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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.

Innovators Point The Way To The Store Of The Future

The so-called “retail apocalypse” may have been debunked, but there’s still no question that the industry is in the midst of profound change. Retailers aren’t just looking for ways to tweak the shopping experience; many seek to reimagine every aspect of how they will interact with consumers. Pano Anthos, Founder and Managing Director, XRC Labs, brings a perspective that is both future-oriented and grounded in today’s retailing requirements. He has identified five key themes that are reshaping store-based retail:

Lowe’s Seeks Macro Impact With Instagram ‘Microvideos’

Lowe’s launched an Instagram Stories campaign showing DIYers how to redecorate a vertical room through the confines of a mobile-friendly, full-screen video. On Sept. 7, the retailer unveiled the first “story” of the campaign, which includes 64 microvideos that total a combined 35 seconds. Lowe’s partnered with the ad agency BBDO New York to create the Instagram campaign. The campaign was born out of the annual Facebook Creative Hackathon, and is designed to take an engaging, light-hearted approach to project videos, while showing how consumers can quickly change a small space into a more functional area.

LIDS, Lowe’s And Sephora Find New Ways To Tackle Social Media

It’s clear by now that for retailers, leveraging social media is no longer a “nice to have,” it’s a “must-have.” As new tools within social media channels become available to brands and retailers, it is quickly becoming a top resource for engaging with consumers, increasing brand awareness and even gaining more foot traffic in stores. Many brands have welcomed social media marketing with open arms and are seeing its benefits, triggering greater interest. In fact, 91% of marketers want to know the most effective social tactics and best ways to engage their audience with social media, according to the 2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report from Social Media Examiner. So the interest is there, but they might just need a little push. Retailers such as LIDS, Lowe’s and Sephora, among others, have realized the benefits of having a social media marketing strategy and are utilizing these offerings in unique ways this year, including: Bringing social media into the store through user generated content (UGC); Using “stories” features on Instagram to announce flash sales and develop unique campaigns; and Monitoring social media activity with in-house command centers.  Mixing Social Media With Brick-And-Mortar Social media is a great driver for UGC, which…

#DealBrag Video With Brooklyn Decker Targets BTS Shoppers

  • Published in News Briefs
The art of bragging about shopping and savings gets a humorous twist in a new video featuring actress (from the Netflix series Grace and Frankie) and tech entrepreneur Brooklyn Decker. The #DealBrag video is part of a back-to-school campaign from RetailMeNot. “We have found that when consumers share the news about…
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Finish Line Boosts Return On Ad Spend 9.5x With Facebook Audience Targeting

Finish Line is automating customer prospecting for its full product line, increasing audience reach, and lowering costs-per-sale with Facebook’s new broad audience targeting feature. Using Facebook partner platform StitcherAds, the retailer ran a three-month campaign and generated a 9.5x return on ad spend (ROAS). Additionally, compared to other static prospecting campaigns, Finish Line saw: 49x more sales; 3x greater reach; and 83% decrease in cost-of-sale.

Community, Connections, Commerce: How Being Social Can Help Grow Your Business

Being the owner of an up-and-coming brand does not come without its difficulties. The challenges of growing a business may not have changed much over time — everyone wants to gain business knowledge, increase their distribution channels, boost brand awareness and have a support system to help push them further and grow their business — but what has changed is how we go about finding the solution to these problems today. Thanks to new technologies, we have ample access to the community around us, which in turn helps businesses become smarter and get results faster. The aspect of community is something already so prominent in our day-to-day lives. Consider this: how many people (friends, family or otherwise) do you come into contact with each day? How many people are you relying on for advice on where to travel next, information on how a new gadget works, some sort of personal service (we all get our hair done), etc.? Now think of how that number of people has grown since the introduction of online forums and social media platforms.

Strengthening The Three-Part Retail Customer Journey

Customer journey use cases that align with customer growth, such as loyalty and cross-sell, are growing exponentially faster (390%) than those focused on customer acquisition (28%) or conversion (119%), according to a survey from Kitewheel. These customer growth use cases now make up more than 75% of all interactions, while customer acquisition and conversion use cases split the remainder nearly evenly. “There’s a lot of opportunity to build a rich engagement with a known customer,” said Mark Smith, President of Kitewheel in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Once you’ve gone through that acquisition and conversion phase and made that first sale to a customer, at that point you then have a lot more information about that customer. You know who they really are. They’re not just an anonymous web visitor that you can track and retarget. That gives you an opportunity to use multiple channels to communicate with the customer and build a more sophisticated plan of engagement.”

ROI Of AI: 5 Ways Retailers Are Embracing The Innovation

“Artificial Intelligence (AI)” is being touted as one of the newest, most promising business technologies of the 21st century — even though its roots go back nearly 80 years. The fact is, the basics of AI can be traced back to Alan Turing and the Theory of Computation in the late 1930s; and the 1950 paper that helped inspire the 2014 film, The Imitation Game: Computing Machinery And Intelligence. But as AI has moved out of the theoretical realm and into the practical, confusion about what AI is — and what it can do — has grown. Even today’s smartest and wealthiest business executives seem a bit stumped by what, exactly, constitutes an AI solution. As recently as July 25, 2017, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk got into a social media feud over each other’s understanding of the technology.

User-Generated Content Influences 90% Of Shoppers’ Purchasing Decisions

As many as 90% of shoppers report that user-generated content (UGC) influences their purchase decisions, according to a survey from TurnTo and Ipsos. The impact of UGC outranks all other forms of marketing, including: Search engines (87%); Promotional emails (79%); Display ads (76%); and Social (63%). With UGC having such a powerful effect on shopper influence, retailers must understand exactly how to leverage this content to maximize its effectiveness. Jim Davidson, Director of Research at TurnTo Networks, noted that online merchants should expand their use of UGC beyond product pages.

Innovation Gurus Rate What’s Hot/What’s Not In New Tech

Separating what’s truly innovative from what’s merely interesting is one of the biggest challenges in retail. Then there’s another crucial step: identifying technologies that are not only innovative but will actually enhance operational efficiency, the customer experience, or (hopefully) both. At the 2017 Retail Innovation Conference, attendees were lucky enough to hear from two people who are uniquely qualified to make just these kinds of judgments: Scott Emmons, Head of the Innovation Lab for Neiman Marcus, and Pano Anthos, Managing Director of the innovation incubator XRC Labs. In a freewheeling dialogue, Emmons and Anthos gave their unvarnished opinions about the pros, cons and practical applications of a number of up-and-coming technologies, including:

Let’s Get Social: How To Engage With Different Generations

With sometimes wildly different preferences among members of the three “older” generations — Gen X, Baby Boomers and Millennials — and the numerous social media channels consumers can choose from, it’s difficult for brands to keep up with where and how to deliver their message so that it reaches the right audience via the right channel. In assessing a number of recent research reports around the topic of generational preferences in social media content and channels, I found some interesting information. Here, I break down each generation to spotlight what type of content they want to see on the social channel of their choice, with some key takeaways.

Online Retailers Teach Personalization, Mobile & Convenience To Brick-And-Mortar Competitors

Recent headlines in both the trade and mainstream press have been full of variations on the same theme: Brick-And-Mortar Retail Is Dying! And these headlines are not just clickbait.  There were more retail bankruptcies in the first four months of 2017 than in all of 2016. A rash of store closures also are making the news, both by some of the largest retailers (Macy’s, Sears, Payless Shoe Source) and smaller players including hhgregg and The Limited. An NBC News report noted that more than 100,000 retail workers have lost their jobs since October 2016. A frequent counter-argument to these stories goes like this: If brick-and-mortar retail is such a terrible business model, why are so many online retailers rushing to open physical stores? (A partial list includes Amazon, Warby Parker, Bonobos, Minted and Casper.) It’s certainly a valid question — but the answer is more complicated than it might appear at first glance.

How To Harness Creative Talent To Foster Retail Innovation

"Creative instability is an epidemic in retail right now,” according to Angelo D’Agostino, former VP of Brand Marketing for Wet Seal, which closed all its brick-and-mortar stores earlier in 2017. D’Agostino recently reunited with Live Nation as Creative Director, after receiving a 2017 Retail Innovator Award for his work at Wet Seal. In this exclusive Q&A, D’Agostino shares his passion for creative leadership in retail and other businesses.

Data-Driven Personalization Serves 1.2 Million Loyal Fabletics Customers

Many retailers talk a good game when it comes to personalizing interactions with each customer, but Fabletics really walks the walk. The brand is gathering extensive customer data from the 1.2 million members of its continuity-based subscription retailing program; Fabletics supplements this data collection with sophisticated in-store technologies that build comprehensive customer profiles in near real-time. But Fabletics also uses that data, in ways large and small. This continuous feedback loop gives the retailer a competitive edge in a number of key areas, including:

RIC17: Communities Build Strong Retail Brands

Today’s consumers take stock in peer feedback. That’s why many brands are realizing the value in building a community in order to build a brand. But despite the growing popularity of social media, building a community of loyal fans is not as easy as it seems. “You can buy a lot of Facebook likes, but that’s not a community,” said Marta Wohrle, Founder and CEO of Truth in Aging, in a panel discussion during the 2017 Retail Innovation Conference. “Building a community is generally a one-on-one process.”
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