As retailers strive to garner real-time actionable insight at every touch point, solution providers are responding with tools designed to empower marketers with rich information available in real time. One of the key themes throughout the last three years at the National Retail Federation’s annual conference in New York has been social media, which in 2011 has graduated to a greater focus on analytics. Taking the cue from other channels, retailers realize that they need to be able to efficiently collect and effectively analyze the success of their social media efforts and they are looking towards solution providers to create the necessary tools.
Gleanster confirms this message in its November 2010 Gleansight Social Media Marketing study: “Because brands are using a variety of platforms and tools to broadcast their messages, they are finding that they do not have one clear and consistent dashboard to monitor success. There is progress being made, however, and some prominent vendors are introducing increasingly sophisticated monitoring engines that will help to further quantify and qualify social media success.”
During the January 2010 NRF event, a number of solution providers touted solutions designed to help retailers garner customer feedback from the online social sphere:
Cisco demonstrated its SocialMiner offering, which was launched in November 2010. The customer care solution is designed to help retailers proactively respond to customers and prospects communicating through public social media networks like Facebook, Twitter or blogs. Retailers can respond to customers in real time by leveraging the capabilities of social media monitoring, queuing and workflow to organize customer posts and deliver them to customer care.
SocialMiner offers retailers the ability to configure multiple campaigns to search for customer postings on the public social web about products and services. The tool can route social contacts to customer care representatives in the contact center or to experts that can handle responses to customer postings through shared work queues.
SAS announced enhancements to its Customer Intelligence suite, designed to help retailers automate and better target marketing campaigns. The company offers tools to help retailers better integrate analytics and offline sources to create a greater visibility. Customers can view key details in merchandise and competitors’ prices. The solution is ultimately focused on empowering retailers with greater information about customers by viewing web behavior and social media sentiment.
SAS also unveiled its High-Performance Markdown Optimization solution at the show, which complements the company’s Merchandise Intelligence suite. The new offering gives retailers a way to apply granular analytics, such as price elasticity, store sales forecast and pricing rules to store-specific promotions and inventory.
Preliminary SAS lab findings show a ten-fold improvement in optimization time and a ten-fold reduction in time for estimation and forecasting, while lowering hardware costs by a factor of three-to-10 times, depending on data volume, according to a company press release.
Wipro Technologies announced the launch of its strategic retail solution, ENCORE (Enhanced Commerce Retail Ecosystem). The scalable platform helps retailers engage customers and manage online retail operations. A key component of the new offering is a Social Media integration, which enables retailers to understand their market with insights into customers’ opinions and preferences. The solution also offers e-mobility, personalization, recommendations and referral tracking.
Expion showcased its Social Media Management Software, designed to enable retailers to publish and aggregate social media conversations that can scale to hundreds of locally based Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and YouTube channels. Expion’s unified database aggregates and tracks all employee and customer social interactions. The intelligence can help retailers profile customers, identify advocates and critics, track behaviors and create best employee practices, while measuring effectiveness of messaging for continued optimization.
As social media gains a stronger hold on the retail industry, retailers will look forward to many more innovative solutions to enter the marketplace in 2011 and beyond.