6 Scheduling Platforms for Fitness Studios

One of the most exciting verticals right now is the fitness space, where the number of boutique gyms and studios is on the rise. Scheduling software has become an absolute necessity for fitness studios, giving clients a way to quickly book classes, pay for memberships, and even check in from their smartphones.

Here are six scheduling platforms serving the fitness vertical.

Impending Brand Safety Woes: Nasty and Misleading Political Ads Hit Facebook

If brand safety in the 2020 election season does not immediately seem concerning, consider the following: You’re an advertiser hoping to run digital ads for your advertising tech solution. You pay a publisher with huge traffic big money to score impressions on its platform. But as soon as a Democratic voter navigates to the site and sees your ad, along with it pops up a big Trump ad making inflammatory claims about Biden. The web surfer navigates away from the site. Who wins?

Direct-to-Consumer Brands Are Winning at Personalized Messaging. Here’s Why

According to new research conducted by Braze, a company that specializes in growth marketing automation, direct-to-consumer brands beat non-direct-to-consumer brands with 58.6% higher messaging open rates across channels.

One reason for the higher open rates is because direct-to-consumer brands show greater willingness to use automation and iteration to personalize messages and speak to customers at a point in the journey when it makes sense for them.

Nextdoor Releases Local Deals to Connect Businesses with Nearby Customers

Nextdoor, the social networking app that requires users to enter a verified address in order to connect neighbors, is announcing local deals, a feature that will allow businesses on the platform to promote sales, discounts, and other offers to nearby customers.

Nextdoor is active in more than 248,000 neighborhoods across 11 countries.

Google Considers Buying TikTok Rival

TikTok could be seen as a competitor for YouTube, the video platform owned by Google’s parent company, Alphabet. TikTok is typically seen as a greater threat to Facebook in the social category, and the social giant is testing a copycat app of its own to crush the insurgent. But more time on TikTok could also mean less time on YouTube in a tight attention economy, and TikTok’s fervent teen users apparently have Google concerned enough to spark a potential Firework deal.

7 Loyalty Platforms for Restaurants

One area where restaurants have particularly specific needs is in promoting customer loyalty. Vertical-specific loyalty platforms for restaurants tend to have features and capabilities that more generalized loyalty platforms do not. For example, many loyalty platforms for restaurants are tied to reservation systems, so waiters know customers’ preferences before seating them at their tables.

Although the number of loyalty platforms for restaurants is growing every day, we’ve put together a list of seven important players that anyone who is interested in this space should be following.

Amazon Pursues Retail-as-a-Service, Looking to Sell Go Tech to Cinemas, Airports

This time, it’s not Amazon Web Services, the cloud underpinning Amazon’s operations and those of other companies around the world, but Amazon’s Go technology that is being peddled to new clients. Bezos’ e-commerce behemoth is in talks to sell the flashy cashierless solution to movie theaters and airports, CNBC reported. 

If Amazon is successful, the play to sell Go to other businesses may some day turn what now appears a revolutionary technical advance (with potentially devastating consequences for cashiers) into a commonplace asset. Just as AWS, the B2B play partially financing Amazon’s low-margin retail biz, supports thousands of businesses unbeknownst to their customers, Go-as-a-service could come to change all of retail without many consumers even realizing Amazon is behind changing checkout norms.

These Retailers Are Using Mapping Tech to Change the Shopping Experience

Over the past few years, a number of national retailers have added mapping technology into their mobile apps. Even more retailers have given store associates handheld devices with integrated indoor location features, putting the answers to frequently asked questions—like where products are located and how to get to certain store departments—at their fingertips.

Even though location and mapping technology is embedded into many consumer-facing shopping apps, and it’s used by retailers to fuel both their marketing initiatives and back-end operations, publicly explained use cases from retail brands are rare. Here are five examples of how retailers are applying the technology and using mapping to fundamentally change the in-store shopping experience.

What Comes Next for Indoor Navigation? Enterprise Success, SMB Struggles

Gimbal COO and CMO Matthew Russo says that at scale, indoor location technology is advanced enough that it works incredibly well. Russo says that at Gimbal, he has worked with major brand clients who are able to understand when a VIP walks into their lobby. They also know if the customer has waited too long at a check-in line, and they’re able to present customers with special offers or keyless check-ins at their rooms.

“But if you’re a pizzeria owner with a single storefront looking to send a push notification to people walking by, you probably won’t see the results you’re hoping for,” Russo says.

Could those scaling issues be holding back the indoor navigation industry, and if so, what’s the solution?

Strategy for Bolstering Brand Safety Online Combines AI, Human Linguists

Despite promises that they would do better, platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and others are still struggling with the issue. Brands don’t want their ads appearing alongside extremist content and hate speech, but flagging every piece of content that could be considered inappropriate is not an easy task.

The challenge has opened the door for a new industry of “authenticators,” which use technology to help brands avoid inappropriate content online. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, these technology providers are usually able to evaluate the quality of an ad impression in real-time and help their brand clients avoid anything that could be considered inappropriate. Or at least, that’s what the goal is.

Pared Expands to DC, Connecting Gig Economy Workers with Restaurants

Pared, the platform matching restaurant and hospitality workers with businesses in need of staff to cover shifts, is expanding to DC. Pared is already live in New York and San Francisco, and it plans to expand to Philadelphia, Boston, and other locations in 2020.

 The San Francisco-headquartered startup claims its service offers a prime deal for workers and businesses alike. It says it offers hospitality and food service workers higher wages and flexibility while offering businesses a ready workforce amid perennially high turnover in the industry.

Google Revises Policy Asking Users for Permission to Listen to Their Assistant Recordings

The fact that this was an open practice that at least some consumers simply did not understand they were either opting into or automatically participating in points to calls for greater transparency and regulation. Google says it “fell short” of its “high standards” on the issue, but legislation like Europe’s GDPR, CCPA, and legislation in some 10 other US states indicates those standards may be imposed on tech companies by government agencies going forward.

5 Privacy-Focused Mapping Solutions

Mainstream navigation apps like Google Maps and Waze seem to dominate the marketplace, but consumers who are interested in maintaining as much online privacy as possible have options to choose from, too.

Innovative mapping and navigation companies are launching new platforms with user privacy in mind. Framing themselves as the “private” alternative to general use navigation apps, these platforms collect minimal personal data from users and often work without tracking user locations.

Here are five examples of privacy-focused mapping platforms.

California’s Gig Economy Bill Becomes Law

The landmark California gig economy bill that may force companies such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash that employ thousands of drivers as independent contractors to hire those people as employees became law today. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill.

If the bill does ultimately affect Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and other companies in the so-called gig economy thriving on venture capital for the last decade, it will severely disrupt their business models, which rely on cheap labor. 

Constant Contact Expands Beyond Email, Adds Website Builder for SMBs

Constant Contact, known for its email marketing platform, is expanding to offer an AI-driven website builder as well as tools for branding, productivity, and e-commerce. It’s the first major expansion for Constant Contact since its acquisition by Endurance International Group.

The company’s new website builder is specifically designed for SMB owners and operators without the time or expertise typically required to build an effective site from scratch. Constant Contact claims sites can be created in minutes.

Captivate and Hivestack Partner to Expand Programmatic DOOH Ads

Location-based digital video network Captivate and location-based mar tech company Hivestack are teaming up to expand access to programmatic digital out-of-home ads, the companies announced.

Hivestack’s marketplace and ad exchange will allow customers to buy video inventory on Captivate, which will bring engaging video ads to offices across North America. Captivate offers a professional audience of particularly high interest to marketers.

retail store

How Retailers Use AI, Mapping to Boost ROI on Store Remodels

Walmart, Walgreens, and Sephora are all using artificial intelligence technology to improve the retail experience. While the majority of use cases for AI in retail have focused on enhancing the shopping experience for customers, forward-thinking analytics firms are innovating and developing new uses for their existing AI technology.

The analytics firm Fractal Analytics is pushing forward in the retail space with its own solution that relies on AI to forecast the cost of retail store remodels, as well as determine the ROI from large-scale renovation projects. Although Fractal works solely with Fortune 500 companies, the solutions it is developing could be adopted more broadly throughout the retail space.

Google Hit With Another $500+ Million Fine

Google is in the news for the wrong reasons again. The search giant agreed to pay a 500 million euro fine (about $550 million) to settle a French fiscal fraud probe after investigators in the country accused it of dodging taxes, Reuters reported.

Google’s headquarters are in Dublin, Ireland, where it settles all sales contracts to avoid paying higher taxes in the rest of Europe. Alphabet isn’t the only company to take advantage of tax loopholes to avoid paying its fair share; Apple and Facebook also have large operations there.

Uber Pledges to Fight California Contractor Bill

Uber and Lyft are already losing billions of dollars, and long-term concerns about whether they will ever hit profitability have endured, making for relatively weak runs on the public market. If the companies cannot come close to profitability with cheap labor forces without benefits, having to treat drivers as employees could pose an existential threat. At the very least, it may require Uber and Lyft to slow down expansion and rein in their ambitions, suggesting that the heyday (or hallucinatory days) of Web 2.0 could be coming to a close.

5 Cannabis Payroll Platforms

Growers, dispensaries, and other businesses that operate in the legal cannabis industry are caught between federal and state regulations, which make banking and payroll a challenge. Despite marijuana being legal in many states, cannabis businesses are still on shaky ground at the federal level, and banks in particular are skittish about partnering with the industry. Without solid banking partners, local cannabis businesses can have trouble keeping up on payroll. So what’s the solution?

Rather than waiting for Congress to make a decision on potential regulations that would shield banks from federal punishment for maintaining accounts for cannabis businesses, more dispensaries and growers are moving toward using web-based cannabis payroll platforms designed specifically for their industry.