Saturday, June 29, 2013

As Long as Flip Flops are $1 the Brick & Mortar will Live

I spent my Saturday waiting in a line that rivaled any Disney line in peak season. I was at Old Navy and flip flops were on sale for $1. I did not know this when I decided to use my Saturday to shop. In the hopes of avoiding the lines and  being the tech savvy gal I am I price checked everything I had intended to purchase at the Old Navy mobile site. The prices were discount but still higher. I'm no frugalista but I couldn't pay nearly twice as much online for basic cotton shorts that I'm sure I won't wear next year.

So I waited with my pile of clothes. And while I waited the line snaked between racks of merchandise. I couldn't help but add sunglasses, earrings, and a few belts to my pile.
Kudos to Old Navy for using the "Black Friday" bait of nearly free shoes to lure people in the stores and into buying far more than shoes. And ,unlike Black Friday, the flip flop bin never ran out. In fact, they were strategically placed throughout the store to ensure people would wander and hopefully pick up some $10 shorts or a $5 t-shirt. Those $1 flip flops added up to big money for this retailer.

My lesson: Mobile might be faster, a time saver but its not always cheaper. And sometimes, nothing beats a good sale. In case you were wondering, I didn't even get a pair of $1 flip flops.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Use Mobile to Add New Life to The Brick & Mortar Experience

Based on research findings from the Pew Institute we actually do still use our mobile phones to make calls.  The interesting distinction in this report is that they were looking at what we are doing with our mobile phones while in a  retail store.  

If you pay any attention to the tech headlines, as I do, you would think we've all but abandoned the brick and mortar for our computers and mobile devices and that Best Buy & other big box retailers are teetering on extinction because of  This is not entirely the case.  While we may be going less often to a physical retail location, we are going.  The opportunity for retailers now is to really capitalize on engagement and customer experience when they have us captive between their walls.  In fact,  in some ways there has been a mini resurgence of the retail store.  According to a recent article posted on on Fast -
"The store might be the last place brands gain the undivided attention of today’s distracted consumer ". 

"Digital offers endless novelty, but only the store creates an immersive, holistic, and fun experience for consumers".

Here are some tips for using mobile to create an awesome customer experience in your store:

First and foremost, educate your employees.  Nothing deflates the awesomeness of mobile complimenting in-store experience than the uneducated sales associate.  Unfortunately, one of my favorite retailers has fallen victim to this  - Target. The luster of the Passbook offer quickly faded when I reached the checkout and the cashier had no idea what it was, how to scan it, or what the discounts applied to.  I was instructed to proceed to customer service to finish my transaction (with a toddler and infant in tow).  No thanks.   Where Target is shining is by recognizing that I'm using my Target app while in the store to locate products.  The app tells me what aisle it's in and if it's in stock.

Loyalty cards should be in apps or in Passbook.   Tesco makes it easy for folks not already card members to sign-up while in the store at an iPad station.  Grocery chains like Wegman's, popular on the East Coast, allow the card to be scanned from their app.  You can also view past purchases, create lists, and bar code scan products to add to a list or get more information.  Your list is totaled as you add items so you can easily stick to your budget.  All of these small features add up to a better experience both inside the store and in preparing to go to the store.  Keeping the Wegman's brand front and center in the crowded market for grocery stores.

Any coupons or offers that come in the mail or via email should be accessible and redeemable via the phone.  Those coupons that print at the grocery store with your receipt are the perfect use case for offers to be dropped into your app. They are personalized based on what you just purchased and can stay with you on your phone.  Taking the next step to remind me about these offers nearing expiration, when I am in the vicinity of the store, or when I am in a competitors location would be helpful.

Bed Bath and Beyond has a great, non-obtrusive, text messaging coupon program.  The text with the offer is always there when I need it.  No need to remember that post card that's always on my kitchen counter.  Taking offers one step further,  make the offers dynamic & relevant.  You know what I've purchased before and that I'm in the store, so send me relevant offers that seem tailored just to me. A recent study reports that deploying contextually relevant coupons on mobile trigger 51% of consumers to shop in-store.

Add urgency to the offer with an expiration.  One high-end sneaker retailer in Guatemala,  Meat Pack, took the urgency to the extreme.  They used Geofencing in their app to know when a person is in range of a competitor's store.  They then pushed an offer to the phone through their HiJack app that starts with a 99% off discount and decreases by the second.  The faster the person gets to the store, the greater the discount.  This is particularly effective in the mall setting.

Whether it's personalized mobile offers, using mobile to streamline the checkout experience, or making product selection easier, mobile can offer small touches that create competitive advantage and make the overall in store experience more engaging.  Couple these mobile tactics with the urgency of a  good old fashioned "Black Friday-esque" door buster and you have the makings of blockbuster revenue generation.

Always interested in hearing examples of how mobile has improved your retail experience. Please share in the comments below. Thanks!

Friday, June 14, 2013

iOS 7: Love it or Hate it?

A lot of buzz this week about the iOS 7 design overhaul.  I've been able to give the beta a test drive and my initial reaction was: "Man, this sure looks like a Google app".   The first adjectives that came to my  mind were translucent, flat, colorful, bright and, well......different.  Change is good and is the name of the game in mobile but I sure am going to miss a few things. There was something very comforting about the depth of the traditional iOS look and feel.   Design is an art and very subjective. My colleague published a great blog on design trends and how everything comes back around eventually.  Apple has been practicing what's known as Skeuomorphism.  This is the design approach of making things look like the really do - a wooden bookshelf, buttons so real looking you want to reach out and touch them.  In mobile we are clearly going through what may be referred to as the "flat period".   Here is a side by side comparison of a few of the iOS 7 design changes as compared to iOS 6:

A more comprehensive comparison is here.

If you've already been using apps such as Google's latest iOS app or Mailbox you will recognize a lot of similarities in the styles of these apps and where iOS 7 is headed.  Love it or hate it, flat and colorful is here.  What do you think?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Harvard WLF Day 2: The Power Pose

Day two was focused on how our body language both impacts how people view us as well as how we view ourselves.  I learned a few secrets that I am happy to share with you.  Most importantly, I learned that a Power Pose can be used to influence outcomes.  I am still blown away that I had the honor and privilege of spending 2 hours with Professor Amy Cuddy.  Not only is she brilliant, she has overcome personal tragedy - a traumatic brain injury - to go on to graduate from Princeton, teach at Harvard, and has spoken on the TED circuit. When I say I am surrounded by greatness this week I do not lie. Enjoy her talk and stay tuned for Wednesday's lesson debrief on Managing Yourself, Negotiating, and Winning.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Harvard Women's Leadership Forum Day 1: Change Your Thinking

Today has been nothing short of amazing at the Harvard Women's Leadership Forum.  I have the privilege of spending the week with 60 + women from 23 countries holding executive leadership positions in their companies.  True to Harvard Business School style, we are following the case method to learn key business principles.  We are also examining our personal career growth challenges through small group introspection and facilitated executive coaching sessions. Today the program kicked off with  a program overview by Professor Janice Hammond.  Then Professor Frances Frei took us through her research on how companies can be their best when they consciously decided what to be bad at.

Her research took us through how some top companies are creating loyal customers by understanding the trade-offs required to be exceptionally good at what their customers value most and not spending energy on the areas not relevant to their target market.  What customers value vary greatly from company to company.  We discussed case studies from Walmart, Southwest Airlines, Commerce Bank, Apple, and Starbucks.  Then Professor Frei drew a parallel to how this concept also applies to leaders - if we as individuals strive to be great at everything the only thing we'll gain is  mediocrity at most things.  To be a truly great leader, one must go toward things that energize us, that we have passion for, and that we fear.  Going toward energy, passion, and fear are the hallmarks of discovering our inner greatness.  She also provided a definition of leadership that should leave anyone striving to become a leader exhausted:

Leadership is creating the condition to make others better as a result of your presence and making it last in your absence.

The most courageous leaders have the courage to be bad at something.  They know how to prioritize where they spend their time and energy and how to influence others.  They take time to refuel their leadership tank.  Being a leader is an exhausting job.  It's not about the leader herself, it's about the people around her.  The tenets of a great leader are two-fold: having high standards of others and showing deep devotion to others.  Compassion plus pushing others to be their best is the formula that creates magic in others.

The central theme of Professor Frei's discussion was: to change behaviors - your own, your organization's - you must change your thinking (or your organization's thinking).  Think differently and the outcomes will be different.   Strong arm change management won't work.  Telling someone to change or drafting policies will not influence lasting meaningful behavioral change. Great leaders help people change their thinking through informal status. Small, quiet conversations that get to the heart of a matter and influence someone to change their thinking on a topic. Think of the behavior you want to change, reverse engineer it to get to the thinking that leads to that behavior's result.  If you change your thinking, you will get a different result.  Easily said, hard to practice.

Day two will explore the power of non-verbal communication.