Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘smarter commerce’ Category

Gladly Pay You Tuesday…

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We’re finally getting some rain in central Texas.  We’ll see how long it lasts!

And on the topic of rainmaking, this just in from our friends at Nucleus Research.

Nucleus conducted an analysis of 21 of IBM Smarter Commerce case studies and their ROI, and discovered that for every dollar spent, companies realized an average of U.S. $12.05 in returns.

According to the research, this payback occurred in an average of 9 months (with a high of 23 months, and a low of two).

The cases Nucleus analyzed included U.S. and European companies and government agencies which had deployed IBM Smarter Commerce technologies.

All the case studies were developed independently by Nucleus, following their standard ROI methodology, and IBM was privy to the results only after the research was completed.

In their analysis, Nucleus also observed some summary conclusions, finding that Smarter Commerce projects delivered both top-line and bottom-line benefits, with roughly 60 percent of returns coming from indirect benefits such as productivity, and the rest from direct savings such as reduced operational costs or hires avoided.

Specific key benefits included the following:

  • Increased productivity. In many cases companies were able to accomplish more work with fewer staff or avoid additional hires as they grew by automating previously manual processes and increasing employee productivity.
  • Reduced costs. Smarter Commerce customers experienced cost reductions in areas such as customer call handling costs, technology costs, and other costs associated with supply chain transactions.
  • Improved inventory management. Greater visibility into customer demand and inventory levels enabled Smarter Commerce customers to gain better control over their inventory, reducing inventory carrying costs and increasing inventory turns.
  • Improved decision making. Greater agility and rapid insight into data for decision making enabled companies using Smarter Commerce to more quickly make decisions and act on them with confidence.
  • Reduced customer churn and increased customer satisfaction. Companies using IBM Business Analytics were able to more rapidly understand customer satisfaction and retain more profitable customers by proactively addressing customers’ propensity to churn. For example, one telecommunications customer was able to reduce customer churn by 8 percent in the first year and 18 percent in the second year by further refining its churn analysis.

Customers Leverage Prepackaged Functionality

Nucleus indicated that the $12.05 average return from Smarter Commerce was at the high end of the range of returns Nucleus had seen from other assessments of deployments such as analytics and CRM, and many IBM Smarter Commerce clients indicated they had achieved high returns by taking advantage of the investments IBM has made in providing integrated solutions, more intuitive user interfaces, and prepackaged industry functionality.

By way of example:

  • Integrated solutions and prepackaged industry functionality accelerate time to deployment and time to value while reducing overall project risk.
  • Usability improvements drive more rapid adoption and make it easier for companies to drive adoption of technologies such as business analytics to casual and business users beyond the data expert specialists that have historically been the primary users of analytics.

Industry-specific functionality and expertise were particularly important in the success of customers adopting Smarter Commerce technologies in the government sector, such as social services agencies and police departments, where IT often has limited resources.

You can go here to download the full report.

Talk To The Mannequin Middleman

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Middlemen have gotten a pretty bad wrap since the Internet came along.

First, it was the travel agents, who were one of the first to be “disintermediated” by sites like Expedia, Orbitz, etc. Why hire a person to do what a computer and network could do?

Although it turns out it wasn’t quite that easy, as we later discovered, and nearly 20 years later there are still travel agents, but they’ve evolved and often moved up the value stack in terms of their offerings. (As an example, whenever I book a scuba diving trip, I typically now use an exclusive provider of scuba vacation travel, and they’ve served me quite well…although, sigh, it’s been far too long since I went diving!)

At IBM, we’re only supposed to employ our American Express travel agents when we’re traveling overseas.  I, personally, don’t mind using our Online Travel Reservation system for planning my travel, but that Web-based system has never been the same as talking to a really good Amex travel agent, and it certainly has never made me laugh.

So this story in The New York Times caught my eye, which explains how e-commerce companies are “bypassing” the middlemen in a variety of e-commerce verticals.

From eyeglasses to office supplies to bedding to nail polish to shaving supplies, there are host of “smarter commerce” e-commerce ventures popping up that are “controlling the supply chain,” providing products and services to end consumers at lower costs than many big retailers while pocketing the disintermediated profits.

But before you leap headlong into a Web server (which, let’s be frank, could hurt!), let’s not forget that physical presence still matters.

CNBC reports that “what’s old is new again” for some e-commerce retailers, outlining that a “growing number of online retail companies are setting up physical stores” in response to trends like “showrooming,” whereby consumers do in-store flybys only to later make a purchase online.

IBM vice president and global retail leader Jill Puleri was quoted in the story with this observation: “If there’s one thing showrooming teaches us, it’s that consumers still want to see what they are buying in person.”

It goes on to cite data from IBM suggesting that “50 percent of online sales were generated after consumers first browesed offline.”

So what’s next? One could easily envision pop-up stores emerging in highly-trafficked areas around the world: airports, train stations, even shopping malls, where consumers could “touch and feel” the merchandise and then get incented to go and make an actual purchase online.

Now if they could just figure out a way to make those in-store mannequins just a little less creepy.

IBM Helps ING DIRECT Canada Connect with Mobile, Social Customers

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ING DIRECT Canada's mobile application, developed with IBM, delivers customers with a dashboard view based on their most frequent banking activities.

ING DIRECT Canada’s mobile application, developed with IBM, delivers customers with a dashboard view based on their most frequent banking activities.

IBM is making a fast start with its new “Mobile First” initiative, which is intended to help companies around the world bring all their resources together to strengthen customer engagement, whenever and wherever the customer wants, and on the customer’s favorite device, which is increasingly a mobile one.

IBM client ING DIRECT Canada is applying a “smarter commerce” approach to consumer banking with IBM’s help in meeting the growing expectations of its 1.8 million customers.

IBM announced today that it is working with the online bank to deliver innovative financial services that improve ING DIRECT’s customer experience including simplified account access across mobile devices and social media channels, voice recognition, and advanced security.

ING DIRECT Canada’s mobile application, developed with IBM, delivers customers with a dashboard view based on their most frequent banking activities.

Based on IBM software and services, these innovations support ING DIRECT’s Orange Snapshot initiative, designed to provide its clients greater control to manage their accounts within their increasingly mobile and social lifestyle.

Orange Snapshot gives mobile consumers a complete and simplified view of all their accounts, as well as bill payment and email money transfers, in two easy clicks.

This allows consumers to sign on once from their mobile device, saving time and aggravation from multiple log-ins.

Working with IBM, the bank’s latest mobile innovation allows clients to easily and securely access their ING DIRECT account information from within Facebook’s social networking site.

Clients who opt-in to this app are able to view their account balances, history and pending transactions as well as receive account notifications — real time messages automatically pushed to them within Facebook.

With security and privacy always top of mind, ING DIRECT plans to expand this application further to include transactions such as transfers, bill payments and email money transfers.

Furthermore, ING DIRECT allows clients to share their experiences through Facebook and Twitter to make saving money more intriguing.

In a recent survey, ING DIRECT learned that 52 percent of consumers were able to forego non-essential purchases when they could better visualize the impact of their spending habits.

IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative is designed to help businesses better connect with the rising tide of digital consumers who prefer to buy through online, mobile and social channels.

It is estimated that there are more smartphones on the planet than humans. According to IDC, by 2016, more than 10 billion smartphones will be in use around the globe. In Canada, more than half of smartphone users bank from their devices — and that number grows higher when looking at users between the ages 18-34.

ING DIRECT continues to work with IBM in seeking new ways to connect to mobile applications in order to advance sales, manage secure transactions, and provide new insights about clients.

The bank has begun experimenting with new voice recognition capabilities on their mobile apps that will allow clients to conduct simple banking transactions by speaking rather than typing or the application can read account information to the customer.

ING DIRECT is also exploring the use of biometrics within their mobile apps for purposes such as client login to improve the client experience while maintaining the highest standards of security. Internal pilots are already yielding positive outcomes.

Recently, Forrester Research, Inc. recognized IBM as a leader in enterprise mobility services, according to the February 2013 report The Forrester Wave TM: Enterprise Mobility Services, Q1 2013.

Based on an analysis of 13 global leaders’ enterprise mobility capabilities and how they stack up, the report indicates that IBM “brings clients a world-class design agency combined with breadth and depth of enterprise mobility consulting both in terms of technology capabilities and global presence.”

You can go here to learn more about IBM’s “Mobile First” initiative.

Online Retailer LabelSneak Leverages IBM Smarter Commerce Technologies To Glean Mobile/Social Insights, Bolster Sales

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LabelSneak teamed with IBM and IBM Business Partner CSI Solution to connect with the growing marketplace of consumers who prefer to buy across online, mobile and social channels. IBM Smarter Commerce precision marketing is allowing consumers to choose which sales promotions they want to be alerted to or when their favorite clothing item goes on sale via text, tweet, Facebook post or email. This can be a more effective sales method as smaller retailers can deliver a level of personalization and a more tailored marketing campaign to the individual consumer.

LabelSneak teamed with IBM and IBM Business Partner CSI Solution to connect with the growing marketplace of consumers who prefer to buy across online, mobile and social channels. IBM Smarter Commerce precision marketing is allowing consumers to choose which sales promotions they want to be alerted to or when their favorite clothing item goes on sale via text, tweet, Facebook post or email. This can be a more effective sales method as smaller retailers can deliver a level of personalization and a more tailored marketing campaign to the individual consumer.

There’s some new news on the Smarter Commerce front from IBM.

Earlier today, IBM announced a collaboration with LabelSneak, a small online retailer of discounted designer men’s wear, which is using IBM Smarter Commerce technologies to create a unique shopping experience aimed at the millennial consumer.

As a result, LabelSneak has seen 148 percent growth in revenues, tripling sales in less than a year.

For The Fashion Conscious Male

LabelSneak is an outlet store aimed at brand aware males, and offers discounts of up to 75 percent on fashion and sportswear, alerting its consumers via social channels to personalized, limited-time sales offers.

With new deals updated regularly, the site generates tremendous amounts of data, including Tweets, Instagram photos, Facebook comments on popular sales items and conversations between consumers on favorite brands through social channels, mobile and tablet devices.

LabelSneak’s challenge was this: To capture and glean insights from all this big data to better understand what consumers were saying about the latest promotions, which items were the most popular and at what time and in what circumstances sales were most effective.

They also needed analytics to better target and mold online sales campaigns and to decide which social channels effectively communicated its message to attract new customers.

LabelSneak teamed with IBM and IBM Business Partner CSI Solution to connect with the growing marketplace of consumers who prefer to buy across online, mobile and social channels.

With access to IBM Global Financing within minutes, the small retailer is now using IBM Smarter Commerce technology to handle high volumes of transactions as well as the large volumes and variety of data, CSI’s RapidCommerce Cloud Managed Service Solution has helped LabelSneak create a site to more effectively target the digitally savvy millennial consumer with an integrated brand experience across all devices.

To date, the platform is supporting a rapid pace of growth, enabling the client to focus its time and resources on growing the business such as conducting sales promotions, gleaning insights from Facebook comments or tweets.

The Competitive Challenge

Fashion companies of every size and style are vying for a slice of the men’s wear market. To compete with more established retailer brands, LabelSneak needed to better understand men’s online consumer behavior, create a more tailored marketing campaign and deliver the right merchandising mix.

Not only is LabelSneak gleaning insights from data analyzing which brands to carry, but they also are seeing how consumer preferences for certain brands in men’s wear are connected to a favorite sports teams or music.

Background On IBM Smarter Commerce

IBM Smarter Commerce precision marketing is allowing consumers to choose which sales promotions they want to be alerted to or when their favorite clothing item goes on sale via text, tweet, Facebook post or email.

This can be a more effective sales method as smaller retailers can deliver a level of personalization and a more tailored marketing campaign to the individual consumer.

IBM Smarter Commerce provides intelligent automation of marketing, sales, customer service and procurement to help chief marketing officers, chief procurement officers, sales, e-commerce, supply chain and customer service executives do their jobs more productively and efficiently.

Go here if you’d like to do some shopping on LabelSneak.

Every Kiss Begins With Kay

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Kay Jewelers

IBM and Signet Jewelers Ltd., the largest specialty retail jeweler in the U.S. and U.K., have worked together on a major e-commerce strategy and digital marketing redesign for Signet’s national U.S. store chains, Kay Jewelers and Jared, the Galleria of Jewelry.

This week the retail gurus of the world have been hobnobbing at the Jacob Javitts center in New York City as part of the National Retail Federation’s annual gathering.

So I thought it an appropriate opportunity to highlight a retail partnership between IBM and Signet Jewelers Ltd., the largest specialty retail jeweler in the U.S. and U.K..

IBM and Signet have worked together on a major e-commerce strategy and digital marketing redesign for Signet’s national U.S. store chains, Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry.

Building A Multichannel Strategy 

The initiative has transformed the multichannel experience for Kay and Jared customers and resulted in consistent sales growth, including a year-over-year increase of 49 percent in online sales as reported in the company’s recently announced holiday sales for fiscal 2013.

To advance its existing multichannel retail strategy and supplement its e-commerce and information technology expertise, Signet Jewelers U.S. Division engaged consultants from IBM Global Business Services and its digital consulting and design practice, IBM Interactive.

IBM and Signet U.S. collaborated to develop a unified strategy for delivering a more consistent, branded and personalized customer experience to Kay and Jared customers everywhere they shop — whether in a physical store, online or via mobile.

Key components of the multi-phased strategy include the launch of new transactional mobile sites, which enable customers to shop and purchase Kay and Jared products from their mobile phones, and a redesign of the Kay.com and Jared.com websites, which went live before the busy holiday shopping season.

The new sites combine best practices in optimized navigation and functionality, making it easier for shoppers to find, compare and purchase products online, along with new custom features that deliver a more guided, personalized shopping experience for which the company is known.

For instance, shoppers can now chat live with a customer service representative, compare product details side-by-side to help determine their selection, track recently viewed items and much more.

Mi amigo Paul Papas, IBM’s Smarter Commerce Global Leader for Global Business Services, had this to say about the partnership:

“Much of Signet Jeweler’s success in building Kay and Jared into two of the most trusted retail brands can be attributed to the expertise and superior customer service they deliver to create a world-class shopping experience. In an industry known for being married to tradition, Signet Jewelers is a shining example of how bricks and mortar retailers are redefining the customer experience and embracing digital channels, like mobile and social, as part of their overall strategy to deliver personalized interactions to their customers at every touch point.”

Behind the Redesign 

Initially starting with tactical enhancements to the Kay.com and Jared.com websites in late 2011, Signet U.S. launched complete redesigns of both sites in October 2012.

Signet introduced new mobile sites for each brand with transactional capabilities in mid-November.

The company has also launched a mobile app available on iTunes and the Android Market and introduced catalogs on the Google Catalogs app to tap into the growing population of mobile shoppers.

To elevate Signet’s social media presence, the company worked with IBM to define an engagement strategy, which Signet U.S. has begun implementing by launching a social media presence for Kay and Jared.

Each brand platform is focused on engaging consumers in the spaces that are most relevant to them, like Facebook and Twitter, to develop and sustain relationships, build loyalty and foster brand advocates who shop both in-store and online.

To help define Signet’s e-commerce strategy and roadmap, IBM executed research that included a customer segmentation analysis, voice of the customer surveys and in-store observations.

With deeper insights into customer needs and distinct shopping scenarios, as well as the capabilities required to support them online, Signet U.S. was able to deploy an integrated solution that extends the Kay and Jared in-store shopping experience to the web and mobile platforms.

About Signet Jewelers Ltd

Signet Jewelers is the largest specialty retail jeweler in the US and UK.  Signet’s US division operates more than 1,325 stores in all 50 states primarily under the name brands of Kay Jewelers and Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry.  Signet’s UK division operates more than 500 stores primarily under the name brands of H.Samuel and Ernest Jones.

Go here for more information about IBM Smarter Commerce and here for more information in specific about IBM’s Retail expertise.

Turbo Slidecast: Organizing For Social Business

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I mentioned in a post recently that I was to speak at the annual WOMMA Summit (WOMMA standing for “Word Of Mouth Marketing Association”) about IBM’s efforts to better organize itself to take advantage of the social business opportunity.

After lumbering through the SlideShare “slidecast” capability and learning my way around (and no, it really wasn’t that difficult — I’m just a slow learner), I was able to create a slidecast of the presentation I gave in Las Vegas for those of you who may be interested.

As I noted in that blog post leading up to my talk, the general theme of my session there centered on the challenges and opportunities larger organizations face as they go about building their social strategies, and sharing particular insights and experiences we’ve had inside IBM on this front.

At IBM, our social business strategy has very much centered around one of our best market-facing emissaries, the IBMer! If you’ve kept pace with any of our marketing initiatives in recent times, you know that the IBMer is front and center in those communications, most notably in our TV advertising, but also extensively in the digital and social media as well.

But their participation doesn’t end there.

We’ve featured subject matter experts extensively across a wide range of topics and across a range of venues in the digital and social media space, as well as in other public and sometimes private venues (think conferences, events, customer meetings, etc.).

This direction is very much in keeping with IBM’s high-touch sales heritage, but builds on that legacy by making our people more accessible via social venues as well.

So, please, take some time out of your busy day if you’re interested in learning more about IBM’s social business efforts, and hopefully you’ll walk away with some of the actionable insights we’ve garnered that can help you and your organization in your own social business journey.

Just click on the arrow to play, kick back, and relax!

Big Commerce In China

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China's Taobao is just one of thousands of Chinese-based e-commerce properties helping propel China into the world's single largest digital marketplace. So far in 2012, Alibaba (Taobao's parent company) has generated over $157 billion U.S. in gross merchandise volume, making it the largest e-commerce property in the world.

China’s Taobao is just one of thousands of Chinese-based e-commerce properties helping propel China into the world’s single largest digital marketplace. So far in 2012, Alibaba (Taobao’s parent company) has generated over $157 billion U.S. in gross merchandise volume, making it the largest e-commerce property in the world.

You read in my last post about last Monday’s “Cyber Monday” tidings according to the IBM Digital Benchmark.

Well, TechCrunch is reporting from comScore data that the holiday shopping juggernaut continues well beyond Cyber Monday.

comScore’s data found that e-commerce spending for the first 30 days of this November-December 2012 holiday season has amounted to a respectable $20.4 billion, a 15 percent increase over the same time period last year.

During the past week alone, comScore reported three individual days surpassing $1 billion in spending, according to the TechCrunch post by Leena Rao, with the peak, of course, coming on Cyber Monday at $1.46 billion.

Of course, all that might seem like chump change when you hold it up against some e-commerce numbers coming out of China, via a post on VentureBeat.

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba alone has sold an estimated $157 billion U.S. in gross merchandise volume this year, which VentureBeat observes surpasses Amazon and eBay combined.

In fact, Alibaba is believed to have garnered a $3 billion single sales day earlier this year.

But the real story here may be Jack Ma’s “Alipay,” Alibaba’s payments processing unit, which now has over 700 million registered users.

According to a recent report from the folks at eMarketer, China’s antiquated banking system and low usage by consumers of credit cards is benefiting the e-commerce industry there.

Alipay, now China’s largest third-party online payment solution, essentially provides escrow payment services that not only facilitate e-commerce transactions in China, but also reduces risk to consumers, because with Alipay, they have the ability to verify whether or not they are satisfied with their purchases before releasing funds to the seller.

And Alipay isn’t just limited to the Chinese marketplace. It now handles transactions in 12 foreign currencies, including in U.S. dollars, Japanese yen, and the euro.

According to the eMarketer report, Alibaba is also upgrading its COD payment infrastructure, investing some $79 million U.S. in a portable device that Alibaba says will consolidate logistics records with credit/debit card payment information in a single terminal.

It’s Alipay’s intent to install thousands such devices across China’s first- and second-tier cities (think Beijing, Shanghai, etc.) by the end of this year, which will help with China’s broader goals of fomenting increased internal consumer consumption.

Of course, if you’re News Corporation, and you’re in the iPad publishing business, no amount of Chinese e-commerce facilitatin’ payment devices are going to help a fledgling business model.

Earlier today, News Corp. finally bifurcated its publishing and entertainment businesses, and seemingly as a minor sidebar, also conceded defeat of its The Daily iPad app effective December 15.

The Daily had been News Corp’s digital pride and joy, a valiant attempt at delivering a daily news publication via the iPad only 100,000 people wanted.

At 99 cents a week, that apparently was not revenue enough even close to maintaining a viable business, so The Daily will now be put to bed.

Ever-reliable media critic website Poynter noted The Daily had two key lessons of failure from which we could all learn.  One, they had no clarity on its intended audience (I thought that was supposed to be iPad users!), and two, one platform, the iPad, just wasn’t enough in a multi-device world.

Perhaps they should have instigated a Chinese edition? Surely they could have drummed up a few more hundred thousand from a population of 1.3 billion!

Written by turbotodd

December 3, 2012 at 11:34 pm

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