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.

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.”

RIC 2017 Preview: Hear From Industry Trailblazers Driving The Retail Revolution

Disruptive brands, innovative thinkers and new data discoveries are all driving rapid change in retail, and it can be tough to keep up. But the Retail TouchPoints 2017 Retail Innovation Conference, being held May 9-10 at Apella in New York City, will give attendees a crash course in what’s driving the retail revolution — along with lots of practical advice about how to take advantage of new opportunities. Some of the program highlights include: • Executives from companies including Walmart, Walgreens, J. Crew, Shinola,, Moosejaw and Neiman Marcus; • Leading analysts from IDC Retail Insights, Deloitte Consulting, ERDM and Boston Retail Partners; • Exclusive results from the Retail TouchPoints Impact Of New Retail Roles survey; and • New York Times best-selling author Bryan Eisenberg revealing how companies can win with pages from Amazon’s Playbook. Read on for a preview and register today before all seats are sold out!

Context, Education And Entertainment Drive Experiential Retail Success

As consumers purchase more goods online, traditional retailers are struggling with the integration of digital and brick-and-mortar commerce. But 66% of U.S. consumers still say it’s important to feel and sense a product during their shopping experience, according to Westfield. Many retailers, recognizing the need to offer hands-on, authentic experiences that will draw shoppers into their stores, are adapting their store formats to do so. Experiential retail gives shoppers an enhanced opportunity to touch, feel and/or taste items before committing to a purchase. But before taking this plunge, retailers should understand the five elements of successful experiential retail programs.

Get Predictive: The Keys To Achieving Data-Driven Personalization And Pricing

As competition heats up, retailers must improve their ability to gather and analyze consumer data, then use the information to predict the shopper’s next move. And it appears the technology is catching on: the global predictive analytics market is expected to reach $10.95 billion by 2022, growing at an annual rate of 21% between 2016 and 2022. Already, predictive analytics is delivering value by offering relevant product and content recommendations, personalizing email marketing strategies, monitoring in-store traffic and sales, and helping brands anticipate replenishment via intelligent merchandising.

CCSeries Webinars: Making The Shopper Experience Friction-Free

Did you miss the Retail TouchPoints Connected Consumer Series webinars, broadcast March 27-30? (Perhaps you were part of the throng that descended on Las Vegas for Shoptalk.) Never fear, all eight sessions are now available on-demand. This year’s series explored the many ways retailers can remove friction from the shopping experience — from using AI to deepen personalization to offering credit-wary Millennials new payment and financing options. Practical advice ranged from tips for maximizing mobile sales, empowering front-line employees, leveraging consumer-generated social content, and the true million-dollar question: finding out what your customers really want.
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