News

Not All Customer Experiences Are Created Equal

BY CSA STAFF

By Katrina Gosek, [email protected]

As a consumer, I have pretty lofty expectations for retailers today. I expect that when I go into a store looking for a new grill, I can find that exact same grill on my iPhone without herculean effort. I also expect to be able to read peer reviews, view grill specs (I’m a foodie, so my deliciousness quotient is high, but I don’t have a lot of space), and see photos and watch videos of how the grill looks in various areas – all from my iPhone while standing in the aisle. I even expect to be able to order the grill from my phone while I’m in the store (because I want to buy it now using the 20% off coupon I received via email, and because I know the grill I want isn’t going to fit in the trunk of my car).

Maybe I’m just too type-A. Maybe my expectations are too high. Maybe I’m jaded because I know what is possible in the retail world and expect it everywhere and every time. But I really don’t think I’m the only consumer out there who desires this connected experience.

Reports from major analyst firms like Forrester and Gartner, news articles in major retail industry publications, and presentations from leading retail gurus at industry events have all pointed to the same revolution in retail over the last few years: Digital channels – .com, mobile and social – have become the dominant medium for influencing decision-making and building a stronger relationship between brands and customers. Retailers, consumers, analysts and industry leaders have known for quite some time that it’s no longer just about a great in-store experience. It’s about the anywhere and everywhere optimized experiences that are just right and uniquely created for me. To deliver this, product information − from images and specs to reviews and promotions − has to be consistent and customized across every consumer channel and touchpoint. Every device, every channel, every call to customer service must be personalized in order to successfully convert browsers into buyers.

Providing intuitive experiences everywhere, every time to each consumer seems like it should be a no-brainer for retailers – especially since as of late, the personalized experience has transformed from an option to the standard. But it’s not as easy as it looks. If you step back for a moment and look at what is required behind the scenes from a technology perspective to deliver a consistent experience across all channels, you’ll encounter quite a challenge. The seemingly simple customer experience now touches the entire retail technology ecosystem. For example, relevant inventory and pricing information comes from the ERP system, relevant promotions are found within the commerce platform, product specs and technical information is pulled from the product information system, and images and videos pull from the Web content management and digital asset management systems. The list of data and content coming from diverse systems seems never ending.

This creates an extremely large technology challenge for retailers. At bottom, the ability for retailers to predict when, where and on what device a consumer will want to access a product and accompanying information has vanished. For large- and medium-sized retailers, there are just too many potential customers, too many devices and too much data to allow for the predictability of the past. An August 2011 independent Forrester Research report, The Emergence of Customer Experience Management Solutions, surveys the changing Customer Experience Management (CXM) technology landscape and notes that “as experiences have become more complex and fragmented, it has become increasingly clear that businesses can’t sustain the current manually intensive processes over the long haul.” The key concept here is that customer experiences need to scale to the diversity of customers and adapt to the unpredictable nature of today’s consumer interactions. Retailers can no longer think about building these types of customer experiences by hand – but rather, delivering them dynamically from among a mountain of diverse content and data.

At the core of what we’re seeing is a fundamental shift in how customer experiences need to be built, managed and optimized to support new consumer expectations. Advances in CXM technologies play a big role in this, and have opened up a world of possibilities to dynamically assemble relevant, personalized and optimized experiences within and across channels. The ability to integrate rich and diverse information assets spanning customer intelligence, social network information and rich media – and to dynamically assemble that information based on the user’s context – can be extremely powerful.

Though this may seem simple on the surface, this is a very important concept to understand. A very large shift is occurring in the market – a disruptive one, some would argue. Quite a bit goes into this shift, with implications on mobile, social, analytics, Web content management, faceted search and navigation, merchandising, and so much more. Today and in the near future, not all customer experiences are created equal. But retailers that satisfy and retain customers most successfully will be those that can leverage the mass of offers, products and content from across the organization to deliver optimized, consistent customer experiences no matter where, when or how customers are encountering them.

Katrina Gosek is director of product marketing at Endeca (endeca.com), where she is responsible for the company’s InFront customer experience management platform. In addition to developing online marketing best practice strategies, she also assists customers with outlining and analyzing Endeca’s impact pre- and post-implementation Gosek can be reached at [email protected].

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

Polls

Consumer confidence is high. Is that reflected in your stores’ revenues?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
News

Toying with the holidays

BY CSA STAFF

September may seem a bit early to put out a holiday toy list, considering most consumers just finished spending for back-to-school and still have Halloween to think about, but garnering media attention is important. Many retailers who have a hand in toy retailing will put out some sort of toy list, and Walmart is among them. However if it continues the trend of last year, Walmart won’t release its list until early November, which is more in line with when consumers begin thinking about holiday shopping.

Two companies that aren’t waiting to get the word out are Toys"R"Us and Kmart, who earlier this week both revealed their top toy lists for holiday 2011. Their picks are listed below:

Toys"R"Us

  1. Air Hogs Hyper Actives from Spin Master

  2. Air Swimmers eXtreme from Animal Planet

  3. Lalaloopsy Silly Hair dolls from MGA Entertainment

  4. LeapPad Explorer from LeapFrog

  5. Monster High Fearleading 3-Pack from Mattel

  6. Moshi Monsters Moshling 3-Pack Mini-Figures from Spin Master

  7. My Keepon from Wow! Stuff

  8. Nerf Vortex Vigilon from Hasbro

  9. Ninjago Lightning Dragon Battle from Lego Systems Inc.

  10. Poppin’ Park Elefun Busy Ball Popper from Playskool

  11. Power Wheels Dune Racer from Fisher-Price

  12. Radica Fijit Friends from Mattel

  13. Sesame Street Let’s Rock! Elmo from Hasbro

  14. Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure from Activision

Kmart

  1. Let’s Rock! Elmo

  2. Fijit

  3. I am T-Pain Microphone

  4. Barbie Designable Hair Extensions and Doll

  5. Lite Sprites Lite Wand, Prisma and Pod

  6. Redakai Championship Battle Tin

  7. FurReal Friends Cookie My Playful Pup

  8. Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster

  9. Mini Lalaloopsy Treehouse Playset

  10. WWE Colossal Crashdown Arena

  11. Transformers Mechtech Ultimate Optimus Prime

  12. LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet

  13. Lazer Stunt Chaser R/C Vehicle

  14. Simon Flash

Consumers looking to comparison shop will notice that both companies have the LeapPad, Nerf Vortex, Fijit and Let’s! Rock Elmo on their top toy lists. This could be a concern for Toys"R"Us as Kmart’s more aggressive pricing strategy may lure cost-conscious consumers into its stores, especially if they know they can get at least a few of this year’s hot toys for less. Where Toys"R"Us can thrive is in the area of exclusives, several of which appear on its top toy list.

“There are so many really terrific new toys available this year, so narrowing down the list of top toys was fun, but challenging,” said Karen Dodge, SVP, chief merchandising officer for Toys“R”Us, U.S. “The Toys“R”Us 2011 Holiday Hot Toy List highlights what we expect will be the most sought-after items this holiday season and the ones that will yield squeals of delight when kids tear off the wrapping paper on Christmas morning.”

Toys"R"Us may be the leading toy retailer, but mass-merchandisers like Kmart continue to gain market share.

“Brands have told us that being chosen for our (toy list) creates an increased demand for the toys on the list,” said Hugo Malan, SVP and president, fitness, sporting goods and toys. “And customers are thrilled that we’re helping them identify the toys that will be the next holiday craze.”

Walmart’s strategy in waiting to release its own toy list makes sense as it gives the retailer time to see which toys are generating real interest with consumers and plan its assortment accordingly.

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

Polls

Consumer confidence is high. Is that reflected in your stores’ revenues?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
News

Walmart to empower new women’s website

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK — Walmart took the next step in its goal to help build women’s economic empowerment by announcing the launch of a dedicated page on Walmart.com that will feature an assortment of products created by women in nearly two dozen countries, including women who work in cooperatives and own small businesses. The site, which the company expects to be available in spring 2012, will feature such products as jewelry from Guatemala, Thailand and Ethiopia; coffee from Central and South America; and dresses from Kenya. By 2016, Walmart said it expects the site to featureapproximately 500 items — from apparel and jewelry, to stationery and accessories – by more than 20,000 women in nearly two dozen countries.

“The challenge for small women-owned businesses – and particularly women artisans – is that they have a fantastic product, but they may not have the size or scale to sell in our brick-and-mortar stores,” Leslie Dach, Walmart’s EVP corporate affairs, said at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. “This commitment today gives these women access to an established set of customers on Walmart.com, as well as the benefit of the company’s knowledge about customers, packaging and promotions.”

Initial partners for the site will include Full Circle Exchange and Ethical Fashion Africa, a program within the International Trade Centre.

Walmart’s dedicated e-commerce page is part of the company’s global effort to empower women. The five-year plan — developed with help from both governmental and non-governmental organizations and philanthropic groups — will direct $20 billion on goods and services from U.S. businesses owned by women, as well as double the amount to women-run suppliers overseas.

Human resources issues and training for women will receive Walmart’s attention, as it will offer skill-set training for 60,000 female factory workers employed by Wal-Mart suppliers and other merchants. Life skills such as punctuality and financial literacy will be taught as well.

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

Polls

Consumer confidence is high. Is that reflected in your stores’ revenues?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...