Friday, February 27, 2009

It's Friday: You Deserve a Laugh

This hilarious clip of comedian Louis CK on The Late Night with Conan O'Brien discusses how Gen Y is not only impatient when it comes to using technology, but how they don't take the time to appreciate the big advancements made in the field over the decade or so. The 4:12 minute-long clip is absolutely worth 4:12 minutes of your time.

How to Become a YouTube Rock Star

There's a good chance that you are one of the 12 million people who watched the recent cult classic YouTube clip, “David After Dentist.” (Note: It seems as though HP is advertising on the clip?) Or maybe you are one of the millions who have watched Tom Dickson, the CEO of the formerly little-known blender company, Blendtec, become a national phenomenon by testing the strength of his product by blending an array of unorthodox objects—from Happy Meals to iPhones (see video).

The viral campaign gave a jolt to consumer sales, and Dickson was even profiled in Chain Store Age as being one of Ernest & Young's Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2007.

But with so many videos uploaded on a daily basis, many just fall through the cracks. So how do you create a video phenomenon online? The Wall Street Journal weighs in with some tips here.

As a side note, take a look at how an ad to buy a blender on pops up after the video finishes. It's just another smart marketing approach from Blendtec.

Kindle 2: Oh, Hello Again

I recently wrote about the future of e-book readers, such as The Kindle, and how retailers/authors should leverage their power by offering exclusive products on these types of devices. Now, just a few weeks later, reports speculate that author Stephen King might be offering his latest novel exclusively to the Kindle (well, at least at first). I knew it was only a matter of time. Read the article here.

Earlier this week, began shipping the second version of its electronic-book reader, the Kindle 2. The model was designed to be slimmer and faster than the original.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Facebook Grows Up

Move over, Gen Y. Women aged 55 and over are the fastest growing U.S. demographic on Facebook, according to this BizReport article. (I believe it too: I often see parents writing on my friends -- their kids' -- Facebook walls).

I wonder, will the site start to segment its marketing based on this demographic?

Apple, STILL Everywhere

While on my way to the eTail West conference in Phoenix this past week, I spotted yet another iPod kiosk -- this time at the Dallas Fort Worth airport. The unit garnered similar attention to the one I saw at the Indiana International Airport the week before.

With the KioskCOM show coming up in Las Vegas in May, it will be interesting to hear what other self-service units are making an impact in the kiosk space, and how companies (such as Apple) can make the most of them.

The End of an Era?

Valleywag, a news/gossip blog about happenings in the Silicon Valley, has put the once-hyped online gaming world Second Life on 'Death Watch.'

Companies such as Reebok, Adidas, and Starwood Hotels closed their Second Life stores because they were not making a profit, while American Apparel closed up shop its Second Life shop and relocated to MTV's virtual world vLES, a free site based on New York City's Lower East Side.

Click here for Valleywag's interesting insights and predictions about Second Life.

Very 'Punny?'

Kenneth Cole got political on his blog recently, discussing the concerns of the economy. He also posted the company's campaign video for his Spring collection:

As bad as it is, many feel today that whatever you call it, the other shoe still hasn't dropped - an event of which they seem to be awaiting nervously. (Never before have so many been so attentive to what I do for a living). People are running for COVER - many to cover their ASSets, while we are trying to cover their backs (and other body parts). …

With that said, in the interest of self preservation, perhaps we have to go back to being "clothes minded"? If you look good, you'll feel good about being in your shoes, and probably increase your own interest rate. Being an accessory to change may even reward you with the chance to share your own stimulus package.

Clever or just in bad taste?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Apple, Anywhere

This past weekend, while I was passing through the Indianapolis International Airport, I stopped dead in my tracks when I spotted a kiosk unit that offered a range of Apple products, including headphones, adapters and even iPods. I watched the kiosk for a few minutes and noticed it repeatedly attracted attention from on-the-go travelers. The guy in the image above bought a portable iPhone charger, an investment I could actually use myself.

Many retailers make big mistakes that keep self-service units underused. A kiosk, whether it’s a gift registry, product locator, vending machine or photo unit, has to be inviting to consumers. And it takes many steps to make a kiosk program successful or it will just sit, sad and lonely, taking up space. Usually, it’s something as simple as the placement of a kiosk that can make or break its success.

But here, Apple got it right: Put highly sought-after products in a heavily trafficked spot. Travelers get great use out of the items, while the sleek unit does a lot for Apple branding. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The High Tide Continues

It seems like only yesterday I wrote about how Tide has over 3,000 “fans” on Facebook. Well, it was actually only four days ago – and nearly 10,000 more members have since joined Tide’s sponsored profile page.

Tide recently began advertising on the site to get the word out about its new product. It's amazing that not only has the message reached the masses on Facebook, 13,000 members have felt passionate enough to let their friends know they love the product (Facebook notifies members via a public news feed when their friends join new groups). Talk about the power of word-of-mouth (and, of course, the power of social networking).

A Testament of the Times

Judging by the long line outside the Aerosoles store in Midtown Manhattan earlier this week, you would think they were giving away free shoes. But what was the real reason for the crowds? A job fair. I can't remember the last time I saw a line like that to get into a New York City store -- well, minus the Joe Torre signing I spotted last week.

Microsoft to Open Retail Stores: The Simpsons Weigh In

Chain Store Age reported on its site today that after watching its rival Apple Corp. build one of the retail industry's most admired chains, Microsoft Corp. plans to open retail stores under its own banner. After the news broke, our Web desk editor Jen found this little gem in Google Images. So thank you, Google Images, and thank you, Jen!

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Virtual Shopping Concierge

I am completely impressed by Lucky Magazine’s new shopping tool app for the iPhone. Lucky at Your Service, developed by Mountain View, Calif.-based NearbyNow, features more than 70 shoes listed in its March shoe guide (including those of advertisers), and lets shoppers browse by type of shoe, brand, color or size.

But here is where it gets even more interesting: Once a shoe is selected, the application will geo-locate where you are via its GPS technology and then provide a list of stores in the area that have it available. You can then click through to see if the style and size are in stock, and even follow the prompts to put the item on hold.

It’s innovative and smart technology like this that provides a glimpse into how mobile commerce will truly shape, influence and change the way we all shop in the future.

Although the magazine only has items from its March issue available right now on the app, it plans to expand its product repertoire in the future as new issues hit stands.

How Tweet It Is

And for those retailers who are ahead of the game and are already communicating with the public on Twitter, Kevin Rose (the founder of Digg and the second most followed member on Twitter behind President Barack Obama), offers ten ways to increase your Twitter followers here.

* As a side note, it’s amazing that this picture posted almost immediately via Twitter from a rescuer involved in the US Airways 1549 Hudson River crash. He posted it to his Twitter account and the image has since been viewed more than 400,000 times on his site.

PS - Did I Mention Every Retailer Should be on Facebook?

Although some companies are not yet on the popular social-networking site, it’s always interesting to see who actually is.

Apparently, Tide has more than 3,000 “fans,” and many members have written positive feedback on the company’s wall. Who knew the cleaning product had a fan base among Gen Y?

So I will ask again: Are you on Facebook?

Get Your Face On

Not on Facebook yet? A new article on offers helpful tips on how to get your business up on Facebook and how to make the most of that online presence. Here are some features the article suggests to take advantage of:

* Discussion Boards: Enable members to get their ideas out into the open. Discussion boards let you know exactly what your fans and customers think and want.
* Events: Organize gatherings or let people know about your upcoming business events.
* Information: Manage settings for the Information application.
* Notes: Share your business news, or engage members through written entries.
* Photos: Upload photos to your page and allow users to share photos on your page also.
* Reviews: Customers can leave honest opinions about your business.
* Video: Provide a high-quality video platform for pages on Facebook.
* Wall: The Wall is an open forum for members to leave comments, thoughts, and ideas about you on your Page or Profile.

Read more here.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Movie Review: "Paul Blart: Mall Cop"

When “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” soared to the top of the box-office after its debut two weeks ago, I hit the theaters to see what the fuss was all about.

Retail plays a supporting role in the slapstick comedy “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” starring Kevin James as a lovable yet doofy security guard who takes his job way too seriously.

Filled with warm but cheap laughs, the film — produced by Adam Sandler — centralizes around single-father Paul Blart, 43, who patrols and keeps a watchful eye on New Jersey’s West Orange Pavilion Mall. The plot develops as a group of thieves break into the mall (and hold a few hostages, including Blart’s daughter and love interest Amy, the girl who works at the “hair-extensions kiosk”) in an attempt to hack into the mall’s credit-card system. Blart spends the better part of the film trying to figure out how to free the hostages, save the day and ultimately get the girl. Think “Home Alone,” if the ward-off-the-bad-guy scenes were filmed at your local shopping mall. And during Black Friday weekend.

Some of the more laugh-out-loud parts of the film take place in various retail locations. One scene involves a teen-apparel retailer, where Blart (not so subtly) is forced to pose as a mannequin to disguise himself from the armed intruders. Meanwhile, amid the hostage showdown, Blart manages to stop off at the Hallmark store to browse their card collection for Amy’s birthday, and the final battle scene goes down at the Rainforest CafĂ©, where Blart must ward off the thieves amid the fog machines and parrot noises.

The film, which only cost about $26 million to make, is now nearing the $100 million mark after two weekend box-office highs, drawing movie-goers out of the house for this amusing escape-from-reality/good-for-the family film.

Unlike the unfortunate timing for Sophie Kinsella’s novel-turned-feature-film “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” who’s main character and recent college grad Rebecca Bloomwood maxes out her credit cards to pay for designer goods, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” focuses on the mall as an experience — a place to be with friends and family, and even a locale to meet new people.

It will be interesting to see how “Confessions of a Shopaholic” will fare during the economic downturn. Will movie watchers indulge to watch actress Isla Fisher take part in uninhibited, superfluous shopping or will it be a bit much to swallow right now?

The film hits the silver screen Valentine’s Day weekend.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"If I Made a Commercial for Trader Joe's..."

This video homage to grocery store chain Trader Joe's has been making its rounds online. The clip, filmed on a Palm Pilot, aims to capture the Trader Joe’s experience. You know you're making an impression if shoppers start to make a music video about your company. Take a look below.

Dell Deals It Up

Dell raked in $1 million over the holiday season by alerting its 11,000+ Twitter followers of sales items, according to reports. To give a little thanks, Dell is awarding them with even more discounts, such as 30% off an XPS laptop.

The company recently announced (on Twitter, of course) that it is offering more exclusive deals: "With over 11,000 followers, our team wanted to show their thanks to the Twitter world through these new deals which will continue each week," Dell said in a message to its subscribers.

Dell is certainly embracing Twitter as a marketing tool, and it seems as though it's already working.


A BlackBerry toy for kids? Talk about starting them young. Just as Gen Y grew up using computers and the Internet, imagine the role mobile technology will play in the lives of young consumers as they grow older in time. The toy debuts this summer.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And How Do You Get The Rest of the Country to Line Up Around the Block During a Recession?

A free Grand Slam breakfast from Denny's, of course. Consumers lined up outside many of Denny's 1,500 locations on Tuesday. The chain advertised during the Super Bowl that it would give away its famed breakfast from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesday to anyone that stopped in. Not only are people lining up to get their share of the promotion, they are also surfing its site. There were reportedly 14 million hits on its Web site between Sunday night and Monday morning — and it was reported that the site was down for parts of today.

Manhattan may have Joe Torre, but we don’t have Denny's. I’m sorry, New York City, but I think the rest of the country wins today.

* Kudos to for getting that store locator button directly in front of customer eyes. Retailers, take note.

How Do You Get New Yorkers to Line Up Around the Block During a Recession?

You give them Yankees' former manager Joe Torre, of course. He is signing his controversial new book, "The Yankee Years," at various Barnes & Noble locations throughout the city over the next few days.

The Snail Mail Debacle

If Congress allows the U.S. Postal Service to reduce its delivery week to five days in order to save dollars, online retailers will surely feel an impact. Companies such as Netflix that depend on quick and efficient deliveries could take a hit.

However, reports have indicated that the USPS lost nearly $3 billion last year, and that number is expected to rise in 2009 (thanks not only to the economy but also electronic communication). If the USPS gets approval to drop back on a day of delivery, more consumers might be forced to pay extra for expedited mailing services (and ultimately, it might deter some shoppers from using the online channel).

According to an analyst quoted in the E-commerce Times, it would be unlikely for Congress to approve the proposal, considering the recession’s effect on business already. Read more about the issue here.