A blog for all things retail and licensing.

In-Store Shoppers Interested in Location-Based Services – Zebra Tech Study/Infographic

The eighth annual installment of the Zebra Technologies Corporation Global Shopper Study found that shoppers are very interested in Wi-Fi and location-based, in-store services such as mobile coupons (51 percent), shopping maps (45 percent) and associate assistance (41 percent).

These findings support Zebra’s One Store, One Experience campaign – focusing on brand experience, delivery and fulfillment, loyalty, big data and store mobility to transform the connected customer experience. With higher customer expectations, retailers acknowledge that the role of technology has never been greater.

The study identified that more than one-third of shoppers (34 percent) believe they are better connected to real-time information than in-store associates. Meanwhile, 64 percent of shoppers would be willing to purchase more merchandise if they received better customer service and over one-half (52 percent) value retailers who use technology to make the shopping experience more efficient.


  • More than three-quarters (76 percent) of shoppers feel positive about shopping in stores and nearly one-half think that technology solutions are helping retailers enable and improve their shopping experience.
  • Fifty-two percent of shoppers “show-roomed” or looked at items in-store but purchased them online.
  • More than three in 10 shoppers would prefer to go to a retail store to pickup items purchased via online or mobile channels.
  • Retailers can recover 66 percent of out-of-stock incidents by offering shoppers an immediate discount.
  • Nearly eight in 10 respondents are willing to share some level of information with retailers. But, retailers rank low on the list of institutions that shoppers trust with personal data as only five percent reported they completely trusted retailers.
  • Sixty-four percent of shoppers value retailers who give the flexibility to control how personal information is used to tailor experiences.

Survey Background and Methodology

  • Nearly 2,000 shoppers were surveyed in the United States, Canada, Singapore, Australia, England, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, China, Japan and Thailand.
  • Research Now conducted the survey for Zebra Technologies in the first quarter of 2015.
  • The survey was designed to reveal the experiences and attitudes toward the use of in-store technologies to enhance customer satisfaction.

“As online and mobile shopping become more prevalent and accepted worldwide, the importance of the customer experience remains high – as noted by the majority of respondents who would buy more merchandise from retailers they believe provide better customer service,” says Nick D’Alessio, Global Retail Solutions Development, Zebra Technologies. “Mobile technology helps provide real-time visibility of product availability, flexible delivery and payment options – freeing retailers to focus on the shopper experience and delivering personalized service to customers.”

Patagonia Reinvents Snap-T Pullover With New Fall Styles

Patagonia has recreated the iconic Snap-T pullover in six exclusive styles for Fall ‘15, using innovative material combinations to represent Patagonia’s dedication to tinkering and design evolution – and to celebrate the stories and history that are intrinsically woven into the fabric of each Snap-T.

The Fall ‘15 exclusive collection celebrates the Snap-T pullover. Just like the original Snap-T, every piece in the Snap-T collection is beautifully rendered, versatile, true to its roots and built to last for years. Mashed up with Traceable Down, recycled wool, recycled polyester, and organic cotton, Patagonia’s designers have created something new and special, evolved but unchanged for Fall ‘15 – while knowing that the one scrunched up in the trunk of the car will always be a favorite.

“When the Snap-T was initially created in 1985, it was the most technical fleece and the best insulation available,” said Helena Barbour, Patagonia’s Business Unit Director, Sportswear. “It has retained the same functionality, features and classic silhouette over the years, but we are constantly evolving it, challenging our processes, experimenting with fabrics. The new collection pays homage to the heritage of the Snap-T and to Patagonia’s designers who continue to improve the style, fit, materials and quality.”

Patagonia’s Snap-T has a long and storied heritage and has remained a true classic since its 1985 introduction, featuring immediately recognizable features and design aesthetics that include the yoke, pocket shape and contrasting trims. In the exclusive Fall ’15 Snap-T collection, Patagonia has maintained the key features and beloved style details in pursuit of a cleaner line, including a new recycled-nylon fabric with a slight iridescence, and recycled wool with subtle, sophisticated colors. The result is beautifully crafted jackets made from fabrics and materials that give a nod to the Snap-T pullover’s heritage, yet hint at future innovation throughout Patagonia’s sportswear collections.

The Snap-T was first conceived as a technical fleece in 1985. In the early ‘80s, everyone wore wool to stay warm in the mountains, but Yvon Chouinard found it lacking. Wanting something at least as warm, but lighter in weight and quicker to dry, he and his design team began work on the first Snap-T pullover. They made one of ratty pile, then bunting, then worked with Malden Mills (now Polartec) to develop Synchilla fleece.

To further celebrate the Snap-T pullover’s rich heritage, Patagonia invites customers and Snap-T lovers to participate in North American retail store contests by posting images and a few words about their favorite Snap-T on Instagram and Facebook using #MySnapT and tagging their local Patagonia store. Through December, Patagonia will be highlighting submitted stories and giving away cool new Snap-T exclusive collection pullovers to select winners.

The Internet of Things: What Does It Mean for Retail?

Guest Blog By Oren Levy

Some of the projections for the “Internet of Things” (IoT) sound straight out of a wild science fiction movie, from self-replenishing refrigerators to cars that drive themselves. According to a recent Gartner study, the world will see 25 billion Internet-connected “things” by 2020. It further estimates that IoT will produce close to $2 trillion of economic benefit globally by transforming many enterprises into digital businesses and improving efficiency, as well as producing new sources of revenue. Retail, in particular, is a sector that can expect significant IoT-based upgrades.

A Brave New World for Retail

IoT has the ability to significantly enhance key retail elements such as the supply chain, inventory, logistics and fleet management. While radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology already exists, IoT will undoubtedly take inventory accuracy to a new level. According to RFID expert Dr. Bill Hardgrave, the widespread use of RFID tags through IoT will provide retailers with 99% inventory accuracy, a 50% reduction in out-of-stocks, a 70% reduction in shrinkage, and sales increases in the 2% – 7% range.

Furthermore, monitoring systems will provide more data about products moving through the supply chain, thereby enabling greater stock efficiencies and smaller inventories. Large retailers such as Walmart are already utilizing IoT for supply chain and inventory management.

Additional services are in the planning stages: when sensor-equipped shelves run out of product, signals will be automatically sent out to the entire supply chain, ensuring immediate replenishment.

The Synergy of IoT and Omni-Channel in Retail

The omni-channel shopping experience can also be improved if the retailer is equipped with vital data regarding the location of inventories and shrinkage. For example, if a customer wishes to visit a physical store to pick up an item that he or she ordered online, IoT enables retailers to provide immediate and accurate data regarding availability and location. Greater inventory accuracy will also facilitate rapid home delivery – even the same day. Returns will be recorded instantly, enabling the store to re-sell returned items in real-time.

IoT and Security

IoT’s possibilities are endless, but security is a major challenge. In the same way that computers must be protected against viruses and cyberattacks, the many interconnected IoT elements must be secured against fraudsters. All IoT devices must be protected by an “identification layer” that enables secure deployment of a large number of connected devices and provides access only to approved individuals.

Tokenization is likely to play a central role in IoT security. Enterprises like IBM and Texas Instruments are working to develop new systems that will secure a cloud-hosted system for managing IoT devices throughout their lifecycle, from provisioning, activating, registering and de-registering to eventually retiring IoT assets. Intel is in the process of setting up a tablet system that works with near-field communications (NFC) as well as Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV1) payment systems.

IoT and Payments

The payments sector is also being affected by IoT. Research is already underway to develop a wider range of innovative payment possibilities using NFC chips, payment apps, sensors, tracking devices and more. Visa recently opened a new department dedicated to ensuring that every device, appliance or wearable computer connected to the Internet can become a secure place for commerce.

IoT will enable the user to unlock his or her phone and place it near a merchant POS to close a transaction. Unlike with existing payment methods, the buyer will not even have to open an app. Payment confirmation and transaction details will be delivered to the device screen. Waiting in line to pay for a purchase will be a thing of the past.

Because IoT is based primarily on data derived from multiple sources, issues regarding the widespread availability of personal information arise.  While there are those who decry the invasion of personal privacy, the fact is that all this data is already there for the taking.  People don’t think twice about revealing personal data when joining affinity or loyalty clubs at various stores.  This is an integral part of our data-driven lives.

IoT Challenges – Creating Interconnectivity

The mind reels at all this impressive connective technology and the myriad ways it can be used. But are we there yet? According to the IoT World Survey Report 2015, 76% of the respondents say that IoT technologies have an impact on their businesses and that one of their biggest challenges is how to capitalize on the new opportunities that are arising.

Oren Levy is CEO and co-founder of Zooz

No Such Thing as Offline Retailing Anymore

Digital now drives in-store traffic; is your network ready?

Guest Blog By Ricardo Belmar

Retailers need to rethink the notion that online shopping steals or cannibalizes their brick-and-mortar sales. While it’s true that in-store visits have dropped thanks largely to digital e-commerce, the value of each in-store visitor has risen tremendously.

According to a recent Deloitte study, digital influences 36 cents of every dollar spent at retail stores. Digital also impacts in-store sales rates; consumers using digital devices in the store convert at a 40% higher rate. Consumers visit less, but are better informed about what they want when entering a store. Each trip is more purposeful and they buy more.

The problem is those conversion rates drop precipitously when the in-store digital experience fails to deliver a positive customer experience. Even a few second delay on an in-store Wi-Fi network can send an otherwise promising customer out the door. Considering that 70% of millennials shop with their mobile device in hand according to a recent report from MSLGROUP and the Hartman Group, retailers cannot afford a poor experience. And with social media, a single bad experience can exponentially influence a retailer’s customer base.

The key to implementing a digitally influenced in-store experience lies in the store network. It’s no longer just a tool for processing store transactions, emails and files; it’s a Customer Engagement Network…the central nervous system of the retail enterprise.

Some retailers also want to create compelling in-store experiences by equipping store associates with tablets and mobile point-of-sale devices.  The network therefore impacts the customer’s experience both on their own device and on the associate’s device. All of these factors mean stores must beef up their network capacity, security, and Wi-Fi capabilities if they want digital to drive in-store traffic.

Performance as good as home
The problem is customers expect the same kind of network performance they enjoy at home.  Yet when they visit a store, they may suddenly find themselves sharing a 1.5 Mbps connection with dozens, if not hundreds, of other shoppers.

Some retailers are solving the problem by deploying high-speed Internet access with 10+ Mbps, 50+ Mbps, and even 100 Mbps. Stores with tight budgets or limited network options can still offer better performance by leveraging WAN optimization technology to magnify lower speed circuits into suitable high performance connections.

Given the flash crowds which may overwhelm a store at any given time, congested Internet access must be strategically managed. Business-relevant mobile activity (e.g. mobile shopping apps, gift card redemption, product reviews, etc.) must take priority over lower priority activity (e.g. competitor websites, games, movies, etc.). Proper management can help retailers maximize the business value of even limited or congested Internet access.

Security is Job One
Security is as important as high-capacity bandwidth for a good in-store digital experience, especially in these days of increasingly frequent cyber-attacks.  Customers won’t shop at stores they don’t trust.

Store networks used to be simple: a private network to support credit card traffic and overnight polling.  Today’s in-store networks are more complex. Store-in-Store promotions, for example, require third-party access to semi-secure resources.  And in-store Wi-Fi requires open Internet access. The risk is significantly different between unrestricted Wi-Fi where users can “see” each other versus a Wi-Fi network where users are isolated from each other.

With the emerging “Internet-of-Things,” even the merchandise itself requires Internet access.  Evaluating a product’s mobile app has become part of the purchasing process.  Customers want to quickly download the app, and see if it contributes to a product’s appeal.  Retailers do not want an unacceptably slow download from a congested store network to interfere with the purchase process.

There are also legal and social concerns.  To satisfy stringent PCI compliance requirements, all of this activity must be fully isolated from each other.  When it comes to network security, the strength and scope of the solution must exceed the severity of the threat.

Robust Wi-Fi is Key

Retailers need a flexible and robust Wi-Fi infrastructure that can deliver great performance with no dropped connections or dead zones and can easily adapt to rapidly evolving market requirements.  This requires more than a simple wireless connection between a smart phone/tablet and a wireless access point (AP).

The ideal model for in-store WiFi starts with a high-performance guest and associate experience, which often includes streaming multi-media content to the user’s device.  Content must appear quickly on-screen.  These devices all compete for the same network capacity.  A robust solution must provide proper access management to ensure a great experience for both user groups.

Peak store traffic will likely create periods of severe network congestion. For the retailer, all customer Wi-Fi traffic does not represent an equivalent business opportunity.  For example, a customer “showrooming” for a lower price should always take a back seat to a customer trying to buy a product not available in-store from the retailer’s online site.

The online and offline retail experiences are merging and digital offers retailers a strategic opportunity to not only drive in-store sales, but to differentiate their customers’ experiences and gain a competitive edge.  The bottom line is that there is no offline! Digital experiences are critical to in-store shopping and to ensure success retailers need a powerful network with cost-effective, optimized bandwidth, comprehensive security, and capable Wi-Fi solutions flexible enough to adapt to rapidly evolving market requirements.

Ricardo Belmar is Director of Solutions & Product Marketing for Hughes Network Systems

Answer These Four Sales Tax Questions

Answer These Four Sales Tax Collection and Filing Questions to Avoid Expensive Issues

Guest Blog by Jonathan Barsade

It’s a sign of success when a company starts to experience rapid growth. Expanding into new markets and adding to your customer base is exciting. But it’s important to make sure you stay focused on all aspects of the business, not just your growth trajectory: Don’t allow growth to distract you from the administrative aspects of running your business, including sales tax collection and filing.

Most business owners have the best intentions when it comes to collecting and filing sales taxes, but they may not fully understand how it works. To avoid liability for major penalties and interest payments, you have to make sure you know the answer to these four sales tax collection and filing questions:

1. When should I file? This is an important question because filing cycles can be different across multiple tax jurisdictions, and taxing authorities may set deadlines on different days of the month. When you expand into new markets, it’s critical to consult all relevant taxing authorities and make sure you know when to file in every jurisdiction to maintain compliance.

2. What do I have to file? Sales tax isn’t the only levy business owners may be required to collect. In some instances, companies must collect use taxes. Your obligations will depend on the requirements placed at the point of registration. By understanding what you’re required to file up front, you can avoid costly penalties and interest assessments later.

3. Where do I have to file? A pizzeria on Staten Island that crosses a bridge to deliver pies in New Jersey may create a “nexus” – a business presence in a tax jurisdiction other than the one they primarily operate in, meaning the business must file sales taxes in both states. It’s vital to understand where to file to ensure compliance with tax obligations.

4. How do I file correctly? Generally speaking, the onus is on the business owner to file correctly, and that includes the obligation to present all relevant documentation. For example, if a customer claims to be eligible for a charitable organization tax exemption, it’s a good idea to ask for a certificate so you can document eligibility if asked later by a tax agency.

Taxing authorities generally don’t give business owners a break for good intentions, so it’s critical to make sure you understand when, what, where and how to file in advance. Failure to know the answer to any one of these questions can result in the requirement to pay major back taxes and penalties.

Instead of going it alone in a complex tax environment, many companies rely on a partner to assist them with sales tax compliance. An automated solution that applies the latest rates and regulatory rules to accurately collect and file sales taxes across jurisdictions can allow company leaders to get back to what they do best — running the business.

But whether you choose to handle your sales tax obligations in-house or find a reliable automated platform, it’s important maintain focus on administrative functions, even when entering a period of rapid growth. Knowing the answer to these four questions is a great first step that will help you make sure you fully comply with your sales tax and use fee obligations as you grow your company.

Jonathan Barsade is CEO of Exactor

Lost in Translation: When Great Designs Become Mediocre Displays

Guest Blog by David Muller

A great display is not only a work of art, a thematic rendering of a winter wonderland that evokes children’s stories and mythical creatures, an extravaganza of locomotion – of marching soldiers and dancing bears, of rotating cityscapes and the to-and-fro of villagers descending snow-covered slopes – that, through a combination of lighting, paint and hidden wires, tells a story and attracts a crowd.

A great display is also an example of coordination and translation, where a professional can actualize an artist’s vision into a three-dimensional model of perfection.

And yet, too often what we see on paper – what I see on paper – bears little resemblance to the nuances and flourishes, and the angular shapes and sharp lines, that represent an artist’s vision.

Whether a result of poor communication, or a product of too many chefs in the proverbial kitchen (in this case, too many artists in the studio), there is an increasing disconnect between designs for various displays and the construction of those respective plans.

From the majestic window displays of Manhattan’s fashion emporiums, in which the facade of a French Renaissance revival mansion looks like the reels in a movie that includes tuxedo-clad aristocrats and stylish flappers, and Colorado cowboys and Grand Prix drivers, to huge conventional halls where vendors use displays as conversation pieces and an informal means of business development, one thing is certain: If the construction of these displays falters, if a designer outsources too much of this work to too many firms (of differing skill and accountability), then that business will suffer.

Again, I issue this statement from experience because, where there is more one-on-one collaboration between a designer and the person responsible for bringing a blueprint to life, the chances for success improve markedly.

This point may seem obvious – indeed, it is obvious – but, in the face of deadlines, tightened budgets, searching for the right materials, and the back-and-forth of messages and in-person meetings, collaboration can soon descend into chaos.

The logistics become even more complicated, when trying to corral representatives from different firms to convene in a physical location.

What soon happens is an unintentional, and far from comical, version of “telephone” where a designer and one of several builders enter a conference room and talk to a squawk box – a hoot-n-holler piece of wired plastic with pinhole speakers – that connects to other vendors working on the same project.

Between the overlapping voices and poor sound quality, along with the difficulty of knowing who is on the line, the effect is like one very bad auditory hallucination: All noise, and no signal.

Therein lies the difference between a display that resonates with viewers, inducing suspension of disbelief before this cinematic depiction of the good life, and some cardboard cutout that is as unremarkable as it is forgettable.

The fact is that converting an idea into a tangible object is a discipline unto itself. It involves so many moving parts, literally, that to have the gears built and assembled by artisans, on the one hand, and drones, on the other; to extol craftsmanship, as you simultaneously invite the poverty of mediocre thinking into the workplace, is to have a display that will intellectually collapse because of its contradictions and physically crumble because of its shoddy construction.

Clarity demands the end of this conflict of visions.

Design mandates the erasure of confusion.

A great display requires great professionals, period.

David Muller is Founder and President of DCM Fabrication

Zalemark Will Produce M&M’S Jewelry Collection

Mars Retail Group and Zalemark Holding Company, Inc. have announced completion of a jewelry licensing agreement enabling Zalemark to design, market and distribute a line of M&M’S Brand fashion jewelry. Currently under development, the collection may include earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings incorporating the colorful fun of the iconic candy brand and the whimsical M&M’S Characters.

The M&M’S Brand jewelry line will be available for retailers to preview in late 2015, with distribution in first quarter 2016. With price points ranging from $49 to $129, the new line will appeal to a wide range of consumers – from trendy twenty-somethings to style mavens and collectors of M&M’S Brand memorabilia.

The world-renowned candy brand is no stranger to success in the jewelry industry. In 2010, an M&M’S Brand jewelry collection sold briskly in major department stores, a national grocery retailer, independent retailers and online.

“We’re thrilled to work with Zalemark, a company known for producing unique jewelry,” says John Capizzi, general manager of Licensing for Mars Retail Group. “I’m looking forward to sharing the stunning M&M’S jewelry designs with retailers and consumers.”

“M&M’S Brand parallels well with our other global brand, Crayola,” remarks Steven Zale, CEO of Zalemark. “With the historical testing of this product line, we predict it will move into the market place swiftly. The upward momentum of Zalemark is on a rolling path as we continue to add well-known brands to our line-up.”

Retailers tap technology and mobilize operations for streamlined execution, communication

Guest blog by Vladik Rikhter

The lives of field sales representatives and district managers require a certain level of dedication. Driving from store to store to check on the progress of a new promotion or a recently proposed sales strategy for an underperforming product is stressful and time-consuming enough. Then, there’s all that information to track from dozens of locations those corporate offices have to manage and assess. Even worse, the same data is coming from scores of stores and associates in different regions. Compiling that information and analyzing it takes time. Those are hours not spent traveling to stores to verify that a store manager installed a promotion appropriately or that products are on shelves properly. These are the real responsibilities of district managers and field sales representatives for retailers and consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs). Beyond that, organizations need to manage the information coming in from every store and process it in a way that can reveal insights into sales dips and other issues, which are tasks that take even more time to complete.

However, none of those standards or concepts for improving sales can be formalized without the data from managers and field associates. The metrics we use haven’t changed, but the way we collect the data and monitor its application has to adapt. Technology is the answer, and mobile technology, specifically, has the capability to simplify the process of reporting sales figures, unifying communications between different levels of management and improving operational execution for retailers and CPGs.

Bringing context to sales data, improving communication

The sales reports retail that field reps compile have always told us how much of a product sold, what the status of inventory is and the promotions that succeeded or failed. They’ve never offered additional context, though. There are reasons products move and why they go ignored by shoppers. Sometimes it’s a matter of placement; other times it’s just a simple mistake in the way the promotion was installed. Processing that feedback into something actionable prevent mistakes in retail execution demands a faster solution that helps get to the true root of the problem. Integrating mobile technology enables district managers and CPG reps to address this on two fronts. They can communicate instantly with store employees or corporate to verify the progress of a product or a promotion, whether through real-time data or shared images.

The planograms carefully developed to maximize sales and customer exposure to store promotions aren’t too difficult to understand or assemble. They are, however, heavily dependent on careful, accurate execution from store employees. Solutions that quickly enable store managers to share information related to planogram execution and hear about adjustments to make can save dollars. Even if it’s only a few hundred dollars a week, that amount of money adds up over time.

Communication solves problems in operational execution

Frequent communication, whether through conversation or the sharing of data and images, is the only way for management and sales teams to ensure success. Every store has some problems to solve. Looking only at their failures and simply saying, “it needs to improve” won’t lead to solutions. Data leads to a sounder understanding of the problems stores have and helps create a channel for store managers and sales reps to solve problems together. The more stores and management communicate, the more information can be created to piece together the actual cause of a problem. Technology gives teams what they need to do that. With mobile solutions and other tools that enable instant feedback and communication related to execution, stores can receive messages from their corporate offices to prevent problems from lingering. Additionally, we no longer have to wait a week to learn a problem exists. Visual evidence that a worker misaligned an element defined in a planogram or listed promotion prices incorrectly allows for instant problem solving.

Technology is about making our jobs easier. The seamless, speedy sharing of information is just one way technology has achieved that, and retailers and CPGs need to find solutions that wipe out persistent problems in the industry.

Even as retailers continue to thrive in the face of challenges from e-commerce and other trends, finding ways to improve operations is vital to continued success. Technology won’t solve every problem, but, in so many cases, it will clear a path to the solution.

Vladik Rikhter is CEO and co-founder of Zenput

You’ve Translated Your Website. What’s Next?

Guest blog by Judd Marcello

So, you’ve made your store’s website accessible internationally, at least in the regions in which you’re aiming to grow your presence – congrats! But if you think it’s now just a matter of watching customers from all over the globe immediately stream in, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news:

Translation’s only the first step.

It’s an incredibly important step, of course, but to really take advantage of translation and truly engage retail customers in varying countries and cultures, you must do more. Here are some of the next steps you should take.


All the content on your site – marketing materials, product descriptions, even tabs and buttons – must be tailored specifically to the region and culture you’re targeting. Successfully localizing your site requires research and an understanding of the behaviors, values, and needs of local consumers. Then, you must adapt your already established brand voice to meet those requirements. Personalizing content not only makes your site and business more inviting to new international customers, but it also helps to avoid translation mistakes that can hurt your reputation—occasionally, beyond repair.

This is relevant to images and styles on your website as well – visual items are the first thing most visitors will notice on your site, and if they push the customer away (or offend them), there won’t be anyone around to read the carefully-translated text, or buy anything. It’s also important to keep in mind that communication styles vary around the world—so keep your brand consistent, but tweak the message as needed to make sure it aligns with the intended cultural context.

Bring people there.

You’ve made the site relevant and hospitable to your target customers, but you still need to get them there. Use marketing, social media, and make sure all outreach adheres to the same principles of localization and translation that your website has been privy to in order to drive people to your site. Partner with local or international influencers to gain access to an already-established audience, and build further credibility by association.

Mix up your (product) mix.

The same theory described in localization above holds true here, as well. Curate the product offerings on your store’s site to reflect the needs and wants of the region and culture you’re targeting. For repeat customers and increased engagement, it’s important to offer products in accordance with local customs, tastes, and norms. These cultural traits can be nuanced and hard to define between groups of people, but are extremely important to individuals, in this case potential shoppers. As a result, you need to compete with local offerings that already understand this nuance, and missing the mark (or worse, offending the consumer) can let the air out of an otherwise well-executed campaign.

Build your brand specific to the new culture

Identifying which words are prevalent in a given language and how they can be used to drive keyword-specific searches in your target market is crucial if you want your multilingual website to succeed, so invest in market-specific SEO; if users can’t find your site via local search engines with their usual keywords, how are they going to buy from you?

Just like with your home language site, link checks, browser compatibility fixes, and other quality assurance checks must be routinely performed for all multilingual sites prior to launch, during the initial rollout, and on a rolling schedule on an as-needed basis. It’s important to keep your adherence to best practices consistent among all your language sites—if the site for a customer’s native tongue feels like an afterthought, the customer will likely feel like one, too.

Feedback loop

Getting it 100% right on the first time is rare in any field. Get feedback from consumers in regions you’re aiming to expand to as you begin your efforts, or better yet, in advance; identify what flaws there are in your strategy or campaign for that specific culture, and take steps to correct them. If necessary, step up the quality of translation—while translation management software can greatly help efficiency by streamlining the processes around translation and localization, the actual linguistic work should be done by humans to ensure quality.

Judd Marcello is VP of marketing, Smartling

Mixing Digital and Direct Marketing to Reach the Right Customers

Guest Blog By Art Hall

How do you take an exclusively online marketing strategy and reap extraordinary results with the introduction of direct mail? The answer lies in a company’s data. When one of the nation’s fastest growing online retailers of healthy living products established success with its digital marketing efforts, the company looked to direct mail as a new channel in its marketing mix to reach more customers and drive growth.

Designing the Right Media Mix

When a company’s commitment is to stay at the forefront of its industry to benefit customers with high performance, affordable and safe products, its marketing strategy should replicate that excellence in its approach to customer engagement.

When the online retailer engaged directly with consumers, it was exclusively through its website, email campaigns, paid search and other digital platforms. Its digital marketing efforts had been also solely focused on communications to two key groups – look-a-like prospects and new movers. Their data contained some geographic and promotional history about their core customer, but that wasn’t enough. They came to validate that using other channels would allow them to spend effectively and ultimately grow and extend the business.

The marketing team also quickly realized that true strategic insights were lacking, so the company turned to Quad/Graphics for support in developing an insights-driven marketing approach necessary to build a successful direct mail campaign.

The program launched with the application of Quad/Graphics’ proprietary consumer research, along with data and market analysis in combination with tailored messaging and creative. Immediately, they discovered that adding direct mail to their media mix would optimize customer response and maximize ROI.

Applying an Insights-Driven Approach

The partners’ foray into an insights-driven approach to direct mail began with the overlay of demographic, lifestyle, and proprietary survey data to model customers who had bought a product for the home at one time and recently moved. This data combined with the tracing of new residential addresses enabled them to deliver highly personalized direct mail pieces that resonated with those target customers.

Historically, their customers had come from online advertising, so early on they had to model from people purchasing online as opposed to those who purchase from direct mail. It was a challenge they overcame when they concentrated on areas that had the highest penetration of customers.

This customer profiling strategy enabled the retailer to reach the correct customers with creative that resonated. The result was eye opening and the marketing team was quick to determine that they wanted to move their direct mail efforts beyond only mover customers.

The team continued to use data to glean insight on how prospective customers might consume media, as well as their attitudinal preferences, in order to identify new prospective customer groups, recommend data driven creative, and develop a contact strategy. Specific segmentation strategies combining a tailored format and messaging approach were rolled out in phases targeting look-a-like households, relocated customers, and new mover prospects.

Achieving Measurable Success

Since early 2014 when the retailer began to blend its digital and direct marketing, the company has drastically reduced test and learn times compared to traditional testing methods and recognized direct mail results in half the time.

They also avoided incurring operational costs to support limited test responders, and combined conjoint analysis including quantitative with qualitative insights to commission the ‘best of the best’ in optimization.

In calculating their return on advertising spend, the company was able to measure gross revenue realized for every dollar spent, which was $1.50 for modeled prospects, $4.00 for new movers, $13.00 for relocated customers, and $5.00 for customer upgrades.

The measurable success of adding direct mail to its marketing mix demonstrates that the application of new multichannel approaches can drive continuous growth for an online organization.

Art Hall is Multichannel Sales Consultant of Integrated Data Solutions at Quad/Graphics