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Month: December 2010

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. 

    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”.

    Crowdsourced funding. Nice.

  • thefridaynightakeout – Geurilla cooking, local quality produce meets entrepreneurship and pop-up approach.

    “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. 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 (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.


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.

IMG_2938.jpg IMG_2942.jpg

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


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:

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:

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:

Once again, we thank you.

Now, time to grow the beard again!