Monday, December 22, 2014

Some Thoughts About Facebook's Long Term Strategy

I wanted to share with you an article (In French) I found about Facebook's Strategy for the next 15 years.

Here are the bullet points:
- Mobile as the heart of the strategy: Social media users migrate more and more to a mobile usage. That means applications must be developped on this channel to keep on growing their data base. The goal of Facebook in 5 years from now is to convert its users to its other mobile applications, such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, and Search. And then only to monetize this audience. This is this point that annoys mean. I mean, Facebook has already reached a large number of users, billions are using the service, it is now a public company, and is actually experiencing difficulties to keep some of its audience that are not using Facebook anylonger. I don't know if it is still time to grow the audience first, and then seek for monetization systems. Facebook needs to be profitable ASAP, in order to leverage these profits in new projects.

Splitting Facebook's Activites in several applications. The goal is to provide a better user experience. Indeed, when you have such a big Facebook activity, it becomes sometime overwhelming. It will probably also allows to have more advertizing product to market in order to get revenues out of it. Mark Zuckerberg believes that the different usage of Facebook actually respond to different target, with different interests. This is also something that is scaring me. Indeed, the Internet has based its success on the accessibility, and the freedom it allowed. But if Facebook really starts to master all the component of people's relationship online, Facebook would become a sort of private web, which everybody used and hence would be forced to use. 

Allowing The Most To Access The Internet: Mark Zuckerberg has goals to provide Internet to poor countries in order to the most people to access its service, which is something cool. 

The good thing about this stratgegy:

It is long term, it has a real vision. And I believe it is based on a good strategy, on the right path.

The bad thing about this strategy:
This strategy still delays the time when Facebook would become really profitable. I believe that Facebook has already mastered its competition, and can now focus on its business modell. Its IPO was meant for that reason. But Mark Zuckerberg don't really expect any revenues before a dozen of years... It is very risky.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Customer Decision Making Process: What information drives consumers' online buying decisions?

Interesting blogpost I found from Forrester's website. This Christmas season is obviously crucial for most retailers results. The shopping frenzy makes it one of the busiest time of the year for retailers. More and more, customers tend to shop online instead than in malls and stores. But what information drives customer to shop online. What are the key information that will trigger the sales for e-retailers. Here is an interesting chart: 
What is interesting, is how there key aspects of the decision making process need to be taken into consideration into the website's strategy. Hence, by advertizing clearly the information about the shipping costs, customer reviews, product information, and clear return policy, one e-retailer will limit the bargain of buying online, and hence maximize the chance the customer to buy online.

Especially, if these information are clear, it will limit the risk the shopper to go to different online stores to compare, which is a real risk in the e-commerce world.

Also, what is interesting, is to see that brick&mortar retailers, which are facing high competition of e-retailers, should actually leverage this information. Thanks to mobile technology, they are able now to provide a lot of information on product reviews, and product information on store. They also have most of the time clear return policy, which is easier as you may deposit it in the nearby store.

Very interesting stats.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

How Properly Prepare Business Concept Experimentation, Especially in #Retail

New business concepts are a great way to dynamise sales and adapt to new customers trend. But most of the time, people don't really have a good process to implement these new businesses, which ultimately leads to failure.

Indeed, it is not that easy to perform a business experimentation. Because once you have the idea, which people believe is a good idea, the pressure is high to implement it as fast as possible to bypass the competition, and to earn the profits as fast as possible.

Here is a Checklist of What You Should Do To Test A New Business Concept
1 - Does The Experiment Has A Clear Purpose?
In determining whether an experiment is needed, managers must first figure out exactly what they want to learn. Only then can they decide if testing is the best approach and, if it is, the scope of the experiment. 
When Kohl’s was considering adding a new product category, furniture, many executives were tremendously enthusiastic, anticipating significant additional revenue. A test at 70 stores over six months, however, showed a net decrease in revenue. Products that now had less floor space (to make room for the furniture) experienced a drop in sales, and Kohl’s was actually losing customers overall. Those negative results were a huge disappointment for those who had advocated for the initiative, but the program was nevertheless scrapped. The Kohl’s example highlights the fact that experiments are often needed to perform objective assessments of initiatives backed by people with organizational clout.

2 - Is The Experiment Doable?
Experiments must have testable predictions. But the “causal density” of the business environment—that is, the complexity of the variables and their interactions—can make it extremely difficult to determine cause-and-effect relationships. Learning from a business experiment is not necessarily as easy as isolating an independent variable, manipulating it, and observing changes in the dependent variable. Environments are constantly changing, the potential causes of business outcomes are often uncertain or unknown, and so linkages between them are frequently complex and poorly understood.

I believe that on this part it is very important to list all the variables that may impact the test, and right away from the beginning to understand how those variables have impacted the test results.

3- How Can We Ensure Reliable Results?

4- Have We Gotten The Most Value Out Of The Experiment?

What is fore sur is that experimentation is key before setting up new launches. The real effort is to master how much cost, and how much time you may spend on experimentation, as speed in execution also is a key factor of success in certain new business concept.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

French #Retailer Picard Strategy: Japan & France

Interesting interview (in French) of Picard's CEO. Picard is to me one of the most exciting retail concept ever. As Ikea or Costco, it is based on hard discount operationnal approach, but by its store concept and category management, provide high service and optimized added value to customers.

Hence, Picard only sells frozen products, but as it focus on this technology, it is able to have large product range gowing to raw frozen veggies to concept desert or meals like sushi or burritos. Picard works on a 1 200 product range with 20% of the assortment changing every year.

Picard is aiming to launch a complete activity in Japan, and right now is testing a 50 products range in some corner stores.

Picard is planning on opening 250 to 300 new stores in France (it is counting so far 900 shops). It believe that stores are key in the customer relationship management of the company, compare to the Internet. Indeed, Internet website don't have any soul, don't create no feeling which could actually lead to brand loyalty. Instead, brick & mortar stores are the best way to create a real customer experience that ultimately lead to brand preference and loyalty.

Very interesting point of view. For those who don't know Picard, and if you come to France, I believe this is a must see concept.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Bookbook of #Ikea

Not much to say, except it is a very clever way to advertize on a catalog, on an Internet medium.

Reuters decide to kill its comments Feature on its article

Reuter has recently decided to turn off its comments feature on its website. It explains the reason why on a long article. The whole concept is to say that in the age of social media, where conversation happens everywhere, and that it moved away for the comments on their website.

I totally disagree with this view. Of course, obviously, the conversation happens everywhere on social media, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, among other things. But social media is about multiplicity. And comments on an article are still one of the best way to discuss. When I read an interesting article on different news website, one of the first thing I do is to check out the comments. Indeed, where is the best place to see what people think about the article if it is not on this same page? 

I maybe old school on this one, but I still highly value comments on an article. Actually, I would really like to have more comments on my blog, which I always appreciate.

What do you think about it?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

New #Retail Concepts: #Foodtrucks Allows Retails To Go To Customers

Brick & Mortar retailers are not dead, but they do need to evolve in order to adapt to the changes in customer behaviors. Indeed, with the rise of Ecommerce and multichannel strategies, retailers must adapt to reach its customers.
In the US, the food truck hype is high, and it allows people to get the food the closest they are, depending on the time of the day.

I invite you to go on the website to have a look at actually what the pictures look like. The only regret I have, is that most of the examples are from brands sampling their products. But I believe that there are maybe a retail concept more sophisticated that may come up from it:
  • You order what you want online, than collect it in the truck
  • You maybe have a store that would move depending on the season, for example at the beach during summertime, in the business districk for the back to school period.
I think that having moving retail concept that will reach out to its customers is a trend that will eventually come up. It may not get a significant share of the FMCG market, but could tactically get customers from your competition, or lead to turn on sales.

What do you think about it?

Friday, December 05, 2014

What Do You Think About #Lowe's #OSHbot ? Is This The Future Of Shopping Experienc?

Intriguing article I found on the Internet lately. Retail chain Lowe's has launched experimentation of OSHbot, a robot designed to provide customer service in store. The robot can identify products, talk, interract with shoppers, and can lead the customer to the product it needs. It can speak several language, contact another salesperson in another store to provide extra advices. 

When I read the article headlines on Twitter "The Future of Shopping has Arrived and its Name is OSHbot" I had high expectations.

But after having seen the video, I am really wondering if this is what to expect from the future. Indeed, I believe that these kinds of robots must cost a fortune to equipe a store with (at least several thousand dollars a piece). How many of them would you need in a busy store to actually be enough to advice all of your clientele?

Also, those robots have a unique goal: to advice client. That means they can't do the other taskes a human may do, meaning merchandizing tasks.

Also, is the experience with a robot better than with an actual human? As a customer relationship expert, I still believe people do and will always value human interractions the most?

Now the only advantage I may found, is that if you are facing a high turnover, educating a salesforce may be costly and take time. Nevertheless, I am also questionning if those robots will have a long lifetime.

I would like to have your insights: What do you think about it? Do you really believe we will soon see those robots.