Posts

  1. Beyond bullshit:
    Results instead of buzzwords, more substance in campaigns, correct evaluation criteria instead of feelings. Real, clearly trackable progress on the way through the funnel.
  2. Beyond digital only:
    The longing for real feelings, real contact, real scents. Brand experience in the sense of ultimate moments with a brand (see also “The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact”, book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath)
  3. Beyond sales only:
    Discounts, incentives to buy, Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays have become ubiquitous. Not brand stories you can’t escape any more. It’s about the willingness to pay through emotional attention. Offers can then act as accelerants for this brand fascination. But nothing can be accelerated where nothing burns.

The internet alone is no longer futureproof. Omni-channel shopping is the way forward – shopping on all virtual and analogue channels. However, only very few retailers have plans for this.

On the one hand: Online shopping is booming like never before. In the last year, turnover in Germany increased by 12.5 percent to almost 54 billion euros. A further increase of 11 percent is expected for this year. On the other hand: The stationary retail business is buzzing. The fashion industry, for example, had its best September in 17 years.

Apart from the fact that German citizens are keeping the economy running with a generous desire to buy, above all this means that: All the projections suggesting that we will only order things online within a few years’ time are false. The term omni-channel shopping, shopping via all channels, has long been an integral part of the retailer’s vocabulary – at least since the online giant, Amazon, began to infiltrate the real shopping world. Amazon has taken over the American organic food store chain, Whole Foods, and is opening its own supermarkets and book stores. For most retailers in Germany, it seems that setting-up an online store would be enough to be able to survive despite all the new and powerful competition from the web world. Unfortunately it’s not.

It is only a matter of time before Amazon expands to Germany with its physical shopping world. No company relentlessly infiltrates the lives of customers with its services and devices like this retail giant, with an annual revenue of 136 billion dollars – the trend is on the rise. And it is by no means the only online retailer that wants to settle in the shopping streets. Europe’s biggest online fashion retailer, Zalando, is also considering opening shops and the online furniture stores, Westwing and Home 24, have already done it.

They are no longer two business worlds that run side by side, the virtual and the real. They are now visibly overlapping. Successful e-commerce needs stationary trade – and vice versa. However, only those that manage to combine them in harmony will reap the benefits. “E-commerce is becoming more and more physical, accessible and offers a more intense experience, while physical trade is drawing nearer to the web in many ways: It is becoming more interlinked and data driven,” explained Dough Stevens, founder of the consulting company, Retail Prophet, whose client list includes names such as Coca-Cola, Disney and Google. “New technologies are speeding up the development of both channels. The line is becoming more and more blurry, and at some point, we will not be able to say with certainty whether the buying experience is digital or physical.”

Nowadays, customers are well-informed, demanding, price-conscious, impatient and lazy. They want to shop as they please. For traditional retailers, this means: They have to be involved in all channels that the customers may potentially use – shops as well as the traditional catalogue, plus online, mobile and dialogue all the way through to smart TV. However, not many have managed this so far. 90 percent of German companies do not have an integrally networked digitisation strategy. This could be their downfall when it comes to omni-channel shopping.

For many, it’s all about mobiles. For the largest players in the USA, the revenue share of orders via smartphones or tablets is already between 60 and 70 percent. Mobile phones are by no means just a shop window for retailers. “Speed and convenience are essential to a shopping experience and determine success or failure,” said Gerrit Heinemann, manager of the eWeb Research Center at Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences. For example, for retailers this could be an app that alerts customers when the product arrives and lets them know where there is a parking space available. And in the shop, the customer can pay for their goods via the app without having to go to the checkout.

If possible, they would like to have the goods conveniently delivered to their home in the evening, instead of dragging bags around. In some cities in Germany, Amazon has the Evening Express, Media and Saturn offering delivery within three hours, while Deutsche Post works on a Same-Day-Delivery standard for all others. Such operations also work on a small-scale, as the example of Kiezkaufhaus in Wiesbaden shows: Local retailers present their products on the website. The customer orders online and the product is delivered that evening by bike courier. 80 percent of the orders are food stuffs and there has never been a return.

Of course, the physical shopping experience – with an emphasis on experience – is completely lost. It is high time for an upgrade. Department stores and brand shops may be livening up their shop floors with gastronomy, but this can only represent a stepping stone. Tomorrow’s shop will offer completely new worlds of experience driven by the technological development. For example, a few years ago, Burberry established virtual mirrors in its flagship store in London: If you hold a piece of clothing in front of it, the mirror shows you what it would look like on.

The shop is a showcase for innovations. This will mean that it will be possible to present products in the future that are not yet on the market, but that the customer can alter to their needs by means of configuration. In addition to virtual reality, augmented reality will also be introduced – the new iPhones have this technology. Ikea, for example, is working on an app that transposes furniture into images of real environments on your mobile phone.

A side effect that should not be underestimated related to this type of new shop concept is the required investments, but cost savings in the long run. As, instead of 400 square metres, 100 is enough for the haptic experience, the web takes care of the rest. The products do not have to be stored in an expensive warehouse in the city, but are delivered from the outskirts by courier. This considerably reduces the cost of rent, a big chunk of every retailer’s outgoings. And it draws new players to the inner cities – from the e-commerce giants to car dealerships, that introduce their models virtually, yet life-size and in 3D. Cities are becoming more colourful.

The future institute in Frankfurt, a think tank of various scientists, is going even further. The shop is becoming a place for open innovation. This means: Buyers and sellers become equal partners, not only in sales, but also in the manufacturing process, product range selection, product design and marketing. At Community Retail, customers help design the products. It’s worth it: In Japan, the retailer Muji investigated whether there are differences in the sales figures of furniture if they were designed by customers or if they came from their own design centre. Result: In the first year after the product launch, the sales revenue of the user-designed products was three times higher than that of the products from the design house. Over the years, this effect has increased.

This is all based on customer data – the more and the more exclusive, the better. This means that completely new business models can be created. The Otto group has launched a first approach in this direction with the About You portal. Based on all the data collected, a custom-made web shop is created for each individual customer. The vision for the future is to have orders already prepared before they even arrive.

The future of trade is dependent on technological understanding, but in particular on new ideas. Amazon has registered 1662 patents in the last year.

Diana Degraa, Managing Director of Plan.Net Hamburg, talks about her technological experience, her tips for female talents and what role big data and business intelligence will play in the future.

The Plan.Net Group is turning 20 and celebrates its anniversary with a tribute to two decades of Internet. Plan.Net was founded in 1997 and today is one of the largest independent digital agencies in Europe and in more than 25 locations worldwide.

The old year is drawing to a close. It’s time, therefore, to take a look at the coming year.  The experts of the Serviceplan Group have summarised their personal communication trends for the year 2017.

Dr Peter Haller, Founder and Managing Director of the Serviceplan Group

Public discussion has adapted itself to a good dozen mega trends. They trigger business trends and these lead to consumer and communication trends. Those who want to develop faster than the economy as a whole have no choice but to follow the growth trends. But which ones?

There are hundreds of trends and counter-trends. All of this against the backdrop of an accelerating change in digitalisation. But which of these trends are relevant to which industries? Which can I embrace for my brand? And which of these in this confusing process is the reliable guidance for my brand management?

This is the theme of our 2017 Brand Roadshow together with GfK, which is once again sponsored by the German Trade Mark Association. “Dynamic brand management through the jungle of consumer and communication trends” will take place on 7 March in Munich, 9 March in Berlin, 22 March in Frankfurt, 28 March in Cologne, 30 March in Hamburg, 9 May in Vienna and 11 May in Zurich.

Jens Barczewski, Deputy Managing Director Mediaplus Strategic Insights

2017 will be the year inflationary KPIs become the measurement of success for campaign and media performance. In 2017 there will be an agreement between AGF (the television research working group in Germany) and Google/Youtube over the designation of a common video currency. The ‘Quality Initiative for Research into the Effect of Advertising’, driven by the Organisation of Brand Advertisers (OWM) in cooperation with Facebook and Google, will deepen its work and define the first indicators. The AGOF will firstly designate reach on a daily basis and therefore facilitate a continuous improvement of the booking units.

With the associations’ initiatives the individual publishers will open up their own measurement and success indicators to customers and agencies in order to obtain greater transparency in the market. The commotion over the erroneous increase in video viewing times on Facebook showed that not every KPI should be accepted without deep understanding from the customers and agencies.

Winfried Bergmann, Head of Human Resources, Serviceplan Group

Political correctness is on the retreat

Overly cautious political correctness has definitively disqualified itself as being the spiritual leader towards populism. The US presidential election was marked by dishonesty – from both sides. You did not know what was worse – the evident lies from the one side or the awkward, fearful avoidance and concealment of highly relevant issues from the other. Someone who conceals topics, about which large portions of the public worry, because of an alleged sense of decency and misunderstood consideration, must not be surprised when the sovereignty of interpretation is lost in societal discourse. This is even more so in Europe.

Therefore, dear reputable conservatives, break free from political correctness and in the coming year engage strongly in your issues. Let us argue about all of that – from the centre of society, which would then have found the courage for free debate once more. For when we do it like this, there will be nothing more for populists to do other than peep out from the right side of the screen. And it will be lonesome again and they will go back to their crossword.

Stephan Enders, Head of Mobile Marketing of the Plan.Net Group

Chatbots

With the first bot shops among messengers the subject flared up in 2016. And, as it often happens when a new trend emerges, a euphoric, partly activist test phase was swiftly launched, sometimes even when the worth and meaning of a certain discovery could not be estimated. However, chatbots are merely the cherry on top of an older idea, whose impact stretches far wider than it looks at first sight. It’s all about the perfect customer dialogue.

Chatbots, together with artificial intelligence, are (or, rather, will be) a valuable instrument, perhaps the most valuable of them all. Because the trend of 2016 will be the mega trend of 2017, meaning that it will pool together different mechanics, half trends and instruments:

01 CRM: Customer service with a chatbot, whose reaction is always quick and precise.

02 BIG DATA: Only learning chatbots, with all customer data at hand, will be able to unfold their power. The evolution of chatbots will enforce Big Data processes.

03 MOBILE FIRST: Chatbots are perfect for mobile use and, therefore, ideally fit for the future – wherever the user might decide to roll: Facebook, (mobile) web, you name it.

04 SERVICELAYER: In a world of information overload, it will be vital to deliver the right information, at the right time, in the right place. Nothing more, nothing less. A chatbot will be able to do just that.

Gerd Güldenast & Marcus Person, Managing Directors at hmmh

Voice control
Google Home and Amazon Echo open up new possibilities, however still clearly show us their limits . 2017 is the year the merits of the products and services will be demonstrated convincingly without a graphical user interface. Creative individuals and developers are asked to smarten these systems and to further develop companions for everyday life or for an intelligent touchpoint in connected commerce.

Big data aids human customer service
The topic of customer service in the online world stands to change in 2017. Today chatbots are being used more commonly. They show however shortcomings where subjective feelings and emotions play a crucial role. With new customer intelligence systems and smart chatbots based on big data analysis, customers will receive a completely new quality of service in 2017.

Oliver Grüttemeier, Managing Director of  Serviceplan Cologne

Digitalisation only succeeds with empathy.

For years, we have experienced dramatic changes in the workplace through technological developments. Although companies attempt to increasingly fuse their processes along the supply chain, the digitalisation often only comes along sluggishly. 2017 will change that, because the top management currently recognises that leadership through ‘command and control’ no longer works. In the future, executives managers of successful companies will therefore be measured less by their accomplished goals, but rather much more by their social competence—the foundation for every form of cross-departmental collaboration.

In this area, Google is already 10 years ahead. Since 2007, Google already offers its employees the opportunity for personal growth and the development of business empathy with the program ‘Search Inside Yourself’. The success of Google is not only based on the accumulation of more data, but on the knowledge that the best search engine is our spirit.

Stefanie Krebs, Managing Director of Plan.Net Technology

In 2017 a creative thinker requires analytically and technically broad shoulders. While the mega trend digitalisation advances rapidly, the majority of companies have reacted and digitalised their structures. Now, together with their associates, they are facing the challenge of building an integrated business model from the emerging digital island which can also exist in a future shaped by big data, machine learning, the internet of things and perpetual digital innovation.

Those who want to deliver creative responses and celebrate communicative success must be able to develop organisationally and technically complex systems in a short amount of time. 2017 will therefore be the year of the creative team player, where it pays to deliver elegant solutions to complex questions using the input from your multi-faceted team with specialists for tools, technology, processes and people. It is no longer about the colourful façade, but the whole package.

Andrea Malgara, Managing Director of the Mediaplus Group

TV works

According to the ARF (Advertising Research Foundation) TV is still the most important advertising medium when it comes to building a broad reach and increasing return on investment. E-commerce companies are investing more and more in TV advertising. In 2015 almost every third TV advertising spot was occupied by an e-commerce product. TV advertising is strongly increasing online shopping traffic. Digital business models require a wide reach, however, to generate significant turnover.

If the appropriate special interest channels are chosen and screen planning is optimal for an advertising campaign, the advertising recall, brand awareness and the conversion rate all significantly increase. Through brand-unique and innovative media strategy, we can achieve a 20 percent increase in turnover with a targeted media mix.

Kevin Proesel, Managing Director of Saint Elmo’s Berlin

In 2017, IOT (Internet of Things) and clever ideas are changing retail marketing.

We have observed that the classic sales funnel of companies is changing: through the technology shift and the increase in use of smartphones, customers themselves are becoming points of sales and points of information, because they are networked everywhere and can obtain information as well as provide information at any time. As a result of this, personalised and networked campaigns that are implemented close to consumers will be the most convincing in the future. In 2017, we will be seeing the first campaigns which will use networked Smart Buttons as marketing incentives in the Internet of Things.

‘Smart Button’? It sounds smart, and it is smart: in advanced retail campaigns, a branded button acts as a pivot point. It is not like the dash buttons on Amazon, which act purely as facilitators of a networked ordering process, but it is a starting point for a networked campaign storytelling, which unfolds once the customer connects their button to their smartphone—and once they press the Smart Button. Predefined processes now tell a story, which, through several chapters, leads the customer to more and more touch points of a company: always through the simple push of a button. In this way, a guided tour takes place from home to the retail department, which constantly further qualifies the customer and allows campaigns to be experienced fully networked. It is virtually engagement marketing par excellence, since it goes beyond only displaying content and includes the user directly: ‘2017? Press the button and see what happens.’

Dominik Schütte, Managing Director of Serviceplan Content Marketing

Content quality instead of quantity

In 2017, people will ultimately comprehend that the purpose of content marketing goes beyond simply selling. Therefore, companies will be more confident in finding narrative niches outside their brand. In the process, they will be astonished to find out that people actually have their own interests and that it is exactly through these interests that they can be reached and turned into customers. A win-win situation, for both companies and the people out there. Storytelling for the masses – yes, thank you. But make it qualitative, relevant and, please, don’t be annoying.

Klaus Schwab, Managing Director of the Plan.Net Group

I believe that 2017 will bring along two highlights:

First of all, it will be the year when voice command becomes widely adopted, meaning that digital services will be triggered through speech. And this will be the collapse of technical interfaces, such as displays and keyboards.

Secondly, we will witness companies developing platform strategies inside different branches. Namely, they will be more open to start-ups and work together, in order to facilitate their clients’ access to specific services within their own ecosystem.

Julian Simons, Managing Director of mediascale and PREX Programmatic Exchange

With the progressing digitalisation of the use of media, and even in most areas of life, the long known types of borders between offline and online advertising channels are beginning to blur. More and more advertising spaces are being digitalised, are therefore accessible via IP, and are going ‘online’. Subsequently, this also means that programmatic advertising will lead to an increased distribution and control of channels such as radio, out-of-home, and in the end, television. This will lead to big changes for the advertising market.

The tremendous opportunities of comprehensive control and of addressing someone individually are not without great challenges. Business models change and become more complex. Strategies and management logics that make it possible for the new complexity to be meaningful to use, have to be found to prevent campaigns from losing impact in an aimless atomisation. This change must always keep the interests of the user and their data protection concerns in mind, otherwise it will not be successful.

Klaus Weise, Managing Director of Serviceplan Public Relations

Digital enraged citizens are changing the world

Great Britain is to exit the EU, Donald Trump is moving into the White House. Who would have believed, last year, that any of it would happen? The two results are neither coincidences, nor singular political accidents. They are the beacon of a world quake that has just begun. The triggering force of that quake is the fear caused by a change in the world, brought along by digitalisation and globalisation. Similar fears have always existed, but today they are a million times amplified and multiplied through social media. Fuelled by shady hate speeches and sparkled by social bots and opinion robots, whose sole purpose is to rile up the crowds. In 2017, dealing with digital enraged citizens will be the main challenge of political parties, unions, companies and brands.