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
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.
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
Relevance marketing is one of those terms that is hard to disagree with. Joel Rubinson recently made a great case for it.
The words themselves sound unassailable. Who would argue that marketing shouldn’t be relevant? Of course it makes sense to tailor marketing to be more appropriate, and now we have better tools than ever before to do it. But there are more effective and less effective ways to be relevant in shopper marketing. Let’s look at Who, What and Where.
Media buying often focuses attention on relevant individuals. Marketing lingo is replete with “audiences,” “segments,” “target markets” and the like. Continue reading
I’ve attended the Shopper Marketing Summit (formerly In-store Marketing Summit) for the last 3 years. Each year I find that shopper marketing is looking less like trade and more like media. Here are 5 observations:
1. Shopper marketing is growing. Shopper marketing is the fastest growing category of marketing, according to Ad Age figures quoted by Greg Murtaugh of Triad.
2. Stores are powerful reach vehicles. Pete LaFond of Walmart noted Walmart.com reaches 53MM uniques per month and Smart Network reaches 150MM per week. Together they reach 1/3 to 1/2 of US shoppers each week. Continue reading
How a big a hit can fuel rewards be? As gas prices approach $4 a gallon nationally, they can be a big hit for Kroger.
Kroger last week expanded its rewards program to allow shoppers to save more per gallon based on how much they spend in-store. Spending $100 in a month saves them $.10 a gallon (the minimum), while spending $1000 or more saves $1 a gallon (the maximum).
Shoppers can save money at Kroger stations or Shell stations. This is a optical benefit for shoppers and a clever move by Kroger. Continue reading