Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent

by Yuchun Lee, Vice President and General Manager, IBM Enterprise Marketing Management Group

Consumer empowerment is the name of the game today. Since IBM launched its Smarter Commerce initiative, we’ve seen companies transform the way they buy, market, and sell products and services. Why? Because customers now use social networks, mobile devices, Web sites and influencers to make buying decisions.

It’s a bit surprising then that more retailers in particular haven’t embraced this concept of a customer-driven merchandising strategy, choosing instead to stay with a traditionally vendor-driven focus with products being managed by category.

Why are some retail merchandising and retail marketing groups still siloed? It doesn’t work, for instance, if marketing has shopper insights gleaned from a loyalty card program but merchants can’t use those insights when making an assortment decision. Or if merchants agree to a deal to feature a particular brand during the same week that marketing is executing a conflicting direct mailer.

The good news is that it really is only “some” retailers that are still very siloed. More and more retailers are integrating merchandising and marketing activities in multiple ways. Many have joint, collaborative event planning. And in a growing number of cases, both the Head Merchant and VP of Marketing report to the same executive – the CMO.

The world’s largest retailer — and an IBM DemandTec customer – recently announced that team would now work under the leadership of its chief merchandising officer rather than as a separate group. The reason? It sees a need for better coordination between the two groups. Shopping and advertising are being quickly transformed by the Internet, social media, smart phones and other shifts in both shoppers’ behavior and reaching shoppers with the right campaigns.

Even for innovators, there’s still opportunity for improvement. Things like targeted marketing campaigns that are aligned with in-store promotional events. Strategic marketing mix and coordination of vehicles including printed circular, direct mail, and mobile phone promotions. Just to name a few.

With IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, we’re redefining how companies are transforming their commerce processes by marrying merchandizing and marketing to become more forward thinking, plugged into the customer and able to rapidly shift to market changes. There’s no turning back.  Businesses today need to better market, sell and deliver the right product at the right place, and at the right price.

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Posted by: Field Merchandising Services
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