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Omnichannel / Cross-Channel Strategies

Cross-Channel Strategies offers readers an inside look at the successful cross-channel promotions, campaigns and programs employed by industry leaders. Retailers across industry segments and regions are adopting unique and innovative approaches to reaching today’s cross-channel consumers. Subscribe to the feed and stay in touch with the latest retail happenings.

AutoTruckToys Boosts Average Order Value 40% By Adding Offer Engine

Tapping the power of customer reviews and recommendations, online car accessories retailer AutoTruckToys sought to deliver an enhanced customer experience by giving Web site visitors targeted, relevant offers. Serving the automotive, truck and SUV aftermarket since the late 1990s, AutoTruckToys started out as a small company based in Paris, TN. The company has grown into an industry-leading distributor of accessories through a dedication to customer service, on-hand inventory and same-day shipping. Keeping these same business principles over the years, AutoTruckToys now has over 30 employees and stocks over 40,000 products from more than 250 of the industry’s top manufacturers. Like other mid-level e-tailers, Josh Hart, CEO of AutoTruckToys, gets ideas for innovative site features from e-tailing leaders like Amazon.com. He viewed Web site recommendations on those leading sites, saw the increase in Web 2.0 interactivity, and wanted to add those capabilities to his site. But he was also realistic about what his company’s relatively small Web site team could accomplish in a short time. So Hart tapped personalized recommendations provider MyBuys to customize site offerings.

Blippy.com: Sharing What You're Buying

By Tom Ryan, Managing Editor, RetailWire Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from one of RetailWire’s recent online discussions. Each business morning on RetailWire.com, retail industry execs get plugged in to the latest news and issues with key insights from a "BrainTrust" panel of retail industry experts. Blippy.com is a social networking site that encourages people to see and discuss what their friends and others are buying on services such as iTunes, Netflix, eBay, Amazon, and more. They can even set it up to show purchases from credit cards. While some view this as yet another internet-intrusion on personal space, converts say they discover new products and deals while reaching friends. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Justine Ezarik, 25, said she bought an app that tracks sleep patterns after she saw a friend buy it on Blippy. "A lot of people are skeptical. They feel like they are sharing so much online already," Ezarik said. "I just feel like this is the next thing to do." The site's founders said millions are already readily sharing more opinions, whereabouts and photos on Facebook and Twitter that many initially felt overstepped boundaries.

New Report Advises Retailers to “Focus on Facebook”

Although social media has been a hot button for retailers, it seems that 2010 is the year for social commerce to materialize. In an effort to better understand consumer perception and social media habits, ForeSee Results conducted a research study of nearly 10,000 visitors to the most popular U.S. e-tail sites. “Everyone is talking about social media, and there are lots of opinions about how to do it right,” said Kevin Ertell, VP of Retail Strategy, ForeSee Results and author of the report. “We thought it was important to check in with customers to get their thoughts.” The survey aimed to answer questions like: How do they interact with retailers via social media? How would they prefer to interact? What value are they seeking from their interactions with retailers via social media? The study found that social media could be validated as a viable marketing strategy when retailers understand what consumers want. ForeSee Results used the methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) to examine these issues. The ACSI is able to show how different elements of a shopper’s interactions with a company (including on social media) impact their purchase intent, loyalty and recommendations, according to the report.

Duane Reade Acquisition Could Signal More Aggressive Strategy For Walgreen

Last week’s announcement that Walgreen Co. has agreed to acquire New York-based drugstore Duane Reade, marked a major change in strategy for the traditionally conservative chain. Now as the merger takes shape, analysts are speculating that the innovations being driven by Duane Reade around CRM and in-store merchandising could further reshape the combined company. "In terms of the innovation that Duane Reade has been putting into place, I have to think that part of the rationale (of the acquisition) is not just the expanded distribution and additional store count, but getting some of the skill sets rather than developing their own loyalty or CRM program,” said Craig Johnson, President of Customer Growth Partners, LLC, a retail consultancy based in New Canaan, CT. Walgreen said Duane Reade stores will continue to operate under their own brand name after the transaction closes, but eventually the two brands will synergize, as Walgreen is currently operating 70 stores in the New York City metropolitan area. Duane Reade has made some significant strides to modernize and remodel the stores to promote a more customer friendly and focused strategy.

Mystery Shopper Study Shows Etailers Sacrifice Service For Cost Containment, Efficiencies

Top Performing WebsitesEtailing Group CustomerExperience Index Although online sales continued to outpace brick-and-mortar sales in 2009, online retailers still felt the pinch of the recent recession during the most recent holiday season. In response, a number of online retailers chose cost containment over improvements in customer service in Q4 2009, according to the e-tailing group’s 12th Annual Mystery Shopping Study. Merchants have made trade-offs on communication effectiveness and information accessibility to cut costs, the study reports. Year-over-year it took merchants longer to respond to email communication (20.69 minutes in Q4 ‘09 vs. 20.15 in Q4 ’08). Email responses were less likely to offer a personalized salutation (75% vs. 82%) and fewer gave correct answers (72% vs. 77%). Additionally, call center performance was less effective in Q4 2009, with longer wait times for customer calls and some return policies have become more restrictive. In Q4 ’09 14% of merchants surveyed offered a 100% unconditional return policy versus 72% in ’08.

ShopNBC Launches New M-Commerce Platform

ShopNBC, lifestyle brand in electronic retailing, today announced the launch of new mobile e-commerce capabilities, as well as version two of its ShopNBC iPhone application. Both initiatives are designed to enable new and returning customers to shop and place orders directly from mobile devices.The all-new ShopNBC mobile platform, developed in partnership with Usablenet, a mobile Web platform for leading brands, is designed to offer on-the-go access to ShopNBC.com from smart mobile phones and devices, including iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Palm Pre, and Droid. ShopNBC customers can shop and order from the multichannel electronic retailer's entire selection of more than 10,000 items, discover daily specials, search for products by keyword or item number, and check order and shipping status.In concert with the new mobile e-commerce enhancements, ShopNBC launched version two of its iPhone application. The new ShopNBC versionis designed to build on the success of the initial ShopNBC iPhone app by offering a more comprehensive, user-friendly interface, which includes key features of ShopNBC.com and the ability to order directly from the iPhone and iPod Touch.

The Wet Seal Taps “Shop With Me” Platform to Offer Social Shopping

Apparel & accessory specialty retailer Wet Seal recently launched the Shop With Me application from Sesh, Inc., a real-time, interactive social shopping application on www.wetseal.com. Sesh’s technology platform is designed to break down one of the biggest barriers for online retailing, the inability for shoppers to easily and quickly get opinions from friends and family on potential purchases. While online shopping has proved to be the bright spot in retail in Q4 2009, it’s traditional a solitary activity. “The Web made shopping convenient, but the face-to-face mall experience was lost,” said Jarrod Rogers, CEO, Sesh, Inc. “For The Wet Seal’s demographic, young women, shopping is social. Their friends’ opinions matter most. They want those opinions now.”

Customer-Driven Innovations Front & Center At NRF’s Big Show

Earlier this week in NYC, an upbeat crowd filled the Jacob Javits Center for The National Retail Federation’s Annual BIG Show, where a slew of new technologies were unveiled to help retailers cater to a new era of consumer-driven strategies. The central theme on the exhibition floor and in the expo sessions showed that innovation and automation will be keep pace with consumers’ growing knowledge and ability to tap product and pricing information in near real-time. Several technologies stood out from the crowd to emphasize the importance of in-store enhancement, engagement, loyalty and the importance of upselling.

Office Max, Crate & Barrel Lead List Of Mobile Commerce Sites Hitting For Holiday Rush

If there are still lingering doubts about the role mobile devices will play in the retail environment, this holiday season will likely put them to rest. Mobile Web platform provider Usablenet, which launched eight new mobile commerce sites in the last two months, which is comparable to the number of mobile site launched over a full year.“ All of these retailers have discovered this year that mobile Web is a significant portion of their potential traffic of their regular Web site,” said Jason Taylor, VP of Mobile Products at Usablenet. “[Consumers] don’t really distinguish a difference between the Web on their phone and the Web on their computer, so they want to go to the Web site and have a successful experience regardless of what mobile phone they’re using.” Taylor points to the iPhone as a driving force behind the growing population of Web browsing via mobile phones.

Holiday Sales Continue Cyber Shift, Helping Strong Cross Channel Players

Black Friday has traditionally been the bellwether day for the holiday for the holiday season, with the foot traffic counts and register rings in brick and mortar stores foretelling how the rest of the holiday season would shake out. However, while sales and traffic were on par with last year, the wake-up call for retailers this year was the continued shift in preference toward e-commerce channels. While retailers were opening their doors at Midnight and staffing up for the Black Friday rush, research shows the biggest traffic jams were occurring online. ComScore Inc. reported that online shoppers rang up $595 million in sales on Black Friday, up 11% from last year. Web shopping also rose 10% on Thanksgiving day to $318 million.

Runa Unveils Conversion Marketing App Designed To Tailor Pricing, Promos

Designed to enable retailers to offer customers real time individualized pricing incentives online, Runa announced today the release of “Conversion Marketing.” The solution is aimed at picking up where SEO and SEM stop, to focus on converting Web traffic into sales. While traditional price optimization solutions have been rule-based tools, using data analysis from historical patterns Runa Co-Founder & CEO Ashok Narasimhan pointed out that conversion marketing-focused solutions, are goal-based and designed to allow real-time data to be combined with underlying data such as cost of goods. Rather than simply setting a price and establishing a corresponding markdown and promotion strategy, Narasimhan said conversion marketing tools are intelligent and learn over time.

Cross-Channel Promos Look To Drive Share Gains As Holiday Sales Rebound

There may be some holiday cheer after all this season, as some retailers and analysts have seen some signs of life at the checkout. Pulling out all the stops, large retailers are upping the ante with aggressive cross-channel marketing and promotion strategies, offering online add-ons and price collections, in an effort to grab sales and market share during the critical stretch run. After slumping a bit in the early part of the year e-commerce sales are expected to be a big driver during the holidays, and many major retailers are stepping up their e-marketing as a result. According to the latest projections from Forrester Research, US online sales are expected to rise 8% this holiday season, with mass market retailers who can offer discounts expected to perform best. The research firm said on Monday it expects online retail sales in November and December to reach $44.7 billion this year, up from $41.4 billion a year ago, providing a bright spot to a retail industry.

Urban Outfitters Selects Sterling For Cross Channel Initiative

As part of a corporate initiative to improve customer service by replacing legacy systems, Urban Outfitters, Inc. has selected Sterling Order Management and Sterling Managed File Transfer (MFT) from Sterling Commerce. Urban Outfitters, which owns brands including Anthropologie, Free People and Terrain, has chosen Sterling Commerce to create a seamless cross-channel shopping experience for its customers across all its channels and brands. The company will deploy Sterling Order Management and Sterling Managed File Transfer as part of a new CRM implementation. The solutions are designed to enable the company to create a seamless shopping experience across all its channels and brands, which include Urban Outfitters as well as Anthropologie, Free People, and Terrain.

Wine.com Boosts Order Value 15% With Custom Reviews, Recommendations

Capitalizing on impulse purchasing is not just relevant in the in-store environment, Wine.com employed customer reviews to leverage more than just recommendations. Recently named the number one online wine retailer by Internet Retailer Magazine, Wine.com uses reviews as relevant product information and content to support customer segmentation techniques. Knowing that wine purchasing can sometimes be a “need to know but don’t want to ask” venture, the company is focused on providing lots of helpful information using what they know about customers, including browsing and purchase history.

Best Buy Backs Need for New Out-of-Stock Solution From Sterling

With retailers forced to keep inventory levels lean this holiday season, the risk of stock-outs that disappoint customers is at an all-time high. To help retailers address this issue, Sterling Commerce introduced a new solution, Sterling Always in Stock. Combining advanced cross-channel order management with seamless integration capabilities, the solution is designed to enable retailers to improve the customer experience and preserve customer loyalty and optimize inventory efficiency. Long time Sterling Multi-Channel Fulfillment customer Best Buy supported the value of solving the out-of-stock challenge, saying. “Our customer satisfaction and loyalty is much improved when we can offer multiple fulfillment options to solve an out-of-stock or make the purchase more convenient," said Chap Achen, Director of Multi-Channel Order Management at Best Buy.
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