Retailers Push Loyalty Programs to Compete With Amazon

Last month, Amazon earmarked $800 million to guarantee one-day delivery for its Prime members. That’s another blow for U.S. department stores struggling to find ways to retain their customers against the Amazon onslaught. One important way they’ve done this is to focus on loyalty programs. According to market intelligence company Beroe, the U.S. loyalty program sector was worth between $27 billion and $55 billion in 2018 and is expected to continue to grow by 2 percent to 4 percent between then and 2020. Continue reading Retailers Push Loyalty Programs to Compete With Amazon

Amazon’s One-Day Shipping Plan Boosts Logistics Startups

Last month, Amazon made a pledge to spend $800 million in efforts to make next-day delivery the new standard. In turn, this put increased pressure on brick-and-mortar rivals like Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s and many others who are rushing to keep up. And it could mean big deals for the logistics companies that work with those physical retailers. As just one example, the Seattle warehouse space and online order fulfillment startup Flexe just announced a $43 million investment from New York firm Tiger Global Management.

Continue reading Amazon’s One-Day Shipping Plan Boosts Logistics Startups

Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

At the Microsoft Ignite annual IT event in Orlando, Florida this week, Microsoft announced it will soon debut a customer-service virtual assistant as part of its Dynamics 365 product line that will incorporate artificial intelligence. A user will be able to describe a problem in her own words, and the virtual assistant will answer by relying on user manuals, help documents and other materials. The customer can request a human, in which case the bot will assist the human customer service agent; a manager can view the result on a dashboard. Continue reading Microsoft Debuts AI-Powered Software, Customer Service Bot

Mall Owners Reinvent Their Properties in Online Shopping Era

As a number of retailers go bankrupt due to the consumer migration to online shopping, mall owners are adjusting strategies to make their real estate and facilities more appealing. These changes have included turning malls into destinations, with everything from rock-climbing gyms and mini-golf courses to restaurants and bars. The major remodels will mean higher rents for new tenants but, even so, say the experts, it’s uncertain that the mall owners are taking into account the increased expenses of running large customized spaces. Continue reading Mall Owners Reinvent Their Properties in Online Shopping Era

MasterCard Introduces Digital Wallet to Facebook Messenger

MasterCard just added its digital wallet MasterPass to Facebook Messenger, which will let consumers easily place online orders on the service. MasterPass is already available with FreshDirect and Subway, but is in its early stages of rollout. In related news, PayPal Holdings, which last year said would unveil its payment services on Facebook Messenger, will now unveil it on Alphabet’s Android Pay. Visa and MasterCard are also focused on expanding the consumer and merchant use of their digital wallets. Continue reading MasterCard Introduces Digital Wallet to Facebook Messenger

With Nine Retail Bankruptcies in 2017, Levels Approach 2008

So far this year, nine major U.S. retailers have declared bankruptcy, a rate disturbingly close to recessionary levels. Bankrupt retailers include Payless ShoeSource, hhgregg, The Limited, RadioShack, BCBG, Wet Seal, Gordmans, Eastern Outfitters and Gander Mountain. Another trend shows retailers that are hanging on to their businesses closing down stores in record numbers, with more than 3,500 stores expected to close in the next several months. J.C. Penney, RadioShack, Macy’s, and Sears alone will close more than 100 stores each. Continue reading With Nine Retail Bankruptcies in 2017, Levels Approach 2008

Amazon and Pinterest Challenge Google in Search Advertising

For years, Google dominated the search advertising market because two-thirds of all Internet searches are performed on the site. Now, Amazon is entering into the mix with new ad products that are competitively priced and bring consumers directly to the Amazon product pages. Pinterest also launched search ads last month that rely more heavily on images than Google’s text-based search ads. Advertisers believe players like Amazon and Pinterest could add much needed innovation. Both companies are trying to chip away at Google’s hold on the $37 billion market. Continue reading Amazon and Pinterest Challenge Google in Search Advertising

Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

Walmart is expected to cut about 1,000 jobs by the end of January, before the close of its fiscal year. “The plans mark one of Walmart’s largest rounds of corporate job cuts as it works to preserve profits while making the company more efficient and responsive to fast-changing consumer behaviors,” reports The Wall Street Journal. According to CEO Doug McMillon, the company’s chief information officer, Karenann Terrell, will step down in February. Other retailers have been making similar moves; Macy’s recently announced it would close stores and cut 10,000 jobs. Walmart is working to fend off Amazon and smaller discounters. The retail giant purchased Jet.com in September, and its founder, Marc Lore, took over the e-commerce business. Continue reading Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

Survey Shows Growth in Online Shopping, Impacting Retailers

According to an annual survey of online shoppers conducted by UPS and comScore (now in its fifth year), consumers indicate for the first time that they made more purchases via the Web than in physical stores. Shoppers say they made 51 percent of purchases online this year, compared to 48 percent last year and 47 percent in 2014. Respondents also indicated an increase in mobile shopping; 44 percent of smartphone users used their device for purchases, compared to 41 percent the previous year. As a result, some department stores are experiencing sales slumps. Continue reading Survey Shows Growth in Online Shopping, Impacting Retailers

Walmart Evolving its Supply Chain with Uber, Lyft and Drones

Later this month in Denver and Phoenix, Walmart will launch a pilot project, in partnership with Uber and Lyft, to deliver groceries to homes. Other companies that have competed in this area include Instacart, DoorDash, the U.S. Postal Service, Uber and Amazon, all of which vie to establish accounts with retailers and restaurants. Walmart is also testing a delivery service with its warehouse company Sam’s Club in Miami, using startup Deliv, which also handles same-day deliveries for Kohl’s, Macy’s and others. Continue reading Walmart Evolving its Supply Chain with Uber, Lyft and Drones

Target Aims to Enhance Shopping Experience with Beacon Tech

Target will start using Bluetooth beacon technology to send recommendations about product deals directly to the smartphones of customers who opt-in for alerts. Users with the latest version of the Target iPhone app on their phones will receive in-app updates and two push notifications per shopping trip. Target is testing beacon tech in 50 of its stores around the country, and plans to use consumer feedback to adapt the service, and release it nationwide by the holiday shopping season. Continue reading Target Aims to Enhance Shopping Experience with Beacon Tech

Pinterest Adds E-Commerce to Discovery with New Buy Button

San Francisco-based social bookmarking site Pinterest announced yesterday that it plans to introduce e-commerce to its platform with “Buyable Pins,” which could go a long way to justify the company’s $11 billion valuation. Pinterest, popular with users for discovering and sharing real world things through a digital scrapbook approach featuring “pinned” items, will allow interested sellers to add “buy” buttons to items they post. The product’s early retail partners include Cole Haan, Ethan Allen, Macy’s, Kate Spade and others. Continue reading Pinterest Adds E-Commerce to Discovery with New Buy Button

Google Buy Buttons Could Offer Alternative to Amazon and eBay

As Internet browsing via mobile devices continues to become the norm, tech companies are scrambling to add new functionality to the scaled-down mobile versions of their sites. In the coming weeks, Google plans to introduce buy buttons to its mobile search-result pages. The buttons will direct users to other Google product pages where purchases can be made (products will be sold by retailers). The move is seen by many as an effort by Google to create an online marketplace to take on leaders such as Amazon and eBay. Continue reading Google Buy Buttons Could Offer Alternative to Amazon and eBay

SXSW Will Use Beacon Technology to Push Festival Information

The 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) Music, Film and Interactive Festival — which runs March 13-22 in Austin, Texas — plans to employ the latest beacon technology to help attendees navigate the sprawling event this time around. SXSW has partnered with Eventbase to install 1,000 Apple iBeacons that will deliver location-based information about who else is nearby and what acts are performing nearby. These Bluetooth-enabled devices send the information to the 2015 SXSW Go app. Continue reading SXSW Will Use Beacon Technology to Push Festival Information

Some Brands Wary of Paying Snapchat Top Dollar for Short Ads

Snapchat has reportedly set an asking price of $750,000 per day to advertise on its messaging app, a figure some say is too high for a young app. Companies such as Samsung, McDonalds, Universal Pictures and Macy’s were among the early sponsors who paid for quick videos and photos called “Snaps.” However, the new rate may prove unrealistically high, despite the name recognition of early sponsors. Snapchat says it offers the ability to reach millions of people through its Recent Updates and Our Stories live feed. Continue reading Some Brands Wary of Paying Snapchat Top Dollar for Short Ads

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