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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sense & Respond

Was going through some archived marketing materials I have lying around tonight and came across an article that I tore out from Inc. Magazine's August 2005 issue. Two articles grabbed my attention in particular:

1. "A New Syllable From Our Sponsor" - a new ad format that threatens the 30-second tv ad spot/media buy from yet another side - more on this next time.

2. "Knowing What Customers Want" - the subject of this evening's blog posting. The article was about the Japanese arm of the 7-Eleven chain that used "sense and respond" supply chain technology. Essentially, the technology "senses" when an item is pulled from the shelf and "responds" by sending the data to the appropriate information system, pinging it for whatever pre-determined business rule response.

This is certainly a facet that involves much more than 7-eleven's merchandisers and marketing departments. It involves finance/procurement and others, as well as suppliers (both manufacturers and distributors). My point is not to get into the impact value of how's and who's within 7-eleven, however. Rather, it is to highlight the applicability of this concept to other businesses, specifically to building in "sensing" and/or "alerting" features into products, portals, etc.

Sense implies need. In 7-eleven's case is the supply chain need to replenish or prepare to replenish. Sensing is also applicable to other businesses though. For example:

- For content or search related companies, current awareness alerts or xml or rss feeds about desired content/content types
- Cars, such as BWM's new service feature, which calls drivers/customers to inform them when their car needs scheduled servicing

The opportunity exist to automate relevant selling, re-selling, upselling, cross-selling, and relationship building with your constituents. This is a company/provider-centric viewpoint. More importantly, it can increase value, satisfaction, and loyalty for your customers. What could be more important?

So what are you waiting for, determine how you can sense and respond what your customers (will) need.


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