I already bought that, dammit.

See the post below from 2013? This issue of online retailers incessantly marketing products to me that I’ve already purchased is rampant and still annoying as hell.

I’ve been off this blog for a while now, working for a marketing firm, moving to North Carolina and traveling North America.

Which means I’ve been shopping online, more and more. I even ordered fixtures and hardware online  last winter while building a new house. But Amazon continues to advertise more bathroom fixtures to me via special emails offering me a sale price a year after the house is built. Come on Amazon, you must know I’m not a builder.

Why don’t  you email me when my age-defying, expensive face wash from Dr. Murad is on sale? I actually want to buy that about 4 or 5 times a year?

And the very same  lamp I bought from LampsPlus.com – and returned due to inaccurate color photography  –  is popping up on my Facebook feed within a week to remind me that I might want to buy it again? Ugh. No.

Online retailers, you have data. Please use it with the mindfulness of a human being. It’s shameful that after all this time your data doesn’t translate into learning. Can you at least TRY to know me, after all these years?  That’s supposed to be the “value”  – you making my shopping life easier and more convenient. Right?

I’m traveling less now. And shopping in real stores where I can talk to real humans. If I can find any left.

Falling out of like with online shopping

DEAR OVERSTOCK.COM

Two weeks ago, I ordered an outdoor rug for my back deck from you.  I was so pleased to find the selection you offerred, and did a bit of exploring on your site to determine the size and style I wanted. I love that my chosen rug was a good price, the shipping date was very reasonable, and in less than three days the rug was on the deck, under the new table. Imagine how happy I was to have my neighbors over for dinner, collecting compliments on my style of outdoor entertaining.

So, why oh why, Overstock, do you continue to show up in my Facebook feed as a sponsored post with views and ads of all the other rugs I looked at but did not order???

Come on now, you know I bought one of the 5 styles I was looking at. Why do you now haunt (read as annoy) me with the other 4?

This the is most shopper-annoying part of technology.

It makes me want to delete my Overstock.com account. Instead of helping me, you are interrupting my life while I am trying to enjoy what I bought from you already.

WHEN WILL YOU LISTEN??

I;m falling out of like with you.

 

A Tramp Stamp on the Tomato!

I can’t wait to see if there will be a “tramp stamp” on my store-bought tomatoes one day soon. Change is coming to the produce industry.  Tattoos may soon replace those annoying but helpful little stickers you find on most fruits and veggies. 

There’s a secret trick to deciphering number codes on produce stickers – those leading with the number 9 are organic food, and those that lead with 4 are just plain food, grown however the farmer chooses.  Remember this: nine is fine and four is a bore.

I wonder if the tattoos will be tiny and hard to see like the stickers are now or big and artistic like a full sleeve? I wonder if shoppers will find the tattoos offensive or perceive them to be dangerous to eat?

This trend is beginning in Europe. Can you guess which U. S. retailer will lead the way with tattooed produce? Flip a coin on Whole Foods or Walmart. Sustainability is key to them both, and that’s what’s behind the tattoo movement.

I like the idea of tattoos on produce. I look forward to the day that I will no longer have to stick the labels from the veggies all over my hand when I’m prepping the organic goodies for the juicer.

 

The Full Sleeve

 

 

ShopperAnnie versus the Porn Star

Bet you didn’t know I chose @ShopperAnnie as my Twitter handle back in 2009 because there’s a porn star who calls herself Anne Howe. UGH!

Launching a professional consultant identity in the Shopper Marketing/Retail/Consumer Goods space is hard enough.  Competing with a nasty little porn star for a good ranking on a Google search for your real name – well that just gave me an incentive to work harder.

That’s why  when I chose my company name I added the word Associates – so I could use AHA! as part of my brand. I chose to expand my ShopperAnnie  “handle”  on my blog.

If I can slog it out on Google search with a porn star, think of what I can do for your business. Persistence pays off in the long run.

Publix rethinks the ubiquitous Retail Endcap

Yes, it’s true. I took a dozen in-store pictures in a grocery store while on vacation. But, it’s rare for @ShopperAnnie to get a chance to shop in a brand spanking new major grocery store. Overall, I’d rate this newly constructed Publix store a ten!

What impressed me the most? The front of store endcaps, which were clearly designed with plenty of shopper logic. If you’re in the shopper business, you might remember that traditionally, grocers want to draw shoppers to the back endcaps, to get them down more aisles.

Shoppers, however, want easy and fast access to the items they want most often, seeking to shorten the time they spend in the store, especially as trips change to more quick-trips and less time-consuming stock-up trips.

The best example of new thinking in endcap display is shown below  in what I’ll call the breakfast bar. Note the cooler with an areas for eggs, yogurt, meats and juice. Starbucks gets a great spot on the upper right and Qia – a new gluten-free superfood cereal from Nature’s Path is featured on the left.

Breakfast_Publix_April2013

Near the end of our trip, a co-traveler went to the Publix store at 7am to get a newspaper,  saw the butcher stocking a rolling  refrigerated case set at the front door with fresh cut pork chops surrounded by fresh broccoli and seasonal fruit. Over breakfast at the condo, he made the suggestion that we stop by Publix later to pick up that fresh pork for dinner. When we arrived at 4:00PM, the meat was being restocked and we were told the fresh chops had been cut only minutes before we arrived.

Everybody Needs a Happy Place

A lighthouse has useful purposes, to help sailors avoid disaster and find their way home.

We all need that once in a while. So I’m posting up my favorite lighthouse photo from Sturgeon Point, Michigan. Long ago a family member was the lighthouse keeper there, and as a child we spent part of every summer on the point. This is my happy place, even on a cold winter day!

My happy place.
My happy place.

Bye, Bye Kiwi

Kiwi, you’ve been replaced by a banana. A peel of a banana, no less!

I recently read (in the AARP magazine, OMG did I just admit that?) that you can use a banana peel (the inside part) to polish leather shoes. Smear it on and buff it out after one minute with a soft cloth. A weird smell, banana on leather, but not as toxic as a whiff of chemical-laden polish out of that metal container.

As a marketer of consumer brands I feel somewhat guilty when I find a sure-fire organic no-cost solution to a problem. In this case, it means I will stop buying shoe polish, at least in brown.

As a consumer it’s frankly odd to rub banana peels on your $200 boots. But my last date with Kiwi ended badly when the color of an expensive and favorite pair of Ralph Lauren loafers turned into a blotchy mess of brown awfulness.

My boots look amazing, so do the ten year old Paul Green loafers I still love after all these years.  Oh what one banana peel can do!

And guess what else? The banana itself was a tasty treat in my greek yogurt smoothie! Now all I need is a white fruit option for my golf shoes!

Can you help me?

I’ve been re-reading Nilofer Merchant’s book Eleven Ways to Add Value in the Social Era. I love this book.

It’s about context for business in the 21st century, creating value via social connections beyond an organizational construct. The organizational construct is the hallmark of the information era, but gets in the way of the social era, she says. I could not agree more.

People ask me all the time if I will help them. About 99% of the time, I say yes. Helping others is my secret weapon to stay informed.

I continue to see examples of just how much organizational structures get in the way of how great business sharing can work. In some organizations, it’s about cross-charging for people time. In my view this can be eliminated with a bit of hard work on compensation. When people within  the same company have a bunch of different P&L’s to manage and each one hits different wallets, it gets complicated.

The natural urge and tendency to share and give time to help others gets disrupted. It’s hard stop being helpful, and wow, can a lack of help cripple an organization quickly. I know a lot of folks who have to account for time in a dishonest way because they spent time helping others, and it’s just demoralizing.

Ms. Merchant sees a day when companies will have to reconcile profit and purpose. I see inability to for many leaders (especially in marketing) to face the fact that NOW is that time. It’s not hard to respect, honor and reward the value of connected human contributors, in theory.

In practice, I see organizations that are still only crawling in an effort to move toward the constructs of truly allowing humans to add value in the social era.

How broken will business have to get before helping each other can become the only way to work?  Will business ever catch up to human nature?

A Penny Less is Not Less

Really? Come on Walmart algorithms.

I’m not one to bash retailers that compete with Amazon. I say this because it’s really about experience, not price.  But retailers believe that for most shoppers,  it’s about price, so being a shopper marketing consultant, I play the game.

That said, I’ve installed this app called Invisible Hand, which tells me, when I’m browsing online, where I can find what I’m looking at cheaper. Note the yellow bar at the top of the “screen capture” below.

 

png_ Price compare

 

This morning I get an e-mail from Barnes & Noble about new books. I’m looking at Bobby Deen’s just-released today cookbook. He’s taken his Mams Paula Deen’s recipes and slashed the fat and calories, but not the flavor.

I jump over to Amazon (without clicking on B&N site, sorry) and check out the Kindle version, then the paperback version. Then the yellow bar pops up and tells me I can get this book for $0.01 cheaper at Walmart.com.

As I said, I’n not a retail basher at heart. I truly believe that some algorithm somewhere in cyberland did this to me today.

I want to declare to the technology bot that “A Penny Less is NOT Less.” If the bot tells its human programmer, that’s good. but it probably won’t, because it’s probably not listening to the human reaction I had.

With that behind me, I can now experience the experience Amazon has perfected, the one-click order button. I’ll be testing recipes on Thursday.

Shopper Marketing – Climb into the Soup Bowl

I wish my corporate friends in shopper marketing would get out of their silo’s and climb into the soup bowl for once and for all. Come on friends, think about your own real life behavior. You don’t thing and act in marketing silo’s…and neither do your targeted shoppers.

When will marketing people stop thinking the world of quant data is more important versus a world of measuring human engagement and relationship?

We live in the world of soup, blended with incredible flavors. Would you eat soup with only one ingredient? No. Layers of flavor are just like layers of integrated, synchronized communication. Seamless and tasty. And fulfilling to the shopper.

It’s time to talk more about what is real and what is bulls&*t in the marketing services business. I’m standing up in the kitchen with something to say about blended recipes. They work.

What’s your recipe?