Guest Post: 1202 Social Media Alone is Not Enough. Your Small Business Needs a “Big” Website

Social Media has truly been a game changer in how businesses connect with their customers. What used to be a cumbersome and expensive activity has been made very easy, but at the same time it has also become a constant battle for customer attention.

Social media has also helped the customers. It is much easier for them to connect with businesses. No longer do they have to rely on the traditional 1-800 number, enduring long hold times. They can simply post a question and then the business can answer them (within the same day hopefully). On the flip side, angry customers can post their scathing reviews for the world to see. Over all social media has really become a necessity for business if they want to stay valid in this world. And many businesses have been milking social media for all its worth, some even going as far as using it as a substitute for having a professional website. While social media is necessary for achieving success, especially for small businesses it can in no way substitute a business website. In order to truly milk social media, you have to pair it with a website.

Why do you need a big website along an efficient social media presence?

Recently Facebook added the sell feature on to pages, in short turning business pages into small business online stores. This feature again raised a slew of questions that why do we need a website anymore? You can even have a proper e-store running on a Facebook page. This question is especially asked by small businesses or start-ups who have limited budgets. Why should they put a strain on what are often shoe-string budgets to make a website, when they get almost the same level of functionality from a social media presence alone?

The market is not what it was 15 years ago

15 years back you could do without a website till you got to a level of financial success. However the market dynamics have considerably changed since then. Internet penetration in first world countries is especially at levels we had never nearly considered. And the speed at which the online world is expanding puts it a level where we can say that the virtual online world is one that exists in parallel of real one. It is that vast.

So if your business does not have a concrete presence in the online world then you do not appear as a credible business. Before we go anywhere, we Google it. If I only get Facebook page results, that makes your business look like an amateur set-up and makes it lose its credibility. Just like it is expected for a store to have a billboard, consumers expect businesses to have their own websites, just for the sake of contact details and address if not anything else.

Many years ago it used to be a shop front that served as the first impression of the establishment. Now it is the website that makes for the first impression. You need a good website to ensure you grab people’s interest and convert that interest into a sale.

A website is effectively your businesses own branch on the virtual world

You can put up your products up for sale on Facebook, but that is just like putting your products on some other store’s shelves. You cannot influence the environment of the store to shape customer experience. Your products are the mercy of someone else. You cannot control customer shopping experience on Facebook. Facebook even changes the themes when and as they wish. But a website is somewhere you are in full control and give the customer a shopping experience you feel would be the best way to market yourself. For example some e-stores do not opt for a traditional slider and go the “Tinder” way that is the customers view one product at a time.

Also a basic feature that having your own website gives you is recommending customers their next possible purchase, based on their present viewing history. This is something that you lose your products on social media.

Social media has also restrictions on photo sizes that you can upload. This may be a drawback as intricate details may be lost when you compress file size.

Also many people might not want to buy from Facebook, so not having a website means lost sales. And a website along with a brick and mortar store is the perfect combo. Your brick and mortar store gives the customers who want to “feel and buy” what they want and online customers get the feasibility of buying from wherever at whatever time they want.

A website is a business you control and shape

Unlike Facebook you are in complete control. How your business works in completely on you. Just like Facebook gives you a free “shelf” to display your products, businesses with successful e-commerce website have gone on to sell “shelves” on their websites. A website has a huge potential for revenue making and is only limited by your imagination. A small business gains by investing in a website as they gain the option of multiple income streams from one smart investment!

One last thing to mention is that it is very important you choose a professional company to do the development for you. This is because you might require after-sales services, and freelancers are not that reliable.

 

About the Author

Rachael Everly is an undergraduate student who loves to write on the topics related business, finance, technology and education. Follow @RachaelEverly for further updates

 

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The Need for Customer Experience is Based on Science Not Myth

The need for customer experience to improve is not a myth. In fact, here’s why. Noted psychology researcher and writer Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi observed in 1998 that people who perform seamless, sequence-based activities on a regular basis are happier than people who don’t[i]. He coined the term “flow” to describe this behavior. With the advent of CoIT, we’ve actually imposed a new set of demands on our customer’s brains. But instead of offering a series of smoothly sequential flows, websites and mobile applications are characterized by lag, downtime, and restarts. And at the same time customer’s flow-oriented brains simply aren’t wired to deal with poor digital experience interactions. Science has shown the business need for great customer experiences is a fact, not a myth.

And it can be tempting to label customers picky and impatient. But there’s a wealth of research on what happens to customers at a neurological level when they are forced to deal with slow or interrupted processes.[i] Their impatience is an indelible part of their human circuitry. Brands must recognize that customers’ hardwiring of the brain’s and their neurological desire for flow and easy of use as part of the cost of doing business. Companies must come to terms with the economic imperative of the customer experience or drive customers to their competitors because of their poor focus on customer experiences.

Fast websites and mobile experience create happier users. Those happier users are more likely to follow “calls to action” to register, download, subscribe, request information, or purchase. Unhappy users, which could include those who experience a mere two-second slowdown in how a web page loads, make almost two percent fewer queries, three point seven-five percent click less often, and report being significantly less satisfied with their overall experience[i]. Worse, they tell their friends about their negative experience. With the word-of-mouth social networks provide, brands need to heed the seriousness of differentiating their brand’s customer experience or be left in the dust.

Response Times have been consistent for 45 years. Based on neuroscience, the facts about human perception and response times have been consistent for more than forty-five years[i]. In fact, these numbers are hard-wired in human brains. And they are consistent regardless of the type of device, application, or connection a customer is using. In fact, that’s key to where customer expectations come from thus important to capitalize on. And what’s critical is determining where a brand’ web / mobile sites compare to customer expectations as well as benchmarking against CoIT applications or competitors or even non-competitors who have a great customer experience.

Response Time Has Not changed Much. In Robert B. Miller’s 1968 paper, “Response Time in Man-Computer Conversational Transactions[ii]“, found people have always been most comfortable, most efficient and most productive with response times of less than two seconds. Since 2006, what has changed slightly is the average online shopper expects pages to load in four seconds or less. Today, forty-nine percent expect page load times of two seconds or less, and eighteen percent expect pages to load instantly[iii]. And while optimizing every aspect of a brand’s digital assets to meet an “instant” expectation is a laudable goal, organizations simply may not have initially budgeted the resources to achieve these goals. Digital experience maturity, however, provides teams the ability to identify the interaction points in the digital customer journey most sensitive to improvement so they can maximize return on performance investment and include this in the budget and resource planning activities. Here’s the results of the Walmart study on page load times and conversion rates:

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 10.11.29 AM

Businesses can keep arguing that customer experience doesn’t matter, it’s a touchy-feely construct or get it directly affects the bottom-line and start by designing and measuring customer experience performance management. For more on this see my report, here.

@drnatalie petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst

Covering Customer-Facing Applications

[i] http://www.webperformancetoday.com/2014/07/16/eight-tricks-improve-perceived-web-performance/

[ii]Robert B. Miller’s 1968 paper, “Response Time in Man-Computer Conversational Transactions, https://www.computer.org/csdl/proceedings/afips/1968/5072/00/50720267.pdf

[iii]http://insights.wired.com/profiles/blogs/47-of-consumers-expect-a-web-page-to-load-in-2-seconds-or-less#axzz498kHSokj

[i] http://www.webperformancetoday.com/2010/06/15/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-web-performance/.

[i]Dual-task interference in simple tasks: Data and theory. Pashler, Harold Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 116(2), Sep 1994, 220-244. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.116.2.220

[i] The Concept of Flow: Handbook of Positive Psychology, Nakamura, J. and Csikszentmihayi, M. 2002.

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One Big Step for Commerce, One Giant Step for Salesforce

Salesforce’s $2.8 billion acquisition of Demandware will serve as the company’s Commerce Cloud. Demandware and Salesforce have a series of joint customers. This acquisition will enable more e-commerce for Salesforce along with Salesforce’s customer relationship management tools. CEO’a are realizing the value of platforms vs. point solutions and the trend is going towards the vendors creating more holistic platforms that offer a continuous marketing, sales, service process. In truth, only companies separate those aspects of their companies into different departments. But customers don’t see a company as separate departments. So the departments really need to act as a whole and software as a platform can be the key to that.

The acquisition will grow the sales “funnel” for Salesforce. There is the possibility to expand the relationship with existing customers. So it gives Salesforce a new group of customers to upsell for the other services that it already offered, from marketing and online analytics through to back-office software for sales and other IT functions. Who is Demandware working with now? Some customers include Design Within Reach, Lands’ End, L’Oreal and Marks & Spencer.

With more and more people buying on their phone and online, commerce and e-commerce is more and more important. This is a smart move by Salesforce.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering customer-facing applications that make great customer experiences

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Dr. Natalie’s Research Agenda and Published Research

If you are wondering what I have been up to lately, I thought I would put all the research I have published  into one place. Here’s a list of Dr. Natalie’s completed and published research and soon to be published content! It ranges from IOT, Analytics, Big Data, Customer Experience, Leadership, Organizational Change Management, Storytelling, Collaboration, Digital Transformation, Social Selling, Social Media, the Cloud, Marketing, Sales, SaaS, IaaS, PaaS, DaaS, AI, Machine Learning, Innovation, Social Networks, Social Media Monitoring, Mobile, Customer Service and Customer Success Management….and a few things in-between…

IOT (The Internet of Things), Innovation, AI, Machine Learning, Analytics and the Cloud

• The Algorithm of You: How IoT Transforms and Differentiates Customer Experience: Using the Internet of Things to Boost Revenue and Deliver a Brand’s Personalized Promise

• Digital Disruption: The Blind Spot That Could Sink Your IoT and CX Initiatives

• The Internet of Things Improves Customer Experience in Retail Supply Chain

• The As-a-Service Economy: CX and IOT Mean You Have to Deliver Great Experiences- Upcoming

• Customer Experience IOT in the Automotive Industry-Upcoming

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Digital Transformation: Customer Engagement, CRM, Innovation, Customer Experience, Customer Service, The Cloud and Analytics

• ROI Of Customer Service & Customer Experience

• How to Measure Customer Experience: Performance Management Maturity-Upcoming

• Case Study: Elaine Turner® Brand and Oracle Commerce, Marketing and Customer Service-Upcoming

• The Need for Inspiring Leaders to Orchestrate Customer Experience Initiatives-Upcoming

• Experience Management: How to Deliver Integrated Customer Experiences

• How Rackspace Creates the Next-Generation Customer Experience

• The ROI Of Agile Customer Care: Reduce Training and Easy To Add Channels

• Digital Imperatives for Omni-Channel Retail Customer Experiences

• Nine Pillar Of Successful Self-Service for Digital Customer Engagement

• 6 Pillars of e-commerce Customer Engagement

• 9 C’s of Customer Engagement – Delivery and Communication Styles: Channels, Content and Cadence

• 9 C’s of Customer Engagement – People Centric Values: External & Internal Culture, Community, Credibility

• 9 C’s of Customer Engagement – Right Time Drivers: Context, Catalysts, Currency

• How Delta Uses Microsoft Dynamics and Avanade to Create Next-Generation Customer Experiences

• How Microsoft Dynamics CRM Improves Productivity at Trek Bicycle

• Delta Uses Microsoft to Transform Flight Operations and the Customer Experience

• New Belgium Brewing Creates Great Customer Experiences Using Microsoft Dynamics

• Beyond Journey Maps, Delivering Mass Personalization at Scale

• The State of Customer Service and Support Evolves 

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Social Media, Customer Service, CRM, Analytics, Innovation and the Cloud

• How General Motors Using Social Media To Listen To Customers and Sell Cars and Deliver Service

• The ROI of Online Communities: Online Communities Provide Value Beyond Call Deflection

• Why Top Marketers Create Branded Social Networks for Customer Engagement

• The State of Customer Service and Support Evolves 

• ROI of Social Customer Service- Upcoming

• The Customer Service Playbook for Integration of Traditional, Digital, Social and Mobile Customer Service Strategies and Technologies-Upcoming

• Mobile Customer Service-Upcoming

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Digital Marketing, Analytics, Innovation and the Cloud

• Should the Chief Marketing Officer Oversee the Whole Customer Experience?

• Data-Driven Marketing Campaign Optimization

• VentureBeat: Should the CMO Run the Whole Customer Experience?

• Executive Brief: Can Brands Keep Their Promise?

• Oracle Moves Its Focus from the CIO to the CMO

• How to Staff the Team for Effective Content Marketing

• The State of Marketing 

• Marketing Funnels Are Dead, What’s Next?

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Digital and Social Sales; Commerce, Innovation, Analytics and the Cloud

• How Sales Leaders and Sales Reps Can Create a Social Selling Organization: Convert Average Sales Teams into Top Performers Using Social Networks

• Five Approaches to Drive Customer Loyalty in a Digital World

• The Modern Sales Experience

• Continuity of Customer Experiences Drives the Future of Commerce

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Customer Success Management, Analytics, Innovation and the Cloud

• The State of Customer Success Management

• Gainsight: Customer Success Management for a Post-Sale, On-Demand, Attention Economy

• ServiceSource: Customer Success Management for a Post-Sale, On-Demand, Attention Economy

• Bluenose: Customer Success Management for a Post-Sale, On-Demand, Attention Economy

• Totango: Customer Success Management for a Post-Sale, On-Demand, Attention Economy

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If you are interested in learning about any of these reports or research, a speech or webinar on any of these or related topics, please reach out to me here!

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Innovative, Customer-Facing Applications that Create Great Customer Experiences

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SAP Hybris -Commerce / IOT / CRM Event 2016

After attending the SAP Hybris IOT/ CRM event, I was very impressed to see a vendor really connect the dots between commerce and customer service and customer experience. Commerce is really where the rubber meets the road. At the end of the day, if the customer experience is poor, customers will abandon shopping carts and revenue will suffer. But SAP Hybris is helping customers handle this. SAP Hybris is looking to become partners with brands in their digital transformation. They deliver  customer data management, context-driven marketing tools and unified commerce processes for all a brand’s channels.

  • SAP Hybris Commerce Solution: This solution helps brands to target and engage with your customers better, wherever they are. As the world of commerce continues to change, this can give customers a consistent and meaningful experience – across every channel, every time.  The core hybris solution ranks consistently among the top commerce software platforms worldwide. Their B2B and B2C commerce applications include an Omni-Channel Offering, Product Content Management (also known as Master Data Management or Product Information Management), Order Managementhybris Marketing Conversion, and powerful search and merchandising. And Hybris, at its core, is omni-channel. The commerce software helps integrate all digital and physical customer touchpoints onto a single platform – including online, mobile, point-of-sale, call center, social media and print. Regardless of your industry, SAP can help to create contextual, personalized and relevant customer experiences that boost loyalty and increase sales. Brands can kick-start their commerce project in just a few months through the hybris Commerce Accelerator. Omni-channel solutions are pre-configured for B2C and B2B, and for specific regions and industries.
  • SAP Hybris Marketing: This solution combines superior customer insight with a highly agile and scalable platform. Brands can reach their customers at all points of their journey, and boost loyalty by responding to real-time data to deliver the best possible customer experience. Note that traditional marketing campaigns can fall short at engaging the individual customer. They can lack the basic knowledge of customer’s wants and needs and blast indiscriminate messages to the masses. However, Hybris Marketing enables marketers to develop a deeper understanding of customers; i.e., to know what they have done, what they may do and most importantly what they are doing now. Brands can gain real-time insights into the context of each customer and leverage these insights to deliver highly individualized customer experiences across channels. Here are some of the benefits:
  1. Understand Real-Time Customer Intents. Dynamically capture and enrich customer profiles across all sources into a single view, leverage implicit customer signals to gain insights into customer’s real-time intents
  2. Deliver Unique Customer Experiences. Convert ‘in-the-moment’ opportunities to dynamically deliver contextually relevant customer experiences across channels. Create new engagements to increase online community participation and customer loyalty
  3. Market with Speed and Agility. Proactively react to customer opportunities with increased visibility and alignment of the marketing process, resources, and performance.
  • Products for Billing: SAP Hybris Billing helps brands to monetize their digital transformation and renovate their revenue management processes with a highly agile and scalable platform. SAP allows customers to build flexible pricing models to meet their B2C and B2B customer needs as well as share revenues with partners of their business network.

SAP /IOT: Devices of all types now communicate over the Internet, creating unprecedented potential for sales and service in the utilities industries. IoT items include smart home appliances, thermostats, meters and monitoring software, cars, alternate power devices, irrigation technology, fleet vehicles, store sensors, networked sensors, and software integrated with machinery. All of these support a new and diverse collection of customers and consumers: more aware, expecting individualized service, and a radically changing the supplier/customer relationship. The connectivity and communication abilities of devices of all sizes will vastly change every aspect of marketing, delivery, and support of utilities, as it has done with other industries. Countries, cities, and individual consumers are making significant changes in their consumption and usage of utility-related resources. Some of these include:

>> More reliable connectivity, increased data availability, and lower price points make virtually anything connectible

>> Every business must now consider itself a digital business, regardless what product or service is being sold

> Every business must own its data and make it available across the organization and to consumers

Businesses are preparing for a future where software becomes more important than hardware and data becomes more important than products. A new generation of consumer (the prosumer) is becoming an active partner in the production and distribution cycle. What are the benefits?

  • Better use of a utility’s products and services, making consumption and customer relations healthier
  • The opportunity to upsell and/or to offer upgrades for newer, better, and more effective products and services
  • Predictive service based on warnings, alarms, or analytics sent by the devices themselves
  • Tailored pricing – flexible entitlements based on usage, frequency or time, and metering
  • Wider range of services– extension into new service areas
  • Enables direct conversations between customer devices and business platforms
  • Analyzes large quantities of data in real-time against defined business KPIs
  • Lower regulatory risk and cost of compliance through increased visibility and response.

The event was a very important one in the history of SAP. These are key aspects to the digital transformation of any company and SAP’s ability to help their customers transform key aspects of their business are critical. This is certainly not your grandpas’ CRM.

@Drnatalie Petouhoff

Covering Customer Experience, Marketing, IOT and Digital Transformation.

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Capgemini Announces Expanded Collaboration with Amazon Web Services

Capgemini Is Helping Clients to Migrate Application on AWS. Capgemini announced that it is dedicating more global resources to help enterprise customers build and migrate applications on Amazon Web Services (AWS). As part of its extended cloud services program, which includes cloud advisory, migration and managed business services, ‘Capgemini Cloud Choice with Amazon Web Services’ will see Capgemini further invest in its dedicated migration factory, leverage AWS technology and develop sector-specific IP solutions hosted on AWS.

How Big is the Team? The Capgemini migration factory for AWS, in Chennai and Bangalore, will support customers’ migration of enterprise applications to the AWS Cloud. More than 1000 professionals are anticipated to be trained across India, the UK, the US, Netherlands and France by the end of 2016. The migration factory will use the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF) planning tool as part of its methodology to enable enterprises to migrate workloads faster and more efficiently to the AWS Cloud. 

A Note From the Executives: Terry Wise, Vice President of Worldwide Partner Ecosystem, Amazon Web Services, Inc. said: “We are delighted to be working with Capgemini as they expand their commitment to AWS customers including a dedicated migration factory. With our respective strengths and methodologies, Capgemini and AWS help enterprise customers become more agile in building and migrating applications, thereby accelerating their transformation to the AWS Cloud.”
What Are the Key Goals Of Capgemni’s AWS? A key goal of Capgemini’s increased focus on AWS will be to develop cloud advisory, migration to AWS and managed offerings specifically for the financial services sector, based on Capgemini IP hosted on the AWS Cloud. One of the offerings already available in this area is Capgemini’s Insurance Connect , a fully managed business service insurance platform which enables core processing, digital services and insights and analytics on AWS. For insurers facing significant variance in workload demands, access to the highly scalable AWS Cloud provides a cost-effective way to integrate functions (such as CRM, policy administration and underwriting) and increase computing capacity on a pay-per-use basis with minimal upfront investment.

What Other Industries Will Benefit from Capgemni and AWS? Asset-intensive industries (such as energy and utilities) will also benefit from the extension of this working relationship, as Capgemini already provides its Digital Industrial Asset Lifecycle Management solution  as a managed business service built on AWS. This on-premises offering is now also available on the AWS Cloud and provides an environment which can be up and running in as little as fifteen minutes. It gives access to a scalable and fast–to-deploy digital asset hub, enabling organizations to advance their digital transformation journey, as well as an accelerated path for improved health and safety compliance, reduction of project costs and improvement of operational efficiency. 

SAP Customers:Customers looking to migrate their existing SAP® solutions to the cloud or to adopt SAP® S/4HANA will also greatly benefit from this expanded collaboration between Capgemini and AWS, with the ability to either get on the latest release of SAP solutions, optimize their workload on the cloud or consume through an integrated delivery model. Also, Capgemini’s SAP certified BAiO (Business All-in-One)  industry specific and Line of Business IP solutions are now available on SAP HANA, optimized to run on the AWS cloud and allowing customers in most industries to be up and running in as little as 6 weeks.

How Long Has the Capgemini and AWS Relationship Existed? Capgemini shares a longstanding relationship with AWS which dates back to 2008, with both parties working to bring business solutions to enterprise customers leveraging Capgemini’s industry expertise coupled with AWS’s technology such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Redshift. Examples of past innovations include Capgemini’s SAP OnePath and COMPLETE. Capgemini is a Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network (APN).

Capgemini’s increased focus on AWS is an essential component of Capgemini’s Cloud Services program, ‘Cloud Choice’, enabled through collaboration with a broad ecosystem of cloud partners, and includes a range of services: Business Cloud Assessment and Strategy, proof of concepts, migrating applications to the Cloud, Platform as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, Business Process as a Service and Cybersecurity. 

Want more details on the journey? A Note From The Executives: Franck Greverie, Capgemini’s Global Leader for Cloud Services adds: “The continued execution of our client-centric strategy demands even more targeted solutions and responses for our clients’ most challenging business demands. Cloud Choice with Amazon Web Services combines the strength of Capgemini’s Cloud Services global capabilities and delivery assets with the on-going technology innovation from AWS to continue to develop and deliver the right cloud solutions to our collective clients with speed, predictability, risk mitigation and sustainable business impact.” Click on this video link where Lanny Cohen, Group CTO shares his thoughts on the collaborative opportunities and the history of Capgemini’s seven-year alliance with AWS.

What Does This Mean To You Brand? Many companies are starting to realize the benefits of migrating their systems to the cloud. The question is how to get there. With this partnership, companies can be guided to move to the cloud. Where are you on your cloud Journey?

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
Covering Cloud and IoT That Drive Better Business Results and Awesome Customer Experiences
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The Year of On-demand, Personalized Shopping: The Cloud and IOT Abound

What’s Happening in the World of Shopping and Customer Experiences? At the National Retail Federation Annual Convention in New York City, Microsoft made announcements with GameStop, Hardee’s, TGI Fridays, Panasonic, HP and FreedomPay, and NCR on efforts to modernize shopping experiences.

How Does IoT, The Cloud and Customer Experience Come Together? Microsoft believes this will be the year when modern shopping experiences come to life. Where retailers create instant, personalized experiences for shoppers on their smartphone, online and in stores. It will be the year that customers return to stores because technology is engaging them in new ways, making them want to buy more and come back. Microsoft shared for the first time several retail innovations using its technology, including a smart shelf and a tablet-enabled shopping cart, and showed how retailers can gather better store analytics. Microsoft also announced how Pandora and Ashley Furniture are working with technology to create more engaging experiences for employees, helping them be more collaborative and support faster product innovation.

Engaging Customers During the Shopping Experience is Essential for Today’s Retailers. GameStop announced it is working with Microsoft to create an interactive, informative and entertaining shopping experience in an immersive environment. In the near future, when customers walk into one of the GameStop pilot stores, they will be connected to the services enabled by the Microsoft Cloud, allowing them to browse product choices, share their shopping cart with salesperson’s tablet running an assisted selling application, and even browse products interactively on a big screen Ultra High Definition TV where they can view video game trailers with pristine clarity. When a customer downloads and opts into the GameStop app on their smartphone, they will be able to interact in a whole new way with GameStop marketplace through the use of Azure. Ultimately, the customer and the salesperson can push the desired products to the point of sale (POS) system for order processing and payment.

What’s Another Great Example of How Microsoft is Working With Retailers to Improve Customer Engagement and Customer Experience? One example is Hardee’s new way to make ordering a meal fast and fun. Hardee’s is currently deploying self-ordering kiosks for ordering meals, using Windows 8 devices. These in-store kiosks are being tested currently in 30 restaurants with plans to extend that test to additional restaurants soon. Each kiosk allows customers to review the menu and order food and lets managers run sales and shift reports, while dramatically reducing wait times. Check out the video and read more here.

Another Example is TGI Fridays Who Has Plans to Transform the Way People Order Food by Equipping Servers with 8-inch Tablets Armed with Payment Sleeves. With the Fridays’ Service Style technology the customer’s order is processed right at the table, the device also helps manage the waiting list and queue. The solution helps ensure orders are correct, reduces training time, and streamlines waitlists.

Modern Points of Sale Connect Retailers and Customers in New Ways.  As the shopping experience becomes more modern, so does the POS. Modern POS devices are allowing retailers to better understand their customers, provide more customized service, and help them achieve compliance with new security measures being implemented in 2015.  In partnership with Panasonic, HP and FreedomPay Microsoft is demonstrating how the modern POS can create personalized retail experiences, in real-time, through smart and secure devices. With new security regulations on the horizon, retailers need to upgrade their POS devices, not only to ensure their customer data is safe, but to also be able to provide a more personalized and seamless experience at check-out. Read more about modern POS devices here.

Innovation that helps retailers understand buying behavior and customers make informed decisions.  One of the challenges in retail is to create an in-store experience that engages customers in unique ways, entices them to come in to stores, and keep them coming back. Creating those connections creates better experiences and ultimately increases sales. With the help of a Kinect sensor, AVAretail’s SmartShelf technology allows every interaction of a shelf in a store to be monitored and recorded in real-time, providing insight into which products are most selected and picked up by customers. Another form of technology, Path Tracker, gives retailers real-time detection and analysis of a customer’s shopping path.  This provides counts of people in the store, areas visited, dwell time and shopping path, acting as a heat map of where customers are spending the most time in the store.

The NEC Biometric interface with Kinect Camera System Provides Demographic and Face Recognition Services to a Kinectically Enabled Application. Retailers can use this information for analysis and for providing the customer with a more personal selling experience. MediaCart will change the shopping cart as we know it. Adding a location-aware tablet to the cart allows a retailer to present a personal and relevant shopping experience to its customer.  This allows context sensitive ads and promotions when in front of various products along with a barcode scanning capability for price lookups and basket totals.

Retailers Are Predicting Consumer Behavior With Machine Learning. As technology advances, consumers have more tools at their disposal during the buying process. This trend seems to be growing exponentially, especially as the Internet of Things (IoT) matures. This is both an opportunity and a challenge for retailers looking to capitalize on a whole new base of consumers. Competitive pressure, combined with ubiquitous connectivity, smart devices and an intelligent cloud platform is causing a shift to a new retail reality. Food delivery company JJ Food Service uses machine learning to make product recommendations as customers are shopping for food. This provides insights, saves on costs, and ensures their customers have the food they need, when they need it.

Customer Behavior Can Be Predicted. Auckland, New Zealand-based VMob runs a mobile engagement platform on Microsoft Azure which predicts likely customer behavior based on historic and live data streams. The platform currently delivers personalized content to millions of consumers around the world, including customers of McDonald’s across several European markets. The VMob platform collects real time data from multiple sources including mobile devices, wearables, location temperature sensors, WiFi transmitters, beacons, digital signage, and POS systems to personalize engagement with the customer. The VMob platform uses Azure Machine Learning to harness the Internet of Things to predict future customer behavior – transforming live and historical data streams into actionable insights McDonald’s can employ to individualize its marketing efforts. See more information about VMob’s work here.

You Want to Reach Your Customers Where They Are. For retailers to succeed, they need to reach their customers where they are.  Because of this, we are pleased to be announcing Sitecore Commerce, powered by Microsoft Dynamics. This solution integrates the experience management capabilities of the Sitecore Experience Platform with the omni-channel commerce capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail. The result is a product that allows enterprises to bridge the gap between in-store and digital experiences. We are also announcing a combined effort with Toshiba to form the Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions with Microsoft Dynamics to help retailers deliver leading customer experiences through true omni-channel customer engagements. This effort includes Toshiba delivering software and implementation services on the Dynamics platform as well as plans for the global availability of a combined solution – TCxGravity powered by Microsoft Dynamics – specifically tailored to deliver omni-channel transformation on the customer’s terms, helping it provide seamless brand experiences to build lasting loyalty.

What’s The Future of Retail? Retailers are changing the game through connected stores, empowered employees, digital engagement and ambient intelligence all geared toward delighting the modern shopper. By gathering and ingesting insight from myriad data sources, retailers can create a comprehensive understanding of each customer, its store’s inventory and the capabilities of its business to seamlessly match people with the products and services they desire.

The end result of these technologies and services, and of Microsoft’s work with retailers, is an increased focus on solutions that help grow sales and profits, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, bring products to market faster, and create a more effective business.

If you want more information, visit the Retail NewsroomThe Windows for Your Business Blog, and The Dynamics Blog.

MyPOV: I Love to shop and I love technology. So this is gonna be a great year! I can’t wait to see how cloud computing, IoT and customer experience emerge as the top competitive advantage to lead conversion rates, higher revenues and awesome customer experiences!

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
Covering Cloud and IoT That Drive Better Business Results and Awesome Customer Experiences in Retail Environments
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Doing Something Really Interesting in IOT Customer Experience or Cloud Customer Service? Apply for a SuperNova Award!

The SuperNova Awards honor leaders that demonstrate excellence in the application and adoption of new and emerging technologies. This is the sixth year of the Constellation SuperNova Awards. Are you using IoT to create great, new customer experiences. Has the move to the cloud made your customer service more agile and the customer’s experience much better? If so, let us know. We want to hear your stories of using and developing:

  • IoT
    • IoT and creating awesome Customer Experiences
    • IoT and creating awesome Customer Service (Field Service)
    • IoT, the Customer Experience and its affects on Customer’s and Businesses Security/ Privacy
    • Using IoT to deliver smarter Marketing
  • Cloud
    • Using the Marketing Cloud to Increase Conversion, Targeting, Relevancy…
    • Using Customer Service Cloud to Service Customers Reactively, Proactively and Drive Marketing
    • Using the Customer Experience Cloud To Drive Awesome Customer Experiences
    • Using the Sales Cloud to Grow Win Ratios…

We will be recognizing nine individuals who demonstrate true leadership in digital business through their application of new and emerging technologies. We’re searching for leaders and teams who used disruptive technolgies to transform their organizations. Special recognition will be given to projects that seek to redefine how the enterprise uses technology on a large scale.

Are you really on the leading, bleeding edge? Then we are looking for you! If you are not on the edge, you are taking up too much room! We’re searching for the boldest, most transformative technology projects out there. If you or someone you know has what it takes to compete in the SuperNova Awards, fill out the application here

What’s the Timeline look like? I kinda hate to publish this, because everyone looks at it and thinks- Oh August – I have plenty of time! Don’t kid yourself. It takes time to not only do a great project but also document it! So don’t wait to the last minute… If you are up to something special, start jotting down your project info so you won’t be late with application submission!!! And make sure you have data to show your results!

  • February 8, 2016 application process begins.
  • August 8, 2016 last day for submissions.
  • September 7, 2016 finalists announced and invited to Connected Enterprise.
  • September 12, 2016 voting opens to the public
  • September 21, 2016 polls close
  • October 27, 2016 Winners announced, SuperNova Awards Gala Dinner at Connected Enterprise 

Why bother? There’s lots of Rewards! Besides getting to hang out with me :-) and a ton of other really outstanding and amazing leaders, and get to hear what the top companies in the world are doing, you’ll also get…

Wondering Who Are the Judges?

The judges are technology thought leaders, analysts, and journalists selected for their futurist mindset and ability to separate substance from hype. The SuperNova Award Judges carefully evaluate each SuperNova Award application against a rigorous set of criteria. Judges will identify individuals who demonstrate true leadership in the application and adoption of new and emerging technologies.  Want to catch a judge’s eye? Judges look for projects whose elements can be replicated in other enterprises. Want to know more about the awards and judges? You can learn more about the SuperNova Award Judges.

What Types of Projects or Inititatives Can Be Submitted? Here’s a list of the categories:

  •  Internet of Things – A network of smart objects enables smart services. (examples: sensors, smart ‘things’, device to purchase)
  •  Data to Decisions – Using data to make informed business decisions. (examples: big data, predictive analytics) 
  •  Digital Marketing Transformation – Personalized, data-driven digital marketing. 
  •  Future of Work: Social Business – The technologies enabling teams to work together efficiently. (examples: enterprise social networks, collaboration)
  •  Future of Work: Human Capital Management – Enabling your organization to utilize your workforce as an asset. (examples: talent management)
  •  Matrix Commerce – Commerce responds to changing realities from the supply chain to the storefront. (examples: digital retail, supply chain, payments, omni-channel retail)
  •  Next Generation Customer Experience – Customers in the digital age demand seamless service throughout all lifecycle stages and across all channels. (examples: crm, customer experience)
  •  Safety and Privacy – Strategies to secure sensitive data (examples: digital identity, information security, authentication)
  •  Technology Optimization & Innovation – Innovative methods to balance innovation and IT budgets. (examples: innovation in the cloud, ENSW cost savings, cloud ERP, efficient app production)

Who Won Last Year? I knew you would ask that, so here’s that info below. And they were all outstanding. Let’s see if you can beat what they did last year! We are really looking for the super stars. And you know who you are!

CoIT & The New C-Suite

Martin Brodbeck: CTO, Sterling Backcheck

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Data to Decisions

Alda Mizaku: Lead Bus Solutions Analyst, Mercy

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Digital Marketing Transformation

Naveen Gunti: Senior Director of e-Commerce Technology and Operations, Tumi Holdings, Inc.

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Future of Work – Human Capital Management

Asha Aravindakshan: Operations Director, Global Talent, Ashoka

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Future of Work – Social Business

Steve Nava: Senior Director Field Service, Americas, Luminex

*************************************************************Matrix Commerce

Jordan Kivelstadt: CEO, Free Flow Wines

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Next Generation Customer Experience

Dan Wallis: Director of KP OnCall, Kaiser Permanente

*************************************************************

Technology Optimization & Innovation

Dr. David Bray: Chief Information Officer , Federal Communications Commissions

Erica Stevens: VP of Supply Chain and Information Technology, Dylan’s Candy Bar

So there’s your bar. It’s been set high, but I know you can top it! Go for it! Can’t wait to see you at  SuperNova Awards Gala Dinner at Connected Enterprise!!
@DrNatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
Covering Customer-facing Applications That Make Amazing Customer Experiences
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ROI of Online Cloud Communities

I remember back in 2008-2009 being asked whether social / digital / communities had any business value. To me it was instinctively obvious, but I got that it was not obvious to others. In wanting others to see what I saw, I started down the road of creating ROI models for digital / social / online communities. Now many years later, I am hearing the same question so I revisited the topic in some new research, ROI of Online Cloud Communities. This report goes above and beyond what that early research I did discovered. Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 12.08.35 PM

I have interviewed at least 100 companies over the years and the stories all have had similar threads. While the actual use case might not have been exactly the same, they all had one similar component. That component? It was that there was a new level of open, honest, genuine and authentic communication. And note, ROI of online communities is NOT limited to customer service. That’s old news.

I remember reading about the predictions in the Cluetrain Manifesto. If you have not read that book, it is a must read. It was written in 1999-2000 time frame. It predicted where we are today in this digital / social / community oriented world. The ROI comes from better communication between all levels of employees, customers, partners – pretty much any stakeholder in a company and it’s customers. Whether B2B or B2C, B2B2C or whatever the business model is, what is true is those companies that are digitally enabled are more successful.

Percentage of Profit Rays BookFrom Ray Wang’s book, Disrupting Digital Business By Ray Wang, the figure about shows it’s clear that digital leaders have more of the overall marketshare and percentage of profits. Why is that? Think about customers talking to companies and giving honest feedback that helps:

  • Improve products and services and even helps the company innovate
  • Reduces unnecessary steps or processes
  • Helps executives understand what the trends are not only with their company but with others and provides that mission critical insight…

In the report, you will find 6 general areas that online communities can contribute to the two things that are very important to business – either reducing costs or increasing revenue. You can download the excerpt and learn more about what I discovered.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 12.06.43 PM

If you have built a community or are a community manager and have seen similar results, I’d love to hear more about them! Maybe even make it into our case study library! (And don’t forget Constellation’s SuperNova Awards for 2016!!) If you’ve done something extraordinary, I’d love to hear about it and include it in my research. There will be info on how to apply to the 2016 SuperNova Awards soon!

May you find yourself building a community — if not now, soon! Those that have can attest to the amazing value it brings to a company. And not just in soft benefits- there are many, many that I put into the ROI model that are tangible, bottom and top-line business benefits.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer-facing applications and their business results!

 

 

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NEW STUDY: Christmas Music and Décor Before Thanksgiving Make Them Lose Their Temper

SOASTA, a performance analytics firm, announced the results of its 2015 Holiday Retail Readiness Survey, which revealed:

  • 66% of Americans expect they will lose their temper this holiday season over annoyances such:
    • 38% as traffic/parking
    • 37% long lines in stores and websites and
    • 19% mobile apps that don’t work
  • 28% claiming that Christmas music and décor before Thanksgiving make them lose their temper.

The survey, fielded among 2,018 American adults aged 18 and older and conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of SOASTA, confirmed that parents* are especially susceptible (77%) to losing their cool during the holiday season, and the majority (58%) will seek to improve their mood with retail therapy.

The survey findings also reveal that 86% of holiday shoppers do holiday shopping online and that poor online performance has hurt holiday shopping experiences for more than half (57 %) of those Americans.

Retail Therapy to the Rescue – of Parents Especially

Another revealing survey finding is that 46% of Americans will turn to retail therapy to improve their mood this holiday season. One in four will buy themselves something:

  • 20% will read product reviews online
  • 13% will purchase holiday music/movies
  • 11% will create online wish lists on retailer websites
  • 10% will buy an outfit to look good at holiday parties

While men are just as likely as women to seek retail therapy this season (45% vs 47%, respectively), parents are more likely to seek retail therapy this holiday season than Americans without kids in the household (58% vs 41%.)

Poor Website Performance Hurts Holiday Shopping

The vast majority (86%) of American holiday shoppers say they shop online. Of them, more than half (57%) say that a website’s poor performance has hurt their holiday shopping.

Top reasons include slow websites (27%), crashing websites (26%) and orders that are guaranteed but don’t arrive on time (22%).

Many respondents (21%) say difficulty navigating sites to find what they need has put a damper on holiday shopping, and 17% say receiving incorrect orders has hurt their holiday shopping experience.

MY POV: What this is telling us is — well the same thing I’ve been writing about for years — customers care about the experiences they have and those experiences lead to enough irritation so they “vote with their feet” meaning they leave and go to a competitor. A large firm predicted that by the end of 2016 company will be competing on customer experience. My prediction – they always have been, it’s only now that everything is so transparent, that it’s happening faster and everything can see.. Like cave painting on wall, comments by customers online last millions of years for all to see.

@drnatalie, VP and Principal Analyst, Covering all things customer experience, performance analytics and mobile / social commerce

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