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Walmart Drops Paula Deen

Walmart announced on Wednesday that it is ending its partnership with Paula Deen.

“We are ending our relationship with Paula Deen Enterprises and we will not place new orders beyond those already committed,” the company said in a statement.

Other companies that have cut ties with Deen include the Food Network, Smithfield Food and Caesars buffet restaurants. Deen stated that QVC has not ended their relationship with her Wednesday morning during an interview on NBC’s Today show.

Target has also not commented on the state of its relationship with her.

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How Starbucks, Sam’s Club, and Sugarfina are enhancing the in-store experience

The main takeaway from the first morning of WBR’s Future Stores event in Seattle is that omnichannel is dead. Well, the word “omnichannel” is dead. Nearly every retail executive who took the stage noted that no consumer on the planet would ever say, “I had a great omnichannel shopping experience.”

Of course, they all want a seamless experience, wherever and however they’re shopping. And a commitment to providing that was another thing all the Future Stores speakers had in common.

See how three very different retailers; Starbucks, Sam’s Club, and Sugarfina, are using technology to enhance the in-store experience.


When it comes to consumer brands embracing technology, Starbucks is definitely a leader. The coffee giant’s mobile ordering accounts for 12% of its U.S. sales—and it also has nearly one million more users than Apple Pay. But Todd Shaver, VP of Retail Infrastructure, points out that Starbucks isn’t about simply jumping on the bandwagon.

“We want to enable the interactions and not just show technology for the sake of it. The goal is to make the technology invisible and seamless to the customer experience,” he says.

People are increasingly interested in the origins of their purchases and augmented reality gives Chinese Starbucks customers a glimpse into the entire bean to cup journey. In December, the brand opened one of its roasteries—a 30,000 retail location billed as an “immersive coffee wonderland,” in Shanghai, which is outfitted with various Alibaba-powered augmented reality experiences.

Pointing your phone at various contraptions lets you know what exactly they do. Another AR installation provides a look inside the cask, showing the journey a bean goes through on its way to becoming a cup of coffee.


You only need to take one glance at Sugarfina to realize it’s not the average candy shop. For one, the stores have a pristine, white look, rather than the typical explosion of colors evocative of Willy Wonka’s factory. Everything is boxed neatly and there are no silver shovels and plastic bags.

Where most confectioners appeal to kids, Sugarfina is designed for adults. Specifically, adults who like gourmet candy, such as gummy bears in green juice, and rosé flavors. (Both of those products sold out within hours; the latter caused the website to crash three times.)

Sugarfina knows exactly who its core customers are: women between 25 and 44. That demographic is particularly active on social media; many customers have even discovered the brand through Instagram. As a result, retail locations are designed to be shareable.

“They’re designed to be Instagram-perfect. There’s a specific white and lighting scheme so that photos look beautiful without a filter,” explains Rosie O’Neill, Co-Founder and CEO. “We have a wall display that’s probably in a good 20% of the Instagram photos people tag us in.”

Sam’s Club

The biggest pain point for a Sam’s Club customer is the checkout line. Or, rather that used to be the biggest pain point because app users can skip it entirely in what Cedric Clark, VP of Operations, refers to as “unified commerce.”

With Scan & Go, shoppers can… scan as they go. They simply scan items and check themselves out, showing a digital version of the receipt to the greeter at the door before leaving.

“Customers are walking around with something in their hand that elevates the experience,” says Clark. “We put the same technology in the sales associates’ hands. They can scan a barcode and it shows the specifics, like how much fat is on the chuck roast, for example. It creates a concierge feeling.”

Since adopting mobile checkout, the Walmart-owned warehouse’s cashiers reduced seconds per item scanned by 22%. The brand’s Net Promoter Score also improved by two points from one quarter to the next.

Sam's Club-Scan & Go

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5 marketing automation innovations worth leveraging in 2018

Marketing automation has driven a lot of hype in the marketing space in recent years, and for good reason. Innovations like Marketo and Eloqua have given companies the ability to scale up their marketing efforts like never before and run multi-channel campaigns that are truly measurable. That said, this is a fast-paced industry – and now, there’s a whole new crop of entrants to the martech space that are transforming the way that marketers think about marketing automation.

This year, we’re seeing a true shift in how marketers think about campaign automation. Instead of designing campaigns aimed to guide prospects through the sales funnel, now companies are looking to design holistic marketing campaigns that aren’t just aimed at converting prospects, but also at walking leads through the entire customer lifecycle. Many tools are beginning to provide more features that enable customer lifecycle automation, and this is a huge plus for prospect and client marketing teams alike.

We’re also noticing a number of AI and machine learning-powered marketing automation solutions coming to market in recent months. These applications take marketing automation beyond a simple rules-based system and give campaigns the ability to personalize content on a level not yet seen before. What does this mean for you as a marketer? Well, no more personalized emails where the only personalization in the message is your prospect’s first name, for one! But AI-based solutions will also allow you to focus on meeting your buyers wherever they are in their purchase journey – and that’s invaluable. Check out our report on the topic here.

These innovations represent significant developments for us marketers, but they’re worth nothing if we don’t learn how to use them effectively. According to one recent study by GetResponse, less than 5% of email marketers considered themselves experts at using their own marketing automation tools. In order to make their companies’ offerings attractive to buyers in today’s market, it’s critical that marketers leverage the full suite of marketing automation tools available to them. From email marketing to display advertising, there’s probably a number of new innovations you can use that others may not have even heard of yet!

Read on for our favorite marketing automation innovations that have surfaced in recent months. They’re sure to delight your marketing operations and content teams alike.

1. Use AI to drive your programmatic marketing efforts

In a world where more marketing data is being generated than ever before, AI-powered tools are perhaps the best way to cut through the noise and efficiently extract insights from all the data being produced. The latest tools (such as MediaMath’s marketing platform) give marketers the ability to create marketing campaigns that use AI-driven predictive analytics to optimize media spend, customer interactions, and more. Leveraging these types of tools will give your marketing team the ability to surface more cross-sell and upsell opportunities with customers, and help you more effectively interact with prospects as well.

2. Utilize behavioral triggers to retarget your existing prospects

Thoughtfully setting up a retargeting workflow with behavioral triggers takes some time, but it’s incredibly worth it. Services like Hootsuite’s AdEspresso make doing this easier than ever and allow marketers to get extremely specific about the types of retargeting campaigns they run. Using behavioral triggers will allow you to tailor your ad copy to the specific actions your prospects are taking on your website, and this has been proven to dramatically increase conversions.

To leverage behavioral triggers effectively, we’d recommend first mapping out your entire prospect lifecycle with your team in detail. Then, define what actions should trigger retargeting of a prospect, and outline what you’d like that retargeting interaction to look like. This planning stage can be lengthy, but it’s essential to crafting a well-thought out retargeting strategy.

3. Leverage chatbots to supercharge your lead generation through social media

Internet users now spend an inordinate amount of their time on messaging platforms, and it’s only increasing. Channels like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are among the fastest-growing applications in the world, with Messenger having 1.3 billion members alone. This represents a huge opportunity for marketers to engage with prospects and customers in a more meaningful way, while increasing conversion rates. As an added bonus, messaging apps boast higher engagement rates than most other online platforms. For many companies, chatbots are proving to be more efficient than email marketing, and your prospects will likely appreciate the personal outreach as well.

To get started with using a chatbot, we’d recommend using a solution like ManyChat, which enables marketers to create a bot in just minutes, with no coding required. In addition to audience analytics, most chatbot solutions also provide a full suite of tools to help marketers fully automate their marketing efforts and optimization for conversion along the way. It’s now easier than ever to start using chatbots in your marketing automation efforts, but as with most tools, we’d recommend mapping out what your intended customer journeys look like before deploying a bot-based solution.

4. Optimize your data warehouse for content personalization

In today’s marketing landscape, content personalization is effectively a requirement for gaining the trust of prospects – but it’s difficult to do so effectively unless your marketing database is set up to track your prospects’ behavioral patterns online. Services like Solitics solve this problem by giving marketers an easy way to merge all their marketing data sources into a centralized data warehouse that delivers actionable insights and customizes marketing content for each buyer’s persona.

Marketing teams generate more data than ever before, and that’s a good thing. But the data often comes from disparate sources, making it difficult for organizations to extract actionable insights and alter their marketing strategies accordingly. Using an optimized data warehouse will give you the ability to run more advanced analytics on your marketing data, while delivering high-impact content wherever it’s needed most.

5. Map out all of your automated workflows in one place

Using tools like ActiveCampaign’s Automations Map will allow you to better understand how your various marketing workflows interact with one another, while enabling you to easily make changes if needed. These types of visualizations are a fairly recent development in the marketing automation space, but they’re incredibly useful for marketers.

Visualizing all of your automations in one place is a useful exercise because it forces one to critically think through the customer journey in detail. Even if your one goal as a marketer is conversion, it’s important to keep in mind that each customer will take a different path to doing so. Mapping out your automations will act as a forcing function to help you account for all of your customers’ potential purchase paths, and tailor your marketing efforts to match their behavioral patterns.

In summary…

From the innovations we’re seeing on the marketing automation front this year, it’s clear that the marketing landscape is continuing to evolve to meet consumers’ needs and buying behavior. Consumers are spending more time on fewer platforms than ever before, and that represents a significant opportunity for marketers to establish meaningful connections with prospects, and meet buyers wherever they’re spending the most time. All of the innovations listed above have made marketing automation more powerful than ever, but that said – taking a strategic approach to prospect engagement is still critical. Conducting rigorous planning before launching one of these tools inside your organization takes time, but it’ll dramatically increase your chances of success.


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