Online Shopping Battles are Perfect for the Last Minute Consumer

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The online shopping giants, Amazon, eBay and even Wal-mart, are all preparing for the craziness of holiday shopping this year.  Online shopping is perfect for those last minute shoppers or consumers looking for a great deal they might not find in the stores.  Shoppers also don’t have to worry about fighting those huge crowds, long lines and crowded parking lots. One of the best and most popular online shopping days is Cyber Monday, where the online world of shopping turns into Black Friday in the palm of your hand.

According to WomensWearDaily, Amazon has taken a step above the online competition by linking with U.S. Postal Service in New York and L.A. for Sunday deliveries. eBay has also taken major steps to leverage itself this holiday season. The site will be offering same-day delivery service, which lets customers receive items from major retailers in about an hour.  The e-commerce site has also extended its hours due to shortened shopping time during Thanksgiving break, as well as lengthening delivery hours and eliminating delivery fees until 6 p.m. on crucial shopping dates during the holiday season.

Online shopping sites are also making sure their sites will appeal through a phone or tablet.  Many sites, like eBay, have revamped their current site to increase social interaction. Other sites, like Zappos, are focusing their site on singular items so the shopping experience is easier and less stressful for the consumer.  Zappos.com is also paying attention to their customer service with a 365-day policy and 24/7 call center.

I feel that all of these tactics to give the online shopper what they want are becoming more personal and dynamic each year.  Department stores and online stores alike are taking the millienials, as well as the ever changing technology into consideration to increase sales.  According to a Google study, half of all American shoppers will research holiday purchases online prior to Thanksgiving weekend.  The study also found that 60 percent will make a purchase online that weekend. With such surprising statistics showing the increase on web purchasing, the online stores, as well as department stores, are making the perfect moves to keep up with its busy, tech-savy consumer.

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Written By: Bree Babik

http://www.wwd.com/retail-news/direct-internet-catalogue/gearing-up-for-the-digital-holiday-rush-7283626?page=2

No More Room!

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Is the social media landscape becoming way too crowded for brands and retailers?? There is no question that brands like Victoria’s Secret and Forever 21 have made their connections a lot stronger with their customer base through their unique social media approach. Both of the brands have over 2 million Instagram followers and are often praised by fans for the way they use the tool. But with everyone else trying to duplicate the success with their own social media campaigns, are consumers even noticing anymore? Oliver Walsh of Aritzia believes that with everyone rushing to social media now leaves content to be lost and “buried” because consumers aren’t being able to notice all of the information anymore. Inc.com thinks that everybody is benefiting from this herd to social media. Libby Myers, fashion account director at Room 214 says that the new social media push is helping fans feel “very, very special.” On the contrary, I believe all of this noise is just making fans feel very, very bored. Think about it. It really used to be exciting when our favorite fashion brands joined social media and we could follow their every move right? Now, there are so many brands that we sometimes just skip over everything. What use to make us very happy and engaged with a brand is now communicated SO much by SO many that nothing seems enticing anymore. However, that does not mean that there is no way for brands to reach us or that they should leave us alone altogether. Instead brands can be creative in showing the unique lifestyle that their brand delivers. I don’t care to see your product on my Instagram news feed because if I wanted to see your product then I would have just gone on your webpage. What I do want to see is the life of your brand. Show me the behind the scenes action. Let me see how the muse of your brand lives his or her life and make me want to be them. If a brand can do that then they will have earned the obsession of consumers all over the world.

Even the Old Spice guy made us all want to do whatever he says.

 

http://www.wwd.com/media-news/media-features/the-cluttered-social-scene-7274555?src=n/newsAlert/20131113-3

http://www.inc.com/stephanie-meyers/6-social-media-tricks-fashion-brands.html

http://mashable.com/2013/10/25/instagram-most-followed-brands/

 

By Rocky Collins

Department Stores are Taking Black Friday to a New Level

Black Friday has become a holiday among Americans. It seems we cannot get enough of those deals on fashion, electronics and toys for all ages in the family.  For many, Black Friday has become a tradition. Mothers, grandmothers and daughters alike wait until midnight to finally enjoy the biggest shopping experience of their year.  Black Friday is officially the start to the holiday season with trampling of people, Christmas music in the stores and lots of lines of gift buying.

Traditionally, stores did not open on Black Friday until midnight or later because most Americans were celebrating Thanksgiving.  This has since changed due to the competition of the department stores. Once one store decides to open earlier, the others must be able to compete to bring in higher profits. This year Macy’s, WalMart, Kohl’s, JCPenny, Sears, and K-Mart will all be opening on Thanksgiving night.  Many of which are opening at 8 P.M. on the Thursday of Thanksgiving. Just like the photo above, I feel that opening stores this early to shop is a little too extreme.  Thanksgiving should be about spending time with loved ones and remembering all that we already have in our lives, instead of worrying about shopping for what we do not have.

I think the biggest shock of stores opening early for the holiday was Macy’s. After 155 years in the business, Macy’s has never opened this early on Black Friday.  Macy’s is in charge of one of the biggest Thanksgiving traditions in America, with its 87th Annual Thanksgiving Parade, and opening at such an early time may stray from the tradition the famous store has. Many critics are saying Macy’s is one of the problems to blame for diminishing the Thanksgiving holiday. Another problem the critics are saying are “ruining” the holiday are the shoppers themselves.

Although I agree with some of the critics, I have worked a Black Friday at a major department store and I can see why stores are so willingly to open earlier and earlier each year. Working Black Friday was definitely a night unlike any other, but I actually enjoyed it and it was the fastest day in retail I have ever experienced. Our store made our plan and no fights broke out like many of the horror stories I was told before working.

Maybe department stores are to blame, or maybe we should blame it on the millions of Americans starting their extreme holiday shopping a little earlier than usual, but the truth is people will continue to shop on Black Friday, and the stores need to keep up with its consumers.  Who knows what time stores will open next year, but 8 P.M. on Thanksgiving seems to already being pushing the Thanksgiving boundaries far enough.

By: Brianna Babik

http://www.examiner.com/article/black-friday-2013-hours-kmart-sears-walmart-macy-s-open-on-thanksgiving

http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2013/1016/Macy-s-announces-Black-Friday-hours-starting-on-Thanksgiving

http://business.time.com/2013/10/19/hey-thanksgiving-shoppers-macys-isnt-the-only-one-to-blame-for-ruining-the-holiday/

Excuse me sir, but is YOUR money Real?

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One of the biggest media stories in retail broke this month with the charges filed against Barneys New York for racial discrimination and public profiling. It all started when a 21-year-old college male was stopped after buying a $350 Salvatore Ferragamo belt that undercover security guards did not believe he could afford. The male, of African American descent, was handcuffed and detained for 2 hours while police tried to prove that his Chase debit card was a fake. The police and Barneys turned out to be very wrong and now this young man is coming out for war with some really heavy manpower behind him.

It may be too soon to see how the mess has affected Barneys sales but the public scrutiny and rage is very apparent towards the retailer AND their partnering businesses. There has already been a petition filed to stop rapper Jay Z from launching his holiday collection with the retailer that gained over 16,700 signatures. With this, the public is clearly communicating their issues with Barneys practices but what does Barneys practices communicate how they feel about their customers?

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In my opinion it communicates that Barneys is just as judgmental about who they serve as they are about what they serve them. I’m also a 21-year-old college male and I would not take too kindly to someone telling me that I don’t LOOK like I could afford to be in there store..AFTER I just spent my hard earned money to increase their bottom line!

In a time when every retailer is trying to push the boundaries of innovation and be at the forefront of any revolution in fashion it seems that Barneys New York has taken a couple of steps backwards in the civil rights arena. The message from this incident that is heard by minorities around the world is now “Because your skin is brown, I am not sure if you can afford to shop in my store. Is your money even real?”

By Rocky Collins

http://cbsnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/ag-ltr-to-barneys-ny-re-racial-profiling-of-customers.pdf

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/10/29/sharpton-barneys-ceo-discuss-racial-profiling-during-candid-meeting/

Amazon Brings Fashion in a New Light

It seems every brand is jumping on the e-commerce approach to reach the ever changing, tech-savy, millennial generation. Amazon has always been strictly online shopping, offering about anything a person could need at a much cheaper price than in the store.  I’ve always loved Amazon for buying textbooks, a hockey jersey or any type of electronic possible. Although I shop at Amazon, I would have never thought about typing Amazon into my browser to shop for current fashion trends or clothes. It seems Amazon is aware of this misconception and is trying to broaden their shoppers by bringing fashion to life online just like Forever 21, H&M or Tobi

Amazon has completely revamped their site toward fashion trends, offering high-end brands from around the world. The fashion site is updated by departments, trends and styles, offering an easy navigation to find exactly what you’re looking for. The company is going beyond a site update and is taking their new fashion approach outside of the online world and into the streets of the Big Apple.

Amazon recently opened a 40,000 square foot photography facility in Brooklyn to take their fashion shots to a whole new level. Dhani Mau, writer for fashionista.com, says this bold move “signals Amazon’s dedication to becoming a top global destination for fashion.”  The facility offers Amazon the chance to edit, style and shoot the latest trends for their site.

I’m not sure if I would describe this as a publicity stunt (in a good way), but this photography facility really has become a buzz in the fashion industry.  Amazon is slowly, but surely, helping to raise their credibility in the fashion industry and as an e-commerce site overall. The site is becoming much more than a resource for cheap textbooks and electronics, and if they can continue to turn heads with creative ways into the media, Amazon may be on its way to e-commerce fashion gold.

 

By: Brianna Babik

http://fashionista.com/2013/10/amazon-may-launch-higher-end-fashion-site-designer-collaborations/

 

Leighton Meester…or BLAIR WALDORF??

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Who’s really the face of the brand?? When cosmetic companies or fashion houses enlist the likeness of a celebrity to help them win over fans, I wonder if they really know which personality their new spokesperson is communicating to their audience.

Leighton Meester has been on fire these past couple of weeks. In September she landed the campaign spot for the French fashion house Naf Naf. Today the L’Oreal-owned brand Biotherm announced that she will be the global ambassador (face) of the brand. Although Meester has been in numerous movies, she is most known for her role as Blair Waldorf in the smashing hit show “Gossip Girl” where she plays the “Queen” of Manhattan’s elite and is just as manipulative and self-driven as she is beautiful. Meester, who was born while her mother was in prison and nursed in a half-way house for the first 3 months of her life, has had the far from snobby upbringing. One that besides the prison birth, was actually pretty normal. With the incredible success of “Gossip Girl”, which ran from 2007-2012, it is now impossible see Leighton Meester’s face and not think of the self-absorbed, rich and famous Blair Waldorf. The girl who lives a life other girls would kill for. The girl everyone wants to be best friends with even though you know you couldn’t trust her. With such a mischievous and powerful allure in her character as Miss Blair Waldorf, which is now somewhat synonymous with the name Leighton Meester, how could a brand control or even know which personality is received from using such a face?

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I think brands are knowingly getting which ever face is most popular with the generation. In this case, Naf Naf and Biotherm are getting a dose of Blair Waldorf. In contrast however, brands like Revlon that hire power-house goddesses like Halle Berry are getting exactly the face that their millions are paying for. Let’s face it, no matter how many times we watch the movie Catwoman or the X-Men we will never look at a billboard and think, “I love Patience Phillips!” No! You might not even remember who Patience Phillips is but you’ll always remember the seductive and classic essence of Halle Berry.

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By Rocky Collins

 

http://www.wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-scoops/face-forward-7227754?navSection=issues

http://www.wwd.com/media-news/fashion-memopad/waldorf-salad-7106192

Revamping The Magazine Industry Through Instant Retailing

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As if the glossy pages of endless glamour and fresh innovations aren’t taunting enough, Wired magazine now takes the temptation you experience when reading through a magazine one step further. The Condé Nast title will be the company’s first publication to partner with MasterCard’s ShopThis technology that will allow users to be able to shop certain products right from the pages of the magazine’s digital edition. The goal is to keep the readers within the reading experience while offering a seamless retailing experience. The move is certainly a leap into the future of Omni-channel retailing but may also help magazines to maintain their relevance in a world where everything is going viral. For many of us, we live vicariously through the images of the lives we wish we could live and the beautiful waste of money that we wish we could buy. With the new ability to simply purchase an item that has me day dreaming with just one click, I don’t think any of our wallets will be safe. Nonetheless, this new technology is exactly what we have subconsciously always preferred. It is why e-commerce is the fastest growing sector in the retail industry. We enjoy – and expect – the luxury of being able to fulfill all of our needs via the magnificent realm of the internet. Wired magazine and MasterCard may have just opened up a new can of worms to spoil us with once we have the chance to become even too lazy to actively shop around for the looks we loved in our favorite magazine. Now we can shop FROM the magazine WHILE reading it. Genius!

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JWT Intelligence, the Wall Street Journal and Ad Age are amongst the majority of the publishing industry who agree that this move is ultimately necessary in an environment where the print publication sales are declining. Merging their content with technology and retail is a move they hope will revitalize the amount of readers they can reach.

Lauren Johnson, Associate Reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York gives us her thoughts on why this is a good move for both the publishing and retail industries.

http://www.wwd.com/media-news/fashion-memopad/wireds-shopping-pilot-7214348?module=Media-hero

http://www.mobilecommercedaily.com/conde-nasts-wired-tests-tablet-shopping-to-build-ecommerce-strategy

By Rocky Collins

Social Media is Not Always the Answer

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 The biggest week of fashion gave consumers more than just collections and fall fashion trends this year. All platforms of social media seemed to be talking about one thing only: fashion week. Not only was my Twitter timeline focused on the most influential week in fashion, but my Instagram and Pinterest were also overwhelmed with pictures of runways, designers and of course, clothes. I found that all of these posts were overwhelming and just seemed to turn into one big fashion week blur.  Although, it seems I was not the only who felt this way. Women’s Wear Daily talked about this issue with an article called “Fashion Week Social Media Lessons Learned.”  The writer talked about the challenges for a designer to stand out via social media.  Shelly Socol told WWD that ““There is so much going on that it’s becoming overwhelming. It’s too much information too fast. Everyone is viewing everything at once, and they can’t even decipher what they want and what they don’t.”  I felt this quote summed up my feelings during this hectic week in the fashion industry, but if you aren’t Tweeting or Instagraming, then how does a designer compete?  Socol said one way to branch out from the hashtags is using long-term strategies versus short-term.  One creative path a designer took was partnering with Sony to create an ultra-high-resolution 4K filming. Another designer used their 25th brand anniversary as a hashtag (#DKNY25) to diverse from all the other brands and designers. I found both these ideas creative and their research shows they were effective with many media impressions. Social media has become a part of public relations and keeping the audience’s attention is crucial.  I would have started a campaign for my brand  (maybe an awareness day or challenge) about a month before fashion week and have an event or concert during fashion week, as well as the normal show that will already be taking place. Having a campaign this early would help the brand differentiate itself so that when New York Fashion Week finally does roll around, the brand is already being talked about in social media. You cannot have a brand without social media, especially during one of the most important weeks of the industry, but just tweeting or instagraming isn’t enough to keep the audience talking and selling products. Brands need to keep using unique approaches in social media to help increase sales in e-commerce and in stores.

fashion week on twitter

 

By: Bree Babik

http://www.wwd.com/media-news/media-features/fashion-week-social-media-lessons-learned-7212237?page=2

 

Macy’s Hits the Millennials through YouTube

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As a 21 year old in the retail business, Macy’s isn’t the first place I would choose to shop.  I find myself shopping in more trendy stores like H&M or Forever 21, where the style is unique and the price is perfect for a college student. Although, it seems Macy’s has realized that the younger generation, the millennials, are walking past their store to get cute cops and high-waisted shorts elsewhere. Macy’s is starting to reach out to the millennials through YouTube by linking with the style channel StyleHaul. They have chosen four YouTube fashion personalities (also known as vloggers) to show off what Macy’s has to offer in clothing, accessories and beauty products. Macy’s is giving 12 percent of its advertising to digital space, and with four million impressions on social media in the past couple of weeks from sneak peaks of the vloggers, I think Macy’s is stepping in the right direction. The more that Macy’s can do online to show the millennials that the store is just as stylish as its competitors, the more successful it will become. After reading the article, I went onto Macy’s website to check out what their newest trends were for the store’s junior department.  Surprisingly, almost everything Macy’s sells, I would wear.  The problem is, until now, I would have never looked to Macy’s as a place to shop to keep up with the latest trends. I also think that it would help if Macy’s advertised its e-commerce store more efficiently because online shopping is becoming just as popular as shopping in the stores. Another way of reaching out to the younger audience could be a possible fashion show and keeping up to date on Twitter and Instagram. If Macy’s can continue to advertise to the younger clientele in creative ways and show that they can compete with the trendy stores, they will finally hit that 15-25 year old audience that they have been missing out on. I believe only great things will come out of the smart team-up of Macy’s and StyleHaul and I’m looking forward to other ways of communication Macy’s will use to gain the younger, trendy shoppers.

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By: Brianna Babik

http://www.wwd.com/retail-news/department-stores/macys-millennial-push-hits-youtube-7150752/slideshow/7150754#/slideshow/article/7150752/7150758

http://www.youtube.com/user/stylehaul?feature=watch

A Social Party That YOU Are Not Invited To…

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Recently there was an announcement that caused a lot of excitement and commotion during London Fashion Week. Luxury retailer Net-a-Porter revealed to the world that it will be launching its own mobile application that will be more about the engagement and discovery of fashion for users instead of the direct-to-shopping style of its previously-launched shopping app. The application, “The Netbook”, is designed to act as a personal diary to users to document their fashion moments, outfits and ideas while being able to be connected to an entire community of fashionistas who are all doing the same thing. This sounds perfect for the user who loves to pull inspiration from the uniqueness of bloggers, celebrities, stylist, and other fashionable people right? Well if that sounds like you or any of your non-famous friends then you might not want to thank the fashion gods just yet. Net-a-Porter announced that membership into this society of fashion utopia will “initially” be exclusive to the likes of stylists, editors, bloggers, celebrities, and other people who are the type to end up on the fashion pages of the New York Times every now and again. They are supporting this exclusivity by claiming “It has to be a good experience and feel like luxury.” What the hell does that mean? It is supposed to be a tool to communicate and engage with your customers, offering them insights into what other fashion-minded creatives are loving for the season. Instead it will be just another world that we are all excluded from unless we are lucky enough to score invitations in the form of front row seats to the season’s hottest shows. In the defense of Net-a-Porter, the company has said that they do plan on allowing for the app’s membership to include all iPhone or iPad users on a first come first serve basis, AFTER they build up the credibility of the app and get their famous snobby people to like using it first. My question to them: what happens when your beloved fashion elitist decide that they do love the app but only in the form of its exclusivity away from us commoners? Will you, the Net-a-Porter Group, bend to the wishes of the industry’s most influential names or will you show that your customers who keep you in business are your top priority? After all, the application is for “our (your customers) discovery”…or is it not.

By Rocky Collins

http://www.wwd.com/retail-news/direct-internet-catalogue/net-a-porter-group-launches-social-network-7156864

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