Latest Retail News - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Sun, 21 Oct 2018 23:41:59 -0400 RTP en-gb Mastercard Speeds Transactions With ‘No Signature Required’ Worldwide Mastercard Speeds Transactions With ‘No Signature Required’ Worldwide

Cardholder signatures, both at the point of sale and on the backs of credit and debit cards, will now be optional for Mastercard customers worldwide. The move will speed checkout, and shoppers using contactless payment methods won’t need to worry about providing a signature.

Mastercard had eliminated its signature requirements for transactions in the U.S. and Canada in April 2018, the same month when competitors Visa, American Express and Discover also made signatures optional.

Additionally, an industrywide initiative designed to improve the security of online and other Card Not Present (CNP) transactions took a step forward today. EMVco, the industry consortium owned by American Express, Discover, JCB, Mastercard, UnionPay and Visa, released a draft version of its Secure Remote Commerce specification on Oct. 19. The release kicks off a 45-day public comment period that concludes on Dec. 3, 2018.

When the SRC specification is finalized in 2019, it is expected to:

• Define interfaces to allow for secure exchanges of payment data across participants in the digital commerce environment;
• Accommodate options for using dynamic data, such as cryptograms or other unique transaction data, to enhance security on a retailer’s SRC-enabled web site, mobile app or other e-Commerce platform;
• Enable compatibility with other technologies, such as EMV Payment Tokenization and EMV 3D Secure; and
Facilitate consumer recognition of a common user experience that will be indicated by an SRC Mark, indicating that a retailer’s e-Commerce environment is enabled for EMV SRC.

For its part, Mastercard plans to enhance POS and online payment security with a number of initiatives between now and 2020:

Enter Customer Info 1x: By the middle of 2019, all Mastercard products will include Secure Remote Commerce (SRC), which allows consumers to enter purchase information one time and apply it anywhere they shop online, reducing the multiple steps needed to fill out the same information at each different site.

Authentication: Mastercard Identity Check, which simplifies how merchants and banks upgrade their security, will extend to all merchants in early 2019 following a pilot with 130 merchants globally. Based on EMV 3-D Secure (3DS) technology, this enables consumers to authenticate themselves when making CNP purchases, providing another level of security for both merchants and consumers.

Tokenization: All Mastercard credit cards will be token-ready by 2020. Since tokens use a different, encrypted string of characters in place of the card number for each new transaction, consumers be able to store their card credentials across multiple businesses without the risk of exposing actual card account details.

Mastercard also is working to bring EMV-like security to a range of digital environments. The company is working with Adyen, BlueSnap, Digital River, Stripe, Square, Worldpay and Mastercard Payment Gateway Services to extend tokens to thousands of retailers. Additionally, Mastercard is working directly with card issuers such as Citi and Fifth Third Bank to convert cards on file into tokens, and with Bank of America to provide enhanced fraud scoring to help increase approval rates over time.

]]> (Adam Blair) News Briefs Fri, 19 Oct 2018 17:10:29 -0400
Amazon Joins $35 Million Funding Round For Lifestyle And Food Studio Amazon Joins $35 Million Funding Round For Lifestyle And Food Studio

Tastemade, a digital lifestyle and food network and studio that also sells cooking materials, home and travel gifts, has secured a $35 million Series E funding round with Amazon contributing a share. The amount of capital Amazon invested has not been disclosed.

As Amazon continues to create original programming through its own studio and grows as a content provider, Tastemade offers an interesting complement to the e-Commerce giant’s other media offerings. The Tastemade TV linear streaming network features more than 200 hours of original programming and already is available on Amazon Prime video, as well as other streaming services such as YouTube TC, Roku, Apple TV, Philo and the Tastemade App.

Amazon has sought to bolster its presence in various industries recently, from health care to private label fashion and even aftermarket auto parts, but it has never before stood out in cooking and kitchen-related materials. With Walmart launching a line of cookware and kitchen tools with BuzzFeed’s Tasty brand earlier this year, Amazon feels the heat of its top retail competitor building a greater influence in the culinary field.

Tasty food recipe videos reach nearly 540 million people worldwide through Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and other social media platforms, according to BuzzFeed. With the Tastemade investment, Amazon would have a greater stake in a culinary content provider, and perhaps give the company a chance to expand its product offering on down the line.

The new financing brings Millennial-focused Tastemade to approximately $115 million raised since its founding in 2012. Goldman Sachs Growth Equity led the funding, while Amazon tagged along with another new investor, Cool Japan Fund.

“This funding will allow us to continue to develop a strong connection with our core audience through their passions for food, home and design, and travel, and bring new consumers into our worldwide community,” Larry Fitzgibbon, Co-Founder and CEO of Tastemade said in a statement.

Tastemade, based in Santa Monica, Calif., says it reaches a global audience of more than 250 million monthly viewers and has run more than 500 ad campaigns to date. The company currently operates six studios across the world, in Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, London, Paris and Tokyo. Tastemade has launched local language channels in each market and expanded its sales teams.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Fri, 19 Oct 2018 12:35:24 -0400
Sam’s Club Expands Same-Day Delivery To More Than 350 Stores Sam’s Club Expands Same-Day Delivery To More Than 350 Stores

Sam’s Club will extend same-day delivery service to more than 100 new stores and 90 new markets across the U.S. through its partnership with Instacart. The option will be available at 350 clubs by the end of October, covering more than half of all Sam’s Club stores.

New markets include New Jersey, Indianapolis and Houston. Shoppers ordering through Instacart can shop at Sam’s Club even without a membership, though Sam’s Club members will receive lower members-only pricing.

Instacart is in the process of expanding its operations following a $600 million fundraising round earlier this month. The company is already capable of reaching 70% of U.S. households and 50% of Canadian households through its delivery network, and plans include growing its presence in North America and increasing awareness of Instacart at retail partner stores.

The delivery service works with Walmart for Sam’s Club and Walmart Canada, but the retail giant also is building up its in-house operations. The company is piloting a last-mile delivery project with Spark Delivery in Nashville and New Orleans, as well as opening a fulfillment center in the Bronx, N.Y. to handle delivery of groceries and Apple electronics.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Fri, 19 Oct 2018 11:46:24 -0400
Albertsons Launches Online Marketplace Featuring Hard-To-Find Foods

Albertsons Cos., the parent company of supermarkets including Albertsons, Jefferson’s, Jewel-Osco and Shaw’s, is offering customers the ability to discover more diverse specialty food items with the launch of a digital marketplace of third-party sellers that focuses on natural, organic, ethnic, and alternative products. The retailer, which appointed Jim Donald as CEO in September, has selected Mirakl to launch its marketplace.

The launch will help Albertsons address trending markets and offer customers new products. The retailer will use data collected from the marketplace to help identify shifting consumer interests, regionally specific shopping needs and new food trends. The network of selected third-party sellers will benefit from product visibility and national exposure while gaining insights into regions where they may consider investing.

“At Albertsons Companies, we’re making rapid strides to build digital capabilities that serve our customers and show our determination to play a prominent role in the digital food and wellness ecosystem,” said Narayan Iyengar, SVP of Digital Marketing and e-Commerce at Albertsons Companies in a statement. “The online marketplace provides our customers access to hard-to-find items, increases exposure for partner products, and gives us critical data regarding demand for emerging food and wellness trends.”

In July, Albertson partnered with Instacart to launch O Organics Market, a virtual grocery store offering organic, natural and other better-for-you foods available for delivery.

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) News Briefs Thu, 18 Oct 2018 17:03:23 -0400
Etsy, Target Top Halloween-Related Social Chatter Etsy, Target Top Halloween-Related Social Chatter

With Halloween lurking creepily around the corner, retailers are making last-minute preparations to capture their share of a projected $9 billion in consumer spending. But social media conversations may provide omens about which retailers will generate the most revenue throughout the shopping day. The retailers attracting the most social engagement as of Oct. 16, according to data from Crimson Hexagon, include:

  • Etsy: 607,773 posts;
  • Target: 273,821 posts;
  • Amazon: 123,178 posts;
  • Walmart: 76,432 posts;
  • Party City: 24,264 posts;
  • Hot Topic: 33,691 posts; and
  • Urban Outfitters: 8,268 posts.

Crimson Hexagon examined online conversations from social media platforms such as Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram, as well as Reddit, online forums, articles, blogs and comment sections to learn how consumers are talking about Halloween shopping in 2018.

Retailers selling candy and costumes can gauge the popularity of products based on these social conversations. For example, more than 200,000 social posts in 2018 included mentions of classic costumes such as vampires, ghosts and zombies, compared to nearly 30,000 “sexy costumes,” 18,000 superhero costumes and 19,000 TV characters.

The social chatter leading up to Halloween 2018 reveals a divergence in costume trends from last year — classic costumes make up approximately 70% of the total share of social conversation, well above the nearly 60% share last year. Classic costumes have been becoming more popular as sexy costumes have been losing popularity, from approximately 20% social share in 2017 to 10% this year.

Overall, shoppers discuss costume purchases on social media far more than any other in October 2018:

  • Costumes: 128,158 posts, (59% share)
  • Candy: 48,935 posts, (23% share)
  • Decorations: 23,456 posts, (11% share)
  • Alcohol: 13,522 posts, (6% share)

Product Publicity Is Not Always Positive

In measuring social media posts, retailers need to know that context is vital to understanding consumer sentiment around a product. Over the last five Halloween seasons, candy corn has been the subject of nearly 280,000 posts5X the number of the next most-talked about candy, Milky Way at almost 50,000.

But the divisiveness of candy corn’s taste appears to be the main conversation driver. Candy corn had a positive sentiment score of 39%, but a negative sentiment score of 24%, making it the most despised candy over the last five years, just ahead of Laffy Taffy (23%) and Mounds (23%). Milky Way had a positive sentiment score of 36% but had very little negativity surrounding it (9%).

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 18 Oct 2018 16:22:14 -0400
HSN, QVC Merge Into Single Retailer HSN, QVC Merge Into Single Retailer

Qurate Retail Group, the parent company of HSN and QVC US, will combine the two retailers into a single business unit called QXH. The parent company seeks to improve long-term growth prospects and accelerate the retailers’ digital transformation, as well as enhancing delivery speed and lowering costs for shoppers. Despite the organizational change, however, the two brands will maintain their individual identities. Approximately 2,075 employees will be laid off as a result of the changes.

Together, HSN and QVC US generated $8.5 billion in revenue in 2017; reached 100 million homes through five broadcast networks; attracted more than 1 billion visits to their web sites; and shipped more than 170 million items. Additional benefits driven by the merger are expected to include:

  • Enhanced product discovery and optimization of product offerings across channels, supported by expanded live and on-demand content;
  • Improved delivery times and package consolidation; and
  • Heightened focus, speed and agility in response to customer needs and market changes.

Combining Fulfillment And Buying Operations To Drive Efficiency

The first phase of the merger includes opening a new fulfillment center in Bethlehem, Pa. in 2019, as well as moving forward with planned facility closures in Lancaster, Pa., Roanoke, Va. and Greeneville, Tenn. in 2020. Other planned changes include:

  • Combining HSN and QVC fulfillment centers into integrated facilities with the full product assortments of both brands;
  • Relocating some fulfillment centers to reduce delivery times and lower expenses; and
  • Upgrading fulfillment technologies, including deploying a proprietary warehouse management system.

Once completed, the integrated fulfillment network is expected to improve average delivery speeds by two days and enable more items to be consolidated into single shipments.

QXH will further build on its improved efficiency by structuring its buying organizations around seven categories: Apparel, Accessories and Jewelry, Beauty, Kitchen Electronics and Cookware, Home Innovations, Home Style and Consumer Electronics. Leaders will be assigned to develop and drive strategies for the QVC and HSN platforms in each category.

New Leadership Will Oversee The Combined Brand

As part of the changes, the role of President of QVC US will be eliminated. Steve Hofmann, who currently holds this position, with leave the company. The combined organization will be led by:

  • Mary Campbell, CMO of Qurate and QVC US, who will be responsible for QXH’s merchandising, marketing, brand, and digital strategy, and the QVC US digital, content and broadcast operations; and
  • Mike Fitzharris, President of HSN, who will be responsible for QXH video platform expansion and distribution, and HSN digital, content and broadcast operations.

The merger also will result in other personnel changes. Approximately 350 positions will be eliminated by the end 2018, the majority coming from HSN's St. Petersburg, Fla. and Long Island, N.Y. operations. Another 1,725 positions will be eliminated due to the facility closures, which will be partially offset by the anticipated hiring of 1,200 to 1,500 positions at the new Bethlehem facility.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Thu, 18 Oct 2018 11:22:53 -0400
UnDigital Places Ads In Delivery Boxes To Grab Shoppers’ Attention UnDigital Places Ads In Delivery Boxes To Grab Shoppers’ Attention

The proliferation of ads in digital channels is becoming an annoyance for shoppers, and younger consumers are becoming experts at filtering out information that doesn’t interest them. UnDigital seeks to help brands get their message out by putting advertisements where customers are sure to look: inside e-Commerce packages.

The solution provider lets retailers put inserts in the packages of other brands, and includes Saks, HSN, Bed Bath & Beyond and zulily among its partners. Smaller niche retailers can get exposure through ads in the packages of larger companies and save on the delivery costs associated with mailings. The larger companies receive monetary compensation for including the inserts in their deliveries. Additionally, brands can target their ads to different segments of the larger retailers’ customer bases.

“Many of our brands are extremely well-known household names,” said Ryan Millman, CEO and co-founder of UnDigital in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “You no longer have to be a big company to partner with one of them. As a small-to-medium sized business, to be able to get into the package of some of these iconic brands and have consumers see you while they’re excited at opening up their e-Commerce order is a tremendous benefit.”

One advantage of this advertising method is that shoppers see the inserts when they are already feeling positive, according to Millman. Shoppers are already eager to see what is inside their box, making a retailer’s advertisement into what he calls a “personal billboard.”

Brands interested in advertising through the service can choose their targeted packages to match the retailer’s customer base, using demographic breakdowns such as age and gender to maximize the ads’ impact. They can also test small batches across multiple partners to determine which offers the greatest return.

“The way our platform works is that everything is transparent, which our advertisers appreciate,” said Millman. “They can come onto our platform and see all of the packages by retailer, they can see the prices, and they have multiple options: you can take all of the inventory of a retailer, or you can take a small test.”

Companies interested in hosting another retailer’s inserts are alerted to any opportunities that come their way, and are given a chance to approve the art before the campaign begins. The inserts can reduce the cost of shipping by providing compensation, and retailers can curate interesting products for their customers by partnering with complementary retailers. UnDigital also offers ad-swapping as a free service, letting retailers include each-other’s inserts in their packages.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Thu, 18 Oct 2018 10:47:35 -0400
Mobile, AI-Based Recommendations Top 2018 Holiday Predictions: Webcast Recap Mobile, AI-Based Recommendations Top 2018 Holiday Predictions: Webcast Recap

What will define the 2018 holiday season? While retailers saw 18% revenue growth during the 2017 holiday, this season’s growth will be shaped by numerous factors, including the continued growth of mobile, AI-based product recommendations and email marketing.

Salesforce unveiled five major predictions that will drive growth during the 2018 Holiday Readiness Webcast Series, based on survey data from 500 million shoppers worldwide:

1. More purchases will be made on a mobile device than any other device: The platform is poised to break traffic records in 2018. Mobile’s traffic share hit 61% last year and it is projected to jump again, to 68%. Additionally, order share will leap from 40% to 46% this year.

“On days such as Christmas Eve, we’ll see mobile order share reaching 52% and we’ll even see mobile traffic share reaching 72%,” said Caila Schwartz, Senior Industry Strategist at Salesforce Commerce Cloud. “This season will really be that turning point for mobile when it comes to order share, and will be the point at which going forward it starts dominating orders.”

2. AI-based product recommendations will account for 35% of total revenue: While personalization and recommendations will factor into holiday shopping more than ever, retailers must understand how to use them most effectively. By placing recommendations between the product description and reviews, retailers can see a:

  • 14% increase in conversion rate; and a
  • 25% higher add-to-cart rate.

3. Cyber Week will account for 40% of the holiday season’s sales: “Cyber Sunday” sales on Nov. 25 will be nearly as large as Cyber Monday 2017. Black Friday, Nov. 23, still takes the trophy for the highest share of the season’s revenue at 10%, with Cyber Monday expected to account for 8%.

4. Instagram will grow 3X faster than overall social traffic: Up to 30% of Internet users report purchasing a product they discovered on Facebook or Instagram, according to data cited from Cowen & Company.

“Instagram shopping is still a relatively new offering, but this season it should be a really important part of your overall selling strategy,” said Schwartz during the webcast. “This year, we’ve talked about how important it is, especially in mobile experience, to connect shoppers to products as quickly and efficiently as possible. By making every post shoppable, you’re easily able to accomplish this goal for your shoppers.”

5. Discounts and free shipping will dictate the course of Cyber Week, but not the rest of the season: While average discounts from Black Friday through Cyber Monday reach as high as 31%, discounts for the entire season are actually 22%, barely more than the 21% provided in Q2 2018.

“After we get through Cyber Monday in particular, the rest of the season generally operates like a non-peak period,” said Rick Kenney, Head of Consumer Insights at Salesforce Commerce Cloud. “You will still have discount peaks and valleys, but the entire season will be elevated, [although it will] not soar above your non-peak time.”

Master Marketing During Peak Season

Email marketing will continue to be a major ROI generator for retailers throughout holiday 2018, but mobile marketing is starting to gain steam. As many as 87% of shoppers will begin their hunt in digital channels, up from 71% last year, according to Salesforce. With 83% of shoppers leveraging mobile in-store, marketing across all digital channels becomes an even stronger retail imperative throughout this peak season.

In the session, Salesforce execs Megan Collins, Product Marketing Manager, and JR Linne, Senior Manager, Industry Solutions, Retail, shared case studies from Hickory Farms and Harry & David that showed how to leverage targeted cross-channel engagement and predictive product recommendations.

“Harry & David is seeing that instead of just doing discounts at the checkout, let’s give you relevant content based on what you’ve purchased in the past, based on what you’ve browsed and based on what other people have purchased,” Collins said during the webcast. 

To learn more about handling the holiday rush, check out the 2018 Holiday Readiness Webcast Series on-demand. The monthly series includes three more webcasts, including:

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 18 Oct 2018 17:32:53 -0400
Target Takes Aim At Toy Retailing Crown Target Takes Aim At Toy Retailing Crown

Photo: Stephen Allan

In the clearest sign yet that Target is striving hard to take the place Toys ‘R’ Us once held, the retailer is expanding both store and digital toy departments for holiday 2018. Target’s multi-part toy campaign includes:

• A nearly 250,000-square-foot expansion of store space for toys across more than 500 stores, to be completed by Nov. 2;
100+ store remodels featuring refreshed kid-focused toy departments, with new layouts, signs and oversized displays;
More than 2,500 new and exclusive toys, nearly double the total from 2017;
• Nearly 25,000 hours of in-store events for kids and families, including characters from Paw Patrol, Minecraft, L.O.L. Surprise! and other popular franchises;
• A new digital toy hub on launching in October, featuring a “gift finder” to help shoppers find the right toy for all the kids on their lists; and
• A digitally enabled kids’ gifting catalog, arriving in homes and stores by Oct. 28, that integrates within the Target mobile app. Using the app’s barcode scanner, shoppers can hover over any catalog page to pull up a complete list of products on that page, along with product details and can quickly add items to their shopping cart.

“For many guests, finding the perfect toy to wrap up and give their little loved ones this holiday is going to be their top priority,” said Mark Tritton, EVP and CMO at Target in a statement. “Our team has spent months preparing for this season, selecting the assortment, deepening our inventory to offer more of the hottest items and reimagining the experience we have for toys in our stores and online.”

Of course, Target does not have the playpen all to itself. Several retailers have made moves to fill the void left by the demise of Toys ‘R’ Us:

Walmart is expanding its toy inventories by 30% in-store and 40% online;
Michaels expanded its kid-oriented offerings with the launch of earlier this month;
BJ’s Wholesale Club doubled the number of toys offered online and increased in-store inventories by 20%;
Party City is piloting 50 Toy City pop-up shops;
FAO Schwarz plans to reopen its New York City flagship store in time for the holidays; and
• Toys ‘R’ Us itself may get another life as a store-within-a-store concept called Geoffrey’s Toy Box.

]]> (Adam Blair) News Briefs Wed, 17 Oct 2018 15:40:35 -0400
OC&C Boosts Data Science Consulting Services With Ugam Partnership OC&C Boosts Data Science Consulting Services With Ugam Partnership

OC&C Strategy Consultants has partnered with Ugam, a Mumbai-based data and analytics provider, to provide advanced data and analytics capabilities for its global strategy and business consulting services. The company seeks to empower retailers with the insights and tools needed to make data-driven decisions.

“Ugam’s experience applying advanced data science aligns perfectly with OC&C’s data-centric philosophy,” said James Walker, Partner and Global Head of Analytics, OC&C Strategy Consultants in a statement. “We seek to fuel strategy with data, giving clients creative, actionable strategies. Partnering with Ugam allows us to provide clients with a better range of data sources, combining external competitor and customer data with internal, proprietary data. Together, we can deliver more comprehensive solutions that will benefit our clients.”

Through the partnership, Ugam’s capabilities will complement several of OC&C’s internally developed in-house tools, according to reporting in Consultancy UK. These tools include:

  • SKU Rat, designed for creating optimized assortments by stripping out low-margin SKUs that affect high-margin SKUs; and
  • Space Man, which aims to optimize space allocation by store format.

The companies also plan to develop tools centered on promotions, location, network, category strategy and management.

]]> (Klaudia Tirico) News Briefs Wed, 17 Oct 2018 15:40:57 -0400