Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where The Social Commerce Customer Has Been and Where We Social Shopping is Going…

The way brands approach providing commerce for customers is also changing. With the social media data on your customers, meaning their preferences and customer behavior data, we could return to the days of mom and pop customized shopping experiences. I thought presenting a short history of e-commerce and f-commerce would be an interesting way to see how shopping has evolved with the latest infusion of social media.

What’s the net-net? 

Web 1.0 shopping carts are now being sub-planted in some ways by shopping within a social network. Will consumers decide it’s a good idea? My opinion is that it depends on whether brands understand the distinction between “big brother” kinds of pop-up ads related to something you wrote in a gmail or a post you wrote on Facebook. That a consumer writes about something isn’t really giving a buying signal. At most it probably indicates brand awareness and maybe interest or preference…, i.e., the beginning of the marketing funnel.

Are businesses using social media to their advantage?

First it was "E-commerce," which meant selling things online. In 2011 the buzzword was "F-commerce" - the idea of companies selling things on social media sites like Facebook. 

But are businesses really learning to use social media to their advantage? 

Two recent surveys suggest that companies in the developing world, in countries like Brazil, India and China, are much better at using the likes of Twitter and Facebook than their counterparts in Europe and the US.

Watch the BBC report here

Sunday, December 25, 2011

2011: Ten Bold Actions by Digital Retailers

2011 was a big year for digital commerce.  Fluid reports that it saw leading brands fight back to own the innovation that start-ups owned in 2010. And that they saw digital shopping finally and fully break beyond the boundaries of ecommerce sites. And saw brand and commerce mix and mingle in matches that were incredibly exciting – products told stories and stories sold products.

At years end, Fluid celebrates ten digital retailers that took bold action in 2011 – some are their clients, some are not. The order is purposeful. 

Read more here

More Consumers Embrace M-Commerce

AaramShop Mobile App
Consumers' reticence over using their phones to shop may be melting faster than many expected, given the right motivation. In a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers, 62% said they were willing to use their cell phones to make a purchase if offered an opportunity by coupon, discount offers, text alerts, gift cards or loyalty points.

A similar survey last year at this time cited only 32% showing such m-commerce readiness. The study was from two interested parties, mobile messaging and m-commerce provider Sybase 365 and the Mobile Marketing Association.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

What marketers say about working online: McKinsey Global Survey results

Marketers agree that digital tools and technologies are valuable, though many of their companies struggle to measure the financial impact and capture customer data.

Digital media and online tools remain a largely untapped resource for companies, according to a recent survey of marketing executives. Most respondents agree that their online presence is important and that digital tools provide their companies with a major opportunity, but few are taking the structural steps required to benefit from selling online or engaging consumers through new technologies such as social media. 

Indeed, most respondents indicate that companies are still trying to figure out how digital media can meaningfully improve their bottom lines. The survey asked marketing executives from around the world about the digital tools and channels their companies use and expect to use, the challenges they face and actions they have taken in response, and the metrics available to assess performance online. 

Read the McKinsey Survey Here (need to register)

Retail/CPG Brands Market Beyond Store Walls

At one time, the terms most frequently heard when instore marketers convened were most likely “shelf talkers” and “signage.” But two October conferences in Chicago on marketing to shoppers — Shopper Expo and the Forrester Consumer Forum — showed that the retail and CPG brands that make up their audiences want to look beyond those limited tactics and start messaging customers in new ways with new value propositions and more effective loyalty tactics. And they want to take advantage of the rise of earned media in the social channel.

In fact, the sponsoring organization that went into Shopper Expo 2011 as the Instore Marketing Institute announced its own reorientation: It's now the Path to Purchase Institute, emphasizing the marketing effort that goes on both before and after the actual purchase is made.

Read more here

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Now carry your grocery store in your android powered devices.

AaramShop recently launched a range of new features for its customers including  a series of Mobile Applications for various handheld devices.

First in this series is the mobile application for Android powered devices. The mobile application is free of cost and easily available at various app stores including Google Marketplace 

This application allows a user to shop for groceries through AaramShop network with  great ease.
Users can shop in just 4 easy steps
1. Log on to and create an account for free.
2. Select your favorite brands from a wide range of categories and brands.
3. Select your neighborhood kirana store (AaramShop as we call it) & place the order after selecting a preferred time of delivery.
4. The order will be delivered at your doorstep and you pay cash on delivery.

Go ahead and try out our mobile applications. Visit

Indian Shoppers Online - 4 out of 5 internet users.

Juxt Consult, India’s leading online and new media research organization has released it’s research report titled India Online Landscape 2011 which profiles ‘online Indians’ as internet users and consumers. The study sheds new light on the consumption and online spending patterns of India’s online citizens.

Some of the highlights of the survey are presented below.
  • ‘Active’ Internet users in India stand at 65 million ( 28% from 51 million last year).
  • 61 million ‘regular’ users (46 mn urban users, 16 mn rural users).
  • Internet reaches 29 million Indian households (avg. users per household up marginally at 2.23).
  • Covers 11.3% of all Indian households and 5.4% of all Indians (13% urban, 2% rural).
  • Over 4 in 5 are ‘daily’ users. Daily users’ base grew faster, at 33%.
* ‘Active’ internet users = who have used the internet ‘in last one year’, ‘Regular’ internet users = use internet ‘at least once a month’

Some insights regarding online buying behavior of Indians include:
  • 4 out of 5 internet users ‘shop’ online (search or buy online), translating into a 50 million strong online consumer base.
  • 17 mn of these ‘online shoppers’ (or 29% of all internet users), also ‘buy’ online – 70% from 10 million last year.
  • Online buyers of ‘non-travel’ products (13.5 million) outnumber ‘travel’ ones (8.6 million).
  • Most bought ‘non-travel’ products were mobile phones & accessories (56%), computer hardware and consumer electronics (35% each) and movie tickets (30%). Most bought ‘travel’ products were train tickets (83%) and air tickets (58%).
Download Highlights of India Online Landscape 2011 Report here (ppt)

The end of “same store sales”.

If a customer makes a purchase on their mobile device while at or shortly after visiting your store, is that a physical store sale or an e-commerce transaction? If you do not know what percentage of what you call e-commerce sales comes from customers who are close to one of your physical stores, you need to get busy.

And if you do not know what percentage of your customer base makes a purchase from two or more of your channels (stores, web, catalog) in a year, you will want to add that to your priority to-do list.

Web influenced sales - are sales in local stores that are generated through online marketing and research. As per Forrester Research and as shown in the trend forecast above, the web influenced sales is about 6 times the actual purchase online and the combined impact is about 50% of total retail sales. 

State of Video In E-Commerce Report

This quarterly report focuses on the state of video in e-commerce websites in Q1 2011.
The report highlights statistics and emerging trends in the implementation and usage of online videos by the top U.S. online retailers.
Some of the insights shared included: 
  1. Mass-scaled videos on the rise. The number of retailers who mass-scaled their videos increased by nearly 50%. Still, a staggering 68% of retailers are not yet exploiting the obvious and accessible rewards of using videos on their sites. 
  2. Consumers continue to embrace e-commerce videos. The number of subscribers to online retailer’s YouTube channels increased by more than 20%.
  3. Online retailers respond to audience demand. The number of retailers posting >100 videos onYouTube channels increased by 15%

Download the full report from here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Death Of The Impulse Shopper

Leena Rao writes in TechCrunch on how shopper behavior has changed over time due to penetration of technology. There are some interesting comments from the readers as well. Read on below.

"It’s no secret that technology has changed in-store shopping behavior. Whether it be through mobile phones, barcode scanning, or price comparison shopping sites; consumers are more prepared than ever in the store aisle. According to a new study released from Deloitte, nine in 10 shoppers know what they’re buying before they arrive at a store, and more than eight in 10 (83 percent) have a set of brands in mind that they will consider.

Of course, when considering the holiday shopping season ahead of us, we know in-store shoppers are more mindful of finding online deals or coupons. According to the study, 80 percent of surveyed shoppers say they do their own research online and have a pre-determined price point and a potential savings amount in mind before they step into a store. Furthermore, two-thirds of consumers shop when they know products will be on sale.

Three-quarters (75 percent) of survey respondents assert that they are smarter shoppers than they were a year ago, and nearly nine in 10 (86 percent) believe they are getting more precise in what they buy.

All of this means that retail stores need to consider the use of online campaigns to educate shoppers via mobile and online platforms. Clearly companies like Google, eBay, and even startups like ShopKick are gearing up for how to influence shoppers’ in-store purchases as well as online and mobile shopping."

Read more here.

Related articles

When Consumers Tweet Complaints, Should Brands Respond?

Consumers view brands that respond via Twitter positively

An interesting article in eMarketer helps us understand how important it is to respond to consumers' complaints. While the article specifically talks about Twitter, the same would surely be the case with other social media platforms. Read more below.

"For many social network users, Twitter is both a water cooler and a complaint department. Although most are there to engage with peers, many consumers are using Twitter to talk about their experiences with brands—and from time to time share their grievances. As more and more brands have joined Twitter, consumers’ expectation for interaction with brands has risen.

According to customer experience research company Maritz Research, nearly half of consumers who tweeted a complaint directed toward a brand expected the company to respond—or at least to read their tweet. However, only a third of those consumers received a tweeted response from the mentioned brand.

Consumers ages 55 and older are particularly expectant of a company to read their complaint on Twitter. Gen Y and Gen X consumers, who tend to be more active on Twitter, were less hopeful that a company would read their complaint—perhaps because they believe those expectations will not be met.

Despite the gap between consumer expectations and brand delivery, consumers are overwhelmingly positive when brands take the time to actually respond to them on Twitter. The Maritz study indicates that 86% of Twitter complainers would have liked or loved to hear from the company regarding their complaints—and out of those who heard back, 75% were satisfied with the company’s response.

Many brands are responding to tweets and mentions in order to maintain their reputations and sustain important customer relationships. According to a Forrester Consulting social media report commission by Dell, 58% of US marketers believe that listening and engaging with consumers through digital media will help with customer perceptions of their brand. Also, 56% said their social media efforts would aid in building long-term customer relationships."

Read more here

Related articles

CPG Brands Top Spenders on Online Video Advertising!

Gavin O'Malley, in Online Media Daily, provides interesting information form video ad network YuMe on how Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) are the top spenders on online video ads. Read more below.

From tasty snacks to toilet paper, consumer packaged-goods are keeping online video providers in business, according to new data from video ad network YuMe.

More than any other category, CPG remained the top spender in the third quarter of the year, making up a full 23% of all video ad spending. Even more remarkable, the share of spending by CPG advertisers increased from 17% since the second quarter of the year.

To put those figures into perspective, pharmaceutical advertising increased its share of online video spending from 13% to 16% from the second to the third quarter of the year, YuMe found.

Not surprisingly, consumers ages 25-54 were the most requested demographic among marketers, making up 15% of RFP volume -- up from 11% last quarter.

Separately, spending on female-targeted campaigns was triple that of male-targeted campaigns, while spend on non-gender-specific campaigns increased from 56% in the second quarter to 62% in the third quarter of the year.

Similarly, females 25-54 were the most requested female demographic in the third quarter, while males 18-34 were the most requested male target at 31%, with requests increasing from 22% in the second quarter. 

Also of note, pre-roll advertising continues to be the most utilized format, as it represented a full 90.5% of YuMe’s volume in the third quarter. Still, mobile impressions increased by 35%, from 2% to 2.7% of total impressons served, according to YuMe.

Also, 30-second video made up the majority of impressions, at 55%, for the first time in 2011, while 15-second pre-roll delivered the highest completion rates -- 79%. The majority of ad impressions that YuMe served were in California at 11.1% of total volume, followed by New York at 8.2% and Texas at 7.0%.

As YuMe serves ads on more than 1,500 publisher sites, report statistics are generated from data recorded with every ad request and ads served across its network.

Read more here

Related articles

More Consumers Embrace M-Commerce

Steve Smith writes in Online Media Daily about how consumers are increasingly embracing M-Commerce. Read more below.

Consumers' reticence over using their phones to shop may be melting faster than many expected, given the right motivation. In a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers, 62% said they were willing to use their cell phones to make a purchase if offered an opportunity by coupon, discount offers, text alerts, gift cards or loyalty points.

A similar survey last year at this time cited only 32% showing such m-commerce readiness. The study was from two interested parties, mobile messaging and m-commerce provider Sybase 365 and the Mobile Marketing Association.

Interestingly, special offers are not the only driver of m-commerce appeal, but they may be the incentive that gets people to move from using phones to research goods into actual purchasing.

The survey finds that even without incentives, 56% of respondents were expecting to use their devices for shopping-related activities this holiday. More than a third (38%) will likely use the device to find store locations, 34% to compare prices, 28% to research deals or find coupons, and 27% to get product reviews.

The actual impetus to buy by mobile device, however, does plummet without a direct incentive or prompt, as only 22% said they would make a purchase on their devices.

Generally, consumers remain unsure as to which mobile payment options are available, let alone reliable and trusted. The survey asked what m-payment solution might increase their use of direct m-commerce. A quarter said that a payment solution tied to their own financial institution would encourage their greater use of mobile payments, and 22% would be encouraged by PayPal availability. Only 18% said the presence of a credit card solution would persuade them to use mobile commerce.

Read more here.

Related articles

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Facebook Users Are Slow to ‘Like’ Brands and Retailers

Lots of FMCG/ CPG brands are using Facebook to connect with their consumers. A survey carried out by Crowd Science provides some food for thought on the usage of the "like" gate and Facebook brand pages. Read more below.

"Brands and individuals have shared space on Facebook for some time, blurring the line between social networking and marketing. Both types of users rely on “likes” as a yardstick for popularity, even if their intentions for being on the social networking site differ.

Branded Facebook pages do not fare as well as other types of content, though, according to a Crowd Science survey. They had the lowest number of “likes” (9% of users) compared to wall posts, photos and comments (16%) and videos (12%). The most popular reasons for “liking” a page tied between showing support and enjoying what was being said, both at 28%. Neither are attributes most often associated with brands.

The motivations behind “liking” a retailer’s Facebook site in an 8thBridge study were less about aspirations and sharing than broadcasting a straightforward, positive opinion about a purchase. Buying and liking was the only reason shared by a majority of internet users who “liked” something on a retailer’s site, the study found."

Read more here

Video Increases Click-Through Rates While Engaging Shoppers

To extend video life, maximize search rankings and expose their brands, merchants are tapping into Facebook, YouTube and other sharing sites at an increasing rate, according to a recent study titled: "Video For Ecommerce: Success Strategies Come Into Focus"

Along with social media sites, retailers are featuring videos in email campaigns and on web sites, enabling consumers to access video clips on their mobile devices.

Product video length should vary based on the complexity of a product, with duration coming second to conversion rate impact, as per Craig Wax, CEO of Invodo, an e-Commerce video solution provider. "It is better to have someone watch 15% of a video and buy than watch 85% of the video and not buy," he asserts.

Increase consumer engagement with long-form video ads by encouraging tap-to-view videos; Aside from product videos, retailers are educating consumers through how-to videos that describe an application, product or solution.

Through video, consumers already familiar with these brands can understand the inspiration behind a photo shoot via a behind-the-scenes video, for example, or gain inside information on the history of a brand's origin.

Additionally, as consumers continue to focus heavily on social media sites such as YouTube and Facebook, retailers are utilizing those sites as secondary vehicles for e-Commerce videos.

As cross-channel strategies continue to expand in the retail industry, many retailers use in-store quick response (QR) codes to direct shoppers to a product video via their mobile device.
Read more here 

P&G Learns Lessons from Ecommerce Effort

eMarketer interviewed Alex Tosolini Vice President, Global e-Business Procter & Gamble on the lessons they have learnt from their Ecommerce efforts. This is a must read for all FMCG/ CPG brands still working on and thinking through their strategy on Ecommerce. Read more below:

eMarketer: P&G launched the eStore in January 2010 with the goal of gleaning customer insights. Nearly two years later, what have you learned so far?

Alex Tosolini: P&G is very focused on consumers—we say the consumer is boss. And we have a go-to-market strategy that openly declares “win wherever people shop.” That’s important to understand, because as more and more people around the world are shopping in different channels, our role is to be present wherever they are.

A couple of years ago we launched the eStore with two objectives. The first one was to learn about this new space. And the second objective was to generate insight that we could share with all our retail partners so that together we can provide the best possible experience for consumers.

With the eStore, we sell our products through a third party, PFS Web. This isn’t a store we handle directly. PFS does its own pricing and merchandising. So in this case, P&G doesn’t sell direct to consumers. We sell our products to [PFS] just like we would sell them to Target or another retailer. PFS makes the decisions about assortment, promotions and pricing.

eMarketer: What are some insights you’ve acquired through this experience?

“We are learning that more and more people are spending time online to interact with the brands, even if they buy offline.”

Tosolini: We are learning that more and more people are spending time online to interact with the brands, even if they buy offline. Brand-building is becoming a digital exchange, rather than a one-way exchange.

The second thing we are learning is that content is very important to help consumers make a decision. We know that what we call "enhanced content" is very important to establishing an even stronger relationship with consumers. When you go on-shelf, most of your interaction with a brand is through what you remember you saw at home or the packaging you see in front of you.

Online, as you know, you can interact with the brand with two-way, always-on communication. You can upload videos. You can read ratings and reviews from other people and other activities.

eMarketer: How do you get consumer behavior to change so people buy CPG products—toilet paper, deodorant, cosmetics and shampoo—online?

“Our job is to follow the consumer’s behavior and to be present with our brands.”

Tosolini: Our job is not to change consumer behavior. Consumers move based on the development of the market and their habits. I know that we will continue to see important growth. Our job is to follow the consumer’s behavior and to be present with our brands.

eMarketer: How do you see CPG ecommerce evolving over the next five years?

Tosolini: CPG ecommerce is new and that’s why it’s very important to keep learning and testing and experimenting with new things. As long as you follow the consumer behavior, you’re going to learn a lot about how to serve their needs. We want to be where people are, and, increasingly, people are online. Even if people don’t buy online, they still spend time online to make their decision.

Read a longer version here

Brands and Consumers Make Online CPG Sales a Reality.

Despite early failed attempts at selling consumer packaged goods (CPG) online—who can forget Webvan or—sales have been steadily increasing since the middle of the last decade. Online sales of everyday staples more than doubled between 2006 and 2010 and are expected to double again by 2014.

However, online CPG sales still only account for 2% of the category’s sales overall. But the potential market is vast—and valuable.

“CPG brands have begun to recognize the possibilities of direct-to-consumer sales,” said Krista Garcia, eMarketer analyst and author of the new report, “Driving CPG Sales Online: Brands Get Closer to Consumers.” “Larger, more established manufacturers are creating their own ecommerce solutions, while many others have begun partnering with pure-play sites devoted to selling CPGs online.”

AaramShop has approached CPG sales online with its unique online + offline model and currently enables over 725 neighborhood retailers with web-store fronts where the consumers can place their orders for grocery that are delivered in a matter of hours and without the substantial investments into the infrastructure and logistics, thus ensuring that the consumer gets access to his preferred brand with the added ease of the web. 

Read this full write-up at emarketer here and also access the full report.

National Brands Look to Local Online Efforts

In the past, a combination of mass media and traditional local advertising was enough to draw consumers toward a national brand’s local store or service. But as the internet and mobile devices whet consumers’ appetites for immediate and relevant local information, national advertisers are also looking to local online advertising to reinforce their local brand presence.

“Local search, mobile devices, hyperlocal communities and daily deals are gaining popularity with consumers,” said Lauren Fisher, eMarketer writer/analyst and author of the new report, “Local Online Advertising: Digital Trends, Challenges and Opportunities.”

As the go-to digital sources for local information, each offers on-demand access to community news and information and provides brands a distinct way to engage with consumers on a local level. At AaramShop we have taken the local & online connect to the next level - wherein while the consumers shop online or using the AaramShop mobile apps, their orders are executed from their preferred neighborhood retailers.

Social Sign-On Could Be a Boon for Retailers

Online retailers, as well as other publisher sites that want to encourage visitors to register and sign in as a way to gain information about them, would do well to consider social sign-on, which allows internet users to carry a login from Facebook, Twitter, Google or a similar site elsewhere on the web without having to fill out forms and go through the hassle of a full registration process at each site they use.

Research has shown that making the registration process easier, and giving users options for signing in with any of several different logins, increases sign-ups and conversions. And Facebook, with its massive reach, has become the leading choice for users.

AaramShop uses the Facebook login option for its customers and we find that the number of customers who use Facebook Login to log on to AaramShop far exceeds the number that use AaramShop's own stand alone system. 

Marketers Look to Integrate Email, Social, Mobile.

Mobile apps and presence on social media sites top investments in 2012.

Social media and mobile are quickly establishing themselves as more than marketing channels simply worthy of a test budget. And, as marketers continue to understand how to leverage both social and mobile to meet their overall marketing objectives, they are looking to better integrate them into their overarching marketing strategy, tying them to other more established digital formats, such as email.

According to StrongMail’s annual marketing trends survey, the majority (68%) of business executives worldwide said they plan to integrate their social media marketing efforts with email in 2012. In addition, 44% plan to integrate mobile with their email campaigns. Executives were less likely to focus on integrating more tenured online ad formats, such as search and display, into their email strategy, perhaps indicating such integration consideration and action has already taken place.