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Target is the latest retailer to ease mask requirements

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Target on Monday became the latest large retailer to drop its mask mandate for many customers.

In a press release, the store said it would no longer require fully-vaccinated customers or employees to continue to wear masks or face coverings. The rule will remain in place at stores where masks are still required by local ordinances.

“Face coverings will continue to be strongly recommended for guests and team members who are not fully vaccinated and we’ll continue our increased safety and cleaning measures, including social distancing, throughout our stores,” Target said in its statement.

Target is following in the footsteps of other large retailers who made similar announcements late last week.

Trader Joe’s became the first major retailer to drop its indoor mask requirement for fully vaccinated customers.

In an update on its COVID-19 page, the grocery store said Friday that they “encourage customers to follow the guidance of health officials, including, as appropriate, CDC guidelines that advise customers who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear masks while shopping.”

Walmart announced Friday that fully vaccinated workers and customers do not have to wear a mask if they are fully vaccinated.

Costco also announced on Friday that members and guests who are fully vaccinated could enter a Costco without a mask or face shield if their state or local jurisdiction does not have a mask mandate.

In states where there is a mask mandate, Costco said they “will follow the state or local regulations and continue to require members and guests to wear a face mask or face shield.”

The grocery chain Publix announced Friday evening that masks will no longer be required for fully vaccinated customers or employees starting Saturday.

The new policies were announced after the CDC said on Thursday that fully vaccinated people at least two weeks removed from their final dose could safely return to most activities without the use of masks or social distancing.

The CDC says those who are not yet fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks and social distance.

This content was originally published here.

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Could WhatsApp Be the Next Big E-commerce Channel? – Later Blog

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If you think WhatsApp is solely for casual chats with friends, think again. 

WhatsApp for business is gaining serious traction — over 175 million people message a WhatsApp Business account every day. 

During Facebook’s annual F8 Refresh conference, WhatsApp’s Head of Business Products, Ajit Varma, shared how the platform is evolving as a customer service and sales tool. 

In this blog post, we’ll cover how WhatsApp for business works and how you can use it to drive e-commerce sales.

How Does WhatsApp for Business Work? 

WhatsApp is a messenger tool that is primarily used for friends and family chats.

However, WhatsApp can also be used for business. 

With the WhatsApp for Business API, brands can use WhatsApp as a home for customer service chats, timely notifications, and product recommendations.

Source: WhatsApp

As the app is comfortable and familiar for most users, it’s an easy platform to reach and engage with customers. 

With the WhatsApp for Business API, brands can benefit from automated responses to common queries (much like Facebook Messenger chat bots) and provide customer service at scale.

Plus, the evolution of WhatsApp Pay — an in-chat payment feature that allows users to make transactions — opens up a whole host of opportunities for integrated e-commerce on the platform. 

For example, when a user contacts a business to ask about a certain product or service, brands can provide recommendations on WhatsApp. 

With WhatsApp Pay, users could soon buy a product directly within the app — streamlining the end-to-end purchasing process.

Want to find out more about how social commerce is evolving? Check out this blog post: How Social Media Is Changing the Online Shopping Experience

Facebook F8 2021: New WhatsApp Business Features

During Facebook’s annual F8 conference, WhatsApp’s Head of Business Products, Ajit Varma, announced some major updates to the WhatsApp Business API:

Timely Notifications

Businesses will soon be able to send timely notifications and updates to customers on WhatsApp, “to let people know when an item is back in stock, for example.” 

Source: F8 Refresh 2021

These could also be informational updates, reminders to book an appointment, or the latest product deals.

New Message Formats

Varma also shared plans to introduce new messaging formats to help businesses streamline conversations, resolve issues, and drive conversions.

The first of which is list messages, which lets brands present a menu of up to 10 options for customers to choose from.

Source: F8 Refresh 2021

This means customers no longer need to type out a response, significantly lowering the barrier to entry.  

Next up, reply buttons — a new format that allows people to make a selection from up to three options in one quick tap. 

Source: F8 Refresh 2021

Brands can customize their list and reply options via their WhatsApp Business API account. 

Add to Cart 

Perhaps most notably, Varma shared some major e-commerce additions to the WhatsApp Business API. 

Customers will now be able to “Add to Cart” within WhatsApp — and could soon be able to make payments directly within the app. 

Source: F8 Refresh 2021

“We’re building new tools to allow the end-to-end commerce journey to happen in WhatsApp,” said Varma. “These features will provide a richer shopping experience.”

“In the future, our goal is to bring payments to our business products,” he added. 

Block/Report a Business

Alongside an influx of new features, Varma shared that the company is exploring ways to moderate how businesses operate on WhatsApp.

In addition to limiting how many messages a brand can send and monitoring “value” metrics, WhatsApp is also introducing ways for users to block or report a business.

Source: F8 Refresh 2021

Users will be able to provide a reason for their decision, which WhatsApp will share as feedback to businesses, Varma explained.

These new features make the WhatsApp Business API a compelling choice for brands looking to evolve their customer experience.

“We’re building a platform which enables you to be creative and come up with ideas that fit well into conversions and plug into WhatsApp’s massive reach,” shared Varma. 

“There will be very successful companies built entirely on WhatsApp.”

Stay up to date with all the latest social media news, events, and strategy tips. Sign up to Later’s free weekly newsletter today:

Jillian is Later’s Editor. A go-to expert in social media strategy and content marketing, she has worked in both London and New York. Next up? Lisbon and Paris! You can reach out to her on Instagram here: @jillwrren.

This content was originally published here.

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Ben Affleck May Be Ring Shopping For Jennifer Lopez in the Very Near Future

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Ben Affleck May Be Ring Shopping For Jennifer Lopez in the Very Near Future

Could wedding bells be in the air? Bennifer is back and heating up faster than ever. These two have seriously wasted no time jumping in right where they left off. Their magical kiss at dinner, intimate Miami vacation, and introductions to each other’s families are just a few of our favorite highlights from the couple so far. We have a feeling these two are in it for the long run this time around and honestly, we couldn’t be more excited. The pair, who broke off their engagement nearly two decades ago, could in fact be getting engaged again — or so a new report suggests.

According to Mirror, an insider told Closer Magazine that Affleck is ready to marry Lopez. “Ben wants to give long-lasting love another shot and is planning a romantic proposal on the singer’s 52nd birthday,” the source claims.

We’re looking back on Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez‘s best moments as a couple amid news of their Montana reunion. https://t.co/lbDCNNYsxz

— SheKnows (@SheKnows) May 10, 2021

If this actually happens, we will be seriously ecstatic. It feels like everyone is rooting for Bennifer to thrive and we’re so glad to see Lopez smitten with Affleck after the year she’s had. We can only imagine just how difficult going through a public breakup is, especially when it involves cheating allegations to do with your fiancé.

If this planned engagement is true, we cannot wait to see what ring Affleck picks out for Lopez. Who knows? Maybe they’ve already gone ring shopping. All we know is that we are totally loving these two together and we cannot wait for more updates. We will be anxiously awaiting an announcement on Lopez’s birthday — fingers crossed it’s true!

Before you go, click here to see celebrity couples who famously broke up and got back together.

This content was originally published here.

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Bailey Nurseries Hires Brand and Business Development Manager – Lawn & Garden Retailer

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Bailey Nurseries announced it has hired Layci Gragnani as brand and business development manager. Gragnani has over a decade of industry experience in  public relations, sales, marketing, and brand management, most recently at Star Roses and Plants

“Endless Summer Hydrangeas, First Editions Shrubs & Trees, and Easy Elegance Roses have continuously worked to break new ground through innovation, partnerships, and a commitment to bringing outstanding hydrangeas, shrubs, trees, and roses to the world,” said Alec Charais, chief marketing and product development officer. “I could not be more excited for that work to continue with Layci leading the charge. Layci is an experienced marketer with an exceptional business sense and track record. She understands that success is measured by that of all partners from the breeder, grower, retail and landscape, and ultimately the consumer. We are thrilled to add her talents to the Bailey team and know it will be success that will be shared  by everyone.” 

In her new role, Gragnani will oversee the strategic direction and drive the supply chain for the introduction of proprietary genetics into Bailey’s consumer brands. Working with the product development, marketing, and sales teams, Gragnani will drive brand awareness and sales through Bailey Nurseries and its brand licensees.  

“Bailey Nurseries is well known in horticulture for their marketing and consumer product excellence, and I am beyond excited to be part of this team,” Gragnani said. “Their work has been instrumental in brand  development for our industry, and I look forward to taking them to new and exciting levels!” 

Gragnani begins in her role effective immediately and can be reached at [email protected]

This content was originally published here.

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