Thursday, April 18, 2013

In Your Home or in Your Pocket - Creating a Great Retail Experience

I'm a huge fan of QVC (home shopping TV). They have taken their traditional in-home buying model mobile. They have opened up an entirely new revenue stream that targets a whole new demographic. And when those that traditionally only shop from the comforts of their home start migrating to mobile, QVC will be there with a fine tuned experience.

I recently discovered a very awesome yet dangerous mobile feature - text to purchase. By texting "ONAIR" to a 5 digit number I'll get the item currently on air shipped to me. This is the epitome of the "speed buy" transaction. QVC already knows how to bill me and where to send it.

QVC has made the investment in mobile and it will/has attracted a new set of customers that expect shopping on their terms when and where they have time to fit it in - when we are "snacking" on mobile.

Unlike the story of JC Penney, QVC has not forgotten their loyal customer base that helped get them where they are today. Rather they have used mobile as a compliment to and extension of the in-home shopping experience they are known for.

How will you use mobile to extend your brand, acquire new customers, while meeting the expectations of your loyal customers?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Allstate's Drivewise is a Mobile Trifecta

Allstate's Drivewise app is a mobile trifecta:
1. Saves Allstate customers money
2. Utility app for promoting safer driving
3. Drives loyalty & brand allegiance

Let's talk! What are some other examples of Trifecta apps? Add your favorites in the comments below.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dockers, Skinny Jeans and Everything in Between - What happened to JC Penney?

The recent news about the demise of JC Penney's CEO, Ron Johnson, has really captured my attention.    
JC Penney was a staple in my childhood. I have fond memories of shopping with my mom and sister for every milestone life event at the store - the back to school shopping pilgrimage, the matching easter outfits, new decor for the house, our family portraits.  Everything significant seemed to have a road that lead through JC Penney for one reason or another.  And probably the biggest impression I have of the retailer is the catalog.  I can still smell that giant catalog, feel those thin glossy pages, and see those stylish images of women in their perfectly coordinating Worthington suits. The most anticipated event in my childhood was the special toy catalog.
 I vividly remember pouring over every page with my sister at our kitchen table very carefully making my selections for Santa Claus to bring.  The retailer was also my employer in high school.  I further experienced the brand as a cashier in the mens jeans department.  Although my tenure was short, I experienced the culture of the company through the training program and my co-workers.  There was always the mystique of that polished sales associate in the suit working on commission to push those St. John's Bay products to men (and the women that shopped for their men). It was a role that felt unattainable to me at that point in my life.  As I grew up I migrated away from the store.  Once I was on my own the JC Penney brand seemed no longer relevant to me.  I had always associated it with "older" people. I was fresh, young, and hip!  I shopped at Express!

Well maybe it's because I'm "older" now or that there is a store within a mile from my new house, I've recently just re-discovered the retailer. I was pleasantly surprised at my experience in the store.  The clothes were trendy, the store was clean and well organized, and Sephora was located in the store.  The icing on the cake was the free wifi prominently advertised in the store.  Nostalgia kicked in as I purchased my sons Easter suits there this year and took them for their annual portraits.

From my perspective everything seemed to be headed in the right direction for the retailer, so what went wrong?  I've been reading as much as I can about the situation and have taken away 3 key themes to what happened:

1) changing too much too fast
2) ignoring important factors in the economy - the rising price of cotton to make clothing & it's impact to profit margins
3) forgetting the bread & butter customer to focus on a new target profile

While personally I was thrilled with the changes at JC Penney, I came back to the store by chance.  Their loyal customer was the baby boomer generation who had a specific level of comfort and set of expectations for the brand.  It must have been a shock to the system to see the Mango brand get more floor space than Worthington.  It's the equivalent of taking your parents to H&M or American Apparel to find an outfit.  The pricing model has also been subject to a lot of scrutiny.  Many say it was confusing.  More fashionable clothing with similar quality to other retailers at a much cheaper price.  I'll take it.  But again, I wasn't accustomed to the previous pricing strategy as their loyal customers were.  They were expecting a Sunday sales circular  promoting  door buster specials.  It wasn't clear that the price on the tag was actually a really low price already

Had Mr. Johnson introduced the changes in phases and taken the loyal crowd on a journey instead of splashing cold water in their face I think we'd be talking about a very different story about the retailer today.

As always, interested in your thoughts on the developing story.