Microposting(s) for November 27th through December 13th

These my micropostings and bookmarks – November 27th through December 13th:

  • [Editorial] "Purchandising" – This in my Editorial from the November issue of Internet Retailing Magazine. Also available as 'digital print' via the November digital edition.
  • Exclusive: Foursquare's New Partnership With PepsiCo Takes Focus Off of Places | Fast Company – Interesting development. Using the 'location stream' to aid the targeting of adverts and promotions, even if not necessarily related to that intersection of space and time. <br />
    <br />
    A next stage must surely be the sale/exploitation of sentiment and attitudinal information…
  • How a Personality Test Designed to Pick Astronauts is Taking the Pain Out of Customer Support | Fast Company – Very interesting read and shows the combination of psychology, business rules, linguisitic planning and the computing horse-power to deliver in real time.
  • Kickstarter – "We’re the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world".<br />
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    Crowdsourced funding. Nice.
  • thefridaynightakeout – Geurilla cooking, local quality produce meets entrepreneurship and pop-up approach. <br />
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    "I’m a freelance cook based in east London and I’ve worked for a number of years in London at restaurants such as The River Cafe and Moro. I’m starting a once a week takeout which will happen in the London Fields, Shoreditch, south Hackney areas. Every Friday I will cook a casserole style dish (or two) depending on whats in season and what produce looks good. The blog will feature whats on the menu for the friday night. I can take requests by text or email from early in the week. Produce will come from a range of sources, such as Leilas shop, Ginger Pig, Bensfish, Riverford organic, McKanna meats. I deliver between 5 and 7.30 on the friday evening and the food comes cold, it just needs to be warmed up. Each main course will be between £8.50 and £9.50 depending on what i cook. There will be a vegetarian dish available for £7 on request. frank.hannon@btinternet.com or text/call 079 043 84019"

“Purchandising” – my editorial from the November 2010 edition of Internet Retailing Magazine

This in my Editorial from the November issue of Internet Retailing Magazine. Also available as ‘digital print’ via the November digital edition.


Searchandising (ugh) and merchandising relate to retailers’ promotion of sales of products to customers. Ian Jindal wonders whether we oughtn’t also consider how the relationship between our customers and our suppliers might be improved, and ponders whether the English language can survive the word “Purchandising”…

Merchandising – the art of promoting goods for sale by their presentation in retail outlets – spawned the non-word “Searchandising”: promotion of products on-site by means of search tools, faceted navigation and browse, increasing the relevance of products shown to customers.

Relevant, coherent product presentation increases the likelihood of a sale, may not increase overall profits. We may sell more of our great products and somewhat more of our (now well-presented) mediocre products, but we may not sell the ‘dogs’ or purchasing mistakes, destined for land-fill or recycling.

Searchandising attempts to square a resolutely-round circle – the tension between extending product ranges (category authority, dominant range, long-tail SEO) and the desire to minimise ranges (to conserve cash, increase the yield on stock). Despite the science, however, there’s a sneaking feeling that there’s something fundamentally flawed in a retailing approach that is so focused on persuasion and manipulation to push sales. Indeed, promotionally-led retailing could be seen as the practice of selling the unnecessary and unwanted to the unwilling. Could we not find approaches that increase the ‘inherent desirability’ or relevance of products?

“Purchandising” would be the practice of improving the specification and procurement of products and services so that they better match the needs, desires, interests and aspirations of customers (thereby reducing the marketing and promotional demands to convert customers’ interest into cash). This is different to ‘normal procurement’ since it would be based upon insight to customers’ behaviour, a high level of collaboration and ultimately co-creation. Let’s consider each in turn.

Customer insight blends qualitative and quantitive data on preferences and choices to inform buyers as to the products to buy. Null on-site search results (ie where a customer searches for products on your site that you don’t stock) is an indicator of unfulfilled interest or demand, for example, while “On Site Not Seen” metrics (products stocked but never viewed by customers) might indicate stock ready for liquidation. Equally, verbatim comments in user reviews will help improve the quality of products stocked.

So far, though, so normal. This is simply improving the standard procurement cycle.

In our feature on NakedWines later in this issue we have an example of collaboration between the business, the customers and the suppliers to create new products of increased relevance to the customers. NakedWines introduce new wines to their knowledgeable and enthusiastic Wine ‘Angels’, while those angels in turn support those winemakers identified as prospects by the company. It’s open, radical and interesting: but there is a further possible step: co-creation.

Consider that a product is specified in isolation, produced in bulk, promoted ‘at’ people to persuade them that they wanted it in the first place, and a numbers game ensues in which we hope to pulp a sufficiently small percentage to remain in business. Far better, then, would be to co-develop products with customers, and release a better-rounded ‘version 3′ product at scale. As retail outlets become ‘experience stores’ to understand and interact with a brand’s products for later purchase, we’ll see manufacturers sharing prototypes with customers. Phone manufacturers may hand out maquettes and prototypes for feedback in store, and designers assess short runs prior to fuller production. This approach is already visible at http://www.sample-central.com/ (formerly SampleLab) where customers get to try products, take them home and assess them – in return for surveys and insights that improve the products for a mass market. The founders coined the term “Tryvertisting” – trying and experiencing and precursors to great products, rather than advertising post-manufacture to make up for deficiencies…

Whether we’re able to make the move immediately from procurement to co-creation or not, surely it’s time for professionals in buying in the digital age to come to the fore and engage fully with customers to increase relevance, coherence and profit? Developing our tools, KPIs and approaches to seek customer input, create products alongside them which will satisfy need (at least) and delight (at best) must be the aim. This would be the art of “Purchandising” – a full partner with the digital marketing, social media and searchandising skills of our colleagues. While our new word may assault our ears, it may also release some ideas and action – to the benefit of customers and our profitability alike.


Guerilla ‘tree art’ in E2

On 23 November 2009 I was taking the kids to school and saw this tree on the corner of Columbia Road and Ravenscroft Street. Nothing odd about there being a tree, just the fact it was no ‘bedecked in flowers’, like something from a mumming dance/pagan ceremony/US schmaltzy film…

No reason, no note, just planned, well-executed prettiness in the midst of urban London.

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Update – 20101206

Here are some photos from the guerilla’s recent floral interventions: beautiful red garlands hung in a tree in Ravenscroft Park, opposite Londis.

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Tashtastic result for Movemeber: record-breaking amounts raised for prostate cancer charities, research and care.

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Thanks to some incredible generosity by InternetRetailing readers, advertisers and supporters, your Internet Retailing team have braved (if that’s the word?) embarrassment and taunts throughout November, growing (or should I say “growing”?) moustaches to raise money to combat prostate cancer.

The month of November has been renamed ‘Movember’ as men – singly or in teams – start clean-shaven on 1 November and then attempt to grow, maintain and carry off a moustache for the whole month.

As you can see from the ‘mount tashmore’ banner, we had varying levels of success, but overall we managed to raise nearly £5,000.

Actually, we were £43 short of our target, so if you fancy pushing us over the edge you can donate as well as seeing pictures of the team in their various levels of tashdom here:

http://uk.movember.com/mospace/616254/

Thanks again to all who supported, and also to those who mailed supportive notes while giving to other teams – the words soothed the embarrassment signficantly.

You can see the money raised here:

http://uk.movember.com/momoney/team/search_country/gb/size/10/top/100

and the IR team finished 20th in the UK for teams of under 10 – thanks again for the support.

There were some 112,000 participants in the UK (hence the large number of emails asking for your money!) and nearly 450,000 globally. The UK has to date raised nearly £8m for this important cause.

Full information on the funds raised and the use of proceeds is available here:

http://uk.movember.com/momoney/

Once again, we thank you.

Now, time to grow the beard again!

Microposting(s) for October 4th through November 22nd

These my micropostings and bookmarks – October 4th through November 22nd:

  • The Best of Artisan Cosmetics | Fast Company – "If you wouldn't eat your bath and body products, you're using the wrong stuff"
  • Comet boss believes less-is-more philosophy will beat Best Buy | Business | The Guardian – Nice article on the response of Comet to the "Big Box" and discount-led approach of Best Buy.<br />
    <br />
    Hugh Harvey, MD, said "Today the role of the internet is to provide the catalogue and the role of the store is to provide the experience of the showroom – almost like a department store. We have made the transition from an out-of-town shed operator to an out-of-town store and our fit and finish is much different to how it was."
  • Helzberg – I Am Loved – Interesting new site, powered by Bazaarvoice and their Stories system. Note the way that UGC and stories are being edited into TV/broadcast video stories to amplify the intersection of customer's stories and brand values.
  • China's Homegrown Luxury | China International Business – Intersting article, courtesy of the business of fashion blog, on this rise of indigenous, craft-inspired luxury in china. A glimmer of the future today…
  • Literature and Latte – Links – Stupendously useful and informative page on writing tools, word-processing and screen writing. All that I need now is an idea ;)
  • Fashion 2.0 | Provenance? There’s an App for That − BoF – The Business of Fashion – Nice piece on the important of provenance and (as we non-luxury folk would say) "transparent supply chain".<br />
    <br />
    Cute to see the app angle, although people like Icebreaker make this available via their "Baaacodes" on their websites. Not sure that there's a sufficiently compelling call to fire up an app, but the trend is a positive one.

“No more eCommerce – it’s Total Retail” – Editorial from September 2010’s issue of Internet Retailing magazine

Here’s my editorial from the September 2010 edition of Internet Retailing magazine. You can see this article in the digital edition here:

http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/bd0ff4ae#/bd0ff4ae/6

We’ve long predicted that multiple channels will give way to an integrated commercial approach, but inspired by the World Cup – and not allowing his utter ignorance of football to stand in his way – Ian Jindal reflects on the lessons from the Beautiful Game’s radical transformation in the 1970s, drawing parallels with today’s changes: welcome to the age of Total Retail.

In January’s column, we looked forward to a year in which Boards would place ever-increasing demands on the eCommerce teams, and that eCommerce leaders will need to become rounded, commercial leaders in order to secure their role on the Board. Since January we’ve also seen the rise of mobile and m-commerce and this has increased the pace of innovation and digital development, further eroding channel boundaries. M-Retailing.net, our new title, charts the increased pace of change, but there remains a nagging feeling that the game has changed.

In our businesses we expect our teams to combine deep functional expertise, with a non-trivial appreciation of other disciplines, and finally an ability to assimilate and master change situations, new skills and the changes in customer behaviour and demands. Admittedly there’ll be training – both corporate and self-directed – but there is also a need to reconsider the way we manage and lead our digital teams, as well as the wider business, to achieve against these demands.

In the 1970s there was a similar need to change the approach to football. With faster balls and pitches, increased professionalism and training demands, the static tactical approaches that ranged lines of offence and defence against each other had become turgid. The insight was to create a system where any player could take over the role of any other player – fluidly, autonomously and to great effect. A multitalented player would be expected to be an attacker, a midfield play-maker and a defender – seamlessly and without pause. A jack of all trades and master of most.

Central to the tactical approach of Total Football were the notions of creating space, flexibility and collaboration, founded upon rigorous and demanding training and a proactive attitude, always seeking opportunity and taking initiative.

Likewise the modern eCommerce team. For ‘creating space’ we have the need to create commercial opportunity – even amidst the mayhem and turmoil of minute-by-minute trading. Members of a Total Retail team are expected to act commercially, create opportunities, despite the pressures of daily activity.

The notion of multitalented team-members is also vital. Not only must there be an appreciation and understanding of other people’s skills, but team members must also be able to make a credible contribution in other areas. No more “I am a marketeer” or “I am a technologist” – eCommerce professionals must be both (as well as operationally savvy and commercially astute). Indeed, we created the MSc in Internet Retailing as a programme to assist the development of multi-talented leaders for our industry.

One aspect not present in the 1970s was “fan power”, or ‘customer power’. Our colleagues in store have the most intimate human contact with some customers, but across the whole business it’s the multi-touch, extensive digital contacts that give eCommerce professionals a privileged insight to the customer’s activities. With social media we have an enviable view of the customer’s attitudes and activities beyond the shopping experience in our domains. Further, considering m-commerce and mobile interaction, we’re increasingly able to gain more insight into customers’ behaviour even when they’re not “online” and explicitly shopping or researching.

Total Retail is the opportunity for us to progress from a simple injunction to ‘be more skilled and commercial’ to an approach of being more engaged with customers – at every stage of consideration, socialising, learning, buying and sharing. Being of service to a demanding, knowledgeable and social customer, at all times, places and points of attention. It’s a fully committed approach. To deliver upon this demand we need both to hone our individual skills as players, and to develop a ‘game play’ that is open, flexible and enterprising. The tenets are skills, flexibility, collaboration and creating opportunity.

This shift will be uncomfortable and demanding, even upon those who believe it to be a necessity (and an opportunity). However, it’s likely that our customers will come to expect this sooner than the majority of retailers will respond – meaning significant spoils for those who can bring sparkle to the retail game, much as the Dutch shook up football 40 years ago. Time for us all to embrace Total Retail, and we’ll return to this theme again over the coming year.

Microposting(s) for September 12th through September 21st

These my micropostings and bookmarks – September 12th through September 21st:

Microposting(s) for August 18th through September 2nd

These my micropostings and bookmarks – August 18th through September 2nd:

New Nudes

Spotted at a client: so nude, it’s invisible.

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Microposting(s) for July 18th through August 6th

These my micropostings and bookmarks – July 18th through August 6th: