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When a good idea comes along in retail and digital there are soon many, many start-ups getting in on the action.
Take loyalty apps for example. Loyalty is a big beast. Many types of company may consider it part of their remit, from digital payment solutions, to social-style check-ins, to group buying sites, or indeed a retailer’s own app.
I’ve previously looked at the state of apps in retail and found that using loyalty schemes is pretty much the major rationale for customers using a retail app.
Whether customers will settle on retailers’ own apps or on a generic loyalty scheme provider (perhaps lumped with payment) remains to be seen.
But of those tens of consolidated loyalty apps, which are the best? Here’s the list of five I think are most interesting. Whether mobile wallets such as PayPal and Google Wallet will buy them up remains to be seen but the space seems set to get richer before it gets poorer.
When Yahoo recruited Marissa Mayer from Google to replace interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, some suggested that Mayer's departure from Google was an indication that she had reached her limit for advancement at the search giant, and that her role at Google was actually not as important as it might have seemed.
Whether the rumors about Mayer's status at Google were accurate or not, one thing was certain: Yahoo was placing a huge bet on the 30-something executive, one that might have been the last such bet it could make.
The holiday shopping rush will begin next week in earnest and, as they do every year, retailers are hoping that the most important season will be good to them.
While online channels have grown increasingly important in recent years, historically, the name of the game for retailers has been to get as many people lining up outside of stores at insane hours in anticipation of deals that await them when the doors open.
But times are changing. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), fewer holiday bargain hunters will venture out on Black Friday and subsequent weekend. All told, the NRF expects 147m Americans to leave their homes for the mall next week, down from 152m in 2012.
Group-buying seems to consistently experience conflicting states of flux - from reported positive growth, through to states of decline - so it's arguably difficult to identify the current condition of this segment in the digital industry.
However, according to a new report by Telesyte, Groupon has taken the lead as the most used group buying site, travel has become the most popular deal category for consumers and the group buying market looks like it really is moving away from a decline.
Before Ron Johnson joined department store giant J.C. Penney as CEO in 2011, he was the SVP of Retail Operations at Apple Inc., where he was responsible for developing the Apple Store and its Genius Bar.
Apple's retail strategy was a major contributor to Appl'e's mind-bending success over the past decade, and for his seven-plus years of work, Johnson was handsomly rewarded.
Needless to say, given Johnson's accomplishments at Apple, J.C. Penney shareholders had high hopes for what he might do for the century-old retailer.
Earlier this year, Johnson unveiled his bold vision: radically alter J.C. Penney's pricing strategy.
Instead of using coupons and discounts, something the department store had done extensively for years, J.C. Penney would offer "Every Day", "Monthly Value" and "Best Price" prices on its merchandise. And instead of selling items for $x.99, it would use round numbers.
Some of the largest, most prominent multichannel retailers in the United States are so eager to get the holiday shopping season started that they're kicking Black Friday off early this year.
Instead of opening their doors to crowds on Friday morning, many are opening as early as midnight, hoping to cash in on consumers itching to burn off calories with some post-turkey dinner shopping.
There has be all manner of speculation and rumour circulating over the last week or so about how exactly Facebook is going to approach the whole 'location' issue after seemingly shutting down its Places and Deals sites.
But much of the evidence suggests Facebook is even more focused on location now that it has been to date.
As I've already suggested, the latest feature updates Facebook rolled out recently actually puts location in a more prominent position; right in front of every user, every time they post a status update. And Facebook has been very clear that 'check-in deals' won't be disappearing anytime soon either.
Thanks to companies like Groupon and LivingSocial, group buying has rapidly grown into a multi-billion dollar market in just a few short years.
The reason: group buying offers both consumers and businesses a deal that's too good to pass up. For consumers, there are steep, limited-time-only discounts on products and services. For businesses, there's the promise of a flood of new customers.
Group buying startups have managed to succeed where many .coms have failed before: local. By offering attractive, time-limited deals on goods and services from local vendors, companies like Groupon are proving that local commerce is as big an opportunity online as it has been hyped to be for more than a decade.
But national companies face many of the same challenges local businesses do, and on the surface, there's no reason the group buying model can't work with deals from national brands.
Chances are you've heard of Vente-privee. The French company pioneered the booming online private sales market. And you might be familiar with Groupon, a prominent player in the increasingly hot local deal-of-the-day market.
The former sells high-end luxury products. The latter offers recipients of its emails the possibility of being able to buy products and services from local businesses at hefty discounts. What's the secret to their success? You might be inclined to say "It's the deals!" While that's partially correct, the real answer is something far more primal: urgency.
Twitter's deals with Microsoft (Bing) and Google have the blogosphere and Twittersphere abuzz. 'Real-time search' has been a hot topic in 2009 and there has been much speculation on Twitter's strategy vis-à-vis the real-time search opportunity. It appears that we now know what that strategy is: sell firehose access to the Twitter stream to the search engines and let them do what they do best.
The Bing and Google deals could be significant. Depending on what Bing and Google decide to do with their Twitter firehose, internet users could potentially see SERPs that are heavily influenced by Twitter activity, which would mean that SEOs will have to deal with Twitter as a 'ranking factor'. Of course, nobody knows all of the details yet, which is why I thought it would be worthwhile to see what experts and observers are saying about the deals.