Wal-Mart Era Wanes Amid Big Shifts in Retail - WSJ.com

Submitted by Sam Moore on Fri, 10/26/2007 - 16:19

9D8CB4FB-98A0-44FD-9482-99988FC3C2C1.jpg

Even includes a video of WalMart's bacteria-like spread through the US market.

Interesting is the growth of internet retailing, and how that dwarfs WalMart's formerly impressive scale. Maybe you can find thousands of things at WalMart, but you can literally buy ANYTHING on the internet:

[T]he Internet is transforming the retail definition of scale. The once-stunning compilation of 142,000 items found in a Wal-Mart supercenter doesn't seem so vast alongside the millions of products available on the Internet. At the same time, the cost of creating and sustaining a national brand is rising because of media fragmentation. Niche brands, created by Internet word of mouth, are winning shelf space and sapping profits required to fund big brands' advertising. Manufacturers such as Apple Inc. and Phillips-Van Heusen Corp., lacking the retail distribution or presentation they crave, are opening their own stores. One result is that retail giants hold less sway over their customers -- and over their suppliers.

WalMart's beginning to remind me of an old battleship, struggling in a new world of jet fighters.

What does this mean to retailers? For one, thing, the smart ones are focusing on experience, service, atmosphere - Target does this well. These are things the Internet is bad at - and so is WalMart.

Link

Kinset - virtual worlds meet online shopping

Submitted by Sam Moore on Mon, 10/22/2007 - 14:19

C94E11C5-6709-48C6-B449-D65467F19B89.jpg

Mashable notes the debut of Kinset, an immersive shopping application (Windows only at this point).

Notes Kinset's Adam Ostrow:

It’s cool technology no doubt, but is there really value for customers?

Perhaps the answer is to make Kinset social – allow you to interact with other shoppers as you navigate the store and discuss the items you are viewing. This seems to be missing at the moment, but would make the shopping experience more realistic and potentially much more worthwhile.

Now, combine this with the ability to move your avatars between virtual worlds (Link) and you'll be able to shop with friends from anywhere. Conversely, I can imagoine a portal being opened from an RPG or Second Life-type environment - why not just step into a bookstore in-world?

Link


Review coming soon, once I'm back in Parallels...

Coming soon(ish) - Move your avatar from one world to another

Submitted by Sam Moore on Tue, 10/16/2007 - 13:57

8FC92028-E382-4809-B409-3D724183E53A.jpg

566CC21B-41FA-47C3-9B75-A9668846A153.jpg

IBM and Linden Labs (creators of Second Life) are collaborating on a technology that will allow users to move their avatars between different virtual worlds. Clearly some sort of language spec will have to be agreed upon. What's not clear is how a character finely crafted and tuned to the social environment in one world will translate into another. For example, if you've got a lot invested as a warrior in WoW, how does your persona come across in the decidely unwarlike SL? Do people now start crafting more generic personae?

Quote:

A virtual character, or avatar, for all the virtual worlds in which people play is the goal of a joint project between IBM and Linden Lab. The computer giant and the creator of Second Life are working on universal avatars that can travel between worlds. The project aims to open up virtual worlds by introducing open tools that work with any online environment. The companies hope to boost interest in virtual worlds as well as make them easier to navigate.

Usability News - Universal Avatars bestride Worlds

BBC News article

PIA/GATF GAIN unit establishes presence in Second Life

Submitted by Sam Moore on Fri, 10/12/2007 - 12:06

327B7393-A207-4ADA-8E49-3517F38B3F69.jpg

Link to press release

WebKitScreenSnapz001.png

GAIN, the Graphic Arts Information Network, a unit of PIA/GATF, has established a training facility in the virtual world Second Life.

Quote:

Within [Second Life], printers are able to hold meetings, train employees, interview job applicants, promote themselves to hundreds of thousands of potential customers, and even sell virtual products and services for real money in the Second Life marketplace, which generates over $1 Million per month. The possibilities are endless.

I'm not sure how realistic it is for a printer to try and sell stuff from a virtual world - but the training scheme sounds promising.

Read more about Second Life Grid, the platform that empowers the whole Second Life world system, here:

EF556C1D-629D-46AB-B71F-A630EBB9CEE6.jpg

Wal-Mart Plans Video 'Narrowcasting' Displays Throughout Canada Stores

Submitted by Sam Moore on Wed, 10/10/2007 - 15:11

Last week, EK3 announced the WalMart Canada deal - 20 screens each in 350 stores.

Link and Link

06EA5E0C-20A4-4CBA-9B97-BD2974D8DB79.jpg

Now, Information Week has a piece with interesting detail - apparently WalMart are planning to key the content on the screens to inventory levels.

Once tied into store inventory systems, the EK3 systems could automatically trigger messages promoting overstocked items, for example. They also can be programmed to detect changes in weather, and serve up promotions for beach supplies or tank tops, for example, if the weather suddenly turns warm.

Wal-Mart Canada plans to talk about its plans at the National Retail Federation Show in New York City in January, according to EK3...

Tim Horton's, a chain of 2,500 Canadian coffee shops that throws out any unsold fresh doughnuts after four hours, uses EK3 displays in its stores to promote doughnuts that are approaching their expiration time.

Link

This is an interesting angle, undoubtedly heavily dependent on their RFID efforts – wonder how they’ll tie those together? After all that’s the best route to tracking actual inventory levels (as opposed to “Here’s what we think we have” levels) in-store.
Their RFID push seems to be morphing, with more emphasis on the front of the store – see here

Thanks to Rob Webber for the InfoWeek piece

Banners get ignored - Nielsen. Use them anyway - Ars Technica.

Submitted by Sam Moore on Fri, 09/21/2007 - 15:17

7EEBE57D-7D85-4FF8-8EAA-54330E414E00.jpg

Users rarely look at display advertisements on websites.
Banner Blindness: Old and New Findings (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)
We knew that, but this drives it home.

So should advertisers stop using them? No, because even the most marginal impression, repeated enough times, achieves a positive impression:

"...even minimal exposures can create an actual positive evaluation (for example, the conclusion that the item is not a threat). That positive affect then influences future evaluations.".

7AACE8F6-44CC-4706-AD5A-5AAF895D26A4.jpg

More info here.

Koinup - Social Networking Site for Avatars

Submitted by Sam Moore on Fri, 09/21/2007 - 14:57

Talk about mashups - now your avatars can waste hours on social media sites, just like you do. What happens if your avatars have more friends than you do? Oh, wait... I think mine already do...

078DC8D2-DF7D-4D3C-8B17-60ECF044BF8D.jpg

F1718BE5-78D4-4A38-8765-7A519E636CCA.jpg

Link

Advertising Lab: future of advertising and advertising technology: Social Networking Site for Avatars Launches

Interactive Marketing Channels To Watch In 2007 by Brian Haven - Forrester Research

Submitted by Sam Moore on Fri, 09/21/2007 - 08:09

D16D3801-838D-40B0-BFDE-F77F6BFBAE57.jpg

Top line: Email and search marketing eclipse online display ads as the most prominent elements in the interactive marketing mix, while social media — like blogs, podcasts, RSS, social networks, and online video — are strong up-and-comers. But mobile and game marketing are relatively ignored.

Among Forrester's recommendations: Start adopting now to keep up with your customers who already actively use emerging technologies. Advanced online ad targeting, RSS, and blogs provide the easiest entry points.

Ilya Vedrashko asks:
How do people come up with these numbers that in-game advertising is going to grow to $1B by 2011 if 70-80% of marketers are not even planning to go there in the next year? And 2011 is in three years.

Interactive Marketing Channels To Watch In 2007 by Brian Haven - Forrester Research

NOTE: Free registration at Forrester required to view full report.