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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.

Five Ways To Optimize Search Results In 2015

VP site only Content Analytics head shotForrester Research predicts that online retail sales will grow at a compound annual rate of nearly 10% through 2018. Yet many retail operators have failed to optimize their product pages to take advantage of the continuing shift to e-Commerce.

The first step in a prospective customer’s path to purchase typically is an online search, usually through Google. If the retailer fails to catch the customer’s attention at this critical juncture, the sale is likely lost. The key to catching the customer’s attention is a first page listing in the Google search. In a study that Chikita Insights conducted, it was discovered that 91.5% of Google e-Commerce referrals come from the first page, and another 4.8% from the second page.


How To Create Engagement-Based Loyalty

VP site only PowerReviews head shotIncreasingly, brands and retailers are adopting engagement-based loyalty tactics to evolve in tandem with the way people shop. While transaction-based loyalty programs — where purchases are linked to rewards — are successful at driving repeat sales from a single customer, engagement-based programs work to foster meaningful relationships with customers at large.

With engagement-based loyalty initiatives, customers engage with a brand or retailer in a variety of ways: Contributing content such as user photos, writing reviews, giving feedback on their experience and participating in online communities to answer questions from other consumers. When executed correctly, engagement-based loyalty initiatives provide brands with a steady stream of feedback and user-generated content about their products and services.


Personalization In Online Marketing: How Far We’ve Come!

VP Neustar head shotThe ways in which retailers use personalization in online marketing have changed dramatically since the early days of the Internet.  When we look back, it’s clear we have come a long way, but considering what we know is on the horizon, there’s so much more we can do to take advantage of personalization to improve retail business. How did personalization in online marketing begin and what are some changes we can expect in the New Year?

In its nascent stages, online marketing didn’t allow for personalization. Retailers were simply happy to be able to put up websites, and have an additional way to reach customers on a large- scale basis. But as the Web expanded exponentially, so too did the number of competing sites. It quickly became clear that retailers needed a process or technology with which to personalize their campaigns so they could reach the consumers that mattered most to them. Without personalization, finding the right customer via online marketing was like searching for a needle in a haystack.


Retailers Need Science to Curate and Calibrate Highly Tailored Assortments

VP site only OracleThe global spread of Internet-enabled devices (there are approximately nine billion now, a figure projected to rise to 50 billion in the near future) is bringing data, connectivity and choice to billions of people around the world. The accepted wisdom is that having more choices is a good thing for consumers, and for the most part it is — that is, until an almost limitless range of choices becomes confusing and overwhelming.

This “too many options” inflection point presents retailers with an important opportunity. It’s becoming increasingly clear that consumers are seeking tools and technologies to help them cope with the data avalanche available at their fingertips. Retailers that can curate their product assortments by tailoring them to the needs of various customer groups will gain a competitive advantage.


The Best And Worst Web Sites Of 2014: From Beautiful Design To Flawed Execution

AmandaMcCrearyLooking back on 2014, it’s clear the world of commerce is in flux. Brands are growing and evolving rapidly, with the typical highs and lows that come with changing tides. Online commerce experienced a lot of growth, with a trend towards improving the user experience and telling a better story. We picked through the best of the best, and the worst of the worst, to find some of the most beautifully presented web sites, and a few of those that somehow missed the mark.


Don’t Let DIM Weight Catch You Off-Guard

VP Spend Management head shotIt’s the start of a new year and with that comes a new way of pricing parcels. Are you prepared?

Instead of just grabbing the first box you can find, packing, weighing and then calculating the cost based on the weight, pricing parcels is now much more complicated. Now, the price is determined by the dimensions of the box along with the weight. How you pack and what you pack is now more important than ever.


Service Over Everything: Mobilizing Voice And Data Reaps Measurable Retail Rewards

VP site only Zebra head shotToday, consumer expectations are higher than ever. We want access, attention and answers fast. Any frustration in the retail shopping experience, and loyalty and sales quickly wane. In a business segment fueled by that loyalty, it’s startling to consider less than 25% of customers are fully satisfied with the service they receive and the availability of associates charged with delivering it.

To improve the shopping experience, forward-looking retailers are looking for new ways to delight customers and keep them coming back. To keep up with well-connected customers, retail associates need instant access to product and service information, inventory look-ups, price checks and mobile checkout ability no matter where they are in the store. Data communications provide part of the answer, but reliable voice really enables complete connectivity.


Retailing: Re-tailored For 2015

VP siteonly SalesforceThe retail industry is at a crossroads. Consumers are now in the driver’s seat. They require more flexibility and the ability to connect with retailers seamlessly across every channel. While the proliferation of social networks and mobile devices has provided new opportunities for retailers to create one-to-one experiences, many are struggling with how to connect it all.  

To deliver what the customer needs and maximize sales, I offer five key ways for retailers to win in the New Year.


The Shopping Destination Of The Future: The Mall

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 9.27.49 AMAmerican shopping malls are iconic institutions, born in the 50s and the quintessential centerpieces of teenage culture in the 80s. Who can think back to the mall madness of the 80s without conjuring up images of Spicoli, Stacy, Linda and the rest of the characters in Fast Times At Ridgemont High who didn’t just sling pizza, but came of age in the food courts and maze-like walkways of their local mall?

For decades, the mall was a staple of popular culture that represented suburban consumerism in its most basic form. The plotline for today’s retail experience is vastly different. Prognosticators have been proclaiming the death of the shopping mall ever since people began seriously shopping online, and web sites like have sprouted up to document the demise of retail centers from South Dakota to Mississippi. It’s a good story to tell, but does it reflect reality? Are yesterday’s malls destined to wither as e-Commerce and mobile commerce move up the retail bell curve? Or, is their room for both in tomorrow’s retail landscape?


Cybersecurity Is Not Just For Payments

VP SAS head shotOver the last year, payment card security — or actually, the lack of payment card security — has been one of the top discussions among retailers and consumers. New payment technologies are coming forward such as Apple Pay and Point-to-Point encryption, but will those new payment technologies do the trick?

A recent study by ACI Worldwide and Aite Group titled, Global Consumers: Concerned And Willing To Engage In The Battle Against Fraud,  found retailers have little consumer trust when it comes to data security. Only 55% of survey respondents said they think the stores they frequent deploy security systems to prevent data breaches. And nearly one third of respondents (29%) said they don’t trust retailers to protect their personal and financial data from criminals.


Post-Cyber Weekend Customer Retention Tips

VP site only Sailthru head shotThe holiday season is a great time to drive big revenue numbers from your existing customer base, but it’s also an incredibly powerful time to introduce new customers to your brand. In fact, up to 46% of “cyber weekend” revenue in 2014 for Sailthru’s commerce clients was driven by first-time buyers.

Posting big numbers in December goes a long way in the boardroom, but the best marketers know to play the long game, or to focus on how to translate those short-term sales spikes into long-term customer relationships and value.


E-Commerce Sales: We Can Do Better Than 9%

VP site only SLI head shotEach year, online sales take a bigger slice of the “total retail sales” pie. In 2014, analyst firm Forrester expects e-Commerce sales in the United States to reach $294 billion, still a small 9% slice of all sales in the country. That means that 91% of retail sales still occur in brick-and-mortar stores. The question is: Can e-Commerce do better? Can e-Commerce grab a larger slice of that pie by making simple changes?

A recent large-scale study on e-Commerce search by the Baymard Institute answers with a resounding YES but notes that there is still a long way to go before this happens:


Tech Tools To Make The Independent Retailer’s Holiday Season Merry

Cox head shotIf you had to grade yourself on your level of technology adoption, would you be headed for the honor roll or failing miserably? Earlier this year, Cox Business polled hundreds of small business owners on the impact and influence tech has on their success, and a whopping 62% fall in the above average category when it comes to using technology to improve performance.  For those SMB owners in the latter category, it’s time to get up to speed. Take a look at our top technology picks to help you bring your A-game to promoting and operating your business during the holidays.


Creating The Omnichannel Advantage

Retailers understand that the key to higher sales is insight. They need to know what their customers, both current and potential, like, want and expect. This is now possible due to advances in technology whereby purchasing behavior can be tracked across retail channels and analyzed. However, this kind of omnichannel intelligence remains a seemingly monumental undertaking for many retailers.

Unifying retail data and the shopping experience across consumer touch points will indeed require time and money, but the result — that all-powerful insight — will be worth the effort. Below are guidelines for where and how to start.


Will Big Data Kill Creative?

VP Vestcom head shotThe Internet was invented the same year we landed on the moon, at the close of a very tumultuous and difficult decade. It was the product of a Defense Department project, and it consisted mainly of email and data transfer for its first 20 years. In the early 1990s, the World Wide Web came about, and a sleeping giant awoke, forever changing the world as we knew it.

Since the very beginning, the Internet has been all about data. Bits turned to bytes, which grew by turns to megabytes, terabytes, then petabytes and zettabytes. Big Data, as it is now known, has arrived, and it continues to grow larger by the second. The ability to mine this data, extract insights from behaviors, and ultimately sell advertising space is the foundation for Google, Facebook and the web itself. Without advertising, we wouldn’t have the web we have today.

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