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.

Global Commerce, Mobile Initiatives Top E-Tail Challenges In 2017

In an exclusive pre-event Q&A with Retail TouchPoints, eTail Division Director Lori Hawthorne shares her insights on the top trends and technologies that retailers need to focus on in 2017. Sessions covering global commerce, mobile initiatives, Artificial Intelligence, supply chain challenges and more will top the ticket at the annual eTail West conference, Feb. 27-March 2, 2017 in Palm Springs.

Behind-The-Scenes Look: How To Start Preparing For Successful Holidays

As the trees come down and the decorations are boxed away, smart retail brands are already working away to leverage their holiday sales data to plan for the next holiday season. When the holiday season represents a $3.19 trillion windfall for organizations in the U.S. alone, it’s little wonder why. This has become the reality of the modern holiday cycle; planning starts as soon as the season ends. Armed with the awareness that the season is often boom or bust, brands must use this time to identify what’s worked, what hasn’t, and begin the lengthy planning process for the upcoming season.

Messaging Mavens: The Utility Of Chatbots Across Demographics

We've come a long way since the days of AIM and SmarterChild. The world of chatbots is emerging and fast-moving, with players as diverse as Sephora and StubHub. With the ability to exist outside apps, often leveraging texting and voice technology, chatbots have the environment to thrive and bring a sense of efficiency to consumer interactions. The promise of the “affordable butler” has arrived. Not only do bots streamline transactions, they allow brands to capture a breadth of consumer data while engaging with customers one-on-one. Unlike platforms like Snapchat and Kik, largely geared to a certain demographic, chatbots have vast — and valuable — applications to consumers of all ages.

Avoiding Regulatory Wrist Slaps: Retailers Face Stiffer Recall Penalties

Even though the brunt of product recalls falls on manufacturers, retailers have an obvious stake in quickly and efficiently clearing recalled products from their shelves. Retailers are ultimately responsible for every product sold in their stores, regardless of the source. The public will punish manufacturers and retailers for what they consider a poorly handled recall. When recalled products remain on shelves, retailers face severe regulatory fines, civil liabilities and lost revenue, sometimes even years after the recall has occurred.

All CIOs Want For 2017…Is Unified Commerce

November 25, 2016 lived up to its name for many retailers, signaling the start of holiday shopping and revenue generation. Unfortunately, for some unprepared retailers these results were disappointing. Black Friday, along with its digital cousin Cyber Monday, signaled the official launch to holiday commerce and kicked off a season to be jolly for those retailers with a robust technology infrastructure. But it was a Blue Holiday Season for those who did not sufficiently invest in the infrastructure and processes that lay the foundation for a true omni-channel shopping experience.

The Four C’s Of Avoiding The Holiday Hangover

Dependable, competent seasonal employees are essential to business success. Any retail human resources department will tell you that qualified, reliable temporary workers who can reinforce peak seasonal needs lead to consistent bottom line growth. And being able to pull from a dedicated stable of personnel year in and year out makes for smooth transitions and fewer problems associated with hiring and training issues. So how does retention work for seasonal positions that are, by definition, temporary? The solution lies in thinking year-round in your treatment of these positions. A long-term strategy of commitment with specific retention goals in mind is a must-have, so that temporary staff are kept in focus not just when they’re employed, but also during the off season. Your retention plan should focus on employee relations, competitive compensation and an open door for issues that arise. You should also focus on the end of their term of employment as well, with a positive exit experience and a plan to keep in communication with valued staff you’d like to see return in the future.

How Retailers Can Grow Their Customer Base With Gift Card Programs

Whatever goods or services you sell, whether you do business primarily online or in a brick-and-mortar location — your business can benefit from implementing a solid gift card program. That’s because everyone loves receiving gift cards and this year more and more people are giving them. According to the Vantiv Shoptalk survey, conducted by Socratic Technologies, one third of the respondents said they plan to buy gift cards this year, with Millennials leading the way. And industry experts have projected that the gift card industry will be worth $160 billion by 2018. Here’s how gift cards break down by retailer type: Restaurants: 34.8% Department stores: 34.4% Generic prepaid card (e.g., Visa or MasterCard): 22.7% Coffee shop: 20.1% Entertainment (e.g., movies or music): 17.2%

The Community-Commerce Divide: Why Online Communities Should Connect To Commerce

As digitization continues to gain momentum, consumers have become more and more comfortable researching goods and buying them online. By 2020, an estimated 30% of all purchases will be influenced through an online community. Not only are consumers going online to make their purchase, but a recent Forrester study found that customers typically complete 70% to 90% of their buying journey prior to engaging with a vendor. Companies and brands that can seamlessly integrate commerce and communities will increase customer engagement, improve customer loyalty, and significantly improve the number of initial and repeat purchases a customer makes.   Companies that leverage communities as a cornerstone of their customer engagement initiative will also gain tremendous amounts of customer data and insight that can be leveraged to shape future incentives and loyalty programs. Creating brand ambassadors will be a critical factor for success in the future as brands are losing control over the customer experience as consumers increasingly trust peer reviews and peer generated content.

The State Of Mobile Commerce Search: Preparing For 2017

Mobile commerce has reached its tipping point. Mobile-optimized sites and shopping apps are no longer a “nice to have” for e-Tailers, but an absolute must in order to grow profitability and GMV from mobile channels. This is because e-Commerce has grown to be mobile-first, with the majority of users opting to shop on mobile devices over desktop, accounting for 61% of total e-Commerce traffic. However, this isn’t the complete picture when it comes to understanding this shift. It turns out that despite the significant shift to mobile, conversions are lower by 63% for mobile as compared with desktop shopping.

The Mobile Payments Landscape: Who’s Here and What’s to Come?

Mobile’s importance isn’t news anymore: 56% of online consumer traffic comes from mobile devices, but many retail marketers are still surprised by the pace of changing customer expectations and the cost and complexity of customer engagement. The advent of mobile has fractured consumer behavior into hundreds of fleeting mobile moments, while consumers’ expectations of simplicity and convenience have grown exponentially. Consequently, too many brands fail to deliver on those expectations, and that negatively affects sales.

Four Ways The Subscription Economy Is Disrupting Retail

Subscription-based business models are penetrating every facet of our daily lives, and altering consumers’ shopping habits with major players, like Netflix and Amazon, leading the charge. Consequently, 80% of companies today are noticing a modification in how customers access and pay for goods, while 50% are working to better fit the needs of shoppers by adjusting pricing models. However, before jumping on the subscription bandwagon by slapping a low monthly price on a commercial service, understand how this trend is shaping the industry and what can be anticipated in the future.

How To Take Advantage Of The Super Bowl TV Rush: Three Tips For Brands And Retailers

As February approaches, Super Bowl season is in full effect as teams, fans and brands prepare for the big day. While the Patriots and the Falcons prepare for the game and brands scramble to produce the best $5,000,000 (minimum) TV commercial, consumers have another mission — to buy a new TV in time for kickoff. Last year, 111.0 million viewers tuned in to Super Bowl 50 and many of those viewers were watching the Broncos and Panthers on a new HDTV.

Preventing Data Breaches: Tips & Tools To Keep Information Safe And Guard Customers' Trust

News about big data breaches, such as Yahoo reporting 500 million of its user accounts stolen, has rattled the public’s trust about how companies are handling their information. Of course concerns about unintended leakage of customer data are nothing new. A couple of years ago one of our local Cincinnati TV stations approached us to demonstrate how the government site collected data about its visitors. At the time we noted that many organizations are leaking data that is collected online and consumers have no idea what’s going on with their information.

Stop Whining About Data Security And Start Innovating

When Ron Shevlin asked former Walmart CEO Lee Scott at a BAI Retail Delivery Conference if Scott thought the multi-retailer payments organization Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) would succeed, Scott is reported to have replied, “I don’t know that it will, and I don’t care. As long as Visa suffers.” Mr. Scott’s comment underscores the fact that there is no love lost between Walmart and Visa: the latest eruption happened in July 2016, when Walmart Canada phased out use of Visa cards, claiming interchange fees were too high. Couple this with years of antitrust lawsuits, data-breach lawsuits, FTC enforcement of data security standards, etc., and it is easy to see why the payments industry is in chaos today — especially related to fraud and data security.

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.
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