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Happy Friday, everyone! For many this week, #SXSW took over their schedules, with talks hosted by the likes of Refinery29, NastyGal and Rent the Runway, all ecommerce influencers and disrupters in their own right.

It’s likely, then, that you missed out on some of this week’s top ecommerce news, including how SXSW used beacon technology to activate push notifications (and what brands can learn from it), Google, Intel and TAG Heuer’s luxury Apple Watch competitor, and Starbucks’ new delivery service –– and why online retailers can expect an $18B boost thanks to delivery innovation.

Beacon Technology, Push Notifications Improve Attendee Experience at SXSW

SXSW may be almost over, but there is one lingering relic from the Austin, Texas-based event that is sure to impact retail in the coming years: iBeacons.

Beacon technology is already being used by the likes of Wal-Mart, Walgreens, American Eagle, Apple Stores, Macy’s and more to push relevant notifications to shoppers, often discount codes, promotions and other sales-related information as part of each brand’s marketing strategy. At this year’s SXSW, the festival took it a step further by deploying more than 1,000 beacons throughout downtown Austin in an attempt to create a more functional user-experience for attendees who download the SXSW Go app.

“SXSW is using beacons to propel smart networking by using proximity in a way that was not previously possible. Since SXSW takes place throughout the city, beacons are allowing us to use micro-locations and context in conjunction with attendee profiles to help people sync up in real-time,” said Scott Wilcox, SXSW director of technology.

According to Lance Ulanoff at Mashable, “In addition to notifications about who is, for example, lining up to hear Al Gore speak and easily finding all the social conversations revolving around the session, SXSW Go uses the iBeacon technology to help attendees easily network.

If you opt in to being visible (it’s very easy to opt out), other attendees can see where you are in the convention hall, you can see interesting people near you and attendees can even message each other with the app’s built-in messaging platform.”

Up until now, beacon technology has received the most buzz within the retail space, essentially providing brick-and-mortar stores ecommerce-like customer tracking. Now, it looks like the events industry is also taking advantage of the new technology and providing use cases relevant to retailers looking to bridge the gap between their physical and digital offerings.

Google, Intel and TAG Heuer Partner on Apple Watch Competitor

The $10,000 Apple Watch may have been the talk of the internet last week, but competitor Google isn’t sitting silently on the sidelines. The tech giant is partnering with Intel and LVMH, Inc. watch company TAG Heuer to produce a luxury smartwatch marketable to the same high-end consumer segment.

The announcement came on Thursday at the Baselworld watch expo, where LVMH watches chief Jean-Claude Biver said this was his “biggest announcement ever” in his 40 years of working in the industry.

David Singleton, the head of Android Wear development for Google, added: “When I think about the watch, it’s always been a marriage of beauty and utility. We’re going to do that with our partnership.”

Experts predict this watch will “increase the cake” for the entire smartwatch industry, the market of which is expected to rise to 28.1 million units this year, from 4.6 million in 2014.

Starbucks Plans to Launch Delivery Service

Starbucks has announced plans to begin a delivery service in Seattle and to workers within the Empire State Building in New York City. The delivery service will begin some time in 2015 and users will be able to use the Starbucks app to follow the status of their drink, much like the highly-regarded Dominos delivery app.

This news hits during a time in which many retailers are looking for innovations in delivery. Amazon and Alibaba are testing delivery via drone and services like Instacart and Uber are offering delivery services for online orders of everything from retail goods to groceries.

Indeed, unique delivery experiences have quickly become ecommerce’s darling disruptor for 2015.

“Retailers have paid lip-service to the idea that the customer is king, or queen, for many years; but today they really are,” says David Jinks, spokesperson for Fastlane International. “No longer do companies decide how much stock might be available in any store, or how many days it might take to deliver. We were in a push-economy, with manufacturers and retailers calling the shots. Now we’re in a pull-economy: customers are in the driving seat, and are deciding exactly when and where they want their products.”

In all, research shows that improved delivery service could potentially increase online sales by $18B, and that’s great news for all online retailers.

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Photo: FlickrNicola

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