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Study: Top 5 social media trends for retail

BY Marianne Wilson

Pinterest will emerge as a stronger alternative to Facebook and Twitter, according to global research and analytics firm Blueocean Market Intelligence. The company analyzed the online data of the nation’s top 100 retailers from September through December 2013 as part of its ongoing study assessing the business impact of top retailers’ social media efforts. Blueocean Market Intelligence predicts the following top social media trends for the retail industry in 2014:

•    The traditional shopping experience is evolving as more consumers move online. While the holiday season still provides many opportunities for shiny marketing promotions and campaigns, digital advances have changed the game. Retailers have more flexibility on how and when they approach customers. Last year’s Black Friday was not just limited to Friday — retailers offered deep discounts days before to gain more customers. Increased competition and customers’ lack of patience with crowds and long lines will continue to push them online, away from brick-and-mortar storefronts.

•    Pinterest will emerge as a stronger alternative to Facebook and Twitter. During last year’s holiday season, Twitter referrals experienced the most growth with a 24% increase year over year, followed by Pinterest (17%) and Facebook (12%). While Facebook led the battle among social influencers in the online space, Pinterest emerged as the top social channel for “top of the funnel” advertising with its fast-growing referral traffic and higher conversion rates.

•    Successful retailers will integrate omnichannel    communications. Cementing an omnichannel strategy will continue to be crucial, and online-plus-mobile will equal strong sales. According to the Adobe Digital Index 2013, consumers shopped 40% more from their smartphones this past holiday season than in 2012. Retailers that identify opportunities to create a more a seamless experience with consistent communications across all platforms, as well as improved inventory and transparent pricing, will create a more fulfilling experience for customers.

•    Content marketing will increasingly rely on social media to drive engagement. Brands will move away from a one-way content marketing push, instead leveraging social media to drive engagement, timely conversations and personalized customer interactions. However, 2014 will also bring a shift from text to more visually oriented elements, such as video and pictures, affecting data storage requirements and even broader types of content. Organizations that want to harness data from social intelligence will need to acknowledge unstructured data and determine how it can be converted and made relevant for today’s business strategies.

•    Social shopping will become a reality. Social media engagement has traditionally focused on customers in the consideration phase of the purchase cycle. However, we can now expect companies to launch greater social shopping initiatives by leveraging virtual currencies, such as Bit-coins. Social shopping will not just occur on independent platforms, but will be integrated into social platforms. With a quick click, share or Tweet, customers will be able to purchase a product or service, impacting how organizations track their logistics, customer verifications and inventory management.

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Azoi develops health monitoring device that fits onto a smartphone

BY Antoinette Alexander

NEW YORK — Technology company Azoi has announced the development of Wello, a health-monitoring device that is embedded within a mobile phone case.

With a few sensors, Wello fits onto a smartphone and measures a number of key vitals, including blood pressure, electrocardiography, heart rate, blood oxygen, temperature, lung functions and more.

By holding it for a few moments, hidden sensors take measurements and pass on gathered information to the Wello app. Not only does it bring instantaneous results and data on your key vitals, over time it is possible to identify patterns that can help make more informed lifestyle choices, the company stated.

Wello also can connect with other health-and-fitness devices, such as pedometers, to help identify how different behaviors can affect bodily state, the company stated.

Wello is available for pre-order in the United Kingdom and across the EU. It will ship in summer 2014 at a price of £120 or €145. It also will be available for pre-order in Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore and the United States.

In the United States, it will retail for $199 and will ship in fall 2014, pending FDA approval.

 

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E-Nicotine Technology to move forward with product launch

BY Antoinette Alexander

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — E-Nicotine Technology has announced details regarding its family of products aimed at helping smokers as they transition off of combustible cigarettes.

Having recently completed clinical trials in nearly 100 smokers and showing an 83% reduction in one minute and sustained smoking urge reduction, eNT is moving forward toward the launch of its family of electronic nicotine delivery products.

“We believe that our products are poised to capture a significant market share given that they can be marketed at a substantially lower cost, can be used discreetly and will help consumers rid themselves of a habit that has been shortening lives for decades,” stated Jeff Williams, CEO of eNT. “Additionally, our product platform is amendable to eventual development as a more traditional nicotine replacement therapy, which are marketed for smoking cessation by pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and Pfizer. For our initial product, we will be launching commercially across Europe first.”

The eNT technology enables the development of products that do not look like cigarettes or e-cigarettes and emit no secondhand vapor. The initial launch product includes a reusable electronic controller that comes standard with an interface to proprietary mobile e-health tools, allowing each user to track their usage and help them to transition completely off of cigarettes and nicotine if they choose.

“By developing a family of electronic nicotine delivery devices that do not look like cigarettes, emit no secondhand vapor and provide a consistent dose with each inhalation, we are pursuing an important and novel approach to helping smokers,” added Michael Hufford, chief medical officer of eNT.

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