Tag Archives: Customers

How the Internet of Things is changing the face of retail

By: Ali Newton

This article was originally published on SmallBusiness.co.uk

There hasn’t been an advancement in retail as drastic as the
IoT revolution since the Industrial Revolution. The Internet of Things (IoT) is
the idea that everyday objects can be connected in the same way that computers
are today. And, with consumer adoption of IoT devices on the rise, now is the
perfect time for retailers to get informed and capitalize on the IoT.
Whether it is to improve their overall customer experience,
or to create new revenue streams, the IoT truly is changing the face of retail.
Here are three ways the IoT could be integrated into every aspect of retail ‘
from store displays, to storage equipment, to the shop floor.
1. Smart shelves
Panasonic is currently developing a product called the Powershelf. These shelves
have built-in sensor technology that keeps track of inventory in real-time,
saving businesses thousands of pounds in paid hours that they could reinvest elsewhere.
However, Powershelves also have the potential to be
extremely useful on shop floors, as they can collect data about shoppers based
on the products that they have chosen. In addition, these shelves give
customers real-time prices that are based on demand. The shelf labels are
wireless and can update prices based on the quantities that are left. The
shelves can also detect when the products are about to go out of date, and
alter the price according to this information too.
Jobs like stock counting, market research and stock
replenishment can take human workers hours. Alternatively, they could be
automatically performed by Powershelves talking to each other via the IoT.
2. In-store beacon tech

In-store beacons were set to become very popular for a
while, but they haven’t quite caught on as previously anticipated. Beacons rely
on customers coming within proximity of a shop, at which point they can be sent
a message or an email to encourage them to come into the store ‘ provided that
the shop already has their contact details.
Still, it’s a solid idea in principle. A ’10 per cent
offer when you buy today’ push notification could be sent to the consumers’
mobiles as an incentive to lure them into a shop if they’re nearby.
The issue with beacon technology is that it relies on Bluetooth,
which many consumers don’t have switched on as it is known to drain battery
power. In addition, customers usually need to have the brand’s app downloaded
too. This places several obstacles in the way of the retailer before it can
contact the customer directly.
Despite these obstacles, many brands are using proximity marketing to help drive their retail sales.
3. Smart shopping carts and cashless stores
IoT is a powerful tool for brick and mortar shops to compete
with eCommerce stores that are taking over the retail world. Walmart recently
began to develop shopping carts that can drive themselves to help customers
find their way around its shops. It is also working on a technology that allows
customers to order online and get their shopping delivered by a driverless cart
directly to their car, or Uber, in the car park.
Similarly, Amazon’s Seattle shop has no checkouts. Customers
simply enter the shop, pick up the items they need off the store display, and
leave. Sensors around the shop record the items that customers pick up,
removing the need for them to check out.
Whether or not any of these ideas will become an integral
part of retail’s future remains to be seen. Predicting the future is always
difficult and businesses and individuals are right to be skeptical of anyone
telling them that the future is going to be radically different because of the

However, just because people should be skeptical about the
idea that the IoT may change retail entirely, it doesn’t mean that they should
write the idea off altogether. One IoT development is unlikely to change retail
on its own, but as more of these technologies enter the market and they become
more affordable, a greater impact will begin to be seen throughout retail.

Keep Up with Disruption or Risk Being Left Behind

Disruption within business is ruthless in its endless
pursuit of new innovation; it continues to
change the way in which consumers are evolving in terms of how they communicate
and connect with businesses and each other. Companies are continuously faced with
a dilemma: should they continue with what they are already doing, try and react
and adapt to the changes, or try to get ahead of the oncoming disruptions.
In my personal opinion, no company should try and stick with
their original game plan. Technology is moving so fast and affecting society in
such a way that no matter how successful a plan was before, it will no longer
be relevant to the change in consumer behavior. Keeping up with consumer
interests and behavior is now a must for companies in this Darwinistic keep up
or fall behind era.
A company that has capitalized on the current interest in
consumer insights is Quester who spoke to us at TMRE 2014. They spotted
that the internet would change consumer behaviors and being able to provide
clients with the changes in these behaviors would give them a competitive edge.
The company has created a way of utilizing artificial intelligence in order to
interview consumers. The outcomes would be analyzed and used to explain
abstract data and give more in depth market research.
The interviews are kept as simple as possible and are sent
out to a huge selection of consumers. The answers are analyzed for trends and
subtle nuances that can give insights into deeper behavioral traits of the
participants. What customers say and how they say it is vitally important in
getting ahead in terms of understanding the market and consumer insights. In a
social media driven age where 75% of the world’s population are using social
media, consumers are taking to these platforms to express their opinions. These
opinions often can be influential for other consumers when making future
Real time technologies in an age where people are more
interconnected means that tracking up to date trends will be the key to
consumer insights. Facebook recently announced its plan to make its messenger
service a platform to let consumers interact in a more seamless way with
businesses, thus creating real time interaction and a more personalized
experience for customers.
Customers today expect far more from businesses than a
decade ago. The companies that understand the expectations and behavior of
their target groups will be able to engage with them in a more personalized
fashion. By getting ahead of disruptions and keeping up to date with the
different platforms and influences of consumers will ultimately keep customer
loyalty and interest. The rewards for businesses that can evolve and adapt to
the constant barrage of disruptive technology will ultimately overshadow their
competitors who may fall into the graveyard of those who have stuck by
traditional approaches.

Check out the full
TMRE 2014 interview with Quester here:

Want more on
disruptive new technologies and methodologies that are collecting deeper
insights? Attend InsighTech taking place this May in San Francisco. Learn more
about the event here: http://bit.ly/1bQLzIT

About the Author:
Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the
industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent
graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as
a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World
Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at hkempe@IIRUSA.com

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For better customer service, be a better customer

In a recent article at Wise Bread, they look at how being a good customer can lead to better customer service. They point out that there are so many customer service articles today about being great at customer service, but it is a two way street. They give advice to you as the customer to get the best possible customer service. They advise the customers to document everything, learn to file effective bug reports, and when you’re treated right, be vocally appreciative.

At the end of the article, they look at what a supercustomer is and how to become one:
I use “supercustomer” to describe those ‘ the best! ‘ who go beyond the call of customer duty (intriguing way of looking at it, hmm?) and don’t just routinely consume, they actively participate in improving the people & products of the businesses they enjoy.

The basics of market research

The Baltimore Examiner recently took a look back at the basics of market research. For best business practices, market research should be done at the beginning of the business, and a method to continue to grow the business. It should be done to look at three primary things: your customers, your competition, and your business environment. For more, read this article at the Examiner.

Build your company on culture

Russ Vernon recently contributed a piece to the Ohio Journal that examined how you can focus keeping loyal customers throughout this hard time. It’s important that you stay relevant to your customer base, and keep your focus on your customer. You need to seek gaps that are in your market, in addition to you hiring processes, training and great customer service. So use all of these things not only to sell a product to your customer, but value as well.

Could your community already be out there?

The answer is yes. In a recent article by John Bishop, he looks at how you can find the customers that are already on the web talking about your product. Find out where they are. Use Facebook them down to specific locations and interests, the follow their chatter and monitor the buzz in the industry and react to it. Join the conversation when they start talking about your brand, and even create a few threads that promote a conversation around it.

Keeping your customers in tough economic times

Over at CustomerThink, they recently wrote a great post about what you should do in these tough economic times to retain your customers. As you’ll see budget cuts to the sources that bring in your customers – like marketing and advertising – it’s critical to keep the customers you currently have. Took keep them through these difficult times, you must keep your customer service quality high and give them no excuse to switch to a competitor.

Taking care of your customers

A great article at the Customers Think blog, they discuss how one company is not increasing their fees for their customers. They realize that everyone is currently going under an economic burden. Currently, everyone is cash strapped, and they realize that hiking prices now could increase revenue now, but there is no incentive for customers to stick around in the future.

Do you see it this way?