TECHNOLOGY

Guess, Express join data consortium to speed up engagement efforts

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Two fashion retailers are taking a new approach to better engage customers throughout their shopping experience.

Guess and Express have joined forces with OneMarket, formerly Westfield Labs, a retail technology network focused on uniting retailers, shopping venues and technology companies. Through the partnership, the retailers can collaborate with other companies to leverage the network’s customer data and innovative technologies to further improve the shopping experience.

The platform specifically focuses on consumer insights, consumer engagement and advertising. Since all three processes typically require significant capital investments and the time to implement the related solutions, the platform allows participants to implement technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), artificial reality, and natural language processing, at scale more quickly through a smaller individual investment. This enables participants to drive consumer adoption and engagement, and deploy familiar yet seamless experiences, according to OneMarket.

“We all have to urgently re-think our approach to retail if we want to win in the marketplace of today, and more importantly tomorrow,” said Don Kingsborough, CEO of OneMarket. “Collaboration, collective investment in technologies, higher industry standards, and a seamless, standardized way to shop for the consumer – this is just the beginning. Being united on a single platform will forever change the way we interact with our consumers and succeed as an industry.”

Along with Guess and Express, New Stand, as well as shopping center owners/operators Macerich, Taubman and Steiner + Associates also joined the platform.

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Amazon continues to expand Prime perks at Whole Foods Market

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Prime discounts are coming to even more Whole Foods Market stores.

Starting this week, Amazon is expanding its Prime discounts program to Whole Foods stores in 10 additional states, including Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Oregon, North Carolina and Washington. The move means the discounts, which include an extra 10% off sale items, will be available in half of Whole Foods’ store network.

This is Amazon’s second wave of stores to add Prime perks. In May, the online giant expanded its Prime member savings program to 121 Whole Foods stores across 12 states, as well as across all Whole Foods Market 365 stores nationwide. The new stores also mark the beginning of Amazon’s nationwide rollout of Prime across all Whole Foods stores.

“We’re excited that Prime savings will be available at nearly half of our Whole Foods Market stores this week,” said A.C. Gallo, president and COO at Whole Foods Market. “Based on the positive customer feedback and successes we’ve seen over the past month, we’re accelerating our timeline to expand these savings to all of our U.S. stores.”

Prime member savings also apply to groceries delivered from Whole Foods Market stores via Prime Now. Both Prime member savings and Prime Now grocery delivery are available in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco. Prime Now offers free two-hour delivery on orders over $35. Delivery from Whole Foods Market is currently available in 10 cities and will continue expanding throughout 2018.

The Prime discounts come at a price, however. Amazon raised the price of its annual Prime membership to $119 from $99 in April. New members started paying the new rate in May, renewals kick in starting on June 16. This was the company’s first annual price increase since March 2014. The price was originally $79 before it jumped to $99.

To see all stores that offer Prime discounts, click here.

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Study: Consumers want ‘try before you buy’ payment option

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Consumers like shopping online — but a majority want the ability to see and/or try on items before they actually make a purchase.

In fact, nearly three quarters (74%) of consumers said that having the ability to try on or sample goods before paying would remove a major drawback to online shopping, according to a study from payment provider Klarna.

A “try before you buy” option, which gives consumers a set amount of time to receive and evaluate goods before being billed, ranks as the number one preferred payment option for buying apparel from an online retailer (37%). This significantly eclipsed other available options, including credit cards (20%), debit cards (16%), PayPal or store credit cards (11%), three evenly split payments every 30 days or four evenly split payments every 14 days (2%).

Sixty nine percent of consumers felt that it would be appealing to be able to order an assortment of products to try/wear before paying for them. This was particularly evident when respondents were asked about apparel items, with 85% indicating they would order one to five or more items to try on at home if they did not have to pay for them in advance.

“Fashion fit and look can be difficult to judge from product descriptions, digital photos and videos alone,” said Elizabeth Bramlage, head of U.S. marketing, Klarna. “By offering a ‘pay later’ option, consumers are finally able to bring the fitting room into their own homes and have the peace of mind that they will only ever be responsible to pay for the items they love.”

Try before you buy is so appealing that 71% of those surveyed indicated they would use this payment method if it was offered, and another 71% stated they would be moderately, very or completely likely to choose a retailer offering a try before you buy option over one who did not offer this option. Sixty nine percent of consumers surveyed said they would be moderately, very or completely likely to buy more items from online merchants offering this payment option.

“These results show that the ‘try before you buy’ concept would bolster consumer confidence in purchasing goods online and enable retailers to experience significantly improved average order values,” said Bramlage. “As we’ve learned previously from our studies of instant financing options, merchants that go the extra mile to remove friction in online shopping, will find they are rewarded with more business and converted sales.”

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