• Ken Wyker
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Ken Wyker

President, Circular Logic
  • Posted on: 10/14/2019

    Will Best Buy wrap up Black Friday sales with a price match guarantee in October?

    The element of this that I really like is that Best Buy is tapping into Black Friday enthusiasm early, but their guarantee is only to match their own Black Friday pricing and only for rewards members. Best Buy is in complete control of whether or not any of the items will qualify for a price match. More importantly, competitors can't really respond effectively. Even though Amazon is matching the prices, customers might as well buy at Best Buy just in case the price does go lower.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2019

    Google Shopping gets an upgrade

    The advantage that Google has vs. Amazon is that Google is known for providing free services that make everything easier and/or less expensive. Customers understand that their use of Google for search, email, etc., helps Google make tons of money through advertising, but we as customers aren't the ones paying. We are simply getting a free service. Amazon, on the other hand, is the world's largest online retailer and for most customers, they are the default go-to for online shopping or product evaluation. They make shopping easy and have great delivery options, but customers also know that Amazon makes money when we buy, so their features and functionality are all designed to get us to buy through the Amazon ecosystem. I think the upgraded Google Shopping is a threat to Amazon because it has the potential to cast what they do in a different light and get customers to see them differently. Think of the contrasts that Google is creating vs Amazon.
    • Shop at any store, even if Google will not get a commission;
    • Shop your way. Online or local retailer, delivery or pick up;
    • Feel better about the environmental impact of shipping through carbon offsets.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2019

    Should companies have to pay you to use your personal data?

    I'm in general agreement with the sentiment behind the policy in the sense that I believe strongly that data privacy is not being respected and some companies are abusing the data through misuse. There are two areas where I would push back a bit. Firstly, data itself is not a property, but I believe that "personal" data is. I don't think a customer should be able to require that their data be deleted entirely, but I do support a consumer's right to have their personal information disassociated from the data. Secondly, I think it is a stretch to suggest that each customer be compensated (presumably in cash) for the economic value of their data. Instead of suggesting cash compensation, how about the policy require that before retaining personally identifiable data, the company collecting the data must "sell" the consumer on the value to them? That would force companies to focus more on the customer and how the data can be used to serve them. If the non-financial benefits are insufficient to get customers to share, then the website or retailer could add a financial incentive to drive sharing. That puts the customer in control of their data, keeps the government out of the business of trying to quantify the value of data and hopefully encourages companies to focus more on using the data to serve their customers.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2019

    Zulily thinks it can beat Amazon and Walmart on price

    I agree Mohamed! This is all about demonstrating what makes Zulily different and comparing their pricing to Amazon and Walmart is a powerful way to convince customers that they really do offer great deals. For those suggesting that getting into a price battle with Amazon is a mistake, consider that Zulily selects the limited items they will offer and they only do that when they can get an awesome deal and they know they can win on price. Zulily isn't competing head-to-head with Amazon on what Amazon sells, they are saying that they can match or beat Amazon on everything that Zulily sells. How many customers will at least check out a site that says it can beat Amazon? I'm betting it's enough to make this price match challenge pay off.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2019

    Do Carolinians have Wegmans on their minds?

    Social media and old-fashioned human interaction has a lot to do with the initial popularity. Many people in North Carolina are familiar with Wegmans from having lived farther north previously, so in the months leading up to the store opening they were telling all their friends and neighbors how awesome Wegmans is. A few months of anticipation built up enough excitement to draw 3,000 to the opening -- impressive! Wegmans epitomizes the concept of shopping as an experience. The stores are huge and can be overwhelming, but they are also fun to shop and offer so much to experience. Wegmans also works hard to establish an emotional connection with their customers and especially people who love food. Wegmans celebrates food and the role it plays in our lives and they use storytelling effectively.
  • Posted on: 09/24/2019

    Two hot trends, personalization and frictionless retailing, are at odds with each other

    They key to both concepts is to build everything from the customer level up. Personalization is most effective when it is at the individual customer level and supply chain analytics will also benefit from more granular data based on each customer's purchase activity. Once you look at things at a more granular level, it dramatically changes the perspective that the data provides. Retailers that adopt an analytic and personalization approach that focuses on each household individually see the underlying dynamics that drive customer purchase decisions. That understanding provides an opportunity to connect with each customer and provide a better experience for them. It also enables better management of the extended supply chain because the dynamics of the demand side (customer shopping behavior) is better understood.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2019

    What keeps online shoppers from creating user accounts?

    Customers resist user accounts because they've been burned before. The primary pushback is that they don't want marketing emails. These customers don't hate emails, they hate the emails that they got from the last company where they signed up for an account and the one before that. It's not easy to overcome that, but the best way is to deliver genuine value to the customer. Too many marketers see email as a low cost vehicle to communicate all of their marketing ideas. If they instead focus on each customer's wants and needs and leverage the digital connection to provide value to the shopper and make their lives easier, they will find more customers signing up. Before aggressively pushing to get more customers signed up for user accounts, take a look at your email open rates. If they are lower than they can be, you're not delivering the value needed to sustain the digital relationship.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2019

    Will a loyalty program give Americans more reasons to shop at Target?

    This program is designed to engage more customers than they have been able to get signed up for their REDcard or Cartwheel. The launch of the program might have a slight impact on the holiday season as the 1 percent back helps more customers consider Target for their shopping. But the real impact will not be driven by the 1 percent back and it will not be seen in the short term. Effective loyalty programs don't spike sales, but instead result in steady sales growth over time. Done well, the program can help Target establish a dialogue with more of their customers and strengthen the connection each customer has with Target. If they can accomplish that, the program will be a winner.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2019

    Whole Foods gets serious about partying

    What are the chances that this partnership would have happened if Packed Party was not based in Austin, where Whole Foods is headquartered? This sounds like an idea that couldn't be killed, not an idea borne out of strategic planning.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2019

    Has dynamic pricing hit a rut?

    Dynamic pricing has legs if it is applied to maintaining competitiveness on pricing or helping move excess inventory before it spoils. I also like the idea of using it to create promotional excitement as Bob mentioned. The way to destroy the benefits is to try to use dynamic pricing to maximize margins, by charging more when and where you can. Once customers get wind of that, trust will be lost.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2019

    Kroger to make customers pay for cash-back debit card payments

    At first I thought Kroger's reasoning was that the card companies were charging more. Then I read it closer and realized it is because other retailers and banks are charging more! So, they're basically saying they want to charge a fee because they can. This doesn't just affect customers wanting to get cash back, it affects every customer that hoped that Kroger was a partner in helping them deal with the hassles of managing their money and providing affordable food for their family.
  • Posted on: 07/24/2019

    Will parachutes provide drones with a soft landing for home deliveries?

    I don't doubt that one day we will see some level of drone delivery but, in the near term, I see this as more of a marketing/PR effort by Amazon to drive home their dominance in delivery. If customers know that Amazon is working on drone delivery, they solidify their position of being the fastest delivery option. Even if other retailers match Amazon's two-day, next-day or even same-day delivery, they will always be considered slower than Amazon.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2019

    Is Toys ‘R’ Us just playing around or will Americans buy its new concept store?

    My initial reaction to this was concern about the business model with the manufacturers getting 100 percent of the sales. I wanted Toys "R" Us to share in the manufacturers' success, so they would have an incentive to advertise and promote the concept to drive traffic to the store. But then I realized that that's the whole point ... part of the challenge of a store of this type is showrooming while the sale occurs elsewhere. Now I understand why they don't want to be tied to sales from the physical store! To resurrect the Toys "R" Us brand as a destination to check out toys and yet have the success of the model not tied to retail sales seems brilliant.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2019

    CEO says Walmart’s stores are the answer to Amazon – at least for groceries

    It does seem like Walmart can leverage their store count to be the convenient, easy choice for customers looking to shop online for groceries. Walmart is also in a unique position in that with e-commerce, they might actually increase their customer base because customers don't need to enter the store. Dealing with the big box in-store experience is perceived as a downside of shopping at Walmart that causes some customers to limit their visits to Walmart. If Walmart can connect with those customers by offering a convenient, competitive online grocery experience, they can increase their customer base and visit frequency, both of which will go a long way toward generating profit from their e-commerce activities.
  • Posted on: 07/15/2019

    Can the Publix customer service experience be brought online?

    I agree Susan. Publix is one of the few retailers that understands that loyalty programs do not create loyalty. The true loyalty drivers are what Publix has built its business on -- clean stores, checkout lines, friendly associates, etc. Those are the things that make customers feel respected and cared for and you can't replace that with a card. That said, I absolutely think that some type of loyalty program is crucial to Publix establishing the same kind of customer relationship online as they do in-store. Publix can create a program that is not about incentive, but all about serving the customer. Instead of requiring a card for discounts, Publix can simply offer additional rewards or services to their better customers. One of those services is using their individual purchase history to make shopping online much easier. Their existing digital coupons program is a step in the right direction but, from what I can see, the customer utilization is still fairly low. If they can get more customers to self-identify themselves when they shop the physical store, they can leverage that data to make it easier for the customer to shop online. Along the way, they can also use the data to help customers save in their physical stores. Publix is in a great position because they know how to serve their customers. A loyalty program can help them extend that level of service online.
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