5 Innovative Ways to Create a Jaw-Dropping Customer Experience through Localized Social Networks

As a little boy growing up in Mumbai, India, I remember the joys of going to visit uncles and aunts who had recently returned from one of their frequent trips to the US. I used to spend hours with them upon their return not only eager to see what gifts they brought back for us . . . consumers partly deprived by a highly protected economy . . . but to listen, with wide-eyed amazement, at the stories they narrated about the wonders of the US.
Stories which made everything seem larger than life, about an evolved society, and about the pleasures of shopping. Many stories were told about shopping, about the range of choices, incredibly attractive in-store displays, surprise freebies, and more so about the overall Customer Experience. Stories of Customer Experience were marked with anecdotes of how friendly everyone was, how they cared about the Customer, how they went out of their way to understand Customer preferences and satisfy them, and how they would quickly correct themselves with profuse apologies, additionally compensating the Customer if they messed up.

Many years later, when I got here, things had changed. Airline personnel were not friendly any more. Representatives in stores smiled as if it were a chore for them. Resistance encountered while returning defective items. Adequate help was not easily available to answer questions about products. There was hardly a local flavor to anything, from food to merchandise, and no personal touch whatsoever. Commoditization was everywhere . . . including in the experience. A heavy price was paid due to changes in the socio-economic fabric of the Country. In my head, diamonds had ceased to sparkle, and gold had lost its luster.

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Posted in Customer-centric Retailing, In-store technology, Retail Innovation, Retail Technology, Social Networks | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

If Retailers Played Basketball . . . The Agile Commerce Imperative

If most of today’s Retailers played basketball . . . they would comprise truly chaotic teams. Let’s think of a Retailer’s team consisting of 5 channels: Stores, Call Centers (or Catalog Sales), Websites, Mobile and Social Media. Each of the players is driven with the sole aim of amassing the most number of points for the season. Here’s how they would play the game:

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Posted in Customer-centric Retailing, Retail Innovation, Retail Technology | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

An Innovator’s take on NRF’s Mobile Retail Blueprint – Part 3 – Mobile Retailing Applications . . . A Quick Summary

The Mobile Retailing Blueprint classifies Mobile Retailing Applications into 3 well defined categories:

  • Mobile Commerce
  • Mobile Operations
  • Mobile Marketing

These categories are augmented with very elaborate views of the Mobile Retailing ecosystem which is a must for Retailers to understand.
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An Innovator’s take on NRF’s Mobile Retail Blueprint – Part 2 – The Mobile Context

The Mobile Retailing Blueprint covers the interdependence of Mobile Retail and Social Media very well. However, I hope that some of you will agree when I say that Social is only one (although extremely important) of several elements of the mobile context. Context is a broad term and deals with surroundings, circumstances, and settings in which events occur. In a mobile world, context is built around elements such as location, time, device capabilities, connectivity status, mood, comfort, intent, personal preferences, social influences, etc. Retailers need to understand that for their mobility initiatives to be successfully adopted by consumers their mobile apps need to be context-aware in more ways than one.

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An Innovator’s take on NRF’s Mobile Retail Blueprint – Part 1 – Everything is Changing for the Better . . . Or is it?

The NRF (National Retail Federation) released version 2.0.0 of its Mobile Retail Blueprint in January 2011. As some of you would know, the Mobile Retail Blueprint is a comprehensive resource for Retailers interested in learning about what is possible using mobile devices and provides commendable insights on:

  • Creating a total-enterprise mobile plan for improving the business
  • Capabilities currently offered by mobile devices and how privacy and security policies can be created
  • The types of mobile applications that help consumers shop, and how the needs of teenage shoppers differ from those of others
  • The evolution of mobile payment technologies
  • The types of mobile applications that help associates be more efficient
  • The standards and technologies that apply in the mobile field
  • Considerations for implementation options

As I went through the document, I felt that with six months passing since its publication, this was the right time for me to compare and contrast some of my experiences in the market and technologies with what has been detailed in the Blueprint. In doing so, I found that there were a few areas where I could either extend some of the thoughts expressed in the blueprint or throw some light on areas which have progressed since this document was published. This series of posts is my attempt at sharing these thoughts with all of you.

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Posted in In-store technology, Mobility, Retail Innovation, Retail Technology | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments