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Exclusive: Brands to Watch

BY Marianne Wilson

Learn about emerging brands on the cusp of break-out success and formerly solid brands in need of a reset in this exclusive report, More Climbers & Fallers.

A digital follow-up to Chain Store Age’s annual State of the Industry Report from Interbrand Design Forum, the report sheds light on retailers who know how to connect with customers in a transforming marketplace.

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Target extends mobile commerce with Like2Buy on Instagram, and Apple Pay

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Target Corp. is extending its mobile strategy with two new options. The retailer has adopted Like2Buy, a platform that enables the chain’s Instagram followers to easily buy products featured in photos from participating brands. Target also is integrating the software for Apple’s new mobile payments service, Apple Pay, into its mobile app.

With more than 300,000 followers each, Target’s two Instagram feeds (Target and Target Style), have been known to garner thousands of likes on a single Instagram, according to the retailer. The Like2Buy feature gives Target the chance to turn all those ‘likes’ into actual purchases. (Target is partnering with visual marketing and analytics firm Curalate on the Like2Buy platform.)

“We’re excited to be one of the first brands to offer guests the opportunity to shop our product on Instagram,” said Dustee Jenkins, VP of public relations and social media at Target. “We frequently get questions from our guests who are excited about something they see on the platform and want to know how to purchase it — this tool helps us address this need.”

Target is the second retailer to adopt Like2Buy. The platform was launched by Nordstrom in late August.

Apple Pay: With Apple Pay, shoppers using the Target app for iOS will be able to make purchases with one touch using Touch ID.


“We know mobile is becoming the front door to Target, and we’re focused on creating the best possible mobile experiences for our guests,” said Jason Goldberger, senior VP of Target.com and Mobile. “We’re thrilled to support Apple Pay to streamline how our guests pay in the Target app – this absolutely makes purchasing from Target’s mobile app easier than ever.”


Apple Pay will be available in the Target iPhone app in October in the U.S. with a free update to iOS 8.

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Toys ‘R’ Us holiday strategy includes online and in-store enhancements

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — With just 105 shopping days left until Christmas (as of Sept. 10), Toys “R” Us outlined its holiday strategy at a preview event in New York City. Among the highlights: free online layaway, enhanced loyalty program, improved online and in-store checkout, and two new in-store shops.

“Our focus at Toys “R” Us for the 2014 holiday season is to make it easy for customers to shop with us, both in-store and online,” said Hank Mullany, president, Toys “R” Us, U.S.

With an eye to expanding its omnichannel capabilities, Toys “R” Us is in a pilot with Google’s Shopping Express offering shoppers same-day delivery in four markets, with New York and Los Angeles added most recently. It’s also expanded in-store pick-up service to more countries and added shipping from stores to 14 countries including China.

The company is introducing free online holiday layaway for both Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us. Customers can create and manage their layaway orders online, making payments in the store or online. They can choose to pick up the order in the store or have it delivered to their home.

Mullany said the company has also made significant improvements to its online checkout process in time for holiday shopping, and will be launching a new, curated online gift finder. It also has enhanced its in-store pick up option.

In-Store: On the brick-and-mortar front, Toys “R” Us is launching two new shops, both with upfront locations. The “Here’s What’s Hot” shop showcases hot new products and top trending products. The “Gift Express” shop offers a curated grab-and-go assortment of top items priced for $30 or less, along with gift bags.

The company has improved checkout transaction time and is also rolling out new navigational signage in Toys “R” Us stores nationwide, which includes an upfront welcome map highlighting category locations and large overhead aisle signage identifying major product categories and brands. Additional wayfinding signage are located at aisle entry points and within each aisle.

“We’re taking a thoughtful and layered approach to help customers find what they want easy and fast,” Mullany said.

Rewards: The retailer is enhancing its Rewards “R” Us loyalty program, whose 18 million members are responsible for 70% of sales. Customers can now earn more rewards. For every $125 spent, members will receive $5 in rewards, with the reward doubled if a company credit card is used. The retailer also is making it easier to redeem rewards, and will offer members special “partnership perks.”

Toys “R” Us has been working to position the company for long-term growth through its “TRU Transformation” strategy, which includes a focus on transforming the customer experience, in-store and on-line. Its efforts have begun to bear fruit. The chain is coming off two consecutive quarters of positive store-sales.

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