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SAP uses social sentiment to analyze back-to-school shopping

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Parents shopping for back –to-school goods react positively to ads that focus on sales and deals to maximize their appeal to shoppers, according to SAP Retail, and they react negatively to commercials that only serve as a reminder of the season. Using SAP’s social media analytics software, the company gathered social sentiment around the 2013 back-to-school season, analyzing more than 600,000 conversations across social channels, including Twitter and Facebook. The key takeaway for retailers: Analyzing social sentiment can uncover buying trends that aren’t as apparent in sales data. If they aren’t doing their own analysis, retailers are missing out on insights that will help them understand the 360 degree view of consumers.

In addition, SAP analysis indicates that 56% of social media conversations parents have about back-to-school shopping relates to in-store experiences, while 44% refer to online experiences, suggesting that retailers need to offer back-to-school deals across both channels. In addition, families tend to perform in-store back-to-school shopping together.

Other insights include a tendency for social media conversations about more expensive back-to-school purchases like electronics and apparel to slowly grow through June and July and plateau in early August, while conversations about less expensive purchases like school supplies sharply increase through July and early August and then dramatically increase in late August. Consequently, SAP advises retailers to time promotions about different types of back-to-school products according to buying season for a specific category.

View the infographic developed by SAP that illustrates its findings and shows social sentiment analysis can help retailers forecast for the 2014 season:


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Sears chosen to participate in EPA’s Energy Star National Building Competition

BY Marianne Wilson

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Sears Holdings Corp. has been selected to participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star National Building Competition: Battle of the Buildings, which is designed to help improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings and protect the environment.

Sears Holdings entered 122 Sears and Kmart stores that will battle it out against thousands of other teams representing buildings across the country. All efforts will be focused on eliminating waste through improvements in energy efficiency with help from the EPA’s Energy Star program.

"Sears Holdings is honored to be a part of the EPA’s Energy Star National Building Competition for the fourth consecutive year," said David Rich, VP of retail operations. "This year, we are dramatically increasing the number of facilities which we have entered into the competition and are looking to take our energy management program to the next level."

Sears said it has experienced significant savings as a result of its previous entries into the Battle of the Buildings contest. Three Kmart stores finished in the Top 15 overall in the 2012 competition.

The competitors in the 2013 National Building Competition represent more than 25 different types of commercial buildings — such as retail stores, schools, hotels, and museums — and hail from all 50 states, two U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. More than 100 competing buildings are over 100 years old.

The EPA will maintain a website devoted to the competition, featuring a list of the competitors and their ongoing results, a live Twitter feed where competitors will post updates on their progress, and a user-generated photo stream where competitors will upload pictures of their energy-saving efforts.”

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Brian Kilcourse: Mobile technology causing retail ‘reset’

BY Steph Koyfman

Boston — Brian Kilcourse, managing partner for Retail Systems Research, took some time out at the Orgill Fall Market Friday to deliver a primer on mobile technology as a driving force in the contemporary retail environment.

The seminar, titled "The New Rules of Retail: How Today’s Consumer is Changing the Game," positioned mobile technology as a harbinger of a giant "reset" in retail comparable to the Industrial Revolution and onset of the Information Age.

Kilcourse identified the invention of the barcode as the onset of the Information Age, as well as the launch of the iPhone (versus the smartphone in general) as the dawn of what he calls the Participation Age.

"I didn’t think we’d have another tech-driven reset moment in my career – but it happened," said Kilcourse. "We’re being challenged by web and mobile, which caused a dramatic power shift away from the retailer and to the consumer. You can think of them as very demanding customers. They have the power of information at their fingertips."

Aside from the transparency and visibility brought about by mobile devices, Kilcourse cited the unprecedented amount of people now participating in the global economy via the various "digital tidbits" they leave behind that educate retailers on consumer motivations.

Another key theme was the importance of creating an environment that will allow consumers to make favorable decisions before they enter a brick-and-mortar store.

"We build our stores with the assumption that the consumer is an empty vessel when they enter it," he said. "All the value that is retail is put into those four walls, but decisions are being made outside your store. You can’t have a salesperson approach them to help them make their decisions in a way that works in your favor. And that is why the power has shifted."

Kilcourse pointed out that despite the variety of channels used by consumers in their decision-making processes, only 5.6% of sales are actually made online.

One substantial takeaway was the imperative to thus create a dialogue outside the four walls of one’s store with the intention to bring the consumer inside. Additionally, employees equipped with mobile technology can help consumers make choices while accessing the same information online.

Research collected by RSR consistently positions the successful stores as the ones that believe more strongly in the power of mobile technology. Additionally, more retailers are collectively recognizing the importance of mobile, with 47% citing multichannel customers as being "significantly more profitable" in 2013, compared to 38% in 2012.

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J.Cage says:
Aug-27-2013 02:17 pm

Mobile has enhanced shopping experience for the consumers. Read this interesting whitepaper on retail "Thinking about tomorrow: Post-recession strategies for retailers" it offers information on technology in retail and other trends that are shaping the retail industry, readers will find it very interesting @ http://bit.ly/10XoIQa

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