The latest news in the world of customer experience and customer loyalty.
 
Lowe’s Goes High-Tech with AR App That Virtually Places Items in Your Home
OK, raise your hand if this conversation has ever taken place in your house: “The couch will look good right there. Wait, no, maybe it would look better over here. No, perhaps if we moved it over there on an angle.” Let’s see, that would be just about everybody. Well, in the name of loyalty and preventing back injuries, home improvement giant Lowe’s has come up with a solution. It now has an augmented reality app that allows customers to use their phones to virtually place an item from the Lowe’s website anywhere in their house. Lowe’s estimates more than $70 billion in home improvement projects stall out because of visualization errors or lack of design help. Consumers also take weeks when considering big-ticket items such as patio furniture or grills. Sounds great. The only problem: Sorry iPhone users, it only works on Android phones.
 
Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group Creates Its First Loyalty Program
Even luxury likes loyalty. Just don’t ask for points or a free night, at least at luxury hotel Mandarin Oriental. The brand, which operates 28 ultra-luxury hotels around the world and doesn’t have allied partnerships with other brands, finally joined the loyalty movement earlier this month, creating the first loyalty program in its 55-year history. Known as “Fans of M.O.,” the program simply offers guests the choice of two of the following perks: Early check-in; Late check-out; Daily breakfast; Dining or spa credit; Room upgrade; Streaming Wi-Fi; Celebratory Treat; Pressing Services. And, really, if you’re able to afford to stay at an M.O.—rates for a suite in Boston range from $1,000 a night for a Junior Suite to $11,600 a night for the Presidential Suite—what’s more enticing: points or a free room upgrade?
 
Apple HomePod Hits Market and Market Hits Back
Apple has suddenly found itself in a place it hasn’t been since its early days of battling Microsoft for the PC market: behind the curve. After breaking barriers and creating new technological markets with the iPod, iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch, the tech giant suddenly looks pedestrian with its HomePod smart speaker. After numerous delays that held up its release until January—four years behind Amazon’s Echo, which is already on its second generation and made the faceless Alexa a commercial-worthy personality—sales of the HomePod have fizzled against expectations. Apparently, people aren’t buying—literally—its better sound quality or its $349 price tag. After just one quarter, Apple lowered sales forecasts and cut some orders from one of its manufacturers, according to a story in AdAge. It had the same issue with its $1,000 iPhone X, perhaps proving that brand loyalty—and Apple fans are loyal as they come—has its limits.

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