REAL ESTATE

Togo’s enters Tempe, Ariz., with first restaurant

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Tempe, Ariz. — Togo’s Eateries has opened its first restaurant in Tempe, Ariz., owned by current Togo’s franchisees, Monty and Diana Coury, who opened the first Togo’s restaurant in Gilbert, Ariz., last year.

"Since opening our first restaurant in Gilbert, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of support from the community and there is still a huge potential for growth in the market,” said Monty Coury.

The Courys have another Valley restaurant in development and plan to open additional restaurants in Arizona over the next several years.

Recently, Togo’s marked its 40th anniversary with more than 300 open and under development throughout the West.

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Rakuten.com Shopping rocked Black Friday

BY CSA STAFF

Black Friday came early for Rakuten.com Shopping. The online marketplace saw a huge jump in visits to the site, consumer sales and conversion on and leading up to the biggest shopping day of the year.

Rakuten.com Shopping reported a rise in consumer sales and traffic beginning the Monday before the big sale days, with a spike on Thanksgiving Day and a crescendo at 10 a.m. PST on Black Friday.

It also reported an increase in consumer sales, including 101% year-over-year growth on Thursday and 61% growth on Black Friday. Cyber Monday success also arrived early, with Saturday and Sunday proving to be huge shopping days. The company saw 76% year-over-year growth on Saturday and 123% year-over-year growth on Sunday. Rakuten.com Shopping merchants saw an overall increase in sales of 66% throughout the extended holiday weekend, compared to last year.

Mobile sales jumped 51% during Thanksgiving and Black Friday, and 31% of all visits came from a mobile device during the Thursday to Monday promotional period. Shoppers were more engaged as well, with conversion rates up 25% and a 22% increase in page views per visit on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

“We were pleased to see a sharp rise in traffic to the site during the holiday, which reflected positively on all of our efforts to educate consumers on our recent rebrand and marketplace offerings,” said Bernard Luthi, COO and CMO, Rakuten.com Shopping. “We had a very strong Wednesday leading into Thanksgiving Day, and Thanksgiving Day was incredible. Similarly, we had a strong Sunday leading into Cyber Monday, which made for an extremely strong showing throughout the entire long weekend. We even saw a spike in sales the week prior to Black Friday, historically unusual in an e-commerce environment.”

The company kicked off its marketing campaign early during the week of Nov. 25 with heavily publicized promotions and more than 2,400 limited-time deals from more than 100 participating marketplace merchants. The company advertised its Rakuten Super Points loyalty program and continued momentum Tuesday and Wednesday following the sales by offering 10% back site-wide. Following the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale days, customers who purchased at Rakuten.com Shopping were rewarded with $5 in Rakuten Super Points.

While the e-commerce site continues to be strongest in the electronics categories such as tablets, laptops and high-end cameras, it is broadening into categories such as home, jewelry, and toys. This holiday weekend, according to the company, some of the biggest sellers included pendant necklaces, Dyson vacuum cleaners, American Girl dolls, Furbies and LED flashlights.

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Virtual Piggy rebrands itself

BY CSA STAFF

Virtual Piggy has changed the name of its youth payments service to Oink.

The service enables teens to manage — with parental supervision — their allowances online, shop safely and track budgets, thereby teaching them financial management skills. Now called Oink, the service is available online or via mobile, and is 100% free to use. Oink will continue to employ Virtual Piggy’s privacy protection protocols, compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Virtual Piggy acquired the domain name oink.com from entrepreneur and founder of Digg Kevin Rose, who had previously used the name as an app for business-evaluation services.

“Oink is a more appealing brand for teens, and a logical extension of the Virtual Piggy concept while retaining the brand heritage of the Piggy,” said Dr. Jo Webber, CEO and founder. “Our Oink rebrand signals our teen focus on their mobile lifestyle with in-store payment options coming in 2014. Moreover, it’s critical to reach teenagers when you’re trying to impact financial literacy.”

The publicly listed company name, Virtual Piggy, will continue and the service will be known to consumers as Oink.

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