In an effort to further connect with consumers while they are shopping in-store, Aldo has launched an interactive gaming platform. The basic crux of the game is to allow shoppers to engage with the Aldo brand, remain in the store for a longer period of time, and offer a chance to win $500. It also supports Aldo’s current foray into mobile with the recent launch of a mobile commerce platform.
Dubbed ‘Shoe Paradise,” the game and mobile site was developed by Dynamo, a Quebec-based company specializing in digital media. Alex Nemeroff, Interactive Director at Dynamo, added “This in-store game was created to fulfill two goals, to extend the Shoe Paradise microsite concept to mobile customers and introduce an experience tailored to Aldo’s recently-launched mobile commerce site.”
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The game is being promoted through zoloftanxiety.com in-store signage, which includes a call-to-action for customers to visit www.aldosp.com on their mobile browser. Details on the game then follow, with a featured shoe from which users can earn rewards as directed by the app. In order to enter to win customers must play three different levels of the game, each one at a different Aldo location, with prizes including free gear.
This initiative further cements Aldo’s mobile presence and is an example of how technology and smart devices can play an important role in uplifting brick-and-mortar shopping experiences.
Strangeloop, an interesting value-add website optimizer for high volume e-merchants, reduces web page load times in order to drive more turnover and consequently increase transactions.
Located on the landing page of Strangeloop.com, visitors can toggle a slider and position it at a specific level of monthly sales revenue. As a result, the application highlights how the optimizer can directly correlate to added revenue simply by increasing page load times.
The results are staggering.
Large multinational corporations such as Visa, Sodexo, Petco and Auto Anything have already turned to Strangeloop’s intuitive site optimizer for both Web and mobile sites. Using an “advanced set of acceleration treatments,” Strangeloop streamlines and simplifies web pages in real-time by customizing them to the unique parameters of each browsing platform.
Not an out-of-the-box standardized liquid ciali software platform by any means, Strangeloop prides itself on customization and boasts that the technology is more than a one-size-fits-all approach. Considered a tailored experience mechanism, the optimizer allows for monitoring and modification of page loads based on web traffic of a specific moment, ever changing to the usage trends and needs of a given website at specific times. The site optimizer also builds in a clever tracking mechanism to predict a given users’ viewing patterns to pre-load pages and create an illusion of faster load times.
Offered as both an appliance to a company’s own datacenter or as a cloud-based service, Strangeloop can work with any IT infrastructure currently in place and lead to increased conversion rates, higher revenues, improved search engine results and most importantly, happier customers!
In a bold move to continue supporting a 360-degree ad campaign, Clinique UK is deploying improved reality platforms to enhance current print ads and help drive sales. They invited users to interact through print and out-of-home ads via smart devices during the month of March.
Teaming up with the enhanced reality Blippar application, which can be easily downloaded for iOS and Android platforms for free, the print ads come to life by creating an interactive version of the ad viewed directly on a user’s mobile device screen. By interacting with the advertisements users can view more detailed info on the showcased product and even make a purchase if so inclined.
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Jessica Butcher, founding partner and marketing director for Blippar, notes that print is a stagnant medium that needs to continue to evolve, “Print is, by its nature, old news as soon as it comes off a printing press, and this technology enables it to be used as a trigger for real-time information updates, a digital bridge to mobile Web pages, content downloads or interactive touch screen experiences. Augmented reality is simply one of the forms of content delivery that can be facilitated by this technology.”
This augmented reality platform goes even further by allowing users to connect with a store locator through GPS, view products and brand related videos, connect to Clinique’s mobile site and share comments and view threads via Facebook to see what other people are saying about the product.
This level of interaction brings new meaning and value to print advertising, and when tied into a relevant mobile campaign, a brand can reach higher levels of engagement and drive sales.
Foresee Results, an independent customer experience analytics firm, produces a 100-point study annually, measuring consumer experience across many types of retail platforms. Apple came in on top of their 2011 mobile shopping experience study with an 85 point score, followed closely by Amazon at 84 points. These high scores can be attributed to both company’s success at keeping their mobile sites as similar as possible to the standard website, both in terms of navigation, content and ergonomics.
Larry Freed, current president and CEO at Foresee Results, recognizes first-hand the rising trend in mobile commerce but also notes the challenges ahead. “There is a lot of room for improvement and there are a lot of complexities and variables with mobile commerce, from various operating systems to device and screen size,” he said. “It’s not as simple as the early days of the Web when everyone was building for Internet Explorer. Now you’ve got multiple OS’s, phones and tablets, and various screen sizes, all which affect the user experience. You need to apply the same concepts on mobile as you do on the Web, but it’s a very different platform.”
Navigation and functionality are at the heart of why some mobile shopping experiences fall short. It is the combination of driving device capable content, ease of use and high levels of security to turn mobile “spectators” into actual customers. Further, measuring usage habits and customer satisfaction closely will separate companies that truly want to maximize on this payment trend and those that may not realize the potential for mobile to become integrated into daily shopping habits of customers. According to Foresee Results, customers that are satisfied with their mobile shopping experience are 54% more likely to return to that very same mobile site and shop again.
Since customer perception and expectations for mobile experiences are largely based on traditional website navigation, functionality and content, companies need to recognize this link and increase efforts to tie-in both traditional and mobile site design.
Founded in late 2009 by media maven Sarah Prevette, Sprouter was built on the notion of creating an online community to give start-ups and small-business owners access to professional guidance from experienced industry veterans.
Entrepreneurs log into the portal and are lead through a series of information pages where they can ask specific questions, browse topics, comment in discussion forums and share info with other networks. Sprouter by no means uses crowdsourcing to answer questions, as all answers are gathered from the panel of proven experts and their associates. This panel of experts is carefully chosen to provide real-world advice on various topics such as business law, marketing and funding.
Taking their initiative offline, Sprouter also hosts a series of events called “Sprout Up” allowing users to connect in a live conference format with other entrepreneurs, business owners and panel experts. Hosted monthly, over 600 entrepreneurs meet and greet at each event and gain insightful information to help build up their respective businesses. Complementing these events is a periodical magazine called the “Sprouter Weekly” which aggregates common questions on the site and outlines useful information for start-ups.
Allowing access to business minds such as Aaron Patzer of Mint.com fame and Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software, Sprouter provides an instant connection to a wealth of information, potential investors and expert knowledge instantly, all in an easy to use web based platform.
It is estimated that 2.5 billion adults worldwide do not have access to standard financial products and services. Traditional money transfers and pre-paid credit cards are helping to bridge this gap and offer consumers convenient, low-cost options for financial services.
Western Union and MasterCard have recognized this need and see an opportunity to develop a crossover network between both companies’ electronic payment networks. Over the last year, both companies have been collaborating to develop a partnership that would see MasterCard become the pre-paid card of choice for Western Union and Western Union the preferred money transfer solution for MasterCard. As such, cardholders will be able to access these global networks to reload funds at any MasterCard rePower location as well as selected Western Union Agent locations. Consumers using the Western Union money transfer service will also now be able to send funds directly to eligible MasterCard holders, offering a viable, non-cash solution to these financially underserved clients.
According to Hikmet Ersek, President and Chief Executive Officer of Western Union, “This agreement sets the stage to globalize prepaid services. We’re opening up more options for consumers around the world by combining Western Union’s global network of money movement solutions with MasterCard’s world class global electronic payments network.”
“The primary focus of our global partnership is to enable greater financial inclusion for consumers and provide additional electronic payment options that create efficiencies in their daily lives,” said MasterCard President and Chief Executive Officer Ajay Banga. “We look forward to all of the benefits that our partnership will bring to consumers around the world.”
Taco Bell and Sony have released a mobile sweepstakes tied-in to the much anticipated product launch of Sony’s PlayStation Vita game console. This collaboration seeks to further engage Taco Bell consumers while highlighting both the PlayStation Vita release as well as key Taco Bell products from it’s “Unlock the box” campaign. Taco Bell’s lead digital brand experience manager, Ronalee Zarate-Bayani, had this to say about the collaboration: “Gaming is incredibly popular among our customers, so together with Sony, we are bringing a game-changing technology to fans before it launches and allowing these fans to have fun while winning.”
The contest platform is two-fold, on one level users can enter to win via participation in a mobile specific game, or simply text in special product codes found on Taco Bell’s “$5 buck box”. Supporting both the iPhone and Android OS, the mobile game will allow Sony’s core gaming demographic to connect with PlayStation Vita news, updates and pre-release information.
Collaboration between the two companies on a mobile marketing initiative points to the growing importance and recognition of how consumers are incorporating mobile into their daily lives. Ms. Zarate-Bayani has made this notion a focal point when developing digital campaigns and notes “Mobile is a priority for Taco Bell as we know that it is an important aspect to our consumers’ daily lives, especially when making decisions about where to eat. Our overall digital strategy involves engaging with our consumers in relevant ways, and leveraging new and exciting technology through mobile provides these experiences to our fans on a daily basis.”
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This pay-at-the-counter device is the perfect solution for high-traffic / high-volume retail, restaurant and service environments looking for a hassle free and complete point-of-sale option. Boasting a lightweight hand-over device perfect for end-consumer usage at cash registers, the terminal is equally suited to multi-lane environments.
Complete with a powerful user-friendly PIN Pad and extensive POS capabilities, the Verifone VX810 Duet leaves merchants with many options to expand. Using the Electronic Cash Register interface (ECRi), the device can be connected to existing POS systems enabling control of transactions directly from the cash register if needed and compatible.
Entirely secure, the VX810 Duet is backed by 3DES encryption, Master/Session and DUKPT key management, is PCI PED approved and uses VeriShield authentication to keep all transactions covered and safe.
Through a simple set-up, the VX810 Duet is easy to implement and does not require additional certification for merchants, bringing you EMV capabilities right away!
Lifestyle apparel retailer Guess has launched a program to bring innovative elements to their in-store shopping experience. Leveraging Verifone’s GlobalBay mobile retail platforms and software, Guess has set up rolling stands with iPads in approximately 12 stores across the USA. This is a test phase for the retailer, with plans to expand this program to their other locations based on the usage rates and overall functionality within their existing retail environment.
The iPad stations allow customers to shop for products in-store as usual but are seamlessly integrated into the shopping experience by exposing them to enhanced brand level content. The iPads come preloaded with GlobalBay’s Lookbook application which showcases videos, content, and an innovative product catalog function that ties to an e-commerce platform, all while integrating with current Guess POS and inventory systems. The software is stock with these backend functionality, allowing a brand to simultaneously maintain creative control over their layout and aesthetic design to properly showcase their features.
The stations are mounted on wheels, allowing employees the ability to move the mobile iPad freely in the store so they can, for example, assist further in changing rooms by suggesting alternate colors and styles to patrons who are actively trying on their products. Store managers are mandated to use the stations to help train new staff, give up-to-date product knowledge sessions, and help manage the Guess brand. Future plans for the system include the addition of a barcode scanner and credit and debit card mag stripe units to automate the checkout process, a similar trend that has taken hold in major department and grocery stores.
Will this be the end of the salesperson? Not likely, but it will modernize the way retail stores, their clerks, and their customers interact. The traditional retail shopping experience at Guess and other clothing stores alike are going to be become much more technology-driven and better equipped for enhanced service.
The recent US Thanksgiving holiday weekend showed positive retail sales comparatives to the previous year, indicating that the economy is showing signs of improvement.
Shoppers were out and about in abundance, both in traditional retail and online before, during and after one of the most important holiday seasons for US retail. As online retail sales continue to trend upwards, so has the rise of mobile purchases and this holiday season was exceptionally positive for this emerging sector.
IBM’s Coremetrics retail data division stated an annual increase of 39% in online sales over last year with significance on emerging mobile shopping trends. Consumers opting for mobile devices to visit retailers’ websites versus traditional computers or laptops, rose from 6.45% in 2010 to 15.2% this year and actual consumers making an online purchase increased to 11.09% up from 4.25% in 2010.
eBay has termed this emerging trend as “couch commerce” where most consumers find time in-between turkey, football and family, to surf and shop the web from the comfort of their living room using a tablet or mobile device.
As shopping gets more “comfortable” and more mobile devices become accessible to the general population, perhaps we’ll finally see the end to the massive pile-ups of people running into stores on US’s Black Friday and Canada’s Boxing Day.