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Mobile technology. Digital innovations. Social Commerce. These and many other trends are constantly being changed and being updated with new solutions, services and strategies. Retail TouchPoints editors stay on top of the latest activities and announcements, and bring you fresh perspectives on the hottest trends affecting the marketplace. Check back regularly for the latest new perspectives.

Last-Minute Marketing Tips And Tactics For A Successful Q4

Total holiday sales in 2014 are expected to reach up to $986 billion, a 4.5% increase over the 2013 season, according to Deloitte.  With the holiday season rapidly approaching, retailers need to ensure they have a solid marketing plan in place for the most competitive time of year. Luckily, there’s still plenty of time for organizations to tweak their digital marketing programs and maximize end-of-year revenue.

ETailers Open Stores To Improve One-To-One Relationships With Shoppers

“Omnichannel” continues to be one of the most-used buzzwords in the retail industry today. While all retailers strive to create seamless, compelling and personalized interactions across channels, a number of pure-play e-Commerce retailers are jumping into brick-and-mortar by putting their own, unique spin on the in-store experience. Nearly half (49%) of consumers believe the best action retailers can take to improve the shopping experience is to better integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping channels, according to Accenture. Although many online-only retailers have been successful in a single-channel environment, they are not able to capitalize on the most dominant sales channel — the store. As much as 95% of all retail sales in 2013 were captured by businesses that have some form of brick-and-mortar presence, according to the A.T. Kearney Omnichannel Shopping Preferences Study.

Has Social Media Helped Democratize The Fashion Industry?

This year, magazine editors, tastemakers, bloggers and even designers figuratively ripped down the velvet ropes and gave consumers an inside look at Fashion Week festivities. Typically known as the most exclusive event of the year, Fashion Week has evolved into a highly digitized and social event. More attendees are turning to Instagram, Twitter and other social networks to share behind-the-scenes footage of shows from coveted designers, such as BCBG Max Azria, Marc Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta.

Is Amazon Breaking Into Brick-And-Mortar?

Amazon has been recognized as an innovator and retail industry game-changer, helping to make online shopping the norm for consumers worldwide. But will the online giant be putting a new spin on brick-and-mortar? Representatives have confirmed that Amazon will open pop-up kiosks in San Francisco and Sacramento, Calif., next week that will remain open through the end of the holiday season. The locations will sell Amazon-branded hardware, including Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets and Fire Phones.

Pandora Exec Delves Into Mobile Payment Trends

With the recent release of Apple Pay, mobile payment is coming back to the forefront. And retailers seemingly are more eager to hop on board and create a more seamless and enjoyable customer experience. However, there are a variety of factors retailers need to consider before hopping on the mobile bandwagon.  In the below Q&A, Leon Sikes, Global Director of Retail Technology at jewelry designer, manufacturer, and retailer Pandora, discusses retail mobilization trends, challenges and best practices. With 24 years of global business and technology experience, Sikes brings a unique perspective and understanding of the pressures retailers face with regard to driving the customer experience through mobile enablement. Sikes is slated to speak at the 2014 fall Mobile Payments Conference (MPC), which is being held October 6-8, 2014, in Chicago.

Only 25% Of Affluent Consumers Prefer To Shop In Stores

During an ideal brick-and-mortar experience, store associates play an important role in engaging with customers and generating sales. Offering advice, feedback and recommendations, these salespeople are meant to be first-hand representations of a brand. However, 70% of wealthy and affluent customers feel that most sales and service staff do not make positive connections with customers, and as a result, they prefer to bypass sales personnel altogether by shopping online, according to research from Time Inc. and YouGov.

Inventory Optimization Tops Retailers’ Omnichannel Priorities

Today’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.

Chico’s Exec Discusses The Next Generation Of Personalization

Retailers 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.

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.

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.

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.

Deloitte Projects A Drop In Back-To-School Spending

Deloitte is predicting a sizeable drop in back-to-school spending, a sharp contrast from the National Retail Federation’s predictions that spending would increase by 5% this year.  The report, titled: 2014 Back-To-School Survey: Rising To The Head Of The Class, concluded that families expected to spend on average $543 on back-to-school items this year. This is a significant drop from 2013, when each family planned to spend $672.

Retailers Increase Investment In Social Customer Service

Billions of consumers worldwide are tapping into Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks on a daily basis. Whether they’re sharing photos, commenting on friends’ pages or browsing through brand accounts, consumers see social networks as prime outlets to share and discover new things. To engage with highly social shoppers in the omnichannel era, progressive retailers are looking to social customer service. More than half (67%) of businesses note that social customer service is growing in importance and is the most pressing short-term priority for contact centers in the U.S. and UK, according to a study from Forrester Research.

Is Facebook’s “Buy Now” Button The Next Generation Of Social Commerce?

Facebook is in the early stages of testing a new feature designed to help businesses drive sales through the users’ News Feeds and on Pages. A “Buy” button will be included in ads and Page posts as a call-to-action for customers to purchase products directly from a brand or retailer without having to leave their Facebook pages. The test currently is limited to a selection of small- and medium-sized businesses in the U.S.

Crumbs Closes Its Doors: Is The Cupcake Boom Crumbling?

There’s no way to sugar coat it: The cupcake craze may be coming to an end. Crumbs Bake Shop announced on Monday that it would be shuttering all stores, effective immediately. “Regrettably Crumbs has been forced to cease operations and is immediately attending to the dislocation of its employees while it evaluates its limited remaining options," the company reported in a statement to the Wall Street Journal. The New York-based bakery chain opened its first storefront in 2003 and subsequently acquired 65 locations in 12 states.
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