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Top 9 Ecommerce Trends You Need to Know for 2016

Small Business Forum – What ecommerce trends does your business need to be prepared for in 2016? A new survey from Boston Retail Partners polled some of the top North American ecommerce retailers to find out what’s on their agendas for the coming year.

Read the full article to learn more about the 2016 e-commerce trends.

Download the Boston Retail Partners Survey: 2015 E-Commerce Survey

Read full article: Top 9 Ecommerce Trends You Need to Know for 2016

Do Social Network Users Want Buy Buttons?

eMarketer – Interest is lowest for Facebook’s buy buttons…  Social networks have been experimenting with—and even fully implementing—buy buttons into their platforms for a while. And though social media users are turning to platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to research brands and products, they are not that interested in actually using the buy buttons there.

Buy buttons may still seem like a new concept to users, even though this idea of social commerce has been reinventing itself year after year. And retailers are somewhat optimistic and expect to see a change in revenue because of them. A July 2015 study by Boston Retail Partners found that by the end of 2016, retailers expect to see a 34% increase in revenues from social media, which includes buy buttons. But again, there’s a ways to go. Some 28% of respondents said they expect no change.

Read full article: Do Social Network Users Want Buy Buttons?

Best Buy pairs holiday trivia contests on Twitter with gift ideas

Mobile Commerce Daily – Best Buy is driving online sales through posts on Twitter in which users are prompted to share opinions, answers to trivia and personal anecdotes.

The electronics retailer is hoping to ramp up holiday sales through a series of call-to-action posts on social media while engaging and forming a connection with consumers at the same time. The posts employ a series of different tactics common on Twitter such as native polls, GIFs, videos, which then lead back to Best Buy’s Web site to purchase items featured in each individual post.

“Shoppers consume information differently and are active in a variety of social media platforms; therefore, it is imperative that retailers spread their marketing efforts across multiple mediums,” said David Naumann, director of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “Best Buy’s tweets about holiday gift ideas are a great way to spark ideas for shoppers and drive them to the Best Buy web site to complete the purchase.”

Read full article: Best Buy pairs holiday trivia contests on Twitter with gift ideas

Retailers give shoppers new reasons to use mobile phones in stores

REUTERS – At some Macy’s outlets this holiday season, shoppers who download the retailer’s app will be able to use their smart phones to guide them through the store to products they’re seeking. At JCPenney, customers will be able to take a snapshot of, for example, boots worn by a person passing by and quickly find out if the store has similar ones in stock. And Staples is testing an app that will allow sales clerks to let customers know how the store’s prices match up against Amazon and other rivals.

Hoping to claw back market share from online rivals – and tired of watching customers use their phones to find better deals than those offered in stores – brick and mortar retailers are trying to give shoppers different reasons to use their phones while doing holiday shopping. The new apps will allow customers to easily order out-of-stock items for home delivery, to check store prices and even to summon a clerk.

But the retailers’ efforts will face two significant challenges in the looming holiday season: getting customers to embrace the new technology, which is still sometimes glitchy and dependent on in-store systems, and getting them to trust that stores can match the Web’s prices and convenience.

“Poorly executed plans can be worse than no mobile strategy at all,” said Perry Kramer, vice president at Boston Retail Partners. “The dangers are losing those customers for the rest of the year or for a long time.”

Read full article: Retailers give shoppers new reasons to use mobile phones in stores

Old Navy hops on mobile donation bandwagon via charitable social campaign

Mobile Commerce Daily – Gap Inc.’s Old Navy is unzipping consumers’ holiday shopping excitement via its annual Overnight Millionaire sweepstakes and a social media-enabled donation campaign to celebrate good deeds during one of the most charitable seasons.

Old Navy is rolling out a campaign on Giving Tuesday, asking consumers to take selfies or photos of friends and family completing good deeds from December 1 to 7. As the retailer ramps up to offer consumers an interactive experience via mobile during the Black Friday shopping frenzy, the subsequent charitable campaign will likely sit well with individuals trying to tap into the giving spirit of the holidays.

“Entertaining customers waiting in Black Friday lines with mobile games is a great way to further engage customers with your brand,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “It is much better than having customers shop competitors’ Web sites while standing in line.

“Gamification is hot for retailers, as 87 percent of retailers say they will be using gamification techniques within five years, according to the BRP 2015 CRM/Unified Commerce Survey.”

Read full article: Old Navy hops on mobile donation bandwagon via charitable social campaign

Overstock.com ramps up mobile loyalty for holiday season cheer

Mobile Commerce Daily – Overstock.com is hoping to maximize holiday cheer and sales through mobile commerce with an update to the retailer’s application that integrates its loyalty program and free-shipping offers for members.

The digital discount retailer’s rewards program members will now be able to earn points and free shipping by purchasing directly within the apps on tablet and smartphones along with free shipping. Overstock is hoping to provide a positive sentiment and streamline sales for the biggest retail sector of the year.

“As companies move to an omni-channel business model, they need to provide the same benefits to customers, regardless of how or where they shop,” said Todd Werden, vice president at Boston Retail Partners. “Consumers are reaching app fatigue so it is imperative for retailers to offer valuable rewards to inspire consumers to download and use their apps.

“Overstock’s 2 percent rewards and exclusive offers, such as the daily scratch card and flash sales, are a compelling strategy to get consumers to check their app frequently for new deals,” he said.

Read full article: Overstock.com ramps up mobile loyalty for holiday season cheer

Victoria’s Secret builds fashion show frenzy via Instagram-enabled coupon

Mobile Commerce Daily – Victoria’s Secret is inviting customers to partake in a social-enabled fashion show party on November 10 by asking for a ticket in stores, snapping a photo with the ticket and uploading it on Instagram in exchange for a $10 coupon.

The retailer is stringing along excitement for the upcoming runway show, which is also taping on Nov. 10, by ramping up in-store traffic as well. Fans of the brand can flock to their nearest Victoria’s Secret bricks-and-mortar location to request a “ticket” from an associate to pose with, enabling them to receive a valuable discount after the image has been uploaded onto social media.

“Digital promotions tied to fashion events are incredibly compelling for the consumer,” said Laura Sossong, consultant at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “By concurrently creating hype for the show and the product, Victoria’s Secret has dual opportunity to build brand affinity and encourage future purchases.

“Taking advantage of these low-resource, high-reach digital initiatives should be a no-brainer for retailers.”

Read full article: Victoria’s Secret builds fashion show frenzy via Instagram-enabled coupon

Retailers: Goin’ mobile spells success

Channelnomics – A recent report by Boston Retail Partners sheds the spotlight specifically on retailers’ priorities in the coming year. According to the report, mobile devices will impact retailers most dramatically in three areas: POS, payment methods and customer-facing services.

The report was based on data collected for BRP’s 16th annual POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey. Not surprisingly, the number of retailers operating an omni-channel environment increased to 24 percent from 14 percent last year, reflecting retailers’ increasing reliance on the full complement of sales channels, including bricks-and-mortar stores, websites, telesales and mobile stores.

To embrace an omni-channel model successfully, retailers need to leverage mobile technology with a clear strategy in mind.

When it comes to POS, mobility will be key to enhancing the customer experience, serving to minimize checkout times and increase meaningful engagement between customers and store associates. Among BRP’s survey respondents, 15 percent have installed mobile POS systems already, 43 percent are planning to implement such a system within two years and 13 percent will deploy mobile POS at some point in the future but not within the next 24 months.

Read full article: Retailers: Goin’ mobile spells success

Customer Loyalty and Engagement a Top Priority for Retailers

Loyalty 360 – A recent report from Boston Retail Partners entitled “Loyalty – Rewarding the Customer Experience” presents survey data from 500 retailers revealing the mindset related to customer loyalty. The primary findings of the report include:

  • 62 percent plan to allocate increased funds toward their loyalty programs this year.
  • 47 percent of those surveyed do not currently offer a loyalty program to their consumers.
  • 46 percent state that a structured loyalty program is a top priority for their brand.
  • 76 percent list enhanced customer experience and engagement as a top brand priority.

We sat down with Clutch’s Chief Operating Officer, Brad Marg, to discuss these findings and how these trends are impacting the overall customer loyalty landscape.

Read full article: Customer Loyalty and Engagement a Top Priority for Retailers

Games Retail People Play

STORES – Gamification is exploding for customer engagement and workplace learning. In the race to win new customers and keep existing ones, retailers are pulling out all the stops – refining engagement models, pushing innovative marketing strategies and emerging technologies.

EXCERPT:

Growth in retailers’ use of gamification promotional techniques as a key component for identifying, engaging, analyzing and retaining customers is expected to be explosive, according to Boston Retail Partners’ 2015 CRM/Unified Commerce survey of North American retailers.

Within the next five years, 87 percent of retailers responding to the survey say they will be using gamification techniques, compared with 31 percent that implemented programs this year and 6 percent in 2014.

Gamification has much for ambitious retailers to like, says Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead with Boston Retail Partners. “It any kind of promotion that’s interactive where you have customers doing something that elicits a response or reward or increased discount for being one of those better customers who excels in the game,” Kramer says.

“Gamification is a much different alternative to [typical promotions]. You start driving promotions and discounts through things that are not happening every day,” he says. “They are a little less obvious as opposed to getting that coupon every month.”

It also affords retailers the opportunity to capture valuable customer information for analytics purposes, since customers will supply information such as email addresses, phone numbers and social media identifiers.

“Retailers always want to capture customer information. the earlier you can get it, the better you are able to engage the customer,” Kramer says. “If you don’t leverage the information, you have no ability to gauge your success and the value you are getting out of the gamification you are putting out there.”

Read the full article here: Games Retail People Play (pages 40-42)