Archive for the ‘brick and mortar’ tag
A handful of Apple’s authorized iPhone resellers have joined the company’s brick-and-mortar retail stores in offering discounts on existing iPhone models ahead of a media event next month that’s expected to serve as a launchpad for the so-called iPhone 5.
The SoLoMo Show is a weekly podcast hosted by Adam Helweh and Cory OBrien. Each week they discuss topics, trends and tactics related to social, local and mobile marketing. Every weekend we will publish the latest episode, related show notes and links to all of the topics discussed on the show here on Social Media Explorer.
Adam and Cory discuss what smartphone apps shoppers are using and how brick and mortar stores can take advantage of this mobile trend, Starbucks teaming up with Square and why this might signal a huge increase in mobile payments, Pinterest alternatives The Fancy and Svpply and how they are better matches to the needs of retail businesses, Land Rover’s Apple iAd case study and what you can learn from this big budget campaign, a review of Scribe SEO and how you can use it to optimize your content marketing, Facebook’s official estimate of their ‘undesirable’ accounts and if you should be worried, the return of Digg and whether or not marketers should be paying attention, brands that are active on SocialCam and what their results signal for the network, how to verify your Google+ business page, and more.
- What Smartphone Apps Do Savvy Shoppers Use The Most?
- Starbucks and Sqaure Team Up
- The Fancy
- The Fancy One-Ups Pinterest with Unique Referral Codes to Reward Users for Sharing
- Svpply: Window Shop The World With Our Store Explorer
- iAd + Land Rover
- iAd Producer App
- iAd Gallery App
- Scribe SEO
- Facebook Estimates 8.7% of Users Are Undesirable
- Brands Try Out SocialCam
- Verifying Your Google+ Page
SoLoMo Show Links:
Shortly after I bought my iPhone, I discovered shopping apps and after that, I never left home without it. My original favorite was Shopkick. Walk into a store, tap the bubble, get coupons and accumulate gift certificate points. Why not? I was going to shop at that store anyway, so Shopkick was a bonus. Then a weird thing happened, I let Shopkick tell me where to shop for holiday gifts. I went into stores I wouldn’t have visited otherwise and at that moment, I became the perfect user.
According to new numbers from Nielsen, 47% of American smartphone owners used a shopping app in June 2012 and they accessed these apps an average of 17 times during the month. What’s really interesting is the mix. Take a look at the top 10 shopping apps from June and I’ll meet you on the other side.
eBay is cleaning up. Not only did they snag the most users but look at the average time spent, more than an hour. The only app beating them for time was my old friend Shopkick with a whopping three hours! That’s because you open the app and have to keep it open while you’re roaming a store if you want the points to add up. Very clever.
Under eBay is Amazon, not fond of their mobile site, but I can understand why people use it. Then Groupon and LivingSocial pop in on either side of Shopkick. I didn’t even know these two had mobile apps so I’m surprised to see them so high on the list.
After that, we hit the first brick and mortar stores to make the list, Target and Walgreens. Both have shopping apps that help you find the best deals in store and online. Both allow you to refill prescriptions right from the app and Target even has voice recognition for basic items.
Coming in 8th is RedLaser. This is a bar code scanner that lets you know if you’re getting a good deal on in-store items before you buy.
OutofMilk Shopping List is an Android list maker designed to make grocery shopping easier.
Finally, is SavingStar. This is a reverse coupon site. Buy selected items and SavingStar puts the “coupon” price into your account, so instead of saving, you’re accumulating. Once you hit $5, you can cash out via bank, Paypal or gift certificate.
Overall, the top ten shopping apps represent a range of tools that are all designed to make shopping more efficient and less costly. And who doesn’t love saving time and money?
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Sometimes companies do something just to feel like they’re making progress, even if that something makes no sense. That’s the only way I can rationalize what Google is doing with the latest twist on its Wallet initiative.
Wallet previously allowed consumers to load their credentials from select Citibank MasterCards onto their phones so they could make payments at brick-and-mortar merchants. It supported only a few phone models and was usable at only a small percentage merchants. None of the cards I regularly carry in my wallet, including a Citibank Visa, qualified. With yesterday’s announcement, Wallet still only supports a few phone models and merchants. But now you can load your credential from any major credit card.
The way Google is going about this doesn’t even make a small amount of sense.
It’s creating another layer of cost for itself and increasing its liability. At the same time, it is potentially depriving customers of rewards that are increasingly common on credit cards.
Despite what Google likes to claim, paying with Google Wallet isn’t as simple as tapping. The real process is: unlock your phone (if you have a security lock), launch the Wallet application, enter your PIN, select the card you want to pay with and then tap. When the first tap fails, tap again. And then again. In a recent test, it took me six tries to get an NFC tap to take.
Behind the scenes, the way the new Wallet works is that there’s a proxy credit card. When you make a purchase at a merchant, the merchant doesn’t see your credit card. They see a proxy credit card. Then Google turns around and bills your actual credit card. (Your credit card number is stored in the cloud and used by Google to do this.) At a minimum, this adds another layer of interchange fees, which Google is eating.
It also shifts liability to Google, because Google is the merchant of record. If you have a problem with a transaction and you contact your credit card company, they go to Google. Google then has to go to the original merchant.
The only possible justification for this service, other than showing “progress”, is to get consumers’ credit cards on file. But there are much cheaper and better ways to do this.
Consumers also potentially lose out on rewards. Many credit cards, like Chase Freedom and Discover, offer bonuses for spending in certain categories. For this quarter, Discover is offering 5% cash back on gas, theme parks, and movies. But as far as Discover knows, your purchase was with Google and likely won’t have the right merchant category code that is used to determine whether your purchase qualifies for the bonus. My Citi Foward card offers the equivalent of 5% back on all purchases at restaurants.
It’s a lose, lose.
If this takes off, it has the potential to cost Google a lot of money. But it’s so stupid that it won’t take off.
Filed under: VentureBeat
Crane & Canopy is a newly launched online home goods store that’s benefiting from the power of the Internet to flatten the traditional supply chain and save on costs. Like many of the new arrivals in the e-commerce space, the company isn’t hiding the same old business model from the brick-and-mortar era behind a shiny new front-end. It’s getting rid of all the extra people and processes in the typical supply chain scenario by handling everything in-house, including design, CAD work, importing and exporting, prep work, and sales.
And if that doesn’t get you excited (what, are you dead inside?), then how about this: Crane & Canopy has some really, really cute duvet covers and shams for super cheap.
The company was founded in mid-2011 by Harvard Business School graduates Christopher Sun and Karin Shieh, the former having done time in Silicon Valley as an associate at Storm Ventures. Currently run out of a warehouse in San Carlos, California, Crane & Canopy works directly with overseas factories in Asia, and maybe soon, Portugal, too.
“The concept was conceived when I purchased my first home, and I found it really difficult to furnish with high-quality affordable design without breaking the bank,” explains Shieh of how she became interested in the home goods industry. “I love home goods. I was shopping around a lot, and found it really frustrating. And after talking to all my friends, I found that they had a similar experience.”
But the difference between an entrepreneur and regular folks, is that everyday frustrations like this prompt them to act. Shieh was inspired to start researching the supply chain the home goods industry, to see if there was some way to break through the traditional paradigm with new ways of doing things. And there were. “We found out that there were actually a bunch of externalities in the whole supply chain. So the concept of this is that we cut out the middleman,” she says.
The team decided to start off with bedding after some initial industry surveys identified it as a big pain point in terms of pricing, and because it makes sense to attack the home goods industry slowly, vertical by vertical. “The thing that’s really tricky for us – and that’s really tricky in the home goods space, and honestly, it’s why a lot of the big players are slow to innovate and think about their supply chain,” says Sun, “is that, in the home goods space, each individual product type has its own supply chain challenges.” But Crane & Canopy does want to eventually expand into other areas of home goods to offer things like headboards, footboards, side tables, accessories, and more.
For now, the online selection is limited to just 10 products in its first collection, including one patent-pending duvet cover which is easier to stuff. (Hey, I need that.) The target demographic is women, but Crane & Canopy will expand both in terms of size and scope in the near future.
You might, at first, be taken aback by the thread count on the duvets (a 300 thread count), but the team says the public just needs to be better educated about what this means. 300 is actually a “sweet spot” for durability and softness, they say, and you’re not getting a significantly better cover when you go higher. Still, it’s clear that’s another way to keep costs down while they ramp up production.
The funny thing about Crane & Canopy is that it, in part, owes its existence to the economic downturn. In booming times, factories were less interested in signing up new customers because they were doing well. But now, factories are coming online at the same time as the bedding industry as a whole is flat to shrinking, and suppliers have renewed interest in working with new players. And, despite the downturn, the Internet part of the home goods industry has been growing 20%-30% per year, Sun explains. “[Suppliers] know the Internet is where the growth is,” he says. “Two to three years ago, the factories wouldn’t have even been interested.”
We’ve gone too far with the “next best marketing craze” buzzwords, from SoLoMo (the convergence of social, local, and mobile) to my new favorite, omni-channel retailing. While I am all for innovation, many retailers are getting distracted by these trends and failing to deliver on the fundamental tenants of good retail marketing.
Now, despite my initial statement about buzzword-happy marketers, I am going to add another term to the mix: “soul retailing.” This is the Holy Grail of brand marketing: stirring an emotional response that gets people to talk, share, and “love” your company or product.
To reach this soul retailer status, however, you need to go old school.
Back to basics
We are spending more time chasing buzzwords than we are on basics. Wikipedia defines omni-channel retailing as basically a better version of its brother: multi-channel retailing. Both basically mean reaching consumers through all available shopping channels (i.e., mobile devices, computers, brick-and-mortar, television, catalog, etc.).
In response to this trend, many retailers have taken the approach of interrupting consumers from every angle — infiltrating Facebook updates, pushing constant Twitter feed updates — all driving consumers to different points of engagement: ecommerce sites, Facebook pages, YouTube videos, etc. Some are doing this out of desperation — trying the latest marketing tactic to revive their brand — while others are spending so much time trying to mitigate the “showrooming” trend (yet another contender on the 2012 top 10 buzzword charts that is threatening big box retailers). They are losing focus on what really matters — the one-on-one connection with customers.
Focus on soul
Soul retailing is about building a brand consumers cannot live without. It’s Trader Joe’s, who has created a brand that people fanatically love with a unique, high quality product mix and a commitment to going above and beyond for customers. It is lululemon, who has focused on building a community around a lifestyle and their magical, butt-enhancing yoga pants that have reached cult status.
Achieving this level of brand status is a cross-department effort and not something that happens in a day. When I look to the brands that have gotten soul retailing right in today’s omni-channel world, however, I found three tenants in common:
If you’re going omni-channel, make it “omni-personal”
Before you even think about channels, ask yourself, “Why would anyone care to listen?” Let’s take Groupon as an example. On an annual basis, members receive daily blasts featuring multiple offers. Sign up for several editions and you are getting thousands of deal promotions a year. However, I recently learned from an ex-Grouponer that a “heavy” Groupon user buys only seven a year. So, it doesn’t matter how omni-channel you are, blasting out tattoo removal and cat sitting offers to your entire member base isn’t the most personal approach, and the conversion rates show it. Instead, try to distribute your offers in a way that shows you know your customers, returning to the one-on-one engagement of the brick-and-mortar days. Although you might not “see” them, you can tailor your interactions based on profile data or spending behavior.
Focus on “checking out” vs. “checking in”
From Path to Shopkick to Foursquare, social engagement startups have lured brands with the promise of mobile consumer engagement, but the verdict is still out on their ability to drive loyalty, brand connection, or revenue. As smartphone usage continues to rise, companies that prioritize mobile, or close the redemption loop from online and mobile exposure to in-store results, will be the true omni-channel champions. Crate and Barrel recently launched a wedding registry app that replaces the scan guns in store and lets you manage your registry on the go. This captures mobile users, but also fills a real need. Another example: The Nieman Marcus NM Service app allows shoppers to create a “one-to-one” personalized in-store experience that is the antithesis of showrooming.
Strive for simple
Retail isn’t a game. Anything that adds work on the consumer side — from scanning QR codes, to filling out mobile sweepstakes forms, to printing coupons — sounds good on paper, but even today’s deal-driven consumer quickly tires of novelty, especially when it requires a lot of effort. If you are looking for innovative ways to engage shoppers, focus on making it easy rather than “fun.” If you’re a parent who has attempted to shop with young kids, fun is often not on your list. The abandonment rates of services that make you work too hard reinforce this and have catalyzed the emergence of more “passive” platforms that focus on the value rather than the game.
Competition across online and offline retail is fierce, and customers are a lot less forgiving. To have any chance to survive, let alone flourish in this omni-channel, multi-channel, integrated retail world, you need to do a little soul searching.
What are your thoughts? Please enter your comments in the box below.
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Investors demand more revenue from Facebook, and Sheryl’s got just the APIs to give it to them. Over the last two days, three major ads tech partners have revamped their products with recently released Facebook APIs that allow brands to track and optimize for on-site conversions including app installs, buy home page ads and logout page takeovers, and target ads specifically to mobile.
The new capabilities in tools from Buddy Media, Nanigans, and BLiNQ Media (who just updated today) will attract ad dollars from app developers, huge brands, and local businesses. That means more revenue for these Ads API providers and more revenue for Facebook, which it needs to rescue its share price, down 11.7% today.
On July 12th Facebook revamped its Ads API to handle premium ads sales, including home page and logout page placements which appeal to the world’s top brands and those like movie studios that need to reach a wide audience quickly.
And a bit further back on April 18th it boosted the Ads API with the ability to optimize and track ads to attain the most on-site conversions – everything from shares and comments to Page Likes to brick-and-mortar checkins. That means instead of seeking impressions or click throughs, advertisers can pay for what they’re actually trying to achieve.
However, little ad spend from these products factored into Facebook’s first earnings report yesterday where it just barely hit projections. That’s because the big tools built on the Ads API hadn’t been updated to take advantage of the new features. That changed this week.
Buddy Media bought Ads API provider Brighter Option in February, but it wasn’t up to date with these three new capabilities until yesterday when it launched a major update to its ads tool.
Nanigans was quick to jump on the mobile ad targeting and conversions API, and this Wednesday integrated premium ad buying. The company has quietly grown to power 12,000 Facebook ad impressions per second and serve A-list clients like Fab and American Express. I think there’s a good chance they’ll get acquired by some old-world enterprise marketing giant.
And today BLiNQ Media revealed to me that its launching version 2.0 of its BLiNQ Ad Manager, which supports mobile and premium ad buying. It has taken much less funding than other companies in the space, so it could be an easy acquisition for a social marketing company such as Wildfire that currently partners to offer Ads API access, or lacks ad buying power entirely.
There’s some proof that Facebook’s new ads types including mobile are performing well, including reports like ours featuring data from multiple ads API companies that showed a 13X for mobile ads over web ads. And the social network can rely on these providers to try convincing advertisers.
But it will need more than one-off examples like Sheryl Sandberg citing on Facebook’s earnings call that Electronic Arts got a 4X return in sales on its Facebook ad spend. It needs irrefutable evidence that social ads work before Wall Street will budge and give its ugly share price some love.
Facebook’s head of advertising Greg Badros will be on stage at our Facebook Ecosystem CrunchUp on August 3rd, so buy your tickets to soak up strategy on making social ads work for you.
Warby Parker, Birchbox, HotelTonight, Threadflip, Dollar Shave Club. People who follow the booming e-commerce trend will certainly find those names familiar. But up until today, they may not have known one thread that ties them (and a handful of other similar companies all together: Forerunner Ventures.
A San Francisco-based venture capital firm focused on digital commerce startups, Forerunner Ventures has flown a bit under the radar for a while, piloted by a small staff backed by a low-key group of individual investors. But today, the firm is making its first step out into the bigger leagues, announcing that it has closed on $40 million for its first ever institutionally-backed venture fund.
Forerunner’s strategy is pretty straightforward: The firm puts money into startups primarily in their early seed and Series A stages, and its first investments typically range between $250,000 to $500,000.
I sat down with Forerunner’s founder and managing partner Kirsten Green this week to hear a bit more about how the firm has grown up until now and where it’s going in the months ahead with the new fund. Green started her career in the financial sector as an investment banking analyst for publicly-traded consumer retail companies — in her early days on the job, Green made a name identifying the retail companies that became breakouts while the American mall was in its heyday.
“I’ve gotten an appreciation for companies that really had oomph, and the potential to be breakouts,” Green said.
Eventually, she realized that same potential for breakout success was being replicated outside of the brick-and-mortar mall environment, for startups in the virutal shopping realm. So after years in a successful career as an investment banking analyst on both the sell- and buy-sides of the business, Green stepped away from the public markets in 2003 to focus her attention on what she thought could be the next wave: Digital commerce startups.
She eased into it a bit, doing freelance consulting for private equity firms and financial modeling and consulting work for a handful of small companies. “I thought, this is meaningful, what’s happening online, but it’s not all the way there yet,” she said. “Also, you only get the chance to come out as a brand new firm once, so I wanted to make sure I had my investment thesis lined up correctly.” Over time, she started building out her own individual investment portfolio and garnered some board seat positions at e-commerce startups.
Over the past couple years, Green started to formalize that investment activity on a full-time basis with the formation of Forerunner Ventures — and today, Forerunner is finally buckling in for its first time working as a fully institutionally backed VC firm.
Going forward, though, Green says that the money should not change too much about how Forerunner operates. She’ll continue to keep the staff small, with herself as the primary partner assisted by one principal, Eurie Kim, and one analyst, Elyse Colen. She’ll be keeping an eye out for entrepreneurs who have a passion for the industry and an “intimate understanding” of and compassion for the consumer they’re addressing.
Forerunner will also continue to tap into Green’s background evaluating companies from the no-nonsense lens of a public market retail analyst. “I do lean a lot on that public market experience, so I’m always looking for things that are addressing a real need… high margin products, real revenues, businesses that can scale, those are things that are good to see.” Green said.
That point of view, she says, can help set Forerunner apart from the ever-growing group of investors in the web space. “The way I stay out of the fray is to have a point of view, and to stand for something.” Actually, that sounds like a good M.O. for us all.
Apple on Wednesday pulled its last-generation OS X Lion from both the Mac App Store and brick-and-mortar Apple Stores amid the launch of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion OS.
Why is Incorporating Google Maps Into Your Contact Us or About Me Page So Important For Your SEO? [VIDEO]
Brynna Bauldauf answers: “Why is Incorporating Google Maps Into Your Contact Us or About Me Page So Important For Your SEO?”
If you’ve got a question about link building, content, social media, SEO or other Internet marketing topics, just post it on the Vertical Measures Facebook page, or tweet it to us with the hashtag #VMQA.
Hi, my name is Brynna, and today our question is: Why is incorporating
Google Maps into your contact us or about me page so important for your
Well first, what is Google Maps? Google Maps is an integration into your
search that is fed from information on websites. Anytime you put
information on your website about where you are and the area that you’re a
part of, it’s fed into Google Maps. It takes the actual brick and mortar
locations of businesses and puts it in an easy to look at map layout. It
also has reviews, photos, and business information outside of what you
would normally find on a map. So it has user reviews, from not only Zagat,
but also customer reviews it draws from things like Yelp and Urban Spoon.
So what’s new with Google Maps? Google Maps is transitioning all of its old
business listings into something called Google+ Local. It’s integrating
Google+ and the map information, where it used to be just business listings
and Google Maps. So it’s putting them together, forcing you to use Google+
and Google Maps at the same time.
So why is this important? Google is changing the way that it’s returning
your search results. So up above the regular search results, you’re going
to see the map with the regular pins like you would see if you search in
Google Maps, and then it’s going to show the paid website results. But
underneath that it’s actually going to show the Google+ Local business
listings instead of returning the regular websites. So it’s important
because you want to have your page optimized to embed the information and,
hence, returning the Google+ Local business page before actually returning
a website so you can rank as high as you can in that where it actually
So what does embedding your map information actually allow you to do? The
first is that when people go to your contact us or about me page, they’ll
actually be seeing a map and be seeing where you’re located. This makes
them believe that you’re actually a more viable business and you’re not
just a spammer out there to take their money. The second this is that when
you optimize your contact us and about me page with a map, you’re actually
telling Google that there’s other stuff on your website that’s important
for them to index. So they’re going to be pulling local clues from your
content as well as just the map. And the last and most important thing is
that when you’re returning search results, if you have all of the map
information actually put into your contact us and about me page, it’s more
likely that you’ll rank well in the Google+ Local business listings rather
than just in the website listings.
And that’s all. Thank you.