|| The Perspective
Wednesday, 04 March 2015
A year later, retailers are reporting positive results from iBeacon campaigns. There are, however, still challenges from the caveats associated with iBeacons.
Specifically, customers must be iPhone users. They must download the retailers’ app. They must enable Wifi on their phone and opt-in to receive notifications. Many consumers are not willing to opt-in because they have privacy concerns about retailers collecting their data. Physical Cookie gives retailers and their customers the benefits of iBeacons without having to meet all of these requirements.
What is Physical Cookie?
Physical Cookie is a RFID-tag within a piece of plastic, usually on a key-fob, which retailers can give to their customers as they shop. The customer puts Physical Cookie in their pocket and then has to take no additional steps. Electric readers are then placed around the retail store. The Physical Cookie key-fob collects data in real-time in the same way cookies on websites do (hence the name). Digital screens within the store, show customers advertisements based on their behavior. Customers do not sign up or register, so there are no privacy concerns involved. Physical Cookie has operated in the Citycenter shopping mall in Helsinki, as part of a trial since Fall 2014.
Physical Cookie is easier for the consumer to use than iBeacons. Unlike the Bluetooth technology used for iBeacons, Physical Cookie is always on. Instead of pinging a user’s phone, the actual retail environment reacts to the consumers behavior, which feels much less spammy.
The Physical Cookie Customer Loyalty Program
In the Citycenter trial, a customer loyalty program called VIP-key was launched. The VIP-keys were given to 14,000 randomly selected customers who were then automatically part of a loyalty program, without ever having to opt-in, register, or sign up for anything. The trial was in a shopping center but Physical Cookie has said this can work for both retail chains and for brands working within big-box retailers.
While this trial was conducted using Physical Cookies in a key-fob format, the company said in the future this does not necessarily have to be the case. The key-fob format was selected with the thought process that customers enter the shopping center with their wallet, mobile phone, and keys with them. The average customers wallet is already full of loyalty cards, and mobile phones would require opt-in. The key chain was chosen instead because it does not already have any smart device on it.
- The VIP-key cost the equivalent of about two cents in US Dollars.
- 15% of the VIP-keys were active.
- They showed a 14.5% increase in activity between floors.
- There a was a 21.7% increase in time spent in the shopping center.
For more information on enhancing your customers’ retail experience, please visit our About page.
Photo Credit: Physical Cookie
Monday, 17 November 2014
Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.
Once again this holiday season has only 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas, last year had 25 days. Shoppers and retailers are preparing for the biggest shopping season of the year. This less than 4 week window has retailers scrambling to grab and retain the consumer’s attention (and pocketbook). They are doing this in a variety of ways.
Macy’s was the first retailer to announce that they would again be open on Thanksgiving Day. The doors at Macy’s will open at 6 PM on Thanksgiving Day, two hours earlier than last year’s opening time. The department store chain stated this move was “in response to the significant, sustained customer interest in last year’s opening day on Thanksgiving, both at Macy’s and other retailers.” The Walnut Room, the famous restaurant on the 7th floor of Macy’s State Street store in Chicago, will be open for the first time serving Thanksgiving dinner, also at 6 PM. Maybe this is a start of a new tradition, Thanksgiving dinner followed by shopping? Target, Kohl’s, Sears, and J.C. Penney, along with other retailers have since posted they will also be open on Thanksgiving.
Some consumers state that greed has taken over this holiday; however, others have pointed out that the crowds these stores are receiving justify them being open. Jerry O'Brien, director of the Kohl's Department Stores Center for Retailing Excellence, stated that for some people shopping on Thanksgiving Day is no different than others playing football or going to a movie. Conversely, some retailers have opted to remain closed and allow their employees to celebrate the holiday with their families. Costco, Barnes and Noble, and Nordstrom’s are among those retailers remaining closed on the holiday.
Despite the gain in popularity of shopping on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday still remains the king. According to the National Retail Federation, 2013 store traffic on Black Friday was 92 million people compared to 45 million shoppers on Thanksgiving Day. The high presence of loyalty programs, and the data collected when enrolled in these programs, allow for retailers to pinpoint certain Black Friday offers to a shopper. With offers made via direct mail, social media and email marketing, these campaigns allow the consumer to be well prepared when they arrive at the store.
Toy retailer Toys ‘R Us recently announced a revamped loyalty program for the 2014 holiday season. They have good reason to focus on their 18 million loyalty cardholders, they account for 70% of their US sales. Recently announced, in-store and online layaway programs are now available. As an added incentive to shop even earlier, Toys ‘R Us has offered cardholders 10% off their entire purchase every Saturday during the month of November. This is in addition to loyalty members earning $5 in “R” Us Rewards for every $125 spent. When the “R” Us credit card is used for these purchases, the earnings double to $10. For holiday shoppers with children on their lists these rewards will add up quickly.
Macy’s and Toys ‘R Us have also upgraded their omni-channel features prior to the upcoming holidays. Both retailers now offer Apple Pay. In select markets, Macy’s has implemented Smart Fitting Rooms, fitting rooms with wall-mounted tablets which allow associates and customers to scan merchandise items and see other sizes or colors available. Also, in select markets, Macy’s is offering same day delivery. Consumers can purchase merchandise on the company’s website to be delivered to the store the same day. Toys ‘R Us is offering a similar service. Toys and games ordered online can be picked up in store in less than an hour.open sign
Whether you are working off your second piece of pumpkin pie by racing to the stores Thanksgiving evening, or waking up at the crack of dawn the following morning, rest assured that the stores are ready for you and a few thousand of your friends.
Wednesday, 02 April 2014
Frank Mayer & Associates
Consumers today face an almost unlimited array of media and merchandise to compete for their time and resources. According to a recent Nielsen Newswire, Americans’ retail trip frequency has decreased by 15 percent over the last six years, while basket size has only increased by 9 percent. This is a trend that cuts across income levels and has implications for a wide range of retailers.
With shoppers visiting stores less frequently and ever present competition, retailers have their work cut out for them to attract customers to their stores and increase their dwell time. With hyper-connected shoppers, there’s much thought and discussion about interactive in-store experiences, but a recent visit by a colleague to the flagship store of Whole Foods Market reinforced the importance of visual merchandising and store ambiance to retail experience.
Retailers have a lot of competing demands and a whole host of touchpoints that didn’t exist a decade ago, but they can’t lose sight of the power that physical design and in-store merchandising have on customer experience. Whole Foods Market is not a current client, but as an in-store merchandising company serving a mix of retailers and brands across a variety of categories, we admire the way Whole Foods has carried out its philosophy to create store environments that are “inviting and fun, and reflect the communities they serve”.
As much as any retailer can, Whole Foods embodies the notion that stores aren’t simply places to buy things; you can buy things--even groceries—online. Careful planning of every detail naturally occurs when company headquarters sits atop your store, as it does in the heart of Austin, and the effect is awe inducing, a retail feast for the senses.
The Austin flagship is an example of store as destination – a concept that can maintain the health of physical retail. The store itself is large, but each department is, in fact, a destination made manageable and engaging by display materials that reinforce a natural, wholesome, clean positioning and ample, friendly, sometimes whimsical, signage that reflects the Whole Foods brand.
The Austin venue is more than a market, it is a social center with outdoor dining that draws people off the street and multiple indoor food bars that invite people to linger and interact. It has the feel of a community hub.
Reflective of its location in a music-loving city where even the airport has live musicians, it is an entertainment venue that attracts people and invites them to stay. The store contains a live stage; where on a Friday afternoon musicians were setting up to usher patrons into weekend mode.
Common design elements are a necessity for all chains, but Whole Foods strives for product and visual connections that reinforce a local feel. The local ambiance is reinforced in part by a neon “Love Austin” sign hanging above merchandise that celebrates the city. In Detroit, for example, it is reflected in Motown 45-LP records that adorn the checkout lane markers. These are elements that might appeal to civic pride and spark a little allegiance in an era when it is harder to come by.
Not every retailer can be Whole Foods Market, but every retailer should be focused on the elements that ensure that physical stores are places of discovery and delight and can instill some sense of loyalty so we are enticed to get out from behind our screens, loosen our pocketbooks and experience retail with all our senses and some of our emotions.
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Marketing Manager at Slabb, Inc.
It seems that the word "interactive" is being used in various forums and mediums. But what makes interactivity so important, especially when it comes to kiosk design?
In the simplest terms, I think we can all agree that in this age of advanced technology, where everything is more accessible, faster, more responsive and ever changing that the "interactive element" is a must, in order to stay ahead or simply keep up with competitors. In addition to this, we live in a world of the informed consumer – they know what is available and what is possible and they demand it.
Just look at the technological advancements in our lifetime and the rate of change ... we have already seen five iterations of the iPad, six of the iPhone, there are over 100 tablet models – a number that continues to increase, laptops that are rivaling the thickness of paper and the technological evolution shows no signs of slowing down. This is our normal and the kiosk industry is no exception.
Kiosk interactivity gives a business one additional touch point (no pun intended) to their customers. This provides many unique opportunities for businesses, namely:
- A kiosk that enables interactivity will allow the input of customer data, providing both quantitative and qualitative information that can track buying patterns and assist in driving sales.
- Interactive kiosks reduce the amount of staff needed allowing a company to reduce training and staffing costs.
- The increased presence of interactive kiosks has encouraged the creation of customized software that can facilitate several web‐based applications, thereby reducing implementation costs.
- It is an ideal platform for a company to showcase their product while providing a modernized brand experience.
- It allows a business to differentiate itself by creating a unique, quick and efficient self‐service option for customers.
- An interactive kiosk is the perfect solution for brick and mortar retailers with an online presence to bridge any divide that may exist between the two channels. It is also an easy transition for customers who shop online to use the kiosk to purchase their products.
- And we haven't even mentioned the benefits to customers yet...
- An interactive kiosk can provide 24 hour access to products and services allowing customers to shop at their convenience.
- It gives customers a self‐service option which reduces the time that could normally be spent doing a traditional transaction; not to mention, it eliminates the need to stand in line.
- Customers get the opportunity to view products on an interactive platform that can simulate the physical attributes of the product, assisting with final purchase decisions.
- It is a source for easily accessible, updated company and product information.
Tuesday, 09 July 2013
By David Anzia, Frank Mayer & Associates, Inc.
Two big motivators are pushing retailers to transcend walled-off commerce and implement omni-channel strategies. The first is connected consumers who have expectations of both individualized and seamless interactions with retailers. The second is the pressure certain retailers are feeling from shoppers engaged in showrooming and the unrelenting competition from online retailers like Amazon, who are the beneficiaries of that behavior.
You need only to attend a retail conference or engage a few retail executives in conversation to understand the need for speed in overcoming infrastructure hurdles to erase the barriers between consumer touchpoints. More than half of respondents to RSR’s 2013 Cross Channel Benchmark survey feel consumer expectations outpace their ability to deliver on a consistent retail experience.
On the consumer-facing side of this retail upheaval, continuity of experience – enabled by engaging interactive merchandising, a choice of self-service options and informed assisted selling – will be the driver for garnering the loyalty of digitally savvy Millennial shoppers. Those are the shoppers that will account for nearly a third of retail sales by the end of the decade.
As an in-store merchandising company whose projects often involve bridging retail channels, it is clear to us that omni-channel retailing offers benefits that transcend the challenges of implementation. Beyond the infrastructure changes and organizational realignments required is a vision for attracting and retaining high value customers and driving greater sales.
Improved Customer Perception
Customers expect integration and will become impatient waiting for it to become a reality. The blurring of channels isn’t just a retail phenomenon. It is advancing into other aspects of consumers’ lives like entertainment, where two-screen viewing is becoming a behavioral norm. Retailers are in a transitional time where speed of implementation can be differentiating and brand-building or slow response can be frustrating and damaging.
Retailers who have inventory visibility and availability in the customer’s channel of choice have a better opportunity to complete the sale. The proof of this tenant is in the success of department store shopping kiosks and category tablet kiosks that give shoppers access to a wider selection and provide multiple points of access to complete the purchase. Consumers who shop across channels are actually spending more with their favorite retailers.
Better Data Collection
Visibility across channels means a more customized experience. Retailers that can track customers across channels and understand preferences can better serve their customers. They also gain insights into crafting offers that motivate customers to get out from behind their screens and engaged in store, where the likelihood of impulse purchase is greater.
An omni-channel strategy can arm store associates with tools that increase access to information and promote efficiency. Tablets have become the front line of defense against customers armed with more information than store employees and a great offense for turning customer data into loyalty-building service.
There are benefits and best practices involved in the use of technologies – tablets, smartphones and touchscreens – that are the face of omni-channel retailing for consumers. The Convergence of the Connected Consumer and Omni-channel Retailing is a new resource we’re offering. It examines how retailers can take advantage of these tools to carry out their omni-channel strategies.
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
When you create and nurture a brand, your customers are the audience. We tell them a story designed to communicate your value proposition in a way that will engage them and compel them. We want them to not only want our product or service, but also to identify with the brand and embrace it.
We work in a business that often lies at the intersection of brands and consumers, so we're able to see firsthand the value in helping our clients to tell their story in a compelling way that deepens relationships and reinforces messages. Digital shopper marketing, through digital signage, mobile apps or social media, is a discipline which requires telling a consistent story effectively and frequently.
All of us carry around a "brand Rolodex" in which we maintain a collection of loyalty cards (whether real or virtual) for each product or service we consume or use. These cards are stamped with a brand we have adopted as our own, a brand we identify with and agree fits our needs and with which we can identify. In business, whether you are a retailer, a manufacturer, a software provider or any other type of business selling something to consumers or businesses, it's your job to tell your story, create a connection and nurture relationships. Brand identity should be reinforced to customers on a continuous basis, with a focus on consistency, and should never lose sight of what your core value proposition is.
There was an article in the Wall Street Journal not too long ago about how customers' perception of Walmart has changed. Surveys indicated that a majority of consumers polled no longer thought of Walmart as being the leader in low-price value on products. What was interesting was that research showed that the store was still very competitive in this area, but what has changed is just the perception of the customers. What happened? Did some of Walmart's new initiatives like customer experience and store design changes create this new perception? Was it a decreased focus on low price in the company's marketing? In any case, same store sales have been down for quite some time. Retrenching the branding efforts to reinforce the core value proposition to the customer is probably a big focus now.
Best Buy capitalized on the weakness of competitors like Circuit City by creating a superior store experience. Circuit City cut costs and removed the knowledgeable store associates, while Best Buy ramped up the Geek Squad and other efforts to deepen their bench strength in winning the hearts and minds of the consumer electronics shopper, and they continue to deepen that connection through service and superior experiences.
Gatorade is a good example of a consumer goods brand trying to tell a story effectively. Their new product offerings require a well-executed plan with which to educate the consumers. They now have a whole platform of products designed to help athletes perform better before, during and after workouts. The key challenge here is to not lose sight of the core brand identity they have established, and to maintain the message with their audience that they help people perform. Avoiding confusion with new product offerings, while maintaining core value proposition, is the trick.
When movie studios decide to capitalize on a hit by releasing a sequel, they try to stick to the original formula that created their initial success. If they stray too far from the original formula and take a left turn with character or plot consistency, they are taking a risk. They may be offering up something that a new audience might enjoy, but the primary goal is to maintain their core audience that has come to identify with the brand.
Whether we are helping our clients or focused on our own branding efforts, we can all be well served by remembering to focus on deeper engagement, frequent reinforcement of messaging and above all, a faithful commitment to core values.