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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.

#RIC16 Spotlights Retail's Most Creative Disruptors Featured

The retail model that has held sway for the last 2,000 years — build a store, stock it with appealing products and wait for customers to come in — is broken, and Ken Hughes knows who broke it. The consumer and shopper behaviorist was the keynote speaker at the second annual Retail TouchPoints Retail Innovation Conference, held May 9-11 in New York City. Hughes identifies the "Blue Dot" consumer as the culprit behind today's industry upheaval. To make his point he spread out a paper road map and noted that in order to use one of these, an individual had to know where she was in relation to the wider world. But smartphone map apps now do this for us automatically, creating a "you are here" Blue Dot. "That consumer is not a small part of a big world; they are the world, and they are at its center," said…

#RIC16 Buzz: Top Tweets Capture Event's Excitement Featured

The Twittersphere was buzzing during this year’s Retail Innovation Conference, May 10-11 at Apella in New York City. With so many valuable insights, witty and informed speakers, thought-provoking sessions and enlightening Innovation Labs, it’s no surprise that the #RIC16 hashtag was filled with great quotes and photos from inside the conference. If you couldn't be there in person, we’ve rounded up some of the top tweets from the event. Want to see more? Check out the #RIC16 hashtag on Twitter, and don’t forget to follow Retail TouchPoints (@RTouchPoints) and the Retail Innovation Conference (@RetailInnovate) for more insights into disruptive innovation in retail.

Alice + Olivia Donates Dresses For Prom Season

Contemporary clothing brand alice + olivia by Stacey Bendet has launched its “Buy a Dress, Give a Dream” initiative, a philanthropic promotion in all domestic alice + olivia stores and online. The company will donate a prom dress to Big Brothers Big Sisters, Prep for Prep and City Year for every dress sold between May 3, 2016 and May 17, 20016.

Snapchat Debuts Shoppable Ads With Target And Lancôme

The social media messaging network Snapchat has launched shoppable e-Commerce ads with Target and L’Oreal Group-owned cosmetics company Lancôme. The two retail brands will integrate these ads within Cosmopolitan magazine’s Discover channel, a hub where media brands publish daily content.

Multi-Screening: Increase Your Impact Through Social Media

As a marketer who utilizes multiple channels both online and offline, tracking the impact and effectiveness of campaigns is core to providing essential insight into how to optimize and improve marketing efforts so that the spend can go further and deliver a greater return on investment (ROI). We should be aware that there are different expectation of campaigns: from building a community to driving brand awareness, to the one which is closest to the heart of many MDs — the bottom line. One tricky aspect which I’ve witnessed through offline marketing is tracking the ROI in a digital environment. This is in part down to the disconnect between offline medias and the online world.

Does Facebook Messenger Signal More Automated Customer Service Ahead?

While social media has become an important retail vehicle for marketing and consumer engagement, Facebook’s new API for Messenger brings a different twist to the concept of retail customer service. Rather than simply enabling one-on-one interactions, retailers can leverage these apps to produce live automated messages for consumers who are browsing e-Commerce sites on their mobile phones. Newegg has already gotten in on the action, partnering with Facebook to add Messenger to its online customer service offerings. E-Commerce retailers Everlane and Zulily actually began testing with the app early in 2015, allowing shoppers to purchase products within interactions and receive periodic order status updates.

Rock/Creek Unites Digital And Store-Based Customer Tracking Featured

Rock/Creek has a lot to gain from learning about its customers — particularly their plans for outdoor adventures. The retailer's most valuable shoppers are those who are about to "graduate"— set off on a backpacking trip across Europe, hike the length of the Pacific Coast Trail or scale the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro. Knowing exactly when these trekkers are prepping to leave allows Rock/Creek to supply them with everything they need to enjoy the trip (and hopefully survive to return and buy more products). The total "spend" from these customers easily can reach $5,000 to $6,000 per adventure, including items like specially designed shoes, GPS-enabled watches and emergency communicators.

Communities Influence The Next Wave Of Customer Engagement Strategies Featured

As more retailers adopt content marketing strategies to differentiate themselves from the pack, they must not lose sight of the goal to connect with their consumer base — particularly those shoppers who already are "fans" of the brand. In fact, embracing the concept of “quality over quantity” can build strong communities, which can promote the brand even further. Focusing on these top consumers — as opposed to taking time to concentrate on casual shoppers — enables retailers to gain a greater understanding of their highest spenders and, in turn, boost engagement. In building these robust relationships, retailers can create relatable content marketing programs that influence shoppers beyond their current community, and deliver a strong ROI.

Three Ways To Use CRM Data To Drive Media Effectiveness

Programmatic media spending grew more than 29% last year and social media grew more than 50%, according to eMarketer. This rapid growth is expected to continue for the next five years until the next revolutionary platform/channel is developed by marketers. What's most interesting about these two channels is that they are reminiscent of the early days of paid search. They rely on media bids in an automated buying platform; they are generating immense reach; they utilize a new form of ad unit and they provide new forms of targeting.   The focus is that these new forms of targeting are augmented and enabled by first- and third-party data. In fact, if you think of the Internet marketing evolution in terms of different eras, you would argue that we are currently in the people-based marketing era. This is defined by the decoupling of data and media to enable targeting using first-party…

Ace Hardware And Walmart: Different Models For Cause-Based Marketing Featured

Good causes create good customer relationships. As many as 90% of consumers said they are more likely to switch to brands that are associated with a good cause, according to a 2015 study by Cone Communications. So why not get involved? If done properly, cause marketing can be quite effective. But the effort has to be sincere: both the retailer and consumers must be passionate about the cause.

#CCSeries Webinars Chart Roadmap To Retail's Future Featured

In the fast-changing world of retail, the future is never very far away, and preparing for it is a full-time job. The Retail TouchPoints Connected Consumer Series, held March 14 to 17, featured nine webinars that provided attendees with a detailed, data-filled roadmap to a fast-arriving future. Speakers from Accenture, RSR, EKN Research, Bronto, Aptos and other industry leaders shared actionable insights into such hot topics as: • Personalization; • Bringing Digital Convenience Into The Brick-And-Mortar Environment; • Leveraging The Internet Of Things (IoT) in Real-World Retail; and • Using New Tools To Engage With Connected, Time-Starved Consumers Recaps of the sessions' highlights follow this complete list of the #CCSeries 2016 sessions, which are available on-demand:

REI #OptOutside Campaign Results Show Power Of Sincerity Plus Engagement

  • Published in News Briefs
While REI’s decision to close its stores on Black Friday as part of its #OptOutside social campaign prompted debate on whether it was a smart business move, the retailer’s year-end results indicate that the campaign has certainly paid off. REI reported a 9.3% increase in revenues and a 7% increase in comparable store sales in 2015, but its biggest accomplishment was a 23% uptick in digital sales.

Z Gallerie Asks Customers ‘What’s Your Style Personality?’ Featured

Home furniture and décor retailer Z Gallerie wants to find out the true “Style Personality” of each of its consumers in order to provide them with more personalized content. The campaign, which uses the kind of self-assessment quiz popular on many social media sites, has already generated: 1.5 times more engagement via display ads featuring personalized product images; 1.4 times more average order value for customers engaging with the Style Personality quiz; and 100,000 customers signing up for Style Personalities, 40,000 of which are new customers. As part of its overall strategy of appealing to a broader group of consumers, Z Gallerie created a Style Personality quiz that asks consumers about their shopping, fashion, design and decorating preferences. The retailer created five Style Personalities, aligning each one with tailored product assortments designed to appeal to a wide range of consumer aesthetics. The Personalities include:

St. Frock Achieves 480% Return on Social Spend With Ad Retargeting Featured

When online fashion retailer St. Frock decided to double down on its social media strategy, it expanded on a plan to re-engage recent web site visitors and provide context to online promotions. In combing Facebook’s Dynamic Product Ads with the Brand Networks social advertising platform, the retailer was able to build out a retargeting strategy that ultimately: Boosted return on ad spend (ROAS) by 480%; Lowered Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) by 70%; and Helped the retailer generate $5.5 million in revenue in 2015.
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