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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.

The Future Of The Instant Gratification Economy

It’s never been easier to catch a cab than it is today, thanks in large part to Uber. Now, instead of running around looking for taxis with their lights on, we can turn to our smartphones, punch in our addresses, and go. This convenience has given way to an entire movement of instant gratification and as consumers, we’ve grown used to it. The process has become so seamless that we often forget a key piece that’s conspicuously missing — the actual payment. Turns out, though, that this instant gratification movement was just the beginning. As consumers began to expect and understand the benefits of instantly hailing a cab, commerce as a whole has taken note — taking the values of automated payments, credit cards on file, and app-based shopping and expanding them tenfold.

Why Negative Reviews Aren’t Always Bad

Online reviews on e-Commerce sites are becoming more influential in the online shopping experience. According to Forbes, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. As the number of people shopping online continues to grow, the use of UGC and online consumer opinions will become more central to the e-Commerce strategies of online retailers around the world.

What Will Replace The Cookie In A Mobile-First World?

For years, retail marketers have used web browser cookies to track consumers who are visiting their site, offer targeted promotions and add people to their mailing lists. But web cookies are crumbling, as they only account for activity on the web, not the multi-screen, app-filled world we live in. Enter the trusty mobile phone number, something that rarely changes in a person’s lifetime and is tied to many facets of life. Think about it — your phone number serves as an authenticator in registrations, call center records and brand loyalty cards, and companies like Facebook and Google use phone numbers for account verification. With phone numbers tied to so many aspects of our identities, they have the potential to bridge everything together in a way that web cookies never could.

Selling Beyond Borders: 3 Exporting Challenges Businesses Should Know

When you think of exporters, you’re likely to picture large companies selling products such as cars, electronics and airplanes. However, sizable corporations aren’t the only key players in exporting — almost 300,000 small and medium-sized businesses export products or services to at least one country outside the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau1. Global expansion can be a strategic way for small and medium-sized businesses to grow and diversify their customer base, as 95% of the world’s customers and 80% of the world’s purchasing power are outside the U.S.2 Yet not surprisingly, the countless opportunities global expansion offers also can come with logistical challenges. As you consider an export strategy, it’s important to recognize a few common challenges I’ve observed to better manage global expansion in a way that can help strengthen financial growth.

Data Analytics: The Key To Unlocking The Retail Advantage

Today’s retailers have so much to know about customers — who they are, what they buy, when they buy, how they like to pay, and how they feel about the interaction, product and brand. The good news is there’s plenty of data to fill in the gaps. Every customer visit and interaction, be it in-store, online or on a mobile app, yields a trail of data for the retailer to explore. By leveraging that data, retailers can improve sales, customer service and their product offerings. And that’s where data analytics comes into play. According to Gartner, retailers need advanced analytic capabilities in order to compete in today’s digitalized marketplace.

Maximizing Peak Period Revenues: A 3-Step Guide

The peak holiday period from November through December is increasingly critical for global retailers as their best opportunity of the year to acquire customers and revenues.  Despite numerous reports citing consumers revolting against the pull of commerce holidays, this year saw new records set for both purchase volume and turnover revenue transacted. Companies who were the biggest winners this holiday season had three critical success factors in common:   Killer Deals Mobility Customer Convenience  Let’s dig into the holiday data and explore how these three areas of focus helped companies succeed this holiday season.  

Industry Majors Make Strides In Predicting Consumer Behavior Via New Technologies

Retailers, it seems, have long made information technology investments to tell them what happened — what sold and how many; what products were popular in specific regions; and where additional products needed to be shipped to keep the shelves filled. Now, major retailers are leading the charge in creating information technology systems to tell them what will happen, so they can be better aligned with the customer and take advantage of trends as they happen. And it’s expected that as these predictive analytic systems become more commonplace among major retailers that the technology will soon make its way to the mid-sized and even smaller retailers.

Deep Space, Retail’s Next Frontier

I want to take you into deep space. That’s where brick-and-mortar retailers are headed if they want to survive and thrive in today’s highly competitive marketplace. Deep space is an entirely new level of engagement with your retail store space that requires a deep understanding of it through data analytics, using those insights to tailor it to the unique needs of your customers in order to drive increased revenues and profit.

Lessons Learned From The 2016 Holiday Shopping Season

Despite some reports of a less-than-stellar return, the 2016 holiday shopping season amassed record-breaking sales for the retail industry.  Black Friday generated a whopping $3.34 billion in online sales and made history with $1.2 billion in sales via mobile devices in a single day. A few days later, Cyber Monday contributed to a mobile shopping milestone, with more than $1.07 billion in mobile sales. In case you missed that, one-third of this year’s holiday shopping happened via mobile, a number that shot up 33% from 2015. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that the digital behaviors of shoppers tend to shift dramatically when there’s a deal on the table. Not only are more and more consumers getting comfortable with the idea of completing a purchase from a mobile device, but these shoppers are also 12% more likely to download an app during the holiday season — more than at any other time of the year.

Surprising Customer Service Lessons From 2016

2016 was a strong year for retail thanks to low unemployment, reduced interest rates and increased consumer confidence that led to a surge in spending. The retail rush that took place over November and December was one of the best-performing ever. According to Deloitte, traditional store sales rose by 4.6% over the holidays while e-Commerce climbed by 21.8%. All told, online channels accounted for more than $63 billion in sales.  Naturally, this surge in volume resulted in a flood of consumer help requests. Over the holiday spending season, Inktel responded to tens of thousands of customer service inquires on behalf of retail and e-Commerce clients that spanned across multiple channels, including phone support, social media, live chat, email, co-browsing, etc. 

POS Transaction Speed Optimization: 4 Ways to Go Beyond “Faster EMV”

It has been more than a year since the October 2015 fraud liability shift date and the EMV migration began in the U.S. market. Merchants, acquirers, brand networks and issuers are all involved in this transition. It seems, however, that the most important stakeholder in the process was least represented — the cardholders. There is a perception that EMV transaction speeds are much slower than the mag stripe. This noticeable difference in transaction speed has led to customer complaints about chip payments and could potentially lead to long lines at stores. Consumer dissatisfaction is one of the reasons less than 50% of U.S. card-accepting merchants have transitioned their terminals to EMV. Additionally, merchants that are EMV-ready are likely experiencing slowdowns in their speed-of-service. There is a clear need among retailers to determine how one’s POS solution performs versus comparable market vertical norms. Most importantly, there’s a need to understand what factors can affect the speed of EMV transactions, and find ways to optimize existing solutions to speed up chip transactions without jeopardizing transaction security.

4 Ways You Can Ship Smarter

E-Commerce merchants are all trying to compete for consumers’ attention with a variety of promotions such as free shipping, in-store pickups or same day deliveries. But how well are these tactics working? Which should you consider offering? Which are just wasted efforts? At Shippo we recently surveyed both consumers and merchants to figure out exactly that. Here are some of our most important findings.

Putting Customers At The Center Of The Manufacturer-Retailer Relationship

Retailers and manufacturers are inextricably dependent on each other for success. Ultimately, they share the common challenge of adapting to changing shopper habits and expectations, which is putting stress on traditional routes to growth, like sales and promotional tactics. It’s also forcing organizations on both sides to completely rethink how they serve shoppers and engage their partners.

4 Reasons Why 2017 Promises To Be A Very Interesting Year For Retail

Retail has undergone some of the fastest and most profound changes of any business sector this past year. 2017 has already brought plenty of new milestones and developments driven by changing consumer behavior, mobile, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and other trends. The key factor in all of this is the impact technology is having on the retail experience. Here are four trends we’re sure to see develop more in 2017:

Three Things We Learned From Selling IPS To Shopping Malls

Emerging, cutting-edge technologies don’t come with user manuals. Unlike currently-in-use technologies that are widely understood, new technologies like indoor positioning systems (IPS) raise a few new questions: What can I use this for? Why do I need this? How would it work in my situation? Why is this better than our existing technology?
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