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Visa launches new online pay service

BY Marianne Wilson

San Francisco — Visa is launching a new service, Visa Checkout that enables consumers throughout the United States, Canada and Australia to pay for goods online, on any device, with just a few clicks.

“As people around the world spend more time and money online, particularly using mobile devices, they are demanding a fast, secure and frictionless way to shop using the payment cards they already know and trust,” said Charlie Scharf, CEO, Visa Inc. “Through insights provided by our cardholders, financial institutions and merchant partners, we designed an online payment experience that continues to deliver on this promise, bringing us closer to the simplicity and speed of the ‘swipe’ in the online world.”

Neiman Marcus, Pizza Hut, Staples and United Airlines are some of the newest merchants who will offer Visa Checkout, which replaces the V.me by Visa service, first introduced in 2012. V.me was being used by about 300 retailers, ranging from1-800-Flowers to AutoZone, who are all switching over to the new service.

“Visa Checkout offers our customers another simple and secure way to quickly order online from Pizza Hut,” said Baron Concors, chief digital officer, Pizza Hut. “We’re focused on making the digital ordering experience as easy as possible and adding this checkout option with Visa Checkout does just that.”

Visa plans to drive broad awareness for Visa Checkout through a multi-million dollar advertising campaign, launching Wednesday in digital and social channels, and on television later this year. The campaign will feature participating merchants and a broad range of consumer offers and promotions.

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IBM-Apple Deal: What it means for retailers

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — At first glance, the IBM-Apple partnership may seem to do little more than formalize a connection between two technologies that are mainstays of most retailers’ infrastructures. The fact is many retailers already use Apple iPhones and iPads as devices for in-store activities like product lookup, checkout and inventory management. And IBM is a leading provider of retail data analytics technology.

However, this partnership holds the potential for retailers to offer customers a much more robust and comprehensive omnichannel customer experience. For example, store employees could perform real-time “deep dive” analysis to uncover product-, location- and demographic-specific cross- and upsell offers that may resonate beyond offers based solely on purchase history.

Also, real-time targeted offers could take up-to-the-minute sales patterns into account, allowing retailers to better move overpriced merchandise before margin-eroding markdowns and clearances become necessary. Customers curious about what items other people are buying or using in conjunction with each other can get a fast, honest and unbiased answer. This kind of advanced analysis performed on mobile device at the point of customer contact both enhances customer satisfaction and boosts profits.

In addition, it is not insignificant that Apple and IBM are both leaders in providing leading-edge functionality in their respective categories. Apple essentially invented the tablet market and is at the forefront of providing smartphones that serve as sophisticated mobile computing devices rather than portable communication tools.

And with pioneering efforts like its Watson artificial intelligence platform, IBM has long been at the forefront of analytics and business intelligence. Having IBM analysis delivered through Apple mobile solutions may prove to be the best of both worlds for retailers looking to take a leading role in providing an omnichannel experience that delights and serves the customer.

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Scholastic plans new multi-platform series TombQuest

BY CSA STAFF

Scholastic is unveiling a new multi-platform series, TombQuest, which includes five books by Michael Northrop and an online game.

TombQuest is aimed at eight- to 12-year-olds and is an addition to Scholastic’s three previous multi-platform series, which have published some 22 million copies since the first launched in 2008, and the accompanying websites have 3 million registered users.

The website includes a game that allows children to create Egyptian mazes, as well as an online community for users to discuss the books and provide a space for fan fiction.

"With the online game, kids are encouraged to broaden their imaginations, create their own worlds, and share them with their friends,” Scholastic Trade Publishing President Ellie Berger said. TombQuest is the culmination of everything we’ve learned to date and we look forward to reaching millions of kids worldwide with this immersive new reading experience."

TombQuest will be published in the U.S., New Zealand, Canada, the U.K. and Canada. The site will launch for beta testing in December, and launch fully in February 2015 when the series’ first book, “TombQuest Book 1: Book of the Dead” is released.

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