TECHNOLOGY

Study: Email will be the shining star this holiday season

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

For all the buzz about interactive digital marketing options, the track record of email keep it at the top of marketers’ holiday wish lists.

This was according to the “2017 Christmas in July Survey,” a study from j2 Global. The study tapped 564 members of its customer base and 100 retailers.

Shoppers may be using more digital tools to engage with their favorite brands, however their effectiveness all take a backseat to the success rates of email marketing. In fact, 66% of respondents ranked email as more effective than other forms of advertising, including social media, online advertising, and print advertising.

Of course, as the holiday shopping season heats up, it becomes increasingly difficult to cut through noisy email inboxes. That’s why email marketers are preparing for the holiday season sooner.

Compared to 2016, 4% more companies are commencing campaign preparations before September. One-third of retailers who began preparing for the season before September last year reported a very successful 2016 holiday season, compared to 22% who began preparing in September or later, the study revealed.

However, simply blasting out email campaigns is not a method for success. With 40% of retailers listing personalization as the most effective way to boost email marketing efforts, it’s critical to personalize emails with a greeting and deliver concise messages that are simple to read and easy to grasp.

“The results from our 2017 Christmas in July Survey indicate that while retailers are increasingly using social media channels, email still proves the dominant means for reaching consumers with holiday marketing campaigns,” said EJ McGowan, general manager of Campaigner. “When it comes to the coveted element of personalization, email is the sole medium that allows this unparalleled ability for retailers to engage consumers.”

When it comes to leveraging social media for holiday marketing campaigns, advertising behemoth Facebook takes the cake. With 72% of retailers ranking it as the most effective social media platform, and 88% planning to invest marketing spend into the social media giant, Facebook proves it’s the place to be for brands that want to get the most bang for their social buck during the holidays. Instagram and Twitter follow closely behind with projected investment rates of 46% and 37%, respectively, for the 2017 holiday season.

Although Facebook may be shining bright, the outlook for alternate social channels is not quite as merry. While still a nascent player in the social media arena, only 3% of respondents plan to invest in Snapchat this holiday season. Additionally, image-heavy Pinterest saw investment projections of 16%.

When it comes to marketing campaigns, identifying and aligning the holidays with seasonal marketing strategies and e-commerce promotions is another big revenue driver. In fact, 62% of retailers found early preparation of marketing content and promotions as the most helpful resource for the holiday season — 38% more than those that chose having a mobile responsive website. Additionally, 59% of retailers plan to prioritize promotions and discounts this holiday season.

“It’s crucial for businesses to give themselves ample time to prepare for the holiday season,” said Seamas Egan, associate director of revenue operations at Campaigner. “Acting on these insights within a lengthy timeline will ensure that holiday campaigns are successful from the perspective of both retailer and recipient.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Amazon’s Treasure Truck gears up for a national expansion

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is packing up its fleet of funky delivery trucks and hitting the road.

The online giant’s “Treasure Trucks” — a vehicle where shoppers can pick up selected discounted merchandise they purchased online — is expanding its breadth beyond Seattle. The company is sending out a fleet of trucks that will “crisscross the country” with a selection of new, trending or local items, according to Amazon.

To take advantage of the flash sale on wheels, shoppers can sign up for text notifications through Amazon’s app. The online giant will hand-pick one “must-have” item each day, and notify customers about the daily deal via text. Then customers can buy the item via the Amazon app, and pick it up when the truck arrives.

Featured merchandise will run the gamut. Among the highlighted categories will be new releases of books, video games and electronics, steaks, seafood, outdoor gear and toys, among other merchandise, Amazon said.

This will be the Treasure Trucks’ first excursion outside of the Seattle area since it was introduced in February 2016. The online giant didn’t share specific cities where the truck will visit, however, the retailer is expected to send a fleet of vehicles to more than a couple dozen cities across the U.S, where it will exist as a permanent installation, according to TechCrunch.

This is Amazon’s latest move at crossing over into the physical retailing space. In addition to adding more locations to its chain of brick-and-mortar bookstores, the online giant also has its AmazonFresh pickup stations, and cashier-free Amazon Go convenience stores operating in Seattle.

Most recently, the company announced in June that it will buy Whole Foods Markets for a whopping $13.7 billion — extending its physical presence even further.

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Online giant in deal with unlikely retail partner

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is staking a claim in the appliance market in a big way in a partnership with Sears Holdings.

The embattled retailer announced it will sell its prized Kenmore-branded appliances on Amazon. The deal opens the way for the broadest distribution to date of Kenmore products outside of Sears stores and its websites. Distribution will be nationwide, and Sears Home Services and Innovel Solutions units will provide delivery, installation, and other services.

"We continuously look for opportunities to enhance the reach of our iconic brands to more customers and create additional value from our assets," said Edward S. Lampert, chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings. "The launch of Kenmore products on Amazon.com will significantly expand the distribution and availability of the Kenmore brand in the U.S."

As an added feature, Sears will sync its full line of Kenmore Smart appliances with Amazon's Alexa. The integration means that customers will able to control the appliances with a voice command.

"The connection to Alexa gives Sears the ability to get into the IoT (Internet of Things) market without having to build their own capabilities," commented Greg Portell, lead partner in the retail practice of global strategy and management consulting firm A.T. Kearney. "Sears gets to take a premiere technology and integrate it into their products as part of this deal, which is a great way to move forward.”(For more commentary, click here.)

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Sears’ alliance with Amazon is its latest move to remain competitive as more players, such as Best Buy and Lowe’s, among others, continue to crowd the marketplace, stealing more share from the appliance category.

In another proactive move to take back those category sales, Sears recently introduced a new store concept that caters specifically to the appliance category. Located in Pharr, Texas, the new Sears Appliances & Mattresses stores features interactive displays of top home appliances brands in kitchen vignettes.

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