December Focus: The Connected Consumer

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.

What’s Ahead for Last-Mile Delivery in 2020

Delivery is emerging as a competitive advantage for local retailers. In fact, in September 2019, Onfleet surveyed 1,000 US consumers to gather their impressions on online versus local store shopping and delivery expectations. Seventy-six percent said they would be more inclined to order from local stores rather than from Amazon if they could get same-day delivery.

With that in mind, here are some delivery trends we’re expecting for 2020.

Is Uber Local Advertising’s Duopoly Killer?

While Amazon is challenging the duopoly, when zeroing in on local advertising and commerce — Street Fight’s hallmark — as opposed to driving eCommerce, another challenger may loom: Uber. In fact, we have a longstanding prediction that it will blitz local advertising by strategically building from the Trojan Horse that is “in-ride mode.”

This theory is based on the fact that Uber has your captive attention during rides, given in-app utilities like mapping and ETA. Furthermore, it knows where you’re going (think destination-based promotions). In the aggregate, it has lots of behavioral data for a richer mosaic of audience-targeting gold.

Google’s Fitbit Purchase: Peek into Next-Level Local Dominance and Healthcare Hacking

Prescriptions by Google, then? The company indeed lacks Amazon’s delivery capabilities but has a stranglehold on search and therefore on consumers’ connections to local businesses. It is not hard to imagine a world in which Google appears to keep its privacy promise by refusing to sell ads directly based on Fitbit user data but still capitalizes on the data by using it to connect Fitbit users with local health care service providers, pharmacists, and even gyms. That would just constitute one more way Google is edging out the digital middlemen that once closed the loop from Google search to a local service provider.

November Focus: The Holiday Blitz is Here

This year’s holiday shopping season is not new (by definition), but there will be salient differences and revelations this season. The past year has seen lots of retail innovation as the industry looks to counteract the cautionary tales of late-adopting counterparts in the “retailpocolypse” graveyard.

It’s those innovations and integrations that will be exposed when put to the stress test of the holiday shopping blitz. After reading and writing about them in the pages of Street Fight all year, we’ll now get a look at how a lot of these implementations perform (good or bad) with greater shopping scale.

The Art of Making a Retail Holiday

From Black Friday and Cyber Monday to back-to-school sales, retail holidays may be arbitrary, but they have become a core component of successful sales and marketing strategies. As a result of their success, these holidays are becoming expected, fixtures of the retail industry embedded in its collective psyche. Companies must innovate to keep them fresh. Brands need to monitor competitors to see what works and what doesn’t work and tweak their strategies appropriately. 

Data on successful “holiday” campaigns reveal how to make the most of holidays, whether long-established or freshly innovated.

mobile data

3 Challenges Keeping Chief Growth Officers Up at Night

The role of the Chief Growth Officer is challenging enough without digital ad budgets getting upended. But that’s exactly what’s happening. Thanks to radical changes made by the three largest U.S. online ad platforms, the digital advertising ecosystem is undergoing a transformation, and it is forcing Chief Growth Officers to reconsider their marketing strategies. Here are three challenges keeping Chief Growth Officers up at night—and a straightforward solution for getting more sleep.

Amazon is Making Meaningful Gains in Search Ad Market

It will be key to see if the pace of Amazon’s overall and search ad revenue slows down in the next few years as it exhausts. For now, its ad success is just one more sign, like the news that it will likely sell its Go tech to retailers, that Amazon can find and dominate new businesses beyond its core identity as the Everything Store. 

Retail as a Service: Amazon Tips its Hand

Amazon has a knack for moving into new vertical segments and then applying its logistical mastery and economies of scale to carve out margins and undercut incumbents. Then, it doubles down by scaling things up to its signature high-volume/low-margin approach. As Jeff Bezos ruthlessly admits, “Your margin is my opportunity.”

The latest place for this to unfold is retail. No, we’re not talking about Whole Foods, though that’s part it (more on that in a bit). We’re talking about Amazon’s transformation of the in-store experience — upending and streamlining logistics just like it’s done in shipping and cloud computing.

Here are some predictions for how Amazon’s disruption of retail via licensing of its Go technology will upend the industry.

LBMA Vidcast: Amazon to Roll Out Hand Recognition Payment at Whole Foods

On this week’s Location-Based Marketing Association podcast: Skoda announces in-car voice assistant Laura, Philadelphia bans stores that don’t accept cash, Kochava teams with CubeIQ, GOAT let’s you try on exclusive sneakers in AR, Olo powering restaurant orders from Google search and maps, Amazon to roll-out hand recognition payment at Whole Foods.

Last-Minute Shoppers Help Small Retailers Compete with Amazon for Holiday Sales

During the holiday shopping season, it’s Amazon’s world — or is it?

Outside the digital sphere, brick-and-mortar holiday sales at big-box shops like Walmart and Best Buy continue to be buoyed by bullish shoppers willing to hit the streets in search of timely deals during consumer-focused quasi-holidays like Black Friday. As a result, shoppers are spending more during the holidays than ever before. 

And then there’s the independent, local retailer. How is a small shop supposed to compete with the ease of mobile e-commerce or the allure of big-box doorbuster deals? Turns out, they have an ace in the hole: last-minute shoppers. 

LBMA Vidcast: Verizon Media Turns to AR; Uber Testing Essential Grocery Delivery Down Under

On this week’s Location-Based Marketing Association podcast: Verizon Media goes AR, Pared app for restaurants, Veeve re-invents the shopping cart, Uber testing milk/bread delivery in Australia, Albert Heijn piloting their own Amazon GO, Apple quietly adds UWB to iPhone 11.

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.

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.

Shift in Gift-Giving Culture Speaks to Changes in Digital Commerce

At the heart of the shift in gift-giving culture is the rise of online shopping. While previous generations would take to their local shops or markets to find the perfect gifts, today the process is infinitely simpler thanks to online retail giants like Amazon. At the click of a button, Internet users can purchase a present to be sent directly to their (or, even better, the recipient’s) door. Indeed, this is how the majority of people appear to be approaching gift giving today; approximately three quarters of consumers in the UK say they now buy more than half of their Christmas presents online. 

Apple’s Edge in the App Store, Big Tech, and Antitrust

Apple execs told the Times that the company’s apps show up so frequently in searches not because it tips the scales but because its apps are already very popular and are designed to please consumers. But that logic is in itself concerning: A company with nearly unparalleled power and insight into what consumers are looking for in terms of apps uses its understanding of consumer desire and vast resources to create apps that will defeat rivals (especially startups or young companies) in the App Store it owns. Even if there is no foul algorithmic play, the competitive advantage is clear. The question is whether it’s enough for antitrust action.

How CPGs Can Thrive on Amazon

Amazon already uses its most valuable weapon — its own internal data — to compete with its own suppliers. It analyzes customer behavior around noted CPG brands, key market sectors, and private-label offerings from brands that sell on its platform to make decisions about where to launch its own private labels.

What can CPGs do to make it a win-win? 

LBMA Vidcast: SpotHere Raises $50M

On this week’s Location-Based Marketing Association podcast: SpotHere raises $50M, Israel’s Shufersal serves the visually impaired, Jibestream acquired by Inpixon, Amazon rolls its Treasure Truck, Comscore + PlaceIQ launch MovieLift, TomTom releases APIs for EV developers.

Alexa, Draw a Line Between Convenience and Control

It’s that factor, consumer data and Amazon’s vast store of it, that stands out most in Jason Del Rey’s reporting on Recode’s new podcast series, Land of the Giants. Specifically striking is the episode on Alexa, in which Amazon employees openly speculate about a future in which smart microwaves will hook up with Amazon’s growing healthcare ambitions to tell you when it’s time to stop making popcorn and smart countertops will join the intelligent kitchen conversation. As Del Rey notes, Amazon execs talk about this future openly, dropping tidbits about customer obsession along the way and appearing truly unperturbed by the thought that such interventions into our domestic lives may go too far or generate unintended consequences. Optimism for the quality of Amazon products and a fervent belief in the company’s benefit to consumers—without due consideration for products’ risk and would-be limits—seem to pervade the corporate culture.

LBMA Vidcast: PreciseTarget, Pinterest, Amazon Kills Dash Button

On this week’s Location-Based Marketing Association podcast: PreciseTarget, Pinterest, Pokemon Go in NYC, Amazon killing Dash button, Walgreens using Theatre, MediaMarkt rolls out Signify indoor navigation, RevealMobile adds Canadian data.