Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘holiday shopping’ Category

Happy Thanksgiving Black Friday

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Well, it’s that time of year here in the U.S.

Time for giving thanks…briefly…before the real fun begins, shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and all points in between.

I’m only partially joking. For many retailers, this several day period can also be a time for giving thanks and making up for other soft periods throughout the year.

The good news, consumer confidence is high, the unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, and the Walmarts and Targets and Amazons and Apples and all the other retailers are ready to rock n roll for the full stop start of this year’s holiday shopping season.

My predictions for this year: I’ve learned not to get too far out over my skis on predictions, but I will say I believe mobile shopping (via tablets and smartphones) will continue to grow, more omnichannel opportunities will be taken advantage of so consumers don’t have to fight their way through crowded stores (i.e., buy online only to pick up at the store later), and based on my own personal experience these past few days, Roku and Amazon Fire streaming devices are in high demand.

As for my own shopping proclivities, I don’t have anything tech-related that’s trying to burn a hole in my pocket. I bought a used iPhone 7 Plus off Gazelle earlier this year, and a Google Pixelbook earlier in the year which I really, really like (yes, you can consider that an endorsement). And I’ve had my Air Pods for over a year now, and don’t know how I lived without them (another endorsement).

But if YOU are looking for some help with the holiday shopping onslaught, particularly as it relates to tech, I found the Wall Street Journal “Best Tech Gifts 2018” list helpful. I’ve also become a big fan of The New York Times Wirecutter reviews, and they, too, have a helpful shopping list for electronics and a whole host of other retail categories.

But for today, let us give thanks. For good friends, for family, for great food and abundance, and for each other. Sure, all this stuff can bring some joy to our lives, and I’m also thankful for the benefits technology provides.

Yet as we’ve surely witnessed over the past few years, any technology — including digital technology and social media — can be used for both good and ill.

On this day, the day of giving thanks, I’m going to choose to celebrate the good of those technologies and be thankful for how they keep me closer to my friends and family and enrich my life and theirs.

For despite all the negativity and division, we should step back and realize we live in amazing and wondrous times, with great possibilities and promise ahead, technologically and otherwise.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. And try not to stampede your fellow shoppers at the Walmart this year!

 

Written by turbotodd

November 22, 2018 at 10:51 am

Droning On A Bad Santa

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Trying to get ready for the holidays?

You’re not the only ones.

United Parcel Service and FedEx Corp. are having a hard time keeping up with holiday shipping volumes that have “blown past expectations,” writes The Wall Street Journal. And the delayed delivery of millions of orders could rapidly become the Cyber Grinch that stole this Christmas.

Meanwhile, back at the Santa’s workshop located in Cambridge, U.K., Amazon has apparently made its first customer delivery by drone. It’s cargo? Some popcorn and — of course — a Fire TV video-streaming device.

Also according to the Journal, the drone made the trip in about 13 minutes, well ahead of the promised 30 minute windows for its “Prime Air” drone delivery service.

“But can it keep the pizza warm for that duration?” we ask.

If you’re tired of waiting for the drones to arrive, perhaps you’d like to learn more about our coming machine overlords?

The New York Times Magazine goes deep and long on the “Google Brain,” and the advances the company has made with its neural network capabilities for human language translation.

Before you get too excited about all these machines doing all this learning, however, you might want to take a second look at your vendor’s privacy policy.

As an example, Evernote is slated to announce a new policy on January 23, writes TechCrunch, one that is expected to “let its machine learning algorithms crunch your data” and also “let some of its employees read your notes so it can ensure that the machine learning is functioning properly.”

But worry not, Evernote responds, they’ve got someone watching the watchers: “Evernote claims that only a limited number of employees who have undergone background checks will be able to access user data and that users can encrypt notes they consider sensitive to prevent employees from reading them.”

How reassuring! If only I had my smart Amazon drone that I could hire out to keep an eye out on all those Evernote monitors?!!!

Written by turbotodd

December 14, 2016 at 3:10 pm

(Not) Home For The Holidays

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I’m pretty happy I don’t have to travel today.  I’m going to wait until tomorrow, when all the turkeys have gotten off the road.

Of course, watch out for Wal-Mart and other big retail parking lots.  The consternation about having to work on Thanksgiving is pervasive, and I wouldn’t want to see any customers attempt to play Frogger in those big parking lots.  It’s dangerous enough just trying to get through the doors and into the store!

As always, my wise counsel is to shop from the comfort of your couch.

Walt Mossberg, the ever-dependable tech journalist with The Wall Street Journal, has written an article about “Making Sense of All the New Laptop Flavors.”

He goes on about the various flavors of Windows 8 PCs and tablets, before concluding that the “least costly Mac laptop” is the 11-inch MacBook Air, for $999.

I bought one just about a year ago, and I maintain it’s still the best, fastest, lightest, most dependable computer I’ve ever owned, and I’ve owned plenty.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have splurged for more SSD, but that’s it.

If you want to make sure your personal shopping engine is fully revved before Black Friday, Gizmodo’s providing its Ultimate Black Friday guide for geeks, grouping deals by category, and offering a list of when every retailer is slated to be open on Black Friday, just in case you prefer shopping in a mosh pit.

As for an update on my new Apple Mini-me “mini,” otherwise known as the 5th generation iPod touch, I can only say I have no buyer’s remorse, even now after having seen the iPad mini in the flesh.

The retina screen and the small form factor on the newest touch are working perfectly for me thus far. I bought a new “Need for Speed” racing game just to be able to check out the graphics in full force, and the retina screen is simply stunning (as are movies and Netflix streams). I’ve always read what a great gaming platform the touch is, but playing that racing game has cemented it.

Over the next several days, if you want to keep pace with IBM’s annual holiday campaign “Digital Analytics” benchmark, just follow IBM’s e-shopping analytics guru, @jay_henderson (a fellow Texan!).

Jay and his team will be working and posting reports throughout the weekend and into next week to keep us all informed how the holiday e-retail season is going. Jay’s already indicated we can expect to see growing numbers on the mobile and tablet shopping footprint this year.  You can read Jay’s holiday set up piece here.

That said, don’t ignore those retail emails piling up in your in-box — email continues to be the e-retail Trojan Horse, with lots of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals already being distributed. From Amazon to Golfsmith, I’ve received a number of holiday email deals, and it’s all I can do to keep my credit card filed away in my anti-scanning wallet!

If you’re looking for gainful employment this pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday, you might want to try somewhere other than LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s Website had a “service unavailable” message this morning, and TechCrunch has been reporting a LinkedIn site outage.

As for me, I’ll be (mostly) disappearing from the cyber maze over the course of the next week. It’s my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, and I’m taking them on a cruise in the Caribbean to celebrate. I may send a post or two via email if I’m so inspired, but mostly I’ll be spending some quality time with my parents and some extended family, and gazing out at the Gulf of Mexico in a pina colada-induced haze (virgin pina coladas, of course).

For all of my readers here in the United States, I wish you a very happy and restful holiday weekend. For those of you outside the U.S., enjoy the email and conference call silence from your U.S. colleagues…it won’t last long!

Holiday Shopping Chatter

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If you’re interested in gaining some insights into the upcoming holiday retail madness, you need to mark your calendar.

This coming Monday, November 19th, the IBM Smarter Commerce team, in partnership with Direct Marketing News, will host a Twitter chat.

Featuring IBM’s holiday retail analytics prognosticator, Jay Henderson, IBM’s Enterprise Marketing Management Global Strategy Program Director, and Richard Feinberg, Purdue University’s Professor of Consumer Sciences and Retailing, the Twitter Chat will be held Monday from 1:00-2:00 PM EST via the #smartershopping hash tag.

Allison Schiff, web editor for Direct Marketing news, will moderate from the @DMNews handle.

The topic? Key retail holiday trends, ranging from online sales to mobile and social trends, which Jay has already predicted will become even more dominant this holiday shopping season.

No need to line up outside your Apple store, or navigate the mobs at your local Wal-Mart.

Just open up your favorite Twitter client and follow the online retail mob into the far reaches of all things holiday shopping.

Jay’s already pulled out and dusted off his holiday shopping crystal ball in a post for the IBM “Building a Smarter Planet” blog.

In it, Jay posed some key questions we might just expect to get some answers for in the coming chat, such as whether or not mobile shoppers will continue take the lead this holiday season, and whether or not they’ll expand their use of social media.

Jay also mentioned that the latest IBM Retail Online Index for Q3 showed renewed growth with overall online sales increasing by 3.1 percent over the second quarter.

But to keep those numbers growing, Jay writes that consumers will expect personalized shopping and tailored promotions this holiday season, and those retailers “who can deliver an easy, integrated and personalized shopping experience both in-store and online” will be the ones who cash in on holiday cheer this year.

Follow the conversation Monday starting at 1:00 PM EST at #smartershopping

As a prelude, check out my interview with Jay at IBM’s recent Smarter Commerce Summit in Orlando, Florida, where Jay explained how marketing is in chaos and some of the course corrections retailers can make to adapt to this rapidly-changing consumer-centric world.

Showrooming With Santa

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ON the topic of Smarter Commerce, I’ve seen two stories today….count ’em, TWO…about the intent for numerous retailers promising to match online retail prices at brick-n-mortar stores during the coming holiday season.

Found that Tickle Me Elmo for ten whole cents cheaper at Amazon???…just step right on up the Target cash register, because the Price is Right!

One of the stories was in The Wall Street Journal, and claimed that over the past few days, Best Buy and Target both had said they would match the prices offered by the online sites of some rivals, including Wal-Mart and Amazon.

This in an effort to combat “showrooming” (bet you didn’t even know there was such a word!), whereby shoppers checking products in stores then buy them on competitor’s websites, presumably for lower prices.

But, as the story goes on to observe, there soon could be trouble at the register, as these new policies require shoppers to both ask for and PROVE the existence of lowered prices.

“Mommy, Mommy, I just found the latest Furby on Amazon.com for a whole fifty cents less!”

Now, excuse Mommy while she fumbles around in her purse for her smartphone!  Oh, never mind that line of people waiting around the store to pay full price for their Furbys!

You get the picture.

According to the Journal story, Best Buy’s going to go them one better, and provide their sales reps some discretion — if the SKU’s price is too low, you don’t get to go!…out the store with your Furby, that is.

All the more reason, I say, to stay in this holiday season, tablet or laptop in hand, with a nice warm cup of Egg Nog, and do ALL your holiday shopping from the comfort of your own home!

Written by turbotodd

October 18, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Santa’s Virtual Elves

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I’ll be jetting off to Singapore early in the A.M. for the IBM InterConnect event, where I’ll be both blogging and broadcasting (via LiveStream and YouTube), interviewing a variety of IBM execs, partners, and clients.

Tune your TweetDeck now to hashtag #ibminterconnect to keep track of the festivities.  The event officially kicks off next Tuesday, October 9th.

As I was scanning my newsfeeds to catch up on what I’ve been missing all day while preparing for all those interviews, I saw that Facebook reached 1 billion users, although some of their recent moves, including the alteration of their algorithm to minimize brand page posts being seen by those who have opted in to “liking” that page, may start sending those numbers due south.

I also discovered that Microsoft is slated to launch its new Surface tablet at midnight on October 26th.

Midnight?  Really??  You guys couldn’t come up with something more original than that? 12:15, maybe? Or 12:30, even?

Sorry, dudes, I’m all tabletted out, although I will be keeping an eye on the horizon to see what gives with the iPad Mini.

Speaking of holiday shopping, the National Retail Federation released some important holiday shopping forecasts earlier this week that bear sharing.

The NRF’s 2012 holiday forecast expects sales will increase this season by 4.1 percent ($586.1 billion), well above the 10-year holiday average, but behind the 2011 season of 5.6 percent.

To which I say, “Bah, Humbug.” I do most ALL my holiday shopping online, so I’ll be doing my personal best to get those numbers up.  And I expect to pick up a few IBM “Smarter Commerce” tricks of the trade at the sessions next week in Singapore, which I’ll share.

Although I am inclined to show up on Black Friday to run at Wal-Mart with the mortar shopping “bulls!” Nothing like a little full contact holiday shopping, taking down a few eager shoppers to grab that last “Tickle Me Elmo!”

Kidding!

All these holiday tidings come just ahead of today’s news by Thomson Reuters, which reported that back-to-school sales growth slowed in September after “a strong August,” according to The New York Times “Economy” section.

Little Johnny don’t need no more pencils, Mom.  Get in line and buy that kid a Nexus 7!

But the story doesn’t end there.

AlixPartners’ Joel Bines is also quoted in the story as saying this doesn’t necessarily bode badly for the holiday shopping season, as no “conclusive” ten-year correlation between back-to-school and holiday sales seems evident.

As for me, as I fly Eastward, I’m going to have to start giving some serious consideration to my own Christmas holiday shopping list for Santa.

Of course, I’ve been extremely bad this year, which is par for the course, but hey, it never hurts to ask!

Next stop, Singapore, where I hope NOT to participate in any caning demonstrations.

But keep an eye out on YouTube just in case.

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