P2P Toolkit (December 2021)

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12/16/2021
​​​​​​​A roundup of technology-driven tools that drive consumer understanding, engagement and conversion on every step of the path to purchase.
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When Samsung launched its new Galaxy foldables and Watch4 series in Europe this fall, it did so with in-store augmented reality (AR) experiences employing scannable QR codes. The goal of the messaging was to shift the focus away from the devices’ technical features and toward all the practical benefits they offer. Something worked, as Samsung reports that the average time spent with the AR was 3.5 minutes. The AR experience was created by London-based Zappar using its AR platform, ZapWorks. Instructions on using the scannable QR codes were communicated through screens, wobblers, spec cards, print advertising and out-of-home advertising near bus stops.

 

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The Shipt “Preferred Shopper” option, announced in late August, seems like the next logical step in the grocery delivery business. A customer who really likes the Shipt shopper who handled their order can give them a five-star rating, which opens an option to add the person to their Preferred Shopper list. If that shopper accepts the request, he or she will be prioritized to shop for the customer’s future orders. A test of the program was reported to be “incredibly successful” with both higher satisfaction rates and order frequency. Shipt also says that 95% of customers use the feature “right out of the gate” and reported higher satisfaction levels. They also tend to tip more when paired.

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Are you a Bravoholic? Good news: As of November, you can shop for your favorite “Bravoleb’s” products on NBCUniversal’s Virtual Bravo Bazaar, an AR-driven website that lets viewers buy products associated with shows (such as the “Real Housewives” franchise) on the Bravo channel. Visitors navigate the site by clicking and dragging on the screen or using arrows on the floor to explore various “rooms.” The site is built around merchandise that’s not available anywhere else and uses an e-commerce tool called “NBCUniversal Checkout” that allows shoppers to stay on the site while still making purchases.

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In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, a whole lot of e-commerce sites suddenly took notice and belatedly began spotlighting offerings from their Black-owned business partners. One of the actual pioneers in the space for several years now is Miiriya, an app that enables Black-owned brands and businesses to sell their products and services to consumers without transaction or listing fees. Miiriya’s operator, Lamine Loco, says that many of the vendors on the site are struggling businesses, so it is important that they receive 100% of their earnings. The plan, therefore, is to operate the app with the support of donations — like Wikipedia and PBS — so Miiriya can underwrite the vendors’ credit card and PayPal fees for them. To make it even easier for supporters, there’s a special “Businesses that need help” button inside the app.

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Proof that ruthlessly efficient robots can’t take over everything: A Dutch supermarket chain announced that in 2022, it will roll out “chat checkouts” to 200 of its stores across The Netherlands. Two years ago, Veghel, Netherlands-based Jumbo Supermarkets set up a special checkout lane (called a “Kletskassa,” a play on the word “klets,” which means chatty) at one of its stores where unhurried cashiers (nice human beings, in other words) are empowered to take extra time conversing with customers. The idea, says the retailer’s CEO, is that loneliness is a particular challenge for the elderly, and stores are an important neighborhood meeting place. Checking out takes a bit longer than usual, and that’s okay. Jumbo has initiated related programs in its stores, such as the “All Together Coffee Corner,” where customers can sit and speak to other members of their local community. Volunteers also help older people by handling some of their shopping and providing company.

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Here’s an example of three innovators teaming up to change the game. This fall, Vroom Delivery began partnering with a last-mile delivery-robot operator, Tortoise, to deliver goods for “urban convenience retailer” Urban Value Corner Store. Chicago-based Vroom is a full-stack e-commerce solution focused on convenience stores; Mountain View, California-based Tortoise is pioneering low-speed remote repositioning for zero-emission vehicles like delivery bots and shared scooters; and Dallas-based Urban Value is a specialized retailing concept considered ideal for high-density apartment communities. The delivery bots can carry 100 pounds of goods in a sealed container that is remotely opened by the operator at its destination. They operate on the sidewalk at an average speed of 3 mph with the ability to maneuver around people, cars, pets and other obstacles.

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Denver-based Ibotta just completed its “Free Thanksgiving Dinner” promotion, the second year of a program that the company says helped feed more than 3 million Americans in 2020. It is built around a 100% cash-back offer on classic Thanksgiving staples: turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes and more. To redeem, consumers can use Ibotta’s app or browser extension, or visit the website for instructions on how to shop at select retailers. For 2021, more items were added to the list, which features brand sponsors Coca-Cola, Campbell’s, Birds Eye, Idahoan, McCormick and others. The program was scheduled to end by Nov. 24 (or as long as supplies lasted).

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In early November, Los Angeles-based Smarty, a premium online shopping service, launched a mobile app version of the company’s web browser extension. Founded in 2018, Smarty’s web browser extension automatically applies the best coupon onto purchases from more than 6,000 U.S. retailers (most notably Target, Walmart and Best Buy), as well as 20,000 global merchants. The company says that its new mobile app version (available on iOS or Android) functions the same way, automatically applying coupon codes and offering cash back on purchases. Smarty also added a price comparison feature using a barcode scanner. The new app also makes savings-sharing easier, too; if a user clicks on a link that a friend has shared, Smarty offers the auto-applied coupons and cash back once enabled on the mobile device.

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SPOTLIGHT: PACKAGING

Hamilton, Bermuda-based Bacardi says it cut the plastic in its gift packs by 50% for the 2021 holiday season. The company said it removed 147 tons of the single-use plastic it normally used every year in its gift packs through new designs that replaced plastic inserts and trays with sustainable alternatives made from cardboard that’s been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Bacardi says this represents a major step toward its 2023 goal of removing 100% of all single-use plastic from its gift packs and P-O-P materials; its 2030 goal is to be completely plastic-free. Bacardi already has achieved its 100% plastic removal goal in specific 2021 gift packs for brands such as Reserva Ocho, Grey Goose, Martinia Fiero and Dewar’s.

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Azusa, California-based personal care packaging manufacturer APackaging Group has released a patented line of pump dispensers dubbed “The Infinity Pumps,” which it claims are completely recyclable. The manufacturer — which says it is a “go-to” supplier for brands such as Unilever, Estee Lauder and Procter & Gamble — designed a line of packages without any metal construction (typically the element that prevents beauty packaging from being recycled). The company also says that these pump packages for cosmetics are “e-commerce certified,” meaning that they can withstand the rough shipping environments.

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In November, online printer Smartpress.com of Chanhassen, Minnesota, entered the product packaging field with “Tuck Boxes.” The boxes are said to be 100% recyclable and come in three sizes designed to accommodate retail products like candles, cosmetics and soaps. Smartpress occupies a niche as an online printer for creative agencies, graphic designers, nonprofits and marketing professionals. The company says it is a carbon-neutral printer and holds environmental certifications like EcoVadis Gold and ISO 14001. It reports that it is home to one of the largest fleets of HP Indigo HD presses in the world.

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In October, Seattle-based Jones Soda Co. launched a new series of AR labels featuring the fortune teller character Zoltar. (You might remember him from “Big,” the 1988 movie where a Zoltar-type fortune-telling machine turned a child into an adult played by Tom Hanks.) Each AR label has an image of the character plus a Reel Label icon. Once triggered, the character reads humorous fortunes in short videos that combine “Zoltar’s infinite wisdom” with Jones Soda messaging. Consumers can also share a text-based screenshot that replicates one of the fortune cards dispensed by animatronic Zoltar machines.

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Aliso Viejo, California-based OTACA Tequila recently deployed a smart packaging array designed to invite its customers to engage, track and authenticate their purchases. Working in collaboration with Fremont, California-based Identiv, OTACA is printing near field communication (NFC) tags (which have a standard circular form factor) and attaching them to the tops of its tequila bottles. Once shoppers read the tags with their smartphones, Identiv’s NFC transponders connect them to an IoT ecosystem that lets them access OTACA’s custom digital experience. This includes information on the specific bottle and its provenance, data about its supply chain journey, a history of the brand and its founders, the harvest schedule for future bottlings and instructions on how to place a future order. OTACA’s consumer engagement platform is managed by SUKU, a blockchain-based ecosystem that is said to ensure security, transparency and reliability.

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