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.

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.

Shoptalk Insights: Global Commerce, VR, Pop-Up Retail

In its second year, Shoptalk did not disappoint. More than 5,500 attendees from 40+ countries swarmed the Aria in Las Vegas, March 19-22, to hear from retail executives and industry experts. Even some of the sessions’ overflow rooms were filled beyond capacity at times, and many sessions featured very quick presentations from fast-talking execs trying to squeeze in as much information as possible. Most of the key topics on the minds of retail industry execs were addressed during the conference. Here you’ll find the Retail TouchPoints take on a few of those sessions:

#Shoptalk17: Instagram Rolls Out Shopping Feature

  • Published in News Briefs
Instagram made a big splash at Shoptalk 2017, unveiling that it is expanding its Instagram Shopping feature to all fashion, apparel, jewelry and skincare brands using the commerce platforms BigCommerce and Shopify. The functionality is expected to roll out in Q2 2017. “People are in this discovery mind-set [on Instagram] and…

How Retailers Can Transform ‘March Madness’ Into ‘Marketing Magic’

With the first weekend of the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament posting an average of 9.325 million viewers across all games and four television networks, “March Madness” continues to captivate both major sports fans and casual viewers alike. But the frenzy also can be a big boon to retailers and brands seeking to launch marketing campaigns. CPG food and beverage brands are obviously big beneficiaries of the tournament: During last year’s tournament, wing orders were 24% higher than during the days prior to the tournament, while pizza orders were 17% higher, according to data from Yahoo. Sponsor apparel brands increased web site searches 33% on the first day of the tournament versus the week prior.

The Facebook Retail Reinvention

A few years ago retailers were lamenting their decisions to try to use Facebook as a commerce channel. A Business Insider article made the statement clearly: “Companies first started selling things directly through Facebook in 2009. Then, in 2011, Facebook convinced a bunch of big, high-profile brands like GameStop, Gap, J.C. Penney, and Nordstrom to open stores on the site through their business pages. They all ended up closing their stores within a year.”

How Facebook And Amazon Play Into Mobile-First At eBags

There are a number of reasons why eBags is succeeding in the competitive travel goods space. But a focus on mobile-first is a primary driver of success: in 2016, year-over-year (YOY) sales via mobile grew 70% for both Q4 and full year 2016, while mobile traffic grew 67% for Q4 and 53% YOY. Co-Founder and EVP Peter Cobb shares his insights into eBags’ success, as well as his personal viewpoints on the retail industry, in this exclusive Q&A with Retail TouchPoints: Retail TouchPoints (RTP):eBags is committed to a strong marketing strategy using Facebook. Can you talk about the benefits of working with Facebook?

ALDO VP Says ‘Omnichannel’ Thinking Must Go Away

As a Millennial, I certainly get very curious whenever I hear about retailers’ latest initiatives to market to my demographic and the younger Gen Z shoppers. Since these generations are the most significant drivers of retail’s continued transformation, their influence will only get stronger. When I attended the Millennial 20/20 event last week, I glimpsed how retailers and brands alike are handling this transition. C-Level execs from big names such as Subway, Taco Bell, Bacardi, Chobani and Boxed all spoke about their experiences catering to these younger segments, but the session that stood out for me was from the global footwear brand ALDO. What caught my attention was that ALDO has abandoned the omnichannel thought process that has been an article of faith among retailers for most of this decade.

Location Engine Yext Files For IPO

In a move that could raise as much as $100 million, Yext has filed for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) that would make its stock available for purchase as soon as April 2017. Yext, founded in 2006, provides the location results appearing on search engines, social media and maps, and counts brands such as AutoZone, Best Buy, Ben & Jerry’s, Marriott, Michael’s, McDonald’s and Rite Aid as customers. According to its SEC filing, Yext has “experienced rapid growth in recent periods.” However, the filing also warned that Yext has “a history of losses and may not achieve profitability in the future,” and that it remains dependent on strategic relationships with third-party application providers. For the nine months that ended Oct. 31, 2016, Yext generated $88.6 million in revenues and suffered a net loss of $28.6 million.

Surprising Customer Service Lessons From 2016

2016 was a strong year for retail thanks to low unemployment, reduced interest rates and increased consumer confidence that led to a surge in spending. The retail rush that took place over November and December was one of the best-performing ever. According to Deloitte, traditional store sales rose by 4.6% over the holidays while e-Commerce climbed by 21.8%. All told, online channels accounted for more than $63 billion in sales.  Naturally, this surge in volume resulted in a flood of consumer help requests. Over the holiday spending season, Inktel responded to tens of thousands of customer service inquires on behalf of retail and e-Commerce clients that spanned across multiple channels, including phone support, social media, live chat, email, co-browsing, etc. 

Supermarkets Fail To Bridge Consumer-Social Media Gap

  • Published in Social
While 87% of supermarket shoppers report regularly following one or more social media platforms, just 25% indicate they are friends with or connected to their primary grocery store, according to a study from the Retail Feedback Group (RFG). Grocers aiming to bolster their social media interactions are going to have to add value to the experience through content and recommendations, similar to the way e-Commerce sites already include these features.

Bluecore Debuts Marketing Decisioning Platform

  • Published in News Briefs
Bluecore has launched a new decisioning platform designed to help marketers organize large data sets, determine appropriate next steps and then quickly deploy campaigns across social, display, email and onsite channels. The platform, introduced at the eTail West 2017 conference, delivers personalized insights and audiences on the fly through a…
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