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9 Key Mistakes to Avoid in Chatbot Marketing | Social Media Today, 20 oct 2019
When Is It Time To Leave Your Digital Marketing Agency? | Franchising.com, 20 oct 2019
Influencer marketing done right: Brands need a scalpel, not a sledgehammer | The Economic Times, 19 oct 2019
Top 12 Big Data, Analytics and Data Science Influencers of 2019 | Analytics Insight, 19 oct 2019
AI And CRM: Will Customer Management Get Easier? | Forbes, 19 oct 2019
The Impact of Artificial Intelligence in Advertising | Customer Think, 18 oct 2019
The power of PR in a post-advertising world | PRWeek, 18 oct 2019
Is Branding Just for Large Accounting Firms? | CPAPracticeAdvisor.com, 18 oct 2019
You can't use Western digital marketing tactics for emerging markets - so adapt | The Next Web, 17 oct 2019
The 'Megatrends' Shaping Consumer Behavior | WWD, 11 oct 2019
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 aug 2019
Startups are enabling tech-based transformation of India's retail sector through Android-based smart PoS (Point of Sale) devices. The promise of these devices goes beyond payments and makes supply chain more efficient with data analytics and potential credit scoring. Vicky Bindra, CEO of Pine Labs, says, 'Retailers and merchants from diverse sectors such as electronics, food and beverage, fashion, pharmacy, telecom, and airlines are adopting the new smart PoS machines to improve their efficiencies and enhance consumer's shopping experience.' Praveen Hari of industry association iSPIRT says, 'Today a smart PoS device is not just accepting cards, but they can also provide UPI (unified payments interface) pull transactions, QR codes (displayed on screens), NFC (near-field communication) transactions, wallet transactions, or basically, any payment mode that is available in India.' Ashish Jhina, co-founder of Jumbotail, says, 'Today smart PoS machines can do four key business functions: payment, billing, inventory management, wholesale procurement.' Smart PoS data is also valuable for credit scoring. Mr. Hari explains, 'The GST data itself is good enough for a lender to make a lending decision and the shopkeeper or his FMCG distributor now has an incentive to report all the transactions. The transaction data itself can help a lender make a lending decision.' Manish Patel, CEO of Mswipe, says, 'We have engineered a credit model where when our merchants can borrow money (to make wholesale purchases) from any of our NBFC partners, based on data we provide...In terms of recollection, the merchant can opt to pay back in daily and monthly instalments.' Read on...
Wireless, smart PoS devices revamping India's retail landscape
Author: Salman S. H.
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 11 feb 2019
According to the research by Prof. Elizabeth A. Minton from University of Wyoming, Prof. Kathryn A. Johnson from Arizona State University and Prof. Richie L. Liu from Oklahoma State University, 'Religiosity and special food consumption: The explanatory effects of moral priorities', published in Journal of Business Research, people with strong religious beliefs are more likely to buy fat-free, sugar-free or gluten-free foods than natural or organic foods. The research could influence the marketing of those specialty food products. Prof. Minton says, 'Religion is the deepest set of core values people can have, and we wanted to explore how those values impacted the market choices people make. We found religiosity influenced the selection of more diet-minded foods...' The study was carried out online and included responses from over 1700 people across the U.S. Prof. Johnson says, 'Often, people make intuitive decisions about food that could require more careful thought. People might make choices based on a cultural narrative or their religious and moral beliefs, without giving measured thought to whether there is a better option.' According to the research, the moral foundation of care drives the choice of sustainability-minded food products, and the moral foundation of purity is behind the choice of diet-minded foods. Prof. Liu says, 'The findings from our work can directly help businesses promote food products to specific groups of people without potentially alienating customers by including religion.' Read on...
University of Wyoming News:
UW Researcher: Religion Affects Consumer Choices on Specialty Foods
Author: Chad Baldwin
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 jan 2019
Autonomous shopping concept intends to bring brick-and-mortar and internet shopping into a unified and integrated retail experience. The grab-and-go smart shopping carts promote cashier-free automatic check-out eliminating wait in lines. TechSpot's contributing writer, Cohen Coberly, says, 'While it seemed like brick-and-mortar retail would be all but killed off following the explosive rise of online shopping, what we're instead seeing throughout the US is not death, but evolution.' According to a 2018 survey by RIS News, 'The leading new shopping option wanted by consumers was "grab-and-go" technology (in which customers can self-checkout using their smartphones). 59% said they'd like to use this, and 9% had used it.' In a global survey of 2250 internet users conducted by iVend Retail and AYTM Market Research, 'Roughly 1/3rd of respondents said they would like to make automatic payments using digital shopping carts.' Caper is a smart shopping cart startup. Josh Constine, technology journalist and editor-at-large for TechCrunch, reports, 'The startup makes a shopping cart with a built-in barcode scanner and credit card swiper, but it's finalizing the technology to automatically scan items you drop in thanks to three image recognition cameras and a weight sensor. The company claims people already buy 18% more per visit after stores are equipped with its carts.' Linden Gao, co-founder and CEO of Caper, says, 'It doesn't make sense that you can order a cab with your phone or go book a hotel with your phone, but you can't use your phone to make a payment and leave the store. You still have to stand in line.' The current Caper cart involves scanning an item's barcode and then throwing it into the cart. Brittany Roston, senior editor and contributor at SlashGear, reports, 'The smarter version will eliminate the barcode part, making it possible to simply put the items in the cart while the built-in tech recognizes what they are.' Chris Albrecht, managing editor at The Spoon, also reports, 'The future iterations, already in the works, will remove the barcode and will use a combination of computer vision and built-in weight scales to determine purchases. The customer completes shopping, and pays on the built-in screen.' The concept of scanless carts involves deep learning and machine vision. Cameras are mounted in the cart. The screen on the cart gives the shopper different kinds of information - store map, item locator, promotions, deals etc. It recommends items based on contents already in the basket. Read on...
Next-level autonomous shopping carts are even smarter
Author: Nancy Cohen
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 sep 2018
As retail in India grows and get more organized, diversity among retail leadership will become visible. Women in retail have a major role to play as women consumers are a big demographic and they have very specific needs and wants. Here are 5 women entrepreneurs who have taken the mantle of leadership in various areas of retail - (1) Farah Malik (Managing Director, Metro Shoes Ltd.): '...Retail had always excited me and I have never regretted the decision of joining the business. The fashion retail industry is extremely demanding and women still often have to make a choice between a family life and a career...' (2) Rashi Menda (CEO & Founder, Zapyle): 'The whole eco-system is very different from what it was 3 years back and I think that the biggest challenge that any woman entrepreneur would face in today's world lack of understanding of one's own abilities...For me, forming a winning team and hiring the right people was the biggest challenge...' (3) Shubhika Jain (Founder, RAS Luxury Oils): 'When I initially joined family business it was difficult for the existing staff to accept a young lady as their head. I had to prove myself to be worthy by way of executing tasks and handling situations in a mature and strategic manner...India has as many as 9% of women entrepreneurs...Yet there are a lot of problems that women have continued to face in this country.' (4) Jagrati Shringi (Co-Founder & CTO, Voylla): 'More women entrepreneurs need to look at the big picture and think about scaling up, sustaining and growing their businesses. Despite extremely talented individuals, there aren't enough women driving big brands...there is a need for more skilled women to look beyond the safety net of IT and other jobs to realise their career goals.' (5) Trishla Surana (Founder, Colour Me Mad): 'While women entrepreneurs form only 3% of the total universe of the entrepreneurs in India, it is welcoming that people are becoming more open to having women as bosses. Also, women today need to focus more on upgrading their skills, understanding interface of design and technology and get as much exposure as they can to achieve their dreams...' Read on...
How these 5 Women Entrepreneurs Are Making a Difference in Retail Industry?
Author: Tanya Krishna
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 apr 2018
According to Big Commerce, 51% of Americans prefer to shop online, and almost everyone (96%) has made an online purchase in their life. But, with so many competing e-commerce websites and a large number of brick-and-mortar retail stores, the challenge for retailers is to differentiate themselves and, attract, acquire and retain the customers. Retailers can do the following to increase retail sales - (1) Run Beautifully Executed Google Shopping Campaigns: Organize shopping campaigns by best-selling items; Ensure your ad images are high-quality and crawlable; Include merchant promotions and product reviews. (2) Give Shoppers a Reason to Visit Your Store: Provide special in-store discounts to shoppers; Use the power of social media to communicate special in-store deals. (3) Use Social Media Targeting Capabilities to Your Advantage: Configure your social media campaign with detailed targeting to audience who will be most willing to buy the products. Targeting to right demographics is the key. (4) Don't Forget to Be Locally Relevant: Geotargeting; Ad copy and imagery with local appeal; Use local lingo. (5) Invest in Some Guerilla Marketing Campaigns: Use public places innovatively to attract attention and spread the word around. (6) Try Podcast Advertising: According to Edison Research, 67 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly, which is a 14% year-to-year increase. Discover your audience's choice of podcasts and invest in running some advertisements to sponsor the commercial breaks. (7) Get Creative with Video: Use entertainment as a strategic tool in video to attract audience. Getting it viral is a challenge that every creative should take. (8) Celebrate All the Little Holidays: Embrace holidays and link your campaigns to them; Release special limited-edition products around them, run special events, or offer deals in festive holidays colors, it gets people excited. (9) Instill a Sense of Urgency: Urgency in messaging can pressure audience to shop; Run short-term limited-time offers and discounts. (10) Understand Your Seasonal Peaks and Plan Accordingly: Do advance planning for seasonal peaks. This includes adjusting ad spend, working with design for new creative, and executing seasonally relevant campaigns that will boost sales during these peak times. (11) Create Returning Buyers through Smart Remarketing: Remarketing allows you to remind shoppers, re-engage them and assist them in buying again; Think about the lifespan of the product that a customer have bought. Run a remarketing campaign and encourage to buy before the product is finished; Another remarketing tactic is to upsell based on the products customers have previously purchased. Read on...
Business 2 Community:
11 Killer Retail Marketing Tips to Drive Sales Year Round
Author: Margot da Cunha
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 dec 2017
Marketing continuously evolves, and there is always something new for marketers to test, experiment and validate, and bring it to mainstream, whether it be ideas or technologies. Here are expert predictions for 2018 - (1) Zoe Burns-Shore (Head of Brand & Marketing, First Direct): 'Hopefully, more companies will start to realise digital marketing and marketing are one in the same, and the joy of all of that is seeing how everything works together, not in channel-led silos.' (2) Rachel Bristow (Director of Client Partnerships & Collaboration, Sky Media): 'It's no longer enough for brands to be passive about their brand identity as consumers are expecting more from the brands they engage with. Often this means taking a political viewpoint in order to be relevant and engaging...Although having a political voice can elevate a brand's purpose, it comes with a host of reputation risks which brands need to carefully consider. CSR also helps align a brand with a purpose while mitigating some of those reputation risks of being politically vocal.' (3) Harry Lang (Marketing Director at Online Sportsbook Pinnacle.com): '...I'm going with eSports...Now it's getting organised and brands are paying over the odds to jump on the bandwagon - the trend lines suggest it's only going to get bigger.' (4) Aedamar Howlett (Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Great Britain): 'We will add more choice and breadth to our portfolio...tap into macro consumer trends like healthy living, exotic flavours and on-the-go snacking...we will evolve the ways we communicate and engage our consumers. The trend for instant, real-time conversations and connections with brands will continue...also trialling chat bots and AI, as well as investing in editorial-style content-led media partnerships that tap into the mass appeal of social influencers to consumers...(there) is an evolution in the way marketers use and present data insights...(insights) will allow a more personalised, targeted approach for 2018.' (5) Craig Greenberg (Head of Strategic Planning & Insight, William Grant & Sons UK): 'As consumers are constantly bombarded with information across various channels, we will see more brands attempting to cut through the clutter to become memorable...it is brands that have a differentiator aligned with their brand heritage in a credible way that will win in the long term...consumers will seek brands that build on their identity, meaning a bigger push towards 'local' specificity in luxury brands...in a period of uncertainty, big brands may feel detached from a sense of place and strive to get closer to communities.' (6) Ben Rhodes (Group Marketing Director, Royal Mail): '...continued growth in retail ecommerce - and the associated need for more convenience and choice in delivery and return options...consumer trust in messaging received via physical mail to continue to grow, compared with digital channels.' Read on...
What's in store for 2018? Marketers share their predictions
Author: Lucy Tesseras
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 oct 2017
Festive season brings attractive offerings from businesses to influence customers to buy more. Sometimes these offerings can be wrapped in unwanted and unreal freebies and discounts. Understand the following tricks to avoid overspending during festive seasons - (1) The unreal urgency: Sales and discounts happen all the year round. There is no need to rush. If you missed one, there will be another. (2) Useless freebies: Don't fall for unwanted free gifts. Direct price discounts on individual items are good alternatives. (3) The fear of loss: When proper research is done before purchase, the best deals can be found all the year round, not just during festive season. Look for the deal that is most suitable. (4) Big savings: The promise of big discounts can be unreal and may not be available at the time of buying. It may just be an advertising attraction with many conditions in the footnote. (5) The deceptive discounts: Deceptive discounts come with asterix. You might actually overspend then what you wanted to. Here are few suggestions to buy only what/when you want and need - (1) Prioritize (2) Postpone your purchase (3) Resist peer pressure (4) Don't shop to de-stress. Performing sufficient market research before the purchase is best to avoid traps and get most value. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Festive season sales could be a trap - Here's how to find out
Author: Devansh Sharma
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 sep 2017
E-commerce has disrupted traditional retail but at the same time pure-play e-commerce companies find it challenging to be profitable. Steve Dennis, strategic advisor, keynote speaker and founder of SageBerry Consulting, provides economic dynamics of e-commerce companies and analyzes the challenges to their road to profitability. He cites the case of e-commerce behemoth, Amazon, that accounts for 45% of US e-commerce and being in business for more than 20 years, still operates at below average industry margins. Some e-commerce companies are even investing to have physical retail presence. Regarding e-commerce among traditional retailers, Mr. Dennis says, '...it's clear that the e-commerce divisions of many major omni-channel retailers run at a loss - or at margins far below their brick & mortar operations.' According to him, increasingly high cost of acquiring (and retaining) customers online is one of the main dynamics that is an impediment to profitability. He explains, 'As it turns out, many online brands attract their first tranche of customers relatively inexpensively, through word of mouth or other low cost strategies. Where things start to get ugly is when these brands have to get more aggressive about finding new and somewhat different customers.' He provides three factors that lead to this - (1) Marketing costs start to escalate: To seek growth, advertising spend increases; Online platforms like Facebook, Google etc are utilized to gain broader audience. (2) More promotion, less attraction: Customers in the growth phase need more incentives, so gross margin on these incremental sales comes at a lower rate; Customers now expect discounts for future purchases, making them inherently less profitable than the initial core customers. (3) Questionable (or lousy) lifetime value: Customers that are acquired as the brand scales have lower incremental lifetime value, both because on average they spend less and because they are inherently more difficult to retain. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 may 2017
Personalization and customization are key for better customer relationships. According to a new research commissioned by RICOH, more than 2/3 of European consumers say the best brands are those who treat them as individuals. The survey of 3600 consumers across Europe was conducted by Censuswide. Consumers were asked to rank brands in terms of the quality of the relationships with them before (reach), during (respond) and after (retain) purchase. Chas Mahoney, director at RICOH Ireland & UK, says, 'The research we commissioned shows 57% of consumers would also spend more with brands that make them feel like valued customers. This heightens the fact that driving business growth must be intimately linked to making interactions easy and ensuring consumers feel appreciated. ...The right technology along with streamlined digital processes are the most powerful tools in the battle to satisfy and retain today's consumers.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 feb 2017
'Drop Shipping' is a practice adopted by retailers where orders are shipped directly from the supplier's warehouse. It gives retailers opportunity to provide more products on their website without keeping them in stock, thus saving on inventory. Some analysts predict that drop shipping will be a mainstream process this year. According to a retail industry survey by SPS Commerce, 40% of respondents said they expect more drop-ship vendors in 2017. This will also benefit logistics companies as small suppliers and manufacturers often outsource tasks like inventory management, shipping etc to them. Josh Miller, VP of business development at CTL Global Inc, says, 'The (supplier) gets the audience, the retailer gets the sales. Drop shipping accounts for about 20% of CTL's revenue, compared with 5% five years ago.' The downside of drop shipping is that retailer has to give control of inventory management, shipping etc to third parties, while in case of wrong orders retailers are still on the hook. Nikki Baird of Retail Systems Research LLC, that conducted the survey for SPS, says, 'It's a big trust issue. Heavy, bulky things are better to ship from the supplier. But the problem is that the retailer then doesn't have control or visibility as to how that process is going.' Moreover, retailers also run the risk of turning suppliers into rivals by sharing customer data. Moreover, number of manufacturers are themselves turning to ecommerce to sell directly to customers. Following are some expert comments on the dynamics of online retail - (1) Irv Grossman, EVP at Chainalytics: 'Retailers are looking at Amazon and saying I may miss an opportunity. They're concerned about market share.' (2) Cathy Morrow Roberson, head analyst at Logistics Trends & Insights LLC: 'Managing capacity as drop-ship orders ebb and flow could pose a challenge for logistics companies.' (3) Frank Layo, retail strategist at Kurt Salmon: 'The practice (drop shipping) also costs more than buying items wholesale, because logistics and delivery get baked into the price.' Read on...
The Wall Street Journal:
'Drop Shipping' Looks Set to Go Mainstream as More Retailers Get on Board
Author: Jennifer Smith
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 nov 2016
Research by Prof. Ali Besharat of University of Denver, 'The Effect of Review Valence and Variance on Product Evaluations: An Examination of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Cues' (Other authors - Ryan Langan of University of San Francisco; Sajeev Varki of University of South Florida), explores how the rating and variance in reviews affect the decision process. Researchers find that the nature of products, a product's brand, reviewers' credibility, and the structure of online customer reviews all significantly impact consumer decision-making and, subsequently, a company's bottom line in terms of sales. According to Prof. Besharat, 'In the case of high online review variance, we find that when brand equity is high - Nike for example - then reviewer credibility does not influence consumers' purchase intentions. But when a consensus among reviews exists (low variance), reviewer credibility emerges as a significant diagnostic cue.' Another research by Prof. Ana Babić Rosario of University of Denver, 'The Effect of Electronic Word of Mouth on Sales: A Meta-Analytic Review of Platform, Product and Metric Factors' (Other authors - Francesca Sotgiu of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Kristine De Valck of HEC Paris; Tammo H.A. Bijmolt of University of Groningen), confirms Prof. Besharat's findings and demonstrates that a wide variance in consumer opinions has a detrimental effect on product sales. According to Prof. Rosario, 'The reason why variability of reviews can harm sales more than negativity is that electronic world of mouth, in theory, is a way for consumers to reduce risk and uncertainty, which does not happen when other consumers' feedback is highly inconsistent.' Prof. Rosario's findings should be of interest to product and platform managers, internet and social media monitoring agencies. Read on...
University of Denver News:
What Brand and Marketing Managers Need to Know About Online Customer Reviews; How They Influence Purchase Decisions
Author: Amy Jacobson
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2016
Packaging is an important component of product handling, logistics, advertising, marketing and selling. There are variety of materials that are currently in use for packaging. Environmental challenges arise due to the waste generated through discarded packagings. The packaging industry is exploring better materials that can reduce environmental footprint. In spite of scientific breakthroughs in developing new packaging materials, there are issues related to their performance and price, inhibiting their mass adoption and usage. Bryan Shova, packaging designer and industrial design director at Kaleidoscope, explains sustainability aspects of packaging. He says, 'I dream of the day when material science and manufacturing can deliver on the promise of zero environmental impact, high performance, premium finish and low costs.' He explains, 'The viability of true sustainability is a complex economic challenge, and the ugly truth is that few consumers, brand owners or municipalities are willing to pay the premium price for cutting-edge sustainable packaging solutions. True solutions will come through "systems thinking" that requires the material supplier, manufacturer, retailer, consumer and the municipality to share in the premium costs and labor required to design, collect and recycle packaged materials.' He provides 10 principles for designing sustainable packaging - (1) Start with commodity materials that are commonly recycled. (2) Design the package from a single material. (3) Focus on the product-to-package ratio. (4) Design for assembly at the point of manufacture. (5) Avoid gluing and laminations. (6) Design for distribution. (7) Eliminate secondary and tertiary packaging when possible. (8) Design for disassembly. (9) Clearly mark the materials on the packaging components. (10) Use Lifecycle Assessment. Read on...
10 ways to design sustainable packaging with intent
Author: Bryan Shova
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jun 2016
E-Commerce strategy once was a source of competitive advantage and differentiating factor in business. But now it is an essential strategy for businesses to connect and engage with their customers and, market and sell their products and services online. AJ Agrawal, Founder and CEO of Alumnify, suggests 4 affordable marketing strategies to boost e-commerce efforts and stand out from the competition - (1) Start Testing More On Facebook: Utilize split testing or A/B testing to evaluate advertising effectiveness and save cost. Continue the process until best results are achieved. One tactic you can implement in your testing is to prequalify leads. (2) Use The Right Influencers: Word of mouth generates twice the number of sales as paid advertising. Invest in reputation marketing and word of mouth marketing. Use the right and relevant influencers. (3) Invest In Your Email Marketing Campaign: 44% of customers click on promotional emails and then make a purchase. Build email list and invest in email marketing campaign. Finally get a group of brand ambassadors from the list and initiate word of mouth marketing through them. (4) Retargeting In The Right Style: Use retargeting to highlight and establish that unique selling point to convince them to buy and not go to competitors. Use data analytics to understand customer behavior. Segment your adds based on user interactions with site. Keep testing advertising effectiveness until best results are achieved. Continuous testing of marketing strategies and improving upon them will help in differentiating from competitors and attract customers. Read on...
4 Marketing Strategies To Take eCommerce To The Next Level
Author: AJ Agrawal
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 06 feb 2016
Reviews and recommendations related to products and companies are an important part of consumer buying decisions. Nowadays, technology has transformed word of mouth into word of clicks and taps, bringing consumers closer to other consumers and brands. Online communities around interests, products, and brands have mushroomed. Social media has further brought quality, quantity and speed into the recommendation and review process. According to a study by McKinsey, social media recommendations induced an average of 26% of purchases in 2014, that's up from 10% in 2013. Kishore Kumar, serial entrepreneur and CEO of AllThingsMine, explains how social media networks are assisting cosumers in their buying and purchasing decisions and what companies need to do to effectively utilize these channels for their product marketing and competitive strategies. According to him three aspects of social media influence consumers, and companies have to incorporate them to expand their product sales - (1) Social Referrals: Brands have to encourage and invest in social media referrals. Adweek infographic suggests that 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. Recommendations from friends and trusted sources are more valuable than product advertisements. (2) Access to Reviews: Consumers research before buying products and reviews are an important source. Companies should provide product reviews and give incentives to those consumers that leave a review. (3) Social Media Accessibility: Social media is freely available to anyone with an internet connection. Consumers can now purchase products directly from their social media feeds when people in their network recommend them. Companies need to effectively tap this potential and reach out to larger public through influencers. Read on...
How Social Networks Impact Buying Decisions And The Modern Consumer Society
Author: Kishore Kumar
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 jan 2016
A panel of health experts from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Public Health Foundation of India and the National Institute of Nutrition, recently demanded pictorial and health warning on junk food packets in order to provide information to people on health issues caused by them. According to Prof. Vandana Jain, in-charge of Division of Pedriatrics Endocrinology at AIIMS, 'We have recommended pictorial warnings on junk foods...or health warnings saying that this product contains fat and salt in excess of what is recommended or even a picture of liver may be put on pack indicating that consuming them may lead to fatty liver in children and adults.' Consumption of products with high sugar, fat and salt have adverse health implications and World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the best way to prevent obesity among children is to put restrictions on marketing of unhealthy foods. Read on...
The Economic Times:
Health experts demand pictorial warnings on junk food packets
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jan 2016
Product returns are an important part of customer-retailer relationship dynamics. In 2014, customers returned US$ 280 million worth of products across all US retailers. The latest research by doctoral student Ryan Freling (University of Texas at Dallas), Prof. Narayan Janakiraman (University of Texas at Arlington) and doctoral candidate Holly Syrdal (University of Texas at Arlington), conducted the meta-analysis of existing studies on return policies to quantify the policies' effect on consumers' purchase and return behavior. The study challenges the underlying assumption that all return policies affect purchases and returns in a similar manner. The study suggests that this is not the case, as retailers tend to impose restrictions to dissuade returns or offer leniency to encourage purchases by manipulating five return policy elements: time, money, effort, scope and exchange. The study found that overall lenient return policies positively affect purchase and return decisions. According to Mr. Freling, 'In general, firms use return policies to increase purchases but don't want to increase returns, which are costly. But all return policies are not the same...Return policy leniency should depend on the retailer's objectives. If a retailer wants to stimulate purchases, offering more lenient monetary policies and low-effort policies may be effective.' Read on...
UT Dallas News Center:
Researchers Examine Effect of Return Policies on Consumer Behavior
Author: Brittany Magelssen
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 sep 2015
In a highly competitive market, brands can utilize excellent customer service strategies to differentiate themselves. Listening to voice of the customer, understanding their behavior and analyzing their interactions, can provide companies the needs and wants of the customer. Companies can use these insights to better serve their customers and that has direct impact on their bottom line. According to Defaqto Research, '55% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience.' Study published in Journal of Marketing (2004 Edition) by team of researchers, Prof. Eugene W. Anderson of University of Michigan (now at University of Miami), Prof. Claes Fornell of University of Michigan and, Prof. Sanal K. Mazvancheryl of Georgetown University (now at American University, Washington DC), quantified the consequence of quality customer service on shareholder value. Study points out, 'Among 200 businesses represented in the Fortune 500 across 40 industries, a 1% improvement in customer satisfaction increased a firm's value by US$275 million.' Danny Wong, co-founder of Blank Label and digital marketer, explains the importance of customer feedback and how ecommerce stores can turn this into a competitive advantage through effective engagement, building relationships and developing better products and services. According to him, 'Develop an intimate understanding of what your customers know, want and need to establish a competitive edge that helps you improve how you do business and the value you offer to end consumers. Start by categorizing reasons for why your customers purchase your products i.e. their primary motivations.' He suggests stores to source high-impact feedback and utilize the following tactics to expand the scope of their customer research - (1) Audit the reviews competitors receive (2) Conduct surveys (3) Dive into your analytics (4) Encourage user-generated content (5) Track public conversations. Once the research is at hand, stores need to summarize actionable takeaways and use the following three steps to build a strong business case for doing anything - (1) Quantify its impact (2) Measure its market opportunity (3) Get leadership buy-in. To implement new changes the stores can use gradual strategies to first consider the high-impact initiatives that are easy to do and then to implement moderate changes and finally move on to more resource intensive projects for long-term meaningful outcomes. Companies should incorporate excellence in customer service into their corporate culture and should consider the opportunity of every interaction with customers to build lasting relationships. Read on...
How to Leverage Customer Feedback to Improve Your Ecommerce Store
Author: Danny Wong
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 sep 2015
Retailers need to identify their most valuable customers to specifically target and focus their specialized marketing campaigns for building long-term customer relationships with them. Most valuable customers are to be retained for maximizing profitability. But according to the study 'Engaging Customers Across the Lifecycle Journey: How Clienteling Helps Enhance Customer Relationships' by Yes Lifecycle Marketing and Retail TouchPoints, based on the survey of nearly 200 retail marketing executives, most retailers are still struggling to utilize customer data effectively to find and nurture these important customers. Main highlights of the study are - 52% say identifying and engaging their most valuable customers is one of their top business challenges; Nearly 1/3rd of respondents (32%) say they're not able to integrate or analyze their data in a timely fashion; Employee access to data is uneven and most who need it don't have it (44% of C-level executives have customer data while only 27% of store managers and 13% of store associates have access); Only 27% of retail marketing executives have their customer's lifetime spend on file and only 18% have data related to shopping preferences of customers. Read on...
Direct Marketing News:
Infographic - Retailers Fail to Fully Leverage Customer Data
Authors: Elyse Dupre, James Jarnot
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 sep 2015
The relationship between consumers and businesses is continuously evolving. Technology is playing an important role in creating a shift in consumer behavior. Smartphones are providing consumers with connectivity that is driving this change. Ori Karev, US CEO of Gett, explores the reasons that are leading to transormations in consumer dynamics and how they interact and connect with brands. According to him, 'Consumerism has shifted from a world of physical images and personal communication to a world of imagery and perception. Regardless of industry, product or service, vendors that enable instantaneous access and deliver on their digital promise will survive.' Consumers have become more pragmatic. They have access to tools and services to research for best solutions at best prices that are available with just a tap on their phones. Online consumers have become more like business-to-business consumers. But they do have emotional attachment to brands that can provide them with the best experience. The power is shifting towards consumers and businesses are getting more and more consumer dependent. Mr. Karev explains, 'On-demand industry has gone through such a rapid change of behavior within a mere five years. The swift change stems from two factors: the availability of smartphones, and people's desire to maximize the convenience and efficiency of procuring services and products.' He further points out that certain fundamentals of consumer-seller relationship will remain - 'Shoppers want to do business with companies that are fair, so this treaty must hinge on veracity, transparency, credibility, honesty and good will.' Today people place most value on fulfillment and satisfaction. They have concerns regarding how a vendor treats its employees and suppliers and would get influenced by these factors while making purchases. Online research, decision and purchase behaviors have now made consumers a strong part of businesses. Companies that understand and fulfil the consumer expectations - real-time, always-on support; competitive pricing; respect and transparency towards vendors and suppliers; ethical corporate culture - in the current on-demand environment will be the one that survive and succeed. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 nov 2014
Shopping malls and retailers are utilizing interactive and virtual technologies to enhance and facilitate customer buying experience. Mobile apps, touchscreens, tablets, 'Elf-Ray Vision', image search, texting services etc are some of the customer focused technologies that are being applied. One of the retailer have even partnered with a 3D printing company to provide customizable products. Deloitte holiday survey of more than 5000 people found that 2/3rd of Americans now own a smartphone, and 72% plan to use it in holiday shopping; for 27%, that means spending more. According to Jesse Tron of International Council of Shopping Centers, 'Using phones as a shopping tool also means many consumers have a pretty good idea of what they want before they ever walk through the door.' 'Consumers want to be entertained. But going beyond the entertainment factor and making technology helpful is crucial to successfully integrating digital experiences in stores.' says Kathleen Jordan, a leader in the retail practice group of design and architecture firm Gensler. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 dec 2013
A retail industry expert explains how an experience in retail provides lessons that can develop and enhance leadership abilities - Don't just be different, be special (make customers part of your enterprise and delight them so much that they form an emotional attachment to the brand); Pick up the trash (don't hesitate to act on even smaller things if there is a need, become visible to your customers, model the behavior that you want others to follow, develop emotional connect with customers and employees); Don't blow a long-term relationship over a short-term glitch (create clarity around what a customer experience feels like in your context, understand the competitive offerings as the customers are aware too in today's connected world); When your name is on it, you own it (cutomers may not understand the organizational separation of working units so if they see a corporate connection then you should make sure to deliver as corporate reputation might be at stake); Frontline employees are too often undervalued (keep in mind the value of the employees who are at the bottom of the hierarchical pyramid in the organization, understand their needs and ensure their well being with proper pay and benefit policies, training efforts and other support mechanisms). Read on...
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