Favorite Tech and Trend Tidbits Effecting Retail in 2008

Since I have been MIA for a while on the blog, I thought I would fill you in on what I have be up to and thinking about for the past few months. Tech and Retail. They are integrating in new ways, and to stay innovative in both the retail and online spaces, I have spent a lot of time playing in this space. Check out a few of my favorite things from 2008 in this arena.

Meijer Launches WineList Widget – Qponix 12/19/08

“Meijer launched WineList, a compact finder widget we developed. WineList allows you to explorewines in your local Meijer store. It compresses lots of interactivity and abundant data into a160x300 embeddable, viral application. The playful interface gives you many ways to find interesting wines. After choosing a location, you make the big choice: will it be red, pink or white tonight (R, P or W)? You then play with a set of selectors - winery, price, varietal, from (region), flavor, and pairing - to refine your search. You can save wines you like to a favorites list and print it out.”

My Thoughts: Along with their Mealbox shopping "widget turning mobile app" Meijer is doing impressive work in this area. Much more useful than the Target snowglobe app, my only question is... how ready are shoppers for this? But sometimes we need to forge ahead of the current state to be truly innovative.

Shop Savvy With Your Cell Phone – ABC 2 News 12/3/08

“Now, there's new technology that can save you money when you're shopping. Some smart phones are now equipped with applications that allow you to scan barcodes to find the cheapest price. The nnew scanning technology called “Shop Savvy” can be found on T-Mobile's G1 phone.” 

My Thoughts: Its that app that every retail agency wanted to come up with first, but didn't. Its basic and fantastic all at the same time. 

Stop & Shop Deploys Scan It! in 50 Stores – Mediaweek 1/8/09

“With the new locations, the hand-held, self-service and electronic coupon devices are now in a total of 145 Stop & Shop and Giant Food stores. Launched in Aug. 2007, the Scan It! system is designed both to save shoppers time, and offertargeted promotions based on current shopping behavior and purchase history. Here’s how the system works: Shoppers pick up a hand-held device as they enter a store and scan their loyaltycards, allowing the system to track the shopper's progress through the aisles.”

My Thoughts: I love this system. Its makes the experience easy for shoppers, delivers targeted promotions for brands and shoppers, and overall is a smart use of data and tech. 

Consumers will seek help to guide them through online product selection – unitedbit.com – 3/30/08

“Overwhelmed by an ever-increasing variety of products and services for sale online andoverloaded with choice, consumers will demand better ways to quickly find what they are looking for with absolute accuracy. They will increasingly turn to price comparison sites, consumer ratings and reviews, and product finder and selection tools. Smart retailers has already offer enhanced product discovery tools, such as Cybertec Research’s Online Shopping Advisor software or HP’s Retail Store Assistant shopping assistant.“

My Thoughts: I find this interesting only because I am the opposite type of e-shopper. I like the research I get  to do. However, I think I am in the minority. So, this seems like the future of product search and its great to hear that sites are optimizing for it already. These days tech adoption needs to move at these types of speeds. 

Target Builds Snow Globe Effect as iPhone App - mediabuyerplanner.com - 12/3/08

“Target is one of the first brands to create an iPhone application. The Target “gift globe” allows iPhone users to shake their phones to launch a snow-fall effect.”

My Thoughts: I was truly disappointed in this app as it was nothing more than window dressing with great press. It did little to enhance the shopping experience. 

Cents-Off Coupons and Other Special Deals, via Your Cellphone – NY Times 12/17/08

“Cellfire recently signed a deal with Kroger, the grocery chain, to show users a list of 10 to 30 offers, like 50 cents off Cottonelle toilet paper or 75 cents off a box of Chex cereal. When you select a discount, Cellfire feeds the coupon information directly to the grocer’s loyalty program. Users submit their loyalty program membership numbers to Cellfire; with subsequent swipes of the loyalty 

card, all of the chosen discounts are credited.”

My Thoughts: This is the future of couponing. Paperless, simple and secure. While the cell part might take some adoption, there are web versions for the less tech savvy shopper. But overall, the tie to loyalty cards means more targeted deals increasing relevance for shoppers and redemption for brands.

Mintel Predicts Top Trends for 2009 - You are in CONTROL – Business Wire11/11/08

“Over the years, people have become more confident and demanding about how they live their lives and spend their money. Even as a recession hits, they’ll want to stay in control of their choices wherever they can. Consumers will seek out products and services that give them exactly what they want, when they want it, especially as their budgets tighten. And the Internet will be key. It shows people every option available and gives them the power to demand more, while also allowing them to influence others through user reviews and feedback.”

“What it means for businesses: Manufacturers will respond with products that suit people’s specific needs and lifestyles. “Those companies that give consumers precisely what they want or give them the freedom to customize their purchases will do well. Companies that fail to do this will see consumers walk away,” says Joan Holleran. In addition, Baby Boomers will be of particular interest to businesses. Companies will move beyond traditional “old age” products and services to ones that embrace the active, healthy lifestyles of many older consumers.”

My Thoughts: We’ve known about consumer control for a while…(especially after Time Magazine made all of us, the person of the year in 2006.) However, the impact on shopping behavior on a broader scale is now starting to take effect and we can start reaping the benefits through smart marketing, or get left behind by remaining “mass marketers”.

Free Shipping: Facts, Trade-offs and Alternatives – ecommerce-guide.com 12/22/08

“If you look at the statistics, it would seem that the free shipping debate has all but been decided for online retailers. In a 2008 survey conducted by PayPal and comScore, 43 percent of shoppers said they abandon their shopping carts because of unexpectedly high shipping charges. Forrester Research reports that 61 percent of online shoppers prefer to shop with a retailer that offers free shipping than one that doesn't.”

My Thoughts: As a part of a brick ‘n’ mortar focused retail marketing agency, beginning to apply our long earned learnings to eCommerce, we face new challenges. However, getting at the same basic understanding of how shoppers, pull product off the shelf, put it in their cart and ultimately get through check out follows requires same discipline, just with new variables. And understanding facts like the above go a long way to driving conversion and creating happier clients.

Why Twitter Should Matter to E-Commerce Shops - ecommerce-guide.com 12/15/08

“Less altruistically, some businesses have discovered that Twitter is an effective way of

 communicating with consumers. Dell says Twitter has produced $1 million in revenue over the past year and a half through sale alerts. People who sign up to follow Dell on Twitter receive messages when discounted products are available the company's Home Outlet Store. They can click over to purchase the product or forward the information to others.

Dell started experimenting with Twitter in March of 2007 after the South by Southwest conference, an annual tech/music festival in Austin, Texas. Conference attendees could keep tabs on each other via a stream of Twitter messages on 60-inch plasma screens set up in the conference hallways. There are now 65 Twitter groups on Dell.com, with 2,475 followers for the Dell Home Outlet Store.”

My Thoughts: Although ultimately disturbed by Twitter as I’m not sure that people care that much about what I do, minute by minute, as a marketing tool I love it.  From network TV programs to information companies, everyone is finding ways to make this short form messaging engine work hard for them.  

Amazon, eCommerce grow despite downturn – Forbes.com, 01.05.09

“while U.S. retail sales grew just 2 percent in the first nine months of 2008, eCommerce grew by 8 percent and Amazon's retail revenue in North America shot up 31 percent from the same period a year ago.”

My Thoughts: No Duh... To use an expression from years past. This wasn’t surprising as much as it validated what we already new. Shoppers were already going to the web to be better informed shoppers due to new financial stresses and as the top online e-tailer, Amazon stood the most to gain from this trend. “I love it when a plan comes to gather” – Hannibal from the A-Team.

E-Commerce Trends for 2008 and 2009: Trying to Cash In on Social Sites – ecommerce-guide.com 12/30/08

“Perhaps the biggest conundrum of 2008 in regard to online sales was how to make a profit by marketing and selling on social networks such as Facebook. Widgets and special e-commerce applications abound for social networks, but so far, members seem to want to communicate more than they want to shop.”

“Still, word-of-mouth marketing is powerful, and research continues to cite the fact that consumers continue to share — and trust — information about products they gain through social networks, even if they aren't actually making purchases there. So, we're certain in the coming year we will see more services and technology designed to help online businesses both market and sell through these sites.”

My Thoughts: This is a big challenge because linking sales back to word of mouth can sometimes be difficult. However, as the tool box for these technologies advance, hopefully as marketers we can engineer in some better metrics to show the value of 2.0 tech. Its there somewhere, like an answer on the tip of your tongue that you just can’t quite verbalize.  

Web Stores Score with Customer Ratings – eMarketer, 09.12.08

“Letting customers rate products on e-commerce sites is the top Web 2.0 spending priority, according to online retailers in the US surveyed in August 2008 by Vovici for Internet Retailer. Well over one-half (57%) of online pure plays said customer ratings and reviews were a priority for them. One-half were also intent on adding video.”


My Thoughts: Engagement and experience are something that online retailers are still working out.  There are many shoppers who still like going to the store because they feel that ecommerce while maybe simple and intuitive can lack a certain experiential factor. Just as in-store experiences have changed to accommodate shopper desires, it only follows that the web world will work the same. And lets be honest, it’s a lot cheaper and easier to change one website that redesign the interior of hundreds or thousands of stores.

Hope you enjoyed the little recap, if you want anymore info on any of these topics, please throw a comment in and I’ll get back to you.





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