Off the Shelf provides a platform for Retailers and Consumer Packaged Goods companies to discuss and gain insights on the pressing problems, trends and solutions.

Main

January 2, 2015

Bridging the Physical and Digital Worlds

I am a technophile, and I believe sincerely that technology is going to make tomorrow's world better than the one today, just like it made today's world better than yesterday's. The retail shopper will be among those who enjoys increased conveniences and better shopping experiences with the technology trends sweeping the Retail industry today.


One such trend - a vital piece of the Omnichannel puzzle - is interconnecting the physical and digital customer touch-points, thanks to various technologies including geo-fencing, NFC tags, GPS and mobile devices like smartphones. By bridging the physical and digital worlds and allowing them to interact with each other in a seamless manner, the Retailer can improve the customer's shopping and service experience resulting in increased conversions.


Let's take an example from a real life situation. Say I want to buy a smartphone and I research various smartphone brands online, select one and add it to my shopping cart or wish list. The next time I walk into a store, an alert can be made to appear on my smartphone asking if I need assistance buying the smartphone in my abandoned shopping cart or my wish list. The customer experience could then be taken further, by paging a customer service rep to come help me or by allowing me to navigate to the electronics section using my phone. The experience could be completed with price comparisons, a mobile checkout and feedback on the product and experience.


This is just one example and the possibilities are endless - including personalized in-store offers, price and availability alerts, proximity based product information, showrooming and analytics of in-store behavior; not to mention upcoming technologies such as Automated Shopping Trolleys, 3D Printing and Augmented Reality. And while Retailers improve their experience, Shopping Mall operators are also starting to connect shoppers to the digital world, for added conveniences such as automated parking garages and price comparisons.


Shoppers may look forward to an exciting future where their shopping trips resemble a sequence from a science fiction movie. Retailers already have several tools to launch themselves on the way to that future.


To learn more about the various ways for Retailers to bridge the physical and digital worlds, meet our experts at Retail's Big Show. Schedule a meeting now. Visit www.infy.com/NRF15.

Continue reading "Bridging the Physical and Digital Worlds" »

December 18, 2014

What can retailers learn from consumers' online behaviors in shaping the in-store shopping experience?

Jane is walking through her local market when she passes by the hair products aisle and she remembers that she's running low on hair gel.  She wants to try a new, higher-end product, but making the selection is daunting, and she is not sure which product to buy.  She wants to do some quick comparison research before she spends 30 dollars on a product, so she takes out her phone to read relevant product reviews.  It takes a while to locate all the products, and reading the many reviews for the various products are overwhelming.  After five minutes of frustrated searches, she decides to settle with her generic option.

For the average shopper today, Jane's experience is likely to be a common one.   Indeed, a recent consumer survey found that the majority of people prefer to begin their journeys online, with 88% of shoppers webrooming--or looking at products online first, before purchasing in-store.  Such practices are not relegated to just high value purchases like electronics alone; modern day digital shoppers are increasingly price and value conscious, and they are used to easy access to reviews during their online shopping experiences, hence they tend to be less impulsive while purchasing, than ever before. 

It is the job of retailers then to meet consumers' increasing demands for external sources of information during their in-store shopping experiences.  To do so, retailers must focus on enhancing capabilities on mobile devices.  For example, to help shoppers like Jane, retailers can attach QR codes to products which allow consumers to easily access reviews for the product by simply scanning it with their phone.  On the same page, there can be reviews for related products as well. Also included must be tools to help Jane locate a product she indicates interest in. 

Repeated surveys indicate that despite the usual habit of starting shopping journeys online, consumers still overwhelmingly prefer to make actual purchases in-store.  Leveraging mobile content to supplement the traditional in-store experience, can create a simpler and faster journey that caters to the consumer's demands and save him/ her time. 


1)     To know more about providing seamless and engaging in-store customer experience, meet our experts at Retail's Big show 2015. Schedule a meeting now. Visit www.infy.com/NRF15


 

December 15, 2014

Consumers can 'bank' upon Wearables

Wearable devices are surely going to make doing business and making consumption choices easy and the retail industry is one of the biggest beneficiaries of this. In fact, the impact would go beyond retailers and the online business and extend to even consumer banking. In fact one can visualize the boundaries between the retail business and banking business blurring in the new digital age.

As consumers seek easier and more convenient ways to shop and then pay, the retail and payments worlds are likely to collide in the internet expressway to create a smooth seamless transaction for the customer.

For example, a customer walking into a store with a Google glass will use the Google glass to do various things such as - find his way to the nearest store, seek the aisle he wants, receive any promotional updates about products, browse product information and the same Google Glass will also allow users to connect to internet and access all bank account related information and conduct transactions using voice commands. The user could look at his account details, pay bills by taking pictures of them and commanding the app to "Pay Bill".  Another use case here could be, that next time round the customer is walking down the retail aisle/or passing by a restaurant/store, he can get targeted and customized offers of products and services on his Glass, which fit his 'client profile' and there is history of a payment made through his account for the particular category.

To extend the use of the Google glass further, the app will also help him find the nearest ATM/Branch. The user could simply deposit a check by looking at it (the image of the cheque is taken and processed for clearing).

Now let's look at a use case which might be applicable to the Relationship Manager of a bank, such a person would also find the device extremely useful. Once he gets a call from a potential lead, he will be able to reach the client on time, using its easy navigation interface. The conversation with a customer in a different language will be far easier, due to speech to text and language translation apps, on the Glass. Incase, the client needs more detailed product information, the same question can be transferred 'live' to a product expert, who can instantly see and hear the query. Once the questions have been answered and the customer decides to sign up, all he has to do is speak required information and a customized app on the phone automatically converts it into text and feeds it into an application form. Signatures can be collected digitally. Finally, customers photograph and copies of on-boarding documents can be instantly uploaded by saying "take picture". Funds for the account could be transferred instantly using a wallet application on the Glass. That's all! This really makes life much easier for a customer, by having a constructive discussion and completing all the mundane paper work very fast. 

October 10, 2013

The hunt is over for the Best Digital Innovation - 2013

Guest Post by

Anil Venkat, Marketing Manager, Infosys

The Infosys Digital Innovation Award, created with IGD - global retail and consumer goods trade body, celebrates organisations using digital technology to push the boundaries of consumer engagement. The search for the inaugural winner of the award was completed on Oct 8 after receiving entries of over 30 ground breaking projects from global Retail and CPG companies.

The finalists - ASDA, Coca-Cola, Heineken, Tesco and Wm Morrison - shared a common thread.  Innovation is almost always about improvements for the consumer. All these finalists demonstrated that they are prepared to think outside traditional frameworks and try something new.

The winner, Asda, was able to demonstrate more than any other, a clear definition of purpose with defined metrics across multiple areas of their business. Their innovation came from clever use of data and technology,  transferability to other campaigns and business areas and a long-term impact in terms of future marketing strategies and business planning.
The customer defined approach that Asda has taken to creating the Asda smartphone app has been recognised as stand out from their competitors and worthy of the  award. The app achieved the highest user rating of any supermarket chain and helped increase mobile sales to double the company's original target. 

Asda's entry is a case study for how retailers should think about and execute digital innovation in the future.

Congratulations to ASDA,  inaugural winner of Infosys Digital Innovation award 2013

 

September 16, 2013

"The Journey to Data Centricity" with Infosys and Unilever

Guest Post by
Frisco Chau, Practice Engagement Manager, Infosys

We jointly hosted a networking event including discussion and debate on Sept 12th with Unilever at the Infosys Experience Centre in London and were joined by Rachel Bristow, Vice President Global Media Data and Analytics as the guest keynote speaker, who gave a talk about what the journey to becoming a truly data-driven company looks like at Unilever. This high-touch forum was attended by a select group of marketing and IS leaders from retail and consumer packaged goods industries.

Our host, Peter Sieyes (AVP Head of Consumer Marketing and Innovation) emphasised the sentiment of the evening was one of openness (in shared experiences and learnings) and debate (around solutions and approach).

Rachel shared Unilever's experience from the beginning of the programme, as a formative marketing data strategy around connecting with consumers and some of the catalysts for this change, through to some of the learnings and pitfalls when it came to aligning internal and external stakeholders and implementation of the required infrastructure, process and people talent.

As a synopsis of discussions around the subject matter, as expected, the room of experienced practitioners largely agreed on the key challenges and success factors faced in their organisations:
• Clarity of business-driven requirements
• CMO/CIO alignment
• Data quality and integrity
• Finding new insights from the data (without knowing the question)
• Simplifying complexity using simple visual representations of core transformation concepts/benefits
• Talent recruitment/management

Continue reading ""The Journey to Data Centricity" with Infosys and Unilever" »

October 22, 2012

Are you Game?

I was intrigued when my son walked up to me with a request to order a pizza he had made on ipad game app from Dominos. The fun and excitement of playing the game coupled with pride of self-accomplishment was inescapable in his eyes...we did order the pizza and it was clear that Dominos now had a new Gen Y consumer.

Continue reading "Are you Game?" »

September 30, 2012

"Mobile Apps For Faster Shopping Sprees"

 "Google Indoor Maps" has opened a whole new opportunity to retailers whereby they can enable their customers in getting easy and quick access to the products that they're looking for. In brief, "Google Indoor Maps" allows a person walking inside a store to navigate his travel within this indoor location just like what she(/he) would have done while driving a car using a GPS

Integrating these maps with Retailer's own mobile application (app) and tagging a store's aisles by "Product Categories" on these Google Indoor Maps for a large format store, going down to category of products available by Brands may be just the beginning of the thought as to how Retailers allow their patrons to directly reach out for the product that they are looking for rather than wandering through store departments or searching for a store associate which for some shoppers may be time consuming or even frustrating.

One of the best supporting feature on Google floor maps, is the ability to guide the user by individual floor's plans, whereby a large multi-level retail stores can also be covered easily and therefore we feel that some of the immediate exploits can be in the large scale Store or say Super Store

Let us try to understand how one such Retailer app may make the life a Retailer's clientele much simpler and the shopping experience much better. Assume the scenario that our loyal Customer "Louise" is entering such a Large Super Store for her weekly purchases which runs across several departments of the store like fresh produce, dry grocery, apparel, cleaning supplies, bath-ware, electronics, sports goods and the list goes on. Soon after she has parked at the store, Louise logs-in to the Retailer's own native Mobile app on her smart phone. The Retailer's app upon invocation on her smart phone, detects her geographical location and the store that she is visiting today via Location Based Services (LBS) wherein this specific store's latest tagged maps can be pulled and displayed on Louise's phone's screen

To make the whole shopping trip faster, Louise has keyed in the shopping-list beforehand in the app and a route map is prepared for her upon her check-in into the store via this app. This route map is based on the latest movement of shelves/racks in the store.  Such a guided walk cuts down the Louise's walk through the aisles a short, easy and a confortable one

Louise was looking for a shirt for her son, but the size small does not appear on the shelf today... does the store have it? No problem... the check would be a quick one by Louise quickly getting to know this via her mobile app. Moreover, if it is not available in store right now, the app prompts her with an easy and quick site to store order which she can pick up during her trip next week 

Another use for this app+google maps eco-system can be to integrate with the floor maps and publish current vacancies/next available time slots/expected wait times in Large Store's sub stores like ophthalmologist shops, saloons etc.

 

This Large Super Store's sub stores are very frequently publishing a status of a vacant customer spots/seat available or unavailability of the same on the floor map which when viewed by Louise, will give her an idea whether she needs to do the shopping first or go to the sub store for a quick visit to the hair salon

While these are just some of the initial thoughts, when pursued actively this specific technology can be utilized in umpteen ways to boost the store sales and to guarantee customer satisfaction. Overall, sky is the limit when one starts documenting the concept of such a solution/product. Customer purchase/return history and loyalty points can be utilized to highlight offers/deals when customer is approaching a specific aisle or when she has been looking for a specific product for some time

This article has been contributed by Ashutosh Kaushal - Senior Consultant (Sterling Commerce - Infosys Ltd). You can reach Ashutosh at Ashutosh_Kaushal@infosys.com.

 

Leveraging Social / Consumer Genome for Merchandising

Most retailers traditionally leverage sales data from POS terminals to analyze buying behavior. In some cases, loyalty card data is also used to determine appropriate assortment decisions. These data sources and their corresponding analysis have proven reasonably helpful, though they don't convey the whole picture. With the recent explosion in social and consumer related data on the web, there is a wealth of information that Retailers should be exploiting and incorporating into their merchandising decisions, primarily around assortment and space.

Social/Consumer genome related data provides rich insights into needs, wants and buying behavior of individuals. This data when combined with demographic and geographic data can provide a good map of consumer wants and needs for a given market for a set of product categories.

A major input into merchandising decisions / assortment plans is to determine consumer buying behavior to identify what products sell and what potential products could sell to increase sales. Based on this analysis, assortment decisions of inclusion/exclusion or allotment of space are provided. The means to identify this buying behavior was typically the use of POS data or data from Nielsen/IRI that provided good basis for WHAT was being purchased. When married with Demographic data, there was a good proxy for WHY the products were being purchased. Even when rigorous correlation and clustering analysis is carried out, the determination of buying behavior and the reasons for the same were proxies at best.

Now with the availability of consumer genome or social genome information, the analysis of WHY purchases are being made and what is being purchased with identification of latent and express needs becomes even more accurate as there is clear expression of wants and needs. This will significantly enhance the quality of assortment and merchandising decisions as the degree of error/approximation is reduced.

There are however some pitfalls to the use of this data. We cannot solely rely on this data as web usage and consumer/social genome information may not fully represent buying needs and wants for the entire market population. This data usage has to be married to traditional sales analysis to augment the decision making process.

There are no tools / application products in the market place that provide truly integrated capabilities. The holy grail for optimized merchandising would be to integrate social/consumer genome data effectively into the traditional clustering analysis and thereby into the assortment planning process. This might be a challenge for some of the retailers who struggle with traditional approaches. Asking them to adopt more advanced analytical approaches to incorporate social/consumer genome data would be a challenge.

The key would be to devise suitable technology/process platform augmented with robust analytics shared services that can leverage necessary data to enable optimized merchandising decisions.

This article has been contributed by Amitabh Mudaliar (Group Engagement Manager - RCL Infosys). You can reach Amitabh at Amitabh_M@infosys.com.

Cashing in on "Order to Cash" through BPO shared services

 The Order to Cash process is at the heart of every business and I have often been tasked with asking clients and prospects to consider moving their Order to Cash processes into a Shared services delivery model with a third party service provider.  Over the years this attempt of mine has evinced myriad expressions from clients ranging from the "Have you lost it?" look to the "You just showed me business process nirvana" look. The industry where I experienced the most contrasting reactions was the CPG industry and I wanted to share some interesting learning from the experience of working with a few clients in walking the talk and sharing in their Order to Cash transformation journey over the years.

To provide some context, the concept of Business process outsourcing in the CPG industry is not a new one. This industry was one of the earliest adopters of outsourcing transactional and back office business processes such as Accounts Payables, Accounts Receivables, Payroll processing and Procurement. The primary driver for outsourcing across all these processes was labor cost arbitrage followed by process efficiencies from consolidation; harmonization and continuous improvement. These drivers have become the cornerstone of all business process outsourcing relationships and have for long settled into becoming the marketing tagline for the BPO industry.

With this legacy of perceived value from BPO relationships, when one has to go down the same journey with Order to Cash processes, the value equation does not necessary stack up. The most obvious reason for this skew in the case of O2C processes is Risk. To cite an instance provided by one of my clients - The entire annual cost savings delivered by a BPO relationship can potentially be eroded by one order from a large retailer being inadvertently dropped or shipped to the wrong address due to the contractual penalties involved. And one defect out of a million is acceptable even by "Six Sigma" standards!

So two questions come up, the "Why" and the "How"? The "Why" is easy. Given that the Order to Cash process impacts not just the G&A metric but also the Cost of Goods Sold, Working capital efficiency, Days Sales of Inventory and Gross Revenue metrics, a successful shared services strategy undertaken by engaging the right partner could catalyze business transformation impacting the highest levels of the organization.

The tough question however is the "How"? I often relate that to converting an "Art" into a "Science". The "Art" here refers to the finesse and proficiency that Customer service representatives have honed on their jobs for a number of years. The "Science" here refers to replicating that same level of service or sometimes even improving it but with a completely new team that's located thousands of miles away in a global delivery model.  Sounds like mission impossible right? Not really. It's been done before and involves the following best practices:

·         Create the right operating model: The tried and tested Front Office-Back Office model is a great starting point. It allows for a risk mitigated approach to the end state sourcing mix given the need to balance risk and value in a customer centric setup for the CPG industry.

·         Create the right performance measurement methodology: The days of adopting operational metrics such as cycle time, average handling time, Abandonment rate, First Contact Resolution etc to govern outsourcing relationships are a thing of the past. These metrics are now considered Business As Usual (BAU). Consider including business metrics and supply chain performance metrics such as cost per order/invoice, Case Fill Rates (CFRs), On Time Delivery (OTD), Truckload capacity utilization, Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) into the performance measurement framework

·         Create a segmented service framework: Most CPG businesses operate in the 80:20 model where 20% of customers account for 80% of revenues. Given this mix, a one size fits all shared services model will fail to deliver differentiated service experience to top tier customers. Consider a three tier service framework involving Transactional shared services, Business support services and Enterprise support services layers

·         Choose the right global delivery model: Most top tier BPO providers today have global presence with established Centers of Excellence. Adopt a hub and spoke global delivery model preferably aligned to customer tiers as well as the segmented service framework

·         Adopt a phased transition approach: A prudent transition plan is the foundation to successful Order to Cash shared services adoption. Consider creating a phased transition plan where phasing is based on customer tiers, markets, process complexity or a combination of these parameters

While there are several other design considerations, the above five are what I could call the essential ingredients of Order to Cash BPO solutions for the CPG industry. With these best practices implemented, companies can start to cash in on their Order to Cash processes through BPO shared services led transformation.

This article has been authored by Sushanth Ananth (Manager, Client Services - Retail, CPG, Logistics and Life Sciences, Infosys Ltd). You can reach Sushanth at Sushanth_ananth@infosys.com.

 

 

 

March 28, 2011

Sports Marketing benefited through Digital Marketing platforms and Digital Value Asset chain

Sports Marketing has always been one of the biggest verticals in any of the world's leading sporting goods industry. It's by far the biggest unit within Brand Marketing for any leading sporting goods industry.

                                                                                                                                 

  • Have you ever wondered why sporting goods companies use professional athletes as their brand ambassadors?
  • What a professional athlete (or asset) would mean to the brand that has contracted him / her?
  • What does the brand mean to the contracted athlete (or asset)?

 

There is a complete value chain behind contracting the asset to realizing its value (ROI). In today's world this value chain is further augmented and supported by various Digital Marketing platforms and its realization complemented as a Digital Asset Value chain.

 

Let's start at the basics - why would someone want to contract a David Beckham and show case him as a brand ambassador?

The answer is simple - he is a huge icon, with a great fan following and people like to follow his trends and products he supports. Companies like to target this audience with major digital marketing campaigns and ad campaigns to enhance the volume of sales of their products. This could tie in with a major sporting tournament or a product launch.

 

So, how does one get contracted by a company? And how is his contracted period lived? This is the "life cycle of a contracted asset"; which is augmented by a digital value chain.

 

                                 Life Cycle of a contracted Asset

 

Life cycle of an Asset.jpg  

  • Today, many sporting goods companies are on the look out for partnering with professional athletes. They are particularly interested in capturing young talented professional athletes; seeing potential in the athletes in the long run and contract then cheap for a longer period of time. This is the term known as "Scouting". Many agencies provide custom built solutions to manage and track fresh talent. This is also used by Global companies that operate on Global and Local (subsidiary) levels (centralized or decentralized).

 

  • The identified assets are then contracted by the companies. Many companies buy off the shelf products to manage their contract and workflow for the contract approval. Other companies hire agencies to build custom solutions to mange their contracts and approval workflow. This could be used heavily by marketing and controlling teams. Based on the fame of the athlete, different strategies and contract levels are tied to the asset.

 

  • Based on the contract, the asset is then serviced with customized products. These products are created to enhance the performance of the athletes or cater to the specific needs of the athlete. There are many custom built solutions that provide customization features possible on products. Digital Marketing platforms are huge in product customization these days. Custom built systems also track the asset specific product order management from creation of the product to delivery to the asset. Different service levels are driven by contract values and significance of the asset. This also helps in targeting audience for niche products Vs mass products.

 

  • Major companies also tie in new product launches with major sporting events and manage huge campaigns over digital media (social media - blogs, facebook, networking sites, youtube etc.) supporting the product launch. This can be associated with a niche athlete or a sponsored team. This is then followed up by social analytics. The companies are increasingly interested in knowing the success of their campaigns, in knowing the increased following of the people and the impact on product sales due to that campaign.

 

  • Many companies track the growth of their assets, and renew or re-negotiate contracts based on the increasing or decreasing popularity of the assets. Many agencies provide custom built solutions to help aid in tracking the athlete's growth and worth.

 

  • Finally, as a last step in the "Life Cycle management of an asset" - the companies are interested in the ROI of their contract. Many agencies provide custom built solutions to track the investment as per the contract (and bonuses based on performance) and also the value of the athlete. Companies would normally term the value of an asset as Strategic or Brand Marketing specific to volume of sales generated by the endorsed product. This determines contract renewal or termination.

 

The complete life cycle "asset centric" is now tracked by companies in various solutions which are Portal like. These solutions provide a comprehensive 360 degree view of the asset, his / her financial info, servicing info, major campaigns and product launches along with contractual info. Digital Marketing platforms and Digital Asset Value chain has increasingly over the years helped sporting goods companies transform their Sports Marketing vertical and enhance brand marketing; taking it to a next level which is getting closer to the asset and the trusted consumer increasing sales volume.

 

December 18, 2009

Enhance Customer Loyalty at the Final moment of truth

In this age of discerning and value chasing shoppers, Customer Loyalties can change in a single moment and gaining or retaining loyalty is a marketing warfare. Store is the final frontier where products are given equal opportunities to see, evaluate and choose the brand. Brands can be made or broken in these last few minutes of life span a shopper will give to your brand. It is then highly imperative for the brands to make best use of these last few minutes and ensure that the customers stay loyal. Here are 3 basic strategies, Retailers and CPG companies can look at to enhance customer loyalty.

Continue reading "Enhance Customer Loyalty at the Final moment of truth" »

Subscribe to this blog's feed

Follow us on

Blogger Profiles

Infosys on Twitter