but are unusable by outsiders because they have no value.

Invest Now Or Put Your Business At Risk

Most SMB owners see the value in data security, but many cannot afford the upgraded software. In a 2013 survey by the National Small Business Association, 44% of small business owners cited the cost of upgrading technology as one of their biggest challenges. Butif you’re a business owner and you’re not implementing the proper measures for data protection, you’re opening yourself up to a huge risk.

The combination of EMV, end-to-end encryption technology and tokenization is the best protection available.

Outside of working with your credit card processor to deploy more advanced countermeasures, here are some common sense rules to make your business secure:

  • Keep your security software up-to-date by making timely firewall updates;
  • Change your passwords frequently and use strong passwords to help keep the bad guys at bay;
  • Make sure your business is PCI compliant. A large majority of breaches happen because the merchant was not PCI compliant at the time of their breach. Achieving PCI compliance is not a guarantee against keeping the bad guys out of your point of sale, but the numbers show that being compliant will put the odds in your favor;
  • Don’t browse social media or message friends on the same computer used to process financial information. You leave yourself vulnerable to breaches;
  • Don’t allow employees to log into computer networks remotely using easily stolen passwords or credentials; and
  • Establish security guidelines. SMB owners should create data policies and offer training to ensure employees can handle sensitive and personally identifiable information. The National Cyber Security Alliance found that only 28% of U.S. small businesses have formal internet security policies, leaving the remainder at risk.

All business owners should be proactive, not reactive when addressing security threats. If you are at fault for a security breach, the business fallout can be severe, from fines and penalties and legal costs, to the termination of the ability to accept payment cards. A SMB owner can also experience lost confidence, so customers go to other merchants, which results in lost sales and eventually going out of business. 

Bob Carr is Chairman and CEO of Heartland Payment Systems, a Fortune 1000 company, and the fifth largest payment processor in the nation. Bob will be a featured speaker at this year’s Money 2020 conference, where he will talk about Heartland Secure, the company’s three-prong approach to data security. To find out more about Heartland Payment Systems and Heartland Secure, please visit or follow the company on Twitter @HeartlandHPY and Facebook at

]]> (Bob Carr, Heartland Payment Systems) Executive ViewPoints Wed, 10 Sep 2014 11:27:20 -0400
Chico’s Exec Discusses The Next Generation Of Personalization

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 9.05.16 AMRetailers today are striving to create unique and memorable experiences across all channels. 

The combination of customer data, e-Commerce, mobile technology, social engagement and even interactive digital signage, can help create a compelling brand experience, and in turn, stronger relationships between a brand and its consumers.

Chico’s FAS is one retailer taking this customer-centric, omnichannel approach to marketing and commerce.

In the below Q&A, Robert Gras, VP of Technology - Stores and Applications, at Chico’s FAS, Inc., discusses how the retailer is using technology to differentiate itself in a competitive landscape.  

Gras leads teams in the areas of Chico’s Digital Retail Theatre™ (omnichannel), Retail Store Systems, Innovation, CRM, and Application Development.  As a shared service, the Technology teams support all four brands in the Chico’s FAS portfolio: Chico’s, White House | Black Market, Soma Intimates, and Boston Proper. 

Throughout his career, Gras has led the development of custom applications, implementation of enterprise-wide software packages, and integration of software as a service (SaaS). His leadership of mobility solutions has included tablet-based sales force automation and mobile POS. Gras will speak at The Mobile Payments Conference, which will take place October 6-8 in Chicago.

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): What do you believe are the most pressing topics and trends on retailers’ minds today?

Gras: One of the biggest topics on the minds of every retailer, including Chico’s FAS, is the customer experience. For our company, achieving this goal begins with allowing customers to be in control by giving them the ability to engage with our brand anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

The second prerequisite to a positive customer experience is personalization. This entails aggregating all customer information so that store associates can provide highly personalized customer service.

RTP: What’s an example of this personalized service?

Gras: Let’s say, for example, that a woman is traveling out of town for work and needs to find an outfit for a business meeting. She begins the process in the morning by searching our web site to select a few potential outfits, which she then places in a virtual shopping cart. As she is traveling, she uses our mobile app to find our nearest store, adds a few notes for the store associate, indicating that she will stop by the store during her lunch hour to try on the outfits. When she arrives at the store, the associate has the outfits ready for her along with suggested accessories based on the customer’s profile. This scenario will become a reality as we continue to build and deploy Chico’s Digital Retail Theatre™.

RTP: What is Chico’s Digital Retail Theatre™?

Gras: Chico’s Digital Retail Theatre™ is a platform developed by Chico’s FAS that combines various technologies and applications to enable the collaboration between customers and associates mentioned earlier. Some of the components currently in use or under development include iPad applications for retail associates, iOS and Android apps for customers, mobile POS, and interactive digital signage.

RTP: What do you believe is the key to success in retail today?

Gras: One of the keys to succeeding in today’s competitive retail environment is providing what we’ve coined at Chico’s FAS as MAPS (most amazing personal service). By combining the right customer-focused vision with the right business technologies and services, we continue to make this a reality for our customers.

The Mobile Payments Conference attracts an executive level audience from all parts of the mobile commerce ecosystem, which includes retailers and bankers. Fall 2014 marks the seventh Mobile Payments Conference. “Mobilizing Retail is the New Buzz” is the broad theme for the show, which also will feature the industry’s leading experts who will educate attendees about the latest mobile payments and mobile wallet solutions, services, standards and implementation strategies. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Wed, 10 Sep 2014 08:03:14 -0400
Apple Spotlights Payment Security In iPhone 6 Release Apple Spotlights Payment Security In iPhone 6 Release

iPhone6-PF-SpGry iPhone6plus-PF-SpGry NFC-PRINTThroughout the summer, industry experts speculated that Apple would include an NFC chip in the next iteration of the iPhone. At its Sept. 9 event in Cupertino, Calif., the company went a step further and announced Apple Pay — a payments service the company is touting as “an easy, secure and private way to pay.” The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus phones, as rumored, contain an NFC chip, but the devices also include a dedicated chip called the Secure Element that features Touch ID convenience.

Apple Pay launches in October as part of the iOS 8 update scheduled for that month. Apple Pay will work in stores with iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch. The service works through iTunes and supports credit and debit cards from American Express, MasterCard and Visa. To start using Apple Pay, users can add the credit or debit card number already on file with their existing iTunes account.

{loadposition GIAA}“Security and privacy is at the core of Apple Pay,” noted Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Software and Services, Apple. “When you’re using Apple Pay in a store, restaurant or other merchant, cashiers will no longer see your name, credit card number or security code, helping to reduce the potential for fraud.” He continued: “Apple doesn’t collect your purchase history, so we don’t know what you bought, where you bought it or how much you paid for it. And if your iPhone is lost or stolen, you can use Find My iPhone to quickly suspend payments from that device.”

To help alleviate consumers’ security concerns, Apple will not store card numbers on the device or on Apple servers. A unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and stored in a Secure Element on the consumer’s smartphone. Transactions are authorized with the NFC chip and a unique number provided by the device. Each transaction also is validated with a one-time security code created by Apple Pay. In a nutshell, Apple won’t know what users are buying, and retailers won’t know their customers’ credit or debit card numbers. These tighter security measures are the most “exciting” aspect of Apple’s announcement, according to some industry insiders.

“Apple did a great job of highlighting just how cumbersome making a credit card payment is today and the ease with which you can make a mobile payment, but the security aspects of what they announced jump out at me,” said Mark Ranta, Senior Solutions Consultant for ACI Worldwide, a global payments company. “Tokenization (creating a unique one-time payment code) is great, and the fact that your information isn't shared with the merchant is also interesting.” He added: “If you had used Apple Pay at any of the stores [recently breached] in the news, the information the stolen from the terminals would be worthless.”

Once funded, a shopper’s Apple Pay account is ready for use at retail stores that already have announced support for the service, including Bloomingdale’s, Duane Reade, Macy’s, McDonald’s, Staples, Subway, Walgreens and Whole Foods Market. Apple Pay also will likely work at any retail store that already has enabled contactless payment.

“Our customers will love the convenience of Apple Pay, which will offer an easier, faster and secure way to check-out at Staples,” said Faisal Masud, EVP, Global E-Commerce, Staples Inc.

Apple also is facilitating online and in-app shopping with Apple Pay by allowing users to pay for goods or services using Touch ID, a biometric-based application. Developers can begin adding this functionality to apps when Apple Pay APIs are released in iOS 8.

And just like app developers need to add functionality in order to reap the benefits of Apple Pay, retailers also need to look at upgrades. This could provide the push needed for greater adoption of NFC-enabled POS terminals.

“[This] has thrown some gasoline on the mobile payments discussion,” said Ranta. “There is still a major hurdle that needs to be addressed in the market: POS terminals that are NFC-enabled. You'll likely still have to carry a physical wallet if you hope to make everyday payments at most locations, but hopefully the public discussion/demand will tip as we have been in a classic standoff of ‘no one's asking for it so I am not putting it in.’”

]]> (Rob Fee) POS / Payments / EMV Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:36:58 -0400
Auchan Group Selects ACI Worldwide To Provide Centralized Payments Platform Auchan Group Selects ACI Worldwide To Provide Centralized Payments Platform

auchanAuchan Group, an international retail group of supermarkets based in France, has selected electronic payment solutions provider ACI Worldwide to deliver the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)-compliant European card payments platform.

Auchan Group will implement the Postilion solution as the foundation for a centralized card platform that manages electronic transactions through all channels across Europe. The platform supports the new European standard EPAS protocol, which addresses the region’s numerous local standards and regulations.

{loadposition GIAA}Together, ACI and OneyBanque Accord — the banking subsidiary of Auchan Group — will operate the platform. Additionally, the platform will run in ACI’s data center, which hosts banking and payment solutions for more than 4,000 financial institutions, retailers and billers.

“Based on our successful pilot testing in France and Portugal, we knew that a centralized European card payments platform would soon become not only a reality, but a necessity,” said Arnaud Crouzet, Head of Group Global Payments Development at Auchan Group. “This new platform, which complies with SEPA standards, is a continuation of our corporate electronic payments strategy for safer, more open and more accessible European centralized acquiring.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 09 Sep 2014 14:18:55 -0400
Rakuten Acquires Ebates For $1 Billion Rakuten Acquires Ebates For $1 Billion

ebates-main-newOnline marketplace Rakuten is acquiring Ebates, a provider of coupons, discounts and cash-back promotions for online purchases, for $1 billion in cash. Rakuten will hold 100% of Ebates’ outstanding voting stock.

The acquisition is aimed to further accelerate Ebates’ U.S. and international growth plans and “help create the world’s most attractive and innovative membership-based, loyalty-driven marketplace for consumers,” according to company statement. Ebates members spent more than $2.2 billion shopping through the web site in 2013. 

“Combined, Rakuten and Ebates will be able to offer our members access to what will undoubtedly be the world’s largest selection of products across the broadest range of categories,” said Hiroshi Mikitani, Founder and CEO of Rakuten. “It will also give our members the greatest incentives to keep shopping.”

Over the past year, Rakuten has embarked on an aggressive spending binge to expand its presence in the U.S. The company purchased instant messaging platform Viber for $900 million in January, and in August, it acquired e-Commerce tracking application provider Slice Technologies for an undisclosed sum.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 09 Sep 2014 10:24:14 -0400
Whole Foods Market Launches One-Hour Delivery In 15 U.S. Cities

Instacart infographic hiresWhole Foods Market has formed a new partnership with Instacart to provide one-hour delivery to customers in select cities. Soon, shoppers also will have the ability to place orders through Instacart and then pick up their orders at participating stores.

Customers can order from Whole Foods Market by visiting or using the Instacart mobile app.  After selecting their ZIP code, customers add items to their virtual carts, select a delivery window and complete their transactions.

Instacart Personal Shoppers confirm orders using their smartphones. These representatives then shop for the items at Whole Foods Market stores, and then deliver orders to customers in the designated delivery timeframe.

The new offering will be piloted at select Austin, Texas, and Boston stores in the next month. Then, the service is expected to expand to an additional 13 cities, including: Atlanta; Boulder, Colo.; Chicago; Denver; Houston; Los Angeles; New York City; Philadelphia; Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle and Washington, DC.

“Instacart makes it extremely easy for our customers to buy Whole Foods Market products from 15 cities and have them quickly delivered — whether buying fresh ingredients for dinner tonight or sending healthy foods to loved ones in another city,” said Walter Robb, Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market. “We are thrilled to add this additional convenience for our customers.”

Within the new few months, Instacart and Whole Foods Market expect to expand the in-store pickup option to all cities Instacart serves. The companies also plan to create additional online grocery shopping, delivery and pickup experiences, according to a company press release.

Instacart customers will receive free delivery on their first order. Each order following will cost $3.99 for two-hour delivery or $5.99 for one-hour delivery. Customers also can purchase a $99 annual Instacart Express membership and receive free delivery on any order over $35.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Tue, 09 Sep 2014 08:47:21 -0400
Pop-Ups Play Key Role In Educating, Engaging Consumers Pop-Ups Play Key Role In Educating, Engaging Consumers

FEAT pop-up imagePop-up stores have evolved into effective outlets for brands and retailers of all sizes and categories to generate excitement, drive awareness and even expand their businesses.

Some of the most buzzed about retailers today, such as Birchbox, Warby Parker and Bonobos, got their start in brick-and-mortar by opening pop-ups.

{loadposition GIAA}As more pop-ups are opened, more brands and retailers are willing to share their overall value and success. In fact, research from Storefront, an online marketplace for brands, artists and entrepreneurs to rent store space, confirms that for every dollar a company spends on pop-up rent, they can make seven more dollars on income. 

“There’s an application of pop-ups for just about anyone,” said Tristan Pollock, Co-Founder and COO at Storefront, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “A lot of the stores we’re seeing are centered on emerging or established brands looking to grow their businesses. They have done trade shows or trunk shows in the past, but now they’re looking to get a stronger presence in a specific city.”

Pop-up stores can help brands and retailers accomplish a variety goals, according to Melissa Gonzalez, a Pop-up Architect at The Lionesque Group. By opening a pop-up, merchants can:

  • Launch a new brand or product;
  • Test a new market;
  • Educate customers;
  • Be present at relevant events such as music and film festivals;
  • Bring customers deeper into the brand lifestyle; and
  • Flush out excess inventory.

Regardless of their purpose, pop-ups can help retailers put a more fun and creative spin on the traditional brick-and-mortar model.

“Although specific goals may vary, the overarching purpose of a pop-up shop is to provide a unique, memorable experience for the customer,” noted Dax Dasilva, CEO of LightSpeed. “The rising popularity of pop-up shops shows a greater desire for a differentiated experience and rising competition among retailers to get noticed.”

Small- and medium-sized businesses and online pure-plays especially can benefit from opening pop-up shops. Because pop-ups cost less money to open and manage than regular brick-and-mortar stores, emerging and growing enterprises can easily test new markets, engage customers and generate buzz without breaking the bank.

“You see smaller enterprises looking at pop-ups as a solution to integrating the online and brick-and-mortar worlds and generating demand,” said Ben Pressley, Head of Worldwide Sales at Magento. “They want to engage consumers to improve the brand, but traditionally, the process of creating these omnichannel experiences would only be the domain of the high street, big brands.” 

But with more brands venturing into the pop-up space, how can retailers create a strategy that resonates consumers and drives bottom-line results? Retailers need to:

  • Determine overall goals for the pop-up;
  • Finalize a location and time of year;
  • Hire and train employees;
  • Generate buzz before, during and after the pop-up; and
  • Implement the right technology.

Identify Your Goals

Before retailers even consider where and when their pop-ups should open, they must first determine their overall goals.

“That is the first thing that needs to be addressed,” Gonzalez said. “Retailers need to determine their brand promise and their customer targets because your brand promise to your customers impacts how you address your goals.”

Objectives can differ based on the brand or product. While some retailers may want to open a pop-up to generate sales over the competitive holiday season, others may want to educate consumers about their brand or a new product line.

“For some brands, they simply want to expose their brand and maybe sell products,” said Giovanni DeMeo, VP of Global Marketing and Analytics at Interactions. “For others, it’s the exact opposite and they want to test a product and gather feedback from customers. Regardless, determining the objective is crucial to identifying and measuring success.”

Beauty retailer Birchbox, for example, used pop-ups to better understand customer preferences and determine whether brick-and-mortar was an ideal fit for the business moving forward.

Over the past two years, Birchbox opened five pop-ups to “see what worked and to test our findings and insights gleaned online in an offline environment,” said Katia Beauchamp, Co-Founder of Birchbox, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We realized there was a huge advantage in having face-to-face interactions with our customers, and to be able to reach them through multiple points of entry.”

After Birchbox brought its “try, learn, buy” model into the physical world, “we saw the value in bringing our brand to life and creating a store experience that captures the Birchbox retail experience,” Beauchamp explained. “The most important thing was to bring our unique retail experience to an offline model — we did this via personalization, integration of technology, and our merchandising strategy.”

Apparel and accessory retailer DASH Boutique, however, unveiled its Southampton pop-up to determine whether a seasonal pop-up was worth the investment, and what the overall execution process would be like in a short period of time.

“Opening a pop-up was new for all of us at DASH,” said Dakota Jeane Hilton, Director of Retail for DASH Boutique. “The hardest part was finding a space that was in our budget that would still get us the attention we wanted. I had to fly out to Southampton and open up the store in 12 days, which was a crazy experience. Ultimately we did this because we wanted to see if we could. We wanted to see what was possible and what we could really accomplish. Now we know that if we do another pop-up, we have all the tools ready and we can execute very quickly.”

Measuring sales is key to determining the overall value of a pop-up shop, but retailers also need to measure short-term and long-term results based on marketing, social engagement, foot traffic and overall peaks in store traffic and sales.

“It’s not just about how much you’re ringing at the register,” Gonzalez said. “It’s about understanding the metrics that determine the long-tail impact of a pop-up store and how you can apply lessons learned for future stores.”

Selecting The Right Place At The Right Time

Retailers must determine the optimal cities to reach target customers, and should even consider prevalent events that may help boost traffic to locations.

The success of a pop-up shop can sometimes depend on opening a location at the right place at the right time.

“There are a lot of different events in a lot of cities, such as New York Fashion Week and South By Southwest,” Pollock said. Merchants are using these events “as critical drivers of foot traffic. People are out and about and you can reach a very specific demographic if you’re present in these cities at these times.”

H&M used Coachella to create the ultimate pop-up experience. The fast-fashion retailer created an interactive storefront at the music festival to promote its “H&M Loves Music” line, which was curated by musicians and artists. The pop-up featured the new collection, complimentary hair and makeup services and a virtual runway, among other features.

The holiday season also has become a critical time for retailers to open quirky pop-up shops designed to spread cheer and create a fun, lively atmosphere.

Birchbox got shoppers in the holiday spirit in 2013 with its “Holiday Pop-In.” The retailer featured some of its top-selling brands, such as Stila and Serge Normat, and also offered a variety of services such as makeup touch-ups, nail art and up-dos.

Because so many retailers are using the holidays as a linchpin for their pop-up strategies, merchants need to create a differentiated experience to stand out.

“There’s a lot of noise during the holidays,” Pollock said. “So there is some creative thought that needs to be done to make sure brands are telling the right story and are selecting the right locations. We’ve seen some brands partner with similar companies and open stores together and then they determine strategically where to place the store and find new ways to stand out.”

Maintaining A Marketing Strategy

Consumers can learn about new pop-up shops simply by walking by a storefront. Yet establishing a compelling marketing strategy across a variety of channels is imperative to boosting interest and driving foot traffic.

For example, “use a hash tag throughout the pop-up’s duration so you can track who’s hearing and talking about it and engage with them further,” Gonzalez said. “Create a calendar of events and campaigns so you have different points of buzz, whether it’s VIP customer influence, bloggers, social media or other channels.”

Gonzalez also recommends that retailers establish partnerships with complementary brands and hold unique events to encourage customers to keep talking about and visiting the shop.

“Make sure you’re creating these events on a weekly basis so you’re drawing new traffic,” Gonzalez advised. “With our pop-up clients, we typically have different themed events throughout the month and make sure they vary.”

Sole Society embraced partnerships as a way to build buzz and create fun, community-driven experiences for its summer pop-up

Although Sole Society provides women’s shoes, handbags and accessories, the brand and eTailer wanted to create an experience that appealed to savvy women who also love to touch and feel products before they buy them, while also enjoying the perks of complimentary cocktails and hair services.

“Our customer seeks style and quality at a price she thinks offers her value,” said Andrea Wasserman, CEO of Sole Society, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “She's happy shopping in many channels — online, at multi-brand stores, at singular-brand stores, full-price and off-price. She's on the go and busy with friends and/or family. But she'll carve out time for an experience that's fun and interactive and allows her to find fashion she loves at a price she can afford.”

Sole Society partnered with Lionesque Group to open pop-up stores that brought the online brand to life, and created a “girlfriends’ night out vibe,” according to Wasserman. “Taking our brand offline in our own setting is brand new for us this summer. We're in the very early stages, just having popped up at a festival in June and twice in our headquarters in July. With the most recent two, the energy has been palpable. We want to continue providing an environment filled with fashion that spans categories and prices, friendly service and a reason to linger. It's not meant to be purely transactional.”

Although driving sales wasn’t the sole goal of the pop-up shop, more than 95% of people who visited the location “left with one or many shopping bags,” Wasserman said. “The average items per order and bag size exceeded our expectations.”

Integrating Technology Across All Channels

While planning and executing a pop-up, a retailer needs to consider how much, or how little, technology it would like to integrate into the experience. More importantly, it needs to think about how these technology touch points should integrate with other systems to get a comprehensive view of sales, foot traffic and inventory.

“Integration is a key challenge for many retailers,” Gonzalez said. “I’m seeing more POS systems integrate with the back-end systems stores are using to eliminate this problem. A lot of POS systems are moving in a direction where they can integrate in-store and online channels.”

DASH Boutique used the cloud-based POS solution from LightSpeed because store inventory from its other stores already was uploaded onto the system.

“A lot of the clothing we have in Southampton is in other stores,” Hilton said. “It was an easier transition and everything was in the system already. We purchased some items specifically for the pop-up but all we had to do was just add another store to the system.” DASH employees used two iPad Airs as their POS and clienteling tools for the pop-up store.

By selecting technology partners that can integrate pop-up inventory and sales with other channels, retailers will “be able to better understand how the pop-up impacted the business,” Dasilva noted. Creating this streamlined, omnichannel experience also can empower retailers to save sales, or even encourage cross-sells and up sells.

For instance, if an item is on display but isn’t available in a customer’s size, an associate can tap into the system to order the product and have it shipped to the customer’s store.

Retailers also can use interactive technology to create digital storefronts. TOMS, Rebecca Minkoff and Kate Spade Saturday are among the retailers using “Connected Glass” technology from eBay to marry the digital and physical worlds. Using large touch screens, shoppers can sift through inventory, add products to their digital shopping carts and complete transactions. While eBay and PayPal handle the payment process, the retailer manages order fulfillment and delivery.

These brands and retailers are “so pleased with the results they have seen and their ability to engage consumers,” Pressley said. “The technological capabilities allow them to create seamless, positive experiences across all channels.”

Will Popularity Fade?

Pop-up stores are cropping up on a national and even global scale. But that doesn’t mean their overall draw and success will deplete. 

“Pop-ups are merely the term of now,” Pollock said. “Before that they were fairs, festivals and markets. Temporary retail experiences have always been around. Even though the pop-up space is huge it’s going to continue to be redefined based on spaces, collaborations and technology, and will become a part of retailers’ multichannel strategies.”

Other sources, however, indicate that as the pop-up market becomes more saturated, retailers will have to focus more time, energy and financial resources on creating unique experiences.

“It will be more challenging to engage customers as more retailers create pop-up shops,” Dasilva said. “Retailers will need to differentiate with great products and a unique experience in their pop-up shops, just as they would in their permanent location.”

To see ongoing success with pop-ups, retailers need to think creatively and innovatively.

“The success we’re seeing from pop-ups is so great that it’s not trending down now,” DeMeo noted. “But this model also is being utilized by very progressive and flexible retail outlets. These retailers are willing to take a risk, do things different and put themselves out there. I don’t foresee any huge infiltration of this medium by the kind of stodgy non-progressive retailers. So for the foreseeable future, this is going to be a great way to engage directly with consumers and provide great value.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Special Reports Tue, 09 Sep 2014 08:00:00 -0400
90% Of U.S. Shoppers Received A Gift Card Over The Past Year

RR Giftcard image 1Up to 77% of U.S. consumers have given a friend or family member a gift card in the past year, while even more consumers (90%) have received one or some gift cards over the same period of time, according to the Retail Gift Card Association.

In the spring of 2014, the Retail Gift Card Association surveyed more than 1,100 U.S. consumers on their use of gift cards, their preferences for giving and spending the cards, and their overall willingness to embrace new gifting options.

Consumers enjoy giving and receiving gift cards because they allow people to purchase the item of their choosing (59%). In addition, 28% of givers and 31% of receivers think the gift card’s best feature is its convenience to use online, in-store and via mobile.

{loadposition GIAA}Although gift cards will always be present in the retail industry, newer gifting options are emerging, including mobile gift cards and e-codes, which can be purchased online or through a mobile app. More than half of shoppers (54%) are still unaware of these options, and only 17% of shoppers consider themselves “very comfortable” using them. However, 62% of the respondents who purchase either a mobile or e-code gift card do so when they need to send the card immediately. While only 20% plan on purchasing these new gifting options, they appear to be on the rise, as 59% would consider them if attached to a promotion.

Gift cards have a positive effect on retailers and shoppers alike, as the cards increase total sales during the redemption process. As many as 45% of shoppers said they would spend beyond the card’s value after redeeming it in the store or online. Additionally, 72% of shoppers said they would do some shopping for themselves when going to a store or web site to purchase a gift card.

Click hereto access more information on the survey.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Shopper Experience Mon, 08 Sep 2014 16:00:00 -0400
Five9 Updates Cloud-Based Contact Center Solution Five9 Updates Cloud-Based Contact Center Solution

SS Five9 imageCustomer service is a pivotal part of the browsing and buying journey. Service agents, as a result, play an important role in educating consumers, answering questions and creating a more enjoyable shopping experience across all channels, including via email, phone and social media.

The Five9 Summer Release, an update to the Five9 Cloud Contact Center Software, includes multichannel applications that integrate social, chat, email and mobile. Each app is designed to allow contact center representatives to engage with customers on their preferred channels and devices. The apps are powered by Five9 Connect, which includes a Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine that filters and categorizes interactions, eliminates spam and determines author sentiment to identify only the most important inquiries.

Five9 Social empowers customer care agents to respond to questions and complaints posted on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and online communities. Designed for the specialized needs of contact centers, the app enables users to manage social care based on traditional contact center KPIs and service-level agreements.

Five9 Chat offers consumer-to-agent chat from mobile or web devices, giving agents the ability to respond, record and manage multiple chat interactions. Five9 Mobile provides mobile customer care for connected customers by leveraging IVR scripts to develop once and deploy on multiple touch points. Customers can select email, chat or call back options to connect with representatives, ask questions and provide feedback.

Five9 Email filters and routes email requests to agents who have access to assistance, search and customer history, ensuring that the proper agent responds to the right email.

The release also gives agents a multichannel desktop so they have access to a simplified cross-channel experience, a supervisor dashboard that offers better reporting capabilities and CRM integrations with companies such as Zendesk.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Tue, 09 Sep 2014 08:00:00 -0400
Realigning The Retail Organization For A Better Omnichannel Experience Realigning The Retail Organization For A Better Omnichannel Experience

VP Starmount head shotRetailers have not fully reorganized for the omnichannel era. It’s a point that’s underscored in a recent study from Retail Systems Research and Starmount, which found that retailers have barely reached the halfway mark on their journey to omnichannel maturity.

Shoppers expect a completely integrated experience that seamlessly bridges the physical and digital retail worlds, but retailers face challenges in delivering on that expectation. In light of widespread omnichannel solution deployment, retailers have overlooked the personnel and processes that can bar them from realizing the full potential of their technology investments. How prevalent is this mindset? Another study found that less than half of retailers have dedicated omnichannel teams working across all their business functions.

{loadposition GIAA}So, why does the organizational structure matter? It’s safe to say that the customer experience suffers if the organization isn’t aligned to meet the demands of omnichannel retail.

One area that illustrates the need for an omnichannel organization is sales attribution. Who gets credit in the following scenarios, and how does the retailer manage compensation?

  • Order online, pick up in-store;
  • Order in-store, ship from online;
  • Order from one store, pick up in another;
  • Order from one store, ship from another; and
  • Order online, pay in-store, and ship from online or another store.

If a retailer can’t resolve these issues of sales attribution and responsibility — and the underlying conflicts they uncover — it can jeopardize their ability to deliver an omnichannel experience to their customers.

Let’s look at some of the priorities that retailers need to address to build an omnichannel organization:

  • Get commitment from the top: Without a chief executive with oversight across all departments and functions — and a strong commitment to omnichannel success — it will be difficult to make the needed changes and allocate the required budget and staffing. 
  • Tear down the silos: Even after a retailer has implemented omnichannel solutions, e-Commerce and store organizations may continue to operate as standalone — and even competing — organizations within a single enterprise. To achieve true omnichannel success, retailers must tear down the silos in their organization.   
  • Realign IT with the business organization: To support the needs of an omnichannel retailer, the IT department must support cross-channel processes and tightly align with the operational side of the business. Because delivering an omnichannel experience requires a high degree of flexibility and consistency across the organization, IT needs to make cross-channel data and process flows a high priority. 
  • Develop an omnichannel compensation plan: Retailers must fundamentally reinvent their compensation schemes to reward cross-channel success.
  • Institute pricing and promotional consistency: Retailers should price products consistently across their channels. If a customer sees the same product at a different price in another of the retailer’s channels, it will erode trust in the retailer’s brand. Retailers need the same level of cross-channel consistency in their promotions, too. 
  • Create a complete view of the customer across all channels: Siloed organizations struggle to create a comprehensive view of the customer that integrates e-Commerce and in-store activity, something customers now expect from store associates. 

To embrace the full potential of omnichannel selling, retailers need an organizational structure that parallels their technology deployment. It’s not enough to deploy technologies for enterprise-wide visibility into inventory, customer and order data; retailers also must realign roles and responsibilities to eliminate the organizational barriers that exist in so many retail enterprises.  

Marty Whitmore is Vice President of Services at Starmount. He brings more than 25 years of experience in the retail industry and IT management where he has held various senior executive leadership positions. Whitmore comes to Starmount from Boston Retail Partners, a consulting company specializing in retail technology, where he worked with a number of major retailers, including Michaels Stores, Tire and Battery Corporation of America and Beall’s Department Stores. Prior to this, he worked for over twenty years at TJX Cos., Inc., most recently serving in the role of Senior Vice President of Global Infrastructure Services, where he had worldwide responsibility for all IT infrastructure and service delivery.

]]> (Marty Whitmore, Starmount) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 08 Sep 2014 10:07:50 -0400
ZinMobi Targets Consumers With Personalized Mobile Messaging ZinMobi Targets Consumers With Personalized Mobile Messaging

SS site only ZinMobi imageConsumers are becoming more tech-savvy and are expecting more personalized shopping experiences. As a result, retailers need to find ways to cater to these evolving preferences by creating more relevant campaigns and messages across all touch points.

Mobile marketing technology provider ZinMobi has built a platform designed to deliver targeted coupons and messages directly to consumers’ mobile phones. Using a personal targeting algorithm based on an individual consumer’s transaction history, the solution can tailor mobile message content effectively. Coupons can be delivered through text, email or an app, and are aimed to help boost coupon redemption rates and overall sales.

An automation feature is included in the ZinMobi platform so retailers can craft and execute campaigns based on specific goals, such as attracting new customers, selling more to existing customers and winning back lapsed customers.

Shoppers can opt in and out of the campaigns, so only those who want to receive text alerts and messages do so.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 08 Sep 2014 10:02:10 -0400
Charlotte Russe And Nordstrom Connect Instagram Content And Commerce Charlotte Russe And Nordstrom Connect Instagram Content And Commerce

With more than 200 million active users and 60 million photos shared per day, Instagram is a top social network for consumers to share images and connect with their favorite brands and retailers. 

Although the photo-sharing network recently unveiled an advertising model that included sponsored photos and videos, one thing was missing: A clear, seamless connection to the e-Commerce site. That is, until now.

Visual analytics and marketing company Curalate has unveiled Like2Buy, a new solution that makes a brand or retailer’s Instagram feed shoppable. Charlotte Russe and Nordstrom are among the early adopters, and executives already are expressing enthusiasm for the results they’re seeing thus far.

Like2Buy was designed to help turn Instagram engagement, such as likes or comments, into revenue for online retailers. Rather than making customers jump between channels to access product information, Like2Buy allows social teams to link photos from an Instagram account to products available on an e-Commerce site.

Using a profile link on a brand or retailer’s Instagram account, users can access a gallery of shoppable photos and click through to the products. Consumers also have access to a personalized feed of products based on images they’ve liked in the past.

“Instagram is a great way for us to share products and inspire our customers with images that we hope they’ll like,” said Bryan Galipeau, Social Media Director at Nordstrom. “Like2Buy allows us to take things a step further by connecting customers more quickly and easily with items we’ve featured on our Instagram page. We hope to create a seamless shopping experience and teaming with Curalate as their launch partner with Like2Buy helps us do just that.”

Charlotte Russe’s Social Media and PR Manager, Kristen Strickler, also noted that she was “very excited” with Like2Buy because “so many of our customers use Instagram to inform themselves before making a buying decision. Some even use it while they’re shopping online or in a store.”

Despite the growing role of Instagram throughout the browsing and buying journey, “the limitation of the network hasn’t offered a way for consumers to actually use Instagram to make purchases,” said Strickler in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “And the reality is, you only have their attention for a short amount of time.”

An early adopter of different social commerce tactics such as social login, Charlotte Russe has started educating the consumer on the benefits of Like2Buy and the role it can play in the social shopping experience.

“We’re speaking to [Like2Buy] in the majority of our posts now,” Strickler said. “We’re educating the customer to go to that link in our profile and see the items featured in those Instagram images.”

Bridging The Commerce Gap

Overall engagement rates on Instagram typically are 58-fold higher than Facebook and 128-fold higher than Twitter, according to Apu Gupta, CEO and Co-Founder of Curalate. “When we work with our brands, we see similar results anecdotally.”

Although consumers are highly engaged with brand content on Instagram, they used to have to work to find out how to find the products featured in posts.

“They would say ‘hey, how do we get these products?’” Gupta explained. “The ways they’d have to interact was really frustrating — it would be difficult to go from Instagram to check out.”

Retailers also struggled to connect the dots between their Instagram feeds and product pages.

“Brands had to manually enter product numbers in the caption and then the consumer had to memorize it and type it in,” Gupta noted. “But that brings another key issue to light: Even if a consumer purchased a product because of Instagram, the retailer or brand didn’t have the ability to attribute that sale back to Instagram.”

Charlotte Russe took this approach to promoting products on the social network. “We’ve tried location tagging with product codes, which is sometimes difficult to copy and paste quickly,” Strickler explained. “Like2Buy is a great next step and will be much more efficient for us and a lot easier for our customers. Now, they don’t have to write down a product code before entering a store or type it up before visiting our e-Commerce site.”

More than 450 brands working using Curalate solutions will roll out Like2Buy over the coming weeks. Non-clients can pre-register for the solution. 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Mon, 08 Sep 2014 07:22:33 -0400
Catalina Acquires Cellfire To Expand Digital Coupon Network

Personalized digital media company Catalina has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Cellfire, a provider of load-to-card (L2C) digital coupons for consumer packaged goods retailers. Cellfire will operate under the Catalina umbrella but will retain its name and all full-time employees. Cellfire headquarters also will remain in Silicon Valley.

The acquisition is positioned to help Catalina keep pace with consumers’ increased demand for digital and mobile coupons, according to a press release. CPG retailers and brands will be able to deliver personalized media based on customer preferences, and overall browsing and buying history.

“With Cellfire, we can now seamlessly deliver content at scale across all channels and screens for our retail and brand partners,” noted Jamie Egasti, CEO of Catalina. With the purchase, Catalina also will be able to expand its reach, adding more than 22,000 stores to its national network.  

“Helping shoppers save time and money through an intuitive and relevant digital couponing experience is paramount to the future of retail,” said Robert Drescher, CEO of Cellfire. “Combined with Catalina’s deep personalization capabilities and large offer pool, this creates compelling value for retailers.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Mergers & Acquisitions Fri, 05 Sep 2014 12:12:46 -0400
Meijer Partners With Alliance Data To Improve Credit And Loyalty Programs Meijer Partners With Alliance Data To Improve Credit And Loyalty Programs

meijerMeijer tapped Alliance Data Systems’ Retail Services business, which manages more than 135 credit programs, to provide co-branded and private label credit card services for Meijer’s store-branded credit card and its Platinum MasterCard. The two companies also plan to work together to enhance loyalty and rewards programs for card members.

“By leveraging our data-driven credit and marketing tools, Alliance Data will work with Meijer to extend the reach of the Meijer brand and drive loyalty among existing customers, delivering increased sales to the Meijer business,” said Melisa Miller, President of Alliance Data Retail Services.

{loadposition GIAA}In a second agreement, Alliance Data acquired Meijer's portfolio of co-brand and private label credit card accounts. Details of the purchase price were not disclosed, and the transaction is scheduled to close before the end of 2014.

Prepping For The Holidays

Meijer also announced plans to hire more than 10,000 new store associates to prepare for the upcoming holiday season. The retailer keeps its stores open 24 hours and is closed only on Christmas Day. Although each store has its own unique staffing needs, all stores have open positions. The company identified staffing needs for stores in the following states:

  • 4,800 associates in Michigan;
  • 1,800 associates in Indiana;
  • 1,700 associates in Ohio;
  • 1,500 associates in Illinois; and
  • 1,000 associates in Kentucky.

“While most of these opportunities are part time and seasonal, these jobs can provide a gateway to a full-time career at Meijer,” said Michael Rotelle, SVP of Human Resources at Meijer. “As we continue to grow, we are frequently looking to fill our on-going part-time and full-time needs. These positions provide an opportunity for people to begin a retail career within a growing company.”

Interested candidates can complete an online application or at employment kiosks located in most Meijer stores. The web site also allows applicant to search for openings in a specific area and indicate store preferences.

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Fri, 05 Sep 2014 13:02:28 -0400
Genesco Taps EarthLink To Improve In-Store Experiences

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 11.53.51 AMSpecialty retailer Genesco has upgraded its EarthLink-powered network as part of its plans to further improve the brick-and-mortar experience. The technology will be applied to several brands under the Genesco umbrella, including: Johnston & Murphy, Journeys, Journeys Kidz, Underground by Journeys and Shi by Journeys.

Genesco relies on a private EarthLink MPLS network to run in-store POS, inventory management and employee communications in its stores

“As brick-and-mortar and online shopping experiences evolve, we will continue to innovate and invest in new technology solutions,” said Rik Reitmaier, VP of Technology at Genesco. “Genesco enjoys a trusted relationship with EarthLink and relies on its retail expertise in handling our day-to-day secure network management, which frees my staff to focus its talents on developing strategic applications that drive marketing and operations initiatives to help move the sales meter for our brands.”

EarthLink technology will play a key role in Genesco’s focus on improving the in-store customer experience across its stores. Future plans include better connecting with shoppers via mobile, gathering more detailed data on in-store activity, and establishing more “one-to-one” targeted offers. The retailer also plans to implement people counter analytics over the EarthLink network to improve customer service.

“Upgrading Genesco's network will enable them to further leverage new technology to tailor the shopping experience and increase appeal to its various brand demographics,” said Rick Froehlich, EVP of Products and Consumer at EarthLink. “I'm pleased with this extension of our relationship, as it speaks to how Genesco values our service model and unique understanding of their retail environment.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Fri, 05 Sep 2014 10:52:40 -0400
Stein Mart August Sales Grow 3.8% Stein Mart August Sales Grow 3.8%

Stein MartStein Mart, a national women’s and men’s fashion retailer, reported a 3.8% increase in year over year August sales, resulting in $86.5 million in total revenue for the month. Comparable store sales for the month increased 2.5% from 2013 totals.

The retailer’s total year-to-date sales reached $713.5 million, increasing 2.6% from last year’s totals. Comparable store sales in 2014 increased 2.0%.

Stores in Texas had the strongest sales in August, while the Gulf States were more challenged, according to a company statement. Stein Mart operated 265 stores at the end of August this year, compared to 260 stores last year.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Fri, 05 Sep 2014 10:12:03 -0400 Boosts Revenue By 92% With Liveclicker Boosts Revenue By 92% With Liveclicker

BlindsTo differentiate from the competition, online retailers are focused on creating more visually compelling experiences for consumers. Some retailers are embracing video to help create this more memorable experience, as it helps add more context and detail to product images already available on the site. is an online retailer with more than 200 “how-to” and product-related videos in its library to help guide consumers throughout the browsing and buying experience. After enlisting video commerce solution provider Liveclicker, the retailer was able to build up its video arsenal and increase revenue by 92% between Q1 2013 and Q1 2014.

Through the same time period, the web site’s video engagement rate increased by 99%, orders increased by 68% and conversion rate increased by 70%.

{loadposition GIAA} initially started uploading videos to the web site in 2006 to demonstrate products and address customer concerns regarding measuring and installing their blinds. The company continued to produce more videos throughout the years, but as the e-Commerce site expanded, it became more complex to update and manage. Since some videos were used in multiple locations, the designer also had to find each use of the videos and manually make the changes whenever appropriate. In addition, the eTailer still could not determine which types of videos were most useful and relevant to consumers.  

“As we started adding more content to our site, we did start to find that we really didn’t have the ability to actually see how the videos were performing,” said Robert Reed, Video Producer at “We asked questions about our video content; ‘Did we make improvements? Are we actually providing an experience the customers are looking at and benefitting from?”

After researching and testing solutions, the team implemented Liveclicker’s VideoCommerce platform in 2012 because it had the analytical capabilities Reed required to track video performance. The platform also allows to create a more valuable customer experience, allowing visitors to provide feedback on videos via ratings and reviews.

 “It’s not unusual for us to get dozens of comments every day,” Reed said. “We review those and see whether the particular video makes sense for the customers, if it’s providing them with details and if they’re confused by something that the video is supposed to be about. We’re finding — as we fine-tune what we put out to the customers — that they’re getting more of what they’re really finding useful. Our ratings have tracked really well overall, but the ones that don’t initially track highly are the ones we pay the most attention to. That helps us actually raise the bar on what we’re trying to put out to the customers.”

With a new customer feedback system in place, went on to roll out a complementary video feature by creating groupings of similar videos. This new feature has helped enhance the customer experience significantly, according to Reed.

“The team has done a phenomenal job of actually utilizing that feedback and modifying their content,” said Kenna Hilburn,Sr. Video Commerce Strategist at Liveclicker. “They’ve really surpassed expectations in terms of the way their video program has grown, and that’s really from them utilizing that feedback and specifically editing videos, creating new types of content that satiates the user’s appetite.”

The Liveclicker team provided guidance and recommendations to employees throughout the implementation process, which took less than one month to complete. The installation also didn’t require third-party plugins to maximize the platform’s capabilities.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Fri, 05 Sep 2014 12:00:00 -0400
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Sees Summer Success With Cross-Channel Campaign The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Sees Summer Success With Cross-Channel Campaign

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf had a joyous summer due to the success of its “Keep Cool and Summer On” campaign, which was crafted to promote the merchant’s line of iced beverages.

Noted as the “most significant and comprehensive” advertising campaign in the brand’s history, “Keep Cool and Summer On” initiative targeted Millennial consumers across multiple channels, including radio, more than 100 billboards and bus shelter advertisements, digital video and banner ads, according to Diane Kuyoomjian, VP of Marketing for The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

“The ‘Keep Cool and Summer On’ tagline drove the cold products message and conveyed The Coffee Bean’s laid back personality,” Kuyoomjian explained. In addition to increasing awareness for its iced beverages, the brand also wanted to drive traffic to locations throughout Los Angeles.

“We’ve seen great consumer response and engagement with the campaign, across all of the campaign elements,” said Kuyoomjian in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “It is always incredible to see the passion and interest consumers have with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and we look forward to building on this current effort in future campaigns.”

{loadposition GIAA}From a media targeting perspective, The Coffee Bean invested in awareness-driving media, such as outdoor advertising and radio, according to Kuyoomjian. “We also implemented activation-driving tactics, such as mobile geo-fenced display and Pandora in-app radio and display, which allowed us to reach consumers on mobile devices when they were more likely to drive to a local Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf location.”

Social Media Grabs The Spotlight

Social media also played a starring role in the campaign. Vine videos were commissioned by the brand and consumers were able to take photos on Instagram through a “purple straw lens.” Additionally, The Coffee Bean used sentiment-based online banners, Facebook advertising, Twitter posts and hash tags.

“We wanted to engage customers in ways that supported the brand’s creative, optimistic personality in an ownable way,” Kuyoomjian explained. “The brand’s iconic purple straw gave us a device that we could use creatively in ways unique to each channel. In out-of-home advertising, it inspired a custom type of treatment for cheerful headlines; in Instagram it became a very low-fi filter; and in Vine it was the inspiration for a lot of funny videos. Because our target engages with each of these channels in different ways, we needed to tailor our creative to what would most genuinely connect with them.”

Overall, The Coffee Bean saw a very positive response to its “purple straw lens,” as it “gave brand loyalists the opportunity to engage with the brand in their own creative way,” noted Patrice Anderson, Director of e-Commerce and Online Marketing for The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. “We loved the idea of having a campaign that allowed people to actively participate from a social media standpoint.”

Partnering with agency WONGDOODY, The Coffee Bean was able to create a campaign that aligned with the preferences of Millennial consumers. Because these consumers don’t respond well to traditional media outreach “we had to find them and reach them in places where they already loved to go,” Kuyoomjian said. “That meant smart media buys combined with even smarter targeting strategies and creative that resonated with the audience.”

Extending the campaign across multiple channels and media formats was “central toboth our creative approach and our overall media strategy,” Kuyoomjian noted. “Creatively, our content approach was relevancy over consistency. Delivering content that was unique to the user experience within each platform would increase engagement. From a media perspective, we knew that reach and frequency would be important, and we leveraged that in our plan, but we also recognized that hyper-local targeting through mobile media tactics would increase our customer engagement.”


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Fri, 05 Sep 2014 07:37:38 -0400
Magento Adds Soldsie Extension To Connect Marketplace Magento Adds Soldsie Extension To Connect Marketplace

soldsieSoldsie, a social shopping service, has integrated its solution with the e-Commerce platform from Magento. Brands and retailers now can download a free extension of Soldsie’s Enterprise Edition through the Magento extensions marketplace, Magento Connect.

The partnership between Soldsie and Magento is expected to help brands take advantage of the organic word-of-mouth and increased purchase urgency that social commerce can create, according to a company press release.

“Social shopping is the future of e-Commerce,” said Chris Bennett, Co-Founder of Soldsie. “Brands needs to be everywhere their fans and followers are, and they need to be properly equipped to create amazing social shopping experiences.”

Retailers and brands can use Soldsie to post product photos along with price and availability on their Facebook and Instagram accounts. To purchase the items, shoppers can comment on the photos with the word “sold” and continue browsing without any interruptions. Once shoppers are ready to complete a transaction, the selected items are added to a digital shopping cart and are ready to be purchased. 

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 04 Sep 2014 14:30:26 -0400
The New Era Of Social Commerce The New Era Of Social Commerce

Alicia head shotFashion and social media are two of my passions, so I always love when these two worlds collide.

We, as humans, are innately social people. And shopping in and of itself is a very social behavior. So it only makes sense that eventually, consumers would want to make online shopping more social and community-driven.

Pinterest has been spotlighted as the key network to connect social content and commerce (the e-Commerce site). What I love most about Pinterest is that it’s a highly inspirational vehicle. Consumers can sift through peer-created images, as well as photos from publications and brands, re-pin them and then click on them to make purchases later on. Pinterest breaks down the walls between social media and e-Commerce, which equates to tremendous profit opportunity for retailers.

But for a while, Instagram was a completely different story. While the social network is a vibrant breeding ground for inspirational content, there previously was no direct link to e-Commerce. Sure, some retailers pasted SKU numbers in the location area of an image, but that didn’t really provide much value to the consumer. They still had to exit from their Instagram app, open their web app, enter the retailer’s URL and search for the product number. That’s a hassle if I ever saw one.

Luckily for social-media-loving shoppers like myself, those days are gone. Yesterday, I participated in a Google Hangout with Andrea France, who is a fashion expert at SAP. We talked about consumers’ demands for interactive fashion apps that also link to products. Well, a new offering from Curalate, Like2Buy, is tackling this challenge head-on through Instagram. I spoke briefly about it during the Hangout, but didn’t explain the technology as thoroughly as I wish I did.

Nordstrom and Charlotte Russe are among the retailers currently using Like2Buy, which in essence, recreates Instagram feeds to make them shoppable. Consumers simply click the Like2Buy link in the retailer’s Instagram profile and are taken to their Internet provider. The best part? The Instagram feed is recreated so consumers can click the image and then instantly go to the page for the product featured. The silos are broken down, and consumers can shop socially, without the hassle.

Looks like the new era of social commerce is here, folks! And I can’t wait to see how consumers respond to this new feature.

Stay tuned for our more detailed coverage on Like2Buy next week, which features insights from Nordstrom and Charlotte Russe executives! 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Editor's Perspective Thu, 04 Sep 2014 09:26:02 -0400
Capitalizing On Retail Big Data

Dolphin head shotIncreasingly, retailers are collecting large volumes of transaction data at the point of sale. This data makes pinpointing consumer behavior easier than ever, as retailers obtain real time data about consumer preferences, whether it is the latest fashion trend, a hot new food item, or packaged good.

With Big Data, retailers have the ability to stay on top of the competition and respond quickly to consumer demands. But point-of-sale transactions aren’t the only source of Big Data. Retail supply chains and internal processes are also generating large volumes of data. If retailers want to succeed in a competitive marketplace, they must not only collect retail data, they must also understand how to control it.

As more retail companies grow through mergers and acquisitions, expand into new territories, or launch new product lines, they must consider how data and processes work together to support the businesses’ near term and long term goals. Here we present some simple rules that retailers can follow to help them capitalize on the valuable data they have while staying in control.

  1. Focus IT Spending On "High-Value" Information. While many retailers collect a lot of transactional data, only some of it provides valuable, actionable information to the business. Using a data volume management strategy is an important first step to controlling Big Data. The strategy should identify what data is important to the business, so the company can focus its IT spending and resources on improving storage and processes related to that data. With a focused approach to data management, retailers will be able to improve analytics, increase processing speeds, and gain new insights.

  2. Improve Value To Customers By Integrating Sales With The Supply Chain. In retail, the separation of consumer side processes from the supply chain can slow businesses. Breaking down the silos of information that exist between retail stores and the supply chain will significantly increase reaction time for retailers. Finding ways to integrate retail data and processes with the supply chain data and processes will provide a more comprehensive view into retail operations and provide a framework for future improvements. According to a recent survey of retailers running SAP systems, 63% of Supply Chain Management professionals polled said IT integration is a major priority for 2014.

  3. Location Matters - Align Business Value Of Data With Cost Of Storing The Data. Just as with retail locations, the location of your data is a critical consideration for your business. As part of a data volume management strategy, retailers must consider how frequently data is used and put that data in the fastest, most convenient location for users. Technology like SAP HANA can provide users with instant access to data and analytics, however that type of access comes at a price. Consider taking a hybrid approach to data storage. Put less frequently accessed data in cloud storage or a standard database, and incorporate archiving for data that is static or less frequently accessed by the business users. This strategy will enable users to have efficient access to the data, but at a greatly reduced cost.

  4. Streamline Near Cash Processes For Immediate Cost Savings. Often, retailers look to improving the supply chain to gain efficiencies, however, streamlining near cash processes such as accounts payable and accounts receivable can provide businesses with efficiencies too. These processes move cash through the business, so an investment in improving near cash processes also improves the bottom line. Retailers can leverage technology to automate manual processes and reduce exceptions, so they can speed up processing time, increase cash flow, and provide a better foundation for planning and forecasting. By tracking key performance metrics, the finance team can identify bottlenecks and improve near cash processes so they are lean and efficient, just like the supply chain.

  5. Hidden Cost Of Data Security. With new and different data being captured by retailers every day, it can be easy to overlook the need to keep that data secure, both at the point of sale and after business is complete. Retailers are increasingly holding on to sensitive consumer data, including credit card data and personal information that may have been collected as part of the sales transaction. Restricting access to sensitive data to key individuals and ensuring data is stored in a secure location and cannot be bypassed are simple ways for retailers to keep their data secure. These data security measures cost very little, however, they can be easily forgotten. Recent stories of retailers being hacked illustrate the cost of ignoring data security. In addition to the fines that can be levied against the business, retailers can face a PR nightmare that damages the company’s reputation, scares away consumers, and reduces shareholder value. Keeping data secure from the moment it is captured until it is destroyed should be a priority for all retailers.

There are many ways that retailers can optimize the way they collect, store, and process Big Data. By understanding these methods and managing data more effectively, retailers can leverage Big Data in critical and differentiating business processes and achieve both near term and long-term business goals.



As Dolphin’s Principal Business Process Management Strategist, Brian Shannon is focused on business processes and financial solutions to maximize return on investment. He has more than 15 years of SAP experience and his background includes thought leadership, knowledge management, project management, training and SAP consulting with extensive experience in the automotive and manufacturing sectors as well as oil and gas, retail and utility verticals.



]]> (By Brian Shannon, Dolphin) Executive ViewPoints Thu, 04 Sep 2014 10:00:00 -0400
Highmark Educates Consumers On Health Care Through Branded Storefronts Highmark Educates Consumers On Health Care Through Branded Storefronts

The Affordable Care Act has caused a stir among consumers, and they’re seeking education and resources to help them understand how the new law will impact their lives.

Highmark engages with customers face-to-face through its storefronts, which are called Highmark Direct locations. These stores are marketed across channels with help from HackerAgency, a digital marketing agency.

“We saw some trends in the industry toward an individual market, followed by changes in health care laws that meant consumers would soon be facing a complex decision-making process about which coverage would be best for them,” said Mike King, Director of Retail Marketing and Operations at Highmark. “And making such decisions would soon be mandatory. So we wanted to provide a place in the community to help people navigate this process and become actively involved in their health care.”

Using a “call, click or visit” call to action, Highmark has seen a tremendous boost in consumer interest across Western and Central Pennsylvania. In fact, there have been up to 340,000 visits since the stores first opened in 2009, and 106,000 in 2013 alone. Due to its success thus far, Highmark is exploring new expansion opportunities.

“Our Highmark Direct retail stores are an excellent way of sharing this information: Consumers can walk in, talk to a real person and be guided through the process in plain language,” said King in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “This is particularly appealing to consumers too intimidated to go online or make a phone call. At our retail stores, they’re able to engage in conversations at their own level and speed and then be confident in their decisions.”

Non-commissioned associates are educated on insurance packages and product offerings, and can help consumers find the insurance plans that best fit their needs and budgets, King explained. Highmark also holds events at its 10 retail locations, covering topics such as wellness, health care reform, Medicare, insurance products and healthy eating.

Highmark selected HackerAgency as its agency of record for Senior Markets following an extensive RFP process in 2008. After seeing positive results from new data-driven tactics and more personalized messaging strategies, Highmark expanded HackerAgency’s involvement to work closely with the Individual and Family Plan marketing team.

Both parties implement tight geographical targeting around all store locations to reach potential customers. Outreach is done through direct mail, digital advertising, local print and broadcast channels.

Beyond the Highmark Direct locations, the company also sells via phone, independent brokers, online and through the federal health insurance marketplace.

“For these, outreach gets especially complex, with a matrix of marketing vehicles calibrated according to channel, target customer, place in the sales cycle and current healthcare mandates,” explained Tom Reid, Executive Director of Account Services at HackerAgency. “We then continuously analyze and optimize every element of every advertising vehicle and message.”

HackerAgency has maintained the relationship with Highmark “through an emphasis on testing, measuring and continually optimizing the media mix to both maximize response and lower cost of acquisition,” Reid said. “The disruptive force of health care reform has deepened the relationship, as we collaborate on crafting new market outreach strategies in a new and changing environment.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Thu, 04 Sep 2014 07:23:51 -0400
Isis Wallet Rebrands To Softcard Isis Wallet Rebrands To Softcard

Softcard-logo1-1024x543Mobile payments company Isis Wallet announced in July that it would explore rebranding to avoid confusion and association with ISIS, the Islamic militant group. The company has now completed this exploration and will begin rebranding itself as Softcard.

“However coincidental, we have no desire to share a name with this group and our hearts go out to those affected by this violence,” wrote CEO Michael Abbott in a blog post.

{loadposition GIAA}The company plans to update its mobile app in the coming weeks. When that update hits iTunes and Google Play, customers should notice the rebranding.

“Your current Isis Wallet will continue to work as it always has,” promised Abbott. “In the next few weeks, we will launch the updated Softcard app. At that point, you can update your app as you normally would and see that your Isis Wallet has become Softcard.”

Due to the speed of this rebranding, the company expects traces of its former name to remain for a short time.

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Wed, 03 Sep 2014 14:56:51 -0400
Big Lots Reports $17.2 Million Profit, 1.2% Revenue Increase Big Lots Reports $17.2 Million Profit, 1.2% Revenue Increase

BIG-LOTSCloseout retailer Big Lots reported a net profit from continuing operations of $17.21 million in Q2 2014. The retailer increased its year over year net sales by 1.2% to $1.19 billion in Q2 2014. Comparable store sales increased 1.7% for the quarter, meeting the company’s estimated guidance of a 1% to 3% growth.

“I'm very pleased with the results we reported today,” said David Campisi, CEO and President of Big Lots. “For the second consecutive quarter, our comps were positive and comfortably within the guidance range we provided, and our earnings were above the high end of our range. We believe this is an indication that our core customer, Jennifer, is responding to our improved merchandising strategies and marketing execution.”

For the year-to-date period ended Aug. 2, 2014, income from continuing operations totaled $45.8 million, or $0.81 per diluted share.

The retailer’s board of directors approved the August 2014 Share Repurchase Program, which is designed to provide for the repurchase of up to $125 million in common shares.

The company expects FY 2014 per share income to be in the range of $2.40 to $2.50, confirming a comparable sales growth guidance range of 1% to 2%. The company estimates cash flow from U.S. operations to approach $250 million.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Wed, 03 Sep 2014 12:55:43 -0400
RetailMeNot Updates App For iPhone And Android RetailMeNot Updates App For iPhone And Android

retailmenotDigital offers destination RetailMeNot has released an updated and newly redesigned mobile app for iPhone and Android devices. Improvements to the app features and overall design are intended to improve navigation and provide easier access to nearby deals, favorite stores and saved offers. The app is available for download through the iTunes and Google Play stores.

The core of the app is its ability to offer verified deals and coupons from thousands of online and brick-and-mortar retailers. It also offers mobile alerts to users based on location. The app provides the ability to save coupons and later access them on any device — sending reminders when saved coupons are close to expiration.

{loadposition GIAA}The updated app includes three features that can be accessed from the homepage:

  • Just For You allows users to find top offers from their favorite stores;
  • Our Best highlights the best new deals of the day with updated visuals; and
  • Popular shows the offers trending with other users.

“We continue to believe that improved personalization functionality will lead to a better user experience for consumers who value the relevant, localized offers available to them through the RetailMeNot app,” said Jag Bath, SVP of Product at RetailMeNot. “As we work to feature more of our partners in the RetailMeNot app, the new design and navigation will enable retailers and brands to provide more dynamic offers with richer content and visuals to consumers.”

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Wed, 03 Sep 2014 13:13:30 -0400
7-Eleven Expands Partnership With Belly To 2,600 Stores 7-Eleven Expands Partnership With Belly To 2,600 Stores

Convenience store chain 7-Eleven has extended its partnership with digital loyalty platform provider Belly. By the end of 2014, 2,600 7-Eleven stores will use Belly for customer loyalty and marketing efforts.

Since its implementation in March 2013, 7-Eleven built its Belly network consistently, starting with an initial installation in 85 stores in downtown Chicago and a subsequent pilot of 350 locations across Chicago, Austin and Los Angeles. Starting this month, 465 locations in New York and Vancouver, B.C., Canada, will implement the Belly program.

Belly members can earn points at any participating 7-Eleven location using the Belly mobile app or physical BellyCard. Members earn points for every visit and can redeem them for rewards such as “Name The Slurpee Flavor Of The Month” and “Free Coffee For A Year.”

“Over a year and a half ago, we started looking for a solution to help increase customer visits, bring new guests to our stores and increase frequency of visits while also increasing basket size,” said Raja Doddala, Senior Director for New Business Development at 7-Eleven. “We look forward to expanding our relationship to even more stores and new markets.”

7-Eleven has run more than 20 marketing campaigns through Belly’s platform since March 2013. The Belly platform is positioned to automate promotions using data and insights on customer behavior, such as total visits. Then, the platform will deliver customized rewards to 7-Eleven customers and even target lapsed customers via email marketing. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 03 Sep 2014 12:04:26 -0400
The Home Depot Confirms Data Breach The Home Depot Confirms Data Breach

UPDATE: The Home Depot has confirmed that its payment data systems have been breached, potentially impacting customers who used credit and debit cards in U.S. and Canadian stores. No evidence indicates that the retailer's online storefront or Mexico stores were affected. Custers who used payment cards at a Home Depot location April 2014 on will have access to free identity protection services, including credit monitoring.

“We apologize for the frustration and anxiety this causes our customers, and I want to thank them for their patience and support as we work through this issue,” said Frank Blake, Chairman and CEO of The Home Depot. “We owe it to our customers to alert them that we now have enough evidence to confirm that a breach has indeed occurred. It’s important to emphasize that no customers will be responsible for fraudulent charges to their accounts.”

Retail TouchPoints' original coverage of the news is below. 

Over the past two years, a number of merchants have been impacted by data breaches, including TargetGoodwillMichaels StoresP.F. Chang’s, and most recently, The UPS Store and SuperValu

Now The Home Depot is investigating a hack that may have left customers’ payment information at risk.

Although no reports indicate how many stores may have been impacted, preliminary analysis shared by KrebsOnSecurity indicated that the breach might extend to all 2,200 Home Depot stores in the U.S.

Several banks indicated that the breach “may extend back to late April or early May 2014,” according to the KrebsOnSecurity article. “If that is accurate — and if even a majority of Home Depot stores were compromised — this breach could be many times larger than Target, which had 40 million credit and debit cards stolen over a three-week period.”

Home Depot indicated that team members would alert consumers if it determines that a data breach occurred.

In a statement, Home Depot spokeswoman Paula Drake said: "Protecting our customers' information is something we take extremely seriously, and we are aggressively gathering facts at this point while working to protect customers."

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 03 Sep 2014 06:37:32 -0400
Kohl’s And Target Get A’s In Back-To-School Advertising

target-give-supplies-small-8Kohl’s and Target received the highest scores on their back-to-school ads, according television and video analytics solution provider Ace Metrix

While Target received the highest single score (673) for its “Supplies They Need” ad and a 571 for its general “Back To School” spot, Kohl’s received the highest average score for all 14 of its back-to-school ads (552). Walmart, JCPenney and Staples received the next highest scores for all ad creative.

All ads received an Ace Score, which measures their overall effectiveness based on viewer reaction. Scores ranged from 1 to 950, and accounted for the following attributes: Persuasion, relevance, information, attention, change, desire and watchability.

“The top ads employed a variety of creative approaches, from placing dads at the center of the storyline to incorporating humor, philanthropy and promotions — proving again that there is no formula to exceptionally effective creative,” said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix. “Kohl’s performance as the brand with the highest average Ace Score is particularly remarkable given that it debuted the most back-to-school ads. While making a single piece of high-scoring creative is worthy of note, creating a portfolio of high-performing ads is truly extraordinary.”

The top retail back-to-school ads of 2014 include:



Ad Title

Ace Score



Supplies They Need



Best Buy

Four Majors



Old Navy

Spelling Bee




Back To School



Best Buy

Get It All




Back To School




Back To School Styles








Dorm Destination




Back To School


The first back-to-school ad aired in mid-June, according to Ace Metrix, and total ad volume increased by 25% over the same time period in 2013. Of all ads, 76% came from retail brands. 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 03 Sep 2014 08:31:53 -0400
Cookies For Kids’ Cancer Drives Awareness With E-Commerce Cookies For Kids’ Cancer Drives Awareness With E-Commerce

The powers of e-Commerce are allowing charities to build awareness, educate visitors and boost donations through the web.

National non-profit organization Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has established a powerful e-Commerce presence in partnership with Volusion to sell cookies, offer merchandise and accept donations year round. E-Commerce sales now represent 15% of the organization’s annual revenue, and have helped Cookies for Kids’ Cancer educate supporters and empower them to be “Good Cookies” and contribute to their causes.

“Everyone can be a Good Cookie,” said Emily Fowler, Director of Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. “There is no right way to get involved. Host a bake sale; run a race; make a donation; or send cookies. Each day, supporters are finding new, creative ways to help raise funds.”

In the early stages of the foundation, founders Larry and Gretchen Witt onboarded volunteers to bake cookies and raise money to find a cure for childhood cancer. Driven by their two-year-old son’s neuroblastoma diagnosis, the Witts launched a free e-Commerce sit through Volusion’s Stores to Change the World program. Within 72 hours, they sold all 96,000 cookies, raising more than $420,000 to donate directly to a research hospital.

“Setting out to sell 96,000 cookies demands a vast network of support — in our case coast to coast,” said Fowler in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “With a simple-to-use web site that offered just three flavors the first year, consumers could hear our story, go to the web site and buy cookies, knowing that 100% of the profit would go directly to research.”

A Grass Roots Approach

As the organization grew, the Witts refined their strategy. Rather than spending each day baking cookies, they activated people to host back sales in their communities and send donations. Since its inception in 2008, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer has helped more than 5,000 supporters host grass root events in all 50 states and in 15 countries.

{loadposition GIAA}“The founders added the grassroots model to empower individuals to raise funds in their hometowns,” Fowler noted, “but the online cookie sales continue to this day as a nod to our heritage and a way to capture Good Cookie spirit online.”

Volusion has helped Cookies for Kids’ Cancer become its own retail operation, offering new merchandising tools to showcase products with multiple images. With the Volusion partnership, Google Grants gives Cookies for Kids’ Cancer advertising dollars to bid on keywords, which helps drive new visits directly to the e-Commerce page. In addition, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer can use a tool called RallyBound to create personalized landing pages that are designed to drive donations.

“Volusion was with us from day one of our organization,” Fowler said. “Like anything else, setting up a web site is a detailed process but nearly six years later we’re still at it today!”

It also was invaluable that Cookies for Kids’ Cancer was able to launch its online storefront free of charge.

“Dollars matter to non-profits,” Fowler admitted. “Offering a free store to non-profits helps Volusion stand out in the crowd. Our goal is to give as much as possible to promising research — that means that costs and fees are always reviewed and kept as low as possible in order to ensure that funds raised go toward research.” Tech support also is provided so Cookies for Kids’ Cancer doesn’t have to hire in-house manpower to manage the e-Commerce site.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Wed, 03 Sep 2014 11:00:00 -0400
Texas A&M Partners With Knights Apparel For Back-To-College Roadshow Texas A&M Partners With Knights Apparel For Back-To-College Roadshow

texas AMTexas A&M University is partnering with collegiate apparel supplier Knights Apparel on the Costco Back-To-College Roadshow. During the campaign, which will run Sept. 4-Oct. 10, 2014, Costco will carry an exclusive line of the University’s Aggies Gameday Apparel.

The apparel will be produced by Knights Apparel and will be sold exclusively in 20 Costco locations. Featured products will include fashion polo shirts and embroidered applique V-neck wind shirts.

Texas A&M and Knights Apparel will tap Aggie social media accounts to promote the Roadshow and drive traffic to all participating Costco locations. After the promotion ends, Ramkumar Janakiraman, Associate Professor of Marketing, and the Center for Retailing Studies at Mays Business School, will collaborate to evaluate the impact of engagement from Texas A&M’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn channels on product sales.

“Dr. Janakiraman’s strategic analysis of the effect of social media marketing on sales offers valued business insights for the retailer,” said Kelli Hollinger, Director of the Center for Retailing Studies. “By correlating weekly point-of-sale data with a concentrated social media campaign, we provide the retailer with scientifically derived metrics on the value of online engagement. We expect to provide added value to store traffic and sales, and therefore justify larger floor space for next season. The more floor space, the greater possible sales for the vendor.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 03 Sep 2014 07:00:00 -0400
Oxford Properties Uses NFC To Engage Food Court Customers Oxford Properties Uses NFC To Engage Food Court Customers

The customer experience in a food court is typically fast and easy. To increase linger time in its food court and generate awareness for its vendors, Oxford Properties executed an interactive contest using technology from Linkett across its Metro Centre, Royal Bank Plaza and Richmond-Adelaide Centre hubs in Toronto.

The “Savour The Rewards” campaign was crafted with guidance from The Mars Agency and technology from Linkett to entice customers and boost overall engagement.

“Part of the retail experience is keeping your audience engaged and converting their spend and time in a shop,” said Eva Kanovich, Asset Marketing Manager at Oxford Properties. “In a food court location, the consumer behavior is a quick in-and-out experience.”

To qualify for the contest, customers had to spend at least $5 at participating food court members. Then, they would receive a NFC-enabled loyalty card that would be used to redeem their prize at any unmanned kiosk. By tapping their cards against the kiosk system, customers would learn whether they won a prize, such as vacation for two at a Fairmont destination in Canada.

Whether consumers won or lost, they were encouraged to register their unique card codes, as well as their names and email addresses. They were encouraged to play again to increase their changes of winning.

{loadposition GIAA}“We’re increasingly looking for ways to digitize experiential marketing for our retail portfolios,” said Kanovich in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “From an overall retail perspective, no other competitors are using this type of technology, so we thought it would be a great foray into market. We also thought it would increase our audience in our retail locations.”

Engaging Customers In A Hectic Environment

Over the eight-day campaign, “Savour the Rewards” awarded 294 prizes to customers in its food courts. Approximately 82,000 pedestrians were tracked walking within 100 feet of the seven kiosks. Nearly 21% of these pedestrians were qualified as “walkers,” or consumers who “strongly registered the campaign.” 

Of all “walkers,” 9,141 were deemed “lookers” who actively stopped to look at the screens or register their cards. Overall conversion from “walkers” to “lookers” was 53%, and 68% of “lookers” went on to tap their cards against a kiosk screen to see if they won a price.

“The technology was able to capture how many people came in contact with or walked past a screen, and measured the amount of time they spent engaging with the messaging, which was critical to us,” Kanovich said. With the campaign, “we were able to increase favorability and familiarity with some of our brands.”

If customers did not interact with the kiosk, an interactive audio element solicited people to engage, which Kanovich believes “really impacted participation.”

Consumers’ active participation in the “Savour the Rewards” provided Oxford Properties with a plethora of customer data. The company received 1,394 unique registrations, receiving customers’ names and email addresses. As many as 2,443 cards were registered throughout the campaign.

The ability to interact with customers in real time and collect data about them was “fantastic,” Kanovich noted. Due to the success of the campaign, Oxford Properties is considering a second-phase initiative that is inclusive to all retailers.

However, this next phase is “contingent on the evolution of the technology and what we can do with customer data once we capture it,” Kanovich said. For example, she noted that because the NFC-enabled loyalty cards could only be used once, it was not an incredibly sustainable option. “There may be a way to use the technology for a loyalty card system or program, so that the NFC chip could work for multiple campaigns. That would increase the bandwidth of how the technology is used.” 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Mon, 01 Sep 2014 07:49:30 -0400
Collaboration Becomes Key To Success For Retailers And Suppliers Collaboration Becomes Key To Success For Retailers And Suppliers

FEAT Collaboration1 imageIn the age of the omnichannel consumer, retailers need to ensure products are available at the right time, through the right channel and at the right price.

While it seems collaboration between retailers, suppliers and manufacturers has existed for as long as the industry itself has existed, it has become more pivotal to success as consumers grow more demanding.

{loadposition GIAA}“The need for collaboration — on a micro and macro scale — is greater than ever,” noted Mark Baum, SVP of Industry Relations and Chief Collaboration Officer at Food Marketing Institute. “This is a consumer-facing industry. They’re more in control of relationships with brands and retailers and are more aware of products and services they’re being offered.” 

Consumers have evolved to become harder to find, engage and please, explained Baum in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They challenge the companies they buy from more than they ever have in the past.”

Businesses across the entire retail value chain can conquer this challenge by banding together, sharing information and truly collaborating to exceed customer expectations.

The benefits of collaboration are “tremendous” and “impact every aspect of all companies’ functions,” said Joy Peters, a partner in the Consumer and Retail Practice at A.T. Kearney. “Companies have seen 10% to 15% lift in topline performance, 40% to 60% faster new product launches and up to 20% decline in total inventory. As the ties get stronger, so do the results.”

But collaboration as a discipline is still very immature in the industry. Some organizations have improved business results by sharing information and developing joint business strategies, some retailers and suppliers are struggling to do so.

“Retailer-supplier collaboration…is not standardized,” noted William Dankworth, an independent industry advisor and retired VP of Grocery and Natural Foods Merchandising from the Kroger Co. “This does not mean that there is not a desire to do so. The data is available even in smaller retailers but time, system limitations, lack of automation and even culture are impediments to sustainable retailer-supplier collaboration.”

Setting The Stage For Collaboration Success

In the early stages of the relationship, retailers and suppliers should work together to develop a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) based on a joint business strategy, according to David Gottlieb, VP of Worldwide Sales at Market6. Potential data points include: Total sales, inventory levels and gross margin.

Even shopper-focused insights, such as customer segments, promotional analytics and offer redemptions should be shared to create a 360-degree view of business operations.

There is a plethora of data available to provide retailers and suppliers with a comprehensive view of business results. With these data points in hand, suppliers are able to monitor store-level demand in real time in order to ensure the top-selling items remain in-stock. Having an understanding of promotional performance also empowers suppliers and retailers to determine how to adjust tactics moving forward.

“If you don’t collaborate better with everyone in the supply chain you can guarantee you will never meet customer expectations,” said Scott Welty, Vice President of Industry Strategy for JDA Software. “Without the proper collaboration you can’t create a proper and effective flow of inventory to meet customer demands. You also can’t understand the cause and impact of a promotion from a forecasting and replenishment perspective.”

However, the level of information sharing taking place varies significantly, which can put a strain on relationships, according to Eric Green, Co-Founder and CEO of Askuity. “If retailers don’t share information but then expect vendors to hold themselves accountable, it’s difficult to get into that partnership mentality. They’re hiding the metrics that vendors have to hit.”

A Trust Issue

Collaboration is not yet being tapped to its fullest potential in the retail industry because many retailers and suppliers still keep their partners at arms’ length.

“What is at the heart of the issue is trust,” Peters said. “The retailer-supplier relationship has long struggled with distrust stemming from both parties acting in vigorous self-interest. This is exemplified by the prevailing price discrimination laws such as the Robinson-Pactman Act of 1936, enacted to ensure fair and equitable treatment of retailers by manufacturers.”

Though progress has been made over the past decade as a result of governmental intervention, new trends are bringing lingering trust issues to a head, Peters added. “More readily available price transparency across retail, prevalence of product exclusives and retailers focus on store brands all have continued to stoke concerns by retailers that ‘someone else is getting a better deal’ and, conversely, for manufacturers to lament ‘some other brands (or private label) are favored by the retailer.’”

Another factor hindering the relationship is that both retailers and suppliers fear their respective partners will share sensitive data with competitors.

To facilitate organizational transparency and create true collaboration, Dankworth recommends that the proper security measures are implemented on both sides. He explained: “I would include a zero-tolerance policy on data security breeches or confidentiality of retailer-supplier plans.”

Creating Cultural Change

Once organizations overcome their trust issues, they can openly share historical data such as store sales performance, as well as more forward-looking information, including joint sales forecasts and promotion plans.

As the relationship matures, there is “a more open-book approach to collaborative new product development and assortment planning, with joint tackling of a category gap for a retailer,” according to Peters.

But for some organizations, creating a joint go-to-market strategy is easier said than done. These retailers and suppliers need to undergo a cultural change that starts from the C-level and trickles down through the rest of the organization.

“Many retail executives have spent many years sitting across the table from their suppliers as adversaries,” Gottlieb said. “Now we’re seeing the landscape changing and they’re realizing that they can be more successful if they work together.”

Baum recommended that retailers take the following steps to build valuable relationships with their suppliers:

  • Define success up front: Identify the goals for the partnership;
  • Ensure collaboration extends across both organizations: The retailer and supplier both need to see it as a true partnership and even consider themselves “vertically aligned”;
  • Establish KPIs: Define performance metrics that need to be captured to determine success;
  • Test, pilot, succeed and scale: Work together to test new tactics and strategies.

Suppliers Across Categories Ramp Up Collaboration Efforts

Cosmetics brand Maybelline relies on its retail partners to engage customers and sell its vast line of products. Because shopper tastes and preferences vary from state to state, or even city to city, Maybelline needs to keep a constant pulse on promotion and sales activity.

“Working for a cosmetics business is so SKU intensive and fashion-driven; trends determine what’s going to be sold and when,” noted Monica Fullenkamp, Customer Development Manager at Maybelline. “For example, collaboration is really key with Kroger. We were just in a meeting discussing what’s going on with the business, and we’re really lucky because we both see it as a joint relationship. They need our brand to drive sales because it will drive category growth for them.”

Maybelline uses Market6 to share POS and inventory data, as well as promotional activities and results. “We need to understand which promotions are driving sales, what’s working and what’s not,” Fullenkamp explained. “Kroger is unique because the company partners with dunnhumbyUSA on mailers and promotions, but we work together to see what’s going on at the consumer level.”

Using Market6, Maybelline and Kroger have access to the same real-time data, which provides a better, more comprehensive view of inventory levels and customer activity.

“We get information at our fingertips, and having Market6 has allowed us to get a better picture of our business,” Fullenkamp said. “We can better manage shipments and prevent out-of-stocks. The main underlying theme is we’re both talking the same language.”

H. Paulin & Company is a distributor and manufacturer of fasteners, fluid system products, automotive parts and screw machine components. A division of The Hillman Group, H. Paulin strives to give partners the ability to serve customers with 100% fill rate, while minimizing inventory investment. 

H. Paulin uses Askuity to get “fast, meaningful snapshots of our current situation with retailer partners in Canada,” said David Paulin, Project Manager at H. Paulin & Company. “Having the correct data by SKU, by store and by region allows us to act dynamically and not rely on static historical information.”

The Askuity user interface allows the H. Paulin team to “quickly identify SKUs that are running low or are overstocked,” Paulin explained. “We intend to use this improved data by our Marketing and Supply Chain Management teams to better tailor the product mix seasonally and geographically. Additionally, Askuity’s cloud-based system takes the hardware-management burden off our IT department.”

Omnichannel Fulfillment Encourages Next-Gen Collaboration

Certainly, retailer-supplier collaboration is paramount for keeping products on store shelves and ensuring shopper satisfaction.

However, omnichannel fulfillment strategies, such as buy online/pickup in-store, or order online/deliver to home, also are turning collaboration into an industry imperative.

“Each fulfillment offering requires different mechanisms of collaboration,” said Bob Heaney, Research Director and Principal Analyst of Aberdeen Group's Retail & Consumer Markets practice. “The systemic trend driving more collaboration is the advent of these new multichannel logistics channels.”

Just recently, shipping items directly to consumers has overtaken shipping through distribution centers, according to Heaney. Up to 61% of retailers are either delivering products direct to consumers or through traditional distribution centers, while 56% are offering direct to store, according to Aberdeen Group research.

As these multi-logistics formats are becoming more popular among consumers, retailers need to ensure these offerings are price and time sensitive. Doing so is a “major undertaking” that requires ongoing collaboration and real-time visibility.

“Retailers are working with third-party logistics companies, suppliers and manufacturers to address this omnichannel challenge,” Heaney said. “They need to consider a multitude of factors, including: The availability of the product, timeliness, freight costs, margins and the price point of the product, while determine the best way to get products to customers.” 

Omnichannel retailing is in a constant state of change, and retailers and suppliers both are expected to keep pace. Businesses can only reach true excellence, however, if they collaborate throughout the entire customer journey. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Inventory / Merchandising / Supply Chain Tue, 02 Sep 2014 03:00:00 -0400
5 Obstacles To International Commerce 5 Obstacles To International Commerce

VP BlueSnap head shotCross-border online sales are notorious for giving merchant headaches. After dominating one market, merchants try selling in other countries, and then they get blindsided by shipping issues, tax complications, payment failures and other problems I will discuss in a moment. It shouldn’t be this way.

In an era when we can video chat with a person 10,000 miles away, it’s absurd that selling something to that same person is so complex. Consider that only 27% of U.S. e-Commerce merchants are set up to sell internationally, according to the MCM Outlook 2014 Survey from Multichannel Merchant. An even smaller percentage of that 27% will get cross-border selling right because all international merchants have to overcome five obstacles:

1. Shipping

{loadposition GIAA}If you sell physical goods abroad, you are subject to the regulations and requirements of each country you ship to. If you have to personally research these rules for every market, international expansion won’t be worth it. Did you know you’re not allowed to send a pair of matching shoes to South Africa, Mexico or India, according to DHL? Sending toothbrushes to Algeria, diaries to Argentina and plastic flowers to Nigeria are all customs violations too. Work with a shipping expert who can ensure that you avoid these mistakes.

2. Taxes

Managing sales taxes across nearly 10,000 U.S. tax jurisdictions is difficult enough, but once you add international tax zones, it’s a true mess. This is one of the primary obstacles that discourages merchants from selling abroad. Merchants who sell into the U.S., for instance, run into some nasty surprises. The country has a 100% tariff on certain edibles from the European Union, including Roquefort cheese, cured ham and lingonberry jams. Tariffs on Chinese paper clips can be as high as 126.94%, synthetic fabrics see a 32% tariff and there is a 48% import taxon certain sneakers. Do not waste your time figuring out all these random taxes — use a solution that automates taxes for you.

3. Currency, Exchange and Shipping Rates

The average shopping cart abandonment rate is as high as 65%, according to an infographic from Invesp, and 22% of people abandon their shopping cart because checkout did not clearly mention shipping costs; 8% of shopper also abandon because they have to pay extra for taxes. This suggests that if you’re exchange rates are not updated in real-time and do not provide exact calculations, you will lose shoppers and undermine trust in your e-Commerce experience. Once again, automate.

4. Language Barriers

Although English may be the lingua franca, people prefer e-Commerce experiences in their native language. It instills comfort that you can’t get when you’re using Google Translate to make a purchase from a Chinese web site. Wherever potential customers live, you need to present them with their native language if you want to convert shoppers into buyers.

5. Payment Methods

Sometimes Americans are shocked that the rest of the world doesn’t use Visa and MasterCard to make purchases. In fact, 59% of shoppers will abandon a transaction if their preferred payment method isn’t in place, and alternative payment methods are numerous. In China, for example, Alibaba’s Alipay online payment system processed $519 billion in payments in 2013. Brazilians actually prefer to make credit card payments in installments or use Boleto Bancário, a cash-like bank transfer system. If you don’t offer localized payment options, you lose buyers.

The few merchants who sell across borders — and do it well — have an opportunity to capture customers that their competitors can’t touch. The best way to overcome obstacles to international commerce is to use services that automate complex, time-killing processes. And whatever you do, absolutely do not send toothbrushes to Algeria.

Ralph Dangelmaier serves as the Chief Executive Officer at BlueSnap Inc. Dangelmaier served as the President of Global Markets and Services at ACI Worldwide Inc. since September 2009 and its Executive Vice President of Global Markets since until August 2012. He served as the President of P&H Solutions Inc. (also known as Politzer & Haney Inc.) since 2002 and its Chief Executive Officer since February 8, 2006. Dangelmaier was responsible for developing corporate strategies, products, and services at P&H Solutions. His knowledge of the financial services industry, its people, and the corporate environment has directly resulted in P&H's sustained growth of 40% per year, for six consecutive years. He led a team of senior executives in developing long-term goals and partnerships with clients as companies implement their e-Commerce and cash management strategies. Prior to joining P&H, Dangelmaier held operations and sales positions at BankBoston, A.G. Edwards, and SunGard. He is a frequent speaker at cash management and other financial services industry events and conferences. He graduated from Stonehill College.

]]> (Ralph Dangelmaier, BlueSnap) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 02 Sep 2014 08:00:00 -0400
Reflektion Helps Make Mobile Shopping More Engaging Reflektion Helps Make Mobile Shopping More Engaging

SS Reflektion image 1Mobile users expect their shopping experience to be seamless, compelling and catered specifically to their wants and needs. Without a great experience, consumers may find browsing and buying on a mobile phone to be tedious and frustrating.

Reflektion, a provider of e-Commerce personalization solutions, has extended its platform to mobile devices to help retailers create more relevant shopping experiences. Using predictive analytics, retailers can identify shoppers based on the device they’re using, as well as their past and present browsing behaviors, and personalize product assortments and recommendations.

The solution incorporates responsive web design so a web site can fit the screen size of a smartphone or tablet. When a consumer logs onto an e-Commerce site, Reflektion is able to capture that data, recognize the device being used and create an optimal viewing experience.

One Reflektion customer, the La Jolla Group’s Metal Mulisha, is seeing the benefits of the mobile optimization feature. With Reflektion, Metal Mulisha increased web site conversion rate by 67% in eight weeks, and revenue increased by 35% for smartphones and 25% for tablets in 30 days.

“Most of our shoppers these days are using smartphones and tablets to discover products, so we needed a solution that could provide an outstanding and personalized mobile e-Commerce experience,” said Ryan Cropley, Director of e-Commerce at Metal Mulisha. “After deploying Reflektion, we were able to identify and then tailor the user experience to each customer. By personalizing the experience, we were able to drive up mobile revenue almost 20% and dramatically increase mobile page views.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Tue, 02 Sep 2014 08:00:00 -0400
Customer Service Remains Critical For Smartphone Buyers Customer Service Remains Critical For Smartphone Buyers

RR B2X imageSmartphone and tablet users in the U.S. consider customer service and after-sales service to be paramount throughout the device-buying experience, ahead of factors such as general contractual terms and conditions, and brand image, according to research from B2X Care Solutions.

Overall, most American respondents are satisfied with customer support made available for their mobile devices. At least 55% of smartphone users rated their service a “9” or “10,” while 77% of tablet users gave their services the same rating. Mobile customers expect the same level of service throughout all support channels (manufacturer, in-store, call center, online), according to the study.

The report, sponsored by B2X Care Solutions and Motorola Mobility, polled more than 500 smartphone and tablet users regarding past device purchasing experiences.

{loadposition GIAA}

Mobile technology has become incremental to consumers’ lifestyles, as approximately three fourths (74%) of respondents keep their smartphones within reach throughout the entire day. As many as 60% of respondents have their phones within reach as they sleep, with that number increasing to 84% for 18 to 29 year olds.

Even with mobile technology permeating further into society, 29% of smartphone users still say they have no idea where to get help if they need customer support. Up to 71% of smartphone buyers and 87% of tablet buyers still prefer to set up their devices themselves instead of finding support elsewhere. However, if users can’t solve problems on their own, most (67% of smartphone buyers and 59% of tablet buyers) would prefer to enter a store for support.

More than one fourth (28%) of respondents have used a repair or exchange service for their smartphones as a result of a problem or damage, compared to only 13% for tablet owners. On the other hand, tablet owners (37%) are more likely than smartphone owners (29%) to have questions regarding or problems with their devices at least once a year.

Software problems and display damage are the two top reasons consumers need smartphone repair services, while tablet users cite software problems, freezing screens and power shutdowns as major issues.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Shopper Experience Mon, 01 Sep 2014 17:00:00 -0400
NeoGrid Helps Streamline Trade Promotions Management, Forecasting NeoGrid Helps Streamline Trade Promotions Management, Forecasting

To maintain successful relationships with product brands and manufacturers, retailers can implement trade promotions, including coupons, samples and in-stores, to generate sales and boost brand awareness.

NeoGrid has released the NeoGrid TPM for Trade Promotion Management (TPM) and the NeoGrid S&OP for Sales and Operations Planning.

NeoGrid TPM allows users to manage the complete trade promotion process. Designed to eliminate spreadsheets, data silos and manual processes, the solution integrates all trade promotion data into the S&OP platform so they become a part of the entire demand and financial planning process. Additional features include fund and volume quota allocation, scenario planning, volume and funding financial reconciliation, and system-enabled promotion evaluation.

“Typically, TPM solutions only handle about one third of the TPM process, with most of the work still being performed by each department in their own standalone spreadsheets, making it very manual and labor intensive to manage, track and report,” said Stephen Minakovic, Head of Sales at NeoGrid. “NeoGrid TPM fixes that by providing a single solution for the complete process.”

NeoGrid S&OP is designed to provide a more comprehensive view of data and, in turn, improve the accuracy and effectiveness of short- and long-term forecasting. NeoGrid S&OP capabilities include top-down and bottom-up planning, “what if” scenario planning, promotional event planning and comprehensive management reporting. The solution also can synchronize vendor managed inventory and collaborative planning, forecasting and replenishment processes directly into the sales and operations planning process.

The cloud-based NeoGrid platform integrates data from both solutions and enables departments throughout the organization to collaborate using the same information.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 01 Sep 2014 06:00:00 -0400
Best Buy Experiences 4% Revenue Decline Best Buy Experiences 4% Revenue Decline

best-buy-logoBest Buy reported a 4% year over year revenue decline, with Q2 2015 sales falling to $8.89 million. Quarterly comparable store sales decreased 2.7%, with company executives expecting the low single-digit decline to continue into Q3 and Q4 2015.

The retailer earned a net profit of $146 million in the quarter, or $0.42 in GAAP diluted earnings per share, but the number fell 45% from the $226 million posted in Q2 2014.

Best Buy implemented the Renew Blue cost reduction strategy, which is designed to increase the company’s online business in alignment with the decline of brick-and-mortar store traffic. Under the strategy, the retailer saved $40 million, bringing the cumulative total of annualized cost reductions to $900 million.

“Looking ahead, our goal is to continue to create a differentiated multi-channel customer experience such that every interaction customers have with us, regardless of channel, makes them a promoter of the Best Buy brand,” said Hubert Joly, President and CEO of Best Buy. “In support of this, we will be intensifying our investments in customer-facing initiatives across both channels in the back half of the year.”

Comparable online sales increased 22%, with the company attributing the increase to:

  • Improved inventory availability resulting from the ship-from-store capability that was implemented in January 2014;
  • A higher average order value; and
  • Increased traffic driven by a greater investment in online digital marketing.

“Industry-wide sales are continuing to decline in many of the consumer electronics categories in which we compete,” said Sharon McCollam, EVP, CAO and CFO of Best Buy. “We are also seeing ongoing softness in the mobile phone category ahead of highly-anticipated new product launches.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Fri, 29 Aug 2014 08:38:20 -0400 Increases Marketplace Sales By 254% With ChannelAdvisor Increases Marketplace Sales By 254% With ChannelAdvisor

Online marketplaces such as eBay and others give retailers of all sizes the opportunity to introduce their brand to millions of customers worldwide.

For, an online destination for cookware, kitchen gadgets, recipesand more, these marketplaces have “played a valuable role in expanding our online visibility,” said Martin Smiley, who is Partnerships and Consumer Promotions Manager for the eTailer. “[They] make it possible to reach a new audience of consumers who may not have found our products elsewhere.”

Offering more than 9,000 kitchen products as well as recipes, cookbooks and storage, implemented the ChannelAdvisor platform to have a single integration point to sell on marketplaces such as eBay.  As a result, the eTailer has seen a 303% boost in eBay sales between 2013 and 2014. Total sales across all marketplaces increased by 254% within the same period. With ChannelAdvisor, also launched on Sears, Shopping and Newegg.

{loadposition GIAA}The ChannelAdvisor Managed Services team has played a key role in improving the visibility of’s presence across marketplaces. The team provides guidance to help improve its marketplace strategies, and manages day-to-day tactics involved with listing products on different channels.

“When seeking an e-Commerce retail marketplace solution provider, we found that ChannelAdvisor's capabilities perfectly matched what we were looking for,” said Smiley in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “ChannelAdvisor's relationships with multiple channels and level of e-Commerce expertise stood out to us, and partnering with their team made perfect sense.” initially launched on ChannelAdvisor in October 2012, tapping the solution provider’s launch team to ensure a seamless transition. The launch was completed in time for the holidays, according to Smiley. “It was quite the experience, and we did it seamlessly.”

Smiley added that over the next year, plans to add more SKUs to the platform and “find better ways to get our business front and center to the marketplace audience.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:11:52 -0400
Square Seeks To Secure More Funding Square Seeks To Secure More Funding

Square Card ReaderSquare, used by millions to ease payments by attaching a dongle to a mobile device to accept credit cards, is raising additional capital in a new round of financing that pushes its valuation to $6 billion. The company hopes to secure another $200 million in funding — with part coming from the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) — according to unidentified sources close to the company, CNBC reports. Any pending deals, however, have not been disclosed.

Square, led by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has experienced steady growth in its value. Deals completed in 2012 with Sequoia, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Starbucks valued the company at $3.25 billion. In early 2014, the company was valued at $5 billion in a secondary stock sale that allowed employees and investors to divest their shares. Investor demand exceeded supply in that round, according to sources cited by CNBC.

{loadposition GIAA}This new valuation comes at a time when the company is facing increased competition — namely from Amazon, which released its own card reading dongle in mid-August and undercut Square’s transaction fees. Paypal offers a similar service and also undercuts Square.


Updated Offerings

Square also updated its Cash app this week. Cash is a free app for sending and requesting money. The update adds the ability to send or request money from anyone in the user’s address book using phone number or e-mail address. The latest version of Cash also features a refreshed design, payment tracking and requests via push notification and a new Profile feature for linking email addresses and phone numbers to one account.

Cash is less than one year old, but according to the company, it has enabled hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions, with more than a quarter of all transactions being sent across state lines.

The company also added Square Analytics to its register service. The reporting and analytics tool delivers data to sellers designed to help them increase sales and better serve customers. It integrates the full suite of Square Register products including Pickup, Invoices and Appointments.

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:19:24 -0400
The Honest Company Captures $70 Million In Funding The Honest Company Captures $70 Million In Funding

The Honest Company, a provider of natural and non-toxic products for families, has closed a $70 million financing round. 

Wellington Management Company LLP led the round, while Dragoneer Investment group contributed. Existing investors, including General Catalyst Partners, ICONIQ Capital, Institutional Venture Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners, also participated.

This latest series of funding adds to the $52 million the Honest Company collected following its official launch in 2012 and will be used to help accelerate the company’s growth worldwide.

“We value the support of our partners and customers in helping us make a meaningful impact in the marketplace,” said Jessica Alba, Co-Founder of The Honest Company. “We dream big at The Honest Company and continuously strive to make the world healthier and more sustainable — today and in the future.”

The Honest Company product line that extends across bath/skin care, household cleaning, supplements, oral care, baby products and exclusive designer collaboration items. Items are available online and at retail partner locations across the U.S. and Canada. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Financial News Wed, 27 Aug 2014 11:20:24 -0400
Meet The Retail TouchPoints Advisory Board Meet The Retail TouchPoints Advisory Board

Retail TouchPoints (RTP)
is proud to introduce the Retail TouchPoints Advisory Board! The Board includes a select group of leading retail executives, invited to join together to collaborate with each other and provide advice on future RTP editorial coverage.

RTP Advisory Board members include a wide variety of retail companies, from large national Tier 1 brands to regional stores and e-Commerce specialty merchants. They bring unique perspectives and industry expertise to the table.

Some of the Advisory Board members also were recipients of a 2014 Retail Innovator Award. The Retail Innovator program is designed to honor individual executives in the retail industry who are focused on driving change through innovation. Nominations are open for the 2015 Retail Innovator Awards.

The RTP Advisory Board will meet periodically during the year to share success stories and challenges. Click here to meet the current Retail TouchPoints Advisory Board. 

]]> (Debbie Hauss) Trend Watch Wed, 27 Aug 2014 09:35:07 -0400
GameStop Begins Chain-Wide Beacon Deployment GameStop Begins Chain-Wide Beacon Deployment

GamestopBeacon technology can help retailers better understand consumers’ path-to-purchase and, in turn, deliver more relevant offers and messages while they’re browsing in store aisles.

GameStop recently kicked off a chain-wide deployment of beacons from Gimbal, as well as the iBeacon promotion platform from Shelfbucks. The technology was implemented throughout August in 36 test stores in Austin and College Station, Tex.

{loadposition GIAA}The beacons are placed on numerous shelves throughout each store to help GameStop merge its in-store and mobile shopping experiences. Shoppers holding their phones nearby beacons will be ablet to access custom content such as active promotions, discounts and offers, product ratings, reviews, screenshots and even game trailers, depending on the section of the store they are browsing.

“We think of it as digitizing the physical space of the store,” said Jeff Donaldson, CIO of GameStop and SVP of the GameStop Technology Institute. “We want to equalize the channel and make sure the customer has access to all product information in a very easy way in that store environment as they navigate and shop the store — just like they would on a digital platform.”

Delivering content and information via beacons can be especially valuable for helping GameStop sell more high-consideration goods, according to Erik McMillan, CEO and Founder of Shelfbucks.

“In a GameStop, you might walk in and there might be five video games for you to choose from and they all cost the same,” McMillan said. “If you only have $100 today, which game out of these five do you really want to buy? You want to make sure you’re buying the one that’s going to be the most fun, the one that has the highest ratings and reviews or the one that has the best promotion today.”

Sharing Information Throughout The Shopping Experience

The Shelfbucks team was responsible for physically installing the platform and devices, and continues to monitor the operations and battery life of the beacons. Because Shelfbucks is managing the technology, GameStop employees can continue to focus on improving the customer experience.

“There are platforms out there where the beacons are hidden or lost in the store sending you messages,” said Charlie Larkin, Senior Director of the GameStop Technology Institute. “We think that’s a great experience, as well. However, when we look at what we want to deliver in our stores, Shelfbucks has a software platform behind the beacons that gives the ability to create a customer-driven experience. The customer is choosing to opt in to the app. The customer is choosing to engage with that beacon in order to receive those offers from that section of the store.”

With an expanded product line that includes tablets and mobile phones, as well as a simplified trade-in pricing program, the GameStop team wants to provide shoppers with technology that can get them acquainted with new policies, products and offerings.

“We weren’t sure that our customers were fully aware of the products that we had available as well as the features and benefits of adopting those products,” Donaldson said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The customer navigating through the store should have opportunities to interact with that environment to discover the new product categories we have in the store. Just like any retailer, we have a lot of promotions that have complexity to them. You want to point out to a customer not only the promotions available to them, but also the promotions that would make the most sense for them at the moment.”

Improving Associate-To-Shopper Relationships

As part of the beacon implementation, BestFit Mobile built an associate-facing iPad application, which is designed to enable GameStop employees to better engage with customers and personalize the shopping experience.

“Ultimately, our platform delivers the ability for the in-store associate to pass information from their iPad across to the shoppers’ iPhone applications so they can make product recommendations and share videos,” said Bret Cunningham, President and COO at BestFit Mobile. “GameStop is thinking about how to embrace these technologies in stores in the long term.”

GameStop has taken a proactive approach to understanding new retail trends by launching the GameStop Technology Institute, a business unit focused on discovering and delivering new technologies designed to cater to the modern consumer.

“GameStop really has their stuff together,” McMillan noted. “We were in meetings with all the cross-functional groups and they’re understanding how this technology has to be marketed, how they need to train their employees to make sure they know how to talk to shoppers and which promotions should get delivered to the appropriate markets.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Wed, 27 Aug 2014 08:14:40 -0400
Tool King Puts A Hammer Down On Price-Scraping Bots With Distil Networks Tool King Puts A Hammer Down On Price-Scraping Bots With Distil Networks

Price remains a top factor for consumers, and they’re scouring the web for the best deals and offers. Retailers, in turn, are waging an all-out price war with competitors, using new tools and solutions to keep a constant pulse on prices across channels.

Multichannel tool retailer Tool King recognized consumers’ heightened desire for lower prices as more store visitors asked the retailer to match Amazon prices. 

“While tools didn't suffer the level of showrooming a category such as electronics has, it definitely happened,” said Brandon Allhands, Director of IT at “The effect on our business has led to us shutting down our retail storefront. While it wasn't directly showrooming and the Amazon effect, they were definitely factors.”

Focusing on e-Commerce, Tool King has seen ongoing growth and has expanded its catalog from 8,500 tools in early 2010 to more than 400,000 general products.

However, the retailer has seen a whole new set of challenges. Competitors now are using bots to scrape the Tool King e-Commerce site to collect vital product and pricing data. Traditionally, the admin team would catch bots by manually tracking logs and patterns. Now, Tool King uses Distil Networks, which detects and blocks malicious bots, malware and competitors that try to scrape web sites.

{loadposition GIAA}Tool King started seeing results immediately, including decreased costs and improved conversion rates, Allhands reported. “We were able to cut our monthly origin hosting bill by nearly as much as Distil's service costs. It almost paid for itself just in hosting savings.”

Tool King also saw conversion rates increase dramatically since “bogus traffic” has been thrown out. Over the past three months, Distil has blocked more than 42 million requests from bots, Allhands added. “That's 42 million less log entries, which has allowed us to gain more accurate insight into our traffic patterns and customer experience.”

Distil Networks runs the traffic through their network, “which means setup is pretty much only some domain name system changes and telling Distil about our origin servers,” Allhands said. “I was able to point traffic within 24 hours of signing up. They also provide configuration for how you want to respond to a type of threat. All of the configuration is done through a web interface, so it's easy for non-technical people to implement.”

Prior to implementing Distil, the admin team would notice spikes in traffic and would take action against IP addresses, Allhands explained. “We would look at logs and see a collection of IP addresses performing nonsensical searches, like searching for different UPCs every couple seconds.”

Now, Tool King is equipped to compete more successfully in the pricing battle, which is ongoing and constantly evolving.

“As someone who has written scrapers for competitive pricing, it was almost like a war,” Allhands said. “We would take action to block, and the 'enemy' would adapt. We would then adapt, only to have them adapt again.”

The cost of not adapting and deflecting price-scraping bots is two-fold, Allhands noted.

“One: they are getting data/pricing. Why collect pricing unless you plan on taking action from it? That action is typically the 'beat them by a penny' action. Two: the traffic itself. Bandwidth is not free, and as our catalog grew, so did the non-converting traffic.”

Allhands explained: “Paying for a competitor to grab your information is like a slap in the face — we had to find a way to adapt and block the traffic at the source, as opposed to the reactionary and labor intensive process we were following.”


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Thu, 28 Aug 2014 08:00:00 -0400
Vince Camuto Implements Island Pacific SmartSuite Solution Vince Camuto Implements Island Pacific SmartSuite Solution

Vince-camuto-soho-store-exteriorVince Camuto, a women’s fashion and footwear brand, has signed a deal with Island Pacific to implement the company’s SmartSuite solution in all retail stores.

The Island Pacific SmartRetail merchandising application is positioned to  provide the Camuto Group with an end-to-end solution across the brand’s headquarters and retail stores. The Camuto Group deployed a variety of other Island Pacific solutions, including: SmartAnalytics; SmartPlanning; SmartStore Mobile POS; SmartOmni; and SmartBus.

As a result, the Vince Camuto team will have access to tools that will support key retail operations, such as merchandising, data warehousing/business intelligence, POS, customer relationship management, vendor relationship management and demand forecasting.

"Following a rigorous and detailed evaluation of five vendors, we selected Island Pacific SmartSuite as it provides us with a very robust and comprehensive end-to-end solution to support our growth,” said Robert Forte, Senior VP of IT at the Camuto Group. “It has rich functional applications that will enable us to strategically manage all aspects of our business under the Vince Camuto brand. This is a strategic investment for us as we plan to grow the business significantly over the next few years."

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 27 Aug 2014 07:55:51 -0400
EMV: The Moving Target

ArroweyeEMV has been implemented around the globe, but the US is lagging behind. Fear of high costs, uncertainty about chip specifications and cardholder verification methods, and intimidating regulatory requirements have all meant that many organizations have been slow to take on the challenge of implementing EMV, even though new regulations say they must, and the National Retail Federation says it is the only secure standard. The cost of the transition to EMV is estimated to be $8 billion, and that number, while staggering, is causing some retailers to stop dead in their tracks when it comes to implementation.

The reality is this: major retailers are installing EMV-enabled point of sale equipment now, and in less than two years, 95% of all cards in the US are expected to be EMV-capable. If you are a retailer that offers branded credit or debit cards, you must take action, but you don’t have to take an all or nothing approach. The solution is a timely, four-step approach that will allow you to get an EMV card into the market without getting locked in to one production strategy or breaking the bank.

Step 1: Segment and prioritize your card market.

You don’t have to transition your entire customer base to EMV at the same time. Instead, take the time to look at who might really benefit from EMV first. Perhaps they are high value customers who request EMV, or the customers with the highest average spend. Take the time to segment and prioritize your customer base, focusing on those tier-one customers who will truly benefit from EMV first.

Step 2: Identify initial technology preferences

Because there are so many different EMV implementation options, no one wants to bet their entire card inventory on a particular chip type or verification method. Each card program could have drastically different needs, and many players in the payments ecosystem have yet to confirm their ability or intent to handle certain types of authentication or verification.

In addition, industry experts expect cards to evolve over time. Most early cards will be a ‘hybrid’ with both a chip and a traditional magnetic stripe so that account holders can still complete transactions as they come across various types of point-of-sale equipment at retailers and banks. Cards will eventually lose the mag stripe and offer a “dual interface” with a chip and a contactless method.

But without flexibility built into their plan, many retailers are playing the “wait-and-see” game, incorrectly assuming that they’ll reduce their risk by watching and then responding to market trends or legislation. This late-to-market approach will create a rush of large-volume orders, resulting in bottlenecks for conventional production manufacturers — bad news for card programs, customers and for the industry as a whole.

But with all problems come great opportunities for those who are ready. The EMV Migration Forum recently confirmed that terminal manufacturers are anticipating that issuers will use a mix of cardholder verification methods (CVMs), and as a result, in-store hardware and software will be ready to accept payments with all CVMs. This means that issuers and program managers have a great opportunity to both be flexible and timely, by selecting and testing various technology implementations today, and identifying which solution best meets their customers’ needs as they go — even if that means different solutions for different market segments.  

Step 3: Outline initial go-to-market strategy

Even as market standards for verification methods are sorted out, different types of card programs will still likely require different chip types and verification methods. Chip-only verification, for example, can work well for low value, high frequency transactions, like those that would be common with a mass transit card. While it uses chip technology instead of a magnetic stripe, chip and signature verification works in a manner similar to traditional credit and cards and might still be relevant with some markets. The global standard — chip and PIN technology — is more secure, and is favored by many major retailers as well as MasterCard. Chip and PIN is also ideal for travel card and international transactions.

Regardless of your program type, now is the time to start with pilot programs and avoid the rush and cost of a delayed large-scale implementation. No program should have to commit to a long-term solution that lacks flexibility.

Step 4: Engage a just-in-time production solution

Having a giant backlog of cards sitting in a warehouse only to go stale is every issuing manager’s biggest fear, and is one of the reasons why many have been so slow to implement EMV. Sitting on inventory, especially for a more expensive EMV product, can tear directly into your bottom line. Using a just-in-time production solution allows you to create only the cards you need, exactly when you need them. That way, you’ll have the agility to test pilot new programs with the peace of mind that you can reevaluate as you determine the best approach to your long-term EMV needs. 

With recent security breaches in the news, the transition to EMV is looming in the forefront of your customer’s minds. But making the change doesn’t have to cause massive upheaval to your organization’s bottom line. Try taking a slow, methodical approach, and you’ll find that it might just be easier than you think. 


Render Dahiya became CEO of Arroweye Solutions in 2007. Shortly after coming on board and earning his stripes in the closed-loop sphere, in 2009, Render set his sights on expanding Arroweye into the open-loop space. Under his leadership, Arroweye became the first company ever to receive Visa certification to manufacture and print the Visa logo on-demand while simultaneously personalizing a payment card. This certification launched Arroweye into significant market growth. Most recently, Arroweye logged its most successful year to date in 2012 and helped power an award-winning, first-of-its-kind ID and payment card solution for the underbanked.


]]> (Render Dahiya, Arroweye Solutions) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 26 Aug 2014 12:47:40 -0400
Compare Metrics Rebrands As Edgecase Compare Metrics Rebrands As Edgecase

Edgecase-Final-LogoCompare Metrics, a provider of site navigation and discovery solutions has rebranded as Edgecase to showcase its evolution as a brand. 

“Over the past two years, we have been fortunate enough to work with some of the leading brands in retail,” said Garrett Eastham, CEO of Edgecase. The rebranding reflects “the evolution of our platform and vision.”

As part of the brand re-launch, Edgecase unveiled the Adaptive Experience Platform, designed to help brands and retailers address the reality that every shopper is an “edge case,” or an individual with unique preferences and desires. 

Edgecase built and refined the new solution based on shopper feedback collected in usability studies. The solution provider also collaborated with its key retail customers, such as Crate & Barrel, Golfsmith, Rebecca Minkoff, Urban Decay and Wasserstrom.

“An edge case is the hardest things a business can tackle,” Eastham noted. “Consumers today want to take control of the discovery experience.” 

The Adaptive Experience Platform combines machine learning and content curation to provide more inspiring shopping experiences. 

“Software can comb through mass amounts of data, but it requires a human to connect the dots,” said Eastham in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Our curation workforce adds that human element.” 

By combining human and machine, Edgecase is “breaking away from the traditional definition of personalization,” Eastham said. “It reaffirms that as a consumer, your tastes and preferences are as unique as the person you are. You aren’t a segment.”

The platform includes a variety of new features, including “more like this” advanced visual navigation, the ability to designate “nice to have” attributes as well as “must have” attributes. 

“Most leading-edge web sites simply are not inspiring,” Eastham said. “Consumers are craving something new and different. They don’t want your old school experience; they are craving curated experiences.”

The new brand and solution will be unveiled at the 2014 Summit, taking place Sept. 29 to Oct. 1, 2014 in Seattle. 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Tue, 26 Aug 2014 09:07:00 -0400
EGifter Mobile App Puts A Social Spin On Gift Registries EGifter Mobile App Puts A Social Spin On Gift Registries

SS egifter imageRegistries are common fixtures at bridal and baby showers because they streamline the gift giving process and help consumers ensure they’re only buying the products their friends and family need.

Social gifting company eGifter has expanded its Social Gift Registry platform with the launch of new mobile apps for Android and iOS devices. With the apps, consumers can use their personal mobile devices to scan products in stores and add them to their eGifter social gift registries. The registries can be managed from any device, and are designed to let registry owners and gift givers spread the word about products via social channels.

Through the mobile app, retailers can send users push notifications promoting deals and product recommendations. The Social Gift Registry Platform also includes a group gifting option that allows users to invite friends to pitch in for large-ticket items via social media. The apps can be customized to reflect a retailer’s branding and can be integrated with existing registries or wish list tools.

“With consumers spending up to $19 billion annually buying presents for wedding registries alone, eGifter’s Registry Platform is a great opportunity for businesses to add personalized, easy-to-use social and mobile registries to drive sales of higher-cost items with minimal investment on the front-end,” said Tyler Roye, Co-Founder and CEO of eGifter. “In addition to this value for retailers, the mobile app takes our solution to the next step for consumers, providing shoppers with a way to manage their registry anywhere — in-store, at home, or on the go.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Tue, 26 Aug 2014 08:03:34 -0400
Using Personalization To Meet The Complex Expectations Of Millennial Shoppers Using Personalization To Meet The Complex Expectations Of Millennial Shoppers

VP SmartFurniture head shot 082614Now that e-Commerce has existed for the better part of 20 years, the online marketplace for furniture and home goods is starting to see a rise in buyers who grew with the internet. As these young consumers move from grad school to the workforce and into married life, they continue to use the internet for everything — including making large purchases online. So, categories like furniture and appliances — once thought to be illogical for ecommerce, are starting to see significant growth due in large part to the growing numbers of millennials.

Millennials have lived a significant portion of their social and consuming life on the internet--so the thought of having to physically see, touch or feel and item before buying it is not typically in their thought processes. 

{loadposition GIAA}Although Millennials are willing and increasingly more able to make large purchases online, they collectively have much higher expectations than previous generations; they are also less likely to spend time sorting through thousands of products. When these young shoppers do not see anything that appeals to them or can’t find what they are seeking right away, they will move on to a competing retailer very quickly. That’s why it’s more important than ever to curate or personalize shopping experiences with products and content that appeal directly to each unique visitor.

Get Personal

With well over 100,000 online retailers in the U.S., customers have virtually unlimited access to an overwhelming variety of merchants and products. Tactics like paid search marketing and SEO can help increase visibility, but shoppers will no longer spend significant time exploring sites that they do not immediately feel connected to. With so many variations in tastes and preferences, it can seem impossible to appeal to everyone from the moment they land on a site.

In reality, it is impossible to connect to all customer types with a static site. However, when a company leverages dynamic site features, listens to intrinsic data, and uses prescriptive personalization processes, it is able to show each visitor a variation of content, messaging and products targeted specifically to appeal to that visitor. Much like social media platforms filter content to accommodate known tastes and preferences, prescriptive personalization exposes shoppers to content and products most likely to appeal to different categories of visitors.

By understanding the motivations that drive purchase decisions, retailers can determine how to filter content. uses determinants like stage of life, style, price, size, quality, and available features to display products relevant to customers across many style and budget spectra. Thus, a customer known to live in a small condominium with modern tastes and a preference for quality over price will see products that match that profile upon visiting the web page. A customer who lives in a large house with traditional tastes and a limited budget would see a completely different variation of the same site. The challenge will be how to gain the insights specific to each visitor when he/she has never visited the company’s site.

Intrinsic Data And Clustering

Showing each new visitor a personalized site that is relevant to her style and interests can appear to be magic or unnaturally intuitive.  Behind the scenes, it's not magic at all. Conceptually, it’s simple. A company should start with what it knows: its existing customer data. Look for patterns of behavior and characteristics that are logically related and amount to clusters of attributes. This information is used as “training data” and will inform future activities.

For example, do people from a similar geographic area tend to buy one style of product over another? Do visitors who use Windows based operating systems and older versions of Internet Explorer prefer value products over feature rich products? There are countless numbers of variables a company can tie together from intrinsic data. The key is tying these characteristics together and then testing a wide variety of experiences to see if there is viable connection. Once a company has enough data to create a relevant experience for a set of similarly situated visitors, the company is on its way!

We are in the early stages of using big data to create relevant personalization. Though the practice is in its early stages, companies that can quickly make sense of their data and provide intuitive experiences to new visitors will have a significant advantage. 


T. J. Gentle is the President & CEO of Since joining the company in 2005, Gentle has led the team in developing web applications that empower customers to customize and visualize their furniture purchases online.  Since becoming CEO in 2009, has increased annual revenues more than 500%, and the company has emerged as one of the technology leaders in the Internet retail industry.  Gentle is a former corporate attorney, a Co-Founder of and, and currently serves on the Business Forward Advisory Council in Washington DC

]]> (T. J. Gentle, Executive ViewPoints Mon, 25 Aug 2014 16:46:46 -0400
14 Retailers Win 2014 Store Operations Superstar Awards 14 Retailers Win 2014 Store Operations Superstar Awards

shadow RTP RT025 AWD StoreOpSuperstars Aug 2014Successful store operations improve the customer experience and ultimately, the bottom line. But today’s store operators are constantly juggling numerous challenges, from managing mobile technology to motivating employees.

As competition continues to heat up, along with pressure to hold the line on expenses, store operations executives are faced with an uphill battle.

In our third annual Store Operations Superstar Awards, Retail TouchPoints is recognizing 14 companies that have implemented the most innovative, successful store operations strategies in the following categories:
  • Workforce Management
  • Social/Mobile Strategies
  • Inventory Management/Loss Prevention
  • Customer Engagement

Winners include GameStop, Safeway, Deb Shops and Tumi, plus 10 other retail innovators.

The complete list of categories and corresponding winners are as follows:


GOLD A&W Canada

GOLD GameStop

SILVER Sprouts

SILVER Rutter’s Farm Stores

BRONZE Baer’s Furniture


GOLD Safeway

SILVER Talbots

BRONZE COOP Switzerland


GOLD Deb Shops

SILVER Alex and Ani



SILVER Chico’s FAS (Soma Intimates)

SILVER Stein Mart


View the full report below:

Click here to download the PDF.

]]> (Debbie Hauss) Retail TouchPoints Awards Mon, 25 Aug 2014 16:05:38 -0400
45% Of Shoppers Don’t Trust Retailers To Keep Their Information Safe

RR Ineractions imageAlmost half (45%) of shoppers don’t trust retailers to keep their credit and debit card information safe from potential hackers, according to a report from Interactions. Up to 44% of respondents have had their personal information stolen as a result of a security breach.

The Retail Perceptions report, titled: Retail’s Reality: Shopping Behavior After Security Breaches, offers insight into how consumers’ loyalty to brands changed following highly publicized data breaches. Up to 12% of shoppers said they stopped shopping with retailers that experienced a breach, with an additional 36% indicating they shopped at the retailer less frequently.

{loadposition GIAA}With debit and credit cards being top targets for hackers, shoppers may be swayed into making purchases via other means, particularly cash. The majority (79%) of respondents said they were more likely to use cash instead of credit cards to purchase products in-store. This change in payment preference isn’t beneficial for retailers, as 26% of consumers said they would spend less using cash.

Consumers have varied opinions regarding their comfort levels shopping with retailers after they experience a security breach. Approximately one fifth (19%) of respondents feel comfortable going back to the same retailer to shop immediately, while another 19% said they would prefer to hold off for three to six months. Conversely, some people don’t care as long as the breach is corrected quickly (22%).

Shoppers provided four key stipulations retailers would have to adhere to in order to regain their trust after a breach:

  • Provide free credit monitoring capabilities;
  • Offer additional incentives or discounts;
  • Provide clear and honest explanations to shoppers regarding the breach; and
  • Increase security measures and communicate the changes that have been made.

Click here to access the complete report.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Shopper Experience Mon, 25 Aug 2014 12:55:38 -0400
Quri Experiences Six-Fold Revenue Growth, Expands Management Team Quri Experiences Six-Fold Revenue Growth, Expands Management Team

quriQuri, a retail intelligence solution provider, has increased its revenue six-fold between the first half of 2013 and first half of 2014, and has doubled revenue from Q1 2014 to Q2 2014. The company also expanded its leadership team, introducing three new executives in Q2 2014.

Kathleen Egan joined Quri as its VP of Services and Analytics. Egan has an extensive history working for enterprise technology companies such as Revionics and Oracle. She also has experience working for early-stage start-ups.

{loadposition GIAA}Quri also appointed Justin Rowe as its VP of Engineering. Rowe most recently served as VP of Engineering at SuccessFactors, an SAP company, where he led a team to develop enterprise-class solutions.

Finally, Selim Freiha, who is the new CFO of Quri, brings nearly two decades of e-Commerce experience at public corporations and venture-backed start-ups. Previously, Freiha served as the CFO for PayPal’s cross-border trade efforts at eBay.

“Based on Quri's pace of growth, we accelerated our efforts to build a stellar leadership team that supports our current trajectory,” said Justin Behar, CEO and Co-Founder of Quri. “The response to Quri from the global CPG industry has been very strong and we are truly honored that brands are consistently selecting our platform to collect real-time in-store conditions data so they can addresses their retail execution problems.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Mon, 25 Aug 2014 09:48:31 -0400
Kwikee Vendor Portal Offers Seamless Access To Product Images, Data Kwikee Vendor Portal Offers Seamless Access To Product Images, Data

SS kwikee imageWhile shopping online, most consumers rely on images to make final purchase decisions. That is why it is paramount that retailers have real-time access to high-definition product images.

Kwikee, a developer and distributor of product images, data and content, has introduced a vendor portal designed to help retailers and manufacturers communicate and fulfill product image requests more efficiently. Images within the Kwikee database can be used across all marketing channels, and are approved by the manufacturer prior to distribution.

The vendor portal offers a single location for all project information including:

  • A list of SKUs required by the retailer;
  • Data and image options;
  • Project contracts; and
  • Shipping materials, in addition to other project details.

The vendor portal is designed to give manufacturers seamless access to required SKU lists. Retailers can use the portal to monitor the status of product requests and analyze manufacturer compliance. Manufacturers have the option of either sending physical product samples to Kwikee for image and data collection, or upload their own compliant content.

“Communication is key in large volume image and data capture projects — from the retailer, to the image and data provider, to the vendors,” said Barry Rapp, National Sales Manager of Kwikee. “Kwikee’s vendor portal is the communication device that ties all three groups together to meet the project’s goals.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 25 Aug 2014 09:08:57 -0400
A New Face For Birchbox: Co-Founder Discusses Dive Into Brick-And-Mortar A New Face For Birchbox: Co-Founder Discusses Dive Into Brick-And-Mortar

After meeting while attending Harvard Business School, Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp created Birchbox to help consumers test and find the products that align with their unique wants and needs.

Each month, Birchbox members receive a box filled with beauty product samples. For $10 per month, boxes cover the gamut, including test-size packages for lotions, face creams, hair masks, nail polishes and cosmetics. If subscribers like what they test, they can visit the Birchbox e-Commerce site to purchase full-size products. 

Since its launch in 2010, Birchbox has experienced rapid growth, amassing more than 800,000 subscribers, 800 brand partners, 6,500 products in the e-Commerce shop and 250 employees worldwide. Approximately 30% of the business comes from the brand’s e-Commerce site.

Now, Birchbox is dipping into brick-and-mortar. The team is celebrating the opening of its first store in SoHo, New York City.

In the below Q&A, Beauchamp discusses the success of Birchbox and why the retailer decided to open a physical store.

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): Subscription services seem to be cropping up across different areas of the retail world — from beauty, to food and even dog treats. How has Birchbox gone about differentiating itself in a highly trendy space?

Beauchamp: Personalization has always been our strong suit and key point of difference among our competitors. We leverage our data and the seamless 360-degree Birchbox digital experience to deliver personalized content and useful editorial we know our customers love.

Additionally, we pride ourselves on our strategic editorial presence that sets us apart from others. We never leave our customers unsure about their products, and we give them clear access points for more information that goes beyond our site and blog and extends through social media; from Pinterest to Facebook and Twitter to YouTube. We have created a true omnichannel experience to meet our consumers’ needs via multiple touch points.

RTP: What made Birchbox decide to extend its business from e-Commerce to brick-and-mortar? How did you go about deciding where you would open the location and when?

Beauchamp: Our goal with Birchbox has always been to make it easy, efficient and fun for people to discover new brands and products fit for their lifestyle. The Birchbox store is another channel to help create a robust shopping experience for our customers. Beauty is a touch, try and feel category, and we applied the same model our customers love and expanded into brick-and-mortar. We are bringing our tried-and-true "try, learn, buy” model to our store to deliver the same custom-fit, accessible and convenient experience customers already enjoy through our other channels.

{loadposition GIAA}When we tried the pop-up in Chelsea market, we were very excited to open a store in New York, where we could go in and interact with consumers. The 4,500-square-foot duplex space in SoHo was the perfect fit for our debut into brick-and-mortar.

RTP: Did you use customer feedback to establish your brick-and-mortar strategy?

Beauchamp: We applied the insight and feedback from our hundreds of thousands of customers to better understand what makes them tick and create a customer-first, holistic offline shopping experience.

RTP: What elements did you know you wanted to include in the brick-and-mortar experience? 

Beauchamp: The retail store is a direct reflection and extension of our online Birchbox experience. We wanted to build another channel to reach our customers, as we know they have unique buying habits and preferences.

When we were planning the layout of the store we knew there were a few must-haves:

  • Purchasable products from our web site;
  • A row of vanities for product testing;
  • A B.Y.O.B. (Build Your Own Birchbox) section that lets shoppers fill our pink boxes with samples of their choice for $15; and
  • A separate floor set aside for classes on topics such as makeup and skin care tricks, and services like hair styling.

RTP: What technology did you include in the store and why?

Beauchamp: As an online-first company, it was really important to us to incorporate the best things about our site experience within our store. There are four iPads throughout the store for consumers to personalize their shopping experience. There is a large touchscreen Product Matchmaker where after inputting some information about yourself, the screen will recommend products in the store that are best for you. On the lower level, there are two iPads with menus for consumers to browse the hair, makeup and nail beauty service options. We are constantly listening to our customers’ feedback and making adjustments as we see fit to make the offline experience even better.

RTP: Why do you believe the store is an optimal representation of the Birchbox brand and its target customers?

Beauchamp: The store experience, similar to the monthly sample allocation process, takes into consideration each customer’s beauty profile (skin tone and type, hair color, style, etc.) to curate a selection of products that are targeted to their profile, present new products and brands they’ve not yet tried via Birchbox, and continue to surprise and delight.

Our target is what we call “the beauty curious” consumer. She doesn’t have to be on the forefront of beauty trends. She is just interested in knowing and discovering the right thing for her.

RTP: Prior to opening your brick-and-mortar store, you experimented with pop-up stores. Can you share any lessons learned from these experiences and how you applied them to your first brick-and-mortar store?

Beauchamp: Our five successful pop-up shops over the past two years enabled us to see what worked and to test our findings and insights gleaned online in an offline environment. We realized there was a huge advantage in having face-to-face interactions with our customers, and to be able to reach them through multiple points of entry.

As we executed our pop-up shops, we saw the value in bringing our brand to life and creating a store experience that captures the Birchbox retail experience. The most important thing was to bring our unique retail experience to an offline model — we did this via personalization, integration of technology, and our merchandising strategy. 

RTP: How will you engage and market to consumers across channels to encourage them to visit the store? Similarly, how will you encourage customers to engage with the brand digitally while they're in the store? 

Beauchamp: As consumers become more omnichannel in their shopping habits, we have adapted to learn the best ways to engage with our customers to drive sales and loyalty. Retail is about offering people the services and products they want – on the devices and media they use.

Birchbox's highly engaged online community has played a big role in the company's growth to date, and we will continue to bring them into the offline experience. With two million-plus user-generated YouTube impressions per month, more than one million Facebook fans and hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, the Birchbox community has shown us they’re excited about the business, hyper-engaged and have a healthy appetite for more. Our brick-and-mortar store serves as another touch point to reach our audience and educate consumers on who we are as a company.

Visitors are encouraged to follow the store using the hashtag #birchboxsoho, and current Birchbox customers can give us their email to get their history, points balance and personalized product recommendations. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Mon, 25 Aug 2014 05:55:48 -0400
Food Lion Launches New Shopping Experience In 31 Stores Food Lion Launches New Shopping Experience In 31 Stores

food-lion-storeFood Lion unveiled its new shopping experience for customers in 31 stores in the greater Wilmington, N.C. market. The stores are the first in the chain to receive remodels as part of the grocer’s “Easy, Fresh and Affordable…You Can Count on Food Lion Every Day” strategy, which was announced earlier this year.

The remodeled stores debut new features intended to ease shopping for customers — including increased selection, more vibrant signage and faster checkout.

{loadposition GIAA} “Since announcing our new strategy, we’ve been doing a lot across the Food Lion chain to create positive change,” said Beth Newlands Campbell, President of Food Lion. “We’re proud to continue that momentum by launching the first market of enhanced stores that bring all the elements of our new strategy to life to make shopping easier for customers.”

Customers will experience numerous changes in the newly-designed stores, including expanded product selection. For example, new stores offer a dedicated Gluten Free section and an increased selection of fresh meat and produce.

Another new offering — Daily Dinner Deals — features hot meals for families of four in the deli department between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. for approximately $10. The grocer also increased the variety of grab-and-go items and pre-sliced deli meats and cheeses in this department.

Vibrant yellow signage in the stores promotes the company’s “Three Easy Ways to Save: MVP On Sale, Extended Savings and Great Value Every Day.” On Sale items are savings and promotions that include deals from the weekly flyer. Extended Savings are prices reduced for up to 13 weeks on items throughout the store. Great Value Every Day indicates low prices always available on Food Lion private brand items and in-season produce.

Technology and staffing improvements at checkout include:

  • Larger display screens so customers can view items and prices as they’re scanned;

  • Additional associates available to bag groceries; and

  • Blue bags, offered in addition to the traditional white bags, help customers identify cold and frozen items when unpacking at home.

Chain-Wide Changes

Food Lion also announced changes that affect the entire chain. A new weekly flyer, available at, features a layout intended to help its readers spot low prices. The flyer includes an MVP Savings Center section on the back page that combines weekly specials with coupons from in-store kiosks. All stores are receiving expanded assortments based on customer feedback and consumer research, and all 63,000 associates completed new customer centric training.

“Our customers told us that they want a grocery experience where it’s easy to shop, easy to save and easy to figure out what is for dinner tonight. In these enhanced stores, we’ve worked to deliver just that,” said Newlands Campbell. “We invite our customers and the Wilmington community to come out and experience grocery shopping reimagined at Food Lion and let us know what you think about our new stores.”

Food Lion will continue to roll out storewide enhancements in markets over time. The company plans to launch an additional 45 remodeled stores in the greater Greenville, N.C. market in November.

]]> (Rob Fee) Shopper Experience Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:51:35 -0400
Home Depot Appoints New CEO Home Depot Appoints New CEO

MenearCraigCraig Menear, President of U.S. Retail at The Home Depot, will succeed Frank Blake as the company’s CEO effective Nov. 1, 2014. Blake will remain Chairman of the company’s board of directors, with Menear joining the board immediately.

Menear has held his current position as President, U.S. Retail, since Feb. 2014, and previously served as the company’s EVP of Merchandising. A 34-year retail veteran, Menear’s responsibilities at The Home Depot have included overseeing the company’s supply chain efforts, managing the growth of the online and private brand businesses, and leading marketing and global sourcing.

{loadposition GIAA}“Craig has taken on increasing leadership responsibility over the last several years and has excelled in all his roles,” said Blake. “As a long-time Home Depot veteran, Craig lives our values and embodies our culture. He’ll do an outstanding job leading our company in the years ahead.” 

Blake leaves the helm after serving as Chairman and CEO of The Home Depot for seven years, since 2007.

The Home Depot operates 2,265 retail stores in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 10 Canadian provinces and Mexico. In fiscal 2013, the retailer reported sales of $78.8 billion and earnings of $5.4 billion.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Fri, 22 Aug 2014 09:07:49 -0400
Mattress Firm Creates Sweet Dreams With Digital Assisted Selling Mattress Firm Creates Sweet Dreams With Digital Assisted Selling

While shopping for a mattress, many consumers still prefer the touch-and-feel experience of the store. New tools and technologies, however, are allowing retailers to create a richer experience for online shoppers so they have the information they need to make the best decisions. 

Mattress Firm, a multichannel retailer with more than 1,500 locations in 38 states, wanted to replicate the personal nature of its in-store experience online. Using assisted selling technologies from Vee24, the retailer was able to significantly improve online conversions and overall basket size.

Live video assistance, coupled with online chat and co-browsing functionality, allows Mattress Firm to connect with customers in new ways, according to Daniel Dietz, Director of E-Commerce at Mattress Firm. “If we want to offer a truly differentiated shopping experience we need to be available for our customers when they want, where they want, how they want — Vee24 enables us to further accomplish this goal.”

{loadposition GIAA}Since implementing Vee24, Mattress Firm employees have noted a significant difference in conversion rates and basket sizes for consumers who use the assisted selling offerings and those who do not. Conversion rates for assisted sessions can be up to 10-fold higher than the retailer’s e-Commerce averages. Basket sizes also can be between 25% and 100% larger.

Due to the success of the video chat experience, Mattress Firm recently added two additional service stations.

“The customer is able to build a better connection with our sales associates,” said Dietz in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “As a result, we are able to see higher closing percentages along with overall improved customer satisfaction ratings. Many of our customers who ordered through video chat have said it is what made them decide to buy from Mattress Firm.”

By nature, mattresses are very high-touch products that consumers want to experience before buying, according to Dietz.

“This presents a challenge in the online space, which is why we are excited to expand our video capabilities,” Dietz explained. “Many people don’t know how to shop for a mattress since it’s been a few years since they purchased their last one. Providing the opportunity for customers to do research online and see a friendly agent may ease concerns and build trust.”

Agents are available via chat and video to guide shoppers along the browsing and buying journey. Customers can even “co-browse” with agents, which makes the experience more interactive and similar to shopping in a store.

“It’s important that we build trust with potential customers and our web site plays a key role in that process,” Dietz said. “By building a site that is centered on education, we build the overall brand. Whether they ultimately buy on our web site or in one of our stores, we want to make the experience easy and enjoyable. Through an expansive brick-and-mortar presence as well as a growing online presence, we are able to build a trusted national brand that not only provides all the best brands at all the best prices, but multiple options to purchase — in-store, online, phone, chat and now video.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Fri, 22 Aug 2014 08:37:26 -0400
The Children’s Place Partners With Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited To Open Stores In India The Children’s Place Partners With Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited To Open Stores In India

The Children’s Place is setting sights on international expansion, and the retailer’s first stop is India. The pure-play children’s apparel retailer has entered into a franchise agreement with Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited to open stores up to 50 stores, starting in the Fall of 2015. 

"We are excited to be partnering with Arvind, which has a proven track record of operating successful apparel brands in India,” said Jane Elfers, President and CEO of The Children's Place. “We are making significant strides in our International franchise business, and we remain focused on providing great fashion and value for kids around the world."

As part of the partnership, Arvind Lifestyle Brands Limited will help The Children’s Place be a “first of its kind children’s retail format in India,” noted Sanjay Lalbhai, Chairman and Managing Director of Arvind Limited. "It will be a one stop shop for children sizes 0 to 14, and we are delighted to bring The Children's Place to India."

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:48:28 -0400
Mary Kay Names Corporate Social Responsibility VP Mary Kay Names Corporate Social Responsibility VP

Crayton WebbBeauty brand Mary Kay Inc. has promoted Crayton W. Webb to VP of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility. In his new position, Webb will continue to oversee global media relations, reputation management and public relations initiatives for the company’s more than 35 international subsidiaries. Webb joined Mary Kay in 2005 as Manager of Government Relations and was promoted to Director of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility in 2008.

Webb also will lead Mary Kay’s corporate social responsibility efforts called Pink Changing Lives, which focuses on transforming, inspiring and empowering women around the globe through community involvement, philanthropy and volunteerism. Mary Kay employees and the more than three million Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultants worldwide participate in the program.

{loadposition GIAA} “Along with his strong leadership skills and extensive experience from his tenure with the company, Crayton embodies ‘The Mary Kay Way,’” said Nathan Moore, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary for Mary Kay Inc. “He walks the talk as it relates to community involvement, and we know his counsel will continue to be invaluable as we grow Mary Kay’s presence and continue to enrich the lives of women around the world.”

Prior to joining Mary Kay, Webb was Chief of Staff for Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and Director of Communications for the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. He also spent 10 years as a broadcast journalist covering politics for television stations in Oregon, Idaho and Texas, and as an investigative reporter for KTVT CBS 11 in Dallas.


]]> (Rob Fee) Retail Movers & Shakers Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:20:47 -0400
Shari’s Café & Pies Powers Rewards Program With Paytronix Shari’s Café & Pies Powers Rewards Program With Paytronix

sharisShari’s Café & Pies, a chain of 24-hour family restaurants, has launched the Café Club Rewards program via the Paytronix Rewards Platform. The rewards program is designed to help the merchant create relevant promotions based on guest interactions.

Paytronix, a provider of loyalty program solutions, enables Shari’s to engage guests through smartphone apps and mobile-friendly guest web pages.

{loadposition GIAA}Moving to mobile was a big step for Shari’s. The company’s previous loyalty programs relied heavily on printed coupons and Free Standing Inserts (FSIs) to drive store visits, but they provided minimal benefits, according to a press statement.

“We were producing a large number of unprofitable checks with our old method of discounting through coupons and FSIs,” said Kevin Bechtel, SVP of Purchasing and Menu Development for Shari’s Café & Pies. “With our new loyalty program, we can leverage the data to show appreciation to our best guests, while using the program’s levers to incent visits during new day parts, drive guests to experience new menu items and more.”

In the first month of the program launch, Shari’s registered more than 50,000 members. As part of the implementation, Shari’s is tapping the Paytronix Data Insights team to help better understand individual customers and to proactively respond to opportunities identified from the new loyalty program’s data sources.

“The restaurants that do the best with a loyalty program rollout are those who set clear goals at the chain, franchisee and store level,” said Lee Barnes, Head of Data Insights at Paytronix. “And where the entire organization from the CEO down to the store manager and wait staff are excited about the program and are held accountable for results.” 

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 21 Aug 2014 10:02:11 -0400
51 UPS Stores May Be Impacted By Data Breach 51 UPS Stores May Be Impacted By Data Breach

Shortly after SuperValu announced a data breach that potentially impacted 209 locations, The UPS Store has reported a similar incident.

The subsidiary of United Parcel Service of North America (UPS) revealed yesterday that the breach could have compromised customer credit and debit card data from 51 UPS franchise locations nationwide. Information that may be at risk includes names, postal addresses, email addresses and payment card information.

Customers who purchased an item at the impacted locations between Jan. 20, 2014 and Aug. 11, 2014, will have access to complimentary identity protection and credit monitoring services. However, The UPS Store reported that there has been “no evidence of fraud arising from this incident,” according to a company press release.

After receiving a government bulletin regarding a broad-based malware intrusion, The UPS store onboarded an IT security team and completed a review of its internal and franchise systems. As a result of this investigation, The UPS Store discovered malware in approximately 1% of the total 4,470 locations across the U.S. The malware was removed on Aug. 11, 2014.

"I understand this type of incident can be disruptive and cause frustration,” said Tim Davis, President of The UPS Store. “I apologize for any anxiety this may have caused our customers. At The UPS Store the trust of our customers is of utmost importance. As soon as we became aware of the potential malware intrusion, we deployed extensive resources to quickly address and eliminate this issue. Our customers can be assured that we have identified and fully contained the incident." 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:44:40 -0400
Staples Earnings Hindered By Store Closures, Foreign Exchange Rates Staples Earnings Hindered By Store Closures, Foreign Exchange Rates

staples2Staples Q2 2014 total company sales decreased 1.8% to $5.2 billion, compared to $5.3 billion in Q2 2013. Foreign exchange rates and North American store closures negatively impacted sales by approximately 1%. The company also has predicted Q3 2014 total sales to decrease from last year.

Helping to mitigate some losses, the retailer closed 80 North American stores in Q2, and will reportedly close 140 in total by the end of the year. As part of a two-year cost savings plan designed to cut as much as $500 million off the company budget, Staples will close up to 225 stores by the end of 2015. Staples currently has secured approximately $150 million of cost savings to date, according to a company statement.

While North American quarterly comparable store sales dipped 5%, online sales at were up 8% in the same time frame.The e-Commerce growth is a result of the Staples’ expanded category assortment, a boost in the number of business customers, and improved customer conversion, according to the company.

“We’re accelerating growth in our delivery businesses as customers turn to Staples for more products beyond office supplies,” said Ron Sargent, Chairman and CEO. “At the same time, we have more work to do to stabilize our retail business, and we’re taking action to improve customer traffic, reduce expenses and close underperforming stores.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Thu, 21 Aug 2014 09:27:05 -0400
Target Reports 61.7% Drop In Profits Target Reports 61.7% Drop In Profits

Target reported higher sales in its U.S. and Canadian divisions during a quarterly earnings report call. Total sales reached $17.4 billion, a 1.7% improvement from Q2 2013. Yet total profit fell from $611 million in 2013 to $234 million due to stagnant same-store sales and costs associated with the data breach that occurred during the 2013 holiday season.

U.S. sales increased 0.7% from $16.8 billion to $17.0 billion year over year. However, Target’s Canadian business experienced the most significant boost, rising 63% from $275 million in Q2 2013 to $449 million in Q3 2014. The significant growth of Target’s Canadian segment was attributed to 48 new stores in the area that “became mature at various points during the quarter,” according to a press release. However, same-store sales remained flat in the U.S. and decreased 11% in Canada, which was driven by grand opening sales for new locations.

{loadposition GIAA}Digital sales, which includes e-Commerce and flexible fulfillment such as buy online, pickup in-store, also grew more than 30% in Q2 2014, presenting new expansion opportunities for the retailer.

"While results from the quarter didn’t meet our expectations, we are seeing some early signs of progress as we work to improve results in the U.S. and Canada,” said John Mulligan, Executive VP and CFO of Target Corporation. “In the U.S., traffic trends continue to recover and monthly sales are improving, with July comparable sales up more than 1%. Better U.S. sales have continued into August, driven by early back-to-school results. In Canada, the team is making important changes to operations and the merchandise assortment with a focus on delivering improved results by this holiday season.”

Although Mulligan is optimistic for the brand moving forward, new CEO Brian Cornell is challenged to ramp up growth for Target as the industry plans for the 2014 holiday season. Specifically, Target needs to focus on omnichannel, an area where “competition is intensifying and Target remains a laggard, according to Kelly Tackett, U.S. Research Director at Planet Retail.

“One-off initiatives, such as extending operating hours in the U.S., are only a tiny part of the solution,” Tackett said. “Longer hours will boost traffic but are unlikely to deliver substantial basket size or margin improvement, as many late-night purchases will be confined to the grocery aisles.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Financial News Thu, 21 Aug 2014 07:16:37 -0400
PetSmart Acquires Pet360, Increases Net Income By 5.1% PetSmart Acquires Pet360, Increases Net Income By 5.1%

Pet360PetSmart has acquired online pet products retailer and integrated media company Pet360 for $130 million to ramp up its e-Commerce business. With the purchase, PetSmart will provide customers with seamless access to the Pet360 e-Commerce site, digital media programs and content sites. The transaction is expected to close in September 2014 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

“As discussed previously, although online sales are still a relatively small part of the pet products industry, we expect them to become a more relevant source of revenue in the future,” said David Lenhardt, President and CEO of PetSmart. “Combining PetSmart’s unparalleled strengths in traditional outlets with Pet360’s established digital footprint will perfectly position PetSmart to capitalize on this evolution and enhance our ability to serve pet parents across all distribution channels.”

{loadposition GIAA}News of the Pet360 acquisition was announced during the PetSmart quarterly earnings call. During the live event, executives revealed that net income for Q2 2014 increased by 5.1% to $98 million, versus $93.4 million in Q2 2013. The retailer also posted a 10.1% increase in year over year earnings per share, with Q2 2014 earnings totaling $0.98 per share.

As part of a long-term growth initiative, PetSmart is broadening its assortment of grocery store and mass brands, and will be introducing more proprietary and exclusive brands.

“Everything we are doing is aimed at continuing to build unparalleled customer loyalty through innovation and creating a best-in-class, more personalized customer experience,” Lenhardt said. “We are also instituting more effective pricing and promotion strategies, improving cost and margin discipline and better leveraging our unrivaled scale and distribution infrastructure.”

However, PetSmart also has implemented a new cost reduction program designed to restructure the cost base of the company. The program will target all areas of the business, including cost of goods sold, logistics, sourcing, store operating costs and overhead. The company will provide target goals in Q3 2014 and expects to realize savings before the end of the 2015 fiscal year.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Mergers & Acquisitions Wed, 20 Aug 2014 10:41:33 -0400
Arctic Cat Builds EBay Presence With Shopatron Arctic Cat Builds EBay Presence With Shopatron

Establishing an e-Commerce site is a necessary step for retailers looking to expand their customer base and engender brand loyalty. However, if retailers do not have the financial means to launch their own e-Commerce site, they can garner the same benefits by selling through third-party marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.

Arctic Cat, a manufacturer and distributor of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) as well as related parts, garments and accessories, launched an official eBay store to boost sales and brand awareness. Within months of the unveiling, 10% of Arctic Cat’s sales are coming through eBay, which carries official company gear, merchandise and accessories.

{loadposition GIAA}The eBay storefront was launched using Shopatron Marketplace, which enables manufacturers and retailers to build their own branded store. Once orders are placed, information is delivered to the Shopatron Order Exchange. From there, the closest participating retailer partner to the consumer, or “fulfillment partner,” is assigned to either ship the order or hold it for the consumer to pick up.

“The Order Exchange is set up in a way that is user-friendly for dealers and doesn’t require much searching or clicking,” said Tracy Crocker, VP and General Manager of the Global ATV division at Arctic Cat. “Dealers can decide if they want to fulfill the order, and shipping is prioritized based on the closest dealer to that customer. So far, dealers have understood that the solution is something that enhances their business, and more importantly, brings people into their dealership.”

In June 2011, Arctic Cat was able to transform its marketing site into a fully functional online store that touted fulfillment capabilities from Shopatron such as in-store pickup and ship-from-store.

“[The eBay launch] was based on the same principle as the e-Commerce launch,” said Crocker in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “If we could find something that extended our brand that was value added — meaning without competing with the Shopatron network that we had already built, while continuing fulfillment through our dealer network — it could create a win-win. With the initial success we had with Shopatron, we thought it would be easy to connect that to the eBay store.”

Arctic Cat team initially launched the eBay storefront to capitalize on the marketplace’s brand. Because eBay has such a widespread shopper base consisting of approximately 150 million active users, the team considered it an excellent opportunity to reach new audiences.

“We get exposure to the people who might not know exactly who we are,” Crocker said. “They can see what the quality and the breadth of our products is all about.”

As its eBay and e-Commerce sites continue to expand, Arctic Cat will focus on establishing more sophisticated targeting efforts, according to Crocker. Arctic Cat has officially completed the “introductory phase” of targeting, and is now entering the “growth phase,” where the company looks to further integrate targeting into its sales channels.

“When we think about a new product launch, we think about it holistically,” Crocker said. “We think of the snowmobile and all the parts, garments and accessories that go with it. Within our promotional strategy, we have a well-thought e-Commerce strategy that exposes our product to as many different customers as possible targeted in a way that we otherwise couldn’t do previously.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Wed, 20 Aug 2014 08:17:36 -0400
Eu Yan Sang Expands Digital Presence With Demandware Eu Yan Sang Expands Digital Presence With Demandware

Eu Yan SangAsia-based health and wellness company Eu Yan Sang has ramped up its digital strategies with help from Demandware Commerce.

In less than five months, Eu Yan Sang launched an e-Commerce site for Singapore on the cloud-based platform. The retailer also has plans to further expand its digital presence within the region. Future plans include: Centralizing the entire customer experience, investigating responsive design, and facilitating omnichannel excellence by incorporating digital technology into the store.

With a history that spans more than 100 years, Eu Yan Sang specializes in traditional Chinese Medicine and has opened more than 300 stores throughout the Asia Pacific region (APAC). Products also are sold in a variety of pharmacies, convenience stores, hospitals, health clubs and spas worldwide. 

The new e-Commerce site is designed to encourage Eu Yan Sang customers to discover and learn about new products that can help improve their health and wellness.

“Demandware provides the local experience and knowledge to help us successfully navigate through market requirements as we expand into new markets in the APAC region — something our previous hosted solution did not allow us to do,” said Corrinne Koh, General Manager of Marketing at Eu Yan Sang. “Demandware’s scalable cloud platform enables us to quickly roll out new commerce sites across the region to maximize our reach among consumers while meeting our business goals.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 20 Aug 2014 07:33:39 -0400
Aeropostale Reinstates Former CEO To Recover Waning Teen Interest Aeropostale Reinstates Former CEO To Recover Waning Teen Interest

Friends Shopping 4317497 HThe logos that teens once flaunted proudly on their clothes are now becoming scarlet letters. As a result, once-reigning teen retailers, such as Aeropostale, are fighting to maintain customer loyalty as their sales continue to plummet.

Aeropostale’s net sales for Q2 2014 decreased 13% year over year from $450 million to $396.2 million. The company has projected a Q2 operating loss up to $64 million and a net loss of approximately $0.80 to $0.83 per diluted share. To offset recent losses, Aeropostale has closed 125 of its P.S. kids’ clothing stores, cut jobs at its corporate headquarters, and shuttered 50 Aeropostale stores.

In light of these pressures, Aeropostale announced that Thomas P. Johnson has stepped down from his position as CEO of the mall-based teen retailer as it faces an ongoing period of decline. Former CEO Julian R. Geiger has rejoined the company as Johnson’s successor to try and turn the company around.

"Julian's previous service in the role of CEO combined with his passion for the Aeropostale brand make him an ideal choice to lead this organization,” said Karin Hirtler-Garvey, Chairperson of Aeropostale's Board of Directors. “Julian was the leader of Aeropostale's strategic direction during a period of significant growth, and we are confident in his enthusiasm for the business, his understanding of today's teen retail marketplace and his intuition regarding teen fashion.”

However, the success that Aeropostale once enjoyed from being marketed as a cost-effective alternative to preppy, branded apparel can no longer support the company. Johnson attributes falling sales to a “seismic shift” in the teen apparel market away from logos. He added that “what has historically made us successful — logo and price alone — are not the keys to success in the future.”

{loadposition GIAA}Despite shifting preferences among the Aeropostale target market, Geiger is rejoining the company with gusto. "The opportunity for sales and profit growth; the ability to reinforce the company's special culture; and the chance to work closely with, and influence, the management team and the field organization combine to create a compelling and dynamic challenge,” Geiger said. “It is with enormous excitement that I prepare to lead the Aeropostale team into a future filled with optimism and opportunity."

Shifts In Teen Trends

Teens are flocking toward stores such as Forever 21, H&M, Marshalls and Zara as fashion trends move away from preppier looks and shoppers opt for more boho and vintage styles. In addition, direct competitors in Aeropostale’s market — including Abercrombie, American Eagle and Hollister — are offering customers steeper discounts, which is diminishing Aeropostale’s former competitive advantage.

With the company reporting $70 million in total loss, the brand is striving to bring in profits with new brand imaging. For example, in an attempt to regain popularity among high schoolers, Aeropostale is focusing on partnerships with fashion-forward icons. To that end the retailer recently has partnered with teen YouTube sensation Bethany Mota and the TV show Pretty Little Liars.

]]> (Samantha Polak) Retail Movers & Shakers Wed, 20 Aug 2014 06:27:13 -0400
SAP Retail Forum 2014

SAP webHeaderSAP 0814 sponsorFooter


October 7-8, 2014



Waldorf Astoria
New York City

Join us to find out how leading retailers are bringing marketing, merchandising, supply chain, and IT together to deliver on the omnichannel promise.

Hear from retail leaders and innovators who are gathering to share case studies and strategies that will inspire retailers across verticals to implement unique and innovative ideas:

  • Brooks Brothers
  • Kenneth Cole
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Brookshire Grocery Company
  • and many more!

Learn Best Practices Across Retail Segments

The Forum is designed to bring retailers together to learn from each other and hear from the best industry experts. Get ready to be treated to some exclusive insights from top retail executives across Fashion, Grocery and Hardlines/General Merchandise!

Featured Keynote Speaker

 Stephen J. Dubner, Author of Freakonomics

You’ll Also Hear From…

Debbie Hauss, Editor-In-Chief, Retail TouchPoints, who will release the findings of the “Changing Roles in Retail” survey

Brian Kilcourse, Industry Analyst, Retail Systems Research, who will offer insights on recently released studies covering cross-channel promotion, supply chain, mobile pricing, and the role of the store.

NOTE: This event is open to Retailers only. If you have any quesitons, contact us here.

Free to attend, reserve your seat now!


]]> (Devin McDonnell) Retail Industry Calendar Fri, 27 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0400
Exclusive Survey: Keeping Up With The Next Generation Of Store Operations

Shadow RTP RT022 SURV StoreOps DESIGN FinalDespite the ongoing rise of e-Commerce and m-Commerce, the store still plays a critical role in consumers’ everyday lives.

To boost store performance, managers are tasked to create an exemplary customer experience. However, as consumer demands have heightened, managers’ to-do lists have evolved and expanded to include: Hiring and empowering employees; testing and rolling out new technology; and keeping tabs on omnichannel ordering and pickup operations.

For the third year, Retail TouchPoints looked to the store operations community to share their current stresses, investments and successes for the annual Store Operations Survey.

More than 100 executives participated in this year’s installment, and their businesses ran the gamut in terms of their vertical focus, geographic location and annual revenue.

Results also found that once again, fewer retailers decreased their store operations budgets (29% in 2014 vs. 32% in 2013). Although more retailers said they increased their budget for new technology in 2014 (46%), budgets stayed the same for employee training/engagement (54%), employee hiring/retention (55%), inventory management (47%), and mobile technology (45%).

Other topics outlined in the report, titled: Keeping Up With The Next Generation Of Store Operations include:

  • In-store mobility;
  • Employee engagement and empowerment;
  • Mobile marketing in-store; and
  • Omnichannel order fulfillment.

Complete the form below to download PDF version of the full report.


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Special Reports Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:11:05 -0400
Walmart Lowers Financial Forecast For 2014

WalmartWalmart has lowered its 2014 FY forecast, citing “incremental investments in e-Commerce” and higher-than-estimated health care costs. Initially, the retailer predicted that shares for 2014 would reach between $5.10 and $5.45. Forecasted earnings per share now are expected to range between $4.90 and $5.15.

U.S. comparable store sales saw no growth (0.0%) in Q2 2014, with the company expecting sales to remain flat in Q3. Walmart is reporting quarterly earnings of $1.21 per share, or 1.6% lower than the same period last year.

The retailer’s consolidated net sales increased more than $3.2 billion, or 2.8% year over year.

“I’m pleased with our solid earnings per share performance,” said Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. “As it relates to the positives from the quarter, I’m encouraged by the performance of our International business, our Neighborhood Market sales in the U.S. and by our e-commerce growth.

Worldwide e-Commerce sales increased by approximately 24%, with Walmart reporting double-digit growth in the U.S., UK, China and Brazil.

“We see opportunities to improve in merchandising, pricing and store level service in our supercenters, and we are working to close those gaps,” McMillon said. “Our investments in e-Commerce and mobile are very important, as the lines between digital and physical retail continue to blur. Our customers expect a seamless experience, and we’re working to deliver that for them around the world.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Tue, 19 Aug 2014 10:36:59 -0400
SuperValu, Albertson’s Report Data Breach

databreachSupermarket chain SuperValu is investigating a data breach that may have affected credit and debit cards swiped at POS systems in 209 stores between June 22 and July 17, 2014. The breach may have resulted in the theft of account numbers, expiration dates and cardholder names of customers using payment cards at the stores. The breach affects SuperValu stores operated under the Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Shop ‘N Save and Shoppers brands.

As part of the same breach, stores operated by AB Acquisition LLC also may have been affected. AB is the parent company of supermarket chains Albertson’s, ACME Markets, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s and Star Markets. SuperValu provides IT services to stores under the AB Acquisition umbrella. AB Acquisition has not revealed the number of stores that could have been affected by the attack.

In the wake of the breach, SuperValu notified federal law enforcement authorities and is cooperating in the investigative efforts. AB Acquisition is working with SuperValu to better understand the nature and scope of the incident, according to a company press release.

“The safety of our customers’ personal information is a top priority for us,” said Sam Duncan, President and CEO of SuperValu. “The intrusion was identified by our internal team, it was quickly contained, and we have had no evidence of any misuse of any customer data.  I regret any inconvenience that this may cause our customers but want to assure them that it is safe to shop in our stores.”

It is unknown how many customers in total may have been affected by the breach.

The companies are offering 12 months of consumer identity protection services via AllClear ID to any customer whose payment cards may have been affected. SuperValu established a call center to respond to consumer concerns about both the data breach and the identity protection services being offered. The call center is staffed Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm CST and can be reached at (855) 731-6018.

The security breach is the most recent in a line of hacks the retail industry has since 2013. Target experienced a massive breach in December 2013 which compromised the credit card account information of nearly 110 million customers. Subsequently, Neiman Marcus, Michaels Stores and P.F. Chang’s also have confirmed data breaches.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 19 Aug 2014 09:01:18 -0400
Only 35% Of Retailers Create An “Excellent” Omnichannel Experience

RR Ipanema Image 1The majority (76%) of retailers understand that it is crucial that they have confidence in their technology performance, according to a survey from Ipanema Technologies. However, 78% of respondents said they are unable to quickly or easily guarantee exemplary application performance.

Retailers that achieve consistently high application performance rates can receive a number of benefits, including improved customer satisfaction (54%), employee productivity (50%) and overall brand reputation (49%).

The survey report, titled: The Application Gap In Retail, was commissioned by Ipanema Technologies. Independent research agency Loudhouse surveyed 411 IT decision-makers working in retail organizations across 10 countries in North America and Europe.

Only one third (35%) of retail organizations describe their omnichannel customer experience as “excellent,” while 65% of companies surveyed said that offering a “shopping 2.0” experience to customers is a challenge for their organization.

Although IT decision-makers appeared to have a general lack of confidence in creating an optimized omnichannel experience, 79% of respondents agreed that to succeed, it is crucial that retailers get omnichannel right. In fact, most respondents believe that creating omnichannel experiences leads to increased sales (55%) and improved reputation (51%).

Managing Technology Priorities

Building the proper omnichannel experience can be difficult for retailers, particularly from a technology standpoint. Approximately three fourths of employees (74%) respondents cited a sprawling IT infrastructure as a challenge, while 71% said there is business-wide pressure to provide technology innovation.

To address these stresses, respondents said certain technology investments are taking priority, including:

  • Cloud deployment (57%);
  • Mobile application development (55%);
  • Supply chain optimization (54%); and
  • Unified communications (52%).

Updating technology throughout the entire retail organization remains paramount to businesses; 45% of respondents said that the failure or underperformance of technology and/or applications has detrimentally affected staff productivity. In addition, 35% of those surveyed attributed customer purchase abandonment to technology failures.

Click here to access a complete version of the survey results. 

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Omnichannel / Cross-Channel Strategies Tue, 19 Aug 2014 08:50:03 -0400
Wovenmedia Video Service Powers Retail Marketing Strategies Wovenmedia Video Service Powers Retail Marketing Strategies

SS WovenMedia imageRetailers use video marketing and advertising to engage consumers across different media and commerce channels. Crafting an effective strategy involves reaching the right audience and pairing branded content with recognizable third-party content.

The Wovenmedia Video Service is designed to allow businesses to create and publish video content to targeted audiences via TV, desktops and mobile devices, enabling cross-platform delivery of video content and advertising. The web-based solution serves as a video content management system and a pool of rights-free content from more than 95 premium providers. Through the Wovenmedia web portal, retailers can curate video playlists and channels by combining their branded content with content from Wovenmedia.

Although the solution is designed so the retailer has full user control of the content curation process, Wovenmedia also provides a full suite of professional services. The services include custom content acquisition, creative development and content production, network installation and comprehensive technical support.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Tue, 19 Aug 2014 08:43:22 -0400
The 2014 Retailing Summit The 2014 Retailing Summit


The Retailing Summit provides a unique learning environment for retail executives to share information, new perspectives, insights, and future predictions about “big picture” retailing concepts, especially merchandising, marketing and the customer experience.

Hosted by Texas A&M University’s Center for Retailing Studies, the Retailing Summit is a dynamic forum for building knowledge and networks.


October 2-3, 2014


The Adolphus Hotel, Dallas Texas

Use discount code TPOINTS14 for $100 off your purchase!


]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Industry Calendar Thu, 26 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0400