Revionics Making Retail Merchandizing Optimization Social

In November 2012, Revionics, Inc., a cloud-based provider of merchandise optimization solutions, acquired SkuLoop, a provider of social commerce-driven promotions for retailers and consumer brands, from GIIV, Inc. Revionics’ solutions use predictive analytics and demand-based science to help retailers obtain the best results across all touchpoints in the multi-channel shopping realm—online, in-store, social, and mobile—by  aiding with decisions in product, price, promotion, placement, and space allocation.

Over 31,000 retail locations with $95 billion in annual revenue across grocery, drug, building materials, convenience, general merchandise, discount, sporting goods stores, and e-commerce sites use Revionics’ optimization solutions. For its part, SkuLoop is a suite of tools that give retailers control over promotions to drive sales and acquire customers across web, mobile, and social media touchpoints.

Prior to the acquisition, SkuLoop positioned itself as a solution that enabled retailers to harness vocal advocates through targeted programs with a variety of incentives, which can be used separately or in combination and can be leveraged through the retailer’s brand across all touchpoints including the Web, mobile, Facebook, Twitter, email, and paid media sources. SkuLoop aims to maximize both retailer control and consumer activity while increasing net profit margins. General benefits include increased loyalty, new customer acquisition, higher share of wallet (SoW), better cross-channel experience, and unlocking new value between the retailer and customer.

Enter Revionics Social Commerce
This acquisition extends Revionics’ optimization solutions with the addition of Revionics Social Commerce, the first social marketing platform to deliver optimized, one-to-one incentives and rewards to targeted loyal advocates and fans. The Social Commerce tool aims to expand loyalty and drive measurable return on investment (ROI) across multi-channel retail operations. By infusing pre- and post-transactional social demand signals into Revionics’ proven science, optimization models should now have a more complete and granular view of shopper behavior, driving more accurate recommendations across the proverbial marketing “Four Ps” continuum—product, price, promotion, and place.

With the acquisition of SkuLoop, Revionics can now incorporate social interaction into its merchandise demand models, making them more complete, and thus extend science and insight into the price, promotion, markdown, assortment, and space recommendations for each sales channel. Retailers should now be able to strategically plan and execute promotions and markdowns by optimizing across all channels and to the channel of choice. Current social and mobile campaigns are tactical and reactionary and executed in a silo. By holistically coordinating these activities and infusing them with science, retailers should be able to deliver optimal promotions that target the most influential social consumers and maximize performance results.

There is no longer such a thing as guaranteed customer loyalty—it has to be earned. To achieve shopper relevance, retailers can do the following:

  • Convert customer loyalty into customer acquisition, and then into profitable transactions.

  • Surpass omni-channel to become "omni-now" – by extending brand consistency during the shopping experience wherever and whenever the shopper wants to engage, all the way to the checkout, whether online, mobile, or in-store.

  • Go beyond price competition and build strong customer relationships through conversation and conversion.

While many companies have become familiar with the value of social media through a brand building or customer service exercise, the savvy ones exploit the social chatter to mine insights and incorporate them into improved tactics to gain or hold market position. Social network sentiment data can provide significant insight into consumer behaviors and expectations relative to pricing practices. Multichannel retailers should diligently pursue an ongoing practice of listening to their consumers (sensing their price sensitivity) to understand their “Four Ps” preferences and trends.

Engage Shoppers Where They Are
Today’s shoppers are instrumented, interconnected, informed, and thus fickle like never before. Thus, nearly infinite selection and immediate gratification are the future of retail. To remain relevant, retailers must build bridges to their customers, both digitally and emotionally, and engage them where they are and across the devices they use. Revionics Social Commerce aims to enable a deeper and more profitable dialogue between the retailer and the shopper. The solution aims to allow retailers to target and motivate their most loyal, influential shoppers, turning them into vocal advocates in their social networks, finally resulting in the acquisition of new and loyal shoppers.

By leveraging modern social technologies and the power of optimization, Revionics Social Commerce aims to turn loyalty into acquisition and buzz into business, through engagement and tailor-made incentives. Loyal advocates and fans are engaged and motivated through optimized one-to-one incentives and rewards, which can be used separately or in combination, based on strategic objectives. These programs can be leveraged through the retailer’s brand across all touchpoints including the Web, mobile devices, Facebook, Twitter, email, and paid media sources. Retailer branded programs that harness loyalty data and vocal advocates include:

  • Social Rewards – Identify, target, and engage the most valuable and loyal shoppers with optimized incentives, to convert them into vocal brand advocates within their social network. This can also drive new customer acquisition.

  •  Insider Events – Reward loyal advocates with special events and activities that affirm their sense of belonging, and targeted promotions designed to be shared with friends and family.

  • Wish Lists – Increase awareness, viral reach, and sales, while staying relevant with demographic and geographic information. Allow fans and loyal shoppers to create, share, and send product wish lists to their extended networks.

  • Flash Sales – Drive excitement, conversion, and social amplification by providing deals of the day and multi-item flash sales optimized by shopper-segment.

  • Sweepstakes – Turn passive behavior into active engagement with special offers and contests designed to generate additional interest and increase traffic and engagement, while securing loyalty, new customer acquisition, and a better understanding of how and where customers are engaging and what they are interested in.

Many understand the concept of turning customers into fans and promoters based on a product’s coolness, great customer service, etc., but how would that work based on price and promotions? My assumption is that social merchandizing could work for categories outside of grocery and fast-moving consumer goods (such as consumer electronics, apparel, and hard goods). Imagine all of those categories being able to segment consumers based on price elasticity, promotion responsiveness, and brand preference. The connectors/promoters/fans that are representative of a given segment can then help set the tone for more targeted pricing—special pricing and promotions that could be shareable with friends and social communities.

While retailers recognize that social networks are influencing shopper behavior and research shows social networking is becoming increasingly significant, social tools to date have not been able to measure effectiveness. Thus, Revionics Social Commerce will also close the loop by monitoring key metrics and measuring the return on investment (ROI) of social ventures simultaneously between online and in-store transactions across multiple touchpoints. Revionics’ science-based analytics will aim to help retailers understand not only the last action that converted the sale, but how much each activity in the funnel contributed to the conversion. These analytics, combined with revenue attribution, should provide insights into what shoppers have purchased over time, how much each touchpoint contributed and its influence on their peers within their social graph.

How Revionics Social Commerce Works
While “social” is not the new “be all, end all”, it is yet another sales channel and a new demand signal that if not included in a retailer’s predictive analytics will erode the retailer’s understanding of its customers. Retailers cannot maintain relevancy with customers they do not understand and by incorporating social demand signals into optimization, retailers can gain a more complete view of their customers.

Revionics likely noticed that most of the social products on the market today are “likes”-based solutions that do little to drive shoppers to the checkout (and thus drive key retailer metrics, including revenue and margin). In contrast, SkuLoop has always had a strong focus on driving shoppers to the checkout and can do so both online and in-store, so this acquisition should give Revionics a boost on this front. Also, whereas previously it was up to the marketing department to select the offers, Revionics is now optimizing offers (product, price, channel, etc.) through its Revionics Promotion Optimization solution, so the offers will be more tailored to the consumer.

I assume that this social commerce concept is similar to guided selling apps that have a database that uses real-time analytics, where one can plug in social attributes to track trends in social activities and adjust price to increase deal likelihood or optimize margins. Leveraging social and loyalty data, shopper social actions can be incentivized, rewarded, extended, and monetized through the following process flow:

  • Recognize the most social, vocal, loyal, and profitable customers

  • Engage customers at their preferred touchpoint and stimulate a social action

  • Reward customers’ advocacy with optimized insider events specifically designed to appeal to each advocate’s key driver

  • Amplify by engaging with their social graph at their preferred touchpoints and extend your loyal customer base

  • Incentivize with optimized offers that drive transactions either in-store or online depending on objectives

  • Convert followers into advocates and continue the cycle to extend your loyal customer base

In summary, Revionics Social Commerce will take social networking beyond e-commerce, extend it to the store, and track it all the way to the checkout while ensuring shoppers’ loyalty benefits are fully leveraged. The combined SkuLoop and Revionics solutions introduce optimization into the incentives so that they are more relevant and targeted to the shopper and the retailer’s objectives. It will be interesting to watch how Revionics and its customers will benefit from this interesting approach, and how the competition will follow suit (or not). Dear readers, your opinions, comments, and suggestions are welcome in the meantime.
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