Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Customer Relationship Management & Retail: Carrefour Testing Robots To Help Customers In Store

Carrefour has launch a test in its Claye Souilly store 4 robots named Pepper, to help customers in their decision making process in store. The robot gives information on the loyalty reward card & program, advices on wines or other technical products, entertain kids.

Now is it the future of customer relationship management in store? Not so sure, I strongly believe the human interactions remain the best way to interact with customers. Actually, I love the way the company building those robots is selling it: it can interract with people, read the emotions of people to understand their mood... Do we really need robots for that?

Nevertheless, Carrefour is right to test the concept.Noone can deny that eventually sooner or later some kind of robots will be used in retailing for customer experience purposes. Obviously the technology is there, promising, and the usage needs to be understood. This is therefore interesting for Carrefour to keep an advantage on the competition by testing before anyone those robots.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Category Management: The Lean Strategy Of Global FMCG suppliers

Interesting era right now form FMCG suppliers. For years, FMCG Leaders like P&G, Mondelez, Unilever, or L'Oréal were keen on growing their brand portfolios in order to master their categories and getting bigger to be more cost efficient.

But lately, a new era has started: downsizing. 
Why? In order to focus on more profitable activities, especially focused on global brands, such as Pampers or Always for P&G, or Milka for Mondelez. 

Moreover, as P&G CEO has previously explained, maybe we have come to a stage where it is too complicated to manage so many categories and different brands to be efficient, and customers are willing to limit their choice in order to be more efficient in store.

Today, we are facing a very interesting time of the FMCG world. Indeed, those structures are changing, and there are 3 potential outcomes:

  • We may see emerge new global actors, that will be able to thrive with those brands for sale.
  • We may see potential mergers of those actors, that will be leaner and therefore it would be easier to see a venture, to create new tycoons.
  • We may have less and less global companies, like Nestlé, Unilever or even Mondelez, focused on several categories at the same time, to have real champions on only one business.
But as a matter of fact, we can clearly see that the strategies of those companies are clearly dictated by stock exchange markets, eager to cash back as much as possible, without a clear industrial view. 

Moreover, we can see more and more a reverse strategy from global to local. And local brands, even though numerous, could be very profitable, and more adapted to customers needs. Probably a lot of potential for new comers or company that will seize the opportunity. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

US Magazines Try New Business Modells To Boost ROI of Advertizers

ROI is a key performance index for marketers, and new technologies allow to have a clear picture of the performances of new digital media. This is one of the reason why some more traditional media such as newspapers and magazines are struggling.

I read this very interesting article, discussing about a Wall Street Journal article. In Norther America, some magazine companies have implemented a new interesting business model. If an advertizing campaign has not significantly increase sales, the magazine company will give money back. 

3 conditions:
  • Your campaigns need to be set to reach 125 million readers (about 40% of the US population, which means a huge campaign) at least three times during a 12 months time frame. 
  • Brands need to raise their budgets at the magazine company in order to cover the potential cash back cost.
  • Products sold by the company needs to be monitored by third party market research companies: Nielsen Panels, Catalina loyalty reward program monitoring... The idea is to have a clear third party able to identify objectively the impact of the campaign.

Studies established by the Time Magazine Company shows that one dollar invested in advertizing with them triggers $17 incremented sales. 

I believe the initiative is great. For sure mass market media are key marketing tools to launch new products or set strong brand equity. Actually, I am kind of deceived on how advertizers use social media like Youtube or Facebook to advertize, as it looks more like spamming than anything else. 

It is kind of a cultural revolution for those companies to think that way which I actually like. They have a strong tool to advertize, and the risk of losing is low. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Social Media & Retailing: Walmart & The Get On The Shelf Program

Probably an information you already know about as it exists since 2012. But I recently learned about it: the Get On The Shelf Program of Walmart. Walmart indeed leverages the crowdsourcing concept by allowing its customers to select a product that will, as a prize, be listed in Walmart. 

It allows Walmart to have a clear feedback on the interest of one product
It implicates its customers in the selection process of the product
It provides a clear opportunity for the supplier, being listed in the most important store network in the world. 

This is a great way for a large retailer like Walmart to interact on the social media with its customers.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Global Retail News

I met lately Sophie Baqué, who is the chief publisher of Global Retail News, A business newspaper dedicated for retailers. I did not know about the publication prior having met Sophie, but I had the opportunity to read some samples of those editions. It is very interesting. Retailing is a global business. It is actually what I try to share with my audience on this blog, with examples from all over the world. Actually, less than 50% of my audience come from France and the US, which are my main countries. And Global Retail News provides insights from all over the world, market leaders, which are sometimes not so much known in Europe or Northern America.

Indeed, we always discuss about the high potential of Asian, African or the Middle East markets, but very few infos are available. 

 I highly liked the october edition, dedicated to the health & beauty business, with interviews of L'Occitane CEO Nicolas Siriez.

It is always great to be able to think outside the box, and see what is going on around the world, as new opportunities could come wherever and whenever. Global Retail News is available both in French & English. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Show-Roomer: Solution communautaire pour tester les produits avant l'achat sur du Ecommerce

Aujourd'hui, présentation d'une start up française rencontrée lors de la Paris Retail Week: Show-Roomer. L'idée est simple: proposer aux clients d'un E-commerçant de tester un produit (impliquant, type canapé) chez un consommateur actuel, avant sa prise de décision.

En effet, certains produits sont difficile à acheter car impliquant et cher, et donc ces achats restent peu développer en ligne. Donc Show-Roomer permet de trouver les clients d'un produit et de venir l'essayer "en vrai" chez la personne.

L'idée est intéressante, et surfe sur plusieurs tendances:
  • Déjà le "show rooming", souvent vécu mal par les commerçants traditionnels qui voient les clients venir se renseigner sur les produits avant de les acheter en ligne. 
  • Le web communautaire, avec les réseaux sociaux, et donc l'aide en ligne.
  • La géolocalisation, avec l'idée de pouvoir trouver un endroit proche pour tester le produit.

Maintenant, je reste dubitatif sur la capacité à développer le concept:
  • Y a t il beaucoup de gens qui souhaitent s'investir dans une marque en proposant à d'autres personnes de tester leur produit chez eux? J'ai du mal à me voir attendre quelqu'un pour essayer mon canapé chez moi alors que je ne le connais pas, et ce même via rétribution.
  • L'obsolecence des modèles: Beaucoup de modèles évoluent très vite, et pour avoir une base de "consommateur" assez large pour pouvoir répondre au besoin, il va falloir avoir énormément de personnes dans le système.

Maintenant, je souhaite tout de même bonne chance à cette start up avec une idée originale, qui crée vraiment de la valeur et qui répond à un besoin consommateur réel.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Billions in Change

I saw a very interesting commercial on Youtube last week. It was called "Billions in Change". It is actually difficult to see what actually the commercial sales. 

"Billions in Change is a movement to save the world by creating and implementing solutions to the most basic global problems – water, energy and health. Doing so will raise billions of people out of poverty and improve the lives of everyone – rich and poor."

It tells the story of the founder and the CEO of 5 hours energy drink. After having reached a fortune of $4 billions he started to launch new projects aiming to help "those who have left).

The philosophy: 
The more you are given, the more you are asked. It is a weight. If you are given more, you need to give back more.

At the time I am writting these lines, the video has been watched almost 1 million times. And trust me it is worth watching. Very inspiring.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Marketing To The Bottom Of The Pyramid

I wanted to share with you extra thoughts on the idea of marketing to the bottom of the pyramid
I have seen that the topic has interested much of my audience, and I understand the reason why. 

Indeed, there are large markets to cover for people earning less than $2.5 a day. And this task is different from marketing to a western cultural millennials clientele. 

It inspired me 2 thoughts:

You need Other Attributes To Succeed In Those Countries
You shall not use the same marketing technique, the same strategies in those countries and for those customers. This is the reason why it is such a hard task. You need a specific marketing approach. So far, I don't think much has been written about the topic, and I don't think any classes are dealing with the topics.

The Importance of Western Developped Countries
As a Health & Beauty purchaser, I constantly have in front of me global companies chatting about how the French market does not interest much their head offices. They rather invest in new growing countries, where growth is, and profitability higher, whereas France is growing slowly with high competition. 
But marketing to growing country is a much different task. Moreover, thank god there are developped countries: It is where innovation lands. It is where you are able to test new products, new marketing approaches, it is where you can have volumes. Therefore it is important not to neglect developped countries, because it is where innovation can be built for long term growth.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Some Thoughts On Accenture's Retailers at Risk Analysis

This is an interesting chart, because it shows clearly two things:
  • The strategy of some manufacturers, eager to deal directly with the end consumer.
  • What new technologies allows to do in terms of automation of orders.
There is actually a third part, not really shown by the chart: the fact that market places are booming, which gives less power to retailers in terms of product selection. As market places allow different retailers to propose a wide range of products, there is less value for the retailer to select products.

Nevertheless, I am not sure that a value chain where customers will directly order from the suppliers without any retailers in between is realistic. Indeed, customers are not sheep that are always ordering the same products, from the same companies. The will of customers to choose from wide ranges of options will still give an edge to retailers. Moreover, let's not forget, especially in the CPG world that we are talking about fast moving items, purchased frequently, but from different categories of products, which means in terms of cost efficiency (logistics) need someone able to retail and get the order together.

I am not that much inspired by initiatives like the dash button, because it costly for the supplier, and the customer benefits very low. Moreover the execution for the retailer is also a bargain.

What do you think about it?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Positive Side Of Writting In Business

As a blogger I highly estimate the importance of writting. Actually, one of the reason why I blog, is that I have access to a lot of very interesting information, that I need to write down in a blog post to process it and make it mine. The writting process is therefore a way to learn, and to assimilate the information.

And actually I 100% agree about it. Of course, a lot of people believe that writting notes are a waste of time and energy, and that oral communication or Powerpoint presentations are way better media to share information. But actually, what a lot of business are lacking is consistency in their decisions. And by writting it down, you allow:
  • The decisions to spread easier in the company
  • To stick, which actually matters, as it will be more respected.
In our constantly changing world, there is a deep added value to write down and think through your decisions in order to make it right, and make it consistent.

Here are some very powerful insights:
“There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.” 
Jeff Bezos, Amazon
The main point of writing is to force yourself “to be more precise than [you] might be verbally.” That self-imposed precision, according to Grove, is a “safety-net” for your thought process that you should always be doing to “catch … anything you may have missed.”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Quick Outlook at Wegmans

Wegmans is a US grocery retailer I did not know much about, as I have mostly lived in California, whereas Wegmans is on the East Coast (Greater New York Area). It is a familly operated business of a pretty large size, with 77 stores. 

A perfect employer: employees are well treated and love to work at Wegmans. Same thing for Costco, another outperforming retailer. Customer relationship is key in retailing, and by having appropriate staff management, you have employees that will share their happiness on being there.

An amazing customer experience: beyond the conctact with employee, Wegmans put a lot of effort in merchandizing, in order to create a warm place where customers love to spend time to shop. The way the store is set up allows to have breaks with different "environment" or "ambiance". 

A pioneer: They are most of the time the first to adopt new technologies to help customer experience.

Be active in the community: to have clear mission statement and proper value, it matters bond with the community. 

To go a bit furhter, I invite to check the 25 reasons why Wegmans is loved by its customers. Below couple of chosen picks. Actually, I have also been impressed by their website: simple, full of interesting content.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

How To Think Visually

At the age of big data and reporting, we constantly present different kinds of charts to managing staffs, clients... But it is not that easy to create top of the line presentations that actually interest the audience.

Most of the time, sunk by the numerous data, diagrams presented, the audience tend not to listen.
Also, another very annoying habit I find most of the time of my suppliers: the ever growing market syndrome. The supplier comes with a 40 pages presentation with graphs only showing numbers growing, 1st position ranking, and so on... So annoying, as it does not reflect the truth of the situation.

Here is an interesting infographic showing the different ways you may present your point, either with data or by making some visual analogies. A great infographic to look at before creating a power point presentation, to assess the question: Am I clear in the analysis I made?

What really matters is to be able to use the right analogy to provide the right message.

How To Think Visually Using Visual Analogies #infographicYou can also find more infographics at Visualistan

Négociations annuelles 2016

Jeudi 7 octobre dernier avait lieu la conférence annuelle sur les négociations commerciales 2016 organisée par LSA.

Je n'y étais malheureusement pas convié, mais un post très court pour partagé avec vous les Tweets de la conférence. Peu de tweets, pas de Periscope, cela reste encore très "brick & mortar" comme événement.

Bientôt un article récapitulatif sur LSA.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Knowing When To Use Big Data

Interesting talk at NBA Open Court. Former NBA legends are chatting at the beginning of the video about basketball stats and what it means. They are discussing about “the Player Impact Estimate”. The player impact estimate ambition to encompass all the different statistics of one player in order to evaluate its impact on the game, beyond the simple number of points it scores. 

Here is how it is calculated:
"PIE measures a player's overall statistical contribution against the total statistics in games they play in. PIE yields results which are comparable to other advanced statistics (e.g. PER) using a simple formula.(PTS + FGM + FTM - FGA - FTA + DREB + (.5 * OREB) + AST + STL + (.5 * BLK) - PF - TO) / (GmPTS + GmFGM + GmFTM - GmFGA - GmFTA + GmDREB + (.5 * GmOREB) + GmAST + GmSTL + (.5 * GmBLK) - GmPF - GmTO)"

We see more and more data being used in order to prepare basketball players to perform, & make the right decisions. Same things for coach and general managers, using data to understand which trade would make the more sense, and how it will affect the overal team. This is how the Houston Rockets is managing their team, with complex data analytics. The Kellogg University recently published an article about it: Daryl Morey loves good data, and lots of it. As general manager of the Houston Rockets, the Northwestern graduate has made a name for himself with his devotion to using data analytics to make team decisions—everything from where to shoot from on the floor to whom to acquire in a mid-season trade.

In the business world, nowadays, we are submerged by data, thanks to big data, storage capabilities, and analysis tools. But as Reggie Miller points out, especially in retailing, entrepreneur mindset, personal instinct are key to make the right decisions.

It is important not to overate data in order to make decisions. Indeed, making decisions by itself creates more value than the analysis by itself. And understanding customers by the numbers sometimes don't matter more that understanding them with a down to earth conversation.

Personal interactions will always been key in business.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Will Electronic Price Tags Allow Retailers To Use Yield Management Pricing Strategies?

I remember as a business school student to have worked on case studies where companies were using yield management pricing. It was especially the case for airplane companies, changing their pricing depending on the demand and the filling of aircraft. The purpose was simple for those companies: maximizing profits while securing a rate of filling close to 100%. 

In retailing, E merchants tend to use the same techniques. They are indeed able to benchmark prices in real time in order to keep competitive prices upon competition. It is key for merchants as price search engines are numerous, and shoppers tend to compare prices more than in brick & mortar world. Actually, in the brick & mortar world, most of the time, shoppers tend to check prices online, either to get a discount in store, or to purchase what they found online, the infamous "show rooming" trend.

  • It secures more accurate pricing in store
  • It saves on operational costs while there are perequations happening
  • It also provides a better customer experience, with better naming of products, and more information.
But the article also outlines that this new technology allow brick & mortar retailers to compete with Amazon, and other e-retailers. I agree on the fact that electronic price tags allow faster changes in terms of prices. But the article goes beyond, and believe it could empower stores to change their pricing depending on the time, the day of the week, to maximize profits and to compete with Amazon.

I believe indeed pricing will evolve fast, in order to maximize profits, and automated pricing moves could for sure happen soon enough, thanks to big data. But I don't really believe that stores are actually adopting electronic price tags to do so.

But the article remains interesting, because the potential is there, and it would be interesting to test the technology, to see if it is really accurate.

Now, on FMCG products, it seems difficult to twist so much the prices, because you might loose your customers in such complexity, which will eventually be figured out.

What do you think about it? 

Monday, October 05, 2015

Category Management: Partnership Between Fnac and Microsoft

The Fnac has hit the headlines last week with its public offer to exchange with Darty, which would create a tycoon of the hardward retailing world in France.

This initiative have started in 2012, and the article is showing how to benefit of such a category management effort, especially in a market decreasing by 9% in 2015. Actually, let's remember that Walmart has set up its first category management initiatives while it was experiencing issues with its sales growth.

There are 6 pillars to this initiative:
  • Microsoft's shop in shop, with specific merchandising.
  • Microsoft staff in 40 of the largest stores. They aim to promote and demonstrate the products, enhancing the shopping experience and helping shoppers.
  • Exclusive premiere launch, like for the new Surface tablet, available 1 month in advance. It allows the Fnac to create differenciation through its product range.
  • Cocreation of products: they are exchanging information in order to create unique products, like the 365 Office Pack including Bitdefender
  • 4 Microsoft employees dedicated to the Fnac.
  • Data Exchange about sales and marketing.
Obviously, the partnership makes sense, as Microsoft is among the largest supplier of la Fnac, with a clear know how in terms of promoting high tech products, and la Fnac is  the biggest client of Microsoft (40% of shares in France), with a know how in terms of theatralization in store.

Those category management examples are pretty rare for different reasons in France, and I believe it was interesting for me to share with you those insights.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Category Management Strategies: Conducting A Proper Shopper Market Research

The shopper is a key target to take into consideration in category management. Most of the time category manager will stick to its panel and market information in order to make decisions to improve its categories. It is an easy bet, with extensive data available. But let's not forget the key remains the customer, and at a higher extense the shopper. 

Understanding the shopper habit is key in order to think out of the box, and to make right category management decision. It will allow the category to react to potential shopping habits.

If you were to conduct such a research, I highly recommend you to read with close attention this document, as it gives you a clear step through.

Two points I wanted to highlight about the process:
You need to understand the shopper environment. And it encompasses its shopping activities, but also different aspect listed below.

Also, the checklist of things to verify if you have not forgotten to conduct your research.