Thursday, May 31, 2007

Want to engage customers? Here are 12 things NOT to do

Have you read C.B. Whittemore's "Flooring the Consumer" blog yet? Whittemore bills the blog as one focused on, "improving the store experience, particularly in flooring," but believe me, she always has some great insights that are applicable to the majority of retail situations. For example, in a post from a few days ago Whittemore laments the sad state of Wal-Mart, its stores, and its relative indifference to the customer experience, particularly in relation to Target, who has gone to great lengths to keep their own megastores fresh, attractive and inviting. Rather than create a to-do list for errant companies hoping to find their way back to delivering positive customer experiences, Whittemore instead delivers a top-12 what NOT to do list:

  1. Don't allow your stores to become dingy, un-cared for, dated or unpleasant.
  2. Don't create an environment that burdens your consumer.
  3. Don't become complacent and think that good enough is OK.
  4. Don't fall in love with expansion and lose sight of existing stores and customers.
  5. Don't understaff your stores.
  6. Don't focus completely on being the lowest priced retailer.
  7. Don't be a schmuck.
  8. Don't lose touch with the marketplace.
  9. Don't have tunnel vision.
  10. Don't ever underestimate the power of quality, convenience and customer service.
  11. Don't ever alienate your core customer base.
  12. Don't wing it!
Obviously she adds some critical insight to each element of the list, but for that you'll have to read the whole article :) While all of these points are great, my favorite is #12, which seems to be overlooked so often. Rather than just guess at what might work in-store, or implement a huge plan based on a single "great idea" from a company insider, more companies need to implement more a exacting implement -> test -> analyze results strategy to figure out what works. Integrate customer/shopper comments, query in-store staff to gain insight into sales floor techniques, and look for untapped resources and inefficient processes. Above all, be willing to try things that might fail, but also be willing to change them once you've recognized that they actually are failing.

Tags: marketing at retail, in-store marketing, store experience

Friday, May 25, 2007

Nike and Foot Locker partner for new retail experience

DDI has a short blurb on a new partnership between Nike and Foot Locker to bring about a new type of retail store. Dubbed the "House of Hoops by Foot Locker," the pair expect to open 50 of these themed stores over the next three years to, "create a new brand- and community-oriented retail experience celebrating the culture of the game for basketball consumers."

While Nike and FootLocker have used this theme for store-within-a-store displays before (as in the above image), a self-contained store to brand and promote the culture of basketball is a new direction for both companies.

Considering how hard Nike has tried to correlate their brand and brand image with the overall notion of sports and activity, I think this marks a natural next step for the company. By strategically placing these stores in areas with a high density of people who don't just play basketball but feature it prominently in their worlds (I'm guessing mostly urban areas), Nike has the opportunity to not only pick up some incremental sales, but further establish themselves as the "official" brand of basketball. Not a particular player, or a given team, or even the whole NBA, but the very sport itself.

Will it work? I'm on the fence here. While Nike has proven to be quite nimble and great at both identifying and establishing trends, the urban market is notoriously fickle and anti-establishment, so that will be a tall order.

Tags: Nike, House of Hoops, retail marketing

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wal-Mart to provide some in-store media measurement data

Sorry for nearly month-long posting hiatus on this blog. I've been pretty good about keeping up with the WireSpring Kiosk/Digital Signage Weblog, but that came at the expense of posting here (and to digital signage news and kiosk news) less frequently during some serious busy times.

Fortunately, I can kick things back off with a bang, since Wal-Mart recently announced that they would be releasing some retail media tracking data as part of a larger project with Nielsen In-Store to measure in-store media consumption and effectiveness in about 1,000 of its US stores, and that's seriously big news for the retail media industry. Apparently, the company's initial results with Nielsen's PRISM in-store tracking system were determined to be 76% accurate (via cross-checks with in-person audits), which was a better than expected result. Tweaks to the system have supposedly raised accuracy to about 85%, which would be pretty impressive for a fully automated system, and were good enough for Wal-Mart to commit to a larger deployment of the system.

Considering how many have bemoaned the lack of accountability and effectiveness of traditional media channels recently (myself included), many are hopeful that the results of such a wide-scale study will indicate that retail media is better at connecting with consumers and communicating brand messages. Of course, if it turns out that's not the case, we'll be in for a rough time as marketers again scramble to find something that works. Not that I think that will be an actual problem. Our internal, customer-provided (and thus potentially tainted) data clearly indicates sales boosts and high satisfaction scores correlated with retail digital media networks.

At the DSE show last week, Nielsen In-Store's George Wishart noted that CPM (or gross impressions, or something similar) is likely to be the de-facto standard for media measurement and pricing for the foreseeable future, as that's what media planners are most comfortable with. Of course, Nielsen's PRISM system, which relies on simple infrared scanners to essentially measure store traffic at different points, is suited for only capturing this particular measurement. On the other hand, while more sophisticated measurement systems that can do things like eye-tracking, gaze-tracking, and idleness tracking could generate more precise measurements, without something to compare against, retailers and marketers would have little ability to actually use the data (not to mention the privacy issues that come with that level of tracking).

As ususal, RetailWire has some good discussion on the subject, so you might want to check that out as well.

Tags: digital signage, in-store media, retail media, Wal-Mart, PRISM