Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: A Year To Remember

In these times, it is a tradition to look back and go through all the main events which happened last year. 2011 has been a long year, full of important moments.

Here is a melting pot of the different events that marked the year:
  • The Japanese Tsunami
  • Fukushima's nuclear catastrophe
  • Usama Bin Laden's death
  • The rise of democratic protests in the arabic world
  • The Greek crisis
  • Then, the following Euro crisis
  • The death of Steve Jobs
  • The Dominique Strauss Kahn affair
  • The Lybian war
I don't remember another year which could have been so full of important events. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Some Facts About The Mobile Application Market

Mobile application has been a gold mine for a lot of people. And it is indeed a category still growing at a fast pace. I found this very good article which gives us some data about how mobile applications work.

It is a very interesting information. That shows you want should be your target depending on the platform in order to consider your application productive. You can see that there great gaps between the different services. That shows that a lot of the different services may disappear soon. For example, Blackberry has unfortunately failed at developping an interesting app plaftorm. Google has clearly become the leader in the market.

Freemium is becoming a more and more important part of the business model of mobile applications. The bigger the audience will be become, the larger the advertizing opportunities will be, and the easier it will be to propose free applications.

This is an interesting one, because supposely it explains that mobile advertizements are more efficient than Internet once. However, I would like to know what they consider as mobile campaigns. It is more and more difficult to identify mobile campaigns, as now they are closely linked to the Internet. The consumption of email and social media thanks to mobile devices constantly grow, and it is important to consider these new usage to propose an accurate way to deliver commercial messages through those devices.

I remain skeptical about the methodology of this chart, as I do not know the data itcomes from, but I believe there is something to digg there.

The mobile aplication market is for sure a marketing with a great future ahead:

  • The penetration rate of smartphones, and other mobile devices allowing to download and use applications is growing at a very fast pace.
  • The market is becoming mature, and users are increasing the number of applications they download.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Insights About Marketing On Facebook

I wanted to share with you a great article I found on a blog about the cost of marketing on Facebook. It has been a long time now that I have interested myself in social media marketing, and it is impressive how fast it grew. 

You can check the figures, they talk for themselves. But I just wanted to underline some facts about it, that I believe are interesting to understand and notice:
  • It does cost money to communicate on social media. A common wisdom, especially at an early stage was that it was cheap and almost free to communicate on social media. Also, a lot of people thought it would be a great opportunity for small business to communicate, as it was a fast growing medium, and the freedom of speech would bother and limitate big corporations. However, it is the total opposite that happened, as the medium became pricy, and the efforts need to be high in order to bond with the community.
  • There is no cost scaling possibilities.Whatever your number of followers/fans is, it will cost you per user about the same price. It is very diffferent from the other "direct marketing" tools, where the bigger the data base, the cheaper the costs are.
  • There are big gaps for cost per clicks. Now it would be interesting to see the return on investment of the different categories. Indeed, cost per click is not really important. What does really matter is the conversion rate, and the way you may transform one lead into a customer.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Quand Google prend la plume

Je souhaitais réagir à l’édito du numéro de décembre 2011 de Marketing Direct Magazine. En effet, cet édito est consacré à Google, et notamment à la stratégie de recrutement du géant de l’Internet.

Le cœur du modèle économique de Google est le « référencement payant », avec les fameux « keywords ». Google, et ce depuis de nombreuses années, à recours à des campagnes de marketing direct pour démarcher les entreprises, petites ou grandes, en offrant des offres de tests avec des bons de xxx € d’achats.

La rédactrice, Dominique Fèvre, met l’accent sur le côté incongru de cette société vivant sur la révolution du marketing direct vers le numérique, qui utilise un support pour le moins traditionnel, qui plus est en crise (il suffit de voir l’état économique de la poste américaine).

Mais, comme elle le signale, ce n’est pas si abérrant : le média papier, et courrier reste un média très important dans la relation client. En effet, parce qu’il se rarifie, il en prend encore plus de valeurs. Le média papier est beaucoup plus personnel que le média Internet. Il conserve par ailleurs d’excellent taux de transformations.

J’ai toujours été partisant du mailing. Il est d’ailleurs, bien qu’ancien, l’un des médias qui permet le plus de laisser libre court à la créativité (choix du papier, des couleurs, de la découpe etc…).

Google a bien raison d’utiliser un média papier, et depuis le temps qu’il le fait, je suis sûr que c’est pour une raison.

Et vous, qu’en pensez vous ?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Where Is Heading Twitter ?

I have always been a big user of Twitter, which is actually my favorite social media. Nevertheless, and for quite a while, I have been wondering about their business model and their ability to generate long term revenues.

One figure comes up to my mind. Twitter has 100 million users. It is a pretty large base, and it makes it one of the most used social media in the market. But when you pay a close attention to this figure, Twitter is by far smaller than Facebook, and on an international scale, it remains small. Will it be enough to become an unquestionable media?

To me, the question is not solved yet. I have learned recently that Twitter is still raising funds in order to develop their advertising platform. It is for sure a very important step they are taking. They now focus all their efforts on developing this needed business model, and achieve profitability. But it has been several months that they are working on it, and still, it is unclear if they have really made any progress.

Twitter is a new medium. And most of the new medium, like television or radio, have started by providing great quality program before becoming profitable. Eventually it works. Twitter has no questioned change the way we consume information. Twitter it also changes the way we interact on the Internet. And it really brings added value to the user.

Twitter suits well for:
¨     Accessing information fast on a mobile device thanks to its short text messages
¨     Being informed to the most recent news.
¨     Interact with others who share the same interests.

But once again, Twitter really needs to find a way to monetize its service, otherwise its system may have no future.

I think they should have focused on this point right from the beginning, as it would have been easier afterwards to adapt the platform to advertisements.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

How To Bring Value Thanks To Customer Experience

French newspaper "Le Nouvel Economiste" dedicated the headlines of its Leadership & Management section to customer experience. It is a vast topic which is very familliar of mine. Indeed, I am a true believer that top of the line customer experience can bring long term revenues to a company. You can take as an example Starbucks, Nespresso, or other popular ones.

But what is customer experience?
Customer experience encompasses all the emotions linked to a purchase, before and after it. Therefore we can consider two main components:
  • The shopper experience: Before the good or service has been purchased.
  • The customer experience: When the customer uses the good and after.
The goal is to propose more than a product, and being able to bring added value aside of the product's one. It becomes more and more difficult to bring "real" innovation through products as markets and technologies become more and more mature. Therefore, the best way to create something extra is to base it one something immaterial.

The key factor of success to create such an experience is to pay attention to all the different channels the customers use to get in contact with the brand. It goes from the packaging to the websites, and of course, there is a particular attention to pay to the point of sale. 

There is also one trap not to get into: To create a customer experience which does not take into account the company's profitability. Indeed, creating a great customer experiences implies a lot of costs in terms of branding, design, communication and so on. But it is also very important to size the increase of profitability it leads to. This is a very difficult task, because as an intangible concept, customer experience takes into account a lot of different costs, from stores furniture to the sales people uniforms, and linking the increase of sales or of marketshares generated from it is most of the time a difficult task.

You may monitor your customer experience efficiency through your after sales/ feedback management service, where you will be able to identify what goes wrong and misses into the experience you propose.

Customer experience also does not imply bringing a high quality experience, based on what you may find in the luxury market. If you look at Ikea's customer experience, it is great because it also implies low cost and an easier way to purchase furniture.

Nevertheless, customer experience is something vital for companies, and it is important to look after what you offer to customers in terms of experience, in order to understand better their expectation.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

LeWeb 2011 Starts Tomorrow

As a lot of people may know, French event about the Internet and social media Leweb is starting tomorrow, December, 7th. Leweb has been created couple of years ago by French serial entrepreneur Loic Lemeur, who has been one of the trail blazers of blogging in the early 2000s. Since then, the conference did not stop growing at a fast pace, and has become now the leading event in Europe about the web economy.

I have never attended the event, because most of the time I was not available, and I must say the tickets are a bit pricy to me (even though it is very affordable for professionals, especially when compared with other events). Nevertheless, I always check what is going on on my Twitter account, and also, for some conferences, I watch the streaming videos (which are very helpful).

A lot of people has criticized the event, saying it got worse, but in my opinion, but I have two thoughts about that:
  1. Social media events used to rock at the early stage, while every one was starting and enthousiast. The last couple of months we have seen a lot of services shutting down, due to the financial crisis of course, but also as a natural event, as markets and players starting to define their playground. This is the reason why it is less "spectacular".
  2. It is still great to be able to access in Europe to such prestigious speakers, and simply for that, I want to warmly thank Loic.
I don't know if you will be there, but I hope you will enjoy Leweb this year.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Facing A Changing Business Model: How To React?

I wanted to write about a blog post I found on Seth Godin's.

Seth Godin discusses about how business model changes when a ground breaking innovation show up:
"When the form changes, so does the underlying business model, which of course changes the function as well.
Mail ---> email
Books ---> ebooks
DVD ---> YouTube/Netflix
1040 ---> Online taxes
Visa ---> Paypal
Open outcry ---> Electronic trading
Voice call centers ---> forums and online chat
Direct mail ---> permission marketing
In each case, the original players in the legacy industry decided that the new form could be bolted onto their existing business model. And in each case they were wrong. Speed and marginal cost and ubiquity and a dozen other elements of digitalness changed the interaction itself, and so the function changes too.
The question that gets asked about technology, the one that is almost always precisely the wrong question is, "How does this advance help our business?"
The correct question is, "how does this advance undermine our business model and require us/enable us to build a new one?"
There are projects that are possible with ebooks or Kickstarter or email that could never have worked in an analog universe. Most of the money made in the stock market today is via trading approaches that didn't even exist thirty years ago.
When a change in form comes to your industry, the first thing to discover is how it will change the function."

I wanted to go further in Seth's point. Indeed, Seth points out that when such an innovation comes up, most of the time, it is not the leader of its market which benefits from it, but a new company mastering and understanding what the innovation will bring. This is what the famous phrase is about: "This is not carriage makers which became car manufacturers".

Most of the time, the large companies dominating one mature markets can not really compete with smaller actors, because their expertise, their business model, and their operating costs structure are going in limbo, and are not organized how they should to adopt the innovation.

But what should the company do? Indeed, if it will not be able to compete with the new business model, the company must find a new way to grow, and to keep its revenues up.
Kodak failed to adapt to the appearance of digital cameras: Kodak ruled the market of personal cameras. Its business model was based on the sales of films. But its business model was not possible anymore once digital cameras appeared, and therefore sales plumetted.

As a matter of fact, it is very difficult to make deep changes in one company in order to change one business model. Some companies succeeded though, like IBM, which shifted from building computers, to becoming more of a consulting firm.

The question remains open. But maybe the easier way to abord dramatical changes due to an innovation is probably to leverage the blue ocean strategy, and to find a new market where the company's ability and skills.

What do you think about it? Do you have examples to share?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

How Will The Financial Crisis Impact Customer behavior

Customer relationship management has rose in emerging market, as competition was getting tougher, and the aquisition of new customers more difficult and costly. The spring of CRM also marked the arrival of a new era, where customers where more alert, more sounded, and that they could take over the power companies used to have.

Now customers could switch easilly from one company to another, and they could actually realize that they really mattered for companies. 

Customer relationship management evolved throughout the time, as customers and companies changed. New ways to interract between each others appeared, especially thanks to the Internet: First emails, then forums and since couple of years now social media. Companies had to change the way they handled CRM, as more communication channels had to be managed, bringing complexity, and their use were less mechanical than simply through some questionnaires to fill.

We are facing very difficult times. Since 2008, two main financial crisis hit the world, and the road to recovery seems long and tough. Most of the time, it is during these difficult times that we see the biggest change in customers' behaviors. They need to adapt to a changing world. 

Most of households are hit by the crisis, which means there are strong chances their spendings will be cut down. And probably, the way they interract with companies will also changes. 

How will it impact CRM? We have already seen that social media has emerged as one of the most important place of conversation between companies and customers. But it will probably go further. The concept of loyalty, which has been challenged those past few years, with the multiplication of companies using somehow the same kind of tools to secure one customer, will probably once more evolved.

This more an open conversation than a real answer I am trying to give. Because I don't exactly know how customers will change. But a lot of customer behavior component will evolve within the next few months and years, and we must be prepared.

Monday, November 07, 2011

How Strikes May Impact Customer Relationship Management: Air France Case Study

Customer relationship management is a science which is at the crossroad of the different functions of one company. Of course, most of it is managed by the marketing staff, as it has a lot to do with researches, and communication with customers.

But it is also a focus which th whole company must take care of. This is the reason why a lot of the time we talk about "Customer centric companies", meaning that CRM takes a core part of how a company deal with its business. But most of the time, real 100% customer centric companies does not exist, and therefore it is sometimes hard to get all the pieces together.

Air France is one of the leading airline company in the world. It secured its position thanks to its image of a premium service company. This image has been built throughout the time, thanks to a lot of details, those small details which creates the big things... One of the very good example: A lot of my American friends know Air France because they serve Champagne on board.

Air France is taking customer relationship management seriously, and they have always been a trail blazer in terms of loyalty reward program. They also make their best to respond to customer complaints as fast as they can.

But sometimes, Air France's customer relationship management is experiencing damages, due to unusual circumstances.

For this November hollidays season, Air France personnel was on strike, protesting to job cuts speculations. Due to these protests, Air France's planes had to take off with 50% of their planes empty, due to lack of staff on board. 

Air France knows how to deal with those kind of issues:

First, because they have a very competent risk management department, which has been used to deal with different kinds of problems (the Icelandish volcano crisis this year, other strikes, political issues in some countries)...

Secondly, because strikes are quite frequent at Air France. I could quote French show "Les Guignols", which mention that strikes for November hollidays season at Air France are sort of a "tradition"...

And this is a real issue: You could be as good as you can be analyzing customer data, providing high quality communication material, being responsive in crisis time, sometimes, those social events can impact big time the image of one company.

So what can Air France do?

To be honest, Air France is far from being the worst of the airlines company to work for. But the way they deal with their employees (which are by the way the first ambassador one brand can have) is very important in order to maintain a  high customer service at all time.

In overall, strikes may be prevented by having strong relationship with unions, but sometimes, they are very difficult to avoid, especially in some specific industries. 

But human resources management, and social crisis inside a company can have a large impact on one company CRM Strategy.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Let Your Customers Speak Out

"Always Remember: If customer don't have effective way to voice complaint, they just quit doing biz w/ the co."
This sentence is a quote from  I found out on Twitter. I believe it is a very interesting one in term of customer relationship management. Indeed, social media have changed the way companies interract with customers.

They can not anylonger avoid listening to angry customers, and they must now deal with it. This is the job of community managers, a new trade which is blossoming.

It is not a natural behavior for a company to let its customers to speak out its complaints and issues. A company sells products, and is seeking for efficiency, which implies standard processes in order to save time and costs.

But ultimately, customer satisfaction is the key factor which will bring success or not to one company.

A lot of companies have looked for ways to silence unhappy customers. They believed that by doing so, they will be able to keep the happy ones happy, and that eventually, unhappy ones would come back.

But it is no longer possible. And this is the reason why they must deal with it now.

This is the reason why it is important to have a strong feedback management system. A one which is able to deal with the large number of media one customer may use to get in contact with the company:

  • A call center if it is via telephone.
  • A customer service if it is by mail or email
  • A community manager if it is by a social media
  • A sales person if it is in a store
  • An after sales service if it is because of a broken product.

Those media are expensive to manage, and to keep active. But they are vital, because it will minimize the lost of clientele in case of problems.

Also, something very important to think about is how to manage and leverage the large amount of information you may get from all those different sources.

The infromation will come from various ways, but it is important to have a tool which will allow the analyse of all the dysfunction customers may experience.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Abercrombie & Fitch Growing Fast Thanks To Ecommerce

Abercrombie & Fitch is growing fast those past few years. They have undertaken an ambitious online strategy, in order to grow the share of revenues coming from Internet sales. And the results are great:

  • Web sales increased 30.2% $207.9 million from $159.7 million in the first two quarters of 2010.
  • Total sales grew year over year 22.4% to $1.75 billion from $1.43 billion.
  • Net income increased 641.6% to $57.1 million from $7.7 million in the first two quarters of 2010.
Internet Retailer projects the web accounted for 11.9% of total sales compared with 11.2% in the first two quarters of 2010.
It is very interesting to see that Ecommerce is in the heart of Abercrombie success. We also knows that the company is seeking for international growth, as their recent launch in France shows.
This is the reason why I wonder: Could Abercrombie leverage its Ecommerce skills in order to grow fast? Creating a retail network is very long and pricy for a company which wants to land in another country, especially when it is a mature market, like France. And maybe leveraging Internet sales before a true store chains could be a new innovative strategy retailers should envision. 
We see more and more Ecommerce companies developping links with the mortar industry, either by setting up partnership in order to provide new delivery possibilities to customers, or simply by undertaking a true strategy of creating actual stores.

This is probably the reason why Abercrombie's French website is actually an online shop. It will be interesting to follow, but I am sure that Internet sales will count for a large part of French revenues in the first couple of years.
It could be very interesting for large companies to master the Internet sales channel, in order to leverage it in other countries. 

What do you think about it?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

E Commerce Struggles To Spring Up In India

India is a very interesting market to invest in. It has a high growth rate, a large population, and also a great population of computer engineers, which allows the country to be among the greatest country for high tech companies.

Nevertheless, India is not such a friendly country to approach for business men. Indian culture and infrastructures are far from being ready to welcome "western life style", unlike China or Brazil, the two other next to become super power countries. For example, in the retail business, it is hard for companies to settle in India, as roads are not that good, and it is therefore difficult to set up an efficient supply chain.

It is the same thing for telecom infrastructure. This is the reason why mobile phones have experienced such a great success: As the country is very large, it is faster and cheaper to organize a wireless network than an actual cabled one. This is also for that reasons that some experts think India will be one of the leaders of mobile Internet, skipping one technology (wired), and obliged to innovate.

I read not so long ago a very interesting article, detailing the different reasons why Ecommerce struggles to take off in India.

What is very interesting in this article, is that you may think it is because of the lack of Internet equipment that India's Internet commerce is growing slowly, but as a matter of fact, it is mainly due to the lack of credit card penetration. Hence, it is difficult to purchase online if you don't own a credit card. And because India has a low penetration rate for credit card, it is difficult for Indians to buy online.

This is a very interesting concept, because it shows how important the credit card penetration  rate is important in order for a e-business to blossom.

What do you think about it?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fight Opel Renault In France

Opel has launched a new advertizing strategy this year. In order to build on the famous german car manufacturer's quality, Opel, which is owned by the US tycoon General Motor by the way, has decided to broadcast these TV commercials, where its car is introduced by a german host, subtitled in French.

I believe it is very smart of them, because even though german car companies are very famous and acknowledged for their quality, Opel is a little bit left behind.

But couple of days ago, new commercials of French car manufacturer Renault have shown up, mocking the Opel's ones.

It is a funny way to leverage the buzz around one competitor's commercial. Opel has responsed to this campaign with a press ad.

But there several questions I have about these campaigns:
  1. Does Renault has the right to copy Opel's commercial. It is clearly a copycat, and I find weird the fact they have been able to do it.
  2. It seems like Opel and Renault have played together to create the buzz around this campaign. Have they agreed on it? Was Opel aware of Renault's idea to take over the ad idea?
  3. Renault's commercial is clearly funny, and mark people's mind. But does it really show well the car they want to sell? I mean, people are more into the fun and the fact they mock Opel than into listening to the arguments of the guy.

What do you think about it?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hommage To Steve Jobs

I have been so busy those past few days that I have not been able to blog about one of the trendest issue in the news: the death of Steve Jobs. I have been surprised by the large numer of media covering this topic. Indeed, it is very rare to see the death of a business man hitting so much the headlines. I actually don't remember such a fuzz around the death of a CEO like this one. Except maybe the sudden death of Michelin's president couple of years ago, in a plane crash

Obviously, Steve Jobs was not anykind of business man. A lot of people have compared him to Thomas Edison or Graham Bell for his contribution to help humanity to reach another level of modernity. Steve jobs was not what we can call an inventor as Edison was. He was a visionaire, he was able to forecast what will be people use of technology, and more important, how to adapt technology to people usages.

I used my first computer at age 4 or 5. It was the famous Macintosh (my parents where among the first generation to own a personal computer), and I remember how much I loved it. My parents have always been fan of Apple, and now still own a Macbook and a power Mac. The first computer plugged to the Internet was actually the Imac (the original with the blue color). It still works fine, which shows how good those computers were.At this time, a lot of people were mocking us as Apple was going in limbo.

But since then, Apple has experienced nothing but success, thanks to Steve Jobs.

I wanted to share with you his famous inspirational speech at Stanford couple of years ago. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How I Deal With My Stress

Stress is the hypest topic since the beginning of this fall. A new financial crisis is happening, a lot of companies have seen those past few months their shares collapsing, and facing this difficult time is causing a lot of stress. This is the reason why French magazine "Management" is dedicating its headline of its september issue to methods to fight against stress.

Also, the excellent Henri Kaufman  has edited a video about how to deal with stress at work.

The goal of all these techniques is to avoid the "burn out": it is when a person has lost all its energy and is not able to perform anymore. The worst with the burn out is that it is very difficult to recover from it.

As I am dealing with a very stressful period of time, I wanted to share with you my techniques in order not to be stressed, or at least to master it:

1: Understanding what is stress
As David Allen explains it in Getting Things Done, stress comes from a situation you can not control. That means when you face a situation, you are stressed. That also means that you need to understand the situation in order to take the control over. That also means that there are also some situations you can not control. And those situation, you should forget about them, because there are nothing that you can do about it. Hence, it should not stress you, and you should not think about it.

2. Eating
It is very important, while you are experiencing work overload, to have proper eating habits. "You are what you eat", or "what you eat is the fuel of your engine" are actually right. Therefore, I try:

  • Not to eat to much, because digestion is requiring a lot of energy.
  • Drink a lot of water because it irrigates the brain and therefore avoids migrains
  • Eat a lot of fruits + take vitamin pills to have a lot of energy.
  • Take coffee as a stimulating products, but not more than three a day to avoid heart issues.
Also, when I eat, I don't eat at my desk: I need to rest and to enjoy my eating time to relax.

3. Workout
Sport is very important to be in shape. It releases dopamine which helps you to feel good about yourself. It also helps me to be awake and actually to avoid tireness.

Therefore I swim for 30-40 minutes at my lunch break almost everyday, and play basketball three times a week.

Also, I am used to walk a lot in my offices and the walking process helps to irrigate the brain...

4. Talk about the stressful situation
It is important to talk and speak out the stressful situation you may face. Because most of the time, by simply saying it out loud, you clear up your mind. Also, by discussing it and sharing your thoughts with others, new solutions may spring up, and the serendipity may work.

5. Sleep
Sleeping and resting is very important. You need to recover from all the work you have to do.

6. Keep on being organized.

A lot of the time, as work piles up, a lot of people give up with the organizing process they have, because it requires most of the time a lot of time, and because they feel it won't help them. I believe it is wrong. Even though it may implies you will not complete all the work you are supposed to do, keeping on organizing your work will help you to remain efficient, and even though you want do all the work, you will be able to choose the less important tasks to leave aside.

7. What I refuse to do:
I refuse to be stressed by things I have no control over (see 1 section). If it is an unachievable task, then I don't want to feel bad about failing to achieve it.

I also refuse to take any kind of drugs. I believe this is false solutions.

8. Set up a deadline
You can not be stressed and fear a burn out on a long period of time. You must be able to identify how long the situation will be. Most of the time, there will be a clear deadline (a project deadline). If there are none, then you should give up right away. No one is immuned to burn out, so you are almost sure to get the wall. 

Hopefully it helps you.

Do  you have any tips you would like to share?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why I Go On Blogging

I must be honest with you I enter a very busy time of my business life, and it is hard for me to keep on blogging at the same pace I used to. Nevertheless, as you may know, blogging is to me a very important thing. It is somehow what helps me to clear up my mind with some thoughts I may have with things I experience or learn.

Couple of days ago, I talked to one of my co worker who has actually bumped into my blog for the first time, thanks to LinkedIn  (by the way I know you are a bunch of folks following my blog thanks to LinkedIn, thanks a lot). She was surprised of the work I put into this activity, and moreover she congratulated me for it. 

I must say I am always happy when people congratulate me for the blog. It is nice to see that actually people like what you are doing. For the past year, I haven't interacted as much as I used to with people reading my blog and I regret it a little bit. 

I feel a little bit as blogging is "old school": a lot of Internet expert have given up with their blog. I especially think about Loic Lemeur, who is not blogging as much as he used to. A lot of people have shifted from blogging to interracting thanks to Twitter and Facebook. It is somehow normal as it is where people are now. 

But still, blogging is much different and I still believe it is important to keep on blogging. You will never be able to propose more added value than by blogging.

This is the reason why even though I am very busy right now, and I may not blog as often as before (my goal has always been able to right at least 5 posts a week), I will force myself to go on.

I want to thank this person (hopefully she will read this post, and recognize her), because she actually gave me the fuel to write this post after a two week pause.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mobile Commerce Struggling: Tablet Sales Outcasts Smartphones'

Mobile commerce is a hype issue. A lot of people foresee in the incredible growth of smartphone users the next  trend in E-commerce. And they must be right: People now are able to buy any kind of goods in any situation. This is all the purpose of ubiquity: People can access information wherever and whenever they want, so why would they have to wait to be home or in front of a computer to buy what they want?

martphones may be good for mobile shopping, but tablets are where buying gets done. That's the implication of new research from e-commerce software firm Ability Commerce, which shows the iPad has driven more revenues for retail clients than smartphones, even though handsets account for the bulk of their mobile traffic.
Data provided for the three m-commerce clients indicates that the majority of their traffic from mobile platforms comes from smartphones, and typically from the iPhone and Android devices. For each retailer, those two platforms accounted for between 69%, 71%, and 43% of their visits, respectively, over the last year.

The iPad typically had a smaller share of mobile traffic, reflecting the lower penetration of tablets compared to smartphones generally. About 5% of U.S. consumers surveyed by Nielsen in the first quarter had tablets, versus 36% that had smartphones.

The Apple tablet made up 17%, 15% and 49% of traffic for the three retail clients studied by Ability Commerce, respectively. In the last instance, the retailer had an iPad-specific app that helped boost its share of traffic.

When it came to generating revenue, however, the iPad accounted for a disproportionate amount of m-commerce activity. The retailer, with 17% traffic from the iPad, got 35% of its sales across mobile platforms from the Apple tablet. The one with 15% iPad traffic got 51.5% of revenues from that device, and the retailer with an iPad app got 91.5% of sales from the tablet.

"The trend we are seeing is that while there is a significant increase in Web site traffic due to mobile phones, there is still a much higher percentage of conversion rates on tablets," said Jennifer Tonisson, marketing manager at Ability Commerce.

Research has shown that people tend to use tablets more at home than when they are out. A first-quarter Nielsen survey found about 70% of tablet owners use the devices while watching TV. People used tablets least while shopping or running errands (21%), or commuting (20%). About the same proportion (68%) of smartphone owners use their handsets while watching TV. But 59% use their phones while shopping or running errands.

Taken together with the Ability Commerce data, that suggests people may browse or research retail purchases using their ubiquitous smartphones, but wait to make purchases at home using the iPad or another tablet model. The larger tablet screen naturally makes it easier to complete a transaction than on a smartphone.
"Shopping on a tablet isn't that much different from shopping on a laptop or a home computer," said Tonisson. "You see the same amount of information and product detail. Shopping on a mobile phone is different. Graphics are downsized, descriptions are shorter."
New research from Forrester indicates that among online shoppers who have tablets, most prefer tablets to smartphones when buying online. Most find their tablet as easy to use as their computer when doing so. Specifically, 72% of Gen Xers, 67% of boomers, and 65% of Gen Yers say they use their tablet more than their smartphone to shop online.

This article shows three main things:

1 - Tablets Are Well Designed For E commerce
Tablets, thanks to its tactile interface, allows the customer to easilly interact with the products they want to buy. This is good news for retailers, but that also means that to get the full potential of tablets, they will have to design specific interface and boutique for this new channel.

2 Mobile Commerce On Smartphone Requires Adaptation
I believe that this study shows out that buying on smartphones is something which still needs to be unfold. Some goods may be easy to be bought on smartphones, especially goods linked to smartphones (ringtones, music, videos, apps...), but maybe others are more difficult. Therefore, retailers need to innovate, and to find new ways to make the buying experience better on smartphones. I am sure there is a sky of opportunities for smartphone commerce, but yet, I haven't seen anything convincing so far. 

3 We Should Not Mix Tablet Commerce and Mobile Commerce
As shown in the article, tablets are most of the time used at home. So should we consider tablet commerce as mobile? I don't think so. The use of tablets in a mobile condition will for sure grow, but yet, the two devices are very different, in terms of use and size. A retail strategy on tablets should for sure be different than on a smartphone. Also, I believe that the type of products shopped on both devices must be very different, which explains why we have so much difference in data analysis.

What do you think about it?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Discount/Low Cost And Customer Relationship Management: Ikea's Case Study

Customer relationship management and low cost business seems to be unlikely to coexist. Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you a thought I had once I went to an Ikea store.

Indeed, Ikea sets its success on its low cost strategy. They have been able for years now to gain market shares by proposing furnitures at the lowest price. Most of the time people make fun of those furnitures which you have to assemble. But when Ikea has been funded, it invented this way to retail furnitures, and now, it became almost like the standard of the business.

How to approach customer relationship management in a low cost business is an uneasy task. Low cost implies you to look after any kind of unnecessary expenses, and by doing so, you are not supposed to have any kind of mergins which would allow one company to proposes vouchers. Therefore, the traditionnal approach of CRM which is to give discounts to loyal customers as a reward is not possible.

Rather than on focusing on giving rewards out, which is not really what assure customers' loyalty, low cost firms need to set up a partnership with its customers. This is what Ikea did, by explaining the whole philosophy behind its model

The company agrees to keep its prices low by cutting all kinds of non necessary costs, and the customer remain loyal because it finds what it is looking for: affordable products.

Also, on the other hand, the customer agrees to have a limited service, to assemble by himself its furniture, and so on.

Most of the time companies in need of securing market shares are luring on customer relationship management strategies, and are looking for reward based strategies, which may not always be the best way, as it can become very expensive. Ikea focused on its philosophy, delivering what the customer is expecting them to deliver, and then secures customer loyalty.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fermeture de Zlio: Mon opinion

J'ai appris à la fin de cet été que le site de création d'e-boutique Zlio allait fermer ses portes. J'ai utilisé le service Zlio depuis pas mal de temps sur mon site Internet. Je trouvais le concept très intéressant: pouvoir ouvrir une boutique, très simplement, sans à avoir à gérer la partie technique (logistique - programmation - hébergement), demandant beaucoup de temps et de travail. Je n'ai pour être tout à fait honnête jamais considéré Zlio comme une réelle source de revenue, mais plutôt un moyen de partager avec les personnes faisant partie de ma communauté, et plus particulièrement les lecteurs de ce blog, mes lectures, mes sources d'inspiration, en leur proposant un moyen simple de pouvoir acquérir tout ces produits.

Déjà à l'époque Loic Lemeur avait émis quelques doutes sur le succès du site.

Sur le blog de zlio, la société estime que c'est sa baisse du classement dans Google qui a engendré la perte du système. Il est bien entendu très important pour Zlio de proposer un moyen efficace d'être vu sur les moteurs de recherche. Car avec le nombre exponentiel de boutiques existant sur le web, il est très difficile de survivre si on n'a pas un bon classement. Mais j'ai aussi l'impression qu'ils n'ont pas réussis à intéressé les e-marchants, qui ont décidé pour la plupart d'arrêter leur collaboration avec Zlio...

Je trouve cela bien dommage, et j'espère que les différents salariés et créateurs de Zlio réussiront à relever la tête et trouver de nouveaux challenges intéressants.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Has Groupon A Future ?

Groupon has been the last couple of months the hypest story in the Internet business. Groupon has emerged as a new business model emerged from the web, and has experienced a great growth at a high pace.

In 2010, Groupon has generated $644 million, and the number of users has skyrocketed. What I have always been impressed by with Groupon, was there ability at a very early stage to generate revenues, whereas most of the Web 2.0 actors are focusing on growing their audience than finding an actual business model.

As an evidence of its success, Groupon has seen a lot of copycats blossoming in the different countries where it settled.

Groupon ambitions to go on the stock exchange market soon, but bad news came up, as its audience seems to be decreasing since June.

Even worst, Forrester forecasts that by 2016 daily deal market will be miscellaneous.

"Standing out above the clutter [will become] harder for marketers as ad exposures grow," Forrester analyst Shar VanBoskirk explained in a report released last week."Consumers will grow so conditioned to micro-impulse offers they'll lose practice at considered decisions ... Facing a cultural descent into maladroit judgment, employers (and spouses) will blacklist impulse deals to keep people intentional," he noted.

Moreover, it seems that its operating costs are growing faster than its sales.

Here are some thoughts I have:
- In July and August, it is normal that the audience decrease as people go on vacations. Nevertheless, Groupon is still a start up, and despite a decrease in the pace, they should still grow.
- Groupon is probably hurt by its problems of executions. Countless of articles have been written because they oversell their deals. If execution is not there, even though the offer is good it can’t work.
- What is funny is that as a matter of fact, Groupon is not so much an innovation. There were already websites with coupons, they just added the possibility to get great coupons by the large number of people going on the website.

Does Groupon really have a future? I think it will, but its future may not be as bright as people expected. I believe they should focus on their operation and execution, in order to reach profitability. The good point about the story is that they are already able to generate comfortable revenues, whereas other websites of the web 2.0 sphere did not.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Customer Relationship Management And Serendipity?

Have you ever heard about serendipity? This term has become very popular lately. I am sure that French Internet guru Henri Kaufman would surely agree, as he has recently published a book about serendipity, where he explains the concept, and how to leverage its wonderful potential.

Serendipity , as defined by Wikipedia: is the moment when someone finds something he was not expecting to find. More than that, serendipity implies finding most of the time the best ideas when it is not expected.

Two factors created the basements for serendipity to grow:
- The information age, where we are facing both information overload
- The new media allowing this information to spread fast.

Hence, one of the key challenges for people willing to create value is to help those moments to come, meaning, to be able to create such a momentum, where people, information and things can be brought together, in order to create something unique and valuable.

I read this very interesting article explaining clearly what kind of challenges companies will be facing to keep up with the innovation pace they must to face competition.

Because even though serendipity is by definition unexpected, and therefore can’t be found by a standard process, as you can force the chance so you can create space for it to grow.

What do you think about it?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Albertson Removes Its Self Service Cash desks

Albertson is a large US grocery retailer, located especially in the Southern and Western part of the country. I actually visited quite a while these stores as I used to live nearby one of them when I was living in the US.

Albertson set up some self service checkout lanes in its stores as most of the chains in the US. The goal is simple: one of the largest expenses line of a retailer is its wages, and one of the activity which needs the most of one workforce time is the cash desk one.

Hence a lot of retailers, especially in France where the workforce cost a lot, decided to implement those kind of cashier, where customers deal by themselves with the check out.

Of course, it is difficult to explain the benefit to customers, as there are basically none (except by cutting the expenses, the retailer don’t have to increase its price to keep its profitability fine).

I learnt recently that the company decided to remove those vendors.

Probably Albertson found out that the total cost savings were not as expected + customers were not accepting this system.

It is interesting if we consider the customer relationship management side of it: To customers, the human touch is a key component of their satisfaction.

I also believe that the mistake of Albertson was not to think about customers benefits to use those cashiers:
- Was there a discount to get? (In order to share the cost)
- Was it faster, more convenient, or more fun?
- Was it compensated by something else (better prices, new service, new area in the store thanks to some space saving?)?
What do you think about it?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Will The Internet Kill Mass Media Marketing?

The communication market is changing fast due to the rise of Internet usage, and more especially the spike of social media usage. For over 30 years, marketing and communication have been strong tools for companies like Mc Donald’s, Coca Cola, or other global companies to gain market shares and become tycoons. The boom of TV and radio equipment allowed those companies to reach a large number of customers nationwide, and to impact sales in a great way (even though it is difficult to measure accurately the link between a TV campaign and sales, every one agrees that TV campaigns have a great impact on sales growth).

But nowadays the communication landscape has evolved, due to the multiplication of communication tools, but also with the rise of Internet. Internet is by definition the opposite of a mass media, which pushes the content to the audience, whereas the audience decide which website they want to visit.

This change is happening right now. We can clearly see that TV audiences are decreasing while Internet usage is booming. Nevertheless, television advertising remains a must for most of those companies, especially when they are leaders or strong challengers of a market.

For decades, some communication gurus have ruled the world of communication, letting us known what to consume, but the new tools they will have to use for the next decade (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, blogs…) are not set up to become “mass media” tools. The whole idea is actually to segment the audience, in order to suit better their needs and points of interest.

Some brands have already experienced great successes by using social media for campaigns, but I believe that we are not done yet. And I believe that this decrease of power of mass media will not only change the way commercials will be designed, but also it will change the way companies will think their products, by focusing more on customization, and adaptation to customers’ needs.

What do you think about it?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Key Factors Of Success To Innovate

Leonardo Da Vinci is probably the most gifted genius of all time. His genius was marked in different fields, from painting, to mechanics, to even entertainment (he was a firework masters). He was so creative that when you read his notepads, you see that from one page to another he could speak about botanics, mechanics or even philosophy.

I was classifying some of the articles I keep on my desk to review for my blogging activities and I found back this very interesting article of French business newspaper “Les Echos”.
It dedicated a special section to innovation.

Indeed, innovation is a common word, which can sound as a cliché, but companies which are really innovating are obviously successful but also a minority.

I wanted to share with you some of the key factors of success discussed in this article:

Information system
Innovating implies different departments and teams to connect together, to find new ideas and improve collaboration.
I watched once a TED video about how genius ideas show up, and how genius get to the point to find those. And the whole idea behind this video was that those ideas were the result of a connection between facts which did not have any link at first sight, but thanks to a specific situation seems to fit perfectly.
This is the same thing inside a company. It is important that people can connect easily together in order to get a project going fast

Human resources/management
It is very important to create connection on an information system point of view, but also people must be able to create and innovate easily. Most of the time large corporation struggle to innovate because of their size and the high level of procedure they have. Therefore it is important to create structures which allows individuals to create freely.

This is somehow the concept of intrapreneurs, which acts like “start ups” inside a company, in order to give the freedom necessary to develop a project fast. The idea is to combine the liberty of creation and innovation to the large capacity a company can offer (in terms of support like accounting or human resources).

Moreover, the innovation process can become a wonderful leverage of motivation for employees: People like to create and innovate and therefore, if you get them into the process, you will in the end create extra motivation.

Think Innovation And Not Growth Of Existing Process
Companies most of the time thinks about how to grow an existing business, by improving it. But once you innovate, you should avoid these thoughts, because your innovation may be totally different from the existing process. Horse trainers have not become car manufacturers, and this is the reason why it is important not to stick to the traditional processes.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Îndia To Rule The Mobile Internet Revolution

India is one of the fastest growing company in the world. As China is doing right now, most of the time it is growing so fast that it skips some of the industrial steps we (North America and European ones) took for 30 years in order to establish our standards. By doing so it creates sometimes some problems, as China is struggling with democracy, but also great opportunities, to lead some of the new emerging markets.

One of the best examples is India and mobile Internet. I have already attended once a conference about mobile marketing held by Forrester France, which was explaining why they believed that mobile Internet will spread fast through India.

I received not so long ago a Newsletter from Mc Kinsey about the same topic.

India, actually don’t have much choice but to excel in mobile Internet. Its large population added to its large country makes it difficult and pricy to create a cable network for Internet.

Therefore, wireless Internet could become the only way to grow the number of Internet users in the country, which is very low (17%).

Now, India is for sure an interesting country for Internet companies, as they can find a large customer base to market. But even though it is important to have a large market, it is also important that local companies can benefit from it. And so far, I don’t know if Indian companies exist, and if they have what is needed in order to thrive in India.

The risk is that the market is dominated soon by foreign countries, which will leave few chances for local companies to settle in the market.

For sure, India has a large base of highly skilled engineers but will it be enough? They need founds and most importantly ideas, which will create successful business there, adapting to the local specificities.

What do you think about it?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Trujillo: The Master Of Brand Coaching

Do you know about Bernardo Trujillo? Probably not. Nevertheless, I consider him as probably one of the most important person in the history of economy and business who ever lived.

Bernardo Trujillo was a sales representative of the NCR, a company manufacturing some cash registers back in the 50s. At this time cash registers was a highly technological gear. It was brand new and no one was actually using it.

The company and Trujillo then needed to educate its potential customers, retailers of all kind, to adopt this new tool. And from this simple idea, Bernardo Trujillo developped the whole theory of mass consumption and modern retailing.

It went beyond explaining what kind of costs and time it could save, he thought through the discount business which could emerge thanks to its invention and thanks to the new environment coming up.

He created some seminars which he was giving to explain how to develop a very lucrative business. And all of his teaching has been the based of the retails we know nowadays. Here are some of his most famous quotes:

  • No parking = No business. He was then understanding and explaining that the boom of car ownership will ultimately lead to high revenues if stores would have big enough parkings to welcome customers.

  • Pile products up and sell down: This is a way to explain how important the theatralisation is important in a store.

  • Billboards are the best sellers: you pay them once, and they don't go on vacations: He understood the importance of mass communication and the rising advertizing market ath this time.

And it worked! Most of the founders of retailers like Gérard Mulliez of Auchan, or Halley from Promodes, from all over the world went to these seminars and got the bases of their soon to become successful businesses.

I could talk to you for hours about how genious he was. Unfortunately, not a lot of documentation exists about his work.

But I wanted to talk to you about Trujillo to show you how to aboard the launch of a highly innovative product: you must educate your customers.

There are a lot of products which experienced tremendous success even though customers did not understand them at first:

  • Renault Espace, a large familly van in France, was shown to customer and all the metrics showed it would be a disaster. Nevertheless Renault launched it and it became one of their most profitable product.

  • The Ipad: A lot of people were wondering what was so new and great about it. No other competitors would have invested a dime in such an handheld. But after having seen the demonstrations, then people loved it.

It is very interesting to go beyond what customers first reaction may be. It is important to have a vision on what customers could do about it, and to show him how to use it. But also, it is very important to look at the bigger picture. This is exactly what Bernardo Trujillo did.

When I talk about brand coaching, most of the time, the brand develops some marketing materials which will help the customer to use more effectively its products. But I believe in this specific case, it goes beyond: The brand added value is given out of its core circle of expertise, which is the cash register usage, Bernardo Trujillo was a product by himself.