Starbucks continues pumpkin spice latte personification with separate Messenger bot

Mobile Marketer – Starbucks is cementing the pumpkin spice latte’s status as a beloved beverage and social media caricature by rolling out a separate PSL Facebook Messenger chatbot, which enables users to interact with the drink by taking a quiz and discussing fall-themed topics.

Starbucks alerted fans to the new Messenger chatbot by posting a Snapchat Story containing an image of the pumpkin spice latte caricature peeking out from behind a door alongside a screenshot of a URL link. The URL link, which was later posted on The Real PSL’s official Instagram account, brought users directly to the Facebook Messenger bot, showcasing one effective way of how marketers can ramp up awareness for seasonal products.

“As temperatures drop, a plethora of pumpkin spice products will be flooding the market,” said Laura Sossong, manager at Boston Retail Partners. “The PSL Messenger bot will help Starbucks stay top-of-mind for consumers craving this festive fall flavor.”

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Lindt's social giveaways get consumers hooked on new product

Mobile Marketer – Lindt Chocolate is enticing autumn fans early as the summer comes to an end with activity recommendations accompanied by alluring fall-themed images on Instagram, with a series of contests on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter promoting its new pumpkin-flavored product.

The chocolate brand is putting a fall spin on its classic Lindor truffles by launching a Pumpkin Spice flavor and making sure consumers know about it ahead of the autumn season. As many fans take to social media to engage with autumn-related content, Lindt is hoping to connect with them through a series of fall-themed contests and pushes on multiple platforms.

“The pumpkin spice economy was placed at $500 million dollars last year,” said Laura Sossong, senior consultant at BRP. “By launching compelling social media campaigns and partnering with a contemporary boutique hotel group, Lindt USA will distinguish themselves as a more artisanal and exclusive offering, adding to its marketplace appeal.”

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Consumers’ retail journey to improve with amplified social media strategy

Luxury Daily – Social media provides retailers with a toolkit for enhancing, influencing and personalizing the consumer journey, but 81 percent of retail marketers feel their methods need to improve, according to a new report by Boston Retail Partners.

Through the use of social media, retailers are able to create a memorable and personalized experience, but, despite 69 percent of retailers seeing the medium as a catalyst for curated customer journeys, there is still much uncertainty surrounding best practices. In a Special Report supplement based on the “2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey,” BRP outlines five key areas where retailers can improve the customer journey through social media strategy.

“One of the greatest challenges for retailers is that social media is still relatively new and is still evolving,” said Brian Brunk, principal at Boston Retail Partners. “Retailers still have uncertainty as to how to best leverage and integrate social media into the customer shopping experience.

“The social media vehicles available to consumers to interact with brands and influence shopping behavior have never been more varied, and continue to be very dynamic,” he said. “This makes it difficult for retailers to identify, create and maintain a strong social presence that integrates well with the entire brand experience.”

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Report: Most retailers not optimizing social media engagement opportunity

Retail Customer Experience – Social media is becoming increasingly popular among retailers, but 81 percent of those using the platforms to engage customers acknowledge they need help in optimizing the effort.

That means a very lucrative and rewarding opportunity is likely being missed, according to a new Boston Retail Partners report.

“Social media provides retailers with unprecedented visibility into their customer base. It provides a venue where retailers can directly communicate with their customers and it can be an extremely powerful tool for collecting and using customer insights to improve planning decisions,” said Brian Brunk, principal at BRP, in a release. “Retailers can understand who the customer is, what she wants, when and where she wants it, and even why she wants it based on social media postings and feedback.”

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Aldo’s bricks-and-mortar connected store experience laces up mobile-inspired sales

Mobile Commerce Daily – Footwear and accessories retailer Aldo is the latest brand to integrate mobile with the bricks-and-mortar landscape, enabling shoppers at its new Westfield World Trade Center location to use its application and self-serve tablets to enjoy a more personalized shopping experience.

Aldo’s connected store opened its doors at the Westfield World Trade Center in New York this week. Shoppers can leverage the brand’s mobile app to unlock various features, such as product wish lists, and purchase items that may not be physically present in a desired size or style, showcasing how retailers can use smartphone-led technology to expand consumer-facing inventory and revamp traditional bricks-and-mortar browsing experiences.

“The enhanced personalized features driven by mobile apps and more meaningful interactions between the customer and sales associate will help customer find and buy the right products based on customer context,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners. “With customer context, retailers can guide the shopping journey based on what a customer has in her closet, what she previously purchased, what she browsed on the Web site and abandoned in her online cart, when she is near your store and even exactly what she is browsing and where within the store.

“In addition to customer insights, customer context considers environmental conditions such as current and forecasted weather, time of day, time of year, media, social media, traffic, holidays, events, and other conditions that impact a consumer’s purchase decision,” he said.

“The main reason customers leave empty-handed is because they are not helped by an associate or can’t find what they are looking for. The new features of Aldo’s new connected store, which leverages customer context, will help eliminate this problem.”

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American Eagle Outfitters unzips sales with mobile-optimized denim style guide

Mobile Commerce Daily – American Eagle Outfitters is driving sales conversions among Facebook users by sponsoring ads that expand into a full-screen denim guide, enabling consumers to toggle through several jean styles before visiting the retailer’s mobile site to make a purchase.

The retailer is attempting to stand out in millennials’ Facebook feeds by inviting them to swipe upward to interact with the denim guide advertisement, which features models donning jean styles such skinny, legging and straight leg. Consumers can examine each style before tapping the “shop now” button to visit American Eagle Outfitters’ mobile site, where they can purchase their desired pair of jeans.

“Millennials spend most of their Internet browsing time on their mobile devices,” said Laura Sossong, senior consultant at Boston Retail Partners. “Given the magnitude of consumable information available to potential shoppers, introducing compelling and interactive Web features that are mobile friendly is an effective way for American Eagle to garner customer attention.”

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Venmo expands to third-party checkout as successes pile up

Mobile Commerce Daily – PayPal’s Venmo is now a major competitor in mobile payments with the launch of its checkout service on retail applications that features innovative sharing capabilities and follows a successful year marked by 140 percent growth.

Users on mobile applications such as and Munchery can now check out seamlessly with Venmo capability by saving their account information and eliminating the need to consistently enter payment info but also allow users to split the cost with others. The peer-to-peer payments app will likely offer major competition to others attempting to conquer the mobile payments space, as the platform garners attention from a wide range of millennials by adding a social aspect.

“There is a lot of competition in the mobile payments space to send and receive monies between friends, but what makes Venmo a big deal is the social aspect they add to basic payments,” said Paul Dubie, manager at Boston Retail Partners. “The user is not just paying a friend back for lunch; they can add a taco and beer emoji along with their thank you.

“This message gets shared within the user’s social network, and perhaps even making another friend jealous they missed out on ‘Taco Tuesday,’” he said. “Social media sharing is great for businesses of any kind, and it is here to stay.

“Venmo has done a great job of capturing this feature in their app and it is their point of differentiation.”

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Atom Tickets heightens mobile ticketing competition with planned national rollout

Mobile Commerce Daily – Atom Tickets is positioning itself as a competitor to Fandango and others in the mobile movie ticketing space by rolling out to new markets and adding another theater chain ahead of a planned national launch.

The mobile ticketing application is competing against Fandango with a sleek and modern interface and interesting campaigns from major production companies. Atom Tickets has now launched in major cities such as Dallas, Miami and Charlotte, and will be nationwide within a few months.

“The penetration of Atom Tickets into major theater partnerships will push other ticketing apps to rethink their models,” said Robert Cuthbertson, vice president at Boston Retail Partners. “Where Atom can succeed is the ease of getting movie goers from the car to the screen with essentially no lines.

“Instead of focusing on movie add-ons, Atom is focusing on the customer and ensuring they have the best experience possible,” he said.

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Sephora borrows from Tinder’s playbook with swipeable mobile shopping tools

Mobile Commerce Daily – Sephora is bookending its recent sales-driving initiatives with two new mobile-first platforms, which enable consumers to use a fill-in-the-blank model to discover their ideal beauty product and leverage a Tinder-like interface to purchase items featured in favorite looks.

The retailer is tapping into the popularity of dating application Tinder – which enables users to swipe through individuals’ profiles to pass or complete a match – to showcase its Sephora Collection products in a more millennial-friendly light and simplify the shopping experience. Sephora is also introducing the Beauty Uncomplicator platform to allow customers to whittle down their preferences in a bid to find the product best-suited for their needs.

“Leveraging Tinder’s popular ‘swipe it’ feature is a fun, interactive way for consumers to shop for the [Sephora] products that appeal to them – right from their phones,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at Boston Retail Partners.

“Sephora’s three-step questionnaire, the Beauty Uncomplicator, helps people find the right makeup and tools, which is a creative gamification strategy to boost engagement. According to BRP’s surveys, gamification is becoming a common strategy to engage customers, as 85 percent of retailers indicate that they plan to use gamification within five years.”

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Warby Parker focuses mobile sales vision with Snapchat-exclusive merchandise

Mobile Commerce Daily – Warby Parker heightened the Snapchat monetization stakes by rolling out exclusive merchandise for its followers on the photo-sharing application, suggesting that the cachet of products only available via social media could result in more mobile purchases from younger consumers.

The eyeglasses retailer clued its Snapchat followers in to a new product that was posted exclusively on the social media app this week by teasing users with the phrase, “We made something special just for you!” Warby Parker then uploaded an image of its Haskell eyeglasses in Crystal alongside a unique URL, where consumers could purchase the exact pair and revel in the product’s Snapchat exclusivity.

“Warby Parker is likely introducing this initiative to test the viability of Snapchat as a compelling commerce platform,” said Laura Sossong, senior consultant at Boston Retail Partners. “It’s a win-win, as even if the campaign doesn’t result in significant sales, it will increase social media following and brand exposure to its target market.

“If the social media exclusive spurs additional sales, it is a bonus.”

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