Tag Archives: online retail

Website Analytics Helps You to See How Your Online Business is Performing

Website Analytics is there for retailers to use. You’ve just decided to start an online retail business. Why not? It’s relatively easy and cheap to do. You can start a Drop Shipping business, or join Shopify or trade your own goods online with a Woocommerce site. According to Quora, there are between 12 and 24 million ecommerce websites on the net. However, only about 650,000 ecommerce websites generate annual sales of more than $1,000. That’s a miserable 2.7% generating very modest turnovers.

Is your online business not performing as planned? Are your paid search adverting and social media marketing campaigns not resulting in sales? Then you’re probably targeting the wrong customers at the wrong place with the wrong products. So how will you know that you’re doing things wrong? You can do the right thing by using a Website Analytics tool such as Google Analytics.

What is Website Analytics?

Web analytics is the process of analyzing the behavior of visitors to a Web site. Indeed, the use of Web analytics is said to enable a business to attract more visitors, retain or attract new customers for goods or services, or to increase the dollar volume each customer spends, says Margaret Rouse in Techtarget.com.

Web Analytics is not just a process for measuring web traffic but can be used as a tool for business and market research, and to assess and improve the effectiveness of a website, according to Salini, Malavolta and Rossi (2016).

Salini et al (2016) mentioned that the four essential stages of Website Analytics are:

  1. Collection of data,
  2. Processing data into information,
  3. Developing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and
  4. Formulating an online strategy.

Each of these stages impacts or can impact the stage preceding or following it; in other words they are sequentially connected and not isolated from each other.

  1. Collecting data for Web Analytics

The simplest, cheapest and most used Web Analytics tool is Google Analytics (GA). Indeed, Google analytics offers a free service to its users. But before you can use GA, you need to create a new account. GA will create a tracking code that you can copy into the memory of your website. Your website should now be connected with Google Analytics.

However, your site needs traffic in order for GA to do its algorithms and results. Therefore you need to write a post or promote products to start attracting visitors.

  1. Processing data into information

Google Analytics can track a visitor’s location, device, landing page, and behavior while he or she is using your website. In addition, you can see where the visitor came from (Google, Bing, Yelp, etc.). This can help you to spend those pay-per-click marketing dollars wisely.

Kristi Hines suggests in his blog Kissmetrics.com that Google Analytics help you as follows:

  • Find out which online campaigns bring the most traffic and conversions.
  • Determine where your best visitors are located.
  • Learn what people are searching for on your site.
  • Visualize what people click on the most.
  • Uncover your top content.
  • Identify your worst performing pages.
  • Determine where people abandon the shopping cart.
  • Discover if you need a mobile site.

Before you start perusing the pie charts, line graphs, and spreadsheets available in the user interface of Google Analytics, it’s important to figure out what to monitor.

  1. Developing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Since you’ve identified what works and what does not work with your website, you need to develop KPIs. A KPI, or Key Performance Indicator, is a metric used to measure performance. Drew Strojny of The Theme Foundry advised that SMEs and bloggers using WordPress to keep the following ideas in mind when identifying website-related KPIs:

  • KPIs should align with business goals. The KPIs related to your website should align with a specific action you want website visitors to take. In many cases, this will be a revenue-impacting action, like contacting you for a quote if you’re a service provider.
  • KPIs should correspond to trackable metrics in Google Analytics. Therefore, when you know what your KPIs are, you should connect each one to a specific tool or tool in Google Analytics.

The top 8 metrics and KPIs that online retailers should take into account with website analytics are according to Natalie Pavlovskaya writing in InstantShift:

  1. Average Order Value (AOV). AOV is considered a key metric by many online retailers, because the higher you can encourage AOV to be, the more income your store will get. The basic calculation is: (Sum of Revenue Generated)/(# of Orders) = Average Order Value
  2. Conversion Rate. The conversion rate tells how effective your store is at closing deals. The basic calculation is: (Number of Sales) / (Number of Visits) = Conversion Rate.
  3. Bounce Rate. Bounce Rate is a percentage of visitors who leave your site immediately, probably because they didn’t find what they were looking or the website was too complicated or annoying to use. The basic calculation is: (Number of visitors who leave immediately) / (Total number of visitors) = Bounce Rate.
  4. Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate. According to the Baymard Institute, the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 69% (2017). The basic calculation is: (#of people who don’t complete checkout) / (# of people who start checkout) = Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate.
  5. Cost per Acquisition. Cost per Acquisition is a critical marketing metric. It can tell you which campaigns can drive your sales and which will become a costly pile. The basic calculation is: (Total Cost of Marketing Activities) / (# of Conversions) = Cost per Acquisition.
  6. Traffic. Where does your audience come from? Which channels produce the most customers? What social networks, keywords work best for your business?
  7. Net Profit. Net Profit is the actual amount of profit a business generates after all expenses. It tells you the profitability of your ecommerce business after taking all costs into account. The basic calculation is: (Total Revenue) – (Total Expenses) = Net Profit.
  8. Customer Lifetime Value (LTV). Customer Lifetime Value measures the total amount of money a customer spends in a store during his relationship with it. The basic LTV equation: (Average Order Value) x (# of Repeat Sales) x (Average Retention Time).

Once you’ve got the overall picture of your online store’s performance, you’ll need to formulate or change your online business strategy.

  1. Formulating an online strategy

Formulating an actionable online strategy for your business may be your biggest challenge. Sarah Williams Founder & CEO of 816 New York proposed the following steps to develop a Google Analytics Measurement Plan:

  • Step 1. Document your business’s objectives. Ask yourself as a company: Why do we exist? What is the Core Purpose and Vision of the brand itself?
  • Step 2: Identify strategies and tactics. One Strategy you would adopt is to sell products. The tactics that support that strategy, then, might be to sell online through the website, sell items in stores, or sell via a mobile shopping app.
  • Step 3: Choose KPIs. For an e-commerce site, the KPIs (measurements of strategies and tactics) might include monitoring how much revenue has been generated, and the average order value from online and mobile app sales.
  • Step 4: Choose segments. It’s important to segment your data to drill down to its essence. Not all customers are the same, and it’s often helpful to segment your reporting to identify distinct market segments.
  • Step 5: Choose targets. You must define the targets for each KPI. What indicates success? Where can you do better? Isn’t that what you want to find out, after all?
  • Step 6: Implement and control. Monitor the data regularly to adjust your tactics with the trends.

A Google Analytics result page

Concluding

Lastly, one of the greatest advantages having an ecommerce website is that you can measure the activity and the behaviour of users. However, there is no advantage if you don’t measure the performance of your website and marketing strategies. Therefore, make sure that you target the right customers with the right products at the right places, and, o yes – the right prices. For that reason mastering website analytics tools such as Google Analytics may bring you close to achieve all your KPI goals. Good luck with your website analytics!

A last word from Albert Einstein “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Read also:

  1. Predictive Analytics helps Retailers to make sense of Big Data
  2. Marketing Automation is enabled by Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Chatbots

Note

Salini, A., Malavolta, I. and Rossi, F. 2016. Leveraging web analytics for automatically generating mobile navigation models, In Mobile Services (MS), 2016 IEEE International Conference, 103-110.

Images

Pixabay.com

Flickr.com

 

Demise of Loyal Retail Customers in the Digital Age

Loyal retail customers have for long now given Bricks and Mortar (BM) retailers an advantage over their competitors. However, the advent of the internet and the subsequent development of the online shopping channel have changed the shopping behaviour of retail customers.

Although BM retailers have invested millions of dollars in customer loyalty programs, the convenience, speed and assortment of products customers enjoy online lured many loyal customers away. This is apparent with the closedown of thousands of retail stores, and the vanishing of well-known retail brands over the last couple of years.

The big challenge for BM retailers is to the get customers back to their stores. Thereafter, the retailers should have a strategy in place to keep them coming back. In other words, making their customers loyal again…

What are loyal retail customers?

Customer loyalty is according to PR Loyalty Marketing both an attitudinal and behavioral tendency to favor one brand over all others. This may be due to satisfaction with the product or service, its convenience or performance, or simply familiarity and comfort with the brand.

Loyalty is formed in four stages 1 – cognitive, affective, conative, and action.

  1. Cognitive loyalty – in the first loyalty stage, consumers develop value expectations and preference for one brand relative to other available alternatives.
  2. Affective loyalty – here the consumers begins to develop a liking or attitude towards the brand based on an increasingly satisfying experience with the brand.
  3. Connotative loyalty – the third stage, which is confined to consumer’s behavioral intention. The consumer has deeply held commitment to buy the brand.
  4. Action loyalty – is where the desire and intention in the previous loyalty state has translated into realistic loyalty actions or behaviour.

It takes time, money and commitment from retailers to get loyal retail customers. This process, mostly took place at the BM retailer’s store in the local shopping center. However, retail customers in the digital age can shop anywhere, at any time, at the best price.

So, BM retailers need to rethink their customer loyalty programs. They need to find out what “delights” their customers. How has the internet and the online retail channel affected their shopping behaviour in the retail stores?

Loyal retail customers in multi-channel retail

Retailers can nowadays rely only on more than one channel to do business with. As a result, most BM retailers adopted eCommerce to become Bricks and Clicks retailers. Online retailers, on the other hand, started to open physical stores to serve as showrooms for their products. Indeed, loyal retail customers need to be found outside the traditional retail channels.

“In the digital age, your customers have apps that let them search for products, compare products, review products, check prices, compare prices, and even buy the product without ever stepping foot in your store “says Tiffany Marshall. So what must retailers do to get their loyal retail customers back?

Media Genesis suggests that retailers do the following to get back loyal retail customers:

  • Build an emotional connection – whether it’s through exclusive content or rewards, making your consumer feel special is an important part of brand loyalty.
  • Personalize – you have your customer’s data; use it to your advantage! Make your content relevant and engaging by making sure that it is (almost) custom-made for your consumer.
  • Use your data – use data, analytics, and your digital business capabilities to go beyond just rewards. Use the information you’ve gathered to really analyse how your consumers want to engage with your brand and build a strategy to do it.
  • Create an active online presence – forgoing a good website and a strong online presence is essentially a death sentence in today’s digital marketplace. Most consumers prefer to shop online and not having an easy to use website is like excluding your brand from the conversation. It’s not enough to just post on social media. Create conversations, respond to customers, and help make customer service a 360° experience.
  • Merge your worlds – make the online to offline experience completely complimentary by identifying all of the crucial touch points you may have with your consumers. You might even see a return in foot traffic if the consumer consistently sees your brand attached to good prices online. When they need something in a pinch, your brand will be at the top of their mind.
  • Make it easy – as a business, you now have to prioritize delivering quality, enjoyable interactions with your consumers. This is the best way to build a lasting customer relationship in the digital age. If your web presence does some of the heavy lifting for your consumer, making it easier for them to reach their end goal, the quality of the experience will resonate and they’ll be back for more.

Concluding

Online shopping caters to the busy lifestyle of modern people, and its prevalence manifests the rise of the stay-at-home economy 2. Also, the internet, big data, the internet of things and social media has revolutionized the way customers interact with their retailers. I wonder, however, how loyal retail customers can be towards a chatbot?

Lastly, has the demise of the loyal retail customer started?

Read also: Personalization of Marketing Communication – not just for your Customer’s sake

Have look at this video: “The role of customer loyalty in the small business”

Notes

1 Kursunluoglu, E. 2014. Shopping centre customer service: creating customer satisfaction and loyalty, Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 32(4):528-548.

2 Wu, M.Y. and Tseng, L.H. 2015. Customer satisfaction and loyalty in an online shop: an experiential marketing perspective, International Journal of Business and Management, 10(1):104.

Image and video

Flickr.comlynda.com

Drop Shipping in 2017 – Opportunities and Turbulence for Retailers

Drop shipping in 2017: Is drop shipping the ‘holy grail’ for struggling Bricks Mortar retailers? Or is it a retail business model that goes against what online customers demand: An easy, consistent and seamless experience.

According to Joel Padi writing in The Market Mogal, the young people in the UK choose increasingly to become entrepreneurs. This is because of the unpredictable economy, high study fees and a fiercely competitive job market. Joel says that some of the young entrepreneurs consider drop shipping as a “risk-free, low start-up cost, and profitable business venture”.

Josh Wexler, CEO and Founder of RevCascade, posting in the MULTICHANNELMERCHANT says that “Thanks to its inherent flexibility and low-risk nature, drop shipping has the potential to be your ultimate tool for merchandising and product curation”. However, Ed Kennedy cautions that with drop shipping, a retailer may put his/her good reputation in another’s hands. A real concern…

The drop shipping in 2017 will be discussed – does it offers opportunities for retailers, or is it too troublesome?

The drop shipping distribution model

The drop shipping distribution model is usually contrasted with the traditional retail distribution model. Comparing the two models is not without a good reason. Traditional retail distribution models require the retailer to buy inventory, and to store and manage it. This practice needs a monetary investment that serves as an important entry barrier to the industry.

There is no need for a retailer to buy inventory, or to handle it when using drop shipping.  Since the capital requirements starting a drop ship retail business is small, the barrier to enter the industry is low. Therefore, starting a drop ship business seems easy, but how easy is it to keep it open?

The pros and cons of drop shipping in 2017

Drop shipping, as with any other retail business model, has its advantages and disadvantages:

The advantages of using drop shipping for existing retailers are according to Josh Wexler as follows:

  • Increasing volume with existing brands – launching a drop ship program largely takes the responsibility of shipping and fulfillment off your shoulders;
  • Selling new products from new (and existing) brands – your product mix and brand offerings can be drastically expanded and diversified with virtually no risk;
  • Testing new verticals – drop shipping can mitigate risk to the point where retailers can test out merchandising with entirely new verticals, not just products and brands;

The disadvantages for retailers using a drop shipping system are according to Strategy Plus:

  • Processing your orders can become difficult. The time between selling a product and getting it shipped can take long. Also, there are many conversations and actions that need to take place before it gets sent off;
  • Not having all of the product information is problematic. As you never actually handle the products that you are selling, you have no realistic idea of what they are like;
  • Customer service issues. Drop shipping removes the responsibility of shipping but, sadly, it also removes a large part of the customer experience from your control;
  • A vast amount of competition is everywhere. Finding great drop shipping products means they generally will come with competition from other retailers in your sector.

How should retailers practice drop shipping in 2017

In a time where many Bricks and Mortar retailers are closing shops because changes in the buying behaviour of their customers, a drop shipping distribution model may provide an outcome. Indeed, drop shipping has the power to build a retailer’s eCommerce site and increase product offerings with little capital investment.

However, Peter Zaballos, Chief Marketing Officer at SPS (quoted in the MULTICHANNELMERCHANT) suggests that before retailers decide to add drop shipping capabilities, they should consider the following six questions:

  1. Do I have the infrastructure needed to support it? Drop shipping involves many moving parts and requires flawless orchestration between retailers and suppliers. Communication, collaboration and efficiency are key to meeting the promise made to consumers.
  2. Do I have the right internal resources in place? Managing the increased document flow drop shipping requires may tax your internal teams. It’s critical that you have systems and processes that can support increased volume.
  3. Which of my suppliers have drop shipping capabilities? While having a relationship with a supplier that offers drop shipping makes it easier to add this component to your merchandising strategy, it is not a necessity.
  4. How will I receive reliable, accurate product information? Today’s digital consumers rely on detailed product information when making purchasing decisions. To ensure you provide such information, gather item attributes from your suppliers.
  5. How will I maintain service levels? Drop ship agreements require collaboration and trust in order to ensure customer expectations are met. From the start, foster and encourage open dialogue and set expectations, requirements and goals.
  6. In what way will I manage returns? Even with accurate product information and a good shopping experience, returns are inevitable and must be planned for. First, determine what to do with merchandise that is returned. Will it go back to the warehouse or the supplier, be discounted and sent to store shelves or sold elsewhere?

Concluding

Although the start-up costs are low with a drop shipping business, it’s not so easy to run it. Websites such as Dropship.com and Shopify as well as other applications run by the wholesale suppliers will mostly give entrepreneurs a seamless start. However, what happens there after will require all the ‘guts’ and determination to keep going.

Then there is the ‘the paradox of choice’. Jeremy Hanks, CEO of Dsco said recently in Practical Ecommerce that “customers overwhelmed by product variety end up just window shopping.” Joel Padi writing in The Market Mogal advises that when starting with drop shipping, specialization in a niche market could prove to be the key to a profitable start-up. By reducing their focus, first-time entrepreneurs can narrow the target market, reducing advertising and marketing costs.

Finally, to do successful drop shipping in 2017, the retailer must maintain control over the entire customer experience, including how transactions and communications take place, says Adrien Nussenbaum, co-founder of Mirakl (Internet Retailing).

Image: Pixabay

Read also:  Drop shipping retail in 2016

 

 

Personalization of Marketing Communication – not just for your Customer’s sake

Personalization of marketing communication is not just a good practice for retailers, but also a way to help their businesses survive. The advent of the internet has rendered retailers the opportunity to offer their customers products specifically customized for them. This is in direct contrast with mass marketing where the objective is to broadcast product offerings to reach the largest number of people possible.

Personalization of marketing communications is to treat each person as a unique individual with distinctive needs and to provide them with customized solutions 1. To be able to personalize marketing communications, retailers need to learn about the customer’s individual needs and preferences in terms of the types of content that the customer is willing to receive and other person-specific characteristics.

The strategic use of data collected during the online buying process and social media sites may be a good starting point for retailers to know their customers better.

Data – the foundation for the personalization of marketing communication

The digitalization of the entire advertising industry is generating ever increasing amounts of data that must be collected, analysed and interpreted 2.  Lying hidden in all this data is information, potentially useful information that is rarely made explicit or taken advantage of. We must just find the data.

The data we need is right before our eyes. Says Woopra: “Social media interactions, email marketing, landing pages, surveys, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and re-targeted ads are all customer touch points that can tell you about your customer’s needs and interests”.

Once the data are sorted and tabled, retailers can segment and target their customers and also position their products accordingly. However, here the process is done for each customer specifically according the individual’s unique needs, desires and behaviors (customization). So, once customization has been achieved, it makes personalization of marketing communication possible.

Personalized marketing communications used by online retailers

Online shopping has become an important channel for retailers. Unfortunately, it does not afford facile development of an interpersonal relationship or facilitate easy interactions between buyers and sellers 3.  Even worse, many retailers use the online channel to send generic marketing messages via email or text, to the annoyance of their customers. This, however, is not personalized marketing communication.

Retailers need to collect and analyse data about the buying behaviour of individual customers. The profile of the customer will provide guidelines for the retailer how to personalize his/her marketing communication message. Daniel Newman, CEO of Broadsuite Media Group suggests the following ways brands can use data to build personalized marketing tactics:

  • Capture complete data – are you collecting every piece of data that you possibly can? Brands today have more consumer information at their fingertips than ever before, and they can use that data to get to know their customers in depth.
  • Social data – social cues and signals are excellent ways to figure out more about customers than traditional sources like email, demographics, or purchase records.
  • Segmentation – you need to segment your audience into smaller groups for more accurate targeting.

What does a personalized marketing message looks like?

You’ve done all the hard work by sourcing and sorting your customer data. Now it is time to create a personalized marketing message for your customer. Below is an image from GIGYA, a customer identity management agency. The ad shows beauty products that are specifically recommended for a customer with a unique skin type and facial features.

Note that the narrative is in the second person – thus the ad is addressing the individual personally.

The advantages of personalized marketing communications

Retailers that personalize their marketing communication may enjoy the following advantages says Infor Marketing Management:

  1. Improved Return on Investment (ROI) – one study found that personalized website experiences resulted in an average 19% increase in sales. For email, personalization is even more powerful, generating transaction rates and revenue six times higher per email than non-personalized emails.
  2. Outflanking the competition – with personalization, retailers can increase the impact of each interaction to get consumers’ attention and time online – at the cost of the competitors.
  3. Customers expect it – most consumers said it’s important to receive relevant offers when shopping online. And, almost a third wants more personalization during their online shopping experiences, reports Infor Marketing Management.

Concluding

“Personalization is retail’s future; especially as more advanced technologies allow marketers to handle personalization more effectively”, suggests Infor Marketing Management. However, retailers have to invest in the right technology, including marketing automation, CRM, social media management and data analytics tools, as well as more advanced e-commerce platforms.

Bringing the person back into the marketing message may help soften the total onslaught of marketing atomization by means of the internet of things, big data and bots.

Have a peek at this short video from Evergage re personalized marketing communication.

Notes

1 Järvinen, J. and Karjaluoto, H. 2015. The use of Web analytics for digital marketing performance measurement, Industrial Marketing Management, 50:117-127.

2 Grether, M. 2016. Using Big Data for Online Advertising Without Wastage: Wishful Dream, Nightmare or Reality? GfK Marketing Intelligence Review, 8(2):38-43.

3 Lee, Y.J., and Dubinsky, A.J. 2017. Consumers’ desire to interact with a salesperson during e-shopping: development of a scale, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 45(1):20-39.

Read also:

  1.  Chatbots in Retailing – a Fact or a Fad?
  2.  Retail and the Internet of Things

Images and video

  1. Pixabay
  2. GIGYA,
  3. Evergage

How successful are Retailers in the Omnichannel?

Bricks and Clicks (B&C) retailing is with us for more than two decades. The adding of the online channel to their physical business has allowed retailers to survive and grow even during tough trading conditions.  However, a recent report by Andria Cheng in eMarketer suggests that B&C retailers are struggling to the get their omnichannel strategies to work.

Andria refers to a 2016 survey of about 350 retail and consumer goods CEOs in countries such as the US and China. The survey was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for JDA, a supply chain software provider for retailers from Ann Taylor parent company Ann Inc. to grocer Albertsons. Several worrying aspects about the use of the omnichannel in the retail industry came to the fore with this survey.

How effective are Bricks and Clicks retailers using the omnichannel?

The reasons for retailers to become Bricks and Clicks were discussed previously by this author: “Crossing the digital threshold – adding Clicks to Bricks for sustainable retail outcomes”.  However, the implementation of an omnichannel retail strategy seems not that straightforward.

Results from the survey commissioned by PwC (reported by eMarketer) indicated the following:

  • More than half of retailers haven’t started implementing, are struggling to define or don’t even have plans to develop a “digital transformation strategy”.
  • Only 10% of CEOs say they are able to make a profit while fulfilling omnichannel demand because of delivery and other supply chain complexities.
  • 75% of retail executives said their online operating costs as a percentage of sales have seen either “significant” or “some” increase in the past 12 months. One key driver of that increase: 74% of retailers said customer returns are hurting profit to “a great extent” or “to some extent.”
  • CEOs, especially those in the soft-lines (like apparel) and hard goods (like appliances) sectors, said that their greatest concern is inventory exhaustion, or “out of stock.” Out of stock is a big problem hurting retailers’ ability to convert sales when consumers visit stores.
  • More than half (51%) of respondents said they offer or plan to offer pick up in store in the next 12 months.
  • With the high costs of free shipping and other delivery offers, 33% of survey respondents said they would offer same-day delivery in 2017, down from 44% last year. Meanwhile, a third of respondents said they plan to increase the minimum order value. The percentage of retailers offering specific delivery time slots also has declined.
  • Almost three-fifths of retailers surveyed said they have no plans to reduce their store investment and said their online sales are “additional” sales that aren’t hurting their physical store sales.
  • Automation and internet of things rank lower on their investment list for now, even though these are the areas that are gaining ground as retailers consider them “true game changers,” according to the survey.

Digital technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and self-service technology (SST) are for long now available for retailers to use.

How to add digital technology seamlessly to your retail business

Digital communication technology is part of the retail setup and is here to stay.  However, retailers are reluctant to adopt the technology for a number of reasons. Retailers should consider the following when deciding to add digital:

  1. Visualize what your business will achieve by adding digital and how your customers will respond to it;
  2. Develop a business plan to integrate the digital with the physical operations of your business;
  3. The integration will cost you money – find out how much and where the funds will come from;
  4. Before your spend a cent on it – discuss and argue the process with all the stakeholders – allow everyone to have their say;
  5. If possible, do a quick survey with your customers to get their opinion on the matter;
  6. Once everyone has agreed with the integration, develop and implement an integration strategy;
  7. Measure the results and make corrections as the process moves forward;
  8. If you lose money continuously, start again or discard the process.

Most of the reactions of the CEOs coming from the PwC survey can probably be because they didn’t plan properly. To be honest, failing to plan is planning to fail.

A strategic planning session

Concluding

The digitization of retail is as revolutionary as it gets. Not only that, it is disruptive. Integrating the digital with the physical is no more ‘a nice to have’. Retailers ignoring the revolution facilitated by digital communication technology, and driven by their customers 1, will fail. Strategic planning may help retailers to do the integration orderly and seamlessly. Only then retailers can enjoy success in the omni retail channel.

Note:

1 Picot-Coupey, K., Huré, E. and Piveteau, L. 2016. Channel design to enrich customers’ shopping experiences: Synchronizing clicks with bricks in an omni-channel perspective–the Direct Optic case. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 44(3):336-368.

Further reading

  1. How do Customers Respond to Self-Service Technology in Retail Shops?
  2. Artificial Intelligence – Digital Outcomes or Digital Disruptions for Retailers?
  3. Retail and the Internet of Things

Images:

  1. Flickr.com
  2. Wikimedia

Selling to the Young Ones, Generation Z

The teens and tweens of today are a cohort of kids that doesn’t have a definitive name yet, however some have dubbed it Generation Z. Generation Z, the largest demographic cohort comprises 25% of the US population (Wikipedia, 2015).  They will start working by 2020 and earning lots of money that need spending. Therefore Generation Z should be taken seriously by retailers who need to know who they are and what their needs, wants and preferences are.

The characteristics of Generation Z

Generation Z was born after 1994 and is the newest generation. The generation has grown up surrounded by technology and are known to be highly connected with each other 1. A highlight of this generation is their ‘color-blindness’, their sensitivity to diverse cultures and personal differences 2. They are willing to embrace diversity to an unprecedented degree and are globally accepting. Although the Z Generation is go-getters and trendsetters, they guard their privacy fiercely. Rayan Scott contributing in Forbes underlines four characteristics that are critical to know about Generation Z:

  1. Technology – Generation Z has never known a world without smartphones and social media. They gobble up information quickly and are ready to move on to the next thing in an eye blink.
  2. Privacy – they are less interested in sharing their lives for the public record. Anonymous social media platforms are more appealing to them than Facebook.
  3. Cultural diversity – Gen Z embraces multiculturalism as a touchstone of who they are, and this also informs their attitudes on social issues.
  4. Pragmatism – growing up in an uncertain world, and being raised by Generation X parents whose own prospects seemed stunted by less exuberant times, this generation is drawn to safety.

How will these distinct characteristics of Generation Z influence their shopping behaviour?

The shopping behaviour of Generation Z

Although most of them do not earn money, Generation Z is influencing almost all of the household purchasing decisions 3.  They are a group that is heavily influenced by friends, bloggers and social media, according to Farla Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory. Teens are becoming to act more like adults in their everyday life and this also translates into their purchasing decisions. Tweens on the other hand are still too young to make their independent purchasing decisions. Chain Store Age reported the following findings of a recent study by HRC:

  • Gen Z shoppers like malls – 72% of Generation Z respondents (kids 10-17) and millennial parents with kids said they visit a mall or shopping center at least once a month.
  • Gift vouchers are popular – 69% of Generation Z children would rather receive a gift voucher for their birthday, further proving their desire to make their own purchase decisions.
  • Social influences are more important than celebrity endorsements – Gen Z shoppers tend not to be strongly influenced by celebrity endorsements from athletes, actors and singers. However, over 61% of their purchase decisions are most strongly influenced by friends, with 13% being influenced by bloggers.
  • Social media plays a major role in purchasing decisions – approximately 50% of Gen Z shoppers surveyed use social media while they shop. Of time spent social media, most popular is Facebook (61%), followed by YouTube (38%) and Instagram (24 %).

Concluding

A new generation cohort becoming retail customers, such as Generation Z, brings with them a unique perception of life and their norms, values and beliefs. From 2020, Generation Z will make out 40% of the economic active population in the US. Time to get ready for them is quickly running out. Importantly, retailers have about three years to prepare themselves for the ‘Age of Generation Z.’

Read also about the shopping behavior of older people ” Shopping Behavior of The Baby Boomers “. And something in general about generational cohorts “ Demographic Segmentation – Dividing the Market by Generations

Notes

1 Paakkari, A., 2016. Customer Journey of Generation Z in fashion purchases: Case: LMTD.

2 Mathur, M. and Hameed, S. 2016. A Study on Behavioural Competencies of the Z Generation, In International Conference on Management and Information Systems, 23: 24.

3 Cruz, M. 2016. Generation Z: influencers of decision-making process. The influence of WOM and Peer Interaction in the Decision-Making Process, Master’s Thesis, Católica Porto Business School.

Images:

1 Flickr.com

2 Flickr.com

Pop-Up Shops as a Marketing Tool for Retailers

Pop-Up Shops are short-term, temporary retail events that are “here today, gone tomorrow”. It is the temporary use of physical space to create a long term, lasting impression with potential customers. “The pop-up retail phenomenon, once known as flash retailing, has grown in recent years” say experts at Gordon James Realty, a local property management firm. Retail space for pop-up shops is rented for a fraction of the cost of a long-term space and is a cost-efficient way for a retailer to increase its brand awareness and make a profit.

Pop-ups are changing how commercial property owners are leasing their spaces; how big brands are launching new products and how online retailers are marketing the merchandise they sell online 1. Inquisitive customers enjoy pop-ups because there they can learn more about product they are buying – e.g. where, how and by whom the products were made. Online customers can enjoy the shopping experience by visiting Pop-Up shops of online retailers. It offers a physical space to touch, smell and try-out products that they’d searched online.

What are Pop-Up shops?

My first memory of a Pop-up shop was as a little boy at a school bazaar. The local fish-and-chips fast-food retailer has setup a stall, with the necessary fryers and other equipment from his store at the school. The sounds and smells that were coming from his pop-up stall will always stay with me. However, more formally:  A distinguishing feature of pop-up retail is its temporary nature, intentionally springing up, and disappearing quickly 2. Consequently Pop-up shops can further be described as follow:

  • The shops usually involve one retailer rather than a group of retailers, and are usually found in trade shows. The latest trend however, is that they are setup in unused open spaces, storefronts, or within existing stores.
  • They are a way for promoting selected products or brands in a temporary location and on a smaller scale than trade shows;
  • Pop-up shops may be open in only one location, and are designed to be open a few days to a year;
  • Customers are allowed to have unique, personalized interactions and experiences with brands at the shops; and
  • Pop-up shops employ brand representatives who have a lot of knowledge about the brand.

The benefits of Pop-up shops are according to Sriram Subramanian writing in ShoppinPal:

  • Low overhead costs – retailers can take advantage of prime retail space at the fraction of what it normally cost;
  • Lower risk – short term monthly leases, low initial expenses and flexibility in operations reduce the risk for retailers;
  • Higher brand awareness – people are interested in the sudden appearance of a store, especially if it offers something different;
  • Increase sales – by taking your store where your customers are and making it more convenient from them buying from you;
  • Extended reach for established retailers – reach into different locations and new market niches without having to establish new stores in those locations.

Let’s take a look how retailers may use pop-up shops strategically to their advantage.

 Bricks and Mortar retailers use Pop-Up Shops to stay competitive

The battle for Brick and Mortar retailers to survive against the virtual onslaught of their online counterparts has been discussed many times by this author (e.g. “Crossing the digital threshold – adding Clicks to Bricks for sustainable retail outcomes“). Hence some Bricks and Mortar retailers had to resort to Artificial Intelligence and using the Internet of Things to integrate digital technology to the physical stores.  However, resolute Bricks and Mortar retailers have found another innovative way to enhance the shopping experience of dwindling customers.

Pop-up shops that are strategically placed on shopping floors are appreciated by customers because of the positive hedonistic aspects thereof 2. Here they enjoy the excitement of the experience and the exposure to new, unique products. The Pop-up shop offers an interactive environment where the customers may communicate with knowledgeable brand representatives to gather information and share their perspectives.

A pop-up shop placed inside the retailer’s store can be used as a hub where customers can get more technical information about products and services. It gives them the opportunity to buy the retailer’s products online while they are in her shop.

Online Retailers use Pop-Up shops to let their customers feel, smell and taste their products

One of the big drawbacks that online retailers have is that their customers can’t feel, smell or taste their products online.  However, pop-up shops may help online retailers to bring their customers in touch with their products. Pop-up shops are ‘mobile’ and can relative easily be assembled in places where customer traffic is high.  They can be erected in shopping malls, at trade fairs etc.  Further, online retailers that sell niche products may choose to setup the pop-up shop close to their target customers.

The big online retailer Amazon.com has started to launch pop-up shops in multiple locations across the USA, according to Eugene Kim of the Business Insider. The pop-up shops reflect the company’s growing drive to reach consumers directly . Amazon.com does it through a variety of access points including retail storefronts, home delivery, and innovative devices.

Amazon’s Pop-up Shop

Concluding

Although pop-up shops are not new to retail, they are nowadays used more strategically as a marketing tool. Therefore retailers should ask themselves what they want to achieve with pop-up shops. Are the additional costs and benefits worth the effort? Also, the roll-out of pop-up shops need to be preceded with a focused marketing strategy. Therefore, tell the people in the vicinity of your planned pop-up shop about it . They need to know what they can find there, and what the benefits are for them.

Finally, the rise of pop-up shops can partly be ascribed to the ongoing digital disruption taking place in the retail marketplace.

Notes

1 Baras, J. 2015. Popup Republic: How to Start Your Own Successful Pop-up Space, Shop, or Restaurant. John Wiley & Sons.

2 Kim, H., Fiore, A.M., Niehm, L.S. and Jeong, M. 2010. Psychographic characteristics affecting behavioral intentions towards pop-up retail. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 38(2):133-154.

Images

flickr.com

Artificial Intelligence – Digital Outcomes or Digital Disruptions for Retailers?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence exhibited by machines. AI, still science fiction for most of us, is now becoming a daunting reality in the retail sector. Although we have learned machines (e.g. robots) for some time now, connecting them with the internet may accelerate digital disruption. Digital disruption occurs because unmet needs in the market and in our societies can be addressed through digital means1.

What does Artificial Intelligence means for retailers?

“Artificial intelligence is the key to the future of online retail, providing a crucial way to help shoppers find what they want” suggests Isabell Fraser business and property reporter at The Telegraph.  It is about consumers using voice commands using their smartphones to order products from retailers.

The opportunity that the Internet of Things (IOT) may offer Bricks and Mortar retailers was previously discussed in this blog (Retail and the Internet of Things). The IOT allows any machine with an on/off switch to be connected to the internet. “The IOT is very closely related to Artificial Intelligence (AI). In fact, IOT would not be very powerful without AI” commented Douglas Green in Quora. According to Mark Jaffe, CEO of Prelert, the realization of IOT depends on being able to gain the insights hidden in the vast and growing seas of data available. Since current approaches don’t scale to IOT volumes, the future realization of IOT’s promise is dependent on machine learning to find the patterns, correlations and anomalies that have the potential of enabling improvements in almost every facet of our daily lives.

Customers of retailers may therefore, in the near future, command any household appliance to function at their convenience.

Not long from now…

Imagine this, not long from now – Mary asks her washing machine (she named it Alice) with the following voice command: “Alice, add 2 kilogram washing powder to the shopping list”. Alice, an AI device, is also part of the IOT. Alice has recognized Mary’s voice command and added washing powder to Mary’s online shopping list which is instantly send to her local grocery retailer. Later the same day, a drone delivered the groceries, also the washing powder that was ordered by Alice.

Allright, we’re not there yet. Two of the most common uses of AI in retail are around visual search, offering shoppers items that are similar to a picture they like and have uploaded, and for personalized recommendations report Leslie Hook and Lindsay Whipp in The Financial Times.

AI inside the physical shop

AI also creates opportunities inside a store. Bricks and mortar retailers hope that AI could draw customers back to their physical stores. Leslie Hook and Lindsay Whipp quoted Michael Klein, head of industry strategy for Adobe Marketing Cloud saying that “merchandising needs to become entertainment”, pointing to digitally enabled experiences such as virtual makeovers or home furnishing demos.

Experts writing in The Future Of Shopping report talk about the impact the “fourth industrial revolution” – a merging of physical, digital and biological technologies – on shopping.

The report, co-authored London marketing agency Holition forecasts the following:

  • Virtual reality (VR) headsets that gauge your mood in the lighting and atmosphere of a simulated store.
  • Immersive virtual experiences involving products, such as visiting a cocoa farm to watch beans being picked and processed to make chocolate.
  • AI assistants that know your interests and tastes better than you do and can pre-empt purchases. For instance, shortly before a seaside holiday they might show you a range of swimwear.
  • Holographic fashion shows held in unusual locations.
A customer using a virtual mirror in store

A customer using a virtual mirror in store – image Wikimedia

Wow! There are seemingly unlimited opportunities for retailers, household appliance manufacturers and cloud computing companies applying AI. Or will the digital disruption that AI cause too big to handle?

The other side of Artificial Intelligence

The AI story unfortunately has an eerie side.

Jerry Kaplan2 introduced AI in his book with the following warning: “Recent advances in robotics, perception, and machine learning, propelled by accelerated improvement in computer technology, are enabling a new generation of systems that rivals or exceed human capabilities. These developments are likely to usher in a new age of unprecedented prosperity and leisure, but the transition may be protracted and brutal”. Kaplan foresees that without adjustments to economic systems and regulatory policies, there may be an extended period of social upheaval…

Kaplan’s concerns are shared by Bill Gates reports The Washington Post.   Gates said: “First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern”. Stephan Hawkin, although totally dependent on AI, bluntly suggests that AI could bring an end to mankind.  Retailers, however, do need mankind to stay in business…

Retailers that choose to ignore AI may not escape from the digital disruptions it causes. Digital disruptors innovate rapidly, and then use their innovations to gain market share and scale. This happens far faster than challengers still clinging to predominantly physical business models can cope with1.

Concluding

Retailers will have to decide where and when Artificial Intelligence has the potential to replace human intelligence. Cost and scale will drive these decisions. Future decisions about AI by retailers will probably be about the ethics of using the technology and the effect it may have on society.

Notes

1Bradley, J., Loucks, J., Macaulay, J., Noronha, A. and Wade, M. 2015. Digital Vortex: How Digital Disruption Is Redefining Industries, ©Global Center for Digital Business Transformation.

2Kaplan, J. 2015. Humans need not apply: A guide to wealth and work in the age of artificial intelligence, Yale University Press.

Images: flickr.com; wikimedia.org

Crossing the digital threshold – adding Clicks to Bricks for sustainable retail outcomes

Retailers should start crossing the digital threshold to survive and grow their business.

The word ‘normal’ no longer has a place in the vocabulary of retailers around the world. The advent of the internet has caused a revolution in the retail industry with customers doing their shopping online at the expense of their neighborhood retailers.

As revolutions go, it started out slowly, but the adoption of innovative digital technology and the rolling out of broadband mobile connectivity have caused the retail revolution to spectacularly, and exponentially get out of control.

Big and small retailers are closing shop and shopping centers stand empty because of the online migration by their customers. The high street in London has an oversupply of retail space and shopping centers have run out of ideas on how to lure customers back. “For retailers, the space race is over!

Because of the multi-channel landscape, ‘clicks’ are just as important, if not more important, than ‘bricks,’” says Robert Chapman Chartered Surveyor and Director, Robert Chapman & Company. In spite of the perceived threat that the online channel poses to traditional retailers, it may offer a huge opportunity.

There is a saying, ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’.  The key to this in the retail sector lies in multi-channeling. Traditional retailers or ‘Bricks and Mortar’ retailers who added an online channel to their business, becoming ‘Bricks and Clicks’ retailers, are surviving and doing well. But what exactly is multi-channel retailing and how can retailers communicate with customers online?

Crossing the digital threshold by reaching customers in different ways

Multi-channel retailing is the use of more than one channel to sell products or communicate with customers. The channels can either be physical such as ‘Bricks and Mortar’ shops, catalogs, and/or kiosks; or virtual, such as online shops, mobile app stores and online catalogs.

Vanheems and Kelly investigated consumer behaviour and found that the use of multiple channels in retailing is effective for reaching more customers. They sell more products, and are making more profits (International Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications, 2009, 1(2):44-56). Research by Kwon and Jain found that consumers in the retail industry value multi-channel retailing since they have more options where they can shop and make purchases (Journal of Marketing Channels, 2009, 16:149-168).

Although multi-channel retailing is not a new business practice, the online retail channel has revived it. Digital innovations, broadband connectivity, mobility and computer savvy consumers have revolutionized retail industries globally.

Meet your ‘new’ customer – the online shopper

The internet has helped to empower traditional retail customers to become what we now call ‘online shoppers’. Online shoppers are dynamic, hands-on, mobile and interactive users of the internet.  The internet offers them quick access to a variety of products and prices, anywhere at any time. They find it easy to pay for products online and the delivery is conveniently at their place of choice.

It is therefore unsurprising that online retail continues to grow exponentially. The exponential growth of online retail sales in the United Kingdom from 1998 to 2015 is shown in Figure 1. A staggering 20% of UK retail sales for February 2016 were online (Internet Retailing). The customers have crossed the digital threshold, but what about the retailers?

uk-online-sales

Figure 1. Online retail sales in the United Kingdom from 1998 to 2015 Source: (http://www.statista.com/statistics/315506/online-retail-sales-in-the-united-kingdom/)

 

The impact of online retailing on ‘Bricks and Mortar’ retailers

 As shoppers are entertained with more innovative apps to enhance their online shopping experience, many ‘Bricks and Mortar’ retailers are still in the denial phase of their self-imposed digital nightmare. Some commentators are, however, seeing the writing on the wall: “The fun of going to shopping malls, department stores, and stand-alone locations may soon be a thing of the past.”

Bricks and Mortar stores are in danger of dying out completely and it has been happening little by little over the past decade,” says Danny Cox in reaction to the closure of 15% of the giant retailer Macy’s physical shops in the United States as they move their business online. It is not only the big retailers that close shops and move online.

Adding an online channel to their physical business has helped small retailers to remain open. According to Lawrence and Schiller, local people or people somewhere nearby use the small retailer’s website as a tool. They consult the website to see if products are in stock and how the prices compare with that of other retailers.  It is critical that ‘Bricks and Clicks’ retailers know how and where to communicate with customers in the online channel.

Communicating with your customers online

Nothing can be more frustrating for Bricks and Clicks retailers than having spent thousands of rand and many hours creating a website only to realise that nobody is finding you on the internet. Adrienne LaFrance, writing for The Atlantic, puts the vastness of the internet in perspective: “Although there are more than one billion websites on the internet, the vast majority of them are never seen”.

Once a visitor has found your website, she should enjoy the experience and then click to buy something. She may also be an online advocate for your business by telling her Facebook friends about her great shopping experience. She may however do the opposite if she had a bad experience. Retailers can reach their customers via different digital marketing channels.

Digital marketing channels

Communicating with your customers in digital marketing channels is rather different than doing it the traditional way. While most traditional mass media outlets provide audiences with scheduled content, digital media usually function as a gateway to a variety of information, entertainment content and communication tools.

Retailers can measure how effective their marketing communication is in the digital channel. The digital marketing channel offers retailers the opportunity to target conversations with their customers, and to create better relationships with them.

Drs Dave Chaffey and Fiona Ellis-Chadwick from The Open University in the UK have identified and described digital media channels such as affiliate marketing, e-mail, social and search engine marketing that retailers may use to attract visitors to their websites.

Affiliate marketing – is a commission-based arrangement where referring sites receive a commission on sales or leads by retailers. It is an opportunity for retailers to become more ‘visible’ on the internet since each time a customer clicks on the link of your site, search engines may give their site a higher ranking.

 Opt-in-email marketing – is a valuable digital marketing tool for conveying short, simple messages that call for action on behalf of the recipient. It usually involves sending advertisements, to request business, or solicit sales and to build loyalty, trust, or brand awareness.

Social media marketing – millions of people use social media to discuss, review, recommend, and give feedback about an organisation. As result, social networking sites such as Facebook have become one of the most popular and fastest-growing internet activities. Therefore businesses find them useful for connecting with customers, contributing to customer learning and getting customer input.

Search engine marketing – search engine marketing is an important digital marketing channel for acquiring customers. Customers use search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing to find information on the internet. Search engine marketing can be ‘organic’ or ‘paid’. Organic search results are listings on search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms. Organic search is free for retailers.

Paid search, by definition is not free for the retailer. The ranking that a retailer’s advertisement achieves on a search engine result page depends on the bid price, the content of the advertisement, and quality score of the landing pages.

Your business need to be found online in order for you to communicate with your customers online.

Have you started adding Clicks to your Bricks?

If your answer is ‘no’, then there is a real possibility that your retail shop is already losing business. Your customers have started crossing the digital threshold a long time ago. If they can’t find your business online, they will stop buying from you. The choice of crossing the digital threshold remains yours…

Image: flickr.com

Retail and the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IOT) may be an opportunity for Bricks and Mortar retailers. The proliferation of connected devices coupled with less-expensive technology platforms can be used by retailers to get customers back into their shops…

Jonathan Gregory, Managing Director – Accenture Strategy says IOT offers retailers opportunities in three critical areas: customer experience, the supply chain, and new channels and revenue streams.

Before discussing the opportunities of IOT, we must first explain what IOT is.

What is the Internet of Things?

There are many complicated, high tech definitions for the IOT. However, Jacob Morgan contributing to Forbes puts it simply – IOT is the concept of connecting any device with an on/off switch to the internet (and/or to each other).

How many things can you think of that has an on/off switch? In your home – TV sets, air conditioners, lights, alarms, stoves, geysers, garage doors – the list is never ending. Now imagine connecting all these devices to your smartphone or, connecting them with each other.  And then connecting everything with other persons…

The IOT is a giant network of connected “things” (which also includes people).  Hence the relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things, suggests Jacob Morgan.

Let’s get back to the opportunities that IOT render for retailers.

What opportunities do the Internet of Things offers retailers?

The author of this blog has previously mentioned the challenge that Bricks and Mortar retailers have to stay competitive in the digital economy (http://bricks2clicks.co.za/retailers-can-remain-competitive-turbulent-times/). How can the IOT help retailers with their activities?

Customer experience

The customers of retail are adopting digital devices at a staggering rate. They are eager users of smartphones, tablets and digital watches.  Digital devices make their lives easier, and they want the same experience from them in shops as what they get at home or at their workplaces.

“The digital transformation of retail is driven by customers” says Tony Stockil, CEO and Founder, Javelin Group. Most customers want to experience shopping as part of their entertainment.  Shopping is now a form of entertainment, available 24/7, wherever people are. Retailers therefore need to ensure that the brand experience is seamless and constant at all touch points.

James Wilson, Baiju Shah and Brian Whipple did an open-source analysis of IOT user behaviour (“How People Are Actually Using the Internet of Things”, HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW, October 28, 2015). They found that consumers want an IOT that provides personalized services that can be adapted to different contexts.

The data show that the most heavily used IOT programs are ones that make home life easier, more distinctive, and more pleasant. According to the results, customers show a big preference for services that don’t require them to go out of their way to make something work.

The supply chain

Connected devices and products provide retailers with the opportunity to help optimize operations in the face of a more complex supply chain, increasingly important digital channels, and a more demanding customer.  By utilizing the IOT, managers can track inventory more easily, and adjusting pricing in real time using smart tags.

IOT allow small retailers operating an eCommerce channel to automate their warehouses. By upgrading to automate warehouse retailers will be able to process orders rapidly, accurately, and in real time says the OPEX Corporation. The upgrading may put retailer’s service and standards on par with the “big boys” in their retail sector. The cost benefits of a goods-to-person picking system are that it saving time and it is accurate. The system ensures getting the right product at the right time at the right place.

Automated warehouse system

Automated warehouse system

Creating new channels and revenue streams

The power of the IOT lies in the opportunities it presents to retailers to create new revenue streams or build entirely new channels. As such, household appliances, home security and comfort products, even health and wellness products are all becoming part of the IOT ecosystem.

Some retailers are taking further advantage of the wide array of connected products by becoming an integration “platform.” According to Jonathan Gregory, the idea behind these platforms is to make it easier for customers to make all of their in-home devices talk to one another.

Grocery retailers may partner with the suppliers of connected platforms that would give them  direct channel to customers. Subsequently  a potential gold mine of customer data can be created – information associated with almost every aspect of the household, from utility usage to consumption trends.

What are the dangers of the Internet of Things?

Jason Bloomberg, President of Intellyx writing in Wired, gives seven reasons he thinks the IOT is doomed:

  1. Security – with products and people connected, savvy hackers can easily access important information about you and the way you live.
  2. Privacy – it is about ‘Big Data’. Therefore, the more IOT you have, the more Big Data they collect, and the more Big Data they collect, the more they know about how you behave.
  3. Digital fatigue – too much social media, too many smartphones, too many YouTube videos to watch. There are also too many apps to download, too much of everything digital and wired and online.
  4. Ecosystems – with the IOT the battle is starting again to dominate this technology ecosystem. There are many dealers, both large and small,  trying to establish a foothold, hoping to create their own ecosystem.
  5. No Killer App – so far, the IOT has no Killer App. However, the Killer App could be just around the corner. They have a nasty habit of appearing on the market suddenly with no warning.
  6. Enterprises will mess things up – for an enterprise to succeed with the IOT or any other part of their Digital Transformation initiative, there are no shortcuts – only hard work.
  7. Rather put customers in control of the IOT – let the consumer control the security of each device. Let them determine what data the devices upload to the Big Companies.

Are you ready for the IOT?

Customers want IOT programs that make home life easier, more distinctive, and more pleasant. Also,  the IOT gives small retailers the technology to do their logistics more efficiently and cheaper.  Further offer the IOT retailers the opportunity to collect data from their customers at their homes and place of work.

There are however a couple points about the IOT that should be considered before using it:

  • Is the IOT system developed and secured enough to use without facing financial of legal liabilities?
  • Are you certain that by using the IOT it will be done ethically?

Lastly, let’s hope that the IOT will add value to both retailers and their customers not long from now…