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Socially Speaking: My Social Network is Your Showroom

2013/01/23

Socially Speaking Logo

BY: DAVID GOSMAN

TargetQRcodeTarget® did something really cool for this holiday season. Well, cool from a retail-geek perspective. Like several of their fellow retailers, Target has been experimenting with several different options to fend against ‘show-rooming.’ Show-rooming refers to the recent phenomenon where consumers view a product in a store but then buy from another company online because of pricing, stock levels or convenience. Target is placing QR codes on shelf tags next to the 2012 holiday season’s top-20 toys. Consumers can scan the QR code with their smart phones, order right from the device and have it shipped straight to their homes. The shipping is free, and the toy will supposedly ship regardless of stock levels at that specific store.

The new tool from Target makes it easier and faster to shop, and holds many obvious advantages versus traditional in-store transacting. There is, however, a not-so-obvious opportunity for retailers to expand the benefits into the social-sphere. Most products within retail stores are marked with a standard, manufacturer-provided UPC code which serves one simple purpose – identification of the product. The UPC bar code can’t do a whole lot more, and each UPC code is generally consistent throughout all retailers. QR codes, however, can be dynamically generated by a retailer and can hold more data than a UPC code. They can, for example, identify a specific promotion for a specific product, at a specific retailer.

The fun all starts there. People love ‘getting a deal’, and many people like to share those deals on Facebook and other social networks with their friends and family. It’s currently very easy to share an online deal – copy and paste the link, hit ‘Post’ and widen your smile a bit more for each friend that clicks ‘Like’ (come on Facebook addicts, you KNOW you like it when someone ‘Likes’ your comments). And make no mistakes – some of those ‘likes’ turn into a purchase. It’s a little more difficult, however, to share a deal you found in the store. You’ve probably seen comments on your social network such as ‘Got an awesome deal on a blu-ray player at Best Buy’ from friends on your social feeds. However, you have no idea the price, model number, location, number in stock, valid day or time of the sale. You are missing the crucial information you need if you wish to partake in the sale your friend spotted.

The fun can continue with a QR code and some technology to help a customer share it. Imagine finding that blu-ray player deal in Target… with a well-placed QR code that you can use to not only buy the product, but share the deal. Scan it – buy it – share it. If that QR code appears on your Facebook wall, your friends can now access the EXACT same deal. And a little more…the retailer knows who you are. They can even further customize the QR code to specifically (and privately) tag your information as the referral source. If the retailer decides to reward you for sharing or influencing a purchase, they can enjoy some serious success.

Every retail store can and should be a showroom – but if retailers connect the dots, YOUR social network can be THEIR showroom.

Happy Holidays

2012/12/18
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The RSPA team would like to wish all of you a happy and healthy holiday season!  We look forward to working with you in 2013!

Socially Speaking: Your Wallet’s Talking

2012/12/18

Socially Speaking Logo“Showrooming,” the act of examining an item in-store and then price-shopping it online, has become an interesting phenomenon. It is hard to pinpoint how much of a threat showrooming is to brick and mortar retailers. Some estimate that only 6% of consumers showroom, leave a store and purchase from elsewhere (factbrowser.com), while others forecast showrooming will cause all retailers to close all their stores by year-end (2012 Mayan calendar). Regardless of the actual numbers, showrooming is causing many retailers to rethink how they engage customers in-store.

Red Laser has recently collaborated with Best Buy to ‘up’ the level of engagement. The widely-used price-comparison app, purchased by eBay in 2010, added a new feature called ‘In-Store Experience’ which uses a phone’s GPS to determine when a customer is in a store. The results within the app are personalized based on their location and what they scan. Upon scanning, the customer can see product price, availability, promotions, related products and services and even the local store’s open-box stock levels to give them a lower priced option. Red Laser can also use store loyalty card numbers to further personalize the experience.

The new initiative from Red Laser and Best Buy embraces an important social aspect discussed in previous ‘Socially Speaking’ columns—a consumer’s location. It’s a great start. It’s one of the first applications that provides real-time, in-store information to customers armed with smart phones. However, the idea is likely only the tip of the iceberg.

Armed with this new technology, retailers can dramatically change the conversations happening inside of their stores. It’s not long before retailers know who is in their store, when they are there and what they are scanning. Alerts with this information can be routed to store associates equipped with mobile devices. This opens the door for retailers to better engage potential customers and secure a sale while they are in the store. There are countless ways to respond, but here are a few options:

Be social, the “old-fashioned way.” A retailer can send an associate who is familiar with the scanned product directly to the customer to discuss the product. This can include showing videos and online product reviews, discussing complementary products or just being enthusiastic about the purchase. In Eastern Mountain Sports, an outdoor sporting goods chain, there is an expert for every department in the store. You can discuss hiking shoes with someone that has gone on 100 hikes. You leave the store, higher-margin product in hand, knowing you were well advised.

Customer or deal-specific pricing. Using a real-time connection to the CRM, retailers can determine how frequently a customer shops or showrooms at the store. They can determine if customers purchase when a product is new and at premium price, or when the product has aged and been discounted. They can determine if customers accumulate points and how frequently they use coupons. Amazon has become synonymous with “best price” in the minds of many consumers. The tone can change quickly if a store associate can match a price, throw in a related product for free or even offer a gift card for the difference, to be used on a future purchase.

Get the customer their product. This doesn’t sound novel, but it’s rare. When shopping online, most products are in-stock and can be delivered as early as same-day. Often customers are looking at a product but it’s not available in their preferred size or color, out-of-stock or simply too big to carry. Associates can offer to locate the product at a different location and have it secured for in-store pickup or same-day delivery to the customers’ homes.

The old expression that “money talks” has never been more true than in today’s economy. Your phone, however, is becoming your wallet… and it’s becoming pretty chatty. It’s capable of starting a conversation for you when you enter the store, and it can even negotiate a better deal for you. No, not all stores will close—however, it’s the ones that become more social, change the tone and more creatively engage with their customers that will survive and thrive over the coming years.

11 Giraffes [New Member Monday]

2012/12/10

11G_200w

In 4-5 sentences, describe your business.

11Giraffes is a leading provider of smart business media technology supporting the management, scheduling and presentation of digital signage and audio for in-store applications. Our signature digital media platform provides clients a visually intuitive interface that is easily scalable and cost-effective for any size business in the marketplace today. The hosted self-managed or managed service platform service allows users to create new content, present existing media and communicate advertising/marketing messages locally, regionally or across an entire brand portfolio. This proprietary SaaS solution is used within the retail, restaurant, hospitality, medical service and other industries, and is available through an extensive dealer network.

How long have you been involved in the retail technology industry?

With over a decade in the digital out of home (DOOH) industry, 11Giraffes’ digital displays were originally located in elevator cabs throughout high rise office buildings to communicate relevant, targeted messages to waiting audiences. Proprietary hardware and software was developed to carefully monitor ad view exposure and report maximum ROI value for advertisers and individual building management staff. After partnering with Canada’s largest out-of-home advertising company, operations expanded throughout the southern United States and across all major Canadian markets. With the emergence of innovative technology and the fast-changing pace of business, the company rebranded and evolved its primary focus on a self-serve, web-based digital & audio messaging solution to provide a complete end-to-end solution.

What attracted you to RSPA?

11Giraffes was primarily attracted to the RSPA for the opportunity to align the company alongside other industry dealers and vendors, network with mutual leaders and professionals and stay connected about the latest trends that help build and shape the retail technology industry.

What are the core values of your company?

11Giraffes believes in the core values of collaboration, and providing solutions that provide unique value while remaining intuitive and cost effective.

Name one fun fact that makes your company different from your competitors.

At the heart of our unique and fun name (visit our website for a more complete explanation), is our core value of collaboration. We feel strongly that in order to achieve mutual success, we must approach both client and vendor relationships as partners and focus on achieving something truly unique in the marketplace.

What is the most encouraging thing you see for the future of the retail technology industry?

The increasing use of mobile technology, and transition of various retail technology platforms to more openly communicate with other systems, will create innovative opportunities for collaborative solutions that will improve the customer experience while mutually benefiting brands and those service providers involved.

Find out more about 11 Giraffes by visiting their website and following them on social media:

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MenuDrive [New Member Monday]

2012/12/03

MenuDrive

In 4-5 sentences, describe your business.

MenuDrive empowers restaurants and caterers to provide their own branded online & mobile ordering system. MenuDrive’s cutting-edge platform allows merchants to seamlessly add e-commerce to their businesses, so that customers can order online, driving sales beyond the four walls of their stores.

How long have you been involved in the retail technology industry?

MenuDrive was founded in 2006.

What attracted you to RSPA?

We were attracted to RSPA for their wealth of industry and training knowledge. In addition, RSPA networking events have been a great resource.

What are the core values of your company?

MenuDrive is focused on delivering powerful and result driven online & mobile ordering solutions to boost sales and strengthen customer loyalty for restaurants.

Name one fun fact that makes your company different from your competitors.

The MenuDrive team is dedicated to providing top-notch service to our customers. One team member went the extra mile to visit a customer during his vacation.

What is the most encouraging thing you see for the future of the retail technology industry?

With an increasing amount of consumers utilizing their smartphones to do research and make purchases, more merchants are realizing the importance of being mobile-accessible.

Find out more about MenuDrive by visiting their website:

MenuDrive

Seiko instruments [New Member Monday]

2012/11/26

Seiko Instruments

In 4-5 sentences, describe your business.

As a Seiko Holdings Corporation subsidiary, Seiko Instruments (SII) represents a globally recognized brand, embodying innovative design and precision manufacturing excellence. Founded in 1937, SII currently has more than 13,000 employees worldwide. The company manufactures and markets electronic components, consumer electronics, communication and network technology, scientific instrumentation, precision manufacturing technology, and a complete lineup of receipt printers, mobile printers, kiosk printers, and OEM printing solutions.

How long have you been involved in the retail technology industry?

Over 20 years. Seiko Instruments thermal printers are relied on by retailers, resellers, and retail technology manufacturers around the world.

What attracted you to RSPA?

We were attracted to the RSPA because of the value that the organization delivers based on the breadth and quality of the member base. Through this community, we are able to build robust partnerships with the right players to help us achieve profitable growth for our company and our partners.

What are the core values of your company?

Personal integrity and an appreciation of all of our stakeholders’ needs; sustained focus on precision engineering and manufacturing; diligence in creativity; social and environmental responsibility.

Name one fun fact that makes your company different from your competitors.

We have a 70-year track record of global leadership in precision engineering and manufacturing.

What is the most encouraging thing you see for the future of the retail technology industry?

The dynamic climate in the industry creates opportunities for SII and our partners to deliver the right solutions to enable retailers to better engage shoppers at the point of sale. With the right mix of mobile, self-service, and traditional point-of sale technologies, retailers can enhance the in-store experience, reduce wait times, capture greater share of wallet, and strengthen customer loyalty.

Find out more about Seiko Instruments by visiting their website:

Seiko Instruments

Speaking of PCI | President’s Note

2012/11/14

Scott Berkshire and Brad Cyprus, the two chairs of RSPA’s PCI Committee, and I were in attendance at the recent PCISSC Community Meeting. RSPA is a participating organization, representing the interests of our members. There were about 1,000 attendees, mostly made up of payment processing security professionals. The PCISSC does a good job of creating standards but they continue to point the finger at retail technology providers as the main source of breaches at small merchant sites. The PCISSC (PCI Security Standards Council) seems to forget that the 50 year old mag-stripe technology is the source of the payment processing data security problem. While in Orlando, RSPA, NRA and NACS (members of CARDS) had a productive meeting with the five card brands where those same facts were presented. We continue to push for simplified compliance and a technology roadmap (not just the recently released mobile guidance document), for mobile payment processing and collaboration on education, an explanation of the fines imposed on a merchant who was breached and a transfer of the breach liability from the merchant. We presented our 11 steps for data security as an alternative to the SAQ for small merchants. Some progress was made and we have a follow-up meeting scheduled in a few weeks.

For those of us that have been in the industry for a while, there are more changes, challenges and opportunities than we have seen in the last 30+ years. History shows that the companies and individuals who use education to stay ahead of these changes will be successful. It’s an exciting time for our industry.

What are your biggest concerns? What are you doing to stay ahead of the changes? Leave a comment for us.