MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Starbucks adds digital tipping to mobile payment app

BY Dan Berthiaume

Seattle — Starbucks is adding a tipping option to its mobile payment app. The new feature is part of the chain’s upgraded app for iPhone that will be available in the U.S. on March 19.The company’s app now accounts for approximately one out of 10 purchases.

The revamped app also includes a new dashboard. Other enhancements include a “shake to pay” feature that lets customers shake their iPhone to bring up their Starbucks Reward card barcode, as well as direct mobile reload of rewards points. Customers can also gain access their Starbucks account using Passbook, allowing customers’ mobile Starbucks cards to appear on their iPhone screen automatically after they enter a Starbucks store.

“With more than 11% of transactions a week now happening with a mobile device in our stores, and nearly 10 million customers currently using our mobile app, we’re thrilled to make the digital experience even easier and more rewarding for our customers and partners,” said Adam Brotman, chief digital officer for Starbucks. “This update to the Starbucks App for iPhone is an important next step in digital innovation at Starbucks and one of the many ways we’ll expand and improve our digital experience in the months to come.”

Starbucks customers will be able to leave a tip in 50 cent, $1 and $2 increments.

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FINANCE

First Data: Harsh winter cuts into February sales

BY Marianne Wilson

Atlanta — Severe winter weather hindered shopping activity in February, according to First Data Corp.’s SpendTrend report, which tracks same-store POS data by credit and debit cards, closed loop prepaid cards, EBT, and checks from the nearly four million retail locations serviced by First Data.

Consumer spending was also restrained by the termination of emergency unemployment insurance, a reduction in food stamp benefits and low-income growth, First Data said.

Dollar volume growth remained positive at 2.4%, but marked a slight slowdown versus January’s 2.5% growth as severe winter weather lingered into February. Spending growth did gain momentum near the end of the month as temperatures turned warmer and tax refunds increased, especially since refund volumes and values were slightly up versus last year.

Retail spending growth of -0.3% was up from January’s growth of -0.9%, but remained in the red as back-to-back snowstorms hit the Northeast and storms in the South forced store closures. Most retail sub-categories in February posted negative year-over-year growth. Stores benefitted from the inclement weather early in the month as consumers sought out more winter supplies, but also saw strong sales at the end of the month as warmer weather spurred home improvement and spring-related sales. Meanwhile, spending growth at non-store retailers marked the highest growth in a year as consumers shopped from home during severe weather.

Average ticket growth of 0.2% in February slipped slightly versus January’s growth of 0.4%. Meanwhile, retail average ticket growth of 0.1% marched up compared to January’s growth of -0.4% as retailers curtailed aggressive discounting as winter inventories started to clear out and spring goods arrived. Most retail sub-categories saw stronger sequential average ticket growth versus January.

“Consumer spending growth was again unfavorably impacted by severe weather across the nation, which hindered shopping activity for most of the month,” said Krish Mantripragada, senior VP, Information and Analytics Solutions, First Data. “Credit card spending growth continues to be strong as consumer confidence remains pinned near post-recession highs, which has fueled consumers’ appetite for credit and should support more spending growth.”

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News

Sequential Brands appoints new CMO

BY CSA STAFF

Sequential Brands Group has appointed leading brand strategist Jameel Spencer as chief marketing officer, reporting directly to CEO Yehuda Shmidman.

Spencer will develop and lead all global marketing initiatives for the company’s portfolio of consumer brands which include William Rast, People’s Liberation, DVS, Heelys, Caribbean Joe, Ellen Tracy, Revo and The Franklin Mint.

In addition to his role as CMO, Spencer will continue to work with longtime clients Shawn Carter Enterprises and Sean "Diddy" Combs under his own agency Brand Matter, a subsidiary of Sequential Brands Group.

"We’re thrilled that Jameel Spencer has chosen to join Sequential. Jameel is a highly regarded, strategic marketer, and having him on board will significantly help us capitalize on our momentum and ensure the success of our brands," said Shmidman.

Spencer has served as president of Blue Flame Marketing + Advertising and CMO at Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, where he oversaw all of Sean "Diddy" Combs’ portfolio of brands as well as corporate clients including Calvin Klein, Anheuser Busch, RJ Reynolds, Perry Ellis and Microsoft.

In 2005, he left to join Shawn Carter Enterprises as CMO of Rocawear, where he was responsible for all marketing efforts for the apparel brand, as well as an integral contributor to crafting Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter’s personal brand and associations with corporate partners.

"I’m honored and excited to be working with Yehuda and the management team to take Sequential’s brand portfolio to the next level. I am confident that my background and experiences will add significantly to the platform," said Spencer.

Most recently, Spencer served as EVP of global marketing at Iconix Brand Group, which purchased the Rocawear brand in 2007. Spencer was directly responsible for the marketing efforts of Rocawear, Artful Dodger, Starter, Starter Black, Ocean Pacific, Umbro, Zoo York, Sharper Image, Billionaire Boys Club, Icecream, Ed Hardy, Ecko, Marc Ecko Cut & Sew, Modern Amusement and Roc Nation.

Spencer began his career in media with sales and marketing director positions at Vanguard Media, Vibe and Blaze magazines. He graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and marketing.

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