ECOMMERCE

Report: Social media giant turns catalogs into buyable mobile ads

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Facebook is helping retailers bring their catalogs to life.

The social media giant introduced a new ad format that enables brands to distribute catalogs through mobile devices. Called "lifestyle templates,” the new format replicates the look of a print catalog, and also allows customers to make a purchase items directly through the Facebook ad, according to Business Insider.

The template is an extension of Facebook’s “Collection” ad format, a platform that showcases relevant merchandise and features in a single ad. It also supports a fast-loading, full-screen experience that allows users to tap on ads to learn more about the features of a specific product, according to Facebook.

By integrating the lifestyle template within Collection’s functionality, Facebook allows brands to add more details that will inspire shoppers to browse and buy the merchandise in real-time. Facebook can also target and personalize ads based on user behavior, Business Insider said.

In the report, Graham Mudd, director of monetization marketing at Facebook, said, "There are elements of the catalog which are really unique and certainly worth replicating, such as their storytelling potential. But, I think there are some elements that we're bringing to the experience that are really specific to mobile and to Facebook.”

Here’s how it works: As lifestyle format ads appear in user news feeds, customers can click on different items in the photo to get more information about the merchandise. As users scroll down, new pages appear. If a user wants to make a purchase, they click on a "shop now” icon, which connects them to the advertiser's online store.

According to the report, Williams-Sonoma’s chief marketing officer Felix Carbullido partnered with Facebook to create the lifestyle templates. Williams-Sonoma’s West Elm brand, along with roughly a dozen brands including J. Crew, plans to make the ad format available globally in October, according to AdWeek.

The platform rivals a similar program from Pinterest. The social media company’s “Shop the Look” program is an extension of its Buyable Pins program, which enables “pinners” to buy a specific item directly on Pinterest. By using Shop the Look, users can buy products they find inside fashion and home decor Pins.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

America’s most trustworthy brand is…

BY Marianne Wilson

Face-to-face human contact is not necessary for a brand to make a strong connection with consumers.

Amazon was deemed the most trustworthy brand in a first-ever national survey by social science research entity The Values Institute. It was followed by Marriott, Microsoft, Hilton, and Southwest Airlines. The survey, which ranks the six largest national brands in seven key categories and also overall, calculated trust by looking at 25 "trust dimensions" in five categories: competence, consistency, connection, candor and concern.

“In the past, we have seen the strongest Concern and Connection scores come from brands where there is a personal interaction with the customer," said Mark Weinfeld, TVI’s director of strategic planning who administered the survey. "Amazon has done an amazing job of creating that personal touch that may even exceed what you get at a brick-and-mortar location.”

In addition to having the highest score overall (290.75), Amazon scored highest in the retail category. Rounding out the top five most trustworthy retailers were Costco (266.80), Target (261.25), Macy's (251.50) and Walmart (240.75).

The most trustworthy quick-service restaurant brand was Subway (270.25). It was followed by Wendy's (268.85), Starbucks (264.15), Burger King (257.65) and Taco Bell (254.05).

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ECOMMERCE

Restaurant lets customers pay using their face

BY Marianne Wilson

A new restaurant concept gives customers an easy — and high-tech way — to pay for their meal without having to take out their wallet or even their smartphone.

KPRO, by KFC (from Yum China Holdings), in Hangzhou, China, was developed for young, tech-savvy consumers who are open to new tastes as well as digital innovations. The health-focused restaurant features the first commercial application of Alipay's new "Smile to Pay" facial recognition payment technology globally. (Alipay is the mobile and online payment platform created by Alibaba.)

The technology utilizes a multi-step verification process that only takes about two seconds. It includes a facial scan using a 3D camera. Customers who opt for the facial payment must also enter their mobile phone number to facilitate payment.

In addition to facial recognition payment, KPRO incorporates other cutting-edge technology to provide customers with a convenient and connected dining experience. It has no traditional ordering counter. Instead, customers are able to order at digital kiosks. They can also use their mobile phones to scan QR codes and order at their tables.

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