|| The Perspective
Wednesday, 25 February 2015
Interactive Customer Experience Association (ICXA) will host its first annual ICX Summit in Chicago on June 29-30, 2015.
Louisville, KY (PRWEB) - Networld Media Group today announces the launch of the Interactive Customer Experience Association (ICXA), which will promote and accelerate the convergence of customer experience technologies and disciplines across all consumer channels.
“The need for ICXA reflects a rising emphasis among brands to create superior customer experiences through multiple technologies,” said Networld Media Group’s CEO, Tom Harper. “Our membership unites professionals from such disciplines as customer experience and service, loyalty, merchandising, marketing, sales, and retail operations.”
Technologies employed by these innovators encompass CRM, POS, digital display, self-service, e- and m-commerce, mobile payment, and much more. ICXA represents a broadening of scope to understand how various technologies can be combined to create unique and unprecedented consumer experiences.
ICXA will host its first annual ICX Summit in Chicago on June 28-30, 2015. Keynote speakers include Blaine Hurst, EVP of Panera Bread and Paul Price, CEO of Creative Realities.
The soon-to-be-launched ICXA.org website will feature a members-only education archive, including videos, webinars and podcasts covering the association’s educational activities. The site will also offer an industry blog and supplier directory.
To jumpstart its launch, ICXA is merging with and absorbing the full membership of the Digital Screenmedia Association (DSA), which had focused previously on the self-service, kiosk, and digital signage technology segments.
“The DSA board is excited about this new direction,” said Bill Lynch, DSA president and new ICXA board member. “The emerging customer experience market encompasses all of our member industries and much more. Our research into market trends and member needs finds most DSA members either expanding into broader customer experience solutions or aligning with partner companies. It became clear that our association must evolve to better serve the expanding needs of our members.”
Existing DSA members will receive full membership in ICXA and enjoy increased benefits with additional learning, networking and peer groups. Technology innovators and suppliers will be invited to participate as instructors in a new online learning series.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Scott Slucher, the new ICXA will continue to expand and develop membership across such industry verticals as banking and payments, retail and restaurant, healthcare, hotel and entertainment, education and government. Slucher brings to his new role many years of professional experience in sales and marketing, digital media, and market research disciplines. His specialty is helping organizations make deeper connections within their industries.
About Networld Media Group
Founded in 2000, Networld Media Group is a leading business-to-business (B2B) media communications company specializing in digital media, associations and events in the mobile, self-service, digital signage, retail, food service and financial services industries. Online properties include ATMmarketplace.com, DigitalSignageToday.com, FastCasual.com, PizzaMarketplace.com, KioskMarketplace.com, MobilePaymentsToday.com, VirtualCurrencyToday.com, QSRweb.com, RetailCustomerExperience.com and ChurchCentral.com. The company produces executive summits in the fast casual, retail, ATM and mobile payments industries. Its custom media division develops Web sites, premium content and marketing services for associations such as the ATM Industry Association and the Electronic Funds Transfer Association.
Friday, 13 February 2015
Vice President New Business Development - Displays/Merchandisers
Frank Mayer and Associates
With more than 20 years of experience at trade shows, I have attended more than 100 shows. While each show is different, I seem to always take a similar approach to each one.
I’d like to share my 7-part game plan for playing the trade show field with you. Hopefully, this rulebook helps you accomplish your goals in an efficient manner.
1. Know the Playbook: Almost all trade shows have a Pre-Show Planner on their web site. These planners can assist your company in tailoring your game plan for the show.
The amount of companies exhibiting at a show is overwhelming. You want to know which of your targets will be there before the show kicks off so that you avoid leaving a prospect without coverage. At the same time, you don’t want to rush the passers so make sure to work with your teammates. If you and multiple colleagues are going to the same show, be sure to know who will be tackling which exhibitor or event. You don’t want to double up – wasting your time and making your company seem unprepared/non-communicative.
You may be able to set up certain plays before the show by finding information on prospects via LinkedIn, the company’s website or even the trade show’s publication. Finding this information can enable you to leverage the meeting systems within the trade show organization. Consider establishing a quick meeting ahead of time to page through visual examples and capabilities.
2. Get your Jersey Ready: You want to present yourself so that your prospect welcomes you to their booth, is happy to have you on their sideline and introduces you to their teammates.
Dress professionally. If you belong to a world class company, present yourself as a world class individual. This includes comfortable shoes. You’ll need proper support to endure the entire game. My pedometer shows between 7 -10 miles/day at a show.
Practice good hygiene. You are talking to people and shaking hands throughout the day; so never leave the locker room unprepared – carry some mints and wash up after meals.
3. Train for the Big Game: Get the sleep and exercise you will need to keep you at your best. Trade shows are long days – you will want to be in top physical and mental condition.
Practice what you plan to say to each company. You want to be concise and direct; have a list of questions prepared that are focused on that company’s product offerings and be able to convey what it is you’re searching for. Be able to explain your company’s value proposition within 60 seconds. You will want to focus on the prospect but be able to convey your company’s value so that they remember you and what you are about!
Make sure to take care of yourself. Eat right and get plenty of sleep. Avoid staying out late watching the big game on Monday Night Football.
4. Stay on Your Toes: Be ready for anything from Warm-Up to Cool-Down
Always be prepared to show your value. Talk to everyone on the plane, on the shuttles, at the bar, at the restaurant, in the elevator. Trade shows typically have 1,000’s of people attending them. You never know when the big score is right around the corner.
Be creative. The last thing brands and retailers want to deal with is the “pesky” sales representative who is there to get business from them. You’ll need to present your company in an interesting way. Bring something of value that is relevant and captures the extensive knowledge base in their specified vertical market.
GlobalShop trade show5. Scope the Field: Know the show floor and detail your route so that you use your time most effectively and ensure you don’t miss a prospective company.
If you walk into a trade show without a path of execution, you will wear out long before the second half. Print a floor plan and highlight the people you want to see – making a route for the day.
Walk the floor several times. Try to come in and address their sales growth needs through the use of your company’s goods and services.
6. Watch the Play Clock: manage your time wisely, and remember – it is a marathon and not a sprint.
Manage your time from one company to another. Exhibitors are there to sell and they will keep detailing their products and benefits for hours if you let them. If they do not meet your requirements or help to advance your goals, swap business cards and move along.
Budget time to allow for follow-ups and re-visits you may need to get that contact or business card. Show respect for their needs and they will show respect for yours in return.
7. Review the Tape: Review and follow up with every contact you make.
When you sort through the business cards remind yourself of every detail that is important to fostering a lasting relationship with them. Each night at the show, write a review of the prospect’s needs and follow-up specifics.
Follow up with the individual. Don’t leave it up to the companies you met with to reach out to you.
Overall, remember – the prospect doesn’t owe you the time they are taking away from their important business at the show. Greet them with a smile, and leave them having a smile for meeting with you!
Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Is it just me, or is virtual reality (VR) popping up everywhere? Whether you’re chowing down on pizza or waiting at a bus terminal, interactive VR technology is growing every day. Now, we’re seeing the first smart retail store using this technology.
You might think the Rebecca Minkoff flagship retail store would want the incredible technology it created with partner eBay to be the focal point of the retail space. But it’s precisely the opposite — they made it as subtle as possible.
Reflecting the Future
High-tech touch screen mirrors bring the online world into the physical retail space. At first glance, they look like regular mirrors, until shoppers tap to transform them into touch screen, virtual reality havens.
Shoppers select the pieces and sizes they want to try on and a sales associate will bring the items directly to a changing room. Shoppers receive a text message when their room is ready — hello, omni-channel networks!
One Step Further
The smart changing room takes it even further to enhance the interactive shopping experience. RFID technology allows the self-service software to recognize each item within the room. With one tap on the touch screen mirrors, shoppers can request different sizes, place items into virtual shopping carts, and purchase.
The software also attaches each item tried on and purchased to a shopper’s account. This allows it to make intelligent retail recommendations based on the customer’s taste in the future, further customizing the experience.
The smart store understands that VR can’t replace the need to physically experience something. We’re seeing this with larger items too, like Audi’s virtual reality car showroom. For as amazing as this interactive technology is, Audi also incorporates samples of interior and exterior finishes for customers to touch.
Having physical samples is important for both large-item retailers and stores with mass customization options. A shoe store, for example, could have one sample pair of shoes with virtual images and physical swatches of all the different materials the style comes in.
Previously, we’ve always looked at an online store as an extension of the physical store, but the smart store flips this idea on its head. eBay views the physical items in the smart store as a manifestation of the online experience. Pretty crazy, right?
What do you think — would you want this technology in your retail experience? Or is this too much, too soon?
Wednesday, 04 February 2015
By Reflect Systems
The world of retailing just keeps getting more exciting as the landscape continues to radically shift and morph with new business models and approaches in the age of the Connected Customer. Traditional retailers have been honing their digital chops with omnichannel strategies. But we’re also seeing other brands that are not traditional retailers now expanding with efforts to get closer to the consumer with a “physical” retail presence.
A new form of retailers are emerging and exploring the benefits of physical stores and showrooms. While many brands have leveraged pop-ups and store-in-store implementations, dedicated stand-alone locations are increasingly part of the strategy for many brands. Examples include Nike, Levis, Polo Ralph-Lauren and many others.
Some brands have had long-standing programs using their own branded store locations. Some of these brands rely on the bulk of their sales through wholesale channels and now, increasingly, through online purchases. But they have also leveraged their own physical stores for branding and customer insights.
Newcomers continue to move into the physical store landscape. Samsung, seeking to increase brand awareness and better customer education, made a big effort with a store-in-store partnership with Best Buy and will soon be seeking to test their own dedicated stores to further solidify their brand presence and compete with the likes of Apple.
Now, even more interestingly, e-tailers are getting aggressive with new forays into dedicated shops and “showrooms". While some of these efforts are still experimental, toe-in-the-water programs, many examples are proving to be quite successful to brands seeking to move beyond the confines of the digital world to establish valuable face-to-face connections with customers. Some of these brands may keep their physical footprints relatively small to grow awareness in strategic markets and leverage customer insights to further strengthen their online business. Others may prove to be more expansive and farther reaching.
There are many cases of brands moving into the physical store game, including Bonobos, Warby Parker, Birchbox, J. Hilburn, Trunk Club, Alton, Justfab, SwimSpot, Nasty Gal, BaubleBar, and others.
Many of the newcomer brands like to the physical retailing world are starting the move to the physical world by experimenting with pop-ups and store-in-store formats before taking the plunge into dedicated stores.
Birchbox, Athleta, and Amazon
Birchbox, a New York-based apparel e-tailer, has been one of the oft-cited examples of this transitional, phased approach to entering physical stores. They partnered to make selections of merchandise available in Nordstrom and Belk stores. Birchbox expanded their own presence with dedicated “Guideshops” in multiple major markets.
Athleta, previously a web retailer for women’s sportswear, was acquired by Gap, Inc. and is making the move into dedicated brand stores. While other e-tailers will face learning curves on the science of merchandising in the real world, Athleta will likely benefit from the operations and traditional retailing expertise of Gap.
And then there’s the proverbial elephant in the room… Amazon. It’s unclear what their overarching long-term strategy is for physical retail presence, but they are likely to make waves.
Insights and Lessons Learned from Brands Moving to Dedicated Physical Stores
- Boosting brand awareness and creating a connection with new customers is a big driver for many businesses. However, there are lessons being learned related to timing and brand awareness. While going physical may be a good move for some online-only businesses, it helps to have recognized brand and buzz before opening physical stores.
- Personalized services like beauty consultations and other one-on-one appointments are playing a big part in this new world of connected retailing. Stylists in Trunk Club locations consult with customers and fill a “digital trunk” with selected products to be shipped to the customer. This approach is proving to be effective at helping men who may not like the hassle of shopping, but need help and consultation to quickly find the right fit, brands and accessories that are right for them.
- E-tailers and consumer product brands are recognizing the customers’ desire to touch and feel products in the real world. Many products are challenging to effectively sell online. Apparel, glasses, and makeup and beauty products in particular can benefit from physical shopping. This can be a challenge for e-tailers as they move from online to physical. They must learn or acquire the knowledge to merchandise products using best practices ingrained in traditional retail models.
- The art/science of product curation has a big impact in showrooms for engaging the customer and educating them on offerings. Brands are experimenting with the breadth and depth of the products to show in the store, and they are finding the best ways to merchandise in person. Birchbox, for example, has showcased products by category, rather than by brand.
- In-store events like celebrity appearances, classes, and other events like make-up and beauty parties provide brands with more opportunities to leverage the in-person benefits of a physical location. Using the storefront or showroom to leverage the “art of the happening” may prove to further enhance the brand to consumer connection.
- Digital is still playing a part in the physical store. Even as traditional retailers are embracing in-store digital technologies, e-tailers and brand stores have an even stronger reliance on having a seamless connection with the web. Birchbox uses video content and product reviews with their interactive in-store displays. Alton Lane, another men’s apparel retailer, uses a 3D body scanner to take measurements, providing an in-person edge over the challenge of finding the right fit online.
- Some of these new in-store purchases have shown higher average transaction sizes versus online. They are also seeing customers acquire a higher comfort level with brands in-store, then transitioning with ease to making follow-up purchases online.
- One of the big findings of e-tailers has been that there are still many people who just like the act of browsing products in person. While traditional retailers are getting better at their web presence, e-tailers are learning how to best bring their website into the physical world.
- Shopping, for many, is still an activity and event providing an outlet for moving around and exploring. As Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal has acknowledged, shopping is a form of entertainment.
While the online and physical worlds collide and alter the retail landscape, the recognition of the value of physical presence is gaining more visibility. Online is big, but brands are also getting physical.