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Snap Into the Customer Convenience Mindset

BY Dan Berthiaume

SAP demonstrated a concept consumer app called “Snap” at its recent Retail Forum in Dallas. Snap provides customers with interactive 3-D assembly instructions for a vast array of products. The instructions are pulled from manufacturer CAD files and delivered via cloud after the customer scans a product barcode or QR code, with options such as zoom and audio. Snap even lets shoppers register products for warranties and automatically request replacement parts.

Snap is one of those ideas that makes you say to yourself “Why didn’t someone else already think of this? It’s so obvious.” SAP deserves all the credit in the world for developing what looks like it would quickly become a smash hit with consumers when and if it gets put into general release, but there is a very specific reason why nobody else in the retail IT community thought of Snap before now. Retailers seek solutions that help consumers spend money rather than solutions that help consumers. And what retailers seek, vendors help them find.

The Convenient Approach

Retailers need to get away from the mindset of designing solutions with the direct intent of increasing customer spending and toward the mindset of designing solutions with the direct intent of increasing customer convenience. Done correctly, there will be an increase in customer loyalty that will lead to better and longer-lasting spending increases than any solution simply designed to get shoppers to buy more and costlier items.

Let’s look again at the Snap concept to demonstrate exactly what I mean. Products that require assembly are a near-universal consumer nightmare. Even handy types do not look forward to reviewing poorly written and illustrated directions and sorting through countless parts, components and specialty tools (it seems every “assembly required” product comes with at least one proprietary tool you will never use again) in an attempt to create a finished product that matches the store display or picture on the box.

Creating Goodwill
However, Snap applies advanced 3-D. mobile and cloud technology not to convince a customer to buy the product beforehand, but to make the post-sale experience much more convenient. The retailer does not generate any immediate additional revenue as a result. But here’s what does result:

Instead of tweeting about how awful their post-sale assembly experience was, the customer tweets about how easy and stress-free it was. The customer is less likely to return the product, especially in a damaged or half-assembled state. Beyond general feelings of goodwill toward the retailer, the customer also will be more likely to buy products requiring assembly, which are often big ticket, low volume items like large appliances and furniture, in the future.

Easy Experience Now, Hard Profits Later
It’s hard to place an exact dollar amount on these types of results, but it may well exceed the return on a simple cross-sell application. By no means am I suggesting retailers stop investing in solutions, such as cross-sell and upsell applications, which directly boost revenue at the POS. I am suggesting, however, they widen their mindsets to complement these types of solutions with solutions that focus on convenience first and let the profits follow. Also remember that not all convenience is mobile, but all mobile is convenience.


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E-commerce, payment fraud high priorities for customer-facing firms

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — E-commerce and payments fraud remains high on the agenda for consumer-facing organizations, according to a recent Deloitte online poll. Nearly half (47%) of executives and managers reported that fraud protection ranks as a "high priority" for their organization, and a further 8% cited this as their organization’s number one priority.

Despite fraud prevention ranking as a high priority, only 9% of respondents stated that their organization currently provides customers with free fraud prevention solutions. Similarly, budget increases for fraud solutions have been minimal during the past 12 months, with only 9% stating that their fraud protection and detection budget increased substantially. An additional 22% reported fraud budgets had increased marginally, while a similar number (21%) stated that budgets remained unchanged.

Only 9% of respondents cited mobile fraud as a top concern for their business, even with mobile e-commerce solutions on the rise. Thirty five percent of respondents identified online as the greatest area of fraud concern, followed by e-mail (21% and non-digital fraud (13%).

"Along with the positive impact of digital commerce comes the risk of fraud to businesses and customers," explained David Williams, chief executive officer, Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP. "With monthly phishing attacks increasing 40% last year, education and fraud solutions for the end-customer are often a powerful way for organizations to police and control fraud."

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B&N opens El Paso store Oct. 16

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — Barnes & Noble, Inc. debuts a new bookstore on Oct. 16 at The Fountains at Farah in El Paso, Texas. Concurrently, the existing Eastside store will close.

“We’re excited for this opportunity to give our customers a beautiful new store providing the best-in-class offerings available,” said David Deason, VP, development at Barnes & Noble. “Of course, we will continue to serve the community with a vast selection of books, educational toys and games, and our innovative family of Nook readers and tablets, supported by extraordinary customer service for which Barnes & Noble is known. Our booksellers are excited to continue to serve the community, and recommend great reads and create memorable experiences with a new and exciting store.”

The store will serve the greater El Paso market and employ approximately 60 people from the community.

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