Mystery Shopping – a Real Value or a Real Bust?

Posted by November 11, 2010 by David RichComments

Mystery shopping is the program everyone loves to hate. Yet, it’s the only real objective retail tool available. Why is it so disrespected? Because its’ often misunderstood, poorly implemented or improperly used. Mystery shopping tells you exactly what’s happening in your stores including how employees are performing, how your displays look, how clean your stores are, how bathrooms are being maintained, how long someone waits to pay for a purchase. You work tirelessly to get it right at the corporate level, but how do you know your plans, goals and training are being properly and effectively implemented in your stores?

When done right, Mystery Shopping is a tremendous asset for retailers. Results can be used right away to improve the customer experience and to motivate employees, optimize resources and improve operations in every way. Sound big? It is. Mystery shopping is observational research at the business level and like any research, you have to know what data needs to be gathered and how to best interpret and use it. Without these metrics in place and properly carried out, the value is questionable. And like most things, something done poorly is usually worse than not doing it at all.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping

Using Innovative Technology to Boost Sales

Posted by November 8, 2010 by myadminComments

Shopping online has become commonplace for the American consumer – but there’s more than one new approach to making more sales – online and at brick and mortar locations.

With the season that for many retailers is ‘make-or-break’ rapidly approaching, many retailers are trying fresh approaches. Mobile shopping apps are gaining popularity, allowing retailers to send offers directly to shoppers’ phones with the aim of reaching those buyers when they’re within a short walk or drive of the stores.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Give Customers Exactly What They Want

Posted by November 1, 2010 by myadminComments

That’s precisely what the new online shopping site Plum Willow is hoping to achieve by working with teenage interns who are telling them what they like and why. Savvy and resourceful, these teens have their finger on the pulse of a group that has considerable retail purchasing power.

“They definitely aren’t shy about telling us what they like and don’t like,” says Lindsay Anvik, director of marketing at PlumWillow, who helps oversee the internship program at its offices in Manhattan.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Macy’s Shakes it Up

Posted by October 28, 2010 by myadminComments

Macy’s has a new approach to keeping things fresh. Their ‘Impulse’ department will rotate designers every two months. They’re working with top international designers to create lines especially for their stores.

The Impulse department targets younger shoppers and prices will range from $50-300. “This customer loves to shop,” said Jeff Gennette, the chief merchandising officer of Macy’s. “She wants to be in our store all the time, and we’d better be interesting.”

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Topics: Customer Experience

Amazon Breaks New Ground – Again

Posted by October 25, 2010 by myadminComments

Amazon expert and staff writer for TechFlash Eric Engelman reports that the online retail giant was just granted a patent for ‘environmentally conscious electronic transactions’. The patent envisions a system in which customers are given "a shipping option that might not be as fast, and might be more expensive, but that is more environmentally friendly in at least one way." It also suggests letting people buy carbon credits to offset the emissions generated by the packaging and shipping of their purchases.

Who would have thought you could patent slower, more expensive shipping? The patent covers many consumer options including the option to have products shipped in smaller boxes, have items packaged together and using a shipping company that has a deliberately smaller carbon footprint.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Holiday Season 2010

Posted by October 22, 2010 by myadminComments

Consumers are most interested in value and price this holiday season. Spending is up and so is bargain hunting. The National Retail Federation is forecasting holiday sales will be the best in four years. Some sources report the numbers might be stronger for online than for brick and mortar locations.

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Topics: Customer Experience

A New Twist on Geo-Targeting

Posted by October 20, 2010 by myadminComments

The North Face, the outdoor and apparel retailer is testing a new geo-targeting strategy known as ‘geo-fencing’. Customers can opt-in to receive ‘auto check-in’ service which allows North Face to send an SMS message via a smart or standard cell phone. Essentially, users are opting to be identified when they arrive and leave certain areas.

When customers opt-in to the "Summit Signals" program, they automatically receive SMS offers once they are within a 1.5 miles radius of a North Face location. Customers also receive other information relevant to their location that would be of potential interest such as hiking trails or outdoor recreation areas.

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Topics: Customer Experience

The Value of Facebook Fans

Posted by October 18, 2010 by myadminComments

Facebook wields power and influence. People are influenced by the preferences of the people they connect and communicate with online. According to a Retail Daily survey, 38% of respondents reported that they would likely become a fan of a brand if they saw a family member or close friend do so.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Strong Holiday Season Predicted

Posted by October 15, 2010 by myadminComments

The International Council of Shopping Centers released its forecast Tuesday, predicting an increase in sales during the holiday shopping season of between 3% and 3.5%.

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Topics: Customer Experience

These Are Not Your Mother’s Green Stamps

Posted by October 13, 2010 by myadminComments

Remember S&H Green Stamps? They were an incentive for grocery shoppers back in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. Spend money, get stamps, trade the stamps for goods.

Proctor and Gamble is part of a new take on this concept and are, according to AdAge.com backing a first-of-its-kind effort to reward consumers for learning and blogging about environmental sustainability. They are also underwriting a Cincinnati program that gives people points redeemable for goods based on how much they recycle.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Blog