Social means so much more than a Facebook page or a Tweet these days. Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest — to name a few — are making their mark on the retail marketplace. But are they short-term trends or do they have the staying power to become long-term solutions? What are the best approaches for retailers? What does the future hold? These and other key questions are asked and answered in this section.

Will Small Business Saturday 2015 Surpass Last Year's Bonanza?

With all the hype for Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals already kicking off the holiday season, it’s easy for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) to get lost in the shuffle of the promotional chaos. However, the recent advent of Small Business Saturday has given these retailers a promotional platform of their own.

Consumers spent a reported $14.3 billion purchasing gifts at independent retail stores on Small Business Saturday in 2014, according to American Express. The credit card provider initially launched the concept of Small Business Saturday in 2010 to encourage consumers to spend money at their local businesses, instead of doing their typical shopping at major retailers.


Target, REI, H&M Take On The Holidays In Unique Fashion

Will the recent terror attacks in Paris have a dampening effect on holiday sales? What other factors will impact holiday shopping in 2015? Retail TouchPoints has been following all the news and predictions around what to expect this year, and in this article you'll find a comprehensive collection of predictions, implementations and strategies.

Most forecasters continue to predict that the 2015 season will be a robust one for retailers. Lower gas prices are putting more dollars in consumers' pockets, and rising confidence is making shoppers more willing to take that money out of those same pockets.


Target Leverages Mobile And Social Tools To Personalize Holiday Shopping

Target is engaging in a full court press to make "click and mortar" a reality for the 2015 holiday season. Initiatives include:

• Free shipping and returns through Dec. 25;

• New this season: International shopping and shipping to more than 200 countries and territories;

• Expansion of its Curbside pickup service to 121 stores (up from 21), which allows customers to complete their shopping without leaving their cars, at Target stores in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York-New Jersey and Chicago;

• Expansion of the Instacart on-demand grocery delivery service to an additional territory in San Francisco. The service was piloted and initially offered in Minneapolis.


PBteen Makes Blog Images Shoppable, Boosts Click-Through Rates 110%

As consumers browse their favorite web sites, social networks and blogs, they often come across items they would like to purchase. But chances are these shoppers can't identify the brand and related e-Commerce site quickly enough. Therefore, retailers often miss the opportunity to integrate their e-Commerce presence into the overall online buying journey.

In order to promote brand awareness, drive more traffic back to the e-Commerce site and boost sales, Pottery Barn Teen (PBteen) decided to capitalize on the “buy anywhere” concept. PBteen turned to visual commerce platform Curalate to implement the Reveal platform on its company blog, The Stylehouse. With Reveal in tow, PBTeen has made photos on its blog “shoppable” for consumers.


Black Friday Emails, Facebook Posts Most Effective Early In The Week

As retailers designate more of their holiday marketing spend toward the email and social media channels, they must focus on how to build out effective campaigns. When it comes to Black Friday and the week leading up to it, consumers are active on email and social media at different times. As such, retailers must go where their customers are and create the proper campaigns to match their habits.

Retailers would do well to ramp up their email plans early in the week of Thanksgiving, according to research from Yesmail. In 2014, email open rates on Monday, Nov. 24, and Tuesday, Nov. 25 were 10% and 9% higher, respectively, than the open rates for the average day. Once Wednesday approaches, these open rates plummet, to the tune of 23% less than the daily average.


Facebook Launches Two Local Advertising Products For Retailers

Facebook is providing brand marketers with more information about consumers that are within close proximity of their retail stores, according to a company blog post. The social network is launching two new products for retailers: one designed to help SMBs better understand the foot traffic in their area, and another set to enable large retailers to tailor ads to specific store locations.

The first product is included as a new tab as part of its Page Insights feature, enabling brands to track aggregate demographics and local trends. Brands can view this information for people that pass within 150 feet, 450 feet and 1,500 feet of a store's location, according to AdWeek. With this information, businesses can discover the area’s busiest times of the week, to better gauge which shoppers are most likely to visit their store. Marketers can see specific demographic data of shoppers, including age and gender, and whether they are a tourist or a local opportunity.


Pinterest Expands E-Commerce Reach With Shop

Pinterest-badge-144px1Pinterest has made another move in its journey from social network to retailer with the introduction of Shop, featuring curated collections that are "hand-picked by us at Pinterest," and updated daily, according to a Pinterest blog post.

Shop's offerings will be a mix of items from both leading and less well-known brands. "Look for products from brands you know and love, like Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom, and small boutiques you might not find anywhere else, like The Citizenry and Heist," wrote blogger Thorben Primke, Software Engineer at Pinterest.


Technology Is Important, But Trust Is Essential

2TrustWe talk a lot about omnichannel retail and giving today's shoppers every option when it comes to product ordering and delivery. But what is really at the heart of retail success is establishing a trusting relationship with customers. It sounds simple, but it's not.

This week I attended the Money20/20 conference in Las Vegas, where there were a lot of discussions and questions around data security and payment innovation. Are retailers implementing EMV? How can we make mobile payment work at the drive-thru? What are the steps to speeding the checkout process, both online and in the store? These are all great questions and need to be addressed, but when it comes right down to it, they all lead to Trust.


Easypromos Delivers Transparency To Twitter Sweepstakes

Holding social media sweepstakes events can be a great way to quickly increase followers, generate brand loyalty and boost company engagement. However, retailers face a dilemma when picking winners, as they are often forced to pick a winner randomly. This can leave them exposed to repercussions should questions be asked about the validity of the winner selection process.

Easypromos has launched a Twitter Sweepstakes Application designed to support retailers organizing sweepstakes programs on the social network based on retweets and followers. The solution enables retailers to carry out a random sweepstakes among all users who retweet one or more of their brand's tweets. The retailer can accumulate up to 10 tweets and filter the finalists so that only followers of the Twitter profile are entered into the sweepstakes.


Consumer Demand Signals Reveal Chinks In Amazon's Armor

AmazonhomepageSmallRetailers of all sizes and kinds have found Amazon to be a fierce competitor. The eTail giant has a number of built-in structural and technological advantages — but it's by no means invincible.

That's the message from assortment intelligence provider Ugam, which recently analyzed Amazon's assortment of baseball bats and women's running shoes while factoring in a list of key trending products in these categories in order to compare assortments and pricing with several competing online retailers.


Innovation Labs Help Retailers Keep Pace With Industry Shifts

innovation teamThe pace of change within the retail industry is accelerating and shows no signs of slowing down.

Some businesses are struggling to keep pace with new consumer trends and other disruptive forces. In fact, 45% of retailers say consumers' purchasing behaviors are extremely unpredictable, albeit important to understand, according to Retail Systems Research (RSR).

"How, when and where people shop has changed, and retailers need to shift how they think about the overall shopping experience to meet consumer expectations and demands," said Kevin McKenzie, Global Chief Digital Officer at Westfield Labs, the innovation lab for mall operator Westfield. "As we continue to see the physical and digital worlds blend, the focus of retail is going to become more about creating fully immersive shopping experiences that start at the point of consumer inspiration and need.



REI To Close Its Stores On Black Friday As Part Of #OptOutside Campaign

Outdoor apparel and recreational gear retailer REI has decided to buck industry trends by shutting its doors for Black Friday. On Nov. 27, REI will close all 143 of its stores and give its 12,000 employees a paid day off.

The retailer made the announcement through its web site and launched the social media hashtag #OptOutside to promote spending time outdoors instead. The #OptOutside campaign has a web site of its own, which includes a zip code search feature that directs users to nearby outdoor hotspots, as well as an area where consumers to share images of their Black Friday activity.


Social Annex Releases Ranking Algorithm To Categorize Product Images

Retailers and manufacturers alike have to acquire and retain consumers if they want their brand to flourish. One way to build a brand is to curate and organize images that effectively showcase its product offerings.

Social Annex has released the Smart Image Ranking Algorithm (SIRA), which enables brands to organize and prioritize large numbers of pictures in a product gallery, based on data and insights into which images are impacting sales.


Shoppable Social: The Future Of Online Commerce

1PaypalWe’ve all heard the buzz about shoppable social media, but many retailers are still trying to figure out how to leverage it. In this Q&A, Aunkur Arya, Braintree's General Manager of Mobile, shares details about the new tools and strategies that are changing the game in e-Commerce.

What Is Contextual Commerce?

Contextual commerce enables consumers to purchase a product or service the moment it is needed. For example, as you are finishing dinner at a restaurant you might need a ride home. This would be the perfect time for your Uber app to offer you a car. Contextual commerce means giving people purchasing options that are relevant to their location, activities and interests.

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