Tag Archives: retail

Placecast: Getting National Retailers on the Local Web

National retailers are increasingly looking to get their local stores into local websites, directories and social and mobile sites. But they are confronting issues such as bad local store listing data, and the challenge of competing with locally-owned stores for social and mobile media awareness, according to a morning panel hosted by Red Door Interactive at its San Diego headquarters.

Members of the panel included ESET VP Dan Clark; Universal Business Listings CEO Doyal Bryant; Citysearch National Sales Manager Michael Tood: and Placecast Chief Revenue Officer Jeff Montgomery.

For national retailers, “the biggest competitor is a locally-owned shop,” notes Placecast’s Montgomery. “Digital Physical” efforts attached to consumer wallets are the way to go.

Because of that, the natural goal for chains like Target is to zero in on what makes the local Target outlet “My Target.” Relevancy is tied to where you are,” says Montgomery. In fact, it is “not just where you are, but the time of day. It means something if it is 8:30 on a Saturday night.

Montgomery suggests that retailers begin to go beyond “no brainer” Website features such as Store locaters and product info and start digging in with video, mobile and SMS. “Mobile web sites are obviously something you need to do in the future,” he says. But in conversations with more than 160 agencies and brands, Placecast has learned that the bug question is: “what do I do in mobile?”

“The objective is to learn as quickly as possible,” says Montgomery. “Don’t just look at clicks. They don’t capture a user’s emotional connections.”

Montgomery suggests that retailers start with short codes and keywords, which have a similar impact as more sophisticated bar codes and scannable coupons, even if they don’t exactly provide “the same rich experience.” What retailers will find is that SMS is “incredibly affordable. You can build that asset right out of the gate,” he says. They’ll also see very high open rates in email from smart phone users. The mobile open rate is 82 percent, and 69 percent open immediately.

Red Door Interactive Headquarters, San Diego

Puma Uses Web to Boost Local Stores

The idea of national retailers using the Web to add a local presence is always a good one, at least up on the white board. But up to now, such stores really haven’t had much to say at the local level.

Now, Puma’s sneaker and athleticware outlets in Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco are having a go at it. As DM News reports, Puma is highlighting one employee per store to “bring the brand to life.”

The featured employee will be the focal point of a variety of activities in their stores, and favorite spots around town and scavenger hunts will be highlighted on local city guides. Employees will also vote on best shoppers, with results being shown on Facebook

“Most people find it easier to connect with the person that works in the shop around the corner from them and eats in the same restaurants or goes to the same bars that they do instead of some model in another city,” said a rep from the agency.

Target Teams with Comcast’s Daily Candy for ‘Red Hot Shop’

Target expects to add some editorial oomph to its designer items by hiring Comcast’s Daily Candy to independently select and write about them in the “Red Hot Shop” a new section of the Target site co-branded with Daily Candy. All the selected items can be purchased via a button to Target’s ecommerce shop. Target is paying the site as part of a broader ad deal.

It is the first news out of Daily Candy for some time. Except for the departure of longtime CEO Pete Sheinbaurn this May, the site has largely gone silent since Comcast’s $125 million acquisition in August 2008. Besides Daily Candy, Comcast also owns Plaxo, Fandango, FanCast and Vehix; the company has discussed possible synergies between some of the sites.

Daily Candy is one of the premier publishers of highly targeted local emails, with 12 local editions of its daily emails and 2.6 million subscribers (a number that appears not to have been updated). According to a media kit, 95 percent read the email almost every day, and the vast majority of readers are college graduate females with a median age of 32.

NAA 2009: ‘Local’ is the New ‘Luxury’ in Retail

While retailers are reducing their brand advertising, along with store inventory and headcount at their headquarters and stores, promotions, local events and direct marketing efforts are getting a big boost, says TNS Retail Forward Exec VP Dan Stenik, who was speaking at The NAA’s Annual Convention in San Diego.

Quoting an ancient Chinese proverb, Stenik says “there is an opportunity riding on dangerous winds.” The wildest opportunities may be with specialty stores inside malls, who have been forced to boost their own marketing as the malls themselves lose favor. But they’re going to have a hard time.

More ready opportunities might be with retailers that are in tune with the depressed times, which have brought in a mood of “conscious consumption” rather than “conspicuous consumption” (think green). “They equate frugality with morality,” says Stenik.

The new consumer is into responsible purchasing…things that are “unique, genuine and local, “ he says. “hey want good, safe sustainable foods. They want ‘limited editions,’ ‘insider information.’”

“Local is a luxury,” adds Stenik. “It is not common. The relevance today is in ‘value, values, and being valued.’”

Whole Foods, for instance, is state-of-the-art in driving the value of local. The new Venice,CA location has local produce, assortments, a chocolate island, artists, jewelers and designers selling goods inside the store. They have also commissioned murals from a local (and world renowned) artist.

“Their focus is on the local shopper,” says Stenik. “The common denominator is on ‘relationships,’ ‘trusts’ and ‘collaboration.’”

Another hot trend in retail are “pop up” stores like The Bullseye Bodega from the likes of Target and TJ Maxx, who are selling their private label goods in temporary locations, often around the holidays. “These stores need to centralize and process a lot of advertising over a few weeks,” notes Stenik.

Given these trends, consumer electronics and appliance stores, apparel and shoe stores, drug stores, building/hardware stores and supermarkets ought to do the best in the next couple of years. Home furnishing stores, furniture stores, discount department stores and department stores will have a harder time.

The successful companies will be those that sell lifestyle items that make living fun. Not the products themselves,” says Stenik. “You see retailers getting in to services…drug stores and supermarkets with instore health clinics. They are building their entire business around it.”

Outside.in Redefines Local as ‘You’

The relationship between personalization and local has always been a close one, but now Outside.in is banking that consumers want to marry them together. The placeblogger site, which recently received $3 million in new funding from a group of high profile cyber people such as Fred Wilson and Esther Dyson, has rolled out several software personalization/localization tools.

CEO Mark Josephson, who arrived at Outside.in ten weeks ago after serving as president of Seevast, an online marketing firm, says the new software is “centered around geotagging content. It changes the paradigm of local. You are not one of many people in the zip code. You are in the center of local.”

Included in the rollout is “Radar,” which incorporates instant alert tools like Twitter and allows you to tag things within 1,000 feet or “close to your heart.” Josephson’s kids’ elementary school is an example he cites.

Another piece of it, just released today in beta, is the Geo-Toolkit. The toolkit includes My Feed, a “GeoWeb” optimizer that automatically locates the places and neighborhoods mentioned in blogger reports and adds them to the Outside.in database. It also include My Stats, a tag cloud/technorati –like bag of utilities that lets blogs compare what subjects they write about most (“The Bowery”), compare their results with other bloggers, and see which stories generate the most links, and links back.

“People are clamoring for customization,” argues Josephson. “They look at feeds before news alerts…they are picking up their newspapers less and less. People are looking at being ultra-targeted, but they don’t know how.”

Josephson says he’s happy to get on the soap box to push the personalization concept, and has already taken part in a couple of Innovation Days at ad agencies. “We’ve had really interesting conversations,” he says. “We had one conversation with a retailer that was getting ready to do a store opening in a certain neighborhood. He can use a tool by OutSide.in called ‘nearby ads,'” he says – a service that is like NearbyNow. “Then he can add reviews and news. Anybody with a store locator can do this.

“We have thousands of content sources….absolutely some are businesses that blog about things like trivia nights on Tuesday night…or drink specials,” he says.

Retail Services Beyond Store Locators: Where2GetIt

Local retailers are increasingly going beyond store locators to drive sales. The extensions to store locators include brand locators, coupons, menus, trip planners, and even guides to where WiFi, non-smoking and RV parking can be found.

A leading vendor in providing retailer solutions is Anaheim-based Where2GetIt. Roughly 280 companies, and 550 brands are using Where2GetIt today, representing 700,000 brick and mortar locations. These include manufacturers, retailers, restaurants and agencies.

Brands that use Where2GetIt include such mainstays as Office Depot, Hancock Fabrics, Columbia sportswear, Mountain Hardware, Patagonia, Monster Cable, Mitsubishi Digital, Sony, ViewSonic, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, Applebee’s, White Castle and Cracker Barrel. I ran across the firm looking for an Alpine car stereo, for instance.

The 25-person company got its start in 1997, when it won an assignment from Seiko to build online maps showing where its watches could be bought. Since then, Where2GetIt has extended its “locator” capabilities to a wide range of brand specific products.

It provides a “turkey locator” for Popeye’s Fried Chicken; a “running locator” for Rebok; a “pie locator” for Bakers Square; and a “job locator” for recruitment firms. What ties them all together is a focus on helping consumers find brand-name products.

Where2GetIt CEO Manish Patel says the firm’s “Business Locator” continues to be the firm’s mainstay – typically one of the two most used features on a retail website. But the supplemental products have become increasingly important to the firm’s business model, which is based on licensing. For instance, adding coupons to Popeye’s site doubled the chain’s website traffic, he says.

The firm’s other services tendered tend to be more strategic (i.e. future oriented). Firms such as Office Depot, for instance, use Where2GetIt’s mobile products. They include mobile locators, mobile browsers, SMS text messaging, and toll-free 800 interactive voice response.

The firm is also heavily engaged in site analytics to drive sales conversion. “We try to figure out how far people will drive” using crowd sourcing and other techniques, says Patel.