An Isobar nowlab Experiment || Zero Friction Shopping

  Can our brains help us shop more smartly? To find out, we’ve created a virtual reality e-commerce solution and hooked it up to an Emotiv EEG reader. By monitoring people’s brain activity while they are watching a catwalk show we can identify which items affect them on a subliminal level and add those to their […]

The post An Isobar nowlab Experiment || Zero Friction Shopping appeared first on Isobar Blog.

5 Extremely Useful Digital Marketing Stats: December 2016

Last month, we explained five extremely useful digital marketing stats. This month, we’re sharing five more!

What advertising trends will drive profits next year? What does shifting spend say about a given industry? How do you make sense of the numbers coming out of Black Friday weekend?

To answers those quesitons and more, we put together our second edition of our monthly stat round up, sharing contributions from the EVP of Sales and Business Development at Liquidus, Greg O’Brien; Senior Content Marketing Manager at Vibes, Debra Filcman; and Cofactor’s own Director of Content, Lindsay DeVore.

From left to right: DeVore, O’Brien, and Filcman


CPGs are expected to spend $5.97 billion on digital advertising in 2016, an 18.2 percent gain from 2015 that will see this sector account for 8.7 percent of total U.S. digital ad spending for the year. (eMarketer)

What does this mean?

5 Rules for Designing the Retail Experience of the Future


In the past few years, the retail industry has undergone a massive transformation driven by digital technology innovations that are fundamentally changing the way consumers interact with retailers and brands. Decreasing footfalls, new online-only competitors, and profound changes in customer preferences are increasingly buffeting the industry and posing it on a knife’s edge. Retailers are combating the online revolution not only to get people into their stores, but to drive them to purchase, as well. 


The shift is pushing retailers to review and transform their traditional business approaches going forward. They are increasingly adapting to the new consumer demand-driven shopping paradigm and different segments (luxury, apparel, mass merchandisers, etc.) are developing. But as they strive to catch up with the trend, retailers must realize that retailing in the digital age doesn’t mean introducing “digital” to the physical space. Instead, it means redefining one’s entire business around operating in a digital world.

Brands must follow the customer’s journey across touchpoints — only some of which will include digital tools at all. A touchpoint might be defined by a smile or the feel of a linen shirt. A mirror image of you dressed in the new style of the iconic Burberry trench coat. The smell of a store as you enter. Operating in a digital world requires integrating the physical and digital, hand in hand.


So, how do retailers go about defining the best combination of physical and digital for their brand? Here are the five overarching rules for retailers to keep in mind when designing the future of their retail experience: 

1. Retailers must become more flexible, immersive, and fit for purpose

Digital extensions — a great interactive kiosk, mobile app, or sales associate tool — are no longer enough. Retail brands must reimagine their business in the age of the customer. Retailing in the digital age should be more flexible than in the past. This means omni-channel and visibility; click and collect; mobile ordering; ship-to-home; and all the permutations.

2. Think experience-led and mobile first: Mobile as the gateway to the brand

For most retailers, smartphones are now gateways to the brand. Mobile is how they start and sustain customer relationships and is now a primary touchpoint for retailers. It is becoming an essential channel pre-visit, in the store (with growing expectations for image search, wayfinding, mobile payments, and voice-based search functions), and post-visit. Increasingly, both retailers and mobile providers are entering the mobile payment space, with 60% of omni-channel retailers predicted to launch customer mobile payment initiatives by 2018.



Focus on the full customer journey

By broadening the aperture of experience beyond its traditional focus in retail — the store — leading brands can create a new competitive battleground and begin winning sales before someone even arrives at a physical property. Capturing pre-visit sales with pre-orders, click and collect can help drive revenue growth for retailers. Another pre-visit technique is that of try-on and try-out innovation, which encourages customers to buy products in-store by letting them try products on at home. But even more important, in our opinion, is post-visit activity. Designing for the post-visit stage of the journey — using follow-up emails, texts, savings catchers, or other communications — is a significant opportunity missed, or poorly executed. 

4. Move from data and reports to intelligence about performance and your customers

Retailing in the digital age requires the optimization of store environments, and analysing flow with real-time analytics is now possible and gaining a foothold. Recent research notes that 71 percent of retailers use or plan to use people-counting technology in their stores, while 68 percent are looking to introduce in-store Wi-Fi and loyalty systems. The evaluation of data from these installations can lead to major revisions in retailers’ understanding of customer behavior. Executives might find that store dwell time is significantly different than they thought, or that smartphone usage is primarily for entertainment or communication, rather than “showrooming.” These and other insights can lead brands to increase (or decrease) their investments into mobile apps, as well as their in-store use of digital endcaps.


5. Keep in mind that stores are far from irrelevant

The value of the store experience — tactile engagement, a full 360-degree experience, and of course a sales force — makes it a difficult channel to ignore, replace, or shut off. The store remains a predominant part of the total retail experience, but its role is changing and requires that it be more in tune with the needs of the Millennial shopper. For this, retailers need to reimagine and evolve their in-store channels and engagement innovations.

Retailers are on the verge and too few successfully blend the three main channels — mobile, e-commerce, and stores — together in a way that is optimized for customer experience. To succeed over the next decade, retailers must fundamentally transform themselves, touching every area from organizational structure to the products and services that they offer.

This wholesale reimagining of their business requires that retailers be focused on five main points: The need for a vision of a future retailer; the importance of mobile; the opportunities in the pre- and post-visit phases of the purchase cycle; the importance of analytics and optimization; and, finally, the continued, central role of the physical store.

The brands that succeed in this environment will be the ones that transition and evolve quickly enough to get ahead of the changes in their core business. How will you design the future of your retail experience?

Discover how these trends are evolving across the retail space by diving into our global research report, available for download here.

By Jemuel Ripley (VP & Global Retail Lead, New York), Zachary Paradis (VP, Customer Experience Strategy, Chicago), Hilding Anderson (Director, Research & Insights, Washington, D.C.) & Nathan Chmielewski (Senior Associate, Marketing Strategy & Analysis, Chicago)

Join the Leith Foodbank Appeal

In 2011, there was one Trussell Trust foodbank in Scotland. Now there are more than fifty. There are nine in Edinburgh alone.

This story ran two days after Christmas last year as we grazed on turkey soup and the pesky coffee Roses that no-one really enjoys. Over 7,000 people visited foodbanks in Scotland during Christmas week.

A few of us at Leith have been doing a bit of research into foodbanks as part of a training course we’ve just completed. IDEO’s Human Centred Design Research was made available online by Acumen and set us a brief as part of the course.

Our research took us to foodbanks and we learnt that there are actually two kinds of parcels given out to people needing help. A box of food that lasts three days for people with access to cooking facilities. And the equivalent if your only cooking equipment is a kettle.

Sapient Named Among Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality


We are thrilled to share that Sapient has earned a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2017 Corporate Equality Index, an annual benchmark of U.S. workplaces on LGBT equality.

Now in its 15th year, HRC’s Corporate Equality Index is based on criteria that have been created to encourage employers to advance the best practices, policies, and initiatives for LGBT workplace inclusion. With this score, Sapient has proven our ongoing commitment to inclusion by all major benchmarks of the Human Rights Campaign and solidified our stance that discrimination has no place in our business.

We also extend our congratulations to DigitasLBi and Razorfish for receiving perfect scores as well, demonstrating the strength of our shared dedication to diversity across Publicis.Sapient.

Click here to view the entire 2017 Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign. 

Break “Secret Santa” Traditions and Fight Hunger

14 million people in South Africa suffer from hunger every day.

Non-profit FoodForward SA already tackles the issue, currently feeding 250,000 people daily. Last year alone the organization distributed more than 3,300 tons of food.

This year, continuing their commitment to helping South Africa’s hungry, FoodForward SA and JWT South Africa have unveiled a new fundraising campaign that turns Secret Santa into an opportunity for people to donate to FoodForward SA.

Instead of more typical holiday gifts, the campaign encourages people to purchase a festive card from FoodForward SA for just R35, which will go toward helping to feed a hungry person for a month. In return, people receive a beautifully designed card that they can give to their colleague or loved one.

Once you make your donation, three card options are emailed to your inbox and the card informs the recipient that a donation has been made on their

Enterprise Startup: Three Pillars for Thriving in Fast-Changing IT Environments


As Tom Goodwin notes, Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. This may sound counter-intuitive, but, in fact, it’s the new reality for businesses operating in a digital world.

For these brands – and many of their fellow disruptors – success comes, in part, from the ability to better meet customer expectations. In today’s always-on age, consumers want brand interactions to be instantaneous, seamless, and personalized. This requires software delivery to be transformed into an outside-in function that plans, builds, and runs technology based on customer behavior and expectations. By extension, enterprise IT professionals must deliver software in an iterative and continuous manner.

The benefits of continuous delivery, as powered by development and operations (DevOps) and other methodologies, are significant. This model has been shown to enable business transformation and improve business results by delivering software products to market faster, cutting downtime costs, and reducing risk. And yet, many companies – particularly established, large organizations – are not embracing modern development best practices or adopting an experimentation culture.


To that end, SapientNitro surveyed senior technology leaders to better understand organizations’ enterprise IT practices and the current state of enterprise IT. As a result, we’ve developed and refined our “enterprise startup” approach – a new mode of operation that helps clients embrace a culture of experimentation and better organize around the customer. To create an enterprise startup, we believe there are three things that businesses need to do differently from the traditional approach:

1. Build Clean, High-Quality Code.

Our research found that clean, high-quality code at every stage in the lifecycle helps provide timely feedback to work groups, enables real-time adjustments to projects, and helps optimize overall results.


Building clean, high-quality code involves two steps. The first is making sure the code is of production quality from the start. The second step is to build and use a DevOps toolchain and ensure that it is adopted by enterprise IT teams. To help companies overcome this gap, we have designed and built our own continuous delivery DevOps toolchain, which builds in high levels of quality using mostly open source tools that help engineers test and perfect quality during the development process rather than waiting until a future, separate testing phase.


Automate with a NoOps Mindset.

In our study, 92 percent of digital leaders agree or strongly agree that clients want to “automate all enterprise IT processes.” However, just 16 percent agree or strongly agree that clients have been “very successful” in doing so across their organizations. In other words, companies recognize the value of automation, but are struggling to make it widespread.

We encourage organizations to look at automation with a NoOps mindset – which is to say that “no operations” team will be needed to manage and maintain the product. Few companies – be they startups or large enterprises – meet this standard today, with just 13 percent of our IT experts agreeing or strongly agreeing that companies “regularly” use a NoOps mindset. In our experience, the inability of IT teams to set up and maintain the test environments needed to run different experiments is a key challenge. There are occasions in which environment creation is so manual and error-prone that it takes weeks or months to create test environments.


3. Think “Small and Frequent”.

As leading companies transition to continuous delivery, thinking “small and frequent” is one way to minimize risk. We characterize this activity into three main categories: 1) adopting microservices, or breaking applications into small functional clusters to fuel automation; 2) thinking beta, or releasing changes to a small group of customers before expanding; and 3) rethinking measurement, or establishing key performance indicators to chart progress.

For many businesses, this step requires the biggest shift in mindset. In the end, it basically comes down to having the right architecture, right processes, and proper data in place to effectively inspire change.


As companies look to compete in a digital world and adapt to customers’ always-on mindset, the “enterprise startup” approach – embracing journeys, focusing on building quality code, automating wherever possible, and adopting a “small and frequent” mindset – can help drive change.

To review additional findings from our research and learn more about continuous improvement, download our full report, entitled Enterprise Startup: Tactics for Thriving in Fast-Changing IT Environments.

By Pinak Kiran Vedalankar, Director of Technology, Digital Transformation, SapientNitro London.

Customer Centricity Means Time and Money. Is it Worth It?

planning for customer centricity

Customer centricity, the customer journey and the customer experience are the big buzz in marketing. But customer centricity takes a lot of time and money. How can you be sure it’s paying off? You’re making changes, but are they the right changes? You have 1,000 priorities; what’s your best course of action RIGHT NOW?

You’re not alone in asking these questions.

I often see marketing executives that have good intentions around understanding and improving the customer experience. But in many cases, the financial business case isn’t formed enough or the success metrics aligned well enough to determine if the investments delivered an improved financial return for the company.

Senior marketing executives need a concrete, reliable method of getting from the idea of customer centricity to actually improving customer experience. And you’re playing against the clock. With limited budget and limited patience to wait for the ROI. Add to that, the need for new investments to be self-funding. No wonder it can be so difficult to get from the idea of customer-centricity to scalable business impact.

In my experience, there are four things you need to have in place to make sure your customer experience strategy and execution work can justify the investment and, at the end of the day, prove it worked:

  1. Data, insights and understandings that go way beyond NPS, clicks, calls and routine transactions.
  2. A more integrated plan and platform for technology and enablement tools to tie all the parts and pieces together.
  3. Skill and agility to create the content and assets required to fuel the myriad of conversations to be had with the customer and to make the experience contextually relevant and meaningful.
  4. Focus and diligence on things that significantly impact both the customer and the business in a positive, incremental and measurable manner.

Let’s take a closer look.

1. Data, Insights and Understanding

Marketers need to understand what the consumer is trying to accomplish at each twist and turn of the buyer journey and the customer lifecycle. What are they thinking? What are they doing? Why? What’s getting in their way? To customize your CX plan, you must use a whole assortment of data, insights and understanding that go way beyond the usual suspects like NPS, clicks, calls, etc. These metrics answer very specific questions about specific points in the customer experience but rarely tell the entire story about what the customer wants, needs, and why she feels and behaves in certain ways.

To better inform your decision making on what to invest in now, later or never, you should be relying on insights from your buyer journey diagnostic, voice of the customer research, data audits, and a variety of other inputs including your NPS and CSAT data. By combining these various data sources and types, you can begin to create a more complete picture of the customer. 1 + 1 can equal 3.

2. Integrated Plan for Technology and Enablement Tools

There are legacy systems in place across every business. Some are old and antiquated, some are new and shiny. Regardless, there’s typically a need to bring together data and technology in a different way to capture the right customer information—to ultimately make informed choices and to be able to execute on your CX ideas. For example, if you want to use info about a customer’s website activity to arm your customer service representative on an inbound call, you need technology integration that connects the website and the inbound call center and also surfaces the data to the rep in a meaningful way.

With thousands of technology options and tools, what are the right ones for your brand and your customer experience? You need the right combination of tools in place to capture and action data from or about the customer. The technology needs to enable a seamless and satisfying experience for the customer in way that creates economic value for your business.

3. Skill and Agility to Create Content

To really embrace and deliver on a relevant customer experience requires an abundance of content to be actioned in real time to deliver a relevant interaction and to keep the conversation going. Most organizations have a lot of latent content that’s created for different functions across enterprise, but rarely is it organized and catalogued in a way to fuel relevant CX. Frequently, I find that all of this content is more heavily situated in upper funnel awareness instead of deep funnel or nurturing content that helps in other stages of buyer journey.

It’s important to assess all of your current content, identify gaps and opportunities to improve it or more effectively use existing content, catalog it, and be committed to continuous process of content creation. You’ll need to be able to bring together many different bits and pieces in real-time or in batch around the customer and what they’re trying to do in each moment of the journey.

4. Focus on Things that Impact the Business

There’s lots of ways to go about delighting the customer. But just because you can do it, doesn’t make it the right thing to do. You need to evaluate each potential CX improvement in terms of its impact to the customer, as well as its direct or indirect impact to the company’s bottom line. You have to look at what’s good for the customer and brand simultaneously. If you solve too heavily for one or the other, it’s going to be a mismatch. If you solve for customer without worrying enough about business impact, you’ll find yourself at some point unprofitable. If you lean too heavily on what’s right for the business, the customer leaves you. You have to have the right balance.

This is difficult because customer experience is the accumulation of interactions that occurs over time. You have to take a longer and wider view of CX to truly evaluate how all of the actions you could do over time affect the experience over time—and to what extent the improvement in experience relates to an improvement in business results over time.

With so many options available, it may be difficult to decide which investments will provide the best bang for the buck. It is critical to evaluate and prioritize your options based on what delivers the best value for the customer at the proper level of resource and investment for your company.

Delivering Business Impact

If you have all four of these points nailed, you’ll have a more effective customer experience strategy and a much higher likelihood of being able to demonstrate and deliver business impact.

STC Unveils a Fresh Side to Saudi Arabia’s Image

Saudi Telecom Company has unveiled a major new campaign aimed at dispelling the stereotypical ideas around Saudi Arabia to both the world and to Saudis themselves.

J. Walter Thompson created ‘Unveil Saudi’, a project that invited local bloggers, social media influencers and photographers to journey with STC through the Kingdom’s lesser-known villages, towns and small cities to document a side of the country beyond oil and desert.

“People outside the Kingdom are unable to view the country the way Saudis do,” explained Ahmed Al Sahhaf, general manager of Consumer Marketing Communication at STC. “All too often, images and mass media portray desert and oil.

“But sometimes, even Saudis need to be reminded of the beauty and diverse landscape across their vast country.

“The images on Unveil Saudi are a reminder of our colorful and joyous land; green mountains, clear streams, cloud-covered cable car rides, fields and parks, dusky night