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Old Navy unzips regional street-style inspiration with interactive Instagram map

Mobile Marketer – Old Navy is diversifying its social media content by enabling fashion fans to view an interactive map of Instagram posts depicting influencers’ street styles from all 50 states and glean more inspiration for their own wardrobes.

The mass-market retailer’s 50 Styles, 50 States campaign, done in collaboration with Collectively, tapped 50 social media creators to display their regional-inspired styles on their Instagram accounts. The influencers’ outfits, all of which feature Old Navy apparel and accessories, are available on Instagram as well as on a People microsite.

“This campaign will certainly boost nationwide appeal of the Old Navy label,” said Laura Sossong, manager at Boston Retail Partners. “The landscape and lifestyle diversity captured by the regional images highlights the versatility of the Old Navy assortment, allowing more consumers to visualize a fit between the brand and their wardrobes.”

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Tech Bytes: Note to retailers: Time to make the shift to unified commerce

Chain Store Age – It happens all the time. A customer goes on a shopping spree, gets home and checks email — only to find a valuable promotion for a store she just left. In an era when time-starved customers are more digitally-savvy than ever before, retailers need to step up and manage a brand in total versus managing separate channels, if they want to maintain loyalty.

Shoppers expect a complete brand experience, not disjointed channel visits. They need to be able to channel hop and see the exact same thing. As brands strive for a holistic customer experience, they need a centralized, real-time platform that merges all customer engagement points, including point-of-sale (POS), mobile, e-commerce, call centers and clienteling solutions, to stay abreast of all customer interactions throughout the path-to-purchase. Enter the unified commerce business model.

While it remains an evolving concept, there is early movement. Currently, 18% of retailers have a unified commerce/single commerce platform, according to “Unified Commerce is the Goal, ‘Faux Omnichannel Retail is the Reality!,” a new report from Boston Retail Partners. However, two-thirds of these companies indicated that their efforts “need improvement.” And no company is immune to the growing pains.

Read full article:Tech Bytes: Note to retailers: Time to make the shift to unified commerce

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.”

Read full article: Lindt’s social giveaways get consumers hooked on new product

Macy’s store reduction reflects retailers’ boundless search for omnichannel

Mobile Commerce Daily – Macy’s plans to close 100 bricks-and-mortar locations is indicative of a desire to balance its digital and physical presence, but this is just one of the big risks being taken by retailers desperate to gain an upper hand in omnichannel.

The department store is hoping to solve its revenue woes by dropping 100 of its weakest store locations and work on building up its most successful locations and digital offerings after seeing double-digit growth in digital within the second quarter but overall sales were down four percent since last year, fueling its decision. Macy’s big decision follows the massive acquisition of Jet.com by Walmart in its attempt to corner a successful omnichannel retail plan.

“Closing poor performing stores is a strategy that retailers’ have practiced over the years and is essential to minimize losses and maximize profits,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners (BRP) bostonretailpartners.combostonretailpartners.com. “However, with the new role that physical stores play in influencing and/or fulfilling online orders, the decision to close stores becomes more complicated.

“We are seeing more consumers showrooming in stores to try on clothing or test products before they ultimately buy online,” he said. “There is also a growing trend of retailers using store inventory as a distribution center to ship online orders or enable consumers to buy online and pick-up in the store.

“When evaluating the real value and contribution to profits, retailers need to attribute value to the stores role in consumers’ cross-channel purchase and fulfillment journey.”

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Dior taps WeChat’s direct-to-consumer potential in social selling effort

Luxury Daily – With bricks-and-mortar sales continuing to decline, social selling is poised to alter the current retail model by facilitating purchases seamlessly through branded communication.

French atelier Christian Dior recently tried its hand at social selling by offering its followers on Chinese messaging and social application WeChat the opportunity to purchase a limited-edition handbag directly through a post. While not alone in its WeChat efforts, Dior has become the first luxury house to sell a high-end handbag through the app, showing its potential for direct-to-consumer sales.
“While social selling represents another sales channel for retail, its impact on total sales has been very minimal and it’s not a ‘silver bullet’ to retail success,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at Boston Retail Partners.

“Retailers will continue to experiment with different social media campaigns across multiple social media platforms where their target audience is active and concentrate on the ones that are most successful,” he said. “The recent success Dior experienced with its WeChat campaign of limited-edition handbags in China was phenomenal.

“According to a BI Intelligence report, 90 percent of WeChat users are in China with nearly 700 million users based in China.”

Mr. Naumann is not affiliated with Dior, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Read full article: Dior taps WeChat’s direct-to-consumer potential in social selling effort

J. Crew sells out Instagram-exclusive product, showcasing new mobile sales opportunities

Mobile Commerce Daily – J. Crew enabled its Instagram followers to be the first to purchase a new pair of sunglasses available in limited quantity by clicking the link in its bio, resulting in all merchandise being sold out within several hours.

The retailer informed social media users of the promotion by sharing the news via Instagram’s new Stories feature, which lets users post content in real time. Yesterday, J. Crew’s Instagram followers were given the opportunity to be the first to purchase a pair of its pink Jane sunglasses, showcasing how brands can simultaneously reward social engagement and incite sales by leveraging the aspect of exclusivity.

“This is the next extension of customer engagement,” said Robert Cuthbertson, vice president at Boston Retail Partners. “What is usually reserved for members of loyalty programs, J. Crew is expanding to interact with its most loyal customers in a more informal setting.

“By offering these limited and exclusive opportunities to their social media followers, retailers look to build excitement around new products and reward those who are their biggest fans,” he said. “With that said, retailers will need to be careful on how frequently and exclusively they initiate these offers to avoid alienating customers who are unable to participate.”

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Lilly Pulitzer revamps Snapchat strategy with themed filters for WeddingWire

Mobile Marketer – Lilly Pulitzer is designing four complimentary beach wedding-themed filters featuring its signature prints for WeddingWire users, demonstrating how marketers can up the ante with their Snapchat strategies by inserting themselves into consumers’ most photo-worthy special occasions.

The resortwear retailer is throwing its hat into the Snapchat marketing ring by rolling out four free exclusive filters for online marketplace WeddingWire. Lilly Pulitzer alerted its Instagram followers to the news last week and invited them to click the link in its bio to be taken to WeddingWire’s mobile site, where the themed filters can be downloaded.

“These Snapchat filters play fully into the prevailing trend of event-based photo personalization,” said Laura Sossong, senior consultant at Boston Retail Partners. “As illustrated by the popularity of personalized hashtags for weddings, this has been particularly relevant in the nuptials space.

“The Lilly brand is a consummate fit for brides hosting beach weddings, so it should certainly play well with the target consumer base.”

Read full article: Lilly Pulitzer revamps Snapchat strategy with themed filters for WeddingWire

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.

Read full article: Atom Tickets heightens mobile ticketing competition with planned national rollout

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.”

Read full article: Sephora borrows from Tinder’s playbook with swipeable mobile shopping tools