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.

3 Guiding Principles Of Developing A 1-to-1 Customer Experience

The 1-to-1 customer experience: it’s what your shoppers expect. They experience it with Netflix and Facebook on a daily basis, and they anticipate that same convenient experience when they shop with you, too. If your experience doesn’t make it easy for your shoppers to find the right products, they’re likely to give up and go somewhere else. And in grocery, where your catalogue consists of tens of thousands of products, the challenge is even greater and more important. Good news! By leveraging data from a shopper’s online transactions (and their in-store purchases, if you have a loyalty program), you can tackle this challenge and deliver a world-class experience. From the home page to the catalogue to the cart, you can present each shopper with the products and specials that they are most likely to want, based on the trends in their purchase history.

Subscription Services, Unboxed

Many of today’s fastest-growing companies offer subscription services — companies like Netflix, Dollar Shave Club, Blue Apron, LifeLock and Birchbox. The appeal is obvious. Pay a recurring fee and get anything you want delivered to your home, from movies to mouthwash, from socks to underwear. Just about every product available is now available from some subscription service. There’s Bacon Freak and Scentbird, there’s Tie Society and Dive Bar Shirt Club. Consumers love the ease of subscription services. They like automating their purchases so they always have what they need without having to think about it, whether it’s a TV show or toilet paper. Those are the two keys of the booming subscription industry: ease and variety. And both depend on an efficient and agile system for recurring billing. Many subscription companies figure they can build the billing software themselves. How difficult can it be? Just hard-code your offers and you’re ready to go, right? A few different pricing options for a few different boxes: $25 for the value kit, $59.99 for the high-end selection.

Understanding the Customer Journey In A Multiscreen World

Remember the days of one screen, one activity? Those days are long gone, and have given way to a more fast-paced, dynamic user experience. Today’s digital habits can be summarized as a blend of simultaneous and sequential movements from one screen to another, from smartphone to TV to tablet to PC. Multiscreening has quickly pervaded our everyday lives to become the norm, and it’s not so much a skill as it is an instinctive behavior. Perhaps this scenario sounds familiar: on your commute to work, you pause to open an email announcing the latest, cutting-edge connected coffeemaker. As both a coffee and smart home aficionado, your interest is piqued, so you tap through to the product page and quickly scan the details. But before you know it, you’re on the move again, headed towards the office, where you’re slammed with your usual phone calls, meetings, and putting together presentations. In the midst of the work day, you find a moment or two to revisit the coffeemaker product page — only this time, you’re browsing on your work computer. You take a deeper dive into the specs, feeling more and more ready to hit the purchase button...but then your boss swings…

Merchandising In Multiple Dimensions: The Importance Of Setting A Brand Mood

The last time you threw a successful party, you likely spent a good deal of time upfront thinking about the mood you wanted to create for your guests. The choices you made — music, food, lighting, flow, etc. — all played a role in putting your guests in a celebratory state of mind. As it turns out, the same considerations that go into a successful party also apply to creating a successful in-store customer experience.

Mobile POS Hacks For Efficient Employees And Happy Customers

Mobile POS (mPOS) came into the limelight a few years ago and promised to have a transformative effect on the retail space. Industry experts (including me) predicted sales associates would roam the floor and consumers would be able to complete a purchase with just a wave of their phone. They wouldn’t even need to stop walking or shopping. mPOS has brought some changes, it just hasn’t been fully leveraged to all of its potential. Some examples stand out, such as the fashion trucks sprouting up in various cities that allow owners to operate mobile boutiques. Despite the advances of mPOS in the retail space, the big changes and advancements aren’t quite there yet. Many retailers that implement mPOS solutions such as Square treat it as more of a novelty, where it essentially functions as a more aesthetically attractive and smaller cash register. When used in this fashion, the truly “mobile” aspect of the tech is largely wasted. But it’s not fair to blame retailers, as they’re crunched for time with managing sales, inventory, hiring and all of the other details that are required for smooth operations.

The Emergence Of The On-Demand Associate

Amazon’s impact on the retail sector has been openly top of mind for retail professionals over the past decade. The company’s massive product assortment, coupled with the world’s best distribution and fulfillment network, provides customers with the opportunity to purchase anything imaginable and have it delivered via drone to your backyard.1 Nearly 60% of Americans have made a purchase from Amazon in the past three months, and conservative estimates predict that more than half of Americans will be Prime members by 2020.2 Instead of conceding to pure plays, traditional retailers are waking up to the fact that they can leverage existing investments in people and stores to not only improve how they operate stores, but how they add value to customers. Leading stores are enhancing customer experience and driving top-line growth using a resource they already have: their store associates.

Why Walmart’s ShippingPass Falls Short Of Amazon Prime

In an effort to drive more online sales, Walmart recently launched a subscription-based program similar to Amazon Prime. The program, called Walmart ShippingPass, offers members two-day shipping for $49/month. It’s clear that ShippingPass is Walmart’s attempt to steal some market share from Amazon’s wildly successful Prime program. However, despite offering free returns (a perk that Amazon does not offer), ShippingPass simply lacks essential elements necessary to stand up to the e-Commerce powerhouse.

Mixed Commerce: How Virtual Reality And 3D Products Are Redefining Omnichannel

The time for a more integrated retail format has arrived. Sure, experts have been suggesting this for ages, but it was far from real. Now it’s here. It’s real. There are exciting examples emerging that seamlessly blend retail real estate with digital channels. So, how did we get here? Since the early days of e-Commerce, traditional retailers have struggled to balance their established brick-and-mortar plays with online and mobile shopping habits of busy, credit card-bearing consumers. In the early days of the Internet, major retailers were incentivized to move slowly. The temptation to rely on known attribution strategies with sure margins, such as direct mail and newspaper inserts, made it easy for companies to put on blinders to the shift to convenience-centered on-demand shopping.

Three Tips On How To Secure Your POS Against Breaches

Security breaches have become a serious bane for retailers of all sizes worldwide. Cyberattacks come in many forms, from skimming data on a magnetic stripe to hacking at the vendor’s point of sale (POS). The 2013 Target hack, which cost the retailer more than $250 million, was enough of an incentive to give PCI security implementation a major push throughout the U.S. Since the shift of liability in October 2015, many large U.S. merchants have begun adopting EMV as a way to boost security in card-present transactions. Nevertheless, attackers are constantly working on more sophisticated ways to lay their hands on vital credit card data at various stages of the payment process.

Multi-Genre Analytics: The Journey To Successful On-Site Search

Retail marketers have made it a high priority to anticipate and cater to customer needs even before those needs appear. Shoppers may not know they need a specific product yet, but an analytically astute retailer may be able to guide them to that realization based on data-driven intelligence they’ve gathered. This anticipatory capability, when set in motion, not only leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction but also has the economically therapeutic effect of increasing revenues. It is about predicting a customer’s latent desires accurately and making relevant targeted offers which, in fact, save time, reduce their search costs, and serve their interests. It is also about sensing their interests without ensnaring them in pointless rounds of deviant search behavior — which does everything to distract them from their quest for that one product or service and nothing to make shopping convenient.

‘Tis The Season For Scams: How Blockchain Helps Prevent Brand Fraud

When consumers fire up their credit cards to buy hundreds of billions worth of holiday cheer online this season, scammers will be there to collect their share from Santa, too. The rate of online credit card fraud is rising sharply as a growing number of purchases take place on the web. According to data on the 2015 holiday season from ACI Worldwide, online transactions worldwide increased 21% over the holiday shopping season last year — with rates of fraud attempts soaring 8% between Thanksgiving and the end of 2015.

Omnichannel Game Of Thrones

If the customer is the Holy Grail to our Brand and Sales organization and Omnichannel is the new Kingdom, why do we continue the constant battle between E-Commerce and Stores? So often in today’s retail environment we see the Director of E-Commerce and the Director of Stores locked in their own personal Game of Thrones, each channel doing whatever it can to own the customer with total disregard for growing the Brand and taking care of the consumer. Each controlling their fiefdom trying to prove that they will rule the crown! Can you remember the last time the Director of e-Commerce did not want to market a store event or promotion because they didn’t want to interrupt the normal schedule of email blasts or Facebook posts? Shouting the curse of “customers unsubscribing” because they are inundated with contacts? And have you ever seen the look on the store staff's face when someone walks in to return an e-Commerce purchase? The cry of “We won’t make our sales day” runs through the store and, lest we forget the dreaded “Flash Sale,” and Will you match the web price?

Keep Brand Equity Consistent Through The New Last Mile

Remember when e-Commerce was seen as a platform that was really only useful for commodities like electronics and books? Nobody was going to buy apparel online because they can’t touch it or try it on first — the very notion of selling clothes or shoes online seemed preposterous! Right? Yeah, those days are long in the rear view mirror for your customers, too — many are not old enough to remember them at all. Today’s customers expect that everything and anything can be bought online and shipped directly to their homes. What about retailers that sell merchandise that is too expensive or impossible to ship with traditional parcel carriers? Customers are buying refrigerators, large furniture and ride-on lawnmowers online, but retailers can’t send them through UPS or FedEx. The last mile between distribution centers and customers for bulky items is challenging because there is no simple solution that is scalable across geographies. Retailers dealing in this type of merchandise have to become supply chain experts, managing a portfolio of regional and local carrier partners.

How Virtual Reality Is Transforming The Retail Industry

In a world where physical and virtual environments are rapidly converging, industries are looking to find an effective touch point for marketing products to consumers. It is becoming increasingly necessary for retailers to provide customers with experience-based platforms that spark e-Commerce conversion rates. Virtual Reality And Branding
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