Promotion
TECHNOLOGY

Study finds retailers send wrong promotions at wrong time to wrong customers

BY Marianne Wilson

More than half of all retail promotions are sent to customers who would be content to pay full price.

That’s according to a new Revionics-commissioned survey conducted by Forrester Consulting, which found that 52% of retailers’ weekly or monthly promotions go to customers who would happily have paid full price, resulting in lost margins that retailers can ill afford.

Revionics’ chief marketing and strategy officer Cheryl Sullivan, along with guest speaker Forrester VP and principal analyst George Lawrie, discussed the study results and implications for retailers at the NRF Big Ideas panel session titled “The Shoppers Speak: Shoppers Bust Long-Held Myths on Pricing and Promotions.” The panel, which took place on Monday, Jan. 15, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center EXPO Hall (Room 2, Level 1), also provided retailer perspectives from Luke Rauch, senior director of U.S. insights for Walgreens.

The survey, which questioned consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Brazil, also debunks retailers’ hope of recouping margins by raising prices on limited-stock items. When asked how they would react if an item they wanted was available at a higher-than-expected price, nearly 60% of respondents said they would wait, not purchase the item at all, purchase it from a different retailer. A retailer seeking short-term gain faces the painful risk of losing sales and the hard-won loyalty of its shoppers.

“These incessant and poorly targeted promotions create a climate of perpetual abundance and undermine the customers’ sense of urgency to buy. Instead of wasting money and resources on indiscriminate campaigns, retailers should focus on personalized and timely promotions,” the study found. “Retailers should use customer insights and data science to design the promotions that are most appropriate for different groups of customers in context.”

Sullivan said she has seen a profound market shift as data science-based pricing and promotions change from “nice-to-haves” to now being “must-haves.”

“This confirms what we found in the earlier study: that today’s shoppers worldwide are incredibly savvy and discerning,” Sullivan said. “Retailers who want to effectively reach their customers with meaningful prices and promotions must embrace a science-based approach now if they want to remain relevant and competitive.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Report: Amazon’s Dash gets more muscle

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is taking the functionality of its branded instant order devices to the next level.

The online giant has found a way to expand the capabilities of its Dash Button, a move that enables the instant-order smart devices to order multiple items, according to The Seattle Times.

These Wi-Fi-enabled, branded devices let Amazon Prime membership to order the featured product with one-click ordering, and without opening Amazon’s website. Through a new set of software development tools, the report said that appliance manufacturers and suppliers can build a “virtual” Dash button option into their own products — but orders won’t be limited to one item.

These products will have a screen that enables customers to scroll through a menu of multiple products. This could enable an Internet-connected refrigerator to order more oatmeal or coffee from Amazon when levels get low, or for a smart washing machine to choose which detergent to order, the report revealed.

Whirlpool is among the first companies to jump on the bandwagon, announcing this week that it would incorporate Amazon’s “Virtual Dash Buttons” into future touch-screen refrigerator models. The manufacturer already announced plans to integrate Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant into its appliances, according to the report.

In addition, HP and Epson are developing printers that automatically reorder ink cartridges from Amazon. Meanwhile, Sears is developing a set of Kenmore-branded smart devices — including a refrigerator, washer- dryer and dishwasher — that order supplies when they run low. 3M is also making an air-filtration system that orders its own fil-ter replacements, the Seattle Times said.

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Fast-food chain uses mobility to spice up training

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Taco Bell is modernizing its approach to employee training and content distribution by putting a big emphasis on mobile learning.

The quick-service chain introduces a new menu item every four-to-six weeks. Associates are expected to master how to make — and sell — the item within two weeks, then begin the process all over again just two weeks later. But inconsistent employee training was taking its toll, and it wasn’t uncommon for the chain’s customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores to drop the first week of each new release.

Taco Bell had a “blended” employee training experience that ranged from PC learning to hard-copy workbooks filled with day-to-day operational tasks and checklists. But the PCs were outdated and inconveniently located and the workbooks were cumbersome.

The chain also utilized electronic-learning, but the “courses only comprised between 30% and 50% of the total training experience,” said Michelle Kay, Taco Bells senior manager of learning and organizational development. “That meant we also only had between 30% and 50% of training that could be accurately measured.”

As Taco Bell began shifting its priority toward employee retention — and cutting operating costs — the company began reconsidering its training and content strategies.

“We needed to focus on technology enablement as a means to drive down operational costs,” Kay said “The QSR industry operates on lean margins as it is, and if there is an opportunity to use technology to simplify things, we want to consider it.”

For Taco Bell, the ideal solution would be mobile and able to track course completion and knowledge retention. It also had to store all information — in accessible formats, including text, photos and video — in a centralized location. Finally, it needed to be user-friendly.

“We needed a system that was easy to implement and maintain, and that we could quickly and easily manage ourselves,” said Ferril Onyett, director of learning and people development, Taco Bell. “Our business moves quickly and we needed a platform that also moves fast.”

Taco Bell partnered with Inkling to pilot Inkling Knowledge, a smart content system that delivers operational knowledge directly to team members and managers on any device. Now when they need to learn a new product, the restaurant’s employees simply log into the company’s intranet via tablet, laptop or PC to access training.

Inkling’s system also enabled team members to search for digitized mission-critical content. Information is now created on templates, which gives Kay’s team more speed and agility to produce information, and streamlines content editing.

The Inkling system was piloted in 250 restaurants across two markets in the summer of 2017, and expanded enterprise-wide to more than 7,000 locations in September.

Before launching the solution, Taco Bell would clock in 180,000 course competitions a month. Without sharing specific details, Onyett said completions are rising with the new system.

Meanwhile, CSAT scores have increased by 5%, and by eliminating printing and shipping workbooks, the company is on pace to save $2 million annually.

Taco Bell also began piloting a second module, called Inkling Collaboration. The solution combines communications, task management and data analytics. The company didn’t disclose how many stores are involved in the pilot.

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