maandag 29 december 2014

The Cloakroom: your online personal shopper

As you could read in my previous post, the fashion industry is one of the industries heavily disrupted by digital transformation. New players like Zalando and Vente-Exclusive became very important very quickly, and it doesn’t look like offline fashion retailers have found a solution to this new competition just yet. The online shopper is quite rational and price-sensitive, something both previous mentioned retailers understand and use to their advantage. Traditional retailers are struggling to compete online and are failing to meet Zalando’s combination of price, product range and delivery options, or Vente Exclusive’s temporary offers.

Traditional (offline), mortar stores compete strongly on the shop experience, and the price premium consumers are willing to pay. The same product can be sold for a higher price because of a different (not per se better) instore experience, customer service or store image. An online price premium for a product will be very hard to claim, if not directly linked to a better service such as faster delivery. The challenge lies in creating a unique, online shopper experience, bridging the gap between on- and offline. “The Cloakroom” does just that.

The Cloakroom, a Dutch company, claims to combine (some of the) advantages of online and offline shopping. As I was in need for a decent holiday outfit, I decided to give it a try a couple of weeks ago. The set-up is quite easy: you register with some basic information and take a ‘style quiz’ where you select different pictures of models dressed in a specific style. For different occasions, you select different outfits (pictures) you would wear: costume, business smart, casual smart, sportive, chique ... Based on your profile, a personal shopper reaches out to you.
"Our mission is to help men build and maintain a stylish wardrobe in a manner that is simple and convenient." - The Cloakroom

I received an e-mail and telephone call from Ilona. She introduced herself and the Cloakroom, explaining that based on our facebook connection (pictures), our talk (needs) and my style quiz, she would select 3 outfits and send them to me in a box, free of charge. We discussed what I was looking for, price range and style, and my box was delivered only a couple of days later.


The box came with a personal letter from Ilona, instructions for products I wanted to return and a price list. Was I 100% satisfied with what Ilona sent me? No. Would it have been totally free if I would have returned everything? Yes. It is however hard to return everything, as it would feel like saying they did a terrible job, which they didn't. I decided to keep one outfit I really liked and returned the other products - transport costs are paid for by The Cloakroom in advance.

For the pieces I returned, the reason why was asked in order to improve the next box. For the pieces I kept, I paid the (offline) retailer price. If I looked for the exact same products online, I probably would have been able to save some money. Because of the concept, however, I was prepared to pay the online price premium. Combining this personal approach (who doesn't like a personal shopper you don't actually need to go shopping with?) with the advantages of online shopping (speed, convenience, no overcrowded stores) is a winning strategy for digital native (and probably a lot of other) men. It isn't a suprise that there are some competitors out there, Outfittery to name one.

The Cloakroom succeeded in turning an offline service into an online USP. Of course there is room for improvement, but I I'm hooked on the concept. I'm not a mirror-selfie fan, but I'll make an exception for Ilona. A late merry christmas, and let's enter 2015 in style!

maandag 8 december 2014

Unpacking the digital consumer

With Future Buy, I researched the digital consumer anno 2014 for my employer, GfK. The results of this study are presented on different events such as the Ecommerce Xpo of last week in Kortrijk. Vincent Panneels (@20100panneels) attended this conference and wrote a review / summary of the presentation. You can find the slides and his summary below, enjoy!

Unpacking the digital consumer, GFK’s Future Buy report presented at E-COMMERCE Expo

During its first edition, the fair E-COMMERCE Expo didn’t simply present booths of companies active in the e-commerce or digital industry. Seminars were also organized to enhance the offer of the event and we had the opportunity to follow quite an interesting one, a presentation of the Future Buy report, by Bert Hendrickx of GFK. Of course it was very summarized and quickly presented to fit the seminar format (30 minutes only), but it highlighted quite a few interesting facts.

Be consistent

There were quite a few key facts that were presented. Such as
  • Belgium still seems to be behind its European neighbors when it comes to E-commerce (92% of people do think so).
  • Three out of four also admit they already filed a complaint against retailers or companies through different medias
    • 58% through email
    • 33% over the phone
    • and 25% used the corporate website
The arrival of smartphones allowing to combine different medias in one device, had actually one great impact for companies. Your consumer doesn’t care about the way he is in contact with your company. But he cares about the fact that all communications he has with you, must follow the same consistency.
Consistency needs to be applied on all channels of communication. And that is the essential impact of omnichannel.
Also, be sure that the omnichannel approach is coming to your category. Maybe today some categories are more impacted. For example, it is the case for fashion or technical goods. Those categories experience more the impact of pure players (e.g Zalando,…). But in the future, all categories will be impacted even the ones who seem behind today (e.g. Healthcare, education, automotive…).

Who is the Xtreme shopper?

Actually, consumers using mobile to do their purchase or interact with companies and retailers, needed to be analyzed a bit more. For this study, GFK took a closer look at the group they qualify as Xtreme shopper. These are consumers you need to consider for the future, as they are young and here to stay. GFK uncovered three key findings
  • Staying away is the new loyalty: A happy shopper doesn’t necessarily come back to your online store if he is happy with his purchase. However, if one has a bad experience with your shop, one necessarily will never come back.
  • Offline drives on experience: real physical stores need to play on the experiences a shopper cannot have online. So far, being stimulated with smell, taste, or touch are not experiences one can enjoy online.
  • Make online more personal: Online stores have many different information, even unique personal information about their customers. So online retailers should take advantage of the information they have in order to make the shopper’s experience more personal and tailor-made.

Don’t forget your mainstream shopper

Very well said by the speaker. Online is here to stay, but don’t forget the mainstream shopper visiting your stores. From this short presentation, we learnt a few key points from the study about online shoppers and e-commerce. And these will certainly bring more fuel to the engine of the “clicks and bricks” debate. In my opinion, the future will be successful for the companies and retailers who still think of making unique experiences of both online and physical stores. Just remember, consistency is key.

donderdag 9 oktober 2014

The (Social) Science of complaining

I wrote this post originally for the GfK blog. GfK is a global market research agency, and my employer. You can find the original post here.

Remember that time you wrote a letter and sent it to your energy provider because you were unsatisfied with your bill? The digital evolution has caused a lot of changes in the (corporate) world, while the rise of Social Media has taken away the role of ‘gatekeepers’, holding off information, or complaints.

3 out of 4 Belgians have complained at least once, and more and more these complaints are taken to Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. They reach out, not only to manufacturers, retailers or service providers, but also to millions of other consumers. This requires a whole new approach from the company to the complainer.

While more traditional channels are still the most popular way of voicing complaints in Belgium, Social Media is definitely on the rise. E-mail (58%), telephone (33%), and corporate websites (25%) are the most popular channels due to the easier access for the elderly. It might not come as a surprise that the younger generations (even up to age 44) turn more towards Social Media.

In general, 6% of Belgian consumer has used Social Media to file a complaint to a company, just under the United Kingdom (7%). However, of all youngsters (15 – 24) who have send out a complaint, 18% used Social Media to do so. Facebook is the most popular platform amongst all generations, with Twitter being second. Other social networks (Instagram, LinkedIn, Google + …) are almost never used, however they are also on the rise with consumers under 25 (3%).

Social Media as a megaphone after not being heard

We took a closer look at the complaints shared via Social Media. Half of them were ‘fresh’ complaints, where Social Media was used as the preferred channel to reach out to companies. The other half of the complaints via Social Media only ended up there because of no or insufficient reaction on earlier attempts via other channels such as telephone or e-mail.

It’s no wonder then that one of the main drivers of using Social Media as a compliant channel is to (finally) get into contact with the company: 1 in 4 did not receive any or a sufficient reaction via other channels, also 1 in 4 states to use Social Media as a ‘last resort to get into contact with the company’. This is linked directly to the fact that people use Social Media as a form of ‘peer pressure’: almost 4 out of 10 states ‘reaching as many people as possible’ as an important driver.

Speed is however the most common reason to use Social Media: not only do consumers expect faster response (42%), but also a faster actual solution (33%). At last, Social Media is perceived as more convenient than other channels (29%). These drivers behind Social Media usage are the same regardless age, gender, social class …

Complaints via Social Media are likely only to grow over time. Today, half of those complaints however could have been avoided if sufficient earlier follow-up via other, more traditional – private – channels would have taken place. Because of the social aspect and the disappeared gatekeeper, Social Media is driving companies to handle complaints faster, better and with more open communication.

woensdag 27 augustus 2014

4 Market Research Quotes

Neil Alden Armstrong (1930 - 2012) was an American astronaut and the first person to walk on the Moon. He was also an aerospace engineer, naval aviator, test pilot, and university professor.

Byron Sharp is a Professor of Marketing Science at the University of South Australia. He is also the Director of The Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, one of UniSA's research institutes.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891 - 1960) was an American folklorist, anthropologist, and author. Of Hurston's four novels and more than 50 published short stories, plays, and essays, she is best known for her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun (1912 - 1977) was a German and American aerospace engineer and space architect.

woensdag 30 april 2014

Not available on the appstore

I would be lying if I told you I never play mobile games such as Angry Birds, Flappy Bird or the recent hype "2048". They probably ring a bell with almost all mobile phone or tablet owners. Downloaded from the appstore or Google Play within seconds, those low-end games offer hours of mobile entertainment.

This recent form of entertainment has certainly reached the younger generation, kids, adolescents ... hanging out in group but all individually playing or social networking via their mobile device. Forgetting to go outside, experience and see the world ... for real.

Sometimes, we just forget there isn't an app for everything, that is just the message this Tumblr wants to spread. They offer stickers with the message "not available on the app store" to raise awareness for day-to-day real-life experiences, a brilliant series of photos ... (more on

woensdag 23 april 2014

Dear twitter, I don't like what I see

Dear twitter,

No, I do not like to scroll down. No, I don't like it when I have to undertake an extra action to see what I want to see.

When I visit someone's twitter profile, I would probably like to undertake one of the following actions.

  • read his or her tweets
  • follow his or her tweets
  • tweet to that specific account
  • find out who he or she is

He or she can of course also refer to a band, company or whatever the twitter profile is representing on the medium.

Here is what I probably don't want to see at first glance when I visit a twitter profile

  • a big ass cover picture covering half of my screen
  • one or no tweets of this account
  • no possibility of tweeting to this account

When I want to undertake the actions of my first list, I need to scroll down to complete intentions 1 (read more than one tweet) and 3 (tweet to that account). That is, if I were not to be horrified by the account's cover picture.

Dear twitter, please update the profile pages with some common - user experience - sense because, no, I don't like what I see.

donderdag 17 april 2014

Multi-device advertising

Today I stumbled upon a print ad in a newspaper about a real estate company. Ok, I didn't find it myself, it showed up in my twitterstream (thanks @Brilliant_Ads).

Nothing special at first sight, but when you look closely at the ad, you can see they just took multi device usage to the next level.

Recent research showed that a lot of people switch devices while performing a certain task (I mentioned this research earlier) and Harcourts is just ahead of this trend: click on this traditional newspaper print ad to find out how you can add $$$'s to the value of your house when selling!

Some might say it's just a print ad fail, but is it really so absurd? Glasshole or not (I am - unfortunately - not), this might just be the future.

Have a look at how Google Glass is used to make reading the newspaper more like reading a website at Engadget.
It's about connecting anyone who reads the (actual, physical) newspaper to everything that doesn't make in on to the page, whether that's more photos, related articles, or video.

donderdag 20 maart 2014

It's time

It has been on my 'wanted' list for over a year: a smartwatch. The last months, I have had many chances for buying one. Nevertheless, it's only on my wishlist, not on my wrist.

Why? I don't want to buy just any smartwatch, I don't want a cellphone on my wrist. I want a watch, that is also smart.

Too bad, this is in contrast with today's try-outs of many brands (The Pebble, Sony Smartwatch, Samsung Gear ...). They have many technical issues (bad battery life, only compatible with some devices, too basic ...), but most of all, they don't look like real watches.

Everyone looks at your watch and it represents who you are, your values and your personal style. - Kobe Bryant

In my opinion, a smartwatch needs to start with the essential: being a watch, telling you the time. Next to that, it should support you during your (busy) days. Keeping your schedule, keeping you up to date, keeping you on track.

A couple of days ago, Google launched 'Android Wear', an OS for smartwatches. And however it seemed like something for the future, Motorola already took it to the next level two days ago. Enter the Moto 360, a watch that seems to be smart.

Moto 360. It's time.

The concept videos are promising, but we will only know if Motorola can keep up it's promises during the summer. My birthday is the 30th of July, can I finally scratch 'smartwatch' of my wishlist then?

vrijdag 7 maart 2014

One Hundred and Forty

A Tweet is a 140-character message posted via twitter. One Hundred and Forty characters. 140. That is the absolute maximum.

If you want your content to be shared via twitter, foresee a tweet-button that shows a message of 140 characters. Or less.

Market research agency GfK (free publicity for my employer!) and Facebook did research on device switching behaviour during online activities (visiting websites, shopping ...). The results were picked up on different online blogs. As it should be, a tweet button was available to share the content.

I decided to share the results of the research via my twitter account.

But then this happened ...

The second blog I read, also had a share-to-twitter functionality.

I even had 33 characters to add my own thoughts or hashtags. Guess which one I shared?

Tweet seats

Zaterdag (8 maart 2014) treedt Ali B op in de Arenbergschouwburg van Antwerpen (meer info). Drie gelukkigen kunnen het optreden gratis bijwonen. Hoe? Via drie gereserveerde tweet seats.

Tweet·seat (de; m; meervoud: tweet seats)
1. Gratis toegangsticket voor een event in ruil voor het regelmatig posten van twitterupdates.

Drie gelukkigen mogen gratis naar het concert in ruil voor regelmatige updates over het concert via hun twitterprofiel. De opzet bestaat er in mensen die geen ticket konden bemachtigen toch te laten meegenieten van het concert, de tweets mogen immers gekleurd worden met videos of foto's. Toeschouwers worden aangezet om ambassadeurs te worden van het concert, Ali B en de schouwburg.

"We bepalen hun mening niet. Als ze iets niet goed vinden, mogen ze dat ook melden.’ - Kim Geerdens (woordvoerster)

Dat sociale media er voor zorgt dat mensen die niet aanwezig zijn toch bepaalde events (deels) kunnen volgen is uiteraard niet nieuw. Tijdens of na een optreden, presentatie, festival ... is er massaal veel media online terug te vinden. Zo waren we vorig weekend allemaal aanwezig tijdens de oscars.

Twitteren (of facebooken, of snapchatten, of ...) tijdens events gebeurt echter vaak spontaan, en zijn zo'n tweets niet meer waard dan een betaalde tweet van Jan Modaal? Als natuurlijk per optreden drie personen aangeduid worden om de sociale wereld te entertainen, kunnen we vanaf nu wel weer gewoon met onze eigen oren en ogen genieten van wat er zich op het podium afspeelt.

dinsdag 4 maart 2014


Always on. Always available. Always Connected.

Generation Y (including me) don't perceive being online via their mobile as 'spending time online'.

What if you forget your phone? What if we disconnect for a moment?

Coca-cola helps us re-connecting, introducing the Social Media Guard.

maandag 3 maart 2014

Factual Updates

8 Augustus 2011. Oscar Pistorius wordt geselecteerd voor het wereldkampioenschap atletiek.
4 Juli 2012. Oscar Pistorius wordt geselecteerd voor de Olympische zomerspelen.
14 Februari 2013. Oscar Pistorius wordt gearresteerd op verdenking van moord.

Oscar Pistorius is de eerste paralympische atleet die ook deelneemt aan het wereldkampioenschap atletiek en aan de 'gewone' Olympische zomerspelen. Hij loopt de 400m sprint en de 4 x 400 meter estafette.

Het proces tegen Oscar Pistorius is het eerste proces dat live via twitter gevolgd kan worden. Hij wordt verdacht van de moord op zijn vriendin, welke hij volgens eigen verklaringen verwarde met een inbreker in het huis.

Een sereen proces zal het echter niet worden. Meer dan 300 reporters ter plaatse, live uitzendingen op tv ... Nu al hét proces van 2014, live in uw huiskamer.

De verdediging - vol vertrouwen over een goede afloop - schuwt de aandacht en het gebruik van de media ook niet. Zo zal onder andere Twitter gebruikt worden om de volgers van @OscarHardTruth continue van nieuwe updates te voorzien, een nieuwe dimensie van sociale media. Wordt ongetwijfeld vervolgd ...


vrijdag 28 februari 2014

The Great Scam

De Admiraal (aka Tom Van Laere) toont met deze vijfde plaat dat hij nog steeds één van de getalenteerdste singer-song writers van België is. Een plaatsje op Rock Werchter 2014 aub.

Beluister via Deezer.

Tiki Taka passing training

A great pass training exercise by Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munchen.

I did this exercise with the U12 (regional) youth players as a warm up, and it worked well in two phases. First, I split it up in two separate groups, each doing the same, simple exercise (left on the picture).
Secondly, I started with everybody together with one ball: good coaching is important there. When this went well, we tried two balls, each starting at 'player 1'. In the beginning, I paused the exercise after every succesful run (means 3 passes, so the ball is with players 4), so the players would move correctly to their next position (actually, just following the ball).

Spot, sweet.

I don’t know whether I should cry or laugh. But definitely memorable.

Contact forms

I try to contact my former operator via an online form, but can only choose ‘I am a client’, ‘I am not a client yet’. What about ‘I was a client’?

The world turned upside down

Normally, you hear things like “it works always, just not in Internet Explorer” or “Does it really have to support Internet Explorer 8?" (Yes, it does).
However, I recently received the message below, this is just sad.

First contact

After filling in a demo request for an online app, this is the e-mail I received from company X. Great & useful e-mail if I want to buy the product, isn't it?
A missed opportunity to send me (relevant) info & gather information about me (the possible customer) and my (buying) intentions.

RIP blink

Luckily, not Blink 182 (enjoy them on Deezer), but the Blink HTML tag.
As from version 23 of the Firefox webbrowser, the HTML tag “blink” will no longer be supported. The end of an era, as it ends the flickering of text on websites.
Webmasters who however want to continue irritating their users, can work around via extensive JavaScript programming. Just so you know, animated gifs and <marquee> are still on the table.

User Manual Experience

I came across a non-intuitive online tool, so I went looking for a user manual.
Fortunate enough, there were 3 manuals available: the user manual, the super user manual and the project manual.
Unfortunately, I will never read them.