Consumer Dollars Are Up for Grabs—If Retailers Can Master the Basics

To maintain the business of today’s consumers, consistency is key. Just under 70% of respondents said they’re less likely to return to a store after just one subpar experience. As for what earns a shopper’s approval, only 19% of consumers said they seek out food or entertainment from stores. More important are fundamental technical capabilities like mobile app integration and access to WiFi. Two thirds of shoppers even said retailers are too focused on experimental tech and should pay more attention to the building blocks of good retail strategy.

Visual Search and Local: A Match Made in Mountain View

Though visual search challengers such as Snapchat and Pinterest could shine in niche use cases such as fashion items, Google will rule as the best all-around utility for visual search. It has the deepest tech stack, and the substance (knowledge graph) to be useful beyond just a flashy novelty for identifying things visually.

The name of the game now is to get users to adopt it. Google Lens won’t be a silver bullet and will shine in a few areas where Google is directing users, such as pets and flowers. But it will really shine in product search, which happens to be where monetization will eventually come into the picture.

San Francisco Partially Bans Facial Recognition, Putting Technology’s Future in Doubt

Civil rights and privacy activists asked, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors delivered.

The city banned the use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement and other municipal agencies on Tuesday, becoming the first in the country to do so. Other bills in the works in Massachusetts and even on Capitol Hill suggest that additional restrictions on the technology may be forthcoming. 

Retailers Use Visual Channels to Attract Last-Minute Mother’s Day Shoppers

Spending on Mother’s Day is expected to reach $25 billion this year, with consumers flocking to department stores and florists in search of the perfect gifts for Mom. The bulk of that spending will happen in the next few days, as foot traffic data from the location platform GroundTruth reveals that Americans tend to wait until the very last minute to shop for Mother’s Day gifts.

What are retailers around the country doing to prepare for the onslaught of last-minute shoppers? More than ever before, retailers are leaning on visual marketing opportunities to drive last-minute sales.

Letter From the Editor: Retail Transformation Rules

As we continue to evolve the definition of “local,” one key component of its market opportunity is offline brick-and-mortar shopping. After all, about 90% of all U.S. retail spending, to the tune of about $3.7 trillion, is completed offline in physical stores. And that’s usually in proximity to one’s home (thus, local).

This makes retail transformation a key focal point for Street Fight. And there’s a lot happening.

Report: Consumer Expectations for Brands Higher than Ever in Age of Convenience

With the omnichannel age upon us, the impact of bad customer experiences is unprecedented. The main fear for businesses should no longer be a standoff between the worker behind the customer service desk and the angry customer who failed to get his discount; it should be the rant that hits social and is shared or liked a slew of times, dragging digital reputations through the mud.

The Power of Micro-Location Technology

The location market has matured beyond push. The value of micro-location technology is now built on hyper-accurate analytics on where users go in the physical world, allowing advertisers to re-target them with a variety of omnichannel marketing efforts. Here are a few exciting use cases that highlight the power of hyper-accurate location-based marketing technology.

Local Marketing Methods That Will Attract Millennials

Millennials want their money to go further than it has before. They desire to pay less for both their wants and needs, are more socially conscious than ever, and need things to catch their eye quickly. So, how do we, as local marketers, appeal to them? Brands and businesses that can give millennials what they want, when they want it, and at an affordable price will win their business.

Is Google Building an “Internet of Places?”

Use cases will materialize over time, but it’s already clear that visual search can carry lots of commercial intent. Point your phone at a store or restaurant to get business details. Point your phone at a pair of shoes on the street to find out prices, reviews, and purchase info. This proximity between the searcher and the subject indicates high intent, which means higher conversions and more money for Google. Moreover, visual search has the magic combination of frequency and utility, which could make it the first scalable AR use case: making the real world clickable.

Walmart Enlists Google to Power Voice-Driven Grocery Shopping

Partnerships between retailers and tech platforms will provide increasingly important benefits for local discovery as voice becomes a more established search channel. In the age of voice-driven local search, consumers looking for products and services will become accustomed to having only one option surfaced (as Assistant is unlikely to rattle off five choices), which means being a consumer’s first option will be paramount for brick-and-mortars.

How Will 5G Unlock Location Targeting?

5G goes far beyond just a speed boost. The quantitative advantages are joined by qualitative factors that will enable all kinds of new consumer use cases and content delivery strategies. This notably includes more precise location tracking/targeting and even some indoor use cases (think: retail). 5G-enabled phones will phase in over the next three years. Then, it’s off to the races.

Shirking the Tech Giants’ Mobile Wallets, Kroger Unveils One of Its Own

Kroger is flexing on Apple and Google this week, passing on the opportunity to accept Apple Pay or Google Pay at its stores and choosing instead to launch its own mobile wallet that doubles as a loyalty card, WCPO reported in Columbus.

Walmart Mulls a Run at the Digital Ad Business

With reports percolating about Amazon’s increasingly clear emergence as a third party to Google and Facebook’s dominance of the digital ad market, the e-commerce behemoth’s old-school counterpart is reportedly taking a look at the action itself.

Williams-Sonoma Sues Amazon, Underscoring War Over E-Commerce Monopolization

Foreshadowing a battle over Amazon’s overwhelming control of e-commerce, Williams-Sonoma filed a lawsuit against Amazon in the final days of 2018, charging that the retail juggernaut used its market power to copy the furniture maker’s products and squeeze it out of the market.

What Standard Cognition’s Big Play Means for Autonomous Retail

If autonomous checkout systems ever go mainstream, it will be because retailers finally figured out how to effectively harness in-store cameras to determine where customers are and what items they’re holding in real-time. Reaching that goal has proven elusive to AI technology providers thus far, but a San Francisco-based startup called Standard Cognition is hoping that its recent acquisition of Explorer.ai, a mapping and computer vision firm, will be the catalyst that’s necessary to accelerate growth and expand into new retail verticals.

Heard on the Street, Episode 19: Fusing the Best of Online and Offline Shopping, with Trevor Sumner

We’ve been hearing a lot about “retailpocolypse,” which raises the question of what 2019 has in store for retail (excuse the pun). This question threaded the many topics we batted around with Perch Interactive CEO Trevor Sumner on the latest episode of Street Fight’s Heard on the Street podcast.

Loyalty Solution Narvar Acquires Kronos Care, Expands in Europe

Customer engagement and loyalty solution Narvar, which has tripled in size over the last year, announced on Tuesday its acquisition of Kronos Care, a fellow customer engagement startup founded in just 2017. The move will help Narvar conquer the European market, bolstered by the local expertise of the Paris-based Kronos.

Kroger CEO Offers Closer Look at Grocery Giant’s Tech Innovation at NRF 2019

Among Kroger’s latest innovation is a partnership with online grocer Ocado. Kroger is licensing Ocado’s technology—the only grocer in the United States to do so—in order to benefit from its digital-native mastery of automated warehouse operations and on-demand delivery. The company will be expanding its number of warehouses powered by Ocado’s technology in 2019.

How Brands Will Select Key Partners in 2019: 5 Key Takeaways from Affiliate Summit West

Robert Glazer: This year’s Affiliate Summit West conference took place earlier this month in Las Vegas. And just like every year, performance marketing experts gathered to see some of the potential challenges and opportunities the space is likely to see in 2019. This year’s conference gave them plenty to chew on. There were five topics, in particular, that I found to be most important. Here’s a closer look at them.

How Savvy Brands Are Getting Mobile Offers Into the Hands of Consumers

“For brick-and-mortar businesses, the focus on driving foot traffic through mobile couponing is even more important due to the convenience of online shopping. We see mobile coupon platforms becoming ubiquitous and affordable for even small businesses to create, design, and distribute their own coupons,” Katie Wilson, CEO of TapOnIt and a digital advertising veteran, tells our senior editor Stephanie Miles.