MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Porsche drives consumers to dine in ‘experience center’

BY Dan Berthiaume

Atlanta – Porsche Cars North America Inc. hopes to drive consumers to drink – and eat – at its new $100 million Porsche Experience Center and headquarters. Porsche has officially opened its new fine dining "Restaurant 356" on the second level of the Porsche Experience Center, overlooking the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

In addition to Restaurant 356 and the driver development track it overlooks, the Porsche Experience Center features a classic car gallery, restoration center, human performance center, and driving simulator lab. A business center features 13,000-sq.-ft. of conference and event space. The complex has been specifically designed as a destination for the public, where an estimated 30,000 consumers are expected to visit each year.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Batteries Plus Bulbs powers omnichannel store connection

BY Dan Berthiaume

Hartland, Wis. – Batteries Plus Bulbs, a 650-store chain specializing in batteries, lightbulbs and personal electronics repair, has a fairly traditional offering of products and services. But that doesn’t stop the retailer from delivering a modern omnichannel customer experience.

“We’re a needs-based business,” said Jayson Serrault VP of omnichannel marketing and analytics, Batteries Plus Bulbs. “Customers come to us with a specific need that has some sense of urgency and immediacy.”

Recognizing that connecting its online and in-store customer experience would both better address customer demand for quick fulfillment and also boost sales and conversion rates, Batteries Plus Bulbs launched a three-year omnichannel initiative in 2012.

“We had to put the infrastructure in place first,” said Serrault. “It took about 18 months to develop the basic omnichannel platform. We developed most of the technology in-house, using ASP.net as a basis.”

According to Serrault, Batteries Plus Bulbs’ e-commerce site had been doing an “okay” job of driving consumers to stores, but conversion rates were low/ Although at the time buy-online-pickup-in-store was not yet a proven business model, the retailer decided to include this functionality as a way of improving conversions. Early results are encouraging.

“We just launched buy online-pickup-in-store earlier in July and have had a dramatic response,” said Serrault. “More than 50% of our e-commerce sales were attributable to buy online-pickup-in-store in its first week.”

Batteries Plus Bulbs has also introduced a new geolocation feature that uses an API to a Digital Element solution to estimate where visitors to its mobile site are located and provide a list of nearby stores. The retailer uses Google functionality to calculate customer location to ensure store distance is based on driving directions, rather than on a direct line of travel.

Batteries Plus Bulbs also uses Google to enhance the search functionality on its e-commerce site. Leveraging Google Search appliances, the retailer hosts a physical Google server in its own server farm, enabling it to keep data in-house and also optimize Google algorithms for its specific customer needs.

Other pieces of the omnichannel architecture include a Cybersource payment gateway that redirects all payments to Cybersource for processing before returning them to Batteries Plus Bulbs. As 600 of the retailer’s stores are franchised, this prevents it from being classified as a service provider, which would increase the complexity of payment processing.

And to handle the complexities of managing tax compliance for 280 ownership groups in different states and cities, the chain uses Avalara AvaTax software.

Batteries Plus Bulbs faced a number of hurdles in rolling out its new omnichannel infrastructure, including a legacy architecture of distributed point solutions with individual connections that Serrault compared to “spaghetti.” The retailer replaced this convoluted model with an enterprise service bus that allowed a new set of clean connections which made systems development easier.

In addition, Batteries Plus Bulbs had to unite systems for different franchise ownership groups and its three channels of consumer, business-to-business and national accounts onto one ASP.net-based platform. Successfully achieving this goal enables the retailer to perform tasks like checking local store stocks for in-store orders placed online and alerting the store to initiate the order management process.

Looking ahead, Batteries Plus Bulbs hopes to introduce omnichannel features such as fulfilling online deliveries from local stores.

“We want to ensure everything is functional and increases convenience,” stated Serrault. “We need to understand our customers.”

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Meet New York & Company’s newest omnichannel celeb

BY CSA STAFF

New York & Company has recruited an Oscar-winning actress and singer to be the new face of its Soho Jeans Collection.

The retailer has named Jennifer Hudson to appear in an in-store, print, digital and social (#ItJustFits) marketing campaign wearing the New York-designed denim line that is inspired by a downtown Soho attitude. The new Soho Jeans Collection and Jennifer Hudson hit stores on July 22.

"I have always loved Jennifer Hudson. She is a true inspiration. Jennifer embodies the aspirations of so many women. She inspires us with her commitment to realize her dreams every day. We felt the Soho Jeans Collection was the perfect fit for Jennifer, as it is inspired by music, reflects a cool attitude and fits her busy lifestyle," explained Gregory Scott, New York & Company's CEO.

In the campaign, Hudson is depicted in a familiar work environment: on a cobblestone set of a film, on stage with microphone in hand, in a glamorous loft at the piano and seated in a director's chair on a movie studio lot. Effortlessly styled in a variety of separates that reflect the 70's inspired fashion that is happening now, Hudson is seen in a range of Soho Jeans styles, from high waist flare sailor jeans, boyfriend jeans and high waist jean leggings, to a boho fringed skirt.

The Soho Jeans Collection, available exclusively at New York & Company, is sold at stores across the country and online at www.nyandcompany.com, retailing for under $70 and available in sizes 0-18. To celebrate the launch of the campaign, New York & Company customers who purchase a pair of Soho Jeans can get an additional pair for free.

"What I love most about New York is the diversity. It's a haven for individuality and I have always found that to be inspiring. That sort of energy affects me in all ways but especially when it comes to my style. New York & Company's Soho Jeans Collection helps women the same way with a line that's fashion forward, great fitting and comfortable for whatever your day brings," said Jennifer Hudson.

New York & Companyoperates 504 stores in 43 states.

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