Friday, June 28, 2013

Category Management Series: The First Moment Of Truth

During these category management series, I am not really going to follow a specific order, nor establish a concrete way to manage categories. The goal is more to share some interesting thoughts and ways to have performning categories.

The first post of these series, I wanted to dedicate it to a concept I love, and that I have already discussed in this blog: The First Moment of Truth. Like a lot of other category management concept, the First Moment of Truth idea popped out of Procter & Gamble's people. Procter & Gamble was one of the first supplier to work together with Walmart to establish category management plan. 

The First Moment of Truth describes the fact that for fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) shoppers make their decision within the 7 seconds prior to pick their products on shelves. As a result, Procter & Gamble decided to shift its marketing expenses from mass media to point of sales advertizing.

At this time, First moment of truth was composed by paper-based brochures, signs etc... But nowadays, while social media and new mobile technologies are springing up and their cost is lowering, you may see more and more mobile apps, TV screens, and so on. 

The main idea to get is that the art of mastering one shopper decision making process in store is one of the key component of category management efficiency. New tools are available to marketers to help this decision making process in store.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Red Market: An Internesting Store Concept

Here are couple of video clips I found on French website Linéaires. Belgian chain Red has made these videos to create the buzz online for its stores. You can see people enjoying a 1 full minute of free goods!

Beyond the interesting offer, it shows you the store concept with the product range Red proposes.

I believe Red is a 2.0 hard discounter, proposing people to self scan their products. It allows the company to save a lot of money, as cash desk expenses are among the top expenses of such stores.

Axa Innovates In The Banking Industry: Introducing Soon

Axa launched on June, 1st Soon, a new mobile tool to manage personal banking accounts. My friend Henri Kaufman had the opportunity to try it as he was invited to the launching event of Soon. 

What is interesting with Soon, and what differentiate it from other applications launched by competitors, is that Soon has been based on the theory of Mickael Mangot, expert in the financial industry, that money does not make people happy.

The key strengths of the service:
- The tool allows you to program expenses in the near future to help you manage your account.
- The tool saves time: It is easy and fast to use, while usually keeping track of your bank accounts may take you a lot of time with traditional tools (tell me about it, with my complex Excel sheet I use!)
- The tool allows you to see the previous expenses, and therefore to analyse how your global expenses work, and where you may save money. This also creates opportunities for Axa to allow customers to save money that people will be able to place in their different products.

The challenge is high, but once you see this video, you clearly understand that Axa worked well around this problematic. 

soon from Soon on Vimeo.

I don't have any information yet on how many users have already downloaded Soon, or how many uses it, but clearly the service is efficient, and I believe that Axa took the lead on this topic.

I think these kinds of tools create a real added value for customers. The success of Mint in the US (which I can't help seeing it in France...) is a good example. Here is a video on how Mint works.

Thoughts of The Day 06/27/2013 : the correlation between sales performance and social media

I have interested myself in social media since the beginning, almost ten years ago (already). A lot of content has been developped about this topic, and how to use social media for business. Social media has grown fast, its use for marketing and sales purpose too.

But social media has entered in 2012 in a new era. To me, the transition has been marked by the IPO of Facebook. Indeed, social media companies like Facebook but also Twitter started a new phase when investors starts to ask for EBIT and profits.

This era started also by a slower growth of the number of users. There are still a lot of expectation from the marketing experts as I am, but the perspective changes. We start to see more and more studies questionning the supposely better efficiency than social media was suppose to offer.

From my prospective, I consider that it remains difficult to track the full benefits you may get from social media exposure.

But what is sure, is that companies that invest in social media tends to have the best results, or at least, tends to perform better than their competitors, especially regarding sales growth or market share gains.

Why? It is about the same than customer centric strategies:
1- These companies tend to create and innovate more, and we all know how innovation is important in these challenging times.
2- They tend to bond more with their clientele, so they tend in general to create more service and therefore more added value to customers.

Therefore there are a true, demonstrable correlation between business performance and social media presence. Now the goal is to have a clearer view of this link to understand it better, and to leverage it at its full potential.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Category Management series

I have been a category manager for over two years now, and I rarely talk about this topic in my blog. Why? Because this blog is mostly focused on customer relationship management, marketing, and retail strategy. Also because I don't really want this blog to be linked directly to my professional activities. I have always considered my blog to be a way to go beyond my job, and to try to see what goes on in the business world.

Nevertheless, I have tried several time to find category management content on the web and especially in social media. I have looked for blogs, for websites, but there is very few content available. I find that it's a pitty, because I believe that category management is on the edge of a revolution. 

Category management has started in the 80s with the partnership between companies like P&G or Coca Cola and Walmart. For about 10-15 years, a lot of content has been developped in order to build the tools and the skills of category managers. But since the past 10 years, commerce evolved a lot, through new technologies and new way to perceive sales performance. Indeed, I believe that new techniques and new tools will come out soon.

Therefore, I decided to dedicate a little bit of time to discuss about what is category management, how it works.

If you have ideas or topics you would like me to discuss during this series, feel free to contact me (on Twitter it is the easiest @schriver).

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Risky Virgin's Brand Strategy in France

Virgin is the brand created by successful serial entrepreneur Richard Branson. He has been able to create a multi billion $ holding, with companies working in various markets.

In France Virgin is mostly known for its "megastores", big cultural stores selling books, musics, and high tech gears. Unfortunately the company has recently shut down. Virgin megastore has been bought back in 2001 by Lagardère, but due to the crisis in the music industry, and the big shift towards Internet for cultural goods, the company has not been able to survive.

Richard Branson has sold several of its business those past few years. The equity of these companies most of the time were highly estimated due to the Virgin brand, which he spent his life building. Now a lot of these business, for different reasons have not been able to flourish as expected. There are several thoughts that comes to my mind while analysis what happened especially to Virgin megastore in France:
  • Who do you maintain a global brand like Virgin while it is owned by different companies, on different market, with different interest? Building a brand is a full time job, and it requires coordination, which is impossible when the different entities composing it are independant. Maybe what has been done is a real threat to the Virgin business currently hold by Branson.
  • What is the real added value of buying the Virgin brand? If your corporation is not able to bond with the brand's message, it is impossible that it works. Therefore, owning Virgin as a brand but without mastering the component of it is useless.

What would be interesting is to see what are the next plans of Richard Branson: Does he want to expand to new markets? Or will he rather focus on its top companies in order to secure the future of Virgin as a brand?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thoughts of the day 06/20: the Future of Direct marketing mailing

I really started to interest myself in direct marketing back in 2006, when I started to work for Ubifrance as a direct marketing assistant. At this time direct marketing was very popular and seemed to have a bright future. I remember also at this time I had some direct marketing classes at Ipag.

It was at the beginning of the 2000s that marketing data base really started to sprung up. Direct sales company used to owned comprehensive data base, but not a lot of other industries could really leverage such data warehouses.

I have always been impressed about the creative potential of this medium. The ability to play on the format, on the paper quality, the texture of the paper, etc... Was fascinating. But since then, whereas mailing was the first direct marketing medium, other direct marketing passed it, such as emailing (obviously) or social media.

Cheaper media like emailing have replaced mailing in most uses. The price/contact is indeed favorable to emailing, especially as the number of email contacts available is far more important.

Nevertheless, I believe that the quality aspect of mailing is still interesting to use. Obviously, due to return on investment considerations, mailing is mostly used to promote products with high added value or with a high facial price (airlines, car manufacturers...).

Because the number of mailing has lower, using mailing may allow your company to stand out, and have a high visibility.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Friday, June 14, 2013

Toolbox Solutions: Great Category Management Tools

I was looking for blogs who were discussing about category management when I encountered the nice website of Toolbox Solutions.

Toolbox Solutions is a Canadian company, expert in category management tools which are proposed to both suppliers and retailers. They propose applications and software that allows category managers to pilot their category performances, on any kind of digital devices: tablets, computers, smartphones...

I believe this is very interesting, as most of the time it is difficult to get easy to access and user friendly graphs and stats to support category management decisions.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Expert in CRM MDC Partenaire Launches Its New Website

I'm going to do a little bit of commercials for a company that I appreciate, especially its founder Christophe Bouguereau, one of the best expert of customer relationship management I know, who taught me a lot.

I am also eager to promote this new website as I participated in the launch of the former one, so I always like to keep track of the previous job experience I had. 

MDC Partenaire is a consulting firm expert in customer relationship management. Its field of expertise encompass all of the aspect of CRM:
  • Data base management
  • Direct marketing campaign (mailing, emailing, etc...)
  • Customer relationship management strategy (analysis, set up of CRM solutions...)
  • Call Center management...
MDC Partenaire has also invented a 360° customer relationship management model, called OSICAM. As CRM is a complex trade, OSICAM allows to analyze each component of the CRM chain, and also to check how each component is connected to the others.

What I like about the new site:
  • The graphs are clean, it is not polluted by too many charts or pics.
  • The content is clear, and you can see who are the people working at MDC Partenaire, and what are the key information about the company.

If you are interested about further information about MDC Partenaire, feel free to contact me, I will help you to get in contact with them.

Thoughts of The Day: 13/06/2013

I decided to start these thoughts of the day posts for 3 main reasons.

The first one is that it takes a long time to write great blog posts. It requires to monitor and check information sources where you will get the ideas and content. It requires you to write long posts, detailed. It also requires you to add several things, such as pictures, videos, external links, or labels, in order to improve the simple text content.

The second reasons, is that a lot of the blog ideas I have and I had in the pasts come from thoughts running through my mind, without even noticing them. This is what Henri Kaufman would call serendipity: the fact of founding great things by not searching for them. Also, and Henri would also acknowledge, by willing to have the best blog possible, you procrastinize a lot. And most of the time by doing that, once you finish writing the post, it isn't as appealing as you pictured it.

The third reason is that I saw a lot of success of people having cool concept that required them little time. Henri Kaufman used to do “drawings without pencils“ basically picturing a scene of the day! Same thing for my friend Shawn Champagne that takes a video every day and then compile It, one second per day, every year.

Therefore I decided the best way to keep on a good pace of posting was to write almost everyday, just letting thoughts crossing my mind and sharing it with you.

Hope you like it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Monoprix To Sell Via Amazon's Marketplace

Monoprix is one of the most active French retailer in the web. Its leading position as proximity stores in France has pushed him to look for a connected clientele, that uses a lot new technologies and social media. Therefore, even though Monoprix only counts for about 3% of grocery market shares, they have the most likes on their Facebook pages (586 Ks, which is roughly 1% of French population, and should be about 30% of the penetration rate of the company).

  • As a private label, I don't know any other examples of concrete retailers' private labels that are sold outside of their stores... It would be interesting to see how customers will react to it.
  • Monoprix is part of French retail tycoon Groupe Casino, one of the largest retailer in Fance and in the world, which owns Cdiscount, the 2nd largest e-merchant in France. Why didn't they pick cdiscount to distribute their products instead of Amazon, which is a competitor? I would like to know why they made such a move.
  • Monoprix already sold its clothes on its website, By going on Amazon, what is the idea behind that? What is the strategy? To me there are several opportunities. Going online may help Monoprix securing large amount of goods sold, in order to leverage potential purchasing power over suppliers. It may also help them with a more efficient supply chain online than what they currently have. Also, maybe Amazon has more traffic, and therefore, that is the added value Amazon proposes to Monoprix...
I believe that so far Monoprix is testing Amazon's marketplace, to see how they may use this new distribution channel to leverage new sales, and gain visibility online. It would be interesting to see how this activity evolve, as other retailers may be interested, such as Carrefour, or Auchan.

Thoughts of the Day 06/12/2013: New way of blogging

I'm going to launch a new series to my blog: the thoughts of the day. When I started my blog about 10 years ago (time flies...) the blog was called Schriver's Thoughts. The purpose was to share my opinion about business topics, mainly Internet, marketing and retailing.

My blogged of course evolved over the time and I specialized myself as an expert in CRM and digital marketing. I have always been eager to write well documented blog posts, with added value, most of the time based on some articles I found worth sharing with my audience.

But those past few years, I have not been that prolific on this blog. My job as a category manager has taken a lot of energy and focus. Now that I am more senior in my position, I would like to spend some more time on this blog. This is the reason why I have decided to write more often and to share more with my audience.

I decided that I would like to write these kinds of informal posts at least twice a week, and I'll explain you more about my philosophy later on.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Study Questions Social Media As A Traffic Source For E-Retailers

Social media's budgets and expenses have raised fast those past few years. As social media gained exposure , companies tried to leverage these new media in order to raise sales, especially by reaching customers in a brand new way. Hence, a lot of market studies and professional articles discussed about how an appropriate social media strategy helped companies to trigger sales, and raise revenues.

Nevertheless, it seems that the real potential of social media as a revenue generator is still questioned. A recent study showed that social media is already lagging as a direct traffic source for e-merchants

"Social media represented just 1.55 percent of all ecommerce traffic, way behind search (31.43 percent) and trailing email (2.82 percent). And social media traffic numbers were down from Q1, 2012, when they were 2.36 percent. The data lead to the question: Should brands change their approach to social marketing?"

I have always been an early user of social media, but also an evangelist. Despite these facts, I have also studied a lot how to use social media like Facebook, Twitter among others in order to generate more business, and in general to improve customer relationship management. And as I have become an expert of the question, I still wonder sometimes how to use these tools in order to have concrete business results.

By the nature of social media, even though they are set with a large amount of customer data available (what people calls "big data"), it is difficult to link one sales to one action on social media. 

What is for sure is that companies that have invested important budgets in social media most of the time are the ones who thrives the most on their market. This study is for sure very interesting because it sets two facts we should never forget:
  • Social media remains small compared to other mass media like TV, radios, or even newspapers
  • Social media return on investment is not that easy to measure. 
I believe that social media is here to stay, and that there is a lot of room for improvement in order to have better results with their usages. 

Saturday, June 01, 2013

How To Leverage The Potential Of Web to Store?

I'd like to thank PPC, a famous French blogger and friend, that tweeted a grat article (in French) on how to leverage the potential of Web to Store.

Indeed, a lot of retail professional complains on the new hype of "show rooming", the fact that customers tend to visit stores to see and touch products, get information by the sales person, and then compare prices at home to finish up buying at home, most of the time on a competitor's website.

The show rooming trend is hitting hard some retailers working on the cultural goods, like Virgin in France, Barnes & Noble in the US, and also the high tech retailers, like Best Buy, or Darty in France.

Nevertheless, there are also ways to leverage the Internet in order to create foot traffic in stores. This is what the article calls "the Web to Store".

There are 4 ways to use the web to store approach:
  1. Couponning: Propose to customers to print online coupons to use in stores.
  2. Store locator: Allow customers to prepare their visits on line by giving them extensive information on how to get to your point of sales.
  3. Click & Collect: The shopper shops on line, but get its product at the point of sales. The advantage for both the customers and the retailer is that you save expenses on the delivery trip. The retailer may also trigger additional sales thanks to the visit.
  4. The shopping preparation: Sometimes the web is better to get information, and to finish up the work in store. I believe that works a lot for purchases with a long decision making process, that will need the advocacy of a sales representative.
Despite the fact I believe web to store may help one store to raise its sales and in overal, grow the whole business (both online and in store), I believe that in overal, the rise of Internet will destruct in the end the performances of traditional stores. But in the end, companies that will be able to set a strong position online with a great quality network of stores have a great advantage upon competition. 

What do you think about it?