Record $30.8 Billion Online Holiday Season Spending so far

by Deepak Sharma on Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thanks to some cold weather which makes for some favorable conditions for online shopping (Blizzard in Northeast), holiday season retail online spending is seeing a 13% increase over last year. From comScore release:

comScore a leader in measuring the digital world, today reported holiday season retail e-commerce spending for the first 56 days of the November – December 2010 holiday season. For the holiday season-to-date, $30.81 billion has been spent online, marking a 13-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year. The most recent week (week ending Dec. 26) witnessed $2.45 billion in spending, an increase of 17 percent versus the corresponding week last year.

image

Retail E-Commerce Spending up 27%, Thanks in part to Free Shipping

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, December 19, 2010

There’s a 12% increase in retail e-commerce spending in the first first 47 days of the November – December 2010 holiday season compared with the same period a year ago.

comScore is reporting that for the holiday season-to-date, $27.46 billion has been spent online, marking a 12-percent increase versus the corresponding days last year. The most recent week (week ending Dec. 17) reached $5.15 billion in spending, an increase of 14 percent versus the corresponding week last year, with four individual days surpassing $900 million, led by Green Monday (Monday, December 13) with $954 million and Free Shipping Day (Friday, December 17) with $942 million. A lot of shopper took advantage of the Free Shipping Day which achieved a 61-percent increase versus the corresponding shopping day last year, highlighting the appeal and success of the promotion in which more than 1,500 merchants offered free shipping.

2010 Holiday Season To Date vs. Corresponding Days* in 2009

Non-Travel (Retail) Spending

Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases

Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations

Source: comScore, Inc.



Millions ($)

2009

2010

Percent Change

November 1 –  December 17

$24,504

$27,460

12%

Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25)

$318

$407

28%

Black Friday (Nov. 26)

$595

$648

9%

Cyber Monday (Nov. 29)

$887

$1,028

16%

Green Monday (Dec. 13)

$854

$954

12%

Free Shipping Day (Dec. 17)

$586

$942

61%

Week Ending Dec. 17 (Dec. 11-17)

$4,644

$5,509

14%

 

That means Cyber Monday emerged as the season’s heaviest online spending day for the first time in history.

"Free Shipping Day punctuated an exceptional week in which consumers spent more than $5.5 billion online, representing a 14-percent increase from last year," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "While no individual days during the week surpassed $1 billion in spending, we saw strength throughout the week beginning with Green Monday and ending with Free Shipping Day on Friday. At this late juncture in the online holiday season, we have likely already witnessed the peak spending day of the year, which means that Cyber Monday should emerge as the season's heaviest online spending day for the first time in history."

Convenience Store Chain Adds Digital Music Kiosks

by Deepak Sharma on Tuesday, December 07, 2010

imageMOD Systems is introducing its Download2Go digital music kiosks in Quick Chek convenience stores.  Consumers no longer need to be dependent on an Internet connection and unlimited data plans to access and build their digital music collections - Download2Go music kiosks enable customers to directly download and purchase digital music tracks for playback on mobile devices, right from convenient retail locations, such as Quick Chek.  These kiosks offer a new way for retailers to engage shoppers, provide entertainment content for purchase and drive repeat customer visits. Download2Go kiosk customers can transfer music onto SD cards, USB drives, or directly to their portable music players, paying for their purchases with a credit card.

From the Press Release:

“Retailers are looking for opportunities to capture customer interest in digital entertainment or take back sales that have shifted from their stores to online,” said Anthony Bay, CEO of MOD Systems. “Consumers can now build their digital music collections outside the home without requiring connectivity, while retailers can sell the latest entertainment content in a way that drives impulse purchases and repeat customer visits.”

Check out this Video on how the Digital Music Kiosk works:

MOD Systems Digital Music Kiosk

VIPs Love Velvet

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, December 06, 2010

Branded retail apps are hot right now—they’re sexy, but they’re also an effective way to connect with customers. A new service from ILoveVelvet, launched today, combines mobile and social media elements in app form, and allows direct engagement for fans of individual retail brands.

Velvet VIP is a branded mobile application that allows retailers to offer e-catalogs, special promotions, personal recommendations and even collection previews. The social media elements enable consumers to provide feedback directly to the retailer and share with friends via Facebook and Twitter.  Customers can even pre-order items through the app—meaning that they don’t have to put their names on a waiting list for that hot designer bag.

             

ILoveVelvet, a leading provider of technology to enhance the retail customer experience, has launched Velvet VIP, a customized retail application designed to reward loyal fans of specific brands. The application, developed for retailers and available to customers enrolled in loyalty programs, provides personalized shopping recommendations based on customer interests and purchases, along with special benefits not available to the general public.  The entire system also has built-in options to share reviews via social media.

Velvet VIP, a customer-facing adaptation of ILoveVelvet’s Velvet Suite and Velvet Store software, engages directly with customers on Apple iPads, iPods and iPhones. The retailer controls the interface branding and available content, so that customers have an encounter consistent with the in-store experience. Velvet VIP also offers a social media component, through which customers can push reviews out to Facebook and Twitter and become unofficial brand ambassadors.

Press Release.

SKYPAD enables Business Analytics for Bernard Chaus

by Deepak Sharma on Saturday, December 04, 2010

Retailers need to leverage every successful opportunity in the coming year, but do they have the visibility to identify them in a timely way?

Distributing timely and accurate information across the retail enterprise to support distinctive business successes is the envy of every retailer.  Without the right systems to distribute the data and tools to bring focus to the information, opportunities quickly fade from view.  Does your business get the word out and empower field managers, analysts and executives to initiate change?

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that NYC-based apparel manufacturer Bernard Chaus is using SKYPAD delivered analytics through cloud computing to improve sales, analyze in-season buying trends, and track the hottest selling products by store -- down to style, size and color. SKYPAD is enabling Managers at all levels of the organization to make informed decisions based on the timely and accurate receipt of sales data, providing the flexibility to react globally and locally to instant trends. 

IBM Solution Keeps Bernard Chaus Fashion Operations Moving Forward

Bernard Chaus, Inc., a midsize manufacturer and distributor of women's career and casual sportswear, was looking to streamline its sales and merchandising efforts and create a detailed, accurate view of weekly sales trends for their decision makers. With previous manual data collection processes and Excel spreadsheets, there was no guarantee that sales information was correct or all inclusive, compromising the company's ability to react to fluctuations in sales.

Working with IBM and IBM Business Partner SKY I.T. Group, the company developed an analytics-based solution called SkyPAD that provides a weekly report of key business metrics via a web-based dashboard.  The dashboard enables improved decision making across product pricing, assortment design, production and distribution.  Using the system, Chaus can quickly spot fast selling items, shift products between stores, adjust pricing and make in-season adjustments based on proven consumer demand.  Chaus also has the capability to instantly compare profit margins across different retail outlets to identify future brand positioning strategies. 

SKYPAD Enables Retailers to:

- Get comprehensive retailer reports faster

- Automate reporting into ONE easy to use platform

- Easily analyze data based on YOUR specific initiatives

- Seamlessly integrate spreadsheets, EDI and portal data into ONE view

- Increase accuracy, productivity and team focus

- Utilize images, scalability and consistency not possible with Excel

Read More

The Economics behind Groupon

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, November 28, 2010

A week back an article in NYTimes discussed the math's behind Groupon and the parameters you need to be watchful of to make sense of Groupon.

NYT - Doing the Math on a Groupon Deal

Groupon is advertising. If you don’t need or believe in advertising, there is no reason to look at this. It costs money. Instead of writing a check for an ad, you are choosing to lose money on sales. This can wreak havoc on the brain cells of a good retailer who is always watching profit margins. It can feel wrong, especially when the coupon customers don’t spend more than the amount of the coupon.

Eight key calculations:

1. Your incremental cost of sales — that is, the actual cost percentage for a new customer. If you are giving boat tours and have empty seats, your incremental costs for an additional customer are next to nothing. If you are selling clothes, your incremental costs might be 50 percent of the sale price. Food might be 40 percent. In any case, don’t include fixed costs that you would be incurring any way.

2. The amount of the average sale. If the coupon is for $75, will the customers spend more that that? I have seen more than one retailer complain that nobody spends more than the value of the coupon. That’s unlikely but I am sure it can feel that way, and that is my point: Keep track.

3. Redemption percentage. You don’t really know until the end, but from my experience and from what I have heard, 85 percent is a good guess.

4. Percentage of your coupon users who are already your customers. I’m sure this number varies tremendously depending on the size of your city, how long you have been around, and the type of business.

5. How many coupons does each customer buy? (The more they buy, the fewer people are exposed to your product or service.)

6. What percentage of coupon customers will turn into regular customers? Again, it can seem as if they are all bargain shoppers who will never return without a discount, but that’s almost impossible. Is it possible 90 percent won’t return? Sure.

7. What is the advertising value of having your business promoted to 900,000 people — that’s the number on Groupon’s Chicago list — even if they don’t buy a coupon?

8. How much does it normally cost you to acquire a customer through advertising? Everything is relative.

Naughty or Nice–Which list are you on Retailers?

by Deepak Sharma on Wednesday, November 24, 2010

imageWal-Mart does make the cut in Nice lists sometime. Just in time for the holidays, Consumer Reports has released a list of 10 companies that it believes have been naughty to shoppers, and 10 that have been nice. The list is not derived from any exhaustive Consumer Reports study or survey. Rather, it’s based on input from Consumer Reports in-house reporters and editors, who cover shopping, travel, hospitality, telecommunications, and other franchise areas.

Consumer Reports notes that the Naughty & Nice Holiday List is not an exhaustive list and that just because the list mention a particular policy doesn’t mean Consumer Reports endorse—or dislike—everything else about that company or the way it does business.

Retailers in the Nice List:

2 L.L.Bean. 100 percent product satisfaction guarantee. Return anything at any time for any reason.

3 Zappos.com. Free shipping and free returns, including prepaid return label.

4 Costco. Open-ended return policy for virtually everything the warehouse retailer sells minus some home electronics, which come with a still-generous 90-day return period.

6 Orvis. For customer service the old-fashioned way, shoppers can call a toll-free number and speak to a human being without wading through an arcane automated menu system. Alternatively, Orvis offers live-chat with support staff, e-mail queries, and a guaranteed response time of two hours or less.

8 J&R. The electronics superstore and e-retailer has a straightforward price-match policy without the many caveats and fine-print exclusions of some other merchants: Find it at a lower price at an authorized seller (the exception being a warehouse membership club) and “we will do everything possible to meet or beat that price” via a special telephone hotline. J&R also gives customers 30 days to ask for a price adjustment on existing orders if they unearth a lower price.

9 Walmart. No receipt, no problem. Customers can return most items to a Walmart store for a cash refund (for purchases under $25), a gift card (for purchases over $25), or even exchange. There’s one catch: More than three such returns within 45 days requires a manager’s approval.

10 Publix. It’s no fun being sick, but if you need an antibiotic, the Florida-based supermarket chain will have its pharmacies dispense up to a 14-day supply for some of the most common generic ones free. All you need is a proper prescription.

Retailers in the Naughty List:

1 Buy.com. No returns for “oversize” TV sets, defined as any model 27 inches or larger. If you fail to inspect set upon delivery and sign shipper’s release, Buy.com says it’s your problem and go deal with the manufacturer. Its website also lacks a phone number for customer contact.

2 CompUSA. For imposing unusually punitive restocking fees of “up to 25 percent” of the purchase price on any product the retailer decides doesn’t meet its return criteria. Nowhere is it spelled out which specific products are subject to such a fee.

3 Best Buy. Offers a 14-day grace period to return computers, monitors, camcorders, and digital cameras.

8 Macy’s. Proving that high shipping fees are not necessarily a thing of the past, the department store chain calculates its freight charges on the dollar amount of the order, not the size and weight of the package. The base fee is $5.95 for orders under $25, to as much as $23.95 for those $300 or more. And that’s standard delivery.

What do you think of these practices?

It will be BIG BLACK FRIDAY this year

by Deepak Sharma

Signs are that this Black Friday will be a big one for retailers. Hitwise released report today which shows searches around Black Friday are up 31% and the share of visits to Black Friday websites are up 18% last week over the week before Thanksgiving and Black Friday last year.

Sm YoY WMS Bl Fri 11-20-10.png

The top 5 websites captured 81% of all visits to the custom category of Black Friday websites and traffic to Black-Friday.net and BlackFriday.info represented 46% of the total category.

More women than men are visiting the Black Friday websites with visits split 59% female and 41% male and tend to be younger with 59% of visitors under the age of 35. The audience also skews somewhat less affluent, with the highest share of visitors coming from the $30-$59.9k income bracket.

Yesterday comScore had forecasted strong numbers with 11 Percent Growth for 2010 Holiday E-Commerce Spending.

Ethan Allen Launches Interactive Tech in Stores Nationwide

by Deepak Sharma on Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Intava, a leader in touch screen solutions for retailers, announced that Ethan Allen has deployed Intava Vector™ interactive merchandising screens in its Design Centers across the country.

With the implementation of Intava’s technology, Ethan Allen Design Centers now have the ability to showcase and sell all available products (both online and in-store) in a visually compelling and informative way, regardless of store size. The touch screens inspire furniture shoppers by giving them the ability to discover, select, and visualize their dream home interiors through intuitive style quizzes and interactions with the screen. You can read the full release here - http://intava.com/about-news.php

Intava Vector in Ethan Allen Store

In a separate release, Intava announced the latest features and capabilities of Intava Vector 2.0, a visual merchandising and shopper assistance solution customizable for any product category. As illustrated with Ethan Allen, Intava Vector brings the best of online shopping to brick-and-mortar stores by seamlessly integrating with a retailer’s product database and quickly presenting information through simple and engaging interactive content. You can read the full release here - http://intava.com/pressrelease11.18.2010a.php

Ethan Allen - Intava Screen Close-Up

Top Retailers more and more using Facebook, Twitter for Marketing

by Deepak Sharma on Thursday, November 18, 2010

More and more retailers are marketing using Social Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Between the middle of July 2010 and the end of September 2010, Media Logic surveyed social strategies deployed by 100 national retailers in the United States in the Specialty Apparel, Specialty Hardlines, Department/Discount, and Recreation (Sports/Hobby/Crafts) sectors. From the report which can be downloaded here:

Retailers are now able to use social media to connect their online and physical properties in ways not previously possible. Further, the sum of a retailers’ social media contacts can be leveraged to create a new media network – the owned media network1 – through which the retailer can connect to other owned media networks, including those of the manufacturers, designers, directors and artists who create what the retailer sells, as well as those customers and prospects willing to become fans and followers and participate in a cooperative marketing effort.

Total visitors to social sites now rival physical retail traffic and, in some cases, are approaching the reach of national paid media. Just one year ago, only Victoria’s Secret and its division PINK could boast a Facebook fan base of more than 1 million. By the end of September 2010, 14 retailers could make that claim (with several more joining since). And in most sectors – specifically Specialty Apparel and Recreations – growth seems to be accelerating. The 14 retailers surveyed by Media Logic with 1 million or more Facebook Likers averaged close to 40 percent growth between mid-July and mid-September 2010. The top 10 in Specialty Apparel averaged close to 50 percent growth.

The top 25 retailers by number of Facebook Fans:

image

Intel acquires Digital Signage company CognoVision

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, November 15, 2010

DailyDooh is reporting that Intel has just bought Toronto-based digital signage company CognoVision, acquisition price is around $17 million.

So why would Intel want CognoVision? TechCrunch writes:

The company’s digital signage offerings go beyond just providing compelling displays for marketing purposes. CognoVision’s computer vision technology provides customers with analytics and intelligence around customer interaction with displays, including data on the number of people who look at displays; how long people look for; the number of people who walk by; how long people stay near displays; and anonymous semographics of the display’s audience (gender and age bracket).

Intel and CognoVision actually have an existing relationship. Cognovision has partnered with Intel to show how processors are used in Digital Signage applications.

Wal-Mart pulls knock-out punch, offers free shipping with no minimum purchase.

by Deepak Sharma on Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wal-Mart is offering free shipping with no minimum purchase this holiday season.

For years, Wal-Mart has used its clout as the nation’s largest retailer to squeeze competitors with rock-bottom prices in its stores. Now it is trying to throw a holiday knockout punch online.

Starting Thursday, Wal-Mart Stores plans to offer free shipping on its Web site, with no minimum purchase, on almost 60,000 gift items, including many toys and electronics. The offer will run through Dec. 20, when Wal-Mart said it might consider other free-shipping deals.

The move will definitely impact small retailers who with small number of warehouses will not be able to reduce transport costs and will take a hit on their margins if they were to match Wal-Mart’s move.

But given Wal-Mart’s scale and influence in the marketplace, its free pass for shipping sets a new high — or low — in e-commerce. And it may create an expectation among consumers — free shipping, no minimum, always — that would make it harder for smaller e-commerce sites to survive.

For smaller retailers and Web sites, which pay regular mail rates and may ship from only one location, free shipping is not nearly as affordable and often must be added into prices.

“You’re trying to compete with the Amazons and the Zappos, who have so many different warehouses that they can significantly reduce transport costs,” said Gary Schwake, director of business development at the Distribution Management Group, a consulting firm that advises retailers like Eddie Bauer.

Retailers say that shoppers have already started to revolt against shipping fees. While consumers are sensitive to what an item costs online, shipping costs can have even more influence, according to market research.

Pain with names

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, November 08, 2010

Silly name, silly company, silly product?

The trickiest situation comes when companies cannot themselves decide what they are called. The retailer which used to be called J. Sainsbury now seems to have dropped the full-stop and calls itself J Sainsbury in many parts of its corporate website. But not on its supermarkets: they now have “Sainsbury’s” written over the door. Even some press releases talk as if Sainsbury’s were the company’s official name. Likewise, America’s biggest retailer regularly calls itself both Walmart and Wal-Mart in the space of the same press release. The company seems to have been in some sort of transition from one spelling to the other for ages now. Meanwhile, the name over its stores is WAL*MART.

Obama pitches for opening up India's retail sector

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, November 07, 2010

President Barack Obama is in India this week. He spoke about lifting restrictions on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail in India. India allows 51% FDI in single-brand retail. Foreign investment in multi-brand retail aka Wal-Mart kind stores is only allowed in wholesale.

Obama pitches for opening up India's retail sector

Mr Obama, while addressing the US India Business Council summit in Mumbai on Saturday, Obama flirted with the issue that raises bogey in India by saying, “Here in India, many see the arrival of American companies and products as threats to small shopkeepers and to India’s ancient and proud culture. But these old stereotypes, these old concerns ignores today’s reality.”
“Going forward, commitment must be matched by steady reduction to barriers in trade and foreign investment from agriculture to infrastructure and from retail to telecommunications,” he said.

RFID Ready for Retail

by Deepak Sharma on Thursday, November 04, 2010

Stores Magazine has a great story on how RFID seems to be finally ready for Retail. It has some great examples on how customers are using it and reaping benefits like achieving inventory accuracy of 95% or 17% improvement in inventory accuracy or 14% sales increases etc.

To describe retailers’ return on investment for item-level RFID projects as “impressive” may be the understatement of the year.

The Bloomingdale’s store in Manhattan’s SoHo district is achieving inventory accuracy of 95 percent, a lift in sales and margins and improvements in inventory shrink rates. At Dillard’s, a 17 percent improvement in inventory accuracy has been reported, along with time savings of 96 percent when it comes to performing cycle counts. And, with 100 percent of its merchandise tagged, American Apparel is achieving 99 percent inventory accuracy and a 14 percent sales increase.

RFID Data Integration comes as #3 in the list of Retailers planning for new technologies deployment after #1 demand signal technology and #2 predictive analytics.

Sahir Anand, vice president and principal analyst with the Aberdeen Group, says data his company has compiled reveals that an astounding 70 percent of retailers rate themselves “average” or “below average” when it comes to inventory management processes, citing lack of inventory accuracy, visibility and tracking capabilities as some of the key culprits. When asked about the technologies they would look to deploy in the next 12 months in an effort to enable better inventory management, 20 percent cited RFID data integration — less than the 30 percent who cited demand signal technology and 25 percent who intend to invest in predictive analytics.

Altimeter Report - Rise of Social Commerce

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, November 01, 2010

Altimeter Group has released a new report titled Rise of Social Commerce – A Trail Guide for the Social Commerce Pioneer which discusses the use of Social Technologies to connect, listen, understand and engage to improve the shopping experience. The report provides a four-stage process to assess where companies are at and the path forward.

  • Let’s Be Social: Programs are launched to drive brand advocacy and increase volume/market share.
  • Enlightened Engagement: Companies create interconnections of e-commerce and social platforms – both owned and in the wider web – to influence influencers, improve decision-making, and distill the voice of the customer for the enterprise.
  • Store of the Community: Fans drive assortment, selection, and services through open innovation networks and social networks.
  • Frictionless Commerce: Companies redesign the shopping experience across channels and categories, to create a truly customer-centric shopping experience.

Read More.

Meet the new shopper. Underneath the keys of the keyboard, they are shopping in a new way. Unleashing the power of the social network, the digital consumer is shopping with friends, sharing recommendations, and actively engaging in dialogue with brand owners on how they want to be served. But, can you listen? Can you serve the new shopper? Or are you so busy YELLING your brand message, that you will miss this opportunity to listen, engage and serve the consumer in new ways? With the rise of social commerce, you have new opportunities to anticipate, personalize and energize the shopping experience; but our finished research report documents that the biggest barriers are enterprise processes that are designed to broad-brush markets, push big-brand messages, and serve markets through conventional channels.

Try shoes, Get Smartphone = Craziness

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, October 31, 2010

image

Journeys which is owned by Genesco Inc (NYSE: GCO) has announced a promotion in which every customer who tries on a pair of shoes will be offered a free smartphone when they activate a qualifying new two year service plan plus monthly data feature. Customers will be able to choose from a wide variety of phones, including the latest BlackBerry® and Android-powered smartphones.

This comes on the heel of Teen retailer American Eagle Outfitters Inc., looking to jump-start back-to-school denim sales, offered anyone who tries on a pair of jeans a free smart phone.

Now, I am unable to get why would a retailer come up with such a promotion. Without the carriers customizing these phones with Genesco/Journeys Apps/branding there is very little to win for Genesco here. Although carriers often offer discounts to independent resellers for new subscribers, I am sure Genesco would be paying some traffic acquisition cost to carriers for subsidizing its phone. Apart from making you look desperate, these promotions do little for you. There’s only one party that wins, customers who will throng to the stores just this time for the free phones.

Sears.com launches AdYourWay

by Deepak Sharma

Sears Holdings today announced the launch of AdYourWay, a revolutionary new shopping tool that gets to know customers and personalizes the shopping offers that they receive. By combining the powerful marketplace product selection with personalized content and customized recommendations, AdYourWay helps customers manage their lives to save both time and money.

"We're living in a customer-controlled retail environment and it is imperative that we continue to reinvent the company through technology and innovation to improve our relevance with our customers," said David Friedman, SVP and president, Marketing, Sears Holdings. "AdYourWay is a unique shopping tool that puts control back into the hands of our customers, allowing them to manage and organize both the products and the offers that interest them."

From a single personalized page on Sears.com, and soon to come to Kmart.com, AdYourWay allows customers to receive personalized product recommendations based on previous purchases and product searches. Once a customer is logged into Sears.com or Kmart.com, AdYourWay technology works to provide customers with deals and offers on products of interest and those that are relevant to their lifestyle.

More here <http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/sears-holdings-launches-adyourway-new-personalized-online-shopping-solution-106297818.html>

ComScore - U.S. Q3 Retail E-Commerce Spending 2006-2010

by Deepak Sharma on Tuesday, October 19, 2010

ComScore is reporting the US Q3 Retail E-Commerce Spending which topped 2008 levels.

U.S. retail e-commerce spending reached $32.1 billion in Q3 2010, finally surpassing 2008 levels. Recent growth has been propelled by strength in the consumer electronics category, as well as growth in spending among households earning $100,000+ annually.

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, October 11, 2010

RetailWeek launches a new Retail Technology Blog aptly named, Retail Bytes.

Welcome to Retail Bytes

Welcome to Retail Bytes, the new e-commerce and technology blog from Retail Week.

On the blog, we will point out the most interesting retail technology news from around the web and provide additional news and analysis from Retail Week reporters.

You’ll find site reviews and posts highlighting innovative new features on leading and lesser-known transactional web sites. We will highlight news from the wider technology world that impact retailers’ online efforts, such as search engine optimisation, social media and the development of mobile devices. We’ll also keep an eye on the online-specific skills retail marketing specialists need to understand, including highlighting innovations and best practice in e-mail marketing, social commerce and search engine optimisation.

Consumer perception of store brand quality is getting stronger

by Deepak Sharma on Friday, October 08, 2010

Nielsen reports on how consumer perception of store brand quality is getting stronger; nearly three-quarters of U.S. households believe store brands are a good alternative to name brands, and nearly two-thirds of households say that store brand quality is just as good as that of name brands.

According to Nielsen, three-quarters of U.S. households believe store brands are a good alternative to name brands and nearly two-thirds of households say that store brand quality is just as good as name brands. In a recent Progressive Grocer Store Brands article, the depth of store brand buying reveals just how much consumer’s behaviors and attitudes have aligned.

With nearly 70% of store brand dollar sales coming from consumers who are “variety-seekers,” retailers can encourage deeper levels of store-brand buying by:

  • Rewarding key consumers with continuity-based promotions.
  • Implementing repeat stimuli efforts
  • Targeting specific shoppers through direct mail efforts

For more details and tactical examples, continue reading at Progressive Grocer Store Brands.

Smartphone Mobile Commerce Index

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, September 26, 2010

Keynote Competitive Research, the global leader in solutions for continuously improving the Internet and mobile experience, has announced the first ever smartphone mobile commerce index. Walmart's mobile site led the Index for the week of September 13 with a perfect score of 1,000 points, an average load time of 3.18 seconds and an availability of 99.37 percent. Internet Retailer, the leading e-retailing magazine, is featuring the new weekly Index on its site under an exclusive arrangement with Keynote. Click here and select Keynote Mobile Commerce Performance Index to see complete results for all 15 merchants.

From the Press Release:

The Keynote Mobile Commerce Index is a weekly performance ranking of leading and up-and-coming US retail mobile Web sites being accessed using popular wireless device profiles, including the Apple iPhone.

Internet Retailer, the leading e-retailing magazine, is featuring the new weekly Index on its site under an exclusive arrangement with Keynote. The new mobile commerce Index is important as it underscores the critical issue of mobile site performance and establishes, for the first time, and in a very public way, performance benchmarks across a representative sampling of large -- and some not-so-large, but growing in popularity -- mobile Web sites. Walmart's mobile site led the Index for the week of September 13 with a perfect score of 1,000 points, an average load time of 3.18 seconds and an availability of 99.37 percent.

The Index shows the average response times and success rates for downloading the homepage of selected mobile commerce sites on popular smartphones using Keynote's commercially available mobile performance monitoring solution, Mobile Application Perspective. The response times and success rates are then combined to provide an overall score. The m-commerce sites that appear in the Index were selected to provide a benchmark for companies to compare their mobile site performance against a representative sampling of e-retailers.

Increase in Retail Seasonal Workers this year

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, September 20, 2010

Some good news. With the projections of marginal increase in holiday sales this season (increase of about 2% this year, totaling around $852 billion during the November through January period), Retailers are likely to hire more temps this holiday season.

chart_temp_jobs_v3.top.gif

Retailers to boost holiday temp jobs

Retailers are expected to hire more seasonal workers this year, increasing their payrolls by up to 600,000 jobs during the holiday months.

The bad news is, they're still not ramping up their payrolls to pre-recession levels, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said in its latest holiday hiring forecast released Monday.

"Retailers do not want to be caught with too many workers at a time when many of the fundamentals needed for strong consumer spending remain a little shaky," John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas said in a release.

Before the recession began, retailers hired 720,000 workers during the 2007 holiday season. And in 1999 that number was near 850,000.

First recession and now bed bugs

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, September 19, 2010

As if economic downturn was not enough to force down shutters, Bed bugs too have joined the race. Bed bugs have forced more than one Retailer to shut down their stores in New York, Nike being the latest victim.

Niketown Infested By Bedbugs -- Closed Indefinitely As Bloodsucking Pest Crisis Continues

The bedbug crisis continues, with the blood-sucking pests claiming their highest profile victim to date: Niketown.

The sneaker company's flagship New York City store has been closed indefinitely after bedbugs invaded the store.  The front of the gleaming 5-story 57th Street shopping cathedral is now covered with brown paper.

Bedbugs have infested one retailer and office after another in recent months: Abercrombie & Fitch, the Empire State Building, Time Warner, Google...

Can it be long before the make the move to the Apple Store?

Sears' Website blocks Customers who blocks Cookies

by Deepak Sharma on Saturday, September 18, 2010

Looks basic to me, something effective testing should have caught. Result, you lose 4-5 million customers, some forever.

Sears' Web Goof: 5 Million Customers Blocked

When Sears upgraded its E-Commerce site's infrastructure in late August, it inadvertently blocked all visitors who don't accept cookies, a move that the $44 billion chain is now attempting to fix.
Although both industry and Sears sources estimate that only 1.2 to 3 percent of U.S. shoppers block cookies these days, it could still prevent almost 5 million U.S. shoppers from giving any of their e-dollars to Sears. And it's another reminder of the unintended consequences of Web and mobile site infrastructure changes.

Ask the Retail Experts

by Deepak Sharma

Columbus IT and Stores Media have come together with a panel of retail technology experts to answer questions about retail operation automation. There are some great questions and answers in the form of short videos addressing the pressing issues facing retailers today. Check it out.

India loses $65 bn annually due to poor logistics

by Deepak Sharma on Saturday, September 11, 2010

According to a report by Indian apex industry body, CII, and Amarthi Consulting titled “Global competitiveness of retail supply chain-Challenges, Strategies and Recommendations”, $65 billion is lost every year on account of the inefficient supply-chain system in India.

The industry is expected to touch $879 billion by 2018, but if the present challenges in its supply-chain system are not addressed, then the sector's growth could get hampered, it warned.

"Since Independence only 20 per cent capacity has been added to the railway network but the traffic has increased ten times. In a sector where margins are wafer-thin, the supply- chain management is a critical enabler to profitability and this has to be improved," said the report, which was released today.

It also said that supply-chain costs in India are about 12-13 per cent of the GDP as compared to 7-8 per cent in developed countries. Hence, the country loses out around $65 billion annually.

It further said the challenge also lies in the country's demography, geographical spread, distinct consumer preferences and differential taxation laws, which needs to be addressed.

Big Box Retailers and Design

by Deepak Sharma on Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Some good examples of how Design is playing a strategic role in helping Big Box Retailers reset for the future.

Trends: A Strategy Made Visible

Design is helping to:
• organize intuitive and logical adjacencies and traffic flow
• break large scale presentations into smaller, more understandable ideas
• establish focal points as attractors and cross-merchandising collections of related product
• adapt the look and feel to the market served, and
• provide graphics that have the dual purpose of amplifying the store branding while communicating pathway.

Read More.

Knowledge@Wharton - A Seasonal Sales Shift

by Deepak Sharma on Friday, August 27, 2010

Target, Toys R Us, Sears and Kmart are just a few of the big retailers that have launched mega-sales in recent weeks to tempt increasingly cost-conscious shoppers to their stores. This phenomenon -- known as the seasonal sales shift, or "Christmas creep" -- is not new. But in today's uncertain economic climate, it has bigger implications than ever, both for the retail sector's growth strategies and for consumer spending habits, say Wharton and other business experts.

Read more.

Barnes & Noble being set up for Sale

by Deepak Sharma on Thursday, August 26, 2010

Disturbing news but nonetheless sort of expected.

In what might be the latest sign of trouble for brick-and-mortar bookstores, the mega-chain Barnes & Noble announced on Tuesday that its board was putting the company up for sale.

For years, Barnes & Noble has been battered by large shifts in the publishing industry and the retail environment. Book sales have moved toward big-box stores like Costco, Wal-Mart and Target, and away from mall-based stores like B. Dalton, which Barnes & Noble acquired in the late 1980s.

“There’s been a long series of pressures,” said David Schick, managing director at Stifel Nicolaus in Baltimore. “The market has not been kind to bookstores, and it’s for new reasons like competition with Apple and Amazon, and it’s for old reasons, like what we believe has been a decline in reading for the last 20 years. Americans have devoted less of what we call media time to books.”

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, what is the best outfit of all?

by Deepak Sharma

WSJ has a report on how companies are trying out new technologies such as interactive mirrors, interactive kiosks and others to increase footfall and customer satisfaction.

INSTORE

Marketing companies are experimenting with a new wave of digital technologies to pitch to consumers while they shop: interactive dressing-room mirrors, kiosks with virtual customer-service representatives, and shopping carts and digital scanners that offer personalized discounts.

These futuristic technologies are among the interactive tools on display at Interpublic Group of Cos.' new retail center at the advertising company's Media Lab in Los Angeles.

There, Interpublic is testing innovative ways for marketers to connect with customers as part of an effort to better understand what makes consumers buy and to encourage companies to rethink their approaches to the role of the retail store.

Connecting these futuristic concepts with social media takes it to all new level.

Another device is a mirror that enables a shopper to scan a dress and then project that clothing onto her body before going to the dressing room. She can also tap the mirror to view different colors, find matching shoes and send the image to her Facebook profile.

Read more.

Now, this really is Hi-Tech

by Deepak Sharma on Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wow, this really is Hi-Tech. Analysts are using Satellite photographs of Parking lots and derive market moving data using that. UBS Analysts have used this method for the retailer, Wal-Mart.

As part of a growing trend among hedge funds and Wall Street firms, Cold War-style satellite surveillance is being used to gather market-moving information.

As an example of how Wall Street getting in on this techhology, the UBS Investment Research issued its earnings preview for Wal-Mart'ssecond quarter, which publicly revealed that UBS had been using used satellite services of private-sector satellite companies to gather the comings and goings of the parking lots at Wal-Mart stores. “UBS proprietary satellite parking lot fill rate analysis points to an interesting cadence intra-quarter and potential upside to our view,” the report read.

UBS analyst Neil Currie had been looking at satellite data on Wal-Mart during each month of 2010, and he’d concluded that there was enough correlation between what he was seeing in the satellite pictures of Wal-Mart’s parking lots to the big-box chain’s quarterly earnings, that he was ready to incorporate that data into UBS’ report on Wal-Mart..

Get your pricing power back

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, August 23, 2010

With the growing popularity of sites like Groupon and people using deal sites and forums to discuss prices of items, Retailers are getting pushed to lower their prices even when they don’t want to. Wall Street Journal has an article today which discusses how Retailers can get their pricing power back by using eight tactics to limit the ability of bargain hunters to find their deepest discounts and lowest acceptable prices.

Read more.

To Boost Sales, Stock a Little of Everything

by Deepak Sharma on Friday, August 20, 2010

This ATKearney Report compares the usual and the new ways of thinking about Assortment Management and Replenishment for low-volume items.

When products don't sell very much, conventional wisdom calls for reducing assortments and tailoring them to local conditions. But the opposite approach—stocking small quantities of each product at every store and centralizing replenishment decisions—has been shown to increase sales and reduce inventories without raising costs.

DOWNLOAD

Gap scoring high with Groupon

by Deepak Sharma on Thursday, August 19, 2010

US Retailer Gap just scored a home run with Groupon deal of the day. According to Techcrunch:

As of 11AM PST (the e-mail blast went out at roughly 6AM in each time zone) Groupon has sold 200,000 Groupons and is currently selling roughly 10 per second. Ten sales per second is an unusually high volume, Mason says, “several multiples above the average.”

If this trend persists, Groupon will likely sell more than 700,000 Gap Groupons by the end of day. Or, roughly $17.5 million in revenues for the daily deal machine. (That will buy you a lot of monkeys.)

Although Groupon has dabbled in multi-city deals, this is the first time they have partnered with a national retailer for a full countrywide roll out.

Update: Groupon reported Friday that it sold 445,000 vouchers for retailer Gap, bringing in $11 million in revenue.

The Price of Bad Service

by Deepak Sharma on Wednesday, August 18, 2010

FreshDirect (an online grocer) CEO, Richard S. Braddock’s interview in NYTimes.com.

The lesson? “It really costs a lot of money to give bad service,” Mr. Braddock said.

Survival of the fittest

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, August 16, 2010

Charles Darwin once said, “In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.”. Walmart is doing just the same in India. It is going out of it’s shell and adapting new measures to first survive and then probably one day thrive against all odds. The odds include Indian Government’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy restricting Walmart to act as a wholesaler only, low efficiency/dependability of suppliers, expectation of free credit by the small time vendors (who are essential to Walmart’s growth given the restriction to act as Wholesaler). To counter these odds, Walmart’s India Angle includes the following measures:

    • Inventory levels are kept high because suppliers are less reliable
    • Goods are delivered to the buyer’s doorstep
    • Regional focus: All suppliers in the same state as the stores
    • Collaborative farming, on verbal commitments
    • Free credit to buyers through credit cards

Read more. It happens only in India.

Retailers adopting Facebook “Like” button

by Deepak Sharma on Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More and more retailers are adopting Facebook “Like” button. Facebook Like button provides an easy mechanism to share content you like with your friends on Facebook. Retailers like Best Buy, Sears, eBay are actively using Like button on their websites.

In recent weeks, a growing array of shopping sites have placed "Like" buttons on their pages, too, including those of eBay Inc., Best Buy Inc. and Gilt Groupe Inc., expanding Facebook's influence into a $140 billion industry in the U.S. that drives both online advertising and a growing portion of retail sales.

For e-commerce sites, adding a "Like" button lets shoppers quickly share a product or deal with their Facebook connections, potentially encouraging them to buy the product themselves.

"Customers are looking to other friends in their social network to figure out what product is right to buy," said Tracy Benson, senior director of mobility customer solutions at Best Buy.

While the Like button can increase traffic, there is not established case study/research which shows increase in conversions for traffic originating out of Like button.

Daniel Mandell, a director of business development at Wenner Media, the owner of Us Magazine, said the celebrity website soon will roll out the Facebook "Like" button after years of allowing its visitors to share content on Facebook through other sharing buttons.

Visitors from Facebook are valuable because they "are an extremely engaged audience," spending an average of three minutes on the US site, about 20% higher than visitors from search engines, he said.

For shopping sites, though, the key measure of success is sales, not traffic. After Gilt introduced "Like" onto its "flash sales" pages at the end of June, the site saw a 50% leap in sales coming from Facebook after the first week. "We are watching to see if it continues, beyond an initial bump because it is new," said Jag Bath, the company's vice president of product management.

"Everyone is hoping that the endorsement of a 'Like' button will be the thing that gets consumers from browsing to actually buying," said Fiona Dias, executive vice president of strategy and marketing at GSI Commerce Inc., which runs about 100 retail websites. But among her clients who have implemented "Like," there has been no direct correlation between top-selling and most-"Liked" items.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703787904575403512335975240.html#ixzz0wKpmOExb

eMarketer reported last month a good increase in Retailers adopting Facebook Like button and other Social Plugins.

Implementation of Facebook Social Plug-Ins, Jun 2010 (% of US online marketers)

Mashable ran a story few days back showing How Online Retailers Can Leverage Facebook’s Open Graph. Good Read.

Customers appreciate Store Front creativity

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, August 09, 2010

On a lighter note, customers do appreciate creative store fronts.

Grocery Shopping Just Became Awesome

Every husband or boyfriend would gladly do the weekly food march for his woman if all grocery stores had this. I think store managers should learn from the guys that built this beautiful display. If all of them did something to this extent I’m sure they’d get more business in a heartbeat (or a Koopa stomp).

Super Pepsi Mario in a Safeway Store

Retailers Flock to Coupa Cloud Spend Management to Cut Costs

by Deepak Sharma on Tuesday, August 03, 2010

With soft consumer spending, retailers are investing in process improvements and technology to more effectively control their spending and protect their profits. They are under constant pricing pressure from incurring costs associated with operating distributed store locations, warehouses, etc. Here is where company like Coupa comes in. Coupa provides a cloud solution that combines e-procurement and expense management into one platform which offers several advantages to retailers to adopt smarter spending practices:

  • Enables companies to save money because they have greater visibility into the expense pool
  • Can drill down and audit problem areas of spending, curb "maverick" spending
  • Because it's cloud based, all this data is accessible in real-time and provides the ability to track spending behaviors, see trends both internally and against how other companies are doing/spending and set benchmarks, and then adjust practices moving forward.

Coupa just announced a significant uptick in the number of retail and franchise businesses selecting Coupa to more effectively manage and control their indirect spending. Here’s the complete news release:

Retailers Flock to Coupa Cloud Spend Management to Cut Costs

The Container Store, Michaels and Others Protect their Bottom Line from Slowed Consumer Spending

SAN MATEO, Calif. – August 3, 2010 – Coupa Software, the leading provider of disruptive and innovative cloud spend management (CSM) solutions for squeezing savings from business operations, today announced a significant uptick in the number of retail and franchise businesses selecting Coupa to more effectively manage and control their indirect spending.

Express, Inc., The Limited, Michaels, The Container Store, Dollar General, and a prominent specialty retailer of stylish home furnishings and high quality cookware are among the retailers leveraging Coupa’s platform for their e-procurement needs.

With soft consumer spending renewing worries about a fragile economic recovery, retailers and franchise businesses are investing in process improvements and technology innovations to more effectively control their spending and protect their profits. Coupa Cloud Spend Management offers several advantages to retailers eager to adopt smarter spending practices, including:

  • Centralized control over procurement processes and greater visibility into spending at the store level, without having to deploy IT resources or professional buyers in each location.
  • Broad adoption with an easy-to-use solution that requires minimal change management and training to learn or adopt, perfect for workforces characterized by non-office personnel, or that have high turnover or seasonal fluctuations in their employee base.
  • Ability to segregate content and streamline store-level purchasing through content groups. For example, with Coupa, retailers can segregate catalog items, how to buy policies, contracts, punchout sites and more by region, store layout, or other logical grouping to standardize ordering processes in each location.
  • Full budgeting support, including budget remaining checks before requisitions are approved, and roll-up reporting for store-level, and regional (or district) spending relative to budget.
  • Universal access via any web browser. As the only true multi-tenant cloud company in the e-procurement category, the software can be accessed from the Amazon cloud via any web browser.  There is no hardware to buy, or software to install.
  • Fast time to value. Everything you need to get started is included in a single subscription price and standard implementations are free, perfect for organizations designed to be self-sufficient at the store level, without expensive IT overhead.

“Coupa’s traction in our industry does not surprise me at all,” said Scott Jones, Purchasing Agent and Coupa Project Manager at The Container Store. “The dynamics of the retail business model demand efficient and cost-effective operations. Coupa’s cloud-based e-procurement solution fits that need perfectly. We’ve been very successful with the software.”

The Container Store, a Coupa customer since 2008, eliminated stockpiling and supply over-ordering at the store level by integrating Coupa with its warehouse management and supplier systems. By managing its requisition and purchase order processes through Coupa, The Container Store can accurately charge supply costs to individual stores based on supply usage, instead of more arbitrary measures like cost allocation based on percent of sales volume. The company reduced the number of SKUs managed in-house by 60%, and now processes 50% fewer purchase orders per week. Time savings generated by improved processes allowed the company to act on the spend intelligence gathered to negotiate new contracts for greater pricing discounts.

“Brick and mortar retailers have certain advantages over their online counterparts, but they are also under constant pricing pressure from pure online competitors who do not incur the same costs associated with operating distributed store locations,” said Rob Bernshteyn, CEO of Coupa Software. “It’s absolutely critical that retailers keep a watchful eye over every dollar of spend. And industry leaders are doing so with Coupa.”

About Coupa Software
Coupa is the leading provider of disruptive and innovative cloud spend management (CSM) solutions that help companies control their indirect spending and generate savings that go direct to the bottom line. Coupa combines the best e-procurement and expense management capabilities in a single solution that is easier to use, faster to configure and deploy, and more cost-effective than anything available today. With deep domain knowledge in e-procurement and expense management, a best-in-class cloud computing platform, a fast-growing community of customers, and industry-first innovations like real-time benchmarking, intelligent expense report auditing, and crowd sourcing great deals on the Web, Coupa is leading the way in helping companies spend smarter and save more. For more information please visit, http://www.coupa.com or call 650.931.3200.

MSN releases Online Circulars site

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, August 02, 2010

Retailers are spending millions of dollars on weekly circulars and its distribution along with Newspapers through mail. Taking this spend online can help Retailers save substantial dollars as well as increase usage/reach using social media features. MSN does exactly that and comes to their rescue with their new Local Deals site. MSN unveiled a new localized deals site through an interactive online circulars experience as part of MSN Local Edition – http://deals.msn.com.  So far Kohl’s, Target, Staples and RadioShack have signed up on the site. The circular page features Silverlight and DeepZoom technology, which will provide an immersive consumer experience. The users will be able to:

  • Rotate through various circulars all on one screen
  • Browse and ‘flip’ through pages just like with traditional circulars
  • Search for products across all the circulars at once
  • Zoom in on products within a circular at a high resolution
  • Hover over to learn more about a specific product, including reviews on Bing shopping
  • Add items to a shopping list
  • Find retailer locations using Bing Maps
  • Share finds with others through social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Windows Live
  • Link to a retailer’s site to purchase a product online

The circulars will refresh as often as retailers update information in ShopLocal (who is providing the back-end data for our circular experience) – usually weekly. Circulars that are not current will not be visible, ensuring that consumers are always browsing fresh content. Additionally, since the destination site is geo-targeted, only relevant circulars for a consumer’s location will be shown.

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Read More - Microsoft Advertising Unveils Online Circulars for MSN Local Edition (U.S.)

Retail Blogs

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, August 01, 2010

It’s been quite some time since I did my Interesting Retail Blogs post. You can get the old one’s here and here. Here are some more new blogs that are pushing great posts regularly.

What does the future of retail look like?

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, July 26, 2010

If this is a question you are trying to seek answer to, I suggest head over to Cashier Live’s recently launched interactive microsite “Future of Retail”. New technologies like mobile advertising, in-store augmented reality, and cloud-based software are changing how retailers (big and small) sell to consumers. The microsite presents scenarios for Mobile coupons, Virtual mirrors, Welcome kiosk, Digital signage, Self-checkout, Email receipts, Store management, RFID tags and Purchase orders. For each scenario, there are Proof of Concepts which shows how the retailers are working or thinking about using these new technologies. For e.g. for Welcome Kiosk there is this cool Gap Welcome video from Minority Report.

Retail’s Mobility Imperative

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, July 25, 2010

Forbes Insights has just published a study on how large U.S. retailers are approaching the mobile channel and looking to serve the mobile consumer.

The study-"Retail's Mobility Imperative: A Measured Approach to the Emerging Channel"- is based on an exclusive survey of more than 300 executives at leading U.S. retailers. It found that nearly three out of four (73%) retailers now have some type of mobile initiative in place, and almost half (47%) said their approach to the mobile channel was being driven by a desire to capture "first-mover advantage" and help them increase their engagement with mobile customers. The study also looks at how retailers are crafting their emerging mobile strategies, and where mobile's share of the marketing budget is heading.

You can download a copy of the study at: http://www.forbes.com/forbesinsights/retailmobility/index.html

New Rules of Retail

by Deepak Sharma on Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Oracle Retail has a new white paper on New Rules of Retail. These rules are derived from book by Jeff Jarvis, well-known author of What Would Google Do?, of what he calls Google Rules. The table below takes each of Jarvis’ Google Rules and applies them to retail industry examples to derive ten new rules of retail.

Retail has come full circle, local to global and now back to local as international retailers cater to individual preferences of their best customers. It’s a complex consumer market that spans borders, retail formats and media, and new rules of engagement apply. Jeff Jarvis’ book What Would Google Do? inspires ten guidelines that help retailers to thrive in today’s new consumer marketplace.

Google Rule

Industry Examples

New Retailer Rule

New Relationship Your worst customer is your friend; you best customer is your partner

Newegg.com lets manufacturers respond to customer comments, and their EggXpert site lets customers help other customers.

1. Listen to customers. Convert the critics to fans and the fans to influencers.

New Architecture Join a network; be a platform

Tesco and BestBuy released APIs for their product catalogs so third-parties could create new applications.

2. Become a destination for information.

New Publicness Life is public, so is business

Zappos and WholeFoods founders are prolific tweeters/bloggers, sharing their opinions and connecting to customers. It’s not always pretty, but it’s genuine.

3. Be transparent. Share both your successes and failures with your customers.

New Society Elegant organization

Wet Seal helps customers assemble outfits and show them off to each other. Barnes & Noble has a community site that includes a bookclub.

4. Communities of your customers already exist, so help them organize better.

New Economy Mass market is dead; long live the mass of niches

lululemon found a niche for yoga inspired athletic wear. Threadless uses crowd-sourcing to design short-runs of T-shirts.

5. Serve small markets with niche products.

New Business Reality Decide what business you’re in

When Lowes realized catering to women brought the men along, their sales increased.

6. Customers want experiences to go with the products they buy.

New Attitude Trust the people and listen

In 2008, Starbucks launched MyStartbucksIdea to solicit ideas from their customers.

7. Use social networks as data points for making better merchandising decisions.

New Ethic Be honest and transparent; don’t be evil

Target is giving away reusable shopping bags for Earth Day. Kohl’s has outfitted 67 stores with solar arrays.

8. Being green earns customers’ respect and lowers costs too.

New Speed Life is live

H&M and Zara keep up with fashion trends.

9. Be prepared to pounce on you customers’ fickle interests.

New Imperatives Encourage, enable and protect innovation

1-800-Flowers was first to sell via Facebook and an early adopter of mobile commerce. The Sears Personal Shopper mobile app finds products based on a photo.

10. Give your staff permission to fail so innovation won’t be stifled.