Friday Feb 20, 2015

Look Beyond Marketing When Considering Customer Experience by Gib Bassett

Most people think Customer Experience is about marketing, or the activities associated with the last mile of the shopping journey. However this misses the bigger picture of many factors that support a successful customer experience.

A great example of a company doing it right is 7-Eleven. As shown in this video, 7-Eleven leverages a common foundation for what it calls the “digital guest experience,” as well as its merchandising and accounting systems. In this way, 7-Eleven serves its customers personalized and mobile in-store offers. Where it goes beyond is in applying purchasing and behavioral insights to its merchandising and assortment strategies.

Less forward-thinking retailers could take a lesson from 7-Eleven’s approach. Consider the case of specialty retailer Wet Seal. I have followed Wet Seal for a few years – the company has been very progressive in its use of in-store mobile and social shopper engagement.

So I was surprised by recent news that the company was closing two-thirds of its stores. Reportedly, Wet Seal struggled to keep pace with fashion trends (style and price) – and experienced reduced foot traffic in the malls where it invested. Given their progressive shopper engagement practices, and the data and insights these efforts generate, I would have thought Wet Seal was in a better position to foresee changes in its customersand make different decisions regarding merchandise and assortments.

Wet Seal is not alone. Without an analytics-first approach to consumer engagement that encapsulates all facets of customer experience, retailers run the risk of focusing too heavily on the marketing aspect of the shopping journey.

For example, with deep analytics, Wet Seal would have noticed changes in customer behavior, such as greater price sensitivity, and merchandise indicators such as social chatter about preferences for competitor assortments. With such predictors of change in hand, Wet Seal could have altered pricing, promotion and assortments to stay ahead of customer preferences.

We should first accept that all shoppers are demonstrating connected behaviors, which make it essential and easy to understand what’s happening with them digitally. That’s certainly the case with 7-Eleven’s customers. Mobile and social channels can help shoppers navigate deals, alternatives and new customer experiences. Retailers can use this information to stay a step ahead.

In summary, retail customer experience should be based on an integrated view of the various business operations that support the customer’s experience. Marketing, store operations, online sales, merchandising, inventory, and service should operate off the same view of the customer providing agility and deep business intelligence.

Gib Bassett

CPG and Retail Industry Principal

Twitter @gibbassett

Thursday Jan 29, 2015

2015: A New Perspective on Millennials in Consumer Goods and Retail by Cassie Moren

Consumer goods (CG) companies and retailers are asking how they can better engage with millennials to buy their brands and get them in the store. Given the attractiveness and size of the millennial market (80 million), Interbrand and Oracle recently conducted a study to understand millennials from a behavioral perspective.

The research findings determined that five segment breaks exist within the millennial generation, based upon the clustering of their various attitudes and behaviors, each representing a cluster or “tribe” that behaves similarly: 1. The Up & Comers, 2. The Mavens, 3. The Eclectics, 4. The Skeptics and 5. The Trendsetters.

This is just a glimpse into the subsets within the millennial generation. What quickly becomes clear is that targeting millenials as a whole is ineffective as they range from financially-dependent teens to married homeowners with kids. By considering these unique segments and determining which have the most potential for your brand, there’s an opportunity to build a deeper connection and deliver an experience that will appeal to the next generation of customers. Here are five themes and technologies that brands need to consider in order to win millennials:

  1. Drive consumer acquisition, activation and advocacy anywhere, anytime through encouraging cross-channel consumer engagement
  2. Provide a personalized, rich and consistent commerce experience across channels through cross-channel commerce
  3. Create consumer-focused category, assortment, pricing and demand plans through consumer-centric planning and optimization
  4. Develop rich insights on consumers through retail and consumer insights
  5. Acquire and manage a single and accurate view of the consumer through consumer data management and activation

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