3 Retailer Trends From INNOVATE 2011
Here's a look at 3 retailer trends I learned about about at INNOVATE 2011, the Retail Innovation and Marketing Conference sponsored by the National Retail Federation that took place earlier this month in San Francisco:
1. Assume your customer is a cross-channel shopper. Retailers must understand that cross-channel is here and they have to build their business processes around that fact. "The shopping process is a multichannel process for customers today, and, as a result, retailers need to communicate with them in an integrated way," said Van Baker, vice president and research director for retail and manufacturing advisory services at Gartner Inc. who spoke at a session that discussed disruptive business models poised to shape retail.
2. Don't just jump into f-commerce. More and more retailers — large and small — are opening up Facebook-only storefronts as a way to offer shoppers "anywhere e-commerce," or the ability to purchase merchandise wherever they happen to be online. Late last year, for example, J.C Penney broke new ground when it launched a fully integrated Facebook e-commerce application that allows customers to add products to their shopping carts, check out, specify shipping address, ship to store and pay with credit card directly through the retailer's Facebook page. That said, the buzz at INNOVATE was that opening a Facebook Store might not be the best use of retailers' time.
"I've looked at the J.C. Penney Facebook store ... there's nothing special about it," said Gartner's Baker. "It looks just like J.C. Penney's website, but it's taking customers off of it and putting them on Facebook."
3. Experiment with sentiment analysis. One topic that came up several times at INNOVATE was sentiment analysis, a process that enables retailers to analyze consumers' online comments about their brands in an effort to gather consumer sentiment towards them.
Bill Bass, President of the Charming direct division of Charming Shoppes said he works with a company called Clarabridge which performs natural language queries to track online sentiments and ties this data back into Charming Shoppes' databases. "We overlay this data over our purchase data, so we can track how much more a customer who gives us a 10 is worth to us than a customer who gives us a three, and market to these groups appropriately."