|| The Perspective
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.
Wednesday, 28 January 2015
Fitting rooms can be one of the most dreaded parts of a shopping trip for the customer. For the retailer it is one of the most important. So how can brands enhance the experience for shoppers? One solution we see popping up is digital mirrors.
According to “Why We Buy” by Paco Underhill, shoppers are twice as likely to buy if they use a dressing room. Dressing room enhancements should be a top priority for retail stores as they make enhancements coming out of the recession. Digital mirrors are just one of the ways retailers can do this. Digital mirrors create an interactive experience for customers. Luxury brands are already testing digital mirrors in their stores.
The MemoMi Memory Mirror is a digital mirror currently being tested in Neiman Marcus department stores. MemoMi allows customers to instantly change the color or the pattern of the outfit they have tried on. They can also try on additional items to complete their outfit virtually using the mirror. The mirror takes 360-degree video, allowing customers to see themselves from every angle. Customers who are shopping alone but would like a second opinion from a friend are able to share a full body still via email or social media. The mirror is controlled by the user either through gestures or through a mobile app.
Neiman Marcus employees have access to the sales associate interface which lets them send recommendations directly to customers from the mirror. Neiman Marcus is the first retailer to use this product, but MemoMi is working with other large retail brands.
Last month Nordstrom added connected mirrors to their Seattle and San Jose locations. The mirrors are located in the fitting rooms and appear to be regular mirrors. However, customers can use the bar code scanner to can the tags of the clothing they bring into the dressing room. The mirror then displays item reviews, and shows what other colors and sizes of the item are in stock. It also shows additional related product recommendations, such as complimentary accessories or shoes.
The customer can use the mirror to request the suggested items be delivered to the dressing room by an associate. The sales associates are alerted via tablets. They can respond to the customers to let them know they are on their way. This message appears right on the mirror.
Rebecca Minkoff’s Magic Mirrors in her interactive store, are worth a mention. The touch screens allow customers to change their lighting settings, select different colors or sizes, and to add the items into their online shopping basket.
The digital mirrors in these stores aren’t just a cool technology add-on. They all serve a purpose or solve a retail problem. In Neiman Marcus, the sharing feature helps customers who need advice from a friend before they are comfortable making a purchase. In Nordstrom they are used as a communications tool so that sales associates don’t have to stick by the dressing room, but remain accessible to the customer. In Rebecca Minkoff, the lighting settings helps customers who need to know how the outfit will look in real life. The digital mirror in each store offers it’s own unique experience tailored to the brand.
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
VP New Business Development
Frank Mayer & Associates
Mizuno Golf DisplayShoppers are bringing a set of expectations and a cache of knowledge gleaned from online research through the doors of stores like never before. New consumer behaviors have impacted especially categories like electronics, books, clothing, household goods and sporting equipment. Numerous studies of multi-channel shoppers make it clear that online research doesn‘t lead just to online purchases. There are plenty of occasions when the store has the final influence on purchase decision.
Increasingly the in-store experience will incorporate tools like touchscreens, digital signage and mobility, but ask any retailer or brand and they will say that merchandising and point-of-purchase displays where the product is the hero are integral to conveying information and making an impression. Products that are prominently and expertly displayed can be a call to action, whether that action is immediate or takes some alternate path.
So what should retailers and brands focus on to create the maximum amount of impact from a display? Here are some of the tips from the pros that are encapsulated in our latest POP guide, Traditional Merchandising in the Age of Self-Service.
Linda Hofflander, director of vertical marketing with the enterprise business division of Samsung:
People get bombarded with signage, and sometimes it’s what is unique or a little bit of a surprise that can be most effective
David Anzia, vice president of sales at Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.:
With customers already armed with so much pre-purchase information, retailers have the ability to utilize less copy on their displays. The marketer is able to simplify their message, content copy and photos to distract the customer.
Kevin Lyons, senior vice president of e-commerce with h.h.gregg:
A customer wants to know the most important ways the product will help them, not just everything it does or can do. For example a ‘super radiant heating element’ on a stovetop means nothing to the average consumer, but ‘boils water in 60 seconds’ does! Traditional signage takes on a new role in today’s retail environment as it relates to supporting the mobile customer, those that are researching as well as comparing/reinforcing their purchases.
Dean Cole, brand support manager Mizuno, USA:
If the display can help communicate the benefits of the product and help the consumer visualize how those benefits will improve their experience, the odds of that product being chosen are improved greatly.
Ryan Lepianka, creative director at Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.:
Having the ability to touch a product and make a connection with it can beat nearly any other way of selling, and some of the most effective displays the company has designed are those that encourage physical contact.
Tuesday, 08 October 2013
By David Anzia, Frank Mayer & Associates, Inc.
I recently gave an interview where I was asked about the challenges of managing retail self-service projects given the rapid progression of in-store technology. With the array of tactical mobile options and digital innovations, there are seemingly limitless opportunities for in-store merchandising to connect retail shoppers to the online and virtual worlds.
We can now provide a call to action for consumers to interact with content on demand on any type of retail display or self-service kiosk. Still other “next big things”, like gesture-based interfaces and virtual imaging, are competing for attention.
The challenge in planning for retail merchandising and self-service projects is navigating with our customers through the practical versus the promising.
Retailers are looking for ways to draw traffic and accelerate their omni-channel agenda in-store. Retailers and marketers straddle the line between wanting to evaluate new technologies and wanting to deliver an experience that is intuitive and accepted by consumers.
Forrester Research recently issued 2013 Mobile Trends for Marketers, which evaluated the readiness of “game changing” mobile technologies. All of these offer the potential of being combined with in-store merchandising. To summarize their analysis:
We expect significant progress in mobile technologies in 2013 — especially around indoor positioning — but not major breakthroughs…While we believe that mobile technologies like GPS, NFC, augmented reality, image recognition, and 2D bar codes will offer phenomenal potential to enhance real-world experiences for consumers, they can’t do so in isolation.
Gaps in infrastructure, the cost of scaling, availability of specific applications on smartphones, and consumer education are all factors that marketers have to consider when making the decision about whether to incorporate promising mobile ‘’on ramps” into in-store merchandising.
Decades of attending trade shows, seeing new technologies demonstrated, engaging in trusted partnerships, and listening to retailers who are constantly taking the pulse of their customers have given us insights that help us evaluate the latest innovations.
What we know is:
- The number of NFC enabled phones is growing but still small.
- More people are scanning QR codes, but the absolute numbers are small. Context and content are important in making these deliver.
- Texting behavior is more pervasive than QR code scanning.
- Augmented reality is still a young and developing industry. ROI is an issue.
- At the same time we are in the midst of rapid change with the ramp up in smartphone ownership – 56 percent of all U.S. adults according to PEW Research.
- Young, active mobile users are a growing force at retail.
While a dose of reality is necessary, the pace of change and the stream of innovation should keep us continuously evaluating the parade of “next big things.” You might say it’s like driving on the highway; we’re aware of what’s right in front of us, but we’re focusing several car lengths ahead.
Tuesday, 21 May 2013
by Ajay Chowdhury, Chairman of ComQi
Ten years ago the received wisdom was that cinemas were dead. The rise of Blu-ray, home surround sound, 50-, 60-, 70-inch screens in the home and the fall in DVD prices as contrasted with the inexorable rise in cinema ticket prices were all factors that had everyone convinced that cinema theatres could not survive.
Ten years later, cinema box office takings are at record levels, films are regularly breaking records for opening weekends, ticket prices are even higher and a carton of popcorn costs as much as a full meal in a restaurant.
What happened to the doomsayers?
What happened was that cinemas reinvented themselves. They stopped being a place to just go and see a film and became a community experience. It was no longer about just seeing a film, it was about the experience of a night out with friends in a plush, comfortable environment. Cinemas now offer comfortable seats that lean back, huge IMAX screens, amazing sounds, sofas, food that is served by waiters at your seat, alcohol and much more. They are also getting clever about pricing – different prices on a weekend, lower prices for families with babies during the week, a different experience for seniors and so on.
What they got right was that it was not about the film, it was about the experience.
Today, rumbles are being heard about the death of bricks and mortar retail. No less a visionary than Marc Andreessen (co-founder of Netscape and one of the savviest investors in Silicon Valley) said a month ago “Retail guys are going to go out of business and ecommerce will become the place everyone buys. You are not going to have a choice.” And this is apparently being borne out on the high street. Large brand name chains that have closed include Borders, HMV, Jessops, Circuit City, Virgin Megastores, B. Dalton, Woolworths UK and the list gets longer every month. And for those retailers who are surviving, they face the threat of ‘showrooming’ (consumers checking out goods in the store and then buying them online or on their mobile), increasing rent, reducing store sizes, lack of qualified staff, customers wanting to order online and pick up in store and so on.
When we speak to retail CMOs, the top two concerns on their mind are: ‘How can we be more like Amazon?’ and ‘Should I get a mobile app?’ But are these the right questions? Amazon is a unique company that is truly visionary and has reached an amazing scale with very forgiving capital markets. (It was loss making on $61bn of revenues last year and is capitalised at $125bn. Contrast this with Target that made a profit of $1bn on $22bn of revenues and is capitalised at a third of Amazon…).
Similarly getting a mobile app is also not necessarily the answer. There are 775,000 apps in the iPhone App store and 80% of them get less than 100 downloads. Of the ones that do get downloaded the majority get used less than five times a year. Not quite a recipe for success. (As an aside, on these numbers, 620,000 apps get less than 100 downloads. If we assume they cost an average of $10,000 to make – that is $6.2bn wasted in app development effort.)
So what should retailers be thinking about? Well, the threat from e-commerce and mobile is real. Although forecasts do say that in five years over 90% of shopping will still be in bricks and mortar retailers, there is a huge variation in this number. A majority of music and book sales is now online. Electronics and white goods are moving the same way. Fashion remains largely a high street activity but e-commerce is certainly beginning to eat into this as well. (See the success of Zappos' and Amazon’s move into clothing…)
Grocery, food and drug are still largely done in person but a small minority is moving online. So what should retailers be doing to ensure they maintain their brands and hold onto their customers? We believe that retailers should be looking at three core principles to succeed over the next decade.
- Provide a superb in-store experience
- Link your online, social, mobile and in-store media experiences
- Use the data generated by your customers to provide real insights
1) Provide a superb in-store experience
"Stores will become more theatrical, more immersive, and more of a life experience rather than simply a place to get something. As much as they are selling products they will be selling a good time, a lifestyle.” Christopher Studach, creative director, KRS
Just as cinemas reinvented themselves over the last decade to provide a great experience, retailers need to do the same over the next decade. Walk into Victoria’s Secret on Herald Square in Manhattan and you will see a true brand experience. Media and technology are cleverly used to move the customer through the store and get them to make a purchase. We believe the in-store experience is about mapping the customer’s journey base on their frame of mind and then providing the right media and incentives to make shopping a pleasurable experience and getting them to buy more. The experience starts outside the store with the show windows using dynamic video projection, holograms and the like to entice people into the store.
Once they are in the store, the use of touch screens for wayfinding, linking to customer’s online accounts and making recommendations can be powerful. As they move through the store the use of videowalls, digital signage, music, virtual mannequins and so on get them to a decision point where they want to buy and buy more. Other technologies like Delay Mirrors in the dressing room (a screen with a camera showing a live reflection of the customer, yet delayed by a few seconds to see themselves in an outfit from all angles) provide an experience that cannot be had anywhere else. Finally, linking these screens to the customer’s smartphone allows them to get recommendations, find out more information or link to loyalty cards providing a truly holistic experience. This is what makes them come back and recommend it to their friends.
2) Join up your online, social, mobile and in-store media experiences
Most retailers have e-commerce sites, a Facebook or Twitter presence, mobile sites and some media in-store. But these are all in silos and not linked up. Imagine the immense value of recognizing an online customer as they enter the high street store. You can offer tailored promotions as they enter your store and give specific recommendations based on their shopping habits. We believe you can do this by using one technology platform for your in-store media to manage your experiences effectively. This platform then links to your external systems such as your e-commerce site, Facebook, loyalty card systems, smartphones, EPOS systems etc. to provide one view of the customer.
We provide a cloud based platform that does exactly this. It allows our retail clients to manage different digital media on a global basis and collect information on their customers. Using our technology we can link customer smartphones to digital media in a store without an app so customers can check in as they enter the store and be identified so that tailored offers can be made to them. The platform links to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. so it provides a bridge between the online and offline worlds. This allows two things to happen: The retailer has one view of the customer: Whenever the customer interacts with you, you know exactly who they are, where they are and can make the appropriate offer based on their shopping history The customer has one view of the retailer: Whenever the customer interacts with you, they have the same brand experience and can seamlessly move from one medium to the next.
3) Use the data generated by your customers to provide real insights
Finally big data. This is a real buzzword these days. Retailers have a huge amount of data on their customers but only a tiny fraction of this data leads to insights. Working with companies like Dunn Humby, DS-IQ and Path Intelligence allows retailers to take the data they collect and create real actionable insights which then feed back into the in-store strategy to create a virtuous circle. The world is changing and as the consumer has the power retailers also need to change.
”Steve Jobs didn't ask, 'How do we build a phone that can achieve a two percent market share?' He asked, 'How do we reinvent the telephone?’ In the same way, retailers shouldn't be asking, 'How do we create a store that's going to do $15 million a year?' They should be asking, 'How do we reinvent the store to enrich our customers' lives?'”
- Ron Johnson, Apple’s ex Head of Retail
Monday, 30 November 2009
As the days of 2009 dwindle, I find myself crisscrossing the country, talking to retailers of every stripe. These conversations have revealed a few consistent themes, which are likely to drive customer-facing retail technologies in the coming year.
To my relief and that of probably everyone in the industry, there’s a sense the economy is coming back. Earlier this month I was at the Kioskcom Self Service Expo in New York, and I would describe the mood as "unexpected optimism." Retailers and technology buyers of all sorts were on the floor in surprising numbers with specific projects they needed to execute. One exhibitor even exclaimed, "We’re on the way up!" while making a swooping airplane motion towards the sky. Now that’s what I call a return to confidence. It is a safe bet that retailers who have been waiting on the sidelines will resume investments in their store experiences in the coming year.
The dominant theme I have heard from retailers is the need to inspire shoppers. Retailers are seeking technologies that do for any product category what mannequins do for apparel—show the customer how to bring many items together into a compelling, personalized solution. An expectant mother furnishing a baby’s room, a couple designing a home theatre, a parent building a fish tank for their child—shoppers need to be inspired and guided to a final solution. Retailers understand that addressing a consumer’s end goal is the key to driving more sales, yet doing this with human interactions is expensive. So, I expect to see increasingly sophisticated shopper assistance tools emerge from the simple product selectors of today. Retailers are keenly focused on the problem, and a few are ready to test solutions.
Closely related to inspiration is the idea of cross-selling. Retailers are interested in technology that helps them add items to a shopper’s basket by reaching across the store to cross-sell many product categories. I get the sense from retailers that this is an area in need of improvement. Customer-facing technologies that draw upon in-store and online inventories to automatically suggest the best complementary goods will likely be tested in the coming year.
Another recurring theme is a desire to provide quality customer service where today’s economics simply do not allow it. Many complex products do not sell in enough volume or at high enough prices to justify having human experts in the store. Several retailers see technology as the way forward. Expert systems can give customers the additional product education they need to make an informed choice, while sparing the cost of additional store labor. Expect to see customer-facing technologies deployed most commonly around these so-called "marginal" product categories.
Finally, with recessionary pressures on staffing levels, retailers want to make the most out of their store staff through sales process automation. They want humans doing what humans do best—guiding customers through complex, personalized, real-world product problems and decisions. For the 80 percent of any selling process that is the same for every customer, retailers are looking for technological solutions that do this work, letting store associates handle more customers in a given period of time. In a sense, self-checkout was only the beginning. The phrase I have heard is "moving customers from questions to the counter" as quickly as possible. I personally view this as challenging to execute in practice and anticipate some failed trials, given the need for seamless integration between store personnel and in-store technology. However, the first retailer to do it will reap significant rewards and set the stage for the future of retail.
The year ahead is shaping up to be an exciting one for in-store technologies. Recession-induced paralysis seems to be over and retailers seem to have a clear view of how they want to move forward. If they succeed in deploying the right solutions, it will be a winning year for everyone—shoppers, retailers, and even technology suppliers.
The writer is CEO of Intava.
Monday, 10 August 2009
This is not what you nor your customers want to see.
This was taken at a Cincinnati Kroger's grocery location yesterday as my wife and I shopped for our once a month groceries. The deli ordering kiosk which normally sits just inside of the entry to the main store, was sitting by the shopping carts corral with this ugly but obvious sign. When your customers become so familiar with and used to the self-service kiosks you implement in your store, it can be a real disappointment to them when it's unavailable. And while no kiosk can have 100 percent uptime, you should at least move the kiosk out of their view when it is unavailable.
Now, truth be told, I think this was temporarily set aside while they were remodeling the space it normally sits in. New floors, new drywall, new counter tops, etc. so they had good reason to have this kiosk out of commission, and there was a second kiosk closer to the deli. But I believe they could have put this near a power outlet and dropped a temporary Ethernet to it for connectivity. But maybe this is too much of an over simplification of what it would take (I don't know their setup and networking). This would keep the customers happy, and the deli running efficiently... all of the reasons you deployed to begin with.
On a similar note, we just installed new kiosks for Kroger in a new store that hasn't opened yet in Norwood, Cincinnati. These kiosks are for a completely different purpose in the Personal Finance section of the store. We worked with their vendor who creates a lot of their retail displays and store fixtures. They were to provide an "enclosure" around our IBM AnyPlace kiosk computer.
But as of the time we brought the kiosks, connected and installed, they had not delivered the enclosures. As a matter of fact, the client had not even seen them yet. So this should be an interesting integration. We believe that we should have been engaged for the entire kiosk enclosure, software and hardware, and let that partner focus on what they do best. You know it's bad when the client contacts us to provide a turntable type solution to this yet unseen enclosure. Shouldn't that partner have provided that? Ah well, we will go above and beyond to ensure that this deployment goes well.
In the past we have also integrated kiosks into other grocery retailers for loyalty card systems. The kiosks are highly used and loved by the customers as a means to redeem their points and update their account information. In our initial deployment we had a problem with one of the printers not printing correctly and I was needed onsite to help troubleshoot (hardware firmware needed updating). Trust me, when you take one of the two kiosks offline even for a few minutes, the customers are not happy. They had to walk to the other entrance to use that kiosk instead, but they felt inconvenienced. And they were, but the point is that customers love self service. And when they become familiar and accustomed to using it, you need to ensure it is there for them. Don't disappoint your customers and don't take the easy way out. Keep that kiosk online!
Update: Weeks later my wife and I returned to do our weekly shopping (yes, we are trying to eat at home more often) and found to my delight that the staff had taken off the hand written note and put the kiosk back online! They had even improved the signage and branding on and around the kiosk. Nice job! The original location of the kiosk has been replaced with an in store clinic which may be a new trend in additional services being provided by grocers to enable customers to perform many tasks with one visit, ensuring customer loyalty and foot traffic. This explains why the kiosk was in transition and temporarily offline. My preference would be to not have any kiosk, than the one with the "out of order" note taped to it. Consumers need to know that systems are always working to build trust.
Monday, 19 November 2007
It’s a familiar scene in many houses on the fourth Thursday in November: Relatives young and old chat together, cousins and siblings play football in the back yard, and the introverts watch old Westerns in the basement. In the kitchen, an assortment of gourmet gurus peel aluminum foil off the Thanksgiving dishes they’ve prepared.
But how does an inexperienced cook even begin to contribute to the family feast?
One place to start is the grocery. Recipe and shopping kiosks come to the aid of those in dire need of culinary support. During the month leading up to Thanksgiving, some self-service devices provide recipes and shopping lists of ingredients for such culinary emergencies.
ShoptoCook, a provider of turnkey meal content kiosks, places a seasonal button on its kiosks, which are deployed in more than 200 grocery and retail stores. Leading up to Thanksgiving, the recipes there provide dozens of basic recipes for turkey, stuffing, vegetables and deserts. Advanced dishes, not for first-timers, also are available.
“It’s during that whole holiday season that people need help with what to cook,” said John Picard, chief operating officer of ShoptoCook Inc. “Many are interested in trying something new.”
In fact, Picard said, many experienced cooks want to impress and entertain their guests with new recipes. ShoptoCook’s kiosk provides an assortment of new deserts and side dishes that were not an option the year before.
And when the feast is finished, the kiosk even has ideas for the leftovers.
“The seasonal buttons are very popular,” Picard said. “It is a key part of what we offer.”
Giant Food Stores, a deployer of several self-service solutions, offers its own Shopping Solutions and Recipe Solutions kiosks. The search capability lets eager hosts search for innovative Thanksgiving recipes. Its kiosks include recipes for roast turkey with corn bread stuffing, pumpkin pie, cranberry relish, roasted zucchini and yam casserole. Many of the recipes also come with preparation and nutrition information.
For those looking to interject some healthy alternatives into their Thanksgiving feast for friends and family with special dietary requirements, Portland, Ore.-based Healthnotes Inc.’s “Fresh Ideas” kiosks offer tips and recipes on fresh foods and health-related products. The Healthnotes kiosks include content on fresh foods, organics, diets, supplements and medications, as well as science-based product recommendations for managing health conditions, and even wines.
Connoisseurs who are especially serious about what they toast their turkey with can find kiosks that exclusively offer beverage assistance. According to a June Newsweek story, roughly half a dozen companies are testing and marketing interactive touchscreen wine kiosks for placement in grocery and liquor stores, as well as in wine shops. The kiosks allow shoppers to search for wines by name, grape, region, price or menu compatibility.
No matter what your experience level in the kitchen, self-service tools can help bring together a fine dining experience.
Monday, 05 November 2007
Information collected at the cash register is a rich pool of data that can help retailers ratchet up the effectiveness of their digital signage networks.
The concept is simple: Take the millions of lines of time-stamped playlist data from the signage network, place them alongside the millions of lines of time-stamped sales data from the POS, and compare. Look for patterns that reveal which bits of content are having an impact on sales.
"As soon as the tools for analyzing POS data against campaign schedules and specific content become standardized and easy to use, this metric will beat any other ROI measurements in retail digital signage," said Nurlan Urazbaev, director of marketing for BroadSign International.
While the data is on the network, waiting to be mined, most retailers are not using it. Bill Gerba, president of WireSpring Technologies, said about one-third to one-half of retailers with digital-signage networks are doing meaningful analysis of their playlist/POS correlation. The number is considerably higher for retailers that include self-service and kiosks in the mix, "probably because the kiosks are driving some kind of transaction that’s of a high value to them, and they want to know how to convert it better," he said.
Pure digital signage may not be transactional in nature, but its output data still can be analyzed and solid information can be extrapolated. What happened to sales of a specific brand of cookies when its ads were run — and what happened at the same time to the generics? Which spots provided the largest surges in sales of advertised products, and how did time-of-day have an impact? All of these can be tangibly measured when playlist data is taken out of its silo and placed alongside the real-world store data.
"Integrating digital signage systems to in-store systems is vital to the success of the concept," said Dick Trask, director of public relations for Scala. "Digital signage needs to become an integral part of the in-store marketing strategy and not a lone wolf vying for recognition."
Two major challenges exist for retailers: IT capabilities and the flexibility to react to what is learned.
In large corporations, IT bandwidth is less of a problem, since there usually are programmers in-house already familiar with the POS system and the way it stores data. For instance, Trask said the U.K. grocery chain Tesco built its own middleware between its POS and digital signage systems. Smaller retailers may have a tougher time creating this bridge.
Understanding the broad view of which types of content are having the biggest impact on sales can be a major asset for the creative team — and can provide solid data to executives on the value of the signage network.
A third-party solution
For companies unable or unwilling to build their own POS/digital signage analysis tools, there is at least one turnkey third-party solution. Helmed by former executives from Microsoft, MSN and Amazon, DS-IQ’s analytics engine correlates digital signage and POS data, outputting it to a set of custom dashboards on the Web.
"While a campaign is still in-flight, you can get detailed feedback on precisely what is working and what’s not, while there’s still time to make a positive difference," said June Eva Peoples, vice president of business development for DS-IQ.
One possible downside, Gerba said, is that retailers can be reluctant to open their POS data to outside entities.
Peoples would not reveal pricing for the DS-IQ service, but said it "more than pays for itself by optimizing category sales lift."
Monday, 09 July 2007
The writer is president of Summit Research Associates Inc.
The kiosk industry is booming, especially in the retail sector. When digital photography kiosks are included in the count of retail kiosks, fully 50 percent of all kiosks fall into this category.
The key to successful kiosk deployments is location, location, location. A successful placement relies on a true understanding of shopper habits. Often deployers feel that they have placed a kiosk in the best possible location but discover that usage is far lower than expected. To get some idea why this happens, we will take a look at one of the fast-growing venues for kiosks, supermarkets.
Research was conducted at grocery stores in the western United States by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. They concentrated on how shoppers navigate stores with their carts. Their findings should be considered when planning future kiosk deployments in these types of venues.
Shoppers do not weave up and down each aisle as previously thought. They zigzag to specific aisles sometimes avoiding whole areas of a store. For kiosk deployments, end caps have proven to be some of the best locations. More people see products displayed at each end of an aisle than anywhere else in a store.
Shoppers spend less time in the aisles than assumed; instead they stick to the perimeter of the store, using it as the main road with quick side trips to the aisles they need. As a result, products displayed at the ends of the aisles near the perimeter are vital for luring the shoppers in.
They also zip in and out of the aisles. Once they enter an aisle, shoppers rarely make it to the other end. As a result, products located in the center of an aisle are frequently ignored.
A good example validating this recommendation was found at Home Depot in a pilot project they conducted at 15 stores along the East Coast. The kiosk was not only placed in the middle of a long aisle, but it was located in a niche — set in from the aisle by three or four feet so that it was not visible from either end. People could not find the kiosk. And, even worse, there was no signage on the aisle to draw the shoppers’ attention to it.
Just like U.S. drivers, shoppers like to enter a store on the right or turn right as soon as they enter the store. Then shoppers prefer to shop in a counterclockwise direction. A key finding was that shoppers who enter on the left spend less time and money shopping.
The highly successful Giant Super Food Store kiosks, especially the flagship concept store in Camp Hill, Pa., is an excellent example of a project that has followed this advice. The more-than 91,000-square-foot store has 25 kiosks, all situated around the periphery. Customer usage and the number of transactions continues to grow each month.
Tuesday, 02 January 2007
The rise of online shopping to the mainstream puts pressure on retailers to master multichannel retailing. Supporting consumer interactions across channels like catalog, call center, Web and bricks-and-mortar may seem like a no-brainer at this point, but not all firms have responded well to this challenge.
Although Forrester has been writing about multichannel retailing for the past five years, we continue to receive many of the same questions from e-commerce executives, VPs and chief marketing officers: What are other retailers doing, and how are they doing it? To answer these questions we spoke with retailers that have taken multichannel strides over the past few years and to North American consumers to discover the state of multichannel retailing.
We found that consumers increasingly shop across channels. Using the Internet in the purchase process is no longer just for the technologically elite — in fact, 88 percent of all online consumers use the Internet to research products. Researching online and buying offline, however, is a more complex activity, but such cross-channel shopping rapidly is becoming a typical behavior. More than half of online consumers engage in it.
While there were some improvements in 2006 by leading retailers, firms continue to play catch-up to consumer demands, implementing one-off features like buy online/pickup in-store without the foundation of a holistic multichannel strategy. But we’ve gotten to the point where multichannel retailing cannot be ignored. For the past few years, retailers have had the luxury of choosing how multichannel they want to be, but they’re about to lose this privilege. While multichannel consistency and service have been nice-to-have capabilities, consumer adoption of technology — specifically the Internet — will turn this into a requirement over the next two years.
Of all the multichannel retailing competencies, retailers have made the most progress in supporting the multichannel buying process — helping consumers find products. This has been an easy place for retailers to start since it is the most visible area and it provides the most tangible benefits. But lost opportunities continue. Almost half of cross-channel consumers buy from a different retailer than the one they researched. These defections represent a significant opportunity for retailers to retain customers as they cross channels.
Retailers have begun to tackle this problem by building self-service Web applications that bridge the channels. To help prevent consumers from switching retailers as they switch channels, Circuit City, Lowe’s and IKEA have deployed configuration applications that let consumers do the research at home, but then access their work in-store via kiosks.
This approach allows consumers to research at their own pace, have easy access to their work once in the store, and get help from a sales associate to confirm and augment their selections. Circuit City offers a home theater configurator, and both Lowe’s and IKEA offer kitchen configurators. IKEA allows consumers to download the application and design their kitchen offline and then upload it back to the IKEA servers when they are ready to come into the store.
This control over the purchase process is something that the Internet has taught consumers, and as cross-channel shopping approaches mainstream, retailers should look to kiosks and self-service applications to bridge the channel gap and help meet consumer demands.
Tamara Mendelsohn is an analyst on Forrester’s Consumer Markets team. For more information please contact [email protected].