Somebody’s Watching Me

Retailers are watching me.  You too!

With smartphones, online shopping and lots of data, more and more companies are watching everything that you do to learn how to better sell you goods and services.  Retailers are using a variety of different tactics such as customer loyalty programs, facial recognition devices and cell phone signal trackers.  Then they use the collected data to determine where to place products in the store and how and where to advertise.

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Picking up your cell phone signal – Some U.S. malls rolled out technology that tracked consumers‘ cell phone signals in stores to track their paths through the mall. This technology is already popular in Europe and Australia.

Facial recognition – Retailers are using facial recognition technology to find out more about their core customer. It’s used to find out demographic information.

Loyalty programs – Many businesses use loyalty cards to track purchases and shopping habits. The retailer uses this information to target promotions exactly to the shopper.

Location AppsTarget and Walgreens have apps that lead customers around the store to the items they’re looking for. But while you have access to location information about the store, the retailer has the power to see what you’re looking for and where you go.

Abandoned carts?  Products that you pick up and then put down? How you walk the store?  All of this information is being used to make your shopping experience even more pleasurable – or so they say!

And in the spirit of Monday morning tuneage, yet another classic from Rockwell – I believe he is a one hit wonder:

More on this tomorrow.  Thanks to www.businessinsider.com

Enjoy the day.

Webman

Reclining Shoppers

With less than three weeks until Christmas, the majority of U.S. consumers (87 percent) plan to avoid crowded stores and malls and plan to cybershop from the comfort and convenience of home, according to a new survey by Verizon. – www.verizon.com

Of these stay-at-home shoppers seeking to check off holiday shopping lists while reducing stress, 21 percent plan to shop online while relaxing on their couch, 8 percent will shop while in bed, and 50 percent will do so while at their home-office desk.

Who is the Borderless Consumer?

borderless

When compared with all consumers, the preferences of digitally-savvy, borderless consumers are somewhat different.  More of them (31 percent) plan to make purchases while on their couch, or in bed (9 percent).  Slightly less (45 percent) will do so from their home-office desk.

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borderless2

Ho, ho, ho. Enjoy the shopping.

Webman

Showrooming

And yet another new word enters our vernacular.  Use to be we went to the showroon (a noun).  Now we go showrooming (a verb).  Kind of like when Google was a noun (Name of the company) and not a verb, “Just Google it?”

So what exactly is showrooming?  From Wikipedia – Showrooming is when a customer visits a brick and mortar retail location to touch and feel a product and then goes online to buy the product at a lower price. Online stores often offer lower prices than brick and mortar stores because they do not have the overhead cost.

48 million consumers or 20 percent of the U.S. population will use their smartphones to showroom.

The number of shoppers engaging in showrooming during the 2012 holiday season is expected to increase by 134 percent, with mobile behavior influencing between $700 million to $1.7 billion in retail purchases, according to a new report from IDC Retail Insights.

The report reveals some of the ways that retailers can address showrooming, with approximately 70 percent of shoppers planning to showroom this season saying they will be “more likely” to buy from retailers who offer full-featured mobile Web sites, provide omni-channel convenience across stores and Web sites, support smartphone shopping apps and offer price comparisons via QR codes.

  • Big ticket items, in particular those that consumers can easily evaluate by reading descriptions, specifications, ratings, and reviews will be the most showroomed items this year.
  • 7 to 13% of consumer electronics shoppers will use their smartphones at least once in stores this season; showrooming activities will touch 1.4% of consumer electronic sales.
  • Apparel and footwear is the second most heavily showroomed category. Between 4 and 8% of shoppers will showroom this category this year affecting about 1% of its sales.
  • 64% think what they’ll learn in the store with their smartphones will have at least as much influence on their decision as what they’ll learn online before coming into the store
  • 56-60% of shoppers with their smartphones in-hand say that they will be “more likely” or “much more likely” to buy what they find in the store as they shop this season when assisted by trustworthy knowledgeable store associates.
  • 41% of showrooming shoppers say that they will be “more likely” or “much more likely” to rely on their smartphones when they encounter retailers who offer private or exclusive merchandise.

You can check out a bit more on this at http://www.idc-ri.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS23789012

Here is an awesome chart from Accenture:

Retail is getting quite complicated.

Webman

Mobile – Muy Importante!

We often talk about what is happening in mobile.  Well, with the holiday shopping season now in full swing, we will cover some of the more recent trends in mobile shopping and the ever increasing impact of how these little hand held devices are changing everything we know about how people shop.

I found a great new web-site, Quartz, www.qz.com, that covers a variety of interesting topics including mobile.  The facts below were provided in an article by Christopher Mims.  He is the science and technology correspondent for Quartz. He believes that the most interesting things about the universe have yet to be discovered, and that technology is the primary driver of cultural change.

  • 55% of mobile users buy products on their devices, but 80% research purchases on them
  • Less than half of top retailers have a mobile site and app
  • 88% of mobile users engage in some kind of mobile commerce
  • 72% of consumers aged 20-40 in US and UK will use mobile devices to compare prices in-store
  • 48 million US shoppers will use their smartphone as an “on-demand aide-de-camp” in stores
  • $43.4 billion is what US holiday shoppers are expected to spend online this season, up 17% from last year
  • 14% of people with mobile phones have used them to make purchases while drunk
  • 23% of holiday shoppers in the US will spend more online than offline
  • 28% of US adults with a mobile device will use them to shop on Thanksgiving, vs. 16% last year
  • 32% of smartphone owners plan to download a shopping app for the holidays
  • 89% of all website traffic from tablets comes from iPads
  • 61% of all website traffic from smartphones comes from iPhones
  • 1 in 3 US consumers is thinking about buying a tablet computer this holiday season
  • 388 million Chinese access the web through their mobile phone, more than do so via PC
  • There are 260 million mobile connections in Brazil, higher than its population

So are these smart devices that we are using really that important?  You bet!

  • 90% of 18-29 year olds sleep with their smartphones
  • 1 in 3 people would rather give up sex than their phone
  • 95% of people use the phone for something just before going to bed
  • Half of people check their phones immediately if they wake up during the night

The game has changed.  What game are you playing?  If you are a retailer without a mobile strategy, time to make a change and get one.

Webman

Price Check Please!

Before all the awesome technology that we now have at our disposal, cashiers would yell out to someone in the store “Price Check Please” and someone would come up to the register, take a look at the product, go back to the aisle to find a similar product and then hurry (In some cases) back to the register to provide the correct price or to confirm.  Usually this was followed by “Spill in Aisle 5”. 🙂

Well, things have certainly changed.  As we know, products are scanned via a UPC (Universal Product Code), we present coupons that are also scanned using a bar code (either on our smartphones or by handing over a coupon) or using a QR (Quick Response) code to redeem our deal or special offer.  When on-line we use promotional codes that we have access to via our e-mail or through a quick search to find one that may be active.  Most on-line commerce sites provide an area for promotional codes at check-out.  These have become a standard for most on-line shoppers looking for a better deal; and aren’t we all.

When visiting a brick and mortar store, we have access to price check kiosks where we can scan an item for the price and other details, such as nutritional, before we get to the register to check-out.  We also have access to in-store hand held devices that enable us to scan all of our products while we shop and to access our frequent shopper history so that we know what we purchased in the past, what specials we can use, product and nutritional recommendations and many other “benefits” for the customer – as you know there is huge benefit for the retailer as they learn more and more about your behavior so they can improve the relevance of their communications with you.

And then of course we have these incredible smartphones that not only give us information and pricing about that product in that store, but also the price for that same product in competitive local retailers and for on-line retailers as well.  The power to find the best price sits in the palm of your hand.  Retailers are certainly responding to this “threat” in different ways.

Last holiday season for example, Amazon offered shoppers $5 to scan items in retail stores and to send that information back to Amazon so that they could understand the local competitive market pricing and make sure they had the best price.  Amazon’s Price Check app, which is available for iPhone and Android, allows shoppers to scan a bar code, take a picture of an item or conduct a text search to find the lowest prices. Amazon is also asking consumers to submit the prices of items with the app, so Amazon knows if it is still offering the best prices.  Now that is proactive “crowdsourcing” at its best.

Some retailers, like Target, are encouraging that behavior, giving shoppers gift cards and other rewards for checking in and scanning merchandise. Others, like Best Buy, are doing their best prevent it, even going so far as to strip the standard bar codes on products to discourage shoppers from running price comparisons with other retailers.

Empathica, recently issued a survey among 6,500 U.S. Internet users — a little more than half (52%) of whom identified as smartphone owners — to take a closer look at how they’re using mobile in stores. Impressively, 55% of smartphone owners said they’ve used a mobile device to compare prices between retailers. Thirty-four percent said they’ve scanned a QR code, and 27% have read online reviews from their devices before making purchase decisions.  Empathica provides Customer Experience Management programs to more than 200 of the world’s leading brands.

According to Empathica’s survey, here is how consumers are using their smartphones in store:

What your customer and prospect can now do while in your store is revolutionary.  You want to win?  Make sure you give your shoppers with what they need to engage.  It is no longer just about the product, but about the entire experience and how the shopper expresses themselves about you.

Let me know what you think about this post by commenting below.

Webman

The Young and the Retail-less

People love to shop.  Young people love to shop.  They love to shop on-line, at retail stores and on-line at retail stores.  What is that Webman?  No, not standing on-line but connected to their 3/4G networks or to the wi-fi network that many retailers now have as a convenience for their shoppers.  Shopping is changing rapidly and technology enabled and savvy shoppers are fundamentally changing retail shopping.  The days of the in-store person walking over and saying “may I help you” are coming to an end.  Another place where technology is and will be eliminating many jobs moving forward.  Are we close to seeing the day where awesome customer service is actually self-service?

The self-service theme, which started years ago with checkout at groceries, has progressed to the point where shoppers can navigate entire stores without once having to say, “Just looking, thanks.”  Companies are adding the technology now because it has gotten cheap enough to make it feasible and because Apple and other tablet and touch-screen makers are increasing their sales efforts. Stores also don’t want to risk losing those customers who are not content shopping from home but nonetheless prefer Pinterest recommendations, Zappos reviews and Fashism feedback to interacting with someone behind the counter.

More and more companies are using self-service kiosks in-store to provide information, tell you about the product and in some cases even dispense the product.  One of the companies that I do consulting work for is an automated retailing company called Vigix.  They are pioneers in creating incredible customer experiences through the integration of video, sound, couponing and product dispensing within a elegantly designed kiosk.

Nordstrom introduced an app in the fall that executives expected people would use remotely to order items while they were watching TV or waiting for a train.  Customers used the app while shopping at Nordstrom rather than approach the sales staff. To accommodate this changing in-store customer, Nordstrom has added Wi-Fi to almost all its stores so its app will work fast.  Is is also testing charging stations and clusters of iPads and computers.

Businesses have no choice but to accommodate consumers who are trained to do research on their own — and prefer doing so. Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland now gives suite visitors an iPad so they can order food and drinks directly from it, while Aloft Hotels, a Starwood division, has installed tablets instead of concierge stations.

At Land Rover, the addition of online tools for research has cut down sharply on dealer visits. In 2000, people, on average, made 7.5 visits to a dealer before placing an order. In 2010, that figure was 1.3 visits, with shoppers conducting 80 percent of their research on their own. The new technology is also being adapted by manufacturers who have been dependent on employees at big-box stores to sell their products but now see the opportunity for a direct line to the customer.

I sourced content from a recent article for this blog – Please visit the following link for the original article.  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/10/business/younger-shoppers-using-technology-not-salespeople.html?_r=2

The world is changing faster than ever.  Better hop on board the soul train!

Webman

Getting the Deal – Part 3

Lots of great feedback and interest in the first two Getting the Deal blogs, so here we go again with some more great insight into applications that can save you money through your smartphone. The number of applications either serving or that will be serving this market is growing rapidly so as consumers we can take advantage of as many of these opportunities as we can.  No shortage of chances to save money across our personal retail shopping area.

What do I mean by personal retail shopping area?  As a consumer, we have established our own footprint for where we spend money.  We have determined a certain travel radius that includes different types of retailers to satisfy our breadth of needs.  Included in your “shopping area” are grocery stores, drug stores, warehouse clubs, health clubs, spas, salons, car repair shops, books, electronics, restaurants, sports bars, clothing stores etc.  We now have the same shopping area on-line as well.  The on-line retailer provides us with in-home comparative shopping, product selection, ease of use and great convenience.  Together, each one of us has established of “footprint” for where we spend our hard earned money.

We are now presented with a variety of different smartphone applications and deal options.  Many of these are focused on your local retail environment.  If you are looking for a local deal right now, here are some applications that will help you:

  • Groupon launched Groupon Now on its mobile apps in April 2011. These are very short term deals structured to incent immediate action
  • Valpak’s mobile apps allow users to see coupons overlaid onto their phone’s camera, as well as a map.

  • AT&T’s ShopAlerts and O2’s Priority Moments services can alert the networks’ customers to exclusive offers and deals based on their location.
  • BiteHunter is an app which searches restaurant portals and social networks to show users nearby dining deals in real time.
  • ThinkNear automatically generates coupons during businesses’ slow trading hours.  When such periods occur, ThinkNear automatically generates coupons for nearby consumers, either as ads in mobile apps, or direct real-time alerts to those who’ve opted in.
  • Aisle 411 is a shopping app that helps shoppers find where products are located in stores, and delivers available digital coupons to users’ smartphones.

As you can see there is a lot of very cool stuff out there that helps to save us money.  Download a few of these applications and let us know what you think by providing feedback below.

Have a great day!

Webman