Friday, February 20, 2015

Retail revolution 3.0

In life and time, change is the only constant…


We’ve read lately that some retail companies are falling like dominoes or closing shop. In no specific order I can recall: Mexx, Bikini Village, Target, Sony, Jacob, Smart Set, Parasuco and Radio Shack in the US. Similarly, we see more and more available retail space or completely abandoned shopping plazas that are like ghost towns. Like a city after an industry crash and heading into recession… Scary? Right!

Maybe the business model just became obsolete!!! Some still see the opportunity of the future by doing the same thing they did in the past focusing on volume, distribution, price, promotion, product and People (last)?? Furthermore, commercial developers are actually planning out new projects elsewhere in the city, as if traditional retail still works based on traditional premises based exclusively on location, location, location and services…

On the flip side, we know that a new “creative class” is creating incredibly successful stories that are revolutionizing the way we shop. These companies are growing and captivating shoppers and audiences. Companies like: Frank & Oak, Ssense and Jack Threads. A new breed of commercial and innovative channels such as Indiegogo, Kickstarter and even Pintrest e-comm capability, plus the ususal e-commerce giants like Amazon and Alibaba. Other names come to mind, but for the sake of making the point, these will do.


These companies are on the bleeding edge of innovation and define the meaning of commerce driven initiatives for this generation. 
Retail of the future? Most likely!

The middle ground:
Where some traditional retailers manage to succeed and the new players excel…. Welcome to the Shopper experience economy. Yes, you can design it, plan it and you can craft it like a customer journey exercise.

Yet, with the array of relevant touch-points of our time, digital goes beyond a device or a gimmicky interface.

Please, don’t go digital for the sake of being cool and current, don’t do social if you think it's free advertising. It's not that you might be doing it wrong, specially when so few get it right. You can only do it better. First and foremost, STOP! This is not a sprint, even though you have to play catch-up, but do hold-your-horses.

Develop a shopper experience strategy for your banner, brand or company…. Define and understand your NEW customer: What he does, how he does it and how he behaves…

This is the epicenter, where the experience economy meets the shopper experience.

After that, you are in a position to start TESTING technology for retail in function of enhancing the shopper experience.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Customer Experience

What experience ??

Front line refers to: “The forward-most friendly forces on the battlefield”. Now, put that through Sun- Tzu’s (The Art of War) perspective and contemporary marketing propositions. We see the front line right at customer touch points. Traditional touch-points include face-to-face interactions: Reps, associates, brand ambassadors, cash registers and even mall security. Also remote tactics like telephone and mail, or digital touch-points like web, e-mail and potentially mobile phone interfaces. It is, in all perspectives, the last meter of a very expensive marketing communications ploy that aims at closing a sale, making a transaction and winning a customer.

After articulating a complex integrated marketing communications process between brand and category managers, marketing experts, creative geniuses, agency suits and social media gurus, a campaign is launched with a smart execution of a great insight.... Bla, bla, you know the drill...

Every stakeholder wishes to achieve ROI, while crossing fingers assuming the job is done, although forgetting other key players: The soldiers, the closers, the relationship managers, the customer experience managers, the brand ambassadors, the partners that link the brandsaction (brand+transaction).

These guys, otherwise known as sales people, cash registers, retail assistants, co-managers, call centre agents or client service reps, carry the brand on their shoulders and perform at the best of their capacity. Usually dressed in terrible costumes, with killer old fashioned sales training, working inhuman shifts with miserable pay and no recognition or what so ever..... These guys are the heart of the brand, the soul of the marketing campaign and the engine of the company. You, the Starbucks barista, the Chapters expert, the Rogers guy.....

Ref: Customer experience is the collection of interactions between a customer and the organization throughout the customer lifecycle. The goal is to optimize these interactions from the customer's perspective and, as a result, foster brand equity, value and loyalty.

Some get it right, like Mac, Starbucks, TD, Lululemon, Wind Mobile and Porter Airlines. These brands convey a consistent message throughout their ads, Twitter posts,window set-up, internet banned ad and retail experience. They connect the dots and really enhance the customer touch points by being coherent in their narrative and story, all the way to retail, customer service and post sales strategy. I invite you to experience these brands.

So, how do you get it right?? Well... From this perspective: Have your people become your brand.... Allow your employees at all levels, specially those at touch point level, to own the brand. Yes, I now. This reads like common sense, right? It does! But believe it or not, most businesses are not into common sense and corporate bureaucracy allows for huge gaps in communications consistence.

Just like in marketing, we are used to briefing, updating brand and products with PR, Brand, Media, Promo, Interactive and other agencies, we should think of our BRAND AGENTS as communications and brand messaging partners. Let them get involved, let’s help them feel the brand, understand it and own it. Considering they are the final drivers and ultimate brand experience triggers... we as marketers should ACTIVATE these touch points and make the most out of them, by bringing the best of the people who communicate our brand.

As a result, these people should be compensated, re-compensated and celebrated BIG TIME!!

Dear Marketers: We are in a people business, therefore we need to connect with people. We must ensure our customer experience design makes sense with everything else we are doing. Your brand experience starts and ends with the customer....

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Interactive digital momentum

From gimmick to engagement:

As new technologies emerged in the 1990’s and started playing important roles in our daily lives outside work. Content became digitized, therefore mobilizing audiences to online environments.

Most technologies described as "new media" are digital, often having characteristics of being manipulated, networkable, dense, compressible, interactive and impartial. Many producers of new media are regular citizens that push content online through social media: People control the web and empower content.

Intertwined with how we consume media, we can state that the divide between old and new media is closing in. Considering old media as content and new media as the channel, we can now understand media as public and accessible. Web 2.0 greatly open the spectrum to the masses and new media exploded into main-street. Now, credibility is for grabs and not granted as all the players in the web arena are seeking clicks, attention, conversion, monetization and web status, a screen away from a brand-saction.


1. Interactive digital media:
Technology enabled CGI(Computer-generated imagery) that changed how we experience media and gave entertainment a whole new meaning. Also, other screens started populating our lives, like: Mobile phones, Computers(desktops and laptops), digital readers(PDA’s), Music players and game consoles. We are no longer chained to TV, radio, magazines, newspapers or even billboards to have access to information or pop culture guidelines. We are again in the cross roads of content and media, but now in our own terms and when we want....

We own and control channels like: Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and even the father of them all: Myspace. Here is where new media lives and spreads. Here is where the voice of people is stated and is vital for the value proposition of its credibility.

Augmented Reality
A live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are merged with (or augmented by) virtual computer-generated imagery - creating a mixed reality.
Over imposing images as a result of a marker triggered interaction through a web-cam, or by image recognition and geo-location on a mobile phone.
At a glance it gives the impression of being a high-end gadgety tactic that brings a screen out of the screen. In reality it’s nothing but enhancing the online experience or real experience for that matter. Consisting of engaging users on a story-line crafted on or of-line as part of a brand message.

mini augmented reality ar advertisement automobile 3d

For the purpose of explaining a brand is anything or everything. The AR experience is only part of an integrated experience intended to communicate. Considering that principle, every AR experience should embed a story or be part of one, as it is such a compelling element that it has to have relevance and a clear reason why.

A successful use of computer web-cam AR is that in which it’s intent is to bridge the gap between traditional mediums (TV, Radio, Print) and online. Marketers and media invest effort and resources in being an active to their audience, many are present in traditional mediums, exclusively in print or in the virtual online space. But like in social media, the message has to pull people in not push the message into them. By creating real interactions with AR, we generate a physical action that translates into engagement with a message and an immersive interaction with the brand. Once AR connects the dots, your message stands the test with the audience and the brand starts establishing relationships with relevant stakeholders: Consumers.


On a mobil device, AR has a deeper connection with the audience under the premise of being mobile and personal. Usually mobile AR is part of an application downloaded from an app store, therefore setting themselves up for engagement. Wether it’s for play, fun or information, the dynamic and functionality of AR will make people aware of the experience and download the app. As a result and triggered by many factors like geo-location, user settings, profile and functionality, the AR app launches a world of possibilities for brands to engage with their story.

Although AR will not stand alone and deliver a whole brand experience, don’t underestimate the power of giving your audience control and the possibility of experiencing your brand in their own terms, by augmenting reality!

Experience redefined!

The next generation in urban mobility:

At the pinnacle of our civilized existence we are noticing all of a sudden that we’ve been hiding a lot of dirt under the carpet. Far beyond politics and green fanaticism, we have been killing our planet through CO2 emissions due to irresponsible use, conception and terrifying relationship with automobiles.

Since the use of electricity went mainstream, people have thought of bringing electric vehicles to mass production and use. Most of those initiatives have not been welcome by governments and have found huge resistance from petroleum producing countries as well as car manufacturing economies like US and Canada. But at this time and age it is a definite alternative, considering petroleum is scarce, prices are out of control and we have to stop polluting the world we live in...

The way we think about CARS is so wrong that the new car is going to be REVOLUTIONARY. How??????? You are not the owner of the vehicle which allows you to be worry free about old boring things like: Maintenance, parking, insurance, CAA, winter tires, car wash, gasoline and oil change, to name a few. So, companies that act just like cell phone operators have lincences to operate electric vehicles in certain areas. Just like with a mobile phone plan, you are a subscriber and you pay a monthly fee based on a plan + additional consumption and add ons, or you pay as you go... But you get so much more than a car: You get the car of your choice within the electric line that ranges from sports like the Tesla, big berliner like the Volt, compact like the Renault Clio or a family car like the Bluestar. You can choose to drive it yourself or have it with a driver/Chauffeur for your convenience. Every car is fully charged and has a real-time systems monitor that keeps you informed of overall performance and estimates your power consumption for the next re-charge..... For example, here is how it would work:
Magna International gets new Michigan HQ for electric vehicles, hybrids thumbnail

I access my user interface online, where I have my account status, service preferences: Vehicle preference/availability, locations, common destination/service options, as well as GPS-location based news alerts, traffic news, alternative routes, charging stations and reserved parking. This interface can be accessed through the internet, a mobile app or the integrated control screen on the cars dashboard.

Last night I reserved a ride share from home on Richmond Hill just outside Toronto. A few of my neighbors work in the financial district, so every day we take a car for us 4. We use to get a different car avery time just to check them all out, but we decided to stick to the Chevrolet Volt since it’s powerful and has great interior space. We all use the free wi-max capability inside the car(except the driver of course) and have independent bluetooth alert for call management on the control screen. We could use the car speakers if it’s a friend of ours or each can use their own bluetooth device with out even touching the phone. Since we are driving a fully electric car and we are car pooling we have exclusive use of the speed lane down the highway and since we have a GPS navigator we know where traffic clogs and were it floes, to make our ride fast, safe and CLEAN!!!!

We all go into the parking lot around the financial district, where there is a EV valet lane and the car is received by the usual concierge: He greets us all by name and wishes us all a great day. As I walk towards the elevator, Mike (the EV concierge) asks me if I left an umbrella in the sports car I used the day before. I nodded, so he says: “I’ll prep it up for your lunch meeting and put an umbrella just in case”. Good day, again!!!!

We part ways and agree to meet at a certain time for golf after work.... Once in the main floor, I have to cross the street to go to my office building, while I do that I check my balance on my smart phone.......

Soon, on a corner near you: Smart urban mobility solutions with "zero" emissions!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


People own the media: Experiential marketing is four-dimensional.

A while ago we started to get over saturated and quite frankly, a little tired by commercial messaging. Aside from the regular tooth paste and cereal marketing, we started getting sales pitches from every single good and service there is in the market place. Regardless of our needs for information or our unwillingness to listen, we’re being INTERRUPTED by commercial messages as we try to go about our lives.

No luck dodging since we get bombarded/attacked through TV, Radio, Fridge door, Home door, Newspaper, Magazines, Mail-Box, In-box, Internet, Transit shelters, Metro Stations, Buses inside and out, Metro trains inside and out, BillBoards, Posters, Sidewalks, Highways, Streets, Malls, Office buildings, Hallways, Trucks, Elevators, Pharmacies, Parking lots, Gyms, Yoga & Dance Studios. Recreations centers, Libraries, Community centers, Movie theaters and Movie times, Retail windows, Public bathrooms, University campuses, Restaurants, Bars, Dental and Medical offices, Airports, Train stations, Movie rentals,,,,,, Uffff! And also at every other sporting, cultural or public event.

The most important and definitely the most significant change in recent history is the power the internet gave us people. In the huge collection of tools there are a few worth highlighting as they created a new form of media/communications. "UGC: User-generated content UGC, also known as consumer-generated media CGM or user-created content UCC, refers to various kinds of media content, publicly available, that are produced by end-users. All digital media technologies are included, such as question-answer databases, digital video, blogging, podcasting, mobile phone photography and wikis. In addition to these technologies, user generated content may also employ a combination of open source, free software, and flexible licensing or related agreements to further reduce the barriers to collaboration, skill-building and discovery."

Since marketers blurred the line between being engaging and being invasive, people rather consume content from credible sources such as other people.

What's next? 3D and AR....