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Outback Steakhouse introduces Click Thru seating

BY Dan Berthiaume

Tampa, Fla. — Outback Steakhouse is introducing Click Thru Seating. With Click Thru Seating, customers visit Outback.com from any connected device to view the current wait time at their local Outback restaurant and put their name on the waitlist for now or later.

Unlike a traditional reservation, late customers will not be dropped from the wait list or penalized. The service will also soon be available on the Outback mobile app.

"No one goes to a restaurant to wait," said John Schaufelberger, Outback Steakhouse chief marketing officer. "Click Thru Seating is the fastest way to get seated at Outback Steakhouse, allowing guests to plan ahead and decide how they want to spend their time."

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Stylinity enables shoppable selfies

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Stylinity, a new mobile app letting users share shoppable images and earn rewards for purchases they influence is now available for download on iTunes. Instead of hashtagging brands, users use their iPhones to scan price tags and attach product information to their photos, creating a shoppable link embedded in the image.

With their iPhone’s barcode scanner, users can instantly enter product information, and then have pricing, product description and an "I Want This" purchase link embedded in the photo to share to favorite social networks, right from the app. Sharing earns users rewards points redeemable for cash, products and exclusive experiences. Shoppable images are also shared on Stylinity.com, a social shopping discovery marketplace. Stylinity features products from hundreds of brands, from Urban Outfitters to Forever 21 to The Limited to Sephora. New brands go live every week.

"Stylinity is the only app that recognizes your style influence and rewards you for purchase-driving recommendations," said Tadd Spering, CEO. "It brings the fun, social experience back to shopping, letting you show your style off as you share your life moments and memories through shoppable photos. Your friends already want to know where you got that great outfit you're wearing in your latest selfie–now you get rewarded when they purchase it."

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Deloitte forecasts a happy holiday, with 9% increase in spending on gifts

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Shoppers plan to spend more during the upcoming holiday season with omnichannel shoppers having even higher spending expectations. According to Deloitte’s 29th annual holiday survey, total holiday spending is predicted to increase by 13% to $1,299 per household, including gifts, socializing away from home, entertaining at home, non-gift clothing for family or self, home/holiday furnishings, and any other holiday-related spending not in the other categories.

Spending on just gifts is expected to rise by 9% to $458 from $421 the prior year. Consumers who shop across store, mobile and online channels are expected to spend 66% more on gifts than those shopping stores only, $592 compared to $357. The number of gifts consumers expect to purchase increased to 13.4, up from 12.9 in 2013, but nearly 10 fewer gifts than the high of 23.1 in 2007.

The Internet and discount/value stores once again rank as the top shopping venues, with the Internet number one 1 for the second straight year. Nearly half (45%) plan to shop online, followed closely by 44% at discount/value stores. In-store purchases are expected to account for 52% of the holiday budget.

Shoppers appear undeterred by data breaches. More than half (55%) of respondents indicate they are concerned about the protection of their personal data when shopping online and 42% have the same concerns in-store. Though there is concern for personal data when shopping both online and in-store, 56% indicated they will continue to shop this holiday season at retailers that have experienced a data breach. Nearly four in 10 (36%) indicated “I am more likely to shop at a retailer who provides me education surrounding the security of my personal data.”

Other notable findings include:

Consumers expect to make an average of five (4.6) trips to traditional “brick-and-mortar” stores during the holiday season.

Clothing remains the top item consumers plan to purchase as a gift, cited by 45% of respondents; gift cards (43%) continue to hold the number two position, but are down from a high of 69% in 2007.

The top two gifts respondents would like to receive are gift cards (37%) followed by cash (35%).

More than two-thirds (68%) plan to “shop local” this year. In the survey, “local retail stores” are defined as small businesses, independent retailers or boutique shops that are not part of national chains.

Forty-three percent of respondents will do a majority of their holiday shopping in December or later, an increase of 6% age points from 2013.

Almost seven in 10 (68%) indicated they will go online to look at an item, then go to a store to see it and buy it in the store (“webrooming”).

Nearly half (49%) indicated they will go to a store to look at an item, then search online for the best price and then purchase online (“showrooming”).

Roughly three-quarters (74%) of shoppers say they will be influenced by coupons/promotions.

Consumers plan to take advantage of a number of retailer offerings this year, including free shipping (68%), free returns (52%), price matching (45%), extended holiday hours (35%), order online for pick up in-store (34%) and free layaway (16%).

Nearly half (47%) of shoppers say they do not rely on Black Friday as much as they used to for holiday shopping.

“With the short, 27-day shopping stretch between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, retailers need to be sharp with their promotional timing, inventory management and distribution capabilities,” said Alison Paul, vice chairman and retail sector leader, Deloitte LLP. “Retailers that can fulfill orders from both online distribution centers and store inventories, for example, may be more nimble and poised to respond quickly to pockets of high demand for certain gifts—and ensure timely holiday deliveries.”

The survey results are also available for download here.

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