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Australian retailers finally get started with Social Media

Australian retailers are finally leaving the shores of social media apathy and are attempting to navigate the treacherous waters of consumer engagement. No doubt spurred on by the negative PR associated with non-engagement, retailers are also sensing the hidden treasure to be found with consumer loyalty. The social media wave started several years ago, and it still baffles me why has it taken retailers so long to take social media seriously?

Listening to social media requires a process to understand the conversations and also to action the insights. Consumers want to be heard, and in many cases offer valuable insights that actually deliver profitable changes in retailing.

It’s pleasing to see the big retailers starting to invest resources in managing their social media channels. Long time participant Telstra who abandoned their “Nowwearetalking” initiative, and have recently established a dedicated team of 10 staff to monitor and respond to problems posted on social media. Last week, David Jones announced that it would be launching Facebook and Twitter accounts setup to report on fashion style trends. Myer is working on a platform for Facebook. This platform will allow click-through purchasing supporting customised offers based on prior shopping habits delivered from their loyalty card scheme. Woolworths have one of the best initiatives with their “everydaymatters” site that engages with consumers to get and rank ideas on what they should be doing better.

Social media engagement is about learning, which I can sum up with the statement “DO FAIL, to LEARN; and Don’t Fail to LEARN!” Retailers should expect failures, but rather than seek refuge on the shore of apathy, they should identify these experiences as warning beacons for potential future endeavours.

Now that the big retailers have taken the plunge, they are going to have to swim a lot faster if they want to stem the reductions in consumer loyalty. Brands are diverting more of their marketing spend to directly connect and engage with consumers effectively by-passing an important role previously held by the retailer. The stronghold for large retailers is the ability to understand consumer wants and satisfy them with a range of competing brands. For the moment, most brands still rely on retailers to do most of their sales fulfilment, however accessibility to daily deals and the growing maturity of recommendation engines may erode more of the retailer’s role. The big opportunity for large retailers is to leverage their existing loyalty schemes such as Coles Flybuys, Woolworths Everyday Rewards to become facilitators of group deals for major consumer packaged goods companies. The action is a variation of an old marketing rule. Participation Participation Participation, is the new Location Location Location, and retailers need to understand this as they chart a course across the Social oceans of consumer demands. There is much to gain for those companies that participate in social media engagement, and the key is adding value with the engagement. Whilst they are fickle and at times lacking in loyalty, consumers are more than happy to reward with their wallets those retailers who participate in social media.

this article was first published in Adnews




Vending Machine – Facial Recognition

Kraft has invented a vending machine that analyses your face to predict what you want to eat.

It combines facial recognition with a fuzzy logic algorithm that suggests meal solutions via recipes, shopping instructions and even provides food samples. While you operate the touchscreen on Kraft’s “Meal Planning Solution”, a camera analyses your face to determine your age and gender, the better to anticipate what you want to eat.

The screen advisor will also suggest recipes based on the shopper’s meal-time intentions: a weeknight dinner, for example, or a weekend dinner party, or game day potluck–using Kraft dressings, CoolWhip, or Ritz crackers.

If shoppers are willing to assist the effort by swiping their local market’s loyalty card or their mobile phone, the kiosk can make recommendations based on past purchasing history. The kiosk syncs with Kraft’s iFood Assistant, which allows shoppers to add recipes, shopping lists, etc. to their smartphones via a barcode scanner.

Best of all, it will dispense a sample, so you can continue your trip down the aisles fueled by Oreos or Triscuits.

If the experience of using these vending machines is engaging, I would expect these machines to start appearing across retail outlets over the next 24 months.

See also this emerging technology for Addidas which is part of Intel’s Virtual Footwear wall

Social Media ROI example

Here’s a great video from Fred Caballero discussing a process for measuring the ROI on Social Media

In the video Fred provides an example of linking a sales goal to social media tactics pointing out the value of “Listening” and the necessity to have at least a 6 month time frame in order to generate ROI.