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Bringing the color back into retail

BY CSA STAFF

By Derek Buchanan, [email protected]

It’s fair to say that the current state of retail is one of transition and flux. In the current climate, many retailers are going through a period of introspection; they’ve had to focus on cutting costs and risk by reassessing their stores, supply chain and sourcing. The focus is on efficiency and standardization, introducing processes that are easy to replicate, quickly.

The by-product of this situation is that it has almost become retailers’ entire focus. Therefore creativity, innovation and excitement have been sacrificed because of it. This means that from a customer’s point of view, while there’s a plethora of items to choose from, there is very little to differentiate between similar products on offer from different suppliers. As retailers have to be so conscious of efficiency and cost reduction, the ability to showcase and to put light and shade into presentation has been lost, and with that, it’s difficult for the customer to tell the difference between similar products.

In the most basic terms — what makes one brand of tinned soup different to another? So how can retailers get creative and make sure their products and goods are impossible for consumers to miss? The answer is to combine great signage, great ticketing and showcasing the product in such a way that consumers can’t avoid seeing the product. This is the way to get straight through to customers — they see, they note, they buy. But it’s done in such a way that it seduces the customer into wanting to buy the product. And that’s creativity.

Now the problem with some organisations is the cost impact in working this way. They need to free up time to be able to do this. They have to put other activities to one side, to say ‘we need to focus on this, because unless we can seduce the customer to spend their money, we’re not going to realise the sort of growth that we’re targeting.’ And the other issue is that customers are suffering from fatigue. They’ve bought everything they’re going to buy in volume purely because of price. They have enough shoes as far as need is concerned. They have enough food. Now it’s about want. And this is where retailers really need to get smart to showcasing and seduction! Companies need to bring color and passion into retail.

As it’s often said in retail, the last three metres are the most important. Research by Procter & Gamble has shown that in the last 20 years, more than 72% of purchase decisions are made at the last possible minute, when the customer is actually forced to make a decision, because if they don’t, they’ll have to walk out of the store empty handed and that’s the opportunity at the point of sale to actually change their decision. And what’s making this even worse today is that the lack of time is making consumers even more impulsive, so for the retailer the counter to that is that it gives the consumer even more opportunity. A lot of retailers however, are wasting that opportunity, by simply saying here it is, here’s the shelf facing, here’s the ticketing, that’s it. There’s no light and shade, there’s no ability to be able to see from the customer’s point of view, wow — this item looks even more exciting that that one over there.

So with such a large task ahead of them, what can retailers do? They should embrace technology in the form of an integrated customer communication system that allows retailers to quickly create quality, accurate and consistent information for all their channels whether they are in-store paper shelf edge labels and promotional signs, digital signage, such as electronic labels, signs, kiosks and TV displays or external channels such as web site, catalogue, coupons and newspaper adverts. Moreover, the technology available is such that it will scale from the smallest to the largest retailers worldwide. Small and speciality stores can take advantage of a web-hosted version of the technology to gain an immediate impact to improve customer communication, without the need to invest in a costly information technology infrastructure. Larger retailers can install the technology in-house using current infrastructure, enabling them to communicate to their customers in hundreds or thousands of stores across different countries in the appropriate languages.

The technology behind customer communication systems is proven. Companies using it have reduced costs, improved operational efficiency, enhanced the customers’ shopping experience and in many cases gained sales uplift across all categories of retail including supermarkets, department stores, electricals, fashion, home improvement and speciality stores.

Derek Buchanan, is CEO of Episys, a global information technology solutions and services company to the retail, manufacturing, logistics, chemical, healthcare and public service sector industries. It provides expertise, products, services and support for signage, labeling and mobile systems. He can be reached at [email protected].

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All retail is local: Four marketing strategies from your local politician

BY CSA STAFF

By Mike Hayes, [email protected]

Well, it’s election week. This year, as with many non-presidential election years, the story has been about control of Congress. Though this is presented on the news networks and political websites as a national issue, Congressional districts are, in truth, relatively small areas with clearly defined boundaries. The winning party, therefore, must solve the trick of being relevant to the local voters in many different and disparate districts. The maxim “all politics is local,” is more relevant now than ever before. Politicians need to know what’s top-of-mind, understand how their target thinks and craft messaging that resonates in a way that inspires voters to act.

Sound like a familiar process? It should, because politicians are masters of local marketing; constantly driving to a specific action at the local voting booth. Just like the local political arena, the game of retail is won block by block and store by store. This fall, I’ve gathered a few pointers that retailers can take away from our local politicians to translate into greater success at the register.

Strategy One: Focus your dollars where they matter most: Whether they be Congressional districts or Aldermanic wards, politicians have clearly defined boundaries where they focus campaign efforts. They know precisely the areas that they must invest in to win the election. They also know the areas that they’ve got in the bag. The questions they need to answer are: Where can I pick up undecided votes? How much time should I spend shoring up my “base?” And is it worth it to spend money in areas where my opponent is solid?

Retail marketers also must make these choices. If you’re a major retail marketer, you should be making strategic investment decisions based on where you’re strong and where you’re not. With budgets the way they are, which 200 store neighborhoods do you need to win to hit your national holiday revenue goals, and which ones are a lost cause? Are you thinking about where you should turn up the heat for Easter? With new targeting and insight technology, national marketing can work even harder when paired with a performance-driven, geography-based store strategy.

Strategy Two: Be In tune with neighborhood realities: Nothing hurts a politician more than being considered “out of touch” with voters. The same holds true for marketers and their customers. Politicians, no matter where they’re running, focus on the hot button issues for their electorate, and those issues are likely to be different for each local neighborhood. In the Bay Area of San Francisco, people are hotly debating the issue of medical marijuana and gay marriage. While in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, people are concerned about tax hikes and corruption.

Retail marketers also need to be in-tune with the local customer realities. It’s extremely important to know — with absolute certainty — the issues that are important in each area (which can vary greatly, neighborhood by neighborhood). These variations can range from micro-economics such as recession status, job market and home sales, to demographics and psychographics such as lifestyle, family structure and brand affinity. Retailers have the opportunity to craft marketing messages to align with those local differences to gain a competitive advantage. Missing that critical information, a marketer runs the risk of sending out the wrong message, at the wrong time, to the wrong people. They’ll appear out of touch, and they’ll lose sales at the register. There are over 2,000 data streams available for every zip code around your stores. Using available local market insight to enhance performance is what gives marketers (and politicians) a leg up.

Strategy Three: Layer local tactics based on response. Once you’ve defined who’s going to make the register ring, how do you inspire them to act? Even within a single neighborhood, Politicians layer a myriad of strategic grassroots efforts that they know will collectively shift the vote. Politicians have figured out that a personal appearance might drive the vote for some neighborhood voters, while a social media effort on Twitter and Facebook might inspire a different set of voters. They have the art of local marketing perfected, with all local tactics working in alignment to drive voters to their local polling station.

Advanced technology now enables marketers to understand the media receptivity differences by neighborhood and by target. Just as different voters are swayed by different media (one may appreciate a booster going door-to-door while another just views it as an annoyance), shoppers take action based on different media triggers. One shopper may respond to direct mail; another is more receptive to social media outreach. Marketers must consider the optimal media outreach, down to the neighborhood level.

Strategy Four: Create (and use) brand evangelists. Every successful politician is backed by an army of supporters and true believers who work to get the message out. They go door to door, they tell their friends, family and neighbors about whom they’re supporting in the upcoming election. And, by expressing their point of view, they create other supporters, who evangelize on their behalf.

In marketing, as in politics, consumers are swayed most by their friends and family, whom they consider to be trusted resources. Marketers need to find their own evangelists and ensure that they’re helping a retailer get its message out on the local level. Find the passion groups for your product within the local arena and get them to talk about you. Even if it’s through virtual communications — social media, blogs, texting — research shows consumers don’t differentiate. A trusted source is a trusted source.

All politicians, even the ones competing for the highest office in the land, use these local tactics. In the last presidential campaign, Barack Obama used them like no one before him. He identified his target market (the disaffected), and crafted a message that resonated with them (change). He knew his likely voters (Democrats), and how to reach them. He focused media and message on those places where it could do the most good; he used a mix of national, local and new media tactics to reach those voters. And especially, he employed a team of evangelists (particularly those attuned to spreading the message via social networks) to spread their enthusiasm for his candidacy. The result: a decisive victory two years ago. As we near the end of this year’s political season, whoever wins the most votes will likely have employed the similar tactics to similar success.

Politicians know their races are won and lost in the neighborhood. Retailers, it’s time to recognize that you have the same opportunity. Right location, right media, right message is a tangible reality for retail chain stores, no matter how many different neighborhoods you call home.

Mike Hayes is the chief strategy, development and operations officer of Geomentum, one of the largest hyper-local marketing agencies in the United States. Hayes advises some of the nation’s largest retail chains and marketers on how to leverage store-level geographic information to customize and enhance marketing for thousands of stores across the nation. He can be reached at [email protected].

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May-22-2013 12:44 pm

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J.Lyons says:
May-09-2013 06:27 am

This are very common to politicians right now. They're all using such online marketing strategies for their campaigns and on their business promotions.

J.Lyons says:
May-09-2013 06:27 am

This are very common to politicians right now. They're all using such online marketing strategies for their campaigns and on their business promotions.

A.Brown says:
May-06-2013 02:36 pm

Thanks for the great strategy list, I've been selling my d3 gold since I'm an avid gamer and I'm thinking of expanding more, to have friends play and we can sell our golds and making money out of it.

A.Brown says:
May-06-2013 02:36 pm

Thanks for the great strategy list, I've been selling my d3 gold since I'm an avid gamer and I'm thinking of expanding more, to have friends play and we can sell our golds and making money out of it.

G.Han says:
Mar-28-2013 08:59 pm

The strategies you provided are very interesting, I agree that politicians are masters of local marketing but still they have a lot of things to learn from marketing specialists as Perry Belcher. Using the local tactics is a nice idea, the third strategy you shared with us contains a lot of useful tips that every politician should know.

G.Han says:
Mar-28-2013 08:59 pm

The strategies you provided are very interesting, I agree that politicians are masters of local marketing but still they have a lot of things to learn from marketing specialists as Perry Belcher. Using the local tactics is a nice idea, the third strategy you shared with us contains a lot of useful tips that every politician should know.

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Walmart offers early discounts on electronics

BY CSA STAFF

Sharp pricing on key electronics items will be featured at Walmart this weekend as the retailer launches an early season holiday promotion billed as “The Amazing Walmart Electronics Event.”

The sale begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 6 and continues through the weekend or until inventories sell through. To generate shopper excitement, Walmart is taking markdowns on Vizio brand televisions ranging from $198 for a 26-inch model through $898 for a 55-inch model and featuring a Compaq laptop with a 250GB hard drive for $288. Other featured products include a Sony PlayStation 3 bundle for $399 with a free $50 gift card or a $50 iTunes gift card for $35. There is a limit of two iTunes cards per person.

"We know our customers are starting their holiday shopping now, and they are looking for consumer electronics gifts that the entire family can enjoy together," said Gary Severson, Walmart’s SVP entertainment. "This is the first of many holiday savings events around the hottest consumer electronics gifts, and we are committed to continuing to offer families incredible savings on the best gifts they want throughout the entire holiday season."

The company said the majority of the featured prices will also be available on its website at www.walmart.com.

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