Posting is paused here, please visit CreativeHouston.org

Creative Houston is a new venture for me, an effort to build a business that could support the development of Houston as a magnet for talent and a creative hotbed for the arts, technology, and entrepreneurship. 

Please visit the BETA web site at www.CreativeHouston.org, and check out LetsLaunch.com to see our crowdfunding campaign. 

We mean to be a data driven company, monitoring the way creative professionals view and appreciate the opportunities and resources in Houston. Our current campaign is to raise money for the foundational research we need to focus our efforts as we build the company. 

Creative Houston is a Texas-organized public benefit corporation, which means that we will provide annual reports on how we're contributing to the economic well-being of the city and its creative population. 

At Let's Launch, please purchase one or more shares in the company to support creative professionals, the city of Houston, and everyone whose hard work and ingenuity will make this a better place for all of us to live. 

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Upgrading Retail with Digital Access

We're rapidly approaching the moment when every retailer has to have a mobile app to serve his physical spaces. Retailers without a mobile app will be 'disabled' and at a significant disadvantage. 

Sailthru: 4 Ways Retailers Use Digital Technology to Improve the Brick‑and‑Mortar Experience, 2019-May by Mike O'Brien

When Sailthru surveyed more than 2,000 American and British consumers, we found that most of them didn’t notice or care about the absence of stores like Sears, Toys”R”Us or House of Fraser. However, we also found that people generally prefer shopping in brick-and-mortar stores.

The catch is that consumers favor physical stores that are enhanced by technology. Using digital data to bring personalized customer experiences is challenging, but plenty of retailers are bridging the gap between on- and offline with technology such as beacons, in-store navigation and connected loyalty programs.... 

Frank And Oak, a smaller men’s retailer, shows how a more human touch can be applied to beacon technologies. When a high-ranking member of the store’s loyalty program walks into a Frank And Oak store, their mobile app, combined with a beacon, alerts a staff member to offer the customer a freshly brewed cup of coffee. 

Here is Sailthru's list of retail outlets where we can see these technologies: 

  • Beacons (some still in test): Walmasrt Nordstrom, Target
  • Loyalty: Abercrombie & Fitch, DSW
  • In-store navigation: Home Depot, Lowe's
  • Mobile payment: Macy's, Nike, Starbucks

How Fanatics is outmaneuvering Amazon: the fan of fans

Shopping at Amazon seems emotionless to me. We can shop where enthusiasm thrives. Who needs creepy customer stalkers when you could have someone make something special for you? 

Quartz: You might not have heard of Fanatics yet—but it’s taking over sports apparel one league at a time, 2019-Apr-25 by Mike Murphy

In the mid-1990s, you probably would not have noticed Fanatics, even if you lived near one of its handful of Florida mall locations. The stores, called Football Fanatics at the time, looked like any other sports memorabilia outfit. But if you’ve purchased any fan apparel online or at a major US sporting event in the past few years, chances are you’ve spent money with the modern Fanatics. Through a combination of technology, partnerships, and manufacturing, the company has muscled its way into the extremely competitive and unpredictable sports-apparel market. Fanatics is now valued at $4.5 billion, and took on a $1 billion investment from Japanese tech giant SoftBank and others in 2017. Most important, it may have found a way to guard its business against the ever-present threat of Amazon.

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Its new loyalty program is rewarding Starbucks, which is becoming a mobile-focused business

For Starbucks, managing growth is becoming a matter of their loyalty program. New stores will continue to be necessary, but profitability will be driven by customers using their mobile app. Not only are those customers rewarded, they are measured, tested and tracked in a way that retailers haven't known before. In the future, rents will still be paid, but managing a successful retail business will be more about a company's ability to leverage mobile-based relationships. 

The Motley Fool: How Important Is Starbucks' Loyalty Program?, 2019-May-5 by Daniel B. Kline

The program has grown steadily for two reasons. First, it's tied to the company's app, which has a mobile order and pay function that allows customers to skip the line in stores. Second, it offers real value beyond just the rewards you can earn, including access to events like Happy Hours (discounts for certain drinks on some afternoons), days where you can earn double "stars" (rewards points), and other special offers.

For consumers, it makes sense to join Starbucks Rewards because the app makes it easier to place and receive an order in a timely fashion. CEO Kevin Johnson gave an update on the program's growth during the company's second-quarter earnings call.

"With respect to driving digital relationships, we are pleased with the continued momentum of our Starbucks Rewards program," he said. "In the second quarter, we expanded our active member base by half a million customers, a 13% increase that takes active Rewards membership to 16.8 million."

Mobile Marketer: Starbucks boosts loyalty membership by 13% following switch to spend-based program, 2019-Apr-29 by Robert Williams

At the end of last year, Starbucks revamped its loyalty program, moving away from frequency-based rewards to spend-based ones, Group President John Culver said during the call. Since the change, the chain's 90-day active membership has increased 25% year-over year. "We now have 8.3 million active 90-day members, and that is a significant step change in terms of the growth rate from what we've seen previously in the program," Culver stated.... 

By switching the focus of the loyalty program from frequency of visits to how customers spend, Starbucks is attempting to broaden the appeal of the loyalty program beyond it most loyal customers with the expectation that once consumers become loyalty members, they will visit more regularly to earn rewards. The growth in Starbucks' rewards program also underscores the importance of mobile in helping to solidify its relationships with key customers who are most likely to visit its stores. 

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Pivoting to "between-purchase" loyalty with Ford

The car manufacturers have for years focused on creating and manufacturing cars that generate loyal repurchase. Now Ford has come to the realization that it needs to maintain a connection between purchases. One of the keys to a continuous positive experience is figuring out how to make service calls, handled by Ford dealers, more integrated with with the rest of the customer journey. 

The Detroit News: Ford rolls out rewards, moves to boost 'customer experience', 2019-May-02 by Ian Thibodeau

The automaker on Thursday announced a string of "customer experience" pushes under Elena Ford, the company's chief customer experience officer. They include a new rewards program through the FordPass smartphone app, a new call center in Houston focused on servicing truck customers, and pilot projects for vehicle service house-calls and early lease-renewal programs.

"We have good loyalty, but we need more," Elena Ford said. "We want customers to keep coming back. We benchmarked the best companies, and we said this is the way we want to go."

She and her team spent months meeting with executives at companies like Apple, Delta Airlines and Marriott International to rethink how the carmaker could give customers better reasons to use the FordPass app that was introduced nearly three years ago. The company also compared its dealerships and experience centers to those at Apple.

The customer-experience team is focused mainly on making people feel good about owning a Ford product. The new loyalty program would allow app users to rack up points for scheduling vehicle service through their dealer. In return, the points can be used toward oil changes and other regular maintenance, or saved to be used toward a new lease.

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