Friday, May 31, 2013

Le category management à l'ère du multicanal et du digital

Un petit article en français pour souligner l'exellent travail entre autres part le master distribution et relation client de l'Université Paris Dauphine.

Le travail porte sur les évolutions du métier de category manager causées par l'avénement du Drive. En effet, le drive ne cesse de gagner des parts de marché sur les magasins traditionnels, et bien évidemment, les techniques se doivent de s'adapter à ce canal de vente.

Cela me rappelle un peu la problématique soulevée par Henri Isaac au sujet de l'évolution des techniques de merchandising en ligne. Le category management des points de ventes virtuels en ligne n'en est qu'à son début, et je suis sûr que les présentations de produits et les techniques de vente vont s'améliorer et se développer très rapidement.

Le travail se focalise principalement sur la structure de management de l'offre: Est ce que les équipes dédiées à la gestion de catégorie des drives doivent elles être différentes des équipes gérant les points de vente classique?

Il est sûr qu'il est intéressant d'avoir des category managers qui gèrent les 2 parties de l'offre, car le client ainsi que le produit reste le même. Néanmoins, je pense qu'il y a énormément de compétences à développer via le drive et les courses en ligne, afin de capitaliser sur la croissance déjà existante.

Monday, May 27, 2013

French Retailer Intermarché Tests Connected Glass For In Store Usage

There is a lot of hype around Google glass now that Google allowed few people to test them, like Loic Lemeur. I have seen this cool video of Sergey Brin explaining how Google Glass works.

Technologywise, for sure, Google Glass has great potential. The technology is very advanced, but there will be a long time (at least 3 years I believe, as the cost when they'll be on the market is going to be outrageous) before it may actually be available to the mass market. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how people and companies will be able to leverage the potential of this device in order to improve people's lives.

Companies that will test and try these technologies now will get a very important advantage upon competition.

French retailer Intermarché is conducting right now some tests of connected glasses technology to see how it could be used by shoppers in store. They set up a partnership with French agency Digitas.

Here is a video showing their works.

They have identified 5 main usages:

  • Indoor GPS: It may be very interesting, even though I think that their example is a little bit too limited to show how it may improve shopper experience. I believe that this application should be connected to the grocery shopping list to save time and being more efficient.
  • Product scanning: Pretty cool, it already exists at Auchan with self scanning, even though you need a remote control to do so. But the cool thing is all the added infos you may get through it.
  • Customized promotions: I don't know about this one, because I am affraid this may be too disruptive for customers.
  • Cross and up sell: Let's be careful with this one too.
  • Easy-Check out: This is just awesome! I believe a lot in it, even though there must be a lot of control to avoid stealing.

I believe they have already thought through a lot how to use  these glasses. Here are some thoughts that crossed my mind while watching this video:

  • These applications will actually be able to be proposed to customers once the customers will own some connected glasses. Same things with smartphones, it would be too costly for a store to borrow some of theses glasses to shop, as they must keep razor thin margins.
  • It is important to create real added value, and the technology must not be too disruptive. For instance, proposing recipes when you buy a product is a cool idea, but pretty scary in terms of usage. Once marketers will use these kinds of techniques, it will scare shoppers off to use these glasses.
  • I love the payment system. Retailers may save lot of money thanks to it (as cashiers are one of their biggest expenses) and customers will save times.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Demand and Sales Data: How To Leverage Both

As a category manager, I am used to deal with a lot of data: Sales statistics, market research, among others. The purpose of a category manager is to understand how to build the offer of one store in order to respond to consumers' demand and hence increase sales.

I read the article of the Harvard Business review: Demand and Sales Aren't Equivalent with a lot of interest. Indeed, the goal of this article is to show that sales figures don't really necessarily translates what consumers really need. And I must admit that as a category manager, with the hands full of sales data, we tend to focus on sales data.

But as the article details, there are a lot of reasons why both are different:
  • Sales data don't show you the detail of how one household consume a product. One shopper may buy 3 different kinds of milk, but you may not know what will be the usage of it. Is there any milk that has been bought because you were out of stock of another milk? Is it because of a specific recipe? Is it a recurrent need?
  • Sales data won't show you if your products match one consumer needs: If you sell for example shampoo bottles of 600 ml and only 600 ml, you will never know if this is too much, not enough. Consumers will buy it because they won't have the choice. 
  • Sales data are mostly analysis of the past. It is tough to forecast future consumers behavior based on sales data (even though you may expect high increases of sales in different segments, but once you notice them, it is already too late). Markets evolve faster and faster, and it is important to have ways to watch what will be next.
Therefore, it is important to have data tools that will allow you to analyse the demand, and sales.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Some Thoughts About Yahoo! Buyout Of Tumblr

I am not used to comment fresh news on this blog anymore, as my schedule don't really allow me to write on a daily basis. Nevertheless, there has been a lot of buzz around the buyout of Tumblr by Yahoo! those past few days. 

I have never really used Tumblr, even though I reckon it is a great service, as I already owned my blogspot blog, which I find to be fine for my usage. I followed a bunch of blogs on the service. Probably Tumblr was a fresher and more adapted blogging service than the historical ones, and this is the reason why it works so well.

  • Yahoo has probably made the moves in order to strengthen its audience, especially leveraging the social media hype. Yahoo has for sure a strategy based on content. They have abandonned their own search engine, and is the 4th world most visited web page. But how will Yahoo find synergies between its actual services and Tumblr? It seems difficult to tell.
  • Tumblr has never been oriented yet toward making a profitable business model. They have not earned any money yet. How will they be able to change quickly their service in order to turn Yahoo's investment into a profitable action?
  • In overall, most of buyouts like this one, never really benefits the service for its customers. Orange for example is trying to sell Dailymotion, skype has been sold by Ebay not a long time after it acquired it, without making any improvements to the service. Sometimes the service even stop existing. So users most of the time are sacrified.
I also read another interesting article (I don't find the link back though), which was interesting: Yahoo, despite all, remains a profitable business, that has been able to adapt the different cycles of the web history. Yahoo has always been able to adapt itself to adapt its business model. Maybe Tumblr's acquisition is one of many moves that will secure Yahoo's future.

Nevertheless, what has just happened is symptomatic of what happens in a lot of cases with start ups in the Internet world: A lot of companies develop cool products that interest a massive amount of people fast, but with no business model, hoping a bigger company will buy it out before they need to prove any consistent ways to generate revenues. And I believe that this fact will end soon, as Internet companies start to get bigger and bigger.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Henri Isaac: Building A New Path For E-Merchandising

Henri Isaac is a great source of inspiration for me. He was my teacher as a student @ Paris Dauphine, and I have always loved his passion for what his does, and his ability to envision what technology may bring to customer experience.

I had the opportunity to discuss with him not a long time ago, and he told me how furstrated he was to see how e-retailers were conceiving their merchandising approach. Indeed, whereas the Internet world has changed a lot those past 10 years, with the arrival of social media, smartphones, tablets, and new technologies, product pages have not evolved that much. 

Henri recently published an article about this topic. He explains that the products catalog concept, which is used by most of e-merchants is not adapted to the best online shopper experience. Even though products catalog have improved, it is important to have a better way to link the different products of the offer together, in order to improve the shopping experience.

He also believes that brand content will be key in order to raise the shopping experience.

I must say I totally agree with him, especially when it comes to tablet. I ve tried several times to shop on different websites, and most of the time it is almost impossible to shop with a tablet.

In my opinion, it would be interesting to see what kind of merchandising concepts will appear within the next few years (I shall say few months...) in order to benefit 100% from the different platforms that exist (tablets, smartphones...). And probably this will come from a new comer, as e-retailers for most of them are already too big to try some of these actions.

If some of you owns any kind of examples or great websites to check which are highly innovative in terms of e-merchandising, I'd be thrilled to know. Feel free to comment on this blog about it.

What do you think about it?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Some Thoughts About My Kindle Fire

Since this Christmas, I am the owner of a Kindle Fire from Amazon.
I already own at home:
  • A Samsung laptop
  • An Ipad (1st generation) which is still working great
  • A Blackberry bold
But I was eager to add a new peace, especially for all what is to read things. Here are my different uses of the gears I own at home:
  • The Laptop: I use it to blog, to do my Exel's spreadsheets, sometimes to go on the Internet, to upload photos. I still believe nothing replace a computer when it comes to editing and creating things.
  • The Ipad: I use it to watch youtube videos mostly, which I do a lot. I also use it to read my Flipboard, or some newspapers like Lefigaro, or the Huffington Post. I also uses several apps, but to be honest, it is not something I do on a daily basis.
  • The Blackberry:   I use it for social media usage, such as tweeting, Foursquare's checks in, or Facebook reading. I also uses it to get fast info, for example on websites like wikipedia.
What I use the Kindle for:
  • Read books: I got couple of books, and I am pretty happy about it. It is easy to read
  • Watch US channels. I don't know how, nor why, but I am able to watch some US TV channels on the Kindle... Like History Channel, Showtime, ESPN, ABC... Love it
  • Read websites and blogs: I love the screen and the size is perfect. I love the flipboard app.
I love the Kindle Fire, and I believe this is what I use the most now. The size, the screen quality, the battery life are just great. Also, what I love is how sharp the digital keyboard is. I have always been a fan of Blackberry because I always consider nothing compares to a hard concrete keyboard. The Kindle fire is amazing, especially when I go to conferences to take notes, even though I experienced some problems after a little while, the app to take notes (I use the draft of the email app) tends to bug and freeze. Maybe there are better applications I need to look for. Also, I love the book store. Really well done, it is always easy to find what you are looking for.

What I don't like
  • The limited number of applications: All the apps I own are great. But Kindle is working on Android, which counts a huge number of apps. Nevertheless, I can't download (at least officially) any of them! This is silly.
  • The bug when I take long notes as I already said.
  • The OS is not as simple as the Ipad's one. At the beginning, you struggle to closes some apps or to look for them. But after a while, you adapt. But there is still room for improvement.
  • Some videos I can't watch on websites, due to restriction of the web browser. Nevertheless, it is ten times less frequent than the problems I have on my Ipad...

I highly recommend the Kindle, which is cheap compared to the competition, and propose a great added value to a computer, smartphone and traditionnal tablet; 

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Social Media And Retailing: How Lidl Uses Facebook In France

Social medias uses in business and retailing starts to be common. Most of retailers on a fan page on Facebook, and sometimes a Twitter account. But today I wanted to write about not a standard retailer, but a hard discount retailer that have decided to communicate on social media : Facebook.

Lidl is one of the largest retailer in the world. Despite a low cost model, short product ranges and very little advertising, it has been able to spead all around Europe, and (even though they don't communicate their sales figures) it is believed they are in the top 5 ranking of the largest retailers.

Lidl has never communicate much. It is in its strategy. As a hard discounter, its goal is to minimize every cost possible, in order to sell its goods as cheap as possible, maximizing the mergins. 

But Lidl has changed over the time, as the hard discount model is starting to go in limbo. They have hence decided last year in France to create a Facebook Fan's page. After one year, they already have 280 000 fans! What is even more impressive, is that they have way more fans than retailers that are at least twice bigger than them in France: Intermarché (200 K), Leclerc (133 K) and Carrefour (the largest one with only 34 Ks). 

We must say that a year ago, Lidl has made a large advertising campaigns on its leaflets in order to launch their fan page.  But nevertheless, even though they don't communicate that much now about it, the fan community growth pace is still fast.

What does Lidl post on it?
Well, mostly, promotions and products reviews. Clearly they don't have a budget to animate the community, like some other brands have (proposing games, specific discounts, content such as receipes...). Despite the little budget they own (once again there are only two people dealing with the whole Internet presence, which is also encompassing emailing campaigns and the website maintenance), they really bond with the customers, as they have a 10% interaction rate on most of their posts...

Some thoughts about Lidl
Even though Lidl is a concept based on private label, and on proposing no brands, Lidl is not a no-brand, it is actually a strong brand, with which customers bond. This is the reason why they have been able to create such a connection with their community.

Social Media in Lidl Strategy
Lidl is evolving fast, leaving the traditional hard discount concept to a more modern one. Nicolas Calo, the communication manager of Lidl France, declares that the social media investment is part of the overal strategy of the group to modernize their concept. He also adds that "the concept goes more toward modernity and proximity: that is what Facebook is bringing to us: Modernity of communication, and proximity to our clientele".

I find that amazing that Lidl, despite very little budgets compare to its competition, despite a concept that is based on very little advertizing and customer service, has been able to become one of the best success story in the Facebook's retailing world.

What do you think about it?

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Should You Still Believe In Foursquare?

I have been a big fan of Foursquare since I have tried it couple of years ago. I believe the technology is great, and you can clearly see how businesses could use the service to generate in-store traffic, and therefore revenues.

But for a little while, whereas geolocalization has been a hot trend lately, Foursquare seems to struggle. I recently read an article about why people stop using Foursquare. And I must admit I understand them. After a fast start, with a high adoption, a lot of place registered, and even some specials. 

But still, with all this potential, they haven't been able to convert the service to its full potential. Still I believe Foursquare has a bright future ahead of it. 

Recently, Foursquare raised $41 millions in order to keep on building its capacity to generate revenues. Let's hope it will be enought to buy some time to develop the business model: Foursquare is worth $600 million but only got $2 millions in revenues last year.

Mon feedback sur les salons M Direct Expo, SEMO, et relation client 2013

Comme tous les ans, (ou presque), je me suis rendu aux salons du marketing direct, des études marketing, de la relation client. Cette année, comme ce fut le cas ces dernières années, ces salons ont été rassemblés autour d'un même événement, ce qui est plutôt intelligent, car cela permet de pouvoir voir l'ensemble des intervenants sur la même date.

Mais cette année, plus que les années précédentes, je fus déçus:
  • Les conférences étaient à mon goût de moins bonne qualité. Hormis l'excellente conférence sur le neuromarketing, qui a elle seule valait le coût de venir, les autres n'étaient pas forcément aussi intéressante.
  • La taille du salon a réellement fondue. Certainement que les prix pour la participation à ce type d'événement à augmenter fortement. Qui plus est avec la crise, beaucoup d'intervenants ont certainement souhaité faire des économies. J'ai participé à d'autres salons professionnels ces 2 dernières années, et pour avoir discuté avec des exposants, beaucoup ont décidé d'abandonner ce type de salon.
  • Peu d'intervenants réellement majeurs étaient présent. Ce particulièrement dans les études. Pa de IRI, de Kantar, pour les études, de Soft Computing (qui était présent il y a quelques années), de Microsoft pour le MD. Alors certains étaient quand même présent, notamment Orange et La Poste, mais cela manque de locomotive, qui pourrait faire bouger l'ensemble du marché.
  • Une mention spécial pour le SEMO, le salon des études. D'une qualité exceptionnel il y a 5 ans par la qualité des exposants et des conférences, qui remplissait le palais des congrès, il a fondu quasiment totalement. Très dommage.

Je trouve très dommage que ce salon que je qualifierai "du Marketing", n'existe quasiment plus. La France est un grand pays du marketing, avec des agences de communication renommées comme Publicis, des vrais experts des études tel qu'IRI, pour ne citer qu'eux... J'espère vraiment que les organisateurs arriveront à repartir du bon pas, et que les différents acteurs du marketing arriveront à relever le défi de construire un salon digne de ce nom pour la profession.