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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.

Four Mobile UX Features For A Better In-Store Experience

Up 39% since 2009, global mobile penetration is providing consumers with the freedom and flexibility to make purchases from just about anywhere. According to the 2015 Global Payments Report from Worldpay, 23% of all global e-Commerce sales will come exclusively from mobile devices over the next three to four years, and in North America alternative payment methods such as those via mobile are expected to claim 55% of all e-Commerce turnover within the same time period. While the added convenience of mobile is expected to raise e-Commerce sales to $2.4 trillion by 2019, these devices are the driving force behind a much larger shift in the payments and retail industries — omnichannel purchasing. Consumers now have the opportunity to start, resume and complete transactions seamlessly across multiple channels. From researching a product online to picking it up in-store and then paying with a mobile wallet, mobile devices are increasingly bridging…

Hyper-Personalize Campaigns Using Analytics: Four Ways to Increase Customer Spending

When it comes to marketing, long gone are the days of a business sending out a homogeneous message and hoping it “stuck,” that is, resonated enough with the customer to result in increased sales. Thankfully, that finger-crossing is over. In the context of today’s digital revolution, reaching out to customers takes a whole new form. Reasons for this are two-fold: technology now allows businesses of all types to find out a whole lot more about their customers before a marketing strategy is even formed: they can learn a customer’s browsing history, past purchases, social media habits, a general idea of their preferences, and more. The second aspect of today’s form of marketing is based on the first: using all of the valuable data collected from the customer to formulate marketing campaigns that are highly personalized based on their increasingly specific preferences. This is hyper-personalization — the newest wave in digital…

The Survey Says…It’s Time to Close The Gap

It has been said that success in retail boils down to execution. One sure way to boost operational effectiveness is by ensuring you have a complete and accurate view of assets and available inventory at the store level. What is the cost of not knowing? Some retailers estimate that indirect spend cuts into 10% to 15% of their sales revenue. And it doesn’t take much to throw off your accuracy, either: everything from a simple spreadsheet error to new acquisitions, store closings and openings takes its toll on your data. That’s why now is the time to close the gap between what you think you know and what you absolutely need to know about your stores.

Moving From Omnichannel to Digital Transformation

The impact of the digital economy has created challenges for all CEOs, particularly for those in the retail sector. What began as a quest to create the perfect customer experience has made retailers turn their attention to building a superior omnichannel environment, to keep up with the proliferation of touch points and to meet the ever-changing shopping habits of consumers. Recently, Stibo Systems conducted a comprehensive research study to learn more about the state of the digital transformation and the key benefits and challenges companies from various industry verticals and regions have faced. What we found is that three-quarters of all respondents (75%) claimed that they were currently undertaking a digital transformation project, while nearly three out of five (59%) said their organization was investing more in related transformational activities in 2015 vs. what was spent the previous year.

Ready To Implement An Omnichannel Solution? Five Factors To Consider

Every retailer is grappling with the challenge of how best to create a seamless omnichannel presence. As the number of disparate, nonlinear touch points along the customer lifecycle journey continue to multiply, it’s up to brands to figure out how to effectively connect with their customers at each juncture.  Consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to how and when they access e-Commerce brands, and while most retailers understand that omnichannel is a necessity, it’s extremely difficult to have the proper architecture in place to gather, exchange and draw insight from various sources of raw data. Even the best omnichannel solutions in the world will prove useless without the proper organizational foundation in place. 

Insights Are Overrated

With the amount of digital data in the universe growing at an exponential rate — doubling every two years by most accounts — it’s easy to see how recent years could be dubbed as “The Big Data Era.” Retailers and marketers played a large role in this, focusing on gathering data from every source, and squirreling it away for a rainy day. From there, we came into the “Era of Insights.” Retailers began to take their data stores and analyze the information hidden within them, hoping to glean insights that will help improve their interactions with customers. How can we summarize what has been happening in the market? What guesses can we make based on what happened in the past?

How The Internet Of Things Is Making “Frictionless Retail” A Reality

Reducing friction has long been a goal in the retail industry, but the promise of “frictionless retail” has remained elusive. However today, thanks to the Internet of Things, mobile, cloud computing, edge analytics and other digital technologies, the promise of frictionless retail is finally within reach. The concept of frictionless retail is the elimination of any non-value added activities that can negatively impact the customer experience, sales or operational efficiency. Often, these points of friction exist simply because until now there hasn’t been a better way. For example, how many of us are tired of having to find our credit and loyalty cards, swipe them at the gas pump, punch in our ZIP codes, dismiss irrelevant offers, wait for a paper receipt and more, just to fill our cars with fuel? A much better, “frictionless” experience would be to simply drive up to the pump, fill the tank and drive…

Curating the Circular: Using The Power Of Video To Turn Shoppers Into Buyers

Shopping behaviors are changing as new technology and shopping tools are adopted in the marketplace. Shifting shopper behavior is weakening the traditional item and price print strategy. While print remains a steady avenue today for shopper reach, engagement and shopper demand for digital touch points is steadily increasing (particularly with younger generations) while print engagement across all generations is continuously declining. For this reason, marketers aren’t seeing the same effectiveness with their circulars as they used to, by turning shoppers into buyers– hence why some retailers like Walmart are publishing half as many circulars as they once did. But that doesn’t mean that the methods behind the circular are draconian. Consumers will always want promotions – what is changing is the way they’re getting them.

Innovating For Innovation’s Sake

Innovation is as integral to a company’s growth as finance or operations, but what drives real innovation in the retail industry? Many people associate “innovation” with the latest bells and whistles featured in a tech blog — regardless of its relevance. But innovation is so much more than that. For retail, innovation is about identifying actionable ways to get ahead of the ever-increasing pace of change, and learning how to operate in a constantly evolving environment. Innovation in retail isn’t about doing something “cool” to get attention — it’s about the ability to adapt, it’s about survival. Innovation is no longer a nicety — it’s a necessity.

5 Ways Retailers Are Using Behavioral Economics to Supercharge Offers

Williams-Sonoma thought they had a hit on their hands. The retailer had introduced a home “bread bakery” machine into their stores for $275. But consumers weren’t interested. They chose the nearby French press or mini grill instead. Instead of yanking the bread maker, Williams-Sonoma changed how it was presented. They added a larger model of the bread maker priced about 50% higher. Suddenly, the $275 version began to fly off the shelves. Given two breadmaker models to choose from, people saw the smaller one for less money as the better deal, and they pounced.

Moving Beyond The Hype: 3 Tips To Bring Personalization To The Next Level

It should come as no surprise that location-based marketing is gaining traction as it evolves, especially in the retail industry. It’s got the magic formula to deliver the right message at the right time to the right customer — a triple threat if you ask me. But is it all hype? With more and more shoppers seeking personalized experiences, location-based tactics allow retailers to reach their customers on a more individualized level. Consumers want curated content that is personal and meaningful. They also want to be able to research and explore all options on their own so they know they’re not missing something.

The Delicate Art Of Delivering A Personalized Experience

According to Gartner, less than 10% of top retailers in the U.S. believe they are highly effective at personalization, and nearly one-third report having limited or no capacity to support personalization efforts. At the same time, these same retailers are challenged to improve customer experiences across an ever-growing number of physical and digital channels. Successfully achieving this will more effectively convert consumers despite the virtually unlimited number of options they have when it comes to where they shop.  Personalization, at least in the marketing context, has been around since the start of the dotcom bubble in the late 90s. At that time, online retailers wanted to improve their services by remembering consumers and recommending relevant products and services. Today, marketers have to expand personalization to include displaying and recommending content across a variety of platforms and channels. This demands a greater emphasis on understanding a consumer across all the channels that…

Four Tips To Create A Thriving Online Store

Quick quiz: which of these retail locations will drive more sales? At Ernie’s Emporium, shoppers have to look long and hard to find an associate for help with a question or a size — and when they finally do, the answers they get are vague, impersonal, and often inaccurate. At Beth’s Boutique, customers are greeted warmly at the door, then left alone as they browse — until the moment they’re ready for assistance, when the associate returns to guide them smoothly through their final selection and checkout. Okay, so it wasn’t a very hard quiz. But you’d be surprised how often retailers create virtual stores that more closely resemble the Ernie’s experience. That’s one of the main reasons that e-Commerce conversion rates remain frustratingly low, even as consumers flock in ever-rising numbers to web and mobile storefronts.

Overcoming The Organizational Obstacles Of Omnichannel

Consumers are desperate for omnichannel experiences. They work across channels; why can’t their favorite retailers? In their minds it is as simple as that, and a lack of multi-channel strategy by retailers leads to frustration and diminished brand loyalty among consumers. At a time when shoppers are demanding a seamless experience across all brand channels, both on- and offline, retailers are struggling to move at the speed their consumers want and need. Those were the findings of a Periscope survey at World Retail Congress 2016, which found 78% of retail executives admit there is no one brand experience across their channels, while also acknowledging that “a well-defined cross or multi-channel strategy” was the top innovation that would drive digital growth (64%).

Exploring And Managing The Data Scientist Skill Gap

Leveraging the promise of Big Data is a challenge for retailers as they balance the need to streamline processes and reduce costs while investing in tech and staff members capable of working with the data. Information is often a retailer’s most important asset, and utilizing it properly can be the difference-maker between success and failure. To fulfill the promise of Big Data there is now the role of “data scientist,” a person who uses their technical and abstract thinking skills to look at data in new and impactful ways. Given the explosive interest in analysis of large interconnected data sets, it’s not a surprise that data scientists are in heavy demand. The demand is so great that it has developed a skill gap, with a McKinsey study estimating a 50% to 60% gap between supply and demand for analytic talent by 2018.
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