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Amazon Delivery Drones? What’s Next? Teleportation?

amazon droneAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos both stunned and amused the world last night when he revealed his drone delivery plan on 60 Minutes. Yes, drones. It’s called Amazon Prime Air. A whole fleet of flying critters designed to pick up, carry and drop off your package within a half hour without any humans involved.

Is this April Fool’s Day?

I applaud their creative thinking but there are so many things wrong with this idea I don’t know where to begin.

Let’s start with safety. The first time one of these things hits a person on the ground, breaks a window or scares off a cat Amazon’s going to get sued. Next, we have all the people who are going to call the police when they see an unidentified object buzzing past their house. Aliens or terrorists – either way, it’s scary.

Company Gift Giving is Up Which Means New Marketing Opportunities for You

gift basketAccording to The Advertising Specialty Institute’s 4th annual Corporate Gift Spending Survey, companies plan to spend an average of $44.98 per person for employee gifts and $33.92 for client gifts.

That tops last year’s figures of $41.70 and $26.48 and it’s the highest they’ve seen in the past four years.

42.4% of employers are making it easy on themselves by handing out gift cards. 29.2% will do them one better by simply handing their employees cash. But an almost equal amount (27.5%) are handing out food and beverage baskets. For clients, they prefer baskets that have their own company logo on wine bottles and other goodies.

According to ASI’s , nearly two-thirds of responding companies said they will include their company logo either on their gift or on its packaging, proving the continuing popularity of branding.

Forget Black Friday, Is Your eCommerce Store Ready for Thanksgiving?

target pressWalmart, Target, K-Mart, Staples – they’re just a few of the stores that will open their doors on Thanksgiving with hopes of getting a jump on the holidays sales season. Many believe this is another step in the decline of the human race but honestly, is it more crazy to go shopping at 8 pm on Thanksgiving (leaving family members behind to clean up the mess) or stand in line at 1 am on Black Friday?

(Can we all take a moment to appreciate the blond woman in this press shot from Target. She’s simply having a wonderful Christmas time.)

The good news for online retailers is that a large portion of holiday bargain hunters aren’t going to venture out until it’s officially Black Friday. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to shop.

Facebook Leads Social Shopping Conversions but Polyvore Has Highest AOV

polyvoreDavid Selinger, CEO of RichRelevance says that social shopping accounts for less than 1% of the total online shopping sessions but hey, that’s still money in the bank, right? So, his company put together this lovely, holiday-themed infographic that shows how the top social shopping channels stack up.

The first thing you’ll notice when you review the panels is the inclusion of a site we don’t often talk about – Polyvore. This social site asks user to curate sets of products from a variety of online retailers. The example you see on the right is someone’s idea of a cool living room. Click on the objects and you get a detail page including the price and where to buy it. One more click and you’re on the site that sells it.

Traditional Stores Opening Silicon Valley Labs In Attempt to Compete Online

Silicon-Valley-MapIt’s taken many years and lots of proclamations from the Internet industry that it has taken over shopping (which it hasn’t by any stretch of the imagination but it’s great PR hype, isn’t it?) but the world of traditional brick and mortar retailers is giving in just a little.

How? They are setting up labs in the Silicon Valley area to be closer to the innovation so they don’t get left behind. The Associated Press reports

Software engineers wearing jeans and flip flops test the latest smartphone apps. Walls and windows double as whiteboards where ideas are jotted down. And a mini basketball net is in the center of it all.

At first glance, this workplace resembles any Silicon Valley startup. There’s just one exception: Target’s trademark red bulls-eye at the entrance.

US Consumers Would Switch Online Stores before Switching Grocery Stores

In the retail business, loyalty is everything. Returning customers are the bread and butter of most businesses and you can’t afford to lose even one. Unfortunately for online shops, customer loyalty is iffy at best.

switching online retailers

The Nielsen Global Survey of Loyalty Sentiment report shows that online retailers come in last by a pretty wide margin.

They surveyed 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries across 16 categories and found that people were more likely to be loyal to brands / companies they use everyday such as banks, mobile phone service and cable providers.

I see it a different way. It’s not loyalty that keeps customers hanging on – it’s lack of options coupled with the hassle factor (not to be confused with the Hassle-hoff.) Changing your mobile phone provider often means paying a penalty for ending a contract early or losing upgrade benefits you’ve accrued over time.

Flipboard Embraces eCommerce with Catalogs For and By the People

br-catalog-coverFlipboard, the image-heavy, mobile news aggregator is encouraging readers to shop with a new “create your own catalog” tool.

To get you started, they’ve contracted with some heavy hitters to create catalogs of their own. InStyle, The Verge and Nylon Guys have created collections of their favorite things. You’ll also find curated catalogs from Chef Daniel Boulud (“Holiday Favorites”), designer Cynthia Rowley (“All Things Cynthia”), singer Sara Evans (“A Real Fine Place”) and actress Alyssa Milano (“Gifts for the Woman in Your Life”).

These catalogs are a mix of products from a variety of brands that fit into a theme. Then there are the brand specific catalogs from Banana Republic, Birchbox, eBay, Etsy, Fab, Levi’s and ModCloth.