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Microsoft teams with First Data to provide frictionless offer redemption at POS

BY Marianne Wilson

Atlanta — First Data Corp announced that the First Data OfferWise solution has been integrated with Microsoft’s Bing Offers Card-Linked, which consolidates local deals from a number of deal providers. OfferWise is an open platform that enables retailers to electronically attach offers to any consumer payment card or mobile wallet to allow streamlined and automatic redemption of the offer at the point of sale (POS).

“We believe the card-linked applications space is an exciting area of innovation where we continue to be focused,” said Dom Morea, senior VP, advanced solutions and innovation, First Data. “Microsoft is an important addition to the roster of publishers using our capabilities with the First Data OfferWise solution to transform merchant marketing, advertising and offers.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 95% of commerce still takes place at the physical point of sale with 5% online. With Bing Offers Card-Linked, merchants will now have frictionless redemption of an “offer” or “deal” at checkout without the consumer having to use a paper coupon, voucher or promotion code on their mobile device. Other benefits include no need to change the POS system, no additional effort required to train staff in handling redemptions, and no need to wait for payments from deal promoters.

“We’re focused on connecting digital advertising to the physical world and doing so in a way that minimizes friction for merchants and consumers so they can engage with each other in valuable ways. We believe that card-linked offers will play a key role in delivering on this promise,” said Erik Jorgensen, general manager of Local Advertising with Microsoft Corp. “We’re excited to partner with First Data and others in the industry to bring this to life via Bing Offers Card-Linked.”

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Mintel: High-income households shopping dollar stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Dollar stores are not just for lower- and middle-income shoppers. In fact, half (50%) of respondents from the highest-income households ($150k+) say that they are shopping at dollar stores the same amount this year compared to last year, with 10% say they are doing so more than last year, according to new research from Mintel. Only 32% of respondents from the highest-income households claim not to shop at dollar stores.

“Dollar and discount stores benefit from continued consumer caution regarding spending, as well as an improved level of acceptance and satisfaction of the products offered and the shopping experience in these channels," said Ali Lipson, retail analyst at Mintel. "However, some consumers do have a perception of lesser quality offered at these retailers, thus choosing other channels over dollar and discount stores. In order to reverse this perception, dollar and discount stores need to promote brand name offerings to those who are unaware that well-known brands are offered at these stores. "

Some 78% of dollar-store shoppers say that stores are conveniently located, and almost three-quarters (74%) of shoppers think that dollar stores offer better prices than other retailers. But convenience and price aren’t the only features driving consumers to dollar stores: 59% of respondents say these stores are pleasant to shop in, while 54% believe brands and products sold at dollar stores are just as good as other retailers.

However, income shoppers do have an issue with the brands and products sold. Dollar store shoppers who live in households earning less than $25K are satisfied with the selection (64%), while only 34% of those in $150K+ households find the brands and products at dollar stores just as good as other retailers.

Younger men and women, those aged 18-34, are more likely than those in other age groups to say they are shopping at dollar stores more often this year compared to last year (33% of men and 31% of women versus 24% of all respondents).

"Younger consumers are an important group to target for dollar and discount stores. This group is likely to be from lower-income households as many may be students and others who are starting out in their careers and could benefit from the discount prices and convenience of these venues," said Lipson.

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Leonard Green & Partners unit to buy Juicy Couture for $195 million

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Fifth & Pacific Cos., formerly known as Liz Claiborne, agreed to sell its Juicy Couture brand to Authentic Brands Group for $195 million, according to various reports.

"This decision is the result of a process we began last year—studying our resource allocation needs, our capital structure, and the operating risks and opportunities associated with a three-brand portfolio while still maximizing shareholder value," said William McComb, CEO of Fifth & Pacific, in a statement.

Fifth & Pacific has said it wants to focus on its higher-end Kate Spade brand. The company has been selling its brands and, with the sale of Juicy, is now down to just two: Kate Spade and Lucky Brand.

Juicy, best known for its brightly-colored velour track suits, has been struggling since the sweatsuits and the brand fell out of favor.

Authentic Brands, a division of Leonard Green & Partners, will get a $10 million guaranteed minimum royalty from Fifth & Pacific, Reuters reported.

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