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Shopper Experience

Shopper Engagement delves into the latest trends and strategies retailers are using to cultivate long-term relationships with shoppers. Social media, mobile technology, in-store tablets and more are covered in this section. Subscribe to the feed and stay in touch with the latest retail happenings.

RNKD Encourages Consumer Sharing, Optimizes Voice Of The Customer Strategies

Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn provide an open forum for retailers to interact with consumers, better analyze shopper preferences and respond to feedback. Although these customer-centric sites have brought forth a new era of Voice of the Customer (VoC) strategies, new sites such as RNKD (pronounced “ranked”) are emerging to create a community of retailers’ most loyal customers. Launched in beta during November 2011, RNKD was designed as a social network that allows users to share photos of items in their closets. Photos are uploaded and organized by item category, brand and the store in which it was purchased. Subscribers receive points for every photo they upload into their RNKD gallery and whenever someone “likes” their items. Points are redeemable for gift cards from retailers, including Gilt Groupe and Zappos.com.

Linkable Networks Integrates Marketing Efforts And Deals, Strengthens Loyalty Initiatives

Offers linked to credit and debit cards allow retailers to connect sales and deals directly with shoppers’ accounts, allowing seamless buying processes and encouraging loyalty. By 2015, retail companies leveraging card-linked offers will be able to access at least 467 million different consumer accounts, according to research from Aite Group. In response to the growth of these discount offers in the retail space, card-linked offer provider CLOVR has announced its name change to Linkable Networks, Inc., and new investment from Citi Ventures. Linkable Networks provides a closed-loop service which allows retailers to link store- and item-level offers directly with marketing efforts. These include banner and text ads, mobile initiatives, print media, radio and TV. In turn, shoppers can synch their credit and/or debit cards with the ads to automatically receive the advertised savings at point of sale.

Retailers Largely Ignoring Customers on Facebook

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 panel of retail industry experts. Some of the largest retailers in the U.S. are ignoring consumer complaints on Facebook, according to research by Conversocial, a company that helps businesses improve interactions with consumers on social media sites. In fact, during a five-day period in September, nearly two-thirds of consumer issues raised on Facebook went unaddressed. Costco, Kmart and Kroger failed to respond to a single consumer inquiry on Facebook during the period. Others failed to respond in varying degrees, including: Walmart, which did not respond to 41% of inquiries; Macy's (35%); Dillards (25%); Bloomingdale's (20%); Nordstrom (20%); Sears (11%); and Safeway (5%).

New Study Reveals Email Messaging Can Offset Shopping Cart Abandonment Rates

Retailers are developing better messaging that discourages online shopping cart abandonment, a major concern in e-Commerce, and entices online shoppers to process their orders. The average abandonment rate jumped from 71% to 75% during the first six months of 2011 as more consumers utilized online carts to compare prices before making a purchasing decision, according to a recent cart abandonment study from Listrak, an email marketing solutions firm. Online shoppers also abandon their carts due to high or unexpected shipping costs and simple interruptions, among other factors, the study said. Entitled “Shopping Cart Abandonment Practices of the Internet Retailer 1000 Companies,” the October 2011 study was created by Listrak to help retailers implement cart abandonment campaigns to improve order completion rates and identify trends as well as best practices. Listrak tapped the abandonment habits of the Top 1000 Internet Retailers then examined the point in the checkout process in which retailers request shoppers’ email addresses. It also looked at whether or not the payment information is located on the same page as the email option.

Optimizing In-Store Customer Service During The Holiday Shopping Season

Black Friday is days away and retailers are arming store associates with excess inventory to satisfy shoppers looking for the best buy. While merchandising is vital for a successful holiday season, customer service and the overall in-store experience has a severe affect on whether shoppers will return to stores once sales are complete. In this Q&A, customer service and sales training expert Laurie Brown highlights key takeaways from her newest book, The Greet Your Customer Manual. Brown also presents tips and best practices for store managers to create a memorable and customer-friendly Black Friday and beyond.

Tool King Experiences 440% Surge In Conversion Rates With Product Videos

Video marketing is emerging as an engaging and valuable way to inform consumers about products and services. This developing technique is encouraging retailers to leverage solutions to boost video creation and rollouts. Following its implementation of the Treepodia e-Commerce video platform, Tool King, a hardware and tool retailer, experienced a surge in conversion rates on pages that featured product videos. Tool King executives recognized video’s impact on consumer decision-making and search rankings. However, the retailer realized early in the planning process that producing and marketing videos internally was not as cost-effective as partnering with an automated provider, Jeff Plante, Online Marketing Manager for Tool King told Retail TouchPoints.

Shoebuy.com Taps Facebook Credits, Experiences 50% Share Rate And Doubles Ad Click-Through Rates

The holiday shopping season presents prime opportunity for increased purchase rates. However, as consumers grow more conscientious about how they spend their money, retailers must create unique opportunities and experiences to stand out. Online shoe retailer Shoebuy.com tapped gamification to double advertisement click-throughs and boost share rates via Facebook by 50%. For the 2010 holiday season, Shoebuy.com teamed with virtual goods company Ifeelgoods to offer shoppers Facebook Credits in return for online purchases. The online shoe retailer was the first merchant ever to offer Facebook Credits as an incentive. Shoebuy.com utilized gaming strategies to reach its strongest demographic: mothers 43-years-old and above. Because this demographic also gravitates to social games such as FarmVille, Mafia Wars and Bejeweled, Credits was an optimal method to increase customer engagement, according to James Keller, Chief Marketing Officer of Shoebuy.com.

Retail TouchPoints To Present On Mobile, Social Strategies At CETW Conference In New York

Amanda Batista, Associate Editor of Retail TouchPoints, will chair a panel discussion about mobile and social retail strategies during Customer Engagement Technology World (CETW), being held next week at the Jacob K. Javitz Convention Center in New York, November 9-10. Batista’s session fortifies the show’s overall theme of leveraging the integration of emerging media across multiple channels to activate customer engagement. Wednesday’s opening keynote address will be delivered by B. Joseph Pine, Co-Founder of Strategic Horizons, LLP, an Aurora, Ohio-based “thinking studio” dedicated to helping organizations conceive and design new ways of adding value to their economic offerings. Pine’s presentation, titled “Driving Customer Engagement through Digital Experiences,” will reveal unknown worlds that create value for customers with offerings that fuse the real and the virtual.

Gilt Groupe Executive Reveals Holiday Mobile Tips And Tricks

As retailers prepare for the 2011 holiday shopping season, they must be quick to innovate and offer new experiences across channels. One outlet for doing so is mobile initiatives including short message service (SMS), applications and quick response (QR) codes, which forward-thinking retailers are tapping to reach shoppers directly through their mobile device. These tactics were explored and discussed during the recent Mobile Marketer webinar titled "5 Last Minute Tips for Effective 2011 Holiday Mobile Marketing.” During the presentation, Jason John, Senior Director of Marketing for Gilt Groupe, provided insight on the success of the flash sale site’s mobile strategy and how retailers can streamline their strategies to boost brand image. Other panelists included Sonali Shah, Director of Product Management at Syniverse Technologies; Laura Marriott, CEO of NeoMedia; Kathryn Koegel, Chief of Insights at Primary Impact; and Helene Rosenblum, VP of Media for Leapfrog Online.

LUSH Cosmetics Partners With Demandware To Enhance Its e-Commerce Experience

New e-Commerce solutions and capabilities are providing retailers with prime opportunities to expand their brands internationally. In response to these new developments, hair, skin and body cosmetic provider LUSH Cosmetics has selected Demandware to power three new North American e-Commerce storefronts: U.S. English; Canadian English; and Canadian French. LiveAreaLabs and Precision Design will partner with Demandware to design and roll out the sites. The Demandware Commerce platform features a variety of customer experience applications and cross-channel merchandising capabilities. Primary goals of the implementation include creating a more content-rich experience for loyal customers and increasing site efficiencies during times of peak traffic, according to Mark Wolverton, President and CEO of LUSH Cosmetics, North America. LUSH Cosmetics’ existing web sites require manual intervention from marketing and development teams, preventing the retailer from focusing on customer interaction and experience, he noted.

Macy’s, JCPenney and Sports Authority Lead In Localized Marketing

Retailers can expand cross-channel strategies, drive in-store traffic and boost engagement by including localized elements in their mobile, social and web marketing initiatives. Noting the growing impact of localization on piquing consumer interest, Retail Systems Research (RSR) recently released a report titled “The Local Approach: The State of Localized Advertising in Retail.” RSR analyzed top stores from Stores Magazine’s “2010 Top 100 Retailers” and “2010 Hot 100 Retailers” reports and targeted four categories: traditional advertising, digital advertising, alternative offers, and on-site communication.

Macy’s Launches Digitally Driven Self-Service Initiative To Streamline The In-Store Experience

Focused on providing a more convenient and fun shopping experience, and bringing the online experience into stores, Macy's, Inc., is providing mobile technology to its store personnel, as part of the company's omni-channel strategy to drive sales for the Macy's and Bloomingdale's brands. These innovations are designed to engage customers with self-service options and streamline the path to purchase. Macy's and Bloomingdale's are bringing self-service and the online experience to stores with computer tablets and hand-held devices that engage customers in selected merchandise areas. Approximately 350 stores will test the tablets to help customers research and select products, specifically at Macy's and Bloomingdale's Clinique counters. Bloomingdale’s is testing tablets and handheld devices in 5 stores to help customers view and shop a variety of shoe styles and colors. In fine jewelry, 25 Macy's stores are using tablets to demonstrate product features and offer coordinating jewelry pieces that may not be available in that particular location. These items can then be purchased via Macy’s Search & Send order fulfillment system.

Shopper Insights Bring Success To Supermarket Retailers

Finland’s largest grocery cooperative depends upon shopper optimization to help plan all aspects of the business, from ordering to merchandising and marketing. With 44% of the total grocery market share in Finland and growing, SOK is committed to an Every Day Low Price (EDLP) strategy, according to Ilkka Alarotu, Director of Consumer Oriented Assortment and Pricing Solutions for SOK Grocery Trade Management, the services entity charged with providing all corporate services to the Finland-based S-Group’s 22 cooperatives and “customer-owners.” Calling the strategy “Value Chain Optimization,” Alarotu explained to Retail TouchPoints that the company is focused on offering higher quality at a lower price. Using optimization solutions from SAS, the company is able to accomplish this goal.

Urgency Drives Flash Sale Success

Daily deals have emerged as a unique alternative strategy for retailers to drive sales and revenue. By releasing must-have offers for a limited time, merchants, restaurants, salons and other consumer-oriented brands have relied on daily deals to boost brand awareness. Flash sale sites also have established a strong presence in the retail industry, with sites such as Rue LaLa and Gilt Groupe maximizing urgency and gamification concepts to increase purchases. Primarily defined as a site that offers goods during sales that last only 24 hours, flash sale models have made inroads at retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s for special invitation-only sales. “The immediacy of flash sales and the overall variety are the most appealing factors,” said Nikki Baird, Managing Partner for Retail Systems Research (RSR). “It's something new every time and they’re always a great deal. Most importantly, it’s saying to shoppers if you don't act now, you might miss it.”

Pacific Sunwear Rolls Out iPad App To Optimize Customer Experience And Upselling

Tapping into the growing popularity of tablet technology, Pacific Sunwear (PacSun) recently deployed an Apple iPad-based Retailing solution to 300 stores nationwide. Since its 1980 inception as a small surf shop in Newport Beach, CA, PacSun now operates more than 800 stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The specialty retailer rooted in the action sports, fashion and music influences of the California lifestyle, is currently headquartered in Anaheim, CA. Leveraging the iPad Retailing App from Global Bay Mobile Technologies, PacSun is among the first to integrate the iPad into the retail environment to enhance the in-store customer experience, capture potential lost sales and create upsell opportunities. PacSun will deploy to an additional 100 stores during 2011.
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