A roundup of technology-driven tools that drive consumer understanding, engagement and conversion on every step of the path to purchase.
It’s a safe bet that “social distancing” will top the “Word of the Year” lists for 2020, but watch for “skip the line” too as store shoppers eschew lines and cashiers who handle their items. In May, FutureProof Retail (FPR) said it would be donating its Mobile Checkout Solution to grocery stores, pharmacies and supermarkets nationwide. FPR says that when New York City’s FairwayMarket incorporated this scan-and-pay system into its app, it saw a 300% increase in adoption and that 20% of transactions are now done via mobile checkout. The company also says that the system can be deployed in as few as three working days.
In April, Levi Strauss & Co. announced that it has become a partner in TikTok’s “Shop Now” program, a new effort that lets consumers buy products directly from the social platform. The Levi’s brand wants to deepen connections with its “next generation,” and TikTok reportedly has as many as 480 million monthly active users worldwide between the ages of 16-24. During Levi’s April 19 “Haus Miami” activation, it partnered with TikTok influencers to create customized denim using Levi’s Future Finish 3-D technology. Consumers were able to view the videos (earning watch times said to be twice as long as TikTok’s platform average) and then click to buy the designs on Levi.com. Since launch, product views on Levi.com’s Future Finish pages have more than doubled for every product included in the experience. Levi’s has similar partnerships on Snap, Instagram and Pinterest.
Yet another sign of stressful times: In May, Instacart not only updated its contactless delivery service but added an in-app “Get Emergency Assistance” button (in partnership with security-specialist ADT) to connect its contract shoppers and their GPS locations to first responders. The company also introduced shopper ID verification, an authentication method that prevents use by unauthorized individuals by periodically prompting shoppers to take photos of themselves that are matched against a file photo. Instacart partnered with more than 350 national, regional and local retailers including Albertsons, Aldi, Costco, Kroger, Loblaw, Publix, Sam’s Club, Sprouts, Walmart Canada and Wegmans – 25,000-plus stores in 5,500 North American cities.
Suitsupply, a 140-store global men’s tailoring brand, reopened during COVID-19 with a “Safe Shopping Journey” program. First, to reduce the concentration of in-store shoppers, Suitsupply offered a guided virtual experience that lets customers pre-select items for store visits through co-browsing sessions with live style experts. Next, an optional appointment booking tool could reserve a prepared fitting room or a private shopping suite. Finally, the chain installed free-standing partitions that enable safe, up-close interaction without modifying the customer’s behavior during pinning sessions.
Basketful, a Minneapolis-based technology firm, wasn’t bashful in its May 2020 announcement of full-basket capabilities for what it calls the “world’s smartest” grocery-list app. It’s a consumer-facing, list-making app that boasts 50 U.S. retailer integrations (covering 95% of U.S. households via 10,000 stores) and info on 150 million product/store combinations. Basketful research suggests that two-thirds of consumers still use paper or whiteboards for managing grocery needs. The app enables users to find sales from local retailers, manage and share lists across multiple stores, and then shop this list either in-store or online with visibility to local inventory and pricing.
Yotpo, a Forbes Cloud 100 company that is integrated with online business tools such as Google, Instagram and “the rest of the MarTech stack,” announced in May that its customers can now syndicate reviews and user-generated content via Austin, Texas-based Bazaarvoice’s network. The company claims that this agreement helps empower more than a billion monthly shoppers to make buying decisions. Yotpo’s single-platform approach to e-commerce marketing integrates the data behind reviews, loyalty and SMS marketing. Yotpo research asserts that 98% of consumers consider “authentic customer reviews” their most influential purchasing factor; another 77% said that “authentic customer photos” influence purchasing more than professional shots.
In late April, Criteo launched what it calls the “first-to-market, self-service retail media platform.” The platform is said to provide the transparency and control brands and agencies need for the placement of advertising within retailer e-commerce sites and apps while also maintaining control of the shopper experience. One notable feature is the ability to deliver consent-based, personalized advertising without relying on third-party cookies. Criteo says its Retail Media platform makes it easier for brands to buy across retailers using standardized workflows and metrics. It allows retailers to power their vendor marketing programs, to tap into different types of budgets such as search and national media, and to enable a variety of creative and targeting capabilities for brands. The platform is currently available only to clients in the U.S. and Canada; a release for clients in the EMEA and APAC regions is scheduled for late 2020.
More innovation from the “no-contact” world of Covid-19: Chicago-based Bodaty announced in May that it is recruiting “a million personal shoppers nationwide” on its Samyata retail ecosystem. Samyata is a martech app suite that lets shoppers buy from local stores (via Gananam.com) and have personal shoppers make safe, “no-contact” deliveries (via Vahaka.com). The app is touted as a way for people who’ve lost jobs due to the pandemic to earn money. The Samyata online shopping interface uses a Google Cloud Platform, AWS, AI and machine learning, conversational UIs and yes, “Electron Microscopy.”
In May, ListenFirst Media announced the launch of a “first-to-market social listening and sentiment analysis” platform that is said to be able to marry earned sentiment and paid performance. The company also says that traditional social listening, which relies on public data, captures only a vocal minority, giving brands an inaccurate representation of consumer sentiment. The launch also comes at a time when changes to public metrics on social media platforms as well as new privacy regulations are impacting the ability of marketers to analyze brand-owned posts on social media. ListenFirst Media says its service features a single dashboard that combines emotional sentiment from comments, giving marketers a deep analysis of owned and authorized social channels, enabling them to prove the effectiveness of their social marketing strategy.
Chicago-based Fyllo, billed as the “world’s first cannabis MarTech platform,” is introducing the Fyllo Compliance Cloud, a suite of software and services employing a regulatory database for the cannabiz (cannabis industry). The company’s CannaBrain tech is said to process billions of data points that will enable brands to safely build and execute advertising campaigns while helping publishers monetize compliant ad inventory. Fyllo also offers “Cannabrief,” a weekly newsletter that is curated by the team at CannaRegs ... and yes, it’s fun to write “c-a-n-n-a” five different ways in one short essay.