Holiday Sales Are Starting Earlier Than Ever. Here’s Why

“Retailers are responding to social distancing guidelines [this] year and preparing for potential decreases in spending by kicking off promotions earlier than we’ve ever seen,” says Dosh CEO Ryan Wuerch.

Wuerch says Covid-19 safety protocols require a more elongated approach to holiday marketing. Kohl’s, L Brands, and Macy’s have all referenced pulling forward holiday promotions, and Amazon’s Prime Day later this month seems perfectly timed to pull in early holiday shoppers.

Street Fight’s October Theme: Home for the Holidays

Entering Q4 means many things, but to us it points to the media and commerce world’s annual culmination. That’s right — in this time warp of a year, we’re entering the holidays. Considering the oddities of 2020, what will this year’s holiday season look like? We know for sure it will not be normal.

Answering that question will be Street Fight’s October editorial focus. Branded with the cheeky title “Home for the Holidays,” (title credit: Damian Rollison), this month’s focus will be defining the holiday shopping dynamics of a socially distanced and sheltered-in-place world. What will be different?

Interactive Maps Help Bring Back Shoppers After Covid Hiatus

As the pandemic has worn on, marketers have begun to ask what’s next. How do you keep open and click-through rates high, even as consumers shift back from e-commerce to in-person shopping? The answer, for many, involves maps.

Just look at Torrid, the women’s retail chain formerly owned by Hot Topic, with more than 600 stores across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada.

Location Weekly: Torrid Deploys Personalized Maps in Email Marketing

In this episode of Location Weekly, the Location-Based Marketing Association covers 51Degrees partnering with Digital Element, Stirista acquiring Nikaza’s attribution and location intelligence engine, Torrid finding success with email marketing using personalized maps, and FedEx launching real-time package tracking with SenseAware ID.

Triangulating Apple Maps: The Tech Angle

Apple surprised the local search world last month when it announced local business reviews in Maps. Similar to its other search-based efforts, Apple formerly relied on partners like Yelp for local listings and reviews. But now, as part of its broader data-driven Maps overhaul, it will phase in original content.

Much has been written about this within the local search publishing world and analyst corps, including my colleague Stephanie Miles’ article on how brands can prepare for Apple Maps reviews here on Street Fight. So in the interest of treading new ground, what less-discussed clues lie in Apple’s recent mapping moves that can triangulate its direction?

How to Use Maps for Local Marketing

Techniques for measuring DOOH exposure and mapping to give cross-device measurement more meaning are being utilized by larger brand marketers, but smaller companies are also getting into the game and finding innovative ways to layer maps onto their local strategies.

Here are five ways that marketers can use mapping technology in their local campaigns.

Street Fight’s September Theme: Mapping the Future

What does “Mapping the Future” entail? As a primary tool for consumer local search and discovery, mapping continues to undergo UX innovations and structural changes. We’ll examine these areas as well as mapping’s interplay with local search and SEO strategies.

Though mapping is more of a Street Fight staple than a trending topic, market signals indicate that the timing is right. In fact, we already got started last month with a look at Snapchat’s moves into local mapping — not just UX upgrades to Snap Map but also self-serve advertising for local businesses.

More Brands Are Scaling Digital Channels for Customer Engagement — Here’s Why

Communicating with brands on social media has become the norm for consumers. Surveys show that roughly half of all consumers who engage with brands on social media are reaching out about customer care concerns, and more than 65% of social media users across all platforms expect brands to respond, regardless of whether the initial outreach was via private messages or public posts.

Those expectations have only heightened over the past six months, and many brands have had to pivot their customer support and engagement priorities on the fly.

Earnings Season Teases Retail’s Next Normal

Earnings results that rolled out from retail giants over the past week further demonstrate what our next normal will look like. Specifically, Walmart and Target both hit record numbers. This is partly a function of Covid-era circumstances, but it is also due to each retailer’s active e-commerce momentum.

The earnings validate consumer acclimation to digitally infused local shopping. What’s more, other retailers and down-market businesses will look to replicate this success. This can all therefore be viewed as a leading indicator for retail’s next normal.

Covid-19 and Retail Survival: The Online-Offline Imperative

Covid-19 has upended the way consumers buy products. But the pandemic is hardly the only factor accelerating the shift from in-person to online purchasing. This trend has, in fact, intensified over the last decade. With more than 9,000 store closures last year in a strong economy, physical retailers for some time have been trying to figure out how they can thrive (and in some cases survive) in an increasingly digital marketplace.

It’s therefore imperative that retailers (of all sizes) embrace a hybrid business model, where online and offline assets are more integrated. Covid-19 has only made this more apparent.

Foursquare Uses Location Data to Increase Shopper Safety During Covid-19

Social distancing has become a new way of life, but in crowded metro areas, it’s not always possible to remain socially distant inside busy places like supermarkets and pharmacies. Shopping during off-peak periods is the best way to avoid crowds, but during the daytime hours, it’s anyone’s guess whether a particular store will be crowded or empty.

Foursquare thinks it has a solution.

Google My Business Search and Engagement Trends Define the Next Normal

With the addition of call data from DialogTech, we’ve been able to add an important new layer of insight to our examination of consumer sentiment in 2020. 

The current report also adds two full months of new Google My Business data to our ongoing study. As you’ll see, the picture painted by the new data is one where consumers are continuing to limit their shopping activities in comparison with pre-pandemic trends, but have increased store visits and contacts significantly throughout the summer, likely with a focus on an expanded set of essential needs mixed with optimism about a return to normal.

6 E-Commerce Tools for Brick-and-Mortar SMBs

Brick-and-mortar merchants are moving their stores online or developing combination solutions that encompass both website sales and curbside pickup to keep pace with customer demand. Many of those businesses that haven’t made the switch are weighing their options and looking for the right technology. Plug-and-play e-commerce platforms tend to be the most popular route for merchants looking to quickly pivot to online sales, but features like scalability, flexibility, and integration with inventory management software are also important to SMBs.

Here are six e-commerce solutions that brick-and-mortar merchants will want to check out.

Waze Rolls Out Contactless Payments at the Pump

More than half of Americans say they’re concerned about touching cash during the Covid pandemic, and 60% say they plan to use so-called touchless payments in the future. Google’s Waze is leaning into the shift with a new integration and partnership that will enable contactless payments at the gas pump for drivers all across the country.

7 Order-Ahead Platforms for QSRs

According to a report by Dragontail Systems, 53% of people say they prefer carry-out and delivery during the pandemic. To keep pace with that demand, restaurants are investing more heavily in technology platforms that enhance end-to-end kitchen operations.

Here are seven platforms that restaurants can use to manage online orders and streamline their takeout operations during Covid-19.

Who Benefits from the Surging Interest in Contactless Payments?

More than half (51%) of Americans are now using some form of contactless payment. Consumers are most likely to use contactless cards for buying essentials at grocery stores and pharmacies, where 50% of consumers say they worry about the cleanliness of signature touchpads.

Consumers in the U.S. have historically been slower to adopt contactless payments, and that’s something that is tied to a lack of merchant adoption, says Rob Fagnani, vice president of strategy at Formation.ai.

Heard on the Street, Episode 55: Location Intelligence’s New Normal

Location intelligence is expanding beyond its well-known uses for advertising (ad targeting, attribution, etc.), supporting enterprises in a number of other ways. That includes supply chain management as well as decisions about where to open another store location.

All of the above applications of location intelligence are fueling UberMedia, our latest guest on Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast. UberMedia CEO Gladys Kong says that this expansion of location data’s utility was already underway but has accelerated in the Covid era.

Tapad, Reveal Mobile Partner to ‘Make Attribution Make Sense’

Household targeting was possible before the pandemic, but it has become even more necessary for brands since shelter-in-place orders began this spring. With more people living together, and spending more time together inside their homes, having the ability to target multiple members of the same household has become more valuable for marketers.

“The pandemic has caused people to spend a lot more time at home. That means more time spent with shared devices,” Tapad COO Mark Connon says. ”Brands need to have a better understanding of who is using what device and when, despite these shifting behaviors, in order to make their engagements count.”

Contactless Convenience Is the Next Normal

SYKES for FinTech recently conducted a survey to assess new consumer trends and discover how Americans view the next normal. SYKES polled 3,000 adults about their experiences with contactless financial technology (FinTech), like mobile banking, as well as touch-free purchasing, curbside pickup, delivery services, and other contactless customer experiences. The survey responses offer insights into the marketplace of tomorrow.  

Street Fight’s August Theme: The Next Normal

As we roll into August, it’s time to establish Street Fight’s monthly editorial focus. After our standard ritual (no animals harmed), we’ve settled on “The Next Normal.” Forced to adopt new technologies just to survive, some local businesses have experienced a decade of evolution in just a few months.

So the question is, how will newly elevated local businesses transform the local commerce landscape? If a large share of the local business universe has raised its game, what will be the new “bar” in local media, advertising, and commerce? How should tech providers adjust to new demand signals?