Recently in Websites Category

Investing in the Shopper Experience

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Ben Ball and Ray Jones [PDF]:

Defining "the shopper experience."
The sum total of everything the consumer encounters on the journey from identifying a need to filling it -- this could serve to define "the shopper experience" in the broad sense. But for the purposes of our recent RETAIL:NEXT survey of retail and CPG industry professionals, we concentrated on the elements of that process that surround the fundamentals: product, price and customer service. Within this realm, we saw: store design and ambience; the availability and use of technology, such as digital signage and self-scan; and other elements surrounding the purchase process, such as how Green or socially responsible the retailer is. In short - our survey looked at the shopper experience in terms of the things retailers do to differentiate an otherwise common purchase experience.

The shopper experience is critical to retailer success.
The impact of the Great Recession on consumers' shopping behavior is still with us. And as we noted in the second survey of the RETAIL:NEXT series Fad or Trend, many of those behaviors look to be permanent. So the first question we asked in the Shopper Experience survey was aimed at understanding just how important the "shopper experience" is to overall customer satisfaction. The answer was unequivocal: every respondent group in the survey had the shopper experience either first or second in their ranking of importance to overall customer satisfaction.

So what influences the shopper experience? What has the highest ROI?
To design this survey we polled a sample of the RetailWire BrainTrust to tell us what they believed to be the key contributors to the shopper experience. The twenty-six elements we wound up with fall into two basic groups. The first, aspects of the store environment itself, from the basic store design to what kind of signage and navigational aids are employed. This group further divides along the lines of technology. For example, signage and navigational aids can be either traditional or newer technology-driven iterations, such as digital signage and electronic shelf labels.
The second grouping encompasses things that influence the shopping experience, but are not physically present in the store. Examples would be inventory management systems that drive breadth of assortment, or shopper buying history which can be used to tailor offers to the store's best customers.

...And the winner is?
Of course we could not resist asking the RetailWire community which retailers they believe are doing the best job maximizing the impact of the shopper experience. They selected their three favorite from among 60 candidates. (Can you guess the top three? Results follow...)

The Future of the City & Technology Trends

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Samuel Palmisano (Chairman of IBM):

A few years ago, the world crossed a threshold. For the first time, more than half the human race is living in cities. By 2050 the figure will rise to 70 percent. We are adding the equivalent of seven New Yorks to the planet every year.

This means the most important locus for 21st-century innovation--technological, economic, and societal--will be our cities. They present the most promising opportunity to make our planet smarter.

Cities bring together the systems by which our world works: education, transportation, public safety, and health care, among others.

We have the capacity to inject new intelligence into those systems. Enormous computational power can be delivered in forms so small and inexpensive that it is being put into phones, cars, and appliances, as well as things we wouldn't recognize as computers, such as roadways (to monitor traffic) or rivers (to monitor pollution and better allocate water use). The data captured by these digital devices--soon to number in the trillions--will be turned to intelligence, because we now have the processing power and advanced analytics to make sense of it all.

Our challenge is to apply this technology to improving the places we live. Consider the applications:

Things we know:
  • Networks, particularly wireless, will be faster and pervasive
  • Mobile technology is exploding, and will be the right tool at the right time for most real estate professionals, see the latest version of our branded iPhone app. It is faster, easier to use and more convenient than most traditional website search and analysis tools.
  • People are flooded with data. Turning that data into useful information - the "value add" and building relationships is the key to broker business growth.
  • Some of the broker concierge services schemes from dot com boom #1 may now actually happen. Our Main Street software includes an extensive set of CRM/customer for life, transaction and concierge tools. One real time system from leads to closings.
  • The key question for all organizations: "what is your value equation?"
Let's discuss the opportunities that lie ahead. Contact Virtual Properties +1 608 271 9601 or zellmer at virtualproperties.com

Tom Foremski:

We share a common belief that trust is an important currency in today's world especially in the digital realm.

Trust, we are taught, is hard won. It takes a long time to establish trust yet it can be destroyed in minutes.

But is that really true?

I've been looking at the Edelman Trust Barometer reports and it shows that trust in businesses, in media both social and traditional, in NGOs, in governments, jumps up and down by large margins from year to year.

I've been particularly interested in trust in social and traditional media. In the latest report, trust in peers, which represents social media, plunged by 20 points from 47 percent of those surveyed in the prior year, to 27 percent. Trust in other forms of media also fell by large margins.

Fascinating, though not really surprising given the amount of social media "spam" circulating around the internet. Useful, timely content and commentary will always add value. Spam clearly detracts.

Details here: 3MB Edelman PDF, website.

First: happy new year and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2010!

Second: 2010 change and opportunity.

I have been traveling extensively the past few weeks. It is always interesting and useful to observe people, their activities and gadgets.

Hands down, iPhone and iPod Touch devices dominated aircraft, airport and holiday scenes. I did see a few blackberries (one family had a company blackberry and several iPhones) and one Droid.

The recent smartphone explosion along with the introduction of useful "tablet" or "slate" devices will continue to change the way in which people use, create and interact with real estate information.

Most importantly, it will change their expectations......

What does this mean for brokers and agents?

## A) Mobile

The "killer app" - from a VP customer - for real estate buyers, sellers and professionals.

www.virtualproperties.com/iphone/

Our second major release in 9 months, your branded iPhone app provides essential website functions in a faster, easier to use application. Always on, this "app" can be accessed at home, work, on the go, while working out, dining, traveling - anywhere.

Our software makes sure the app is up to date with the latest property information and technology. It includes property comparison tools and unlimited use mapping services. Stop paying for maps on a per click basis.

Your organization must be in this space.

There will be competing devices, though it is not yet clear who will successfully challenge the iPhone infrastructure.

## B) "Tablet or Slate" computing and real estate

There has been no shortage of hype recently about these new devices. From my perspective, the real change will be to traditional laptop formats. Physical keyboards will certainly be available for some time, but, virtual keyboards (via touchscreens with "multi-touch" gestures) will take over the volume portable device space.

Many real estate firms have published traditional magazines, as a marketing and advertising vehicle.

This conceptual video, by Bonner Mag+ neatly summarizes digital magazine possibilities with emerging devices:

http://www.bonnier.com/en/content/digital-magazines-bonnier-mag-prototype

The video reinforces the benefits of high quality, well organized information. Our Main Street single entry cloud software generates timely media and text content for many publications in different formats, including html and pdf. Our clients do not need to add yet another vendor and platform to support these emerging applications.

www.virtualproperties.com/rt/ms.html

## C) Your Website

The iPhone app explosion is changing buyer and seller information convenience and access expectations. Does your website address these changing customer desires?

Accelerate your website with our Main Street cloud software's new customer portal tools. From lead generation to transactions and customer for life, Main Street manages your world in real time.

One vendor.

Virtual Properties is your trusted technology team - since 1995. Do you have the right people, platform and technology partner for 2010 and beyond?



Morgan Stanley's Latest: The Mobile Internet Report:

Our global technology and telecom analysts set out to do a deep dive into the rapidly changing mobile Internet market. We wanted to create a data-rich, theme-based framework for thinking about how the market may develop. We intend to expand and edit the framework as the market evolves. A lot has changed since we published "The Internet Report" in 1995 on the web.

We decided to create The Mobile Internet Report largely in PowerPoint and publish it on the web, expecting that bits and pieces of it will be cut / pasted / redistributed and debated / dismissed / lauded. Our goal is to get our thoughts and data into the conversation about what may be the biggest technology trend ever, one that may help make us all more informed in ways that are unique to the web circa 2009, and beyond.

Our key takeaways are:

Material wealth creation / destruction should surpass earlier computing cycles. The mobile Internet cycle, the 5th cycle in 50 years, is just starting. Winners in each cycle often create more market capitalization than in the last. New winners emerge, some incumbents survive - or thrive - while many past winners falter.

The mobile Internet is ramping faster than desktop Internet did, and we believe more users may connect to the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs within 5 years.

Five IP-based products / services are growing / converging and providing the underpinnings for dramatic growth in mobile Internet usage - 3G adoption + social networking + video + VoIP + impressive mobile devices.

Apple + Facebook platforms serving to raise the bar for how users connect / communicate - their respective ramps in user and developer engagement may be unprecedented.

and, via Fortune:

"Apple has a two or three-year lead" according to Katy Huberty, thanks to an installed base of 57 million handsets, 100,000 apps and 200 million iTunes subscribers with credit card numbers on file. (She will keep her eye, however, on Samsung, Nokia (NOK) and Google's (GOOG) Android.)

But much of the presentation was spent showing, in slides culled from research over the past two and a half years, that the iPhone is not like previous mobile devices, and its owners not like ordinary cell phone users.

For example, although iPhone and iPod touch owners represent only 17% of the global smartphone installed base, they account for 65% of the world's mobile Web browsing and 50% of its mobile app usage (see chart below).

Key Virtual Properties assets to help you take advantage of the mobile explosion:

The Profit and Peril of Mashups

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

What is a "mashup"? According to this wikipedia entry, "In web development, a mashup is a web page or application that combines data or functionality from two or more external sources to create a new service."

Real estate brokers and agents may wish to take advantage of "free" internet api's (application programming interface). Websites such as flickr, facebook, youtube, yelp and many others offer programatic interfaces to their data and media.

What are the benefits of such API's?

  • Aggregate local information around properties for sale or rent.
  • Enhance your website "experience".
  • Avoid the cost of collecting and managing local information.
What are the costs and risks of using such API's?
  • Bad data. Automated information aggregators often lack local expertise. Information may be outdated; a long closed restaurant may still have a review on your website.
  • Inappropriate content. I created a Facebook demonstration for a client some time ago. The resulting page included an advertisement for Filipino Girls.
  • What motivates the data aggregator? Is their strategy aligned with yours?
  • Does the data make your site more generic?
  • Competitive stealth advertising on your site. Savvy competitors will figure this out and place their content on your site via the API's.
What are the alternatives to "mashups"?

Your agents have a wealth of local market knowledge. Hire or appoint a "blog-o-spondent" or "blogger-in-chief". This person creates and aggregates your own content (text, audio, video, maps) on your blog, around your website(s) and via appropriate social networks. Over time, agents and staff post directly and incorporate your listings, services and our unlimited use maps (for a fixed price). Create your own platform that emphasizes your brand. This approach improves recruiting, retention and internet marketing in ways that you control and at a much lower cost than traditional advertising.

Main Street reliably supports the tools you need, from blogs, dynamic short links, lead management, surveys and multimedia to market reports and live charting tools.

As always, there is no "free lunch".

Real Time Information Execution Benefits

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Don Sull:

Execution starts with when a team or organization forms a shared understanding of the market situation. A start-up's business plan and an established company's strategy are both examples of what I call mental maps, shared models that represent reality and serve to guide action. Mental maps can range from detailed plans in thick binders to a simple insight sketched on a cocktail napkin. Differences in form should not obscure similarity in role-all mental maps represent the environment, highlight important variables, and suggest a way forward.

Even the best mental map is an imperfect representation. Mental maps can only incorporate current knowledge, and exclude new insights that will only emerge in the future. Maps simplify a complex reality, thereby ignoring potentially important variables and interactions. Competitors will go out of their way to exploit blind spots in any map. We know only one thing about our maps with certainty-they are flawed.

How can leaders update imperfect mental maps as circumstances shift? An important part of the answer lies in collecting the right type of information. Along with my co-author Stefano Turconi, I have been studying the type of data required to map a situation in flux, and identified four critical attributes: The best information is real time, unfiltered, shared, and holistic. My next few posts will discuss each in turn, beginning with real time.

Main Street, a real time internet system for agents, clients and brokers, was designed from day one to be your comprehensive information source. One, real time system is an asset (arguably your most valuable asset) that allows your organization to implement and execute new initiatives faster than brokerages mired in information spaghetti. Related: Both sides now.

Dennis Jacobe:

Plunging housing prices combined with historically low interest rates have persuaded 71% of Americans that now is a "good time" to buy a house -- up 18 percentage points from a year ago and the highest level of housing-purchase optimism in four years.
Is your business ready? Some firms will address the opportunity by growing costs, while others (fewer, probably) will embrace automation and new services, including ReData.

Related: Recent census relocation data.

I gave a version of this 14 minute talk at the 2009 LeadingRE annual conference without slides, in an effort to emphasize the fact that successful technology implementation (and ROI) requires strong, consistent leadership, the right people and technology partner, in that order.

The online version includes a few, simple slides.

comScore:

The number of people using their mobile device to access news and information on the Internet more than doubled from January 2008 to January 2009. Among the audience of 63.2 million people who accessed news and information on their mobile devices in January 2009, 22.4 million (35 percent) did so daily; more than double the size of the audience last year.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Websites category.

Video is the previous category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.