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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.

Private Label For Profitability: Six Things To Consider

Costco has its private-label Kirkland brand. Nordstrom has Caslon. And Kohl’s has Sonoma as its billion-dollar in-house brand. Retailers can boost profit margins with private-label goods by controlling the entire value chain from manufacturing to delivery. Apparel retailers have been advancing a private-label strategy for years. While Amazon has been delivering private-label products in other categories — such as the Amazon Basics line for hard goods focused on lower-cost electronics and office supplies — its move into apparel signals a bold expansion of this strategy. Every retailer of scale is looking at the benefits of increasing private label merchandise to drive profits and engage cost-conscious Millennials who are not brand loyal.

Why Retailers Are Upgrading Their Retail Management And POS Systems

Generally speaking, retailers have three primary objectives in mind when it comes to new technology deployment. The first is to streamline business operations with the goal of increasing management and staff productivity and overall efficiency across the organization, leading to greater cost savings. The second is to drive revenue growth, which is accomplished through improved marketing and sales effectiveness. The third objective is to enhance the customer experience, which should improve customer satisfaction, loyalty and brand advocacy — and, ultimately, of course, increase revenue and profitability.

Why The Demise Of The Home Bookcase Should Matter To Marketers

You learn a lot about people by what’s on their home bookcases. Books read, music listened to, photos kept, artwork and knickknacks collected, etc. You get to know something about their interests, tastes, sophistication and even family history. These days, however, the bookcase seems to have a lesser role at home. Digitization impacts what we keep and display. Books on the shelf are becoming less the norm as PDAs, Kindles and other readers replace our hardcovers. Digital music is replacing our album covers and CD cases. Elaborate stereo systems are being obsolesced by barely-there Bluetooth speakers.

Digital Passport: Linking In-Store And E-Commerce

A passport is an incredible thing when you think about it. It’s your own universally recognized key that opens you to travel across borders. Right now in the retail world there are borders that are neither easy to cross nor universally recognized. They are the channels retailers offer, particularly e-Commerce and brick-and-mortar. There is a need for some form of “retail passport” that would enable consumers to seamlessly cross these borders between channels.

Three Reasons The Video Camera Is The Most Important Tool For Small Businesses

Did you know that businesses are four times more likely to be burglarized than homes? Often, would-be burglars believe businesses are easier targets. Beyond potential intrusions, small businesses face other day-to-day challenges such as liability and managing an efficient and trustworthy workforce. One of a business owner’s most critical tools against these issues is a video system. And while small business security is one of video’s primary functions, businesses can also use their camera systems to maximize other critical areas — from cost savings to employee management.

Don’t Assume — Millennials May Surprise You!

Retail marketers, take note; this is a pivotal time. B2B or B2C, there is an audience challenge everyone has in common. Although Baby Boomers still earn the most, that market is shrinking and with 42% of Millennials earning more than $50,000 annually, they now don’t look so bad (Quad/Graphics, 2014). Millennials have surpassed the Boomer population by more than 7.7 million (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015) and are now the largest workforce of all generations at 53.5 million (Pew Research, 2015). Anyone who sells a product or service must know how to sell to Millennials. While it is true that Millennials spend a lot of time on the Internet and social media, that is not necessarily the best place for advertisers to get their attention. There are plenty of experts advising marketers how they should be spending marketing dollars, but it is important not to rely on assumptions or misguided advice.…

The Naked Truth: Retailers Have No Idea Which Recommendation Approach Will Work

Online product recommendation has been around for several years, and nearly every retailer is employing some kind of recommendation strategy on their site. After all, the product shown is one of the most powerful factors influencing a purchase decision. There are many types of recommendation algorithms available, including those based on popularity, situational context, and behavior. While retailers absolutely should be using recommendation strategies on their sites, they cannot simply pick a single recommendation strategy themselves. Instead they must let the customers’ position in the purchase journey influence the type of recommendation strategy that will yield the best results. To get the absolute best results, retailers must personalize their recommendation strategy.

Small Solutions Can Mean Big Business For Retail

The bigger the business, the bigger the security system, right? Wrong. There’s been a long-standing misconception that large-scale retailers need large-scale surveillance solutions, and small systems are strictly for the mom-and-pop shops. Oftentimes, retailers feel “trapped” by their size and forced into generic solutions because they think there is no other way. That is certainly not the case anymore. As retailers become more diverse by the day and adopt a variety of cutting edge business models, store set-ups and customer experiences, the ideas of big and small have gone out the window. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to retail security, and luckily, security and surveillance technology has adapted alongside this new era of retail. With IP-based systems becoming baseline, we are seeing the advent of out-of-the-box solutions that have the ability to scale to a large enterprise, opening up new doors for retailers of every size who take this hybrid…

The Blind Side of Customer Experience

Fashion retailers expend significant resources and energy building and positioning their brands, so they naturally want to provide consistent brand experience both in-store and online — from curating the right product offering and designing beautiful physical and digital stores, to generating customized experiences for consumers. Unfortunately, the majority of retailers have a blind spot when it comes to their online brand experience, overlooking a crucial component of the online purchasing process — the fraud review stage. Fraud review comes at a sensitive time within the order flow, post-checkout but pre-fulfillment and shipping.

How To Better Understand The Bot Ecosystem

Bots get a bad rap. They’re paralyzing web sites, scraping unique content, and taking over the Internet, right? It’s true, bad bots can do a lot of damage, but what about the good ones? We’re often talking about how to avoid bots, deter them, and block them. But much opportunity lies in figuring out how to distinguish between good and bad bots, and understanding how the distinctions change across applications and environments. Nearly all online businesses can be impacted by various types of bot traffic. This traffic may include scrapers that grab content or price information, automated “clicks” that fraudulently increase ad revenues and “transactional” bots that can be used to purchase limited availability goods and services, making them unavailable to legitimate customers.

5 Steps To Secure Customer Loyalty Today

Thanks to powerful mobile devices, the whole world is a consumer’s marketplace. It's easy to compare features and prices, read reviews and buy online or at the point-of-sale. This ready access to information can tempt consumers to feel less loyal towards their favorite brands, but retailers have more power to stem this tide than they may realize. That ability is in the experience they give their customers throughout their interactions. That’s why email remains one of the most effective marketing tools for engaging with your fickle customers — when done right. However, it can’t be solved with yesterday’s “batch and blast” approach to bulk email marketing. It simply doesn't work anymore, in no small part because of the poor experience it presents to a customer. Instead, a retailer must be ready to engage on a one-on-one basis with each of its customers at the moment they're ready to buy. 

How To Choose A Training Solution For Your Retail Organization

You know that much of your retail success lies in the hands of your associates. You also know effective education is the key to providing a superior customer experience. Many retailers have implemented Learning Management System (LMS) solutions to deliver online training courses, believing they would improve the ease and effectiveness of their associate education. Unfortunately, these systems haven’t helped. Associates aren’t learning more, let alone retaining the information they need to know to do their jobs well. And because that knowledge isn’t ingrained, they can’t apply it in their roles. The result is often inadequate customer service, which not only hurts the retail brand, but the company’s bottom line.

The Little Guy Is The New Walmart

The retail market is undergoing a significant shift, but not in the way that you think. The age of technology is upon us and presenting challenges and opportunities, but that’s not the whole story. We must pay attention to not only the how of the industry, but the who. Who exactly is getting ahead in the new market, and how can we be more like them? For many, getting a product into a major retailer is the epitome of success. Exposure, wide distribution, a recognizable name all come along with enterprise deals. And as lucrative as these deals can be, it’s not the only way anymore. These days, the little guy is actually taking market share from the Fortune 50.

How To Reduce Loss For Excess And Returned Merchandise

Consumer behavior is continuing to shift: online spending is rising while brick-and-mortar foot traffic is declining. What’s more, many stores are playing catch-up when it comes to their e-Commerce operations or are struggling to compete in a very demanding online environment teeming with competition. All this is forcing many retailers to close physical stores (we’ve seen some big names in the news lately), leaving them with millions of dollars in excess inventory to sort out behind the scenes. Instead of sending the merchandise to another store or marking individual items for closeout, the majority of it will be slated for liquidation and sold into the secondary market.
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