​The Britton Digital Update—Week of November 6, 2017

​Five minutes to get you up to speed on this week’s digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news

If you said to me that the big day is almost here, I’d respond by telling you that you’re already too late. The big day—meaning Black Friday—may still be a few weeks off, but whether you are a shopper or a retailer, you may be missing out. The biggest retailers are already vying for their share of the pie. Target, Best Buy, and even Amazon are driving early spending with heavy discounts. This is great if you are a shopper, but it’s bad news if you are a retailer and still figuring out your holiday marketing.

So why are retailers so far ahead of the Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) sales? In a nutshell, it’s because shoppers won’t spend until they see discounts. According to research from Finder.com, “117 million American adults (47.8%) have deferred dropping dollars on clothing, electronics, major appliances and furniture in anticipation for the release of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.” If the deals start early, maybe the spending will too.

There is one thing that has the potential to influence holiday shopping: identity theft. We’ve had many large-scale security breaches—from Yahoo to Equifax—come to light this year, affecting a significant portion of American shoppers. Retail TouchPoints reported recently that 75 percent of shoppers “say identity theft is a major holiday concern.” A significant portion of shoppers—84 percent—say a breach would alter their shopping behavior with an affected retailer. Honestly, though, I’m pretty skeptical that shoppers’ fear of identity theft is enough to overcome the lure of a good deal.

The good news is that whether you are a retailer or a shopper, you have more time to grab the best deals. You can stay up-to-date on the latest digital, business, social media, entertainment, and marketing news in just five minutes with the Britton Digital Update. ’Tis the season for retail, after all, so we hope you enjoy this week’s retail theme.

All Eyes on Amazon

We start with Amazon because, well, most shoppers will, too. According to FierceRetail, 40 percent of shoppers surveyed said “they will make half their purchases on Amazon’s site.” That’s staggering. Amazon knows it has a prime opportunity, and it is making moves to take advantage. Digiday reported that “55 percent of online shoppers start product searches on Amazon.” The e-commerce giant not only wants you to buy the products, but it also wants to charge brands to get in front of shoppers when they search for products on its site. Amazon’s marketing services recently launched a beta test for a new self-serve ad platform that works with product searches. Google’s ears may have just perked up.

Amazon also continues to branch out into private-label brands so that it can grab an even larger share of revenue. It recently launched two lines—Rivet and Stone & Beam—into the in-home furniture category. Amazon also is branching out into activewear—with new Rebel Canyon and Peak Velocity labels—to compete with Nike and Lululemon.

In addition to early Black Friday deals, Amazon is even cutting prices on the items it isn’t selling you. The Amazon Marketplace allows third-party sellers to offer new or used products on the Amazon platform. This week, it began discounting some of the items on the marketplace by as much as 9 percent. While Amazon is actually making up the difference to the third-party sellers, it is also making sure that shoppers know who is footing the discount by placing this message on sale items: “This item is sold by a third-party seller. The discount is provided by Amazon.” Why is Amazon so aggressive on these items? In 2016, Retail Dive reported that half of all merchandise sold on Amazon comes from its marketplace of third-party sellers.

Keep the Receipt

The week started with some talk of big-time brands—ones with enough bucks for a big-time purchase—also in the shopping mood. On the tech side, Broadcom (a chipmaker) made an unsolicited offer to buy rival Qualcomm. The $130 billion proposed deal would have made Broadcom the third-largest chipmaker behind Intel and Samsung. Barron’s reported that many analysts believe the deal will eventually be rejected.

Another brand in a spending mood is Disney. Its target? 21st Century Fox. The two brands were in talks to potentially have Disney purchase the Fox movie and television production-studio assets, along with some of its cable networks, like FX and National Geographic. The deal would not have included the Fox broadcast network or Fox News (the latter doesn’t necessarily fit the Mickey Mouse brand). The potential $40 billion deal sounds like it may not become, as the kids say, “Facebook official.

Customer Service

Facebook announced what has the potential to be a game changer in the world of online customer service. It announced a Messenger website plug-in that lets visitors begin a live chat with a human or bot directly on that specific website through Messenger.

Facebook has been pushing bots toward brands since 2016. It is relatively inexpensive and easy to create a bot for your brand to answer frequently asked questions, schedule appointments, or give an update on an order status. However, this was always in addition to whatever platform was used on a brand’s website. With this plug-in, tools and points of communication can be minimized. Plus, many businesses owners or brand managers can continue that conversation, if needed, on their smartphone through Messenger, even if they are on the go.

The plug-in is called Customer Chat and has the potential to make a significant impact for Facebook when it comes to bots and making Messenger the go-to platform for business communication with customers. Customer Chat is currently in closed beta testing.

This plug-in paired well with the earlier announcement that Facebook is opening up sponsored messages in Messenger to more businesses. The sponsored messages will differ from ads within Messenger, in that they will not be marked as sponsored and they can be sent only to users “who previously chatted with that business’ Facebook Messenger bot or account.”

Product (Re)Development

There’s no disputing that Instagram’s stealing Snapchat’s Stories feature pretty much wiped out any momentum that Snapchat had gained. The other shoe fell this week when Snapchat announced its third-quarter earnings and that it only increased 4.5 million new daily active users (compared to 100 million new users that Instagram saw in the past two quarters). This, in addition to a $40 million charge for unsold Snap Spectacles, was enough to take a look at what might be slowing down user growth.

Snapchat had thrived on its hard-to-use interface. Younger demographics loved it because it kept older demographics from adopting the platform. CEO Evan Spiegel said an app redesign is in the works and admitted, “One thing we have heard over the years is that Snapchat is difficult to understand or hard to use, and our team has been working on responding to this feedback.” Business Insider reported that the redesign includes an algorithmic “feed” of public influencer and publisher videos in a separate section of private messages from friends. Details are still sketchy, but the redesign could be deployed as soon as December 4.

Post-launch Party?

A big product release, like for the iPhone X, or redesign, like for Snapchat, could call for some celebrating. If that celebration starts at a restaurant, Google wants to help you pick it out. Google announced a new feature coming soon to Google Search and Maps that shows users restaurant or business wait times.

TechCrunch explained that Google leverages “aggregated and anonymized data from users who opted in to Google Location History—the same data that powers popular times, wait times and visit duration.” If there’s one thing that Google gets, it’s data. More than a million restaurants worldwide will potentially see the new feature. Eventually, Google plans to expand the busy and wait-time data to also include grocery stores.

For the rest of the news this past week, here’s a compilation of the best news stories that we don’t have time to expound upon but that you should probably take notice of:

If you liked this, check out our previous Digital Update posts or the Digital Update on Flipboard.

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Photos: BMDG

Dave Goode

Dave Goode

My name is Dave B. Goode (yes, it is my real name). If it sounds like a radio name, it is—well, it was. I had a 22-year radio-broadcasting career as a brand manager and morning-show host. I’m an amateur photographer. I love to cook. I am obsessed with social media. I have come to the realization that Chia Pet seeds do not work on a human head and that it is OK to be bald.

Meet Dave Goode