Latest Promos Leverage Community Engagement, Contests Into Campaigns

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holloween_collageRather than simply kicking off the holiday season with early discounts, some retailers have taken an innovative twist to engage their customer with promotions and contests around Halloween.

The common thread among many of these campaigns is a cross-channel approach to fostering loyalty and building community among their customer base by inviting consumers to interact with their brands via contests and special in-store events.

Here is a look at some of the interesting cross-channel campaigns we have seen around Halloween:

  • Focused on scaring up sales this Halloween, Best Buy launched a contest to warn consumers about the horrors of haunted, old electronics. Taking a page from the “old ugliest sofa competition” playbook, Best Buy asks consumers to submit “spooky snapshots” of their outdated electronics, as well as a 140-character caption describing the technology tantrums they’ve endured as a result. Continue reading “Latest Promos Leverage Community Engagement, Contests Into Campaigns”

A Fresh Look at In-Store Sampling

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JStermer_1x1_Photo_2_colorConsumers love free samples. And while retailers and manufacturers recognize sampling as an important marketing strategy, until now few understood sampling’s effectiveness. PromoWorks commissioned an independent research study that revealed the most comprehensive understanding of sampling’s effectiveness in history. Aptly entitled R.I.S.E. (Report on In-store Sampling Effectiveness), this study provides a new framework for the ongoing evaluation of in-store sampling. As a result of the study, we now have a way to specifically measure how consumers are impacted by a PromoWorks sampling event through frequent shopper data that allows us to look well beyond the day of event (now 20 weeks post), as well as look at sales lift, trial, repeat purchase, and new buyers.

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Family Dollar Expands Analytics Platform With Market Basket App

Already one of the fastest growing retailers in the U.S., Family Dollar is still looking to improve the sales performance within its roster of more than 6,650 stores. To do this, the company’s management has stressed initiatives to its investors, such as creating “better merchandise adjacencies” and expanding its selection of consumables.

In the latest step to enhance its business analytics platform, Family Dollar, revealed new plans to license Applied Predictive Technologies’ Market Basket Analyzer.

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Best Buy Backs Need for New Out-of-Stock Solution From Sterling

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sterling_frontWith retailers forced to keep inventory levels lean this holiday season, the risk of stock-outs that disappoint customers is at an all-time high. To help retailers address this issue, Sterling Commerce introduced a new solution, Sterling Always in Stock.

Combining advanced cross-channel order management with seamless integration capabilities, the solution is designed to enable retailers to improve the customer experience and preserve customer loyalty and optimize inventory efficiency.

Long time Sterling Multi-Channel Fulfillment customer Best Buy supported the value of solving the out-of-stock challenge, saying. “Our customer satisfaction and loyalty is much improved when we can offer multiple fulfillment options to solve an out-of-stock or make the purchase more convenient,” said Chap Achen, Director of Multi-Channel Order Management at Best Buy.

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Wal-Mart’s Aggressive Pricing Strategy Puts More Pressure On Margins For Holiday Season

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walmart_capThe gloves came off last week and the pricing wars of 2009 are underway. When Wal-Mart began selling hotly anticipated books on Walmart.com for $10, it was a clear signal that retail giant is planning to grab even more market share coming out of the recession. The response from competitors to that move was also a signal that other retailers are going to have manage pricing and markdowns in near real-time this holiday season in order to stay competitive.

When Amazon.com Inc. matched the $10 prices, Wal-Mart lowered its prices to $9. Then Target jumped into the fight and started offering the same titles at $8.99. Wal-Mart then threw a smiley in their face by dropping down to $8.98. Of course, this blood bath of dropping well below list prices on hot new items was bad news to Borders, Barnes & Noble and other independent booksellers (the American Booksellers Association has already asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the price war to determine if it constitutes illegal predatory pricing), but it was also a wake-up call to retailers in other verticals as well.

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Holiday Retailers Cuts Costs, Adjust To Spikes In Demand By Switching To VOIP Service

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Atour-apps-new-form2 seasonal business, www.christmastreeforme.com sells the majority of its products in November through December each year, so adjusting its systems to handle big spikes in demand was essential. The retailer signed on with the OnSIP hosted IP PBX service from Junction Networks in March of 2008 and has not only reduced its phone bills by 60% but also provided needed flexibility to serve an increased flood of customers for its seasonal business.

The retailer’s previous phone provider required Christmas Tree for Me to commit to monthly charges even when the phones were barely used. “If we needed five users during the busy season we had to sign a contract for three years for those five users, even if we only needed the maximum five users for only 10 weeks,” explains Bill Quinn, the company’s president.

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Author Of “Branding the Man” Offers Insights Into Attracting Male Consumers Into Stores

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berAlthough retailers are focused on providing an optimal in-store experience, retail strategist Bertrand Pellegrin says stores are typically designed to cater to women, and that today’s male consumer is doing more of his shopping with an eye to both fashion and value.

Pellegrin’s new book “Branding the Man” explores how retailers can harvest men’s attraction of sports, electronics, sex and fitness and channel it into creating an atmosphere where the male shopper is comfortable and eager to spend.

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UPS Delivers Coupons Direct to Consumers’ Doors

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Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from one of RetailWire’s recent online discussions. Each business morning on RetailWire.com, retail industry execs get plugged in to the latest news and issues with key insights from a “BrainTrust” panel of retail industry experts.

UPS is making special deliveries this week to residents in five test markets around the U.S. The packages contain discount coupons and samples from a wide variety of retailers and consumer goods marketers including Bed Bath & Beyond, Johnson & Johnson, Sephora, Williams Sonoma, Zappos and others.

The UPS Direct to Door program will begin its test to consumers in zip codes in Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Miami, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. Each package delivered to consumers contains roughly 12 offers and samples.

“As marketing channels evolve and consumer choices increase, we need new touch points to connect with customers,” said Pat Connolly, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Williams Sonoma, in a press release. “With a UPS Direct to Door delivery, we’re reaching an active consumer, an important factor for increased response rates.”

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Solution Spotlight: Alert Technologies Smart Button Streamlines Fitting Room Service

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Concept: Alert Technologies was approached in 1990 by a large regional retailer with a simple question: “Is there a way our customers can ask for assistance from inside the Fitting Room?” That question became the driving force behind Alert Technologies. The The Smart Button Fitting Room Service System technology offers retailers a mobile paging system and an occupancy sensing system that tracks length of stay; number of visits, and transmits requests using any in-store communication channel.

The solution is largely focused on serving small to medium footprint specialty apparel retailers with a well-defined service strategy and a concern for customer experience. Houston-based Alert Technologies has found the most success with retailers looking to reverse missed conversion opportunities due to service failures in the fitting rooms, and for retailers looking for a tangible way to measure the impact of associate training on customer service.

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Consumers are Talking… Are You Listening?

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Darby_11A_1“Social Media:” It means different things to different people. Many say it’s “Facebook and Twitter”. Wikipedia says it’s “user generated content”. I define it as “user generated content and interaction”. It’s all the tools consumers use to tell people stuff – Facebook, customer reviews, blogs, Twitter and more. And it’s the act of talking, informing and conversing using these tools. One thing’s for sure… consumers do use them and they definitely talk a lot:

  • Over 800 million tweets a day
  • More than 40 million status updates each day on Facebook
  • Over 200,000,000 blogs in existence, with 34% containing opinions about products or brands

So what are marketers doing with all this chatter? Continue reading “Consumers are Talking… Are You Listening?”