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Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 aug 2019

Startups are enabling tech-based transformation of India's retail sector through Android-based smart PoS (Point of Sale) devices. The promise of these devices goes beyond payments and makes supply chain more efficient with data analytics and potential credit scoring. Vicky Bindra, CEO of Pine Labs, says, 'Retailers and merchants from diverse sectors such as electronics, food and beverage, fashion, pharmacy, telecom, and airlines are adopting the new smart PoS machines to improve their efficiencies and enhance consumer's shopping experience.' Praveen Hari of industry association iSPIRT says, 'Today a smart PoS device is not just accepting cards, but they can also provide UPI (unified payments interface) pull transactions, QR codes (displayed on screens), NFC (near-field communication) transactions, wallet transactions, or basically, any payment mode that is available in India.' Ashish Jhina, co-founder of Jumbotail, says, 'Today smart PoS machines can do four key business functions: payment, billing, inventory management, wholesale procurement.' Smart PoS data is also valuable for credit scoring. Mr. Hari explains, 'The GST data itself is good enough for a lender to make a lending decision and the shopkeeper or his FMCG distributor now has an incentive to report all the transactions. The transaction data itself can help a lender make a lending decision.' Manish Patel, CEO of Mswipe, says, 'We have engineered a credit model where when our merchants can borrow money (to make wholesale purchases) from any of our NBFC partners, based on data we provide...In terms of recollection, the merchant can opt to pay back in daily and monthly instalments.' Read on...

Livemint: Wireless, smart PoS devices revamping India's retail landscape
Author: Salman S. H.


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 jul 2019

Good content is essential for every content marketing strategy. But, getting requisite return on investment (ROI) defines it's business success. Steven van Vessum, co-founder & VP of Community at ContentKing, suggests ways to maximize the chances of success of content marketng strategy - (1) Best Content Is Not Equal To Most Successful Content: Be selective and start small; Assess competitor's weaknesses and know your strengths and leverage that; Put together a content promotion strategy that works for you. (2) Create Multi-Purpose Content: As lot of research and resources are used to create content, leverage it to create other types of content to get better ROI; An evergreen content piece can be partically repurposed as a conference talk, a support article, a podcast topic or a guest post. (3) Creating the Best Content Is Not That Hard, It's Just Hard Work: Focus on creating content that provides most value to the visitors and fulfils their search intent; Create a content piece that makes you think not to give it for free. (4) Core Content Is the Key to ROI: Core content is content that your target audience is interested in, and that's close to your products and/or services. Helps in transition to soft sale; Create core content, and build related content around that. (5) Control & Protect Your Investment: Social media and content platforms are easy to use and have large audience reach but they provide limited control. Moreover, they may shut down or modify their terms of service as per their convenience; External platforms often don't support adding Call-To-Action boxes or newsletter signup forms. This results in questionable or reduced ROI; Better option is to publish a summary or introduction on these platforms and link it back to the detailed or full content on your own website. Read on...

Search Engine Journal: Content Marketing: The 5 Most Important Things You Need to Know
Author: Steven van Vessum


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 jan 2019

Autonomous shopping concept intends to bring brick-and-mortar and internet shopping into a unified and integrated retail experience. The grab-and-go smart shopping carts promote cashier-free automatic check-out eliminating wait in lines. TechSpot's contributing writer, Cohen Coberly, says, 'While it seemed like brick-and-mortar retail would be all but killed off following the explosive rise of online shopping, what we're instead seeing throughout the US is not death, but evolution.' According to a 2018 survey by RIS News, 'The leading new shopping option wanted by consumers was "grab-and-go" technology (in which customers can self-checkout using their smartphones). 59% said they'd like to use this, and 9% had used it.' In a global survey of 2250 internet users conducted by iVend Retail and AYTM Market Research, 'Roughly 1/3rd of respondents said they would like to make automatic payments using digital shopping carts.' Caper is a smart shopping cart startup. Josh Constine, technology journalist and editor-at-large for TechCrunch, reports, 'The startup makes a shopping cart with a built-in barcode scanner and credit card swiper, but it's finalizing the technology to automatically scan items you drop in thanks to three image recognition cameras and a weight sensor. The company claims people already buy 18% more per visit after stores are equipped with its carts.' Linden Gao, co-founder and CEO of Caper, says, 'It doesn't make sense that you can order a cab with your phone or go book a hotel with your phone, but you can't use your phone to make a payment and leave the store. You still have to stand in line.' The current Caper cart involves scanning an item's barcode and then throwing it into the cart. Brittany Roston, senior editor and contributor at SlashGear, reports, 'The smarter version will eliminate the barcode part, making it possible to simply put the items in the cart while the built-in tech recognizes what they are.' Chris Albrecht, managing editor at The Spoon, also reports, 'The future iterations, already in the works, will remove the barcode and will use a combination of computer vision and built-in weight scales to determine purchases. The customer completes shopping, and pays on the built-in screen.' The concept of scanless carts involves deep learning and machine vision. Cameras are mounted in the cart. The screen on the cart gives the shopper different kinds of information - store map, item locator, promotions, deals etc. It recommends items based on contents already in the basket. Read on...

Tech Xplore: Next-level autonomous shopping carts are even smarter
Author: Nancy Cohen


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 nov 2018

For the success of businesses a solid foundation or strong core is necessary and then only innovative strategies, tactics, programs and technology that are applied will be impactful and bear fruits. Scott Vaughan, CMO of Integrate, suggests the focus on achieving the revenue marketing goals and provides five essentials that high-performing B2B marketing teams consistently focus on to drive high performance - (1) PRECISION - Accurately defining ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and identifying best account opportunities: Engage the right audiences; Avoid random marketing to general people; Identify smaller group of core audience; Use advanced tech such as predictive marketing and intent data modeling to identify more of the best accounts and buyers. (2) TRUST - Committing to permission-based marketing in an increasingly regulated world: Treat information with care; Ensure the understanding and fulfillment of data-privacy laws; Permission mindset builds trust. (3) HYGIENE - Generating quality, actionable data to drive performance and create experiences: Recent survey by DemandGen Report finds, on average, more than 35% of the data in existing databases is unmarketable. Use effecient data hygiene; Bad data wastes marketing and sales efforts; Audit data-capture processes and sources, and use data governance filters before data enters database. (4) SPEED - Increasing velocity makes everything perform better: Current processes and tech investments need to have a speed evaluation; Identify areas where data can be routed faster and action can be taken within an appropriate time; Watch closely 'pipleline velocity' (Time from when an opportunity identified and finally converted into a deal) (5) INSIGHTS - Measuring to understand the good, the bad and the ugly: High-performing marketing teams use insights with key ingredients like agreed-upon key performance indicators (KPIs), tools that can measure performance, easy-to-use shared dashboards for all stakeholders (marketing, sales, management etc). Read on...

MarTech Today: 5 essential strategies B2B marketers must master in 2019
Author: Scott Vaughan


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 oct 2018

When one thinks of marketing, Northwestern University Professor Philip Kotler's name comes right at the top. He is author of the most used marketing texbook in business schools, 'Marketing Management: Analysis, Planning, Implementation and Control', alongwith another 57 books on the subject. Speaking with Paul Talbot, President of a marketing strategy firm Southport Harbour, Prof. Kotler shares his views on the role of CMOs (Chief Marketing Officer) in today's business organizations. Regarding their skills and talents, he says, 'In the 1960s, marketers were hired for their flair for advertising and creativity...Today, we need CMOs with a different skill set. CMOs must be expert at digital marketing...Information and mathematics are crucial. Companies need in-depth information about their customers’ individual beliefs, values, media consumption and channel choices. Marketers today use multiple regression analysis, cluster analysis, discriminant analysis, and predictive analytics to yield customer insight. Marketers increasingly make investments in...social media. CMO has to have good creative marketers on the staff to bring up bright new ideas. The tech approach to marketing is more about efficiency. Marketing creativity and imagination is about winning big.' Regarding collaboration between between marketing teams and others in the organization, he says, 'Back in the 1960s, companies didn’t have a CMO. They had a powerful vice-president of sales who was the driving force. They had added a vice-president of marketing whose job was primarily managing marketing research and preparing advertising and sales promotions...The chief marketing officer concept emerged as markets grew more complex and competitive...who would participate in finding and shaping what the company should produce, in identifying the target markets, and evaluating the overall company strategy...CMOs need to be effective in the following relationships: ...The CMO had to 'carefully' educate the CEO to understand marketing's potential and limitations; ...the CMO and CFO would work together to find and agree on the best way to measure the return on marketing spend; ...I view R&D people to be the masters of what is possible. I view marketers to be the masters of what is valuable; ...If those two executives (CMO and VP of sales) don't get along, the company’s financial performance is doomed.' Read on...

Forbes: Northwestern Professor Philip Kotler On Today's CMO
Author: Paul Talbot


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 aug 2018

It's critical for the marketers to understand the collective habits of the customers of a particular segment they want to sell. Engineers are one such segment that B2B marketers have to deal with while pursuing their campaigns. Patrick D. Mahoney, President and CEO of IEEE GlobalSpec, explains the IEEE GlobalSpec's '2018 Pulse of Engineering Survey - The Changing Work Environment for Engineers Today' and how industrial marketers can utilize the insights to formulate their marketing strategy. The survey of 2236 engineers and professionals was designed to gather measurable and actionable insight on what they think about their industries and work environments. The survey also includes exclusive analysis on two key segments of the engineering workforce: millennials and technical professionals in the electronics industry. Highlights from the research - PRESSURES: 55% of engineers say the pace of engineering is increasing; 53% are required to do more with less; 40% say that pressure to meet deadlines is putting product quality/rework at risk; Majority also say that designs are becoming more sophisticated and that design cycles are shrinking, while time-to-market pressures are increasing; 44% of companies have increased design involvement from external partners and vendors. MILLENNIALS: Marked differences between mindset of younger engineers vs veterans regarding information. Millennials are information hungry. Concerning information access, 24% of surveyed millennials say they are more likely to use video for educational purposes compared to a much smaller 14% of veteran engineers; While the majority (53%) of all engineers are willing to register on a website for access to specific documents, only 44% of millennials indicated such willingness; Younger engineers tend to believe all content should be free and openly accessible (52%). Read on...

Martech Advisor: A Look Into the Mind of the Engineer: For B2B Marketers
Author: Patrick D. Mahoney


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 may 2018

Utilizing customer data to understand consumer behavior through analytics tools is key to improve products and services, and finally gain and retain customers. Restaurant and fast food industry is customer intensive with direct interactions with them. Restaurant sales were approximately US$ 800 billion last year and continue to grow. With hightened competition and increasing customer expectations it becomes challenging to serve what customer wants and keeps coming back for more. Advanced analytics can come to the rescue in this regard. Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry has low average ticket value, customer visit frequency is higher and cyclical, size of the meal matters and customer tastes don't vary that much. The restaurant industry's main goals remain - increase meal size, increase guest frequency and decrease customer lapsation. In today's environment, customers are digital-savvy and restaurants have their data. The value is in gaining actionable insights from this data that positively impact the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Here is what some restaurant chains are doing in this regard - (1) Identified taste affinity clusters: Created various segements of customers and looked at their past purchase behavior to identify taste preferences. (2) Buying behavior analysis: Looked at purchase behavior across different channels to identify which menu items can be added to the combo for someone that orders (mobile vs visit). Used advanced analytics to get a single view of the customer by integrating their POS, mobile, web and social data to identify the customer and hence provide consistent messaging. (3) NPS and Feedback Analysis: Integrated feedback received across all channels and layered it up with sentiment analysis. Customers were given lapsation score and offers were targeted accordingly. (4) Store location analysis: Used predictive models to identify the probability of a new store succeeding in a specific location vis-à-vis another store in the same area. They identified pockets of demand and the model prescribed a set of potential locations in a given geographic area. This data was used to score and rank comparable locations. Read on...

Analytics India Magazine: Advanced Analytics In The Restaurant Industry
Author: Santosh Kumar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 apr 2018

According to Big Commerce, 51% of Americans prefer to shop online, and almost everyone (96%) has made an online purchase in their life. But, with so many competing e-commerce websites and a large number of brick-and-mortar retail stores, the challenge for retailers is to differentiate themselves and, attract, acquire and retain the customers. Retailers can do the following to increase retail sales - (1) Run Beautifully Executed Google Shopping Campaigns: Organize shopping campaigns by best-selling items; Ensure your ad images are high-quality and crawlable; Include merchant promotions and product reviews. (2) Give Shoppers a Reason to Visit Your Store: Provide special in-store discounts to shoppers; Use the power of social media to communicate special in-store deals. (3) Use Social Media Targeting Capabilities to Your Advantage: Configure your social media campaign with detailed targeting to audience who will be most willing to buy the products. Targeting to right demographics is the key. (4) Don't Forget to Be Locally Relevant: Geotargeting; Ad copy and imagery with local appeal; Use local lingo. (5) Invest in Some Guerilla Marketing Campaigns: Use public places innovatively to attract attention and spread the word around. (6) Try Podcast Advertising: According to Edison Research, 67 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly, which is a 14% year-to-year increase. Discover your audience's choice of podcasts and invest in running some advertisements to sponsor the commercial breaks. (7) Get Creative with Video: Use entertainment as a strategic tool in video to attract audience. Getting it viral is a challenge that every creative should take. (8) Celebrate All the Little Holidays: Embrace holidays and link your campaigns to them; Release special limited-edition products around them, run special events, or offer deals in festive holidays colors, it gets people excited. (9) Instill a Sense of Urgency: Urgency in messaging can pressure audience to shop; Run short-term limited-time offers and discounts. (10) Understand Your Seasonal Peaks and Plan Accordingly: Do advance planning for seasonal peaks. This includes adjusting ad spend, working with design for new creative, and executing seasonally relevant campaigns that will boost sales during these peak times. (11) Create Returning Buyers through Smart Remarketing: Remarketing allows you to remind shoppers, re-engage them and assist them in buying again; Think about the lifespan of the product that a customer have bought. Run a remarketing campaign and encourage to buy before the product is finished; Another remarketing tactic is to upsell based on the products customers have previously purchased. Read on...

Business 2 Community: 11 Killer Retail Marketing Tips to Drive Sales Year Round
Author: Margot da Cunha


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 apr 2018

Business-to-business world have a different set of rules and dynamics than business-to-consumer when it comes to branding and how interactions happen with prospects and customers. Ryan Gould, VP of Strategy & Marketing Services at Elevation Marketing, explains how B2B world is fragmented, challenges related to inconsistency in branding and what can be done to improve, enhance and control it. He explains, 'The role of the B2B buyer has evolved along with the rest of the world, and importantly, power has gradually shifted to the hands of millennials. Despite 73% of millennials making purchasing decisions, we are still seeing the world of B2B approach these individuals as if they are the same buyer from 5, 10 and even 20 years ago.' Millennials are the new B2B buyers and B2B marketing had to evolve accordingly. Emphasis on branding and brand building becomes critical. Marketing efforts should be aligned, whether it is social media, email marketing, sales collateral, video etc, and focus on addressing the need of potential buyers and differentiate effectively from competition. Sales-driven nature of B2B sector still holds supreme with marketing becoming secondary to it. But with new buyers sales pitch is not sufficient and they seek better connect with brands they deal with. B2B marketers have to understand this dynamic to build strong business relations. B2B marketers also face challenges related to their budget and lack resources to accomplish all their tasks and had to shuffle between various roles. This gives them insufficient time to focus on brand strategy and to build an overall brand value. Fragmented nature of B2B business adds to the chaos with various departments working in silos. Branding consistency in this environment becomes a challenge and customers get confusing inputs. The brand in this scenario lacks uniformity in content, design and messaging. According to HubSpot, only 50% of B2B marketers are treating visual content as a priority. Marketers have to work on this and fully utilize the power of digital and develop creative strategies to have a better connect with millennial decision-makers. B2B organizations must prioritize branding as their target consumer market is sensitive to it. One statistics suggests that 23% of average revenue increases are attributed to brand consistency. B2B marketers should play their role accordingly - understand target audience, recognize the importance of branding, realize where brand is falling short and develop better brand consistency by using latest tools and solutions to have a connect with customers and establish trust. Read on...

The Drum: Why is inconsistent branding so prevalent in B2B organizations?
Author: Ryan Gould


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 feb 2018

Measurement and analysis of marketing data is becoming critical for understanding the effectiveness of marketing initiatives. The insights help in focusing efforts and money in the right direction. Marketing analytics tools and technologies continue to advance. David Sanderson, CEO of Nugit, explains what will be driving marketing analytics in 2018 and how marketers can keep pace with them - (1) Marketing analysts will need to use many new data sources: Combining data from internal data repositories with other sources like Google Analytics, SEO platform, CRM, Email, Social Media, Chat applications etc will provide better insights that will help to drive consumer interest, optimize pricing, and deliver an improved customer experience. Now analysts must also identify where important data resides, determine what needs to be extracted and devise a strategy for using new data sources to drive business decisions. (2) Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be essential for analytics: Speed of incoming data in large volumes make it difficult for human data analysts to process it effectively. In such a scenario, machine learning and AI tools come to the rescue and help analysts find patterns in customer data, elicit recommendations for optimizing performance, and allow non-professionals to access complicated analytics using simple language. (3) Analysts will become storytellers: Usual data analyst skill like SQL, Excel, business analysis etc, crunching data and making reports will not suffice now. Analysts have to do more - Obtain data from non-traditional sources; Clean data with programming languages such as Python; 'Polish' the data using data visualization tools and create attractive charts and graphs; Transform data into easy-to-understand stories which help non-analysts understand emerging trends and opportunities. Read on...

Econsultancy: The three trends driving marketing analytics in 2018
Author: Jeff Rajeck


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 27 jan 2018

Confluence of sales and marketing is not often seamless. It brings challenges and creates conflicts. Business leaders keep them in silos to avoid friction. But if done effectively, collaboration between the two can bring more benefits and success, saving time and money, and yielding more leads and conversions. Following are ways in which this collaboration can be achieved - (1) Buyer Personas: Both sales and marketing have information about customer segments they serve, albeit from different sources. By sharing the two they can have much better understanding of customers. Together, they can create a precise description of the buyer personas. These descriptions generate personalized content and service delivery. (2) Timing: When the messaging and content is shared is the key to its effectiveness. Through collaboration, marketing can utilize the feedback that sales team receives from customers and time their campaigns, and plan for future strategy accordingly. On the other hand, sharing marketing strategy schedule with sales will help them know when to follow-up with prospects. (3) Content Developent: When sales team creates content it takes away their valuable time from their critical sales activities. By collaboratively developing content, sales and marketing can pool in their strengths and expertise, and focus on customers effectively. This will give sales the content they need and marketing a blueprint to create high value content that inturns generate more leads for sales. (4) Proposals and Agreements: There are software platforms that can help marketing and sales collaboratively create documents like proposals, agreements etc. According to James Kappen, CEO and Founder of Proposable, 'Marketing can go a long way to taking some of the tedious work off the shoulders of the sales team. This includes generating branded proposals with consistent formats and messaging based on the insights the sales team shares with them. That way, marketing can use its expertise in branding, corporate identity, and value-focused content to deliver a more compelling proposal to the sales team to use. The shared information and understanding of the potential buyer elevate the relevancy and engagement that the proposal can offer, enabling more conversions.' Similar tools like Eversign provide the collaborative platform marketing and sales need to work together effectively. The result is that documents can be created, revised, signed and shared between those within the company and the prospect. (5) Analysis: End of the sales cycle can also bring collaborative benefits. Working together of marketing and sales blurs the process of attracting and acquiring customers, thus making the analysis of the role each played in the process difficult. Hence, it becomes beneficial to analyze lead generation data together. This gives everyone opportunity to find out how they are contributing to the whole process and generate the necessary return. Read on...

Forbes: 5 Places Where Sales And Marketing Can Collaborate In 2018
Author: Steve Olenski


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 oct 2017

To interact with customers, keep them connected and build long-term beneficial relationships is the goal of every business. But, achieving it is a challenge and takes a lot of planning and work. According to Cody Burch, founder of Red Anchor Marketing, far too many business owners are limiting themselves to one offering, and missing the bigger picture of what they can do to serve their target audiences. He suggests that businesses should focus on customer experience and offer them multiple products and services to choose from. Mr. Burch provides five steps to establish a complete customer journey - (1) Start with the ideal/ultimate solution that can be provided to people and gives best result. Find the price for this offering and set it as the benchmark. (2) Take a step down from the ideal and design an offering. Repeat the steps until you have an array of offerings from low-cost/low-touch to concierge-level service. Mr. Burch stresses that businesses need a variety of solutions at various price points. (3) Be clear on the transformation you provide. Make sure that the solution you offer is presented in a way your market intuitively understands and values. (4) Cross-sell (products related to and that will enhance your current offering) and upsell (an upgraded offering). Even after the first sale, continue to cross-promote your products and services. (5) Think about your customer experience as a competitive advantage. Mr. Burch says, 'No matter how big or small your business is, you can create a memorable customer journey, one that serves your market, highlights your brand, and makes it stand out from the competition.' Read on...

Huffington Post: Your Customer Journey - Five Steps to Business Success
Author: Lain Ehmann


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 21 oct 2017

Festive season brings attractive offerings from businesses to influence customers to buy more. Sometimes these offerings can be wrapped in unwanted and unreal freebies and discounts. Understand the following tricks to avoid overspending during festive seasons - (1) The unreal urgency: Sales and discounts happen all the year round. There is no need to rush. If you missed one, there will be another. (2) Useless freebies: Don't fall for unwanted free gifts. Direct price discounts on individual items are good alternatives. (3) The fear of loss: When proper research is done before purchase, the best deals can be found all the year round, not just during festive season. Look for the deal that is most suitable. (4) Big savings: The promise of big discounts can be unreal and may not be available at the time of buying. It may just be an advertising attraction with many conditions in the footnote. (5) The deceptive discounts: Deceptive discounts come with asterix. You might actually overspend then what you wanted to. Here are few suggestions to buy only what/when you want and need - (1) Prioritize (2) Postpone your purchase (3) Resist peer pressure (4) Don't shop to de-stress. Performing sufficient market research before the purchase is best to avoid traps and get most value. Read on...

The Economic Times: Festive season sales could be a trap - Here's how to find out
Author: Devansh Sharma


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 sep 2017

Team of researchers - Anatoli Colicev of Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan), Ashwin Malshe of University of Texas at San Antonio (USA), Koen Pauwels of Northeastern University (USA) and Peter O'Connor of ESSEC Business School (France) - in their paper 'Improving Consumer Mind-Set Metrics and Shareholder Value through Social Media: The Different Roles of Owned and Earned' published in Journal of Marketing, describe the impact of social media on stock market performance via three consumer mindset metrics: brand awareness, purchase intent, and consumer satisfaction. According to the research all the social media posts are not created equal. Owned social media (OSM), i.e. company's own posts, is likely to increase brand awareness and customer satisfaction but not purchase intent. While earned social media (ESM), i.e. what consumers say about brands on social platforms, is even more valuable, potentially increasing all three consumer mindset metrics. Prof. Koen Pauwels says, 'Consumers look to their peers before making purchasing decisions, which is why earned social media is so valuable. Both investors and consumers distrust companies who boast about themselves, because it's hard to know what weaknesses they're trying to hide.' The researchers also found that consumer satisfaction and purchase intent are primary contributors to firm value. While higher consumer satisfaction was found to increase stock market returns, greater purchase intent was shown to both increase stock market returns and lower idiosyncratic risk - risk that is endemic to a particular stock and not a whole investment portfolio. The researchers used time series analysis to decipher the link between social media posts on various platforms consumer mindset metrics, and shareholder value. Prof. Pauwels suggests that research findings could assist marketers to develop more effective social media strategies. He says, '...marketers and social media managers should craft their OSM messages to target customers to improve brand awareness and customer satisfaction. Due to the value-relevance of customer satisfaction, OSM that is targeted toward helping customers post-purchase, addressing their concerns, and reinforcing their purchase decisions is much more valuable than OSM crafted to persuade customers to buy the firm's products.' The research also found that brands with high credibility (reputation) are far more likely than brands with low credibility to increase purchase intent with their own posts. Read on...

News @ Northeastern: When it comes to social media, consumers trust each other, not big brands
Author: Jason Kornwitz


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 sep 2017

E-commerce has disrupted traditional retail but at the same time pure-play e-commerce companies find it challenging to be profitable. Steve Dennis, strategic advisor, keynote speaker and founder of SageBerry Consulting, provides economic dynamics of e-commerce companies and analyzes the challenges to their road to profitability. He cites the case of e-commerce behemoth, Amazon, that accounts for 45% of US e-commerce and being in business for more than 20 years, still operates at below average industry margins. Some e-commerce companies are even investing to have physical retail presence. Regarding e-commerce among traditional retailers, Mr. Dennis says, '...it's clear that the e-commerce divisions of many major omni-channel retailers run at a loss - or at margins far below their brick & mortar operations.' According to him, increasingly high cost of acquiring (and retaining) customers online is one of the main dynamics that is an impediment to profitability. He explains, 'As it turns out, many online brands attract their first tranche of customers relatively inexpensively, through word of mouth or other low cost strategies. Where things start to get ugly is when these brands have to get more aggressive about finding new and somewhat different customers.' He provides three factors that lead to this - (1) Marketing costs start to escalate: To seek growth, advertising spend increases; Online platforms like Facebook, Google etc are utilized to gain broader audience. (2) More promotion, less attraction: Customers in the growth phase need more incentives, so gross margin on these incremental sales comes at a lower rate; Customers now expect discounts for future purchases, making them inherently less profitable than the initial core customers. (3) Questionable (or lousy) lifetime value: Customers that are acquired as the brand scales have lower incremental lifetime value, both because on average they spend less and because they are inherently more difficult to retain. Read on...

Forbes: Unsustainable Customer Acquisition Costs Make Much Of Ecommerce Profit Proof
Author: Steve Dennis


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 17 aug 2017

A research study by Strategy Analytics' AppOptix practice (AO) brings good news for B2B players as it finds that 50.4% of consumers use their personal smartphone for business purposes. Employees are using their personal smartphones to conduct business and installing public domain and company-sponsored apps for file sharing, data security, time sheets, expense reporting, and collaboration. B2B companies can identify these business users disguised as consumers to target their offerings. The study also found - 20.5% of business users utilize their personal smartphone over 50% of the time to conduct business; 20.8% of business users are compensated by their employer for their network/wireless operator charges. Author of the study, Prabhat Agarwal (Director, AppOptix), says, 'This research showcases and substantiates there are entry points for B2B players that are looking to offer business services to consumers...By analyzing combinations of apps, we can create probability profiles that identify likely users of business services.' Barry Gilbert (VP, Strategy Analytics), says, 'The business and enterprise user is a critical and lucrative market for mobile operators, device OEMs, and many enterprise software firms...' Read on...

Business Insider: 50.4% of Consumers Use Their Personal Smartphones to Conduct Business, Finds Strategy Analytics
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 20 jun 2017

Social media is a great digital marketing tool for businesses to connect and engage with customers, and for internal communication. Integration of social media within customer relationship management (CRM) modules can help to draw, close and create repeated engagements with customers. Inputs from different social media platforms can assist in lead generation and also set up post-sale engagement with customers. Following are some advantages of social media to businesses - (1) Business professionals can find and engage with peers and customers. (2) Responding to customer complaints, obtain feedback and engage with other customer communication has become much common on social media platforms. (3) Sales people seeking prospects and leads can utilize professional networks on platforms like Linkedin. (4) Companies with robust social media strategy can counter and overcome issues before they transform into crisis due to viral nature of social media. (5) Social media can be utilized as an effective recruitment tool. Somesh Misra, VP at Deskera, a global cloud-based ERP and CRM provider, says, 'In fact, CRM providers are developing functionalities in order to deliver the benefits of Enterprise 2.0 and built-in Web 2.0 technology. Embedding innovative features such as activity feeds, conversation threads, chatbots, etc. into CRM applications could open doors to new and immense possibilities in the field of software development as well as integrated digital marketing.' Read on...

DATAQUEST: Five ways social media can strengthen your customer relationship management
Author: Muqbil Ahmar


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 31 may 2017

Personalization and customization are key for better customer relationships. According to a new research commissioned by RICOH, more than 2/3 of European consumers say the best brands are those who treat them as individuals. The survey of 3600 consumers across Europe was conducted by Censuswide. Consumers were asked to rank brands in terms of the quality of the relationships with them before (reach), during (respond) and after (retain) purchase. Chas Mahoney, director at RICOH Ireland & UK, says, 'The research we commissioned shows 57% of consumers would also spend more with brands that make them feel like valued customers. This heightens the fact that driving business growth must be intimately linked to making interactions easy and ensuring consumers feel appreciated. ...The right technology along with streamlined digital processes are the most powerful tools in the battle to satisfy and retain today's consumers.' Read on...

Independent.ie: A survey has found who the 'customer relationship leaders' are and the results will surprise you
Author: Ellie Donnelly


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 16 may 2017

The way technology is applied and the transformations it brings, can be analyzed by viewing technology as a complement or a replacement to humans. Every industry is impacted by technological advancements. Gartner predicted in 2011 that 85% of all customer interactions with the enterprise won't involve another human. Artificial intelligence (AI) software is now capable of helping employees from both a people standpoint and a hard data standpoint, a combination of culture with productivity. Mario Martinez Jr., CEO of M3Jr Growth Strategies, interacts with Rob Käll, creator of Cien, an app that helps sales teams use AI to fix productivity, improve motivation, and increase sales effectiveness, and explores how AI can successfully help sales teams. Mr. Käll believes that AI can also solve one of the greatest challenges to sales - Motivation. He says, 'Productivity goes down as you grow your sales team. As you grow, it's hard to keep the passion.' Following are three factors that AI can assist to create successful sales team - (1) LEADS: According to Gleanster Research, only 25% of all leads are legitimate and deserve further attention. AI can help sort leads quickly and look out for good leads. Loren Baker, member of Forbes Agency Council, 'AI bots and other AI solutions will better prequalify inbound leads and assist with customer retention. Chatbots and messenger bots can lead the lead or concerned user down a path that lets the sales team know exactly what they need from a lead (qualification) perspective.' (2) PEOPLE: AI doesn't remove people from the process, it assists them to do better. AI helps select good leads and opportunities, offer personal advice, provide daily reminders, lead prioritization performance measurement comparison etc. AI can help to monitor and evaluate team members. (3) MACRO: In sales, macro factors are to be kept in mind - economic growth, competition, seasonality etc. AI can gauge macro factors and help plan accordingly. It can assist in predicting and calculating things. Mr. Käll says, 'How do you incorporate human behavior into a quantitative model? There are plenty of learning algorithms out there, but very few take human behavior into account...We give them the ability to see and understand how and why they achieve their goals.' Read on...

Business 2 Community: 3 Ways Sales Managers Can Use AI to Increase Sales Effectiveness
Author: Mario Martinez Jr.


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 mar 2017

Seeking customer loyalty is a challenge that every business faces. But to achieve success at it consistently, requires precise understanding of what customers want and provide it to them. Hotels are utilizing big data analytics to gain insights into which amenities help them attract and retain customers. According to Anil Kaul, CEO of Absolutdata, which provides marketing and customer analytics to hotels, 'We want to help hotels determine which free amenities give them the best chance to boost their hotel's appeal, increase sales, and improve customer satisfaction.' He explains two scenarios that hotels deal with while attracting customers - (1) 'When the customer first begins to seek a hotel. You want to offer a free amenity package that will convince him or her to choose your hotel over many other possibilities.' (2) 'Providing a great customer experience to your guest during his or her stay. Part of this customer satisfaction is achieved by offering the right free amenities. If you do this well, the guest is likely to return.' Based on Mr. Kaul's research and analytics on different types of hotels, Wi-Fi is at the top of guest's expectations, followed by free bottled water. To gather the data and compute a hotel's amenity analytics, the software uses a methodology that taps into the hotel's reservation system and then combines this data with survey data from customers on amenities and other elements of their stays. Read on...

TechRepublic: How big data analytics help hotels gain customers' loyalty
Author: Mary Shacklett


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 feb 2017

'Drop Shipping' is a practice adopted by retailers where orders are shipped directly from the supplier's warehouse. It gives retailers opportunity to provide more products on their website without keeping them in stock, thus saving on inventory. Some analysts predict that drop shipping will be a mainstream process this year. According to a retail industry survey by SPS Commerce, 40% of respondents said they expect more drop-ship vendors in 2017. This will also benefit logistics companies as small suppliers and manufacturers often outsource tasks like inventory management, shipping etc to them. Josh Miller, VP of business development at CTL Global Inc, says, 'The (supplier) gets the audience, the retailer gets the sales. Drop shipping accounts for about 20% of CTL's revenue, compared with 5% five years ago.' The downside of drop shipping is that retailer has to give control of inventory management, shipping etc to third parties, while in case of wrong orders retailers are still on the hook. Nikki Baird of Retail Systems Research LLC, that conducted the survey for SPS, says, 'It's a big trust issue. Heavy, bulky things are better to ship from the supplier. But the problem is that the retailer then doesn't have control or visibility as to how that process is going.' Moreover, retailers also run the risk of turning suppliers into rivals by sharing customer data. Moreover, number of manufacturers are themselves turning to ecommerce to sell directly to customers. Following are some expert comments on the dynamics of online retail - (1) Irv Grossman, EVP at Chainalytics: 'Retailers are looking at Amazon and saying I may miss an opportunity. They're concerned about market share.' (2) Cathy Morrow Roberson, head analyst at Logistics Trends & Insights LLC: 'Managing capacity as drop-ship orders ebb and flow could pose a challenge for logistics companies.' (3) Frank Layo, retail strategist at Kurt Salmon: 'The practice (drop shipping) also costs more than buying items wholesale, because logistics and delivery get baked into the price.' Read on...

The Wall Street Journal: 'Drop Shipping' Looks Set to Go Mainstream as More Retailers Get on Board
Author: Jennifer Smith


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 nov 2016

Research by Prof. Ali Besharat of University of Denver, 'The Effect of Review Valence and Variance on Product Evaluations: An Examination of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Cues' (Other authors - Ryan Langan of University of San Francisco; Sajeev Varki of University of South Florida), explores how the rating and variance in reviews affect the decision process. Researchers find that the nature of products, a product's brand, reviewers' credibility, and the structure of online customer reviews all significantly impact consumer decision-making and, subsequently, a company's bottom line in terms of sales. According to Prof. Besharat, 'In the case of high online review variance, we find that when brand equity is high - Nike for example - then reviewer credibility does not influence consumers' purchase intentions. But when a consensus among reviews exists (low variance), reviewer credibility emerges as a significant diagnostic cue.' Another research by Prof. Ana Babić Rosario of University of Denver, 'The Effect of Electronic Word of Mouth on Sales: A Meta-Analytic Review of Platform, Product and Metric Factors' (Other authors - Francesca Sotgiu of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Kristine De Valck of HEC Paris; Tammo H.A. Bijmolt of University of Groningen), confirms Prof. Besharat's findings and demonstrates that a wide variance in consumer opinions has a detrimental effect on product sales. According to Prof. Rosario, 'The reason why variability of reviews can harm sales more than negativity is that electronic world of mouth, in theory, is a way for consumers to reduce risk and uncertainty, which does not happen when other consumers' feedback is highly inconsistent.' Prof. Rosario's findings should be of interest to product and platform managers, internet and social media monitoring agencies. Read on...

University of Denver News: What Brand and Marketing Managers Need to Know About Online Customer Reviews; How They Influence Purchase Decisions
Author: Amy Jacobson


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 oct 2016

According to Mapp Digital's whitepaper, 'Consumer Views of Email Marketing', more than 98% of consumers, aged 18-64, check emails at least one to three times a day. The survey for whitepaper included a national panel of 1765 consumers between the ages of 18-64, 70% had a household income of over US$ 35000 and participants were evenly distributed by gender and geographic region. The findings point out the importance of age in receptiveness of email marketing. Nearly 2/3rd (64%) of respondents aged 55-64 said that they will delete email, as opposed to 38% of 18-24 year-olds. 91% aged 18-24, and 83% aged 25-34 said that they use smartphones to view emails. It suggests that for effective email marketing, optimize for smartphones. Mike Biwer, CEO of Mapp Digital, says, 'Email marketing is still very relevant to brands, specifically for the hard-to-reach 18-34 year-old audience. The survey results suggest that this group of consumers are engaging with fewer brands on a more intimate level. Millennials and Gen Y are strong audiences for email marketers, but now more than ever, the email marketing experience needs to cater to what they want and how they want it.' Read on...

Enterprise Innovation: Email marketing still vital for targeting young US consumers
Author: NA


Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2016

Packaging is an important component of product handling, logistics, advertising, marketing and selling. There are variety of materials that are currently in use for packaging. Environmental challenges arise due to the waste generated through discarded packagings. The packaging industry is exploring better materials that can reduce environmental footprint. In spite of scientific breakthroughs in developing new packaging materials, there are issues related to their performance and price, inhibiting their mass adoption and usage. Bryan Shova, packaging designer and industrial design director at Kaleidoscope, explains sustainability aspects of packaging. He says, 'I dream of the day when material science and manufacturing can deliver on the promise of zero environmental impact, high performance, premium finish and low costs.' He explains, 'The viability of true sustainability is a complex economic challenge, and the ugly truth is that few consumers, brand owners or municipalities are willing to pay the premium price for cutting-edge sustainable packaging solutions. True solutions will come through "systems thinking" that requires the material supplier, manufacturer, retailer, consumer and the municipality to share in the premium costs and labor required to design, collect and recycle packaged materials.' He provides 10 principles for designing sustainable packaging - (1) Start with commodity materials that are commonly recycled. (2) Design the package from a single material. (3) Focus on the product-to-package ratio. (4) Design for assembly at the point of manufacture. (5) Avoid gluing and laminations. (6) Design for distribution. (7) Eliminate secondary and tertiary packaging when possible. (8) Design for disassembly. (9) Clearly mark the materials on the packaging components. (10) Use Lifecycle Assessment. Read on...

Packaging Digest: 10 ways to design sustainable packaging with intent
Author: Bryan Shova

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