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Posts Tagged ‘social shopping’

After ten years of two digit growth, e-business showed an awesome way for innovation, and promised another smart theme for the future with mobile web. Some smiled and some cried. New pure players found gold and the philosophical stone, brick and mortar stared as if fever was on, and some other retailers tried to play with web, finding a complementary way to mix retail and online. But before this maturity in mindset, pure players set up evil, in old traditional retail business…and drove to large layoffs in the industry. Not really sexy is it?

And the least all the e-business innovation could do, was feed another story for retail, increasing traffic, targeting, consumption, accuracy in needs and shopping and so on. It seems the time has come, with so many initiatives, web or mobile, to help retail in the “new shape” of modern business.

Let’s take a snapshot of the awesome changes and opportunities that could be offered to retail, with mobile innovations. Several parts of the value chain can be shifted as:

  • the battle for information: ability to check any product, scan online and find your personal shop, with relevance, perspicacity
  • the battle for loyalty with the incredible passion for virtual wallets, saving points from consuming, winning vouchers enforcing the loyalty of customers, from an online sign up to a loyalty program. A smart way to increase consumption in retail, directly from web sessions
  • the battle for promotion and traffic, boosted with the geolocalization of both, customer and offer, enhanced the purpose debate and lead customers back to retail
  • the incredible dilemma for choice, is turned into a game with the social shopping sessions that make fun with comparing, chatting and targeting together, for a focused “buying raid” to the most relevant retailer of the place
  • the whole noise before, while and after the buying act, that makes “buying” an event in itself: dealing with fashionistas, bloggers, influencers is a full win-win combination for pure pleasure

Right now, some players cope with the whole thing with talent, relevance and friendiness. I would suggest to take a look at some of them, while they are known to drive traffic and give back to retail what the Internet has probably hijacked for a moment. Check at sites like:

  • Shopsocially, Addoway, Blippy or Buy.com
  • Pikaba, Givvy, Shopcade, Shopwithit or Buyosphere
  • myShopanion

They bring new innovation in the sale surface, allowing customers to:

  • try before buy
  • socializing between other customers and vendors
  • while walking on sale surface, ability to know best promotions, comparing and prices, close around the shop
  • sometimes consulting a screen instead of using vendor’s service: more educated, self-skilled and well informed, the social media environment allows to bring more transparency to the whole chain
  • get in touch with crafts, completing the online experience of “colors” and chatting with vendors about products, new arrivals and “fitting”: social calls social. Sales and retail are definitely a social experience, moreover than online, probably more transactional than relational in fact.
  • Share, talk and guide until the good choice (place+price+promotion+offer): the experience, experienced by others

No need to say that screen invaded us more in the house than in retail first, but then the whole chain of “screening” is played before, while and getting to retailers’ places. The long tail for learning social media empowers all the actors for this new kind of capturing attention, figures and profiles, and raising loyalty in the end.

“Revenge” could be done if retailers integrate more and up, the screens and online features, in their communication strategy to bring new services and convince (at least), own customers to shift so. But means that vendors are trained and prepared to let these new tools sometimes help, sometimes replace few parts of their jobs. Diversity functions with humans and I guess with the hybrid ability to cope with machines too, bringing on the best for all and synergy back in between retail and web.

One thing is sure is that, despite equipment, we need to think and imagine all the best experiences for customer, and do it in our times. And our times are definitely wired, connected and social. As one said, “customer may be a media” now…

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Loyalty is in the end a very important part of the value of any relation. Build a trusty system means years of taming and needs lots of efforts and demonstration on how you can deliver promises, and keep them alive in a long term. This concept stands with any part of modern communication and relation and rise with it. We can quote “loyalty calls loyalty”, when we see that the most loyals subjects do, because they like and spread it. While we’re facing a big shift in the way brands speak to targeted customers and drive their whole relation, customer could be considered as less “loyal”. Because of his mobility, he becomes less “catchable”, I mean in advertising terms, underlining the new technologies that keep him alive “on” with the brand: mobile devices. The way we look at customers intentions and try to catch his “brain awareness” changes. In fact, could mobile be an awesome opportunity to enhance loyalty or a silent threat to lose audience?

The mobile facts: some figures worth more than long talks…(source: ITU)

  • more than 5 billion mobile subscribers in the world
  • nearly 1 billion has access to 3G services
  • mobile networks access: more than 90% of global population and 80% in rural zones
  • already thinking of 4G networks, increasing speed and services
  • web access will overtake PC and domestic devices (wired), within 5 next years
  • 450 millions users on web mobile, end of 2009 (IDC)

This “jack-in-the-box cumulated figures” means that any people on earth (nearly…) can receive a simple message from any brand that wants to catch him…got it? Hate or like? Chance or fear? I think everybody will (have to) find rules and own behavior and reaction with this new environment…

The Loyalty goodness

Loyalty seems to be an actual goal for everyone: brands, couples, retail, habits…Why? Because it costs far less to nurture and care an “established situation” with uses and automatic behaviors, than draw, seduce and attract new ones. True for customers, new comers, new process…and new husband/wife. Now living in a always wired era drives us to more “online” behaviors, acquired to lots of any information. These new habits mean that we’re more demanding about brand communication and customer care, even if we’re not customer yet. This eco-system, self-feeding situations seems to find a regulation with user generating content, added by any citizen, in mobile situation. The more we are touched by mobile communication, the more we’re in fact, tied softly to brands, increasing our silent loyalty and attachment to companies. Loyalty is key for long term forecasts and ongoing business models, that can improve portfolios for brands.

What we see is a necessary change on how you target customers: awareness is not captured like any other situation and needs accuracy, what I see: bad moment for a SMS is a dead-born message…Life duration of a SMS and our ability to use it is in fact, few seconds…snatch for catch is the real art and skill of mobile communication. Even with PDA spreading everywhere, majority is often limited in size, shape and kind of message your mobile device can manage. Intrusion is as bad as choose a bad moment to send your message: as mobile is personal, you can’t be wrong with your target. Any disruption between the message and the profile of the targeted customer and you will have a storm against you: the action will give you the exact upset situation for the brand…So be careful. Last but not least, “personal” means directly linked to the individual and you can pledge for mistake or misunderstanding, or hide behind bulk message: you are supposed to engage conversation and give arguments, if the customers speaks to you…as an individual people.

Virality is a perfect territory of expression to spread loyalty. But no pain, no gain. Spread loyalty in fact means no more but no less than spread trust, through your customers…So they engage them in a risk they were not obviously prepared to assume, and will shame you if you betray and show them, they were wrong to do so…Absolutely disappointed. For a long time. All your efforts blowed in a single SMS…? That worths to think twice before act…Mobile tagging (stickybits, u snap, shop savvy…), geolocalization (foursquare, plyce, gowallah, tellmewhere, waze…) are so cute ways to follow you (without being too intrusive first…) and hold the link and relation between a brand and a customer. A personal and mobile one.

The independance riot

Lots of things, reactions and strange behaviors told us in history to care about machines control…This holy link for brands can quickly become a nightmare for customers, because being in mobility means sometimes a moment of serenity and  is particularly “my moment”. Do I like to be disturbed? It may transform our attitude in a sharp reaction, the “action-reaction” of throwing away all our good intentions and thoughts about the so called “friend” brand. Do we want “independance” or do we like to be plugged “all-wired” entity? Are we supposed to be en “engaged consumer” at all prices and times, where does our engagement start and end, as any sign of further involvement means we do accept, assume (like?) the ongoing phenomenia of being followed with our cute device, as a personal spy, shouting more and more commercials…

This schizophrenic question and dilemma may drive to bunch of protestants fence, leading to a community riot, boycotting brands and company, products and attitude. By doing this, “Lots lost lots”, underlines the surgerical need to be very careful about the final goals and uses of mobile opportunities. Remember independance drove people to blogs, forums and parallel sources of information, where trust can be refound. And I think it’s dangerous to lose with impulsive actions, trust you spent months to build. Moreover when it’s for sales matters and start to be boring with the mobile target, that just wanted to go apart from the “promotion noise”…

Human is anything else than an independant and rarely wants to be linked, promised, as he never asked for. But being opti§n doesn’t mean everything is allowed though: like the butterfly effect, a small SMS can raise a viral revolution…

Drawing the necessary conclusions

Nothing is really grave or irreversible in fact. We have what we ask for, when we see such passion for mobile devices, it must be important for us not cut the link with anything…And remember there’s a switch off that can resolve conflicts and harassment. Use it anytime it’s necessary…Brands too, sometimes switch off, when you have some claims on the way…

 

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I am a customer. You are. We are. But if we sometimes have unstoppable pulse for something to buy. And if it’s possible that’s probably because we learned HOW to buy…Think it’s no sense? I mean, there’s probably a path for us to learn how to make better shopping,  You’re now wondering how we stand for this and where we come from, to consider there’s a “school for buying”, kind of “step-by-step” education with knowledge, behavior and techs.

See for example, social shopping, as it’s easier to get something valuable from anybody before buying anything, the contact and influence abilities have explosed with social web and communities. Living a valuable experience leads you to want to speak of it and share it with “friends”. But living a disaster in a shopping act, drives to danger as well. We can say that, facing these new behaviors, we get more aware of our sensibility, in a relation, standing for a buying decision. And we do, brands and professional shoppers must stand for a new way of convincing consumers.

 

 

1) for a good sale, now how to make you “bought”:

How incredible it can be, doing a good sale starts as you may be desirable, and slowly being bought “pulled” than pushed by salesmen. Customer has to get value, beyond the simple buying act and be aware of giving money to acquire use and pleasure. Increasing passion for consuming, means for a brand being in an “always-on” growing experience, that gives customers a kind of addictive lesson: clues, rewards, games, viral behaviors…all shapes of masterclass can be driven to get customers in a breathless stand. Doing so, giving you an exclusive advantage taking and keeping the attention of your potential customers to come again. Customers that may come to buy again and learn how to make a better choice, buying act and say it to lots of potential non customers. The learning process is so started, enabled and accepted, by the fact customers wait for a regular conversation (offer push, informations, promotions…). They can so share all this whole “nurturing” process with friends and closest contacts.

2) the jungle of knowledge and information:

We used to live in a “modern and urban” jungle: noises, trouble, movements, all that can scramble messages and sheer essence of information: “giving pieces of knowledge to improve awareness”. Boost of media, mobility and our addiction to information (being secured as being someone who “knows”) keeps us apart from core information in fact. I just only regret this huge amount of information troubles the ability anyone has to judge something relevant. And maybe the next goal is to “know better” than really “know more”. Web, crawlers, indexation and sort, RSS and bookmarking can help to make the real difference. Comparisons sites only adress the “how much” side of buying act, and even comments, forums or moderation can sometimes be “tricked” as well. The DNA of social shopping is an interesting side of what could help us to cope with the forest of offers we stand…or not.

3) profiling and getting clues:

Modern shopping is discovering how to be discovered. Checking footsteps of every move and buy. Being profiled to get more advantages of being a customer. Then your walk is finding clues delivering you more knowledge about what you really like, how you really live and why you are buying things you buy. Getting these clues, is according to be naked and low your defenses about curiosity, and some faces of your private life. Answering surveys, getting vouchers and use it will increase your participation and the road to your tastes. The best shop in the world will give you the following promotions after considering your full profile and buy after buy, you enhance your ability to choose more and better: an achievement in your buyer’s job…Experience is enlightning your passed path and allows you to drive better. Give a little of yourself, piece after piece…to reveal you in the light of your buyer’s profile: all you need is participate, give truth and transparency, because if so, you’ll have a bright payback. The scale of auto-learning…levelling your own experience and awareness for consuming.

4) stairway to heaven: the moment of truth:

You did go up for this intoxicating moment and like it: you ask for more. I said addictive, you know, you see?

Brands that can manage all these process softly, with an incredible experience of service, are not really intrusive, but just like your best friend…personal shopper? best trend setter? You reborn: relearning how to buy, you become more aware of promotions, messages and delight of leading the truth. Brands that treat customers well like old friends, may have loyalty and return…wallets are opening more easily to tip over on temptation. Even the marketing expenses are more valuable and relevant, as they are in fact “relation expenses” on long term relations. Imagine if you may be able to offer training sessions for all your customers…on your products and the way they MUST be used in real life for them: could we draw you back your toy?

5) the pleasure is contagious: already learned, already buzzed:

Lots of social toys have bloomed like angst…to be localized. Foursquare, Plyce, Tellmewhere, Gowalla and other Facebook places are nothing but accurate tools of modern social shopping: discovering places, check in, share view and comments (and then read others’ comments) and get some promotions on retail places (McDo, Starbucks…do this now). The chain has been designed to hold: as you progress in your expectations, you’re dying to say it, you buzz anywhere you can to be the influencer to come, the “friend everyone dreams of” for the best tip. Blooms of social platforms further, you can draw lots of audiences and become a special agent for brands (tip: for companies who missed the train, do something for us…they are supposed to be your best salesmen…). As you pay money to spread your messages and communication strategy, buzz is not really free…Being trusted by bulk means being trusty and really who you say you are: service and customer oriented. And fully personify the whole process to get the best of it.

6) raising the level of awareness: shopper’s experience educates the crowd

Building the flying wheel to breakthrough situation is now an ongoing process, that stands as a funny way to enroll people. Used to better consumption, educated so far to profiled promotions that save time and money, and targeted offers you can share, you are a better “student”, a better customer…And you want to share with others this status for you. You start to call your best friends, neighbours, parents to be a close influencer. You make them play, participate to mailing lists, subscribe them to private sales, invit them to shop with you. A kind of silent job, brands shall not ignore to care with their best outside talents. The more you attract, the more you like the game you’re in. Doing so, you learn how to be a personal consultant for best tips, good affairs and relevant sales. Your whole experience grows inside you as it spreads outside, just around you. I guess this shows you different and visible for others to come.

Now you’re ready to make your own courses, training session and buying lessons. While you’ve been targeted, focused and marketed as your own, you are able to give it back for crowd. Not that you’re ready to open a shop, because you’re best as a shopper than as a seller. Sure, you’ve been educated, you passed your exam of “advised customer”. Now you can open your wallet with serenity and take pleasure with it. And spread the word everywhere.

 

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