Retail News You Need to Know: April 25-29

Weekly News Roundup

Here's what our team is reading this week... 

Payment Spotlight
PayPal seeks to become a more independent and versatile tool to attract users on mobile (Bloomberg). Meanwhile, Samsung is springing up its new payment offering that lets customers withdraw money from ATMs -- only in Korea, for now (Digital Trends).

Shopper Shifts
Shoppers are leaving brands behind due to poor e-commerce experiences, but 67% are likely to leverage their smartphones in-store (Fox News). A report from Harvard Business Review says retailers must focus on customers, not competitors.

Winning Customers?
Smaller e-tailers are trying to keep up with consumers' free shipping expectations (Wall Street Journal). Startups are betting big on advertising on Instagram (AdWeek). Bloomberg explores whether the future of shopping is trapping members into VIP clubs.

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Topics: Trends

This Week at Branding Brand: April 23-29


Time to put these Branders-in-Training to work! #TakeYourKidsToWorkDay

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Topics: Company

[FREE DOWNLOAD] Fundamentals and Best Practices of Apple Watch Apps

Download our free eBook on the fundamentals and best practices of Apple Watch apps.

Now that Apple Watch is out of its infancy, consumers are increasingly expecting more from the wearable. After researching and building Apple Watch apps, we created an eBook that will help you create an Apple Watch app that your customers will love.

Download your free copy of Fundamentals & Best Practices of Apple Watch Apps.

Topics: Design Solutions Apps

What You Need to Know: April 2016

Mobile is driving more traffic and purchases than ever before, and retailers are experimenting with news ways to engage shoppers.

Industry Trend #1
Mobile On Top
Mobile was used more often for both shopping and purchasing in 2015 and now represents 2 out of every 3 digital media minutes.
Read more

Industry Trend #2
Search and Email Dominate
Search, email, and affiliate marketing generated 70% of retail transactions from January through March.
Read more

Industry Trend #3
Retail Sales Falling Short
With the exception of apparel, retail sales are falling short of expectations this year.
Read more

Industry Trend #4
Making Beacons Work
Beacon marketers are finding ways to notify customers who don't have their brand app downloaded.
Read more 

Industry Trend #5
Bot-Influenced Shopping
Bots help retailers interact with consumers and pinpoint their needs. Retailers, like Sephora and H&M, are already catching on to the trend.
Read more

Industry Trend #6
Connected Fitting Rooms
Ralph Lauren introduced interactive fitting rooms in its Manhattan store, which include smart mirrors.
Read more

Industry Trend #7
Virtual Reality and Retail
Although there have been many virtual reality advances lately, retailers may not be ready, and adoption could be slow.
Read more

Industry Trend #8
Amazon Pay
Amazon takes on PayPal and other payment providers with Amazon Pay, which allows e-retailers to tap into Amazon's large user base.
Read more

Industry Trend #9
Millions of Vulnerable Androids
400 million Android devices run on old software, making them vulnerable to malware that could be as simple as a text message.
Read more

Industry Trend #10
"Next-Generation" Shops
Apple opened its first "next generation" walk-in shop in Memphis. It comes complete with a 37-foot TV display and custom wooden installations. 
Read more

Topics: Trends

This Week at Branding Brand: April 16-22


After a few starts and stops, it looks like #Spring finally made it to #Pittsburgh. #KnockOnWood #SouthSide

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Topics: Company

3 Retail Trends You Need to Know This Week: April 18-22

Weekly News Roundup

Here's what our team is reading this week... 

Mixed Reality, IoT
Two companies plan to enable 10 billion apparel and footwear products with digital identities and data profiles for IoT-connectivity (Apparel Magazine). Abundance of virtual reality content suggests retailer excitement to get started in the space, but retailers still struggle to create the best mobile experience (Digital TrendsMobile Commerce Daily). 

Marketing Opportunities
Nordstrom brings the pop-up-shop both online and in-store (Geo Marketing). Amazon is using vendor successes to build its product line (Bloomberg). Beacon marketers find ways to notify customers, sans app download (Marketing Land). Drive-thru for milk and eggs? CVS invests in curbside pick up for mobile shopping orders (TechCrunch). 

Software and Search
The European Union accused Google of taking advantage of its search-leader status to promote its apps over competitors (USA Today, The Verge). 400 Million Android devices run on old, vulnerable software (Wall Street Journal, The Register). Google will soon add live TV listings to its search engine (TechCrunch). 

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Topics: Trends

What Will It Take for the Apple Watch to Catch On?

What will it take for the Apple Watch to catch on?

In a recent survey, we found that only 8% of consumers currently own smartwatches. Although Apple Watch accounted for more than half of smartwatch sales last year, adoption is slow, and many wonder why they would need one at all.

What’s the current state of the Apple Watch?
Smartwatches are usually positioned as activity tracking devices with few-to-no additional benefits. In general, they have a (well-deserved?) reputation for only being useful in health and fitness tracking, and Apple Watch is no different. Apple positioned its first wearable as industry-leading healthwear, which closely works with its HealthKit.

Right now, there’s not much else to the watch that makes them “smart,” especially as most of the functionality relies on extending notifications from your iPhone, which might explain why shipments are expected to fall by 25% this year.

How are consumers currently using their Apple Watch?
Our survey shows that consumers who own an Apple Watch primarily use it for fitness, including activity, food, and water tracking.

According to our survey, 41% of Apple Watch consumers use the smartwatch for fitness; 35% for email and messaging; 19% for calls; 7% for calendar; and 6% for music.

Noticeably, most of the top use cases for the Apple Watch are included in its native functionality and through Apple's apps. 

In an Apple Watch review, TechRadar’s Matt Swider and Gareth Beavis said, “The best Apple Watch apps are those from Apple itself...Apple Watch apps from developers are hit or miss when it comes to design and performance."

If almost all of the frequently-used apps for Apple Watch are native, does that mean third-party developers are the reason Apple Watch isn’t taking off?

Not quite. There are opportunities for both Apple and third-party developers to make smartwatch experiences better. 

What will it take for the Apple Watch to catch on?
According to our survey, 16% of consumers who don't own an Apple Watch say additional features and functionality could convince them to purchase one, and another 12% say better apps would help persuade them to buy.

It's the responsibility of all smartwatch app developers to consider when consumers want to use their wearables and how they want to interact with the device. Each app feature should reflect and anticipate micro-moments.

Until the value that consumers’ receive from the Apple Watch matches the retail value, it's not likely that many more people will be willing to shell out the cash.

Topics: Trends Solutions

Terrible Twos? Consumers Weigh In As Apple Watch Enters Its Second Year

Top 5 Consumer Concerns About Apple Watch

The Apple Watch has grown from a baby into a toddler, but is it ready to take off at any moment? To celebrate its first birthday later this month, mobile shopping site and app provider, Branding Brand tapped into 1,000 Apple consumers to see how the wearable is catching on.

The survey found that 4% of consumers own an Apple Watch, 4% own another type of smartwatch, and 92% don't own a smartwatch.

“Apple Watch adoption across Apple’s consumer base appears to be lacking,” said Chris Mason, CEO of Branding Brand. “Consumers don’t understand why they need it, even if it’s just to complement their iPhone.”

Of the group that doesn’t own a smartwatch, 53% said nothing would convince them to buy an Apple Watch. Among the remaining 47% that is interested in buying one, the top concern was cost, followed by features, styles, battery life, and better apps.

Cost was the top concern among 39% of consumers interested in buying the Apple Watch. As Apple announced in March, its Sport watch now costs $100 less, starting at $299.

With a lower entry-level cost, Apple Watch is still more of an investment than its fitness-focused competitors like Fitbit and Samsung, with comparable devices starting at $199.95 (Fitbit Blaze) and $249.99 (Samsung Gear S2).

Branding Brand’s survey found that 16% of those interested in buying an Apple Watch want improved features and functionality.

According to CNBC, “Apple Watch owners say the convenience of getting a calendar reminder in a glance or a quick text notification, without the need of reaching for the iPhone, is the top reason to buy Apple Watch.”  

“Currently, the watch extends iPhone notifications to your wrist and serves as a fitness tracker,” said Mason. “People only want to buy more devices they need to charge and keep track of if the convenience of autonomous functionality is there.”

Variety of Styles
Apple Watch style variety matters to 15% of consumers interested in buying it. Along with a lower price announced in March, Tim Cook noted that people love changing the watch bands and about a third of wearers regularly change the bands.

Battery Life
14% of consumers surveyed care about battery life when it comes to buying an Apple Watch. However, rumors of elevated wireless power and FaceTime in the next Apple Watch might negate any upcoming battery improvements.

Of those interested in buying an Apple Watch, 12% want better apps. Current Apple Watch owners listed the following as their favorite smartwatch features:

  • Fitness (41%)
  • Email/messaging (35%)
  • Calls (19%)
  • Calendar (7%)
  • Music (6%)

Online Shopping and Adoption
Branding Brand found a correlation between people who own an Apple Watch and also shop online. Those who shop online weekly are two-times more likely to own an Apple Watch than those who shop online less often.

“iPhone adoption didn’t happen overnight, so the best thing Apple can do is innovate in these areas to entice buyers,” said Mason. “I see them making great strides this year in maturing the marketplace for smartwatches and turning its wearable into a ‘must have’ device. I’m excited to see how improved Apple Watch functionality will enhance the mobile and online marketplace for both retailers and consumers.”

Read next: What Will It Take for the Apple Watch to Catch On?

Branding Brand launches and optimizes web, app, and in-store shopping experiences for 200 major brands, including American Eagle Outfitters, Sephora, and Bath & Body Works. Over two billion customers a year shop on the Company's patented platform, arming its analysts with the largest collection of data on usability best practices. For more information, visit, or follow @brandingbrand on Twitter.

Topics: Trends Survey Company Press Release

This Week at Branding Brand: April 9-15


Thanks to everyone who came out to last night’s NodePGH Meetup! #developers #learning #microservices

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Topics: Company

Why You Need to Engage in Conversational Commerce

Why You Need to Engage in Conversational Commerce

Conversational commerce is uncharted territory for many retailers and consumers alike, but with brands like Sephora and Taco Bell jumping in as early adopters in the space, they’re proving that no matter what you’re selling, consumers are interested in this new shopping model.

Download our webinar recap "Conversational Commerce & Your Omnichannel Strategy"

Sephora’s team engages beauty shoppers through Kik, where a chatbot learns what products and brands their customers are interested in and provides suggestions if they’re looking for something specific. The chatbot can also connect consumers with tips and how-to videos.

Although it’s still in beta, Taco Bell’s TacoBot lives in Slack and helps customers place digital orders that can be picked up in real-life locations. Taco Bell has been in the digital communication space since 2014, when the company introduced mobile ordering, and this new service should be available in the coming months.

Here’s my experience...

Recently, I tried out Operator, which connects consumers with shopping experts, to find my dream wedding dress on a budget. Here’s how the conversation happened:

Me: I’m looking for a backless/low-back wedding dress that costs $800 or less.
Operator: How exciting! Any preference on color for this wedding dress? This is your special day, let's make it super duper special
Me: Probably white, but I’d be open to other colors
Operator: Right on! I’ll get on the search and touch base shortly!

It made me feel excited, and my Operator seemed genuinely interested in what I was looking for. She sent over a couple of initial options to get a feel for what direction she should go. After I provided some feedback and sent over some example images of dresses I liked, she continued to send over more suggestions tailored to my preferences and price range.

Why should retailers engage in conversational commerce?

Mobile is already used primarily for discovery for many customers. This is a simple extension of the way people are comfortable communicating on a daily basis.

Conversational commerce is the modern-day version of going to the mall with a friend, and it’s a win-win for both retailers and their customers. It’s ultra-personalized and provides a one-on-one experience that closely reflects the in-store experience. It also comes with an added bonus of helping shoppers take the next step toward conversion because they can purchase straight from the app.

This new method of shopping has a friendly, casual tone and the personalized suggestions of a store associate. Retailers who get on board will discover new opportunities to build brand personality and loyalty.

Where is conversational commerce going?

Is it a fad or the future? I think it’s a bit of both. When shoppers aren’t focused on finding something in particular, conversational commerce may not be the ideal route, but it is providing retailers with a new way to engage with their customers.

Retailers and shoppers alike are eager to try this new form of shopping, and we're excited to announce Branding Brand acquired Waysay to help retailers get into the conversational commerce game.

Get our webinar recap!

We partnered with Chubbies co-founder Preston Rutherford and Forrester analyst Brendan Witcher to discuss conversational commerce and omnichannel retail.

Download the recap

Topics: Trends Solutions Apps Marketing

This Week at Branding Brand: April 2-8


Let’s grab a cup of joe and get ready to rock this week! #MondayMotivation #coffee #CrushingIt

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Samson is planning his next move. #billiards #DogsofBB #yorkiepoo

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It’s #NationalBeerDay! #cheers #beers

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Topics: Company

Clients Featured in NRF Omnichannel Retail Index

Smart Fitting Room

The National Retail Federation (NRF) published its second-ever Omnichannel Retail Index to evaluate customer experiences across web, mobile, and in-store sales channels.

Branding Brand clients Ralph Lauren, Sephora, and Party City were featured as top examples, shining in their efforts to support cross-channel shopping.

Read Full Report

Topics: Company Client

5 Ways to Make Notifications Smart

When is the last time that you received a notification that actually had value?

We've come to a point where every person and every brand has something to say, and they need you to listen them in that exact moment.

Text messages. Emails. Flight updates. Sale alerts. Severe weather warnings. Delivery notifications. Breaking news. New arrivals. So many notifications, so little time.

Unfortunately, it's rare to come across a helpful notification when you want or need it.

Think of the controversy over Instagram's post notifications. Instagrammers urged their followers to turn on notifications so they would be updated each time something posted to the account. Mostly, it led to backlash and a lot of annoyed followers.

Too many poorly-timed notifications create a substandard user experience at best. According to Localytics, 52% of app users already see push notifications as an “annoying distraction.”

When devices become oversaturated by notifications, users ignore what you have to say, and notifications lose their impact, sense of urgency, and ultimately, usefulness. Once that happens, you may never get your users’ attention back.

What can we do to change this?

With the help of data, Alex Potrivaev, a product designer at Intercom, explains that there are 5 fundamental ways that notifications can become smart:

  • Timing
  • Location
  • Grouping
  • Reactions
  • Targeting

Potrivaev says:

From Google search to Facebook’s newsfeed, algorithms analyzing massive amounts of data make decisions about what we see online. Self-learning algorithms are driving other products like Google Now and Facebook’s recently updated notifications tab. It’s still early days for smart algorithms in notifications but luckily the data needed for intelligent, predictive notifications is already available.

If we can gather and analyze all that data what would truly smart notifications look like? At a minimum they would be helpful, personal, time-sensitive and relevant.

Read the full article.

This may be easier said than done, but when notifications are designed and delivered well, they help build retention and brand loyalty.

Remember: more isn’t always better. Think of your users, and when you’re ready, let’s change the way that users view notifications.

Find out what types of push notifications people really want in our shopper survey.Download the report.

Topics: Trends Solutions Apps Marketing

This Week at Branding Brand: March 26 - April 1

Topics: Company