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Amazon partners with Twitter for easy shopping

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Amazon has entered into a partnership with Twitter whereby Twitter users can link their accounts to an Amazon account, and add items to the shopping cart by responding to any tweet with an Amazon product link that has the hashtag #AmazonCart.

In order to take advantage of the service, customers have to connect their Amazon account to their Twitter account, which they can do via Amazon.com/AmazonCart.

Customers never leave the Twitter feed, and the product is waiting for them when they head over to Amazon. However, the tweet only adds the item to your cart. The shopper still needs to go to Amazon later to check out and pay for the product.

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NHS takeaways: In mobile marketing, loyalty lists are key

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Las Vegas — Weathering the storm of the digital revolution has been a major focal point here at the National Hardware Show thus far, where opting out is hardly on the table. Especially driving this point home were FunMobility’s Pat Murphy; Linda Roark of Pete’s Ace Hardware in Castro, California; and Jodie Larson of Brentwood Ace Hardware.

In a seminar titled "Using Mobile to Drive Real Business Results," the three discussed their own successes with FunMobility’s mobile marketing campaign and the importance of the smartphone in today’s retail landscape.

"Sending emails doesn’t count," said Murphy. "We’re not talking about a mobile app today. You don’t need a mobile app."

Roark, whose average basket size increased by 411% after her first mobile coupon campaign, stressed that marketing to consumers on their cellphones is worth the time and investment, even if one is merely targeting the same set of customers who already shop at one’s store.

The panel also discussed the many things that set mobile apart from other technologies — such as the unusually quick rate at which it was adopted, and that people handle their phones on an average of 150 to 200 times a day. Two-thirds of consumers own smartphones today — that’s a jump of 44% since 2011. Additionally, 97% of mobile messages are read, versus 20% of emails. Most — 84% — of customers use their devices during a shopping trip, and 22% send more as a result.

In an aging industry, especially, Roark discussed the importance of capturing younger customers.

"I had to find that younger consumer and get them walking through the doors of my store," she said. "It’s like a paper coupon, but it’s always with you on your mobile device. So I don’t have customers any longer saying, ‘Oh, I left my coupon at home.’ "

Among the most important bits of advice? Build a mobile opt-in loyalty list. As Murphy explained, customers typically only join one list per vertical, and it’s worthwhile to be the first hardware store in town asking customers to join. 

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NHS kicks off with a word to the Amazon-wise

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Las Vegas — Keynote speaker Mark Herbek, of Cleveland Research Company, took the NRHA stage here at the National Hardware Show just moments after the grand-opening ceremony concluded. His message to the home improvement industry: Get on board with e-commerce. And the sooner, the better.

In a presentation titled "Preparing For and Participating in the Accelerating E-Commerce Shift — What it Takes to Win," Herbek went over the facts and figures related to the economic downturn and spelled out the rapidly increasing opportunities presented by online shopping.

"Home prices were increasing 10% to 15% annually in the early 2000s," he said. "You all remember the days of redoing your kitchen every four to five years."

Unfortunately, the economy has yet to bounce back to these levels, he explained. The year 2014 is the first where there’ll be a deficit in the supply of homes, and the industry is still an average of 25% below peak in many key categories.

However, 2013 was a strong year for the economy in several respects, and Herbek remains optimistic due to home prices being up and strong sustained demand in warm-weather regions. The year 2013 also saw the strongest annual growth in comps since 2005 for both Home Depot and Lowe’s.

Couple that with the fact that cumulative mall traffic is down nearly 20% since 2000, and that $30 billion of retail sales moved online in 2013 alone, and that some companies are moving as much as 70% of their digital ad budget to mobile (up from 30% the prior year) — that’s a recipe for change. The $300 billion building products industry currently makes 4% of its sales online — but that number is rapidly moving to 19%, he said. Building products e-commerce growth is expected to outpace other key consumer categories this year, especially in the cabinets, countertops, fashion plumbing, appliances, hardware and tools categories.

With 30% of product searches beginning on Amazon (compared with 13% for search engines), the retail behemoth has lessons to be drawn from. Of note are its fulfillment centers located within 50 miles of 19 of the top 50 markets, said Herbek. Additionally, industry pros have their eye on AmazonSupply, the B2B business launched in April 2012 with over 1 million SKUs to date. However, customer resistance to change and high loyalty to local businesses has prevented Amazon from fully taking over in this space, where customer service and knowledge are key.

In order to best prepare for the shift, retailers, distributors and suppliers will have to contend with changes in their marketing spend, store closures, fewer footsteps, major changes in distribution and supply change and upgrades to software and technology — and not cling too tightly to the shore.

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