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CORE Hydration launches organic low-calorie beverage line

BY Gina Acosta

LOS ANGELES — The makers of a premium bottled water line are rolling out an innovation in the low-calorie, fruit-infused beverage category.

CORE Nutrition is launching CORE Organic, a USDA Certified Organic fruit-infused beverage with antioxidants and only 5 calories per serving.  With CORE Organic, the company says it is tapping into America's growing demand for organics, a market estimated at $40 billion that grew by 11% in 2014, according to Mintel. Additionally, 85%  of Americans are currently buying organic and 75% of conventional grocery stores are carrying organic products nationwide.

"Organic is one of the hottest trends, but it's not enough on its own," said Lance Collins, CEO and founder of CORE Nutrition. "No one has been able to crack the code and deliver on all three attributes of organic, low calorie and great taste. So we set out to quench consumers' thirst and deliver a revolutionary new product. Eighteen months later, we're introducing CORE Organic, making organic enjoyable without the tradeoffs of taste or higher calories and so far the reception from retailers, distributors and consumers has been extremely positive."

CORE Organic offers six unique flavors that will please any palate and craving: Peach Mango, Watermelon Lemonade, Pomegranate Blue Acai, Orange Clementine, Coconut Colada and Orchard Pear.

As with its sexy sister beverage CORE Hydration, CORE Organic is offered in a proprietary contoured wide mouth bottle with a signature fade label. The full beverage line is currently available for purchase at retailers in major cities on the west and east coasts, and retails for $2.49 for an 18-ounce bottle.

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SkinnyPop unveils dark chocolate and jalapeño popcorn

BY Gina Acosta

AUSTIN — Consumers looking for healthier snacks are getting some new options from SkinnyPop.

The brand is introducing Dusted Dark Chocolate and Jalapeño. These two new flavors join SkinnyPop's existing portfolio of four popular flavors, including Original, White Cheddar, Sea Salt & Pepper and Naturally Sweet. 

"We're excited to roll out these two new special flavors, particularly since they will really 'pop' among the ready-to-eat popcorn category," said Amplify Snack Brands president and CEO, Tom Ennis. "Dusted Dark Chocolate and Jalapeño complement our entire SkinnyPop portfolio nicely, now offering fans an indulgent sweet flavor and subtle spicy kick."

SkinnyPop says Dusted Dark Chocolate presents a perfect balance of light yet dark, sweet yet salty, and Jalapeño appeals to fans looking to add a hint of spicy to their better-for-you snacking choices. Both new flavors are available in 4.4 oz. bags at retailers nationwide.
 

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Facebook wants to support your customer engagement

BY Dan Berthiaume

Retailers have long been interacting with customers via Facebook, but the social network is making a big push to become a full-fledged CRM platform.

Among the announcements Facebook made at its F8 developers conference this week was a beta release of its Messenger chat platform with bots and a new Send/Receive application programming interface (API).

The new chatbots can automatically perform customer engagement activities such as sending receipts and shipping notifications, as well as live automated messages. The Messenger Send / Receive API will support sending and receiving text, as well as images and interactive rich bubbles.

Facebook also says that its new Messenger capabilities can be integrated with its artificial intelligence-based “M” personal assistant, opening the potential for fully automated and intelligent customer service.

Facebook’s rationale for retailers using Messenger as a CRM platform is simple – Messenger has more than 900 million users and consumers are increasingly resistant to downloading multiple apps from individual companies. Staples and 1-800-Flowers have both already announced new Messneger-based customer interaction features that illustrate how retailers can leverage the newly upgraded app.

Mobile Staples customers who have signed up for Messenger will have the ability to chat with sales specialists and customer service to get shopping assistance and post-sales support, with quick responses to their questions. Customers will also be able to opt-in to receive personalized updates, like order confirmation and shipment notifications, directly in Messenger.

With Staples on Messenger, all customers’ interactions and order information will be in one place, and they can ask questions or make necessary changes with their interactions being handled by Staples’ chat team. The features are only available on Staples’ mobile website to begin with, but will be rolled out to tablet and desktop users in the coming months.

“We see Messenger as another extension of our omnichannel offering, letting businesses leverage the power of our e-commerce, social media and customer service capabilities to have the best shopping experience possible,” said Faisal Masud, executive VP, global e-commerce, Staples.

And 1-800-Flowers.com will blend bot and live customer service support on Messenger to serve as "gift concierges" and answer natural language questions, make gifting suggestions, process orders, send shipping updates, and provide other information such as gift reminders.

"Our customer experience is our best product and we are excited to team with Facebook to offer bots for Messenger, ultimately taking our customer experience to a new level," said Chris McCann, president, 1-800-Flowers.com.

In addition, e-commerce platform BigCommerce is partnering with Facebook to make it easier for BigCommerce retailers to promote their products via the social network.

The new Facebook Shop feature is now available for all BigCommerce merchants.Shop is an enhancement to a business’s Facebook page that allows them to merchandise and showcase their products directly on pages.

Through the integration, retailers can select products within their BigCommerce store to send to the Facebook Merchant Area, and from there create product collections they want to feature in their Facebook Shop section. When a Facebook user sees a product they like in the Shop section, they can click on it and be directed to the product page on the merchant’s site to complete the purchase or continue exploring other products.

“Social commerce is helping retailers translate engagement into revenue, which is a great opportunity in the fast-moving retail industry,” said Tim Schulz, chief product officer at BigCommerce. “Consumers spend a considerable amount of time browsing and interacting with social networks, and now retailers have an organic path for shoppers to visit their stores.”

Earlier this week, Facebook said it is now allowing retailers and other marketers to work with media companies, celebrities and other key “influencers” to place certain types of branded content on its platform.

The company is expanding its usefulness as a retailing platform as it undergoes broader efforts to expand beyond a social network into a more of a Google-style “home base” for consumer Internet activities.

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