This Week In Retail Marketing Innovation - September 9, 2019

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Social media creators are wreaking havoc in retail stores to rack up views

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Retail stores everywhere are dealing with a new challenge – social media creators causing trouble in the name of views.

YouTubers and other social media influencers have been targeting Walmart, Home Depot, Target, and Ikea stores as well as fast food restaurants with a variety of pranks from knocking over merchandise displays to posing as managers and “firing” employees. 

This video in particular provides an example of what some of these creators are doing for social media attention. It shows one YouTuber turning off the lights in WalMart and intentionally disturbing employees and customers in order to entertain his subscribers. The video has over 775 thousand views so far. You can click here to watch it.

In some cases, these videos receive over one million views and have helped pranksters to make a profit from ad revenue and merchandise sales. 

For younger pranksters, there are often little to no consequences for causing these disturbances. Store managers do not seem to have many options for punishing these offenders and many retailers are not equipped to handle these situations. This can cause a serious nuisance for customers and employees.

Foot Traffic is the key incentive in Macy’s partnership with ThredUp, according to ThredUp co-founder

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Amid recent announcements that Macy’s and J.C. Penney will be piloting sales of secondhand clothing, ThredUp co-founder and CTO Chris Homer offered some insight as to why Macy’s and similar stores are taking these steps.

“What’s their incentive? Foot traffic,” Homer said at the eTail East Conference in August. “Right now, the typical Macy's assortment — I don't know officially — but probably gets recycled monthly maybe, quarterly most likely. We are sending them product to refresh the ThredUp shop every week. So that's an incentive or a reason to bring customers back to actually shop.”

Macy’s announced that it will be partnering with ThredUp a few weeks ago and J.C. Penney made a similar announcement the next day. The retailers cited their partnerships as an attraction for customers who are seeking value. Meanwhile, Homer’s insight reflects that the value proposition is similar to the “treasure hunt atmosphere” offered by off-price retailers, according to RetailDive.

These off-price retailers have been cutting into department stores’ market share and traffic while some department stores’ off-price units, like Nordstrom Rack, are outperforming their flagship brands.

Emphasis on providing that “treasure hunt” experience through partnerships could help department store brands bring in more much-needed foot traffic. For retailers like J.C. Penney, who struggled in quarter one and saw little improvement in quarter two, similar store-in-store partnerships have provided a boost in the past, with J.C. Penney’s partnership with Sephora operating as a prime example.

Along with the opportunity to provide foot traffic, partnering with ThredUp could also help Macy’s and J.C. Penney cater to more sustainably-focused consumers who are interested in buying second-hand clothing. Representatives from Macy’s, J.C. Penney, and ThredUP have referenced this point in conferences and announcements.

Providing an AR customer experience has taken less time than expected for this bean bag chair retailer

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Fatboy, an indoor and outdoor lifestyle product seller that is famous for its Fatboy Original bean bag chair, is piloting augmented reality (AR) technology to showcase some of its top products to customers. 

Fatboy’s new AR experiences are an effort to allow consumers to see what lifestyle products will look like in their homes and the environments around them.

 Fatboy initially planned on rolling out these customer experiences by 2021, but according to Fatboy’s e-commerce director, Tom de Vos, easy implementation of AR technology has accelerated the company’s plans.

This is largely thanks to the use of CGTrader ARsenal, a platform that is designed to provide companies with easy-to-use AR experiences for online shoppers. 

“Unlike IKEA where it pays off to invest in a complete proprietary AR platform, for us it is not an option,” de Vos said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “This allows us to have as good as an IKEA app without needing to invest in an app — we just need to select five products that amass 60% of our product turnover, transform them via AR and have them live on our website.”

De Vos added that the process of setting up this experience was fairly simple. Fatboy just sent in some 2D pictures of the products they planned on displaying through AR and CGTrader ARsenal converted them into “plug and play” experiences for Fatboy’s website.

This technology could prove to be a benefit for Fatboy’s online and brick-and-mortar retail partners.

“The next step is offering this to other retailers,” de Vos said to Retail TouchPoints. “In the U.S., we are selling to Macy’s, and in Europe, we have some very big omnichannel clients. In the long term, we are looking to assist physical stores as well that are struggling right now with keeping our products, which are oversized, in stock. The AR solution allows them, in combination with a drop shipping solution, to basically have an endless aisle assortment of Fatboy products in-store.”

According to Retail TouchPoints, this AR rollout stems from ease of use for retailers and a large designer community. In all likelihood, providing retail customers with AR experiences will continue to become easier and more popular in the near future.

Sounding Smart by The Retail Water Cooler

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