New apps help shoppers identify items using image recognition
by Natasha Baker for Reuters

A new iOS app Pounce allows shoppers to use their smartphone’s camera to scan images from print media to identify products and purchase them directly from the retailer online. It’s almost like children circling the toys they want for the holidays in a circular — except now their parents can buy their own “toys” with just a few clicks on the smartphone or tablet.

Right now, Pounce only recognizes products that their partners post in print. But the list of partners isn’t too shabby; it includes Toys “R” Us, Target, Ace Hardware, and Staples.

Pounce is just the start of what could be a major boon for image recognition software being tied to direct online sales. The app represents a leap in omnichannel retail. What’s really interesting is to imagine how such an app might work for identifying real-world products.

The new J.Crew catalog is a Pinterest page
by Kyle Stock for Bloomberg Businessweek

J.Crew has always been known for its glossy mailings, but like Pounce, they’re looking to turn connect their print media digital, by pre-publishing their catalog on Pinterest. Says Stock:

“The move does more than create social buzz. It gives the company its own sneak peek at which items will sell well. And the flurry of comments and pins provide feedback and allow J.Crew to measure Web attention to a degree that it can’t on its own site, let alone with a dead-tree catalog, no matter how glossy.”

The retailer isn’t scrapping its printed catalog just yet, so the addition to Pinterest is a bonus for the 65,000 fans who follow the brand on the social media site. They will be given the chance to pre-order anything they like before the print catalog is distributed — a great example of rewarding your most engaged fans.

Foursquare check-ins tell stores where to set up shop
by Chris Baraniuk for New Scientist

While social data like pins will reveal the hits in J.Crew’s catalog, social location data — like Foursquare check-ins, could reveal the best locations for retail stores, new research suggests. Writes Baraniuk:

“Social media doesn’t just tell your friends what you’re up to. Location data can also be mined to provide a fast, inexpensive way to find the best spots to place new stores.”

So by analyzing Foursquare data, retailers can find out what geographic locations are popular among various demographics, and target their locations accordingly.

Anastasios Noulas at the University of Cambridge and colleagues analysed 35 million publicly available check-ins from 925,000 Foursquare users in New York over six months to determine if the information could be beneficial to retailers. They focused on three major chains: McDonalds, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts. Findings showed that they were able to trace both the physical and digital behavior of consumers — a valuable asset to retailers worldwide.

Why CEOs should be on Twitter
by Gordon MacMillan for Twitter

Using social and tech to take your print media digital and plan your retail locations is great, but a truly social and omnichannel company needs buy-in at the top to be authentic. Experts say that when CEOs are active on Twitter their brands are trusted more by consumers. A recent study conducted by Brandfog confirmed the importance of C-level execs engaging on Twitter. Says MacMillan:

“For CEOs being on Twitter is about more than being where the audience is. As the research highlights, it is about setting the tone for the company.”

At a recent event held by Twitter, three top CEOs appeared on a panel and discussed the topic. Darren Childs, CEO of satellite and cable TV group UKTV, is a major advocate of social media, and said it is essential on several fronts. Another panelist, Guardian Media Group CEO, Andrew Miller, said 10% of the Guardian’s traffic now comes via social media. Finally, Jacqueline Gold, CEO of the lingerie retailer Ann Summers, said Twitter has helped her learn some great opportunities for engaging with customers via social.


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