Print started the coupon revolution. Smartphones are mobilizing it.
Retailers and consumer packaged goods companies in the United States spend billions of dollars printing coupons to incentivize consumers to shop. What is surprising, though, is that 99 percent of these coupons are never used. That's right: shoppers only find 1 percent of the coupons delivered to them to be of any value. Scratch the surface and you find three reasons why the conversion rate for print coupons is so low.
First, the nature of print is that it is often delivered in an impersonal mass distribution. Coupons are published in daily, weekly or monthly publications, hoping that the coupon will catch the attention of someone somewhere. Second, the coupons are not personalized at all. John gets the same coupon as Jane even though their income level, gender, shopping habits and interests are worlds apart. Finally, for coupon marketing to be effective, we need to know where the shopper is in her shopping journey. A shopper comparing products needs to be engaged in a different way than a shopper exploring whether she needs the product at all. Print coupons, by their nature, are unable to create this differentiation.
Enter the smartphone. Smartphones offer retailers the opportunity to directly engage with their customers in a highly-personalized way, and in real time. And both these factors drive higher coupon conversion rates. As a recent Nielsen report stated, the market penetration for smartphones is at 61 percent and increasing. It's a marketing platform retailers can't afford to ignore.
Retailers have a wealth of customer data in their loyalty and membership databases, but were limited in their ability to offer personalized promotions due to the delivery platforms available. For example, in-store promotions are the same for every shopper that walks into the store. Smartphones solve this challenge by providing a platform for retailers to engage with their shoppers one-on-one. By using loyalty and membership data, a promotion may be created for Suzie – and Suzie's smartphone enables the tailored promotion to be delivered to her. The net effect of this process is a higher redemption rate and of course, a happy Suzie!
Mobile coupons deliver the highest return when the right promotion is delivered to the right person at the right time and place. Smartphones go wherever the consumer goes. They are with the shopper at home, at work, when approaching a mall, when inside a store and so on. A shopper's journey can begin at any of these points, and there is a high probability that a shopper will use her smartphone at some point during this journey. This could be Suzie creating a shopping list on her smartphone at home or using her smartphone to check competitor prices when inside a store. In such cases, (after the customer has accepted the retailer's terms and conditions) the smartphone provides the retailer the option to use mobile coupons as a strategic tool. Retailers can create up-sell or cross-sell opportunities based on the products in the shopping list or take more tactical actions by offering a counter-promotion to shoppers browsing competitor sites when inside the store.
Mobile couponing can help retailers increase basket size by increasing conversion rates. When targeted, offers can have redemption rates as high as 15 percent to 30 percent, but the truth is that only a tiny fraction of offers today are targeted.
With the smartphone, every customer could be given a personalized offer - at the time she most needs it. Imagine that!
Rohan Suri leads the next generation retail solution practice in Asia Pacific for Motorola Solutions and has more than 10 years of experience in product development and product management.
Learn more about how retailers are providing shoppers with the information they want, when and where they want it, to make shopping an engaging experience.
The Biggest Challenge for Today's Wireless LANs: Dense User Environments
There is no doubt that Wi-Fi™ has been a huge success – but Wi-Fi's success could lead to its own demise if wireless systems cannot manage dense user environments.
The evolution of the 802.11 standard and advancements in semiconductor technology have led to Wi-Fi everywhere and in everything mobile. In 2012, ABI Research estimated that more than 5 billion Wi-Fi-enabled devices have shipped since 2009, with an expectation that this will double by 2015. The adoption of Wi-Fi as the de facto access technology has made Wi-Fi as ubiquitous as it is pervasive. Hotel guests are bringing an average of three devices (smartphone, tablet and laptop) with them into their hotel rooms, while university students are bringing two to three Wi-Fi-enabled devices to college. We also see an explosion of Wi-Fi devices in healthcare, retail, and public areas such as stadiums, airports, subways and rail systems.
The challenge for Wi-Fi network engineers today is not just connectivity. Connectivity of dense device environments, many types of devices with different operating systems and connectivity rates, running different applications and all sharing the same RF spectrum.. Unfortunately, IEEE 802.11 only addresses the functionality and protocol of a single radio, and most enterprises need many radios (and access points) to provide complete coverage and enough capacity for dense user environments.
Beyond this scenario there are two additional issues network engineers face:
The algorithms for channel assignments and power levels are critical to achieving overall network performance and throughput, as demonstrated in a recent Tolly Report comparing Motorola to a competitor's access points in dense user environments. A companion video covers the details of the report, how to manage ACI and considerations for designing wireless networks for dense user environments.
Each wireless LAN vendor develops management systems and algorithms for network setup and dealing with ACI and co-channel interference, which clearly have a direct impact on end user experience. Since dense user environments are the rule and not the exception these days, network engineers should pay particular attention to these systems from various vendors.
Cal Calamari is Global Solutions Lead for Enterprise Networks and Connections at Motorola Solutions.
This is part two of a multi-part blog series.
Take a look around you. How many things within your reach can be connected to a computer? Do you have a mobile phone, MP3 player, tablet, or USB drive? In our increasingly wired world, many devices can connect. Shoes can provide running data; e-readers are increasingly popular replacements for paper books. From a security perspective, removable devices provide a big challenge. Although these devices provide great convenience, they’re also perfect carriers for viruses – carriers which we often take with us between work and home. It’s not just USB drives that pose a risk. Cameras, mobile phones, MP3 players, and many other USB, FireWire, and Bluetooth devices function as storage devices as well.
The term “computer virus” is appropriate. Malware spreads like biological infections do. It needs a carrier to spread, and the most effective malware is usually that which spreads the most quickly and efficiently. Malware authors use any and all means of connection at their disposal to distribute their code, and removable drives work great. Additionally, just like an infected person, a device carrying a computer virus needn’t have an active or visible infection to spread it. Malware spreads more effectively when it remains undetected.
Let’s look back to November of 2008 and one of the most famous examples of infection by USB drive. The United States Department of Defense discovered covert malware infecting a large segment of U.S. military computers, with the potential to relay data to an outside attacker. Even though some of those computers were classified and physically separated from the rest of the network, the virus continued to spread. During analysis, administrators discovered that removable drives were an infection vector. A total ban on removable devices was instituted across the DoD that remained in place for years. Keep in mind that in 2008, removable drives were not an unknown means to infect computers. However, people were unwilling to compromise on the convenience they provided until disaster struck.
If there’s any doubt that this vector of infection is still effective, we have the 2010 example of the Stuxnet industrial malware, which spread to its target isolated centrifuge networks via users’ USB drives. In 2012, the similarly sophisticated Flame malware was discovered, also relying on the distinctly unsophisticated infection vector of removable drives; even using those drives to steal data more efficiently. In both of these cases, antivirus was ineffective in detecting the infection for some time. This could be equally applicable to a segregated radio-over-IP network.
We’ve established that people are willing to plug their own removable devices into computers on different networks. What about a USB drive that belongs to a stranger? The numbers are surprisingly disheartening. In a 2011 Department of Homeland Security study, 60% of USB drives planted randomly in a parking lot were plugged into agency computers by curious employees and contractors. Planting infected drives has become a tried and true method of breaching networks. Why should Jane Hacker expend the effort to sneak into a building and access a computer when she can leave a USB drive containing her malware in the cafeteria, or mail it to an employee as a promotional item? For a bit more money, she could plant an uncharged MP3 player instead, which might be even more tempting to plug in.
There are two methods of decreasing the threat that removable devices pose. The first option: technical and administrative controls. It has become standard practice for organizations to restrict the use of USB devices (with good reason: even the most recent U.S. government data breach was accomplished using a USB drive), and to disable the automatic start of programs on them. The more neglected option is user awareness. While connectable devices are convenient, we should remember that our devices could act as carriers for malware, treat removable devices from an unknown source with suspicion, and think before we plug things in.
Lesley Carhart is a Senior Information Security Specialist in the Motorola Solutions Security Operations Center. She has 13 years of experience in information technology, including computer networking and tactical communications. For the past five years, she has focused on security, specializing in digital forensics.
Read past blogs by Lesley Carhart:
Last month, I spoke at the American Trucking Association’s conference, "Synchronizing Trucking’s Finance and IT Practices", in conjunction with the Information Technology and Logistics Council. This event brings together more than 200 motor carrier, logistics and transportation service companies. It was a full house for my session, "The New ‘Normal’ – Next Generation Mobility", where I co-presented with Con-way Transportation and Hewlett-Packard. So you may be asking, “What do you mean by the ‘new normal’”?
In my experience speaking with many trucking companies, the new normal is defined by the use of mobile technologies on the road or in the depot, where each worker within the logistics supply chain uses software applications and rugged mobile handheld computers in a connected, wireless world. In this new normal, we envision three areas where analytics and mobile technology play an important role: in the Cab, in the Trailer, and in the Hub.
In the Cab
Telematics software that provides analytic data from within the cab can greatly improve efficiencies of routes and driver activity. With cradle-equipped or fixed-mount, in-vehicle mobile computers, dispatchers can get analytics on driver behavior, revealing unsafe driving habits. Drivers that routinely speed and brake heavily can be better managed and counseled on how to develop safer driving practices that improve the safety of the driver, the truck and everyone in the vicinity of the driver, reducing risk — and insurance premiums.
Other telematics solutions can help enable analytics-driven fleet maintenance programs. Maintenance optimization becomes increasingly important as aging fleets drag down capital investment, with a 30 percent increase in tractor prices in recent years. Technology can ensure engines, brakes and other tractor systems are properly functioning, and send alerts when maintenance is needed.
Analytics can also capture and process Bills of Lading electronically. New advanced document capture functionality, paired with OCR (optical character recognition) and OMR (optical mark recognition) software can speed billing and provide higher levels of cross-dock utilization by separating the arrival of information from the arrival of physical goods at the dock.
In the Trailer
In order to optimize truckloads to reduce shipments and miles, logistics companies have been considering how to better load trailers to avoid empty, wasted space. The cost savings associated with real-time trailer loading can improve packing times, the quality of the loading, and when a trailer can be dispatched. In the future, mobile technologies and the data that is captured at the time of loading may help analyze poor packing techniques, inefficient packing and stacking, and load stacking quality to reduce damage. This is an important challenge for logistics companies to overcome, because the cost savings in truck use and fuel consumption alone can be enormous.
In the Hub
Mobile technologies can also assist with labor inefficiencies in the hub. For example, Workforce Management solutions use task management applications running on both traditional mobile computers and new innovative platforms like wearable smart badges to automatically assign jobs and responsibilities to the employee base. Today’s workforce management systems concentrate on labor requirements, the management of work assignments, payroll reporting, and even training. They can gather valuable statistics on how these activities are completed. With more efficient labor operations, hub operations can run to their full potential. And of course as the hub becomes more efficient, those benefits extend out into the yard and permeate into other areas of fleet and trucking operations as well. It is more than likely that you already are experiencing some form of “the new normal” in your supply chain space, so please visit www.motorolasolutions.com/logistics for more information on how Motorola Solutions can help you by pairing analytics in the cab, in the trailer, and in the hub with the latest advances in mobile and wireless technologies.
Mike Maris is Director of Transportation, Distribution & Logistics for Motorola Solutions, Inc.