Why Pinterest is the New Black (Mobile Marketer)

It is rare that a company changes the mobile, digital and social space overnight, but Pinterest has made a sudden impact and brands, marketers and retailers have all joined the craze.

Companies such as Pinterest are seeing overwhelming success because they incorporate different channels into their marketing mix. Gone are the days where everything is solely happening on the Web. Nowadays, it is all about that mobile, social, local and digital evolution. 

“Aggregators like Pinterest and Flipboard are proving that people like content that revolves around them,” said Chris Mason, cofounder/CEO of Branding Brand.

“People were already sharing socially, Pinterest just made it easier,” he said. “I don't know if it changed the world, but I can tell you that I like going to Pinterest more than visiting a bunch of Web sites to figure out what's hot.” ...

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Will Smartphones Account for Most Visits to E-commerce Sites by 2014? (Internet Retailer)

Of 49.6 billion visits to the top 500 e-retailers in 2014, 26.4 billion, or 53.2%, will stem from smartphones, predicts mobile commerce technology vendor Branding Brand in a new study. There will be 41.0 billion visits to the top 500 e-commerce sites this year, 10.1 billion, or 24.6%, coming from smartphones, the study predicts.

Branding Brand took the merchants listed in the 2011 edition of the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide and used their 2010 unique monthly visitors as the foundation of the study. Noting 9.3% growth in visitors between 2009—from data in the 2010 edition of the guide—to 2010, the vendor projected 10% growth in unique monthly visitors each year from 2011 through 2015. It then created growth projections for smartphone visits from 2011 through 2015 based on the growth of smartphone visitors to 10 of its clients—large and small chain retailers—that have had m-commerce sites up and running for at least two full calendar years. For these 10 sites, smartphone visits accounted for nearly 4% of total visits in 2010 and more than 13% in 2011.

“There are more devices out there than ever before, more usage of data plans, and more content that is mobile-friendly that makes mobile a relevant experience,” says Chris Mason, co-founder and CEO of Branding Brand. “There is also a usability trend: Consumers are getting more confident and used to the idea of researching products and making purchases on a mobile device. And another trend we’re seeing is digital omnivores—consumers with desktop computers, tablets and smartphones use the Internet more often. This adds up to a consumer who knows more about mobile and is very accustomed to using these devices.”

Following are the total annual visits in billions to the 2011 Top 500 e-retailers, total annual mobile visits in billions, and the percentage of total visits that smartphones account for, according to Branding Brand’s study:

  • 2010, 33.9, 1.3, 3.8%
  • 2011, 37.2, 5.0, 13.4%
  • 2012, 41.0, 10.1, 24.6%
  • 2013, 45.1, 17.6, 39.0%
  • 2014, 49.6, 26.4, 53.2%
  • 2015, 54.5, 33.0, 60.6%

“Retailers need to have a mobile site—but that’s not the complete answer,” Mason says. “They need to study mobile, launch a site to start the studying process, see how consumers interact. Differences in the size of the basket between desktops, tablets and smartphones show that what consumers are willing to buy in these channels.”

The increase in mobile traffic has a dramatic in-store implication, too, Mason says. “Mobile is the only online shopping touch-point you can bring with you offline. The question is, how do you better serve customers with mobile devices in stores?” he says. “You need to be there studying to see how this affects your brand. In today’s highly mobile environment, you have to follow your consumers as they change right in front of you.”

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How Pinterest is Changing the Mobile Shopper (Mobile Commerce Daily)

Pinterest"Pinterest is a better mousetrap for those that like to socially share products," said Chris Mason, cofounder/CEO of Branding Brand. "It puts items front-and-center for admiration and the creation of lookbooks.

"In some ways, using Facebook Like is too generic compared to Pinterest’s ability to solve this specific use-case," he said. "We find that in mobile, there are many shoppers who are simply there to 'window shop,' and Pinterest does a good job of embracing that." ...

"The actual shopping is where it gets tricky. If an item’s original source or store is not mobilized, the experience can easily get lost when a shopper is referred over to that environment," Mr. Mason said.

"The big question is whether the audience’s social sharing will eventually provide more traffic then brand messaging or search," he said. "Currently, nobody can say for sure, but it is very clear that platforms need social integrations."

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GNC Redesigns iPhone, Android App to Enhance Mobile Shopping Experience (Mobile Marketer)

GNC App“Our strategy is to go to our customers, wherever they are and however they want to shop,” said Jeff Hennion, chief marketing officer and ecommerce at GNC, New York. 

“In addition, our customers spend a substantial amount of time researching our products, so getting customers the tools to research products, track their regimens and find any of our 5,000 U.S. locations is very important to us,” he said.

“Delivering mobile apps as a compliment to our mobile site for those customers who prefer to use their mobile device to get all of the information is a core part of that strategy.”

GNC has more than 7,600 locations, of which more than 5,900 retail locations are in the United States and franchise operations in 53 countries.

Branding Brand powers GNC’s mobile app.

...“Mobile represents approximately 20 percent of our ecommerce traffic, so mobile is an integral part of any strategic initiatives we have in marketing to our customers,” Mr. Hennion said.

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Sephora Strives for Personalization via Multichannel mCommerce Push (Mobile Commerce Daily)

Sephora Beauty Studio"The idea is to provide a seamless brand experience that bridges the online/offline gap by using mobile devices. Sephora is an innovator in the mobile space, and this effort helps to secure its position as a leader," said Chris Mason, cofounder/CEO of Branding Brand.

"Sephora provides a clear example of how mobile can enrich shopping experiences across the board," he said. "Rather than sitting around worrying about the death of retail, brands should be asking themselves, 'how can I use these devices to bring my in-store experience to the next level?'" he said.

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Sephora Gets a Mobile and Social Makeover (Internet Retailer)

Beauty products retailer Sephora USA Inc. showed several new looks today, as it rolled out a new mobile site, revamped iPhone and iPad apps, and an updated e-commerce site with advanced social features.

Sephora, No. 116 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, says it aims to make shopping easier and more personalized for its customers.

Part of that makeover includes the testing of iPads in 20 stores nationwide, says Julie Bornstein, senior vice president of Sephora Direct. The iPads will be placed at the beauty studio portion of Sephora stores where customers get make-up consultations. Shoppers can use the devices to see which type of beauty services are available in the store, as well as scan product bar codes for customer reviews and other information. Loyalty program members will also be able to sign into their accounts to view prior purchases.

Sephora also started testing the iTouch device from Apple Inc.(No. 3) six months ago as a way to check customers out away from registers, and is now expanding this program to all stores. “Each store will have a couple of these iTouches, and customers can swipe their credit cards directly on them,” Bornstein says. “These will be used primarily at the beauty studios while customers are getting consultations or if there are long lines.” Sephora may add more iTouches as demand requires, she adds.

Another upgrade enables shoppers to check local inventory availability from mobile devices and on Sephora.com.... Most of the upgrades were done in-house, with support from outside firms including mobile commerce developer Branding Brand, Bornstein says.

GNC Releases a Major iPhone App Upgrade (Internet Retailer)

Vitamin and supplement multichannel retailer GNC Holdings Inc. has completely revamped its iPhone app, creating a new design and new informational sections. It also has debuted a version of the app for mobile devices running Google Inc.’s Android operating system....

The main menu of the m-commerce app, built by mobile technology vendor Branding Brand, is now organized with nine, large, thumb-friendly buttons designed to get shoppers quickly to the products or information they seek. Buttons include Shop, Scan, Deal of the Day, Ratings & Reviews, Gold Card, Reminders, GNC Way, Health Center and Clearance. A site search box sits atop the buttons.

GNC has added three new sections to the app. The first is Health Center, which provides access to research by ingredient, health concern, lifestyle or goals to help customers discover which supplements are the best fit for their specific needs.

The second new section is GNC Who Are You. This guide shares information about how various parts of the human body function and the GNC products designed to help them perform best. The third new addition is a Clearance Aisle....

Sephora’s Not Afraid of Smartphone-Carrying Customers (AllThingsD.com)

Sephora in-store strategy

Sephora has completed an entire makeover of its digital presence today, including a new Web site, a new mobile site, an iPhone app and iPads and iPod touches in many of its stores.

Unlike other stores that flinch when consumers pull out their phones, fearing that they are scanning bar codes to compare prices, the beauty supply company is embracing the practice.

“The reality is there’s not a lot of price differentiation in our world, and most of our users are loyalty card holders, so it doesn’t worry us,” said Julie Bornstein, SVP of Sephora Direct. “It makes the experience better if you like to shop that way.”

The Sephora app allows consumers to track what products they’ve purchased in the past, find out how many reward points they have and look up the ingredients of a particular soap, lotion or eye shadow. So far, the app has been downloaded two million times, and the retailer says that shopping from mobile devices grew by 300 percent last year.

Besides, how could Sephora fear mobile when all 304 stores have iPods and 20 stores have iPads?...

Beauty and the Geek Time at Sephora (Portfolio.com)

Sephora is often a model student when it comes to bringing new technology to its retail business, and its latest makeover again makes it one to watch....

The company launched a program that will give its sales associates iPads for the counter and iPod touches for the sales floor. Similarly, shoppers browsing at Sephora stores can use their iPhones to scan products off the shelves and read reviews.

Why do all this? It's customers are increasingly shopping using mobile devices. According to Mashable, the company has seen a 300 percent increase over the past year in mobile shopping on its website.... iPad traffic to Sephora.com is up 400 percent in the first quarter over the same period last year, and 20 percent of all of the traffic to the site comes from mobile devices.

Sephora's Smart Social and Digital Makeover (Forbes)

Call it a makeover, just don’t expect it to come from a sweep of blush and and a swath of bright lipstick. Sephora, the global beauty chain owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton which operates more than 1,600 locations worldwide, just gave itself a strategy makeover. The retailer is taking its U.S. digital operations to the next level with social and mobile including a new personalized web experience, new mobile site, and iPhone app.

Lots of retailers are hesitant to bridge the online and offline world, Sephora Direct’s senior vice president Julie Bornstein tells Forbes. Instead, she says Sephora’s embracing it as a way to connect with customers on the devices they use most and keep them engaged and informed of trends.

iPads are currently being tested in 20 stores around the country as a way to let customers navigate Sephora’s thousands of products, a menu of services offered at the Beauty Studio, as well as get those all-important tips on makeup and hair styling, Bornstein says.

The experience gets very personal, she says. “You can easily scan a product on the iPad and see what others say about it, or you can even look-up your own personal shopping history to find the right product.”

Sephora’s New Site Is Crack for Beauty Junkies (Gizmodo)

The company has perfected its in-store app-powered scanning capabilities as well--its iPhone and iPad apps pull up pricing, stock, and reviews....

"We finally have this mini computer in our handbags and it's really the bridge between online and offline," Julie Bornstein, senior vice president for Sephora's digital operations told me.

Sephora Gives Its Shopping Experience a Makeover (Mashable)

... Digital is a huge part of Sephora’s business. The company has seen a 300% increase over the past year in mobile shopping on its website, with 70% of its mobile traffic coming from iOS devices. iPad traffic to Sephora.com is up 400% in Q1 of 2012 over the same period last year, and 20% of all of the traffic to the site comes from mobile devices.

“Digital is a must for the future of retailing,” says Bornstein. “With social, digital, mobile and website updates, we’re giving our clients the most personalized experience ever seen in the beauty industry, and connecting clients with our experts in ways that are most relevant to them. We’re excited to makeover the future of shopping.”

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Sephora Doubles Down On Tech: In-Store iPads, Revamped Website (TechCrunch)

Sephora, the cosmetics retailer, is still best known for its brick-and-mortar shops that let customers test out high-end makeup, skincare and fragrance products with less pressure than typically comes with department store beauty counters. But that doesn’t mean the company, which has its US headquarters in San Francisco, isn’t focused on the increasingly important world of virtual shopping.

To that end, Sephora today rolled out what it’s calling a "social and mobile makeover." The updates include a newly overhauled website with ultra specific search functionality, spruced up mobile web and iOS app, and a commitment to install iPads in more than 100 of its physical stores this year. The company has also developed an official integration with Pinterest, having added "Pin It" buttons to all of its brand and product pages. In all, it’s pretty big news: Julie Bornstein, the senior vice president of Sephora’s digital operations, tells me that this is the most comprehensive change to the company’s consumer tech side since it launched its first website way back in 1999. 

The new updates are obviously pretty visual, so last week we swung by Sephora’s San Francisco flagship store to talk with Bornstein about the company’s strategy. Watch the video above to see why Sephora is embracing the constant comparison-shopping element that the web has brought, how the company’s San Francisco headquarters influences its tech focus, and more.

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American Eagle on Top in Omni-channel Survey (MR Magazine)

Young men’s and women’s retailer American Eagle Outfitters has come out on top in a global omni-channel fashion survey.

Kurt Salmon, the global retail and consumer goods consultancy, surveyed 50 fashion companies in the UK, Germany, France and the US, analyzing customer service of the brands in store, online, mobile and social markets.... 

American Eagle did particularly well in online purchase cycle, mobile and social, a spokesperson for Kurt Salmon told just-style.

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Redken Rolls Out Mobile App to Better Equip Hairstylists (Mobile Marketer)

“Our data shows that by 2014, more traffic will come from smartphones than computers,” she said. “With mcommerce growing at five times the rate of ecommerce, the need for retailers to have a usable, mobile-optimized site is taking on a new level of urgency.” (read full story)