Friday, May 29, 2009

Consumers make room for mobile

For years, mobile commerce has been touted as the next big channel for retailers. Although it caught on quickly in Europe and Asia, U.S. consumers have been slow to adopt the format. But a new study conducted by Harris Interactive for the mobile-credit-card security firm Billing Revolution found that we're starting to warm up to the idea of purchasing products via mobile devices.

Consumer sentiments differ depending on age and sex. According to the report, younger adults -- and especially men -- appear more willing to embrace change. The report also indicated that the entertainment category will be a critical component for influencing mobile commerce, as shoppers purchase movie tickets, music and mobile video/games via handhelds.

Are you getting ready for the m-commerce wave?

Digital music on the rise marks end of an era ...

A few months ago, Virgin Megastores announced that it's closing its six remaining U.S. retail stores. It's so sad to see the stores that once brought so much fun and excitement to music retailing close up shop for good ...

Readers, what's on your mind?

I've gotten some great feedback from a lot of you over the past few months, but I wanted to put out another feeler to make sure I'm hitting the topics you're interested in the most. I'd love to hear what you think: Is there anything you want to hear more? Less? Are retailers doing anything cool out there that should be on the blog? Want more case studies? Emerging trends? Social-networking initiatives? Personal stories? As always,, feel free to leave your comments or even shoot me an email at Thanks!

(Image via Flickr)

Speaking of JFK airport ...

Best Buy has joined the kiosk bandwagon at JFK's Jet Blue terminal. I always see lots of people around these types of kiosks and I love this concept, but are people really shelling out hundreds of dollars on impulse buys on expensive electronics? It seems as though they are ...

JFK's Jet Blue terminal makes the world a better place

The new Jet Blue terminal at JFK airport certainly loves its self-service units -- and so do I. Not only can you order meals via a kiosk next to a register (as shown in the picture), you can order delivery while sitting at an Internet terminal near your gate.

After travelers click through several screens and select a meal of choice, an airport employee delivers the order to their station.

Talk about redefined convenience.

Twitter: Getting the word out

Whole Foods lets shoppers know about its Twitter presence via a cute sign outside its Union Square store in Manhattan.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Amazon to build stores?

Could be interested in building stores? According to Seattle's Puget Sound Business Journal, Amazon was granted a patent for a building design that resembles a mini-store location. Perhaps the superstar e-commerce company might be coming to a local town near you. But I don't really buy it just yet ...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's in the details

I love that Express prints the following on its receipts: "Follow our CMO on Twitter at ExpressLisaG and find us on Facebook." What a smart way to get the message directly out to its target demographic.

Wal-Mart rejects Green Day album

Green Day may be climbing the charts with its latest album, "21st Century Breakdown," which debuted last Friday, but it's getting there with no help from Wal-Mart. When the retailer wanted to stock the the album edited for language and content, the popular Gen Y band refused.

"Wal-Mart's become the biggest retail outlet in the country, but they won't carry our record because they wanted us to censor it," frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said in a recent interview.

While Wal-Mart sells CDs from acts known for raunchy content, including Eminem's latest, they offer customers the "clean" version of those CDs, which are edited for content that may be objectionable, according to the Associated Press. But in Armstrong's view, "There's nothing dirty about our record."

"They want artists to censor their records in order to be carried in there," he said. "We just said no. We've never done it before. You feel like you're in 1953 or something."

"21st Century Breakdown" contains curses and some references considered "adult," and Wal-Mart has a long-standing policy not to stock any CD with a parental advisory sticker.

In contrast, the Best Buy in midtown Manhattan attracted hundreds of people waiting in line to purchase the new album last Friday. (And the first 500 people to do so were able to meet the band). Despite being left off Wal-Mart shelves, Green Day sold about 215,000 copies of "21st Century Breakdown" since it's debut. It looks like Green Day may not need Wal-Mart after all. ...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Field trip du jour: Micky D's

I recently wrote about how Apple Corp. is encouraging teachers to take students on field trips to their local Apple store. But it seems as though teachers have their sights set on McDonald's, too.

While at Chain Store Age magazine's Green4Retail conference earlier this month, we spoke with John Rockwell, sustainability manager for McDonald’s USA, about the company's green prototype store in Chicago. In this video, Rockwell details specifics about the location, and discusses how teachers are even bringing students in to learn about environmental issues. Very cool.

To see more videos from the conference on how retailers are going green, click here


The road less traveled

Although most retailers are turning to Facebook and Twitter to host their social-networking initiatives, Sears Corp. has created its own brand-specific community sites. The company recently launched MySears and MyKmart, which feature blogs, message boards and product reviews, allow users to interact and share their insights and experiences with others.

Overall, industry experts recommend focusing on creating a marketing presence on large social networks instead of going at it alone to save resource dollars and tap into an existing market where consumers are already socializing. Plus, there's no guarantee consumers will come to a retailer's social networking site.

Sears Corp. does have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube, but it will be interesting to see how well its efforts on MySears and MyKmart fare in comparison ...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Twitter causes brain damage?

Stripped from a press release:

Social media expert David Seaman claims that frequent Twitter use causes the "equivalent of brain damage."

"We're seeing 30 and 40 year olds acting like overly emotional
teenagers on Twitter," Seaman said. "It's not all that healthy."

Twitter use also takes complex ideas and boils them down into
"overly simplistic soundbites" according to Seaman, who is
annoyed by the service's 140 character text size limit.

"Basically, Twitter has some good uses, but it's making us all a bit

Well, there you have it ...

Happy Friday, everyone!

(Image via Flickr)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A trip down memory lane

Wayback Machine is my absolute latest obsession -- it allows you to see how certain sites looked in the past. To start, click here and type in a Web address -- ranging from and to any of your favorite retailers. It's amazing to see how much the Web has evolved over the years. Prepare to be fascinated.

Here are a few examples: in 1998: in 1998: in 1996: in 1999:

(Looks pretty good, right?) in 2004: in 2000:

And finally, from 1997:

Oh how the times have changed ...

Click, click, click.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Interweb the Rainbow

Have you seen the new recently? The "Taste the Rainbow" candy maker has replaced its homepage with a widget that links to the company’s various social media pages, from Facebook and Twitter to Wikipedia and YouTube.

The company has moved away from the standard homepage model, which usually features product images and marketing text, as a part of an effort to better relate to its teenage demographic. After the new homepage’s debut, Skittles became one of the most-discussed topics on Twitter.

Take a peek, here.

Twitter to go: Buzz on wheels

Los Angeles-based Korean BBQ taco truck Kogi has people lining up around the block to try its much-hyped taco-meets-burrito snacks. The truck has been generating buzz thanks to its word-of-mouth marketing on Twitter. Kogi is using the micro-blogging site to alert consumers where to find the truck as it drives throughout L.A. each day. In April, Kogi had only 2,000 followers on Twitter, but 22,000 people have since joined its network.

This is such a great example of how small and local businesses can really take advantage of Twitter to stand out in the marketplace, and become known literally overnight.

* The new CupcakeStop Truck in New York City has also turned to Twitter to get the word out about its brand. Let's see if the vendor leverages Twitter to create a loyal following like Kogi.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Kiosk crackdown

I enjoy the occasional informational in-store kiosk. You can get the information you need without asking an associate, and ultimately decrease time spent wandering around aimlessly looking for what you want.

But while I was in Borders the other day, I remembered how the kiosks in the Manhattan location I often frequent are relatively uninviting. First, it's hard to tell whether or not they are for employee or customer use. They often have coffee cups, newspapers and books scattered over the space, and look more like a work station for associates than a place for shoppers to get product information.

When I logged onto the computer, the program didn't correlate with what they actually had in the store (it was essentially the retailer's Web site). I selected the "Ship to Store in 24 hours" feature for the product I wanted, but a store clerk told me Borders no longer offers that option. "We can get it here in three days though," she told me.

So why is this option shown on the kiosk if it's no longer available? Why was there such a disconnect between the store and the site?

Kiosks can be a valuable tool for retailers that execute them properly, but perhaps Borders should re-evaluate its self-service units in Manhattan and make the appropriate updates soon.

More of the same from New York & Co.

The e-mail fatigue continues...

Here's just two from this week's batch. Didn't we already go through this?

Subject headline: How to help mom work it

Subject headline: Shop for mom...

Thank goodness Mother's Day is finally on Sunday ...

The Gen Y summer job: Twitter intern

Social-networking efforts should be side-projects for retailers; they shouldn't take up too much time or company resources to create and manage. With that in mind, some retailers are handing over their social-networking efforts to tech-savvy, low-cost interns.

Pizza Hut is currently hiring a Twitter intern, who will -- 140 characters or less -- discuss what’s going on at the company. They will also monitor the Twitter site for any mentions of the brand, keeping an eye out for anything negative that might be said about the company. (Dominoes should take note: Remember how its gross-out video of employees misbehaving on the job went viral on Twitter last week?). The applicant should also be able to abbreviate with expertise. 4realz, LOL.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Give your brand a voice: What's its favorite color?

Retailers are using Twitter in all sorts of ways. Some are drawing attention to their stores, products and deals, while others are focusing on giving the brand a personality (i.e. we now know Target wants to see the new "Wolverine" movie, Rita's is sleepy and what Dunkin' is listening to).


How is your brand using Twitter?

Green4All: Each cup at a time

I was proud to see Starbucks' recycled coffee cups at our Green4Retail conference in Chicago earlier this week. Gen Y or not, consumers know how important it is for everyone, including retailers, to embrace an environmentally friendly lifestyle. Retailers from all over the country met to discuss strategies, from expanding recycling and solar-energy initiatives to introducing full-blown eco-prototypes. The show was a huge success.

I'm tired: Let's talk about e-mail fatigue

I've become numb to New York & Co.'s e-mail campaigns. The retailer could be sending the most riveting messaging out there, but I wouldn't know: I delete practically every e-mail I receive from them. Not only is the frequency just TOO MUCH (every day), the messaging in each one is very similar:

Tuesday's subject headline: A toast to mom!

Wednesday's subject headline: The energizer mommy...

Thursday's subject headline: The mother of all sales...

Friday's subject headline: For the model mother...

Can't we just combine the messaging into one or two blockbuster e-mails? We get it. New York & Co. is running a Mother's Day sale. Now, enough with the clutter.

PS - I'm sure I got an e-mail from them on Monday too, but it seems as though I already deleted it.