Brewing Disruption: Percolate’s Future of Retail

percolate

When it first launched, Noah Brier’s Percolate was a daily filter of quality social media content delivered directly to your inbox. But there was a deeper, darker and stronger agenda lurking beneath the surface of the Percolate news – a marketing platform that seeks to become the system of record for marketing. Now boasting clients as diverse as GE, Unilever, Converse and Pandora, Percolate have begun to amass a big data warehouse that can yield up-to-date information across a range of industry categories.

In their Future of Retail report, the Percolate team have curated 50 charts that signal the changes that have occurred and that are projected into the near future. Broken into six sections – macro trends, industries, eCommerce deep dive, consumer behaviour, path to purchase and offline strikes back – there is plenty to think on for the traditional, hybrid and digital retailer alike.

You can register to download the report for free – but there are few charts that caught my attention and are worth a closer look.

Percolate-6 Price and Coupon Search Leads In-Store Phone Use:  Perhaps there is no great surprise here, but this research lends weight to anecdotal evidence and data analysis that suggests smartphone use in-store can play an important role in closing a sale.With 31% of respondents indicating that they use their phones for comparison shopping in-store, it’s clear that there is an opportunity to use technology to influence a sale with an almost immediate impact.Question for retailers: Have you invested in “right time” technologies that allow you to target, reach and engage shoppers who are in-location and ready to buy?
Percolate-1 eCommerce Growth Driven by Mobile: We’ve been saying this for a while, but it’s clear that transacting via smartphones is becoming commonplace. And when we read this chart in conjunction with the one above, the message for retail laggards is equally clear – disruption has arrived.This disruption has been made possible because of the gulf between customer expectation and the retailer’s ability to deliver.Question for retailers: What do your competitors look like? How do they approach eCommerce?
Percolate-5 Social Traffic Conversion Rates are Growing: For years it has been accepted that social media is more about brand building than about sales. But the data reveals some growth here. And as with anything digital, those experimenting and learning from their efforts now, will reap the benefits further down the track.Question for retailers: What are you learning from your social media eCommerce / conversion initiatives?
Percolate-4 Consumers Will Pay More for Sustainability: In all countries/regions, there has been a significant year-on-year rise in the percentage of consumers who will pay a premium for sustainable products and services. This puts social responsibility on the brand agenda precisely at a time where sustainability is under pressure from the political classes.Moreover, it has never been easier for consumers to determine the scale of a brand’s commitment to social responsibility.Question for retailers: Have you gone beyond “greenwashing” to make a true commitment to sustainability? How does this play out in other aspects of your business beyond the product?

You can download the full Future of Retail report and charts on the Percolate website.

Disrupting Retail: Three myths about digital and in-store shopping

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A couple of weeks back I had the opportunity to speak at the DiG Festival about the future of retail. The panel hosted by retail guru, Nancy Georges evolved very quickly away from a simple notion of retail to one augmented by digital technology, mobile connectivity and dominated by a focus on customer experience.

And while great strides have been made overseas in recent years, it seems that Australian retailers are only now starting to properly grapple with the challenges and opportunities afforded by digital. For many categories, this has left gaping holes in the retail experience, affording startups and more agile small players to enter and dominate parts of the Australian retail landscape. Just think of the way:

  • Zara swept into the country, catching Myer and David Jones completely off guard
  • Shoes of Prey have outflanked and reinvigorated the custom women’s footwear space
  • ASOS out-compete local retailers with reliable online shopping and speedy fulfilment

In many ways, this is symptomatic of a larger shift in consumer behaviour. We are now using our mobile phones and digital devices to fulfil our consumptive impulses, and Australian retailers have been caught with their pants down, having stubbornly under-invested in technology, innovation and customer experience for decades.

There is, however, an increasing body of evidence that retailers can rely upon to bust the entrenched, old-skool thinking that seems to dominate the boards and executive ranks of Australian retail. And this latest research from Google is a great starting point. Busting three myths about digital and its relationship to in-store purchase, the report shows:

Myth 1: Search results only send consumers to eCommerce sites

The research shows that far from creating a barrier to in-store shopping, quality search results can drive in-store traffic. However, this clearly means that retailers have to be actively managing and updating their web presence and product catalogues.

Google-Retail-Myth1

Myth 2: Retailers lose the attention of in-store customers once they turn to their smartphones

With 42% of in-store shoppers searching for information online while in the store, an up-to-date website with integrated recommendation could deliver powerful cross-selling opportunities.

Google-Retail-Myth2

Myth 3: Online research has relegated in-store experience to the transaction

In reality, consumers have higher customer experience expectations than ever before. For example, 85% of shoppers say they’d be more likely to shop in places that offer personalised coupons and exclusive offers in-store.

Google-Retail-Myth3

You can download the full report here. But it is time for retailers to go beyond reading and to step out of the shadows of the Twentieth Century. It’s time to embrace the opportunities that come with disruptive technology and business models. Not to do so will open yet more doors to disruptive competitors – and no business can afford that.

Michael Hill Launches Valentine’s Day with Shoppable Video

MichaelHill-RetailVideo

I have been complaining about a lack of retail innovation – especially digital-oriented innovation – for some time. So it’s nice to see Australian jeweller / retailer, Michael Hill, taking on the challenge in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day.

MichaelHill-RetailVideo

Using Brightcove’s video cloud, Michael Hill combine video content – in this case, behind the scenes footage – to allow customers to purchase items depicted in the video. As the video progresses, “shoppable” items are highlighted in the scrolling product list. Sure it’s a little clunky in terms of experience, but it works, looks good and it’s an experiment that Michael Hill and their agency will learn from. And that puts them streets ahead of most other Australian retailers who struggle with the web basics.

Gustin Shows Why Retailers Still Don’t Get Digital

Gustin to transform retail

For years, Australian retailers have under-invested in digital. They held back technology investment, closed down innovation programs and hired traditional marketers when they should have been growing their own breed of tech-savvy innovators. And while retailers had their heads in the sand, the world changed.

Recent failures like ClickFrenzy have been down played and it’s clear that even the retailers with some digital budget are unprepared for the fast moving transformation taking place thanks to mobile.

In spite of all the trends, facts, figures and forecasts, retailers remain unconvinced. What is driving this myopic view of the future of business? In many ways, it feels like a classic illustration of the The Innovator’s Dilemma – companies (and indeed a whole industry) misses out on new waves of innovation because they are unable to capitalise on disruptive technologies.

But I also think retailers are captives of “Big Thinking”. Because they operate at scale, big thinking clouds their judgement. It’s easy to discount competitors when they generate sales that are fractions of a percentage of your business. But it’s not the percentage that’s important, its the velocity and momentum.

Hand made men’s clothing manufacturer, Gustin, illustrate this shift beautifully. They launched a Kickstarter campaign some time ago with the aim of raising $20,000. The premise was simple:

  • Capitalise on their growing brand and reputation for premium menswear hand-crafted in San Francisco
  • Allow for pre-purchasing of products through crowdsourcing – perfectly matching the demand and supply chains
  • Deliver the retail items to customers directly at wholesale price

Now, with two days before the campaign closes, Gustin have massively over-reached their goal. Currently sitting at almost $407,000, Gustin have smashed the target, connecting with almost 4000 new customers and validating not only their approach but also whole product lines.

And all this was done by taking an outside-in view of their business.

Until other retailers can transform the way they think about their business, their customers and the experience they provide, they will continue to struggle with this new world of digital.

How ClickFrenzy Became a ClickFizzer

How ClickFrenzy became a ClickFizzer

It should have been a raging online success for Australian retailers – a pre-Christmas event bringing together hundreds of local stores to create an online marketplace unrivalled in Australia’s digital history.

The aptly named ClickFrenzy was designed to kick start the holiday purchasing season with an Australian flavour – with local retailers aiming for a greater slice of the estimated $16 billion spent each year online. It appeared to be a match made in virtual heaven – retailers with full warehouses and consumers waiting with wallets fattened off the back of low unemployment and stable economic growth. What could go wrong?

Like Any Failure, It’s Not About the Technology

When the ClickFrenzy servers went down minutes before the 7PM launch, Facebook and Twitter exploded with frustration. But the seeds of this failure go back years.

For decades the retail sector has been under-investing in technology. Despite having international eCommerce startup superstar BigCommerce sitting on their doorsteps, most Australian retailers steadfastly resisted committing to the online purchasing experience. Some of the largest of retailers launched  poorly designed digital stores with clunky and outdated user experience, limited product lines and pricing models that were less than sharp. The excuses are many and varied, but at the heart I believe it’s a case of the The Innovator’s Dilemma – retailers past success has created the obstacles preventing them from succeeding in the face of changing markets and technologies.

Retailers Were Blindsided by the Connected Consumer

Over the last couple of weeks I have been speaking a lot about the disruptive impact of technology. The Connected Consumer has transformed the landscape and outflanked most brands. They are discovering, debating and deciding what they will buy well ahead of the traditional marketing funnel.

Retailers may have seen this change taking place but have not undertaken the transformation in strategic thinking, execution and delivery that is required. They did not dig their well before needing the water. They did not follow the most basic of customer centric models (see below).

digHole

The Good News – Retail Now Has a Burning Platform

As I suggested recently, the under-investment in technology by the retail sector has been possible because there was no “burning platform”:

People still bought goods – especially appliances and larger items in stores, and “online” was considered risky, unreliable, and difficult to navigate when it came to returns, warranties and customer service.

Many retailers in the past have made many excuses for poor online execution, appalling digital strategy and non-existent or simplistic social media engagement. I am half expecting to see the same again.

But Australian retailers should wake up and smell the smoke. It’s time for a dramatic rethink from the ground up. It’s time to delve deep and understand the fundamental transformation that has taken place in consumer markets and to work with the disruption in a way that transforms the nature of retail. It’s time for digital marketing transformation.

Driving Retail from Digital to Destination

  • The marketing funnel has imploded under its own inadequacy
  • Marketers must respond to the shift to digital with the 5 Ds of consumer engagement
  • Analytics is essential to understand the path to conversion

For decades, Australian retailers have under-invested in technology and online innovation. After all there was no “burning platform.” People still bought goods – especially appliances and larger items in stores, and “online” was considered risky, unreliable, and difficult to navigate when it came to returns, warranties and customer service.

But then consumers connected. Reviews helped identify quality products. Reputation management allowed online merchants to demonstrate their credibility. And web experiences improved. Prices were better.

People talked.

And kept talking.

Those conversations shifted from sites to platforms. They happened in places far away from the brand police and customer service teams. They proliferated on sites like Twitter, Get Satisfaction and Facebook.

But just as the connected consumer shifts digital channels in the blink of an eye, taking the conversation with them, so too can brands follow this consumer lead. Those with a considered and well executed strategy can connect the dots and drive retail from digital to destination.

Marketers should develop three practices to drive retail from digital to destination:

  1. Understand the 5 Ds of Consumer Engagement: The marketing funnel has imploded under its own inadequacy. It’s time to understand the buyer’s journey from the outside-in. Following the 5 Ds allows marketers to understand, map and engage their connected consumers at key stations on the buyers journey
  2. When it comes to content and channels, don’t think ONLY think AND: It’s time to break down the silos. Based on the 5 Ds, marketers must begin to work with strategic omni-channel (or multi-channel) formats. This means understanding how content, interactions and engagement work at each station – and where digital can extend or augment an experience (digital or non-digital)
  3. Know and measure your path to conversion: Don’t fool yourself that all conversion must happen in-store. Make it easy to purchase anywhere – after all, mobile is the ultimate impulse device. But understand that in-store is now about controlling the brand experience. Ensure that the destination experience is worth the journey in. Use omni-channel analytics to measure and understand the path to conversion.

Now, take a moment to view this (now finished) campaign from Adidas NEO. What’s the customer experience? What’s the journey? And what’s the engagement strategy at play?

Now, how would you play this out with your brand? Be creative.

 

Mobile Disruption Catches Retailers Off-guard

We are now deep into the last quarter for 2012. Marketers are pre-occupied by two challenges – planning for 2013 and preparing to launch Q4 campaigns designed to close out the year on a sales high.

Innovation in the customer buying journey has, however, changed the game. We are all retailers now and the ground has already shifted from beneath our feet. Google Retail’s recent report on consumer shopping confirms what we have known for some time:

  • The connected consumer sees no distinction between online and offline shopping
  • The connected consumer discovers, debates and decides on purchase ahead of the marketing funnel
  • Trust drives conversions

GoogleRetail1

Marketers have failed to keep pace with consumer led innovation

While there has been some investment in digital technologies, and campaign experimentation over the last nine months, there has been precious little innovation where it counts – in marketing practice.

Six principles to transform your marketing efforts

Our recent big idea report on recasting the marketing funnel for consumer engagement identified six principles that must be addressed:

  1. Fragmentation creates silos not synergies
  2. The marketing funnel assumes a passive customer
  3. The next-gen customer experience is owned from the outside-in
  4. Next-gen customers purchase in their own time frame
  5. Purchase decisions occur before consumers reach your marketing funnel
  6. Trust is the currency of digital marketing

Marketers must prepare for the most social holiday retail season now

The 2012 holiday season is primed to be the most social ever. And in terms of “social”, read “mobile”. The Deloitte Dawn of Mobile Influence report on mobile retail reveals that mobile already influences significant in-store purchases and this is predicted to accelerate through 2016. This shift is a global phenomenon as our upcoming report 5 Lessons from Digital Asia Pacific’s Digital Trajectory shows, with mobile innovation efforts garnering 100 million+ audiences across the region.

deloitteMobileRetail

To outcompete in your markets, retailers must move quickly to identify and fill gaps in the customer experience journey. To counteract this mobile disruption, retailers should:

  1. Re-cast the marketing funnel in terms of the buyers journey
  2. Look to software-as-a-service providers to fill the technology gap quickly and effectively
  3. Consider whether your digital (mobile and social) marketing really does focus on customer need across the buying cycle (answer the WIIFM question – does it get me made, laid or paid) and recalibrate accordingly

Your POV

Are your retail efforts up-to-speed? Are you ready for the social holiday season? Add your comments or send us an email.

Please let us know if you need help with your digital strategy efforts.  Here’s how we can assist:

  • Assessing social business/digital marketing readiness
  • Considering new digital strategy
  • Developing your social business/digital marketing  strategy
  • Designing a data to decisions strategy
  • Create a new vision of the future of work
  • Deliver a new customer experience and engagement strategy
  • Crafting a new matrix commerce strategy

What Your Purchases Reveal About You

The promise of big data is that it produces a win-win outcome for the customer and the business. As consumers, we relinquish our fears over (and some rights to) privacy, and in return receive a range of benefits – free access to networking tools, file and photo sharing, email and so on. It’s a well-worn path created by technology companies like Google and Facebook.

But who really wins in this big data exchange? For example, Dominos Pizza found that by analysing data, more pizza is ordered when it rains. This simple insight allows them to target offers to people in locations where it is inclement – using, of course, big data to do so. There could be a win-win here in that rainy weather may prompt us to seek warm, convenient food such as pizza – but we may also ask which comes first, the pizza craving or the suggestive sell?

This infographic from CamCode reveals some surprising statistics about the big data that is already out there and available to your favourite retailers. And while the advertising may suggest that you are important to retailers, it seems they don’t really want YOU. They want your data.

customer-profiling-infographic (1)

With Mobile Commerce, We Are All Retailers Now

Closing DownThe early days of eCommerce were a hard slog. The technology was cumbersome and unreliable, the gateways were expensive and the business community was sceptical. And the shoppers … well even the early adopters were hesitant – concerned about credit card numbers, identity theft and having to pay for goods in advance that may never arrive.

But over time most of those issues have been overcome. And even those that still concern us – like identity theft, security and so on – are traded for convenience. After all, we are generally happy to share our credit card information when a deal is ready to be done.

Mobile commerce – or mCommerce – however, has been able to ride the shirt tails of eCommerce. In many ways, the success of sites like Apple’s iTunes and Amazon have not only changed our sense of trust – they have changed our consumer behaviour. Just think, for example … when was the last time you bought a DVD or a music CD from a shop? For many of us, digital experience is at the core of our understanding and acceptance of so many brands.

And as we follow the bridge of convenience through our mobile devices, we will find ourselves using what businesses call mComerce (though we will just view it as convenience). And this makes me think again – that for the future of our brands, we need to think mobile first but with a social heart.

But our businesses challenges do not stop at the mobile gateway. In fact, they are just the start of a business trend that is going to transform our industries. A couple of years ago, well respected content marketing evangelist, Joe Pulizzi  urged us to think about EVERY business as a “publishing business” – but now in the same way – we have no choice but to consider ourselves RETAILERS too. We are always on, always connected and always SELLING as the infographic from BigCommerce, below, shows. The question is … are you ready?

mcommerce-infographic-blog-full

Retail Innovation? Try Embracing Showrooming

2005Mar-AustinTypeTour-137 - Roadhouse Relics - Visit Our ShowroomYou know what it is like … you see an item online. It’s a great deal – a special price and a coupon code. That credit card is burning a hole in your desk. But in the back of your mind is that one lingering doubt … will it fit.

So what do you do? You “showroom” – you go in-store to check the item for size, fit, colour or texture. You do your “shopping” in-store and you make your purchase online. This practice is known as “showrooming” and a recent article suggests that retailers have some work to do to avoid falling victim to this new shopping trend. Retail software vendor, CrossView, suggest that cross-channel retailing is the answer.

And there is big business at stake – with more than one in two Australian shoppers aged over 15 now shopping online. PwC and Frost & Sullivan predict that 2012 online spending levels will hit $16 billion – and will grow at a compounded growth rate of 14.1% through 2016. But these figures don’t include travel, events, financial services or media downloads.

This is backed up not only by spending but by brand awareness and customer engagement via social media. According to SocialBakers.com, Australians love online shopping – with Fashion, eCommerce and FMCG industries ranking the top three Australian Facebook pages in the year up to July 2012.

And it is this convergence of eCommerce and social media – in what we can loosely call “social commerce” – that is potentially a game changer for retail. For decades we have seen an entrenched refusal of Australian retailers to invest in the kind of digital experimentation required to lead to breakthrough innovation. This, in turn, left gaping holes in the market – which benefited companies like Apple and Amazon.

But if we look to emerging consumer behaviour we can see not only threat but opportunity. What if retailers were to embrace showrooming? What if, rather than discouraging it through restrictive in-store policies and management – retailers owned, encouraged and transformed the customer experience so that it was EASY for shoppers to showroom.

After all, if the social web has taught us anything in the last decade it is that consumerisation crushes all obstacles.