By Dave Marsden

Category

Online Retailers Markets

Tags

Online Retailers Markets, Click & Collect

Will Loyalty Cards Be Successful in 2015?

Every company that sells a product, or indeed a service, wants their customers to remain loyal. Loyal customers mean repeat business, more frequent visits/purchases, the opportunity to develop (hopefully) long term customer relationships and the chance to develop a depth of understanding about what your customer actually wants or needs, rather than what you think they want or need.

For years now, the loyalty card has been seen as an easy option to keep customers coming back. For the retailer, the data captured by the card into shopping habits – and the personal details of the customer to keep in touch with them are worth far more than the ‘rewards’ the customer receives.

However, as purses and wallets bulge with extra plastic (or cardboard) cards, the chances are that the consumer becomes somewhat overwhelmed with the quantity – and when your purse doesn’t close any more the first thing to go will be the loyalty cards. There will be the inevitable frustration then of ending up in Costa with your Starbucks card but this is an inconvenience rather than a major issue.

As the technology has evolved, we now see our payment cards linking directly to loyalty schemes, key fobs replacing the plastic cards in our wallets and retailers working together to offer loyalty schemes such as Nectar – where points earned in one place can be redeemed in another.

For smaller businesses though, the investment required to offer a digital loyalty scheme is often far greater than the increase in business gained by the loyalty – leaving stamps on a little piece of card often the only option. There will be many businesses this year where that form of Loyalty Card will work – buy 5 of this and get 1 free, spend £10 per stamp and when you’ve collected 10 stamps, get 10% off your next purchase etc.

These loyalty schemes have one key factor missing though – they don’t capture the data from the customer. Small businesses really need that information to work with their customers to increase their loyalty and we think we’ve found the solution.

Using the power of the QR code we’ve developed www.urloyalty.com – a scheme whereby individual businesses, or a group of retailers (perhaps in a shopping village or a small town) can work together offering URLoyalty reward points for purchases made in their stores. Customers can check their points balance online whilst the retailers have access to the purchase and user data and can use that to build on the relationship further.

With QR code readers free to download onto all smartphones and tablets, this easy form of data capture really does make building that loyalty far easier – and reduces the print or production costs of physical cards. Obviously it’s not going to suit every user and there is still a degree of education required for consumers but it does provide a solution for businesses in every sector – be they B2B or retail.

So, to answer our initial question;

We predict that some loyalty cards will be successful in 2015 –they will be the ones that meet the lifestyle needs and wants of the consumers as well as acting as data miners for the retailers. The established ones will retain their place in the market but well thought out, digital alternatives are going to be a new tool for smaller businesses and this has to be good for the economy, creating a sense of community and recognising the importance of the consumer in business development plans.

We believe the customers of 2015 are prepared to be loyal and want to be rewarded for doing so – but these rewards have to be clear, achievable and easy to redeem as well as being tailored for the customer themselves; not the broad customer base, but individual customers.

Taking the time to reward them with what they want (if I only buy cups of tea, don’t offer me a free coffee) is what creates loyalty, a wide zone of tolerance and creates a customer focussed ethos that should spread throughout the business.

The next step will be linking mobile payment services and those loyalty points – we shall expand on that in a future post.

Monday 12th Jan 2015

By Dave Marsden

Category

Online Retailers Markets

Tags

Online Retailers Markets, Click & Collect

How 'Click & Collect' is changing the way we shop

With many retailers reporting significant increases in online sales this Christmas, the phrase "click and collect" is now one commonly used amongst those who prefer to shop from the comfort of their own sofa.

At the beginning of 2013 it was suggested in The Telegraph that "Click & Collect", although a rather ungainly industry term, held "the secret to the future of the high street". Two years on, retailers that don't offer this service are seen to be lagging behind their competitors and customers are happy collecting pretty much anything in-store be it underwear, a lawnmower, the pre-picked weekly food shop or the latest gadget; the key point being that they are collecting at their convenience.

With one in three purchases now being made online and the noted increase in ‘showrooming’ (when consumers view the product in store and then return home to make the purchase online, at the best price), the option for customers to order online and collect in store becomes a key sales tool for the retailer and the collection point.

By August 2014, the Government had released plans to review planning law to allow shops to be developed to accept larger deliveries (ie click and collect orders) without requiring as much approval as is currently required. The same release quoted from The Great British High Street report by The University of Southampton showing that 35% of online shoppers use some form of "Click & Collect" service and predicting this number to double over the next three years.

The benefits to the customer are clear - deliveries are often faster, there is no waiting in for a delivery (or the dreaded courier 'we missed you' card), the service is often free and, should there be the need to return an item, the same collection point can often provide this service as well.

Once in-store, the use of technology to improve the collection can make the customer experience even more positive. The use of touchscreens to register arrival plus the use of display screens to show the progress of your orders, offer great reassurance to the customer. Well placed screens can increase impulse purchases in store whilst the customer waits for their main order to reach them.

Many retailers now offer direct access to their website in-store – for example, in their largest stores, Marks & Spencer have 'stations' in their fashion and homeware sections with 4 screens with direct access their website. In the fashion section, this enables customers to see if a particular style or size is available online (and therefore as a 'click & collect' service) without having to ask a member of staff or visit another store to see if stock is available there. In short, these stations offer solutions to customers.

Within the homeware section, the screens are there to provide that additional information a customer may need or want. Exact measurements, stock availability of a particular size or colour, wedding list options – they help the retailer convert the shopper who has come to ‘browse’ into one who is able to make a purchase then and there – without going home to research further. It's a powerful tool; not only does it empower the customer, if the information available is comprehensive and high quality, it can reduce the staffing requirements for that area of the store.

“Click & Collect” is a win/win service for both customer and retailer. The customer gets what they want, when they want it, at the best possible price and the retailer gets exactly what products are needed to the right place at the right time. No longer an 'ungainly industry term' – "Click & Collect" is a phrase of this generation – and one that may well last the test of time.

We’d love to help you improve the "Click & Collect" experience in your store – please contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

Monday 12th Jan 2015

By Dave Marsden

Category

Developing Markets

Tags

iBeacon App Developers And Location Based Marketing

iBeacons – The Ultimate Marketing Tool?

In the never ending battle to attract a new customer or influence purchasing decisions in-store, Beacons, in particular the iBeacon technology from Apple, look like every marketers’ dream. But are they? Are they taking a step too far into the consumer’s personal space?

It seems that everyone likes a deal – be that a discount, the opportunity for a linked purchase or something that adds value. Harnessing the power of the smartphone and Bluetooth technology, Beacons allow that ‘deal’ or advertisement to be closely targeted to the consumer – based on their position in store.

With GPS being unreliable inside and Wi-Fi adding cost, Beacons are low cost, discreet pieces of hardware that can be placed pretty much anywhere. With strategic placement, the Beacons can guide the consumer through their experience (be that in store, at an airport or a tourist attraction to suggest a few) offering information, instructions and deals as they travel. Additionally, the Beacons can be used at a variety of distances from very close range (for example at an information kiosk or on a gondola display) perhaps covering just 1m to a greater range potentially covering an airport gate or even terminal.

Beacon technology is built into all devices running iOS 7, Android 4 or higher so the technology is there – as are the Apps to offer the coupons, information or instructions. As the trend towards App dependency increases and browsing time subsequently reduces, using Beacons seems to be the perfect addition to a consumer experience.

What about that invasion into the consumer’s space though? Is it a step too far in the attempt to manipulate our buying habits or behaviour?

Here at RGB Media we see the answer to that as being part of the establishment of trust between the brand and the consumer.

In order for the consumer to be happy to approve the permissions that are necessary for the Beacons to work there has to be trust – both in the brand and in the relevancy of the offers to ensure opt-in. This has to be a situation where the ‘win’ is clearly and attractively defined from the very outset. As long as every aspect of the experience is checked, legally, ethically and socially, there is nothing to stop Beacon technology taking over the world, very quickly. The incentive will then come to be an early adopter in order to find your place at the front of the queue, with the best possible deal and the most comprehensive information.

Wednesday 09th July 2014

By Dave Marsden

Category

Touch Screens

Tags

Product Information, Online Ordering, Promotional marketing, Customer surveys...

Use of Tablet Devices in Retail

Most business owners are already aware of the benefits of having a user-friendly website that is easily viewed and accessed by smartphones and tablets. Many of the same companies are finding fresh and unexpected ways to use tablets in stores, whilst helping to broaden the boundaries of what a bricks-and-mortar store is capable of. Yes, the tablet revolution has finally reached retail, proving itself to be an essential tool in a new way of doing business.

Tablet and other touchscreen display enhance the in-store experience by providing consumers with an interactive sales tool.

    Retail sales floors can be enhanced with these devices :
  • product information
  • online ordering
  • promotional marketing
  • customer surveys
  • marketing sign up
  • loyalty sign up

These retail ready displays can be customized to feature a branded message or promotional marketing program. The free-standing display has custom brackets to secure the tablet pc and is designed to work in a variety of environments and offer a budget-friendly solution.

The rise of e-commerce on tablet is in part due to a rapidly expanding user base. “Tablets have achieved an incredible market penetration in two years, and it’s impacting us in a very profound ways,” says Bill Loller, vice president at IBM Tealeaf.

“A multiplatform retail experience is a must because you might spend time looking at the mobile app but then not make the transaction till later when you’re on your PC or tablet,” says GWI’s Smith.

As consumers are increasingly shopping across devices and channels prior to purchase, creating a seamless multichannel retail experience has become a top priority for m-commerce strategists.

However, with 4G connectivity around the corner, more people will be using their tablets on the go, making location greater a factor in providing relevant communications. "Remember the need for convenience in user journeys and messaging – the right person, right device, right time, right message," says Bell.

With the adaptation of Square and VeriFone point-of-sale (POS) services, there is an emergence of the concept of ‘t-commerce’ or tablet-commerce. And indeed, retail-business owners are beginning to understand the advantages of having a tablet with POS capabilities.

The studies show consumers who have been to stores where tables are being used feel that those stores are more innovative. Sixty four percent of businesses with tablets found their employees to be more helpful when assisting customers if they had a tablet.

An employee with a tablet in hand is at an advantage to help the average customers, who are more and more likely to have access to information on their smartphone or have researched their purchase on a tablet before entering a store.

Likewise, more and more retailers are catching on to the trend of using tablets. With so much potential, and such quick adaptation, don’t be surprised to see tablets start showing up in stores near you.

Wednesday 04th June 2014

By Andrew Wheeler

In-house Designer

Category

Web Design

Tags

Photographic Elements, Typography, Minimalism, Tiles, Mobile sites...

The Top 5 Trends in Web Design of 2013

The design world moves fast, and the virtual world is certainly no exception. In fact, our ability to update website designs in a matter of seconds has facilitated an extraordinary pace of change. It's not always easy to identify underlying trends. After all, some 40 billion web pages are now indexed on google, and the latest trends take time to reach even a small fraction of these. This is why we've analysed web pages featured on prominent design lists to find out what they have in common.

1 Photographic Elements

Perhaps the most conspicuous trend of recent web design has been the rise of photography as the dominant design element on many web pages. Photographic elements are being implemented in several key ways.

Firstly, photographs often feature as page backgrounds. This technique has the advantage of creating truly unique pages designs, free from the restrictions of monotonous grid templates with solid colour backgrounds. Moreover, such use of photography (providing images are well chosen) is not only visually striking, but allows page design to be completely transformed with the change of only a single image.

Alternatively, photography can be introduced in the form of large banners that quickly revive tired designs. Many banners of this type automatically scroll through a small set of images, attractively promoting featured content.

2 Typography

As the use of photography has allowed designers to break free from rigid grid layouts, new creative uses of typography have been stimulated. This new level of consideration for typography reflects a desire to present information in a way that complements photographic design elements.

On the other hand, growing attention to typography has also produced designs where typographic elements take centre stage. This particular trend has been bolstered by a resurgence of minimalism in web design; eliminating non-essential design elements has naturally lead to increased focus upon the form and style of text.

3 Minimalism

Minimalism in web design is all about eliminating the non-essential and carefully considering that which remains. This ethos may be seen reflected in a variety of ways. One area where minimalism has dominated recently is in the design of page navigation features. Web designers have increasingly concentrated on eliminating clutter from their navigation menus, favouring instead a small number of page links displayed in simple and non-invasive typefaces. Moreover, menus themselves regularly consist of a simple white section distinguished only subtly from the remainder of the page.

The trend towards minimalism has also produced an increasing use of white space - that is, blank areas of web page devoid of content - in page designs. White space not only reduces clutter, but also draws further attention to other aspects of the design. Here again the influence of the photography trend reveals itself, as designers capitalise on white space to emphasise vibrant images.

4 Tiles

One trend that runs somewhat counter to those described above is tiled page designs. Square or rectangular image tiles can produce striking image-driven websites, whilst simultaneously retaining the practical advantages of a grid-based layout.

It's possible that this trend has been inspired in part by the tiled design of the Windows 8 interface or the tiled app menus found in Apple's iOS. The value of tiled designs with regard to usability shouldn't be underestimated; they allow page visitors to access content easily through a simple interface. This is a significant advantage as users grow increasingly impatient with having to sift through written content to find what they are looking for. Image tiles, in contrast, offer a means of navigation that is pleasurable to use and limits the number of clicks required to reach content.

5 Mobile sites

One final trend worth considering is the growth in the number of pages offering mobile sites optimised for use on smartphones and tablets. This shift in focus towards mobile devices is certainly justified; 2 years ago smartphone sales overtook PC sales and the rapid growth in mobile internet use is predicted to continue. Furthermore, dedicated mobile sites grant further access to key emerging markets where smartphones are playing a dominant role. In June 2011 for example, the percentage of subscribers accessing mobile Web at least monthly in China (43%) was double that in the United States (22%). In the context of this growth the benefits of optimising websites for mobile viewing are immediately clear.

Tuesday 01st October 2013

By Andrew Wheeler

In-house Designer

Category

Remote Work

Tags

Remote Work, Globalisation, RGB Interactive Digital...

Remote Work, Globalisation, and RGB Interactive Digital

Remote work, facilitated by remarkable globalisation in the last decade, is transforming the way that global business operates. In fact, it is even changing the meaning of 'global business'. Cheap international telephone calls and internet-based communications technologies have allowed even SMEs to reap the benefits of increasing international links, and RGB has been at the forefront of this change.

The history and technology underlying this process of globalisation are important to understand. One of the many factors contributing to the rise of an increasingly interdependent global economy was the boom (and subsequent bust) of the fibre sector of the telecoms industry. In the late 1990s predictions of exponential growth in internet traffic led to huge infrastructure investment in the form of submarine fibre cables in order to increase capacity. Yet when growth of the scale predicted failed to unfold, fibre companies such as Global Crossing, who invested close to $13.5bn in submarine in 2001 alone , collapsed and were forced to file for bankruptcy in The Great Telecoms Crash of 2002.

Whilst the immediate consequences of the bust were catastrophic - stock markets suffered a hit of $2 trillion - the huge overcapacity and the large scale proliferation of submarine cabling created by the boom greatly reduced the cost of international telephone calls. This advance eroded some of the previous communications barriers to global business. Equally importantly, the development of online services such as VOIP (e.g. Skype) has pushed down international communications costs further. Moreover, new services such as video calls and the ability to share computer screens in real time have produced a far greater range of options for international collaboration. There are now few elements of the conventional office meeting that cannot be reproduced within an online teleconferencing environment. Similarly, the ease with which we are able to transfer files immediately using technology such as cloud networking enables two individuals on opposite sides of the globe to work on the same file simultaneously.

So, what have been the consequences of these communications advances? The results of this change can most easily be surmised under the term 'globalisation', an area that has received intense study and publicity in recent years. Globalisation may be considered the increasing interdependence of countries within the global economy and the growth that results from this. More simply, we are now living in what Thomas Friedman terms a 'flatter world' . That is, a world in which traditional barriers have been eroded to enable ever more businesses to operate internationally. But why would they choose to do so? Because operating across borders presents mutual economic benefits. Take the outsourcing of manufacturing, a well-publicised (and often controversial) issue, for example. On the one hand, the multinational business receives the obvious benefits of reduced labour costs, which should theoretically also lower costs for consumers. On the other hand, foreign direct investment in manufacturing in developing nations fuels industrialisation and economic growth, employing vast numbers of workers and stimulating further infrastructural development.

Integration in this globalised world is an essential characteristic of RGB Interactive Digital. The company has been among the first wave of SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to embrace a global presence, operating internationally in a way previously restricted to large corporations. We have now have offices in the United Kingdom, the United States, and India. Our extensive experience places us in a excellent position to guide other businesses through the difficult process of adapting to a globalised world. Such adaptation is often daunting, especially for smaller businesses, and this is why we choose to offer our established international resources to clients. We can provide skilled and dedicated resources at a competitive rate without compromising quality and efficiency.

If you wish to learn more, you can find further information about these services on our website www.rgbint.com

Tuesday 01st October 2013

By Andrew Wheeler

In-house Designer

Category

Touch Screens

Tags

Flexible Display Technology, Touch Screen Tables, Extra Large Touch Displays, Convertible Touchscreen Laptops...

Creative New Uses for Touch Screens

Flexible Display Technology

In January of this year Samsung presented its new flexible OLED display technology (called 'YOUM) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. These new displays are constructed from very thin plastic, rather than the glass normally used for mobile phone displays. Not only does this reduce the risk of damage to the display, but allows it to be folded, rolled and even wrapped around curved devices. The possibility of ultra-thin devices that you could fold up into your pocket is certainly exciting, but such products are unlikely to be released for some time now. Samsung has, however, confirmed that it intends to release a new curved-display smartphone using this technology for the South Korea market in October 2013. This new device may make use of elements of the prototype form factors presented at CES 2013, which included devices with screens curved around the edge of the phone, allowing notifications to be read from the side of the device even if it was lying flat on a table.



Touch Screen Tables

Another innovation that attracted attention at CES 2013 was the 27-inch touch screen table PC presented by Lenovo. The 1080p display features 10-point multi-touch technology, enabling a multi-user experience unattainable with past devices. With this display it would be possible for 2 users to simultaneously touch the screen with all 5 fingers on a single hand, whereas even more users could play at once with fewer fingers used. When the device is in position flat on a table surface it can act as a virtual board for playing traditional family board games such as Monopoly. There are a number of other games loaded on the device, including a virtual air hockey game in which air hockey mallet accesories can be used to control a digital puck on the screen.

Still, the range of possible uses for touch screen table technology extends far beyond multi-user gaming. There are clear opportunities in education, hospitality, retail and office environments, for example: office workers could use large touch screen tables to collaborate in brainstorming sessions and make presentations; schoolchildren could run interactive, educational simulations and access digital learning resources; guests in hotels could use touch tables in reception areas to view hotel facilities and make bookings for sports sessions or spa treatments. The possibilities for this technology are endless.

Extra Large Touch Displays

Exceptionally large touch screen displays can prove highly effective for promoting products and services at industry fairs and public conventions. Of course, large touch screen displays are only one of myriad digital signage marketing solutions currently available, including those offered by RGB Interactive Digital. The bright lights and vibrant colours of these displays are guaranteed to attract attention in even the busiest convention hall, and interactive touch screens are likely to retain the attention of potential customers for far longer than non-interactive digital signage or traditional display boards.

Companies are already making use of this technology in creative new ways. For example, at a show in 2010 Intel erected a giant cube, two sides of which consisted of huge, interactive, touch-screen displays. This innovative use of touch screen technology drew long queues and received considerable attention online, testifying to the potential of these displays as effective marketing tools at both events themselves and within the media coverage of these events. This technology could also be applied successfully to a retail environment, with the implementation of interactive touch screen walls in stores and shopping centres.

Convertible Touchscreen Laptops

One of the most significant developments in the last 2 years in laptop market has been the introduction of convertible touchscreen laptops. These devices, equipped with touch screens in addition to a conventional laptop keyboard, can be used as both an ordinary laptop, and as a tablet device. The mechanism used for converting the device from laptop to tablet varies with manufacturer. Some laptops, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, have screens that flip 360 degrees to provide a tablet experience. Other devices feature screens that simply detach from the laptop keyboard.

So what has prompted this innovation? The technology analyst firm IDC has predicted that tablet sales will overtake PC sales in the final quarter of 2013. It's clearly vital that PC manufacturers react to the booming market for tablets, and convertible laptops may be answer. Most users still aren't ready to abandon their laptop altogether in favour of a tablet device. Convertible laptops retain the hardware keyboard so essential to those doing a lot of word processing, while offering the benefits of portability and an intuitive interface associated with tablets.

Tuesday 01st October 2013