Amazon Locker Opportunities

You know that feeling when you get home from the airport and realize that your new $100 portable hard drive has been sitting on your front porch for 2 days. Yeah…me too. Amazon has a solution for that feeling now with Amazon Lockers. Scarlett Madison has some pictures of them on Techi.

They are now being seen in the wild at some 7-11’s in Washington D.C. It is essentially a short term PO box type solution to keep your delivery safe. You will start seeing the option in the check out to deliver to a locker instead of your house.

It will be interesting to see where else they show up. My first thoughts were they would be a great match for Starbucks. Both because of the likely hood for you to buy coffee you wouldn’t otherwise and because of the convenience of it being a place many people visit daily. I realize that is talking out both sides of my mouth but I think there are two different audiences there.

The real risk for Amazon of this is spending money on bad real estate decisions. Especially since the ultimate draw of Amazon is whatever I buy IS sitting on my front porch when I get home. It will be interesting to see if it is used for just higher ticket items or if different behaviors evolve.

Amazon does need to have an LED board running ads for items personalized to complement whatever is sitting waiting to be picked up from the lockers.



Viral Videos Take Effort

Many times in the ideation process or in the pre kick off stage of a project someone has the idea to “make it viral.” It is usually a two part discussion consisting of the suggestion to make a viral widget and the the question on how to do that?

Office Max’s Elf Yourself used to come up in everyone of these conversations but now the Old Spice Guy custom youtube video comes up. This post will explore not how to make something viral but the disconnect that exists between the desire to do great work but the unwillingness to take the risks and put in the effort that requires. We will explore some of the things that these two giants did to make the point of what it takes to do viral work.

How did OfficeMax know that Elf Yourself would go viral? That was a stroke of genius right? It wasn’t, it was a stroke of testing and failing.  OfficeMax actually launched 20 sites and must have concepted untold hundreds. How did they choose the 20?  Elf yourself is the result of failing 19 times. Are you willing to pay to build 20 sites with the hopes that one goes viral? If you take that risk and win you get to do interviews in trade pubs, if you take that risk and lose you spent your bonus on a website about dancing elves. Viral is a risk. Viral isn’t an accident.

The brilliance that made Old Spice Guy viral wasn’t the idea it was the execution. The ridiculous level of client agency trust has been well documented and I won’t re-hash past saying that if you need legal for every status update don’t expect to execute at this level. Old Spice Guy also didn’t conceive it as a way around a small budget. Teams of writers, social, strategists and over hundred videos sounds expensive to me. I would pay to the that scope of work document. Viral is expensive.

It also isn’t just a video, sure cats playing piano occasionally are viral for a couple of hours and get views. This isn’t the same value as an experience or interaction that creates a brand impression. Both Elf and Old Spice Guy were participatory. Viral is engaging.

It is easy for agencies to suggest these risks, but we have an obligation to clients to suggest them in a responsible way and provide realistic counsel. If you want to make a viral video and have $11k to spend we need to not do it. Big things take effort. The $11k video isn’t as big a risk but is almost guaranteed not to go viral. The flip side is clients can’t ask for and expect big and viral results when the insist the project is done in a small way.

What is Shopkick?

By now you know that Best Buy has rolled out Shopkick incentives nationwide. Depending on your point of view it is a big deal or just another shiny object temporarily distracting us from our actual job. Either way, you should know what Shopkick is and how the concept will effect consumer expectations.

Why do you put signs in the windows or overprint weekly circulars to stack near the entry way of your store?

Shopkick is the mobile version of this concept. Do you get that tingling feeling whenever someone walks into your store? Isn’t it magical that your advertising, branding, real estate, customer service, merchandising or secret sauce mix of all of them worked and a real life human being walks into YOUR store ready to buy something? What would you say to them if you could speak to them exactly at the moment they cross the threshold?

Shopkick can deliver a message to a persons mobile phone when they simply walk into your store. It is a passive version of other location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla.

So far content is mostly promotion of currently running specials or specific discounts. This concept of shoppers being alerted to a businesses best deals and that of their competitors is growing. The ability to target a specific series of both offline and online behaviors ahead of entering the store will take this to the next level.

An example of where this would lead is Best Buy delivering an incentive to everyone who searches for “plasma tv” and then walks into Wal Mart. Or someone who walked into Nordstrom and then, within a certain time frame, searched for a shoe brand could be delivered content directly from a manufacturer at the place and time a consumer is making the buying decision.

Consumers will continue to share increasing amounts of personal information as long as it pays of in a better experience.

Mobile Checkout Will Revolutionize Retail

Nordstrom is rolling out mobile checkout in its stores in July. The idea of store associates being able to assist with inventory questions and check you out on the spot is exciting.

Your point-of-sale just merged with exact location the purchase decision is made.

Over the next few years the expectation of what a retail store is will change. That means that stores won’t have a cash register or customers neatly queued waiting to check-out. The very idea of shopping and taking your items to the checkout counter will no longer exists. Sales people will go to the customer or the customer will simply check themselves out with their own smartphone.

Your best sales associates are likely going to be located at an IM center interacting with customers hundreds of miles away. They will handle the customer questions, selling and checkout through a mobile app.

Manufacturers will take more control over the in-store environment by supplying information directly to consumers as they are selecting products. Your competitors will be reaching out to your customers when they use LBS to check-in at your location.

How you communicate with your customer will have to change as radically as in the in-store environment.

With a report saying the average retailer mobile spending is going from $50k in 2010 to $343k this year, you had better believe in-store mobile is for real.

Clean Email List Matters to Search Visibility

Google may never rid its search engine results pages from spam, but in an effort to reduce spam there they will likely reduce spam in our inbox. Google’s latest update weights manual spam reporting much more heavily than in the past. Hal Licino writes about the Panda / Farmer update on Search Engine Journal.

Most interesting point is how spam report from ISPs could easily be factored in and makes me wonder how much gmail spam reports already are?

So clean up your act all you legit retails that refuse to unsubscribe people…..yep, looking at you Babies R Us.


Content Matters for Retail QR codes

QR codes in retail are the next big thing, right? Clearly they are growing; it is less clear whether they will stick around or fade away. I half way feel like they are the betamax to the vhs of image recognition.

In the short term that is irrelevant since you are likely being asked about them already. So let’s focus on how to make the most of them. Recently on 11th screen, a great resource for all kinds of QR code examples, a QR code on the inside of a shoe was discussed.  The Fluevogs QR code experience truly enhances the purchase process and even the ownership.  I imagine they dream of someone saying “hey, nice shoes!” and the conversation ending up with the shoe in someone’s hands getting scanned and delivering content.
So this triggered the point of this post.

How do you handle content visibility for QR code content?

It is clearly great content or you wouldn’t have bothered.  Should it be available only through the QR code?  Linking QR code to your mobile video experience is fine but not targeted to the exact experience you want to deliver. Having QR code accessible through other channels means some of your best customers will scan the code in store and get repeat content. That is detrimental to the POP experience. It isn’t delight it is disappointment of expecting something new or inside but not discovering that type of content.
This leads to say the best QR code experience is exclusive.  This also frees you to think about the content in this way; it can speak directly to where the code is placed. You don’t have to worry about the context of it being on your Facebook page, in-store and on mobile simultaneously.

This means creating additional content that isn’t driving people to the store.  If we think about this in context of the purchase funnel, the value lied in widening the bottom of the funnel.  You have other programs that widen and drive people into the top of the funnel. A great QR code experience in store makes all those programs more effective.

QR codes are born to deliver dedicated content in a specific context. Success hinges on the content the QR code delivers.