Customer Behavior

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How to Win in an Omnichannel World

Retail customers now readily use both online and offline retail channels. To thrive in this new environment, retailers need to reexamine their strategies for delivering information and products. Companies that are successful at navigating the omnichannel environment take a customer perspective and view the activities of the company through two core functions: information and fulfillment. They also consider hybrid online-offline approaches, including inventory-only showrooms and “buy online, pick up in store” options.

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The Upside to Large Competitors

New research suggests that a smaller company can benefit by making consumers aware that it competes against bigger corporations. In six lab and field studies, the authors explored the effects of having a large, dominant competitor and found advantages in highlighting a competitor’s size and proximity. “Small brands see consumer support go up when they are faced with a competitive threat from large brands,” write the authors. “This support translates into higher purchase intention, more purchases and more favorable online reviews.”

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When Customers Help Set Prices

To many managers, the idea of involving customers in pricing decisions seems counterproductive. For most companies, pricing is a sensitive, private affair. But it may be time to reexamine those ideas. Letting customers have input on prices provides opportunities for customization and can promote greater customer engagement. Opening up customer participation also offers a way for companies to create a new sense of excitement.

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Why Customer Participation Matters

These days, many businesses are focused on increasing customers’ positive word of mouth. But emphasizing customer participation — such as providing feedback or suggestions — may be a more important vehicle for generating valuable repeat business. As one COO said, “Levels of feedback is a way we identify our most profitable customers. Those that bother to write to us do care. And they do spend money with us.”

Image courtesy of Flickr user Vermin Inc.
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Omnichannel Retailing and Data Analytics: Leveling the Playing Field

We’re in a new world of omnichannel retailing that includes physical, online and mobile channels. And those channels are blurring. In a recent AllAnaltyics video and web chat, Analytics in the Age of Omnichannel Retailing, researchers Erik Brynjolfsson, Yu Jeffrey Hu and Mohammad Rahman discussed the challenges facing retailers.

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Valuing Influentials Means More than Just Counting Connections

New research shows that marketers who want to determine the value of a particular online influencer need to look beyond just the size of a person’s network connections. Zsolt Katona, assistant professor at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, found that the value of an influencer depends on underlying factors in the network structure of that individual with the target set of consumers. Specifically, Katona found that people who provide sole influence over consumers are the most valuable.

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Competing in the Age of Omnichannel Retailing

Recent technology advances in mobile computing and augmented reality are blurring the boundaries between traditional and Internet retailing, enabling retailers to interact with consumers through multiple touch points and expose them to a rich blend of offline sensory information and online content. In response to these changes, retailers and their supply-chain partners will need to rethink their competitive strategies.

Image courtesy of Flickr user H4NUM4N.

The Benefits of Combining Data With Empathy

Everyone has experienced the frustration of having to repeat voice commands multiple times before finally asking to speak to a service representative. Many large companies have become so focused on optimizing their business processes and systems that they have become all too willing to forget about cultivating emotional connections with customers. But in order to detect and respond to shifting customer needs, companies need to show more, not less, empathy with their customers.

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How to Identify World-Changing Innovation

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Anyone trying to figure out which kinds of innovation are most worth paying attention to has to come up with ways to, as Wired magazine puts it, “size up ideas and separate the truly world-changing from the merely interesting.” Here are seven things to look for.

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Collaborating With Customer Communities: Lessons From the Lego Group

Customer-oriented companies pride themselves on understanding the marketplace and integrating the best ideas into future products. But what would it be like if you found that you had hundreds, if not thousands, of knowledgeable users ready and eager to spend nights and weekends acting as extensions of your research and development department? For the Lego Group, the Danish maker of children’s creative construction toys, this close bond with the user community is not a pipe dream but a reality.

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Why Dominant Companies Are Vulnerable

Research has shown that several factors influence a company’s ability to retain market leadership. However, one factor has largely been ignored: the psychological forces that drive decisions consumers make and, specifically, the degree to which people feel they have choices. Once people have learned a company’s technology interface, they become more efficient using that interface and are often reluctant to switch to products requiring new skills or allowing limited transfer of current skills.

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Is the Mobile Web Changing Your Purchasing Behavior?

MIT Sloan Professor Duncan Simester

Has your smartphone changed how you make buying decisions?

If so, you're not alone, according to an interesting presentation that MIT Sloan School Professor Duncan Simester gave as part of an MIT Sloan Executive Education course this past summer.

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L.L. Bean Weighs, Then Goes For, Free Shipping

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Maybe you are one of these people: You get most of the way through an online purchase, then you see the shipping cost and you decide, “nah, I can buy it offline cheaper / I don’t really need it / maybe next time.

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