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Ken Wyker

President, Circular Logic
  • Posted on: 09/28/2021

    Whole Foods goes from free to $10 grocery delivery fee for Amazon Prime members

    How many times has it been said that free delivery is "table stakes" and that retailers should eat the cost of their e-commerce activities to remain competitive? I think the real news here is that even Amazon realizes that free delivery doesn't make financial sense for grocery. As we move beyond the pandemic-driven e-commerce boom, grocery retailers will want to encourage customers to come back to the stores as Whole Foods is doing here.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2021

    Ending prices that end in 99 cents

    It seems to me that the results of the study are being interpreted in an odd way. The headline suggests that 95 or 99 cent pricing backfires by discouraging upgrades, but the results actually prove that the pricing works to create a sense of value. What is really going on here is a demonstration of the impact of "framing" which considers how we humans perceive pricing based on how it is presented. Consumers gauge the value of each item based on how it is priced relative to other options. It shouldn't surprise anyone that increasing the perceived price of the small coffee makes the upgrade to the large coffee seem like a more reasonable choice. The same dynamic is what drove the Williams Sonoma bread maker sales in the story that Jenn mentioned, but it worked in the opposite direction. With the bread makers, the existence of the more expensive product made the mid-tier option seem like a better choice.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2021

    Email marketing drives sales results and sometimes drives customers away

    I love Phil's suggestion to sign up your spouse as it gets to the root of the challenge and that is providing valuable content. Email marketing is fundamentally different from other promotional efforts because the customer is in control. Too many retail marketers approach email marketing with their own objectives in mind, which causes them to fail to deliver on what the customer wants. When customers don't feel served or rewarded, they stop opening emails. The secret is to make sure that every time the customer opens an email from you, they feel rewarded and served. That's where personalization comes in. Personalization can take regular promotional messages and make them feel more like a customer service.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2020

    How murky has COVID-19 made retail data?

    COVID-19 has thrown a monkey wrench in the predictive capability of pre-pandemic data. Customer shopping behaviors have been changed by an external force, so existing algorithms and machine learning are a bit less accurate. That impact is even more dramatic when you consider AI applications which rely even more on a wealth of data and some level of predictability. The impact of the pandemic creates the need (and opportunity) to leverage purchase history data in new ways. The challenge is to dive into the dynamics of recent behavioral change to gain insights into how to compete and how to better serve your customers. The best way to be relevant right now is to help the customer adapt to the new normal. Looking at each customer's behavioral change as a result of the pandemic can reveal insights into how they are responding and how the retailer can best meet their current needs.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2020

    Are Amazon’s at-cost face shields an act of goodwill or predatory behavior?

    I think it is an awesome move and I think that selling them at cost is a strategic choice to achieve the most good. They could certainly afford to give them away, but they know that pricing affects demand and giving them away might not be the best solution and could actually backfire. They might be flooded with orders and sell out of available supply too quickly. Charging the minimum sustainable amount avoids hoarding, which would likely occur if they were given away.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2020

    Is it time for ‘essential’ retailers to stop running in-store promotions?

    I agree Jeff. This discussion is about the possibility that running promotions might make things worse by getting more customers into the store. But the flipside is that any retailer that stops their normal promotions might be seen as taking advantage of the situation to make more profit. This is a situation where clear communication is key. Retailers want to be seen as responsible and respectful of the situation, but also empathetic to their customers' desires to save money. It's a tough situation to navigate with no conventional wisdom for how to manage it best.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2020

    Independent grocers need to make dramatic upgrades in marketing tech

    The challenge for many independent operators is that so much of what is being hyped these days doesn't even suggest a near term payout. It is crucial that the retailer's technology efforts are focused on tangible, customer-facing improvements or promotional efforts that can deliver positive sales gains. Ron Bonacci mentioned the low hanging fruit for independent operators when he talked about how quickly personalized promotional programs can be implemented. Done properly, that's an area where retailers can see an immediate profit impact and create a competitive advantage.
  • Posted on: 02/10/2020

    H-E-B gives $100 bills to all its employees for top grocer ranking

    I agree 100 percent, Richard. The same culture that caused H-E-B to win the top ranking with customers is the culture that made the company want to share the success and recognize their employees. H-E-B understands the importance of connecting on an emotional level, both with their customers and with employees.
  • Posted on: 02/06/2020

    Did Barnes & Noble engage in ‘literary blackface’?

    The root of the problem is evident when you read the response of Barnes & Noble: "The booksellers who championed this initiative did so convinced it would help drive engagement with these classic titles." That's about selling books, not celebrating black history.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2020

    Is hot food the ingredient Amazon Go has been lacking?

    I would suggest that Amazon incorporating hot food into their Amazon Go format is not about making the format profitable. It's all about showing the huge convenience store chains that the Just Walk Out technology can handle everything that they sell. If they can spur the convenience industry to embrace Just Walk Out, Amazon will profit as the most efficient provider. This is the same approach that they used to dominate e-commerce, cloud computing, etc...
  • Posted on: 01/14/2020

    Will ‘guests’ love Target even more as Circle members?

    I love the design of the Target Circle program because it provides value to the customer while being consistent with the Target brand. Instead of focusing on providing points or other incentives for customers to shop at Target regularly, the program focuses on reminding customers what they love about Target and why they love to shop there. The goal is to strengthen the emotional connection that is at the heart of true loyalty.
  • Posted on: 01/06/2020

    Study: Digital commerce sites competing and collaborating with Amazon

    From the list of ways to compete I would choose loyalty, but I also think that the term doesn't mean the same thing to everybody. Transactional loyalty, or shopping a site regularly, would be an area where I would say Amazon dominates. Emotional loyalty, or the desire of a customer to shop somewhere even when other options are available, is an area where I think other retailers can do well. Even shoppers that go to Amazon for everything probably don't feel much of an emotional connection to Amazon. Retailers can leverage their brand positioning and sense of community to encourage customers to stay with them despite the power of Amazon. In fact, I think brick-and-mortar retailers should look at this list and consider what they might have that Amazon can't match. That consideration will likely lead you right back to emotional loyalty, which is an area where Amazon is at its weakest.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2019

    Why do so many people say ‘no’ to retailer loyalty programs?

    I cringe every time I see stats suggesting that getting a customer to join a loyalty program will make them a better customer -- it's the other way around! Frequent shoppers are more likely to join a retailer's loyalty program, so of course members are better customers than non-members. It is all about value. The secret to expanding loyalty enrollment beyond your core customer base is to provide value that appeals to everyone, including your lighter (currently less loyal) shoppers.
  • Posted on: 12/02/2019

    Why is Allbirds asking Amazon to do a better job ripping it off?

    Ken is correct that this is a marketing technique and I think it is brilliant. Prior to this morning, I didn't know about Allbirds and now I not only know what they offer, but they have told me exactly why I shouldn't feel good about getting their product cheaper at Amazon.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2019

    Big things are happening as Small Business Saturday turns 10

    The event is designed to remind shoppers of the value of local businesses in their community. It should also serve as a reminder to local retailers that their best weapon against the huge national and digital chains is the emotional connection that they have (or can create) with their customers. Algorithms and free shipping don't create an emotional connection.
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