A recent announcement that Amazon, Apple, Google, and the Zigbee Alliance are working on an open-source network standard is likely to lead to even more investment in connected devices among retailers. The open-source network that the group is working to develop is supposed to make life easier for IoT hardware vendors and software developers, but it also serves a secondary purpose of assuring retailers investing in connected technology that their budgets aren’t being wasted. With a common IoT communication and control standard, smart devices will be even more reliable and seamless to use in the coming years.
“Open source will bring businesses more agility and enable them to process data quickly while simultaneously producing valuable insights,” says Heikki Nousiainen, chief technology officer at Aiven, a firm that develops managed cloud service hosting for software infrastructure services.
The devices around us are getting smarter. From the consumer’s perspective, that means refrigerators are sending notifications when the milk is running low, and thermostats are turning down the temperature when there’s no movement in the house. Businesses are relying on the data generated by connected devices to improve algorithms and make their existing products even smarter, but collecting and managing large volumes of data is creating a new set of challenges.
Globally, the IoT market is expected to reach $212 billion by the end of this year. With the worldwide number of IoT-connected devices projected to top 43 billion by 2023, the challenges associated with managing large amounts of data in real-time are growing at a rapid pace.
Rather than being spooked by these new retail engagement strategies, surveys show most consumers are excited by them. Sixty-seven percent of wearables owners say they find dynamic user experiences that vary based on location “useful and exciting.”
Here are six examples of strategies that retailers can employ to improve the shopping experience using wearable technology.
Apple is far ahead with Watch and Airpods, which may have sold 3 million units since Black Friday. Google meanwhile acquired Fitbit to buttress its wearables play. Amazon and Microsoft launched wearables lines in the past quarter, and smaller players like Bose and Snap are planting seeds for a wearables future.
There’s an underlying driver for this activity that goes back to the perennial analyst exercise of “following the money.” This is all about extrapolating product roadmaps based on tech giants’ motivations. This is often to future-proof their core businesses or diversify revenue in the face of maturing products.
As the omnichannel approach to retail takes off, industry insiders are beginning to wonder whether giving shoppers what they want, when they want it, across any connected device, is causing consumers to develop unrealistic expectations about the types of experiences and services their favorite stores can provide.
Because marketing through the connected home is still in its infancy, most brands are in the experimental phase. Even though there are plenty of opportunities for connecting with consumers through smart appliances and devices, brands have to be careful in their approach to avoid overstepping boundaries or coming off as “creepy.” Regardless, the sheer volume of connected products hitting the market ensures that brands have an unprecedented number of new avenues to reach people inside their own homes.
Here are five innovative connected home marketing strategies being pioneered by brands and retail marketers.
A tweet on Monday from Google search liaison Danny Sullivan provides an explanation for the rankings shakeup that has perplexed the local search community since the beginning of November. Google began using neural matching to generate local search results.
Local search has just undertaken a huge evolutionary step. No longer are local results being matched to user queries solely on the basis of identifiable ranking factors, such as proximity to searcher, keywords in business names, primary category of the listing, review count, and so on. That isn’t to say such factors are now unimportant, but they have been augmented by a broader and more general sense of relevance delivered by neural matching.
When looking at several interlocking tech trends — wearables, IoT, smart devices, autonomous vehicles — one common thread emerges: our escalating connectivity as humans. All these technologies are increasingly melded with our senses as the computing “abstraction layer” diminishes.
In other words, device interfaces continue to get more intuitive and automatic. That can be seen in the progression of personal computing from UI milestones like the mouse to mobile-centric touch controls. Now, we have biometric tracking on the Apple Watch and ambient alerts to AirPods.
The “connected consumer” will be Street Fight’s editorial focus for the month of December.
Small Business Saturday is one of the most important events of the year for local beauty and wellness providers. Spas and salons rely on sales of gift cards and beauty products to sustain their businesses during leaner times.
Developed by American Express in the depths of the recession in 2010, Small Business Saturday is placed in the middle of two of the biggest shopping events of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While proportionally fewer sales happen on Small Business Saturday than Black Friday or Cyber Monday, consumer awareness around the annual event is growing.
Gen Z shoppers, in particular, have more friends with different races, gender identities, and sexualities than previous generations. They are more likely to be influenced by social media stars, who come from a wide variety of backgrounds, than traditional Hollywood celebrities. As a result, members of this generation value diversity more than other generations, and that value influences their purchasing decisions year-around.
“If you look at baby boomers from this lens, they’re far more homogenous. Millennials and Gen Z are the antithesis [of] homogeneity,” Hebets says. “Brands need to understand that millennials and Gen Z don’t want to be put in the traditional box with respect to marketing or otherwise. They want brands to embrace and recognize their diversity.”
What if e-commerce retailers could use technology to replicate the role of the in-store sales associate, providing people at home with the type of personal attention that really drives sales?
Technology vendors are working feverishly to make that a reality. Using artificial intelligence and voice assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and Siri, online retailers are beginning to imagine a world where shoppers can ask their voice companions for recommendations on product fit or gift suggestions in specific price ranges. There may even be a time, not too far in the future, when shoppers can get personal feedback during try-ons inside their own closets, thanks to “smart” mirrors and other virtual reality technology.
For Brandify’s local search consumer survey, consumers were asked to name the tools they’ve used in the last 30 days to find information about businesses nearby. Though a vast majority of 77% named Google Maps over any other tool, there was a significant “second tier” group including Facebook at 38%, Yelp at 35%, and business websites at 32%.
The study also asked consumers about the frequency of searches, the range of businesses for which they searched, preferred devices, and the likelihood of visiting a business after searching.
The total amount spent by shoppers on Black Friday in 2018 was $715.5 billion, according to The Balance. What’s even more noteworthy is the average amount spent per shopper, at $1,007.24. This represents an increase of approximately 4.3% over Black Friday 2017 sales. The numbers show that shoppers are ready and willing to spend on Black Friday. So, rather than leaving it to large-scale retailers, if you’re a small business owner, why not consider joining in?
The truth is, you still might be wondering whether the additional time and investment are worth it. Below, we present some pros and cons of participating in Black Friday you may not have considered.
When brands go in on discount-focused events like RetailMeNot’s Cash Back Day, which was held earlier this month, there’s concern that the long-term impact might be negative and that brands might be training customers to expect discounts. That expectation can reduce the perceived value of the brand’s products, and it can diminish brand equity over time.
The retail space starts to feel chaotic this time of year, with brands pulling out all the stops to win over holiday shoppers. Amidst all the talk of sales and discounts, retailers this year are looking at integrating new customer experience initiatives designed to bring in first-time shoppers and encourage long-time loyalists to spend even more than usual.
To learn even more about the customer experience strategies retailers are launching this year, we checked in with a few industry experts. Here are their thoughts on the best customer experience strategies retailers are trying out this holiday season.
A technology that was once considered to be on the fringes of digital marketing has moved into the mainstream, as retailers around the country find new ways to use AR in their 2019 holiday campaigns. From virtual try-ons to camera filters designed to drive people into physical store locations, there’s no limit to the number of ways creative marketers can use AR. Enterprising retailers are capitalizing on the momentum as they come up with smarter ways to help shoppers contextually visualize what products will look like on their bodies and in their homes.
Let’s take a look at how five major companies are using AR for holiday marketing this year.
With fewer than two months to go until Christmas, retailers are already kicking their holiday search marketing tactics into high gear. Holiday sales this year are expected to increase roughly 4% over 2018, according to the National Retail Federation, and consumers are expected to be especially price-conscious. How will the retail industry respond to the changing dynamics in search marketing?
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest trends expected to influence holiday search marketing this year, from tactics for extending the local reach of holiday campaigns and how those tactics convert customers at the point of decision to newer products like Local Inventory Ads, which allows marketers to feed store-level inventory into Google search.
Ultimately, ensuring the success of purpose-driven campaigns comes down to building meaningful connections using all the technology, data, and creativity at one’s disposal to reach the elusive double bottom line. Here are four tips that can help marketers tap into data and technology to optimize their purpose-driven campaigns: