Tag Archives: walmart

Social Commerce and Curated Content for Retailers 2.0

Recently published as part II of a previous part I published on January 31st, this Retail Touchpoints article deals with Social Commerce with a stronger emphasis on social curation, a must to know for all retailers. Enjoy!

“In Part I of this Social Commerce feature, Walmart toldRetail TouchPoints: “The first generation e-Commerce sites brought the store to the web. We think the next generation will be about building a multichannel experience that integrates the store, the web and mobile seamlessly, with social identity being the glue,” Ravi Raj, VP of @WalmartLabs, stated.

Charlie Cole, VP of Online Marketing for Lucky Brand, also shared his viewpoints on social commerce with RTP: “Social commerce is important to us because it allows for a revenue event directly at the point of social interaction. The approach is integral to our other channel strategies: Across social sites we want to make sure we are tracking not only direct revenue attribution but also understanding the ‘view through’ component of the interaction.  Ideally, we want people to interact with products on their own terms and by doing so we heighten the brand relationship.”

However, Cole said he believes social at its core will be a “top of funnel” driver, more so than a direct response vehicle, “but it could be that integrated shopping experiences change that trend in the long term.”

Underscoring Raj’s and Cole’s comments, Facebook’s recent IPO to raise $5 billion, as well as its reported 65% boost in 2011 net income, emphasize that social networking and e-Commerce are fusing to present significant opportunities for retailers to further engage with brand advocates and loyal shoppers on a more intimate level.

In Part II of the Social Commerce Report, several retailers share their social commerce success stories and  insights about its future.

Social Reviews, Curation and Gamification Grab Consumers’ Attention
Social ratings and reviews are key to improving the online shopping experience and subsequent conversion rates at Ice, an online jewelry retailer. Though not a new strategy, Dave Haber, Senior Director of Social Media, told RTP that “Ice continues to focus here because allowing our customers to rate, review and better educate onsite visitors has been one of our most powerful forms of social engagement.

“In fact, we see customers that create, read or share ratings or reviews converting at 2.5-times the rate of an average site visitor ― that’s a 250% improvement in the conversion rate,” he noted.

Another area of social commerce Haber’s team is focusing on is the idea of social curation ― the ability for people to curate selections of products, brands, imagery, etc., in order to create their own personal lens of shopping needs and experiences. Haber points to a site called Pinterest.com, which allows participants to organize web clippings onto a virtual bulletin board and share them with friends. For example, for Valentine’s Day, visitors can create a board called “Jewelry Gift Ideas,” and attach (or “pin”) a necklace or earrings from Ice. Pinterest users can click through “pinned” items to access the product detail page at the Ice homepage and ultimately make a peer-recommended purchase.

Haber also sees online gaming as a huge social commerce opportunity that can impact the ways consumers interact with online retailers and brands. The NRF’s “Social Retailing Blueprint” study looks at “gamification,” defining it as the use of game play mechanics and dynamics for non-game applications, products and related services. This tactic is used in consumer-driven web sites and mobile applications to encourage sustained engagement or incentivize other behaviors.

Gamification in the context of retail operations and social marketing tactics helps drive customer transactions. Online shoe retailer Shoebuy.com, for example, tapped gamification to double advertisement click-throughs and boost share rates via Facebook by 50%. DKNY was among the retail initiators of social gaming. Today that group includes Best Buy, CafePress, Gilt Groupe, H&M, Nike, Rue LaLa, Simon Malls, Sport’s Authority, Valentino and many others.

Telling Stories, Gifting and Social Sweepstakes Win Big
The opportunities for social commerce tactics continue to branch out. In January 2012, Facebook announced 60 new web partners that will appear in the site’s users’ Timeline offering. Timeline is a new profile that gives users an easy way to “share and highlight your most memorable posts, photos and life events on your timeline. This is where you can tell your story from beginning, to middle, to now,” according to Facebook.com.

A number of merchants have recently introduced new social commerce sites and apps:

  • Fab.com — One of the 60 new Facebook partners is Fab.com, an e-Commerce marketplace for design. In a recent blog about its social commerce innovations, Fab.com’s CEO Jason Goldberg, revealed: “Fab is thrilled to be among the first to launch a timeline app. To get started, you can opt-in on Fab to add the app to Facebook Timeline, your future purchases will be shared on your Timeline, and you’ll be able to discover the items most popular among your friends through the Facebook News Feed and ticker. Clicking through on the Fab Member’s username then shows that user’s Fab Profile, which displays all of the items the member has purchased, faved, or added to the Fab Inspiration Wall. [This] Social Shopping launch is just the start. We’ll be continuing to forge ahead and innovating at the intersection of social and commerce,” said Goldberg.
  • @WalmartLabs — @WalmartLabs launched an app on Facebook called Shopycat last December, which recommends gifts for friends and family based on their likes and tastes. Earlier in January it launched Get on the Shelf (getontheshelf.com), “which allows us to crowd source the next great product to carry on our shelves,” Raj told RTP. “Both these initiatives have been off to a great start in terms of usage. You can expect to see more innovative social products from @WalmartLabs in 2012,” he said. “Our scale at Walmart with retail stores, combined with social commerce, positions us well to succeed in the new generation of e-commerce.”
  • Brookstone — Bill Wood, CIO at Brookstone, said the chain’s recent partnership with SWAGG, a gift management app extended Brookstone’s reach into the mobile social commerce space. It did this by allowing consumers to give and redeem gift cards via their mobile device, as well as access offers and promotions from any smartphone. He described the strategy during his presentation entitled “Technology-Enabled Social Media” at the Social Commerce Strategies Convention in Las Vegas late January.

Woods told RTP: “Social commerce is proving to be a valuable tool to enhance storefront appeal. This holiday season, Brookstone conducted a Foursquare promotion offering a $10 discount for check-ins at our retail locations, which blended our online strategies with our brick and mortar consumer engagement.”

  • SquareTrade — A service provider of extended warranties for consumer electronics, SquareTrade leveraged social commerce to promote its services in conjunction with the release of the iPhone 4S. Looking for a cost effective way to spread and track word-of-mouth, SquareTrade launched a hybrid of Social Referral and Social Sweepstakes products. Coupling the two products added a viral aspect to the referral campaign, which was promoted via email and Facebook. The campaign included two offers: $10 for every referral, and $100 for every five referrals, with referrers getting $5 off their warranties as an incentive to buy one. SquareTrade also gave away “50 iPad 2’s in 25 Days,” a program allowing referrers to enhance their chances of winning by sharing, since both the chosen winner and the individual that referred them received an iPad 2.

In the first 10 days of the campaign, more than 10,000 SquareTrade brand advocates were identified. Advocates shared with an average of five friends, and the campaign generated more than 60,000 social shares across Facebook, Twitter and email. Referrals drove 500 new customers, each purchasing a $100 product.

“We wondered whether people would still be sharing after the sweepstakes ― and they did,” reported Will Spencer, Marketing Manager for SquareTrade. “Thousands of organic shares continued when the campaign ended. The sweepstakes and its aftermath succeeded in validating that social commerce is a strategy in which our customers are willing to participate. On the strength of that data and the success we achieved, social commerce will most likely become a bigger part of our overall strategy in 2012, with more product categories eligible and a wider range of customers participating,” reported Spencer” (Source: Retail Touchpoints)
Dozens of vendors have recently entered the social commerce space, including Adgregate, Baynote, Bazaarvoice, 8th Bridge, Extole, IBM, Moontoast, Oracle, Payvment, ShopIgniter, 360i and TurnTo, all helping to distinguish social commerce as the new era of e-Commerce.

Are pop-up stores a way for fighting retail recession?

We have already talked about pop-up stores a while ago, but a recent news about Walmart opening pop-up stores hit our attention not because of their being “pop-up”, but because the American giant decided to create small pop-up stores to face the upcoming holiday demand, driving it from a physical location (the pop-up store) to Walmart.com. While Walmart customers will be able to purchase high margin gift solutions directly from the store, they can also pick up items ordered from the retail giant’s website and pick them up in the store with no delivery charge under the Site-to-Store and Pick-Up Today programs.

The stores, located in Souther California,  which bear signs reading Walmart.com, opened November 2 and are expected to remain open through December 31. Unlike its recently launched Walmart Express or its Neighborhood Market small-format stores, this new concept does not feature food or other convenience products.

“This is just a small test we’re conducting during the holiday season to offer local customers easier, more convenient access to quality products at everyday low prices,” Wal-Mart spokesperson Lorenzo Lopez toldCSP Daily News. “These small stores, located in the Topanga Mall in West Los Angeles and Horton Plaza in San Diego, will offer customers access to more than one million general merchandise items currently available through Walmart.com.”

He added, “The store will display key holiday items such as toys, electronics, gaming and home theater. These items can be picked up at the Walmart.com store or nearest Walmart store via the Site to Store and Pick Up Today options. Products can also be delivered to customers’ homes via the standard shipping options currently available through Walmart.com. Customers will also have an opportunity to purchase a small selection of items at the store, mostly accessories.”

Lopez said, “We’re always looking for ways to better serve our customers, so it’s not uncommon for us to test different formats to learn how customers respond to products and services. These stores are just another way to give customers a continuous experience by bringing together our stores, our brand and our footprint through eCommerce.”

A growing number of shoppers are in fact using technology to research and purchase gifts. These test stores are an interesting way to let shoppers research and buy online with the option to “get it now.” The highly targeted assortment and short-term leases are a low-risk way for Walmart to reach new shoppers and capture shopping occasions it may not otherwise have access to. Maybe most importantly, the pop-up stores could drive shoppers that don’t currently shop at Walmart (or Walmart.com) to the retailer’s website.

Walmart and its Green Revolution: a book talks about it

A new book, published this month, reveals Walmart’s struggle to redefine what it means to be green in the world of big business.

“Force of Nature: The Unlikely Story off Wal-Mart’s Green Revolution” by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Edward Humes, recounts the collaboration between Walmart’s former CEO H. Lee Scott, and later Mike Duke, Scott’s successor as CEO, and white water expert-turned Blu Skye sustainability consultant Jib Ellison.


Humes, author of Eco Barons, tells of a small project initially intended to insulate Walmart from environmental criticism into a massive sustainability makeover, which now has snowballed beyond the retailer to influence whole industries, from apparel to dairy to banking, according to Amazon.com.

Ellison instituted a project at Walmart called “The Index” that challenged suppliers to root out inefficiency and waste, which the book details. Packaging shrank, saving millions of gallons of water, millions of pounds of cardboard, not to mention diesel fuel. Walmart’s sheer size, coupled with its lowest-pricing mission, means that producers are forced to take steps toward sustainability — and make natural, organic, and earth-friendly products widely available, according to Publisher’s Weekly.

Walmart’s switch to common household products in smaller packaging saved cardboard and the diesel fuel necessary to transport larger boxes.

Other changes including switching from non-recyclable boxes for frozen food to recyclable packaging that then could be sold as a commodity to recyclers.

The collaboration with Ellison engendered far-reaching changes as executives at the world’s largest retail company realized that a clean, green, efficient, less-wasteful, less polluting way of doing business can also be the most profitable way of doing business. (Source: GreenRetail Decisions)

How to implement grocery retaling and e-tailing in India

We found this article by Avinder Batra, published on IndianRetailer.com very interesting because of its very detailed approach to the implementation of a home delivery service for those small groceries retailers that are facing the competition with by multinational like Wal-Mart. This is also a business model which is very sustainable, by lowering CO2 transportation emissions and by mainting vital the traditional small retail grocery business.

Batra identifies a big trend in the grocery business- home delivery- due to two main reasons:

-High fuel price: Indian families are not interested in spending time on these products
-Families want more leisure time for themselves: Since both the partners are working, shoppers find this activity as waste of time to collect groceries in weekends

“When most of the big retailers are fighting for larger space, opportunities can be foreseen where you do not have compact space and can still run successfully through Etailing the Grocery model” Batra says.

The solution could be a mix of website, mobile, IVR.

High rental costs have made the retail business cumbersome for the independent players.  As told by Ragib Hussain, VP, Vice President Strategy at e.Soft Technologies,  “This type of model does not need much of investments. Etailing models (having virtual shop) can help retailers in expanding the business thus by covering larger area & reap good volumes.”

Small independent retailers need to increase their customer base: Online services and then home deliveries would fetch revenues only when you have large customer base. Margins are the rewards which an investor gets and this is what he has to work on to have with minimum liable cost.

Develop tie-ups/partners: Developing partnership agreements with the kirana shopkeepers and others nearby shops in the area that would reach the consumers through home delivery systems. This should  be the initial step of building a strong network in the areas concerned you want to cover.

 Also, it would decrease the liability on the retailer—warehouse cost, maintenance cost, procurement cost, etc. 

Develop your own site and make a strong viable back-end system for smooth functioning of the business model: either by creating your own hosted website or by opting for cloud services, this is a very important step. Cloud services would play a vital role to make updated connections with your suppliers, logistics suppliers, CRM updates and drop shipping suppliers. Because time is a critical factor, efficient distribution is of utmost importance. Technology plays a key role in enabling an efficient dairy distribution model.

 This is the back bone of the whole concept when the business starts working and it is the most challenging part of the business to make real-time connectivity with them.

Home delivery services: By tying up with the partners in the local areas, investor can direct the orders to those shops and through delivery boys; the task can be executed smoothly. This would even increase the revenue prospects of the local partners.

 If the business model is churning profits, there is no harm in having your own warehouses and company owned shops in the localities. This could be the way to expand your business model and make it stronger.

Each small outlet should be centrally connected to the warehouse to record the sale and updates are on real time basis. This would help to replenish the goods which are going out of stock.

Delivery system: Tempos and other mini trucks can be used to provide deliveries in the located areas if orders come in bulk in particular area. (Source: IndiaRetailer.com)

Sustainable Apparel Coalition: what is it?

In the last days there has been a lot of buzz about the Sustainable Apparel coalition, officially launched on March 1st. But what is it?

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), which includes* Nike, Gap Inc, H&M, Levi Strauss, Marks & Spencer, and Patagonia, will work to lead the apparel industry towards developing improved sustainability strategies and tools to measure and evaluate sustainability performance. 

The Coalition’s purpose at a higher level has two goals.  First, the member organizations will develop plans to soften the apparel industry’s impact on water and industry consumption, while making commitments to improved waste diversion and the reduction in the use of chemicals. To that end, the Coalition’s members will work with industry peers and supply chain partners to achieve the fullest possible life cycle transparency for clothing. Meanwhile, the SAC seeks to ensure that workplaces throughout the apparel industry adopt fair employment practices and a safe working environment, while eliminating any exposure to toxic chemicals.

Second, the Coalition will develop a metrics-based tool that will assist companies in the measurement of their environmental and social impacts.  For now described as the Version 1.0 Apparel Index, the tool works similarly to Nike’s Apparel Environmental Design Tool and the Outdoor Industry Association’s Eco Index.  Besides offering an assessment on companies’ usages of energy, water, and chemicals, the index will also evaluate products’ entire life cycles.  Companies will be able to measure their performance, compare them to their peers, and receive guidelines and resources for how they can improve their performance all such metrics.  The Apparel Index is slated to launch next month.(Source: Triplepundit Photo: Treehugger)
*Founding members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition are based in North America, Asia, Europe and the U.K. They include Adidas, Arvind Mills, C&A, Duke University, Environmental Defense Fund, Esprit, Esquel, Gap Inc., H&M, HanesBrands, Intradeco, JC Penney, Kohl’s Department Stores, Lenzing, Levi Strauss & Co., LF USA, a division of Li & Fung Limited, Marks & Spencer, Mountain Equipment Coop, New Balance, Nike, Nordstrom, Otto Group, Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, Pentland Brands, REI, TAL Apparel, Target, Timberland, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Verité, VF Corp, and Walmart.

The retail business in year 2015? Just ask Nielsen!

Every now and then, I go back to the old the reports published by company leader in the market analysis and forecast, to see whether they did a good job – and it was worth buying thCPG Nielsen Reporte report – or it was just a "storytelling" exercise. When I read the Nielsen's report about the state of CPG (consumer packaged goods) industry in 2015 I just said: "Ok, I think there's something missing.." They wrote about mass supercenters and e-commerce experiencing the most dollar share gains through 2015. Drugstores, mass merchandisers and convenience stores will witness an increase in dollar sales, but will also experience share losses. Consumers will do their shopping via smartphones and digital and social marketing will be leading a company success and so on. But one thing was really missing, and this was sustainability. Wal-Mart is one of the leader in the retail business and they are taking big steps towards sustainability, do Nielsen think that they are wrong and by 2015 this issue will not be of much importance? Comments are welcomed! (Photo source: Flickr, Mazda6 (Tor)