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Harnessing Your Business Data with a Map

There was a very good article on from eMarketer this month about the difficulties for online retailers in accessing, sharing and analysing information about their business. This is something we have found relates to all business, not just online. Business is all about numbers and understanding what your customers want and when. It doesn’t matter if you are a bricks and mortar retailer like the very successful Briscoes, a supermarket chain selling high volume for low margin or a company with a field sales or service workforce. Success comes down to being able to access quality information.

In retail the key information tends to be about stockturn, aged stock, shelf space, gross profit by product and category and so on. Retailers and department heads will have standard exception reports that arrive on their desks, daily, weekly and monthly and they will make their buying and promotional decisions based on these reports.

As per the table, research shows that often data is used for the key purposes of business as usual, but often it is only available to a few people and there is very little use made of information about who the customers are, where they come from, the context in which they do their shopping and much more.

GeoSmart’s BIonaMAP is a tool that can allow companies to visualise more information in a way that allows them to look strategically at location based information about their business. It might be a retail chain deciding where to place their next store, a loyalty program that wants to understand their customer demographics or a sales or divisional manager wanting to create fair and manageable sales territories.

By combining information from the Point of Sale system or the financials with a map, it becomes possible to cut through the clutter and see the big picture. BIonaMAP is a SaaS (Software as a Service) application. What that effectively means is that all you need in order to use it is a web browser and an Internet connection. You don’t need to install any software.

Now you can share information with whoever needs it, management,sales and marketing, business partners and suppliers. It might be about where your customers live or work, which ones use one of your products but not another. It might be customers within a certain distance from a store or using demographics to decide where best to place your next store. The potential is limited by your imagination and currently to within Australia and New Zealand. Effectively anything that has a location element to it and where data can be exported as a CSV file from your financials, CRM or other application can be interrogated within BIonaMAP.

Do you suffer from death by spreadsheet or wish you could see the big picture, large corporate, franchise or SME, we would like to talk to you about how to harness your business data and increase your productivity and profit.

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May 23, 2012 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, geosmart, GIS, Loyalty Card, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Retail, Retail Profit, SaaS, sales territory, territory management, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can You Trust Crowd Sourced Recommendations?

We often hear businesses express concern about people rating products, services and premises on location based applications or web sites. There have been allegations from time to time that comments or ratings may be made by competitors or disgruntled customers, where perhaps the customer’s expectations were unreasonable.

Any of these may happen, but there is more to this situation, in fact several.

1. People are probably talking about your brand online now. The worst thing would be to not be aware of the conversation and not have the opportunity to engage one way or another. It could be to thank people for their positive feedback. It could be to address a concern they have. It is also an opportunity to share those with staff and colleagues. Often positive messages don’t get to those who need it.

2. People trust people they feel are like themselves. Generally they distrust advertising. Why? Because often advertising over-promises. I don’t need to give you examples. Next time you watch TV, study the first five adverts you see and decide whether the information is accurate. if you want underarm deoderant, would you be more likely to trust a TVC, or a friend? If you want to buy insurance or go on a holiday, same question.

3. What can you do about crowd sourced applications and the comments people leave on them? One thing you can do is develop one yourself, or with a group of businesses you are associated with. Another is to join in the conversation and have your voice heard. Another is to offer the sort of service you would like to enjoy if you were the customer, get buy in from your team and encourage your clients to share feedback.

Why

Here is an example from an applications developer called Springwise. Their mobile application has a bar code reader and the ability to scan a bar code, see what other people have said about it and why they think it is a good or not so good product. It also allows people to rate the comments or the person who left the comment. One thing I really like is that they have elements in it where you can click on an icon to explain why you gave the rating or comment, for example the product may or may not be sustainable. This one doesn’t currently have a location based element in it, but there’s an opportunity perhaps for a local developer to do something similar and get us to help.

Another application is being tested in Spain at present designed to allow people to share what appears to be a common problem there, which is where the drink you order may be substituted with cheaper quality or priced ingredients.

The bottom line is that people are talking about your brand or product. Why not get involved with our development partners and encourage the features in applications that you would like to see. Talk to your loyalty card program partners or your business association, or perhaps your mainstreet asssociation. It’s easier than you think. Talk to us:)

February 26, 2012 Posted by | geosmart, iphone, location based services, Loyalty Card, Social Media, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Socialisation – Loyalty Cards and Gamification

Ultimately if you want people to use your loyalty card, visit and spend lots of money enjoying your service, products and services, wouldn’t you rather they bring their friends and family, or encourage them to come and join them. There are gender differences here of course. Shopping for women is often a social activity, something to be enjoyed with friends and is an outing in itself. For guys that might be the case for specific things like food and beverage, electronics and sporting gear (I am generalising and there are of course exceptions:) but in general terms a fun group outing is more likely to be going to a bar, a sporting match etc. Of course hospitality, entertainment, attractions etc are all most enjoyed if done with friends.

Foursquare in its points structure will give you more points if you log into a location at the same time as your buddies. Tap City uses Foursquare Points of Interest and has a game element where you can take ownership of a location by attacking it and getting your buddies to join you in the attack, turning it into a real game, but one that requires that you do check in to places to complete certain activities.

FREE App Rugby2GO for Android and iPhone

Loyalty programs for single venues or large programs with many venues are all there to generate business for your destination premises. This opens up great opportunities for incentives. In many cases points and recognition are enough, but why not encourage people to not only participate but also to get their friends to sign up. For example, lets say we had a loyalty card for restaurants and entertainment. You could have a deal where if you bring a friend to a cafe, you get 2 points, or maybe a free muffin, but if your friend becomes a member of the loyalty program and joins you there, you get more. Its Rugby time in New Zealand with loads of tourists going to Fanzones and enjoying the restaurants, bars, concerts and shows that go with the World Cup. A lot of people have Smartphones and are enjoying FREE iPhone and Android applications like Rugby2GO which has all the Real New Zealand Festival locations on it complete with directions from wherever you happen to be.

These apps are great and are a perfect stepping point to creating social engagement. If they allow you to upload all of your friends from your various social networks in the way applications like Foursquare, Instagram, Layar, and countless others do, then you are already crowdsourcing for free. All you need to do now as an application host is encourage them not only to get their friends to your location using the gamification we have talked about in our other recent blogs, and then also get them to invite them to install the app and join, perhaps using a promo code that recognises that your friends have joined them and identified them as friends, which also of course helps with your profiling.

South Africa v Namibia

Profiling people into groups with similar interests is of course something that Google has introduced with its Google+ circles and we are starting to see this in applications. So if you own a bar or number of bars, are showing the Rugby on your big screens, wouldn’t you like to be able to encourage your loyalty program members to not only invite their friends, but have them sign up to the program, reward them for doing so, then give them a great time so they want to come back, with their friends. This is known as crowd sourcing and also plays a part in viral marketing.

As a footnote on viral marketing, a reminder that you do not do viral marketing, your customers, friends and program members do that. All you can do is facilitate it. Create an environment they want to be at and share and they will do it for you. Of course you have to deliver on your promise and make sure they really do enjoy themselves. There is so much more you can do once you get started and of course we are full of great ideas and desire to help you make it work for your loyalty program. Why not Contact Us and have a chat about it?

October 5, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, Android, foursquare, geosmart, iphone, location based services, Loyalty Card, Mobile maps, proximity based marketing, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, Social Media, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Socialisation Game Mechanics on Loyalty Cards

In our last blog I wrote about achievements such as points or rewards and the appointment dynamic. Another aspect that is very powerful is socialisation. There are many aspects to this including profiling, recommendations and forums and using the appointment dynamic to get more people in the same place.

There are many for and against aspects to profiling and it is happening from a Google level down to individual retailers. It is very important if you are profiling to correctly interpret information and to ensure that if you are doing it in a loyalty environment that the loyalty members understand what you are doing and that they have given their permission.

I have said on many occasions that done in the right way, combining educated opt in, location, interests and open to buy is very powerful. As I’ve said before, if Borders (I have  VIP Card on my key ring) sent me a notification saying that the new Stephen King Book 11/22/63 is in store and they will hold a copy for me with a special promotional offer for the next half hour, knowing that I am in the neighbourhood, I will probably go and buy it.

However, if they sent me the same message about the latest top 10 recommendations of a certain radio host were in stock, I would probably opt out of their service, even though I may at some stage have bought one of those books as a gift for my wife.

There are many ways to mine data about what people are buying and it doesn’t have to be down to product level, category level would be very powerful, and it amazes me that retailers don’t use this as a tool.

Profiling needs to be relatively smart and needs Business Analysts able to interpret information and look for trends and not make assumptions on the basis of one or two retail or other destination visits. Buying a hammer doesn’t make me a handyman, but buying tools on a regular basis would constitute a trend. Of course where someone lives can also be a valuable pointer and our new BIonaMAP application that I’ve blogged about before can provide valuable information in looking at trends from multiple people, especially when combined with data from the Department of Statistics Census which the application supports and Mesh Block and Area unit level.

Recommendations are powerful. In 2009 Nielsen’s released the results of a study that said that 90% of consumers trusted recommendations from people they know, 70% trusted recommendations from people who post them online and 24% trusted text ads that appeared on their mobiles. There are many ways to encourage people to comment on products or locations in a mobile environment. Some organisations worry about what people will say about them, but if that is the case, perhaps they have some work to do and better to know what they are saying and be able to engage with them, or as was agreed at the last Social Media Club meeting in Auckland, the common scenario is that if someone criticises a business in an online forum, others very quickly come to its defence. In a closed environment it is of course much easier to encourage the behaviour you are looking for from participants by providing them with the value they want. This can be done by rewards such as points for participation, bribes such as prizes and by engaging and showing an interest in them.

It has been expressed to me that social media requires additional resources and expertise often not available within destination businesses, particularly retail. Yes it does, the key cost is time and you do need someone who knows what they are doing, but what does traditional advertising cost. If you buy a reasonable sized advertisement in a newspaper, or get an agency to generate letter box mail, what does it cost for creative, artwork, printing and distribution? How many hours of a person’s time would that buy? It’s just another tool and the great thing is that to test the market using services like Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter is that you can try them for free. Add location in an app or mobile web site does involve cost, but done well the return can be huge.

Socialisation offers many more exciting opportunities, but to find out what I am talking about, you will have to come back for the next blog. Please feel free to add your comments in the meantime.

September 27, 2011 Posted by | Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Data Mining, Loyalty Card, proximity based marketing, Retail, Social Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adding Location To Loyalty Card Apps

There are obviously lots of different kinds of loyalty cards. I have somewhere between 10 and 20 cards ranging from Coffee Cards through to Airline Frequent Flyer Cards. I have so many I can’t carry them all in my wallet, which is unfortunate when I find myself in a position to use one. I do carry a Smartphone, so there are opportunities to carry apps. Many retail companies in New Zealand now have apps, mostly on iPhone and Android. They range from cafe’s and fast food companies to tourism and banks. Features include the ability to order food from a specific store, the ability to view the store on the map, make reservations and view points.

A lot of companies have had back on using Smartphone applications for loyalty programs on the basis that there are not enough people using them. At the last Social Media Club Auckland event one of the panel questions was what is the penetration of Smartphones in New Zealand. No one had an answer as the telco’s generally don’t want to share this competitive information. However in this month’s IT Brief there was a quote from Tony Baird of Vodafone saying that 66% of their mobile users now have Smartphones. That’s pretty high penetration and growing rapidly as is their data traffic which grew from 60TB in June last year to 135 TB in June this year. It would be reasonable to expect at least Telecom to be showing similar penetration.

So, in my last post I talked about a number of aspects of getting to know your customers. Given the statistics in the poll on my previous blog almost 70% of loyalty card holders do not specifically head to shop at a store where they have a loyalty card. In effect this says that the loyalty card in most cases is not attracting people to do business, or effectively be loyal to the retailer or group who invest a lot of time and money into the card systems in manufacture, distribution and all the other aspects of running a loyalty program.

What is missing? I believe that one aspect is not really understanding the customer. Let’s start simple. How do you get a loyalty card? Obviously it varies. Some cards like a coffee card are as simple as the retailer offering the card to a customer when they are in the store buying a coffee, the retailer invites them to start using a card, typically offering your 11th cup free. At the other end of the scale there are forms to fill out, which confidentially provides the company with significant information about the person. This may include:

  • Home address
  • Home and Mobile Phone numbers
  • Age
  • Household income
  • Interests
  • Family details e.g. single, married, children under or over a certain age
  • Occupation
  • Email address

In theory this enables the loyalty program to target information to the member and under strict Direct Marketing opt in guidelines, make offers to the members, which typically comes in the form of eDM’s and Direct Mail. The latter is a very expensive form of marketing as is normal advertising such as print, radio and TVC’s. For many industries and products this is tough business. How often do you buy a lawn mower, a TV or an iPhone? The marketing only works when you are open to buy. I recently purchased a new lawn mower, but it was the first one in over 10 years. If I had kept every lawn mower advertisement that arrived in my letter box trying to sell me one and looked at the creative, print and distribution costs, it might have been cheaper for them to give me a lawnmower. Of course all of this advertising is focussed on products that everyone is selling, there is very little focus on products that are unique. Everyone has a promotion on a printer, a TV, an iPhone which forces everyone to focus on price, heavy discounts and the consumer wins if they are looking for that product. Profits up the value chain are massively eroded through the competitive pricing and costs of marketing.

Data Mining and Business Intelligence are already used by some companies and very soon GeoSmart will be launching the much anticipated BIonaMAP we have discussed in many blogs in the past. This will allow companies to better understand their customers on the basis of the data provided, including the ability to view their customers and query their information in relation to the Department of Statistics mesh blocks and area units.

Canberra Income $100,000+

In this example we looked for   where the average household income in Canberra (yes we do Australia too) is equal to or greater than $100,000. If we were looking for loyalty members who had higher than average discretionary spending capability, this could be a very useful tool for target marketing. We could potentially make special offers by overlaying our loyalty card members in this SaaS (Software as a Service) application and then querying them from a combination of the information we have about them and the information the statistics department has about people in the area.

In the coming blogs I will get into more detail about what the implications are from the perspective of location, but like anything you need to start at the beginning and in many cases as I have outlined,  scatter gun marketing, throwing leaflets into letter boxes does not effectively target people who might change their behaviour in favour of your product or brand.

The key to loyalty is a relationship and this comes from engagement. You don’t engage well by putting something in someone’s letterbox. You engage by understanding who they are, what their needs are, when they are out and about and open to buy. As a retailer with a loyalty program you have huge amounts of information about your clients at your fingertips, which is untouched.

Here’s a simple example to finish this blog. Paper Plus not only supports Fly Buys, but they also have their own card called My Big Deal. They run promotions for people who use that card. Right now they have a sale on certain children’s books. If you buy the books using your loyalty card and they store that information, they now know (if they didn’t ask in their registration form) that you either have children or have a relationship with children, perhaps as a grandparent. So they know you buy children’s books. This is valuable information that you could take advantage of in your proximity based marketing application.

More on the location based aspect for apps is coming up, now that we have covered some basics. If this is of interest, please bookmark or subscribe. If you know of someone else who might be interested, why not send them a link? If you would like to discuss these concepts with us about your own business, please contact us.

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, Distribution, geosmart, GIS, iphone, location based services, Loyalty Card, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Print Advertising, proximity based marketing, Radio Advertising, Retail, Retail Profit, SaaS, territory management | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment