Now blogging at The Ideas Machine

Thanks all for following, I am now blogging at http://www.the-ideas-machine.co.uk

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Posted in Innovation

The Secret to Successful Omnichannel Retailing

Retailers’ worst fear is customers coming in store to browse, touch, feel and try, then leaving to go price hunting online – ultimately buying from an online retail competitor.  Worse, and what brings retailers out in cold sweats is a customer standing right there in a heated, well lit, beautifully merchandised store and buying from someone else via their smartphone.

Dark days,  and high pressure stuff in a world where we can bid and win on an item on eBay in less than the time it takes the Barista to serve up a latte, where Amazon delivers  whatever, wherever, whenever at the stroke of a smartphone and where price savvy customers will seek out bargains online.

Even more alarming for off line retailers seeking to maximise the value of their floorspace are apps like RedLaser ( over 27million downloads), allowing customers to scan UPC codes and see if items are available nearby and at what price- there is literally nowhere for traditional retailers to hide.

Onmichannel retailing as it is called – selling via multiple on and offline channels is not all a race for the bottom. Getting digital sales channels right can enhance an in-store purchase too – in a great article on this stuff, MIT Sloane Management Review– cites examples of both sides of the coin.  One of their stories is about a girl who can’t find what she wants in a shoe store, she is about to leave, when the assistant pulls out the ipad with other lines, more sizes to order and complementary accessories. The assistant helps the shopper get her dream shoes, delivered to her home.

Making the ‘digital transition’ to Omnichannel retailing is a necessity- the article has some excellent examples for retailers seeking to keep their customers and remain competitive. The ideas for retailers range from owning  a niche, bundling, in-store exclusives, through to on /offline promotions and synergies. Interesting, they also note the gap between manufacturing and retailing getting smaller at the back end, and the importance of personalisation, use of data and analytics on the marketing /consumer front end. Fascinating – what happens to traditional publishers when Amazon is contracting with authors direct ?

Redlaser 27 m downloads

Redlaser 27 m downloads

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Posted in Brands, Case Studies, Customer Experience, Innovation, Retail Innovation

How digital is changing history

Historypin is an excellent example of a ‘digital museum’ concept in the making. Users can ‘pin’ personal stories and memories, collaborate with other individuals and institutions to build histories. I love this use of digital media to save, present and personalise the past. Increasingly museum and national archive teams are looking for solutions to not only preserve and protect, but promote, publicise and personalise our experience of what has gone before.

User Generated Content underpins the Historypin initiative; by pinning and collating local content, users contribute to a growing picture and understanding of global history. Many museums and galleries are looking for digital solutions to both deliver their core purpose and to bring new, global audiences to their collections and narratives. I love Historypin because local and  family histories can be personalised and collated alongside amazing stuff from the likes of the Smithsonian Archive.  One of those innovations that warms the heart, rooted in an admirable ambition.

The Historypin community is made up of people, groups and organisations working together to “…unearth and pin as much history as possible from all over the world – from within archives, in attics, and saved up in wise old heads.” Good on them. Get Involved Here.

User Generated Global History

User Generated Global History

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Posted in Case Studies, Innovation

Is Tinder the route to love, or Such *swipe* Sorrow?

Valentine’s Day got me thinking about how all things digital are changing our relationships. When the path to true love for many lusty Tinder users involves more swiping than Shakespeare, what future is there for courting and romance ? According to  Bloomberg Business Week, Chief Executive Officer of Tinder, Sean Rad, said, “the word ‘dating’ doesn’t even mean shit to us. What does that even mean?”

Tinder insists it is a ‘friend finding’, not a ‘mate finding’ app, it offers a ‘hot or not’ option to swipe through potential ‘friends’ mates based on their picture and location. Millions are using Tinder as a quicker, instant date /mate option over traditional dating sites.  So has the path to true love becomes a numbers game ? What impact will Tinder have on dating sites like Match.com and Okcupid ?  Are the days of time consuming completion of date site profiles going, going gone when the instant hotline to love or ‘hook ups’ on Tinder beckons ?

More of a traditionalist, (and married to a wonderful man with no need to trawl the web for my life partner) I prefer the amazing example set by the Royal Shakespeare Company in the world of online love. They famously tweeted a modern version of Romeo and Juliet – a fantastic idea and one I am sure Shakespeare would wholeheartedly have approved of.  As Hockney is to the iPad, so William Shakespeare would, I just know it, have embraced the opportunity 140 characters presents. Such Tweet Sorrow ( @Such_Tweet) was an exercise that restored my faith in love and the digi-sphere.  Tinder is the more tragic.

Check out this article – covering what users do on Tinder, and how Tinder execs insist they are in the business of ‘friend finding’ not date seeking. You decide!

Finding Friends on Tinder

Finding Friends on Tinder

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Posted in Innovation

Do marketing people really need to learn to code ?

I was reading about Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, a marketer by day, self taught code geek by night, now hundreds of millions of dollars the better for those late nights.The responses across the web shout out about how we too can make millons if we just learn this important new language and put in the hours.

Not necessarily so, according to Betabeat’s Nitasha Tiku, who rightly points out that the genius in many of the multi million dollar apps is based on marketing insight, not code.

Tiku also points out that there is a big difference between knowing how to code and coding well, and that coding is a specific, professional skill – not something we can all make millions from night classes doing.

The success of Codeacademy and other ‘Code for Dummies’ operations lies, in her view, and in mine, in their fantastic marketing – not in their dissemination of coding skills. Being conversant with the nuances of code, and understanding how it works is an important thing, but the best products and services will always require great marketing insights to make them fly.

Codeacademy

Codeacademy

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Posted in Innovation, Uncategorized

I want shoes as well as movies ‘On Demand’

Shoes made-to-measure were once the preserve of the rich and famous, or the unfortunate necessity for those with unusual shaped and sized feet. Not any more, mass customisation means we can personalise and procure idiosyncratically like never before. Shoe of Prey your-perfect-shoe-v2

offers a 3-D design process and delivers worldwide in 4 weeks, NIKE ID has already pioneered this in flagship stores and online and even Coke started personalising bottle labels in a bid to become more relevant. With Amazon experimenting with same day , 3 hour delivery and 3 D printing – it’s more than movies we can start to expect on demand. Companies like Chicago based eThreads are set to succeed where Levi’s and others made in roads and failed. The tech is better than it was in the 90’s and the distribution networks are there too. Ready, Set Go!

What does all this ‘on demand’ stuff mean for your business  /brand  /production /delivery / IT /eCRM ?  Customer experience innovation, brand and product managers, IT teams and logistics people can no longer afford to ignore some of these radical changes – even if the picture seems a little sci fi right now. It’s not, it’s more and more real every day.  Plenty has been written about mass customisation, check some of it out here.

Business models have to adapt, marketing has to keep up and customers are in charge…. all this we know , we’re told it so often it’s like wallpaper, but think about it again for a second. How prepared are you – what if your customers could order in the morning and get it by lunchtime, what if they could download the file and print a 3D version at home…. when I can order my own  personalised version of pretty much anything, I won’t want what you’re selling unless I can play around with it, and effectively get it on demand.

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Posted in Customer Experience, Innovation, Retail Innovation

Shoppers want seamless online -instore shopping experiences

A new study by management consultancy firm Accenture finds more US shoppers ‘webrooming’ than ‘showrooming’ in their hunt for products to buy.

But it’s not all bad news for traditional retailers, the report also highlights shoppers responding to ‘seamless’ customer experiences – using ‘click and collect’ services, buying in store and using direct home delivery services. Offering ‘real time’ product availability is cited as one example where the on and offline worlds merge.

Showing customers your stock online means a journey to your store is not wasted. The report also suggests traditional retailers need to work harder on innovation to keep shoppers in store interested, and to focus on successfully differentiating their offer from competitors ( on and off line).

We consumers are a demanding bunch, expecting offers and promotions to be channel agnostic, and the most budget conscious remain convinced the best deals are online not in store. Interesting stuff and good news for m-commerce too as users report buying from smartphones getting easier and easier.

Read the full report here.

Customers are buying online and collecting at store

Customers are buying online and collecting at store

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Posted in Customer Experience, Retail Innovation

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