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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.

How Can Online Retailers Survive In The Age Of Amazon?

1sitecoreOnline retailers have been trying to keep up with Amazon so they don’t become defunct — even grocery stores worry that Amazon Fresh could be the grocery store of the future. Niche online retailers can win at a game that’s hard for companies like Amazon to master at scale: by providing specialized experiences and recommendations. Smaller companies can differentiate themselves from the big players by delivering high value for each customer, providing great customer experiences and offering educational resources.

For example, if a customer wants to buy an affordable new DSLR camera that can post photos directly to social media but is also the right size for travel and ease of use, he will likely find himself on a specialty site like B&H Photo Video. There, he can easily enter in that criteria using the filters, read informational articles, watch tutorial videos, and talk to a specialist.

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Real-Time Contextual Marketing: Five Best Practices To Drive Retailer Success

1liveclickerReal-time contextual marketing — people are talking about it, but how can retailers leverage real-time content to be most successful with their customer and prospect marketing efforts?  The first step is to understand that real-time contextual marketing isn't just one "thing.” A variety of content can be triggered based on five primary real-time pillars, and within each of these pillars, there are multiple opportunities for using real-time content, including:

  • Geolocation: live weather forecast targeting, live maps, temperature, location-based offers;
  • Time: countdown timers, time-of-day/week/month messages, expiring offers/discounts, social feeds, breaking news;
  • Device: embedded video, app download buttons, mobile deep linking;
  • Language: alternate language hero image, multilingual articles or ads; and
  • Performance: real-time creative/offer testing with winners chosen dynamically based on click or conversion metrics

As a retailer, your business is a good candidate for sharing many of these types of content with your prospects and customers based on their real-time context. Here are five best practices to help drive the success of your real-time contextual marketing program:

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KTC: The Secret Ingredient Of Starbucks’ Mobile Pay App Success

1yanivzookIf there were an Academy Awards category forwinners in digital payments, Starbucks would definitely have an Oscar for its Mobile Pay App. Runners-up like Apple Pay and Samsung’s LoopPay are frankly lagging behind.  

The figures are impressive: 16% of Starbucks’ transactions occur via mobile, representing more than 7 million transactions a week, and the application has over 12 million active users in North America. In 2014, more than $2 billion worth of transaction volume was paid through the Starbucks app. That’s a mind-boggling rate of mobile penetration when compared to other retailers’ app programs or even mobile payment applications.

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Managing Returns In A Complex Omnichannel Environment

1Ian Goldman CelerantOmnichannel has been a hot topic for the past few years in retail. That begs the question: When will retailers just achieve omnichannel success and move on to the next topic? It’s not a simple question to answer because the term encompasses so much, even when looked at from a purely technical perspective. It gets even more complex when you consider the softer aspects of omnichannel; that is to say, the human experience and expectations that are driving its evolution.

The only metric that truly matters is how well merchants satisfy evolving customer demands with consistency. The most striking aspect of the omnichannel universe is how it has been affected by the concurrent shift in power to consumers. That makes success a moving target. Never before have consumers had so much influence over retailers, fueled in large part by enhanced communication between them — but more importantly, the explosion in consumer-to-consumer communication empowered by the Internet and social media is influencing behaviors in a massive way.

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Resolved: I Will Stop Sending The Same Email To Everyone In 2016

1Susan Wall BrontoWe’ve all been hearing for years that we need to stop batching and blasting our emails. Yet, we know we don’t. Sending a message to every subscriber on our list is our comfort zone — it delivers revenue, no matter what. So let’s make 2016 the year that we acknowledge that it’s hard to give up on batch-and-blast and resolve instead to move away gradually by experimenting with segmented and personalized campaigns. Here are six ways to move away from spraying that whole list:

1. Take Baby Steps

Intersperse bulk sends with segments. The e-Commerce Marketing Manager for fashion retailer Johnny Was didn’t try to convince the marketing team to give up batch-and-blast all together. Instead, she crafted re-engagement messages for customers that had not been responding, then added a cart abandonment messaging program and transactional messages with suggestions on accessories. “We’re working hard to evolve our email strategy from the 'batch and blast' philosophy to a more customer-centric approach, with more triggered messages, personalized content and segmented targeting,” says Frederique Meijer.

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Big Data Goes Small (Business)

1Norm Merritt ShopKeepCorporate behemoths are no strangers to big data. Big box retailers like Walmart have been leaning on detailed analytics for some time now, using insights to inform business strategy and enhance their competitive advantage. Take Target for example — linger too long in their shoe department and you may receive a coupon for those running shoes you checked out online, but never bought.

These capabilities have largely remained the privilege of retail giants, but thanks to advancing technology — such as smart point-of-sale systems — small businesses are getting a piece of the big data pie, giving them the tools needed to take back Main Street. For the first time, independent merchants have access to previously uncaptured and inaccessible data — a capability that will forever change consumer-merchant relationships. It’s a real-life David and Goliath story, small merchant versus corporation, with big data as the proverbial slingshot. How small businesses apply these analytics, however, will determine the outcome of this unprecedented opportunity.

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The Daily Deal Fad Is Dying Out Whilst Couponing Is Thriving: Here’s Why

1ImBullThe daily deal craze that once dominated our email inboxes has now begun its demise. According to figures released by Experian, sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial have experienced a 22.8% decline in recent years. As couponing continues to grow (it’s expected that in 2016, there will be around 127 million digital couponers in the U.S. alone), consumers are around six times more likely to use a coupon code than a daily deal voucher when making an online purchase.

But why have bargain hunters fallen out of love with daily deals and group buying? In theory, the concept of group buying sites is great for everyone involved: Create a high level of demand on a product or service by promoting them at extremely low prices for a limited time only (‘snap it up, while you still can!’). Businesses, particularly SMBs, receive a level of exposure and are guaranteed a certain number of sales by employing these sites to market them.

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Going Contactless: Learning from Other Markets

1FIMEIf you are one of the 85% of merchants still working on your EMV acceptance plans, you may be considering accepting contactless and mobile payments as part of your migration. In fact, it looks like many retailers are going the contactless acceptance route. Javelin recently did a study, projecting that one-third of U.S. establishments will accept contactless payments by 2019. Should you be part of this group?

When making this decision, some good news is that most EMV terminals shipped today are capable of accepting contactless and mobile payments, so extra hardware isn’t necessary to implement contactless acceptance. And there are significant benefits for a retailer that enables contactless acceptance for both contactless chip cards and NFC-enabled mobile wallets:

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Solving The Complexities Of Payment Management

1pazienOne of the most important, yet often overlooked aspects of online retail is collecting payments. Right now, highly optimized sites support more than 10 different currencies and over four different payment methods. Next year, e-Commerce volume is expected to be up 236% from the volume of 2012. With more and more global citizens shopping for goods and services online, the need to support more payment methods and currencies increases, leaving merchants with the responsibility to meet this growing demand.  

To muddy the water a little more, there are more than 1,000 registered payment providers to choose from and 300+ different payment methods. Retailers must pick and choose specific regions to focus on and integrate their potential customers’ preferred currencies and payment methods by choosing the right payment provider for their specific situation. Crucial analytics come into play once payment providers are integrated, as retailers must focus on the ROI of each provider and payment method.

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Don’t Lose Out On Millennial Buying Power With A Bad Mobile App

1VP PushBy 2017, Millennials are set to become the generation with the strongest buying power in the U.S., with $200 billion burning a hole in their collective pocket. Born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, Millennials are in many ways the first truly digital and mobile-driven generation for retailers to contend with. But, while more than 85% of them own a smartphone, a recent Accenture study found that rather than shopping consistently online, Millennials actually prefer the in-store brick-and-mortar experience.

The question of how retailers can capitalize on this contrasting pairing of behaviors can be answered not just by deploying mobile applications, a tactic many have been using to varied effect for the last few years, but by launching mobile applications that offer seamless location-based services to shoppers as they tread that thin line between mobile and in-person engagement.

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The Great Disconnect Between IT And Loss Prevention In Retail

1VP AxisOne of the biggest and most costly problems for today’s retailers is shrink, or the loss of saleable goods. In the U.S., increases in employee fraud, shoplifting and administrative errors cost the industry $42 billion in 2013. Yet, as dire as the problem appears, a recent study from global research and advisory firm IHL Group found that a miniscule 6% of annual IT budgets are actually tasked toward loss prevention (LP) technologies and initiatives. (Disclosure: my company, Axis Communications, worked with IHL Group to commission this survey.)

So, what’s the hang up? One issue lies in a clear disconnect between retailers’ IT and LP departments, particularly when it comes to the following areas:

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In 2016, Mobile Will Make Or Break The Customer Experience

1VP IBM ImageIn 2016, retail store associates need to know their customers' preferences to deliver the best service and experience that shoppers demand. Is mobile technology equipped with analytics the silver bullet to making 2016 the best year yet for both retailers and customers?

The post-mortem on how retailers fared over holiday 2015 is in full swing. The trend of consumers choosing to shop online rather than at the store soared. For the first time ever, more shoppers turned to their digital devices than physical stores to shop on Black Friday. In all, IBM Watson Trend found that online sales for November 1 through December 26 were up 13.3% over the same period in 2014.

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6 Ways To Ride The Wave Of Shopper Marketing Renaissance

1Olga Yurovski ShopperationsOver the past decade, the retail channel has been gaining importance in most brands’ go-to-market strategy. This is primarily due to three major factors: 1) fragmentation of media and brands’ inability to cheaply drive demand via traditional advertising; 2) consolidation of retail and its stronger buying power; 3) retailers’ progress in capturing and leveraging shopper data that enabled them to create a meaningful relationship with brands’ consumers.

Today, retail chains position themselves as a “Retail Media Channel,” and rightfully so: they enjoy the weekly foot traffic of hundreds of millions of shoppers, which represents an opportunity to bring brands’ marketing dollars closer to the store and shelf.

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Amazon Is Not The Only Online Retailer Paving The Way For Price Optimization

Nearly every multichannel retailer wrestles with increasingly competitive and fast-moving markets, and implementing a dynamic, highly responsive pricing solution is critical to competitive success. With thousands of SKUs in multiple channels with different competitive dynamics and promotion strategies, it’s clear computers using the right technology will do a better job of pricing than human beings. Throwing more people at the problem juggling more lines in a spreadsheet just doesn’t scale.

But few of us have the deep pockets and armies of data scientists of dynamic pricing leaders like Amazon. For the rest of us, here are some pragmatic considerations as you assess, select and implement dynamic pricing.

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How To Gain Customer Loyalty In Retail Banking: Customer Experience 2.0

1qulixFor the past several years the term ‘Customer loyalty’ has become a real trend in almost all spheres where business interacts with a customer: banking, retail, telecommunications, insurance, etc.

Every business understands that the more new customers attracted and old ones retained, the higher is the ARPU (Average Revenue Per User). The rush began with the world's largest banks in the U.S. and Europe and increasingly spread across the globe. Banks’ management was heavily investing the field, while thinking whether this initiative is worth the money spent.

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