MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Office Depot offers augmented reality promotion

BY Dan Berthiaume

Boca Raton, Fla. — Office Depot Inc. is partnering with pop-rock quintet R5 on the retailer’s back-to-school “Gotta Get INSPIR5D” campaign. Through Sept. 30, at most Office Depot and OfficeMax store locations, customers can engage with an augmented reality experience with the band.

By using a smartphone and the Office Depot mobile app, shoppers can see R5 appear on the phone’s screen to offer words of encouragement and then pose for a photo opportunity with them. Customers can then share their R5 group photo via their social network.

In addition, back-to-school shoppers who make an in store purchase of $75 or more, can receive a limited edition R5 “Gotta Get INSPIR5D” sticker sheet. The stickers contain exclusive R5 band member interviews, an exclusive R5 live performance, and a code for four free R5 songs to download.

The campaign’s website will also host exclusive photo and video content. Visitors can also participate in the “Gotta Get INSPIR5D” campaign via social media using the hashtag #INSPIR5D.

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REAL ESTATE

Crocs to shutter stores, cut workforce

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Footwear maker Crocs Inc., best known for its colorful plastic clogs, announced a major restructuring that includes closing stores and job cutbacks.

The plan comes on the heels of the company’s disappointing second-quarter earnings results. Earlier this month, Crocs reported that second-quarter profit fell 44% to $19.7 million.

"We have identified the key strategic and structural improvements that we expect will allow the company to achieve its potential," Andrew Rees, Crocs’ president, said in a statement. "We have a clear, well-defined strategy for addressing these issues and improving performance. Work is underway already to drive significant change throughout our company in four key areas."

Crocs said it plans to streamline its global product and marketing portfolio, reduce direct investment in smaller geographic markets, create a more efficient organizational structure and close or convert (to third-party operators) 75 to 100 Crocs-branded retail stores. Crocs has 624 stores worldwide.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

ICSC: Brick-and-mortar favorite back-to-school shopping venue

BY Marianne Wilson

New York – The back-to-school (BTS) shopping season is already in full swing, with over one-third (37%) of consumers having begun their shopping – up from the 29% who started at this time last year, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. And roughly 90% of households indicated a selection of brick-and-mortar retail as a shopping venue for the BTS season.

For all 2014 BTS shopping venues, discounters represented a 23.7% share of where consumers will shop. The biggest mover was apparel specialty stores which leaped from an 8.4% share in 2013 to a 10% share this year. The share of online as a BTS shopping venue will be 8.1% this year – a drop from last year’s 8.6%. Catalogues will comprise a 3% share. This means that brick-and-mortar retail, in total, will comprise almost a 90% share of BTS shopping.

Furthering the trend of “webrooming” – 73% of consumers indicated that they will do research online, and then purchase in a physical store.

“After a tough winter with adverse weather in much of the country, retailers have been enjoying a strong start to summer as pent-up demand has propelled sales,” said Jesse Tron, spokesman for ICSC. “This momentum will continue into the BTS selling season as well, with the vast majority of consumers indicating a strong propensity to shop for school related items. While consumers typically view BTS merchandise as an essential expenditure, we are seeing a strong indication that consumers will be spending on more discretionary purchases as well – a good omen for retail as we progress through the BTS season and into the holidays,” he added.

Total BTS expenditures per household are expected to be $672 this year. Excluding electronics, expenditures on BTS items will be $325 – up sharply from $285 in 2013. The share of consumers expecting to spend more this year jumped to 50% – a significant increase from last year when 39% expected to increase spending.

Additionally, the share that indicated they would significantly increase (over 10%) expenditures rose from 12% last year to 21% in 2014.

For 2014, 20% of consumers indicated that a change in fashion trends is a reason that they will change their spending compared to last year – doubling 2013’s indication.

Sales were the number one motivating factor for a consumer to purchase at a specific store location at 61%. The ability to physically see, touch, or try on the merchandise was second at 52%.

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