India’s eCommerce business experienced exponential growth of about 80% in 2013, and this magnitude of growth has continued. The explosion of online shopping in India has woken up retailers taking a lax look at eCommerce. With predictions of the eCommerce market shooting from the current $3 billion to $15 billion by 2016, it is high time to enter the online market.
However, managing an eCommerce website can be a daunting task as well as an extremely expensive affair if not tackled in the correct way. The easiest and best way to go about opening an eCommerce store is through an eCommerce platform – where all the technology and backend is taken care of. When you are looking to create your online presence, choosing an eCommerce platform is one of the first decisions you will have to make. However, this choice is not as straightforward as it may seem. With a stupendous growth in eCommerce and a multitude of available platforms, the choices you have are vast. You are often told and may think that choice is a good thing, however, it is not always so as it makes your decision-making process here even harder.
Retailers are in a rush to open their eCommerce stores today, however, it is important you make the right choice the first time as changing platforms later can be time consuming and expensive. The platform you choose to go with matters. There have been many cases where short-sightedness while choosing an eCommerce platform or route has resulted in problems, especially when on-site traffic increases. In a recent survey, 22% of the companies said they had changed platforms within the past year an 32% said that they are looking to change their platform in the future. It can be inferred that a huge number of companies do not find their right platform math the first time.
The eCommerce platform you choose is pivotal to your eCommerce journey – just like the car you buy is important for your driving experience or the person you marry plays a role in maintaining your relationship. As while buying a car, you would do a thorough research of the specifications, you would have to do the same with your eCommerce platform. If you want the performance of a Mercedes, but buy a Maruti 800 (Alto 800 now), you are not going to be happy. If you marry a person without agreeing on future possibilities, you are going to be in for a surprise! Similarly, if you get on an eCommerce platform without thorough research, you are going to regret it.
To make sure you make a wise and informed decision, we analysed and consolidated considerations which really matter to your business. Here are the top 6 considerations you should be taking prior to choosing your eCommerce platform: –
Technology: Technology is the nucleus of the platform, around which it is built.
Omnichannel Capability: The platform should have the ability to handle marketing, selling and servicing in an integrated manner across multiple channels such as online, mobile, social etc.
Report and analyse: Your eCommerce site is a mine of data you need to get valuable insights out of. The required tools for this activity are the reporting and data analysis capabilities of your platform.
Extensibility – Retailers should look for a platform that comes pre-integrated with a wide array of third-party solutions.
Total Cost of Ownership: It’s important to consider the total cost of ownership – the sum total of direct and indirect costs
Time to market and User Control: Timing is as important as your offering to your customers.
Download our complete guide to platform selection to know more. With this guide detailing what to look for, you will significantly save on your decision-making time.
This platform selection guide includes:-
- Detailed top 6 considerations to take while selecting a platform
- Questions to ask eCommerce platforms you are considering
- Checklist to follow to help get you closer to the decision
Well, personalisation is your answer, especially the kind that’s powered by Artificial Intelligence. I’ve already talked at length about the impact personalisation can have on consumers and businesses alike. Here, I would like to talk about, how you can effectively personalise your engagement campaigns and actually see the results it can bring.
I’ll be sharing the learning from two brands who’ve used Capillary Campaign Personalisation Engine to achieve 2X greater hit rates when compared to campaigns that were based on rules and analytics done by the brand’s analysts. Let’s see how these brands engaged their consumers in 1:1 personalised ways.
Give them relevant recommendations
With the Capillary Campaign Personalisation Engine, the two retail brands were able to offer up relevant product recommendations based on the customer understanding gathered from the data they had on their consumers. As, consumers were targeted with products they were most likely to buy next, it helped the retailers convert these consumers easily.
Talk to them when they want you to
Capillary Campaign Personalisation Engine, also helps brands engage their consumers at the right time. Through analysis of consumer behaviour, the brands were able to determine when these consumers were interacting with these brands. The AI algorithm could segment consumers based on the time they were most likely to respond to messages and the time they were most likely to be interested in a particular product. Based on these insights, the customers were targeted at the right time, when the brands could get the most attention from them.
Make offers that hold value
Pricing can make or break any deal. Through price sensitivity analysis of consumers, the retail brands were able to serve up offers that actually made sense for a customer. This created a sense of urgency in the consumer’s mind that helped them quickly net better conversions. Not just that, these brands were also able to discount products optimally, and maintain better margins on each sale.
How campaign personalisation works?
Capillary Campaign Personalisation Engine works on powerful AI based algorithms that take into consideration, your CRM data, customer data, product attributes data and your past campaigns data to deliver cutting edge personalisation to your campaigns. Talk to us to learn how you can also power your campaigns to 2X growth.
Whether it’s the right set of songs on a Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify, a TV show or movie you may be interested in on Netflix, or a useful product recommended on Amazon, personalised recommendations on these platforms can really help users navigate through the plethora of choices that are vying for our attention at any given moment. Scientific studies on personalised recommendations throw light on a phenomenon called RAS or Reticular Activating System, a concept of selective attention our brain follows, where we only give preference to things that matter to us the most. RAS is what helps us orient ourselves to focus and prioritise things. RAS helps us react only to those things that are the most relevant to us.
With personalisation, brands are trying to doing the same, which is to successfully reach out to their audience amongst the information overload that we’re subjected to everyday. Not just that, but relevant personalisation could have other far reaching effects on us. It can make us feel valued, as though these brands actually understand and care about us. It can give us a sense of control, owing to the feeling that these brands are catering to our needs, and we have the ability to finally choose or influence what information we see or receive. These personalised recommendations can also be very helpful, especially when they act as reminders for something you need, but forgot about, or when you discover something useful to you that you may have never thought of yourself.
With personalisation, brands are trying to successfully reach out to their audience amongst the information overload that we’re subjected to everyday.
It’s important to note that, personalised recommendations aren’t just for the consumers. Several studies have pointed out, businesses who have been actively working on personalisation have been faring much better than those who haven’t. If we revisit the examples of Spotify, Netflix and Amazon, I had mentioned earlier, not only are they widely known for their work in the field of personalised recommendations, they are also well known as leaders in their respective industry.
In fact, a study by PwC states, 12% of consumers chose their favourite brands based on personalised offers. Another study by Infosys said, 59% of shoppers believed personalised experiences had a significant influence on their purchase. Furthermore, as personalisation is all about understanding and fulfilling the needs of consumers, it can have a significant impact on the overall customer experience, which can consequently show up on your bottomlines.
59% of shoppers believed personalised experiences had a significant influence on their purchase.
Although, the data backs it up, and most businesses claim personalisation to be a priority, many are yet to proactively work towards this objective. If your business is among those, enabling personalised recommendations is just the place to begin your personalisation journey.
While businesses such as Amazon, Netflix and Spotify may have spent million developing the Artificial Intelligence technology that makes their personalised platforms work, today, enterprise technology providers such as Capillary are enabling businesses with the power of AI to do the same at a fraction of the cost.
Personalising online commerce
Personalised recommendations on your e-commerce website or app is a must have today. You can boost product discovery through ‘target blocks’ which are sections of your website that can display relevant products for your consumers based on their purchase history and browsing behaviour. On your homepage, “Trending Products” and “Popular Products” target blocks can be used to highlight certain products whereas, individual product pages could have ‘Similar Items’ and ‘People Who Bought This Also Bought’ to serve relevant recommendations to consumers.
Recommendation target blocks for ‘Similar Items’ and ‘People who bought this also bought’ can also help you increase transaction value as it’s also a good way to upsell or cross sell to consumers. Similar strategy can be applied to your cart completion page where target blocks, “Quick Picks” or “You May Also Like” can help increase basket size. Capillary’s own study on a customer using our AI powered recommendation engine to personalise recommendations on their website had revealed, a 7.5% increase in sales per customer, a 12% increase in conversion rates and 22% increase in overall sales when compared not having any personalised recommendations.
AI powered personalised recommendations on an ecommerce website netted a 7.5% increase in sales per customer, a 12% increase in conversion rates and 22% increase in overall sales
Enabling personalised cross-channel communication
Just like your website or app, product recommendations can be served up on your interactions and engagement with your consumers. Having a single view of consumer across channels can help you understand consumers and deliver the right product recommendations, at the right time, through relevant channels, which can greatly increase hit rates on campaigns. At Capillary, we noticed that brands using our AI powered personalisation engine saw 2X greater incremental sales on their personalised campaigns. Read more about campaign personalisation here.
AI powered personalisation engine provided 2X greater incremental sales on personalised campaigns
Personalising offline interactions
There is huge potential to be had in personalising offline customer interactions that many retailers often miss. Empowering store associates or wait staff with apps that can help them identify customers and deliver relevant recommendations based on customer needs can go a long way into increasing in-store customer satisfaction as well as conversions.
As consumer get more used to having things their way, such personalised experiences are going to become the norm. Retailers who act quickly and stay ahead of the personalisation game have a better chance of sticking out amongst the crowd.
How cross channel order orchestration, through an Order Management System helps you deliver on omnichannel experiences
As businesses faced pressure to go online, most established digital avenues for their customers to shop from, but is this enough to fulfil the exponentially increasing customer expectations of today?
It’s important to realise that consumers are not just secluded to either online or offline channels exclusively. They move across these channels conveniently to buy what they want, where they want, right when they want it.
Cross-channel orchestration through an Order Management System could be your first step in providing the omnichannel experience that your customers now expect. It also helps retailers achieve the right balance between cost, speed and efficiency
Let’s consider Sandra, who is looking for running shoes at a sportswear website. She finds a pair of light blue trainers she likes, adds it to her cart and proceeds to check out.
A Deloitte study revealed that 69% customers want various delivery/pick-up options. 56% customers also expected the product to reach them within 3 days.
Since the sportswear brand uses a highly configurable Order Management System, Sandra gets the option to buy online and get it delivered to her home, buy online and pick it up from a nearby store or buy in-store and get it delivered to her home etc. Based on her convenience, she chooses to get it delivered and since she’s happy with the estimated time of arrival, she makes a credit card payment, confirming the purchase. A Deloitte study revealed that 69% customers want such delivery/pick-up options. 56% customers also expected the product to reach them within 3 days.
OMS gives retailers a single view of all orders, including Sandra’s, coming in from each customer touch point such as their ecommerce website, marketplaces or offline stores etc. Retailers also get a single view of all inventory, across all departments, from sales, operations to support. This eliminates errors, reduces costs and makes fulfilment a breeze. The sportswear brand could now maximize their existing inventory, reduce turnaround time and markdowns, enabling a faster cash cycle. Visibility into payments and reconciliation also ensures the customer’s purchase intent before the product is shipped.
Getting orders ready
Once a customer places an order, the products chosen could be located either at a warehouse or at a physical store. Depending on the configured rules, the OMS automatically calculates the fastest or most cost-effective locations from where these products could be picked up to be delivered to the customer. By treating offline stores as mini-distribution centres, retailers could optimise their real-estate investments, and even do without warehouses in some cases.
According to Direct Marketing News 46% consumers would stop doing business with a retailer if they were late at fulfilling an order.
According to Direct Marketing News 46% consumers would stop doing business with a retailer if they were late at fulfilling an order. The sportswear brand’s OMS found the shoes Sandra wanted at an offline store near her home, allowing a faster delivery time which was important for Sandra. The retailer also managed to reduce shipping costs involved, most of which was passed on to the customer. High shipping costs can account for more than 50% cart abandonments according to comScore.
Delivering these orders
Once the order has been placed and the optimal product pickup location is calculated, it’s time for the product to be delivered. With a single view of orders, Steve the store associate, could view Sandra’s order and pack the shoes ahead of time, keeping it ready to be shipped.
The Order Management System maps the best logistic partner available for fulfilment. Moreover, certain OMS come bundled with Logistics Management Software which helps with the optimal delivery routes from the first to the last mile, reducing costs and increasing speed.
Soon, Sandra’s shoes were picked up by Mark, the assigned delivery personnel, along with 2 other deliveries that were scheduled from the same store. With OMS, now Mark knew Sandra’s house was the closest to the store and left to deliver her package first.
Elevating post purchase experience
Sandra was anxious about the delivery and called support to enquire if her order would arrive at the specified time. A single view of all orders and delivery details to all departments, from store associates to support staff, enables them all to help the customer better. As soon as she mentioned her order reference number, the support rep, Lauren, informed her that her shoes were out to be delivered. As soon as she hung up, Mark had reached Sandra with her order.
Despite delivering the perfect order, the customer may not like a product and decide to return it. Infact, return costs can account up to 40% of all goods in some industries according to Deloitte. Optimizing returns management through physical and online channels is a must for profitability. When Sandra tried her shoes on, she noticed that they were a touch too big for her, so she opts for a replacement in a smaller size from the website.
Return costs can account up to 40% of all goods in some industries
With OMS, mapping all returns, replacements and reconciliations becomes very easy for operations executives. Though the original store didn’t have the size Sandra wanted, a nearby warehouse did. OMS mapped the order to the warehouse where Mark again, picked up the shoes and delivered it to Sandra while collecting the shoes Sandra returned at the same time. Sandra’s new shoes fit her perfectly and she was now ready to hit the gym.
Does delivering perfection make business sense?
Today seamless integration between various channels are a necessity to meet customer expectations, but putting an Order Management System in place could have other far reaching effects on your business too. Apart from increasing efficiency throughout the supply chain, OMS can also bring advanced analytical insights into the fulfilment process. Businesses can gain from enriched consumer data with a single view of each consumer and their preferences across channels. It also eliminates errors in fulfilment, mitigating loss in customer trust and loss of sale. With artificial intelligence, the automation OMS brings to cross channel orchestration can significantly reduce pressure on your workforce as well. Moreover, optimisation of the fulfilment processes results in significant cost savings across the board.
The hypermarket industry is in a state of flux, much like most other consumer facing industries today. With the rise in adoption of digital and mobile technologies, consumers are getting used to seamless and connected cross channel experiences provided by innovative brands who are making the most of these technologies. Consumers now live in an EasyVerse™ and expect such easy experiences everywhere.
Many retailers today, are ill-equipped to meet the needs of the ‘always on’ digital consumer. According to a Nielsen survey, only 7% of grocery retailers rated themselves as having the skill sets to succeed in digital. Not rising up to consumer experience demands and a lack of presence across channels may hurt hypermarkets in the long term, especially considering the low profit margins the industry in known for.
How then can you drive higher long term profitability with your hypermarket business, and maximise the potential your business has? It’s all about doing a few things, but doing them really well while ensuring what you’re doing is really well known among your consumers.
Let’s look at four areas where you can to focus to help push your hypermarket towards hyper growth.
Be Available, Across Channels
While it’s established that having an online presence is important, just having an ecommerce website is not going to cut it anymore. You can’t go about this with a “build it and they will come” approach. Tech forward consumers can quickly find out if an application or service is adding any value to them. While you develop digital initiatives, you need to consider if you’re creating value and clearly communicating this value to your consumers.
Creating a connected and seamless omnichannel shopping experience is a strategic priority for many grocery retailers in 2018.
Therefore, it is a must for hypermarket businesses to leverage their physical and digital assets to optimize the consumer experience they’re providing. Creating a connected and seamless omnichannel shopping experience is a strategic priority for many grocery retailers in 2018.
Apart from having an ecommerce website, hypermarkets are also investing on additional digital touch points such as a mobile ordering app, and ordering through home assistants such as Alexa, and Google Home etc. Allowing consumers to buy what they want from your inventory through endless aisles in store doesn’t just result in customer satisfaction but it also helps you mitigate loss of sale due to stock-outs.
Another popular way hypermarkets are elevating in-store consumer experience is through store associate apps, which can empower your frontline staff with additional information on products, availability of products, nutritional advice, recommendations, and even a single view profile of the customer so they can best serve them. Such solutions can bring the convenience and personalisation of online shopping to brick and mortar hypermarkets. They can help you increase engagement levels, dwell time and eventually basket size. Once such touchpoints have been established, the challenge lies in providing a consistent experience across all these physical and digital touchpoints.
Make Experiences Connected and Operations Efficient
Consumers today want, what they want, when they want it. This is especially true for hypermarkets where the increased demand for localised products and convenience means businesses have to fulfil consumer expectations through on-demand, hyperlocal delivery. But the last mile has always been the greatest challenge for hypermarkets that have gone online and its optimisation will continue to be a priority for 2018.
Providing consumers with multiple methods of purchase and fulfilment can go a long way towards consumer satisfaction as studies have pointed out, consumers are interested in online ordering, pick up in-store, and home delivery based on what is convenient for them at the time. There is also an increased preference for same day delivery. Offering multiple delivery options and providing consumers with the option of scheduling the time of delivery can help significantly elevate the purchase experience for consumers.
How integrated your store and warehouse systems are with your consumer touchpoints is going to determine how consistent consumer experience is across these touchpoints.
Furthermore, a consumer’s online purchase experience needs to be highly consistent with their offline experience. Apart from exclusive promotions in certain channels, consumers should be able to purchase the same products at the same prices with similar set of promotions across all channels. How integrated your store and warehouse systems are with your consumer touchpoints is going to determine how consistent consumer experience is across these touchpoints.
Integration of existing systems with Order and Warehouse Management Systems can help you fulfil accurately, efficiently and on time, every time.
Understand Consumers To Engage and Reward Them
People are different, and seek different things, different experiences. What’s memorable for one may be forgettable for another. As most hypermarkets cater to a highly diverse set of people, understanding what they really want and how to make their purchase experience better can feel complicated. The answer lies in your data.
Most hypermarkets are already maintaining a CRM system to keep track of their consumers and their transactions, but how often are you using this data to design personalised experiences for your consumers? Are you able to get a 360° single view of your consumer across channels and use this data to build consumer journeys? Are you able to accurately determine who your best consumers are and what are you doing to retain them, to keep them coming back?
Having accurate insights into your consumers helps you keep them engaged with your brand. It doesn’t just help marketing work better, but it also helps maximise consumer retention and loyalty.
As consumers have more choices than ever before, it’s really not easy to build loyalty and protect it. Grocery retailers must find ways to deepen emotional connections with consumers. Having accurate insights into your consumers helps you keep them engaged with your brand. It doesn’t just help marketing work better, but it also helps maximise consumer retention and loyalty. With the right consumer segmentation, based on consumer insights, you can ensure that all your communications are relevant and personalised and with a CRM program, you can get full visibility of your consumers and business across channels to ensure your communications are consistent.
But a CRM program alone isn’t going to be enough. Loyal consumers want to be recognised by the brand, and rewarded for their loyalty. They want to be a part of an exclusive club. Having a well designed loyalty program that complements your brand can be a great way to tap into greater consumer retention and higher repeat sales. But you must make your program easy to use.
Personalise Your Way to Profit
Personalisation is steadily becoming one of the biggest priority for retailers today as they gather more and more data into consumer behaviour and business performance. The challenge here is to use the data and derived insights effectively to push greater growth and profitability for your brand.
Studies say 31% of consumers are prone to switch grocers for personalised offers based on their buying behaviour. They seek experiences that are specifically tailored to them. 50% of users who stopped buying online, did so because they couldn’t easily find the products they were looking for. With personalisation of the storefront, such cases could be significantly reduced while more repeat sales with greater average basket value could be achieved.
Another trend in hypermarkets today are private label products. According to a PLMA study, sales of private label and store brands generated $120 billion in 2016 and will continue to grow significantly. Private labels offer retailers greater control over quality, price and hence profits. It’s no wonder then that most hypermarkets players have already established private label units.
But is there a way to combine the power of personalisation with the higher profits of private labels? Yes, with artificial intelligence based personalised recommendations and suggestive product bundles, you can push a greater number of private label and/or higher margin products to your consumers. Your consumers find what they were looking for, while you gain from greater margins and higher average basket values.
Download the entire resource on achieving profitability through hypermarkets here
Data has always formed the basis of businesses. From the abacus to the tiny computers at the palm of your hand, we’ve always been trying to develop tools that can give us more information about everything around us. But getting more data is not the challenge today. In fact, in this age of information overload, many have started to ask, is there something as too much data, since all that this data is leading to is more confusion for businesses.
What metrics should you trust? Which areas need improvement? What actions should you take and what would the results be? When you start thinking about all this your head starts spinning faster than a fidget spinner going out of style. I mean, sure you can hire teams of data scientists, analysts and consulting firms to look at your data and make sense of it all, and you have to do it, but at times, by the time you derive insights, it’s too late to take action and an opportunity is lost.
The need of the hour isn’t just to simplify and distil these swaths of data into insights, but also to do so in real-time. You also have to be able to slice and dice data so you can compare the options you have and take the best decisions possible backed by actual data.
The intelligence behind quick decisions
It’s important to have visibility into how well your retail business is doing on a day to day basis. Having access to sales and growth KPIs at real-time and having the ability to compare it with historic data allows you to better determine the factors that are influencing your business. It enables you to better optimise working capital and also to take quick decisions to maximise growth, without having to wait for in-depth analysis.
The intelligence behind memorable campaigns
They say marketing can make or break a product or brand. But, are you able to measure your marketing campaign KPIs and RoI so you know what works and what doesn’t while you still have time to take action on it? When information spreads so quickly and attention spans are at an all time low, knowing how your consumers are responding to your campaigns and subsequently to your brand can be the difference between bringing relevance and being monotonous.
The intelligence behind store growth
Retail is all about optimising your assets to ensure you’re not stretching or saturating yourself. Knowing exactly how well each of your stores are doing everyday gives you the power to take actions to improve store performance at a granular level. In this omnichannel world, being able to compare the performance of various channels across different regions gives you the insights you need to share resources strategically to help low performing assets as well as maximise high performing ones. Design targets and incentives intelligently and watch stores grow.
The intelligence behind successful products
All said and done, it’s your products that make or break a sale and gradually create your brand perception. Hence it’s important to have visibility into what SKUs are working for you and which ones are not performing as expected. By comparing products within and between the various categories and multiple brands that you may have, you can better understand factors impeding performance and use these insights to focus strategically on lower performing products. You can also understand and optimise supply chain operations better as per seasonality and customer segments etc.
Get all the essential insights on the go
Business intelligence tools can power you with all the essential insights your business needs, directly at your fingertips. With Capillary Essential Insights, get more than 24 easy to customise reports that are built specifically for your retail business. Having access to overall business insights such as sales reports, product insights, store insights, campaign insights, customer insights etc. in real-time, Essential Insights enables you to continue making the most of your data and take actions instantly. With rich, interactive visualisations on desktop and mobile, BI tools such as Essential Insights lets you discover insights easily and unlock growth on the go.
These days, most of us can’t go without the internet for even a moment. Last Friday, many had their worst nightmares come to life when they turned on their computers. Hackers, who call themselves the ShadowBrokers, had managed to infect more than 200,000 devices, across 150 countries with the aptly named ransomware, “WannaCry”. Utilizing a vulnerability in certain Microsoft Windows systems which allows it to gain access and encrypt all data contained within, the virus effectively turned the devices into expensive bricks. The malware then demanded payments in BitCoins to decrypt the data and return access.
Almost every possible vertical including retail and consumer brands were potential industries affected by WannaCry, which is now being called the largest such ransomware attack, forcing cybersecurity professionals to work over the weekend to protect the systems of their corporate clients.
As the scale of the internet has increased tremendously, such attacks are also predicted to stay on the rise. Retail is an industry that has always been a hot target for hackers. This is because of the abundance of customer data including payment information that most retailers have access to and the innumerable devices connected to a retail network that hackers could gain access from. By diverting attention of the IT teams to improve sales performance instead of security, many retailers are left vulnerable to the constant threat of a cyber attack.
It’s imperative that retailers take steps to protect sensitive business data, especially in an omnichannel environment as the cost of a breach includes not just the loss of data but also that of reputation, which may have cascading negative effects on overall business performance.
The following are a few of the best practices that retailers should follow in order to effectively protect themselves in today’s ever connected world.
Having a Backup
According to a PwC report titled, Global State of Information Security Survey 2015, only 54% of retailers had an accurate inventory of how and where they collect, transmit and store data. Maintaining detailed logs and monitoring all the data exchanged in any company network is paramount to information security. It is wise to constantly backup important data in a secure, and isolated environment, though it is not as pervasive a practice within corporations as one would assume. Segmentation and isolation of different data types such as cardholder data, customer data, vendor/partner data, operational data and backup data etc. can be helpful in mitigating risks coming from the various devices omnichannel retail networks are connected to today. Apart from just having a backup in terms of data, one must also have a security breach response plan which details what needs to be done in case a business inevitably becomes the victim of a cyber attack.
Microsoft had already identified the vulnerability now known as Eternal Blue, and released a patch to secure it two months before the WannaCry attack. The infected systems hadn’t installed the latest security patch, making them vulnerable. This shows how important it is to constantly be up to date on the latest security measures available. Hackers are constantly innovating to exploit any weaknesses they could find. Businesses are now forced to ensure their security by doing the same. According to PwC, due to the scalability and agility of the cloud, businesses have the opportunity to enable safer information transfer through technologies such as deep analytics and machine learning which could help with cybersecurity. Infact, 23% of businesses surveyed in the year 2017 study said they were going to invest in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning over the next 12 months.
A tool is only as good as the person using it. The same is true for security measures as well. Phishing and social engineering are often used and surprisingly effective methods of data breach. Educating each employee (especially the store staff) on the best practices in terms of security that they must adhere to will significantly bring down the vulnerability any business faces. This is especially true of the omnichannel environment that most businesses work on with a myriad of different devices being connected to any network, including mobile devices both personal and official, tablets, laptops, beacons etc. Each employee must be aware of the risks involved and trained on detecting suspicious, fraudulent behaviour.
Having a detailed view of all data streams in an omnichannel environment is paramount for data security. Like stated above, maintaining detailed logs would also help you to detect and prevent attacks. Since a lot of the tools businesses use today are hosted on the cloud, these applications may also have access to sensitive data. It’s important to monitor such third party applications as well and ensure they have effective security measures in place. It also helps to create tighter access controls such as granular role-based access controls which will only allow access to the information a particular employee or application requires at the time and no more, could improve security drastically. Stringent security models such as Forrester’s “Zero Trust” which always verifies all entities within and outside a network before allowing access could give businesses immense control over their data.
Compliance with security standards such as PCI-DSS, ISO, HIPAA etc. may already be the top priority for many retailers, but it’s important to note that one must not build their security program by just completing checklists to fulfil the terms required. Remember that these standards are the minimum requirements that need to be maintained. Organisations should also follow a holistic approach towards security to ensure there aren’t any gaps that are left unprotected.
When Apple announced its new Passbook feature with the new iPhone5 and iOS6, it was obvious that it was going to have an unprecedented impact on the way loyalty programs and mobile phones play together, especially considering the sheer scale of the Apple iPhone/iOS universe.
The One Passbook To Rule Them All: Apple has created a central repository where all of a customer’s loyalty cards, tickets, and boarding passes can reside, and make it very easy to find them, and use them at the cash registers. The Passbook is not a stored value card – and Apple has not followed Google and others on the NFC Bandwagon. This could be due to security flaws found in most NFC implementations, but also for the additional complexity of hardware that can read NFC. Basic information is available on the front of the passbook, but more information can be seen on the back by tapping the information button. Terms and Conditions can also be maintained and accessed easily.
Loyalty Cards: Your Customers can now download your own loyalty cards from a link they receive from any mode of communication (Email, Text, Social) right onto their iPhone. The layout of the card can be customized based on Apple’s specifications, including the pictures, colors, and the fields that are shown on the front and the back.
Coupons and Offers: Individual Passbook cards can also be created for Coupons and Special Offers/Gift Cards apart from Loyalty Points. The same can be downloaded from a link, and redeemed through a barcode or QR Code.
Push Notifications: Once downloaded, points and other details can be updated through push notifications enabling far greater engagement – the moment a customer gets more points, they will get a notification, and they even view updated information about their program, or get a notification when there’s an offer for them etc.
Geo-Fencing: Passbook automatically maintains a set of locations most relevant to a particular card, and it surfaces up when you cross one of those locations. This virtual location awareness is called “geo-fencing” – and is become quite popular as a way to excite customers to come into the stores with special offers when they are around. Due to the prevalence of iPhone, it is expected that Passbook could easily be the most common geo-fencing application.
Unprecedented Engagement: Most retail mobile applications see far less engagement than we would like – and Passbook will change that. It is automatically available for all iOS 6 (iPhone 3GS and above). The fact that there are an estimated 7 Million iPhone devices active in the U.S. alone will have a tremendous impact on its adoption and engagement.
The obvious implications for retailers is that, the now quintessential iPhone will evolve into a key component of their loyalty/customer engagement strategy. This strategy will be driven by ‘Social’, ‘Local’ and with the last mile delivery, over ‘Mobile’ – and the prevalence of the iPhone will mean that this will happen at a scale not seen before.
Apple Passbook integration is already available with Capillary at no additional cost.
Segmentation is not a new concept to retailers. Looking into the analytics framework which has been developed over time, segmentation was traditionally one of the easiest ways to target customers. Ever since the birth of commerce, every retailer has been segmenting his customers based on their gender, class, purchasing power etc. Analytics and segmentation were simply regarded as ‘experience’, ‘trader’s instinct’ or simply ‘gut feeling’. However, with the rapidly changing customer psyche, mere segmentation is not enough. To meet this challenge, statisticians started segregating customers into groups based on multiple dimensions or as it is formally known – micro-segmentation.
Retailers worldwide observed that the response rates for mass campaigns have consistently been very low. Due to this, they revisited the customer databases and started campaigns targeted toward micro-segmented customer pools. India is a 1.2 billion strong country with an intricate mix of cultures and taste, and with the number of options available in market today, the one-shoe-fits-all theory cannot sustain among such diversity. New expectations from customers can be met by providing an offer which is suitable to them and makes them feel special, which can be made possible using micro-segmentation.
In international markets, large retailers have already made headway using micro-segmentation. Retail major Tesco has started dividing its customer pool into 5000 micro-segments with 250,000 personalized offers to target them with. Every retailer has experienced very high returns on micro-segmented campaigns, primarily due to personalisation. It requires minimal investment when compared to other operational investments. To arrive at such high number of micro-segments, it is necessary to validate those segments while drilling down from 3 or 4 segments to 1000-fold more. This is not a one step process, in fact, it is required that it be proceeded in an experimental manner validating each level of drill down.
Marketing has always been an expensive proposition; the marketing managers are finding it very hard with each passing day to justify the cost of marketing and its impact on the business. Print, electronic, OOH – There is a massive clutter across all media which demands a bombardment to get the message through, be it ATL or BTL. On the other hand, micro-segmented campaigns allow the managers to validate each activity and garner profit from each one of them. With any plain vanilla offer, we have observed a response rate of 1.46%, which increases to 2.58% when the activities are personalized and sent to the right customers. Response rate can also go up to 25% based on the number of micro-segments, segment characteristics and design of the offers to that particular segment. Most of the time, running micro-segmented life cycle based campaigns along with loyalty rewards can increase the topline sales by 5 – 10%. Simply put, it’s all about “the right offer to the right customer at the right time”. Due to this, micro-segmentation (personalisation) can also create word of mouth as similar to ATL, but for a lot less money.
Recently, a popular F&B brand who is also a Capillary customer, adopted the next generation of customer engagement solutions for their home delivery business in India. In a complete, end-to-end approach, Capillary Technologies designed separate lifecycle journeys for the different customer type. Based on the available customer data, specific offers were then created for each micro-segment which suited the customer’s taste as well as the purchase behavior. For example, within the ‘Golden Pool Premium’ customer segment, the customers were given a ‘non-aggressive offer’ which has standard discounts and offers which are suitable to the customer’s taste or benefits (in-store promotions) and a customer which is in ‘High Value Explorer’ segment will be given an ‘aggressive offer’ with more benefits if a purchase is made.
Capillary then clustered the customers based on their behavioral indicator such as preferred day and time for ordering – weekday or weekend, lunch or dinner, customer spend etc. and use these to trigger the campaigns. This enabled the F&B client to reach out to the customer when they are most receptive to these offers and therefore increase the acceptability of the offer. For example, using micro-segmentation, Capillary identifies that a particular family of 4 members, often calls on Saturday afternoons to order the food. Using this information, the system can identify the right offer and send an SMS to them on Friday evening or Saturday e.g. Dear Mary, Enjoy your Saturday afternoon with your “favorite food”. Your voucher code is ASD313. Call at xxxxxxxx to place your order now. Within days of the launch, we witnessed a phenomenal increase in the hit-rate across all micro-segments. Customers also found these campaigns accurately relevant and thus responded to each campaign favourably.
Though micro-segmentation is a powerful tool, it also relies on some factors to produce the best results. Ideally, the volume of customer data should be huge. Large data allows the customers to be micro-segmented in a much deeper level, thus increasing the level of accuracy. The diversity of the customer pool also plays a crucial role, varied cultures and characteristics define the different segments much better. The right time to micro-segment is when the market is saturated or retailer is losing to the competitors. These are clear indicators that the customer is asking for a “differentiation” and the campaign response rates are not favorable, thus creating the need to micro-segment and reassess the marketing activities.
It will also help the retailer to identify the right offer from the pool of offers and personalize them as per customer needs. Moreover, it increases the customer retention with a visible rise in the repeat business. Micro-segmentation, when done correctly, can increase the brand loyalty manifolds, within a short period of time, truly bringing the retailer to the next stage of retail evolution – The Personalisation Era.
One of the most ubiquitous quote in the retail world is ‘Customer is King’. But when the consumers have a long line of retailers as suitors, it is only natural that it will require a lot more than vanilla marketing to win them over. And just like everything in our lives, the loyalty program has to evolve to make more sense to today’s consumers.
For most consumers, the world has become faster, with more choices, multiple channels competing for their attention as well as thousands of personal conversations brands have with them. In this environment, being able to break the clutter and create a connect at the right time is critical – and what better time to start that conversation than when the customer is in the store, on the mobile phone – a medium they carry with them at all times – and engage with them in real-time.
Instant Gratification is the Cornerstone of Real Time Engagement
Perform a simple experiment: ask ten people around you if they remember the number of points they have in their favourite loyalty program. Our research shows that eight of the ten people will be unable to recall this. Most loyalty programs communicate with the customer when they have gone back home, and by then the interaction is not on the top of their minds. The right time to talk to the customer is when they are in the store – when you get most of their attention.
If a customer buys a top and a retailer is able to suggest matching skirts, probably top it up with a small offer, the likelihood of that being picked up is the highest. For one, the retailer is able to cross-sell and monetise the current visit of the customer, and at the same time, this discount offer is better for the retailer’s margins since it could be much lower than what is required to make the customer drive and come to the store.
Recently, a UK based department chain, launched a real-time engagement campaign with Capillary. Within three days of campaign, the average spend per customer increased by 36%. The campaign was designed to engage the customers in-store through SMS while making a purchase with relevant offers based on their current and previous transactions. By the end of the campaign, the stores witnessed an average of 141% increase in top-line numbers.
Delight Your Customers with Experiential Rewards
Being able to provide the customer with the best product or service is not enough today, the experience counts as well, and every small little thing you can do in this regard has an impact as it’s these small things that consumers remember, building deeper relationship and loyalty. If a customer just finishes a long shopping trip, and the retailer is able to delight them with a foot massage available in the spa next door, the retailer has definitely won them over.
This is relationship marketing at its best – and by using technology intelligently for the right communication at the right time, retailers are able to today realize what used to be an unmanageable item on the wishlist. The customer is enveloped in the shopping experience, and additional rewards or communication is very personalised and directed. This is also sharply in contrast to the countless, irrelevant messages people get when they are at work, or busy elsewhere and the messages become more a source of nuisance than information or engagement.
Connect Better with Younger Audience
Recently, Starwood Hotels & Resorts launched a campaign to reward members of its ‘Starwood Preferred Guest’ loyalists by offering free points and free-night awards for those who check in to properties worldwide via the local social network, Foursquare. They may form a small segment of their customer base, but they are extremely valuable with substantial lifetime value.
In other cases, retailers are able to surface social network activity in their vicinity to their store staff helping them react better to valuable customers, giving them the right suggestions, and up-selling based on their likes and dislikes – all this happening magically in real-time by the power of the mobile phone and the internet connection.
Empower Your Store Staff
Most retailers ask me why is in-store communication and visual merchandising not enough – the answer is threefold:
Firstly, in today’s fast paced world, decisions need to be taken quickly which means lead time for staff training & communication and collateral printing is very low – instant mobile communication gives a simple way to perform interruptions and iterate quickly. This is especially true in very busy stores, where the cashiers hardly have time to breathe let alone trying to indulge in a discussion.
Secondly, in most cases, taking away the decision making power on deciding the gratification also mitigates fraud scenarios. The brand is able to communicate with and give offers to the customer directly and the rewards can not be kept aside by the cashier without the customer’s information. This also gives the customers a consistent experience across different touch points and stores, thereby leading to higher loyalty.
All this has to happen in real-time. We are quickly moving into a phase of intelligent cash tills, which not just enable transactions but also give suggestions, recommendations and help to cashiers to make the customer’s experience more meaningful.
However, employing the right technology tools for real-time engagement is very important – used well, it can greatly enhance the customer’s experience while if there are problems, the customer experience degrades very rapidly leading to loss of faith and brand loyalty.
Instant is now a necessity, not a USP
With more and more brands embracing instant customer engagement, it’s important not to leave this tool out of your arsenal while designing your customer experience. With the rapid change in consumer lifestyle, the ubiquity of mobiles phones and always-on broadband connectivity, real-time engagement is not just possible today, but is fast becoming the medium of choice for retailers.