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An independent retailer goes online: Norton's USA

NortonStoreMany retailers are adding an online component to their business these days, but you don’t often get a chance to see the process through the eyes of the business leader who decided to make it happen. Today BMC talks to one innovative retailer who did just that in order to grow her business. Four and a half years ago Deborah Leydig opened Norton’s USA in a former livery barn. The store sells only American-made goods. She began selling online about eighteen months ago.
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Shopper marketing: Before you consume, you shop!

Thanks-4-Shopping5When Tim Dorgan first suggested teaching a class in shopper marketing, circa 2005, he was advised that the idea sounded more like a lecture than a class. Last year, he offered that class to students in the integrated marketing communications program at Northwestern’s Medill School – and the new course opened with a waiting list. Shopper marketing’s influence is growing, and its focus on the shopping experience is aligning brand, retailer, and shopper interests in new ways. We caught up with Tim between his day job (he runs Peapod’s interactive business and manages the company’s e-merchandising) and his teaching responsibilities at Medill to talk about the new course.

When size doesn't matter

BigDogLittleDog2What do the challenges of the brick meets click space look like to independent grocers? They look a lot like the challenges the big chains face, according to BMC Black Belt Mike Spindler. Mike attended the NGA convention in Las Vegas last week, and we asked him to share his perspective on key takeaways related to the digital side of grocery shopping for these food retailers.
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Going digital or going to the store

questiondiceWhen do shoppers go digital and when do they go to the store? The answer to this question has important implications for retailers. At Brick Meets Click, we like to seek out real shoppers and talk with them in depth about how they shop and why they make the choices they do. It helps us understand where shoppers find value, where they struggle, and where there may be opportunities for retailers to better serve them. This time we sat down with Jackie, a stay-at-home mother of two in her early 30s.
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Benchmarking against Amazon and Google

AmazonGoogleLogosBMC’s January 2012 Conversation about competing with Amazon is a great discussion. It made me stop and think about exactly what features Amazon – and Google – offer and how they appeal to shoppers. I hope the list below isn’t redundant. It’s offered in the spirit of learning, because we need to look at these platforms and e-commerce sites as ‘best of class’ benchmarks, and we should pay attention to their success. They suggest many ways that retailers can compete and find excellent complements to the brick-and-mortar parts of their businesses.
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How technlogy and creative business ideas made me an intentional shopper

CarInShoppingCartWhen I moved back home to Chicago after eighteen months in Los Angeles, the City-of-Driving-Everywhere, a friend recommended the car-sharing service Zipcar. It was the first time I’d ever considered personal transportation alternatives or the possibility of not owning a car. When I took the plunge, it changed my life – and it radically altered my shopping habits. NOTE: Patricia Joseph is Managing Director of Prospex Information and an enthusiastic observer of retail innovation and how new technologies change the shopping experience.
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Six things we're watching in 2012

PensiveWatchingGirlWe’re keeping an eye out for developments in these areas in 2012. Some may not directly influence shoppers and retailers today, but all will eventually affect the future of shopping. That said, we don’t recommend tossing out traditional ways of doing things – what’s important is to add the new ones to the mix of things you’re thinking about. New technologies never totally annihilate previous ones. What changes is the mix, and that combination continually changes over time.
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Rethinking Retail Real Estate

RoofandQuestionThe internet is profoundly changing the landscape for retail real estate. It is challenging the relevance, viability, and value of brick-and-mortar locations, and creating opportunities for retailers who are willing and able to pursue multi-channel strategies. Part of the brick-and-mortar response seems obvious, but new tools may also offer conventional retail locations some not-so-obvious opportunities. Note: Dr. David Rogers is president of DSR Marketing Systems, Inc., a Chicago-based consulting firm that specializes in retail research including store location analysis and consumer research.
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What matters most in pricing?

Daring CautionBMC Black Belt Bob Sherlock has seen a lot of companies develop pricing decisions, and his new book titled Daring Caution: The Executive’s Guide to Pricing Improvement was published last month. Here he talks with Brick Meets Click about his favorite pricing principle, the factors involved in pricing decisions, how the gravitational pull of competitive pricing can skew a company’s thinking, and why he titled his book "Daring Caution." Bob is the President of Marketwerks, Inc.                       
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Marketing, merchandising, and the shopper-centric frontier in grocery

MmsLet me offer a perspective on the grocery industry from deep in the trenches. Shopper-centric marketing is a huge paradigm shift for grocery – with implications for organization structure, measurement and compensation schemes, and vendor relationships. To date, there are few publicized success models but there are grocers who have figured out how they need to run their businesses in this new way and they are beginning to reap the gains and talk about their returns.
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The importance of matching data and products

TwinsMirroredData.  Data connected to product.  Accurately.  Accessed via the internet at home, via mobile phones and tablets on the go, via the package at the store.  Data is increasingly making a difference in customer purchasing behaviors, and as shoppers grow more and more deliberate about their choices(1), their demands for information are growing as well. Today product manufacturers and retailers who can consistently connect accurate, verifiable data to products can create trust that translates to competitive advantage  – but doing so is clearly proving to be a challenge.
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Updating the shopper value equation

Here’s a challenge I see: Every retailer needs to decide how they are going to deliver more value in the “new normal” marketplace, a place where shopper expectations are high, limits on disposable income are real, and technology delivers nearly limitless possibilities. A CEO I respect said not long ago, “It’s not yet clear to me which way to take our company.”  I sense many of his peers are in a similar situation. There are no maps, and without some guidance, we’re likely to wander around for a while. One way to establish direction is to go back to a familiar reference point and modify it to work better in today’s world. I suggest we update the shopper value equation. Here’s a draft set of ideas about what’s needed to deliver value to 21st century shoppers for discussion, feedback, and improvement.
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Rethinking retail basics

Something new is happening in retailing – to retailers. Shoppers still want easy access to products they want to buy when they want to buy them. What’s new is that innovators are aggressively rethinking some basic elements of the retail business model. Here’s what I’m seeing: retailers rethinking access, retailers responding to new demand drivers, and retailers taking new approaches to availability. To me, there are enough connectable dots to indicate that we’re approaching a major expansion in the range of ways we serve shoppers. Do you see what I see?
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Delivering value beyond price

These days a growing number of retailers are trying to deliver greater value mainly through lower prices, so it was refreshing to hear the CEO of Delhaize Pierre-Olivier Beckers describe Food Lion's recent re-positioning in Raleigh, N.C. and Chattanooga, Tenn., as 'holistic change' in the shopper's experience. We think that keeping the bigger picture in mind is a good idea. Pricing is important, but it isn't the only source of value that influences where shoppers decide to shop.
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Social media & the value equation: a proposal

The traditional shopper value equation - value = price x quality x variety x service x facility – doesn’t include elements that capture the impact of social media. Consider this a proposal, a draft framework for thinking about how shoppers benefit from their use of social media. And consider it a direct invitation: to discuss, debate, and refine these ideas into a hypothesis that can be tested in the marketplace. Ultimately, I believe we can collaborate to arrive at a new and more robust value equation that individual retailers can calibrate to fit their own situations.
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CRM moves toward the heart of retailing

I recently attended my 17th CRMC conference, and it made me thoughtful about the changing position of customer relationship management in the retailing world: After being born out of the catalog and mail order business, and confined to advertising and promotions departments by brick and mortar retailers for years, CRM is beginning to move to the center of the enterprise.
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