Business Brains

Bookseller inspires store feedback with social business software

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Indigo Books & Musics is enabling close to 250 different store locations to share best practices, find operational savings and document customer testimonials.

In mid-January, I asked the question, "Is your company ready to be a social business?" partially inspired by a barrage of new IBM software that fits into this application category. After all, Forrester Research predicts the market for social enterprise applications will increase by 61 percent through 2016 to reach about $6.4 billion in revenue at the end of that year.

The fact is that becoming a social business isn't about installing software, it is about changing a culture of communication and knowledge sharing. So, I asked some of the companies in the category to offer up some good examples of how businesses are benefiting from their software.

The first example comes from Moxie Software, which last year added 75 new customers to its list of reference accounts. That was a 30 percent growth over 2010, according to the company. Perhaps even more notable: close to 80 percent of Moxie Software's existing customers expanded their implementations over the past 12 months. One of those customers is Indigo Books & Music, a Toronto-based bookseller and media company with close to 6,600 employees that is using the Moxie Software to share and receive information from close to 250 stores across Canada. It is doing this through a Moxie platform that supports profiles for individual stores and employees to share ideas and feedback. An example of an employee profile appears in the screenshot below (the example is not specific to Indigo Books):

John Summers, senior vice president of retail operations and consumer experience for Indigo Books & Music, said one of the biggest motivators for his company's installation of Moxie Software was its introduction of a new customer loyalty program. During the introduction, Indigo Books & Music wanted to make sure that all stores were receiving the most updated information possible and that they were, in turn, able to offer feedback on the progress of the rollout. "We didn't have a system for instant feedback," Summer said.

By creating a section where different stores could discuss the loyalty program and share customer experiences, they were able to learn from each other during the rollout phase without having to sort through email for updates. Because the platform supports images and video, some of that feedback was visual. "Everyone sees the conversations and they don't disappear," Summers said.

After the loyalty program rollout, Indigo Books & Music started using the platform as a means of sharing operational ideas. One of those ideas, which may be rolled out system-wide, could save the company close to $1 million in operating costs, Summers said.

The Moxie Software deployment built on a existing intranet portal that was relatively static and difficult to search. Aside from the potential operational savings, the benefits have come in the fort of increased knowledge of shared best practices, better training resources, and improved communications.

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(Software screenshot courtesy of Moxie Software; bookstore image in post thumbnail by Brendan Gogarty, courtesy of Stock.xchng)

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure