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.

Don’t Fear AI: Why Retail Managers Need Artificial Intelligence

These are tough times for the retail industry, with stores closing at an unprecedented rate. As brick-and-mortar retailers struggle to survive, questions like “What makes people want to come to a store?” — or, more likely, “What do people find inconvenient or irritating about the in-store experience, and how can we fix it?” are taking on a new level of urgency. But there’s a problem. Instead of focusing on being out on the floor where they can create a positive in-store experience, managers are spending much of their time in the back office doing data-oriented tasks: compiling reports, analyzing trends and shuffling spreadsheets.

When Implementing An Analytics Plan, Know What’s Realistic

Analytics — predictive, historical, diagnostic and other kinds — are hot topics in the retail industry, and for good reason. We’re able to collect more data on consumers, their habits, and our own business operations than ever before. The excitement around what a company could know with the right data is enticing, and significant resources are spent working with analytics firms to develop plans for the KPIs you want to know, gather and measure about your operations and your customers. But what happens when the rubber meets the road and it’s time to actually execute on your plan?

Community, Connections, Commerce: How Being Social Can Help Grow Your Business

Being the owner of an up-and-coming brand does not come without its difficulties. The challenges of growing a business may not have changed much over time — everyone wants to gain business knowledge, increase their distribution channels, boost brand awareness and have a support system to help push them further and grow their business — but what has changed is how we go about finding the solution to these problems today. Thanks to new technologies, we have ample access to the community around us, which in turn helps businesses become smarter and get results faster. The aspect of community is something already so prominent in our day-to-day lives. Consider this: how many people (friends, family or otherwise) do you come into contact with each day? How many people are you relying on for advice on where to travel next, information on how a new gadget works, some sort of personal service (we all get our hair done), etc.? Now think of how that number of people has grown since the introduction of online forums and social media platforms.

Amazon Go’s Frictionless Approach Could Be Its Greatest Obstacle

Amazon projected its first Amazon Go store would open to the public some time in early 2017. But more than six months later, the pilot store remains in beta testing, with many skeptics doubting whether the technology could ever work. I’m a bit more optimistic on Amazon’s chances. In fact, I believe it will work — assuming the company addresses the major obstacles facing this revolutionary approach to retail.

Digital Attraction: Engaging Customers In The Brick-And-Mortar Store

The impact of online shopping on brick-and-mortar retailing is not just lost sales — after all, 90% of all retail sales transactions still happen in a physical store. Equally impactful is the extent to which the online experience has radically changed consumer expectations of what shopping should be like. Having got accustomed to the ease, personalization and (by and large) fun of buying online, today’s digital shoppers now expect to find something similar in a real-life store. Retailers must find new ways of engaging with these digital consumers in old style analog stores, many of which have changed little in 20 years.

Retail And Consumer Goods Industries Turn To M&A For Market Growth And Consumer Excitement

Mergers and acquisitions (M&As) are increasingly being seen as an antidote to low or no organic growth,in a commercial world where established retail and consumer goods companies find themselves struggling for survival in the face of radical consumer change and a series of continuous, devastating attacks on their markets and historic value propositions. Retailers are looking at new or reinforced competition, much of it intensely price focused. Aldi announced this year it will commit an additional $1.6 billion to remodeling 1,300 stores, an investment that comes on top of its previously announced $3.4 billion capital investment earmarked for new store openings — an aggressive program that could see as many as 2,500 stores sporting the Aldi banner by next year. Lidl, a traditional Aldi competitor in Europe, has announced plans to open 100 U.S. stores by the end of next year and is seriously considering adding as many as 500 additional stores to its U.S. rolls before it is done.

Why Global Brands Need To Think Locally To Survive The ‘Retail Crisis’

There’s a huge difference between evolving and dissolving. Sometimes that’s hard to see. If you’re tuned into the business news at all you’ll notice there is a lot of noise about the brick-and-mortar retail world at its complete meltdown. The theory is this: since consumers prefer to do anything and everything online and via their mobile phones, physical stores will no longer be a relevant part of the consumer journey. If you know me, you know I rarely shy away from presenting a dissenting view — and this is no exception. Retail as we knew it 10 years ago has changed drastically — but to think that brick-and-mortar stores are about to dissolve into the abyss where landlines live is shortsighted.

Loyalty As A Behavior, Not A Tactic

Successful loyalty programs are rooted in mutual understanding and fair value exchange — not just of goods and services, but of information. Customers agree to grant brands access to information about their habits, preferences and behaviors, IF brands agree to use that information to deliver them customized recommendations, offers and experiences. In fact, only by demonstrating an awareness of past and present engagements can mutually beneficial future ones be created, maximizing lifetime value for the brand and satisfaction for the customer in the process.

Back From The Future

The retail landscape has seen more change in the past 20 years than in the hundred years before. This new dynamism demands a reinvention of how we shape retail growth strategies.  With sales data streaming in by the day, or even by the hour, it’s little wonder that retailers pour so much energy into the here-and-now moves that move the needle — efforts like optimizing offers, honing operations, and courting customer loyalty.

Amazon And Whole Foods: Amazon Joins The Ranks Of Unified Commerce Retailers

Retail stories don’t always make the national news, especially outside of the holiday season. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods however is a story that’s been impossible to miss. While this move has been anticipated for a long time, it’s such a big deal that those of us in the retail space can’t stop talking about it. The news is this: Amazon has joined the ranks of true Unified Commerce retailers and is now competing on the same playing field as the rest of America’s largest retail companies. What will the impact be on the retail market and how will best-in-class retailers compete? For Amazon itself, this means some big changes. They’ll have to operate under a new expense structure that will fundamentally change how they can price and market goods to consumers, even if only through this new channel. They must worry about local promotions, local pricing strategies, localized assortment, and all the unique capabilities that come with staffing and managing a chain of brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon has proven themselves to be very adept at change. For those of us who cover retail closely, it’s going to be very interesting to see how they adapt and how the market reacts…

How Data Silos Can Add Value To Retail Organizations

The now widely-accepted idea that having siloed customer data is a terrible mistake is, itself, a terrible mistake. Don’t get me wrong — if you’re trying to create a unified customer experience in which you can track customers’ activities as they switch devices and channels, including going from online to offline, having all of your customer data in a single place makes sense. But it’s not the only solution. In fact, if your customer data already exists in siloed systems, you can actually get value out of it faster by leaving it as is, and here’s why.

How To Improve Retail Efficiency With Incentives

I was walking past a high-end British shoe shop when a pair of boots caught my eye. But disappointment struck when I got inside and found they didn’t have my size. The staff were quick to suggest ordering a pair in for me. Yet when I asked if any of their other branches had the shoes in stock, they were much less keen to leap to my rescue. The reason? Incentivization. The staff wanted to make the sale in-store so it would be reflected in their targets. This logic is counter-productive and, as I didn’t want to wait, they lost out on the sale entirely.

How Mobile Has Changed the Customer Journey

In today's marketing environment, the customer journey is more complicated than ever. For retailers and brands, this complexity is both an advantage and a barrier. While it means greater opportunity to connect with shoppers, it also means their attention is more fragmented. The rise of mobile has only made things more complex, fundamentally changing the way consumers access information.  But how? Considering each stage of the customer journey, here are the ways the traditional funnel has been transformed by the mobile explosion.

Optimize M-Commerce With A Holistic Digital Strategy

It’s no secret that mobile engagement is forever changing how and when consumers shop. In fact, mobile devices drove nearly a third (31%) of all holiday sales in 2016, generating more than $24 billion over the course of the holiday season. So the task at hand for retailers is not to simply have a mobile presence in place, it’s to offer an experience that helps their business stand out from competitors.

How Retailers Can Set Themselves Up For Successful Personalization At Scale

Q: How should a retailer structure its team internally to drive the best results with personalization? When is it time to think about bringing in outside help?    COLTON PERRY: Personalization needs to be an interdisciplinary and broad initiative.  When done correctly and strategically, it touches multiple departments, teams, and constituents.  These can include email and CRM, marketing, customer support and call center, digital and customer experience, merchandising, analytics and more. That being said, it is crucial to have someone on the team who is able to work with internal teams, translate their goals and customer profiles, and create and implement an integrated personalization program.
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