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Webinar TONIGHT 7pm: Participating in a Christmas Shopping Crawl

The purpose of this session, aimed at the businesses who plan to participate in a crawl, is to work through the guide to making the most of participating in a shopping crawl,, discussion the opportunities, sharing ideas, making sure those who are Independent Christmas Crawlinvolved in a crawl make the very most of the opportunity that participating in a crawl presents, both during the crawl and in terms of re-engaging the local consumer ongoing.

Sign up via:
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

This session will be hosted by Toyubur Rahman of ATCM and the main presentation / Q&A will be delivered by Clare Rayner. During the session attendees can post questions via “live chat” in a text stream, of course you can also submit your questions by email in advance. This session will also be recorded, so if you can’t attend you will also be able to “listen again later” at your convenience.

Thanks in advance and I look forward to speaking to you on the webinar this evening.


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Tesco boss Philip Clarke says retailers need to ‘get personal’ with customers

Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke said retailers need to “get personal” with customers if they are to stay ahead in the changing digital landscape and forge closer links with suppliers to deliver innovation.Retail Accounting

Speaking at the IGD Convention in London, Clarke said retailers should rethink their approach to retailing as the digital revolution has changed the way customers shop.

“We need to personalise our entire offer to cater for individual needs and to anticipate what customers want in the future,” he said.

Clarke said one in five online purchases at Christmas will be made via a smartphone and that the recession has increased the importance of digital.

He said digital creates new challenges for retailers, including privacy and the protection of customer data. “All brands should have one seamless relationship with customers both online or in store, the same high standard,” he said.

The development of social media has meant customer tastes are changing even more quickly, Clarke said. As such, retailers need to be more innovative, he added.

He explained that Clubcard had helped Tesco stay ahead of changing customer tastes but “success in the past doesn’t guarantee future success”.

He said retailers can’t deliver innovation on their own and relationships with suppliers are key. “We need to forge closer links with suppliers,” he said. “The pace of change is so fast, and the customer offer needs to be so personal, that we need to work closer with suppliers.”

Tesco has set up an internal online community for its global suppliers to share data and ideas. Clarke said it offers blogs, discussion forums and insight on customers to share with suppliers.

Clarke said: “If we want suppliers and manufacturers to personalise what we sell, we have to tell them what customers are telling us.”

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The Ten Predictions – Retail businesses

Retail PredictionsThe 2012 predictions list below was sourced from the conference call slides.

1. Growth Strategy. “Consumers, not products or channels, create the basis for growth strategies.”

2. New Retail IT Model. “The Omni-Channel Consumer directs a new Retail IT model for the industry – O3.”

3. Innovative & Efficient. “Retailers will race to innovate and will operate more efficiently.”

4. Synchronicity. “Retailers will synchronize the supply chain with the clock speed of their customers.”

5. Brand Experience. “Retailers will create great brand experience by enabling engaged employee experience.”

6. Customer Engagement. “Planning paradigms will begin to evolve to support genuine customer brand engagement strategies.”

7. Assortment Planning. “Continuous assortment  planning (AP) orchestrated for space becomes the planning hub.”

8. Store Evolution. “The store evolves – welcome to the Omnichannel Store.”

9. Social Conversations. “Customer experience improvements that boost online conversion will go beyond the web store.”

10. Delivery Models. “eCommerce delivery models will fragment.”

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Can I use coupons to build my business? It works for restaurants like Papa John’s.

In most cases, coupons are a path to disaster. Coupons undervalue your product, and getting customers to come in with Couponscoupons doesn’t give them a good idea of what type of value you really offer. You end up with customers that think your restaurant is a good value, “with a coupon”. Then, they wait til the next coupon to come out before they come back to your restaurant.

As far as chains that use coupons, they know something the average independent operator doesn’t. They have a sales history showing them how much of their sales are given away in the form of coupons. They track their discounts, and they price their coupon marketing strategy into their menu. If a pizza costs them $3.00 to make, and they need to make $7 gross profit for every pizza they sell, they know they have to make the regular price of that pizza $12 or $13 so they can send you a coupon and make you think you’re getting a good deal paying only $10.

How many people really pay $18.00 for a large pizza at Papa John’s? None. People wait until they have coupons. Sure Papa John’s makes money, but they know they’re not earning repeat, full price, customers by sending out coupons. They know how much money couponing is costing them, and they adjust their prices accordingly. They then use coupons as a “trick” to build value into their product.

Can coupons be used responsibly and still allow for a profit? Sure, if that is part of your marketing and pricing strategy from the get-go. Outside of that, coupons should only be used to promote items that earn you MORE gross profit than you need to make money AFTER the discount is applied. Even then, I suggest never offering a flat percentage discount, and only using coupons to promote package values, or to give freebies that are “extras” that won’t detract from the gross profit you’ll make by selling the rest of the meal at full price.

Brandon O’Dell with O’Dell Restaurant Consulting offers operations and concept strategy consulting for independent restaurants and small chains. Learn more at

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The digital revolution is underway in retail businesses

Interactive kiosks, touch-screens and other multi-touch touch interfaces increasingly appear in our stores on a daily basis. But what do they add to the shopping experience and what is the impact for retailers? With the rise of e-commerce, many stores have embarked on a digital journey to counter the lightning advance of pure play internet retailers. This has meant that the traditional store no longer simply supplies goods. It has evolved into a space to be “experienced” and has thus been transformed into a showroom. Digital technologies offer marketing teams unlimited possibilities. The retailer’s objectives are critical in determining the correct digital strategy: the retailer may be striving to encourage the customer into the store, decrease waiting times or offer more choice, or a combination of the three.

The digital revolution is underway in retail businesses

You said digital strategy?

Digital is the new frontier for retail brands. Digital strategies are emerging and as new digital directions are created “community” managers are hired. What happens within the Marketing Department? The buzz that has formed around the digital channel is generating many creative ideas. New applications are constantly emerging. However, crucially, these digital projects are rarely linked to real needs of customers. “We need iPads on the sales floor,” is one of the requests received by the CIO of a large textile group. “It is like we have gone back 10 years, to the days when we launched projects with no real strategy or metrics in place to measure the customer benefits,” confessed another executive. Clearly defining the digital strategy, objectives and communication plan is essential for success. Digital is just another part of the marketing mix, alongside more traditional means such as in-store merchandising, catalogues or poster campaigns. The aesthetics of digital are obviously attractive but on their own are not enough. A digital project will only be effective if it adds real value to the customer. Customise an offer, inform the customer, dramatise a product, communicate on social networks – these are now achievable goals with the latest generation digital tools.

There has been a paradigm shift – it used to be the consumers ‘living’ in the retailers’ world – going to the stores to shop, not having all the information available to compare and make an informed decision. Today, the retailer has to survive, prosper and differentiate in the consumers’ world – where the consumer has more information to hand than the retailer to make the right decision.

Measure, measure, measure

Implementing a digital strategy is far from painless. It requires the buy-in of the stores to the business value (e.g. innovation, customer recruitment, brand loyalty, POS, staff training, corporate communication). The return on investment must be understood and be in line with the expectations placed in these technologies. To achieve this, a single word is all important: measure. Without this it is impossible to judge the success of a digital project. Indicators can be of various kinds but they must all meet three criteria: that they can be readily understood, that they are easy to measure and that they are relevant. Turnover is generally the best indicator, but the number of customers, conversion rate and average basket size often prove to be equally important metrics. As a guide, approximately 3% of the marketing budget should be devoted to measurement activities. These indicators should be used to adjust the strategy throughout the project. My advice: start small, evaluate the results, adjust and improve and try again. Once the strategy is paying off, scale it up and deploy your solution.

Digital – what role for the store?

With a growing number of customers visiting the web before coming to store, rethinking the store experience is no longer an option if retailers want the consumer to make a purchase on site. The rise of smartphones has made it possible for everyone to be constantly connected: to consumer review sites, social networks, but mainly to the competition through price comparison sites. M-commerce, although representing a new opportunity for many, can quickly turn into a nightmare. Consumers have a myriad of information available in one click and can easily compare prices, services and product features. The retailer has to adapt to this new environment and successfully differentiate its offer. This is why the store is so important – the in-store experience is a huge differentiator. Re-energizing the point of sale should be the new motto of retailers. The store offers a unique opportunity for the customer to touch the products on offer and enjoy an immediate purchase. It is critical that retailers use these benefits to maximum advantage. The role of the store is becoming more critical and a point of differentiation – high street retailers should be buoyed that the most recognised pure play internet retailer, Amazon, is rumoured to be opening their first ‘bricks and mortar’ store this year.

The emotion comes first

The real challenge lies in the emotional factor associated with these technologies on the sales floor. “Nothing is worse than a black screen in a store” is the observation made by customers entering shops where digital tools are abandoned. And even when active, the consumer pays little attention to these screens unless they offer real benefits. Here is the challenge: to find the digital mix that will make the difference. Prenons, a French fashion chain, is using holographic displays to attract customers to its stores. It’s an example of how the most successful retailers are creating a ‘wow factor’ to differentiate their offering. Given a positive first experience, the evidence suggests that sales will follow.

The connected store

Other applications connect the consumer to social networks. The Diesel store in Madrid is a great example. Thanks to a kiosk installed in the store, customers can take pictures and publish their fittings on social networks, directing traffic to their page and increasing the number of “fans” and “likes” of the digital signage. This gives the double advantage of creating a playful atmosphere in the store while collecting customer information. This last point is fundamental. Knowing your client has become the Holy Grail for marketers. The day of mass marketing are numbered. Today’s consumers are demanding highly targeted offers tailored to their specific needs. Consumer segmentation becomes more precise: purchase history, socio-demographic or family situation are now part of common criteria. The acquisition of such information may seem intrusive, but this type of process is becoming more widespread. Applications such as “Facebook Connect” will allow consumers to connect to a website through Facebook, saving time by sharing all the information that Facebook has about them. Not just basic details such as name and age, but also more personal information such as political views. The issue of protection of privacy will become an increasingly hot topic in the future.

One channel that is sneaking up on us

One channel to ‘watch’, and one rarely mentioned in retail, is the interactive TV (iTV). The Brits spend over 4 hours per day in front of their TVs. The use of iTVs with internet connectivity is growing rapidly in the UK and smart retailers are exploring the power of this new medium. Domino’s have already surpassed £1m in sales of pizzas ordered over the TV with average order values actually increasing – this is due to HD pictures and video making the pizzas look irresistible! A recent study showed that 25% of people who had iTV will shop via this medium by 2014. How can retailers take advantage – not only associate their brand and goods with the latest films and celebrities, but also give the people the ability to buy immediately on line?

Seamless operation across channels

The need to establish a digital strategy is unquestionable. But knowing where to start is difficult. Digital must be an integral part of an omni–channel strategy that can require a radical overhaul of Information Systems. The proliferation of sales channels over the years has resulted in heterogeneous systems. It is common for each channel to be built independently. There is now an obligation to integrate them into a coherent, integrated architecture. And in these difficult times, when budgets are under pressure, considering such an overhaul may seem dangerous to some retailers and hard to justify. It is however a necessary investment for retailers looking to meet the needs of an increasingly sophisticated customer base, where “digital natives” require a higher level of service anywhere, anytime and via any channel.