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Motorola’s new mobile marketing platform uses Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Motorola Solutions has launched a new unified indoor locationing platform designed to help retailers boost customer engagement. The company’s MPact Platform for Mobile Marketing breaks new ground by using both WI-FI and Bluetooth Smart technology to engage with shoppers in store aisles by offering them customized offers and sales assistance.

“A majority of consumers are already using their smart phones for shopping-related activities,” said Girish Rishi, senior VP, Enterprise Solutions, Motorola Solutions MPact helps retailers interact with shoppers in-store, adding valuable engagement through technology. The solution can help shoppers request in-store assistance and receive customized offers to their mobile devices at the right time, potentially increasing total sales and providing an optimized shopping experience.”

Motorola is collaborating with four technology vendors to help make MPact an end-to-end locationing solution:

• Aisle411, which allows users to find products with inventory searchable indoor maps while receiving special offers based on their location in the aisle;

• Digby, whose Localpoint location marketing platform allows retailers to engage shoppers and measure performance throughout the customer journey;

• Phunware, which provides turn-key, multi-screen solutions integrated with the MPact platform that engage, manage and monetize users; and

• Swirl, whose beacon marketing platform allows retailers to deliver highly relevant mobile content and experiences to customers while they shop.

“We’re making customer engagement real and possible with this platform and our lineup of partners,” said Gary Singh, head of product solutions and marketing for Motorola Solutions.

MPact enables shoppers that opt-in to receive customized offers and personal assistance via a Bluetooth Smart-triggered loyalty app and access Wi-Fi to locate products in store, read reviews, compare prices and look up information. The solution offers three levels of location services: Presence, Zone and Position using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart to pinpoint the exact location of customer devices in relation to the merchandise they are looking at. The combination of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Smart technology gives insight and visibility to a shopper’s journey in the store while eliminating the need for retailers to deploy, integrate and manage two separate technologies.

MPact’s c-suite of components include:

• Bluetooth Smart beacons, which transmit radio signals to smart phones/tablets, can operate in various modes including Apple’s iBeacon;

• Apple iOS and Android client software development kits for integration into loyalty applications for shopper smartphones/tablets; and

An installation application and cloud-based server software with floor plan views, shopper traffic flow insight with analytics and Bluetooth Smart beacon management capabilities.

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Chinese Internet giant Alibaba files IPO in the United States

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., the Chinese Web behemoth, filed paperwork on Tuesday for what some experts claim could be one of the biggest initial public offerings in U.S. history. The company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to raise $1 billion, but many analysts say the company could bring in more than the $16 billion Facebook raised in 2012.

Alibaba is involved in nearly every faucet of digital operations, including e-commerce, online payment systems, online streaming and social media. It operates China’s largest consumer-to-consumer site, Taobao, as well as the business-to consumer Tmall site.

According to the filing, in the 12 months ended Dec. 31, Alibaba’s three marketplaces — Taobao, Tmall and Juhuasuan — had 231 million active buyers and 8 million active sellers that generated $248 billion of transactions, or roughly equal to the economy of Finland, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Alibaba did not say which exchange it plans to list on. Both Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange are competing for assignment.

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PwC: Multibillion dollar deals drive retail, consumer M&A activity in Q1

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — U.S. retail and consumer merger & acquisition activity during first quarter 2014 was primarily driven by five multibillion dollar transactions, with more than half aligned to the food and beverage sector, confirming a positive deals outlook for the year, according to PwC’s U.S. retail and consumer deals insights first quarter 2014 report.

For the three month period ending March 31, 2014, there were a total of 34 deals in the retail and consumer sector with disclosed values greater than $50 million, accounting for $39.3 billion in total deal value. Deal volume for the quarter was consistent with first quarter 2013, while deal value was down 14% from the prior year. However, excluding the purchase of HJ Heinz by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and 3G Capital Partners Ltd (a total value of $28 billion) in first quarter 2013, total deal value for first quarter 2014 was up 119% year-over-year.

“According to our Global CEO Survey, retail and consumer goods CEOs are seeing a need to change their strategies around M&A, joint ventures and strategic alliances to capitalize on global trends they believe will most transform their business,” said Leanne Sardiga, partner and PwC’s U.S. retail & consumer deals leader. “But with very few retail CEOs saying a change program is underway or completed, we believe this suggests further M&A is on the horizon – and we’re currently helping many companies with these strategic overhauls.”

Cross border activity increased during the quarter, on a year-over-year and sequential basis, representing 59% of total deal volume during first quarter 2014 – higher than the average, 51%, over the last eight quarters. The rise is expected to continue through 2014 as retail and consumer companies increasingly look to expand into faster-growing international markets to bolster stagnant organic growth in their home market, as well as to drive growth from an expanding middle class internationally.

Accordingly, PwC’s Global CEO Survey found that 18% of retail and consumer CEOs plan to initiate or complete a cross border deal in the coming twelve months.

PwC’s analysis notes that private equity (PE) activity remained strong in first quarter 2014, led by the proposed $8.5 billion acquisition of Safeway Inc.

Spin-offs and divestitures remained a key strategy in the quarter for retail and consumer companies looking to refocus their core businesses, and those in the food and beverage sectors have been the most active over the last five years.

Divestitures were up slightly to 33% during first quarter 2014 compared to 31% in fourth quarter 2013 – consistent with the average for the last eight quarters. According to the report, spin-offs also remain quite prominent in the sector, with eight transactions in the pipeline as well as a continued level of overall shareholder activism.

Activity is expected to increase in the remaining quarters of 2014 as the retail and consumer IPO pipeline is the strongest the sector has seen since April 2012, with 16 companies on file expecting to raise $4.7 billion, contingent upon volatility in the market affecting these potential transactions.

“A number of key deals this quarter were consistent with several of the themes we’ve been seeing over the past year, including PE investment in retail and continued activity in non-store retailing. In fact, the trend of blurring the lines of retail and technology companies continues to drive deal activity as retailers look at acquisition opportunities to quickly transform their businesses and capabilities to adapt to and better meet evolving consumer expectations, and as shoppers increasingly look to digital and mobile channels,” Sardiga said.

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