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Applications provide critical KM for retail marketing, business reporting

This article appears in the issue January/February 2018 [Volume 27, Issue 1]
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Retail firms are relying on knowledge management solutions to help drive channel spending decisions for marketing campaigns as consumers get more of their content (and related advertising) from digital channels and to obtain critical information about inventory, pricing, sales and other details for reports and sales-boosting strategies.

Building marketing, sales for small retailer

Merrill Furniture, a small retail furniture store in Maine, saw technology changing the way people responded to advertising messages. Newspapers had largely fallen by the wayside, while many radio listeners were opting for commercial-free satellite options. Although television advertising was still somewhat effective, using that channel alone wasn’t enough, says Bob Merrill, president of the furniture store.

“We needed to be able to reach out to millennials,” Merrill says. And the retailer needed the knowledge management tools to determine how to get the most out of any shift in marketing dollars. About three years ago, he started looking to move more marketing to digital channels.

“Then I had my ‘aha’ moment,” Merrill says, “when I started seeing people watching the Super Bowl on their smartphones rather than going home to watch it on a large-screen TV.”

Merrill researched a few different vendors to help provide digital/traditional marketing capabilities, including the knowledge management feedback to tweak campaigns as necessary. He eventually chose Netsertive, which offers the complementary solutions StreetWise for Local Businesses and MarketWise for Brands.

StreetWise uses knowledge derived from the customer’s network and Netsertive’s in-house industry expertise to deliver qualified customers and more sales opportunities. MarketWise for Brands is a marketing solution that different stores use to market the same brand. Merrill Furniture is part of the Serta MarketWise campaign.

According to Netsertive, the learning engine behind the solutions constantly analyzes and updates campaigns based on real-time feedback.

“A few of the vendors were using them also. That was the deciding factor,” Merrill explains.

The conversion to the Netsertive system was quite easy, according to Merrill, with the company going live with the solution at the beginning of 2016. Merrill has been pleased with the results. Some of the learning engine feedback helped the retailer decide how to redesign its Facebook page, providing more links to items in stock, furniture dimensions, manufacturer details and other information.

“In the first year, our sales increased 5 to 10 percent in an industry that was fairly static,” Merrill explains, adding that the sales increase beat the growth of the previous year as well. As a result of the success so far, Merrill plans to increase the store’s spending on digital marketing for 2018. However, he doesn’t expect digital marketing to ever completely replace television.

Merrill also has looked into using StreetWise in conjunction with geo-fencing—a location-based service in which an app or other software uses GPS, RFID, Wi-Fi or cellular data to trigger a pre-programmed action when a mobile device or RFID tag enters or exits a virtual boundary set up around a geographical location. But right now, “there’s not enough bang for the buck” to use geo-fencing as part of the retail store’s marketing strategy, he says.

Reining in distributed data

Bridgestone Europe is part of the Bridgestone Group, a large producer of tires and other rubber products. The European division employs 12,500 people who contribute to annual sales of 25 million tires.

Bridgestone Europe has a great deal of inventory, territories and manufacturers to track and needed a solution that would provide everyone access to the same data to analyze and act upon. But the company’s knowledge management was contained in a number of different systems, so Bridgestone Europe had no easy insight into KPIs from various national sales branches and distributors within the company.

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