How Retailers Are Reaching Back-to-School Shoppers

It’s that time of the year. As summertime comes to an end, parents around the country have started filling up shopping carts with pencils, notebooks, and binders. Families in the U.S. are expected to spend an average of $696 on back-to-school supplies this year, the highest amount ever recorded by the National Retail Federation.

Back-to-school shopping has become an important event for retailers like Target, Walmart, and Office Depot. While ecommerce is king at other times of the year, parents shopping for their kids’ back-to-school supplies are just as likely to shop in-store as they are online.

How FlashParking Is Turning Isolated Lots Into Connected Hubs

The parking technology company FlashParking wants to reimagine the way parking lots are managed. But rather than pushing “smart” technology on individual operators, the company is taking a decidedly different approach to decreasing traffic congestion in cities.

Operating under the belief that most technology solutions to urban challenges are unnecessarily complicated, the team at FlashParking is working toward solutions that redirect energy away from smart-city technology. Instead, FlashParking is pushing a system that embraces so-called “dumb cities” — cities planned and built with durable approaches to infrastructure.

German Tech Provider Bosch Developing 3D Displays for Cars

In the long run, this technology could pave the way toward an even more connected car. That means local advertising that could collect more data on user habits and lead drivers toward local businesses when they are on the go. As autonomous vehicles grow more common and sophisticated, the 3D displays could also be used for entertainment or other yet unseen purposes to enhance the auto experience of the future.

FedEx Stops Ground Deliveries for Amazon, Signaling Delivery War to Come

For FedEx as for the many other companies and industries Amazon has decimated over the past 20 years, the problem in confronting Amazon may turn out to be one of margins. While FedEx needs a profitable delivery business to survive, Amazon can afford to lose money on delivery and make it up with relatively free-flowing profits from Amazon Web Services and its booming ad business.

In fact, Amazon can afford, thanks to the faith and generosity of investors, to make no profits at all. No easy task, competing with that.

Marijuana Advertisers Chart Uncertain Territory with Laws in Flux

Could running ads for cannabis products put digital publishers in the crosshairs of federal regulators? It’s a question that more and more publishers are asking, even as marijuana legalization continues to spread across the U.S.

In a bid to help businesses in the cannabis industry understand what is, and isn’t, legal from an advertising perspective, Dash Two released its own guide to marijuana advertising laws. The company says it will keep its guide updated as the laws continue to evolve.

How Americans Shop Today

All industries—apparel, grocery, electronics—are affected differently by the move to e-commerce, and consumers are turning to new options, including social marketplaces, disrupting what we typically think of as digital shopping. Here are some insights on major market changes, including the key to Amazon’s dominance, the industries flouting the turn to e-commerce, and a curious preference among millennials, from a recent survey of 1,000 consumers by Signs.com.

6 Companies Reimagining Last-Mile Delivery

There’s a renewed push in Silicon Valley to tackle last-mile delivery. The use of autonomous vehicles, drones, and artificial intelligence is what more and more vendors are pushing for. Last-mile delivery is the most expensive part of shipping, and increasing fees mean prices are only going higher. The company that can get goods from a transportation hub to the customer’s doorstep in the shortest amount of time will win the retail game, and technology firms are hoping that their innovative solutions will be the answer that retailers are looking for.

Here are six examples of companies that are working to innovate in the last-mile delivery space.

Offline Retailers See Huge Boost From Prime Day’s Online Sales

Amazon wasn’t the only retailer to see high purchase intent during its two-day event. Competing retailers saw similar successes piggybacking on Amazon’s newest shopping holiday with their own discounts and limited-time deals. This year’s Prime Day event drove a 14% spike in U.S. traffic on its first day, compared to baseline traffic from the month of June.

According to data collected by Constructor.io, an AI-first SaaS provider for ecommerce sites, among the non-Amazon companies having sales during Prime Day, search volume increased an average of more than 500%.

7 Cannabis Data Analytics Firms

One of the signs that an industry is becoming more legitimate is when its major players start investing in analytics. With a recent boom in the number of data analytics firms entering the cannabis space, it’s time to reevaluate the landscape for recreational marijuana as a business.

The marijuana industry is expanding at a rapid pace. Analysts estimate the industry could reach $75 billion in global sales by 2030. With so much on the line and marijuana companies facing enormous pressure to innovate, investors are pushing for the increased use of data analytics to make more strategic business decisions.

Here are seven cannabis data analytics firms working to change the face of the industry right now.

7 Location Analytics Firms for Malls and Shopping Centers

If you want to see what retail innovation looks like first-hand, walk into a shopping mall. Faced with the option to transform or die, shopping mall operators across the country are choosing to fight back against the shifting tides in retail.

Here are seven tech firms that malls, and other retail giants, are relying on to collect and study location data gleaned from shoppers’ mobile devices.

With Shoelace, Its Latest Foray into (Local) Social, Google Aims to Do for Friends What Tinder Did for Dating

Perhaps Shoelace is less ambitious than Google+. But is finding friends, or others with whom to socialize, not the most central and yet unachieved aim of social networking? One that hinges on location and would be a gold mine for advertising, as it captures users far down the sales funnel, all the way at the point where they are ready to get together to spend some time at a local business? What if, in the same way online dating has gone from disreputable to de rigueur over the course of 10 years, finding friends online is something young people all do in 10 years, an engineering problem that Tinder rival Bumble is already trying to crack?

That would be a pretty big social network. The ambitions may not be so modest.

Retailers Are Using AI for Onboarding, Associate Retention

The retail landscape is going through an evolution, with mom-and-pop stores on Main Street being replaced by e-commerce outlets that rely on sophisticated algorithms to manage virtually every aspect of business operations.

While most headlines about the transformation of retail focus on the consumer-side of the equation, there’s even more change going on behind the scenes. Competition between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar is forcing innovation in the way retailers approach the challenges that come with onboarding and retaining in-store associates.

Retailers Leverage Prime Day to Boost Offline Sales

Unlike other shopping “holidays,” like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Amazon Prime Day is specific to a single retailer. But as the event grows, other retailers—both online and offline—are finding ways to leverage the anticipation that consumers are feeling.

Last year, 63% of Prime Day shoppers said they visited competing websites to compare prices. This is a major opportunity for online retailers to capitalize on the spike in traffic and provide consumers with personalized and targeted offerings and exclusive deals.

This Company is Forging a New Path for Digital Advertising with a Focus on Consumer Consent

Brave is an example of how privacy-forward digital advertising business models that foreground consumer content can work for all parties. Users are not tracked all over the Web and choose how many ads they would like to see; they will also soon get rewards. In return, advertisers can be sure that the people seeing their advertisements are actually interested in looking at ads, and they can also boost loyalty or reach new customers by offering rewards for ad viewing.

Perhaps most importantly, with GDPR in place for more than a year and CCPA and other state privacy laws in the works, advertisers and platforms are less likely to get sued.

Is Amazon Killing the Holiday Shopping Season?

Long lines of shoppers snaking around retail stores used to be commonplace on the morning after Thanksgiving. So was the tradition of picking up a print newspaper for an early look at the Black Friday ads. But with retailers like Amazon, Nordstrom, Alibaba, and Flipkart creating their own shopping holidays, the frenzy around Black Friday and Cyber Monday has been tamped down. Is this a sign of the times or just a blip in retail’s evolution?

To find the answer, the mobile app marketing firm Liftoff and the mobile measurement company Adjust teamed up and took a deep dive into the consumer activity on shopping apps throughout the calendar year. In a new report, the firms found that with excuses to shop year round, traditional shopping holidays, like Black Friday and the New Year period, are waning in significance. These events are gradually becoming less vital for online and offline retailers, even if they remain important moments.

Chatmeter Scores New Funding Amid Hiring Spree

Local brand management platform Chatmeter announced a new investment by Providence Strategic Growth aimed at helping the company increase its ambitions further after hiring 25 employees over the course of six months. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Report: DTC Brands Outperform Traditional Retail, Win Over Gen-Z

As the millennial generation settles down and moves into its 30s, retailers are looking at a new group of consumers as the most coveted demographic. Generation Z—born between 1994 and 2002—is forming its own identity and seeking out different shopping experiences than its older counterparts.

A new report, released by the location intelligence platform Ubimo, finds that Generation Z shows a surprising preference for physical stores, although members of this group aren’t interested in shopping so much as experiencing new products in-store.

Heard on the Street, Episode 29: Push Notifications and Tech History, with Airship’s Mike Stone

Airship has been innovating around push notifications for more than a decade, a lifetime in internet years. Airship SVP of Marketing Mike Stone, the latest guest on Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast, broke down the company’s approach to the mobile marketing business.

“There are two dimensions. One is the proliferation of devices and the channels that are attached to them, but there’s also that much more difficult thing of what consumers are willing to do,” said Stone. “The devices are one thing, but it’s also, once they’re there, where’s that line of creepy versus helpful.”

Fresh Chalk Has a New Take on Local Reviews

Despite digital change, recommendations from friends remain one of the most credible forms of marketing. Now, a new startup called Fresh Chalk is aiming to capitalize on that, giving consumers a way to find local professionals with help from their friends.

Like Yelp, Facebook, Google, and other local business directories, Fresh Chalk is aiming to help people source recommendations from reliable, qualified businesses in their own communities. But unlike most other competitors in the market, Fresh Chalk is keeping a tight focus on personal connections.

This Largely Brick-and-Mortar Industry Is Resisting Digital Disruption

Despite Amazon’s high-profile acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, grocery is the bastion of brick-and-mortar shopping proving unusually resistant to a takeover by digital channels. At least, that is the vision of consumers, only 15% of whom say they are excited about the technical “revolution” in grocery, according to a new report on the future of retail by Walker Sands.