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Identifying Consumer Intent: Sentiment Analysis and NLP in Social Media | Analytics Insight, 06 sep 2020
eCRM: Everything You Need To Know! | Digital Market News, 06 sep 2020
Centre finalising guidelines for companies, brand ambassadors to prevent misleading ads | The Hindu, 06 sep 2020
Marketing in the Age of Resistance | Harvard Business Review, 04 sep 2020
The Elements of Branding and Why They Matter | Influencive, 04 sep 2020
8 Habits You Should Have for Quality Content Marketing | Content Marketing Institute, 03 sep 2020
The Conversational Style Of Marketing: Engaging, Empathetic And Attentive | Forbes, 03 sep 2020
Advertising for Cavemen: Exploring the Psychology of PPC Ad Copy | Search Engine Journal, 31 aug 2020
Why Digital Transformation Always Needs To Start With Customers First | Forbes, 30 aug 2020
10 Ways to Get Global PR Exposure | Entrepreneur, 12 aug 2020
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 sep 2020
COVID-19 brought about changes in buyer behavior and retailers responded with tech-driven solutions to help them adapt to pandemic-driven restrictions. These solutions are not totally new, but current situation brought them to the fore. Three retail technology trends that became part of the 'new normal' are - (1) Online Grocery Delivery: Shutdowns, social distancing norms, fear of infections etc combined with essentiality of grocery requirements help exacerbate this trend. Even non-traditional retailers jumped on this trend. (2) Contactless Payment: According to the 2020 State of Retail Payments study released by the NRF in August, 58% of retailers accept contactless cards and 56% take digital wallet payments on mobile phones. Since January 2020, no-touch payments have increased for 69% of retailers surveyed, of whom 94% expect the increase to continue over the next 18 months. (3) Virtual SMB Product Pitches: Number of retail platforms invited small-to-mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to virtual competitions. COVID-19 brought about homogenization and consolidation of retail and only two types of retailers will survive in this scenario and beyond - the mass and the niche. Mass retailers can enhance their product offerings through SMBs and differentiate themselves from competitors. Read on...
Chain Store Age:
Three hot retail tech trends from the summer of 'new normal'
Author: Dan Berthiaume
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jun 2020
COVID-19 impacted the retail sector and brought about unforeseen challenges. Recent study by Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at University of Warwick (UK) and Blue Yonder examined how retailers have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure their survival. The study is based on the survey responses from 105 different retailers from Europe, Asia and the Americas and identified the human vulnerabilities across the supply chain and the need for future investment in flexibility, visibility and automation to improve future resilience. Some of the challenges that retailers faced are - unprecedented demand for some products while no demand for others; many stores were forced to close, or adapt their operations to accommodate social distancing; shift to online shopping wherever possible but it had its own operational challenges. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS - (1) The majority (61%) of retailers used inventory to buffer against the disruption of COVID-19. Supply chain processes and systems were effective, but more than half (58%) of retailers said a high degree of manual intervention was required to respond to the fluctuation in demand and supply. (2) Workforce issues were dominant issues for retailers with 59% of warehouse and 48% store operatives being affected by quarantine or illness. This often resulted in the closure of online operations and the need to recruit temporary staff. (3) Retailers were polarised in their treatment of supplier payments, with 37% delaying payments and 30% making early payments. Prof. Jan Godsell of University of Warwick says, '...only just over a quarter (29%) of retailers relied on suppliers with more agile manufacturing and distribution networks, which is a potentially more resource efficient and resilient response. With 75 to 80% of products seeing a demand fluctuation, retailers were slightly better at responding to decreases rather than increases in demand...' Wayne Snyder of Blue Yonder says, 'A critical learning for retailers is the need to invest in creating supply chains with greater flexibility, visibility and automation. Here technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a key role in helping retailers navigate future disruption, whilst still meeting customers’ expectations.' Read on...
University of Warwick News:
New study provides insights into how retailers have responded to COVID-19
Author: Alice Scott
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 feb 2020
Australia's retail industry is in turmoil with some of the big ones entering into voluntary administration. Tom Youl of Ibis World says, 'Weakness in the Australian economy, in particular, deteriorating conditions for households, has been placing pressure on the retail sector...Weak wage growth has been a contributing factor to decreasing discretionary incomes, but rising household costs have also played a part. The bad news for store-based retailers is online players are going to continue to grab a larger share of the pie.' Eloise Zoppos of Monash Business School says, 'Customers are seizing control of the retail landscape and those retailers not up to the changes proposed by their loyal shoppers will be left behind. Friendly and knowledgeable staff, and eye-catching and easy-to-navigate store designs, can help create memorable experiences that customers can share with their friends and family after their purchase.' Even though online shopping is on the rise but Monash's 2019 consumer survey reveals that more than 70% respondents prefer to shop in bricks-and-mortar stores. A positive story coming out of the retail churn is that of an electronics store JB HI-FI. Retail expert Amanda Stevens explains, 'If you've been into JB Hi-Fi lately, it's a fast-moving big box retailer, but they really have knowledgeable staff, which is always a sigh of relief for consumers versus other retailers you go into, and you could spend up to 15 minutes finding someone to give your money to.' Regarding the future of Australian retail Mr. Youl suggest, 'Many retailers have been thriving in recent years. A sound brand strategy and market position are always vital to success, but these factors become of paramount importance over periods of weak growth, as we have been experiencing.' Read on...
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
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