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Saturday, 31 October 2015

Are Pop-up Stores Adding a New Dimension to Retail?

According to Pop Up Republic, a marketing support company that caters exclusively to pop-up shops, “a pop-up store, also referred to as ‘flash retail’, is a shop, a restaurant, a collection of shops, or an event that opens quickly in a temporary location, often occupying abandoned storefronts and vacant mall spaces and is intended to operate for a short period of time.”

The beginning of the 21st century saw the first pop-up stores emerge across the U.S. and in Europe. The last few years have witnessed a rash of pop-up stores as they are perceived to be inexpensive alternatives than year-round rentals that can generate a lot of retail buzz for brands when required. For example, they are often strategically placed during the holiday season for shoppers or put up just in time for the launch of a major product.

The latest versions of pop-up stores are accompanied with more elaborate displays, high-end signage, sophisticated POS systems, latest mobile commerce functionalities, and more interactive and engaging experiences that nurture useful customer-retailer conversations. Retailers who understand that consumers rush to and embrace the various kinds of pop-up spaces, have come to view pop-ups as a strategically innovative and legitimate channel of connecting with their customers.

Today, retail in-store customers can browse through comparative pricing data right from their mobile devices. Whether the consumers are walking into a retail store to buy a product after carefully researching about it online, also known as “webrooming”, or whether they are looking at products in the store with the intention of buying it online, also known as “showrooming”, shopping is evolving at a rapid pace.

Pop-ups are the perfect avenue for online stores to make flash appearances and provide a look and feel of their products to shoppers and if done properly, have them become intrigued enough to buy them online.  A brick-and-mortar retailer can set up a pop-up for showcasing or launching a new product with minimum inventory.

The line between the online and offline world is blurring at a swift pace and the retail industry needs to keep up with the evolving shopping habits of the consumers. Pop-up retail will prove to be a catalyst in this direction.

The impressive growth of pop-up retail can be seen in the fact that it was a zero dollar industry in 2003 but flourished into an 8 billion dollar industry in 2013. Pop-up continues to drive innovation and offer several key opportunities thus adding a new dimension to retail.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Why retailers need to leverage the power of social media

The online world is nothing but a humungous super-complex web of connections that has made the communication process quick, easy and omni-dimensional. Social media has taken the process of communication through connection to the next level which is popularly referred to as engagement.

Social media is an integral part of people’s daily lives today. More and more people are getting onto various social media platforms each day to connect with their friends, peers and colleagues. In the last few years, people are also connecting with the brands they like and businesses that offer these brands through social media. Further, the usage is not just limited to connecting and communicating. Most people are also using it as a means to opine and review products or services and to express their thoughts, beliefs and experiences. In a way, these tools have given people a power to speak and be heard. As such, social media engagement has become a necessity in most customer facing businesses such as retail.

Retail today is more of a customer driven business. Most of the retailers and retail brands are aligning their business models and strategies to become more customer-centric by tailoring their products and services to suit the needs and demands of their customers. Those who haven’t done so, need to move in this direction swiftly or they will not be able to sustain and compete. However, this can only happen if the retailers know and understand their customers better. To gain these insights, retailers need to rely on appropriate technology. This is where social media can be leveraged to their benefit.

Retail and social media

Retailers can use social media platforms to solicit feedback - both positive and negative, from customers. This provides valuable insights into the customers’ desires, enabling the retailers to better understand their customers’ expectations and try to exceed them through better customer experience and relationship management.

Retailers can not only listen to and monitor what their customers - both current and prospective, are talking about, but also they can engage directly using social media as a channel for establishing relationships with the customers. Furthermore, shoppers are increasingly using social media platforms to seek advice and recommendations about products to help them make better shopping decisions.

Retail brands and businesses can also make use of these platforms to pitch their products highlighting the features and benefits, to create awareness and provide essential information either through regular updates or advertisements on social media. Retailers can also plan customer-centric marketing campaigns and promote them on social media platforms to reach vast audiences in no time.

Nowadays, social media applications can also be used for shopping directly. With omni-channel retailing coming into play, social media becomes an essential channel for retailers to service customers. Yet, this is not all. Due to innovations in mobile technology, the rate at which people are getting onto social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and many others using handheld mobile devices is rising exponentially, making social media an extremely powerful medium.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

5 questions – before investing in retail Business Intelligence (BI)

Big data eliminates the uncertainty out of the enterprise, provided the right software and tools are used to break it down into accessible bits of information. When deduced and used correctly, it helps retailers identify the pain and gain areas of business. It also provides actionable insights into customer behaviors, demographics, brand affinity and the ability to create targeted campaigns.

But will Big Data give you the right data? Ask the following before investing in retail BI solutions.

Who is your customer and how effectively can you reach out to him?
While Big Data can help you be more strategic in customer engagement, it is necessary to ascertain who your audience is and how will you reach out to them. Once you have understood this, you can allot the necessary KPIs to the data project and establish the foundation of success.

Does it provide the crucial 80/20 analytics?
Retailers and marketing teams understand the value of deriving the 80/20 analytics. On average, 20% of your customer generate 80% of your top-line revenue. So, while you might be able to acquire information on thousands of customers, it is more important to know your top customers. Understanding their traits and ticks would potentially surge revenue and recommendations both.

Do I have the employee strength to support it?
The influence of emergent technology permeates all industries. There is often high pressure and anxiety related to ‘Big Data’ adoption, as a business process. In the eagerness to obtain the latest technology software and application, retailers tend to miss the long-term requirements of the system. . The BI application phases are to be supported by people, within the organization, with the right skill set to derive value from the vast enterprise data and validate system results.

Do I have the company culture to sustain it?
Big Data technology wielded as a demonstration of competitive advantage will only take you so far. Deep and comprehensive planning is essential to understand the levels of analytics needed by the current and projected business scope. 

Is it social?
Social media integration with the BI system is crucial to not just accumulate, but also to validate CRM data. It helps generate a community-based correlation and engagement with customers. Both business functions, BI and social media, feed information to each other. This helps you reach out to a bigger circle of potential prospects with targeted campaigns and communication.