Posted by Barry Silverstein on November 16, 2011 01:58 PM
Two years ago, we reported that the Salvation Army, a charitable brand best known for its red kettles and bell ringers that appear outside stores during the holiday shopping season, was implementing credit card processing in 120 U.S. cities. The reason? Shoppers just didn't seem to carry much disposable cash around anymore.
The experiment was a bold one for an organization that started 150 years ago. Truth be told, it wasn't a smashing success. Major George Hood of the Salvation Army tells the New York Times, "The credit card terminals really haven't been a blockbuster, I'll be candid. The winter elements have been a negative, people have to go through a process of entering data, and it's just generally more cumbersome."
But that isn't stopping the Salvation Army from keeping up with the times. During this year's holiday shopping season, the kettles will be ever-present, but the Salvation Army hopes to cash in on a new idea — a variation on accepting credit cards that should make it much easier for the consumer.
In ten locations in Chicago, Dallas, New York, and San Francisco, Salvation Army bell ringers will be equipped with Android smartphones, donated by Sprint Nextel, that have a kind of micro-terminal attached to them powered by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey's Square.
Consumers simply swipe their debit or credit card through Square and their donation of any amount they choose goes to the Salvation Army. The tiny reader is portable and allows secure transactions, just like any retail credit card terminal. As the Salvation Army noted in a blog post, "With more families in need of Salvation Army services this year than ever before, we hope implementing this new technology will provide ease and incentive for new and existing donors."Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 16, 2011 01:04 PM
A year ago, we published a story ("Nook vs. Kindle: The e-Reader Battle Joined") that outlined the battle between the e-readers by Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Today, that battle is a full-fledged war.
B&N wants you to curl up with a nice comfy e-reader — the newest version of the Nook, which is being released Nov. 18th, even as research shows consumers grappling how they’re going to afford gift-giving this holiday season. Amazon's Kindle Fire went on sale ahead of schedule this past Monday to get a jump on the holiday-shopping season.
As USA Today's Ed Baig writes, "There may be no bigger slugfest than what is taking place this week in 7-inch touch-screen tablets as the Kindle Fire from Amazon goes toe-to-toe with the Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble."Continue reading...
Posted by Shirley Brady on November 16, 2011 11:13 AM
Audi, in addition to launching its holiday sales promotion above, has released a sneak peek at the 2013 A4, the A3 e-tron and a very clever iPad app — check them out below.Continue reading...
Posted by Barry Silverstein on November 16, 2011 09:55 AM
Retailers always approach the holiday shopping season with a mixture of cautious optimism and trepidation. While this year will be no different, at least one market survey suggests American retailers may be able to breathe a small sigh of relief.
That's because American consumers will spend, on average, 17 percent more money than last year. Americans will spend an average of $831 on gifts this holiday season, $121 more than last year, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker report.
But consumers will also be shopping smarter, taking advantage of strategies that will save them money. Pre-holiday shopping is expected to increase by 37 percent over last year. That's one reason Walmart is aggressively promoting its layaway program and pitching a "Christmas Price Guarantee."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 15, 2011 06:01 PM
With flood waters in Thailand still afflicting its global supply chain, what Honda could use right now is some distractions. How about its own sense of humor — and some exciting future products?
OK. Honda and its Acura luxury brand are certainly coming through with the former, launching seasonal advertising campaigns to promote their holiday-incentive programs. Happy Honda Days here back again, delivering fine shots of irreverence just as Americans might be ready for such a 'tude, bracing for the holiday commercial avalanche.
For instance, "Elves are shoddy craftsmen," intones the Honda brand's dry-humored new spokesman, actor Patrick Warburton, in one new spot, clad in a festive red cardigan. By contrast, he says, Honda vehicles are made by "real human beings, with a dedication to quality."
And just to make sure the Yuletide-flouting point isn't lost, he adds: "You don't build the most durable, longest-lasting line of cars in their class with weak little elf hands."Continue reading...
Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 15, 2011 03:01 PM
John Deere, best known for its agricultural machinery and iconic slogan, "Nothing Runs Like a Deere," has just leaped like a deer into social media with the “Can Do” Project.
The brand is constructing a combine out of cans, using upwards of 300,000 cans of food and replicating a full-sized S-690 Combine, the world’s most powerful combine that can harvest over 350 acres of grain a day.
The cans are being collected via a Facebook drive with support from Hy-Vee Food Stores, and the completed sculpture will be 60 feet wide, 80 feet long and 16 feet tall weighing about 170 tons and exhibited at the John Deere Pavilion in downtown Moline, Illinois.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 15, 2011 02:02 PM
Starbucks just lost a small source of income, thanks to a chance purchase this August by Barbara Anthony, who happens to be the undersecretary of consumer affairs for the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.
Anthony purchased a partial bag of coffee beans at a Starbucks and was dismayed to find that she was charged an extra $1.50 that wasn’t mentioned in the store itself or on her receipt, the Associated Press reports. So her office got to work and discovered that this wasn’t an isolated incident. It was happening across Massachusetts. Anthony asked friends and relatives to inquire about the surcharge in other states; sure enough, it was lurking elsewhere, too.
“People have the right to know how much they are paying for a commodity,” Anthony told the AP. As a result, the state of Massachusetts fined Starbucks $1,575 for overcharge violations at five stores, prompting Starbucks to abolish the practice nationwide on Nov. 7.
The Seattle-based coffee company justified the surcharge was “to cover the extra labor and packaging” involved when employees need to break open the presealed one-pound bags and measure out a lesser amount for consumers. The decision to stop dinging customers comes as the coffee giant rolls out its new holiday campaign.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 15, 2011 11:01 AM
Just what America needs: Along with our pumpkin pie and cranberries at Thanksgiving, trystophan-induced naps and too much football, now folks can start shopping before the last leftover stuffing is consumed as a midnight snack. This year, sales-starved merchants hope to lure bargain-hunting shoppers from the boredom induced by too much home, hearth and family by throwing open their doors before the clock strikes midnight.
But there does seem to be increasing resistance to the idea of a Black Thursday and shopping on Thanksgiving as an appetizer to Black Friday, the day after Thanskgiving that is traditionally one of the biggest shopping days in the U.S.
From Target employees to a mini-resistance movement that has been gaining voice in social media, it may be that we're not quite ready to give up Thanksgiving night just to get door-buster deals a few hours earlier than the early-morning openings on Friday that have sufficed until now.
Reportedly, more than 9,000 Target employees have signed a petition asking the chain's headquarters to wait until 5 a.m. on Black Friday to open the stores instead of the currently planned midnight opening. "We don't mind hard work, but cutting into our holidays is a step too far," the creator of the petition, a Target employee in Nebraska, told CBS.Continue reading...