Black Friday 2012 is going to be an important milestone in the history of the retail industry. The conversations happening right now in social media contain an incredibly valuable intelligence payload which, if properly leveraged, can create enough competitive advantage to not just win on Black Friday, but move industry positions. Imagine a store so highly optimized the experience wins a customer’s loyalty after Black Friday. Industry positions are now in play.
2012’s vulnerable retailers will have relied on what we now know to be “legacy intelligence techniques” to inform their strategies. While the various forms of focus groups and surveys provide valuable information, the retail industry should understand the context of legacy intelligence:
surveys and focus groups represent what the subject wants to tell you – the retailer
2012’s retail winners will have integrated new real-time intelligence to inform their strategy: the intelligence available by analyzing the conversations in social media. In contrast to the legacy intelligence techniques, note the critical distinction in context.
intelligence derived from social media represents what the subjects wants to tell others – the friends, family, and business associates they influence
The payload available from social media intelligence is providing 2012’s Black Friday retailers with real-time, word-of-mouth intelligence. They’re using advanced intelligence, in real-time, including predictive analytics, to optimize the core pillars of retail success:
* optimized inventory – social media conversations convey brands, products, colors, and sizes. Volume, sentiment, and emotional elements of these conversations yields a predictive payload allowing the retailer to optimize their inventory. Down to geography and store level. Now, highly optimized inventory and distribution channels can yield maximum revenue and margin.
* optimized promotions – social intelligence can provide the most effective means to optimize promotions leading up to the date your advertisements go to print. Online retailers can adjust real-time for highly optimized strategies.
* optimized competitive intelligence – social intelligence delivers word-of-mouth intelligence yielding one of the most effective forms for analyzing the strengths of your plan competitively.
Here’s a toast in advance to the retailers who will make 2012 their year to leap.