Monday, April 26, 2010

YouTube celebrates five-year anniversary

Things just spread like wildfire on the World Wide Web, don't they? YouTube's birthday may be February 15, 2005, but this past Friday the site celebrated the five-year anniversary of its first-ever video upload. Which begs the question, how is YouTube only five years old? And how did we ever live before ...?

Check out the site's first-ever video above, featuring one of YouTube's co-founders Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sears thinks outside the channel box

Gap isn’t the only retailer learning to adjust to the pace and changing behaviors of the modern consumer. Sears, which has the sixth largest e-commerce site in the country and is the largest distributor of retail circulars, is currently promoting its cross-channel capabilities through a campaign called “Shop Your Way.” Check out its clever TV spot above.

“It’s all about merging channels,” said Richard Gerstein, senior VP marketing for Sears Holdings Corp., during the session “The Shifting Dynamics of MultiChannel Retail” at the recent eTail West show in Palm Springs, Calif. “We want shoppers to shop when they want and how they want.”

The campaign, which has been featured in a series of TV commercial spots, informs customers about Sears’ Web-to-Store free shipping and curbside pickup options, its mobile commerce site and its customer service capabilities. Shoppers can talk with Sears via representatives online chat tools, over the phone or through e-mail.

In addition, the company’s circular is now available digitally. “A digital edition allows us to showcase many more of the products we have on sale at our stores,” Gerstein said.

Sears has also embraced the social networking world by creating a community site of its own. MySears Community encourages shoppers to get advice before making a purchase and leave product reviews.

“People want our brand to succeed and want to be a part of it,” Gerstein said. “We’re trying to figure out how to better reach the multichannel consumer, and this is a great start.”


And finally, be sure to check out this cute commercial of Brett Farve debating a new TV purchase. Sears is certainly pulling out the stops to get the point across (and it's working):

Watch, watch, watch.

Looking to fit in

As e-commerce continues to grab a larger share of retailers’ revenues, many chains are still trying to figure out how to best close the cross-channel gap and reach out to shoppers in dynamic, engaging ways. Indeed, that was a dominant theme at the 2010 eTail West conference, in Palms Springs, Calif., back in February, where merchants across the board discussed how they are adapting to the changing retail landscape.

It's taken me awhile to get up some notes, but here's a look at some initiatives being deployed by retailers nationwide. In this post, let's start with Gap.

Gap has admittedly struggled with altering its marketing strategy to the online world in recent years, according to Keith Mercier, VP of Gap Online for Gap Inc.

“Back in the mid-90s, we were telling shoppers what to wear and when to wear it, and shoppers would then just show up at our stores,” Mercier said during the session “Creating A Dynamic Social Strategy.” “We called it brand communication, but there wasn’t actually a two-way dialogue with our customers. The times have since changed, and we’re trying to figure out how to change with it.”

Looking to become more relevant to modern shoppers, the Gap took a different marketing approach last fall with the launch of its “Born to Fit” campaign, which aimed to reintroduce Gap denim to consumers. Although the company still used traditional mediums, such as print—not TV—to promote the new line, most of its resources were used online.

It launched a “Born to Fit” page on Facebook, where shoppers could discuss what they were “Born to Do.” Videos were also uploaded of Gap employees, community leaders and celebrities talking about their passions.

“We knew we wanted to get involved with social networking, but you can’t buy a timeslot in these online communities like you would for TV,” Mercier said. “It took us awhile to figure out how to make it work.”

Gap also uploaded videos onto Facebook that showed a behind-the-scenes look at its headquarters and featured designers working on different styles.

“Since we usually paint a perfect picture of the company to the public, it took a lot from us to take our audiences behind the scenes and show them we’re not perfect after all,” Mercier said.

Before the launch of its “Born to Fit” campaign, Gap reached out to fashion bloggers and sent them jeans to test.

“We were putting our money where our mouth was like we never had before, and that was scary,” Mercier explained.

In another big first step, launched an online customer reviews feature.

“It took us a long time to be OK with the fact that some people might write negative feedback,” Mercier said. “All of this, however, has been a positive experience, and we’ve learned some great things in the process.”

Friday, April 16, 2010

Reinventing the shopping mall

If you haven't heard of the FastMall iPhone app, released by MindSmack in December, take a moment to watch this clip.

The innovative app really takes the shopping mall experience to the next level. It provides detailed mall maps, highlights elevators, gives the quickest route to stores and lets you make shopping lists and access coupons. It also helps you remember where you parked your car and with one shake of your phone, it points you in the direction of the closest restroom.

How's that for easy shopping?

What a croc!

Crocs Inc. is revamping its love-to-hate-it image by launching a new ad campaign for its shoes. Although the once white-hot brand faded over time – as consumers started to call the footwear “ugly” and “a passing fad” – the company aims to capitalize on product comfort via a new marketing platform.

Its latest "Feel the Love" commercial (see above) pink animated crocs anxiously await their owner’s return to her apartment, adorably run to greet her at the door and then massage her feet as she plops down on the couch. Who wouldn't want the same TLC attention after a long day?

Although I still think Crocs are still a bit unattractive, at least it’s a step in the right direct for the brand.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Old Navy attempts the lingo

I'm not entirely sure how Old Navy got my phone number, but the language they use in the promotional texts and mobile coupons they send cracks me up. I'm glad they think their smocked tube top is "smokin' cute" and would look nice on me though. Oh, LOL.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Inside job: Gen Y guiding the Forever 21 ship

This is an interesting read about the success of fast-fashion retailer Forever 21. The daughters of founders Don and Jin Sook Chang are being called the brand’s secret weapons. Sisters Linda and Esther Chang have the eye and marketing savvy to take the $2 billion brand into the future and make it a competitor worldwide, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Read the full story here.

(Image via

Monday, April 5, 2010

Viral lessons learned from SXSW

This is an interesting read about how to create a viral-video sensation. The advice is from a panel of pop stars, social-media executives and viral-marketing experts at the South by Southwest and Media Conference and Festival in Austin last month. The message should hit home with retailers.

Click, click, click.

The future of bumping

I use the Bump app on my iPhone to easily exchange information with other iPhone users. But now the bumping method is jumping to a whole new level. A new PayPal app allows you to divide up bills, such as a restaurant check, by tapping phones together. Although the service has yet to catch on nationwide, industry experts say PayPal's timing might be perfect.

Although this sounds intriguing, I must admit that my Bump app is often faulty and it inevitably takes more time (and several tries) to successfully bump my information to another user. But PayPal may be on to something here. No cash, no calculating the tabs... my interest is peaked.

Read the full story from The New York Times here.

Domino's steps it up

A few months back, Domino's launched a big marketing push to change its image, the taste of its pizza, and ultimately throw down against rival Papa John's. Mostly everyone I know who's tried the new recipe has had something good to say about it. Curious to see how it stacked up, I ordered a late-night pie. Not only was it much better than I remembered, the online ordering process was one of the most enjoyable Web experiences I've come across in awhile.

First you build your pizza by selecting size, crust preferences and toppings. After decorating your dinner and then placing your order, a confirmation page appears to keep you up to date on the pizza's progress -- it tells you when it's being prepped (and in my case, that someone named Sean was making it), when it leaves the store and it's estimated time of arrival. The quirky and playful language used throughout the site is another reminder how hard the chain is trying to stay fun, relevant and modern.

But it's all packaged perfectly -- from start to finish, the experience was seamless and in the end, the pizza was pretty decent. Kudos for Domino's for not only revisiting its pizza recipe, but also it's Web experience. I'm sure I'll decorate another late-night pizza sometime again soon.