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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.

A Vote For Apple Pay: How It Will Impact Retail Loyalty Marketing

Zach-Goldstein-Thanx-HeadshotApple made a big splash on September 9 announcing Apple Pay — finally enabling consumers to make purchases with their iPhones at participating retailers.

With such a dramatic entry and a new, imposing entrant into mobile payments, retail loyalty marketers need to grasp the ramifications of how purchasing and retention marketing will evolve.

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Small To Mid-Size Businesses: The New Target For Hackers

VP Heartland head shotBefore the Target breach, which shook the data security industry to the core, many big companies didn’t see the need to make security a top priority. Many executives thought “good enough” was enough to protect them and their customers.

Target is paying nearly $200 million for its breach, and the big box retailer’s Q2 earnings of $234 million are dismal compared to earnings of $611 million in the same period last year. The cost of being “good enough” is no longer good enough.

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Realigning The Retail Organization For A Better Omnichannel Experience

VP Starmount head shotRetailers have not fully reorganized for the omnichannel era. It’s a point that’s underscored in a recent study from Retail Systems Research and Starmount, which found that retailers have barely reached the halfway mark on their journey to omnichannel maturity.

Shoppers expect a completely integrated experience that seamlessly bridges the physical and digital retail worlds, but retailers face challenges in delivering on that expectation. In light of widespread omnichannel solution deployment, retailers have overlooked the personnel and processes that can bar them from realizing the full potential of their technology investments. How prevalent is this mindset? Another study found that less than half of retailers have dedicated omnichannel teams working across all their business functions.

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Capitalizing On Retail Big Data

Dolphin head shotIncreasingly, retailers are collecting large volumes of transaction data at the point of sale. This data makes pinpointing consumer behavior easier than ever, as retailers obtain real time data about consumer preferences, whether it is the latest fashion trend, a hot new food item, or packaged good.

With Big Data, retailers have the ability to stay on top of the competition and respond quickly to consumer demands. But point-of-sale transactions aren’t the only source of Big Data. Retail supply chains and internal processes are also generating large volumes of data. If retailers want to succeed in a competitive marketplace, they must not only collect retail data, they must also understand how to control it.

As more retail companies grow through mergers and acquisitions, expand into new territories, or launch new product lines, they must consider how data and processes work together to support the businesses’ near term and long term goals. Here we present some simple rules that retailers can follow to help them capitalize on the valuable data they have while staying in control.

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5 Obstacles To International Commerce

VP BlueSnap head shotCross-border online sales are notorious for giving merchant headaches. After dominating one market, merchants try selling in other countries, and then they get blindsided by shipping issues, tax complications, payment failures and other problems I will discuss in a moment. It shouldn’t be this way.

In an era when we can video chat with a person 10,000 miles away, it’s absurd that selling something to that same person is so complex. Consider that only 27% of U.S. e-Commerce merchants are set up to sell internationally, according to the MCM Outlook 2014 Survey from Multichannel Merchant. An even smaller percentage of that 27% will get cross-border selling right because all international merchants have to overcome five obstacles:

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EMV: The Moving Target

ArroweyeEMV has been implemented around the globe, but the US is lagging behind. Fear of high costs, uncertainty about chip specifications and cardholder verification methods, and intimidating regulatory requirements have all meant that many organizations have been slow to take on the challenge of implementing EMV, even though new regulations say they must, and the National Retail Federation says it is the only secure standard. The cost of the transition to EMV is estimated to be $8 billion, and that number, while staggering, is causing some retailers to stop dead in their tracks when it comes to implementation.

The reality is this: major retailers are installing EMV-enabled point of sale equipment now, and in less than two years, 95% of all cards in the US are expected to be EMV-capable. If you are a retailer that offers branded credit or debit cards, you must take action, but you don’t have to take an all or nothing approach. The solution is a timely, four-step approach that will allow you to get an EMV card into the market without getting locked in to one production strategy or breaking the bank.

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Using Personalization To Meet The Complex Expectations Of Millennial Shoppers

VP SmartFurniture head shot 082614Now that e-Commerce has existed for the better part of 20 years, the online marketplace for furniture and home goods is starting to see a rise in buyers who grew with the internet. As these young consumers move from grad school to the workforce and into married life, they continue to use the internet for everything — including making large purchases online. So, categories like furniture and appliances — once thought to be illogical for ecommerce, are starting to see significant growth due in large part to the growing numbers of millennials.

Millennials have lived a significant portion of their social and consuming life on the internet--so the thought of having to physically see, touch or feel and item before buying it is not typically in their thought processes. 

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Rethink Coupons: Digital Is More Dynamic

VP parago head shotRetailers and manufacturers of consumer packaged goods issued more coupons than ever in 2013 (up 3.3% over 2012), according to a just-released annual coupon facts report. Considering the slow economic recovery and consumers’ growing addiction to deal shopping, you’d think redemption rates would have at least risen accordingly.

But redemption rates actually dropped in 2013. The study found an overall decline in coupon redemption volume of 3.4%. The average response rate for coupons was an underwhelming .092%.

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How To Stop Those Self-Checkout Thieves

VP Checkout Vision head shotSelf-checkout is a marvel of technology that customers seem to love or hate.  Love, because it saves them time.  Hate, because it sometimes wastes their time because it “beeps” and no one is around to help them finish checking out.

For the retailer or supermarket, self-checkout arouses a different sort of love-hate relationship.  Love, because it cuts labor costs and saves customers time.  Hate, because it sometimes “beeps” at the customer, thereby requiring more attendant hours resulting in less labor savings.

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In The Wake Of The Target Fiasco, Where Retailers Need To Focus Data-Security Efforts

VP site only BeachheadThe massive breach of Target's data security systems in late 2013 surprised many customers who have come to take the safety of electronic transactions for granted. To insiders following consumer data theft, however, it came as less of a revelation. To them, the Target breach merely served as a painful reminder of the relative weakness of data security systems in the American retail industry. As retailers have expanded their operations across a broader variety of platforms, they have too often neglected to establish necessary safeguards on the information transmitted across those platforms. Where customers see greater convenience, sophisticated hackers see new opportunities.

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The Value Of Retail Data Scientists

VP site only FeedzaiAs the cliché goes, "data is the new gold" and many companies have realized this. The reason is, as the world generates more and more data and at the same time, competition between organizations is fiercer and faster, and as habits change faster, everyone wants an extra edge. Intuition, gut feeling or common sense rules are useful, but not enough. Data lets organizations understand clients, products and processes much better.

This is not just for web companies. For example, Rolls Royce has data scientists analyzing airplane engines data to determine when to schedule maintenance, L’Oreal, the cosmetics company, has data scientists studying the effect of several cosmetics on several types of skins, Fruition Sciences precisely determines when and how much to water grapes to produce better wines, FiveThirtyEight forecasts elections better than most, and Feedzai detects payment fraud. All this, and more, is just possible with data driven decisions.

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Compliance: A Dirty Word In The Business World?

AnnaTurnerHeadshot2Compliance is complicated. I think the word gods were on to something when they started both “compliance” and “complicated” with the same 6 letters. Some might even argue “compliance” is sort of a dirty word in the business world. There’s a reason why we have HR departments, government oversight groups, compliance experts and intense compliance training programs and procedures. What compliance entails for your business is always changing, and not keeping up with it, can really rock your world.

There are those compliance traps that trip you up and the ones that cause you to fall altogether. The traps only grow wider and more prevalent as your business grows, but having some of the more common ones on your radar can help you stay on the right side of the law.

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Retail Secrets Revealed: Increase Profits In Time For The Holidays

VP eCommera head shotIt’s August; do you have your holiday strategy solidified?

As a former retail analyst, I’ve held approximately 3,000 retailer conversations in just over six years. During this time I have learned which technology investments have worked to produce a successful holiday seasons and which have rendered dismal financial results. What can retailers do now to guarantee a holiday win? Below are the top five “secrets” and actionable tips that can be implemented immediately to ensure a better holiday shopping experience and increased profits.

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Your Checklist For Back To School Readiness

Merkle Akin headshotThe Back to School (BTS) season, which spans July through September, is the second-most important season for retailers after the Christmas holiday season, driving $72.5 billion in revenue in 2013.

For Back to School (BTS) shopping, the Internet is the number-one source of product research: 64% of shoppers are influenced by promotions and 62% will go online to search for BTS deals, prices and availability. And, most of this research is being done on a mobile device, with 61% of shoppers starting their shopping on smartphones, and 11% starting their shopping via tablets, while only 25% start on a PC. Consumer research will begin late July and purchase mid-August creating a three-week purchase cycle.

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Reduce Retail Theft By Hiring Smarter

Jason Taylor-4 2In the 25th annual Retail Theft Survey by Jack L. Hayes International, data revealed that in 2012 1,145,688 shoplifters and dishonest employees were apprehended, up 7.3% from 2011. In fact, 71,095 dishonest employees were apprehended in 2012, up 5.5% from 2011 and more than $50 million was recovered from these apprehensions, up 7.0% from 2011. Essentially, one in every 40 employees was apprehended for theft from their employer in 2012 (based on over 2.8 million employees).

The number one way to combat these theft issues is to ultimately make better hiring decisions. Organizations can purchase all of the security cameras, product tags, in-store loss prevention officers and alarm systems they want — but at the end of the day, it’s the quality of the people representing their brand that are going to directly impact these changes.

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