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In Between the Numbers: The value of m-commerce: Is it where we think?

September 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm PST

 Thinking today about mobility – cell phones, smartphones, tablets – and where and when it’ll be changing the rules of retail.

 Forrester made a solid case this June that it won’t be as a transaction tool.   They – and eMarketer.com – expect M-commerce to be only 7% of total E-commerce revenue by 2016, which means M-com will total only 1% of retail merchandise purchase market.

 Gartner made the case this May (echoed by Forrester) that it won’t be as an electronic wallet – at least not until 2015 and beyond.  Despite the fact that some 40-50 NFC-enabled smart phones will be shipped this year, the complexities of collaboration between service providers, financial institutions, retailers, and standards bodies is rendering progress slow and tortuous. (To see a preview, rewind to the past decade’s EPC-RFID efforts.)

 And yet: The future of the personal communication and computing is increasingly mobile, and that means retailers are looking at a potential opportunity.

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Back to School Shopping 2011 – The Rise of the Connected Mom

In the past, back to school shopping conjures images of moms, minivans and moving from store to store with shopping lists.  Today’s back to school shopping trips for families are more of a logistics exercise with moms doing online research and checking on social media to find the best deals before they set foot in the first store.

This is backed by recent researching showing the rise of the “Connected Mom”.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUg2oo2XTFk

In a recent article titled “Digital Moms Favor Informative Ads” by eMarket.com, based on research from the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement and Media Behavior Institute,  survey shows that Gen X moms consumer more media on mobile than even television.   

In Deloitte’s 2011 Back to School Survey, research shows  that 64% of respondents with smart phones plan to use them for back-to-school, and 43% will download discounts, coupons and sales information.  Social media is also playing a role with 35% of respondents using social networking sites to assist in shopping.

What is leading to this change and what is the implication for retailers?  I talked to Laura Heller, contributor to Forbes.com retail blog Point of Purchase, who recently wrote about the back to school season

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The Future of Shopping Malls

 Recently my colleague Jon Stine, wrote on his blog In between the numbers – Big Changes for Stores about amount of retail square footage that is available today and the need for stores to evolve with changing consumer patterns.

This change is also reflected in shopping malls that needs to change to make the destination attractive to shoppers and for retail store operators.  In a recent trip to the local shopping mall in San Bruno, California, I noticed how the retail shopping mall has changed in the last few years to adopt to the new shopping trends.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5NIOrIOmhs

Some of the changes include:

  • Mixture of services and store formats in the main mall aisles
  • Use of vending machines to dispense higher end products such as cosmetics and electronics
  • Integration of digital video inside the store and at the display window to draw traffic/interest
  • Store exclusive offerings from personal appearances to store only merchandise that is not available online
  • More services offering in the mall from child care to education and entertainment. Read More »

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In between the numbers – Pay Me Now or Pay Me (More) Later

April 14, 2011 at 8:17 pm PST

Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Midwest.   But I just don’t like writing checks to lawyers.

 I’ve lots of friends in the legal profession, and all are lovely people (well, most of them, anyway).

 But as the pragmatic sort, it pains me to spend money to resolve something that might have been settled at a lesser price well before.

 Which leads me to the topic of PCI.

 Just reviewed a 2010 study from the data security experts at The Ponemon Institute that looked at the post-incident cost of data breaches.  Forget, for a moment, the brand humiliation, the CEO news conferences, the critical whiplash in the blogosphere and throughout Facebook.  Ignore, for a moment, that research suggests that 30% of consumers who were victimized by retailer data breaches promise never to patronize the offending brand again.

 The Ponemon research found that 42% of all data breach incidents led to the involvement of a third party (there to provide additional, independent investigation, resolve disputes, and soak up consulting fees.)

 The average cost of that third party involvement in the United States was $1.52 million, with final resolution costs ranging from $750,000 to upwards of $31 million.   That’s on top of lost business estimated at $4.47M per incident.

 Total:  $6M.  Perhaps not fatal to a billion-dollar business, but not a check I’d like to request.

 Yes, I know that active, careful PCI compliance is no guarantee.   And that active, careful PCI compliance doesn’t put revenue on the top line.  And that there’s ongoing confusion about PCI for mobile.  And everyone thinks it’s all too expensive.  And on and on and on.

 But I also know this:  active, careful compliance reduces risk.  Significantly. 

 And that the price of risk is not just a bruised brand. 

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In between the numbers – A new definition of Premium

April 1, 2011 at 10:24 am PST

 I was talking with a friend the other morning about the strategy of a struggling retailer.

You could see his head shake, even over the phone.  “They’re getting eaten alive by Amazon in e-com, and Wal-mart’s taking away the low-end in chunks” he said.  “And they certainly can’t go premium.”

Yikes.   Another brand caught in the middle.    Two monsters below, and price resistance above.

Hmmm . . .

Maybe they can go premium.   Especially if we consider a new definition of the term.   

Most of the time, the words “premium” or “upscale” are used to describe an elevated  price point and a luxurious  customer experience.    Premium retailers sell more expensive goods.   They also offer such wonders as concierge-level service, discreet-yet- fashionable technology, and soap in the bathrooms. 

But maybe – just maybe – the new definition of premium retailing has less to do with luxury, and more to do with creating additional customer value  . . . the kind of value that creates lasting stickiness to the brand.

There’s a little independent running shoe store down the street that might be a poster child for this new definition of premium.   It’s maybe 2000 square feet.   Thin industrial carpet on the floor. 

The little running shoe store offers a standard good-better-best assortment of shoes, running apparel, and some new technology-based wizardry: a computer-aided analysis of your stride.   

Overall, quite nice, but not fancy.  Not “upscale” by any stretch of the imagination.

But the little running shoe store does more.  They recognize that what their customers really want to buy goes well beyond shoes, shorts, and gear.    They really want to buy 20 less pounds and a smaller dress size.  They really want to buy lower blood sugar levels.   They really want to buy new friends.  They really want to buy the pride of completing a marathon.  Or the high of a great workout.    

And so they organize  runs.  Walks.  Events.  Meets.  Gatherings.   Their product is an orchestration of the SKUs and services (stride analysis) and interest-centric activities, all under the brand banner of the little running shoe store.

Premium?  You bet.  Scalable to the big guys? 

I don’t think there’s a choice.

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