By Nate Stewart, Zing
As a merchant in today’s world, your customers expect up-to-date information about your products, availability, and what they’ve purchased before, no matter what they’ve purchased, where they’ve purchased it, or how they’ve made their purchases. Nowadays, you’ve probably got a web site and mobile shops on top of your in-store presence, and if you’re not adequately prepared to respond to your customers’ needs and take advantage of the information your POS is generating, you will quickly lose traction within your competitive market. To stay competitive and be able to make real-time decisions nearly 24/7, you need to be able to access the current status of your business, from anywhere, anytime.
So, the question is: Do you need real-time mobile solutions? As someone who specializes in SMBs and their e-Commerce needs, whenever I’m evaluating an e-Commerce setup I size up the situation with a few questions:
Viral campaigns can do far more than make people laugh and generate buzz; they can help create change. And the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge has reaffirmed that.
The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS awareness has swept the Internet universe. Political figures, movie stars, musicians and regular people alike are dumping icy water over their heads, tagging their friends on social media and are donating to the cause. Heck, even the Old Spice guy joined in on the freezing fun.
Since July 29, the ALS Association has raised $79.7 million from 1.7 million donors, according to an article in TIME. To show the extremity of this number, the ALS Association raised $64 million in all of 2013.
But what I find most interesting is the extreme response from the fashion community. Top personas, including Stella McCartney, Tom Ford, Donna Karan, Diane von Furstenberg and Sarah Jessica Parker participated.
Even Macy’s own CEO Terry Lundgren took the challenge, and passed it on to Michael Kors, who happily obliged.
It’s great to see the retail community come together for a joint cause and raise awareness among their followers.
Want more proof that the Ice Bucket Challenge is making an impact? Check out this blog from Iconosquare, which outlines social shares throughout the campaign.
For generations, retailers and brands have partnered to help boost awareness and sales. While some partnerships go together like peanut butter and jelly, others have gone together like steak and jelly. (In other words, not so nicely.)
Take, for instance, Lands End’s partnership with GQ magazine. While the idea of a complimentary magazine subscription seems like a fool-proof idea, it ended up backfiring, as many customers who received the magazine were in fact students!
Sure, Lands End CEO and President Edgar Huber quickly addressed customer feedback and admitted the error, but this example shows how a harmless partnership can quickly go awry.
Below, the RTP editors share their opinions on successful, and not-so-successful, brand-retail partnerships:
Debbie Hauss, Editor-in-Chief: The coffee-books partnership is the ideal setup. Being able to sit down with a cup of coffee while perusing the latest best-sellers can be a relaxing oasis for those of us who still like to crack open a real book. Barnes and Noble has been able to maintain its attraction in some ways because of the coffee connection. High school students will gather in a store to study over a latte; moms and young kids will meet up for hot cocoa and espresso; and retirees can meet up to chat over their favorite novels. A jumping off point for Starbucks, the Barnes and Noble partnership has led to the coffee retailer opening up pop-up shops in other retail locations, such as supermarkets and department stores.
Alicia Fiorletta, Senior Editor: I always appreciate when retailers try to turn their brands into lifestyles. Experiential marketing is one way to do that, and brand partnerships play a key role in making these initiatives successful. For instance, a while back I visited a pop-up shop opened by jewelry eTailer BaubleBar. It was the opening night, and the store was buzzing with excitement. What added to the fun and flair of the experience was a partnership with Godiva. Representatives set up a bar and served Godiva chocolates and branded drinks the entire night. It turned the pop-up store into a swanky cocktail party and really encouraged shoppers to stick around and browse longer. If that’s not successful, I don’t know what is!
Kim Zimmermann, Managing Editor: In states where beer, wine and spirits can be purchased in supermarkets, there have been a number of successful partnerships between retailers and brands.Some of the more successful partnerships I’ve seen include everything from Super Bowl party packages to upscale recipes pairing wine and ingredients for a romantic dinner on Valentine’s Day. The trick is, I think, is that the consumer has to get something unique out of partnership for it to attract attention.
Rob Fee, Managing Editor: I’ve seen and experienced a lot of benefit in partnerships initiated by mobile device makers and cellular providers. I bought my first Samsung Galaxy device about two years ago, and since then, the company continually offers up free content to me — including HD movies and the free Jay-Z album offer that received a lot of attention last year. The savviest thing the company did, though, was offer me 50 GB worth of Dropbox space for two years. Pretty useful for backing up photos taken on the go and a smart play by Dropbox. Here’s why: My time with the free space is about to conclude, but I’m now used to the convenience the service offers. Chances are high that I’ll now become a paying customer of the service. This partnership created a grateful customer and a clear path for Dropbox to acquire new business.
Glenn Taylor, Associate Editor: Sometimes retailers like to build partners with each other, particularly when a discount department chain looks to sell higher end clothing that usually isn’t found in their stores. We saw this fairly recently when Target started selling Neiman Marcus clothing and products around the 2012 holiday season. The hype leading into the release was heavy, even including a launch party. However, all the talk over the collaboration turned out to be a dud once the product line was introduced on Dec. 1. While the clothing wasn’t expensive to the average Neiman Marcus audience, Target customers weren’t buying the products, illustrating that cross-branding doesn’t always work, even if it occurs in a small dose.
Brian Anderson, Associate Editor: Google is known as a tech company, and the company stepped into new territory when it began working on its wearable computer: Google Glass. A problem that Google is facing when it comes to Glass is that it’s more than just a piece of tech; Google Glass is also a fashion accessory. That’s why Google made a deal with Luxottica — a luxury eyewear retailer with brands such as Oakley, Ray-Ban and Persol — back in March with the intention to have Google Glass integrated into Luxottica products and sold through its retail stores. This partnership will be vital since it will help Google appease fashion-centric customers while also appeasing to the customers that are more tech-savvy.
Have you seen a successful retail-brand partnership? Share your experience in the comments section below!
By Craig Reed, Pitney Bowes
Cross-border e-Commerce transactions represent a huge opportunity for U.S. retailers. According to eMarketer, there are more than one billion digital buyers spending about $1.5 trillion dollars online. The vast majority of purchasing power, two thirds, lies outside the U.S.
To tap this opportunity, retailers can no longer just look to Canada, UK and Australia. They need to look at emerging markets, where ecommerce is taking off at record pace.
Consider Brazil. With a $2.25 trillion GDP, Brazil now represents the world’s seventh largest economy. In São Paulo alone, there are 20 million people, which is two thirds of the size of Canada’s population.
However, the local infrastructure and supply in Brazil is way behind larger developed markets and big brands tend to be located in Western countries. Therefore, developing countries are looking elsewhere to access goods they can’t get locally. With the 2016 Olympics, Brazil may become an even higher priority on some brands’ list of new markets to enter.
Also, despite the current geopolitical risks and ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Russia is another big global ecommerce frontier. E-Commerce is expected to grow to $36 billion by 2015 there as consumers gain access to broadband and credit cards.
For years, U.S. retailers ignored the country because of payment and delivery issues, but now they’re moving in to take advantage of Russia’s increasingly wealthy and Internet-savvy population of 70 million Internet users (the most in Europe).