Tag Archives: retail

Digital Signage helps Reinventing the Store

Reinventing the store was one of the key topics at NRF. Over the last three to four years we have been seeing a lot push and invest for ecommerce innovation and replatforming ecommerce strategies. Now the retail, CPG and brand manufacturers are working on a renaissance of the store and show room, driven by digital. And there is still way to go.

Incremental part of the omnichannel strategy of our PIM customer Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply is digital signage for in-store product promotions. This selfie was shot with my dear colleague Thomas Kasemir (VP RnD PIM & Procurement) at the NRF booth of Four Winds Interactive.

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Four Winds serves about 5,000 companies worldwide and I would consider them as one of the market leaders. Alison Rank and her team did show case how static product promotions work and how dynamic personalized product promotions can look like, when John Doe enters the store.

John Doe’s Personalized Purchase Journey

John Doe and his wife are out and about in the city; with the advice from his son, John has created a pro-file on Facebook and Foursquare with his new generation smartphone enabling him to receive any special offers in his vicinity. Mr. Doe has voluntarily agreed to share his data for the specific purpose of allowing retailers to call to his attention any special offers in the area. As both of them have interest in visiting the store they respond to the offer.

At the entrance to the store he is advised to start up the special store app and is promised a “personalized shopping” experience. As John Doe enters the store, a friendly greeting appears on his digital signage screen: “Welcome Mr. Doe, the men’s suits are on the 3rd floor and we have the following offers for you.” Upon reaching the 3rd floor, the salesperson is already standing there with the right suit. The suit is one size smaller than usual, but it fits John Doe. After the fitting, the salesperson even points out the new women’s hat collection in the women’s department. Satisfied with their purchases, Mr. and Mrs. Doe leave the store.

For me it is clear assuming that the future of shopping will look something like this, due to the fact that all of these technologies are already available. But what has taken place? The reason why John Doe receives location-based offers has already been explained above; the point that needs to be made is that there is now the ability to link personal and statistical data to customers. By means of the app, the store already knows whom they are dealing with as soon as they enter the store. Or can messaging services be used to send an alert to a shop assistant that a A-Customer with high value shopping carts has just entered the store.

To this point, stores can leverage both personal information as well as location-based information to generate a personal greeting for the customer.

  • What did he buy? In which department was he and for how long?
  • When did he purchase his last suit(s)?
  • What sizes were these?
  • Does he have an online profile?
  • What does he order online and does he finish the transaction?

All of this analytical data can be stored and retrieved behind the scenes. 

Catch Me if I Want

The targeted sales approach at the point of interest (POI) and point of sale (POS) is considered to be increasingly important.  This type of communication is becoming dynamic and is taking precedent over traditional forms of advertising.

When entering the store today, customers are for the most part undecided. Based on this assumption, they can be influenced by ads and targeted product placement.  Customers are now willing to disclose their location data and personal information provided there is added value for them to do so.

Example from Vapiano Restaurant

A good example is the Vapiano restaurant chain. Vapiano restaurants take an extra step further than the tradi-tional loyalty card by utilizing a special smartphone app where the customer can not only choose the nearest restau-rant along with special offers and menu, but also receive a kind of credit after payment via barcode. After collecting 10 credits, the restaurant guest receives a main course for free on the 11th visit. Sound good? It sure does, and from the company’s perspective this is a win-win situation. These obvious benefits move the customer to disclose his or her eating habits and personal data. The restaurant chain now has access to their birth dates, which is rewarded as well. This data aggregation is definitely recommendable, since it requires the guest’s explicit consent and assumes a certain degree of active participation from the guest to be eligible for the rewards offered by the restaurant.

Summary

If John Doe allowed my as brand manufacturer in my showroom or as a retailer to catch him, companies will need to ensure that they are really able to identity John Doe wit this all channel customer profile to come up with a personalized offer on digital signage. But this needs to be covered in an additional blogs…

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Posted in Data Governance, Manufacturing, Master Data Management, PiM, Product Information Management, Real-Time, Retail, Ultra Messaging | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Getting Personal with Data as a Service (DaaS)

Getting Personal with Data as a Service (DaaS)

Getting Personal with Data as a Service (DaaS)

Last week, I spent three days at Retail’s Big Show hosted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) in New York City. This annual event gives retailers the opportunity to network with their colleagues from all over the world. In addition, they get the chance to interact with technology vendors that can help them improve their business.

From marketing automation to analytics software, there were countless technology offerings showcasing how to best assist the modern marketer in making every customer interaction personal. Throughout the week, I had numerous conversations with retail professionals about the importance of personalization in marketing and what it means to their organization’s future plans.

At the heart of their plans was the need to understand the data that they have today, and how to verify the data that they will inevitably acquire in the future. If it’s accurate, if it’s reliable, if it’s complete – customer data can fuel your ability to engage and interact.

The data driven marketer derives insight and ultimately provides a personalized experience by leveraging this valuable data for each customer.

And why is this important?

Well, according to McMurrayTMG, 78% of buyers believe that organizations providing a personalized experience are interested in building good relationships. But it all starts with accurate data.

Knowing who your customers are, how you can contact them, and what they are interested in are essential in order to engage with your customers. With the abundance of data available today, you have to figure that if you aren’t ensuring that your customer interactions are personalized, then your competitors are gaining ground. Every interaction, every correspondence counts towards a positive perception as well as increased sales and customer satisfaction.

By fueling your interactions with Data as a Service (DaaS) for accurate customer data, you will ensure that your customers have a personalized experience with your brand and ultimately accelerate your business.

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Smarter Dummies, Connected Hangers and Personalized Mirrors!

Smarter Dummies, Connected Hangers and Personalized Mirrors

Smarter Dummies, Connected Hangers and Personalized Mirrors

With CES and the NRF Big Show just over and many exhibitors talking about the “Internet of Things” below I take a quick look at what is happening for retailers with the “Internet of Things”.

Consumer demand is driving the adoption of IoT as they embrace the new technology to improve health (Garmin Vívoactive), energy savings (NEST), safety (BeClose) and a better overall experience including shopping (beacons?). However, getting the balance between privacy, intrusion and relevance can be tricky for both the retailer and shopper.

While shoppers are willing to give up some level of privacy in return for personalization, I am not convinced most are ready of what the “Internet of Things” brings. I recently purchased a smart TV and was surprised when I was asked to accept terms and conditions before using, what are they capturing, how will it be used, will I see any benefits?  Retailers need to demonstrate value and trust to the consumer.

While RFID has been around for many years the next wave of intelligent “things” bring both opportunities and challenges. Retailers need to decide which ones truly enhance the shopping experience.

“Psst! It’s Me, the Mannequin. This Would Look Great on You.” (Rachel Abrams, NY Times)

Smart Dummies (mannequins) – Last year House of Fraser started rolling out beacon-enabled mannequins to engage directly with shoppers and passers-by. Shoppers within a 50-metre range will receive information from the mannequins, which may include details about the clothes on display, with links to make a purchase from a website, or details of where the outfit can be found in the store. The next step could link customer preferences, profile and past purchases and suggest matching accessories, check customers size availability or monitor how long they browsed and offer a digital coupon.

Connected Hangers – While you browse through the racks, real-time reviews are displayed on the hanger, size availability or images & videos displayed on screens showing the garment in use. Retailers can capture how popular an item is but never purchased.  Taking the clothes and hanger try on could provide personalized recommendation on shoes and accessories.

Personalized Mirrors – I recently read an article in Time (Dec 29th) about Rebecca Minkoff’s new store in Manhattan, where they installed a giant mirrored panel showing images of models walking down the runway. The panel acts as a mirror and touchscreen, where shoppers can order up a personalized fitting room, offering style tips based on their selection. This is connected to a mobile app that saves their browsing history and style preferences for their next visit. When a customer is ready to purchase a sales assistant takes payment on an iPad.

In future blog I will discuss how location based services are machine-to-machine technologies are impacting retailers and consumers.

Data Privacy

With so many devices connected and larger volumes of data captured this raises concerns around data privacy and security. In the past year we have seen too many stores on data breaches and retailers. While shoppers are prepared to share more information for relevance they expect you to keep it safe and secure. Retailers must have a solid data governance framework and process in place or risk losing the trust and loyalty of their customers.

Sensor Driven Analytics

The Internet of Things presents retailers with a wonderfully opportunity to understand and engage the customer like never before. However, retailers need to manage the explosion of data available through smarter devices to gain insight into shopper behaviours and preferences and turn into a more rewarding experience for the consumer.

However, before loading an analytics engine they need to ensure the data is clean, connected and safe. Without this any decisions made are flawed and will impact their brand and ultimately the bottom line.

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Keeping the Customer Happy with a Great Customer Experience

Great Customer Experience

Great Customer Experience

Many retailers struggle to deliver a great customer experience to each and every customer at all times. There are so many things that can go wrong. You may fail to deliver on time, you might be out of stock, there might be no product information available or the product might not match description. A sales assistant may not be aware of current offers and assortments available through other channels, lack visibility into stock levels or the customers past purchase history, thus leaving a poor impression and possible lost sale. Delays when contacting customer service frustrates customers who are eager to share their experiences.

62% of global consumers switched service providers due to poor customer service experiences (Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey)

Issues with keeping everyone happy have been around since the beginning of trade and as trading has evolved, the underlying rule remains the same – keep the customers happy! Retailers who move beyond just selling to the customer and focus on creating the shopping experience customers want will see higher retention rates and increased spend per shopper.

Other factors like good quality of the products and competitive pricing play a huge role as well but taking care of the consumer is even more important. At the end of the day, shoppers have more options and opportunities to purchase from your competitors.

While multi-channel commerce has gown, many people are shopping not because they really need the products but because they like the experience of shopping. The better the experience is (which includes an amazing customer service) the more likely it is that the customer will come back and make a purchase in store or online. However, if they run into issues with the retailer, not only will they complain and never come back but they will tell their friends, damaging your brand and hurting the bottom line.

News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience. (Help Scout)

Today retailers realize the importance of great customer service and that’s why they train their staff to be friendly and helpful to the customers at all times. Studies have shown that people are reacting very positively to this kind of treatment and not only are they more willing to spend more money but also remain a customer a long a time.

People want to be treated right but they also want to feel important. That’s why retail businesses nowadays go an extra step and use technology and access more data like past purchases, preferences and trends to enhance the customer experience. Even if a customer had a bad experience smart retailers are leveraging customer insights to  turn any bad situation around fast. Customer service representatives can responsive to any situation with all the information they need in real time or a highly personalize offer can be delivered to their smartphone.

A 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit. (Bain & Co.)

Retailers also have access to different social channels where they can influence and respond to what their customers are saying about their services and products and can use this instant feedback to make changes quickly and precisely.

In today’s world retail businesses have a great advantage compared to the ones that were operating even 5-10 years ago and if they are prompt in addressing concerns they can minimize the negative affect on their operations very easily. Each satisfied customer is not only going to spend money but they are going to advocate for the retailer which is a very powerful thing in business in the long run.

That’s why today successful retail businesses are turning data into insight to make sure that any problems and concerns are addressed promptly and efficiently, and deliver the experience customers desire.

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What Would Retail Peak Season Be Like Without Address Data Quality?

Address Data Quality

Why You NEED Address Data Quality

Reliable shipping is something customers take for granted, and never more so than during the holidays.

Peak season is here, and delivery companies have plans in place to successfully deliver every last package:

  • The USPS added delivery on Sunday and Christmas Day this year, after last year’s double-digit rise in package volumes during peak season.
  • In December alone, the United Parcel Service (UPS) forecasts it will deliver 585 million packages, an increase of 11% over last year.
  • UPS is also investing $175 million for its peak season preparedness plan, and will add 95,000 season workers (which is nearly 10 times the number of Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, employees in 2013).
  • According to the National Retail Federation, 44% of consumers will do their shopping on the web, which translates to a lot of deliveries.

For retailers, that means a lot of addresses in your company’s database. This will lead to a copious amount of deliveries.

The big rise in deliveries this year got me thinking: What would the holidays be like if there were no such thing as a postal address?

It’s safe to say, the holidays would be a lot less cheery. With our current reliance on mapping applications, it would be tough to get from home to the new toy store and back. Sadly, a lot of holiday greeting cards would get stamped “return to sender.” And without mapping applications or GPS, it would take a little more effort to get to grandmother’s house this year.

I think the only person who would be successfully delivering any gifts this year would be Santa (since he has his own rooftop-to-rooftop accuracy built in with his magical sleigh.)

Of course, one of the biggest places impacted would be the retail industry. The peak season at the end of the year is the time for retail businesses to make or break their reputations.

With the increased volume of deliverability, what mistakes might occur if all address data suddenly disappeared?

In a season without address data quality, your reputation and company could suffer in a number of ways:

  • Faulty addresses mean a weak customer database
  • Erroneous shipping means you’ll paying for delivery, returns, and re-delivery
  • Loss of customers and hurt reputations during peak sales time

A truly data-centric company treats address data as the foundation for customer information, and this would be more challenging to do without quality address verification.

In a peak season without address verification, I imagine companies would have to turn to alternative means to estimate locations and distances such as the geocoding process from Google Maps, which would leave them at a few disadvantages as delivery trucks navigate the icy roads during wintertime.

Informatica’s Address Validation offers these benefits that Google Maps’ geocoding does not, including:

  • Address validation and corrections
  • Availability as an on-premise solution for customer security and privacy
  • User-friendly experience as a leader in lookup and cleansing for 20+ years
  • Exact geocoding for properties (not estimates or approximations)
  • Partnership with the Universal Postal Union and all five existing global postal certifications

Approximate locations and uncertified data won’t cut it when customers expect on-time delivery, every time. Along with these benefits that make it invaluable for customer shipping and other postal mail uses, Informatica’s Address Validation sets the standard in 240 countries and territories.

Luckily, we do not live in a world without address quality. It is possible to ensure every last package and parcel makes it to its destination on time, while making it to grandmother’s house on time, sending greeting cards to our whole list, and bringing home lovingly selected gifts from the store to wrap and tuck under the tree.

How do you measure how your company is rating with its customer address quality? You can get started with this ebook from Informatica, “Three Ways to Measure Address Quality.”

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Why Retailers Forfeit the 30% Omni-Channel Premium

Why Retailers Forfeit the 30% Omni-Channel Shopper Premium

The Omni-Channel Shopper Premium

Omni-channel retailing has attracted a lot of attention in recent years – but many retailers still don’t realize its full potential. After countless man-hours and endless expense, they develop a multi-channel strategy across a range of sales and marketing platforms that is – well – pretty good. But is “pretty good” good enough? When sales and marketing platforms include ecommerce, social media, and mobile apps alongside more traditional methods like brick & mortar store, catalogues and kiosks, why do businesses leave their channel to market incomplete?

Maybe the problem lies in the widespread confusion about omni- vs. multi-channel initiatives. An omni-channel system takes a connected approach to multiple channels, seamlessly integrating customer activities into a single conversation, even when the customer decides, for whatever reason, to switch channel. In omni-channel retailing, the customer can select and change channels in any way that suits them – and the retailer can respond instantly to deliver the experience that the customer needs. Each time the customer interacts with the brand, they generate data that the retailer can use to better anticipate and serve the customer during the next conversation.

So, if omni-channel initiatives are so powerful, why are retailers not taking the next step?

Current Concerns

In a multi-channel system, a retailer grows from a single channel to multiple channels with each channel essentially operating as a separate business unit. Each has its own pricing, promotions, inventories, and back office systems. The omni-channel system integrates all of these channels and their accumulated data into one cohesive view of the business and customer. But many retailers wrongly believe that their organizational structure and systems don’t lend themselves to the new environment.

Many feel that a fundamental redesign of the corporate retail organization – from a single P&L regardless of channel, to “rip and replace” of IT systems – would need to occur at the most basic levels. And many organizations are unsure if the extra time, money and risk to reorganize is worth the advantages promised by an omni-channel strategy. In short, many retailers have adopted a wait-and-see stance before they invest.

However, these retailers can take comfort and guidance from the conclusions of the IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Retail 2015 Predictions conference. Based on a survey of top retailers, the conference predicts that “In 2015, CIOs will invest in omni-channel integration technologies as a top priority to support growth in the omni-channel shopper sales premium of 30%.“

The Future is Now

When retailers invest in omni-channel integration, they essentially design an entirely new supply chain of unified capabilities that can simultaneously handle the demands of their “brick and mortar” stores, their ecommerce sites, and any other channel that they have in place. The retailers that have already done so are already seeing the benefits:

  • Corporations that have invested in omni-channel services are already witnessing an average of 30% increase in sales.
  • The IT departments of these corporations are spending far less time performing the redundant or duplicate tasks required by a multi-channel system.
  • Both structured and unstructured data are more successfully and easily integrated across the company than with a multichannel operation.
  • IT departments can retire older technologies that are no longer performing at their previous levels of efficiency.
  • Consumer impacts on individual channels can now be identified almost immediately and the channels adjusted accordingly.

While many businesses may be cautious about taking the next step, the shopping characteristics of today’s consumer are rapidly changing. Customers are moving into an omni-channel world, whether the retailer is ready or not. This means that the business might be forced to play catch-up to their customers, and perhaps sooner than they might like. Omni-channel initiatives simply reflect, improve and realize the value of this customer behavior. Omni-channel initiatives are about making the individual consumer the main focal point of the business model.

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Is Thanksgiving the Most Data-Driven Holiday?

Is Thanksgiving the Most Data-Driven Holiday?

Thanksgiving: The Most Data-Driven Holiday?

Turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie… and lots and lots of data on the side. Thanksgiving has to be the most data-driven holiday we have. After Black Friday, we will see a slew of reports and headlines describing how the retail industry’s sales performed.

What are retailers all abuzz about right now as we get closer to the Black Friday / Cyber Monday dates?

This year, retailers are using between 31-50% of their online marketing budget on holiday-related efforts alone, according to the National Retail Federation.

The NRF also projects that almost 20% of the retail industry’s annual sales will come from the holiday period.

This sounds like so much pressure, any retail marketer would crack like a chestnut under it. What’s a marketer to do? Here are some tactics and results around peak season holiday marketing.

Segmentation is a great way to see a big lift in sales. If you have the data to understand your customers and identify emerging segments in your market, you can find new business and directly target it with specific messaging. One recent case reported by Target Marketing Magazine showed a 40% year-over-year sales increase from a new segment that was identified and targeted with tailored messaging. Learn more about getting the most from your customer data in this white paper, “Data Quality Management: Beyond the Basics.”

Know your email sender reputation. You spend so much effort getting the right message out via email marketing with the right timing over different days leading up to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Green Monday into December. But a poor email sender reputation can lead to those efforts being blocked or sent to the junk folder instead of to your customers. Global retailer BCBG proactively avoided this, using data validation and cleansing techniques to send their sender reputation sky-high (which you can read more about here.) Don’t let a bad sender reputation limit you during the holidays — especially when it can take up to 15 days to fix a major issue like this. Find out more in this short informative video, “Email Sender Reputation: What Does it Mean to Marketers?”

Everyone, positively everyone, is talking about mobile. Practically every article you come across on the subject of retail industry sales around the peak season holiday mentions mobile in some respect – for very good reason. Shoppers take their phones and tablets shopping with them to compare prices, look for deals, and research their purchases beforehand. The NRF reports that 7 out of 10 retailers they surveyed are putting major investments into their mobile-friendly websites. A well-timed SMS message to your customers with a special deal just for them could work wonders. You can take advantage of the huge popularity of SMS mobile messaging in just a few steps. See how in this SMS Quick-Start Guide created for marketers like you.

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5 Key Factors for Successful Print Publishing

print publishing

Product Information Management Facilitates Catalog Print Publishing

In his recent article: “The catalog is dead – long live the catalog,” Informatica’s Ben Rund spoke about how printed catalogs are positioned as a piece of the omnichannel puzzle and are a valuable touch point on the connected customer’s informed purchase journey. The overall response was far greater than what we could have hoped for; we would like to thank all those that participated. Seeing how much interest this topic generated, we decided to investigate further, in order to find out which factors can help in making print publishing successful.

5 key Factors for Successful Print Publishing Projects

Today’s digital world impacts every facet of our lives. Deloitte recently reported that approximately 50% of purchases are influenced by our digital environment. Often, companies have no idea how much savings can be generated through the production of printed catalogues that leverage pre-existing data sources. The research at www.pim-roi.com talks of several such examples. After looking back at many successful projects, Michael and his team realized the potential to generate substantial savings when the focus is to
optimize “time to market.” (If, of course, business teams operate asynchronously!)

For this new blog entry, we interviewed Michael Giesen, IT Consultancy and Project Management at Laudert to get his thoughts and opinion on the key factors behind the success of print publishing projects. We asked Michael to share his experience and thoughts on the leading factors in running successful print publishing projects. Furthermore, Michael also provides insight on which steps to prioritize and which pitfalls to avoid at all costs, in order to ensure the best results.

1. Publication Analysis

How are objects in print (like products) structured today? What about individual topics and design of creative pages? How is the placement of tables, headings, prices and images organized nowadays? Are there standards? If so, what can be standardized and how? To get an overall picture, you have to thoroughly examine these points. You must do so for all the content elements involved in the layout, ensuring that, in the future, they can be used for Dynamic Publishing. It is conceivable that individual elements, such as titles or pages used in subject areas, could be excluded and reused in separate projects. Gaining the ability to automate catalog creation potentially requires to compromise in certain areas. We shall discuss this later. In the future, product information will probably be presented with very little need to apply changes, 4 instead of 24 table types, for example. Great, now we are on the right path!

2. Data Source Analysis

Where is the data used in today’s printed material being sourced from? If possible or needed, are there several data sources that require to be combined? How is pricing handled? What about product attributes or the structure of product description tables in the case of an individual item? Is all the marketing content and subsequent variations included as well? What about numerous product images or multiple languages? What about seasonally adjusted texts that pull from external sources?

This case requires a very detailed analysis, leading us to the following question:

What is the role and the value of storing product information using a standardized method in print publishing?

The benefits of utilizing such processes should be clear by now: The more standards are in place, the greater the amount of time you will save and the greater your ability to generate positive ROI. Companies that currently operate with complex systems supporting well-structured data are already ahead in the game. Furthermore, yielding positive results doesn’t necessarily require them to start from scratch and rebuild from the ground up. As a matter of fact, companies that have already invested in database systems (E.g. MSSQL) can leverage their existing infrastructures.

3. Process Analysis

In this section of our analysis, we will be getting right down to the details: What does the production process look like, from the initial layout phase to the final release process? Who is responsible for the “how? Who maintains the linear progression? Who has the responsibilities and release rights? Lastly, where are the bottlenecks? Are there safeguards mechanisms in place? Once all these roles and processes have been put in place and have received the right resources we can advance to the next step of our analysis. You are ready to tackle the next key factor: Implementation.

4. Implementation

Here you should be adventurous, creative and open minded, seeing that compromise might be needed. If your existing data sources do not meet the requirements, a solution must be found! A certain technical creative pragmatism may facilitate the short and medium planning (see point 2). You must extract and prepare your data sources for printed medium, such as a catalog, for example. The priint:suite of WERK II has proven itself as a robust all-round solution for Database Publishing and Web2Print. All-inclusive PIM solutions, such as Informatica PIM, already has a standard interface to priint:suite available. Depending on the specific requirements, an important decision must then be made: Is there a need for an InDesign Server? Simply put, it enables the fully automatic production of large-volume objects and offers accurate data preview. While slightly less featured, the use of WERK II PDF renderers offers similar functionalities but at a significantly more affordable price.

Based on the software and interfaces selected, an optimized process which supports your system can be developed and be structured to be fully automated if needed.
For individual groups of goods, templates can be defined, placeholders and page layouts developed. Production can start!

5. Selecting an Implementation Partner

In order to facilitate a smooth transition from day one, the support of a partner to carry out the implementation should be considered from the beginning. Since not only technology, but more importantly practical expertise provides maximum process efficiency, it is recommended that you inquire about a potential partner’s references. Getting insight from existing customers will provide you with feedback about their experience and successes. Any potential partner will be pleased to put you in touch with their existing customers.

What are Your Key Factors for Successful Print Publishing?

I would like to know what your thoughts are on this topic. Has anyone tried PDF renderers other than WERK II, such as Codeware’s XActuell? Furthermore, if there are any other factors you think are important in managing successful print publishing, feel free to mention them in the comments here. I’d be happy to discuss here or on twitter at @nicholasgoupil.

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Proximity Marketing: The New Way to Attract Busy Shoppers

Proximity MarketingImagine walking through a mall during your weekend shopping binge.

Your arms are full of shopping bags, and you believe you’ve had your fill of purchases for the day. You even have the discipline to walk past the obligatory little bakery stand that haunts every mall with its alluring aroma.

Suddenly you feel a vibration in your pocket and set your bags down to grab it. It’s your mobile phone, and it has a special message for you.

“Julie’s Bakery Special! Buy one cinnamon bun, get one free!”

If the irresistible aroma didn’t lure you toward the baked goods, this amazing deal will.

That is the power of proximity marketing.

Proximity marketing uses Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technology to send commercial messages to nearby shoppers who may be carrying mobile devices. It’s a safe bet that most of those shoppers will own a mobile phone. According to Pew Research, 90% of adults in America have cell phones (58% of which are smartphones).

This method of reaching customers is known as beacon technology.

A device is attached within the shop, store, stand, etc., and sends signals to people as they pass. One of the creative ways I’ve heard this used was by display manufacturer Universal Display in their London locations. They placed beacons on their mannequins. When customers went within proximity to them, they were given information on the mannequin’s fashionable attire via their own mobile devices.

Why does proximity marketing work?

  • Customers prefer to be informed shoppers. They want to know where the deals are. They’re already out-and-about, so it’s helpful and engaging to be updated to their surroundings.
  • The receiver is more likely to engage with the advertisement they receive. It’s simple to see why, if you imagine this scenario:

What if a shopper is bored waiting in a long line when he or she receives the message? There’s a good chance he or she is idly using a mobile phone for entertainment while waiting in line. This is the perfect time to provide a timely, relevant message that will get a lot of attention.

SMS mobile messaging is a powerful customer communication tool for the same reasons companies now believe in proximity marketing.

The quickest and most efficient way to reach customers is through their phones. Proximity advertising spending will reach $6 billion by 2015, reports MarketingProfs. The time for your business to go mobile is now. Read more about SMS mobile marketing from StrikeIron, an Informatica Company, here.

Photo credit: Nan Palmero

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Ecommerce Sales in Western Europe to Grow by 15% in 2014

The Western European B2C ecommerce market is developing extremely well. In fact, the Western European ecommerce market is expected to reach € 204.7 billion in 2014.

Online Sales to Reach €204.7 Billion in 2014

Just like the year before, the Western European region, comprising Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, was in first position with regard to e-commerce size in 2013, with a European market share of 49%.

The total B2C e-commerce economy of Western Europe amounted €177.7 billion, a 12% growth compared to 2012. Online sales of goods and services are forecast to reach €204.7 billion in 2014, a growth of more than 15% in comparison with 2013. Ecommerce Europe’s research also reveals that 95 million consumers in Western Europe bought goods and services online in 2013.

Average Western European E-shopper Spent €1,867 Online in 2013

On average, Western European e-shoppers spent €1,867 per person online in 2013. This is far above the European average of €1,376 and EU28 average of €1,500. The United Kingdom leads the way with €2,614, making their e-shoppers the biggest online spenders in Europe. Within Western Europe, Ireland, Luxembourg and France follow with €1,643, €1,533 and €1,503, respectively, per online shopper.

western europe ecommerce 2014

For additional information, you can download the full report here.

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