INNOVATE: 8 Best Practices for Cross-Channel Retailers, Part 2
In part one of this series appearing in yesterday's ROI Report, I discussed best practices around four retail trends heavily discussed at this week's INNOVATE 2011, the Retail Innovation and Marketing Conference sponsored by the National Retail Federation. Here are four more:
5. Don't just jump into f-commerce. More and more retailers — large and small — are opening up Facebook-only storefronts as a way to offer shoppers "anywhere e-commerce,” or the ability to purchase merchandise wherever they happen to be online. Late last year, for example, J.C. Penney broke new ground when it launched a fully integrated Facebook e-commerce application that allows customers to add products to their shopping carts, check out, specify shipping address, ship to store and pay with credit card directly through the retailer's Facebook page. That said, the buzz at INNOVATE was that opening a Facebook Store might not be the best use of retailers’ time.
"I've looked at the J.C. Penney Facebook store … there's nothing special about it," said Van Baker, vice president and research director for retail and manufacturing advisory services at Gartner Inc., who spoke at a session on disruptive business models poised to shape retail. "It looks just like J.C. Penney's website, but it's taking customers off of it and putting them on Facebook. This just doesn't make sense to me." Other speakers (and attendees) agreed, saying they spend more time focusing on Facebook as a marketing tool rather than as a sales channel.
6. Experiment with sentiment analysis. One topic that came up several times at INNOVATE was sentiment analysis, a process that enables retailers to analyze consumers’ online comments about their brands in an effort to gather consumer sentiment towards them.
"We have 12 million customers, and we can track what they purchase and through which channels," said Bill Bass, president of the Charming Direct division at Charming Shoppes, who spoke at a session on how customer insights can shape retailers’ futures. "But we don't know how they feel about our brands and merchandise, so this is where sentiment analysis comes in."