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Digital Innovations Being Unwrapped for Holiday 2014

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 13, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 11, 2014

by Dwight D. Hill, McMillan Doolittle LLP

Another holiday season is upon us and seemingly for weeks now we have been seeing early hints of the season ahead with some retailers installing Christmas decorations, inventories are piling up, and some advertisements are shouting early "Black Friday" pricing.

The cottage industry of holiday sales predictions is also alive and well with sales estimates ranging from +4-5% depending on the source. Whether sales will grow at that healthy estimate is anyone's guess, but one thing is certain – retailers will be pulling out all the stops to grab their fair share of the consumer's wallet. In fact, some are launching innovative cross channel technologies to make it even easier for you to select the "checkout" button.

  1. Neiman Marcus: See Something You Like? Snap a Pic and You'll Find Something Similar at NM! NM has just launched an innovative tool within their iPhone app called Snap.Find.Shop. Wherever you are, if you see an item that you like (imagine a pair of shoes walking by) – simply snap a picture within the app and the photo recognition technology will search for similar items within Neiman's inventory, presenting them to you as options for purchase. How's that for a way to generate more loyalty!
  2. Kate Spade Saturday: Opening Pop Up "Vending Machines." Kate Spade Saturday has partnered with eBay to open up "vending machines" that offer a limited selection of apparel and accessories. In the Manhattan pilot market, customers can walk up to the "shop," make a selection, and their purchases will be delivered to any location of their choosing within one hour. An innovative way to grab a pick-up item while you're on the go!
  3. "Webrooming:" No Longer a Bad Thing? Webrooming, or the process of researching online and then picking up in store, has become a reality that retailers are now facing head-on. In store pick-up is quickly becoming a foundational principle within retail, allowing the customer to shop on her terms, when and how she desires. Inventory visibility is an obvious tie-in that must be in place to enable this process. Just a few of the retailers adopting this strategy include Macy's, Banana Republic, and The Gap. Once in store, customers, of course, are enticed by promotions and other fresh products that may just be too hard to resist, thus building a larger basket!

While cross channel innovations and digital technologies are advancing at a dizzying pace, one thing is certain – savvy retailers are focusing less on the technology simply for technology's sake, and more on how these tools can simplify and enable a better customer experience. Happy shopping this holiday season!

Dwight D. Hill, whose background includes leadership roles with Neiman Marcus and Deloitte LLP, is Partner, McMillan Doolittle LLP. Dwight can be reached at

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Tags:  Holiday 2014  Omni-Channel 

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