Month: November 2011

A bar(code) too high?

Two pieces in today’s worth checking out. Pun intended.

First is “Some markets bagging self-checkout: Cite problems and variables with system,” by Peggy Hernandez. Second is “Scan on a mission: Stop & Shop’s new smartphone app works as a super-fast self-checkout,” by Jane Dornbusch.

I’ve played quite a bit with self-check-out, and with Stop & Shop’s SCAN-IT! in particular. While I rarely find myself moving faster through check-out by doing it by myself, I do see the advantages for both customers and retailers. As Mike Grimes, CEO of Modiv told Peggy Hernandez, “Self-checkout is what you make of it. True customer service means choice. Albertsons and took that away from their customers. That is very likely not a good move.” Indeed, the report begins with news that Big Y is giving up on the self-checkout experiment. Didn’t work for them.

Stop & Shop seems quite committed to SCAN-IT. (I’m leaving off the exclamation mark, as I do with ) Their come with a metal holster for SCAN-IT’s scanning gun. And using the thing is almost entertaining.  (You can also scan with your or .) From the story:

Both the app and the hand-held scanners keep track of your purchases — and you. The app knows where you are in the store. The result is that coupons tailored to your preferences and location pop up on your device as you shop. This has a creepy Big Brother feeling, but you get to save 35 cents on the jar of mayonnaise on your list.

The problem is, guesses about what you might want are made not only by your location in the store, but on your purchase history. Meaning that the pile of crap food you bought for a school picnic last Summer still looks to the store’s system like something you’ll want to buy over and over again. So, up come the coupons.

One of these days I’ll put up the photo essay of my tours of stores, including Stop & Shop, for the book I just wrote. The book tells the story in text, but the pictures are also telling. Stay tuned for that.

Time for a market climate change

Visting Customer Analytics in Detail, the Business Intelligence Blog begins,

Customers are the heart of any business.  One unshakable rule of Retail business is to “know your customer.”

Goes without saying, but it’s good they say it. Then,

In today’s business climate, this means using business intelligence (BI) software to analyze complex customer data.

Really? How about talking to your freaking customers? It continues,

With BI, companies can answer a wide range of critical questions about their customer base. The questions can include:

• What are my company’s segment-wise top revenue-generating customers?
• What are cross-selling / Up-selling opportunities?
• Which customer segment has have contributed most to revenue growth?
• Which type of customers look for discounts?
• Which types of customers have highest number of returns?
• What types of customers are most profitable?

Nothing wrong with knowing all that stuff. But is BI just about categorizing customers? How about improving the company’s offerings and developing genuine relationships with customers?

The best business intelligence is first hand and direct. Not second or third hand.

If all you have are types of customers, you’re at risk of losing the real ones.

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