Sleeping With The CMO

Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from Schwartz’ upcoming novel titled: Fast Shopper, Slow Store due to be published in August 2012, expanding on The Impulse Economy.

For thousands of years we have bartered and sold stuff. Over the past hundred years we have refined a retail business model and strapped on solutions to adapt to new media and technology. However mobile adoption has arrived with unnatural speed. It is inevitable that there will be some resulting discord in the way we spend budget and the way we adapt to legacy technology.

According to various research data (provided by Flurry, comScore, VSS and Alexa) retailers and brands spend 29% of their budget buying print when the consumer time spent on print has dwindled to 6 per cent of their day. We spend one per cent of our budget on mobile media although it occupies 23% of our consumer’s attention.

Granted that we are not comparing apples to apples.  (Mobile is more difficult to buy than paper and even if you reallocated budget, mobile is more cost effective.) However, the above disparity that underscores how we silo budgets and is indicative of the old economy where the store sat proudly at the center of the consumer’s world.


We now live in a cross-screen economy and we need to stop buying media on individual screens. The consumer’s path to purchase now zigzags across multiple concurrent media channels and does not often end at the traditional cash register.  Our innovation and our business modeling are no longer pegs on a linear washing line but are more analogous to three-dimensional putty.

Meeting In The Aisle

I discussed this with Gene Keenan who is head of mobile for Isobar, a leading digital agency. Before Gene was a mobile aficionado he was the chef for the rock ‘n roll band the Grateful Dead for 12 years. What does rock ‘n roll, cooking and mobile have in common? “There are lots of chefs in the retail kitchen,” says Gene. “Media is divided. One campus handles POS, another campus marketing. But mobile has forced us to reconsider the way we work internally and the way we interact with our consumers and, most importantly, how we allow our consumers to interact with us.”

And it is even more complexity. It takes considerable amount effort to get departments to talk to one other. This is a dramatic change in corporate culture. At the same time the technology solutions that we are implement may need time to be incubated and only reach critical adoption over a course of years. 

It is hard to all work together when the underpinning technology to service your customers, your marketing, your profit goals is in dramatic flux. Here is a good illustration of the problem:

Many of the readers are aware of the 1987 Apple video that describes a so-called “Knowledge Navigator” a vision of a personal assistant that helps you keep appointments, find stuff, share documents, etc.  When you look up this YouTube clip is your reaction:

1. “Wow, 1987 how prophetic is Apple?”


2. “Wow, 22 years is a long time to launch SIRI?”

Apple knew that to create a voice recognition system that would be seamless and adopted by its consumers may take a number of years.

Apple is a technology company. They have the interdepartmental staying power. However, how does a retailer or a brand marry the gap between developing a technology solution that services its marketing vision and its customer’s immediate needs?  In a world (where mobile makes for strange bedfellows) much of the innovation and business common sense required to navigate all the disruption in the retail space is predicated on getting the key stakeholders in your store to work together.

CIO and CMO need to meet in the aisle as technology and consumer adoption evolves. The CIO is following the product and trying to driving efficiency. The CMO is following the peripatetic consumer and trying to be relevant. The two do not hang out much.

Tag! You’re It

CIOs strive for operational data such as product description, price, origin, shelf life and storage location. CIOs rightly believe this will increase visibility into the supply chain, tracking everything from jeans to jelly. Walmart’s CIO has mandated electronic “smart” tags on all their vendor’s products. These EPC’s will enable Wal-Mart to automate the movement of products from the pallet in the distribution center, to the shelves in the store, to the shoppers’ baskets. These tags will allow for smart replenishment decisions, enabling retailers visibility into their inventories and sales. All exciting stuff for CIOs.

With a smarter phone in your customers hand, the CMO can work with store operations to allow the shopper to better interact with some of this data, making their shopping experience more effective and at the same time helping the CMO drive all-important engagement with the consumer.

There is a cost to all this; however, in a world where the retailer needs to count clicks to commerce, using existing merchandising solutions, combined with shoppers needs, this effort can pay dividends.

It allows retailers to provide for simpler shopper engagement and accelerate the path-to-purchase. It helps the industry build trust, build relationships and close the deal.

Happy hunting.

Gary Schwartz, President of Impact Mobile, ran the first cross-carrier short code campaign in North America. In 2006, he founded the mobile committee for the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and has worked to publish literature such as the Mobile Buyer’s Guide, helping extend the digital buy into mobile (for which he received an IAB award for industry excellence in 2009). In 2010, Schwartz was elected Chair of MEF North America with a remit to develop a mobile commerce practice to service brands, retailers and content owners (for which he received a MEF award for industry excellence). Schwartz is the recipient of the Asia and Japan Foundation Fellowship as well as the Macromedia People’s Choice Award and Dodge Foundation Award for Innovation. He authored the upcoming book Click2K’Ching: The Mobile Shopper & The Impulse Economy. Blog and twitter @impulseeconomy

Gary Schwartz will be presenting at the Connected Consumer Series on June 20 at 1 PM ET. More Info →

Featured Event

Join the retail community as we come together for three days of strategic sessions, meaningful off-site networking events and interactive learning experiences.



Access The Media Kit


Access Our Editorial Calendar

If you are downloading this on behalf of a client, please provide the company name and website information below: