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Period: March 1, 2015 to March 15, 2015
Comment & Opinion or Companies, Organizations or Consumers or Controversies & Disputes or Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing or Earnings Release or Finance, Economics, Tax or Innovation & New Ideas or Legal, Legislation, Regulation, Policy or Market News or Marketing & Advertising or Other or People & Personalities or Press Release or Products & Brands or Research, Studies, Advice or Supply Chain or Trends

Selfie-Based Digital Contouring Advice Service Helps Sephora Customers

Sephora has launched a service on its mobile Web site that allows smartphone users to upload a selfie for automatic analysis and subsequent personalized makeup application tips. The service was created for use with Sephora’s Pocket Contour Class app with help from startup company Map My Beauty. Sephora recently identified contouring as a trend taking hold, but the technique is difficult to master. The new service resulted from Sephora’s recognition of a need to "educate and empower" customers to create the contoured look themselves.

"Sephora shapes mobile personalization with tailored, step-by-step experience", Mobile Commerce Daily, March 05, 2015

Beacon Technology Test Is Encouraging For Unilever

A Unilever beta test involving beacon and smartphone technology and Knorr soup brand and food vans proved successful enough for the company to investigate expanding the availability of the app to other media outlets. For the test, Unilever deployed branded food vans in Sweden where people could sample Knorr soups. When shoppers were within ten meters of the vans, the beacon devices picked up their smartphone IDs. The next day they were sent a personal message referring to the taste test and providing a discount coupon redeemable in-store. The results were encouraging enough for the company to ponder a mass rollout across all brands.

"Unilever eyes iBeacons trials extension across brand portfolio", The Drum, March 04, 2015

Companies, Organizations  

L'Oreal USA Adopts PowaTag Mobile E-Commerce Technology

L'Oreal USA partnered with PowaTag, a mobile e-commerce technology provider. PowaTag's mobile technology can transform a wide range of consumer mobile and online contact points into a “platform for mobile transactions.” In addition to interactive digital marketing, the technology can also help online retailers in providing consumers with mobile and desktop e-commerce options, the company said.

"L'Oreal USA Announces Strategic Partnership with Powa to Deploy PowaTag's Mobile Technology", PR Newswire, March 12, 2015

Subway Launches Wi-Fi Customer Loyalty Program In Canada

Subway Restaurants partnered with Wi-Fi monetization services provider Turnstyle Solutions to launch a rewards system at locations in Northern Ontario, Canada. Designed as a replacement for the retailer's previous loyalty program that included punch cards, the Wi-Fi-enabled customer loyalty program encourages customers to opt-in to wireless networks to gain access to free items and extra customized rewards. Subway aims to differentiate its loyalty program from those of its rivals, such as Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, while driving more customers to its bricks-and-mortar stores at the same time.

"Subway wraps up consumer loyalty with location-based Wi-Fi rewards", Mobile Commerce Daily, March 06, 2015

Starbucks Partner With Journalist To Launch Digital Media Firm

Starbucks partnered with former The Washington Post journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran to launch a social-impact media production company. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, the project will first focus on issues related to veterans and will be in a tie-up with the book “For Love of Country,” co-authored by Chandrasekaran and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. The book also focuses on concerns and issues affecting veterans.

"Starbucks Is Brewing Up a Content-Led Media Company", Click Z, March 04, 2015

Barneys New York Launches Revamped Online Stores

Luxury retailer Barneys New York launched its revamped e-commerce websites, as part of its efforts to improve its online retail business. Designed to provide mobile shoppers with optimized online and mobile shopping experience, the sites will also enable the retailer to personalize its offerings based on customers' interests and preferences. Although it came late to the e-commerce party, Barneys New York derives between 15 percent and 20 percent of its total sales from digital channels. This puts the retailer, which operates nine department stores and 21 other stores, on the same e-commerce level as rivals Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.

"Barneys New York raises e-commerce ante with site relaunches", Fortune, March 03, 2015

Home-field advantage

The Economist, March 07, 2015

Instagram introduces clickable ads

Internet Retailer, March 05, 2015

Deals, M&A, JVs, Licensing  

Sephora Implements CashStar's Prepaid Commerce Solutions

Sephora adopted CashStar's prepaid commerce solutions as part of the beauty retailer's online retail and omni-channel marketing efforts. According to CashStar, its technology has enabled Sephora to grow its digital gifting revenue eight times faster. Also, it has helped the retailer leverage mobile technology to consolidate its gifting program across all its retail channels and provide consumers with the “omini-channel experience” they expect, CashStar said. Sephora reported redemption rate reached 51 percent during the first month of implementing the prepaid commerce solutions, as well as initial purchase value 30 percent higher than what it has achieved with plastic gift cards.

"Sephora Drives Faster Growth with Prepaid Commerce Solutions from CashStar", Business Wire, March 11, 2015

Wal-Mart Stores Ends Partnership With Google On Local Shopping Ads

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., ended its participation in Google Inc.'s Local Inventory Ads local advertising platform. An early test partner for the program, Wal-Mart cited concerns about sharing inventory and pricing data with the Internet giant as among its reasons for ending its partnership with Google. Launched in 2013, the Local Inventory Ads program requires retailers to provide Google with store inventory information so it can inform users when products are available in nearby stores. Wal-Mart also told Google that it plans to offer a similar local-inventory service, instead of outsourcing it to Google. Wal-Mart, which has 5,000 stores and is more capable than other retailers to offer local-inventory search services for smartphone users, said Local Inventory Ads forced it to compete with smaller retailers to attract shoppers.

"Google, Wal-Mart Part Ways Over Local Shopping Ads", Wall Street Journal, March 04, 2015

Market News  

Wal-Mart Sees Shoppers Adopting Mobile Payments

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. said it expects its shoppers to adopt mobile payment systems in the future. At present, the retailer is working with the CurrentC mobile payment system developed by the Merchant Customer Exchange, a consortium of several large retailers, including Target Corp. and Best Buy Co. Although MCX members are not accepting mobile payments from other platforms for the meantime, Wal-Mart said it is open to different mobile payment options, including Apple Pay.

"Wal-Mart Expects Customers to Adopt Mobile Payments", Wall Street Journal, March 04, 2015

Loss Of Focus Cause Of Target's Downfall, Analysts Say

Target's troubles emerged after the discount retailer lost its focus as a seller of designer-label clothing at consumer-friendly prices. Costs of terminating its failed expansion attempt in Canada and closing underperforming stores in the United States reached $5.1 billion, the company said. Target's problems began in 2011 when growth began to slow down and its margins started shrinking. Target took direct control of its online sales operations, which had been handled by Amazon since 2001; however, it failed to catch up with its rivals in the e-commerce segment. Its share price recovered significantly in the past months, with some analysts and investors becoming confident that CEO Brian Cornell's turnaround efforts might work.

"American retailing: Why Target lost its aim", The Economist, February 28, 2015

Marketing & Advertising  

Sephora Launches Flash Delivery Service In US Market

Beauty retailer Sephora launched its Flash membership-based two-day delivery service in the United States. By paying a $10 annual membership fee, Sephora customers in the continental US and Puerto Rico can avail of unlimited two-day delivery, with no minimum purchase. Also, consumers can opt for overnight delivery by paying $5.95, a bargain compared with the usual $16.95 overnight charge. Sephora also opened its Innovation Lab in San Francisco for developing and testing technologies.

"Sephora's Flash Delivery, Innovation Lab Exceed Customer Expectations", retailsolutionsonline, March 10, 2015

Sainsbury's Launches Click-And-Collect Service In UK

Retailer Sainsbury's launched its grocery click-and-collect service in the UK. Expected to be available at 100 stores by the end of 2015, the service will let customers collect their online purchases from a refrigerated van parked at the store's parking lot. Available for free, the service, however, requires a minimum spend of ₤20 per transaction. Sainsbury's said its Farnham in Surrey store will be the first to offer the service, with total stores reaching 20 by the end of March.

"Sainsbury's Launches Grocery Click & Collect", Retail Analysis, March 03, 2015

Lancome Picks RichRelevance's Omnichannel Personalization Platform For Its Online Store

Lancome partnered with omnichannel personalization company RichRelevance to launch a personalized look-recommendation service on its online store. Using RichRelevance's Relevance Cloud personalization platform for online retailers, combined with Sight Commerce's visual commerce and style intelligence solutions, the brand provides online shoppers with accessible personal and professional advice. Also, product suggestions are adjusted in real-time, based on changes in users' shopping behavior, inventory, and pricing.

"Lancome Gets Personal With Curated, Complete Looks Powered by RichRelevance", Business Wire, March 02, 2015

Top Retailing Trends in the Americas in 2015

Euromonitor International, February 19, 2015

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