Retail

128 posts categorized

February 05, 2016

Can Mobile Tech Solve Long Lines at the Grocery Store?

 

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Retailers are regularly on the lookout for ways to improve the customer experience and cut costs—if there’s a way to do both at the same time, that’s even better. One emerging trend in this area involves utilizing mobile technology to help expedite certain transactions. Tech companies, restaurant chains, clothing stores, and more businesses have implemented cloud-based point-of-sale (POS) systems in an effort to reduce long lines and other potentially problematic retail behaviors.

 

What Is a Cloud-based POS System?

 

Traditionally, when you go to the grocery store, the final step in your customer service journey includes the interaction you have with a checker tending a stationary till at the front of the store. The number of checkers and cash registers is limited by the resources available. As a result, customers might have to wait in long lines to make their purchases. If this sounds like a familiar scene, you’re not alone.

 

What is less familiar (but currently growing in popularity) is the mobile POS system, which manages transactions and other customer-related actions exclusively online. As a result, the transaction is accessed remotely using a mobile technology device like a smartphone, tablet, or iPad. 

 

Is a Cloud-based POS System Safe? 

 

Customers not accustomed to making purchases online might find the mobile POS a little intimidating, especially if they’re fearful of online corruption or attacks. For customers who are comfortable with making online purchases, the process is only slightly different from buying goods at popular online retailers like Amazon or eBay. 

 

For customers, cloud-based POS systems are just as secure as traditional transaction methods. Security features include encryptions and fire walls to protect incoming and outgoing personal data. 

 

From a retailer’s perspective, the shift to a mobile POS system actually mitigates some risk of fraudulent activity. In the future, credit card companies are expected to make good on all purchases (even fraudulent purchases) so long as the vendor has upgraded to a mobile system. 

 

A Better Customer Experience 

 

One of the greatest advantages of using a mobile POS is that customers can make purchases from anywhere in the store. Moreover, with sales associates standing by, customers can get answers and assistance for a broader range of needs, including inventory, warranty specifics, price checks, and more. 

 

By making this information mobile, retailers stand to save money on overhead while simultaneously making more money on the sales floor. Imagine how much potential business is lost because a customer doesn’t want to wait in line to ask an inventory question. By offering a mobile solution, associates can deliver expedited service to customers that would otherwise never make it to checkout. Meanwhile, giving sales associates more flexibility on the floor will make them more productive and likely reduce the number of required sales associates.  

It’s not a matter of if retailers will decide to make the switch to mobile POS; it’s really a matter of when. Several retailers have already made the transition and are offering customers a wide range of transaction options like mobile receipts and quicker checkout times. As the technology develops further, this trend will become as prolific as retail stores themselves, ultimately changing the way we do business on a daily basis. 

 

January 31, 2016

The Best Ways to Monetize Apps

 

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Knowing which monetizing strategy will work best for a mobile app is like trying to figure out what’s in the secret sauce atop your favorite burger. You can see bits and pieces of familiar condiments and spices, but when you try to make it at home, it’s never exactly the same. Maybe that’s because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, or secret sauce, for monetizing apps. 

As strange or cliché as this hamburger analogy sounds, it’s safe to say that most burger recipes are uniquely their own; and that’s typically the way all successful apps find their way to the top of the charts. Creating a unique app is most certainly the first step in creating a viable monetization strategy—your secret sauce—and your ticket to a wildly successful app. 

If no two apps are exactly the same, it’s logical to assume that no two apps make money in exactly the same way either. There is, however, a good chance that most successful apps use similar strategies, in a variety of combinations, to optimize strengths and dull app weaknesses. Understanding which mobile marketing strategy - or combination of mobile marketing strategies - will be most effective for your brand is a core requirement for success. 

Here’s a look at some of the best ways to monetize apps using popular strategies. Think of these techniques like you would ingredients to the secret sauce on your burger. Ask yourself what works best with your app, and try combinations until you’ve made something delicious…I mean profitable. 

 

Freemium Apps 

It’s a play on words, and it also accounts for 93 percent of all downloaded apps in 2015. Freemium apps are just what they sound like—they’re free. So, in order to use this ingredient effectively, your app had better offer a premium, or upgraded version, for a small fee. 

This strategy only works well, though, when there are clear advantages to the paid version; it also has be to a first-rate, highly useable, and addictive app. If this sounds like your burger, then feel free to say it’s free; but be sure you’ve got a better version of the app available for purchase. 

 

In-app Purchases

Depending on the meat of your app—the genre, if you will—in-app purchases are a great seasoning to add. The trick here is to make a game that’s highly addictive and charge users small fees to enhance their addictive experience with features like profile personalization, game currency, or increased usage. 

Once a user makes the first purchase, he or she is usually hooked. Game apps like Candy Crush Saga made an estimated $630 thousand a day with this technique. You can, too, if you make an appetizing app. 

 

In-app Advertising

Think of in-app advertising like you would an assertive spice blend—use too much, and your burger is ruined. Successful in-app advertising does two things: compliments multiple ad networks and functions within well-designed ad space. 

In other words, in-app advertising should not be the only revenue source holding your app together. Additionally, thoughtful and strategic ad placement is very important to the ad’s success. An occasional banner add at the bottom of your favorite app isn’t so bad; pop-up ads flashing across your smartphone screen every 30 seconds are not the way to go. 

 

Sponsorship 

Finally, sponsorship is a great way to offer products or services most relevant to your consumer. Prominently displayed sponsors will pay for both impressions and clicks if this strategy is implemented correctly. 

The important thing to remember about this monetizing tactic is that what you’re selling, and when, is critical to the user’s experience and general acceptance of the advertisement. 

For example, the RunKeeper fitness app partnered with third party Kiip to showcase products that would appeal most to runners, particularly during times the app was aware the runner had just started or completed a run. Timing is everything, and sponsorship monetization needs that and good products to be successful. 

Building your app’s unique monetization strategy will require some trial and error; but the payout for the time investment can make all the difference in your journey. What’s in your secret sauce?

January 04, 2016

Nintendo Launches First Mobile Game

 

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Nintendo fans can finally celebrate their beloved gaming system on their handsets. In March of next year, Nintendo will launch its first-ever mobile app, Miitomo, a communication focused game interface with customizable personal avatars.

Earlier this year, Nintendo announced its partnership with DeNA, a fellow Japanese company focused on mobile apps and development. Together, the duo is committed to bringing Nintendo’s familiar game style to the handsets of millions of users around the world, as well as launching a new online gaming community. 

In addition to its social focus, Miitomo will also focus on entertainment and include internal mini games and other gasification features. There are even discussions about linking the game to users’ Facebook friend lists so that players can communicate with people already in their social spaces. 

Currently, the only revenue potential built into the free-to-play game is clothing users will be able to purchase for their avatar. 

Despite obvious links to the gaming community, Nintendo hasn’t been on the forefront of handset gaming. The partnership with DeNA has been something Nintendo avoided speaking about as recently as January 2014. 

According to Nintendo’s rep at the time, “Nintendo’s intention is not to make Nintendo software available on smart devices.”

Despite Nintendo’s early resistance, the company has made a few things about the mobile developments perfectly clear. For one, DeNA and Nintendo will only be working on original games specifically optimized for the smartphone experience—that means you’re not going to see Mario or Luigi on your handset anytime soon. 

What’s more, all the existing Nintendo IP will be eligible for development by the new license. So, even though Nintendo says no Mario Cart for the iPhone 6S, it’s possible all of that might change sometime in the future. 

 

What the Future Holds

In some ways, it feels like Nintendo is testing the waters before it dives straight into the mobile game world. Depending on how things go with Miitomo, the company may gain some much-needed confidence.

However, all of this raises interesting questions about the success of one gaming platform and its potential success crossing over into new territory. Can Nintendo make a successful game for handsets? Or will it regret the discussion to cross over if Miitomo doesn’t play out to plan?

Nintendo fans should be open-minded come March of next year. They may not get exactly what they’re expecting, but it could be something better.

December 27, 2015

What Will Happen to Mobile in 2016?

 

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What’s to become of the mobile market in 2016? Said market certainly isn’t going anywhere, and plenty of innovations and changes are expected. Overcoming various hurdles is also in the mix, and with that in mind, check out a few mobile predictions for the New Year: 

 

Messaging App Marketing

Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are on their way to having 1 billion active users monthly. More services and marketing opportunities will be added to both messenger services in 2016, giving marketers the chance to further break from traditional advertising and come up with unique options. 

 

More Mobile Payments

Paying for, well, anything through smartphones is something that will likely continue in 2016. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and similar mobile payment possibilities are set to become standard smartphone features, however undoing years of paying with cash, debit cards, and credit cards as opposed to swiping a smartphone takes diligence. Mobile wallet incentives such as coupons, rewards and loyalty perks, and similar discounts will therefore be required if this form of payment is to really take off. 

 

Increased Data Release

Consumers are predicted to allow more personal data release in 2016, though whether they’ll do it willingly is up for debate. The “convenience and value” of the connected world is something consumers like a lot, so the release of more personal data to publishers and marketers is a distinct possibility. 

 

On-Demand Delivery and Small Businesses

Small businesses will get in on the on-demand delivery action in 2016, something that’s mainly been reserved for corporations and other big businesses. Food ordering, package delivery, and similar easy-to-use services are great for small businesses, and something more of them will utilize in the New Year. 

 

Facebook=Entirely Mobile

The days of checking out Facebook feeds through laptops are increasingly coming to an end, with the social media juggernaut set to become “entirely mobile.” In Q3 2015, 78 percent of Facebook’s $4.3 billion in ad revenue worldwide was due to mobile, and many of the site’s users log in through their phones anyway.

 

Stronger Cybersecurity 

The creation of more cloud-based services and more consumers relying on their phones to purchase goods and services means strong cybersecurity is a must. Small businesses should take note of cybersecurity options, as more cyber attacks are predicted for small businesses in 2016. 

 

Battle For “Mobile Moments”

In a blog for Forrester.com, analyst Thomas Husson called mobile moments the next “battleground” among marketers. 

“Mobile moments – a time when consumers picks up their mobile devices to get what they want in that moment of need – are the next battleground where to win, serve, and retain customers,” he writes. “Mobile experiences are too static today and leverage too little consumer context. As customer expectations of convenience escalate in 2016, the pressure will be on firms to tap new technologies to serve customers in context where they already are – not where brands find it convenient to serve them. Firms must look to use context both to assemble and deliver experiences dynamically on their own and third party platforms.

“In particular, we expect alternative ecosystems beyond Android and iOS to emerge. With consumers using fewer or more integrated apps, new mobile platforms that offer a more relevant experience such as WeChat in China or Facebook Messenger in the US are quickly accumulating power as the owners of vast audiences and rich data about those consumers.” 

 

December 18, 2015

Five Festive Apps to Make You a Better Christmas Shopper

 

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You can’t giftwrap them, but apps still make a great gift for Christmas. Check out our top six apps and see if you can bring a little something different to the table this year…

 

Shpock

The self-styled “boot sale and classifieds app” puts the emphasis squarely on secondhand goods, with categories including home and garden, leisure and games and baby and child. Shpock’s USP is its focus on local transactions. Think of it as a virtual car boot sale, where you can make offers, ask questions of the vendor and even haggle a bit.

 

Etsy

As well as providing a handy Christmas countdown clock, Etsy’s app covers all your gift-shopping needs, with a particular focus on homemade items. If you want to shop online but avoid sending generic presents to creative family members, this app is your festive friend.

 

Gift Professor

This free app helps you decide what to get for those tricky friends and family members who are particularly hard to shop for. Gift Professor connects you with two thousand online merchants, suggesting several ideas based on answers you give to questions set within the app. It takes minutes to proffer a range of suggestions, and allows you to easily save them so you won’t accidentally give the same gift to that hard-to-please loved one when their birthday rolls around.

 

Pinterest

Pinterest is another perennial favorite in the arty, crafty, homemade mould. It’s also the go-to app for anyone who likes to get super organized for the holidays. Planning a pre-Christmas party and want some new recipe ideas? Check. Struggling with the right gift for your creative niece? Pinterest will more than likely solve your problem. If you’ve never used it before, now’s the time to start pinning away, and with a recent update allowing you to buy directly from clickable pins, gift-buying with Pinterest is more convenient than ever.

 

Delivery Status

Shopping in-store has one notable advantage over shopping online: knowing where all your gifts were once they’d been paid for (at the back of the closet, away from small prying hands, if you’re my mother). Delivery Status has capitalized on this gap to put comprehensive tracking capabilities in the palm of your hand. It supports more than 30 delivery services, including FedEx, UPS and DHL, enabling you to keep track of their progress, count down the number of days until a package arrives, and even label individual packages in app so you won’t forget what each parcel contains. 

 

December 15, 2015

Are Consumers Used to Bad Service?

 

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Consumers argue that customer service is important when deciding what products or services to purchase, however, according to new research from Arizona State University, customer service can’t keep pace with shoppers.

The latest version of the school’s ‘Customer Rage’ study suggests that customer satisfaction rates haven’t changed dramatically since the 1970s. People are not only dissatisfied with customer service, but some consumers don’t even expect it anymore.  

 

Customer Service and Millennials

Millennials in particular can rarely recall a time when automated phone messaging systems or online customer service wasn’t available—so they don’t know what better customer services feels like, said retail-industry consultant Jack Abelson. 

And it’s not that companies aren’t spending time or money on the prevailing issues. In fact, most companies spend plenty of resources on building a better customer experience, albeit on the wrong solutions.  

For example, according to a recent report conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 75 percent of consumers were most frustrated when they couldn’t get a live person to handle their phone calls. The same number of respondents also complained that rude or condescending employees (both in-store and on the phone) contributed to this frustration. Being disconnected from a phone call, long wait times, and poor menu options also topped the list of complaints.

So while companies with limited human resources are moving toward automation, it’s clear the money could be better spent on something else. 

Despite these alarming increases, there were decreases reported by the Better Business Bureau, which logged fewer complaints overall this year compared. Nine out of ten commonly reported industries also had notable declines; this unfortunately excludes cable and satellite services.

One explanation for this decrease in direct reporting may be because consumers have more power to help themselves. This is most apparent on FAQ pages, in How-To videos, forums, and customer review pages, where people can share their opinions freely with other customers. 

Another reason consumers seem apathetic about customer service is that they are more diligent about researching a product or service (particularly via mobile device) before they decided to make a purchase. This is like preventative medicine—they know more about what they’re getting into before they make the purchase. 

That being said, businesses should be wary of this consumer behavior and reconsider how they allocate time and money when trying to resolve customer-related issues. In particular, businesses should provide thorough and up-to-date resources online for clients who want to help themselves before making a customer service phone call. 

Are automated messaging systems and foreign customer reps really the way to go? According to the latest research, the answer is no. 

 

November 30, 2015

What Does the Mobile Messaging Boom Mean for the Customer Service Industry?

 

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When you need to get a hold of a customer service representative at your bank or another business, do you often feel your only choices are waiting forever on the phone or getting lost in a barrage of “press one for this” and “press two for that” options? Sometimes, these options don’t even get you to the person you need to speak with.

Instead of waiting around on the phone for hours, or getting a wrong department or being hung up on, consumers are finding mobile messaging an effective customer service solution. And, they’re loving the convenience of taking care of issues via mobile, so that they can go about their business while they wait for someone to solve their problem.

Is mobile messaging the way of the future for customer service? Let’s take a look at how SMS messaging might be the best way to communicate with companies going forward.

 

Customer Service and Changing Times

Traditionally, consumers have experienced many troubling scenarios with customer service reps, including phone calls that were never answered, dropped phone calls, poor connections to overseas call centers, and calls that did not get to where they were supposed to go after being led down a rabbit hole of “press” options. These customer service experiences are certainly not desirable service experiences for the customer. They’re nightmares that have the potential to turn off consumers from engaging with a brand.

Regardless of how much, or how well, a business markets its products or services, if its customers can’t get help when they need it, consumers likely turn away from the brand. Brand loyalty is only a possibility when a company can help a customer appreciate its products and services. To increase brand loyalty, many companies are turning to text messaging as a way to easily and effectively communicate with their customers.

 

Why Mobile Messaging?

Consumers have pretty much created the new wave of customer service communication for themselves. They are demanding mobile messaging as a customer service option because they feel more in control when they can simply leave a message as they would to a friend, and then have a person get back to them via text. There’s no hanging on the phone, no navigating customer service forms on websites, no hang-ups without having a question heard, and none of the other traditional customer service problems. Consumers like being able to use iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and other messaging apps to state their issue and go about their lives as the business looks into the problem and gets back to them.

Of course, this only works when a company puts structures into place to receive mobile messages and sets aside time to diligently reply to mobile messages—a task that many businesses have dedicated themselves to. As consumers show they don’t have the time, or the inclination, to deal with customer service issues of the past, companies are listening and making mobile messaging to customer service a reality to build brand loyalty.

November 29, 2015

6 of the Best Cyber Monday Deals

 

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For retail junkies across the country, Cyber Monday is the most wonderful time of the year. Shoppers wait in long lines, brave giant crowds, and fight their way to checkout with dreams of scooping up the best deals of the season. 

The best way to ensure you make the most of your shopping time during Cyber Monday is to plan ahead and make selections well before you hit the retail road. There’s no time to browse and compare prices on the big day, so building a list ahead of time is the best way to save time and money. Here’s a list of six Cyber Monday bargains you’ll want on your shopping list in 2015:

 

Apple MacBook Air (11.6-inch screen) - $720

It’s true—great things do come in small packages. That’s especially true with this offer from online retailer eBay. Apple products are notoriously expensive and rarely go on sale, but you can scoop up this featherweight laptop for a cool $720 this weekend, a 20 percent savings off the usual retail price. 

 

Selfie Stick - $2.99

You may not take selfies, but everyone in your family and circle of friends does! This deal featured at Five Below discount stores is a simple and affordable gift for just about everyone you know. The stick comes with an AUX cable and fits most smartphones. 

 

Camera-Equipped Quadcopter - $50

For only $50, this kid-friendly, remote-controlled aircraft has a built-in camera so pilots can get a birds-eye view from up to 260 feet away. Regularly priced at $150, this gift will soar above the rest this holiday season. You’ll find this bargain at JCPennys across the country this shopping weekend.

 

Kindle (Paperwhite) - $50

Amazon makes the backlit Paperwhite Kindle irresistible this holiday season at the low price of only $50. This is a great opportunity to scoop up one for yourself, if you’ve never enjoyed an e-reader before, or share your love of reading with family and friends at nearly 40% off the regular price. 

 

Xbox One: Gears of War Bundle - $300 + Target Gift Card 

There’s a lot of sales to choose from as far as the Xbox One is concerned, but this year it looks like Target has its competitors beat. In addition to $50 off the regular retail price, this bundle includes the latest Gears of War game, as well as a $60 Target gift card for you or to be used as another gift. 

 

Samsung 65-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV - $1,888

What Black Friday shopping list would be complete without an insanely big TV? This Samsung Smart TV, available on eBay, is the granddaddy of deals this holiday season at only $1,888. While that’s a bit much for a stocking stuffer, if you’re in the market for a new TV this year, this is a great opportunity to grab a quality device for well below retail value. This 65-inch TV normally goes for $4,000.

So, there you have it: six of the best Cyber Monday deals in 2015. Once you’ve made your list and checked it twice, you’ll be well on your way to savings. 

November 14, 2015

What Are 'Mobile Moments' and How Can They Help My Mobile Marketing Strategy?

 

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Christmas shopping used to be a hectic business. Typically, a day or two was set aside sometime in between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve - depending on how organized you were - in order to head to the mall and fight the crowds for the ever-dwindling supply of gifts. 

In the age of the smartphone, everything has changed. From browsing to buying, every stage of a transaction can now be performed on a mobile device. According to recent Google research, 54% of holiday shoppers will use their smartphones to shop throughout the season, and smartphone-based commerce has gone up by 64% over the last year. In fact, almost a third of all online purchases now happen on mobile phones.

So how can your mobile marketing strategy benefit from this continuing trend towards smartphone commerce? The key is understanding how people use their devices. 

A recent study claimed that people use their smartphones as many as 150 times in a single day, spending around a minute on each ‘session.’ A rounded mobile marketing campaign will tackle each and every kind of activity: text messages, emails, social media and web searches. Because each session is typically so brief, the trick is capitalize on these ‘mobile moments.’ 

Mobile moments - or micro moments - are those brief snatches of time when people turn to their smartphone in order to take a specific action, like finding the answer to a question, booking a plane ticket, downloading an app or buying something online. Mobile users approaching these moments have an express, immediate intent. That intent may be to buy. It may be to browse, or compare user reviews. But whatever the reason shoppers turn to their phones, your business should take the opportunity to be there - and be useful. Here’s how:

 

Comprehensive Online Listings

Google’s research shows consumers are 38% more likely to visit and 29% more likely to buy from companies whose online directory listings are complete, up-to-date, and accurate. Further, you should regularly update the listings with seasonal info and include images and business hours. The more information you can parlay in your listings, the better.

 

Predict Expectations

The digital marketplace is a diffuse, niche-led realm, and users will respond to a wide variety of different messages. The key to a successful mobile marketing plan is recognizing which message will have the most impact on which user. For text message sign ups, location-based notifications are a solid way of reaching potential customers at the moment they’re most likely to buy. Throw in a discount, and suddenly you have a customer with two compelling reasons to visit your outlet: 1)they’ll save money, and 2) they’re within walking distance. 

 

Take Advantage of the Holiday Season

Many retailers live and die by Q4, when the annual spending bonanza kicks in, with more people buying more stuff than at any other time of year. That’s why now - before Thanksgiving - is the perfect time to implement changes to your mobile marketing strategy. Invest in a mobile friendly website and start promoting festive deals so you can hit the New Year with a running start.

November 01, 2015

Mobile Helps Propel UK Adspend to Record Highs

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According to the Advertising Association/Warc, UK ad spending hit a record high in 2015. Spending increased by 5.8% to reach £9.42bn in the first half of the year, and mobile is predicted to exceed the billion-pound barrier for the first time. Digital channels remain the force behind this growth, as Internet spending is up 13.3% for H1 to £3.9bn. Mobile makes up 79% of this growth, with ad spending increasing more than 52% to £1.08bn. 

Growth is noticeable throughout the industry, including both television and cinema forms. Only print has seen a decrease in revenue. 

“Advertising’s resilience points to the strength of the broader economy in the first half,” said Tim Lefroy, chief executive at the Advertising Association. “The UK leads the world in eCommerce and the trend to mobile means serving the public better ads in the right place at the right time.”

Ad spending is expected to demolish the £20bn barrier in 2016, with the Advertising Association’s media breakdown is as follows:  

  • Radio: Radio ad spending decreased by 2.2% to £116m in Q2, branded content excluded. Full-year growth is expected at 3.0% in 2015, and 2.3% with branded content included.
  • TV: Spot advertising “recorded solid YOY growth of 2.9% to £1,144m in Q2, compared to a quarter in which the FIFA World Cup was held last year.” TV spot advertising also enjoyed a fantastic Q1 via ad revenues rising to 11.5%. An “increase of 6.7% is forecast for 2015 as a whole.” 
  • Out of Home: YOY growth was strong at the beginning of 2015 with an increase of 9.7% in Q1, though it decreased 3.6% to £249m in Q2. 
  • Regional Newsbrands: These newsbrands saw a decline of 7.2% in ad spend in Q2 2015 compared to 2014. This “represents a 12.1% drop for print (to £246m) and a 24.0% increase for digital revenues (to £55m).” 
  • National Newsbrands: Print ad revenue decreased by a staggering 19.2% Q2 2015 to £239m. Digital ad spending, in comparison, increased 5.9% to £51m.
  • Magazine Brands: Ad spending declined by 6.8% in Q2. Print advertising saw a 11.0% decline to £168m, while digital saw an increase of 5.2% to £70m. 
  • Internet: Internet ad spending included a 12.8% increase in Q2 2015, which was followed by “revised growth of 13.9% in Q1 (+1.1pp).” Mobile made up 79% of total internet growth during H1, resulting in ad spending of £1,079m (up 52.1%). 

Cinema and direct mail ad spending saw increases as well. Separate Advertising Association research indicated the UK as the biggest mobile advertising spenders in Europe, and the third-highest spenders in the world following the United States and China.