Every Time The App Dings, My Credit Card Sprouts Wings

ImageWith the plethora of emails I receive on a daily basis, I never paid much attention to my invitations to Zulily. The concept was strange to me. Why did I need to be invited to shop this website with the obscure name? What are events? It all seemed a bit peculiar and quite frankly a bit too complicated for my busy lifestyle. I work full time, am enrolled in grad school, and I have an active family. I want – I need – shopping to be easy and Zulily seemed to make me think too hard.

These Boots Were Made For Walking … Eventually

After some time the frequent emails and attractive deals got the better of me and I took the plunge and bought some boots. But, satisfaction (and the fundamentals of Zulily’s business model) still eluded me as it seemed to take a L-O-N-G time for those boots to arrive on my doorstep. What I didn’t fully realize and what you may not know if you haven’t shopped Zulily before is that they don’t run a storage warehouse. For their flow through business, they don’t place a bulk order for something until its event (otherwise known as sale) ends and they know how many people have ordered it. Then they receive in the merchandise, process it for shipping, and send it on its merry way. From a business sense it is a very interesting concept, but frustrating for someone who wants to wear her new boots right away!

ImageIn Through The App Door

After that lackluster experience with my boots, I wasn’t sure I was sold on Zulily. My opinion changed along with the balance on my credit card the day I downloaded the Zulily app on my iPad. Now THIS was the easy shopping I was waiting for! While I still have to wait longer than industry standard to receive my shipments, everything else was so easy and so alluring that I don’t think I ever made it to the mall this holiday season. Just what makes the Zulily app so smart?

Let’s Start From The Very Beginning

In the beginning there were the emails, inviting me to shop, reminding me to shop, and sharing sweet deals. After I downloaded the app, I still receive the emails, but in addition my iPad and iPhone send me the friendly little *ding* reminding me that it’s time to shop Zulily. As someone who lives by my Outlook message reminders telling me where to be at what time, this simple little audible and visual reminder is embedded into my psyche as a necessary task rather than an email I can overlook. Then once I’ve opened the app, Imageit is very easy to navigate the events that are available on that particular day. If I’m tempted enough to add an item to my cart, the app has already stored all of my billing and shipping information so I don’t have to enter it again. Lastly, once I’ve made the commitment for one item I’m informed that I can continue shopping on that same order until midnight and only pay one shipping fee. Easy peasy lemon squeezy and all I have to do is wait for the packages to arrive.

The Price of Convenience? About $5 Billion

While there is certainly more to Zulily than its app, providing an easy to use mobile commerce site absolutely helped push Zulily into a very successful IPO last November Imagewhere they raised about $140 million for a current market value of about $5 billion. They also announced plans earlier this year for a new fulfillment center, double in size of their current Nevada facility. Bringing shopping to the busy consumer in an interesting, and easy to navigate way certainly converted me. Oops, gotta go, it’s time to shop Zulily!

Want to learn more about Zulily? Check out these links and let me know what you think!

http://www.zulily.com/?ref=logo&ns=ns_801397681|1392606460506

http://investor.zulily.com/releasedetail.cfm?releaseid=798231

http://www.geekwire.com/2014/fast-growing-zulily-inks-lease-huge-fulfillment-center-48-acres-nevada/

http://www.babble.com/mom/top-50-iphone-apps-for-moms/shopping-zulily/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/katieroof/2013/10/08/zulily-reveals-ipo-plans/

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Retail Today: Not Your Mama’s Mom & Pop Shop

Information Superhighway – The Road Frequently Traveled

The landscape is changing for the traditional brick and mortar retail store. The consumer has limited time to spend shopping and a growing appetite for saving. With greater frequency, consumers are turning to online retailers for everything from apparel to toys and household goods. Independent shopkeepers need to differentiate themselves and play upon their strengths while embracing current media trends in order to remain relevant in today’s marketplace. The good news is that many social media tools allow them to do just that.

Shoptalk

One of the reasons a customer chooses to shop in a brick and mortar retailer is for the social interaction. Stores are places to meet and mingle, to shop with friends and speak with knowledgeable sales staff about a myriad of things. Talk to anyone who works in retail and they’ll tell you that their customers are not simply buying merchandise; they are participating in a social gathering of sorts. (When a shopkeeper hangs out her shingle, it may as well say “Retail Therapy” beneath the name of the store.) When the online world is the mall of choice, the only space to get this type of interaction is on social media platforms.

Another Brick in the Facebook Wall

That’s where Facebook, the biggest online community of them all, comes in. Facebook allows the retailer to play upon its strengths and engage with the valentine's daycustomer in a helpful and dynamic way. And customers can share experiences with one another and ask questions at a time that fits their schedule from the comfort of their own couch. Thus the Facebook wall becomes the gateway to a dynamic social gathering where the retailer is providing the venue and the doors are open all night. For a great example of a retailer hosting an engaged party on their Facebook wall, check out https://www.facebook.com/TheYankeeCandleCompany where fans have created a virtual community around the bond of scented candles.

Very Pinteresting

new pinterestRemember pouring over catalogs, circling things you wanted and folding ears out of the corners of the pages for easy reference? Welcome to the virtual world of catalogs, called Pinterest. Pinterest is a great vehicle for retailers to inspire their customers and prospect for new ones. They can set up a page of their own with boards and pins sharing all that is new and different and unique about their brand. Understanding the power of the pin and drawing in nearly 5 million followers on the site, retail giant Nordstrom is leveraging Pinterest not only to share their images but to “listen” to what their customers want and create in store displays accordingly (http://www.businessinsider.com/nordstroms-pinterest-in-stores-plan-2013-11). Check out their page here and I bet you’ll hang out longer than you ever thought you would: http://www.pinterest.com/nordstrom/.

Every Picture Tells A Story

When you want to share who you are and where you’ve been and even how your kids have grown, you take out a photo album. Retailers who want to reveal a bit more about their brand’s personality do the same through the social media channel Instagram. Instagram allows retailers to weave a story through behind the scenes images that allow true fans or new converts to get to know them a bit better. Instagram is also a great way to let your customers share your story too. Retailers can invite customers to take photos in their store, upload them to Instagram with a unique hashtag and they’ll become unpaid brand ambassadors. One retailer who really has a handle on Instagram is Victoria’s Secret. They share images of their products as well as behind-the-lace looks at photo shoots and a model’s life. Check them out for yourself here: http://instagram.com/victoriassecret#

Who are your favorite retailers and do you follow them on social media?

Posted in Life, Retail, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

All’s Share in Love & Tweets

When my daughter was 5, Barack Obama was elected president and his popularity was largely attributed to success with the emerging world of social media. I knew then that if I didn’t keep up with this rapidly evolving online world, before long my young kindergartener and her friends would be speaking a language I didn’t understand on a medium exclusive to them. So I did what any young mother would do, I opened up a Facebook account. Facebook opened up the intriguing world of social media and from there I joined the ranks of Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest. While each channel is unique in its delivery, just like a web all are interconnected and together they serve a common purpose: to share and share alike.

Hit the TweetDeck!

 Image

While Facebook is still my channel of choice – I liken it to a cocktail party where I can catch up with all my friends and family – I find Twitter somewhat addicting! If Facebook is the way to keep in touch with people I know, Twitter is the channel to use when you want to be on the pulse of everything you care about. Whether you travel and need real time information from the airline, want to listen in on celebrity Tweets, appreciate music and want to cast your vote for The Voice, or you’d like access to breaking news right now, Twitter is a fast and furious stream of information. Because of its speed and because my schedule doesn’t always let me pay close attention to it, I use TweetDeck. TweetDeck is a great tool that lets me do everything I can on Twitter PLUS I can do things like continually search a particular hashtag or other user, schedule my own Tweets, and keep tabs on what’s trending all from one easy to use dashboard.

Itty Bit.ly Teeny Weeny

Not sold on Twitter because you don’t know how to be smart and witty in less than 140 characters? Bitly might just help you open the door to the Twitterverse. Bitly is a cool tool that takes any link you’d like to share and makes it a shrinky dink without having to put it in the oven! It’s free and it’s easy and it not only shortens any link, but through your account you can keep track of your links and see how often they are shared after you Tweet. Because in social media, sharing is caring and quantity counts!

Just Like Ice Cream – Scoop.It!

Through a friend I’m following on Twitter, I’ve just discovered a new (to me) social media tool and I can’t wait to learn more about it. Scoop.It! allows you to curate blogs and articles from the internet and capture them under a specific topic heading much like sections of a newspaper. From there you can easily share the articles through any of your social media accounts from Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn and Pinterest. I’ve just started to use Scoop.It! by gathering web links highlighting my hometown. I’ll share my scoops through this blog so we can track my progress together!

That’ll Learn Ya!

Want to learn more? Here are links to great tips about social media tools from some very savvy people:

http://socialmediatoday.com/chad-egeland/1735096/awesome-social-media-tools-you-should-try-out

http://iag.me/socialmedia/tools/10-must-have-social-media-tools-for-small-businesses/

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/45-social-media-tools-and-tips/

http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-tools/the-39-social-media-tools-ill-use-today/

Do you Tweet, Blog, or Scoop? What’s your go-to social media tool? Leave a reply or Tweet me – I’d love to learn what works for you!

Posted in Education, Life, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments