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.

Exploring And Managing The Data Scientist Skill Gap

Leveraging the promise of Big Data is a challenge for retailers as they balance the need to streamline processes and reduce costs while investing in tech and staff members capable of working with the data. Information is often a retailer’s most important asset, and utilizing it properly can be the difference-maker between success and failure. To fulfill the promise of Big Data there is now the role of “data scientist,” a person who uses their technical and abstract thinking skills to look at data in new and impactful ways. Given the explosive interest in analysis of large interconnected data sets, it’s not a surprise that data scientists are in heavy demand. The demand is so great that it has developed a skill gap, with a McKinsey study estimating a 50% to 60% gap between supply and demand for analytic talent by 2018.

Reinventing Retail: Improving The Customer Experience Through Application Intelligence

The retail industry is in the midst of digital transformation. Retailers must utilize innovative technologies in order to stay ahead of their competition. However, in this technological ‘rat race,’ simply providing web and mobile apps that enable e-Commerce and m-Commerce is no longer enough to ensure business success. Instead, competitive advantage hinges on the quality of the customer experience delivered by those apps, across all digital channels. Today’s savvy customers demand a seamless, personalized and convenient experience when using a mobile app or a web site. They also expect this experience in-store. A lack of focus in these areas puts customer satisfaction at risk, meaning lower conversion rates, revenue, profitability and, over time, loss of brand credibility.

Elevated Offers: Enhancing Couponing For The Technology Era

In this digital age, consumers are increasingly turning to mobile technologies to engage with brands and accept timely offers. As new and old methodologies meet, the couponing world has seen a renaissance of innovation, allowing brands to attract fans with highly personalized discounts. From surprise and delight tactics centered on customer acquisition to coalition deals and electronic rebates, these are not your grandma’s coupons. While older generations fondly remember clipping coupons from Sunday fliers, 34% of U.S. mobile users always use devices to search for deals prior to shopping, especially ahead of the back-to-school and holiday seasons. For travel, retail, restaurant or CPG marketers, there’s no shortage of ways to enhance their couponing game and reward fans with relevant offers. Here are some of our favorite ways to get in on the action.

Breaking the Discounting Spiral: Steps to Reduce Unnecessary Markdowns in Retail

It’s been a not so exemplary year for retailers in 2016. DynamicAction’s benchmark report comparing Q1 2015 to Q1 2016 found retailers sold 63% more orders with a promotion this year. Promotions last year might have gotten shoppers in the door, but this year during Q1 there was a 7% decrease in new customers, in addition to a 6% drop in returning customers. Retailers have seen full price orders down 4% from Q1 2015, and overall profits have dipped 2% in Q1 2016 compared to Q1 2015. The recent Forrester report titled: U.S. Retail eCommerce: Readjust Continually To Combat Amazon, reports that “Amazon captured $23 billion more in U.S. e-Commerce sales in 2015 than the previous year (up from $77 billion in 2014 to $100 billion) and accounted for some 60% of total U.S. online retail sales growth nationwide.”As Amazon has grown over the years, its market share has increased, while…

Architecting A Converged Commerce Platform

Today’s connected consumer is accustomed to the advantages of leveraging both online and offline channels for an effortless, economical shopping experience. While multiple points of service have historically been the standard — retailers are looking at a uniform platform, ensuring consistent presence across touch points. This article studies the rationale behind the move, and the benefits that could accrue to the enterprise from it. In a recent digital report1, optimizing customer experience has been highlighted as an area promising ‘the most exciting opportunity’ for 2016. More than half of the retail respondents see customer service and experience as the primary driver of competitive differentiation over the next five years.

New Ways Tech Can Reinvent The Shopping Experience

To some degree, there’s no need to visit a brick-and-mortar store in 2016. In sections of New York City, for instance, you can get everything you need from Amazon, from trampolines to  a T-bone steak for dinner. And yet, late last year the online retailing giant began expanding into brick-and-mortar with a bookstore in Seattle’s University Village. With headlines proclaiming brick-and-mortar stores heading rapidly towards obsolescence, Amazon’s move may seem puzzling.

Flipping The Model: Successful Retailers Tailor Campaigns To Each Customer's Needs

With 2016 already halfway over, retail marketers are deep into their 2016 campaigns intended to acquire and retain customers, drive sales and improve overall customer loyalty. But what are marketers doing differently to make 2016 better than 2015? Last year, the Commerce Department recorded only a 2.1% increase in retail sales (excluding automotive) over 2014 — marking the worst such performance since 20091 and a far cry from the 4.1% increase that the NRF projected2. If retailers haven’t changed the way they approach marketing, are we in for more of the same? Most retail marketing today is periodic and campaign-based, driven by the retailer’s needs at a single point in time, whether those be building promotions around holiday or seasonal sales opportunities, launching new products, reducing inventories or pursuing other initiatives. In general, retailers cannot expect periodic campaigns that cast a wide net to generate above-average sales. Ask any marketer whether…

4 (Surprisingly Human) Mobile Advertising Tactics For Driving Foot Traffic To Your Retail Location

With retail browsing rapidly shifting to mobile, the choice facing retailers is simple and stark: adapt and reap the benefits, or don’t and suffer the consequences. People now spend more digital media time on their mobile phones than they do on desktop computers. For retailers, that could be a good thing. Mobile phones afford immediate and intimate communication that can help marketers achieve impressive, and specific, results. Marketers use mobile advertising to drive mobile purchases and other digital KPIs, but they can also use it to drive people to brick-and-mortar locations, and with growing effectiveness. Sophisticated technology facilitates mobile targeting based on location, time of day, behavioral profiles and even intent. But no matter how cutting-edge your approach, you’ll gain the best results if you bear in mind an important advertising best practice: Be human.

Three Ways to Increase Private-Label Profitability With Channel Data Management

The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that only 7.8% of total U.S. Q1 2016 retail sales came from e-Commerce. This percentage challenges e-retailers to get more creative with their sales channels, particularly for their private-label products. Many that produce such private-label products — which tend to have higher profit margins — are achieving great success by leveraging channel strategies used by manufacturers and reselling these goods at the brick-and-mortar stores of other retailers, such as Sears. Known as indirect sales channels, these pipelines are notorious for offering producers scant visibility into crucial areas ranging from inventory to sales to end customer data. Fortunately, there are three ways e-retailers can increase the profitability of their private-label products sold through indirect sales channels, using channel data management (CDM).

The Gift (Card) That Keeps On Giving

For a long time, pre-paid gift cards have presented retailers with a prime awareness-building opportunity for both existing and new customers. Gift cards encourage consumers to interact with a business and purchase its goods or services. Whether gifted as a birthday present, a thank you, or just for a friend to try a new experience, consumers’ demand for pre-paid gift cards offers retailers plenty of opportunities for business growth. Traditional gift cards, while helping facilitate an increase in both brick-and-mortar and online store traffic, have one major downfall — they only encourage a one-time use. Consumers will either spend it and forget it, or throw it away when their $20 purchase amounts to $18.95. Retailers that rely on pre-paid, one-time use cards miss out on an enormous opportunity to establish a more dynamic relationship with increasingly fickle consumers whose shopping experiences evolve with technology.

The Future Of Retail Marketing Means Escaping The Pull Of The Past

It should come as no surprise that the past few years have taken a toll on the retail sector. From the smallest stores to the nation's giant chains, the outlook for 2016 has been grim, with sales numbers declining and in-store traffic reaching record lows. Marketers are increasingly turning to new technologies to get a better understanding of their customers. But in many cases, they are not adapting new technologies nearly fast enough to keep pace with their customers. There continues to be significant and ultimately costly inertia among retail organizations when it comes to embracing innovation, from automating inefficient manual processes to piloting “but it seems so out there!” technologies. Even with sales figures (and jobs) on the line, few brands are willing to risk what they consider to be bleeding-edge solutions. But they need to.

Why It Makes Sense For Retailers To Go All-In With BYOD

More people around the world have smartphones than ever before. As a society we have come to depend on mobile devices. In fact, one in three (34%) U.S. adults would prefer to lose other important items, including their bed, keys and even friends, and 27% of respondents admitted they would cry if they lost their phone.   People love their personal devices and want to protect them, which may help explain why some big retail brands are choosing an “all-in” BYOD — meaning instead of providing corporate devices, employees can access corporate apps and resources on the device they already use and love.

Three Questions To Answer When Balancing Personalization With Data Security

Would you trade your personal data for a more customized retail shopping experience? More and more consumers are saying yes. In a study this year by and the research firm Bovitz, more than 70% of Millennials are somewhat or very interested in personalized offers and willing to trade information about themselves to get them. This is good news for retailers that want a better understanding of their customer base in order to shape a personalized shopping experience. Yet consumers’ willingness to give you details of their data — beyond basic contact information — goes hand-in-hand with the expectation that you’ll do everything in your power to safeguard it.

Brexit: What Does It Mean To U.S. Retailers And The Payments Industry As A Whole?

You’ve likely heard all of the talk about Brexit — the vote that was held on June 23 in Britain to determine whether or not the country should remain part of the European Union (EU). With voters deciding that they would like Britain to “exit” the EU, it will have many implications not only for businesses in the UK but also for companies around the world, including in the U.S. First off, it’s important to note that while there was a majority of people in the UK in favor of Brexit, most outside of the country were against this happening, as the potential for causing a significant amount of chaos is quite high, including in terms of payments and operating cross-border. With Brexit passing, it may not have an immediate impact, but there will be many changes required over time, and at a minimum it will add a lot of…
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