Can Digital Save Retail?

This post originally appeared in our July '13 issue of “Live Report from the Future of Marketing,” our monthly Post-Advertising newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

My wife and I have a baby on the way. Literally any day now he or she (we don’t know which) could arrive. We’re as excited and terrified as all first-time parents are, fully aware that our lives will utterly change but unaware of exactly how. 

I’ve depended on my wife to lead me through these past nine months. Go to this doctor’s appointment. Paint the nursery. Install this light. However, as a bit of a techie, there were a few things I was excited about, and I was giddy to be given the reigns to buy our first high-end camera.


Adopt or Die: The Anxiety of Checking In on Foursquare

I’m a social media early adopter. I should be, considering I write for a digital content marketing agency’s blog. I post photos on Instagram, share thought nuggets and articles on Twitter, argue on Facebook, capture looping slices of life on Vine (and now Instagram Video) and check-in using geolocation apps.

The manner in which I, along with millions of others, experience and share life’s moments is decidedly different from the way we did a mere decade ago. But that’s the way life goes, and technology is changing how we live on a daily basis.

However, if my recent trip to a local restaurant is any indication, merchants aren’t getting the message. Many of them are so slow to adapt that a simple redemption of a Foursquare perk can turn into a confusing, annoying, anxiety ridden encounter, inevitably resulting in customers being afraid to embrace the technologies intended to create a better, more rewarding experience. 


How Not to Be Creepy When It Comes to Personalized Web Banners

Reason #348 why Zappos is awesome: honesty in advertising! Lately, I’ve seen more members of my social circle raise their eyebrows over hyper-targeted web ads — the kind that give real-estate to a product or product category you may have just been looking at, or a website where you bought something. There’s the creepy and unexplained stuff that feels like it's stalking you, and then there’s Zappos.

The Opposite of Product Placement

We know that putting a product in the hands of someone the masses adore can do wonders for sales. Perfectly logical. Putting a product in the hands of someone the masses detest could therefore potentially hurt sales. Perfectly Logical. But! Can putting a competitor’s product in the hands of someone the masses don’t trust help your sales? That is some next-level double-reverse marketing trickery right there.

The Bullet-hard Nipples of Hollister’s Immersive Retail Experience

The advent of online retail has forced brands to take a good, long look at the in-person shopping experiences they offer. One of the best ways to woo pavement-pounding customers is with in-store experiences and offerings that go way beyond the merchandise. One need only look at the velvet rope and the long lines outside of the Abercrombie & Fitch store on Fifth avenue in Manhattan to see that this strategy can work very well. But are chiseled, shirtless men enough to bring in these crowds? I've always wondered. Is it the aura of exclusivity and luxury that these shirtless men convey? Thankfully, an essay in the newest issue of The Believer sheds some light on this kind of "Immersive Retail Experience," examining the Hollister clothing brand phenomenon. From what I gather, the Hollister store has everything you could want out of a shopping experience: half naked dudes with enviable pecks, music that's almost too loud for comfort, and of course, that inimitable SoCal vibe. Wait, I can get all of that on the internet. Or can I?

Buying the Consumers’ Tastes

The fashionistas at ModCloth recently stitched together a new feature for the company’s online store that gets customers in on the clothing-selection process, ultimately letting consumer sentiment influence the e-retailer’s style direction. It’s a pretty well-made plan.