How luxury retail can leverage live streaming for consumer engagement

Luxury Daily – As live streaming becomes an increasingly popular practice in China, Western labels and retailers are catching on to the tactic as a means of driving real-time interactions with consumers.

Acting as a digital, influencer-driven version of home shopping television networks, live streaming enables brands to showcase products and stores through personalities. As more luxury shopping moves online, live video offers a way to connect the physical and the digital, enabling shoppers to get feedback and make more confident decisions.

“Live streaming in retail is essentially the intersection of QVC and HSN TV experiences with live events that are delivered via online and mobile devices,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at BRP, retail consulting firm.

“Many consumers have a desire to be the first to have the latest fashion or product, and this passion for immediate gratification makes live events and live streaming appealing for consumers and hence retailers,” he said. “Live streaming is real-time retail in spades.”

“Live streaming creates a sense of urgency that helps stimulate impulse buying, especially if the products are only available for a limited number of minutes or there is a countdown on the number of items available,” Mr. Naumann said. “The limited availability of products is a great way to enhance a brand’s exclusive image.

“For brands that are looking to create a buzz and increase the engagement of their customers, live streaming may be worth testing,” he said.

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Social Commerce Best Practices: Optimize Mobile, Match Products To Platform Strengths


Retail TouchPoints – Social media is no longer just a place for building brand awareness or loyalty: it’s another potential storefront, a frontier where the customer journey can take on fresh new forms. There are approximately 3.2 billion active social media users today, according to Hootsuite. The major platforms have enormous audiences that are too big to ignore.

The vast majority of retailers already are active on social media, with 92% of brands using two or more channels, according to Brandwatch. However, engaging in social commerce takes greater effort than just maintaining a presence on a social media platform, and the process of delivering sales through these third-party sites carries its own unique risks and rewards. Joining social commerce early adopters such as Burberry and Target, are brands such as apparel retailer MM.LaFleur that are just beginning to explore this terrain.

“Big-ticket items that typically involve a lot of research and consultation from a sales associate are not as conducive for social commerce,” said Jeffrey Neville, SVP and Practice Lead at Boston Retail Partners in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “However, social media does open the door for consumers to dialog with a retail associate to move them down the path to purchase.”

MM.LaFleur has used social media both for relationship building and driving incremental revenue, according to Neville. The retailer’s Instagram presence has been driving sales online, and it uses the tools provided by social media to empower in-store associates, inspiring trust in shoppers and helping them choose the right merchandise.

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Fashion aggregators duke it out in a crowded market

Glossy – Google “Balenciaga sock boots,” and a line up of different retailers arrange themselves on the results page, all offering the same item for the same price. If you have the $995 needed to actually make the purchase, you’d be faced with options to buy from Nordstrom, Net-a-Porter, Farfetch, Ssense, Bergdorf Goodman, Matches Fashion, or Balenciaga’s own e-commerce site, in that order. Tweak the search — remove “sock,” for instance — and the same retailers show up again, this time in a new order.

Who ends up making that sale, and why, is a question marketers at emerging luxury marketplaces like Farfetch, Net-a-Porter and LVMH’s 24 Sèvres are fighting to solve. It’s crucial, since they’re largely competing on the same inventory, save a few brand or collection exclusives here and there.

Paid search drives business, but for these companies to move away from the expensive acquisition strategy, there’s more at work in the path to purchase than who appears first in a Google search.

“For this industry, it’s more nuanced than who can buy up the most SEO,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners. “Luxury customers need to be taken care of and catered to, and there’s an different playbook to follow when it comes to both getting them in the door and keeping them there.”

“The luxury customer is not the average customer thanks to exclusivity,” said Morris. “There are savvy digital strategies behind sourcing potential customers by linking together lifestyles — people in certain clubs, yacht owners, travelers. You can sift through purchase histories across other industries and zero in, if you know how to use that data properly. It’s a matter of keeping track of these people, and then making sure the value of acquiring them is greater than the cost of doing so.”

“Taking care of the luxury customers you have isn’t a simple business. They need concierge, white-glove treatment and the people who provide it are the people who win,” said Morris. “This is incredibly important when you’re in a field where 20 percent of your customers drive 80 percent of your business.”

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Kroger Doubles Down

Frozen and Refrigerated Buyer – America’s No. 1 grocer ups the ante with new ‘Restock’ initiative. Will its bet pay off? After watching quarterly comps fall for the first time since 2003 earlier this year, the leaders of the nation’s No. 1 supermarket chain, Cincinnati-based Kroger, knew they needed a new approach. But what they came up with sounds to some industry observers a lot like the old one, sparking com- plaints that the retailer is simply doubling down on existing bets. Nothing revolutionary there. Nothing new. Just a lot more of what the chain already does. In fact, a recent RetailWire discussion on the question of whether or not Kroger is in denial about the magnitude of its challenges — particularly the Amazon/e- commerce threat — yielded comments like “same old, same old,” “increased table stakes,” “the vision is missing” and “what retailer isn’t doing something like this?”

To be fair, though, even detractors have to admit that, as the largest collector of food purchase data in the United States, Kroger does what it does better than just about everyone else. “Doubling down on some- thing you already are the best at is actually a smart strategy,” says Ken Morris, principal at Boston-based Boston Retail Partners. “Kroger has been the leader in leveraging customer data and analytics to optimize assortments, space, pricing and promotions.” But that doesn’t mean it can’t be better, he continues, citing opportunities to use data in real-time rather than after customers leave the store — a shift that could give the chain a significant competitive advantage over other mainstream brick- and-mortar supermarkets.

While not everyone agrees that’s enough to guarantee success in an e-commerce world, most believe there will always be a place for physical stores — though perhaps not as many. If Kroger is able to build on its strengths, says Morris, it’s likely to not only survive the retail transformation but thrive.

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Merchandising Evolution With Social Media

Tech Talk – Social media, a word that we often use these days, is the reality platform from where we get the latest hot happenings of the world. As every possible industry is investing in social media, then, how can retail not? The footprints of retail activities can be easily reviewed on the networking platforms with a bunch of information. In its most basic form, it bestows a venue in which retailers can hold strong on communication with their universal followers base.

Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest: do these platforms make you move a little toward the stores? Does a buzz on social media create a desire in you to shop? Snapchat stories, swipe to shop, shoppable Instagram tags are the result of a huge wave of client engagement on the social landscape. Today’s hashtag generation that is totally open in putting their views forward is using these platforms as a medium to express their opinion on the brands and products.

With the advent of numerous platforms to guide and provide information about the retail universe, merchandising and social media are not far behind due to their correlation. How are retailers reinventing themselves according to social media adaptations, what role merchandising plays in it? That’s exactly what we are trying to understand here so, let’s have a look at the scope of social merchandising in the retail spectrum.


The platform that alters a two-way communication plays an influential role in attaining valuable insights about customers preferences in order to achieve the goal of placing the right product at the right place and time. Consumer expression through quick responses via social media platforms in form of “likes, share and comment” empowers retailers to plan product assortment on the basis of demographics and other gathered data. Furthermore, social statistics help retailers to adjust the order levels and increase profit margins.

Retailers are trying to reinvent merchandising as per the gathered social statistics. According to a report by Boston Retail Partners, 27% of retailers use social statistics in product development and promotional planning. Furthermore, according to the statistics, social media use in data mining in retail marketplace is increasing with every passing year.

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Bloomingdale’s fall campaign creates a team from its followers

Luxury Daily – Department store chain Bloomingdale’s is looking to continue back-to-school sales with an effort that taps user-generated content to expand its reach. In keeping with a back-to-school theme, Bloomingdale’s is promoting its “varsity-level” fall collection by mining social media for user content to incorporate on its Instagram. Spanning various social channels, Bloomingdale’s is weaving its campaign content into a strategy that will entice users to participate.

“By increasing their social media exposure through key influencers in the Instagram world, Bloomingdale’s will effectively spread brand exposure to thousands of potential consumers,” said Laura Sossong, manager at Boston Retail Partners. “A large-scale promotion of this nature that compels multitudes of fashion bloggers to participate creates synergy, volume and hype, making it particularly effective in attracting new appeal.”

“This Bloomingdale’s unique contest is a great way to incentivize brand ambassadorship and reach a large population with a simple, low barrier to entry giveaway,” Ms. Sossong said. “It also gives shoppers inspiration, promoting sales by allowing them to visualize how they would wear various pieces from Bloomingdale’s.

“By searching the keyword #100percentbloomies, access to thousands of photos is provided in one simple, easy to access and easy to shop spot,” she said.

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DFS, Michael Kors bring well-traveled positioning together in-store

Luxury Daily – LVMH-owned travel retailer DFS is embracing Michael Kors’ jet-set lifestyle through exclusive products and in-store enhancements.

This September, DFS’ T Galleria locations will host an exclusive Michael Kors collection of men and women’s apparel and accessories, including an edition of the Mercer handbag, which will only be found at DFS this fall. DFS often works with brands to curate duty-free shopping experiences because of travel retail’s mass appeal to consumers making their way through airport terminals.

“Gamification certainly entices customers to enter bricks-and-mortar establishments and promotes true involvement in the culture of a brand,” said Laura Sossong, manager at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “Experiential elements are a key differentiator in today’s competitive retail environment, as they create powerful moments that last long after a purchase.”

“DFS is wise in adopting new themes and ideologies concurrent with the launch of new brands, as it allows them to continuously offer elements of ‘surprise and delight,'” BRP’s Ms. Sossong said. “This plays well in generating the interest of today’s fickle consumer, and should be particularly effective in emerging Eastern markets.”

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Nina Ricci sweet friendship with a road-side baking competition

Luxury Daily – French fashion label Nina Ricci is building on its focus of friendship with a special video series that tempts followers to indulge in its fragrances.

Nina Ricci’s parfum line, Nina & Luna, is being promoted with a fun summer campaign that shows two best friends exploring Paris while embarking on a baking challenge. The “Les Gourmandises de Nina & Luna” video series represents the fragrances as the perfect accessory for the season and as a sweet treat.

“With so many new fragrances being launched, this trend-focused social marketing is taking a new, fresh approach to building consumer appeal,” said Laura Sossong, manager at BRP, Boston. “Nina Ricci is inviting customers to visualize their product as a perfect accompaniment to life’s exciting adventures, using colors and design to portray the scent as a delicious fragrance to be savored.

“This is sure to stand out to the target market, who is delighted by creative curation of campaigns involving videos that promote experiential elements,” she said. Ms. Sossong is not affiliated with Nina Ricci, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

“Many fragrance launches rely on traditional magazine or television ads to promote their product,” BRP’s Ms. Sossong said.

“By utilizing social media capabilities in a way that personifies the perfume, on top of layering in today’s food truck trend, this unique compilation of videos and pictures will increase the excitement of younger women and make them more inclined to sample and purchase Nina Ricci fragrances,” she said.

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55% of retailers focusing on unified mobile experience

Fierce Retail – Retailers need to rethink old paradigms and adopt a new approach to unified commerce. More than half of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience by creating a unified mobile shopping experience.

As the future of retail becomes the present, consumers expect retailers to combine the sensory of the physical world with the personalized shopping experience of the digital world. Boston Retail Partners (BRP) conducted the 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, categorizing customer experience capabilities as the following: educate, engage, execute, enhance and enablers. When it comes to educating consumers, more retailers are using social media as a way for consumers to research products than last year, up from 73% to 92%.

“One of the areas of greatest improvement retailers have made in the past year is the offering of social media as a research option for customers to learn more about the brand and products,” David Naumann, vice president of marketing at BRP, told FierceRetail.

Retailers are realizing the important role that social media plays in the customer journey. According to a recent UPS Pulse Survey, 77% of online shoppers use social media and one-third indicate that social media influences their purchases.

And while 67% of retailers are offering consistent product assortment across channels, their execution is not up to par, as 43% indicate that their processes still need improvement.

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Data analytics is paramount for retailers, but luxury faces challenges: report

Luxury Daily – As data collection technologies progress, retailers are finding more reason to expand their analytics abilities, something in which luxury retailers can benefit.

According to a report from Boston Retail Partners, 44 percent of retailers think that analytics is a major priority in the future. Additionally, more than 82 percent identified the need to improve their planning systems to act on data analytics as something that they need to focus on in the future.

“Luxury brands face a few unique challenges around analytics,” said Gene Bornac, vice president at BRP, Boston. “The main challenge is the smaller data set.

“Luxury brands sell to fewer customers at higher prices,” he said. “Unfortunately, analytics work better with larger numbers.

“That being said, luxury retailers generally tend to know their customers better and can utilize that information to improve their results from data analysis.”

For larger retailers such as Walmart or Best Buy, collecting this data is not a problem as they got thousands of customers each day at many of their locations.

Luxury on the other hand has a more difficult obstacle to surmount: the low sample size.

Retailers that sell luxury products, by definition, serve a smaller segment of the population. This means that with fewer people coming in, there is less data to collect as well as a higher propensity to have the data skewed by outliers.

But luxury retailers can alleviate these pressures in a few ways. For one, they can work on making the data that they do collect as comprehensive as possible. One solution is to use WiFi, which is more reliable than beacons, for mobile data collection in-store.

WiFi, once the dominant in-store location technology, has seen its role come under attack from newer, less-expensive solutions such as beacons. However, WiFi’s broader reach along with recent advancements that make it more cost efficient and accurate, underscore its ongoing relevance.

Accurately tracking traffic and determining how it relates to conversions is a key to sustaining in-store revenue, yet many retailers have not equipped themselves or their employees with the tools to determine and act upon these relationships. In-store remains a crucial part of a retailer’s strategy even as numbers fall, but brands must first make use of the data they already have before they can improve.

Luxury brands that make the most of the data they can collect should be able to circumvent the problems presented by a small sample size.

“Like all brands, luxury brands benefit the most from pulling all of their data together,” BRP’s Mr. Bornac said. “Using the advantage that they have with their customer relationships, they can create a real-time view of their customers’ needs and business opportunities.”

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