MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

New service offers real-time local mobile offers

BY Dan Berthiaume

Woodland Hills, Calif. – A good politician knows to focus locally, and increasingly retailers are following that lead. In that spirit BrightStreet Ventures, the technology affiliate of shopping center developer NewMark Merrill Companies, has launched BlueList, a real-time mobile offers service for local merchants and nearby consumers.

The service, which launched on July 4, has more than 60 merchants signed up across a range of retail, restaurant, and service categories in Southern California's. Participating brands include Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Cold Stone Creamery, PostalAnnex, Subway, Walgreens, Jersey Mikes, and Sport Clips.

Merchants can post mobile offers in BlueList for $.99 per offer per location per day and time-limited flash deals for $2.99 per offer per day. There is no revenue share and BlueList doesn't have start-up fees, memberships, or contracts for the merchants.

BlueList is the end result of an 18-month outreach effort with local merchants, national chains, and shopping center owner-operators. A central goal of BlueList is being able to work in all kinds of neighborhoods and with all kinds of merchants. This has led BrightStreet Ventures to partner with shopping center operators like Regency Centers, Combined Properties, Westwood Financial Corp., DSB Properties, and NewMark Merrill Companies.

BlueList provides consumers with a proximity app that highlights daily deals at the places around them they already like to shop. Offers are sortable by Nearby, Popular, Category, or Favorites. When redeeming an offer, customers can provide feedback on the experience directly to the merchants themselves.

“While working with our over 1,500 tenants in three states, it became obvious that to be successful, tenants needed to have both an in-store and an on-line presence,” said Sandy Sigal, president and CEO of NewMark Merrill Companies. “The options available to our tenants were either paying a huge revenue share or needing to pay very large monthly commitments, and nothing provided a real-time opportunity for merchants to connect with consumers moment by moment. This led us to come up an inexpensive, localized, and real-time marketing platform that puts our small merchants on the same footing as the larger ones who can afford more expensive on-line platforms.”

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FINANCE

Retail disposition firm buys daily deal platform

BY Dan Berthiaume

Northbrook, Ill. – Hilco Merchant Resources LLC (HMR), a provider of retail disposition services such as liquidation and acquisitions, has purchased online retail and daily deal e-commerce platform Deal Genius LLC.

Deal Genius was launched as a flash retail sales web business in 2004. The site delivers daily deals on brand name home goods, apparel, consumer electronics, pet supplies and other merchandise. The company was founded by CEO Chris Matsakis, who will continue in that role going forward.

Deal Genius will continue to be managed as an independent business within HMR. The site will expand with new products and services, including an infusion of merchandise from various HMR retail projects.

"This is a strategic move for HMR and a transaction that we’ve been evaluating for some time while reviewing whether to build out or to buy an e-commerce platform to complement our other successful sales channels,” said Michael Keefe, CEO of HMR. “Deal Genius provided us with both an immediately recognized e-commerce brand name, and the opportunity to tap into the knowledge and expertise of the innovative management team that built the successful online retail business from scratch.”

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News

UPS delivers expanded e-commerce options

BY CSA STAFF

The e-commerce experience will be easier for retailers to execute and more enjoyable for shoppers this holiday season thanks to a dramatic expansion of a flexible fulfillment service UPS introduced last year.

UPS plans to expand its UPSAccess Point service to 2,400 locations in 100 U.S. cities by December of this year bringing the total number of domestic locations to 8,000. The rapid expansion of a service first introduced last July is a major benefit to retailers because it offers shoppers increased fulfillment options and addresses what UPS has identified as a major e-commerce deficiency.

“We listened to consumers who said they were not buying online because they didn’t have a secure delivery location,” said Alan Gershenhorn, UPS executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “By providing local options, we are improving the e-commerce delivery experience, which helps retailers and UPS.”

One way it helps retailers is UPS technology gives retailers the ability to offer consumers the option to ship their orders directly to a UPS Access Point location during checkout. The increased flexibility afforded by an expanded network of conveniently located pick up and drop off locations means shoppers who aren’t home when UPS attempts to make delivery can receive their products without rescheduling a delivery date. For example, when a UPS driver can’t make a delivery at a consumer’s residence, a note is left indicating when and where the package will be available for pickup at a UPS Access Point location.

To help determine optimal locations for the new Access Points, UPS mined its delivery data to glean insights into consumers’ package acceptance behavior.

“We looked for cluster of consumers who were having a difficult time receiving their packages on the first delivery attempt,” said Stephanie Callaway, UPS’ vice president of new product development.

Initially, those consumer clusters were in Boston, Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco when the service launched last year. The locations were neighborhood type business such as convenience and grocery stores, dry cleaners and delis that had extended evening and weekend hours and desired the additional traffic that came with being an Access Point.

Another key insight that led to the expansion decision related to input from the 16 million members of the UPS My Choice program that provides package recipients with enhanced tracking and re-routing capabilities. Research by UPS showed that the number of people who desired alternative delivery locations increased to 33% from 26% last year.

The recent expansion follows a major move by UPS earlier this year that extended the UPS Access Point network to all 4,400 domestic UPS Store locations. That move gave the UPS Access Point network 5,600 locations. With the addition of another 2,400 independent locations in the coming months UPS expects to hit the 8,000 location domestic target by year end. Those 8,000 locations are part of a global network expected to number 22,000 locations by year end, including 12,000 locations in Europe where the service was first established.

A total of 100 cities will gain new independent locations in the coming months including Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis and Tampa.

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