August 14, 2019

Fitting Room Confessions - AMP Agency Customer Experience Deep-Dive

Confession: I am a Fitting Roomer. I read this fashion industry term recently in a swirl of shame as the article identified my exact online shopping behavior: buying multiple sizes in an item with the intent to try them on at home, keep the one that fits, and return the others. My entire spring/summer wardrobe was purchased online, with at least 50% returned. I could hear the fashion execs whispering tsk tsk in my ear, admonishing me for what some have called the ticking time bomb of costly retail returns. Apparently we Fitting Roomers are terrible for the bottom line. We’re taking advantage of the system. Amazon has even banned the most extreme habitual returners, identifying us as bad for business.

Except we’re not. E-commerce fashion is a $545 billion industry and growing. This growth is fueled by convenience including the ability to return: 88% of online shoppers appreciate shopping day or night and easily finding products. And free shipping and returns are the top factors making people more likely to shop online.  Without a good shipping and return policy, retailers lose a huge chunk of sales. 

 

Because here’s the thing. Shopping for clothes online isn’t like shopping for other goods. It’s not just the quality that matters, or that items are true to their online representation. You may receive a beautiful blouse in the mail that every bit lives up to its description and photo, but when you put it on you happen to look more frumpy than sophisticated. Those amazingly edgy, high quality jeans might be the epitome of your personal style, but they also just might squeeze you in all the wrong places. The top two reasons for online returns are “size too small,” and “size too large.”

 

In other words, a key part of what drives apparel purchase is how the clothes fit on your body. It’s why every brick-and-mortar retail location has dressing rooms. With clothes, you need to try before you buy. 

 

So when considering the state of online returns, retailers are making one fatal mistake. They’re thinking of online returns as a follow-up to the buying process, when in fact they’re part of the shopping process. We Fitting Roomers don’t think of paying for multiple sizes online as akin to buying and returning. We think of it as a sort of refundable deposit to try on clothes we haven’t committed to yet. 

 

Fitting Roomers aren’t taking advantage of the system. They’re showing brands what an online shopping process looks like when you need to try before you buy.

 

Andrew Bowden, Sr. Manager of Product Marketing at TradeGecko, an inventory management software company, understands that for brands to avoid getting gouged by growing customer return habits, they need to think of it as part of the larger experience. “The most important question to ask when assessing your reverse logistics process,” he recently told Shopify, “is whether or not you’re designing and optimizing the experience for the customer or your business — ideally it’s a mix of both. When in doubt, default to the customer.” 

 

Instead of punishing or dissuading the shopping behavior of fitting rooming, why not embrace it? What would the online retail customer experience look like if we shift the way we think of fitting rooming from a “return” to a “try-on?”


Some are already doing this. Digitally native direct-to-consumer brands like ThirdLove and MM La Fleur have redefined the experience to embrace how the need to try on shapes a shopping journey. ThirdLove is so focused on fit, they incorporate an in-depth fit quiz before purchase and let customers return bras even after they’ve already been worn and put through the laundry. While I was trying on my new bra at home, I texted with a ThirdLove “Fit Stylist” for a new size recommendation. When I needed a new style, she provided the most seamless repackaging/shipping logistics I’ve encountered. Knowing this, I’m guessing they have an air-tight reverse logistics process built for efficiency and minimal cost, too. Over the last six months I’ve returned two bras. But I’ve kept five - and become a serial repeat customer. That’s a big deal when repeat purchases are the aim of a whopping 83% of shopping journeys.

 

Returns Customer Experience

Returnsblog2      Returnsblog3
Digitally native DTC brands like MM La Fleur and ThirdLove build their retail customer experience to accommodate the need to find the perfect fit.

 

It’s the more traditional retail brands that haven’t quite figured this out yet. Their struggle with the cost of returns leaves you guessing on how an item looks on a real body, receiving multiple packages that can’t be re-used, being charged extra fees, and printing labels.

 

These brands look at Fitting Roomers as a problem to be combatted, but brands and customers both win if we shift how we perceive the role of returns in the online shopping journey. Because at the end of the day, we Fitting Roomers are not serial returners. We’re just online shoppers. 

 

Greer Pearce, VP of Strategy


AMP is on a quest to humanize the total customer experience. This article is a part of AMP’s Customer Experience deep-dive series, where we take a first person approach to understanding the modern shopping experience.

 

May 10, 2017

The Retail Crusade

As online retailers continue to dominate the retail world, the future for traditional retailers seems bleak. It’s evident that many brick and mortar stores have struggled to stay ahead in the digital age, leaving them to face the inevitable doom of shutting doors and waving the white flag.

Sure, the future looks rather dim for many traditional retailers… but we are here to discuss the retail crusaders who have ventured through the rubble and are coming out victorious, the retailers who have faced the digital age with a different approach. Instead of leading their customer to another online store and fight for competitive pricing, they have led their customers in-store, providing an in-person digital experience and one-upping their competition with the power of a simple human touch to keep brick and mortar sales high.

Through innovative approaches, they have changed the way that shoppers interact with their products, building things that can only be experienced live.

Moving Online to In-line and In-Store

  1. Macys iBeacons

Macys

Macy’s used an innovative approach to bringing their mobile shoppers in-store during Black Friday. With their Walk In & Win campaign, they prompted users to install their app and shop in-store to be eligible to win prizes, including a grand prize of $1,000,000. Using beacon technology, Macy’s knew immediately when app users were in-store and were able to send them notifications of special offers and instant prizes. It was an ingenious way to incentivize their digital shoppers to get a unique in-store experience.

         2. Bloomingdales, Ralph Lauren Interactive Shopping Windows

Bloomingdales

Bloomingdales and Ralph Lauren took the difficulty of finding the ‘perfect gift for dad’ on Father’s Day and made it fun through a 4D graphic fashion show. Window shoppers were able to use a touch screen installed on the outside of the store to select various Ralph Lauren Polo items, mixing and matching to create a gift dads would love. They could then buy the items immediately in-store completing their shopping hassle-free.

       3. Walgreens- Digital Mapping 

Walgreens

Walgreens Pharmacy has made shopping fun again. By creating a game-like application on each shopping cart, they are allowing their customers to find each item with ease while saving some major bucks along the way.

Walgreens used a special camera to add a detailed 3D view to their in-store maps. The information was woven together with the store floor plans to show where products were located and where they were on the shelves. Shoppers were also served highly contextual discounts on items as they passed by, incenting them to interact with the maps.

So, as you can see, retailers are doing some pretty amazing things within the digital landscape.

Are the retail crusaders responsible for reports like ….  https://retail.emarketer.com/article/us-shoppers-still-prefer-make-most-purchases-in-store/58dd8922ebd400061c80f3cf

Headline

 

Possibly. But what we do know for certain is that to continue to compete in the retail space, brick and mortar stores need to continue to play to their strengths, incorporating digital instore.

Want to learn more about how AMP can help your business bring digital in-store? Contact us, here.

 

February 24, 2016

AMP Shopper Digital Partners with Retailigence to Deliver Location-based Shopper Activation at Scale

SAN FRANCISCO — February 16, 2016Retailgence, a leading provider of retail intelligence for inventory-aware marketing and location-based shopper activation for brand manufacturers, and AMP Shopper Digital, a leading digital marketing & advertising agency focused on delivering solutions that drive shoppers to retail for global brands, today announced a partnership to jointly deliver location-based shopper activation working with AMP’s preferred Ad-Tech partners in media buying, dynamic creative, optimization and measurement capabilities.

The companies will work collaboratively to provide advanced Geo-Targeting, Dynamic Creative and Path-to-Purchase Measurement capabilities, building off the Retailigence product location data platform. Working together, the companies will enable brand manufacturers to increase advertising relevance and efficiency by serving geo-targeted digital ads in and around retail stores with advertised products in-stock, avoiding stores out-of-stock, and guiding consumers with location-based secondary actions within the ad unit, including store directions, phone calls and more. As a result of the partnership, manufacturers working with AMP Shopper Digital will be able to leverage the combined expertise of the agency’s integrated digital media strategy and execution as well as Retailigence’s data technology in order to drive location relevance and incremental in-store product sales, insights and attribution. The ability to integrate and optimize large amounts of accurate product and location data quickly eliminates the time-consuming process of aggregating inventory data across retail partners to deliver performance and results quickly for marketers.

“Shopper marketers face a huge challenge in capturing accurate information about their products at retail for use in digital marketing to drive in-store sales,” said SVP of AMP Shopper Digital Josh Pike. “Retailigence allows us the ability to bring disparate location and retail inventory data elements together in an efficient manner to distribute through our dynamic digital media buying process. Our clients can now access vast amounts of channel data and benefit from advanced optimization without the time and cost typical in managing data for cross-channel retail campaigns.”

“Brand manufacturers look to the Retailigence product location platform to truly help them build local relevancy into shopper marketing as they support their retail partners and reach more mobile customers wherever they are.” said Retailigence CEO Hoon Chung.” In order to do so, we not only need to provide accurate information about product availability, but also guide them throughout the customer journey from top of funnel research to moment of buying decision.” AMP Agency and their partners will be instrumental in helping deliver this to our mutual customers.”

About AMP Shopper Digital

As part of the Advantage Solutions Family of Retail and CPG-focused companies, AMP Shopper Digital exists for one purpose: to build and execute turnkey, performance-based digital programs that engage shoppers, drive more shopping trips and higher basket ring. AMP Shopper Digital has offices in Boston, MA,  Norwalk, CT, Bentonville, AR and Chicago, IL.. To learn more, visit http://ampshopperdigital.com  and follow us on Twitter @AMP_Agency and on LinkedIn.

About Retailigence

Retailigence is an online-to-offline data platform, embeddable in any ad campaign or media, which improves in-store product sales, attribution-related metrics and ROI.  The Company’s unique SKU-level data insights target consumers with the highest propensity to buy local and guide shoppers along the path to purchase to any specific product or brand, in more than 200,000 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S.  Major brands, retailers, agencies, and ad technology providers use Retailigence to ensure their marketing investments (often starting in mobile) not only generate consumer awareness, but convert shopper interest into measurable action and in-store sales.

To learn more, visit www.retailigence.com. Follow us on Twitter @Retailigence and on LinkedIn.

July 30, 2012

'It's Complicated'? with Retailers' Social Media

Do you have your credit number memorized because you are a frequent online buyer? No? Well, maybe your bank account is better off than mine. Nonetheless, online retail is at an all time high, with e-commerce sales Inc. 500 companies, the top three social media platforms with the most users are Facebook (74%), LinkedIn (73%), and Twitter (64%). These sites are great points of entry for retailers, but we don't suggest these be the only sites retailers should be utilizing, as it all depends on retailers' overall objectives and goals. One of the most common social media pitfalls is feeling the need to be present on all social channels available. It is important to remember all social media platforms are not created equal ' they differ in purpose, tone, and require different approaches. Not to mention the bandwidth issues associated with trying to manage multiple platforms is huge. Quality over quantity is a pretty good rule of thumb here.

With sites like Pinterest gaining steam and Facebook attracting 500 million unique users monthly, here are a few tips for how to leverage your social media channels to drive retail:

  • Reputation management. You can't ignore the fact that Facebook alone now has over 900 million users who may be talking about you, and there are a dozen other platforms that have over 100 million users, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and, Google+. You need to protect and grow your brand, so the first step is to know what's going on. The best defense is a good offense.
  • Build your brand visibility to position yourself as an expert. Engaging in social media and blogging on a regular basis is a low-cost way to achieve visibility and become a thought leader for that topic and a voice that people trust in your industry. That's how you brand yourself as an expert in your niche and make your company the one that others seek out. Customers today trust those they know and those they see others trusting. This doesn't mean spamming users with articles and opinions. Generate thoughtful conversation and make use of imagery, which catches user attention.
  • Increase customer leads and conversion. With most of the population now using social media, at least 30% of users look at business profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn before buying any product or service. Of those, approximate 70% said they wouldn't deal with a new company if it didn't have a social media presence. Having a presence doesn't mean having a dormant page. You need to make users feel special. Creating exclusive deals for fans and followers is a great way to drive traffic and increase conversion.
  • Maximize customer retention. It's a well-known adage of business that efforts to retain existing customers have tremendous payback, compared to the costs of attracting new customers. Courting them with ongoing updates and special offers through their social networks is a natural way to keep their loyalty.
  • Be Proactive.  Why not ask customers for feedback before there is a problem, and watch what they are telling their friends, both good and bad? The ability to monitor consumer tastes also grants access to a wealth of information that may help with product line planning and inventory.

While social media does have the ability to drive sales and increases conversion rates from various platforms, it is first and foremost a forum for two-way communication between customers and retailers. It also presents a fast and cost-effective way to gather information about new markets. The bottom line is retailers need to determine the most appropriate platform to fulfill objectives and communicate business messages.

July 25, 2012

Retail: Outside the Box

For decades, retailers have relied on very traditional transactions. In the not so distant past, consumers who wanted to buy something would have to 'actually'? go to a store location to make their purchase. Over the past several years, this traditional transaction model has dramatically changed. With the move to more online retail destinations, no more Saturdays spent getting the kids into the car and bouncing from store to store to get what you need. All one has to do now-a-days is log on to a site like Amazon.com and everything from hammers to curtains to even baby formula is just a click away. So, how can the traditional retailers stay afloat in this e-commerce driven society?

New Technologies

With the advent of the smart phone app and new app-related technologies such as Square, everyone from retailers to street peddlers can now accept credit cards like a legit store. With people carrying less and less cash these days, having the ability to put a purchase on a debit card or credit card is an absolute necessity for most shoppers. Mobile payment solutions like LevelUp, PayPal mobile and Google Wallet have had a huge impact on the transaction landscape. Just 5 years ago,  a mobile card reader would have been considered futuristic. All of these technologies have allowed retailers and brands to get outside of the brick and mortar store and onto the street.

Beyond the Physical Footprint

Today, companies like our client Samsonite have gone a step further to reach consumers where they are. Late last year, they commissioned a retail trailer to accompany their experiential activities. Now, at an experiential event for the Samsonite brand, you can not only test out their casual bag products on their branded inflatable proving grounds, you can also purchase your very own bag to take home. The fact is Samsonite and companies like them have just begun to scratch the surface of what we expect to see for years to come.

Samsonite Retail Trailer

 

Brands and their partner agencies are certainly up for the challenge of finding alternative avenues to the traditional retail space. Making products available for sale at experiential events is certainly a smart way to move consumers from awareness to purchase fairly quickly. Whether leveraging the latest technologies or creating pop-up stores, there are an array of options for marketers to help extend the retail experience beyond the physical store to reach more consumers and ultimately drive more sales.  Additionally, integrating retail extensions to experiential events can offset some of the costs for the marketing investment. A win-win for consumers and brands!'?

July 20, 2012

Driving Retail Sales through Display Media

Planning and managing a campaign with retail sales goals is the Holy Grail for a media planner. It provides a measurable objective that comes with the high of knowing actual sales are the result of your media campaign. Providing data driven junkies with that kind of power is exhilarating and having clients see a measurable return on ad spend can make them giddy. But, what media strategy will help you sell a trillion dollars worth of your client's product?

Here are just a few things to consider in order drive sales on- and off-line:

  1. To help you and your potential partners gain insights about who is taking what action on the site, tag your client's site pre-campaign launch with pixels (a small piece of code placed on a website to track conversions). Yes, your client may have this data, so it might not change your strategy in reaching the target audience. However, it may provide you & your partners with nuances about the target audience that were not previously considered. In addition, once your campaign is in market, these same tags will help you optimize your campaign and deliver results.
  2. Don't count out digital advertising when trying to affect brick & mortar sales. There are many partners out there who layer on purchase behavior, hyper geo-targeting around store locations and psychographics to influence a sale. These partners can provide extremely granular data to help target a very specific audience. For instance, if your client has a specific audience such as mothers with an annual income of $100K who live on the East ­Coast, these media partners can help deliver targeted messaging to this group of women.
  3. Obviously, there are a million targeting options to reach your desired consumer. When the objective is to drive sales, testing different media partners, tactics and devices at the campaign launch will help you understand what really works, so you can then optimize to the best performing sites & placements. So, cast a wide net!

These considerations can be used whether your budget is the size of Coca-Cola's or something much more modest. So, get working on driving that trillion dollar sale!

January 3, 2011

Experiencing Life through Augmented Reality

While assembling cables in a Boeing aircraft back in the 1990's, Tom Caudell coined the term 'augmented reality'? (AR) to describe a virtual display viewed through a headset, which guided workers through the process. However, you don't have to be a Boeing engineer to experience the same kind of thrill. Today, any NFL fan is exposed to AR by catching a glimpse of the '1st & Ten'? graphics system used on television during games. AR is a technique of overlaying graphics on a real-world image to enhance the scene, such as the yellow first-down line that can be seen on a televised football field- that is not there in reality.

With recent developments in AR technology, we've seen a large influx of AR being used at retail for marketing, promotions and sales needs targeting consumers while at home, on-the-go, or in-store. AR allows for consumers to have an enhanced brand experience, and for retailers to connect with their target audience by utilizing engaging, interactive techniques rather than traditional marketing methods. A handful of retailers, including Ray-Ban, have successfully integrated AR into their marketing strategies.

For over seventy years the Ray-Ban brand has been well-respected as one of the most iconic in the world, beginning as the official sunglass of U.S. Army fighter pilots through their line of Aviators, and also creating the timeless trend of the Wayfarer- both sported flawlessly, might I add, by Tom Cruise on the big screen in Top Gun and of course, Risky Business!

Ray-Ban has taken their online product marketing strategy to a whole new digital realm, as consumers are now able to try on eyewear through a 'Virtual Mirror'?. By utilizing a web-cam, the e-commerce community can enter an augmented reality by positioning a pair of glasses over their own facial image to see how they would look sporting a number of Ray-Ban fashions. Created by the FittingBox Company, the technology uses a person's eyes, nose, and ears as AR-tracking markers to determine exactly how the glasses appear on the shopper's face. Being able to see the glasses on your face from the comfort of your computer chair is a significant enhancement to the online shopping experience.

Ray-Ban has clearly recognized the potential of AR, and created internal and external strategies to distinguish themselves from their competition through the use of modern technology. What other AR examples have you seen in Shopper Marketing? Do you have plans to integrate AR in 2011?

While assembling cables in a Boeing aircraft back in the 1990's, Tom Caudell coined the term 'augmented reality'? (AR) to describe a virtual display viewed through a headset, which guided workers through the process. However, you don't have to be a Boeing engineer to experience the same kind of thrill. Today, any NFL fan is exposed to AR by catching a glimpse of the '1st & Ten'? graphics system used on television during games. AR is a technique of overlaying graphics on a real-world image to enhance the scene, such as the yellow first-down line that can be seen on a televised football field- that is not there in reality.
With recent developments in AR technology, we've seen a large influx of AR being used at retail for marketing, promotions and sales needs targeting consumers while at home, on-the-go, or in-store. AR allows for consumers to have an enhanced brand experience, and for retailers to connect with their target audience by utilizing engaging, interactive techniques rather than traditional marketing methods. A handful of retailers, including Ray-Ban, have successfully integrated AR into their marketing strategies.
For over seventy years the Ray-Ban brand has been well-respected as one of the most iconic in the world, beginning as the official sunglass of U.S. Army fighter pilots through their line of Aviators, and also creating the timeless trend of the Wayfarer- both sported flawlessly, might I add, by Tom Cruise on the big screen in Top Gun and of course, Risky Business!
Ray-Ban has taken their online product marketing strategy to a whole new digital realm, as consumers are now able to try on eyewear through a 'Virtual Mirror'?. By utilizing a web-cam, the e-commerce community can enter an augmented reality by positioning a pair of glasses over their own facial image to see how they would look sporting a number of Ray-Ban fashions. Created by the FittingBox Company, the technology uses a person's eyes, nose, and ears as AR-tracking markers to determine exactly how the glasses appear on the shopper's face. Being able to see the glasses on your face from the comfort of your computer chair is a significant enhancement to the online shopping experience.
Ray-Ban has clearly recognized the potential of AR, and created internal and external strategies to distinguish themselves from their competition through the use of modern technology. What other AR examples have you seen in Shopper Marketing? Do you have plans to integrate AR in 2011?
Path:

January 3, 2011

Experiencing Life through Augmented Reality

While assembling cables in a Boeing aircraft back in the 1990's, Tom Caudell coined the term 'augmented reality'? (AR) to describe a virtual display viewed through a headset, which guided workers through the process. However, you don't have to be a Boeing engineer to experience the same kind of thrill. Today, any NFL fan is exposed to AR by catching a glimpse of the '1st & Ten'? graphics system used on television during games. AR is a technique of overlaying graphics on a real-world image to enhance the scene, such as the yellow first-down line that can be seen on a televised football field- that is not there in reality.

With recent developments in AR technology, we've seen a large influx of AR being used at retail for marketing, promotions and sales needs targeting consumers while at home, on-the-go, or in-store. AR allows for consumers to have an enhanced brand experience, and for retailers to connect with their target audience by utilizing engaging, interactive techniques rather than traditional marketing methods. A handful of retailers, including Ray-Ban, have successfully integrated AR into their marketing strategies.

For over seventy years the Ray-Ban brand has been well-respected as one of the most iconic in the world, beginning as the official sunglass of U.S. Army fighter pilots through their line of Aviators, and also creating the timeless trend of the Wayfarer- both sported flawlessly, might I add, by Tom Cruise on the big screen in Top Gun and of course, Risky Business!

Ray-Ban has taken their online product marketing strategy to a whole new digital realm, as consumers are now able to try on eyewear through a 'Virtual Mirror'?. By utilizing a web-cam, the e-commerce community can enter an augmented reality by positioning a pair of glasses over their own facial image to see how they would look sporting a number of Ray-Ban fashions. Created by the FittingBox Company, the technology uses a person's eyes, nose, and ears as AR-tracking markers to determine exactly how the glasses appear on the shopper's face. Being able to see the glasses on your face from the comfort of your computer chair is a significant enhancement to the online shopping experience.

Ray-Ban has clearly recognized the potential of AR, and created internal and external strategies to distinguish themselves from their competition through the use of modern technology. What other AR examples have you seen in Shopper Marketing? Do you have plans to integrate AR in 2011?

While assembling cables in a Boeing aircraft back in the 1990's, Tom Caudell coined the term 'augmented reality'? (AR) to describe a virtual display viewed through a headset, which guided workers through the process. However, you don't have to be a Boeing engineer to experience the same kind of thrill. Today, any NFL fan is exposed to AR by catching a glimpse of the '1st & Ten'? graphics system used on television during games. AR is a technique of overlaying graphics on a real-world image to enhance the scene, such as the yellow first-down line that can be seen on a televised football field- that is not there in reality.
With recent developments in AR technology, we've seen a large influx of AR being used at retail for marketing, promotions and sales needs targeting consumers while at home, on-the-go, or in-store. AR allows for consumers to have an enhanced brand experience, and for retailers to connect with their target audience by utilizing engaging, interactive techniques rather than traditional marketing methods. A handful of retailers, including Ray-Ban, have successfully integrated AR into their marketing strategies.
For over seventy years the Ray-Ban brand has been well-respected as one of the most iconic in the world, beginning as the official sunglass of U.S. Army fighter pilots through their line of Aviators, and also creating the timeless trend of the Wayfarer- both sported flawlessly, might I add, by Tom Cruise on the big screen in Top Gun and of course, Risky Business!
Ray-Ban has taken their online product marketing strategy to a whole new digital realm, as consumers are now able to try on eyewear through a 'Virtual Mirror'?. By utilizing a web-cam, the e-commerce community can enter an augmented reality by positioning a pair of glasses over their own facial image to see how they would look sporting a number of Ray-Ban fashions. Created by the FittingBox Company, the technology uses a person's eyes, nose, and ears as AR-tracking markers to determine exactly how the glasses appear on the shopper's face. Being able to see the glasses on your face from the comfort of your computer chair is a significant enhancement to the online shopping experience.
Ray-Ban has clearly recognized the potential of AR, and created internal and external strategies to distinguish themselves from their competition through the use of modern technology. What other AR examples have you seen in Shopper Marketing? Do you have plans to integrate AR in 2011?
Path:

December 1, 2010

Millennials are Looking for the 'Shop-erience'? this Holiday Season

I'm a Millennial and I like to shop, both on- and offline. Of course, marketers and advertisers already know this simple fact. They also know that I have attended university and am just starting out my career, live in an urban-setting with a moderate household income, like to feel good about donating to philanthropic causes, and spend a large amount of time pilfering away on social networking sites. However, do marketers really know why I like to shop? It's all about the experience.

Over this last week, I came across not one ' but two ' unique shopping experiences that provided value above-and-beyond the traditional mall excursion or product search online. Last week, Google launched Boutiques.com, a 'personalized shopping experience that lets you find and discover fashion goods through a collection of boutiques curated by taste-makers ' celebrities, stylists, designers, and fashion bloggers.'? The website is built with technology-software that 'learns'? about your style and trend preferences to be able to provide more relevant search results and recommendations over time. The user has the option to create their own boutique, share outfit ideas with friends, leave comments for other fashionistas, and source similar looks within a variety of price ranges.


Prior to the launch of Boutiques.com, online shopping could seem like a chore. This is not to say that Google completely revolutionized the online shopping realm; rather the search giant combined the search for and purchasing activities into one, cohesive website. Everyone wins: retailers are able to advertise their products directly to consumers and shoppers have all the necessary tools at their fingertips to stay ahead of the fashion-game. The experience is convenient, easy, and customizable and as a millennial, I appreciate that.

My second shopping example is more experiential in the traditional sense, bringing the high-brow fashion of Cynthia Rowley to neighborhoods throughout the United States via a mobile boutique. The fashion truck contains Rowley's entire fall 2010 collection, as well as select pieces from her spring and summer lines. Shoppers have the opportunity to learn of the truck's whereabouts via a live Twitter feed, and can visit the 'shop on wheels'? in their local market for a fun, fashion splurge. With a limited number of stores across the US, the Cynthia Rowley mobile boutique provides shoppers with the opportunity to experience the look-and-feel of the brand. The experience is fun, conversational, and out-of-the-ordinary, enhancing the brand image and helping to establish a positive association in the minds of consumers.

As the holiday shopping season is fast-approaching and I'm looking to buy gifts for family and friends ' and to take advantage of those sales to update my own winter wardrobe ' I will be looking for the brands that provide an engaging and memorable shopping experience. I hypothesize that these brands will come out on top in the New Year.  After all, it's all about the 'shop-erience.'?

November 30, 2010

Wanna FaceTime? Why I love my iPhone 4!

Drum roll please'?¦.I got the iPhone 4! This is only going to be relevant if you read my previous post on Oct 26th where I was debating between my next major purchase: the iPhone 4 or the Droid X. Less than a week after that blog post, I met someone who had the iPhone 4. I fell hard for its sleek, sexy look and the quality of the HD videos. I felt like my little 3G was inferior and was also completely fed up with having to constantly charge it for it to last through one day. The next day I went to the Apple store in Shadyside, Pittsburgh, PA with a determined look in my eyes. When I walked in I said to the nearest employee, so tell me why this phone is better than the 3G. She didn't know I had just written a blog about why it was better.

The Apple store employee was as bubbly as ever and sweetly, but a bit unconvincingly, showed me how to do a video'she filmed me talking about why I was fed up with my 3G. We watched it together and I must say I was very impressed with the quality (sound and picture) of this video. I asked her to explain FaceTime, which she did. She showed me the functionality of being able to listen to Pandora while reading e-mail, using google maps, etc. This is key in my life! The Pandora application on my iPhone may be one of the best things to happen to me. Besides maybe the Facebook application. Did I just admit that? Although, she was unconvincing, I had my mind made up the moment I walked into the door.

I have used FaceTime a few times and find the interaction to be very intimate and very real'sometimes a little too real. It is pretty incredible how close you can feel to someone even when they are hundreds of miles away. The downfall with FaceTime? As vain as this may sound, unless you hold it a high angle you are capturing a not-so-attractive, double chin shot. You all know what I am talking about. In turn, you end up holding the phone up fairly high and your arm gets tired. Funny thing is that FaceTime has now become a verb in my life. Hey, you wanna FaceTime? Just add it to all the other technological verbs which have been added to our vocabulary. Did he friend request you? Did you e-mail him? What are you tweeting about? Have you checked in yet? Did he DM you? We are in a poking war.

The videos have been my favorite addition. I live quite far from my 5 month-old niece and 3 year-old nephew and I have up close videos of them interacting and talking. Anytime I want I can just watch them to feel closer to them! Also, I haven't tried it out yet but supposedly anyone with a newer Mac laptop or desktop can also download FaceTime and I can talk with them on their computer from my iPhone.

I have also being able to continue my most recent addiction--words with friends (free). It is basically scrabble which you can play with anyone who has the application on their iPhone. You play real time with friends but there is no pressure to make the next move. You play on your own time. It keeps me sane on my commute to and from work every day.

Other pluses for the iPhone 4: the Nike + is built in. I just need to put the sensor in my shoe, calibrate my walk and run and it records all my workouts including time, distance, calories burned, etc (while jamming out to my Daft Punk station on Pandora). Also, there is a way to view all your emails from various accounts at once, which is a pretty cool addition. Work and personal e-mail all in one thread? Some people have issues with that--but I appreciate it. To each their own.

So I am sure you are wondering about the big question: service? My service is better with the iPhone 4 than the 3G. It does randomly drop calls but that is because the service in my apartment isn't fantastic. To be completely honest, my roommate, as you know, has the Droid and sometimes she doesn't get my calls or my text messages'lost in Verizon cyber space? That isn't cool.

I stand by my decision for the iPhone 4. I spoke with a friend who just got the Droid X. So far she loves it but said 'they could have made it a bit more direct/user-friendly when it comes to personalizing contacts and doing simple tasks.'?

Which phone do you have? And what do you have to say about it? Do you want one? Are you getting one for someone as a gift this Holiday?

Until we meet again'?¦

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