Cha---ching! -- Why retailers are loving Facebook

by Deepak Sharma on Thursday, April 28, 2011

On April 9, 2011, the 5th fastest growing Facebook page in the world was the page for "Kissing." On its heels, in the number 6 spot, was the Kirkland's Facebook page from redpepper.

Just two days earlier, agency redpepper launched Kirkland's Cha---ching! promotion. This promo included a $25,000 cash prize and a chance to win Kirkand's merchandise in a swap game where people force other players to trade merchandise they have in their virtual possession. 

Everyone who plays the game gets a coupon for a future purchase at Kirkland's. (Kirkland's customers LOVE their coupons. The more they play, the more they can save. The number of fans nearly doubled from 73,000 fans at launch to over 140,000 four days in. 40,154 people were entered to win. 36,709 people were playing the swap game.


The Holy Grail of any social media effort is to engage the audience versus simply getting them to click a "like" button. Much to our delight, new fans showed their enthusiasm and passion for the brand through telling posts on the Kirkland's Facebook wall like"Kirkland's and I are BFFs."

This group of consumers is predominantly comprised of 25-55 year old Females.

Not only are they the fastest growing segment on Facebook, games like Farmville & Cityville are the kinds of online social activities they engage in the most. And, what's more, this consumer group is identical in make-up to the average Kirkland's customer.

When players engage in the promo, a wall post appears on their profile and in their friends' news feed. This post announces their participation in the game and invites other players to do the same. 11 days into the promotion, 54,875 people have entered the sweepstakes, 50,021 are playing the swap game and the number of total Facebook Fans has grown to 165,229, and is on-track to hit the 200K goal.

And, while a million Facebook "likes" is certainly noteworthy, redpepper believes that 200K impassioned brand advocates is a much truer measure of social media success.

Abercrombie PowerPoint

by Deepak Sharma on Friday, April 08, 2011

I love reading Footnoted and I knew I had to share this post, the moment I read it.

Lots of eye candy in Abercrombie PowerPoint…

We counted no fewer than 13 slides that featured shirtless dudes baring their pecs. That’s nearly 20% of the slides in the 67-slide deck. The PowerPoint was part of the company’s Investors Day earlier this week. The presentation seems to have gone well, judging by this brief WSJ article that notes that Abercrombie stock climbed over 8% on Tuesday, in part, it seems, based on the bullish projections made during the presentation. So there was some substance in between the eye-candy slides.

we’re not sure that cutting and pasting a bunch of shirtless guys into a PowerPoint is the best way to go about this. Even if it does cause the stock to climb 8% in one day.

Wal-Mart piloting selling large GE Appliances in store

by Deepak Sharma on Tuesday, April 05, 2011

WSJ is reporting that Wal-Mart is planning to sell large appliances as a part of a pilot program in its stores in Texas this year. Long time ago, well in 2000, I was part of a program where we developed Interactive Kiosk based solution for GE appliances to be sold in Wal-Mart. This looks like exact same thing, maybe this time without a kiosk.

Wal-Mart Explores Selling Large Appliances

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. may begin adding large appliances such as stoves and dishwashers to stores in Texas this year as part of a pilot program that could lead to a nationwide launch.

The retailer is looking at a program selling appliances from General Electric Co. and could roll out to more than 100 stores initially, according to analysts and consultants familiar with the retailer's plans.

Last month, Wal-Mart's U.S. chief Bill Simon, speaking at an industry conference, said the company is "looking at everything including appliances right now." Mr. Simon didn't provide specifics about the scope other than saying: "If it's something that we believe there is customer demand for and an opportunity to make some money, we're going to get into it in a big way."

A Wal-Mart spokesperson declined to provide details. A GE spokesman didn't respond to a request for comment.

Nordstrom Interactive Window experience using Kinect

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, April 04, 2011

In a unique and first of it’s kind. Nordstrom flagship store in Seattle has put Microsoft Kinect in their windows and created an unique experience where people can come and write/paint with just the motion of their hands. Cool stuff.

Please DO Touch the Glass: Our Interactive Window

Our brilliant Interactive Development, Visual Merchandising and Operations Teams put their heads together and brought light writing with light to life. With the help of Kinect’s infrared technology and their technical genius, our teams created a seamlessly interactive display that anyone can “paint” on with using just the motion of their hands in front of the glass.

We’ve loved watching the curiosity and delight of people engaging with our windows. So, if you’re in the neighborhood now through April 11, be sure to drop by—and please do touch the glass.

Cloud Scenarios for Retailers

by Deepak Sharma

Retailers who are thinking of moving to Cloud computing should read the latest whitepaper from Microsoft, Driving Revenue and Innovation in Retail with Windows Azure. The Whitepaper provides solution scenarios along with workload patterns for these scenarios and examples from the industry.

Momentum is building around cloud scenarios applicable to retailing by enabling business agility at lower cost.  Microsoft has made a strong commitment to cloud computing to help retailers connect with consumers whenever and wherever they choose.  Windows Azure provides a platform and a set of services that can be used individually or together.  It is a flexible and interoperable platform that is use to build new applications to run from the cloud or enhance existing applications with cloud-based service-oriented capabilities.

There are business-enabling benefits for retail enterprises, including the ability to extend services related to products and retail offerings directly to consumers. The global reach that can be achieved will enable retailers to deliver products through vastly extended supply chains and product-sourcing approaches. A cloud computing strategy that is integrated with existing business plans will have the effect of reducing cost and increasing services to customers throughout the world.

Solution Scenario




Retail Demand Forecasting On/Off

Sales forecasting, based on raw POS data, delivered as
a service for mass scale.

Smart Client - Store System Broad usage

Full store system application which provides a rich user interface and offline capability.  Allows retailers to quickly deploy a store system solution with no
application software to manage on the client.

Bedin Systems

Supply Chain Trading Partner Collaboration

Broad usage

B2B e-commerce collaboration that enables visibility to electronic data interchange (EDI) transactions.  This system allows for insight into the trading partner


Consumer Promotions at
Internet Scale

Growing fast

Promotional engine built to accept request and deliver email coupon promotions to consumers.


Connecting Stores with
Distributed Collaboration


Microsoft cloud based productivity suite solution to connect distributed users in stores with the enterprise for collaboration features delivered as a service.

using Office

Scalable E-Commerce


On-premise application augmented with cloud computing for tremendous scale without the cost. 
Ease of application portability using Windows server interoperability features of Windows Azure.


Download Whitepaper.

Simply Tap

by Deepak Sharma on Saturday, April 02, 2011

UK Retailers come together to form Mobile Money Network and launch Simply Tap which is an Mobile app- and SMS-based mobile payments tool.

UK retailers launch mobile payments scheme

The Mobile Money Network (MMN) – a four-month old UK retail alliance – has announced its first service offering, an app- and SMS-based mobile payments tool called ‘Simply Tap.’ Described as a “common sense approach to buying products and services via a mobile phone,” Simply Tap allows users to send a product code (either via app or SMS) to buy goods at participating retailers. Users must first go through a one-off registration process to register personal details, debit or credit card numbers, and delivery addresses. MMN says that the service will work with “any mobile phone, on any mobile network and with any bank.”

MMN is a joint venture between Monitise, Best Buy Europe and Carphone Warehouse founder Charles Dunstone. It says it is in discussions with 17 of the top 20 UK high street retailers and many leading financial institutions regarding the forthcoming rollout.

Read more about Mobile Money Network.

Product Affinity & Market Basket Analysis (Merchandising)

by Deepak Sharma on Friday, April 01, 2011

Turning the Kaleidoscope of Data to Discover Value

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Manthan Systems. Read more about Manthan Systems at the end of this article or visit

Access to point-of-sale data has transformed the retail businesses by suddenly throwing open new insights from data that were hitherto not captured. This knowledge has empowered the retailers with an ability to understand their business better and use these insights for accurate decision-making.

Various statistical techniques can be used in the right combination to analyze data and arrive at trends and patterns that lead to increased sales and thereby directly impact the bottom-line and result in profitability. Using these techniques, retailers can categorize customers by the products and services they choose, identify patterns to plan cross-selling campaigns, analyze and target customers based on product-centric purchase histories and patterns, plan multi-product promotions based on customer response, arrive at customer probability to buy additional products, measure shifts in customer… behavior and locations, compare segments – the possibilities are endless.

Realize the connection

Retailers are aware of the fact that shoppers who buy one product frequently, (for example, hamburger patties) are more likely to buy a couple of other related products (for example, hamburger buns and fries). This probability is due to the amount of affinity that exists between the products.

While some product affinities, such as the one above, are obvious to observers and can be arrived at by using common sense, others can be less apparent without the appropriate data mining techniques; for example, Wal-Mart customers who purchase Barbie dolls have a 60% likelihood of also purchasing one of three types of candy bars (Forbes, September 8, 1997). This paired purchasing pattern can be attributed to the obscure correlation between the two products.

Every shopper’s basket has a story to tell

The items a shopper purchases during one shopping trip makes up the ‘market basket’. The various items in a market basket are correlated to each other with varying frequencies, presenting a picture of what may have driven the shopping trip: running short of a couple of essential ingredients for cooking, assembling all necessary items for an exotic meal or a birthday party, preparing to have guests over, stocking up groceries for the month

The selection also reveals the shopper’s profile to a certain accuracy and provides a glimpse of socio-economic attributes of the shopper: is the shopper a family person? Is there a child in the shopper’s family? Are there elders in the family? What age-bracket does the shopper fall into? Is the shopper an impulsive buyer? What economic section does the shopper belong to? The overall level or value of the selection is another factor that can be of significance for retailers. Such information when viewed on the time parameter reveals stronger correlations: among products, between shopper profiles and their product preferences, between the kind of shopping trips and the product preferences, between the time of the year and product preferences of a particular shopper profile, to name a few.

How business analytics can help

Applying these seemingly simple statistical principles of great practical use to the humungous amount of data in any large format retail is a Herculean task. Sifting through this data and reaching any valuable conclusion is quite like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Business intelligence (BI) systems are often looked at as a solution to this challenge. However, the piece that separates a generic BI system from the one that facilitates retail decision making is advanced analytics. BI systems designed specifically for the retail industry and powered by advanced analytics can help drive the functional theories of mathematics in retail decision making. The analytics angle brings in a scientific base for choices that were made randomly or based on observation and experience earlier, guaranteeing a considerably higher success rate. The prescriptive and guided nature of retail-centric BI systems, along with their out-of-the-box functionalities, makes it possible for unskilled personnel in the retail chain as well to use these statistical techniques in their area of operations to arrive at benefit-driven decisions. An attempt to assemble a BI tool-kit for such analytical requirements can prove hazardous leading to uncertainties and perils involved in the never-ending process of adding blocks to map newer business demands and analytical needs.

Retail BI applies the principles of product affinity and market basket analysis to point-of-sale data to reveal concealed relationships between products and discover customer behaviour patterns. Such analysis provides insights into the types of products customers usually buy together, the time of year when the sales for a combination of products increase, destination items that attract customers to the store, and reasons for a sudden boost in the sales of a specific product. The analytical abilities of retail BI can identify correlations between customer profiles and product purchases and store visits.

With the help of retail BI, product affinity and market basket analysis can be used by the marketing and merchandizing teams at various levels in a large format retail scenario. Market baskets can be profiled and classified into categories such as grocery basket, special occasion basket, weekly shopping basket based on the objective of the shopping trip as revealed by the analysis. This information can be used for planning daily promotions to drive more trips to the store by offering a discount voucher for a week or to increase the basket size during each trip by reducing prices of certain products or offering special discounts/gifts. Similarly, product affinity data can lead the store manager to identify the products that most shoppers look for in the store and place them in an easily accessible area or identify the products that are bought together most often and display them in close vicinity or arrange the products identified as impulse purchases in an attractive manner to make the impulse irresistible.

Decisions related to the selection of products on discount, special offers to a particular segment of customers, gift vouchers on certain products must be based on scientific data in order to derive maximum value from such initiatives. The trends and patterns that are revealed by retail BI can be used for:

  • Improving the effectiveness of marketing, sales and merchandising strategies
  • Planning strategic initiatives such as periodic promotions, campaigns, special offers, price changes, cross-selling, product-pairing
  • Correlating store performance with overall market performance
  • Planning the store layout for more effective product placement and shelf presentation with appropriate prominence for impulse purchases, seasonal purchases, destination/anchor products

Retail BI can turn the kaleidoscope of data in infinite angles leading to endless possibilities that help analyze and use the data to arrive at trends and combinations in retail decision making.

Manthan Systems produces cutting edge analytic solutions for global retail and CPG organizations. Manthan's breakthrough solutions, under the brand name ARC, transform the way retailers use analytics driven decision making for strategic advantage. The ARC product portfolio spans the entire spectrum of retail decision making with role-based, pre-built applications, and includes products for merchandising analytics, financial analytics, customer analytics, supplier collaboration analytics and enterprise retail BI. These award winning products provide a significant edge to an organization’s analytical capability and maturity, and are proven to deliver unmatched business benefits in a remarkably short timeframe. Manthan’s experience spans a wide range of retail segments and formats, having transformed decision making for some of the biggest names in retail across the globe. For more information, visit .