Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pricing Strategy for Small Retailers

Contributed by Richa Kapoor

One of the most crucial areas of decision making for retailers is pricing. Yet, we have found that small firms often do not have well-conceived pricing plans. A retailer's prices influence the quantities of various items that consumers will buy, which in turn affect total revenue and profit.
Hence, correct pricing decisions are a key to successful retail management. Key to small retailers prosperity in today's discount-oriented environment is guaranteed only if they have a good understanding of their niche in the marketplace.

With this in mind, the retailer should first prepare a checklist of questions that will assist him in making systematic, informed decisions regarding pricing strategies:

What is the overall pricing philosophy of the company: It's critical for the retailer to define the overall price positioning of the store… A choice has to be made between high-end…. Low-end

Target Consumer and Retailing Mix: Before fixing up the prices of the products a retailer must focus on his target consumer…. His characteristics, identify reasons of their choosing a retail store (for low prices, for convenience, for service, etc.) then a comparison should be made if the target consumer is consistent with the overall pricing philosophy.

The Central Concept Pricing: Before starting to price the products the retailer needs to decide: how do you compute prices…. When calculating prices do a retailer take is operating cost into account??

Supplier and Competitor Considerations: Before pricing the products in one's store a retailer must study the prices, price margins etc.. Costing done by its competitors… This can be done by visiting competing retailers to check on their prices, checking competitors' ads for prices, and plan a reaction strategy. These points emphasize that a retailer must watch competitors' prices so that his prices will not be far out of line--too high or too low--without good reason. Of course, there may be a good reason for out-of-the-ordinary prices, such as seeking a special price image.

Initial Markup: A retailer must look inside his business, taking into account sales, expenses, and profits before setting prices. The point is that the initial markup must be large enough to cover anticipated expenses and reductions and still produce a satisfactory profit. Retailers should estimate sales, operating expenses, and reductions for the next selling season, establish a profit objective for the next selling season

After estimating sales, expenses, and reductions, plan initial markup
This figure can be calculated with the following formula:

Operating expenses + reductions + profit
Initial markup percentage = ----------------------------------------
Net sales + reduction (Reductions consist of markdowns, stock shortages, and employee and customer discounts. )

Nature of the Merchandise: Retailers must consider the effect of selected characteristics of particular merchandise affect planned initial markup. Retailer must consider the wholesale price of merchandise, popularity of the item, handing and selling costs, reductions expected due to markdowns, spoilage, breakage, or theft, If the answers of these questions is yes, then a larger than normal initial markups is required

This check-list will help the retailer in laying down solid foundation of effective prices and build retail profit

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Online marketing a buzzword today!!!!

Contributed by Charu Gupta

I was just checking my mails and found a forwarded link from my friend.

It was an animated video where a girl was playing game of ‘Chidiya ud” with her brother which we all used to play in childhood. It was great fun watching the video but at the end it turned out to be an ad from ‘Make my”. Watching the video was fun while the company was able to send its message of “now anyone can fly with their lowest airfares” very clearly to its target market.

This is a kind of online marketing also called as “Viral marketing” that makes viewers laugh and the advertisers smile. Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increase in brand awareness, through self-replicating viral processes. A two-minute animated Interactive advertising agencies like Webchutney, Media2win and Virtual Marketing are shifting focus to create online ad campaigns around animated viral videos and a lot of major brands are falling for it.

Big names like Lenovo, TataSky, Cornetto and Happydent are exploring online marketing beyond placing banner ads on various sites or pasting text on social networking sites. They are eyeing potential customers, essentially through animated viral videos, to create brand equity, eventually targeting an increase in sales.

“Animated viral renders the fun element which the Indian audience is able to relate to. Also, it is something one would like to forward to family, friends and colleagues and also has a higher recall value. By using animation as a tool, we get the freedom to create favourable situations which may not be the case with film videos,” says Webchutney creative director Prabhat Bhatnagar.

An animated viral can cost Rs 50,000 to Rs 8 lakh. Since there is only one-time cost of producing the video and the distribution cost is nil, virals are increasingly being preferred as a medium of online marketing.

The one from TataSky is ‘jingalala’ campaign’, the purpose of which is to invite more people to be a part of the TataSky family and their animated virals have helped to reach across a number of target customers.

Moving one step ahead are brands like Pepsi and NGOs like CRY, who create online games to ensure interaction with the target audience and engaging themselves in such activities. Animated virals not only register forwards from anywhere between 50,000 and 5 lakh, the ad spend turns out to be cheaper too and the message is also clearly floated across making it a favourite in interactive advertising.

Daddu Ki Amanat, a viral created by Webchutney for Perfetti Protex Happydent chewing gum, saw almost 3 lakh views. Similarly, Chidiya Udi for Makemytrip and Thakur ka Inteqam for Orbit chewing gum were also circulated in lakhs.

It is claimed that a satisfied customer tells an average of three people about a product or service he/she likes, and eleven people about a product or service which he/she did not like. Viral marketing is based on this natural human behaviour. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, images, or even text messages.

Online marketing is not only restricted to this. One of the traditional ways is sending mails to the customers informing them about the retailer’s latest schemes, discounts, trends, etc. These mails are sent to the privileged customers to give them the advantage of checking out the latest merchandise and availing the special offers first than anybody else. The links to various other sites which we see on the top of our mail box or any other site per se is also a form of online marketing which the retailers are using to connect with their target market and make them aware about their offerings.

With 65 million PC literate population in India and 32 million being the active users, this virtual space can be exploited by the retailers to reach their customer base and talk to them in fun and interactive way.

So, this we say is combining Business with Fun!!!

Leaving you with some pieces of viral marketing. Check them out and see their impact. Are they able to strike a chord with you?


Friday, December 19, 2008

Experiential Retailing

Contributed by Richa Kapoor

"Be everywhere, do everything, and never fail to astonish the customer"

Retail in India is at the crossroads. It has emerged as one of the most dynamic and fast paced industries with several players entering the market. Today the customer experience is fragmented. Prices, inventory, promotions and policies often differ between channels. Yet, customers want a seamless shopping experience across all channels. They want to order products online but return them to the store. They want to browse products in the store, yet order online, from a kiosk or a catalog. They want prices, return policies and promotions to be consistent across all channels.

To meet the demands of today's consumers, a solid understanding of "the customer experience" is necessary. Consumers today expect their favorite retailers to offer "experience" along with good service and a good product.

The old saying, "You never get a second chance to make the first impression," most definitely rings true in retailing. Whatever advertising and promotion precedes it, the in-store experience is where it all comes together. Creating a friendly, comfortable and professional retail environment will sets a retailer apart from the box stores.

The face of our retail landscape has been changing rapidly and with it, the strategy for communicating with consumers. We are taught that we should communicate "features and benefits" in the context of direct marketing. While this is a sound advice, it is incomplete. Consumers do not approach "shopping" from a purely logical basis, seeking rationale, and functional value. Consumers want to be excited, entertained, and educated. People want to belong, they want to be admired, they want to be secure…Customers seek meaning beyond the base-level selling proposition offered in most catalog and direct marketing product presentations today.

So how does a Retailer, distinguish himself ……. One answer is to make the absolute use of every in-store sales opportunity through experiential retailing

Experiential Retailing is a type of marketing that attempts to evoke a strong emotional response, often by the use of sensory techniques, to create an affinity between a product and a potential buyer.

Experiential Retail is used to enroll consumers in programs focused on total lifestyle experiences. Also, helps in focusing on selling beyond "features and benefits" rather Selling customer solutions-not selling a trimmer or edger but a finely manicured lawn.

Importantly, the idea of experiential retailing reflects a right brain bias because it is about fulfilling consumers' aspirations to experience certain feelings – comfort and pleasure on one hand, and avoidance of discomfort and displeasure on the other.

Experiential retailing is more than an opportunity to show off all the bells and whistles of a product, however. "It's all about emotions and feelings, achieving some sort of feeling,"
Experiential retailing means making connections with consumers who come to interactive stores for more than merchandise. "One has to win the hearts and minds of consumers by doing something that benefits them and showcases the product"

Retailers know experiential retailing allows them to empower a consumer to connect physically or emotionally with a product or service. The consumers are engaged and entertained and subtly sold to by providing enhanced experiences. As a result, consumers buy lifestyle associations and not products, thus encouraging them to spend more.

The interactive approach means higher traffic and longer stay than typical, the finest example of
In-store experimental retailing is American Girls Place the little girls who arrive at American Girl Place dressed like the dolls they hold in their arms show what's possible when merchants take an experiential approach to retailing.

In addition to museum like displays of the upscale dolls and their accessories, American Girl Place stores include a café with special booster seats for the 18-inch dolls. Then there's the on-site theater featuring young actresses as characters from the company's books, and a salon
where girls might queue up for more than an hour to get their dolls' hairdos made over.

It's all about providing a rich experience for customers, many of whom travel from out of state to visit the three stores, in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. "For an American Girl fan, coming to American Girl Place is like a pilgrimage of sorts. Little wonder that experiential stores are sometimes called destination stores.

By focusing on what the customer wants to get out of the retail experience, experiential marketers strive to engage customers with more than raw product. The goal is to create an interactive experience that no one else can replicate.

For an experiential strategy to be effective, it's obviously important to know what the audience
is most interested in. In India where Retail is still nascent stage similar products are available
across multiple stores – EBOs as well as MBOs, which offers the consumers with a wide choice in terms of products and location of purchase but lack the memory a consumer would like to carry home with himself and cherish for many coming years. In such a scenario the only way to differentiate for a retailer and emerge as a winner of consumer trust, remembrance and attach to himself with superior quality shopping experience rather than a product or service experiential retailing could prove to be instrumental in deciding the fate of the already crowded Retail Space in India..