Understanding the Real Impact of Social Media Monitoring on the Value Chain

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3 March 2013 Understanding the Real Impact of Social Media Monitoring on the Value Chain More and more companies have turned to social media monitoring or social listening tools to find the critical insights hidden among the noise of the social sphere. In fact, data from Aberdeen Group's Omni-Channel Customer Experience survey suggests that 48% of companies have deployed social media monitoring and that an additional 38% plan to implement these tools. With the help of this technology, companies can use the voice of the customer to make critical adjustments and find issues related to inventory allocation, order management, returns management, cost, overall service satisfaction and beyond. This document will detail the form, extent, and impact of social media monitoring and analytics on supply chain processes and e-commerce initiatives. This document is the result of primary research performed by Aberdeen Group. Aberdeen Group's methodologies provide for objective fact-based research and represent the best analysis available at the time of publication. Unless otherwise noted, the entire contents of this publication are copyrighted by Aberdeen Group, Inc. and may not be reproduced, distributed, archived, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent by Aberdeen Group, Inc.

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5 Page 5 The Evolving Customer Companies are under incredible pressure to stay ahead of the ever evolving customer base. For example, 59% of survey respondents indicated that a lack of consumer insights is their top data-related pain point. Part of the problem has been the advent of social media, which has thoroughly changed the customer dynamic. As a result of social media, customers are: More Influential As the old adage goes, "A happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy customer tells the world." While customers decades ago would have to go to great lengths to "tell the world," today all they need is a social media account to reach millions of people. To be sure, today's customer is more powerful and influential than ever before due to social media. The customer's sphere of influence has increased exponentially; through social media a customer (happy or not) can influence hundreds even thousands of others via blogs, online communities, and other social media sites. According to Social Media ROI: Customer Engagement, Brand Interactivity, and Revenue, the top business pressure driving social media usage is growing consumer adoption of social media as a primary shopping channel (51%).

6 Page 6 More Demanding The tightening credit and slowing economic environment have also made customers more selective with their spending. They are less patient with channel dynamics and inventory management issues. In fact, according to the 2012 Aberdeen Customer Experience Survey, the top two pressures faced by retailers were the customer's increasing demands for similar customer service regardless of channel (38%) and elevated customer expectations (38%). More Mobile The proliferation of mobile devices means that customers are never far away from your company's social sentiment. Consumers wield their mobile devices like weapons able to impact your company's social reputation at a button click, which complicates the retail environment even further. In fact, the 2012 Aberdeen Mobile Retail Survey showed that increasing mobile device adoption rates was a top business pressure (31%). In the end, the data points from various surveys all show that the evolving customer is "top of mind" for many companies in retail and beyond. In the next section, we will discuss how companies use social monitoring to cope with today's empowered customer.

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8 Page 8 Social Media and the Value Chain Data from social media and online communities offers a number of options for those that wish to embrace it as a process improvement tool. To get a sense of how companies use social data within the value chain, it is important to see which phases (according to the SCOR methodology) currently apply social data as detailed in the February 2012 Supply Chain Executive's Agenda Survey (Figure 1). Figure 1: Social Networking Usage Current and Planned by Supply Chain Phase Plan 50% 13% Source 38% 25% Design 63% 8% Make 25% 25% Current Deliver 56% 22% Planned Service 80% 10% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Percent of Respondents n=110 Source: Aberdeen Group, February 2012

9 Page 9 The service phase is by far the largest area of influence for social data. This makes sense, as the critical service area is the closest and most visible to the end customer. But the chart also shows that the key logistical areas of planning and delivering rate highly on the list of social data usage. This is due, in large part, to the potential of social media data to guide key logistical processes, such as: Demand Management Companies using social media and online communities are able to capture, analyze, and anticipate demand on a more consistent basis. In fact, social media data users were: 68% more likely to integrate demand signals, adjust forecasts, and synchronize operations plans 41% more likely to account for supply-demand fluctuation by optimizing overall inventory levels

10 Page 10 Order Fulfillment Companies using social media and online communities were better able to deliver shipments to customers. Further, they were able to do it at a lower cost. In fact, social media data users: Had a higher customer service rate (complete and on-time) 94.3% compared to 92.2% for those not using social media data Had a fulfillment cost increase of just 2.4% year over year compared to 4.3% for those not using social networking Inventory Management Inventory is a necessary evil and, when not managed, can severely impact a company's ability to turn a profit. Yet, companies that utilize the insights from social media and online communities seem to have a significant advantage. In fact, social media data users: Had a lower average out of stock rate of 3.4% versus 7.2% for those not using social data Had lower inventory carrying costs of 9.5% versus 10.7% for those not using social data

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12 Page 12 The Need for Dedicated Social Media Monitoring Tools The last section demonstrated that even limited usage of social media and online communities can have a dramatic effect on the value chain. Still, the above results are simply a prelude to bigger and more valuable insights derived that can be derived from a dedicated social monitoring and/or social listening tool. Figure 2: Social Media Monitoring and Customer Sentiment Capabilities Social media monitoring tools 48% 38% Ability to integrate mobile and social applications 31% 58% Online reviews 40% 38% Net promoter score tools 24% 32% Current Planned 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Percent of Respondents n=105 Source: Aberdeen Group, February 2012

13 Page 13 To be sure, the task of monitoring the social sphere and mining customer sentiment is only growing more and more difficult as the number of users and social sites increase. As a result, the amount of unstructured social media data companies have to deal with can be difficult to handle. In fact, 68% of survey respondents listed either too much unstructured social data or the lack of being able to integrate unstructured data as their top challenge associated with big data. For this reason, companies have turned to dedicated social media monitoring tools to harness the voice of the customer so they can drive value chain processes.

14 Page 14 Social Media Monitoring's Impact on Performance Metrics There are value chain process advantages to social media data. Yet, there are additional benefits gained from deploying a dedicated social media monitoring solution. Table 1: Performance Metrics for Social Media Monitoring Tool Users versus Non-Users Using Social Monitoring Not Using Social Monitoring Customer Satisfaction Rate 84.4% 82.9% On-time online order fulfillment 94.4% 91.6% Average order value 12.1% 11.5% Customer retention rate 11.0% 4.6% Gross margin return on inventory investment (GMROII) 11.7% 8.6% Online cart abandonment rate -2.5% 4.3% Source: Aberdeen Group, March 2013 Based on the above table, companies using social media monitoring tools see significant uplift in service-oriented metrics like customer satisfaction, customer retention, and average order value. This uplift in service-oriented metrics is due, in large part, to the role social media monitoring plays in overcoming the growing disconnect between companies and their customers. In fact, companies using social media monitoring tools are:

15 Page times more likely to incorporate daily or weekly consumer insights into promotions plans 9.5-times more likely to incorporate daily or weekly consumer insights into pricing plans 3.5-times more like to incorporate daily or weekly consumer insights into store-operations plans 3.5-times more likely to incorporate daily or weekly consumer insights into supply chain plans Companies using social media monitoring tools effectively reduce the functional gap between the customer (and the customer's sentiments) and their organization.

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17 Page 17 Key Takeaways Sophisticated companies use social media and online communities to truly listen to the customer and use those insights to drive their entire value chain. In the document above, we saw how social media monitoring is impacting the following areas: Evolving Customer The customer's voice is louder more influential than ever before as the sheer number of potential customers within virtual or social earshot continues to grow. Interestingly, even with the customer's voice being louder, there are still companies that are not capable of listening to that voice. Social Media and the Supply Chain Companies use social media and online communities to power supply chain process improvement in key area like demand management, inventory management, and order fulfillment. Value of Social Media Monitoring Companies using dedicated social media monitoring tools see additional customer service oriented benefits above the more limited methods of utilizing social media and online communities. These companies effectively reduce the functional gap between the customer (and the customer's sentiments) and their organization. In sum, the real power behind social media is that it provides a platform for developing a deeper understanding of customers. Our data indicates that social media and social media monitoring can play a key role within the entire value chain and that many companies have already begun to see benefits from embracing the power of social media. For more information on this or other research topics, please visit

18 Page 18 Related Research Supply Chain Collaboration in the Consumer Markets; March 2013 Demand Planning Segmentation: Getting the MAX Out of Your Business; January 2013 Three Gifts of SME Collaboration: Innovation, Revenue, and Workforce Readiness; January 2012 State of Cross-Channel Retail Supply Chain Execution: Reduction in Inventory Holding Costs and Out-of-Stock; December 2011 Extended Points of Service: The Next Generation of Customer-Centric Retailing; April 2011 Social Media Marketing Helps Retailers Achieve ROI; March 2011 State of Retail Supply Chain Collaboration, Visibility and Integration 2011: Design to Deliver Alignment; March 2011 Supply Chain Visibility Excellence: Fostering Security, Resiliency, and Efficiency; March 2011 The Roadmap from Multi-Channel to Cross- Channel Retailing: The True ROI of Unified Customer Experience; November 2010 Author: Kevin M. Permenter, Senior Research Associate, Retail and Consumer Markets

19 Page 19 For more than two decades, Aberdeen's research has been helping corporations worldwide become Best-in-Class. Having benchmarked the performance of more than 644,000 companies, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to provide organizations with the facts that matter the facts that enable companies to get ahead and drive results. That's why our research is relied on by more than 2.5 million readers in over 40 countries, 90% of the Fortune 1,000, and 93% of the Technology 500. As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen s research provides insight and analysis to the Harte-Hanks community of local, regional, national and international marketing executives. Combined, we help our customers leverage the power of insight to deliver innovative multichannel marketing programs that drive business-changing results. For additional information, visit Aberdeen or call (617) , or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) or go to This document is the result of primary research performed by Aberdeen Group. Aberdeen Group's methodologies provide for objective fact-based research and represent the best analysis available at the time of publication. Unless otherwise noted, the entire contents of this publication are copyrighted by Aberdeen Group, Inc. and may not be reproduced, distributed, archived, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent by Aberdeen Group, Inc.

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