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Executive ViewPoints

The retail industry is fortunate to include numerous executives with extensive experience — and they are willing to share their insights in the Retail TouchPoints ViewPoints section. These byline pieces focus on industry trends and do not include solution provider sales pitches. Many of the byline pieces receive the greatest number of clicks on the RTP site each year.

To Empower Your Loyalty Program, Turn Members Into Brand Advocates

When was the last time you actually felt rewarded by a retail loyalty program? When was the last time you received an email full of coupons or sales that didn’t just feel like a desperate cry for attention? For years, retailers have shaped customer loyalty programs around punch cards and discounts. While these lightweight programs are often enough to inspire a return visit, they do very little to make a better customer experience (CX). When a sale is the only meaningful way for a customer to interact with their favorite brand, retailers make it very clear that customer loyalty is a one-way street.

Going Native: How This Advertising Format Is Changing The Game

The retail advertising landscape is perpetually evolving, driven by the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, and the demand for access to rich content, social channels and videos on mobile devices. With 68% of Americans already owning a smartphone, optimizing ads for mobile has become an essential part of any high-achieving advertising campaign, leading more and more big-name publishers and digital-only outlets to offer brands the opportunity to place sponsored content on their platforms. However, poor quality, interruptive and annoying adverts are driving a surge in ad blocker downloads, making it essential for advertisers to produce interesting and relevant content that will appeal to consumers.

Staying Secure During The Holiday Season

While it may seem far off for consumers, retailers know that now is the time to start thinking about the holiday season. Even though Black Friday deals are a few months away, it takes significant planning and testing to ensure web sites are optimized and secured to handle the onslaught of both legitimate and attack traffic, meaning now is the final stretch for retailers. Most retailers will enter into a “Code Freeze” on any changes to their network going into the fourth fiscal quarter. This not only gives them a deadline to get their systems patched and secured, but also address the malicious actors who might be targeting the network. Every year, it seems like there is something new that retailers need to be on the lookout for, and this year is no different. Chip technology and ransomware are at the top of security professionals’ minds, and the retail industry is certainly not immune to their threats. So what exactly are the dangers related to these technologies and how can retailers mitigate them?

Fostering Loyalty In The Digital Age

“Anyone can sell their product by dropping prices, but that does not breed loyalty.” ― Simon Senik Loyalty. Oxford Dictionaries defines it as “a strong feeling of support or allegiance.” Companies increasingly place a premium on fostering it. Forrester Research says improving customer loyalty is likely to be a top marketing priority for 80% of decision-makers at large organizations this year; and a CMO study highlights that 61% of CMOs believe loyalty program participants represent their best and most profitable customers, thrusting customer loyalty programs into the spotlight.1 Unfortunately, the most recent loyalty census by Colloquy underscores the fact that today’s programs are ubiquitous but largely ineffective, with Americans belonging to approximately 29 loyalty programs per household but participating actively in just 12. The drop-off rate has risen steadily every year since 2012 and a whopping 67% of consumers say they don’t feel they are getting adequate value from sharing their personal information with organizations.2

Tackling Conversion Issues Across Digital And Physical Store Experiences

Retail TouchPoints sat down with the founder and CEO of Radius8 for a Q&A focused on helping retailers capitalize on growing digital traffic and converting that to foot traffic and sales in their brick-and-mortar stores. Retail TouchPoints (RTP): One of the top problems we’re hearing from retailers is declining store traffic, especially in malls. Conversely, digital traffic is exploding. How can retailers address this issue?

A User’s Guide to Content Marketing

Given the increasing costs of customer acquisition, achieving brand loyalty amongst consumer bases is more important than ever. Historically, brands would reach out to customers in an aim to attract more traffic and boost sales, but today the buyer is the expert. In this change of tides, buyers independently reach out to particular brands and offer their indulgence — no longer can they simply be bought by generic coupons and ad campaigns. Marketers can’t just look to retain customers, they need to deeply engage with them to build full brand loyalty. Simply advertising a promotion — like in traditional marketing — is likely to result in a one-time purchase. Content marketing, however, allows consumers to be immersed in the experience of the brand’s expertise and consider their opinions as they make their initial evaluations of competing products. Simply put, content marketing uniquely allows brands to communicate with consumers and sell values and ideas without outright selling anything.

Planning For The End: Prioritizing Product Reuse And Recycling Can Help Your Business

Today’s retail landscape is characterized by a constant stream of product releases and innovation. Coupled with planned product obsolescence, this leaves the world with a massive amount of excess inventory and a growing stream of product waste. According to Sustainable Brands, the average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing each year. Importantly, the Wall Street Journal notes that product waste, particularly e-waste, not only ends up in U.S. landfills, but also in developing nations — creating a myriad of environmental and human health risks. Yet retailers are well positioned to be at the forefront of waste reduction — without sacrificing business growth — by focusing on the end of a product's life from the start. In fact, a smart sustainability strategy can positively impact the retailer and the environment at the same time. By prioritizing product reuse, retailers may find that they can cut costs, while ensuring high-quality products and increasing brand loyalty.

Mobile, And Social, And Location, Oh My! How Today's Retailers Can Tap Into Next-Generation Marketing

It's no secret that the introduction of digital changed the way marketers reach, engage and convert consumers. In the years since digital became the norm, the world of marketing has continued to evolve dramatically. This new era, characterized by concepts such as omnichannel, multi-device marketing, the "Internet of Things" and advanced marketing attribution, is reshaping the way brands and consumers interact, and how marketers measure and optimize the impact of their efforts.   In retail, this evolution has been particularly striking. Shoppers no longer simply head to the mall or their local brick-and-mortar store to make a purchase. In today’s world, each person’s path to purchase is unique and complex, crossing multiple channels, platforms and devices as consumers browse, research and buy.

Influencer Marketing With A CGC Twist

In a world where 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people over brand messaging, companies must harness and optimize the voice of influencers to build and retain a following. Today’s consumers are wary of traditional advertising tactics. As the ways brands reach their audiences continue to evolve, companies must adapt accordingly. Engaging with an extensive group of influencers is a powerful way to communicate your brand’s message in a trustworthy and authentic manner. Below, we provide an overview of influencer marketing, best practices, and pros and cons to ensure a successful influencer marketing strategy. What exactly is influencer marketing, and how do you define it? The term “influencer” is often associated with an individual with a large following across various social media channels, whether he or she is a trendsetter, professional product reviewer or a full-time blogger. But in today’s digital and connected world, millions of individuals collectively have enormous influence on purchase decisions. Ultimately, influencer marketing is the ability for brands and retailers to leverage content generated from real consumers — ratings, reviews, Q&As, social posts, images, and video — in-store, online, and in their marketing campaigns, to help active shoppers make more informed buying decisions.

Predictive Analytics: Looking For The Next Big Thing

Consumer trends change quickly and often unexpectedly, and consumer-facing companies struggle to keep up and change strategies to take advantage of what's trending. Gap saw sales of denim falling, and is making a big bet on its new Athleta brand. Whole Foods is embracing a new format in response to a demand for more affordable quality. Every major consumer company in the world has a staff that reports on the latest trends to see what the "next big thing" may be.  But companies that create strategies in response to today’s hot trends may already be behind the curve the minute those strategies are executed. Some trends are destined to be short-lived, some become table stakes and don’t give any competitive advantage by the time products hit the market. A better strategy is to apply foresight analytics to predict what trends will be important to your products and consumers in the future — and even predict big future trends well before they emerge in the “top 10”. This predictive approach, which combines mathematical rigor to business strategy, goes deeper than simply analyzing current trends on Twitter, or looking at past performance to predict the future.

Brexit’s Potential Impact On Retailers

Amid speculation around how the European Union might punish the UK for voting to secede in the monumental June 23 Brexit vote, British consumers are already punishing UK retailers themselves. Shopping visits — or footfall — in the UK declined 2.8% in June from the previous. year. This decrease — the sharpest since February 2014 — seems to legitimize widespread concern about how weakened consumer confidence and the devalued British pound resulting from Brexit will hurt retailers. Brexit’s impact on the footfall decline is indisputable: UK store visits increased 0.3% in May and 0.4% the first week of June before dropping 4.6% percent during the week of the EU referendum and 3.4% during the remainder of the month, despite the surge in summer sales by retailers.

Five Ways To Attract And Engage Today’s Hyper-Connected Shoppers In-Store And Online

These days the lines are blurred between in-store, digital and social shopping choices. Consumers and retailers alike are struggling to keep up with the rapidly changing options. What’s au courant one day can be passé the next. Some retailers are doing a better job than others, and I’m often asked about the best examples I’ve seen of retail marketers keeping up. These five tips are based on some of my recent observations, and on insights derived from Citi Retail Services’ research and decision management groups and from other research organizations. They also incorporate findings from our Shoppers Connection online focus group. 1. Ensure that the online/offline coordination of your value proposition is seamless and delivers on the promise of convenience.  Shoppers’ mobile engagement continues to increase at a rapid rate, and these consumers demand a seamless experience to draw them into the physical store. Retailers however can only capitalize on the growing trend of buying online and picking up in store by ensuring the experience is smooth from end to end. For example, when a shopper visits a store to pick up a product, it’s critical that the store knows her, has her product, and that the checkout/pickup process is quick…

How To Chip Away At The EMV Problem When It’s Chipping Away At Our Patience

It’s been just shy of one year since the October 2015 liability shift which resulted in a number of changes at the checkout counter. From credit card brands rolling out chip cards nationwide to businesses updating their payment terminals, EMV’s arrival was thought to be a welcome change in many ways (namely bringing increased security to payments). Unfortunately, it’s taking time — a long time — for this technology and transition to become a reality. Both merchants and consumers alike express frustration with chip card transactions, the most frustrating aspect of which remains the user experience. As a recent NPR Planet Money podcast calculated, transaction approvals are painfully slow: sometimes taking up to 15 seconds for a chip card to be read, compared with the less-than-one-second swipe of a conventional magnetic stripe credit card (one of the biggest consumer complaints about the U.S. transition to EMV).

Experiential Retail: The Act And Art Of Millennial Shopping

“To the best ladies’ night ever! Thanks MatchesFashion!” The six women raised their champagne flutes on the garden rooftop and took a quick selfie, before proceeding into the SoHo loft in NYC to shop for $3,000 Chloe dresses and get their hands on the season’s hottest Aquazzura pon pon sandals. The line defining their shopping excursion versus their social outing had completely blurred, but what was evident was they were having a memorable (and brag-worthy) experience at the exclusive MatchesFashion Residency. It is a concept brands have been attempting to get right with sports and entertainment marketing for years: becoming completely entwined in a consumer’s experience and elevating the impression of their brand, and customer spending, in the process. But in the past, that touchpoint occurred in the front row at Madison Square Garden or courtside at the AT&T Center. In order to attract and create loyalty with millennial shoppers, retailers are now flipping this concept on its head and bringing the experience directly to their customers. There are plenty of definitions out there of Experiential Retail, ranging from virtual reality to store layouts, pop-up shops to in-store cafes. But for those retailers who are truly getting it right, I’d…

Search Marketing Holiday Guide For Retailers

As retailers start thinking about the holiday season this year, they need to take a different approach to search marketing than they have in years past. This is because Google updated AdWords and Google Analytics earlier this year to be more mobile-focused in line with shifting consumer behavior. These changes have made search ads more personalized, digestible on mobile platforms and centered on location. Ultimately, Google is banking on the concept of “micro-moments,” which is the specific time that a specific person might be interested in a specific piece of information. This is a shift from the context-based strategy that has shaped search marketing up until this year.
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