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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 Ways To Turn Every Customer Into A Brand Advocate

VP Stitch Labs head shotAs more small businesses enter such a saturated market, it becomes more and more of a challenge to stand out. Customers become inundated with options and can rarely tell what companies will provide the best bang for their buck. To compete, retailers must realize one thing: It’s all about the experience.

Brands that create a holistic, memorable and exceptional experience for customers know how valuable brand loyalty is. It encourages buyers to evangelize your product, allowing you to keep marketing dollars in your pocket.

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Make Love Not War: Turning Angry Customers Into Your Biggest Asset

VP site only Vision Critical head shotIt’s tough times at the home of the Big Mac. Last year was one of McDonald’s worst, and profits continued to plunge in the first quarter of 2015. The announcement in late January that the fast-food giant was swapping CEOs, replacing Don Thompson with Steve Easterbrook, signaled more than a standard C-suite shakeup amid slumping performance: customers have abandoned the fast food chain following food safety scandals in Asia and increased competition from more wholesome “fast casual” restaurants. The switch illustrates a shift in how companies are responding to the demands of customers — especially the angry ones.

Just days after new Easterbrook took the helm, the company announced it would make major changes to bring its supply chain in line with customer preferences for more natural, less processed foods. The move is a total reversal from Thompson’s strategy, which focused instead on a marketing campaign to fight misinformation about the nutritional value McDonald’s ingredients. Easterbrook’s decision to make real changes to the supply chain indicates a desire to truly meet customer demands, rather than merely change their minds.

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Engaging Ethical Muscles Through Training

VP TBC head shotThere’s a saying in the retail industry that goes like this: “Our goal is to keep our honest people honest.” Typically, in every retail organization, there are 10% of people who would never violate their integrity. There’s another 10% who are looking for every opportunity to take advantage of the organization. And there are 80% in the middle who can be swayed by either of these groups.

While many factors come into play that influence employee theft, one of the strongest is engagement. "Even less ethical individuals will be more likely to act morally if they are engaged at work,” writes professor of business psychology, Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, in the Harvard Business Review. So, how do retailers deepen employee engagement to decrease theft? The answer is by investing in employee learning.

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RFID And The Strengthening Retailer-Manufacturer Relationship

VP site only GS1 head shotIn the retail industry today, retailers and their trading partners are struggling to deliver an omnichannel strategy that transcends outdated supply chain processes and truly delivers a seamless experience. While retail industry stakeholders may understand omnichannel, few currently have the operations and infrastructure in place to take advantage of this opportunity.

Those positioned to make serious investments in their omnichannel future are realizing the benefits of radio frequency identification (RFID) and are including it in their strategies to gain more accurate inventory visibility. The recent results of the GS1 US Standards Usage Survey confirmed RFID is gaining traction as the key enabler of omnichannel retailing, as inventory visibility is foundational for both retailer and manufacturer success. The survey measured the usage of EPC-enabled item level RFID by both manufacturers and retailers (including manufacturers who are also retailers).

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Transforming Online Retail: Conquering The Abandoned Shopping Cart Armageddon

VP site only Cartonomy head shotAlthough hard to measure, estimates on the value of merchandise abandoned in online carts range from $18 billion to $4 trillion — a terrifying thought for online retailers. A large factor contributing to abandonment is the often time-consuming buying and checkout processes, causing retailers to lose significant sales. However, online shopping cart abandonment doesn’t have to be a pain point — instead retailers can take advantage of this opportunity. Take note.   

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Get People Back In The Store Now: Old Solutions For The New Age Of Shopping

VP Gigwalk head shotThe success of e-Commerce giants has made underperforming brick-and-mortar retailers believe that the answer to all their problems lies in moving their businesses online. However, consumers still crave the ability to touch and feel new products and the instant gratification of making purchases on site. In fact, 78% of consumers still prefer to shop in-store, showing that the physical shopping experience is far from dead.

With that said, the task of wooing shoppers into making in-store purchases is becoming more and more difficult with so many channels to compare prices and brands. Showrooming, the practice of browsing in stores and purchasing online, has plagued many traditional retailers. Yet this practice goes to show that consumers are still interested in physically experiencing goods before they swipe their credit cards.

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Data Drive Your Decision-Making Based On What Your Customers Are 'Telling' You

VP site only TARGIT head shotAccording to the Harvard Business Review, big box stores like Walmart are honing their skills when it comes to customer loyalty, in part by creating rewards programs that both reflect and promote their brand promises. This comes as no surprise, as customer loyalty is a key element of success in the crowded and complex retail industry. However, many are beginning to confuse loyalty with promotions, loyalty cards and awards, undermining brand equity rather than building stronger ties with their customers.

Why The Focus On Customer Loyalty?

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Are You Always Up To Sell? The Importance Of Resilient Retail Internet Connectivity

VP site only Opengear head shotThe retail industry has seen a slew of advances since the arrival of the Internet, yielding valuable innovations and creating new efficiencies in core industry processes, including POS systems, inventory management, employee management, CRM, customer loyalty programs, and online sales. These advances are responsible for countless improvements to business practices that benefit both retailers and customers, but they also have introduced a vital reliance on online connectivity at store locations.

Where once a retail store could continue to function through Internet outages — by breaking out pen and paper to record transactions or temporarily becoming a cash-only business — the modern point of sale and other connected systems that add so much efficiency when functional become expensive roadblocks when disconnected.

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Keep it Simple: Why Last-Touch Attribution Is All [Most Of] You Really Need

omer-headshot-hi-res 2Many smart, well-meaning marketers have spent a lot of time trying to figure out which specific touches across different channels drove consumers to make a purchase. For example, a buyer clicks on a banner ad and does nothing, then two weeks later searches on Google and follows a paid AdWords link to the site, and finally clicks on a link in a personalized email the next day and makes a purchase. All these marketing touches contribute to the conversion, but how important was each one? This is the problem of “multi-touch attribution” in campaign marketing.

Of course, marketers need to know which efforts and channels have performed best so they can gauge ROI and optimize their marketing spend. They invest in complicated attribution modeling systems that attempt to measure how much each touch actually contributes to the buyers’ decisions. But if you actually look at the data, these complicated modeling systems are unnecessary. The best approach to attribution is often the simplest: in most cases, this means simply crediting the last touch as the most important driver in consumer purchasing decisions.

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Building Brand Loyalty Through Emotional Connections

VP CrowdTwist head shotIt would be nice to think that people make all of their buying decisions based on considerations like price, quality, or convenience. Yet time and again, studies have shown that these qualities only moderately factor into consumer buying decisions. The truth, more often than not, is that people make these choices based primarily on their emotional response to a business, product, or service. In the consumer’s mind, the old adage holds that “feelings are facts.”

Whether brands are interacting with a potential customer for the first time or catering to a longtime buyer, it’s critical to fosterpositive emotional connections from the outset. This isn’t to say that quality, convenience, and value aren’t important, but in order to cement a loyal relationship over time, it is most important for companies to focus on building strong emotional bonds with their customers.

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Leverage New Retail Technologies To Enhance The Omnichannel Experience

VP site only Zooz head shotA retail transformation is underway, and it is being driven by technology. Technology providers are producing solutions to drive greater personalization for consumers, more conversions for retailers, and more traffic on all channels. To take full advantage of smartphone ubiquity and the popularity of online commerce, retailers should consider introducing some of these technologies to enhance their omnichannel consumer experience.  

Much of this tech focuses on leveraging data to optimize marketing efforts and build brand experiences.  Using data, companies can identify inefficiencies within the customer experience, gain a better understanding of their customers’ shopping preferences and, consequently, increase conversions by meeting customer needs. Data and the technology used to aggregate it enable retailers to merge the online and in-store customer experience into a single omnichannel journey. New innovations like virtual gadgetry and personalization technology are both modernizing brick-and-mortar retail and improving the customer experience across all touch points — physical and digital alike.

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Why TV Should Be 'Up Front' And Center For Retailers (Pun Intended!)

VP site only R2C Group head shotSpring is here and so is the Upfront.  So TV is on everyone’s mind whether you participate in the Upfront or not.  While some experts have predicted the decline and demise of television advertising, I think marketers should buy more TV, not less, especially in the retail category.

We have heard countless times that TV advertising is simply not sustainable given the growth of online marketing, social, mobile and other forms of digital media. But, when it comes to customer acquisition, the first screen is still the best screen.  In fact, PwC has reinforced the need to pay close attention to TV. (1)  That report stated that “despite the growth of digital media, TV advertising remains the place to be. Global TV advertising revenue is successfully responding to the rise of newer forms of digital media and will grow 5.5% over the next five years.”

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5 Persona-Based Segments To Fuel Your E-Commerce Personalization And Optimization Plan

VP site only Dynamic Yield head shotUncovering patterns and trends in behavior is a key step for marketers who are analyzing, optimizing or personalizing web sites. This ongoing effort can be achieved by creating segments in their analytics tool. Unfortunately, the standard, ready-made segments that many web analytics tools offer are too limited. In this article, I will outline practical segmentation ideas that you can use to find actionable insights to fuel your personalization or optimization plan.

Segments allow us to narrow down the volume of data to extract the essence hidden within. I’ve recently written about the importance of segments as a tool that allows us to tell the real and interesting stories behind the “what” and “who” of our data. Nevertheless, it is a tedious, time-consuming task. Locating distinct and powerful user archetypes, not to mention incorporating those segments into your overall marketing strategy, requires a deep understanding of who your audience is.

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The Next Billion-Dollar Retail Opportunity? Mobile

OtherLevels - CEO Ramsey Masri Headshot
For retailers anxious to crack the code on mobile marketing to their smartphone-empowered shoppers, look no further than these numbers:

  • 30% of shoppers aged 16-34 use apps to plan out their purchases each month;
  • 32% of consumers want retailers to integrate their online, mobile and in-store shopping experiences; and
  • 75% of consumers use their smartphone while shopping.

So if three quarters of spending-age consumers use a mobile device as a shopping companion, and the mobile internet is predicted to support $700 billion in commerce by 2017, then there’s a “billion dollar mobile opportunity” waiting right around the corner.

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