Archive for the ‘brick and mortar store’ tag
A guest post by Tea Silvestre of WordChef.com.
Chances are you’ve had at least one rotten experience while shopping at a brick and mortar store. We all have. And it’s such a shame.
Because interacting with someone face to face is your best opportunity to create a raving fan.
Yep. Even with all the social media and digital hype, real-life conversations work fastest to either cement or destroy a relationship with a potential customer.
I recently had one of the latter…
It was a Sunday morning, and I was shopping with my sister-in-law at a local mall. This was her first weekend outside the house in almost two months. (She had just finished up her last round of chemotherapy and received the green light from her doctor to spend time again in public. Woo-hoo!)
This should have been an awesome day for her. But it wasn’t.
Here’s the email that I sent to the store’s corporate office a few days afterward.
From: Tea Silvestre <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 4:39 PM
Subject: Question about your policies
To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>
Dear Papaya Corporate Folks,
Do you have a policy that says your employees may not remove an item from a mannequin to sell it?
I was shopping at your San Jose location (Blossom Hill) this past weekend and saw a scarf on the display, which drew me inside. I looked for it on the rack but there weren’t any left, so I asked the clerk about buying the one on display. I was informed that someone else already had it on hold.
Disappointed, but determined, I kept looking. On another display I saw a different scarf—this time there were three different mannequins wearing the same scarf yet none to be had on the rack. The clerk had a line of customers so I very carefully removed one of the scarves in order to bring it to the cashier. (Note: The scarf was simply resting loose around the mannequin’s neck, so it wasn’t difficult to remove).
No sooner did I have the scarf in hand than the clerk was there, reprimanding me (in front of other customers!). I apologized for touching the mannequin and then explained very nicely that I was only trying to help because I could see she was knee deep in customers. She took the scarf from me and said first that customers were not allowed to touch the mannequins. But then? SHE REFUSED TO SELL ME EVEN ONE OF THE 3 SCARVES. When I pressed her as to why, she said nobody was allowed to remove anything from the display. “Company policy.”
I’d really like to know if you have such a policy. I’m going to blog about this and would like to know your side and have an explanation as to how this policy works. My readers are other small-biz folks who love to hear about real life marketing and customer service stories.
Thanks in advance for your speedy response. If I don’t hear from you within 7 days, I will assume you have no comment.
p.s. My sister-in-law and I ended up leaving your store empty-handed and pissed off. She is recovering from chemotherapy, and this was her first time out in public in a long time. Unfortunately for you, I’m sure she won’t forget this one…
I waited a few days for a reply, but never even got an automated “Thank you for your email” message.
So, I took my attempts to the Twittersphere:
@PapayaClothing Where should I send an email about a customer service issue? I’m not getting a response from the addy on your site…
— Tea Silvestre (@TeaSilvestre) June 17, 2012
Still no reply.
Then, I tried the Facebook route.
Because I was getting nowhere fast, I went digging on their website. What exactly IS the Papaya promise?
Here’s what I found.
That’s right. That’s the home page. (You can see the whole site for yourself at PapayaClothing.com).
The only promise I found is one to save you a little money.
“Okay,” I thought. “Maybe it’s in their back story.” Unfortunately, their About Us page looks like it was written by the corporate lawyers.
Papaya Clothing is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cornerstone Apparel, Inc. Cornerstone’s experience in the retail fashion industry is derived from over twenty-five years in operating retail clothing businesses focusing primarily in the junior and petite apparel markets. Cornerstone is driven by the same ownership and management team responsible for prior successes in retailers Everblue Casuals and Career Image. In Papaya, we’ve created a more contemporary, upscale shopping environment for customers in the 16 to 25 age bracket…
There’s no link to the parent website nor could I find one by searching through Google. Hmmm.
As a last ditch effort, I decided to call them and see if I could get through to someone in charge. The number they list on their website is only for online transactions, but the woman on the other end was smart enough to get me the right number. Which I called. And was happily transferred to “Cassandra,” who works in the In-Store marketing and customer service department.
I explained the situation to her and she thanked me for bringing the situation to her attention (no apology, just a thank you), and after giving her my contact info, hung up the phone and went about my day.
Just a few hours later, I received this email:
Papaya Norcal firstname.lastname@example.org (<–No corporate email addy?)
12:59 PM (56 minutes ago)
Hello Ms. Tea Silvestre,
I do sincerely apologize for the unpleasant shopping experience that had occurred at my Oakridge Mall Papaya store (located at 925 Blossom Hill Rd). There was no excuse for my employee to have embarrassed you in front of other customers. If there was any problem, the employee should have quietly and privately spoken to you about the problem. Also, while it was true that display items were not for sale; this was an older policy of ours and has since been changed for some time. To put it simply, now we do take items down from our mannequins that are on our display windows, so, again, I regret that any problem had occurred during your shopping experience.
Next, I would like to ask you three simple questions; if you cannot answer them, it is perfectly fine:
- As I would like to take disciplinary actions on the employee and her superiors, would you, by chance, happened to have read her name on her name tag?
- Do you recall the date and time of the incident (estimated time will suffice)?
- Can you describe the employee’s physical features to your best knowledge?
I would like for you to know that corrective and preventive measures will be taken to ensure there are no repeated incidents:
- Within the next month, I will hold employee meetings and management meetings at all my stores to help educate and re-emphasize the store policies
- I will send in more secret shoppers to this particular store to verify that no act of rudeness occurs again
As a token of my gratitude for informing me of problematic situations at my store, and your sister-in-law’s successful chemotherapy recovery, I would like to send you and her a gift card. If you can kindly provide me with a mailing address, I will send it right away. If you feel uncomfortable providing me with personal information, please come into any of our stores in the Northern California region to claim your gift card. If you do enter our store, please have our associates call one of the following three people: Krishia Sevilla (district coordinator), Chris Kim (assistant district manager—this is myself), or Michelle An (general district manager).
I hope you and your sister-in-law will not let one misshapen action of one of our employees affect your future shopping experience, and we would love for you and your sister-in-law to come back so we may amend our mistakes.
Thank you for your time Ms. Tea Silvestre, and feel free to contact me anytime with any further questions.
Assistant District Manager
Cell: (714) 337-7896
P.S. I also want to apologize for the time it took for us to reply to your email, but, as you can see the forwarded emails, when one complaint comes in, 4 departments are informed prior to us receiving the message. Thank you, and I hope you had a wonderful father’s day and hope you enjoy the upcoming 4th of July.
I replied to Chris, letting her know that I did not remember the name of the clerk. I also shared my social media experience and said she might like to let corporate know that the folks on the front lines aren’t responding—either because they don’t know how, or because they haven’t been empowered to—and that non-responses tend to be taken by folks that you’re ignoring them.
The thought crossed my mind that they might all do well to read my book (especially Chapter 6), but in the end, I decided against it. They’re probably not all that interested in building relationships with folks (let alone fans!).
The Big Moral of the Story: Train and Empower Your Employees
Encourage your employees to communicate with the customers (especially if they’re running your social media channels). It shouldn’t take an entire week to respond to one email, a tweet, a Facebook post, and a phone call.
Your customers should NEVER have to inquire about the validity of a policy—or be made to feel like a total afterthought. Not only will it lose you sales, it’ll ultimately kill your business.
Your customers want (and need) to see that you’re serious about sticking around for the long haul. Yahoo email accounts for your staff = a yahoo operation. Do you mean business? Then act like it. Even if you’re just a one-man-band, you should have a branded email account, an About page that tells us why you do you what you do, and a commitment to have two-way conversations on social media that build your brand.
Here are some additional tips about what you do to help your customers’ experiences with you.
- Regularly train your employees. Make sure they’re up to date on your policies and procedures—especially where interactions with customers are involved.
- Know your customer touch points and put a communication plan in place for each of them. If you’ve got a contact form on your website, know who’s getting those emails. Make sure that person understands how to respond and where to route inquiries. The same goes for your social media channels. Whoever is in charge of posting items, should be empowered and encouraged to respond here as well.
- Make sure your branding is consistent across all media channels: email, website, social media channels. Ensure that all staff who communicate with the public have a corporate (branded) email address. Use an email signature. And most of all, use your website to tell your story.
What about you? Are you guilty of any of these faux pas? How often do you see other businesses operating this way? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Talk to the Hand)
I used to live in the southern-most part of New Jersey, just across the bridge from the state of Delaware. The people of that area had an interesting shopping habit, when they needed big ticket items or planned a large run for back-to-school or Christmas, they drove over the bridge to shop. Why? Because there’s no sales tax in Delaware. That meant huge savings for consumers but a loss of business for local New Jersey stores.
The internet is like Delaware. Mostly, you can shop tax free if you buy online. That means that large sites like Amazon can undercut prices even more than a brick and mortar store, which led to the demise of chains such as Borders Books and many mom and pop locations.
Now, it looks like those tax free days are coming to an end for online and that’s good news and bad news for both buyers and sellers.
According to the Wall Street Journal, there’s been a massive shift in support for online taxation and even Amazon is ready to admit defeat. The reason for the change of heart is Amazon’s desire to speed up shipping to its customers. In order to do that, they have to build more distribution centers in places like New Jersey and Florida. Since the facilities will bring jobs into the state, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has agreed to allow Amazon to postpone online sales tax collection for a year. WSJ says that Amazon made similar deals with three other states, but Florida told them it wouldn’t fly.
And as Amazon goes, so goes the rest of the online world. That’s good news for states who are poised to pull in an additional $23 billion a year in online sales tax. For consumers, this means a probable hike in online prices to cover the cost of tax collection, plus the applicable taxes on every sale. The big loser, sadly, will be the small online store owners who will have to implement a potentially sticky tax plan. As an ebay seller, I have to wonder how this issue will effect those sales, too.
Brick and mortar owners could be the big winners in the online tax war. The levy of an online tax will help keep prices more competitive and might drive customers back to local stores where they don’t have to wait for delivery.
Will an online sales tax take a big bite out of online shopping? Not likely. We’ve become too accustomed to the ease and the 24/7 availability. The tax could lower the average total sale if consumers choose to buy one less item in order to keep their final total within budget. Best estimate? We’ll see those stats in under two years.
How do you feel about the online sales tax? A good thing, a bad thing, or something we’ll just have to get use to?
Facebook may one day let advertisers target mobile users based on their exact current location, but VP Carloyn Everson did not confirm that such a product is in the works to Bloomberg, Facebook tells me. The New York media company misinterpreted statements from Everson, who merely said you could imagine the product evolution afforded by a mobile phone’s location awareness.
So we won’t say Facebook is “readying” such a product, but that doesn’t mean it won’t emerge eventually. let’s imagine how it could look. Real-time hyper-local Facebook advertising could allow local businesses to advertise to people in sight of their brick-and-mortar store, or let travel companies target people when they’re away from their home city. And competition to reach those out-and-about users coud drive up ad prices and earn Facebook more money.
Facebook tells me nothing new was announced or confirmed in the few questions Everson answered for Bloomberg at the Cannes Lions conference in France this week. Everson merely said Facebook has been testing new ad products (which it’s been doing for years), there’s “really significant interest” in mobile news feed ads, and that “phones can be location-specific so you can start to imagine what the product evolution might look like over time, particularly for retailers.”
That’s much less specficic than what Bloomberg published — that Facebook “says it’s working on a location-based mobile-advertising product that will allow companies to target users with real-time data showing their whereabouts.” Such a particular product was not confirmed.
But with 500 million users accessing Facebook from mobile, it has a lot of location data to rely on, and Inside Facebook’s Brittany Darwell says she has ad industry sources who say Facebook is looking into more accurate local targeting. Plus in January 2011 Facebook acquired Rel8tion, which specialized in hyper-local ad targeting. This could combine with the new Facebook Exchange real-time ad bidding system announced last week to create a powerful new product for advertisers.
Here’s how it would work. When you open your mobile app (if Facebook had permission to pull in your GPS coordinates) or when you published a location-tagged post, Facebook would learn your location and assume you’d be nearby for the next few minutes. Advertisers would pre-submit creative elements to be shown to users in specific locations, and possibly a maximum bid they’d pay to have their ad shown. When you’re in one of these areas, Facebook would match you with advertisers and either automatically serve highest-bed pre-made hyper-local ad, or ask a demand-side platform hired by the advertiser to make a bid and then show the ad of the auction’s winner.
For example, the Best Buy electronics chain could set up ads targeted to people within 1000 feet of all its retail locations in the US who Like Best Buy, other electronics stores, or devices it sells. When you open your Facebook app while walking or driving nearby, you’d see in your news feed a mobile Sponsored Story about how your friend had interacted with Best Buy, or possibly an offer for a discount from Best Buy that could make you more likely to visit the physical store.
Another possible flow would be that a travel company like Hipmunk could target ads to users who are more than 500 miles from their listed “current city” and are in a popular tourist destination. So when I’m in London instead of my home in San Francisco, I could be shown mobile ads reminding me that Hipmunk is an easy way to book cheap flights.
Some users might not be entirely comfortable with this hyper-local targeting, but Facebook would likely stress that all data is anonymized and no business would know your personal location, just that one of their targets was successfully advertised to. For years Facebook has pushed the boundaries of privacy and sharing, and with time many those product decisions, such as the news feed and check-ins, end up being accepted or even enjoyed. Now a public company, Facebook will need to see if it can push those same boundaries to benefit businesses, not just your connection to your friends.
Video game sales fell 28 percent in May, with total industry sales falling to $516.5 million from $718.9 million a year ago, according to consumer market research firm NPD Group. That happened despite the launch of the fantasy action role-playing game Diablo III from Blizzard Entertainment and the first-person shooter Max Payne 3 from Rockstar Studios.
The poor performance in May was a little better percentage-wise compared to April, when sales fell 42 percent year-over-year. The strong sales of Diablo III did create a bright spot: PC game sales were up 230 percent for the month.
But the weak brick-and-mortar store sales aren’t necessarily something to fret about as retail is becoming a smaller piece of the pie, accounting for 50 to 60 percent of sales. The total spending on games, when adding digital and other sales such as used games, adds up to more than $1.17 billion in the month.
In May, hardware sales were $138.9 million, down 39 percent from $228.8 million a year ago. Software was $255.4 million, down 32 percent from $375.9 million a year ago. Accessory sales were $122.3 million, up 7 percent from $114.2 million a year ago. Accessory sales were up because of strong game-card sales as well as the success of Activision’s Skylanders products, which are hybrid toy-game devices.
The estimated total consumer spending on games includes physical video and retail games, used games, game rentals, subscriptions, full-game digital downloads, social network games, downloadable content, and mobile games. Not counting hardware, sales were $335.2 million, down 16 percent from $400.1 million a year ago.
NPD is working with video game research company EEDAR to try to come up with more accurate numbers for global digital and physical game sales worldwide. The top-selling game of the month was Blizzard’s Diablo III (pictured above).
Microsoft said that total spending on the Xbox 360 was $209 million in May. The company sold more than 160,000 hardware units in the month in the U.S., and that meant that it capture 45 percent of the U.S. market share for hardware.
Following is analysis from The NPD Group’s video game industry analyst, Anita Frazier:
These sales figures represent new physical retail sales of hardware, software, and accessories, which account for roughly 50 to 60 percent of the total consumer spend on games. When you consider our preliminary estimate for other physical format sales such as used and rentals at $155 MM and our estimate for digital format sales including full game and add-on content downloads including microtransactions, subscriptions, mobile apps, and the consumer spend on social network games at $420 MM, we would estimate the total consumer spend in May to be $1.17 B. Our final assessment of the consumer spend on these areas outside of new physical retail sales will be reported in September in our Q2 [editor's note: second fiscal quarter] Games Market Dynamics: U.S. report.
All hardware platforms, save the 3DS, saw a decline in unit sales versus last year. The Nintendo DS, however, did realize a 35 percent lift over April 2012 catalyzed by the May 20th price reduction on the DSi and DSi XL. Even with the price drop on the DS platform, 3DS sales realized an increase of 17 percent over last May.
New physical software
PC Games sales realized a year-over-year increase of 230 percent realizing $80 MM in sales, which softened the decline in software sales overall.
Diablo III is the top-selling title for May, the first time since July 2010 that a PC-only game accomplished this feat. Since the game launched day and date through digital distribution as well, full sales of the title are some multiple of what is reflected in the retail sales. Starcraft II was the title that topped the best-seller list in July 2010, a testament to the power of the Blizzard brand in PC gaming.
To dig deeper into the new physical retail software performance this month, new launches generated 31 percent more dollars this May than they did last May largely due to the success of Diablo III. This May, new SKU [editor's note: stock-keeping unit] launches across console, portable, and PC game software generated 188 percent more unit sales per SKU than they did last May. So while there were fewer new item introductions this May, they collectively generated more unit and dollar sales.
YTD [editor's note: year-to-date] 2012, there have been 27 percent fewer new software title introductions into retail, which we believe is a big part of the softness we’re seeing in May sales. A title obviously continues to see sales beyond its launch month, so there is a longer term impact from a narrower array of available new content. That said, we saw some exciting content at E3 [editor's note: Electronic Entertainment Expo] that will come to market in the latter part of the year, and when great content comes to market, gamers are still showing up at the stores to buy it.
The Accessory category continues to perform well due to increased video-game-card sales, up 74 percent from last May, as well as the continued success of Skylanders.
Filed under: games
The popular coupon site RetailMeNot launched its mobile site earlier this year and today, the company is launching its first native app for iOS. The new app allows users who don’t like to pay full price to find online and in-store coupons. Users get access to curated lists of popular coupons and “hot deals.” They can also bookmark coupons for what the company calls “time-shift shopping.” According to the company’s own data, its site already gets about 17% of its traffic from mobile users. Its mobile channel, says the company’s CEO Cotter Cunnigham, is growing “by 200% every month year-over-year.”
Despite the company’s renewed emphasis on mobile, the app doesn’t allow you to discover coupons around you. Maybe that will come in a later version, but given that RetailMeNot itself argues that 35% of adults report that they are more inclined to make a purchase in a brick-and-mortar store when they have a coupon in hand, this feels like an odd omission. The app itself, though, is very well designed and makes it easy to find coupons thanks to its predictive search feature.
The company stresses that this is just its first foray into native mobile apps and that it plans to significantly improve its app with new features in the near future. Earlier this year, as our own Josh Constine reported, RetailMeNot announced that it would soon allow users to integrate their credit card information with their coupons. Instead of having to use offline coupons, users who choose to opt in to this feature will soon be able to simply select the coupons they want to use online or on the go and head to a store without having to print anything or show their virtual coupon. The coupon will then be applied silently at checkout. To offer this service, RetailMeNot partnered with CardSpring. For the time being, though, this service remains in beta and isn’t integrated into the mobile app yet.
To celebrate today’s release, RetailMeNot also commissioned a study that looked at how U.S. consumers use their mobile phones to shop. Judging from the results of this study, there is still quite some room left for mobile coupons to grow. Only about one in five respondents, for example, said that they have used a coupon they found using their mobile device while shopping in-store. One in seven, however, said that they have made an online purchase from their mobile device while shopping in a physical store because they found a better price online.
Today on Branding Strategy Insider, another question from the BSI Emailbag. Ahmed, an entrepreneur and brand marketer in San Francisco, California writes:
“I own a modern furniture company and sell numerous brands. At the same time, I want to build my own company brand, called Urban Loft, because (1) the name alone is the ideal name for the lifestyle/product and (2) I’ve successfully trademarked the name and want to take advantage of it. In an ideal world, the products I sell would be exclusive to me and this will be a non-issue. But in today’s internet era manufacturers are acting like retailers — pushing their own brands — good for them, but it conflicts with my interests and building awareness for my brand.
It seems I have two options. First, I can sell products (either on the web or in the retail store) without marketing my manufacturers’ brand. Or I can go with the flow (like most retailers online) and market that I sell other brands. This article recommends the second option. What do you recommend?”
Thanks for your question Ahmed. Is your store primarily a brick and mortar store or an online store? If it is a brick and mortar store, there are significant advantages to branding your store. Having a strong retail brand is a primary source of leverage when negotiating with manufacturers’ brands. Plus, the actual retail space allows you to create a specific branded environment and customer experience. Your store will come to stand for something, a certain style or lifestyle or something else. While I wouldn’t mask what manufacturers’ brands you carry in your store, especially if they are brands with allot of equity, I would focus on what your brand stands for and create the right environment, retail display, service level, mix of products, etc. to reinforce that brand. If you are primarily an online furniture retailer, the brands you carry, the website functionality and especially your product pricing, become very important to your success. The way you present products so that people can get a sense of the “look and feel” and the quality is also important.
If you are a manufacturer of modern furniture with multiple consumer brands in your portfolio, you should carefully think through your brand portfolio to determine if you have the appropriate brand architecture or if you are supporting too many brands, some of which could be merged into the other brands. The brand architecture exercise would also help you determine the proper relationship between the parent (company) brand and the individual product brands. Whether you are primarily a furniture manufacturer or retailer, a brick and mortar store would provide the most powerful platform for expressing your brand’s identity and promise. There is something to be said for creating a strong retail brand and, in the furniture category, I would believe that there is a significant advantage to customers being able to touch, feel, see and try out the furniture before purchasing it.
Thanks for your question Ahmed. Do you have a question related to branding? Just Ask…
Sponsored By: The Brand Positioning Workshop
Shopping via a mobile phone isn’t an everyday experience for most people, but already we can see patterns forming around the how, the why and the when.
Last month, IAB asked a group of mobile shoppers to keep a diary of their activity in a two week period. Here are some of the things they found out:
Here we see that almost half of all e-commerce interactions happened at home. They found that purchasing peaked in the late afternoon, early evening. 49% said they shopped while watching TV.
The dollar amounts aren’t too impressive, only 38% reported spending more than $21 a month. Most of the purchases were digital downloads with clothing and entertainment items coming in second.
Out and About
Only 29% used their mobile phone to shop while they were out, but 73% used their phones while they were shopping in a brick and mortar store. 34% used their phone to look up a price and 53% abandoned their purchase because of what they found. A few abandoned the purchase because they saw a bad review but most were lured away by a lower price – the downside of mobile commerce.
The good news is that 70% said they saw mobile as as more of an “invitation” than an “invasion.” They do not want ads to take them straight to check-out. They want to be taken to a page with additional options. 30% said they’d like to pay with mobile then pick the item up at the store.
Overall, the IAB Mobile Phone Shopping Diaries shows that consumers see mobile shopping as a way of getting the best price with the least amount of effort. They want information and options and in return they’ll allow you to use their geo-location to target them and their phone to contact them. Sounds like a good deal to me.
You’re a busy person, and taking time out to shop in a brick and mortar store for clothes is a hassle. Why bother when you can buy great-looking clothes online, custom tailored to your exact measurements, at prices better than you’ll find off the rack? Last week we asked you which online clothing shops you trusted for quality clothing, great prices, and a perfect fit. We rounded up your nominations and then took a look at the top five online custom clothing stores and put them to a vote. Now we’re back to highlight the winner—and how the contest played out. More »
Today, the retail industry is in the process of acclimating to a new multichannel environment. For today’s marketers, this means a new kind of shopper is emerging — one that engages with a wide variety of channels when deciding what to buy and where to buy it. A recent study by Shop.org, comScore, and Social Shopping Labs highlighted this trend by demonstrating that 47 percent of consumers have looked to their mobile devices for product reviews while shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. The offline and online worlds are blurring, and consumers are turning to an ever-widening variety of social and commercial information sources before making a purchase.
All these disparate strands, both offline and online, need to be pulled together into a coherent retail strategy by merchants. The process can be daunting for marketing departments worldwide, but there are many growing retail trends to capitalize on.
More mobile shopping
Smartphones and tablet devices have certainly played a part in this sea change. Forrester’s prediction that m-commerce will be worth $31 billion by 2016 seems to be on track, but what’s more telling, perhaps, is that the analyst firm also predicts that by 2015, 82.1 million adults will own a tablet.
Indeed, tablets will provide an increasingly potent sales channel for retailers by strengthening and innovating the mobile shopping trend as we know it. A tablet interface not only supports content consumption, but also greatly enhances it. Therefore marketers should make plans to optimize their web content for all platforms (iPad, Android, Windows 8, and others) and make it accessible to all markets. They must also ensure that their mobile web offerings provide media-rich experiences that establish significant brand awareness with a new set of mobile consumers.
Global shopping communities
Online marketplaces, at their best, are global communities — and they provide a key opportunity for marketers to reach or expand their global shopping audiences and drive growth in new markets. In 2012, international marketplace models will provide sellers of all sizes around the world with the opportunity to expand their operations internationally. Sellers will be able to dabble in international shopping communities and dedicate resources based on real-world demand. This will open up opportunities with burgeoning markets.
A recent survey by Rakuten revealed an international interest in purchasing from global merchants and marketplaces online. Results showed Brazil was leading the global e-shopping charge, with 81 percent of consumers keen to shop in different markets online, followed by Indonesia (77 percent), Thailand (74 percent), China (69 percent), and Spain (66 percent).
Social media meets e-commerce
Consumers have always looked to their friends for advice on what goods to buy, but now more than ever marketers need to make the most of social shopping. After all, online social networking has replaced merely calling a friend for advice. In fact, data released in July 2011 by Hitwise indicated that one Facebook fan was equal to 20 additional visits to a retail website in the course of a year.
Retailers are becoming increasingly aware of the power of “the fan,” and social will form an integral part of the e-shopping evolution this year. Retailers need to use social tools not just for brand awareness, but also for product development and customer service too.
A tailored shop
It’s no secret that online consumer data needs to be both leveraged and protected. Online search sites continue to build in security measures to protect their consumers’ privacy, and Yahoo is the latest to support a “Do Not Track” policy. Marketers can be sensitive to these policies while also continuing to engage in meaningful and timely ways with their customers by learning how to harness user-specific data from consumers who opt-in to share their information to provide personalized and relevant communications. This data exchange between brands and social networks will begin to provide solid business models for social platforms, as well as offer new, relevant insights into the psyche of the shopper.
Although each trend caters to different types of shopping experiences, it’s the combined offerings — off- and online — that result in an innovative retail marketing strategy that will generate the largest sales leads and maximize the company bottom line.
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“Close up of a buy button” image via Shutterstock.
Most business owners are already aware of the benefits of having a user-friendly website that is easily viewed and accessed by smartphones and tablets. Now, many of these same companies are finding fresh and unexpected ways to use tablets in stores, while helping to broaden the boundaries of what a brick-and-mortar store is capable of. Yes, the tablet revolution has finally reached retail, proving itself to be an essential tool in a new way of doing business.
Recent research indicates that by 2014, more than one in three American Internet users will have a tablet device, and that 52 percent of tablet owners prefer to shop online using their tablets. However, this data isn’t discouraging retail-store owners, who more and more are seeing the advantages of working with tablets to enhance their brick-and-mortar businesses.
For example, at the ‘Gas Station of the Future” in Rio de Janeiro, a Cisco Cius tablet is available to connect customers to specialists in real-time, and can also use videoconferencing to gather information on maintenance specials offered by the station, as well as show addresses across the city. Over at the the Shanghai Lotus Supermarket in China, SK Telecom has started a trial of its Smart Cart — a WiFi-enabled tablet PC mounted to a shopping cart (pictured above). While walking through the aisles, the customers can use Smart Cart to find product and discount information linked to their current location. It can even be synched to a companion smartphone app.
A recent survey of retailers done by RISNews.comRISNews.com showed 31 percent had plans to begin testing tablets in stores this year, 22 percent had already begun such testing and six percent had fully deployed tablets within stores. Tablets have already proven themselves to be extraordinarily adaptable and flexible at a variety of uses.
With the adaptation of Square and VeriFone point-of-sale (POS) services, there is an emergence of the concept of ‘t-commerce’ or tablet-commerce. And indeed, retail-business owners are beginning to understand the advantages of having a tablet with POS capabilities.
NYC-based Saturdays Surf uses the iPad with LightSpeed software to show merchandise to customers, order out-of-stock products, and complete sales. Putting tablets into the hands of sales associates is a smart move for a variety of reasons; using a tablet as an additional POS device helps free up floor space for merchandise, and customers no longer need to wait long check out lines for a cash register. Not only that, but studies show consumers who have been to stores where tables are being used feel that those stores are more innovative. Sixty four percent of businesses with tablets found their employees to be more helpful when assisting customers if they had a tablet.
An employee with a tablet in hand is at an advantage to help the average customers, who are more and more likely to have access to information on their smartphone or have researched their purchase on a tablet before entering a store.
Likewise, more and more retailers are catching on to the trend of using tablets. Here are some other great examples:
- Disney Stores and Urban Outfitters allow employees to ring up a customers purchase (and email their receipts) from an iPod Touch.
- Sears, Converse, Puma and Burberry have all rolled out tests of in-store tablets.
- Gucci and JC Penny are experimenting with ways to incorporate tablets into their stores.
- Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s both have tablet devices available at specific store locations to assist customers in researching a product, or to shop from a variety of styles.
- Nordstrom is rolling out 5,000 mobile checkout devices at 116 full-line stores in preparation for its Anniversary Sale in July.
With so much potential, and such quick adaptation, don’t be surprised to see tablets start showing up in stores near you.