On Jan 14, the US Census Bureau reported weaker-than-expected month-over-month results in US consumer spending in December. While the magnitude was small, the number was preceded by a minus sign, which was a surprise to many. Most widely quoted was the .9% drop from November to December in retail sales and food services. This was the largest month-to-month decline in nearly a year and caused a broad stock market drop.
The results were naturally tweeted, posted, headlined, shared, and retweeted. In a world where data gets slammed into sound bites and 140-character text strings, a great deal of pessimism circulated around digital media. Even professional analysts and economists sang the blues.
Nikki Baird wrote in Retailwire this week that almost every shopping behavior is being shortened by mobile technology.
The behavior that most immediately comes to mind is showrooming. Buying a new TV used to mean driving to Circuit City, Best Buy, Sears and the local shops to compare prices during an afternoon. Now the same exercise (with different retailers) takes minutes.
There are other areas where mobile is faster, cheaper, and better. For most retailers, it’s about better service. But to monetize the moments, most insert promotions or transaction opportunities.
Indoor Mapping. The last year has seen a shift in retailers from being slightly aware to acutely aware of wayfinding, according to Patrick Connolly, senior analyst at ABI Research in London. He notes that Walgreens has already Continue reading
When you think of variable pricing for revenue management, you tend to think of the travel industry. After all, airlines invented yield management and hotels soon followed. But along the way came a lot of customer frustration and confusion.
Restaurants, on the other hand, have been at dynamic pricing for even longer and don’t get such a bad rap. Cutesy names like Happy Hour and Early Bird Special take the bite out of revenue management.
Despite the long history, restaurants are only beginning to tap into the power of revenue management. Continue reading
Digital loyalty programs are poised to jump from the pioneers to the masses of local restaurants, cafes, bars, salons and more that rely on repeat business. Companies like LevelUp, LocalBonus, Five Stars, Swipely, RewardMe, Square and others are rapidly expanding to new cities. Peter Krasilovsky, vice president at BIA/Kelsey, told Bloomberg over $155 million in VC money has been invested in digital loyalty-card companies.
What are the benefits of e-loyalty programs for local businesses and why is this sector likely to surpass daily deals? The three accelerants are cost, performance and insights.
As prospects for certain classes of kiosks dim, the future of automated retail has never looked brighter.
A fork in the road for traditional kiosks
Traditional electronic kiosks have gone the way of ubiquity or obsolescence.
Some kiosks drew too much traffic, requiring busy individuals to wait in line. Financial services solved this problem by scaling up–there are now nearly 500K ATMs in the US. Airlines solved this problem by bulking up–there are now commonly dozens of ticket dispensers in airport check-in lines.
Other kiosks drew little traffic, yielding added space and maintenance costs. As a result, kiosks providing entertainment, health and beauty information have diminished in mass merchandise retailers like Walmart and Target.
After a decade, Google Product Search is transitioning from a free organic search tool into a paid inclusion service called Google Shopping. This new pay-for-placement has generated its share of detractors:
Google is compromising its objectiveness by moving towards a pay-for-placement service. This change has the potential to hurt small retailers if they cannot afford to pay for placement.
–Max Goldberg, The Radical Clarity Group (courtesy RetailWire)
What burns me the most is without us, Google would have no business. They use our content to make money as they have no original content to contribute. And now they want to charge us a fee. Do no evil my arse.
Local businesses, like national businesses, have a bipolar relationship with coupons. They love them for bringing new business, and hate them for bringing bad business. Coupons and similar discounts don’t always pay out. But planned thoughtfully, they can indeed drive higher sales and profits.
How do you know the right thing to do? Here are principles…a half dozen reasons to fold ’em and a half dozen to hold ’em. Let’s use a prototypical small business, say, a restaurant. Special thanks to Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, for help with the first list:
A half dozen reasons to ditch coupons: if you have these symptoms, discontinue use