Archive for August, 2013

Commentary: The showrooming myth

August 30, 2013 Leave a comment

The understandable guide
The Telenet Mobile concept store is located in the city
centre of Antwerp in Belgium. The shop has a very “open”
storefront that invites customers to come in and shop. Within
the Telenet shop concept absolutely nothing has been left to
chance. Visitors are provided with a range of tools to help
them decide what they need from a product and information
“Mobile communication, telephony, and internet are
rapidly changing economic sectors,” says Marc Bruers, CEO
of DOBIT. “The market is continually flooded with new
devices, new technologies, and new mobile phone plans, all
of which make it very complicated for consumers to make
rational choices. Sometimes it makes people give up trying
altogether. We want the Telenet concept store to function
as an understandable guide for Telenet customers. In terms
of technology we were able to exploit virtually all of our
knowledge, competence, and experience. To maximize
the shopper experience we used integrated touch screens,
directional speakers, and Scala digital signage solutions.”
15 Telenet stores host a total of 182
Scala players that contribute to giving
customers a unique experience
In Belgian Antwerp, Telenet Mobile has introduced
a brand new, highly innovative shopping concept.
Experience is key in the Telenet mobile store. Consumers
can make use of various types of assistance to help them
choose the right communication devices, mobile phone
plans, and accessories. Communication technology and
digital signage play a decisive role in helping customers
find the product or service that serves their needs best.
Scala partner DOBIT has created an innovative concept
for Telenet to maximize sales and customer satisfaction.
Innovative Interactive Shopping Experience
Boosts Average Order Value in Mobile Phone Store
Every aspect of the POS environment
has been consciously assembled to
result in optimal customer experience
and maximum conversion.
Philip Van den Driessche, DOBIT “

• Chain of mobile phone stores
• 182 Scala players in 15 locations
• Combines touch screens, directional
speakers and Scala digital signage solutions
• Interactive solution guides customers
towards their ideal phone and subscription
• Notably higher order value per customer
Quick facts

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Employing Email Drip Campaigns

August 30, 2013 Leave a comment

 Arhaus Jewels on Employing Email Drip Campaigns

August 29, 2013 –

Arhaus Furniture and Arhaus Jewels was not engaging customers upon their signing up for the company’s email list, and according to Dave Jones, they recognized that was a problem. Jones, the company’sDirector of ECommerce & Web Marketing, recently spoke with me at eTail East about how and when Arhaus decided to employ an email welcome campaign, and how that sparked other trigger based emails which have seen much success. The welcome series email now leads to a social integration as well. Since launching the welcome series in April, the brand has seen much better open rates, and on the welcome series email the company gets a 38% open rate, and then after that, the company sends a more personalized email to figure out preferences that customers have, and Jones said they see a 36% engagement rate on that series. The company has also decide to put the email sign up feature right at the beginning of the check out process. Watch the video below to learn more about Arhaus’ email marketing success, and to hear what Jones’ favorite place in the world to travel to is – hint – he’s a big Ohio fan.

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Businesses Can’t Find Enough ‘Sober,’ ‘Drug-Free’ Workers

August 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Rep. Dave Joyce On Unfilled Jobs:politics

Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) is worried about the number of jobs that go unfilled each month.

Posted: 08/23/2013 4:14 pm EDT  |  Updated: 08/24/2013 3:31 pm EDT

Businesses Can’t Find Enough ‘Sober,’ ‘Drug-Free’ Workers

Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) is worried about the number of jobs that go unfilled each month.

WASHINGTON — The economy and jobs continue to dominate discussions lawmakers have with their constituents during the August recess, as many Americans are still out of work and worried about their next paycheck. In a speech to a local Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) argued that part of the problem is that there are millions of jobs that remain vacant each month.

“There’s 3 million jobs every month in this country that go unfilled,” said Joyce in his remarks to the Stow-Munroe Falls Chamber of Commerce. “Believe me, the [Cleveland] Plain Dealer already fact-checked me on it because they couldn’t believe me. They thought I was lying, and they actually came up with a higher number than 3 million.”

“And the trouble is, it’s because they either can’t find people to come to work sober, daily, drug-free and want to learn the necessary skills going forward to be able to do those jobs,” he added.

Watch Joyce’s comments in the video above, which was acquired by the House Majority PAC with the assistance of American Bridge.

The Plain Dealer and PolitiFact Ohio rated Joyce’s comment about the number of unfilled jobs as “true” when he made a similar remark in February.

But when asked by The Huffington Post for data on his assertion that businesses can’t find unemployed workers to hire who are sober or drug-free, Joyce’s spokeswoman said the congressman was relying on anecdotes from business owners.

“3.9 million jobs go unfilled in this country each month,” said Christyn Keyes. “Rep. Joyce sees that as an enormous problem and to fix a problem, you must accurately diagnose it. Rep. Joyce has made it a top priority to meet with small business owners and job creators and a concern that comes up time and time again is substance abuse among the workforce and adequate workforce training.”

“Rep. Joyce came to Washington to be a fact-based problem solver and during this 20-second clip of a 15-minute speech,” she added, “he was simply sharing the concerns of small-business owners with other local business leaders.”

According to United States Department of Labor data, there are typically millions of job openings each month in the U.S., during good and bad economic times. Although some people have blamed this high number of vacancies on a lack of skills or ambition among the unemployed, labor experts attribute many of these openings to normal job turnover as well as the pickiness of employers during times of high unemployment.

“The biggest problem in the labor market is not a skills shortage,” the New York Times editorial board recently wrote. “[R]ather, it is a persistently weak economy where businesses do not have sufficient demand to justify adding employees.”

Michael Evangelist is a policy analyst with the National Employment Law Project, which advocates for low-wage workers. He said the substance-abusing unemployed person is a “bogeyman” that occasionally leads to drug-testing.

“Most states ended up not doing it,” said Evangelist. “One reason was the cost — it just costs too much. You don’t find enough people that failed the drug test to make it worthwhile to save you the money.”

Evangelist pointed to Florida, which did not save money when Gov. Rick Scott (R) mandated drug-testing for welfare recipients. In fact, 2.5 percent of beneficiaries flunked — far lower than the percentage of people in the general population who use drugs.

The National Federation of Independent Business, a conservative group representing small businesses, published a 2012 report, “Small Business Problems and Priorities,” that ranked “finding and keeping skilled employees” as the 39th most pressing problem for small businesses and “locating qualified employees” as the 32nd problem.

Jean Card, a spokeswoman for the organization, however, said the group has not collected any data on whether substance-abuse is a reason for the inability to find or keep workers.

Joyce, of course, isn’t the first politician to air the concerns about unemployed Americans who can’t pass drug tests.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) recently faced criticism when he said, “there are many employers who say, ‘look, we’re looking for people but we can’t find anybody that has passed a drug test’, a lot of them.”

In 2011, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) found herself in hot water when she claimed that “half” of the job applicants at a nuclear reservation site failed a drug test. In reality, fewer than 1 percent of the applicants flunked.

The House Majority PAC has made Joyce one of its top “targets” to oust in the 2014 elections.

Dave Jamieson contributed reporting.

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The Accidental History of the @ Symbol

August 27, 2013 Leave a comment

Once a rarely used key on the typewriter, this graceful character has become the very symbol of modern electronic communication

Smithsonian magazine, September 2012,
By William F. Allman

The At Symbol

Although the first documented use of @ was in 1536, the symbol did not rise from modern obscurity until 1971. (Illustration by Erik Marinovich)

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Called the “snail” by Italians and the “monkey tail” by the Dutch, @ is the sine qua non of electronic communication, thanks to e-mail addresses and Twitter handles. @ has even been inducted into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, which cited its modern use as an example of “elegance, economy, intellectual transparency, and a sense of the possible future directions that are embedded in the arts of our time.”

The origin of the symbol itself, one of the most graceful characters on the keyboard, is something of a mystery. One theory is that medieval monks, looking for shortcuts while copying manuscripts, converted the Latin word for “toward”—ad—to “a” with the back part of the “d” as a tail. Or it came from the French word for “at”—à—and scribes, striving for efficiency, swept the nib of the pen around the top and side. Or the symbol evolved from an abbreviation of “each at”—the “a” being encased by an “e.” The first documented use was in 1536, in a letter by Francesco Lapi, a Florentine merchant, who used @ to denote units of wine called amphorae, which were shipped in large clay jars.

The symbol later took on a historic role in commerce. Merchants have long used it to signify “at the rate of”—as in “12 widgets @ $1.” (That the total is $12, not $1, speaks to the symbol’s pivotal importance.) Still, the machine age was not so kind to @. The first typewriters, built in the mid-1800s, didn’t include @. Likewise, @ was not among the symbolic array of the earliest punch-card tabulating systems (first used in collecting and processing the 1890 U.S. census), which were precursors to computer programming.

The symbol’s modern obscurity ended in 1971, when a computer scientist named Ray Tomlinson was facing a vexing problem: how to connect people who programmed computers with one another. At that time, each programmer was typically connected to a particular mainframe machine via a phone connection and a teletype machine—basically a keyboard with a built-in printer. But these computers weren’t connected to one another, a shortcoming the U.S. government sought to overcome when it hired BBN Technologies, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company Tomlinson worked for, to help develop a network called Arpanet, forerunner of the Internet.

Tomlinson’s challenge was how to address a message created by one person and sent through Arpanet to someone at a different computer. The address needed an individual’s name, he reasoned, as well as the name of the computer, which might service many users. And the symbol separating those two address elements could not already be widely used in programs and operating systems, lest computers be confused.

Tomlinson’s eyes fell on @, poised above “P” on his Model 33 teletype. “I was mostly looking for a symbol that wasn’t used much,” he told Smithsonian. “And there weren’t a lot of options—an exclamation point or a comma. I could have used an equal sign, but that wouldn’t have made much sense.” Tomlinson chose @—“probably saving it from going the way of the ‘cent’ sign on computer keyboards,” he says. Using his naming system, he sent himself an e-mail, which traveled from one teletype in his room, through Arpanet, and back to a different teletype in his room.

Tomlinson, who still works at BBN, says he doesn’t remember what he wrote in that first e-mail. But that is fitting if, as Marshall McLuhan argued, “The medium is the message.” For with that message, the ancient @, once nearly obsolete, became the symbolic linchpin of a revolution in how humans connect.

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Study: Consumers More Likely to Shop On Mobile Devices Than PCs

August 27, 2013 Leave a comment

More Than a Third of Visits to Top E-Commerce Sites Come Exclusively From Mobile

By:  Published: August 27, 2013 in ADVERTISING AGE
While the “Year of Mobile” remains elusive for advertisers, it appears to have already arrived for e-commerce. Smartphone and tablet users are more likely to visit a retail website or app than desktop computer users, and more than a third of visits to the top 50 e-commerce sites come exclusively from mobile devices, according to a new study from analytics firm comScore.

In June, 91% of tablet users and 90% of smartphones users accessed a mobile e-commerce web properties. That’s compared with the 78% percent of desktop web users that accessed e-commerce sites. The importance of e-commerce on mobile devices is further reinforced the study’s finding that 35% of visitors to the most popular e-commerce sites only access those websites from mobile devices.

“Retailers who do not (at a minimum) optimize their mobile browsing experience or introduce mobile apps are effectively turning away a third of their potential customers,” comScore said in a blog post about the study.

Some of other insights from the study include:

  • Consumers prefer to use commerce apps on smartphones, but mobile browsers when using tablets.
  • Mobile commerce has a pronounced seasonality, with rises in spending coming the third and fourth quarters of recent years.
  • Smartphones account for more m-commerce dollars overall but per device spending on tablets is 20% higher than on smartphones.
  • Book retail websites significantly over-indexed on mobile devices, and that was without including Amazontraffic. (Amazon is under the overal retail category because of its wide variety of available goods.) The leader in book m-commerce is Barnes & Noble, which makes the Nook e-reader.
  • Movie retail over-indexed on mobile, as well, with Netflix dominating the category. Netflix and its distant No. 2 Redbox account for 80% of movie retail traffic, according to comScore spokesman Andrew Lipsman.


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      Bridging the Gap Between Startups and the Fortune 500

      August 27, 2013 1 comment



      ON AUGUST 15, 2013


      How can a tech startup engage with a Fortune 500 company for mutual benefit?

      Fortune 500 corporations are stressed about where they can get growth and how to plug into the innovative and nimble entrepreneurial ecosystem. The chasm between the typical Fortune 500 company and a startup is typically too vast for a standard partnership. So the large company needs to build the equivalent of a standard API to handle the significant number of startups with which any given large company can work.

      The most common ways in which the Fortune 500 are working with the startup community at scale is through corporate VC arms, contests, packages of benefits geared to startups, and accelerator programs. I worked with our intern team to look for the Fortune 500 companies making the strongest effort to reach out to the tech startup community. This is not a comprehensive list, but merely an attempt to highlight some of the most notable examples relevant for technology-enabled startups.

      1) Corporate Venture Capital

      Most VCs (including ff Venture Capital) collect money from independent limited partners in order to form their fund. Some corporations emulate this model by creating their own wholly-owned VC entities, typically with one LP: the corporate balance sheet. The advantage of taking capital from these players is that they become your internal allies at the firm. However, you have to be very careful about such investors restricting your ability to exit to a competitor, as well as the potential that they may create something competitive with your product. Some traditional VCs are highly averse to working with corporate VCs.

      According to CB Insights, since the start of 2012, the most active corporate VCs are:


      Dell Innovators Credit Fund (not listed) is an unusual take on this model. Also, some corporates are investing directly in stand-alone VC funds as LPs, presumably to enhance their deal sourcing.

      2) Contests

      The second tactic we’ve seen the Fortune 500 use is contests. This is a cheap way to attract a range of startups to work on problems the company can’t can solve in-house. It’s the same logic as the X Prize Foundation. A $250,000 prize is meaningful for most startups, but it’s far less than what it takes to run a formal R&D team inside a company.

      For example, Qualcomm Ventures hosts an international business plan competition called QPrize, which targets mobile technology startups. Regional winners are awarded $100,000 in seed funding, with the overall winner taking home an additional $150,000. Amazon hosts an annual startup challenge for companies using Amazon Web Services (AWS). Attendees “get hands-on experience, insight, tips and tricks from AWS experts on how to architect [their] applications, optimize [their] costs and deploy quickly to the AWS cloud.” Winners receive a $50,000 credit for AWS paid services, another $50,000 in cash, and AWS mentoring and support.

      3) Freebies

      The most common tactic we’ve seen from large corporations is providing a package of benefits for startups in order to build relationships with early-stage companies. This promotes the company’s core services to new customers, and hopefully locks them in as permanent customers.

      For example, HP created a website, HP Startup Central, which provides a slew of startup-specific discounts, promotions, and tools. Dell’s Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) Program offers “custom software and hardware integration, escalated 24/7 technical support, dedicated customer care agents, and complimentary access to local, pre-sale and enterprise consultants.”

      Microsoft BizSpark is a global program that helps software startups by giving them access to a range of Microsoft software at free or discounted prices. In addition, BizSpark offers technical support, business training, and a network of over 2,000 partners to connect members with incubators, investors, advisors, government agencies, and other resources.

      The Rackspace Startup Program (not a Fortune 500 company, yet worth a mention) provides free cloud hosting and mentorship through a number of participating incubators, universities, and venture capital firms.

      4) Accelerators

      The accelerator model has produced some notable companies, and some of the Fortune 500 also want to get in the game. However, I agree with Erin Griffith that there’s a surplus of accelerators, and expect some significant shrinkage in 2013-14.

      Nike hosts a program called Nike+ Accelerator which offers 10 partner companies “Support As You Go,” during a 3-month period in which they are each given $20,000. At the end of the program, “each team will present to Nike executives, mentors, angel investors, venture capitalists, and tech industry leaders.” The SAP Startup Focus Program functions as an accelerator for startups using SAP HANA as their application database. SAP helps startups utilize the platform, hosts events focused on SAP technologies and related topics, and showcases results at the end of the program. SAP also has a dedicated fund for startups using HANA.

      IBM’s Global Entrepreneur Program includes “no charge software, exclusive local networking and mentorship events” via IBM SmartCamp, “technical enablement support to help you develop your product and get to market faster,” and “visibility as part of the IBM smarter planet agenda.” The Softlayer Catalyst Startup Program (an IBM company) similarly provides hosting and mentorship to referred startups.

      General Electric has chosen to focus on the health space in their GE and StartUp Health Academy Entrepreneurship Program. This program “will help early-stage consumer health companies navigate the unique challenges of building successful growth companies.” The companies will have access to GE mentors and “will offer a virtual commercial laboratory” that provides innovative business models and partnership opportunities.

      Google provides a directory of resources for startups (both from Google and elsewhere) through their platformGoogle for Entrepreneurs. They are a major sponsor of several accelerator programs, including Startup WeekendGlobal K-Startup, which “aims to help Korean startups go global,” and 10,000 Startups in India.

      Startups should certainly research these opportunities, and take advantage of the resources of the large companies. Hopefully the Fortune 500 will buy from, invest in, and perhaps eventually acquire them.

      [Thanks to ffVC interns Matt Joyce and Rikki Novetsky for their help researching and drafting this post.]

      [Image Credit: Jimmy_Joe on Flickr]

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      EBay wagers on multiscreen shopping

      August 27, 2013 Leave a comment

      By  Mobile Commerce Daily

      August 27, 2013

      The eBay Fashion app

      EBay is marrying up the iPhone and iPad experiences of its fashion and motors applications to address how consumers increasingly shop across multiple devices.

      The app update affects the eBay Fashion and eBay Motors iOS apps and is meant to tap into the specific features of each device while also creating a unified mobile shopping experience. EBay also reports that each app has generated more than one million downloads.

      “We invested a great deal of time and energy into making the eBay Motors and Fashion apps universal for two primary reasons,” said Steve Yankovich, vice president of innovation and new ventures at eBay, San Jose, CA.

      “First, while it takes more time to develop universal apps, you essentially get two apps in one,” he said. “It’s more work for our team upfront, but it’s not as much work as creating two separate apps.

      “Secondly, we know tablets are one of our most important screens for shopping, and we’re seeing larger spends on the iPad.”

      Multiscreen browsing
      The two eBay apps have been optimized for Apple’s regular iPad and iPad mini.

      The apps are built to tap into consumers’ multiscreen behaviors. They resemble a magazine-browsing experience to address how consumers spend more time on their tablets at night.

      According to eBay, the fashion and motors apps are two of the company’s mobile efforts that let the brand test different features compared to its flagship app.

      The fashion and motor apps are also targeted towards consumers that are not looking to make an instant purchase and are instead looking for shopping inspiration.

      Both apps now include universal download. When consumers download either the motors or fashion app from their iPhone devices, it is also automatically downloaded to their iPads via an iTunes account.

      The experience between the iPhone and iPad versions of the apps is similar, but the experience can be extended slightly the tablet.

      The revamped eBay Fashion iPad app

      For example, in the eBay Motors app, all of the content is the same between the iPad and iPhone versions, but the iPad version has more real estate to expand additional information.

      An updated home screen on the eBay Motors app includes a search bar that is stretched across the screen and lets consumers search for keywords and find particular vehicles and parts. Searches can also be filtered by car make, model and year.

      EBay’s Fashion iPhone app includes a color swatch feature that lets consumers snap a picture of an item to find similar products on eBay. Although this feature is not available on this launch of the iPad app, it is planned to be rolled out in the next update.

      Additionally, a section at the bottom of the apps pulls in eBay videos, blogs and community information.

      Images have also been updated on the eBay Motors and Fashion apps.

      On specific item pages within the Motors app, the images have been formatted to fit across the screen and let consumers swipe through while the detail information remains at the bottom of the page.

      On the Fashion app, the important details of a product are pulled higher up on the page, and the bid and buy buttons have also been made more prominent.

      The new fashion app

      Multiscreen shopping
      EBay has been making its mark in multiscreen shopping for a while with different app launches and updates.

      The company predicts it will process $20 billion in mobile commerce and an additional $20 billion in mobile payments this year.

      Most recently, eBay revamped its eBay Now iPhone app and announced plans to roll out an Android version of the app (see story).

      Last year, the company reported that its app had been downloaded 100 million times (see story).

      What is interesting about eBay’s app update is the unifying concept for a similar user experience across smartphone and tablet devices.

      “This was our opportunity to get two verticals in front of that audience quickly,” Mr. Yankovich said.

      Final Take
      Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York


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