TECHNOLOGY

Macy’s reduces return rates with help of virtual reality technology

BY Marianne Wilson

Macy’s is going all out for virtual reality with what it called the “largest VR rollout in retail history.”

The department store giant is deploying VR technology to boost customer confidence in furniture purchases and help shoppers make better buying decisions. The program also allows the retailer to offer a full range of furniture in a dramatically smaller space.

Macy’s is partnering with Marxent on the initiative, and the technology is now in place in some 70 Macy’s stores nationwide. The companies expect to add the “Macy’s VR furniture experience” to another 20 locations by January 2019.

“Through the Macy’s VR furniture experience, we are giving our customers a new way to visualize a large selection of furniture products,” said Hal Lawton, president of Macy’s. “Customers design their living space and, using a VR headset, immerse themselves in the virtual rooms they create. VR is a practical application proven to drive sales and a terrific example of combining technology and the human touch.”

Macy’s tested the technology in three pilot stores, including its Herald Square flagship in New York City. It found that VR-influenced furniture sales increased by more than 60% versus non-VR furniture sales and decreased returns to less than 2%. Customers are more accurately visualizing their spaces and adding multiple furnishings with confidence, the company said.

Using the VR technology, Macy’s customers can take a 2D floorplan and transition it to 3D in real time.

“Macy’s VR for furniture is an easy to use application and consumers have a huge selection to choose from,” said Beck Besecker, co-founder and CEO of Marxent.

Additionally, an augmented reality furniture experience, called “See Your Space IRL,” allows customers to virtually place Macy’s furniture products in their actual living spaces. “It is now available on the Macy’s mobile app for iOS on the iPhone 7 and newer, and will be available on the Macy’s app for Android in 2019.

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TECHNOLOGY

Goodyear revs up for new shopping concept

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company is giving customers a new way to buy and install tires — one that eliminates long wait times in service center waiting rooms.

On Monday, the company began testing Roll by Goodyear, a program that enables customers to shop for tires online or in-person at a showroom. Then they book an appointment to have their tires installed at a showroom, or wherever their car is parked. The program is being piloted across four new Roll by Goodyear showrooms in Washington, D.C.

Here’s how the service works: Guests sign into RollByGoodyear.com or visit one of the company’s new Roll showrooms. After purchasing their tires, customers have options for installation. They can drop off their keys at a showroom and shop at nearby amenities, or a valet service can pick up and drop off the vehicle from a location of their choice. Customers can also schedule an appointment to have the installation completed at their home.

Customers receive real-time email or text status updates throughout the process, creating a more personalized experience.

Goodyear conducted “significant pre-market testing” for Roll, and the results were “extremely favorable” across all demographics, particularly with millennials.

“Roll by Goodyear makes buying tires easier,” said Fred Thomas, VP and general manager of Goodyear Retail. “Guests can choose when, where and how to install their tires and they are in complete control of the process from start to finish. Goodyear is eliminating the waiting room and giving people time back in their day to do the things they really want to do.”

Roll also takes a swing at a tire installation program being offered by Amazon and Sears. Called Ship-to-Store, the service enables customers to receive full-service tire installation and balancing at Sears Auto Centers for any brand of tires purchased on Amazon. The program is available in all stores nationwide, including those located in Alaska and Hawaii.

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Google, Facebook and Amazon dominate Black Friday ad spend

BY Marianne Wilson

Black Friday reigns supreme when it comes to retailers’ holiday advertising spend.

That’s according to a survey by advertising software company Nanigans, which indicated that retailers plan to invest more of their spend on Black Friday than any other day this holiday season. Marketers revealed that a quarter of their annual ad budgets are used to target shoppers during Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.

With total U.S. digital ad as spend by retailers expected to exceed $23 billion in 2018, retailers plan to allocate almost $6 billion dollars in media toward the Black Friday four-day period. Retailers indicated that Google search and display (35%) and Facebook (18%) dominate their planned channels, with Amazon a close third (15%).

“Nearly half of U.S. consumers now start their product search on Amazon, meaning the retail giant offers an attractive model for brands hoping to capture the attention of active buyers during the 2018 holiday shopping season,” said Ric Calvillo, CEO and co-founder of Nanigans. “However, retailers’ decision to pump ad spend into Amazon may be shortsighted. The company has built an ecosystem that makes it both an attractive ecommerce ad platform and a retailer’s top competitor.”

Notably, marketers overwhelmingly value Black Friday itself over the Saturday, Sunday, or Cyber Monday that follow it, with 63% planning to prioritize ad budgets on that day alone. Conversely, just 20% of brands plan to spend more serving digital ads to Cyber Monday shoppers.

Additional key findings from the study include:
• More than half (51%) of retailers plan to keep 2018 holiday season ad budgets about the same as last year, while 48% plan to increase the amount they spend on holiday ads.

• Retailers don’t focus much of their holiday ad spend on last-minute shoppers, which could be a missed opportunity as it’s a pivotal time to generate brand exposure. Almost half (47%) prioritize early-season campaigns, 48% focus on prime-season buyers, and just 5 percent target late-season shoppers.

• Retail marketers plan to dedicate 14% of their campaign budgets to video ads during the 2018 holiday shopping season.

• For a majority of retailers, the holidays positively impact acquiring more customers with significant value, but the trade-off is the fact that 25% of marketers report dramatically higher cost of customer acquisition during this time.

• The holiday advertising season starts early for the majority retailers, with 64% of those surveyed implementing campaigns before Halloween.

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