…fortified with stuffed Quail and Venison
In this world of multiple channels, always on, 24/7, 99.999% up time, as technologists it’s rare to find time to pause for breath. So to be able to relax in the comfortable surroundings of Chicheley Hall for our bi-annual customer CIO Forum, pausing for reflection and chewing the fat with ones colleagues and CIOs from some of our leading clients was a welcome diversion. Not that there was much fat on a meal that included an entire stuffed quail, followed by venison, mind you. For the former was it really Quail or perhaps the smallness of the bird was because we were simply eating from a long way away, driven by talk of applications provided on the cloud, obscuring our vision.
Prior to this veritable feast, conversation had raged round the table, amongst BT Expedite management, and retailers from the clothing, footwear, pets, automotive accessories and outdoor sectors. Key themes that emerged included the following:
How can retailers retain control of brand values, yet put the customer at the centre of the business? Would the move to providing more product information, opening up Facebook channels and customers using their smart phones to research, lead to the loss of control of brand, or would product always be king? Perhaps it depends on the sector of retailer?
Should retailers spend money training their staff on their increasingly diverse product ranges, or perhaps focus on providing detailed content directly to the increasingly savvy consumer, via iPad and iPhone channels? Would customers see that as a service?
When would we see the death of fixed POS devices, chained to desks, only there to take money? Would the increasingly sophisticated product information and multichannel needs of stores finally result in moving to a true point of service environment, enabled by tablet and/or retail hardened iPad devices, with customers paying by their own smart phones?
When will we see the end of paper based receipts, replaced by emails containing all the relevant information? Wouldn’t that be an easier way for customers to manage things when you need to provide proof of purchase, when things go wrong?
As ever what is happening over the pond and particularly what was previewed at the recent NRF show was a topic of general interest. Could an idea like the Adidas information wall where the in store range could be supplemented by technology capable of viewing items in 3D have general use? Would the iPad really be robust enough to withstand retrials usage, or would these devices simply disappear from the store? Who knows but dinner was nearly upon us….
Full of Quail and Venison, we then listened to BT plans for the 2012 Olympics, frighteningly not much more than 500 days way. We learned, how BT is a key sponsor, also commissioned to provide all the telecommunications for the Olympics itself, the visitors and broadcasters, something that had never been done before. With the massive uptake of smart phones, we could only imagine the massive bandwidth requirements, the thousands of miles of cabling and the work this entailed. Our retailers’ attention was held by talk about the opportunities for pop-up shops around the country, at the various council led venues and whether this was practical. Time will tell I guess, but retailers being retailers, I am sure they will find a way.
As the evening drifted on our minds became focussed on more pressing subjects, so we drifted towards the bar and eventually onwards to bed, wondering what it would have been like to live in this house, perhaps every night was a Quail night….
The massive swell of public support for Lush following an announcement that its e-commerce site had been targeted by hackers shows how loyal its customers are to the brand. But the whole episode made it clearer than ever that retailers need to meet the PCI DSS compliance standards – or face the penalties when things go wrong. Not all brands will be able to weather the storm as well as Lush. And while Lush has to be applauded for making the attack public – in line with its values of transparency and honesty – the PCI security standards forum has already started an investigation and a fine seems inevitable.
So how do you avoid getting into the same situation?
The web site was using a payment gateway, as is common practise, so we’re struggling to see the benefit to either the business or its customers of holding such comprehensive customer information that included credit card numbers. We strongly encourage our customers not to do this.
Having worked on PCI DSS related projects over the past three years now, this hacking has reinforced my personal belief that the best way for retailers to be compliant is to start by removing all customer data which has no value. Regarding, card data that is we recommend simply removing all of it from all systems other than the payment gateway.
By doing this you simplify the PCI requirement on day one. The retailer’s payment gateway should then either be updated to include encryption or removed outside of the retailer environment altogether, into a managed / hosted data centre.
If there is a business need and business case to keep any card related data for audit or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) purposes then implement tokenisation. This will ensure that the business need can be met without the risk of keeping the card numbers. This costs money but makes retailing a much less risky business.
Keep it simple and you’ll avoid the pitfalls of card data security.
- Internet Retailing - Hacked Lush site seems to have been ‘riddled with vulnerabilities’
- Retail Week - Lush temporary website to open next week in response to cyber-attack
- BBC - BBC - Lush hackers cash in on stolen cards
I read last month that Facebook has now exceeded 500 million worldwide users and over 28 million in the UK. Looking across all BT Fresca clients, Facebook is in the top 10 traffic sources to all sites.
It’s now as important as email communications in a brand’s overall marketing strategy. But, it’s really interesting how different retailers approach it.
Retailers are fast learning that social is not just about marketing, but community, endorsement and customer service also. It’s about getting the balance right. And, there are some really great examples out there.
The biggest mistake any brand can make is to not interact with their customers. Your customers expect you to respond and talk back and even better they want to get involved and feel part of your brand.
Encourage them to chat, this is your customers and they want to talk. The feedback on your business is invaluable and gives you insight into what is and what isn’t working.
There a plenty of great examples out there of brands doing just this. Two that are worth taking a look at are Liberty and Easyjet.
Add Email Sign Up
Don’t be afraid to cross channel market. You add social links to your email
campaigns, so why not go vice versa? Add an email sign up box to your profile and use it to grow your database.
Marks & Spencers actually have a box on the profile displaying their latest newsletter for people to view.
Facebook on your site
2010 was about incorporating Facebook functionality onto your own website. The ‘like’ button being the most popular tool.
The Levi store was one of the early adopters of this functionality. But some other nice examples are ASOS and BT Fresca client Dig Deep
I also love the Orange Glastonbury microsite, where you can tag your friends in the crowd pictures from Glastonbury.
Turn a negative into a positive
The delivery issues caused by snow at Christmas were certainly a test for some
retailer’s customer service abilities. Negative comments on your facebook don’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, it’s about how you manage them. But, the
worst thing you can possibly do is ignore comments.
Sometimes your fans will even do the work for you. I referred to Easyjet earlier, when they were experiencing flight issues with the snow, customers were pointing other customers to where on the Easyjet website.
Negative comments on your Facebook page give you a chance to turn around that customer’s perception of you, so embrace it.
Make the space yours
Ok, we’ve moved on from My Space, but your brand page is a representation of who you are and what you stand for.
What is your key message, how can you engage differently but still on brand via Facebook? With a little bit of creative help, it’s very simple to personalise the page.
Take a look at the Starbucks, Tiffany and Skittles pages for some inspiration.
Reward your fans
Customers that ‘like’ your brand should be treated like any loyalty database you own and manage. Give them something back in return for this loyalty.
At Christmas, John Lewis did a video for customers on how to set the perfect Christmas table. Pringle have a video from illustrator David Shirgley and to celebrate reaching 500,000 likes Next gave away 25 gift cards to customers.
Happy customers will spread the word and do your work for you.
Encouraging Sign Ups
On a penultimate note, I just wanted to share this fun page on Zappos encouraging likes.
And what does 2011 hold? I look forward to seeing more from Facebook places and shopping on Facebook…
Laura Summers heads up the BT Fresca Online Marketing team and manages online services for some of retail’s biggest and most successful UK websites. If you’re interested in discussing Facebook marketing, drop Laura a line via [email protected] or call 0870 8506880.