A Blog – Why, Oh, Why Would I Do This?
- Posted on April 6, 2010
- in CEO Speaks, Merchandising, Product Innovation, Retail, Social Media
- by Sue Welch
As many of you know, I have been resistant to blogs, tweets, Facebook and other micro communication tools that I viewed as intrusive, inane time wasters. There was no place for such frivolities at TradeStone as we focused on the serious business of being the technology platform to support retailers and suppliers efforts in the design, sourcing and delivery of branded and private label merchandise. It was a higher calling that surely must require more than 140 characters to explain and define. Surely?
Actually, surely not. Having recently attended a very thought provoking conference put on by RetailConnections, I am in with a vengeance!
Why the change in heart? Because social media, playing games and mobile capability is dramatically redefining retail and the way retailers think about their business. The leaders – and innovators – are companies like Wet Seal and Pizza Hut, two retailers recognized as innovators by the NRF and Gartner. It isn’t just what they are doing; it is how they are using this media to change basic precepts about the job of being retailers.
In the case of Pizza Hut, it is making ordering pizza fun. Not a trivial task and I will leave it to the reader to go to www.pizzahut.com and experience this seismic event for themselves. All I know is I planned to order a plain pizza and ended up ordering 2 pizzas with an unholy combination of ingredients that no taste bud has every craved. And I don’t even like pizza (I recognize it is un-American, possible even un-human so please save your text message quota and skip the SMSs about how your favorite pizza is sure to make a pizza lover out of me). The point is, we will now be having pizza day at TradeStone a little more often when I am in the office. But only if I get to order!
Wet Seal meanwhile, is standing the very basics of retail merchandising on its head. In the process they are redefining the concepts of how merchants and buyers think about the goods they put into stores. Visit www.wetseal.com and you will be caught up into a “build an outfit frenzy” that every month results in over 40,000 outfits being created by their customers from current stock. Their consumers don’t just think or shop a “merchandise category”; they buy the outfits that are hot, put together by their peers – even right down to a specific geography. So their merchants are now learning to think across merchandise categories to design, order, and deliver the complete package.
What does all this mean to TradeStone and our customers? First of all, effectively immediately, we are setting aside specific times for all employees to just play – even Farmville is allowed. We want to get everyone’s creative juices flowing to encourage a mind set that can meet the challenge of building a technology platform that can support the new ways designers will design goods across merchandise categories; how buyers will create orders based on outfits, not just customer choices within a merchandise category; and how retailers will harness the crowd sourcing expertise of its consumers and exploit the predictive expertise of those customers who “level up” (another phrase recently incorporated into the TradeStone lexicon). It is a new language, a new communication and collaborative environment and it is all pretty exciting.
So, I blog. And I will be tweeting (you can follow me on Twitter at SueWelch). But most of all, I am looking forward to the fun stuff ahead. And in the process supporting – and changing – the way retailers and suppliers do business.