At the Gartner BPM Summit, Anthony Bradley described the impact of social networks and mobile technology on consumer behavior. This was part of his BPM Summit Key Note. The story he told concerned his daughter. She tried on a top and took a photo which she posted on her Facebook account. Anthony (the dad in this story) asked if she intended to purchase the top. She said “no” and that she would only consider returning to the store to purchase the item if enough of her friends “liked” her in the picture.
Anthony’s main point was not that FB was slowing retail sales (it may or may not) but that retailers (or firms in general) need to think about how new technology will create new opportunities. In this case, FB was changing consumer behavior, so how would a retailer, looking to focus on consumer experience, respond?
I tweeted on an idea. That idea is that retailers could actually build out FB booths in their stores, to facilitate consumers taking pictures of their “trial” clothes, in better context. Surely Anthony’s daughter would have preferred a picture of herself in her “new” top with a nice background and setting. That would look better than a picture where the background is a dingy changing room (with other people looking strangely and teens taking pictures of themselves) or in crowded floors or with racks of assorted clothes behind oneself. If you are taking a picture of a skiing jacket, would you not want a snow back drop? Could not the FB booth be dynamic, where you could easily change the landscapes? Could you come up with different FB booths for different product categories, such as consumer electronics (bedroom, home office, home theater), or grocery (kitchen, fridge) and others? Seems like an interesting idea.
After my idea for the day, I had a 1-1 where I ended up going down memory lane. It so happens that the lady I spoke with had implemented Inforem many years ago at a retailer. I have competed against such a tool, when it was owned by IBM and later i2 Technologies. I was reminded of Neil Thall – from Neil Thall Associates (at the time), who (I think) sold out to HNC? In trying to understand how retailers did store planning, I found that Neil had some interesting ideas and algorithms that he had imbedded in technology.
Then we talked about World Wide Chain Stores. It was a comforting feeling to share old war stories. It was interesting though to realize that there has not been that much innovation in core, underlying supply chain. Retailers still struggle with store forecasting, and they also struggle with DC planning, and you are lucky if the two are integrated (they call that independent demand). That reminded me of Factory to Shelf – an interesting innovation that remains under exploited.
While perusing the Solution show floor I bumped into yet another ghost – Ira Davies from Oversight Systems. I knew Ira years ago while in the UK – I had joined American Software, Inc, and he was working in sales while I was, initially, focused on post sales consulting. I ended working with Ira on many accounts, and have high respect for his sales skills and acumen. We reminisced about other ghosts and memories from the past: Gordon Turner (UK), Jeremy Hutchinson, Bill Blitch, Peter Klein, Jeff Palmer, and my good friend Mike Stanley, and many, many more. Many of these good folks have gone on to other, great things. Some in software and technology. Well, it was a nice trip down memory lane. No back to work.
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