Content-Based Marketing

Courtesy of Sand Hill

Retail Localization, Content-based Marketing

If you are an enterprise software vendor, at least half of your marketing programs are likely not making the right connection with your prospects to convert them into customers. On paper you are doing all the right things. You have done the market research and know where your prospects are. You are marketing your latest webinar in the right online forums or advertising your latest white paper by buying the right keywords. You have amassed a large prospect database and are actively marketing to them. You may even have a blog and a social media strategy. But despite all these efforts, your lead-to-opportunity conversion ratio is still below target because your leads are too raw and just not yet ready to engage. You have also recently started a drip nurture marketing program, but even that is not helping.

This article will help you identify the core issue and then suggest steps to improve the effectiveness of your marketing programs.

Why prospects don’t engage with marketing programs

How can your marketing programs engage your prospects better? To answer this question, you have to first think: when was the last time you sat down and paid attention to all the marketing messages that surround you every day? Customers have simply stopped listening to all the noise from the traditional world of marketing. At home, they use TiVo to skip television advertising and rarely notice the ads in newspapers and magazines.

However, when an ad appeals to their emotions, they pay attention. Remember the Apple “javelin throw” commercial at the 1984 Super Bowl? What about last year’s mini Darth Vadar unleashing “the force” on his dad’s Volkswagen? Similarly at work, customers will listen to your marketing messages if you have something that makes them better at their jobs and can be consumed rapidly. This is the essence of the new marketing technique called content-based marketing. Successful software marketing organizations are already using it very effectively.

So what is content-based marketing? According to the Content Marketing Institute, it is a technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience. It is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they continue to pay attention and ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty. And they do.

The key to effective content marketing is that it must be relevant and valuable to prospects and that it must be bite-sized, so that it can be easily consumed by the busy, multi-tasking professional during his or her already overloaded work day. Even if the content is relevant and important, who has time to listen to an archive of a 45-minute webinar or read a six-page white paper that your marketing organization may be promoting using Google Adwords or in a nurture email campaign?

Read the entire article at Sand Hill

Walgreen profit leaps 69% in Q4

Courtesy of Chain Store Age

Walgreen Profit Soars Retail Localization

Walgreen Co. reported Tuesday that profit for its fiscal fourth quarter surged 69%, in part due to gains from the $525 million sale of its pharmacy benefits management business Walgreens Health Initiatives during the quarter.

Net income for the quarter ended Aug. 31 rose to $792 million, up from $470 million in the year-ago period and surpassing Wall Street expectations.

Revenue rose 6.5% to $18 billion and same-store sales increased 4.4%.

For the full fiscal year, Walgreen reported earnings of $2.71 billion on $72.18 billion in revenue.

“Through constant innovation and effective execution of our key initiatives, we continued to make substantial progress this year in the transformation of Walgreens to become the first choice for health and daily living,” said Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson.

In the fourth quarter, the company opened or acquired 59 stores compared with 65 in the year-ago quarter. In fiscal 2011, Walgreens added a net gain of 199 new drug stores including 32 acquisitions, on target with its plan to slow organic store growth to between 2.5% and 3% during the year.

Read the entire article at Chain Store Age

Macy’s Comes Out on Top in New Local Retail Advertising Study

Macy's Herald Square, Retail Localization

Here on Merchandising Matters, we have discussed the importance of “retail localization”, particularly as it pertains to in-store marketing campaigns within the store. But a new report from RSR Research (sponsored by MaxPoint Interactive), out today, sheds some light on the localized advertising efforts of today’s top retailers centered on driving traffic into the store. So how did today’s leading retailers do?

To start, RSR divided the criteria into four categories: traditional advertising, digital advertising, alternative offers and on-site communication, putting emphasis on channels that are primarily used for communicating offers and promotions. Retailers were selected based on their ranking within STORES magazine’s 2010 Top 100 Retailers and the 2010 Hot 100 Retailers (ranked by revenue and revenue growth, respectively). From there, four market verticals were selected – department/clothing stores, electronics, sporting goods and casual dining restaurants.

The net result across all retailers: while there are specific instances of localized inspiration, as a whole, retailers have not implemented localization as a major part of their advertising strategy, particularly as it relates to driving traffic to stores.

The top 5 retailers’ scores (based on a total of 45 possible points):

1. Macy’s – 31.5 points
2. J.C. Penney – 31 points
3. Sports Authority – 30.5 points
4. Best Buy – 30 points
5. Kohl’s – 26.5 points

We must admit that we are not surprised to see Macy’s rank in the number one spot. Of all the top national retail chains, Macy’s has really focused on the localization of its stores with its My Macy’s initiative, which was developed with the goal of ensuring core customers surrounding each Macy’s store find merchandise assortments, size ranges, marketing programs and shopping experiences that are custom-tailored to their needs.

The report highlights other successful initiatives and offers retailers four specific recommendations around localized advertising efforts that will help drive consumers into their stores. Click the link to download a complimentary copy of “The Local Approach: The State of Localized Advertising in Retail.”

Retail CFOs Expect 3% Increase in Total 2011 Sales

Courtesy of Chain Store Age

Retail Localization Fixture Level Mannequin

Amid economic uncertainty and low consumer confidence levels, retail CFOs are expecting a 3% increase in total 2011 sales, according to a recent survey by BDO USA, LLP. While the number reflects the study’s most optimistic sales forecast since 2007, it is down from the 4.7% sales increase reported by the Commerce Department in 2010.

The vast majority of CFOs surveyed in the fifth-annual BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs expect to see a continuation of stagnant economic conditions. Just 11% expect to see an economic turnaround in the next year, up slightly from 2010 (9%). Thirty-eight percent of CFOs say improved consumer confidence will be most important factor for economic recovery, and another 36% cite lower unemployment as the linchpin.

“Retailers may not anticipate a full recovery in the near future, but we’re not seeing gloom and doom in sales expectations,” said Doug Hart, partner in the retail and consumer product practice at BDO USA. “Despite low confidence levels, macroeconomic conditions are not weighing on the consumer’s wallet as much as expected.

In other survey findings:

  • Retailers are moderately optimistic for sales in the second half of 2011. A majority (51%) expect sales to increase during this period, up from 44% in 2010. Overall, retailers project a 3.5t% increase in comparable-store sales for the second half of 2011. For all of 2011, retail CFOs forecast a 2.3% increase in comparable-store sales.
  • The appetite for M&A deals is on the rise. Nearly all (96%) of retail CFOs expect such activity to increase or remain steady in the next year. Most CFOs (66%) expect M&A activity to take place primarily in the United States, followed by the Asia-Pacific region (18%) and Europe (16%). However, the CFOs in the Top 100 largest retailers who were included in the sample have greater expectations for the international market. Seventy-five percent of CFOs in the Top 100 expect Europe to see the majority of M&A activity.
  • Although private equity deals have dominated acquisition activity, CFOs are predicting an increase in strategic buyouts this year. The CFOs are split on whether upcoming M&A activity will be primarily driven by strategic buyers (52%) or financial buyers (48%). On average, CFOs say they would expect to see an EBITDA (earnings before income and tax, depreciation and amortization) multiple of 6.5 for an acquisition in the retail and consumer product space.

The BDO survey examined the opinions of 100 CFOs at leading retailers located throughout the country. The retailers were among the largest in the country, including 10% of the Top 100 based on annual sales revenue. The survey was conducted in August and September 2011.

Courtesy of Chain Store Age

Moving Retail Operations from the Stone Age to the Digital Age: Part 2 – Create a Single Platform for the Merchandising Process

While physical limitations prevent stores from being as fast as the Internet retail channel, multi-channel retailers have taken steps to speed up their brick-and-mortar operations by implementing three key strategies.

Retail Localization, Single Merchandising Platform

In Part 1, we talked about how in-store execution is critical to the success of any retail operation. In this post, we outline a single platform to streamline the merchandising process.

Merging merchandising processes to one platform; opening visual two-way communication channels with store employees; and leveraging business rules to automate the process of delivering more localized campaigns.

Create A Single Platform for the Merchandising Process.

Today, most retailers use a number of different systems to execute in-store merchandising and data collection. As a result, the cross-functional teams attempting to collaborate have an ill-defined set of tasks and little means to hold one another accountable for moving the process forward. Data silos are created and teams make decisions based only on the data available to them.

A single platform also enables retailers to extend the reach and relationship with their product suppliers, giving them insight into the merchandising process. This is becoming increasingly important as brands are demanding proof of execution, particularly as they make decisions about whether to allocate their marketing budgets to in-store or direct-to-consumer digital channels.

Given the complexity of executing campaigns, retailers that are succeeding offer stakeholders a unified platform where all campaigns, assets, tasks and messages are stored. Having this single view ensures everyone is on the same page.

We’ve seen a migration to this type of approach be successful in many other business processes, such as sales force, supply chain and marketing automation.

Top 5 Supermarkets by Region

Courtesy of RIS

Top 5 Supermarkets, Retail Localization

Competition between supermarkets is multi-faceted. For retailers who can’t compete with the prices offered by everyday low price retailers like Walmart and Costco, offering a great customer experience is the key they need to differentiate themselves and to survive long-term.

“For grocers looking to compete with the Walmarts and Costcos of the world, they must differentiate on the customer experience,” says Brian Jones, vice president of grocery with customer experience management solutions provider Empathica. “It’s difficult to battle with them on price across all products and categories, so to survive long-term, brands need to compete in a different way — that means being smarter about how they deal with their customers.”

Empathica’s Consumer Insights Panel recently surveyed more than 16,000 North American consumers on how well grocery stores deliver on customer service expectations. The panel selected the most important customers for each brand — those who said they spend 50% or more of their money at that particular grocer.

The consumers were asked to rank the stores based on five primary service areas: merchandise, promotions, operations, people and technology. Based on these criteria, the survey ranked Wegmans Food Markets as the top grocer overall in the U.S. Walmart ranked among the lowest based on four of the five service areas: operations, people, promotions and merchandise. A&P, C&S Wholesale Grocers and Unified Grocers also ranked among the lowest across all five service areas.

Below are the survey results showing the top preferred grocers by region based on consumers’ rankings of the overall customer experience.

1. Giant Eagle
2. Meijer Inc.
3. Kroger Co.
4. Hy-Vee Food Stores
5. Aldi

1. Wegmans Food Markets
2. Delhaize America
3. Ahold USA
4. Wakefern Food Corp.
5. Giant Eagle

1. Harris Teeter
2. Publix Super Markets
3. Kroger Co.
4. H.E. Butt Grocery Co.
5. Safeway

1. Kroger Co.
2. Safeway
3. Supervalu
4. Costco Wholesale Corp.
5. WinCo Foods

Courtesy of RIS

Starbucks to expand in Latin America

Courtesy of ChainStoreAge

Starbucks Retail Localization

Starbucks Coffee Co. plans to expand in Latin America after concentrating in recent past years more on Asia, founder and CEO Howard Schultz said at a presentation in Madrid, Bloomberg reported.

The chain as about $2 billion in cash to invest in an “aggressive and opportunistic way,” Schultz said, and is especially interested in Brazil, according to the report.

The CEO also said he is “more optimistic” about the company than ever before, and that Starbucks will be “opportunistic and aggressive” seeking growth.

Moving Retail Operations from the Stone Age to the Digital Age: Part 1 – Introduction

A multi-pronged marketing strategy can only be executed as fast as your slowest retail channel.

Retail Localization in the Digital Age

Do you know which channel is preventing your organization from moving as fast as it should be? For most retailers, it’s their brick-and-mortar stores whose merchandising processes and technologies have not been able to keep pace with new retail mediums.

In-store execution is critical to the success of any retail operation. Consider the AMR report, “Bridging the Merchandising and Store Operations Divide,” which highlights this issue.

Retailers know that:

• 85% of purchasing decisions are made at the shelf, therefore optimizing merchandising and promotional strategies are critical.
• Only 37% of retail merchandisers are confident in the ability of store operations to execute these strategies.

Retail Localization in the Digital Age

Retailers frequently coordinate merchandising execution across hundreds or thousands of unique stores-fronts using outdated processes and technologies that create waste and confusion. Because of this, there is a high level of non-compliance.

AMR reported that 89% and 75% of retailers are using the phone and fax, respectively, as their primary communication methods to stores.

The result is inaccurate in-store execution and merchandising, slow time to market and a broken marketing process. The incorporation of e-commerce into the retailers merchandising strategy has highlighted the inefficiencies of in-store marketing.

A retailer’s Web channel can launch campaigns with the click of a button and have complete visibility into what the consumer is viewing in order to provide customized offers based on the visitor’s past behavior.

Part 2 of The Multi-Channel Merchant will focus on creating a single platform for the merchandising process

27% of Americans to Spend Less on 2011 Holiday

Courtesy of ChainStoreAge

Shopper Marketing, Stat of the Week

Most than a quarter of Americans expect to spend less during the holidays this year, according to a survey by American’s Research Group, Reuters reported.

About 27% of people surveyed said they planned to spend less this year, while about 55% expect to spend only as much as last year. The question was one of several asked exclusively for Reuters as part of a larger America’s Research Group survey.

More than half of those surveyed said they expected the economy to slow further before it recovers. Only about 18% of Americans plan to spend more this holiday season, down from 23% last year.

Merchandising Across Channels

Courtesy of RIS News

Traditionally in retail, merchandising refers to the selection of products a retailer has available for sale and how those products are displayed in-store. The goal is to display products in a way that stimulates interest and entices customers to make a purchase.

Retail Localization Artwork, Visual Merchandising

Today, retail goes beyond the physical store with more customers shopping online and on their smartphones. As retail continues to expand into multiple channels, merchandising solutions are also expanding to include the appropriate functions to manage these new and emerging channels.

Merchandising Across Channels, Retail Localization

This month’s Vendor Landscape focuses on customer-centric merchandising solutions that work not only on the physical store level, but the online and mobile channels as well. These targeted and end-to-end solutions cover merchandise planning, store planning, store clustering, assortment planning, space planning and allocation/replenishment. RIS lists some of the major merchandising vendors and highlights some recent retailer deployments.

Merchandising on the Floor

RBM Technologies is making its merchandising solutions more accessible by making its Visual Merchandising Manager Mobile now available for the Cisco Cius tablet. The Cisco Cius brings VMM out from the back office and on to the sales floor to drive precise execution at the point of sale. With VMM on a tablet, retailers can execute merchandising and marketing tasks faster and with more precision for the best possible customer experience.

Improving Profits

Since 2010, Holiday Station stores experienced success using Revionics’ Life Cycle Price Optimization, which provides analytical detail, forecasts results and provides analysis of sales trends, allowing the retailer to be proactive to demand with pricing strategy and shape consumer behavior. As a result, the convenience store chain improved profit margins at its 400 stores in 10 states and the company is on track to achieve the gross profit improvement it anticipated.

Enhancing Inventory

Modell’s Sporting Goods gained the benefits of reliable and consistent data and better control over and reduction of its inventory by implementing the JDA Merchandise Management System from Retail Process Engineering (RPE). “We needed an end-to-end, robust merchandise management solution that offered core merchandising, warehousing and financial capabilities and could enhance inventory and management efficiencies,” says Hans Kantor, vice president of IT for Modell’s. “This degree of change is seldom tackled and even less frequently successfully accomplished.”

Read the entire article at RIS News