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Holiday Shopper Sentiment Report: Behind-the-Scenes Q&A

BY CSA STAFF

Chain Store Age editor Marianne Wilson talks with Michael Schulze, Senior Vice President & General Manager, North America Retail Industry, SAP America, about the motivation behind the "Black Friday and Cyber Monday Consumer Face-Off," and the technology used to uncover its insights, in the following Q&A:

Where did the idea for the Black Friday and Cyber Monday Consumer Face-Off originate?
In today’s retail world, we all know that the shopper is in charge. Engaging with the customer today means meeting them on their “shopping turf” or channel, not waiting for them to come to you. Single-day events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday represent defined ways of shopping during defined time parameters. With omni-channel shopping on the increase, we wanted to see how consumers are using social media to find, track and report deals during the kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

Beyond “how many times” was a retailer or experience called out, we wanted to understand the types of shopper sentiment that was associated with these two days. Were they blasé about the prospects of shopping on Black Friday, or was it going to be a life changing event? Did they love or hate the retailer, the deals, the lineups, or the ease of check out? As shoppers become more tech-savvy and loyalty neutral, retailers need to understand not only what customers are saying about the experience of shopping, but also how passionate they feel about the actual experience.

How exactly will SAP be tracking consumer sentiment those two days? What tools will you be using?
Consumer sentiment, as well as a number of other metrics, were tracked using SAP Social Media Analytics by Netbase. With its powerful Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine, SAP Social Media Analytics stores and interprets the last year of conversations from Facebook, twitter, and 165 million other sites across the social web – including social media networks, blogs, product review sites, forums, news sites, etc. – and provides insights into emotions, behaviors, brands, themes, passion, and sentiment.

By aggregating all these sources of data, we can quickly identify patterns – either by time of day, geography, news events, or retail activities. This is the same system used by SAP customers to both listen to – and engage with their customers – either to tune their retailing experience, or optimize the customer service experience.

Who/what will you be tracking?
Although we can slice and dice information about any retailer, for the face-off we chose a representative sample of tier 1 and tier 2 retailers across apparel, footwear, big box, chain and department stores. We are focused on monitoring consumer sentiment towards categories (such as tablets), and brands (such as specific retailers or online sites.) Cross analysis allows us to compare these searches for helpful insights – for example, are customers talking about new tablet computers more in the context of online retailers while storefronts get the majority of fashion and other hard goods?

What type of insights can we expect? What will the data show?
The data shows how the consumer felt about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. SAP Social Media Analytics allows us to slice the data in multiple ways and to drill into that data in pursuit of important trends. Saying that most consumers had a ‘neutral’ opinion on Black Friday sales betrays the flexibility of Business Intelligence. The law of averages means that consumers can have a ‘neutral’ experience as a result of an outstanding experience with one retailer and a disastrous experience with another. Their ‘neutrality’ is interesting, but their ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ are far MORE interesting. It’s also interesting to understand how sentiment changes over the course of the day in the aggregate … and for specific segments of customers or retailers. How did the experience of a “Fashion” shopper differ from the “Electronics” shopper and what insights can be put into play to keep those shoppers engaged? Retailers themselves can use this technology to mine insights into how each of their locations is doing against one another (and their target) … or over the course of a full business day.

How will this information help retailers going forward?
We all recognize the role that Thanksgiving weekend plays in the success of a retailers holiday season. But, what about the other 362 days? Successful retailers are using monitoring solutions to stay engaged with their customer over the course of the year. Today’s nimble retailers can identify consumer sentiment souring on one product, and respond through a merchandising or pricing decision. If by early morning Friday it’s clear that Tablets are the ‘must have’ item, smart retailers are adjusting promotions and displays accordingly … maybe that means offering companion offers … or reallocating square footage.

Today’s omni-channel consumer has very high expectations for how he/she expects to shop. Their loyalty is only awarded to retailers who meet him/her on their channel. Retailers who can react and respond to the social sentiment expressed by the omni-channel consumer have a greater opportunity to interact and keep that customer loyal. Profiling, listening, and engaging with the customer is becoming more important aspect of any thoughtful retail strategy. The way you engage with a ‘Black Friday Only’ shopper may be different from the way you engage with one of your most loyal customers who just happens to be shopping on Black Friday.

Personalizing the retail experience begins with understanding how consumers live, work and play. Delivering enhanced experiences requires crucial omni-channel insights provided by consumer data that is no longer dependent on levels of aggregation. Increasingly, social media data is every bit as important as other enterprise data points. In the modern retail environment – especially in the new ‘online vs. storefront’ world, information is the great leveler.


Return to the Holiday Shopper Sentiment Report by SAP

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Dec-27-2012 06:57 pm

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J.Sinton says:
Dec-27-2012 06:57 pm

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Tiffany: From Out of the Blue heads into the cloud

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — Tiffany & Co. is polishing up its social media efforts to more effectively engage with a new generation of shoppers with its launch of From Out of the Blue on Tumblr.

From Out of the Blue (http://tiffanyandco.tumblr.com) captures with both images and text the 175-year heritage of Tiffany & Co. The site is organized into three themes. Each is a portal to visual storytelling and each will debut exclusive content as events unfold. The new Tumblr site joins the company’s other digital initiatives, among them Facebook and Twitter, Instagram, an engagement ring app and other apps, as well as Whatmakeslovetrue.com, a site dedicated to love and romance. The jeweler’s use of these various platforms has made it possible to not only stay connected to its existing customer base but also reach out to a new generation of shoppers.

Timeless Tiffany includes the story of Tiffany’s rise as New York’s first great jeweler, its diamond heritage, as well as major milestones and masterpieces of its exclusive designers. Other highlights include drawings from the Tiffany Archives and a virtual hall of fame that showcases vintage Tiffany ads, images of jewelry representing every fashion era from the Gilded Age to the present day and Tiffany’s place at the forefront of style and culture.

Tiffany Insider is an ever-evolving gallery of images and videos that captures the excitement and creativity behind photo shoots, dressing stars in Tiffany diamonds and unveiling windows that invite the imagination to dream of elegant new worlds.

Tiffany In Style covers events with luminaries from all walks of life, and also introduces the latest designs in jewelry and accessories, along with the advertising images and videos that launched these new creations.

The site also features a new video, The Dream Maker, a reference to company founder Charles Lewis Tiffany. Launched exclusively on the new Tumblr site, the video combines the talents of Oscar-nominated cinematographer Darius Khondji and composer Abel Korzeniowski, twice nominated for a Golden Globe. The video gives viewers an equally dramatic look inside the Tiffany Workshop, where the world’s most spectacular jewels are created.

For a limited time the site will feature images of the Legendary Gemstones of Tiffany, a magnificent collection of jewels with the gemstones Tiffany introduced to the world. The collection was created in honor of Tiffany’s 175th anniversary.

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Things looking up for Macy’s, successfully completes debt tender offer

BY CSA STAFF

CINCINNATI — Good news for Macy’s, which has closed the cash tender offer by its wholly owned subsidiary, Macy’s Retail Holdings, Inc., to purchase up to $700 million in aggregate principal amount of its outstanding debt securities.

“Through this transaction and our recent debt issuance, we have successfully improved our debt maturity profile and decreased our ongoing interest expense,” said Karen M. Hoguet, Macy’s, Inc. CFO.

Macy’s expects to record additional interest expense relating to the tender offer of approximately $133 million ($83 million after income taxes) prior to Feb. 2, 2013. By completing the tender offer and related financing, Macy’s interest expense is anticipated to be reduced on a full year basis by $30 million.

Because the maximum aggregate principal amount of $700 million for the tender offer was exceeded, and the maximum aggregate principal amount of $400 million for the 5.90% senior notes due 2016 was also exceeded, Macy’s Retail Holdings did not accept all of the Notes tendered for purchase.

The consideration for the notes accepted for purchase, as calculated by the dealer managers and announced on Nov. 13, plus accrued and unpaid interest, will be paid today, Nov. 28. Notes that have been tendered but not accepted will be promptly returned to the tendering parties.

Credit Suisse Securities LLC served as the coordinating dealer manager and BofA Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC served as the other dealer managers for the tender offer. Global Bondholder Services Corporation is the information agent and the depositary.

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