TECHNOLOGY

Report: New app streamlines Amazon’s truck drivers’ deliveries

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is speeding up truck drivers’ warehouse visits.

The online giant quietly rolled out its new “Relay” app, a move that the company expects to help automate the truck delivery process. Amazon introduced the app last month, according to CNBC.

The free app enablers truck drivers to pre-register their loads, and receive a digital gate pass that is saved within the app. It is available for iOS and Android devices, according to the app’s description on Google Play.

Here’s how it works: Once drivers download the Amazon Relay app, they can enter load information when picking up or dropping off at Amazon facilities. Once the load information is entered, they receive their gate pass, which is embedded with a QR code. As drivers arrive at the gate, they can scan gate pass, streamlining their check-in to the facility.

Participating facilities also feature designated Amazon Relay Lanes reserved for drivers with gate passes, according to Google Play.

While CNBC reported that Relay is Amazon’s first attempt at automating the truck delivery process, the online retailer may still need some time to work out some kinks. Users have only given the app a 3.3-star rating out of five, with some users describing the app as “useless,” riddled with “a lot of glitches,” and time-consuming compared to interacting with a guard, according to reviews.

There have been between 1,000 and 5,000 downloads to date, according to the app page.

This program is just Amazon’s latest attempt at making its supply chain more efficient. Recently, the online giant established its “Amazon Logistics” operation, a cross-border service currently available to sellers listing on the Amazon platform. The retailer also continues to develop its air freight solutions and services, and plans “to quickly introduce it to a large number of our sellers,” according to the Amazon Logistics website.

Earlier this year, Amazon announced it would build an air cargo hub in Kentucky, which will be home base for its leased air fleet of 40 Boeing cargo jets — a program it calls Prime Air.

Meanwhile, Amazon dipped its toe into the freight forwarder waters in January, a move that allows Amazon to control shipments between manufacturers and distribution points.

In November 2015, the company purchased thousands of trailers pulled by tractor trucks provided through partnerships with third-party transportation firms. These vehicles shuttle inventory throughout the supply chain.

The company is also in the midst of testing delivery drones.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study reveals the top holiday retail advertiser

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Retailers are stepping up their small screen advertising investments this holiday season.

Between Oct. 30 and Nov. 16, retailers spent $353 million on national television ads for the holiday season, up from $323 million during the same time period in 2016, according to Kantar Media. Walmart has been the top retail advertiser during this time period, spending $51 million on national TV ads.

Target ranked second at $42 million. It was followed by Best Buy ($19 million), Kohl’s ($17 million) and J.C. Penney ($17 million).

In 2016, retailers spent $3.2 billion on holiday advertising across all channels, including TV, magazine, newspaper, radio, Internet display, online video, mobile web, mobile app, cinema and outdoor. Spending also appears to be in line with previous years, according to the data.

Additionally, retailers averaged $357.6 million and $346.9 million in weekly spending across all media channels in 2016 and 2015, respectively.

The key weeks for both years were those leading up to and encompassing Black Friday. Weekly retail ad spend in 2016 peaked at $488.4 million the week of Nov. 28 (Black Friday was Nov. 25). Similarly, spending hit its highest mark, $550.6 million, the week of Nov. 30, 2015 (Black Friday was Nov. 27), the data revealed.

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TECHNOLOGY

The top search ad options that drive conversion rates are…

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Word choice, branding and dynamic keyword insertion all impact the performance of search ads — some more than others.

Retailers that understand the best copy to use in their search ads can gain insight into the nuances of consumer behavior as it relates to search, according to a new study from NetElixir. The report examined over 60,000 Google AdWords Expanded Text Ads that appeared between February and September 2017. Performance was measured across nine verticals by click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CVR). The data set was comprised of more than 100 NetElixir retail clients.
According to the data, stricter character limits are making search marketers more cognizant of the words they use in their search ads. The top search ad word choices are driving click throughs are:

• “Shop” vs “Buy” – “Shop now!” was the winner with a CTR of 2.55% vs. a CTR of 1.64% for “Buy now!” “Show now” also had a higher conversion rate (4.46%) vs 3.31% for “Buy Now!” These results indicate that customers are shopping around and researching products online when searching. Interestingly, “Buy now!” was dominant in the food category, which NetElixir explains as related to preferences people have when purchasing food items online.

• “Fast Shipping” vs “Free Shipping” – “Free shipping” was the winner with a CTR of 1.8% vs. “fast shipping,” which had a 1.03% click-through rate. Conversely, “fast shipping” had a much higher conversion rate (14.49%) than “free shipping,” which only averaged 2.6% for CVR.

• “High quality” vs “wide variety” – “High quality” was the winner with an average CTR of 1.58% vs. “wide variety,” which averaged 71%. Conversion rates were also higher for “high quality,” averaging 3.76% while “wide variety” averaged only 2.95%.

• “Now” vs “Today” – “Now” was the click-through rate winner with 1.95% vs “today,” which averaged .98%. But “today” scored higher for conversions with a CVR rate of 9.05% compared to 4.38% for “now.”

Branding is also impacting search ads. The study compared branded copy was compared to unbranded copy, as well as the use of trademark symbols. The result: branding has a positive impact on ad performance.

For example, search ad copy containing business names, or branding, averaged 6% for CTR and 7.8% for CVR. Ad copy without business names had an average CTR of 1.38% and CVR of 4.11%.

Meanwhile, trademark symbols also positively impacted ad performance. Ads with trademark symbols had 4.3% CTR compared to just 1.6% for those without the symbols.

Another variable tested was the impact of dynamic keyword insertion (DKI), or an advanced feature in AdWords that dynamically changes the ad text to match the search query of the user. Surprisingly, non-DKI ads scored higher for CTR with an average rate of 2%, while DKI-enabled ads had a lower CTR rate of 1.45%. The only vertical to not follow the trend was food, which saw much higher CTR rates for DKI-enabled ads.

“Our study yielded interesting results, especially as we compared performance across various verticals. For example, we found that the food category deviated heavily from the rest, which suggests that consumers are shopping for food products differently online than they do for other products,” said Udayan Bose, CEO, NetElixir. “As e-commerce behavior continues its shift to mobile devices and expand to newer platforms like voice-enabled assistants, we can expect behaviors to continue to evolve and adapt accordingly.”

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