Guest post by Cecile Poyet who currently leads the worldwide marketing strategy for business partners in retail. She brings more than six years of industry marketing expertise for leading software companies, including in retail, banking, financial markets and government. You can find her on LinkedIn.
This January again, close to 30,000 retailers from around the world gathered in New York City for NRF, Retail’s BIG Show. What was different this year? If you believe Deloitte’s report, Global Powers of Retailing 2014, many of the technologies that are currently creating buzz in the retail industry are actually quite mature and established: think about GPS, RFID, digital video, biometrics, voice recognition, smart mobile devices…They have all been around for many years. So, what is truly new? More than changes related to the technology, the retail industry is experiencing a dramatic shift toward extreme customer centricity. The way shoppers are thinking about their personal information and their willingness to share it are evolving quickly. Technology is “simply” supporting the radical transformation of the industry.
Consider this: according to the IBM Study from the Institute for Business Value, in 2013, 36% of customers were willing to share their current location with a retailer. They were only 19% in 2011. While customers are less shy about communicating their personal preferences and location, they are also more engaged when it comes to expressing their opinion. Sixty-nine percent of consumes post reviews of retailers at least once of month. Fifty-four percent post 2-3 times or more per month. Not surprisingly, consumers trust recommendations from other consumers seven times more than recommendations from retailers. As a retailer, shall you worry?
If you attended Ginni Rometty’s keynote on Monday afternoon, or watched the video, you probably feel more energized and optimistic than concerned. Big Data and Cloud are allowing retailers to engage with customers, transform their supply chain, and turn data into information like never before. The true IT and business transformation, however, shall come from cognitive systems – intelligent computers that understand human language and can respond within seconds, in natural language, and after processing, analyzing and understanding massive volumes of data. The North Face, an innovative retailer, relies on IBM and Fluid, an IBM business partner, to build a website that lets consumers ask any question about products, and provide answers in context. In other words, the application combines the situational awareness of a human being with the brain power of a super computer. Sixty other IBM Business Partners were present at NRF 2014. Learn more about what they are working on Twitter.
Where do we go from there? As Kevin Bishop, General Manager of Enterprise Marketing Management at IBM, highlighted during the IBM Business Partner breakfast on Tuesday, the role of the CMO is changing dramatically. Marketing departments shall not be contempt with segments anymore, but rather aim at personalizing offers at the level of the individual. Consider this shoe store in Guatemala, Meat Pack, who sends their clients personalized coupons to their phone when they detect that the shopper is entering a competitor’s store. The discount starts at 99% off, and loses 1% every second, until the shopper reaches Meat Pack’s store. How much more innovative can you be?
Meet with IBM and learn more about our solutions in retail at Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, February 24-27 and at the Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Tampa, Florida, May 12-15. For more information about IBM solutions, research projects, retail business partners and studies, please check the following resources: