Friday, May 2, 2014

18 questions that retail marketers are asking themselves!

The fact that the retail-marketing ecosystem has been in a constant state of flux over the past few years is as well-known one. As the landscape evolves, every retailer is faced with a few critical questions that she needs to answer as they approach about leveraging data and technology for deeper customer engagement and targeted marketing.

Not all questions will be applicable to all marketers, but let us see how many of these apply to you. Of course, let us know what you think of the answers from the perspective of your specific retail organization - we're all ears!
  1. Is there a seamless way to collect customer data across our brick and mortar stores, without spending too much time, without appearing intrusive and in a quick and hassle-free manner?
  2. Am I keeping pace with my consumers? - How am I engaging with them on Social Media and leveraging Facebook check-ins, etc. inside the store?
  3. Can I connect my online and offline store worlds and see a Single View of the Customer, across channels? - That WILL help me deliver a truly omni-channel experience. 
  4. Is it possible to see how stores are performing on important parameters like New Customer registrations, Loyalty Sales, Customer Churn?
  5. Do we have a New Joinee Program? And do we run a Churn-prevention Program? What if I could have a "process" around these activities and reduce the dependency on Store Systems, Store Ops and Regional Managers to deploy them?
  6. What is the "richness" of the current Customer Data? How can I capture, augment and enrich our Customer Data for more efficient targeting and higher rates of Contactability, and in the process, reduce my campaign spends/spam rates?
  7. If a merchandise is not available at a particular store, do I have the necessary process and systems to drive that sale online, such as not to lose that customer/transaction?
  8. With the "connected" consumer always willing to "find out and do more research" am I doing enough about cross-channel threats like Showrooming (Research Offline, Purchase Online) and Webrooming (Research Online, Purchase Offline)?
  9. Is our Campaign Management process long and tedious to the point of us having to "shelve" certain campaign ideas merely because its a lot of "effort" to move data across platforms?
  10. Is my Email Service Provider seamlessly integrated with data from an integrated Marketing Data Warehouse that connects all sources of Customer Data at one single place?
  11. Do all my POS terminals remain perfectly synchronized with regard to my customer data, as well as with our eCommerce website?
  12. Am I empowering the store associate with intelligence that is available to me at the corporate office? Wouldn't it be great if the stores had access the all customer-centric information (like notes, brand/size/colour/category preferences), so that conversations with customers were more meaningful?
  13. Am I leveraging location-based technologies to tap into prospective customers and using these methodologies to drive footfalls into my stores? Is Foursquare anywhere on my roadmap?
  14. How can I intercept customers? Are our store-fronts truly "new-age" - Is there a need to deploy digital signages and leveraging real-time touchpoint-enabling technologies like Beacons, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and WiFi?
  15. Do we give out Promo Codes or Offers to customers and enable them to use it across our store and online worlds? Do we have a centralized coupon/offer management system?
  16. If my customer data is consistent across platform, my loyalty program should be integrated too - Do we ave the same earn/burn rules across channels to ensure a consistent customer engagement experience?
  17. Am I leveraging detailed line-item/SKU data to identify the most appropriate, relevant and personalized cross-sell and up-sell opportunities for customers? Is there a process around it, or is some of it being done ad-hoc occasionally?
  18. How would be if we had a Referral Program that was fully integrated with our CRM and Loyalty Programs? - Would our truly engaged customers love recommending our products and services to their friends?
While most retail marketers would have pondered over at least some of these questions, deploying all of them in a structured manner is often easier said than done. The larger your retail set-up, the more considerations. Is your Marketing team well-staffed to take care of all these items, or would it help if a chunk of these could be "automated" via a platform or deployed on the same, with "managed services"?

If you are a mid-sized retailer working on some (or many)) of these initiatives, chances are that you are already working with a bunch of different vendors and service providers. How would it be if most of these services/processes were consolidated on a single platform, or at least a "fewer" number of platforms to reduce your vendor management bandwidth?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

#NRF14: In-Store Technologies - The Toast at the BIG Show of Retail

At the NRF's BIG Show in 2014, the buzz was palpable. With 30,000+ attendees, 500 exhibtors and almost all the "biggies" that operate in the space, this show was quite grand. And it was in its 103rd annual edition. At Capillary, we had a great outing - with quite a bit of engagement around our booth at the EXPO.

From a broader industry perspective, the message was loud and clear: The retail industry was upbeat, excited and buzzing with activity around disruptive technologies. While there was a lot going on around concepts such as "omni-channel", "analytics", I found that one set of technologies was really the talk of the town at #NRF14 - "In-Store". From virtual fitting/trial rooms, to in-store location-based targeting and analytics to contact-less payments, anything in-store is definitely "in". A host of solutions talked about price and product displays on shelves, as well as the more customer-centric in-store disruptions like location-tracking and even eye tracking technologies.

While the line between each of these can often get blurred with overlapping capabilities, here are the 4 broad categories within which these can be analyzed:
  1. InStore Engagement/Clienteling
  2. Shopper Tracking
  3. Innovations in Payments
  4. Digital Displays & Others
Over the next few days, I will cover each of these 4 areas one-by-one - highlighting at least 3 new companies that have innovated in the space, as seen at #NRF14. The idea is not to re-iterate what has already been mentioned in head-line grabbing press-releases, but rather to highlight how the disruption is different and why I am choosing to speak about them on RetailNeo.

Oh, and for those who missed out Jack Dorsey's keynote on "The Power of Receipt in Retail", check out the video - this was certainly, my most vivid memory of #NRF14, since the rest of the time I was at the Capillary booth at the Expo, or occasioanlly walking the show floor! :)

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Can't wait for NRF's BIG Show 2014!

A retail show celebrating its 103rd edition by itself makes it an interesting show to attend. And when it has pretty much every who's-who in the world of retail is present, the crossroads can be interesting.

I kept a close watch on BIG Show 2013, I had written a short post last year on my TalkingTails blog about the themes that dominated conversations at NRF 2013. Among the key themes of interest were Omni-Channel Retailing, Personalization and how retailers are tackling showrooming. For details, I would recommend checking out Retail TouchPoints's coverage of NRF Big Show 2013.

According to me, the dominant themes this time will be very similar - and of course, very centred around using Technology well. The sessions along with the EXPO are things that I am getting geared up for. We've taken a booth space at Big Show 14, so I am going to be on the floor with the rest of Capillary Technologies' team. Come visit us in the Sponsor Area!

Was happy to download the BIG Show 2014 App to help navigate and keep track of everything that's going on! Let me leave you with a short video that captures the show in a nutshell:

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The case for the Chief Customer Officer: 3 reasons why

The debate for the need of a Chief Customer Officer has been around for a while now. While some organizations have such a position in place, there is very little published evidence on how these roles tie into the larger organization. There are 3 clear reasons why such a position becomes a necessity:

  1. - Firstly, the CMO and CIO are at loggerheads, and need to talk more often. Marketing has been increasingly investing heavily in technology. Gartner made a prediction last year that CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs by 2017. Industry Gurus have time and again stated that Marketing and IT have no choice but to get on the same page.While that is definitely the ideal scenario, it is harder to achieve in an organizational setup, simply because of the way the 2 KPIs are structured. While "Marketing" owns the brand and business growth, "IT" handles the task of keeping the business running optimally, and keeping costs low. The Chief Customer Officer, in many organizations, has begun to drive the "Customer" mandate and fill the gaps that often overlap these two functions.
  2. - Second, Marketing needs to reduce operational dependency on IT - for everything from the mundane to the extraordinary. In my conversations with retail marketers, I often get the sense that sometimes even basic reporting requirements from marketing can be in a "queue" of requests for IT/Systems, and that slows down analytics efforts. In an age marked by the cloud and big data analytics (and therefore super-fast response time to changing market trends), I am not sure if too many marketers will be willing to deal with this.
  3. - Third, there is a need for ONE function to be dedicated to the Customer.  The Marketing function has traditionally owned the "brand", "marketing communication" (PR, Media Relations, etc.) and "campaigns and offers". While they are busy fulfilling these higher-level mandates at an organziational level, the voice of the customer (if at all there was one in Retail, a la B2B companies) gets missed out. There is a need for ONE position that is customer-centric, "listens" to customer and keeps an eye on Customer Engagement, across channels - Social, Mobile, Web, Store. And also across functions - Sales, Marketing and Customer Service. A consistent customer experience is half the battle-won!

The on-going "digital transformation of Marketing" is a customer-centric phenomenon, marked by concepts like Personalization, Targeting, Micro-Segmentation and 1:1 Marketing. Customer-centric organizations from sectors across Retail, Airline companies and banks are beginning to realize the importance. With Social, Local and Mobile dominating this transformation, "be where your customer is" seems to be the Mantra.

This obviates the need for a Chief Customer Officer who can straddle both the boats of Marketing and Technology with ease, and most importantly, is empathetic to the customer, understands her pain points and turn them into opportunities, through data and data-driven engagement.