Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunny Image

It not uncommon these days to see more and more retailers providing "green" options in their stores. With surging energy prices and surging importance that consumers are giving to how eco friendly are the stores they shop from, more and more retailers are jumping on to make more of their offerings "green". The not so new inclusion in this wave has been using more and more renewable energy in running the store. Installing solar panels is one such measure as reported by this recent article (subscription maybe required) in NY Times. Some very interesting points in the article are
  • If Wal-Mart eventually covered the roofs of all its Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart locations with solar panels, figures from the company show that the resulting solar acreage would roughly equal the size of Manhattan, an island of 23 square miles - Wow that can change the look of suburbia...imagine all the stores with black tinted tops gleaming in sunlight. Jokes apart, I wonder how much %age of electricity consumption of the store can it actually take care of. Is this more of an image thing or there is a long run bottomline benefit involved.
  • The current rush apparently is driven by a government deadline at the end of the year to get renewable energy tax credits. As stated by one of the people interview in the article - “Every project that starts development has to be finished by Dec. 31 or you lose tax equity advantage, and nobody’s willing to take that risk,” said George Waidelich, vice president for energy operations at Safeway. “You’re talking about millions of dollars.”
  • One thing that comes across as a little contradictory is the rise in the price of solar panels with greater demand. This might indicate a lag in solar technology manufacturing ramp up.
  • And finally a basic difference between us and our friends across the pool - "American retailers are following the lead of stores in Europe, which are much further along. Store-roof projects are so numerous in parts of Germany that they can be spotted in satellite photos. Government subsidies there, however, have lasted for years."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Text Analytics

I have been reading and researching about Analytics lately (although I agree its already one of the high focus areas in retail) and stumbled upon something interesting related to analyzing customer comments/feedback using Text Analytics. Text Analytics is essentially searching for keywords to identify customer trends. As the article explains - "For instance, if one person in 100 mentioned something, it would be missed. But if in 100,000 responses, 1% of people say the same thing, it could be noticed as important, like a new trend that's developing or something wrong with a product that's just starting to surface." This technique is being used to identify emerging trends through customer interactions on social networks, blogs and a number of other online forums. Also as the article cites a means of finding whether a particular strategy is working or not - "Starwood, for instance, in another Anderson text-analytics study of frequent-traveler website Flyer Talk, discovered that its guests discussed beds and showers more favorably than other hotels, while competitor Hilton's guests more often discussed food and health clubs positively. That validated the "tens of millions" spent on new beds in Starwood hotels"

Friday, February 8, 2008

Retail of Elections

I am back after a long break and holiday season is long gone and its election primary season. As the economy tip-toes on a thin line with recession looming large, the country (US in this case) is few steps away from electing its new president. But before that it is walking through a very interesting yard of primaries for nominating a presidential candidate with both the parties (GOP and Dems). I came across a very interesting article by David Brooks of the NY Times on a Retail consultants perspective of the Democratic nominee race (i.e. Hillary v/s Obama). Essentially the consultant (Dr. Retail) compares the candidates with 2 distinct grocery store profiles i.e. the Safeways of the world equated to Hillary and the Whole Foods of the world equated to Obama. One is commodity based and the other is aspirational based. Ofcourse its too simplistic but for all the retail enthusiasts out there just another view through their prism!!!!
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