Increase in Holiday Retail Sales

Retail sales in December went up by 3 percent with U.S. consumers spending $579.8 Billion during the past holiday season. However, the National Retail Federation said that this was below its projected 4.1 percent increase. The federation also reported an increase in non-store retail sales that grew by just over 11 percent, although this figure was also slightly below expectations. NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said these numbers show that the fiscal cliff and economic uncertainty "had a visible impact on consumer spending this holiday season."

Among the retail categories that enjoyed an increase were clothing and clothing accessories, health and personal items, and furniture and home furnishings. However, electronics and appliance stores saw their sales go down by 0.6 percent


QR Codes Popular Among Young People

A survey by Pitney Bowes found that 27 percent of consumers aged 18 to 24 in North America and Europe reported using QR codes. An average of 15 percent of consumers across all age groups said they use the two-dimensional codes, the survey among 5,000 consumers found.


Poor Marketing Correspondence Yields Negative Consumer Sentiment

According to an online YouGov survey commissioned by Emailvision, poor email marketing correspondence can negatively impact consumer sentiment. The study, which surveyed 2,001 adults, highlights that 75 percent of respondents would resent a brand after being bombarded by emails, while 71 percent said unsolicited messages as a reason to become resentful.


Technology Developments


Unicorn Media Launches Technology for Video Publishers

Internet video solutions company Unicorn Media launched new technology that combines the advantages of a comprehensive server-side solution with a rich user experience for clients. The innovation will enable publishers to deliver interactive ad capabilities and a rich user experience from the client side. The technology also provides new monetization opportunities through expanded ad units and pay-per-click models.


Benbria Introduces BlazeLoop Mobile Customer Engagement Solution

This week, Benbria introduced BlazeLoop, its Mobile Customer Engagement solution, during the National Retail Federation's Big Show. The solution, which helps retailers to increase in-store sales conversion rates, captures and acts upon customer input at the decisive moment in the shopping experience by using an array of mobile and in-store technologies. Customers are then able to create a "loop" that captures and directs real-time customer input to frontline staff so they may connect with customers to quickly and efficiently complete the transaction.


Digital Play Solution Brings Retailers Clo

ser to Consumers

Startacache launched an interactive solution that empowers customer to become more involved in the shopping experience. The Digital Play solution, which displays high-definition, interactive product and brand messages programmed to respond when a consumer interacts with sales and marketing content via motion-based gestures, launched at this week's Retail's Big Show. The new display allows customers to wave their hands or stomp their feet to see product promotions, allowing consumers to interact with signage.


Lavi Industries Launches Single-line Queuing Solution

In a bid to reduce checkout wait times and improve customer satisfaction, Lavi Industries has launched Qtrac CF, which aims to help retailers streamline their checkout process. The wireless solution allows checkout agents to instantly alert the next waiting customer and guide them to an open counter through both audio and LCD displays. Apart from cutting down on customer wait times, the solution aims to eliminate costly agent downtime.


New Fujitsu Products Improve In-Store Customer Experience

Electronics giant Fujitsu announced a number of new products that aim to improve the customer experience by making in-store interactions easier. Tapping into consumers' comfort using smartphones, Fujitsu launched the U-Shop Mobile Application, which allows the consumer to scan an item and immediately putting it in his bag as soon as he takes it off the shelf. The system will then create a QR code for the entire bill at the consumer can scan at the counter to pay, thus making the shopping process more efficient and reducing the extra handling of items.

Consumers can also enter preferences for each store on the mobile app, for example their loyalty number, and scan it automatically at checkout, making the experience more efficient.

The company also launched queuing system Quantun Go, which guides consumers to the next appropriate checkout location to eliminate the possibility of customers waiting in the wrong queue. A complimentary solution, Quantun Commerce, helps retailers communicate with customers while they're waiting in line to get to the checkout counter.

Fujitsu's U-Scan Quantum Checkout allows consumers to choose between full service and self checkout at any lane within the store. In fact, consumers who opt for self-service can switch to full service if they find problems checking themselves out, and vice versa. The design of the new checkout counters allows agents to take over from a consumer at the click of a button without needing to turn the counter.


Managed PCI Compliance Solution Announced

Earthlink will be launching a new Payment Card Industry compliance solution, complete with the validation tools needed to assist retailers meet security criteria. Earthlink will also be providing validation services needed by retailers to achieve PCI compliance. The solution aims to minimize the cost and time for retailers to recover from a breach of their cardholder data environment. It also provides monetary protection to cover the costs of a forensic audit, replacing the credit cards of affected customers, costs of PCI fines, and assessments.


Reevoo Unveils Real-Time Social Analytics Solution

Reevoo, a social business solution provider, has introduced Reevoo Insight, a real-time social analytics solution that empowers customer-centric decision-making and strategy development across the organization. Reevoo Insight delivers actionable information to decision-makers, including real-time insights that can help them determine which products, features, and service elements drive customer satisfaction and sales; key drivers behind changes in Net Promoter Score, customers' reaction to specific marketing campaigns; and the ability to detect the reasons behind churn for specific customer segments. Reevoo Insights also enables business leaders to understand the factors that make customers passionate about certain brands, identify top influencers across categories, and to flag dissatisfied customers and the factors behind their discontent.


Infor to Release Interaction Advisor on Salesforce Platform

Infor has announced that Interaction Advisor will be available on the Salesforce Platform, a cloud-based platform which supports mobile and social business apps, by January 31. Interaction Advisor is an advanced decision engine which uses a combination of historical, personal, and contextual data to create real-time customer profiles that users can leverage to predict customers' future preferences and behavior. By combining real-time predictive analytics and cross-channel business rules, Interaction Advisor delivers high-impact offers at the moment of interaction between businesses and customers. By using closed-loop response tracking, the application measures each interaction result and adapts to improve effectiveness before the next interaction.


Opterus Releases Latest Version of Store Ops-Center

Opterus Inc. announced the release of Store Ops-Center (SOC) Version 13.1. While the platform typically offers cloud store communications and task management solutions, the latest version offers a user interface optimized for mobile devices, as well as a certification module that allows retailers to create certification programs such as on-boarding, management, product and skills training, enabling an always-connected, highly engaged workforce.


Visual IQ Announces Two New Features for its IQ Intelligence Suite

Visual IQ announced the addition of two new features to its IQ Intelligence Suite, the company's modular marketing attribution solutions. These features enable brands and their agencies to better target data and recommendations according the clients' business-specific needs. The DimensionFlex feature allows marketers to view data on their own terms, configure exported and reported data, and maintain a copy of all source data. The ScenarioFlex feature allows marketers to eliminate building separate media plans, build attribution-informed media plans, and optimize media spend.


Industry Updates

Voxeo Renames VoiceObjects Platform, Launches New Website for Customer Service Professionals

Voxeo announced that it has renamed its flagship VoiceObjects customer experience platform to Voxeo CXP, which better reflects the long-time integrated capabilities of the suite beyond just voice interactions. Voxeo has also launched a completely re-designed website to complement the name change and to better serve the needs of its clients and customer service professionals across all industries.

Constant Contact Announces SinglePlatform Partnership with Four New Publishers

SinglePlatform, a division of Constant Contact®, Inc., announced that The Washington Post, WhitePages, Infogroup, and Acxiom Corporation have all joined SinglePlatform's publishing partner network. The solution provides small businesses with a single place to update their critical business information and delivers that information across its publishing partner network, as well as the business's social media profiles, website, and mobile site.