Monday, November 30, 2015

Return your holiday gifts

Many on-line vendors have established pretty amazing reverse supply chains.  For the uninitiated, the reverse supply chain is what happens when you decide to return something. If you try to return your electronic gizmo to a store, they give you a hard time and charge you a restocking fee. Not nice. 

But many online companies use this as a differentiating service.  How many of you order ten pairs of shoes from Zara, planning to try them all on and return 8 or 9 of them? You know you do it !!  It amazes me that Zara can stay in business this way. But they do.  Amazon does much of the same with a really simple return process. They have pre-printed return shipping labels in the box and the boxes and packing materials are designed for reuse. You just pack it all back up and drop it back into the mail. Many online vendors do this to overcome your fear of making the wrong choice because you didn't see or touch the item yourself before purchasing.

What if we take Zara and Amazon’s expertise in reverse supply chain design and do something good for the world? Consider this option. Instead of (or in addition to) returning the 8 or 9 pairs of shoes you don’t want, throw in the one or two pairs of older shoes you don’t need any more (now that you bought some new ones).  They could be redirected to Goodwill using these efficient reverse supply chains.

There could be two preprinted labels, one to put on the outside so the box goes back to the vendor and another that marks which items are returns to vendor’s warehouse and which ones are for redirecting to Goodwill.

Here is the main advantage I see in this approach.  Some of us don’t donate our old clothes, shoes, electronics, or whatever because we are just too darned lazy.  Some of us might not have a donation center nearby. Some don’t know how. But if you are returning products to the online vendor anyway, all you need to do is plop in the old shoes/clothing/gizmos.  The ease of use could make the difference.

If the reverse supply chain is so efficient, it probably wouldn’t add much to the cost.  And the branding value of supporting the charities, helping the customer support the charity, making it so easy for the customer to support the charity (as proof of the brand's excellent customer experience cred), making the customer feel good about herself by supporting the charity (and alleviating the guilt of buying so many shoes) and so in is easily worth the cost.

Don’t you think?  What am I missing?

Friday, November 27, 2015

Advertising to the Anonymous

One of the reasons that anonymous social networks like Whisper have gained traction is that many of us have aspects of our identity that we feel a need to share but don’t want our friends and family to know about. For example, I have a friend (no, this is not me) who doesn’t want his family to know he is a conservative. I have another who didn’t want his family to know he was dating outside his religion. On Whisper, you can talk about it, and get feedback about it.  And unless the NSA wants to out you, you don’t have to worry about mom and dad finding out.

But being on these sites makes you vulnerable in another way.  It is a powerful advertising platform precisely because we feel more open and revealing when we are anonymous. We are more likely to share personal information with advertisers. We are also more susceptible to a targeted ad that allows you express an aspect of your identity while keeping it secret.

For example, let’s say that a closet conservative is on Whisper. A conservative group can buy an ad that encourages her to donate to a conservative cause or vote for a conservative candidate. They can frame the advertising message along the lines of “In the ballot box, no one knows you are a conservative.”  Playing on the “On the internet, no one knows you are a dog” meme, but personalized and resonant.  And with a call to action that the advertiser wants.

I tried Whisper once, but it didn’t work for me. But I have enough secrets that I can see the attraction. And I know enough psychology to know why the ads work.

Do you use any anonymous social networks? Any stories to share?

This Week in EID - Episode 82

I hope you all took advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday and enjoyed some quality time with family and friends. Or did you spend the weekend shopping on what has become Black Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday?

We had a shortened week this week because of the break.  Here is a quick recap if you missed anything.

Monday covered a rapidly growing trend in today’s workplace – the use of analytics and connectedness to manage employee performance. There is no question that good analytical models can tell us a lot about behavior. The question is whether the intrusion on privacy and morale is worth it.

Tuesday we talked about the concept of flow.  This is the sense of “being in the zone” where time and effort pass by as easy as that extra piece of pumpkin pie.  When a user experience engages flow, it is amazing what can happen.

Then finally Wednesday we talked about a new way for experienced employees to get back into the workplace after an extended absence.  A returnship is like an internship but tailored (hopefully) to the different needs of the experienced pro rather than the entry level employee who needs some experience.