Retail TouchPoints - Your Source For The Latest Retail News And Trends - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Fri, 06 Mar 2015 16:34:02 -0500 RTP en-gb Pizza Hut Unveils New On-The-Go Ordering Concept Pizza Hut Unveils New On-The-Go Ordering Concept

Pizza Hut has partnered with Visa and Accenture to develop a connected car and on-the-go ordering experience.

The connected car will be equipped with cellular connectivity, online payment service Visa Checkout and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). Pizza Hut restaurants will also deploy beacon technology to recognize and engage with the connected car as it approaches. Accenture will manage the integration of the technologies.

{loadposition GIAA}As part of the technology experiment, Pizza Hut will provide in-car access to menus, delivery and pick-up options, and will test the in-restaurant beacons to notify team members when a car has arrived. With the Visa Checkout integration, consumers can order food directly from their cars using Interactive Voice Control (IVR) technology.

“We’re committed to offering speed and convenience to our customers when ordering online and this new connected car technology is the latest way for us to do that,” said Baron Concors, Chief Digital Officer for Pizza Hut. “We have the largest suite of mobile apps and are proud to be the exclusive pizza company to offer Visa Checkout. With our history of innovation, it only made sense for us to be the first to test the beacon technology in cars.”

Visa first demonstrated the connected car commerce experience at the Mobile World Congress, which was held March 2-5, 2015, in Barcelona, Spain. The partners expect to test the experience in Northern California over a three-month period, starting in spring 2015.

“By 2020 it is estimated that more than 250 million vehicles worldwide will include some form of embedded connectivity,” said Bill Gajda, SVP of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships at Visa. “As the number of connected cars on the road increases, so does our ability to bring secure online commerce to consumers everywhere. We initially focused on a specific use case — ordering a meal on your way home — but we envision a world where consumers can seamlessly make many of their everyday purchases from the car.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 05 Mar 2015 13:03:50 -0500
ASICS Selects Retail Pro To Accelerate South East Asian Expansion ASICS Selects Retail Pro To Accelerate South East Asian Expansion

Footwear designer and manufacturer ASICS Corporation has selected Retail Pro, a customizable POS software platform, to facilitate its expansion into the South East Asian market.

With Retail Pro, ASICS aims to centralize store operations, improve pricing transparency and supply chain visibility, as well as guarantee consistency of product availability across markets.

ASICS selected the platform due to Retail Pro International’s aggressive rollout targets and support networks across Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. Retail Pro's local expert team, coupled with the technology's flexible design, will be critical to ASICS's expansion goals, according to executives within the organization.

“Anima Sana In Corpore Sano, meaning ‘A Sound Mind in a Sound Body,’ is the old Latin phrase from which ASICS is derived and the fundamental platform on which the brand still stands,” said Maureen Neo, Financial Controller at ASICS Group. “Retail Pro is clearly a sound product in a sound company with its quality and global presence — more than 54,000 stores with impressive clientele in over 95 countries.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:36:32 -0500
86% Of Consumers Believe Ratings/Reviews Are Essential To The Shopping Experience 86% Of Consumers Believe Ratings/Reviews Are Essential To The Shopping Experience

feedbackWith social media, consumers have the ability to connect and communicate with people all over the world. Whether friends, family or complete strangers, consumers have come to rely on their peers for feedback and validation.

Because consumers consider social networks such active and valuable communities, they have come to expect the same peer-driven experience as they shop online, according to new research from PowerReviews.

Nearly all (94%) shoppers consult reviews during their browsing and buying journey, and 86% believe reviews are an essential part of the decision-making process, according to the report, titled The Power Of Reviews. Through a survey of 800 consumers, PowerReviews examined the overall value and impact of reviews, and how consumers leverage them to make decisions.

More than half (57%) of online shoppers even seek out web sites with product reviews. While shopper feedback holds a lot of weight for all e-Commerce shoppers, ratings and reviews most impact mobile users. In fact, 70% of mobile shoppers said they were more likely to purchase a product if the mobile site or app they were using provided seamless access to product reviews.

{loadposition GIAA}“Reviews have become standard resource for consumers making purchase decisions,” said Matt Moog, CEO of PowerReviews. “Ratings and reviews are no longer an option, but an expectation. The burden ultimately falls on retailers and brands to provide shoppers with the information they need to make confident purchase decisions, present it in a compelling format and make it available across channels.”

Although positive reviews can help drive purchases, 82% of consumers specifically seek out negative reviews during their shopping journeys. On average, 42% of consumers write reviews, while only 32% of shoppers aged 18 to 29 contribute. When asked why they did not write reviews, 55% said they needed some form of motivation, recognition or a reward.

Different Approaches To Ratings And Reviews

During the browsing and decision-making process, approximately two-thirds of consumers read up to 10 reviews. Up to 75% of consumers said they prefer "tag-based reviews," which provide a quick snapshot of review keywords and shopper sentiment.

Retailers can take different approaches to the ratings/reviews experience based on its target customer, its overall brand image and the products it sells.

For example, Land's End is a PowerReviews client that uses branded symbols instead of stars to personalize the shopper experience. On the other end of the spectrum, bath and body brand Philosophy takes a standard text and star rating approach to reviews.

However, brands like ULTA Beauty are taking a more immersive approach to ratings and reviews. Shoppers can filter their experience based on makeup categories and top-rated products. In addition to allowing consumers to share their overall comments, the ULTA site also breaks down reviews by pros, cons and best uses. If consumers want to get to the point of the review quickly, the platform includes a "bottom line" section, where consumers say whether they'd recommend a product or not. 

Click here to download the PowerReviews survey.


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Thu, 05 Mar 2015 09:29:16 -0500
SABON Boosts Black Friday Sales By 35% With Site Personalization SABON Boosts Black Friday Sales By 35% With Site Personalization

Each shopper has a unique journey. They have specific goals and preferences, and as a result, have different expectations of brands and retailers.

Retailers are striving to connect and engage customers, regardless of their unique preferences, by embracing personalization. While ratings and recommendations have become more commonplace, new tools and technologies empower retailers to personalize different phases of the browsing and buying journey.

SABON, a luxury bath and body fragrance shop, uses technology from Dynamic Yield to personalize its prime real estate: The e-Commerce homepage. Known and hailed for its high-quality products, exceptional service and packaging and store design, SABON strived to create a memorable online experience that reflected the environment of its 130 stores.

During Black Friday weekend, SABON experienced a 35% uplift on sales over 2013, as well as a 20% boost in homepage order value and 60% increase in page views.

“Personalization is a must nowadays,” said Inna Uretsky, e-Commerce and Marketing Manager for SABON. “Consumers expect a better shopping experience and want to be more engaged. And better engagement means higher conversions and sales.”

Automating The Personalization Process

Initially, SABON sought a solution to help boost conversions during the most competitive time of year: The holiday season. The retailer also needed a solution that was flexible and turnkey enough to allow team members to make site changes on the fly.

{loadposition GIAA}“One of our biggest issues was implementing new changes on our site, especially during the holiday season, since the competition is high, and actions and reactions must be quick,” Uretsky said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We needed a solution that would allow us to create changes without having to go and change the code, or be dependent on the creative team.”

Now, SABON has the ability to customize the experience based on each customer. During the 2014 holiday season, the retailer optimized the slideshow on its homepage by uploading different variations of products, sales and offers to guide customers through the sales funnel. The retailer also has created various banner images that are tailored to align with specific customers and delivered based on their unique behaviors. 

“We broke down the home page and other pages into units, and created various banner images that we uploaded through Dynamic Yield, and let the Dynamic Yield tool work its magic,” Uretsky said. “From that point onward, Dynamic Yield’s automated algorithm engine tested the variations on different types of users, and dynamically delivered the top performing variation per user according to real-time results.”

Some key takeaways from the holiday season included:

  • Returning customers are more inclined to click on a single-item promotion based on past purchases than generic sales and discounts.
  • “Free shipping” offers had a significant impact on conversions.

Because it met and exceeded goals for the holiday season, SABON plans to add new variations to existing experiments, and even create new ones.

“We also plan to tag additional site areas to receive more data on our users,” Uretsky explained. “We can use Dynamic Yield Smart Objects personalization and automated conversion optimization for our external, third-party campaigns as well.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:29:46 -0500
Target Plans To Cut Thousands Of Jobs, Save $2 Billion During Business Transformation Target Plans To Cut Thousands Of Jobs, Save $2 Billion During Business Transformation

At a meeting with investors, Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell and his leadership team revealed a new vision designed to transform business operations and consumers' perception of the brand.

Over the next two years, Target plans to save $2 billion by improving technology and processes; streamlining supply chain and sourcing efficiencies; and restructuring the corporate workforce through significant job cuts.

During the restructuring process, thousands of employees within Target's headquarters in Minneapolis, Mo., will be laid off. This move is expected to help the retailer operate with greater speed and agility, according to Target executives. New, centralized teams will be created based on employee expertise.

“While we’re in the early days and there’s no doubt that transformation can be challenging, we’re taking the steps necessary to unleash the potential of this incredible brand,” Cornell said. “I’m encouraged by our early momentum, and am confident that by implementing our strategy, simplifying how we work, and practicing financial discipline, we will ignite Target’s innovative spirit and deliver sustained growth.”

In 2015, Target plans to spend up to $2.2 billion on new initiatives, including $1 billion on technology and supply chain operations.

To inspire innovation and growth across the entire enterprise, Target also plans to focus on:

  • Improving omnichannel capabilities: Target guests who shop both in-store and online generate three times the sales of those who only shop in stores, according to a company press release. The retailer also expects to see digital channel sales grow by 40% and boost total sales between 1.5% and 2.5% in 2015. As a result, the retailer plans to focus on creating a complete brand experience across stores, e-Commerce and mobile.

  • Style, Baby, Kids and Wellness categories: These merchandise categories are being prioritized in 2015, with Target focusing on providing differentiated brands and products. In 2014, these four categories accounted for 25% of Target's total sales.

  • Repositioning grocery: In order to compete more effectively with Walmart and other retailers that are expanding into grocery, Target is repositioning its grocery offerings to be more appealing to shoppers.

  • Tailoring assortments: Target is striving to create a more "guest-centric" experience by offering locally relevant products based on demographics, climate, location and other factors. By strengthening its data and analytics capabilities, the retailer also plans to further personalize digital experiences, loyalty programs and promotions.

  • New store formats: Over the next year, Target plans to open new stores using the TargetExpress and CityTarget formats, which are smaller formats designed to cater to more dense urban areas. 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 04 Mar 2015 09:13:42 -0500
FD Mobile Summit FD Mobile Summit


FD Mobile™ Summit is a one-day executive event for retailers looking to dive deep into mobile marketing and mobile commerce strategies.

The event was designed to cover the most important topics brands and retailers will need to master to develop a first-class mobile strategy.

A more intimate event at 200 attendees, and invite-only, the summit is designed to give retail executives a closed forum to learn from experts in mobile technology and peers in retail that are breaking ground when it comes to reaching consumers — and driving conversions — through mobile channels.


March 24, 2015


New York City 

View the schedule >>

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Industry Calendar Wed, 04 Mar 2015 07:54:57 -0500
Reimagining Customer Service Operations Reimagining Customer Service Operations

Shadow RTP RT049 SR Omnichannel Service Feb 2015Consumers have a variety of information sources at their disposal, and technology is empowering them to connect with brands and retailers at any point during their browsing and buying journeys.

The increasing variety of service channels available undoubtedly provides shoppers with more ways to interact with brand representatives. But for the most part, quantity does not equal quality: Just 5% said companies exceed their expectations, according to the 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer from American Express. 

E-Commerce players such as Amazon and Zappos are “leading the way in terms of how retailers should interact with customers,” said Omer Minkara, Research Director of Contact Center & Customer Experience Management at Aberdeen Group. These retailers also have collected and aggregated a plethora of data about their customers, which empowers agents to have more enriching and valuable conversations across channels.

Complete the form below to download the entire Omnichannel Customer Service report, and learn how Aeropostale and BaubleBar are structuring their service operations to ensure retail success!


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Special Reports Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:58:51 -0500
The Resurgence Of The Store The Resurgence Of The Store

In 2008, retailers were faced with the Great Recession, which forced consumers to spend less and be savvier about when, where and how they shop. Then in 2012, the emergence of showrooming hit retailers, which threatened brick-and-mortar businesses and encouraged consumers to find better deals from Amazon and other online pureplays.

Now, in 2015, the retail industry is facing another moment of flux: Rather than viewing the store as a weak target, it instead is becoming a key differentiator for retailers across categories.

“This year, we’re having a store resurgence,” said Nadir Hirji, Executive Vice President of Jackman Reinvents, a reinvention company that collaborates with brand leaders to help them realize untapped value for their business. Touting a hefty roster of clients, Jackman Reinvents has helped some of the industry’s top brands, including David’s Bridal, Duane Reade and Walgreens.

For years, industry experts and analysts imagined a retail world where the store did not exist. But now, Hirji noted “the store has a very important role to play. It’s not just an albatross of real estate.”

Best-in-class retailers, such as Cole Haan and Staples, are sharing how they are using the store as a hub for omnichannel engagement. Cole Haan, for example, was one of the first retailers to implement beacon technology, and is now rolling out endless aisle capabilities in stores. The retailer has even partnered with UberRUSH to extend same-day delivery to New York City-area shoppers.

{loadposition GIAA}Meanwhile, Staples is using in-store kiosks as a way to allow customers to purchase items unavailable in-store, and have them delivered to the location of their choice. 

“Staples is talking about how a lot of their sales were coming from these in-store kiosks, and how they’re integrating in-store digital with classical digital channels,” Hirji said. “Everyone knows that you can increase customer loyalty, profitability and basket size if you engage them in several channels. It’s no longer good enough to say you’re omnichannel and have a great digital, mobile and physical experience. There’s a real need for a brand to not only show up but also differentiate across all channels.”

A key point of differentiation is to embrace technology make the in-store shopping more social and leisurely, rather than a necessity.

For example, “some grocers are even trying to integrate their app with the ability to order online and either pick-up in-store or even have someone pick the groceries for you while you get a coffee,” Hirji explained. “Retailers are trying to differentiate and think about how they can make the experience more leisurely and social, even if it’s more of a necessity.”

Understanding The ‘Social Playground’

As omnichannel becomes more of a business requirement, retailers need to understand that although they are in control of their brand image, they are no longer in control of the messaging, especially on social media. 

“It is crystal clear to consumers when retailers delete negative comments on social media,” Hirji noted. “Their credibility goes right out the door.”

To better communicate and engage with these somewhat jaded shoppers, retailers need to consider how they can make messaging more transparent, and also respond to social inquiries faster and improve overall interactions.

Febreze and Doritos are two examples Hirji pointed to as brands that are using social media to connect with customers, mine feedback and respond in a timely and fun way.

The dawning of the social playground also is encouraging retailers to rethink their overall customer service strategies. Because consumers are more prone to starting on one channel and finishing in another, retailers need to ensure service reps have the data they need to drive consistent and valuable conversations.

“Just like consumers expect to start their shopping in one channel and finish in another, you’re getting customers who expect to start a conversation in a call center, and then engage again through chat and have all their history there,” Hirji said. Moving forward “customer service agents will be problem solvers and most importantly, maintain and foster relationships.”


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Tue, 03 Mar 2015 09:57:27 -0500
Natural Grocers Investigates Possible Data Breach Natural Grocers Investigates Possible Data Breach

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage is investigating a possible data breach involving an “unauthorized intrusion targeting limited customer payment data,” according to a company statement.

The grocery retailer has not received reports of fraudulent card use from any customer, credit card company or financial institution. In a statement published on the company web site, Natural Grocers indicated: “There is no evidence that PIN numbers or card verification codes were accessed. Finally, no personally identifiable information, such as names, addresses or Social Security numbers, was involved, as the company does not collect that data as part of its payment processing system.”

{loadposition GIAA}However, security blogger Brian Krebs indicated that financial industry sources have traced a fraudulent pattern on customer credit and debit cards, suggesting that hackers have accessed cash registers at Natural Grocers locations throughout the country. The pattern indicates that card data stolen from the retailer has already been sold through underground cybercrime networks.

The cyberattacks began prior to Christmas 2014, when hackers attacked weaknesses in the company’s database servers. From there, the attackers moved laterally within the retailer’s internal network, eventually planting card snooping malware on POS systems.

Natural Grocers hired a third-party data forensics firm to investigate the potential breach. The retailer also is collaborating with law enforcement.

While the investigation is ongoing, Natural Grocers has accelerated plans to upgrade POS systems in all of store locations to meet PCI compliance. The retailer also plans to implement new PIN pads that accept EMV-enabled cards.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:11:18 -0500
Brooks Brothers Improves Supply Chain Visibility With GT Nexus Brooks Brothers Improves Supply Chain Visibility With GT Nexus

brooksbrothersBrooks Brothers has expanded its cloud supply chain strategy using the GT Nexus platform. While the retailer has used the solution for procurement and settlement processes since 2007, Brooks Brothers now is using data from the solution to boost supply chain visibility, support international growth and reduce costs.

The GT Nexus platform houses, connects and shares data across all business units, linking the physical and financial supply chains. Using the solution, Brooks Brothers is able to integrate with supply chain partners more efficiently to eliminate costs and support international growth.

“GT Nexus has been a strategic partner over the years and we see the next wave of the relationship expanding further into our global supply chain to drive growth,” said Joe Dixon, SVP of Product Development, Sourcing and Production at Brooks Brothers. “The ability to tap into streams of data from the purchase order, invoice and settlement process in an automated environment helps us untangle a series of complex workflows that reduce costs and unlock efficiencies.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Mon, 02 Mar 2015 17:01:37 -0500
PayPal Acquires Paydiant PayPal Acquires Paydiant

PayPal has acquired mobile payment company Paydiant in an effort to expand its breadth of mobile solutions for retailers. Although terms of the deal have not officially been disclosed, a report from Re/code indicated that the acquisition will cost PayPal up to $280 million.

Paydiant provides mobile wallet and digital coupon services for organizations such as Subway, Harris Teeter and Capital One. The company’s customer list also includes the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), which will release its CurrentC mobile wallet app in 2015.

With the acquisition, PayPal is positioned to bolster its relationship with MCX, which is fighting to compete with other mobile wallet providers such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Samsung Pay.

The deal also will help PayPal expand to more apps as it spins off into its own publicly traded company later this year.

“Using Paydiant’s platform, our merchant partners can now create their own branded wallets to accelerate mobile-in-store payments and drive consumer engagement through mobile payments, loyalty, offers and the prioritization of preferred payment types, such as store branded credit cards and gift cards,” said Dan Schulman, President and CEO Designee of PayPal. “Similar to PayPal, Paydiant’s technology-agnostic approach means that merchants can use any mobile payment technology — QR codes or NFC — that best suits their business.”

Paydiant also is expected to benefit from the PayPal acquisition, as it will help expand its reach into more than 200 markets and 162 million active digital wallets. The white-label wallet platform provider is aiming to offer value-added benefits to its customers, including: Risk management; 24/7 customer support; loyalty programs; mobile offers and an open payments architecture that supports all mobile operating systems, according to a company statement.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in late March or April 2015. As per the transaction, all of Paydiant’s 70 employees will join the PayPal team.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Mergers & Acquisitions Mon, 02 Mar 2015 15:34:14 -0500
Eyeview Weather Tracker Personalizes Ads To Weather Conditions Eyeview Weather Tracker Personalizes Ads To Weather Conditions

Weather patterns can affect shopping behaviors and store traffic, especially when conditions are severe. However, with the right technology in place, retailers can use the weather to their advantage by personalizing messages and campaigns based on temperature and other conditions.

Online video advertising solution provider Eyeview released Eyeview Weather Tracker to help brands personalize video ads in response to real-time weather conditions. Weather Tracker monitors weather forecasts across an advertiser’s target markets to deliver relevant messages and calls-to-action.

One popular use case is the holiday season. In some areas, snowstorms are imminent. However, “retailers can’t risk a drop in sales due to inclement weather,” noted Oren Harnevo, CEO and Co-Founder of Eyeview. “This is the most important selling season for them, and, as always, our goal is to help our retail partners reach their target consumer with the right message, at the right time.”

The Eyeview Weather Tracker is designed to deliver calls-to-action featuring hyper-locally consumer targeted information about current and forecasted weather conditions. This approach gives consumers the information they need, which helps retailers boost engagement and sales.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Tue, 03 Mar 2015 08:00:00 -0500
What Cost-Per-Hour Means For Retail Marketing Spend What Cost-Per-Hour Means For Retail Marketing Spend

VP Sailthru head shotJust a few months ago, the traditional ad model was served a shakeup when the Financial Times announced they’d be rolling out new ad rates based on time and attention versus impressions. This is just one in a series of interesting new — and interrelated — tactics that media sites are taking to diversify their revenue streams from adopting publisher analytics platforms like to monetizing reader intent data via adtech providers.

This particular model is being called CPH or cost-per-hour, and for retail marketers it presents an interesting new reality. I’m sure many would agree that they’d far rather work in a world where ad rates were based on how long they appear in front of target audiences than anything else, but with any new metric can come some institutional changes and an education curve. Ultimately, what matters today is how you get people on-site, keep them there and keep them coming back.

{loadposition GIAA}Agencies can’t yet support this model and the data provided by this approach will need to go under an overhaul moving from impressions and CTR, to a much more rich approach that details how time viewed impacted CTR and downstream conversion, but this new ad currency is going to lead to a few major industry changes (outside of simply better ad creative) that are a long-time coming and ones that retail marketers need to keep their eyes on:

1. First party data — long valuable — will become even more so. To compete with publishers that have larger audiences, the Financial Times will now lean on data that it collects firsthand to do a better job slicing up its audience for advertisers. Your own information about your customers is the primary data stream that you should be concerned with. Understanding what they do and when they do it is your ticket to capitalizing on the CPH shift. Success is no longer a story of mass user acquisition and site traffic volume; it’s a story of quality audiences and brand loyalty. CPH marks a clear shift from mass acquisition to smart acquisition, which along with it comes stronger retention rates.

2. Personalization will be recognized as the largest revenue driver. With the prioritization of metrics including depth of session, page views and time on site, personalization will finally get to publicly flex its muscles as a generator of serious revenue. The Financial Times said they will start the clock when at least 50% of an ad is on screen for five seconds. The way to get people to stay on-site long enough will be based on content relevancy, quality and consistency. That will come through automated personalization and audience insights at scale; that’s the best way to drive revenue from loyal audiences. I define loyal audiences as those who click through to the site from email, social and across all devices. Retailers who truly understand personalization will start asking questions around a publisher’s technology, not just demographics.

3. Data depth and quality will take on a whole new meaning. As brand marketers, you want to attach yourself to something legitimately reportable. Time is tangible. To that end, data delivered to marketers will have to be much more thoughtfully deciphered, cross-checked and delivered in the post-CPH world. With a finite resource, it’s difficult to hide discrepancies. While page views equal revenue, the impression isn’t the end-all be-all. Depth of information on individual users and session time are both more measurable and more bankable than traditional CPMs. Don’t hold back when it comes to asking for more intelligence in exchange for your marketing dollars.

Questions certainly remain even six months on from the initial announcement of CPH. While great for brand marketers, what about direct response? What’s the impact to conversion and click-through rate based on how long the ad shows? How much more valuable to a brand are the users acquired through CPH vs. CPM or CPC models?

Yet, if every publisher believes their audience is unique, then CPH will thrive in the months and years ahead. I believe CPH is just one of many approaches that will be setting the stage for the future of marketing budget allocation.

Innovation around advertising spend is increasing as more people ask “why” when it comes to historic workflows, faulty metrics and disproven costs and more importantly, “how” can they use their entire data set to bring in better, more valuable customers.


Neil Capel’s successful track record of working on large-scale, high-demand web systems led him to develop Sailthru’s unique, customer interest-based automation and personalization capabilities. Prior to Founding Sailthru and acting as CEO, Capel was the Chief Technology Officer for MusicNation, an AlleyCorp company, ASmallWorld, and Money-Media (acquired by Financial Times). Today, Capelalso is an advisor to several startups, including and, and a Venture Partner at Bowery Capital, a seed stage venture fund focused on transformational upgrades to enterprise technologies. Capelalso was named to The Silicon Alley 100 in 2011, 2012 and 2014 as one of New York City’s most influential and coolest technology leaders.

]]> (Neil Capel, Sailthru) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 03 Mar 2015 08:00:00 -0500
Springboard Retail Brings POS And Inventory Management To The Cloud Springboard Retail Brings POS And Inventory Management To The Cloud

Best-in-class retailers are merging their brick-and-mortar and e-Commerce systems to create a seamless customer experience across all channels. By integrating data, retailers also can provide associates with a comprehensive look at customer information, inventory and overall sales.

Springboard Retail is spearheading this convergence with the introduction of a cloud-based retail management solution that includes POS, inventory management and CRM software. The comprehensive solution is designed to provide retailers with real-time data and equip them with tools to turn information into incremental sales. Associates and managers who access the system also have access to real-time inventory levels across every store, which empowers them to sell items that are unavailable in their own store, and ship them directly to the consumer.

Additional applications available in the platform include purchasing, receiving, distributed order management and fulfillment, as well as real-time dashboards, a promotions engine and a proprietary analytics tool. Springboard integrates directly with Intuit Quickbooks.

Sales associates can use the Springboard Retail POS solution on a tablet to check out customers and engage with them in store aisles. Associates also can leverage a variety of features within the POS system, including item entry via scan or lookup, customer creation and lookup, sales rep tracking, multi-store inventory lookup, gift card issuance and redemption, and sales tax calculation.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:43:32 -0500
Bigcommerce Extends E-Commerce Capabilities To Square Merchants Bigcommerce Extends E-Commerce Capabilities To Square Merchants

E-commerce platform provider Bigcommerce and payment processor Square have partnered to provide brick-and-mortar retailers with an outlet to expand their businesses online. The partnership enables U.S. and Canadian merchants using Square to launch a branded e-Commerce site via the Bigcommerce platform.

With the partnership, Bigcommerce and Square are positioned to help retailers simplify business management online and in stores, leading to a potential boost in customer acquisition and engagement.

“Trying to separately manage both an online and physical retail store can feel like running two different businesses,” said Terry Carter, CEO of Travertine Spa. “What Bigcommerce and Square have built will immediately improve my day-to-day business processes, freeing time that was spent on reporting and technology to instead focus on growing sales and serving our customers.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:26:11 -0500
Asia’s Shift From Production To Consumption Asia’s Shift From Production To Consumption

VP site only Chainalytics head shotIf you’re younger than 40, you might have a hard time comprehending that it wasn’t very long ago when a “Made In Japan” label on an item was indicative of merchandise that was manufactured inexpensively. However, you might have noticed a trend throughout your life where these items have shifted from manufacturing in Asian countries like Hong Kong or Taiwan to countries such as China, Bangladesh and India.

Though dependent on a variety of macroeconomic and geopolitical factors, the evolution of low-cost sourcing/manufacturing countries is more or less the same: Over time, these countries develop a rising middle class, inflating the price of labor and overhead. While this growth in wealth chips away at the cost advantages of production, it simultaneously creates viable consumer markets. As countries move from “we make it” to “we buy it,” manufacturers search for new locations to manufacture while retailers tap the new consumer markets.

This phenomenon is precisely what is happening right now in China, and the rest of Asia to varying degrees. A swiftly growing middle class is putting upward pressure on labor costs and squeezing margins on manufacturers. At the same time, this burgeoning middle class is filling the markets with attractive target consumers for finished goods.

As many retailers have learned through past global expansions, there are many cultural considerations to make before diving in and tapping into these new consumer markets. But an equally large question surrounds supply chains. How do retailers procure goods in markets where the transportation infrastructure has developed around export rather than distribution? Even more complicated, how is last mile distribution handled for e-Commerce fulfillment?

Understanding The Asia-Pacific (APAC) Region As A Consumer Market

The most important thing to know about APAC is that it is not a single market; it is a collection of many countries that are geographically and culturally distinct. Within each country are diverse regions that exhibit their own cultural identities, sometimes also maintaining autonomy over economic development policies.

In many areas, this decentralization is new and emerging quickly. For example, Jakarta used to be the only entry point into Indonesia, but decentralization of import control has opened alternative ports with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Demand patterns in Asia are best evaluated for each individual market so that the most appropriate distribution models can be selected for each one. What works in Shanghai may not work in Beijing, and demand patterns are shifting as quickly as the region itself. This makes it increasingly important to evaluate changes frequently and to refresh distribution networks often so they can reflect changes to their respective markets.

Market Opportunity Wrought With Transportation Challenges

Asian markets differ in the quality of transportation infrastructure available, but almost all of them have highly fragmented carrier environments, poor safety compliance records and increasing urbanization that is stretching the capacity of roadways. Rail transport is not a viable option in many Asian countries, though air shipping is increasing and sea options are available on certain lanes between markets.

Many markets in Asia rely heavily on human powered transport, introducing an added layer of complexity to last mile delivery. Bumpy roads and reliance on bicycles and motorcycles make fulfillment of breakable items extremely difficult for many customers, and this problem extends to a great deal of the transportation network in some areas.

Distribution: Build It Or Buy It?

Availability of reliable transportation carriers using reasonable infrastructure, coupled with consumer buying behaviors and demand patterns, should inform decision-making on where distribution centers should be located.

However, distribution network planning also relies on forecasting demand patterns for at least three to five years, and free trade agreements, customs and duties complicate distribution when international border crossings are necessary. Depending on which markets are served and the service levels required, it may make more sense to use existing distributors for fulfillment and/or procurement.

Whether distribution centers or distributors are used, the service elasticity of demand is important to calculate when creating a network. Better service results in increased demand, so plan accordingly for a rise in demand in areas that experience high service levels. Build the expected demand increases into your network design so that it can efficiently scale up to satisfy demand. If demand planning is murky, look for distribution solutions that are highly flexible, even if they come with additional costs.

Though many challenges exist for establishing supply chain excellence in Asia, the power of the consumer market there makes the endeavor worthwhile. The region has already overtaken the U.S. in demand for certain consumer products like cars and television, and eMarketer expects e-Commerce sales in Asia-Pacific to outstrip those of North America and Western Europe by the end of this year. Retailers expecting sustained growth have no choice but to look to the East sooner rather than later. 

Tim Foster has more than 20 years of supply chain experience across the APAC region both as a consultant and as an executive with leading multinational manufacturers. Serving as Chainalytics’ Managing Director of the APAC region, Foster understands the entire local, regional and by-country pan-Asian picture — from the macro-economic factors impacting the region to each market’s unique logistics demands and business complexities.

]]> (Tim Foster, Chainalytics) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:40:23 -0500
Will Apple Pay Finally Make Mobile Payments A Reality For Retail? Will Apple Pay Finally Make Mobile Payments A Reality For Retail?

VP site only Kobie Marketing head shotUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about (and possibly used) Apple’s new mobile wallet, Apple Pay, which launched last fall in the U.S. Apple Pay is an online and mobile wallet that allows consumers to upload up to eight credit cards and make payments at both online and brick-and-mortar retailers.

Apple Pay Is Positioned To Succeed Where Others Have Failed

Mobile wallets like Square and Google Wallet have been around for years but have never gained widespread consumer acceptance. So why is there so much hype around Apple Pay?

  1. Apple Pay has solved some security concerns that many consumers have around mobile payments by using NFC technology and a one-time use encrypted number.

  2. Since Apple Pay is an open network that can be accepted at any retailer that installs the software, consumers can avoid signing up with multiple wallet providers. Many of the successful mobile payment solutions, such as the Starbucks app, only work in a specific brand’s retail locations.  

  3. Transitioning to Apple Pay will likely be easy due to the existing level of consumer trust in Apple. iTunes already stores more than 800 million credit cards, which proves that consumers are comfortable sharing their payment information with Apple.

  4. Major retailers have already signed commitments to install the technology to accept Apple Pay. Nike, McDonald’s, Walgreens, Panera, Whole Foods, Subway, Walgreens, and Macy’s are among some of the retailers who have installed software to accept Apple Pay.

  5. Apple Pay is being supported by the big three credit issuers and major banks.  Visa, MasterCard and American Express have all signed on, as well as Bank of America, Capital One, Citi, Chase, US Bank and Wells Fargo, among others. As of late January 2015, nearly 800 banks and credit unions were signed up to offer Apple Pay to their customers.  

  6. Apple Pay can close the loop in terms of reporting to retailers with iBeacon software. Most mobile wallets rely solely on Bluetooth, which means that it needs to be turned on and it is difficult to track which offer prompted what action. Apple Pay will be the only wallet to combine Bluetooth, NFC and iBeacon technology. Although, other mobile wallets and third-party vendors are quickly developing technology to connect them. iBeacon is a signal-emitting technology that allows retailers to push real-time, geo-centric offers to consumers in physical stores. Retailers will be able to send geo-targeted offers via iPhones and Apple Watches and then track transactions through Apple Pay. The combination of Bluetooth, NRF and iBeacon will allow retailers to track vital data about the in-store customer journey, such as dwell time.   

Widespread Adoption Will Take Time, But Perhaps Not As Long As Anticipated

Apple Pay is quickly gaining acceptance in the market. In its recent Q1 earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that Apple Pay “makes up two out of three dollars spent on purchases using contactless payments across the three major U.S. card networks.” And according to ITG Investment Research, upwards of 30% of consumers on the new iPhone have activated Apple Pay and about 5% of all their transactions are made through Apple Pay. Customer engagement is high with about 60% of users having used the service this past November. All that said, the race for mobile wallet domination is not over and there are several reasons why it will take time to reach the masses.

First, widespread adoption will be limited since Apple Pay isn’t available on older iPhone models and Android phones. Apple Pay is only available on the iPhone 6 as of its launch and will be available on the Apple Watch sometime this year (the only Apple products that use NFC technology). Additionally, it will likely take time for iPhone 6 and Apple Watch users to adapt to Apple Pay.

Second, while many retailers accept or are planning to accept Apple Pay, some notable brands are holding out for a different solution. Top-tier retailers like Walmart, Best Buy and 7-Eleven are putting their faith in a solution by MCX, which will launch sometime in 2015 and work with debit cards. Lastly, local mom and pop stores probably can’t afford to install the Apple Pay software and won’t adopt it anytime soon.

Apple Pay’s Potential Impact On Retail Loyalty

Despite these obstacles, it is clear that Apple has the marketing muscle to make an impact and that in some way, shape or form, mobile wallets are coming. So what might this mean for retail loyalty programs? There are some potential positives:

  1. Mobile wallets may enable better tracking of purchases for loyalty programs.  Assuming loyalty numbers can be loaded into the mobile wallet, potentially all transactions could be linked to loyalty.

  2. Mobile wallets may allow for better integration between retail credit loyalty programs and tender neutral programs by integrating them with one number in the wallet.

  3. Mobile wallets may make consumers more comfortable with sharing their customer data, knowing it is stored with a trusted third party versus the retailer.

At this point there is uncertainty around mobile wallets that could potentially be harmful to retail loyalty programs. A few unanswered questions:

  1. What will the business model look like? The banks will be sharing the interchange fee with Apple, but will mobile wallets like Apple Pay charge retailers for loyalty integration?  The answer is likely “yes,” but time will tell when and how much.

  2. How will Apple treat the customer data? As of now, Apple is supportive more of the consumer’s choices versus the retailers.

  3. If a retailer refuses to pay certain fees, will Apple push the customer to a competitor?

  4. Will Apple choose to launch its own coalition loyalty program and disenfranchise retailers from their customers altogether?

Despite all of the unknowns surrounding Apple Pay, there’s a good sign Apple may be zeroing in on loyalty — a job posting last fall for Apple was seeking a program manager for loyalty tasked with “shaping the future of loyalty programs.” In typical Apple fashion, Tim Cook has also eluded to new functionality and an exciting roadmap for the future.  I’m sure we’ll all be keeping a close eye on this in the coming months and years.


Erica Thompson Moran is the Senior Retail Marketing Expert at Kobie Marketing. Moran has more than 20 years of experience in retail marketing, specializing in CRM, direct marketing, loyalty programs, e-Commerce, social and online marketing, and credit card marketing. In her current role, Moran advises retailers on Loyalty Programs, CRM strategy and Ecommerce Implementations.  Her most recent role was Senior Vice President of Marketing for Stride Rite.In that role, Moran was responsible for providing strategic direction around Stride Rite’s global branding initiatives, including advertising, marketing communications/PR, retail and wholesale strategy, CRM, e-Commerce, and digital marketing. Moran previously held senior-level marketing positions at PetSmart, Tweeter Home Entertainment, New York & Company and HSN. She also spent seven years at the Walt Disney Company in various business strategy and marketing roles, and is a member of the Global Retail Marketing.  

]]> (Erica Thompson Moran, Kobie Marketing) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:26:46 -0500
Luxury Brands Lose Half Of Their Top Customers Every Year Luxury Brands Lose Half Of Their Top Customers Every Year

RR Epsilon ImageLuxury brands struggle to retain approximately 50% of their top shoppers every year, according to research from Epsilon and The Luxury Institute. In fact, these brands can lose up to 90% their customers in any given year.

The primary reason consumers decide to no longer shop with a luxury brand is not the product, but a rude or ineffective salesperson, according to the report. Only 10% to 15% of luxury customers state that they have a first-name relationship with a sales professional.

{loadposition GIAA}The research report, titled: The New Face Of Luxury: Breaking Down The Myths And Stereotypes Of The Luxury Shopper, studied the top 30,000 B2C luxury shoppers with a yearly spend of more than $30,000 in specialty retail to gain insight into their shopping habits.

True Luxury Shoppers Vs. Stereotypes

Although luxury brands believe their customers are 45-year-old females with more than $1 million in wealth resources, the archetype for a luxury shopper is quite different.

“True Luxe” shoppers, or those with the means to purchase luxury items at will without financial, are predominantly males (57.5%) between ages 25 and 44. These shoppers are likely to be of Asian and Middle Eastern descent with a net worth of more than $500,000.

While 13.8% of shoppers with a net worth of more than $1 million primarily spend their money on contemporary décor and gifts, 10.5% mostly purchase mid-ticket female apparel.

In addition to “True Luxe” shoppers, the report placed luxury shoppers into three categories:

  • The “Aspriational Shopper,” who desires to own pieces from a brand, but doesn’t have the means to do so;

  • The “Moments of Wealth” shopper, who saves money for a specific item but doesn’t purchase frequently from a brand; and

  • The “Dressed for the Part” shopper, who purchases luxury items to give off the appearance of living a luxury lifestyle, but doesn’t have the resources to be a true luxury buyer.

Although luxury consumers research products online more than 50% of the time, online shopping accounts for less than one quarter of sales for luxury retail brands, according to the report. Consumers, overall, want to see the product in person before making a purchase, and crave the brand experience that can only be provided in a store.

Click here to access the full report.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Shopper Experience Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:06:58 -0500
GameStop Wins Bid To Take Over 163 RadioShack Stores GameStop Wins Bid To Take Over 163 RadioShack Stores

gamestop-300x213Spring Communications Holding, a division of GameStop Corp. has won a bid on 163 stores that RadioShack planned to close following its bankruptcy.

Known as Spring Mobile, Spring Communications Holding will pay $15,000 for each lease it plans to take over.

With its bankruptcy filing, RadioShack agreed to sell 2,400 stores to a unit of Standard General LP, its biggest shareholder. Standard General has since established a co-branding agreement with Sprint Corp. RadioShack conducted an auction for the remaining stores on Wednesday, Feb. 25, and today will ask U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Brendan Shannon to approve the sale to Spring Mobile.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Fri, 27 Feb 2015 16:01:55 -0500
Worldpay And CAN Capital Grant SMBs Access To Extra Capital Worldpay And CAN Capital Grant SMBs Access To Extra Capital

worldpayWorldpay, a payment technology and services company, and CAN Capital, a provider of alternative capital for SMBs, have renewed their relationship to offer merchants access to additional working capital.

CAN Capital uses proprietary risk models combined with daily performance data to evaluate business performance and facilitate access to capital.

Worldpay merchant clients can gain access to finance programs through the Merchant Cash Advance and Daily Remittance platforms, positioning them to increase inventory, purchase new equipment or open new locations with cash-flow friendly terms.

“CAN Capital has provided small businesses with access to more than $4.7 billion in capital,” said James Mendelsohn, Chief Marketing Officer at CAN Capital. “Through our advanced technology, funds can be sent to Worldpay merchants in as little as three business days. Our speed and convenience means small business owners can focus on running their businesses instead of spending time searching for working capital.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 27 Feb 2015 14:38:14 -0500
Belk Draws 1.1 Million Sweepstakes Entries With Santa Baby Campaign Belk Draws 1.1 Million Sweepstakes Entries With Santa Baby Campaign

During the 2014 holiday season, southern lifestyle retailer Belk held the Santa Baby Sweepstakes, which was designed to spread holiday cheer and encourage consumers to engage with the retailer across channels.

Developed in partnership with HelloWorld, the campaign drew 1.1 million sweepstakes entries. Belk also saw 233,500 registrations stemming from various activities, such as creating personalized eCards, sharing the sweepstakes microsite on social media and following the retailer on Instagram and Twitter.

“These outstanding numbers speak to the level of engagement we saw with consumers during the campaign,” said Jon Pollack, EVP of Marketing, Sales Promotion and e-Commerce at Belk. “Consumers loved this new and exciting method to share the campaign with friends and the eCard addition helped spread the campaign farther than we could have hoped.”

Over the course of the campaign, which ran from Nov. 8 through Dec. 31, participants created more than 1.6 million digital eCards, indicating consumers’ overall engagement with the retailer.

“The eCard was a hugely successful component of the Santa Baby campaign, as it allowed participants to showcase, and more importantly share with friends, their creativity while playing into the cheeky and fun nature of the campaign,” Pollack said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Customers were also rewarded for referrals, and we saw over 15% of registrations coming directly from referrals.”

Customer Control Spurs Success

{loadposition GIAA}What made the campaign especially successful is that Belk gave consumers control over how much personal information they wanted to share and how engaged they wanted to get with the campaign, according to Pollack. For example, while consumers had the option to register and earn sweepstakes entries, they were still able to engage with the other elements of the campaign without registering. 

“Consumers could create eCards and send to friends without registering, helping to spread campaign awareness and hopefully encouraging future registration activity,” Pollack noted. This strategy “helped increase the viral nature of the site and campaign.”

To boost awareness of the Santa Baby campaign, Belk leveraged Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as TV commercials.

Of all of its 2013 and 2014 campaigns, Belk reported that the Santa Baby contest had the greatest number of email and mobile opt-ins. These results, coupled with the boost in social shares, confirmed that “this is a good avenue to pursue when interacting with this audience,” Pollack noted.

Belk pays “close attention” to results from all past campaigns to ensure the most successful elements are weaved into future promotions, according to Pollack. “Routinely, our campaigns perform very well and we’re delighted that this program was so well received. This campaign, built upon a classic holiday initiative, proved successful in the past, and so when revisiting we further honed in using updated preferences and platforms.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Fri, 27 Feb 2015 12:44:57 -0500
Ron Johnson Leads Nasty Gal Funding Round Ron Johnson Leads Nasty Gal Funding Round

Former J.C. Penney CEO and Apple executive Ron Johnson is leading a Series C funding round for apparel retailer Nasty Gal.

Although early reports indicated that Johnson and Index Ventures would provide $16 million, the SEC filing reports that the total investment amount is approximately $12.7 million.

In addition to the funding round, Johnson will join the retailer’s Board of Directors, according to Sophia Amoruso, Founder of Nasty Gal.

Despite opening its first brick-and-mortar store in Los Angeles, Calif., Nasty Gal had a volatile year, experiencing lower-than-projected revenue growth and instituting a number of company layoffs. As a result, Series C funding is significantly less than NastyGal’s Series B, which totaled $40 million.

But Amoruso remains optimistic, telling Re/code that “the size of the deal was more about the fact that the company hasn’t yet committed to opening more than a second store.” She also noted she wants to “be smart about how much ownership she is giving up,” especially after stepping down as CEO in January 2015.

Now acting as Executive Chairman, Amoruso leads Nasty Gal’s creative and brand marketing teams. Nasty Gal President Sheree Waterson has since taken the helm as CEO. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Financial News Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:40:06 -0500
PETSporium Expands Beyond The EBay Marketplace With Terapeak PETSporium Expands Beyond The EBay Marketplace With Terapeak

Small business owners often look to e-Commerce to boost brand awareness and generate new sales opportunities. However, with little resources, it is sometimes challenging for these entrepreneurs to understand the retail industry and see success.

PETSporium, an online retailer of pet products, managed to expand its sales from a single eBay marketplace into three eBay stores, an e-Commerce site and an Amazon store, with the help of market analytics solution provider Terapeak. Two years ago, as owner Glen Scott was trying to get the pet care business off the ground, he discovered Terapeak and subscribed to the company’s services after going through  a free trial period.

{loadposition GIAA}In January 2015, PETSporium brought in approximately $89,000 in revenue, a substantial increase over the approximately $8,000 in revenue the company turned the year before. The eTailer also has expanded from beyond Scott’s basement, where products were stored before shipping. Now, PETSporium is leasing additional warehouse space that provides four times as much storage room. Although meeting sales goals has been challenging for the retailer, Scott reported that the goal is to ramp montly revenue up to approximately $300,000.

Using Terapeak, PETSporium can analyze products sold on marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon, Yahoo! and Magento to measure supply and demand across the industry, predict optimal pricing strategies and determine the volume necessary to purchase. That way, when the company commits to a product, it has a very high chance of succeeding.

“We do a whole vetting process any time we are ready to expand and bring in a new product line,” Scott stated. “We do the research and come up with some product candidates using Terapeak. Once we have about 10 or 20 candidates, we’ll sort through that and see if we have any current vendors that we get that from, and if not, we’ll research some more to find out where we could get it for what kind of price, and then start to build a relationship from there.”

PETSporium ships out more than 100 packages per day. Considering the majority of the items sold are small in size and do not take up a significant amount of space, the retailer can easily ship them out and even offer free shipping more easily.

Scott has joined the Terapeak Customer Advisory Board, which allows him to encounter and engage with other users — from young startups to established businesses that earn $50 million in revenue per year. Currently, Scott is exploring ways to expand his business into other categories, such as vitamins and sports supplements.

Building A Sustainable Business

Scott, who runs the business with his wife Patti, decided to implement Terapeak after using the tool to research products they had encountered and sold. Some of the product prices “stunned” Scott, as their listed values had been far off from his initial projections.

“We’d buy a group of products that were auctioned off that had been store returns,” Scott said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “You could bid on these and buy a lot at once. One of the things we purchased was a bundle of baby products, and in there were five of these little rubber giraffes that were a chew toy for toddlers. They wanted $20 for the giraffes, and I thought there was no way anyone would buy that at that price. We listed them to see what would happen, and they sold in one day. After the fact, I looked in Terapeak and searched the product, only to find that those products really sell.”

Scott also credits the platform in helping him understand that he needed to alter the business model from buying and selling liquidated stock to a more secure option that enabled inventory renewal more often.

“We initially looked at selling baby products,” Scott explained. “We were trying to sort through which direction we wanted to go in, and looked into how easy it is to source the products and what kind of margins we would get from selling them. We settled on pet products simply because there were more products overall, and they were a little easier to source.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Fri, 27 Feb 2015 09:00:00 -0500
Revionics Partners With Strategix To Extend Into New Markets Revionics Partners With Strategix To Extend Into New Markets

revionicsRevionics is partnering with Strategix, a provider of category management and retail execution solutions to extend its presence worldwide.

Revionics End-to-End Merchandise Optimization solutions leverage predictive analytics to help retailers create and execute more effective promotions and pricing strategies. Under the agreement, the companies will combine Revionics’ Price and Promotion Optimization solutions with the retail market domain knowledge of Strategix. Strategix also will support Revionics’ sales and implementation efforts for all German-speaking countries, Central Europe and Russia.

“This partnership substantially extends our market reach and provides our global customers with industry-superior support,” said Marc Hafner, CEO of Revionics. “We attribute our market dominance to our ability to help retailers earn omnichannel shopper loyalty and profitably combat hyper-competition by enabling them to execute shopper-centric pricing and promotions that align merchandising and marketing strategies with rapidly changing shopper and competitor behavior.”

On average, Revionics customers typically see a 2% to 5% increase in gross margin, a 2% to 7% increase in sales and a $10 return on every dollar invested, according to a company statement.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:36:06 -0500
57% Of Online Purchases Are Returned Due To Retailer Error 57% Of Online Purchases Are Returned Due To Retailer Error

returnsBy analyzing returns data, retailers can better understand consumers’ preferences and behaviors. Additionally, this data can help organizations survey their internal supply chain and warehousing proficiencies.

However, there is still plenty of work to be done as retailers strive to minimize return rates and maximize customer satisfaction, according to research from Voxware.

{loadposition GIAA}More than half (57%) of consumers are returning items they ordered online or by phone due to retailer error. While 42% noted that the product’s size or color was incorrect, another 15% said they received the wrong product altogether.

“As consumer buying habits have changed, it has required retailers to change,” said Keith Phillips, CEO at Voxware. “Not all of them have done a real good job of it. Some of them really just struggle with the concept itself, while others have struggled with the execution.”

Nearly two third (63%) of respondents said up to 10% of the items they purchase online or by phone are returned due to error or dissatisfaction. Another 20% indicated that they return up to 25% of items they buy for the same reason.

Voxware collected responses from 500 consumers to conduct the survey. This is the second time in more than two years that the voice solution provider has released return-related findings.

“The interesting thing to me was — between the original survey and this survey — is that we saw very little change in the responses, which tells me that this is not something that people are going to become desensitized to,” Phillips said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They’re not just going to accept incorrect shipments. The pattern seems to be that the reverse will happen; they’ll just go shop elsewhere.”

The Bottom-Line Impact On Satisfaction And Loyalty

Nearly 20% of consumers revealed that after returning the incorrect item, they received the same incorrect item a second time. Approximately three quarters of these respondents (73%) stated that they were much less likely to shop with that retailer online or by phone again for future purchases.

While customers may be willing to forgive retailers after one return experience, 25% of respondents said they have experienced return issues with specific retailers more than once. As a result, 50% of this group said they reduced shopping with that retailer online. To make matters worse, 45% of these respondents stated that they have limited shopping with that retailer altogether — both online and in-store.

In today’s era of retail, merchants should no longer architect their supply chains from the warehouse out, Phillips recommended. Instead, he encouraged them to start the chain backwards from the consumer’s doorstep. He suggested that retailers first “acknowledge what they don’t know” to find out what outside resources and hires are necessary to understand the consumer and gather modern supply chain management knowledge.

“Retailers always try to drive a fairly high level of accuracy in terms of their shipments to stores, but if they mis-shipped an item to a store, it’s not a big deal,” Phillips stated. “They can just make a correction on their accounting systems, put the item on the shelf and eventually it fails or they can send it back just like any other item. The processes that people use in that environment just don’t scale in the direct-to-consumer environment. There’s not enough audit checkers that you can put in a warehouse to look through every individual order going out to make sure it’s 100% correct. We know that this problem starts with the receipt and put-away of materials. Even if the order is picked correctly, if it’s not replenished and in the right bin location, then the next item will still be the wrong color or wrong size.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Shopper Experience Thu, 26 Feb 2015 09:00:00 -0500
Coach Launches E-Commerce Site On Demandware Commerce Cloud Coach Launches E-Commerce Site On Demandware Commerce Cloud

Coach has replatformed its flagship e-Commerce site on the Demandware Commerce Cloud to support its omnichannel business transformation and international expansion plans. The new web site launched on January 2015.

By moving the e-Commerce site to a cloud-based system, Coach will have more flexibility and scalability, allowing team members to make changes based on evolving customer trends and preferences. In addition, the luxury retailer will be better equipped to tailor online experiences for international shoppers.

“We weren’t just looking for a new e-Commerce platform; we wanted to fundamentally change our operational model to gain better control and be able to execute across channels and geographies faster,” said David Duplantis, President of Global Marketing, Digital and Customer Experience at Coach. “We selected Demandware because its cloud model enables the speed and agility we need to pursue our strategic initiatives today and into the future. We are very pleased with the initial launch and are confident that Demandware is the right strategic partner as we continue our digital transformation.”

SapientNitro, a Demandware LINK Solution partner, led the site’s implementation process.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:27:46 -0500
Softcard Sells Technology To Google Softcard Sells Technology To Google

google-walletSoftcard has sold technology and intellectual property to Google, which plans to use this purchase to enhance its Google Wallet app. For now, current Softcard customers can continue to use the app to tap-and-pay for goods and services in locations that accept NFC-enabled payments. However, the company is encouraging its users to begin using Google Wallet and stated in a FAQ concerning the deal that "in the near future, the Softcard app will shut down and all wallets will be terminated."

This sale follows several turbulent months for Softcard. During that time, the company has rebranded from ISIS to Softcard and has faced increased competition from Apple Pay. More recently Softcard cut its staff by as much as 30%.

{loadposition GIAA}In the announcement on February 23, the company indicated that a second agreement may be imminent between Google and Softcard's founders: AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless. For now, the three mobile carriers will begin pre-installing Google Wallet, with full tap-to-pay functionality, on all Android-enabled phones running version 4.4 or higher. 

Although the Google Wallet app previously was available for customers to download, many carriers chose to block its tap-to-pay functionality and instead support Softcard's solution. The Google-Softcard agreement significantly increases the number of potential Google Wallet users and could cement its place as a key competitor to Apple Pay.

"Over the years, we've received great feedback from people who use this [tap-to-pay] feature, and we’ve continued investing to make it easy and secure for more people to pay with their phones," said Ariel Bardin, VP of Payments for Google in a post that announced the agreement. " A big part of this is working with other innovators in the industry to help provide a seamless experience across a wide range of phones and stores."

]]> (Rob Fee) News Briefs Wed, 25 Feb 2015 09:10:27 -0500
Target Lowers Free Shipping Threshold For Online Purchases Target Lowers Free Shipping Threshold For Online Purchases

Due to the success of its free shipping strategy over the holiday season, Target has decided to lower its free shipping threshold. Now, all orders $25 or more will qualify for free shipping, a significant decrease from its initial $50 minimum.

“Lowering the free shipping threshold from $50 to $25 is one more way Target is putting guests first and making it easier for them to shop Target when and where they want,” said Jason Goldberger, President of and Mobile. “Now, whether guests are stocking up or doing fill-in shopping, we’ve enhanced our year-round shipping offer to be one of the best in all of retail.”

The new free shipping threshold is one of Target's myriad of free fulfillment options, which include: Free in-store pickup and free shipping for purchases made with Target REDcards.

Target saw significant e-Commerce growth during the 2014 holiday season. To support this surge in demand, the retailer has started shipping a portion of online orders from select stores. Early results have been positive, with company representatives outlining shorter shipping times and improved inventory management as benefits. 

Later this year, Target will open two new online fulfillment centers in Memphis, Tennessee, and York, Pennsylvania. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Tue, 24 Feb 2015 10:42:54 -0500
Getting Back To Customer Service Basics In A Digitally Connected Era Getting Back To Customer Service Basics In A Digitally Connected Era

FEAT Omni Service imageFor as long as retail has existed, so has customer service. One would argue that the two go hand-in-hand, and that a retailer cannot continue to exist — let alone excel — without exemplary customer service.  

But throughout the past decade, the world has become far more complex, with consumers referring to myriad devices and resources throughout their unique shopping experiences. In turn, these savvy shoppers, who retailers now profile as "omnichannel consumers," are expecting more out of service experiences — from initial engagement with a brand or retailer to post-purchase interactions.

{loadposition GIAA}"Customers are interested in engaging with businesses at their own level and speed," said Roy Atkinson, a Principal with Clifton Butterfield, LLC, a consulting the training firm. "Customers are, as a rule, better informed than they have ever been, and are tending not to settle for the 'warm body on the phone' methods used by many businesses that haven’t put time, effort and investment into good customer service." 

Finding the right level and speed of engagement is not easy, according to Atkinson, and there are no one-size-fits-all rules. Despite this, best-in-class retailers are aiming to create quick, seamless and highly personalized service. Now, many are creating tactics similar to the days of traditional retail when store associates and managers knew the names and product preferences of their customers.

After all, e-Commerce tools and solutions are providing consumers with multiple resources that make shopping experiences more convenient. In turn, consumers have come to prefer the online shopping and service experience versus brick-and-mortar, according to research from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

"Internet-based customer service mechanisms, such as email and online chat features, consistently trump call centers in retail and a host of other service industries for ease-of-use and overall satisfaction," said David VanAmburg, Managing Director of ACSI. Consumers give online retailers an average score of 82, while brick-and-mortar experiences among department and discount stores received an average score of 77, according to new data from the organization. Call centers received an average score of 76 across all retail industries.

As Internet penetration in the U.S. approaches 90% of households, VanAmburg argued that "it is all the more incumbent on retailers to steer traffic to online channels that are more efficient for customers to shop, and communicate and far less costly for retailers to build and maintain."

Before making any drastic shifts or investments in their customer service strategies, retailers need to take a thorough look at their target customers.

"Retailers need to have a good idea of customers' preferences for shopping, for making contact, and for getting services that accompany their products," Atkinson said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. "Customers need to develop a sense of trust, and being able to reach out as needed, where needed helps that. Another helpful tactic is providing shoppers with easy access to information that fits their understanding and needs.

After all, "omnichannel" has evolved from a buzzword to characterize browsing and buying trends, to an innate way of life. Consumers no longer see channels, but rather experiences, and retailers need to provide the tools, channels and tactics that will serve shoppers most effectively.

"Omnichannel is just a term that means 'lots of channels,'" noted Shep Hyken, a customer service expert and Chief Amazement Officer at Shepard Presentations. "When someone asks: What's your omnichannel strategy? I say, let's just make it easy and ask where your customer is. It's really that simple."

Understanding The Value Of Self-Service Capabilities

Providing a quality mixture of service tools and resources can help nurture consumers throughout the browsing and buying journey, and make their lives significantly easier.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) pages and educational YouTube videos, for example, add a level of self-service that empowers consumers answer to questions on their own.

"Customers have made it clear that they want effortless experiences," said Lark Will, Senior Director of Customer Service Operations at eBay Enterprise. "Make information easy to find on the site and allow purchases to be taken back to a store if he/she doesn’t like what was purchased. Time is their currency."

Warby Parker is one retailer that uses YouTube to convey the perks of shopping with the brand. After a series of engagements on social media, Warby Parker executives learned that consumers did not fully understand the brand's at-home try-on program or how they could participate.

Rather than taking the conversation to email or phone, Warby Parker created a short video that walked consumers through the process. Now, if a consumer has the same question, representatives simply share the link.

Jewelry eTailer BaubleBar also encourages its 15 service agents to surprise consumers who are having issues with their orders by providing helpful YouTube videos. These videos include a digital "fashion show" of recommended items based on a specific consumer's past orders.

This approach to digital engagement is like "having someone stand right behind you and help you through the process," Hyken explained. "Retailers need to train their customers on how to use these service tools and features to get the most value out of their experience."

Creating A Personal Guided Experience With Chat Solutions

When consumers seek guidance from customer service representatives, those team members need to have a thorough understanding of shoppers' unique histories, questions and concerns to drive the conversation.

Live and video chat have gained popularity as efficient ways for service representatives to engage with consumers in a more personal, one-to-one fashion.

"Customers will use the web or another electronic means to address simpler issues or questions, but when things get difficult, they want to talk to a live person," Atkinson explained.

Supporting this point, 40% of consumers say that being able to connect with a brand representative via chat or video chat to have questions answered would help them have a better online shopping experience, according to research from Moxie.

In a separate survey of more than 2,100 U.S. consumers, Moxie found that shoppers even want to connect with live representatives as they are browsing on their mobile devices. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of consumers expect live chat to be available on mobile devices, and 82% said they would use it.

Once consumers make the initial engagement with a chat representative, they expect a quick response: In less than three minutes to be exact, according to Tyler Walton, Marketing Manager of Clutch.

"The live chat channel made the most traction in 2014," Walton said. "In this texting/emailing culture, many consumers prefer to solve problems through the written word rather than spoken word. Depending on the complexity of the problem, it’s easier for a consumer to engage through chat and multitask online without having to be on hold on the phone."

Live chat also gives brands the opportunity to put their digital agents front-and-center, allowing them to build relationships rather than just solve problems., for instance, has seen substantial growth since refining and optimizing its live chat strategies — especially during the holiday season. Over time, the outdoor apparel and gear eTailer has discovered that consumers who engage one-on-one with agents generate up to six times more revenue than those who have a standard online shopping experience.

Service agents, called Gearheads, leverage the LivePerson chat tool to engage with customers through their prefer channels, while also providing valuable advice and assistance.

Most recently, implemented more customized agent branding tools, so consumers can see headshots of Gearheads as they are chatting with them. Shoppers also can access Gearhead profiles, which share detailed information about their areas of expertise and their personal interests.

“That way, you know you’re talking to a real person and an actual expert,” Chris Purkey, VP of Customer Support at Initially, and LivePerson conducted an A/B test to determine the effectiveness of this more customized experience. “We wanted to find out if customers really cared,” he noted. “You can do all of this work to create customization but ultimately, if it doesn’t make a difference to the customer, there’s no point in doing it.”

After completing the test, found that consumers who engage one-to-one with Gearheads and interact with specific agents on a regular basis generate more revenue for the business.

BaubleBar also has raised the typical chat experience to the next level by using video conferencing technology from Vee24. The video chat offering is part of BaubleBar's Service With Accessorizing Talent (SWAT) division, which is focused on testing new technologies and "finding innovative ways to connect with our customers," according to Nina Alexander-Hurst, VP of Customer Experience and SWAT.

By focusing on new service and engagement tactics, BaubleBar is positioned to help customers "build a strong relationship with the brand and boost their overall engagement," Alexander-Hurst said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. "We aim to take the friction out of the online shopping experience and provide the level of service you’d expect from a brick-and-mortar retailer."

When consumers enter the BaubleBar site, they have the opportunity to engage with the Live Help pop-up, which immediately connects them with a SWAT stylist who is ready to chat. Features such as screen sharing, co-browsing and live zoom, all help bring highly tactile components of the in-store experience to the e-Commerce site.

After testing video chat for five months, BaubleBar saw average order value increase by 300% and shopping frequency improve by 250%.

Bringing Data Into The Service Mix

Digital tools and technologies can help consumers connect with brands and retailers faster than ever before. However, when consumers interact with a variety of different touch points throughout their unique journeys, they expect service representatives to have access to relevant information about their personal tastes, preferences and even past conversations with agents.

Consumers site that their top complaint with customer service interactions is that retailers make them repeat information as they hop from channel to channel. Zendesk and Dimensional Research sought to uncover the core elements of a poor experience through a survey of 1,046 consumers. The top complaint (72%) was that shoppers had to explain their problems to multiple people.

To address these ever-present shortcomings, retailers need to ensure team members have anytime, anywhere access to customer profiles. These detailed summaries should past purchases, browsing history, as well as past customer service inquiries and interactions — across the call center, the store, email and even live chat and social media.

Taking a more personalized and humanized approach to customer service has remained a daunting challenge for retailers, largely because the sheer number of communication channels has increased exponentially. As the number of mediums increases, so does the amount of data, and for the most part, retailers are still struggling to collect, analyze and leverage data effectively across all key systems.

"Getting the information into systems is still a weak spot, because many CRM or service management systems simply haven’t kept pace with the increasing number of ways in which customers contact brands," Atkinson said. "Or, perhaps more accurately, businesses haven’t updated to the most current tools or gone to the market to find out which tools can work best for their needs."

Then there are retailers like TOMS that use data from multiple sources to build meaningful relationships, and have meaningful interactions with their consumers.

To activate and nurture meaningful relationships with current and potential customers, TOMS uses the Salesforce Service Cloud, which helps provide a 360-degree view of customers, their past purchases and interactions, and overall sentiment.

“We wanted the best tool possible to help us deepen that relationship with our customers,” said Zita Cassizzi, Chief Digital Officer at TOMS. Since its inception in 2006, the retail brand has grown exponentially, making it more difficult to have intimate, one-to-one conversations with consumers and brand advocates. “We turned to Salesforce because we want to build even stronger and longer lasting relationships with customers, and connect our employees.”

Initially, call center agents in the U.S. and Europe used Service Cloud so they could better manage phone calls and social media inquiries. Because the primary customersfor TOMS are Millennials, the brand finds it paramount to be present and active across Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. 

“Most of our customers are using social media as a regular channel versus an outlet to rant or rave about something,” Cassizzi said. “It is a key channel for all types of conversations.” Although TOMS has a dedicated social media team, call agents also have access to social media and consumers’ social accounts and feedback via Service Cloud.

But how can all retailers capture this comprehensive view of customers and service interactions across channels? Must the overall service infrastructure change or evolve in order to be profitable?

Part 2 of the Omnichannel Customer Service feature, which will appear in the March 3 newsletter, will uncover how retailers' customer service departments will continue to evolve.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Special Reports Tue, 24 Feb 2015 08:00:00 -0500
Infor CloudSuite Helps Improve Fashion Management And Collaboration Infor CloudSuite Helps Improve Fashion Management And Collaboration

Fashion retailers are tasked to keep pace with the most recent trends, as well as competitor prices and customer demands. To boost sales and customer loyalty, these organizations must keep a constant pulse on trends and results, and improve collaboration across the entire business.

Infor CloudSuite Fashion provides retailers with a suite of tools to manage the entire fashion process, from design, development and sourcing, to production, distribution, customer service and finance. The suite enables users to share real-time data such as sales revenues, product specifications, production plans and customer information.

The cloud solution is managed through a monthly subscription, eliminating the need to purchase onsite servers and hardware or hire supplementary IT staff. The platform is designed to help retailers acquire a faster return on investment and reduce total ownership costs.

Infor CloudSuite Fashion offers access to industry-specific analytics through a user interface that utilizes Infor ION, a purpose-built middleware, and social collaboration engine Infor Ming.le. These enhancements support global value chains, enabling users to view real-time data at any time and from any location.


]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Tue, 24 Feb 2015 08:00:00 -0500
Delivering Better Customer Service: Putting The Person In Personalization Delivering Better Customer Service: Putting The Person In Personalization

VP OLR Retail head shotThe proliferation of business technologies is creating greater scope than ever for automating customer service processes, but how do retailers ensure these capabilities deliver an effective, personalized experience?

It’s no secret that consumers are moving away from traditional paths of promotion to purchase, towards an unpredictable pattern of browsing and buying wherever, however and whenever they want — often referred to as a ‘Commerce Anywhere’ approach. While this presents great opportunities for retailers, the increase and variety in customer touch points creates new challenges, in terms of offering a seamless and satisfactory level of customer service.

{loadposition GIAA}To make matters more complicated, consumer demands are continually rising. It’s not just a question of being able to shop on their own terms; they want flexible services, which allow them to make intelligent purchases at the best prices. From a retailer perspective, this implies better access to key information such as product details, prices and merchandise availability, not to mention the ability to return unwanted goods should they change their mind.

Thankfully the latest advancements in retail technology are enabling businesses to meet these challenges, and many companies are looking towards automation to help move them forward. According to Call Center IQ, 68% of firms planned to increase their customer management spend in 2014. However, the wide variety of IT solutions available on the market can create a situation in which focus is placed on its functionalities, rather than the potential of technology to build stronger customer relationships.

Although we live in a digital age, it should not be forgotten that shopping is an emotive experience; recent research by McKinsey revealed that 70% of buying experience are based on how customers feel they are being treated. With this in mind, investment in customer service technology should facilitate greater personalized experience at the same time as data driven efficiencies.

There are already some great success stories in the retail world such as Williams-Sonoma, John Lewis and, of course, Amazon, who are effectively combining technology within a customer-focused structure. The secret to their success lies not only in selecting a well-integrated system, optimized for their business needs, but also in complimenting new technical capabilities with outstanding service from their personnel.

As automation becomes the norm in customer service, an increasing number of retailers are following in the footsteps of these market leaders. Those desiring new IT solutions must take their lead, ensuring manual processes and personal service are not demoted while attention is placed on digital capabilities. This is particularly vital during deployment. At the implementation stage, a huge pressure is placed on new technology, while it is adapting and expanding to accommodate consumer requirements. The human element of customer service plays a crucial role in ensuring a seamless shopping experience — or that any glitches which may occur are comprehensively and sympathetically dealt with.

Even once new technology has been rolled out, a high standard of personal service is essential to providing a satisfactory customer experience. For example, business process that have been put in place, and are being followed, will have as much to do with customer satisfaction as the system itself. The execution of these processes by retail personnel will affect both the ability to exploit the improving technology, and to fill the gaps where the system has yet to deliver. And shortcomings at the business end have a ripple effect, moving downstream until they start affecting consumer interactions.

They say a workman is only as good as his tools, but in the case of retail technology, the opposite can also be true. Market leading solutions have the power to improve customer service, but it is the people and processes within each individual organization that guarantee a positive consumer experience.


As VP Solutions at OLR Retail, Tim Koshinsky manages the implementations of Oracle Retail systems for major retailers across the globe. OLR’s clients include American Eagle, Coles, Gordmans, Sears and Stein Mart.

]]> (Tim Koshinsky, OLR Retail) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 24 Feb 2015 08:00:00 -0500
60% Of Retailers Lack The Data To Successfully Personalize Campaigns 60% Of Retailers Lack The Data To Successfully Personalize Campaigns

RR COLLOQUY image2As many as 60% of retailers admitted that they do not have reliable or sufficient data to ensure their targeting efforts are successful, according to a COLLOQUY report.

The report, titled: Ally In Aisles And Online, outlines the top challenges that retailers face in providing a seamless and secure experience to customers. These challenges include: Providing customers with relevant offers; delivering value without increasing costs; and converting sales through the checkout process.

{loadposition GIAA}COLLOQUY conducted two online surveys in October 2014 — a retailer survey and a consumer survey — to develop the report. The retailer survey included 234 middle- and-upper-management corporate employees from U.S. retailers with annual revenue of $20 million and more, while the customer survey included a sample of 1,001 respondents across the U.S.

While retailers are looking to provide their consumers with relevant offers, 85% also want to add value to their communication tactics beyond discounts, promotions and loyalty programs. The majority (76%) of merchants believe a strategic partnership would provide them with opportunities to enhance their value proposition to customers. However, only 31% reported partnering with a payments provider, while less than half (48%) partner with other brands to deliver discount offers.

While half of retailers that participated in the survey said they use spend data outside their own retail locations, even more respondents (79%) agreed that understanding customer spending outside their locations would be a tremendous marketing tool. Of the 31% of retailers that partner with a payments provider, 88% send offers to existing customers and 76% send offers to new customers.

To boost customer loyalty, 61% of retailers use points and/or benefits through their loyalty programs. An even greater percentage (83%) say giving their loyalty members more reward options is key to keeping shoppers engaged with loyalty programs.

Click here to access the report.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Shopper Experience Tue, 24 Feb 2015 07:00:00 -0500
What Retailers Can Learn From Amazon Prime’s Success What Retailers Can Learn From Amazon Prime’s Success

VP site only Clarus Marketing head shotSince its 2005 launch, Amazon Prime has helped Amazon substantially increase revenues and expand into a wide range of other offerings. Prime’s success, and the steps that went into achieving it, provide a template that can help you grow your own business.

When Prime debuted, its only benefit was free two-day shipping on Amazon purchases. This was a wise choice, if a little ahead of its time. Although online shopping was undoubtedly on the rise, retail e-Commerce sales in 2005 accounted for less than three percent of all U.S. retail sales.

{loadposition GIAA}As one of the first programs to offer shoppers free, quick delivery of online orders, though, Prime was able to build a brand presence that most retailers are still struggling to match. Free shipping has proven its power with direct marketers for decades, and it’s now the go-to promotion for virtually every online retailer during the holiday season. Unfortunately, a limited-time shipping deal every December simply can’t compete with for what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has called “all-you-can-eat express shipping.”

Therefore, if you’re charging for shipping on any purchase these days, you automatically risk turning away Prime customers. One research firm estimated the number of U.S. subscribers, as of January 2015, to be as high as 40 million people. That’s far too large a slice of active, eager shoppers to write off.

Offering free shipping at certain purchase thresholds can help stem that audience loss, though, while meeting the expectations of most online shoppers and even encouraging them to increase their cart sizes. Another customer-friendly option, if you have a physical location, is to provide free in-store pick-up of online orders. You can also use brick-and-mortar outlets as localized fulfillment centers for online orders to reduce delivery times on shipments.

Reward And Reach Out To Your Customers

Prime is both a loyalty program and a sales device. It adds value to members’ lives in the form of savings, quick receipt of orders, and, more recently, entertainment and other useful benefits, all of which encourages them to stick with Prime. At the same time, Prime continually drives more revenue to Amazon. Various analysts estimate that members spend anywhere from 40% to 68% more money at Amazon than non-members do.

You probably already have a loyalty program of your own (if you don’t, implement one ASAP). You need to constantly review and refresh the program to ensure that its benefits amply reward your best customers — and set you apart from competitors.  Whether you use points, benefit tiers, or other well-defined, easily-understood metrics, make sure your customers have attractive, ongoing reasons to shop with you repeatedly — and make sure they know it.

A 2013 survey of more than 6,000 people found that the average shopper was a member of 7.4 retail loyalty programs but actively used fewer than five of them.  Useful, actionable communications is the key to member participation. The report found that 94% of members wanted to hear from their programs (57% “always read” program messages, and only 12% said they were getting too many of them), and 93% of members who considered the messages “relevant” were satisfied with the program.

Communicating with its audience is one area that Prime might need to improve. Some members feel that it doesn’t always make sure people know about all of their benefits. By continually updating your customers on everything your program provides, you’ll satisfy their desire for information and keep them engaged and involved. For best results, tailor your message to individual customers according to their shopping histories, actions on your website, and responses to your various promotional offers.

Keep Up With Change

Prime subscriber numbers increased at a solid but not spectacular rate from 2005 through 2011. Then, in November 2011, Amazon added Instant Prime Video and the Kindle Lending Library to Prime’s free, two-day shipping benefit, released the Fire Tablet at the same time, and cross-promoted Prime to tablet owners via a free, 30-day trial. As a result, “growth shot up.”

Not coincidentally, 2011 was also the year that Netflix split its DVD and online streaming services into two separate product lines — with separate $7.99/month subscription fees.  Since customers had been paying $10 per month for the dual service, the decision, announced in July, effectively imposed a 60% fee hike on customers who wanted to keep both benefits. Within a year, 800,000 people had cancelled their subscriptions.

Netflix had proven that there was a thriving, growing market for online streaming, though, and Amazon was ready, willing, and able to offer consumers another option. Plus, since Prime added Instant Prime Video without raising its annual fee, current subscribers could enjoy the service practically for free, and new ones could try it risk-free for 30 days — and get free, two-day shipping. If they joined at the end of the trial, their annual membership cost ($79 at the time) was also substantially less than a full year of online streaming from Netflix ($95.88).

In the years since then, Prime raised the membership fee to $99, but it’s continued to add benefits, including streaming music and unlimited photo storage.  It’s also tailored the program to specific demographics and areas, e.g.,:

  • Amazon Mom offers mothers the Prime benefits plus 20% savings on diaper subscriptions and 15% discounts on items from the Baby Registry;

  • Amazon Student offers Prime to college students at 50% of the regular membership fee, and it’s testing benefits on certain campuses that include discounts on textbooks, same-day delivery, and more; and

  • Prime Fresh provides Prime members in certain (attractive) zip codes with same-day delivery of groceries and other items.

These and other efforts are designed to target desirable consumer groups via offers that meet their exact needs and, together with the power of other Prime benefits, keep them in the program long-term.  Not coincidentally (again), Amazon’s 2014 holiday press release boasted that “more than 10 million new members tried Prime for the first time” over the holiday season.

Very few, if any, retailers have pockets as deep as Amazon’s, so you’re unlikely to be able to expand, let alone experiment with, your loyalty program quite as liberally as Prime can. Nevertheless, you should continually gather and analyze individual user data and wider shopping trends company- and industry-wide to identify patterns and opportunities as early as possible.

One sure trend that requires an immediate response, for instance, is the rise in mobile commerce. Mobile traffic was responsible for 44% of its network traffic in January 2015, and 36% of all sales through its networks that month were made via mobile devices, according to one affiliate network operator.

With consumers becoming increasingly comfortable with shopping through smartphones and tablets, you need to make sure your retail site incorporates responsive web design. This ensures that your customers can shop with you regardless of how they reach your website. Swift implementation will also likely give you a leg up on many of your competitors.

Given its goal to be “The Everything Store,” Amazon is one of those competitors. Although Amazon routinely refuses to disclose any metrics about Amazon Prime members or their sales activities, certain steps on its path to success are clearly laid out for you to follow: Offer free shipping year-round; keep enhancing and refreshing your program; and continually analyze your customers and the industry so you’re prepared to take advantage when conditions change, as they inevitably do.


Tom Caporaso is the CEO of Clarus Marketing Group, which builds and customizes subscription programs, including FreeShipping.comReturn Saver, and others. Tom has over two decades of direct marketing experience, specializing in e-commerce, subscription, and custom loyalty programs.

]]> (Tom Caporaso, Clarus Marketing Group) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:52:23 -0500
Starmount Customer Engagement Suite Helps Link Digital And Physical Retail Experiences Starmount Customer Engagement Suite Helps Link Digital And Physical Retail Experiences

SS Starmount Image 1Shoppers today are seeking seamless, omnichannel experiences. In order to create more personalized and comprehensive shopping journeys, retailers are focused on integrating in-store and online channels.

Starmount introduced the Customer Engagement Suite, an enterprise solution consisting of three integrated applications: Engage, Enact and Connect. Engage enables associates to conduct personalized selling to combine the in-store and online experiences. Enact is designed to simplify day-to-day store operations such as employee management, security and store configuration. Connect carries customer, product and inventory data from enterprise systems and the web into the store to support all facets of omnichannel commerce.

These applications allow users to leverage advanced clienteling and cross-selling based on customer preferences and purchase history. Essentially, customers can start and finish shopping in any channel, regardless of their location. With the suite, retailers can monitor performance and streamline data flow between stores and the back office, and can capture a comprehensive view of inventory.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:38:15 -0500
Transformative Retail Technologies Must Enable — Not Eliminate — Employees Transformative Retail Technologies Must Enable — Not Eliminate — Employees

WorkplaceSystemsAccording to the bleeding edge of the futurists’ manifesto, the relentless march of e-Commerce will transform the malls of today into the data centers powering tomorrow’s online purchases. If you subscribe to this vision, brick-and-mortar retail stores only exist as a place for hesitant shoppers to reluctantly drag themselves before going home and purchasing online, a practice known as “showrooming.” In fact, 46% of respondents to a recent Harris poll admitted to doing just that.  

Having seen e-Commerce eat away at their bottom line for years, brick-and-mortar retailers are fighting back with technology. But as they push investment dollars towards building a more tech-driven shopping experience, they must remember that the most powerful technologies were designed to enable people and enhance — not replace — the human experience.

The New In-Store Experience: It’s The People, Stupid

For many retailers, the big plan is to capture hearts and minds through a flurry of mobile apps and other physical technologies designed to interact with mobile devices in-store. However, if your selling point for in-store purchases is rooted in a smartphone-driven customer experience, what’s the point of entering the store to begin with — especially if same-day delivery continues to be the e-Commerce trend du jour?

Yes, brands need to keep up with their competitors, and investors expect certain panache around their adoption of the latest and greatest technologies. But retailers must carefully weigh what really sets them apart. What is valuable, practical and executable, and what is just a gimmick?


My experience shows that empowered, engaged, helpful staff will beat raw technology every time.

I recently visited a popular lifestyle retailer to shop for a family member’s birthday and walked directly up to a sales associate to show her screen shots on my phone of the products I was looking for. Since I wasn’t familiar with their layout or stock of products, I’d picked out a few items from the web site in advance. The associate knew one of the items had been moved to a new location, quickly consulted her tablet to verify, and was able to collect my list of items in two minutes.

This scenario is more typical than one might expect. In the same Harris poll mentioned above, 69% of respondents reported reverse-showrooming, or researching a product online, then making the final purchase in-store. As a customer, what stood out most about my experience was how a quick consultation with a tablet was all it took for the sales associate to assist me.

Many retailers are starting to deploy beacon technology designed to give shoppers real-time proximity-based alerts on their mobile devices as they shop. According to BI Intelligence, 67% of retail shoppers have received these in-store alerts. Up to 81% of shoppers who received an alert have opened it, and of those, a full 79% said the alert led to a related purchase.

While beacons make a lot of sense for retailers looking to actively engage with their customers — especially for large big-box stores, supermarkets and other shopping environments where customers may enter with a long list — organizations should also consider how they can leverage a wide range of technologies, customer facing or not, to drive enhanced interactions between employees and customers. Employee-facing technology can further ensure your in-store experience is rooted in the human element that brings shoppers out of the house to begin with.

I consider myself a pretty average yet savvy shopper, and my interaction with the associate was just as efficient as any app experience. By all means, retrofit your stores with beacons and build a great app for your company, but recognize that the fastest way to a great brand is through great people. Helpful, friendly associates are what differentiate your in-store experience from ordering the same product on Amazon — invest in them.

Find ways to make their lives easier, inside and outside the store. Give them easy access to their HR paperwork. Update scheduling practices so that the process is designed to deliver smarter schedules that work for both employees and employers. Make the process collaborative, driven by an open conversation between manager and employees. Give them the tools they need to best serve customers. Remember, technology in your stores should only serve to enhance an already great human experience, not substitute for a poor one.  

Shoppers come to your store for the kind of advice and empathy they can’t get through online purchases. Your employees are your most important assets. They stand firmly as the gatekeeper between brand and customer, and are the biggest ace up your sleeve when you’re looking for an edge on your e-Commerce competitors. To improve that customer experience, the technologies you deploy in-store should serve to empower your employees' entire experience, not minimize their role.  


David Farquhar is CEO of Workplace Systems. He has more than 20 years of global enterprise software experience and has held CEO positions in six companies that have ranged in size from mid-market to start-up, and has built highly successful international management teams across the world. He has also been Executive Chairman and Non-Executive Director on more than 10 boards. David has significant experience of seed, angel and venture capital fund-raising and has been involved in numerous company sales and MBOs.

]]> (David Farquhar, Workplace Systems) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:23:26 -0500
Moosejaw Ramps Up Mobile Performance, Boosts Shopper Engagement Moosejaw Ramps Up Mobile Performance, Boosts Shopper Engagement

Moosejaw mobileOver the past few years, outdoor retailer Moosejaw has embraced a series of cutting-edge technologies to improve the customer experience online and in-store. 

For one, more than 70% of all transactions are now completed via mobile POS in Moosejaw stores, according to an article from Retail TouchPoints. The retailer has even used mobile POS technology to test a drive-through concept, and has crafted mobile-optimized shopping experiences to better connect with customers.

"Mobile and tablet continue to grow in their contribution to traffic, orders and revenue," said Dan Pingree, VP of Marketing at Moosejaw. "Because of its importance, making sure the user is presented with a simple search-and-find experience is of paramount importance." 

To ensure mobile-toting shoppers have an exemplary experience, Moosejaw implemented cloud-based engagement optimization software from Yottaa. Since rolling out the technology, the retailer has seen page load times decrease, and customer engagement and conversions soar.

An early adopter of responsive web design technology, Moosejaw now tailors all content and components from the e-Commerce site to the specific screen sizes of mobile devices. Previously, content was not optimized and responsive to the mobile environment, which slowed site load times significantly. This was a big issue for the retailer's target customers who are constantly on the go.

{loadposition GIAA}"We needed to significantly increase load speed, leading to an improvement in conversion rate," Pingree said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. "Utilizing Yottaa, we have been able to achieve these goals so far."

After all, more in-depth content plays a pivotal role in the brand experience, according to Pingree. It's what "makes Moosejaw unique."

While the retailer offers information to help consumers make buying decisions, such as materials, weight, best use, color and size, the web site also includes product content to "help transform your shopping session into more of an experience," Pingree added. "Two specific examples would be our Test Lab series, where we recently highlighted the Patagonia Nano Air Jacket, and our Gear and Love segment, where we recently featured the MSR Windboiler stove system."

Moosejaw was able to see significant success during the 2014 holiday season as a result of its faster mobile performance. During this time of year, consumers are increasingly demanding and eager to cross off their holiday shopping lists. If a site cannot handle sporadic traffic surges, customers would undeniably be turned off by the experience.

But conversion rates were high "despite weather that was significantly warmer versus 2013 across the country," Pingree said. "This would have been difficult to achieve without the page and site experience performing at a high level."


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Mon, 23 Feb 2015 08:23:32 -0500
Vosges Haut-Chocolat Chooses AgilOne To Build Customer Engagement Vosges Haut-Chocolat Chooses AgilOne To Build Customer Engagement

vosges1Vosges Haut-Chocolat, a manufacturer and retailer of chocolate products, has adopted predictive marketing cloud technology from AgilOne to boost customer engagement and strengthen acquisition campaigns. The retailer expects to use the technology to gain insights from customer data and deliver brand experiences to specific customer segments.

With AgilOne, Vosges Haut-Chocolat can identify groups within its customer base and target products and messages that match their interests, ensuring the delivery of relevant marketing campaigns. The platform enables the retailer to determine future product launches based on consumer taste preferences.

“Delivering a world-class customer experience that matches the quality of our chocolate is a key priority for us,” said Katrina Markoff, Founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolat. “AgilOne's predictive analytics give us the tools to engage personally with our global audience and continually create new products that exceed their expectations.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 20 Feb 2015 15:28:37 -0500
Lettuce Entertain You Selects Paytronix To Run Rewards Programs Lettuce Entertain You Selects Paytronix To Run Rewards Programs

LEYELettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE), an operator of 90 restaurants throughout the U.S., has moved its Frequent Diner Club loyalty program to the Paytronix Rewards platform. LEYE is transitioning from a card-based to a mobile-centric loyalty program, and looks to leverage the Paytonix mobile and data analytics capabilities.

Paytronix designed its platform to enable LEYE to monitor down to the guest-level, identify its most valuable customers, and reward and engage with them in a relevant way. 

{loadposition GIAA}Approximately one-fifth (18%) of LEYE’s revenue comes from the Frequent Diner Club, according to a company statement. The Frequent Diner Club is a three-tiered program that offers both bankable points and automatic rewards. The program evaluates each member at the end of the year, and moves a shopper's tier up or down a level based on dollars spent.

LEYE expects to receive numerous benefits from the Paytronix Rewards platform, including:

  • Real time knowledge of both restaurant industry trends and technology updates;

  • API-accessible mobile capabilities that enable LEYE guests to view account balance information, earn and redeem rewards; and

  • Business-minded data analytics that capture data from the Paytronix multi-branded POS landscape with integrated software for guest enrollment and engagement.

“Lettuce Entertain You selected Paytronix because it gives us more access to our customer information and lets us do more with the new mobile app we are developing,” said Michael Lynch, Director of Frequent Dining for LEYE. “Paytronix also acts as a data center for the LEYE loyalty program, helping us identify guest behavior through promos, dining behavior.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 20 Feb 2015 14:01:58 -0500
Kenneth Cole Names Marc Schneider As CEO Kenneth Cole Names Marc Schneider As CEO

coleschneiderKenneth Cole Productions has appointed Marc Schneider as its CEO, where he will assume responsibility for the company’s retail, outlet, e-Commerce, international, licensing and wholesale businesses. Schneider will report to Kenneth Cole, who will continue as Executive Chairman and Chief Creative Officer.

Schneider will start his new position Feb. 23, 2015.

“Over the last year we have been working on transformative initiatives to better position the company for future global growth,” Cole said in a company statement. “Marc's vast background and success in all facets of the apparel, footwear and accessories businesses will be instrumental in navigating this journey, and I'm thrilled to welcome and partner with him as our new CEO.”

Schneider most recently served as the Group President of Heritage Brands at PVH Group, where he was responsible for the dress furnishings, sportswear, licensing and retail divisions. He also spent time in executive positions at numerous retailers, including Timberland, Macy’s and Melville Corporation/Bob’s Stores.

“I am excited to partner with Kenneth, someone I've personally and professionally respected for many years,” said Schneider. “This is also a great opportunity to collaborate with the retailers, the licensing partners, and the entire Kenneth Cole team for the journey ahead.  The brand has such rich heritage, and tremendous global potential, and I look forward to getting started.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Fri, 20 Feb 2015 10:52:18 -0500
Urban Outfitters To Relocate E-Commerce Fulfillment Center Urban Outfitters To Relocate E-Commerce Fulfillment Center

Urban Outfitters, a lifestyle retailer operating under the Anthropologie, Bhldn, Free People, Terrain and Urban Outfitters brands, will relocate its e-Commerce fulfillment center from Trenton, S.C., to Gap, Pa.

The new fulfillment center will be one million square feet, with construction scheduled to complete July 2015. The retailer expects the center will significantly increase its fulfillment capacity, and will be located adjacent to the existing URBN Retail Distribution Center.

The close proximity of both distribution centers will enable greater efficiency throughout the URBN supply chain, improve order delivery time and enable next day delivery in the Northeast region.

“Our Trenton workforce has provided key support for our exceptional direct and wholesale growth over the past nine years,” said Richard A. Hayne, CEO of Urban Outfitters. “We thank them and hope many will decide to stay with the company as we move to Gap, Pa. As online sales continue to surge, our new facility places us in closer proximity to a large percentage of our direct customers and allows us to service them faster and more efficiently.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 19 Feb 2015 17:04:52 -0500
SDL: 80% Of Retailers To Increase CX Budget In 2015 SDL: 80% Of Retailers To Increase CX Budget In 2015

customer-experience-design s-transWith a multitude of sales channels available, customers go into the purchasing process with high expectations. Retailers are taking note of this, with more of them switching their focus to the individual consumer to drive revenues and attract more buyers.

More than 80% of retailers report increasing their customer experience (CX) management spending for 2015, according to a report from SDL. In fact, one out of every three retailers is planning an increase of more than 10% from their current levels. Perhaps more notable was that none of the companies planned to decrease CX budgets in 2015.

{loadposition GIAA}More than 225 senior level marketers at North American retailers earning annual revenues higher than $100 million responded to the survey. SDL, in conjunction with Econsultancy, compiled the report, titled: The Retailer’s Imperative: A Strategic Approach to Customer Experience.

SDL is a customer experience management solution provider with a heavy focus on language, enabling partner organizations to contact clients with the appropriate language translations.

“There’s been studies around the average attention span of a person today, which is around eight seconds,” said Howard Beader, VP of Product Marketing at SDL. “That’s down from 12 seconds in 2000. If you think about breaking down that eight seconds, that first second of something that’s going to capture your attention has to be in your language. Language becomes vital and it’s not just about expanding into new markets, it’s about understanding customers in your current markets as well.”

Retailers Shifting To CX “As A Brand”

CX is becoming so important to retailers that 89% of them either strongly agree or agree that “customer experience is their brand.”

“Up until the last year, this hasn’t been the norm,” Beader said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Not everybody’s there yet. The report recognizes that companies are starting to understand and put in place the technologies and solutions necessary to get them there. One of the stats I thought was interesting was that retail marketers are seeing customer experience and personalization as tools to help drive higher conversions and retention, but not yet seeing it as a tool for customer acquisition. That’s an area we see as a bit of a disconnect today.”

Instead of CX management, 54% of retailers emphasize their product offerings as the main tool to grow their audience, while 45% of retailers focus on content and social outreach. The report noted that it is still uncommon for retailers to have a budget dedicated primarily to CX, with most retailers setting investments across numerous budgets and line items in marketing and other departments.

Mobile continues to be a rising factor in effective commerce strategies and has continued as a priority for merchants, but it still has a long way to go before most retailers can leverage the technology effectively. While more than 50% of retail marketers say they have a stronger understanding of the mobile user experience, only 35% believe they can differentiate using mobile. 

“There’s a huge opportunity for organizations to move forward with mobile,” Beader said. “Mobile, I believe, is very fertile from a customer experience standpoint. You can look at how companies like Uber and Airbnb have changed the game with their mobile solution. As retailers provide the phenomenal mobile contextual experience for their customers, this will continue to help drive further acquisition and conversion.”

Almost all (97%) of the retail brands surveyed in the report cited CX technology integration as “important” or “essential” to their growth. Even though the overwhelming majority of retailers understand the pivotal nature of this integration, only 40% describe their relevant systems as integrated and cross-functional, revealing a gap between the industry as it stands today expectations for the future. 

“All of the solutions that organizations acquire end up being smaller, ‘best-of-breed’ components that somebody needs to hardwire behind the scenes,” Beader explained. “We’ve seen this in ERP, CRM, e-Commerce and now we’re finally getting there from a marketing standpoint. Obviously, retailers have multiple components of a solution in place already, so very few are just going to swap out one for another. There has to be ways to help those customers start with a service or two that easily integrates with everything else and allows them to add on those pre-integrated capabilities as the customers require more integrated services.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Shopper Experience Fri, 20 Feb 2015 08:00:00 -0500
Walmart To Raise Hourly Wages For 500,000 Workers Walmart To Raise Hourly Wages For 500,000 Workers

walmart--621x414Wal-Mart Stores will raise the salaries of 500,000 full-time and part-time associates at Walmart U.S. stores and Sam’s Clubs this year, according to a company statement. In April, the retailer will raise its entry wage to $9.00 per hour, $1.75 above the current U.S. federal minimum wage of $7.25. Current employees will have their wages raised to $10.00 per hour on Feb. 1, 2016. In total, the raises will impact 40% of the company’s 1.3 million U.S. employees.

Starting in 2016, all entry level employees that successfully complete a six-month skills-based training program, will receive a guaranteed raise to $10.00 an hour.

{loadposition GIAA}In the statement, Wal-Mart Stores President and CEO Doug McMillon stated the company would be investing more than $1 billion in 2015 toward numerous initiatives, including changes to the company hiring, training, compensation and scheduling programs, as well as store management structure.

"By realigning our store operational structure, associates can enjoy a closer relationship with their supervisors,” McMillon said. “In addition, associates will have more control over their schedules.”

Certain department manager roles will have their wages raised to $13.00 per hour in summer 2015, with the potential to increase to at least $15.00 an hour in early 2016 as these employees increase their responsibilities.

The pay raise comes as Wal-Mart Stores reports a 1.6% increase in Q4 U.S. comparable store sales and a 1.4% increase in quarterly revenue.

The company’s payment and employment conditions have been under scrutiny from labor groups such as the United Food and Commercial Workers union and OUR Walmart. For the past three years, members of these groups have gathered outside numerous Walmart locations on Black Friday to protest employee wages, and have called for the company to increase starting wages to $15.00 an hour.

These announced pay raises also come at a time when the federal minimum wage is being heavily contested, as President Barack Obama has proposed Congress to raise the floor from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. An Associated Press-GfK poll indicated that approximately six in 10 Americans favor raising the federal minimum wage.

“Today’s announcement by Walmart regarding associate wages is just another example of the power of the marketplace,” said Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation. “Like many other retailers, Walmart made its decision based upon what is best for their employees, their customers, their shareholders and the communities in which they operate.

Shay criticized government intervention in the retail industry, labelling politically driven mandates as “unnecessary” measures that “create hurdles to job creation, curtail capital investment and pose as barriers to a sustained economic recovery.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 19 Feb 2015 13:23:47 -0500
Schuylkill Valley Sports Streamlines The POS With Celerant Schuylkill Valley Sports Streamlines The POS With Celerant

Retailers that operate brick-and-mortar stores and e-Commerce sites are striving to capture a single view of sales and inventory.

For Schuylkill Valley Sports, implementing a web-based and device independent POS solution has helped the sporting goods retailer make moves into mobile and capture a more comprehensive view of sales and inventory.

A 40-year-old business, Schuylkill Valley Sports has 19 retail locations in the northeast of the U.S., primarily in Pennsylvania. The retailer also has a growing e-Commerce business and thriving wholesale division that targets sports teams.

By deploying Stratus Retail, a retail management system from Celerant Technology, Schuylkill Valley Sports employees can access a robust POS suite from any Internet-enabled device. Team members also have a comprehensive view of all sales and inventory levels across stores, on the e-Commerce site and other third-party sites.

Stratus is currently deployed on two POS terminals as well as one mobile device that is used at local sporting events. However, the retailer expects to roll the solution out to more machines through 2015, according to Nick Rhoads, IT Manager for Schuylkill Valley Sports. 

With the new POS solution, Schuylkill Valley Sports has a “platform-independent solution that is easier to update, and gives us an easier way to take mobile sales,” Rhoads said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We go to a lot of events and set up at those locations. This gives us a more streamlined solution to do that successfully.”

{loadposition GIAA}In fact, it’s Schuylkill Valley Sports’ presence at local sports tournaments and games that make the retailer stand out against competitors. 

“It’s what really distinguishes us,” Rhoads explained. “We have kids who play sports in these communities so we, naturally, are a part of those communities. We’re heavily involved in the athletic world; it’s what we do and love. So when a consumer interacts with us, they’re receiving help from someone who cares on a personal and professional level.”

Although Schuylkill Valley Sports previously had a POS setup for remote locations, the combination of a cash drawer, scanner and laptop became unwieldy for employees to manage.

“Now we have a more streamlined process with a tablet and attached scanner and mag stripe reader,” Rhoads said. “It allows us to set up faster and is very easy for employees to use, even if they aren’t as tech savvy.”

The mobile POS system also includes all the same core functionality as in-store solutions. “It’s just in a more lightweight package,” Rhoads noted. “Employees can complete a transaction and access all inventory.”

In addition to the customer- and employee-facing benefits, moving to a web-based system will allow Schuylkill Valley Sports to make system updates more seamlessly and improve data security across locations.

“Security is a big technology focus for us this year,” Rhoads said. “It’s on everyone’s minds, really. Stratus allows us to make updates faster. Rather than making updates on each machine individually, it’s more centralized.”

By mid-year Rhoads wants to have several stores operating solely on Stratus and implement more mobile devices that will be thoroughly tested out at other events in the Pennsylvania area.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Thu, 19 Feb 2015 09:01:29 -0500
Women In Strategy Summit Women In Strategy Summit


This summit addresses all areas of strategy, women in business and female leadership. The speakers will discuss real solutions to the real problems faced in business environments every day. The Innovation Enterprise invites attendees to discuss their thoughts and feelings openly, and connect with like-minded people. The summit is a prime opportunity for attendees to air personal and business challenges, and learn from women who have successfully solved them.


March 19-20, 2015


The Conrad New York Hotel, New York City

View the schedule >>

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Industry Calendar Wed, 18 Feb 2015 17:58:33 -0500
Monoprix Bolsters Planning Accuracy With TXTPlanning Monoprix Bolsters Planning Accuracy With TXTPlanning

MonoprixFrench supermarket chain Monoprix, a subsidiary of the Casino Group, has implemented the TXTPlanning solution to support merchandise and assortments planning on an international scale across multiple channels. The supermarket operates approximately 500 brick-and-mortar locations in France, as well as numerous store formats offering a wide range of food, fashion, beauty and leisure products in 85 outlets abroad.

TXTPlanning is designed to synchronize planning practices across all business channels.

“Retailing — and especially so in fashion — requires great agility,” said Guillaume Delestre, Planning and Optimization Director at Monoprix. “It is essential for IT systems and planning tools to support such a dynamic scenario.”

Monoprix has recently adopted numerous multi-channel formats, including both a mobile and online shopping solution. TXTPlanning can discern which products are destined for each channel, and support simulation and analysis at all levels and dimensions. Before implementing TXTPlanning, this process would have been done manually, and entered separately.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 18 Feb 2015 17:45:01 -0500
Reflektion Helps Retail Clients Boost Conversion Rates 26% Reflektion Helps Retail Clients Boost Conversion Rates 26%

reflektionDisney and Uniqlo are among retail clients of personalization provider Reflektion that have experienced, on average, a 70% increase in engagement and a 26% increase in conversion rates. Additional clients using the company’s one-to-one personalization solution include Gander Mountain, Converse and O’Neill Clothing.

“We are experiencing expanding interest from retailers and e-Commerce brands that are looking to replace first generation personalization and product recommendation technology with a more advanced solution that can deliver a true one-to-one shopping experience for their customers,” said Sean Moran, CEO of Reflektion. “In 2014, we helped our clients increase revenue throughout the year as well as boosted conversion rates during the critical holiday time period.”

Reflektion designed its solution's one-to-one personalization capabilities based on individual shopper preferences, rather than broad marketing segmentation. The solution captures and analyzes each unique visitor’s digital behavior and applies machine learning algorithms to deliver on-target digital shopping experiences in real-time. The technology consistently increases product views and shortens the customer sales funnel.

Reflektion doubled its workforce in 2014, and will open a Chicago office in Q1 2015.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 18 Feb 2015 13:40:15 -0500
Thorntons Aims To Have One Million Rewards Program Members By Q2 2015 Thorntons Aims To Have One Million Rewards Program Members By Q2 2015

fuel phoneLoyalty and rewards programs have been mainstays in the retail marketing mix for decades. But with the rise of mobile devices, some industry players are questioning the effectiveness of plastic cards and general offers and coupons.

But gasoline and convenience store chain Thorntons is turning the traditional rewards program model on its head by partnering with Paytronix Systems, which provides rewards program solutions to restaurants and retailers.

Since introducing the Refreshing Rewards program in March 2014, Thorntons has met and exceeded registration goals. Response has been so positive, in fact, that the retailer is aiming to have one million customers signed up by the end of Q1 2015. By extending Refreshing Rewards to all 180 locations, the retailer also is generating one additional visit per member per month.

At the time of adoption, Thortons had the primary goals of “quickly engaging with our customers, increasing both visits and the number of transactions per visit, and increasing gross profits,” said Jeff Keune, CMO of Thorntons. “We also wanted stronger insights into our customers’ buying habits, and be able to move them in and out with a bigger basket ring per customer.”

Developed with the Paytronix Rules and Wallets engine, the Thorntons Refreshing Rewards program segments registered customers based on
how often they visit a store or purchase gas. Thorntons can then deliver varying levels of rewards based on guest visit, spending and purchase behavior. 

A Tiered Approach To Rewards

To amplify engagement and increase purchase frequency, the rewards program features three distinct levels: Welcome, Premium and VIP. Paytronix technology identifies customers with high potential value and nurtures them to boost conversions. With in-depth data highlighting customer buying patterns and preferences, Refreshing Rewards program managers can release targeted offers and promotions.

“At the Welcome Level, we give members a 10-cents-per-gallon discount on gas for the first 30 days,” Keune explained. “This is the big hook that captures their attention and gets them to sign up. They also get personalized perks based on the things they purchase the most, frequent purchase rewards and automatic ‘sweepstakes’ entries.”

After 10 visits, Thorntons moves Refreshing Rewards members up to the Premium Level, they receive all Welcome Level perks as well as 10-cents-per-gallon discounts on their birthdays, and email receipts, Keune explained. “After 25 visits, members automatically move up to the VIP Level where we add on personalized VIP graphics, a 24-hour low-fuel-price guarantee at the purchase location and three-cents-per-gallon savings on every fill.”

The Refreshing Rewards program kicked off with a marketing plan in Lexington, Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee.

“We used a 10-cent discount on each gallon of fuel to get customers to register for the program,” Keune said. “
Our radio and out-of-home campaigns centered on the idea that Refreshing Rewards would be a valuable savings opportunity.”

Thorntons uses the web site and Refreshing Rewards mobile app to bring ease-of-use and personalized benefits to consumers. The retailer also educates consumers on the program benefits by using social media and digital advertising techniques and a detailed promotional calendar.

Moving forward, Thorntons is working to develop campaigns that target members on a specific day and time to encourage extra purchases. The retailer will continue to share rewards program data with brand partners to determine the effectiveness of promotional offers and ensure in-demand products are available in all locations.


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Wed, 18 Feb 2015 08:39:09 -0500
82% Of Consumers Are Shopping From Brands Worldwide

Global E CommerceThe vast majority (82%) of shoppers worldwide have made an online purchase with a brand or retailer outside of their home country, according to a new FedEx survey. These consumers reported spending approximately $300 on cross-border items per year.

In an effort to better understand global online customers, Forrester Research conducted interviews with more than 9,000 respondents from SMBs across 17 countries and territories.

The E-Commerce market currently generates more than $1 trillion in sales per year, and is expected to nearly double over the next four years, according to the report.

The U.S., China and the UK are the top three exporters of online purchases. Up to 91% of Canadian respondents and 68% of Brazilians said they purchased from U.S. brands and retailers. Although Europeans are more apt to purchase from retailers within their area, UK businesses ship primarily to the U.S. and Australia. Japanese and Korean shoppers purchase from the U.S. more frequently than from their neighboring countries in Asia.

The survey also found that cross-border shoppers prefer multi-brand retailers and online marketplaces above all business. The majority of respondents in every country ranked major multi-brand online retailers or marketplaces as their first choice out of five business types for cross-border purchases. Since independent SMB retailers ranked fourth, the findings indicate that the most effective method for SMB retailers to enter the global marketplace is by partnering with online marketplaces.

Despite cross-border e-Commerce becoming more common, duties and taxes are known to curb sales. In fact, 35% of global respondents cited high duties/taxes as a concern for cross-border shopping. If all online purchases under $200 were duty free, 56% of global respondents said they would increase their cross-border shopping.

“The results of this study on global trends suggests that streamlining regulations by harmonizing duty-free limits across the globe could result in a significant uptick in cross-border trade,” said David Cunningham, COO and President of International at FedEx Express. This benefits consumers and businesses around the world.”


]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 17 Feb 2015 12:23:29 -0500
Optimizing The Supply Chain To Facilitate Omnichannel Fulfillment Optimizing The Supply Chain To Facilitate Omnichannel Fulfillment

shadow RTP RT048 SR Delivery Feb 2015As omnichannel becomes more of a business imperative, retailers are striving to provide the best experience possible, particularly during the order fulfillment and delivery process.

Whether through ship-from-store or in-store pickup, merchants are enabling consumers to have more of a say in when and how they receive their orders. These are not the only methods retailers are implementing, as some merchants are adding same-day delivery services and even free shipping to the mix.

Regardless of the delivery method retailers want to execute, they must first streamline and optimize their supply chain operations.

Fill out the form below to download the complete PDF report, titled: How To Choose The Right Delivery Models.



]]> (Glenn Taylor) Special Reports Tue, 17 Feb 2015 09:28:15 -0500
86% Of Marketers Believe Omnichannel Has Raised Shopper Expectations 86% Of Marketers Believe Omnichannel Has Raised Shopper Expectations

RR SAP 021715 Image2As many as 86% of marketing decision-makers agree that omnichannel has increased consumer expectations, according to a survey from SAP. Additionally, 86% agree that the benefits of investing in an omnichannel approach clearly outweigh the challenges.

In partnership with SAP, London-based research agency Loudhouse interviewed 839 decision-makers across the U.S., UK, Brazil, Germany, Netherlands and Greater China to gather data for the report.

The brands that have invested in omnichannel strategies are recognizing several benefits, including improving:

  • Sales (74%);

  • Acquisition and loyalty (64%);

  • Competitive advantages (62%); and

  • The overall customer experience (57%).

Although many organizations are recognizing the business-wide impact of omnichannel, 72% of respondents acknowledge that they struggle to transform omnichannel data into tangible business assets. To that end, only 16% said they are meeting all business and analysis needs to craft optimal customer experiences.

Over the next 12 months, retail businesses are focusing on:

  • Innovation (42%);

  • Optimization (30%);

  • Promotion (21%); and

  • Forecasting (8%).

The SAP report concludes with three recommendations for businesses looking to improve consumer intimacy:

1. Embrace data: The ability to synthesize insights and patterns, and apply data to the business and deliver tangible results is what differentiates market leaders from laggards.

2. Build out omnichannel campaigns: Now is the time for retail organizations to implement omnichannel campaigns, the report confirmed. By acting first and fast, retailers can increase their presence in the marketplace.

3. Focus less on channels and more on experiences: Businesses should focus primarily on the depth of their experiences, rather than the depth of their channel mix. While companies may want to maximize the number of channels they use for campaigns, this can complicate each customer relationship and jeopardize the quality of the consumer experience.

Click here to access the complete report.


]]> (Glenn Taylor) Shopper Experience Tue, 17 Feb 2015 09:00:00 -0500
Mobile Analytics Bring Consumers Into The Shopping Zone Mobile Analytics Bring Consumers Into The Shopping Zone

VP IBM head shotWe’re only a few weeks into 2015 and retailers are once again looking for an edge, one that lets them more efficiently connect customers with the products they seek. Over the last few years, we have witnessed the rise of the mobile shopper and the continued “coming of age” of online commerce.

Mobile and online commerce have soared because they tap analytics to personalize the experience for each individual, linking them with offers that are catered to just them. On the other side, the classic in-store experience has been missing the mark, most notably in their ability to bring the same personalized experience to their shoppers.

You may enter the store with a wish list and a plan but once you get swallowed in the crowd you will most likely end up wandering through aisle after aisle to find what you need at the price you are looking for.  

Some seem to have given up on those more traditional shoppers.  According to IBM’s 2014 Holiday Readiness Report, in-store sales are declining and one reason behind this is that they don’t know their customers as well as they should when they walk through their doors.  

But there is hope and it’s your mobile device. While many see mobile devices as a threat to the in-store shopping experience, the reality is far different. Retailers have an opportunity to equip employees and systems to deliver a personalized shopping experience within the brick-and-mortar arena.

Intelligent, in-store location-based technologies allow customers to share their shopping preferences with the retailer, just as you would online. Using powerful analytics, businesses then have deeper customer insights to gain an overview of an on-site customer’s behavior and their level of engagement. With this information, the retailer can better engage each person via real time, contextual interactions as they move around the store.

Just imagine, you walk into a retailer and instantly receive a push notification to your phone. What does it say? Well if you opt in, the retailer creates a profile based on previous purchases (both on and offline), items included on your wish lists and what’s on sale that might fall into these buckets. Now back to you, the shoppers. You are in the store with your cart but you are not flying blind. In just minutes the retailer already has a sense of what you like and how to guide you on your journey.

As you head for the aisles, the services monitors the Wi-Fi signals from your mobile device, gains visibility into shopper traffic patterns within each store by department, creates heat maps to compare these patterns and more. That’s right, the retailer can track what areas of the store are most popular to you as well as all shoppers. Now by combing this information into a single profile, they can better understand what each individual might be looking for, present timely, personalized and contextually relevant promotions instantly on their phone and then direct them to where these items are located in the store.

The death of the in-store shopping experience has been grossly exaggerated. In fact, there are still quite a few of us out there who like to check under the hood before we make our purchases. But it’s hard to deny the fact that these retailers could use a few new tricks to keep their customers coming back. At a time when loyal customers are gold, delivering them unified shopping experiences that combine online, mobile, analytics and in-store is just what your customers need.

Richard Esposito is the IBM General Manager, GTS Mobility Services. In his current position, he leads IBM Global Technology Services’ Mobility business line to help clients drive improved performance and capture value through mobile enterprise solutions. He has worldwide responsibility for client satisfaction, financial growth, strategy, sales, delivery, mobile innovation labs, offering development and operations. Esposito has more than 29 years of experience in the technology industry. He has worked with business executives and CIOs across various industries including utilities, government, insurance, retail and telecommunications.

]]> (Rich Esposito, IBM Mobility Services) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 16 Feb 2015 15:28:22 -0500
Dynamic Yield Facilitates Real-Time Personalization Dynamic Yield Facilitates Real-Time Personalization

To successfully personalize the online shopping experience, retailers must gather data regarding consumers’ purchasing behaviors and even past purchases.

Dynamic Yield has released a SaaS solution that allows retailers to personalize and optimize the user experience based on data collected in real time. The solution leverages data from previous visits and purchases to tailor the web site and create an experience that aligns with a shopper’s unique wants and needs.

Specifically, Dynamic Yield records and analyzes all user engagements and actions and automatically directs them to the product categories, promotions and even specific items that best fit their personal profiles.

Once the solution is implemented, it can be independently operated, eliminating the need for IT assistance. Retail marketers can launch new personalization campaigns within minutes to help boost conversions, click-throughs and overall revenue.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 16 Feb 2015 15:20:25 -0500
Teikametrics FBA Opportunities Helps Amazon Sellers Optimize Inventory Management Teikametrics FBA Opportunities Helps Amazon Sellers Optimize Inventory Management

Amazon Marketplace members have the opportunity to extend their brands and products to millions of consumers worldwide. However, some Amazon sellers do not have complete visibility into inventory levels, making it challenging for them to ensure all in-demand products are available.   

Teikametrics, a provider of optimization technology for Amazon sellers, has introduced the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) Opportunities predictive reordering solution to help address this challenge. The FBA Opportunities dashboard identifies upfront potential profit within existing inventory supply and allows sellers to add profitable items into a purchase order.

As part of the Teikametrics Inventory Management and Repricing software, FBA Opportunities analyzes a seller’s portfolio and sorts items based on quantity sold over a certain period of time. By sorting this data, the software analyzes overall profitability and identifies how many products should be ordered during the next period. With the dashboard, sellers can track inventory and immediately identify the top 10 best-selling items, as well as identify underperforming inventory.

Sellers can log into their Teikametrics dashboard and begin a new purchase order directly from the Opportunities tab. They also can select or deselect the items they’d like to restock, and measure potential profitability based on the item’s current Amazon Buy Box price.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 16 Feb 2015 15:10:05 -0500
6 Reasons Why 2015 Is The Year Bitcoin Goes Mainstream With Merchants 6 Reasons Why 2015 Is The Year Bitcoin Goes Mainstream With Merchants

VP site only Bitnet head shotThe past year has seen a number of high-profile online retailers begin accepting payments in bitcoin, and the rise of more robust and reliable payment service options looks to make 2015 a game-changer for bitcoin as an e-Commerce currency. Bitcoin is getting the right attention: The arrival of experienced financial technology experts in the digital currency space means that in 2015, merchants and consumers will be able to have their payment processing and financial needs understood and met like never before. These are the six reasons why 2015 will be the year that acceptance of bitcoin goes mainstream with merchants:

1. Merchants didn't want to be first in 2014. Consumer-facing brands are understandably concerned with their image and cautious about embracing new technology that might not pan out (think LaserDisc). In 2014, many merchants were more reluctant to bet on bitcoin, not wanting to take an uncertain step with their technology resources or make a mistake in their marketing positioning. Now, with major organizations such as PayPal and Microsoft stepping out in front, the virtual currency’s proverbial ball is rolling and it’s much more clear that bitcoin is here to stay.

2. Now merchants can make bitcoin a priority. Larger companies may not be known for their nimbleness in pivoting to new technologies, but they have been observing the payments landscape, and by 2015 they’ve had time to plan ahead for bitcoin. Add to this the fact that there are more precedents out there to study when working out the finer points of bitcoin acceptance implementation. Companies now have the resolve and preparation to proceed with roll out plans that have had time to mature.

3. Merchants don't want to be left behind. As merchants see more and more competitors accepting bitcoin, they are increasingly willing to do the same. And while bitcoin will shrug off some of its roguish mystique as it becomes more commonplace, accepting it will remain symbolic for companies as a show of their tech savvy and forward thinking.

4. Consumers are looking for places to spend their bitcoin. Consumers are catching on to the idea of bitcoin and realizing the currency isn't a fad. In fact, 2014’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday set records by seeing around $300 million in bitcoin spent. Merchants that have been monitoring demand for bitcoin acceptance are now hearing from customers who have become more vocal about it. The founder of Shutterstock recently answered an interview question on bitcoin by saying, "If customers asked for it, then we would be the first to accept it," and the Twitter campaign is underway.

5. Merchants have every reason to love bitcoin. Merchants who adopt bitcoin acceptance could easily see a boost in revenue in 2015. The lower transaction fees of using bitcoin as a payment method versus card payments mean more money reaches the merchant. The identity protection inherent in bitcoin payments serves to prevent fraud, meaning that merchants can avoid reputation-damaging data breaches. Digital currency payment services allow merchants to get paid quickly and have cash on hand with no risk of chargebacks. In a world where, according to CyberSource’s online fraud report, the average merchant is declining 2.3% of all domestic orders and manually reviewing over 25% of all orders due to fear of chargebacks, the benefits bitcoin provides represent a substantial savings of both time and money. In addition to merchant initiated declines, TrustInsight, a division of Experian, finds that card-issuing banks decline $40B in annual transactions due to fear of fraud, a huge loss to global commerce that is ripe for disruption by a more secure and less expensive payment system.

6. Merchants want a global customer base. reports that 60% bitcoin users are new customers and states that 100% of bitcoin users are new to the site. At the same time, the CyberSource online fraud report finds that the average merchant is declining roughly 8% of all international orders due to fear of chargebacks. With bitcoin payments there are no cross-border fees, making bitcoin especially suited to the needs of international buyers and sellers. As a merchant, why wouldn't you want to accept money from anywhere on the planet? In 2015, bitcoin will continue to help the global economy become that much more borderless.

New services also allow for merchants to offer bitcoin as a payment method without having to possess or manage the price volatility of bitcoin, with the transactions translated by a payment service provider into the merchant’s preferred currency. At the same time, this is a boon to the bitcoin system in general, with wider acceptance expanding the digital currency’s reach and creating greater stability. In 2015, that increased stability from a broader base of users will earn bitcoin the respect currently enjoyed by traditional currencies and established payment methods, while heightening the visibility of its unique advantages.

Paige Freeman is the VP of Sales at Bitnet and she is well-known within the bitcoin community for being at the forefront of merchant adoption. Paige uses her extensive background in sales and technology to work with the largest companies in the world. Paige successfully handled all sales at Bitpay as one of the founding members, and signed over 35,000 merchants accepting bitcoin. Paige has an Industrial Engineering degree from Georgia Tech and founded Women in Bitcoin based in San Francisco.

]]> (Paige Freeman, Bitnet) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 16 Feb 2015 14:37:33 -0500
Online Sales For SMBs Jump 34% In Q4 2014 Online Sales For SMBs Jump 34% In Q4 2014

onlinemarketplaceIndependent e-Commerce SMBs saw a 34% average increase in sales during Q4 2014, according to the Quarterly Ecommerce Report from Bigcommerce.

The successful quarter was driven by strong sales in November and December, where sales increased by 27% and 47%, respectively.For the entire year, SMBs saw their online sales increase by 22%.

Thanksgiving Day to Cyber Monday represented nearly 12% of the quarter’s sales. Cyber Monday sales alone were three-times higher than the top sales day of Q1. In 2014, these retailers processed 24% more orders during Cyber Week, with stores averaging 27% higher revenues than in 2013.

The rise of the SMBs — particularly businesses that are online only — can be attributed to the shift to a supplemental income economy, according to Tim Schulz, Chief Product Officer at Bigcommerce.

“If you’re a couple and your child just went off to college, you can make a little extra money by renting that room out on Airbnb,”Schulz said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “If you have a car and you don’t use it that much on the weekends, you can become an UberX driver. By that same token, if you have a good idea, you can start your own online brand and start selling. The cool thing about e-Commerce is that while the old the couple that runs Airbnb doesn’t become the next Marriott, and that Uber driver doesn’t become the limo or taxi cab conglomerate, these people who start selling goods online can become the next Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren or Martha Stewart.”

However, as SMBs boost their sales and see more success, they need to think more about scaling their business and implementing new technology. This shift in focus may take away from business basics such as connecting with customers on a one-to-one basis 

“SMBs are punished by growth in some ways,” Schulz stated. “They become more and more successful, and they find that as they sell more, they have to think more about their technology and less about their customers. If we can take the technology complexity away, then they have a greater opportunity to build out their own brand and reach customers in unique ways at every channel. The brands that carefully manage that and utilize the technology properly are the ones that are really breaking out of the mold.”

Electronics, Lifestyle And Beauty Retailers Perform The Best

Consumer electronics was the top-performing category in Q4 2014,earning a 4.2 Health Index Rating from Bigcommerce. The category also included a 41% increase in per store sales and a 19% increase in average order value. Beauty, bridal and fashion retailers alsoexperienced a 27% increase in per-store sales compared to the same period in 2013. The lifestyle and home retailers boosted per store year-over-year sales 45%, the highest mark of any individual category.

“One of the biggest growth drivers of the holiday season is being in a vertical that’s very friendly toward gift giving,” Schulz said.“Obviously, consumer electronics, fashion and beauty, lifestyle and home all saw monster increases here in Q4, and are a very popular destination for giving gifts.”

Independent Retailers Embrace Mobile Commerce

Up to 30% of all purchases made during Q4 2014 were through mobile devices, according to the report. Throughout the quarter,SMBs received 25% of their overall revenue from tablets and smartphones. More than one third (37%) of shoppers completed apurchase on their mobile devices on Christmas Day 2014, a 100% boost over 2013.

“From my perspective, there’s a transformational shift in shopping behavior, and it’s something retailers are definitely trying really hard to get a hold of,” Schulz explained. “Between existing mobile customers and new mobile customers, every time you turn around, that mobile shopping number has gone up substantially.”

Schulz recommended that retailers should not only optimize the site landing page, but also email templates to appeal to mobile shoppers.

“If you haven’t optimized both the email template and the landing page for mobile, and you send a lot of emails to that customer, what are they going to start to feel about your brand?” Schulz said. “It’s a missed opportunity to build a brand and to really represent your company in the context of where the customer is. When we see more than 20% of purchases through mobile, we look at that as a great success, because we were able to get our retailers ready to meet that demand.”


]]> (Glenn Taylor) E-Commerce Mon, 16 Feb 2015 12:55:25 -0500 Research: Mobile Remains Top Priority For Retailers Research: Mobile Remains Top Priority For Retailers

retailmobileFor 58% of retailers, mobile is a key investment area during 2015, up from 53% in 2014, according to the report, titled: The State Of Retailing Online.

To develop the report, Forrester Research surveyed 71 companies from numerous retail categories including apparel, footwear, general merchandise, home furnishings and personal care between November and December 2014.

{loadposition GIAA}In 2014, smartphone sales accounted for 12%, a 50% increase over 2013. Tablets also experienced a significant boost, growing from 13% to 16% of all online sales.

Despite the growing prevalence of smartphones and tablets, digital marketing still is a minor priority for retailers. Approximately one third (32%) of retailers report spending less than $100,000 on smartphone development in 2014, while 68% report spending less than $1 million. Additionally, just 4% of retailers said they invested between $100,000 and $250,000 on tablet initiatives last year. That said, eight in 10 organizations plan to increase their mobile budgets by at least 20% in 2015.

“Consumers are flocking to retailers’ mobile sites at a faster pace and with more interaction than ever before, so naturally they expect retailers to offer fast, well-designed mobile services that meet their needs,” said Vicki Cantrell, SVP of NRF and Executive Director at “With that in mind, and with several years of mobile commerce now under the industry’s belt, retailers feel confident in their mobile investments. For retailers — when it comes to mobile strategies, small but continuous incremental changes really do go a long way to keep their savvy customers happy.”

However, few retailers are investing in apps due to high costs associated with development. As many as 56% of retailers surveyed said apps are not a key component of their mobile marketing strategy, and an even greater percentage agree apps are not critical to their employee strategy.

“Apps are simply too expensive to build and maintain for most retailers, begging the question — what’s after apps?” said Sucharita Mulpuru, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. “We’ll see retailers focus spending on redesigning the core site, which benefits the site experience beyond mobile, and embracing responsive design — an approach that retailers favor over apps, with nearly half already applying it to their mobile site.”

Omnichannel efforts are considered the second-highest priority for retailers, according to the report. As many as 45% of the retail respondents said they hope to improve or invest in programs such as buy online-pick up in store, ship-from-store and inventory visibility in the year ahead. This is nearly twice as much (26%) as the number of retailers that cited omnichannel as a priority for 2014. Additionally, 38% of respondents ranked marketing optimization as their third-highest priority for 2015, which includes customer retention and acquisition initiatives.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 13 Feb 2015 13:11:08 -0500
Woodman’s Foods Taps Birdzi To Personalize Offers Across Channels Woodman’s Foods Taps Birdzi To Personalize Offers Across Channels

woodmans storefrontWoodman’s Foods, an independent and employee-owned grocery retailer, will roll out the Birdzi Shopper Engagement platform to all 15 of its stores in 2015. The retailer, which operates under the brand name Woodman’s Markets, will use the platform to personalize offers for consumers using their desktops and mobile devices. In addition to the rollout, Woodman’s has joined the Birdzi Personiphi Network.

With the platform, Woodman’s Foods can offer shopper enrollment and shopper ID capabilities so consumers can receive customized savings without an ID card.

The Birdzi Shopper Engagement solution enables Woodman’s to communicate all store promotions to shoppers through the mobile app. While in a store, shoppers can use the app to view available offers in the aisle they are standing in, and also create shopping lists and sort offers based on their location.

“Since going live in just one store, we have already had more than 2,000 downloads of the mobile app,” said Clint Woodman, VP of Woodman’s Foods. “What’s more, customers who do not currently use a smartphone are able to take advantage of the web plugin feature for customized offers and to view their shopping lists. We know that our customers rely on their mobile phones to give them the information they need when they need it.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 13 Feb 2015 09:34:01 -0500
NRF Predictions: Retail Sales Will Increase 4.1% In 2015 NRF Predictions: Retail Sales Will Increase 4.1% In 2015

NRF1The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects retail sales to increase 4.1% in 2015, up from a 3.5% increase between 2013 and 2014. The projection would mark the biggest annual growth since 2011, when retail sales increased 5.1%.

“The consumer is feeling a bit better — consumer sentiment is at record levels, there are improving prospects for jobs and gas prices for now remain low,” said Matthew Shay, CEO of NRF, on a media conference call. “The ingredients are there for a more sustained and robust expansion.”

NRF also expects 2015 non-store sales to increase between 7% and 10%.

The U.S. economy is expected to grow between 2.7% and 3.2% in 2015, with the labor market adding up to 230,000 new jobs per month. Unemployment is expected to drop to 5% by year’s end.

“The economy appears to finally have gained some real traction and after a somewhat turbulent 2014, we expect to see continued gains in economic activity in the year ahead,” said Jack Kleinhenz, Chief Economist at NRF. “While Americans are benefiting from a pickup in wages and jobs, and gains in the U.S. stock market, economic slack has been reduced. We still, however, have a ways to go in order to achieve sustainable economic growth. There are a few wild cards that the retailers will need to keep an eye on, like global economic growth, energy prices and even inflation.”

NRF considered multiple factors while making the projection, according to a company blog post, including:

  • Household spending had its best year since 2006;

  • Consumers are in better financial shape now than any time since the start of the recovery and confidence is accelerating;

  • Incomes are increasing with job and wage gains;

  • Gains in equities and housing have brought net worth to record levels; and

  • Energy costs have plummeted.

In a company statement, Shay encouraged lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to step in and assist the industry to achieve greater heights: “While our outlook for the year ahead is positive, we aren’t quite out of the woods; in order to see continued momentum, we need a commitment from our leaders in Washington to pass legislation that will encourage investment, create jobs and set us on the path towards sustained, long-term economic growth.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 12 Feb 2015 17:50:05 -0500
Expanding Into Canada: Challenges And Opportunities Expanding Into Canada: Challenges And Opportunities

Due to its close proximity to the U.S., Canada is a natural choice for retailers looking to begin their international expansion journey.

Over the past year, Canada has shown its profit potential. In 2014, e-Commerce sales in the country topped off at $22.9 billion and are expected to rise 16.8% in 2015, according to eMarketer.

“If done properly, expansion into Canada continues to be a smart growth move for U.S. retailers,” said Joel Alden, a partner in the retail practice of A.T. Kearney. “Canadian consumers have many similarities to U.S. consumers, making the learning curve steeper than going to a very different market.”

The profile of the Canadian shopper is relatively similar to the American shopper, noted Michael DeSimone, CEO of Borderfree. “English-speaking, high Internet and mobile phone-usage, and fans of the same everyday products — which makes it easier for retailers to connect with consumers.”

Close proximity to the U.S. also means more Canadian consumers are familiar and even follow American brands, making it easier for businesses to build relationships and generate buzz before they even open a store in the country. 

Finally, from a logistics perspective, Alden said, “it’s possible to supply from existing supply chain assets in the U.S. in the short term.”

Keeping these benefits in mind makes Target’s failure to expand successfully in Canada even more puzzling, and has many industry players wondering: What went wrong?

Target: A Canadian Conundrum

After opening 133 stores across Canada, Target announced that it would be closing all area stores and would be taking a $5.4 billion write-down because of costs associated with the Canadian business.

{loadposition GIAA}“After a thorough review of our Canadian performance and careful consideration of the implications of all options, we were unable to find a realistic scenario that would get Target Canada to profitability until at least 2021,” said Brian Cornell, Target Corporation Chairman and CEO, in a press statement. “Personally, this was a very difficult decision, but it was the right decision for our company.”

New reports indicate that in addition to the 17,600 employee layoffs, Target has let go 550 headquarters employees as part of its exit.

The key to successfully expanding in Canada is to thoroughly understand area competition, according to Ali Asaria, CEO of Tulip Retail. Specifically retailers should ask: Why should Canadians shop with us versus our competitors? What do we offer that our competitors do not? Is there a gap in the market that we can fill?

“The responses to these questions lead us to better understand why Canadian expansion wasn’t wise for Target Canada,” Asaria said. “The company doomed itself from the start by the way it approached the market and attempting to fill the same role in Canada as it does in the U.S.”

Retailers also need to consider the preferences and buying behaviors of Canadian consumers. They “tend to be deal hunters and sensitive to price gaps with the U.S.,” Alden noted. But at the same time, retailers need to remember that because Canada is a large country with low population density, supply chain operations will be “more expansive and less responsive.”

As a result of its aggressive expansion plan, Target struggled to keep products on its shelves and speed up its supply chain operations. Couple that with Walmart waging a price war on Target in an effort to maintain area market share.

Expansion Success Stories

Despite Target’s failed expansion shaking up the industry, a myriad of other retailers have successfully expanded into Canada:

  • Lowe’s Canada plans to open 25 new stores across the country over the next three years, and plans to hire up to 2,000 seasonal employees at its 37 existing stores, as well as three planned stores and a regional distribution center.

  • Walmart also recently revealed that it will spend $270 million on an aggressive expansion across Canada. The Wall Street Journal reported that the retail behemoth will build 29 new supercenters and focus on expanding its distribution network.

  • In January 2014, fast-fashion dynamo Uniqlo announced its first foray into Canada. The apparel retailer plans to open two flagship stores in Toronto during the fall of 2016. Given this long timeline, Uniqlo USA and Canada CEO Larry Meyer said the expansion would be approached “surgically.”

    "Whenever you go into new country, you want to make sure everything's right,” Meyer said in an interview with Fortune. “You want to understand what works and what the customer wants."

  • Whole Foods Market also is taking a strategic approach to Canadian expansion. The retailer plans to add three new locations in Greater Victoria, British Columbia; Edmonton, Alberta; and Calgary, Alberta, over the next few years. 

    Currently, Whole Foods operates four stores across British Columbia, and is building locations in North Burnaby and North Vancouver. The stores will open in the summers of 2015 and 2017, respectively. 

Retailers should “go slow, but not too slow,” according to Alden. “Learn quickly with limited entrance, but take it seriously with a robust plan to scale.”

Final Tips For Success

As retailers continue to weigh the pros and cons of international expansion, there are several things they should keep in mind, especially as they look north of the U.S. border. 

Below are final tips and best practices from industry experts:

  • Do your homework: “Understand the consumer specifics with regard to your brand; the IT and supply chain investments required; and the real estate requirements and availability,” Alden said.

  • Develop a leadership team: “Manage locally,” Alden advised. “It’s necessary to have leadership in country with the agility to respond to consumer dynamics and competitive actions.”

  • Find your niche: “Retailers cannot rely on their reputations or ways of doing business in other countries to drive them to succeed in Canada,” Asaria said. “They must find their niche beforehand in the Canadian market and respect consumers. Agility and a test-and-learn culture are key attributes for the next generation of retail and how to succeed when expanding into Canada.”

  • Localize the e-Commerce experience: “Retailers must create an online shopping experience that is tailored to the Canadian consumer,” DeSimone said. “At a basic level, this means prices should be shown in Canadian dollars, only products that are shippable to the country should be displayed, and accurate duties/taxes and shipping charges are an absolute must. Duty-free promotions entice Canadian shoppers, as well.”

  • Make omnichannel a priority: “For brands that have brick-and-mortar locations, it’s important to have uniform pricing online and in-store, and purchases made online should be returnable in-store,” DeSimone said. “The most important takeaway is to focus on who the consumer is and meet his or her needs.”


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Fri, 13 Feb 2015 07:00:00 -0500
Rite Aid Acquires EnvisionRx For $2 Billion Rite Aid Acquires EnvisionRx For $2 Billion

Rite AidDrugstore chain Rite Aid will acquire EnvisionRx, a full-service pharmacy benefit management (PBM) company, for $2 billion. Rite Aid will pay approximately $1.8 billion in cash and $200 million in company stock, amounting to 27.9 million shares.

The transaction is expected to close by September 2015 and is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. With the purchase, EnvisionRx will provide Rite Aid with a Medicare prescription drug plan that covers 400,000 people, according to an AP report

EnvisionRx projects to earn $5 billion in revenue during 2015. The company provides both transparent and traditional PBM options through its EnvisionRx and MedTrak PBMs.

The acquisition will allow Rite Aid to enter the PBM market and leverage the multitude of offerings from EnvisionRx, including:

  • Fully integrated mail-order and specialty pharmacy services through Orchard Pharmaceutical Services;

  • Access to a cash pay infertility discount drug program via Design Rx;

  • An innovative claims adjudication software platform in Laker Software; and

  • A national Medicare Part D prescription drug plan through Envision Insurance Company's EnvisionRx Plus product offering.

“The acquisition of EnvisionRx meaningfully expands our health and wellness offerings, enhancing our ability to provide a higher level of care to the patients and communities we serve,” said John Standley, Chairman and CEO at Rite Aid. “With the addition of EnvisionRx, we will create a compelling pharmacy offering across retail, specialty and mail-order channels, enabling us to deliver cost-effective solutions to employers and health plans while driving growth and creating long-term value for our shareholders. We also look forward to welcoming EnvisionRx's proven management team and talented associates to Rite Aid.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Mergers & Acquisitions Wed, 11 Feb 2015 17:21:31 -0500
What Can Stale Brands Do To See The Light Of 2020? What Can Stale Brands Do To See The Light Of 2020?

Debbie head shotHere are just a few brand names the next generation of shoppers will probably not be exposed to: RadioShack, Delia's, Wet Seal, Office Depot, Caché and SkyMall.

While it seems sad to say good-bye to brands some of us "grew up" with, it's a sign of the times and I think it will be important to find the silver lining in this dark cloud of bankruptcies, store closings and acquisitions.

In this new age of mobile and social commerce, retail brands that want to survive and thrive need to get on board with consumers' expectations. Although a seriously overused cliché, If you can't beat 'em, join 'em seems appropriate for today's retail scenario.

SkyMall is a perfect example. It was actually amazing to me the amount of media coverage SkyMall's demise received in the last few weeks. Maybe that's because so many of the journalists reporting the story have spent a lot of time on planes since the SkyMall catalog first appeared in 1990. Nevertheless, people just aren't as enthralled with the print catalog as they used to be. And by ending the production of approximately 20 million catalogs, SkyMall can redirect marketing budget to its online/digital business:

Granted, SkyMall is a unique example. Traditional brick-and-mortar retail brands are really taking a hit this year. The fact is, we can buy most of the products online very easily, so if you're not providing a unique and compelling in-store experience then the cost of owning and operating 4,000+ stores (in RadioShack's case) just isn't viable.

Brand failures don't happen overnight. There could be hope and a silver lining for brands that may have just started a downward spiral. Today's struggling brands should look to some of the retail innovators who are re-energizing the brand experience through more personalized, localized and interactive efforts. A few recent success stories include:

  • BCBGMaxAzria, using automated, personalized emails;
  • Party Galaxy, tapping social media to boost site traffic;
  • J. Hilburn, launching pop-ups to enhance personalization; and
  • CVS Health, opening innovation labs to test new tools and technologies.

So, as pointed out in a recent article, brands like Cabela's, Best Buy and Coach may need to re-think their marketing strategies and the way they deliver omnichannel customer experiences in order to make it to 2020 and beyond. I wish them all the best.


]]> (Debbie Hauss) Editor's Perspective Wed, 11 Feb 2015 16:54:33 -0500
Kohl's: Aiming To Be 'The Most Engaging Retailer In America' Kohl's: Aiming To Be 'The Most Engaging Retailer In America'

Kohls head shotIn this exclusive interview, Janet Schalk, EVP and CIO of Kohl's, shares insights into the retailer's latest technology implementations related to an overall omnichannel focus.

"We've been on a journey to make sure we're doing what we can to be relevant," Schalk told Retail TouchPoints. "Our goal is to have the customer experience be easy regardless of the channel. We are investing heavily in technology. We have invested more than $1 billion over the past three years and we will continue the pace."

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): How do you use an assessment of the competition when planning Kohl's retail strategies?

Schalk:  We are always looking at what resonates with our customers. We wouldn’t want to alienate any shopper groups. For example, my mother might be disenfranchised if we focused on just digital. But my nieces access most of their shopping experiences via their phones. That said, we are a very promotional retailer focused on pricing nimbleness and transparency…and it is easier to get that point across digitally. For example, our new loyalty program, which rolled out nationwide this past fall, called 'Yes2You Rewards,' is linked inextricably with the mobile experience. We want to make sure it's easy for our shoppers to take advantage of the fact that they are part of a loyalty program.

RTP: Can you share some learnings from your loyalty program test?

Schalk:  We didn't want it to be a lookalike program where you just buy stuff and get points. We wanted to amp it up, so we tested a lot of different tactics. Additionally, we wanted to focus on what is important to our customers. For example, giving back is important to some, so they are able to donate to charities through the loyalty program. There will be a lot more components added to the loyalty program throughout 2015.

RTP: How are you incorporating localization into customer-based initiatives?

Schalk:  One of our most important initiatives is around localization — making sure our stores are relevant to local customers. One way is through product assortment: There are differences in assortment based on climate, lifestyle in broad terms and in some cases, team sports. But that's pretty basic; we are doing a lot of work to understand our customers more deeply, so there will be many more initiatives coming over the next few years.

{loadposition GIAA}Endless aisle capabilities also are important when it comes to localization. We want to make sure our customers understand our endless aisle capabilities. For example, stores may not carry a wide assortment of baby gear beyond apparel, such as car seats, cribs and strollers, but we have a much wider assortment available online. Our shoppers can purchase those items via kiosks while they are in the store. We are working to make this capability more evident to in-store shoppers.

RTP: What types of technology implementations have you been focusing on?

Schalk:  We have spent time putting a lot of foundational systems in place in order to have access to near real-time inventory information across channels, including Oracle Retail Merchandise Operations Management. With these new solutions in place, we have been able to roll out buy online/pick up in stores in 100 stores this past fall, and we've seen encouraging early results. We are planning to roll it out across the chain in spring 2015. We also are experimenting with same-day delivery through pilots in several markets. We have being doing ship from store since 2013 and carpeted the company with that ability this past year. We will continue to test to see what will work with our customers.

One of the biggest shifts we've made at Kohl's over last three or four years is speed of delivery for new solutions. One way to achieve this goal is to stay as streamlined as we possibly can, where appropriate. With the recent Oracle solutions, we have been able to complete implementations in less than a year; really we shoot for nine months or less.

We're also testing beacons in 22 stores right now. We will continue to test and learn and figure out what's relevant. For any new strategy to work, you must have the right content in the right place.

RTP: What changes are you working on to update payment offerings?

Schalk:  To us two imperatives are security around payments and ease for the customer. Security remains a huge focus for us — because there have been so many breaches lately.

Regarding payment options, we believe the customers will vote on what they want. We are part of MCX and we are looking at other mobile payment options — Apple Pay, for example. We completed our hardware rollout on pin pads for NFC last fall. We were already on the journey in 2013. This year we're completing the implementation and software of the EMV programs.

RTP: Are your store associates armed with mobile devices? 

Schalk: For the most part, we are still using mobile primarily for back office functions. But in some stores, we are testing handheld devices for associates for assisted selling; and we are using tablets in the beauty department to show expanded assortment. For Valentine's Day, we gave the jewelry associates tablets in certain stores. The idea there was to make sure the associates could easily be trained and up-to-date on product availability. We want to make it easier to close the sale in the store if we don't have the size available.

RTP: How have roles in your company changed to reflect the new omnichannel initiatives?

Schalk: We have a Chief Customer Officer who owns marketing and e-Commerce from the business side. On the technology side, I have a counterpart who manages front end systems from the customer side. We also hired a new EVP of Marketing last spring who is driving personalization and loyalty initiatives.

We are now a team 'sharing a brain.' Two years ago never would have heard someone from marketing say that. With such a strong focus on personalization and loyalty, we are really leveraging the data we have about customers and product — and bringing in data we have on customers from other sources.

We are now made up of communities sharing best practices, not competing with overlapping tools. One of the things we feel strongly about is that you can't have eight versions of the data. In many ways our goal to make sure we are helping different business groups instead of going in different directions.


]]> (Debbie Hauss) Retail Success Stories Thu, 12 Feb 2015 07:00:00 -0500
Neiman Marcus Embraces User-Generated Content With #NMmyway Contest Neiman Marcus Embraces User-Generated Content With #NMmyway Contest

Recognized as a thought leader in the fashion world, Neiman Marcus recently released its top trends for spring 2015. Bohemian styles, fringe, suede, spice colors and sleeveless jackets all will be “hot” during the season, and the luxury retailer is encouraging consumers to share their interpretations of these trends with a new social media contest. 

Called #NMmyway, the contest encourages consumers to snap photos of themselves wearing the top trends shared by Neiman Marcus on Instagram using the designated hash tag. Fashion aficionados who put the most creative spin on these trends will be qualified to win a $500 Neiman Marcus gift card. The contest runs from Feb. 11-25, with the winners selected in March 2015. The Neiman Marcus web site will feature all winners and their photos.

“This is the first time we’ve engaged with user-generated content, so we’re looking forward to seeing how it works,” said Ginger Reeder, VP of Corporate Communications at Neiman Marcus Group. “We’ll definitely learn something.”

But Neiman Marcus is no stranger to the art and science of social media. The team knows customers “love engaging on social media,” Reeder explained in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We know they love seeing outfit ideas from us and similarly, we love seeing the creativity they come up with while sharing their own outfit ides.”

To determine the winners of the contest, the Neiman Marcus Fashion Directors will track all hash tag mentions via a unified platform. Rather than focusing on the number of likes or comments an image receives, they judge images based on the overall quality of the content.

“We’re going to focus on the creativity of the images and how consumers interpret the different trends,” Reeder explained. “We’re looking for a real expression of personality to those trends we identified. Even mixing and matching those trends would be fun.”  

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Wed, 11 Feb 2015 12:41:35 -0500
Indix Joins Revionics Partner Program

indix-logo-with-subtitle-17d7cd269a5792136035b968a41c10aaIndix, a product intelligence solution provider for brands and retailers, has partnered with Revionics, a provider of end-to-end merchandise optimization solutions. Through the partnership, Indix will deliver product intelligence data to the Revionics price optimization solution, allowing retailers to enhance their pricing and promotions strategies.

Through the Competitive Data Partner (CDP) Program, Revionics will make pricing data from Indix available to Revionics customers, helping them keep pace with increased competition, price transparency and other business pressures.

The Revionics solution integrates various types of pricing data and intelligence, including:

  • Shopped and audited data;
  • Online data intelligence;
  • Market data; and
  • Pricing insights.

"As commerce becomes more pervasive and dynamic, businesses have to leverage customer intelligence, business intelligence, and product intelligence to deliver the right product to the right customer at the right time at the right price,” said Sanjay Parthasarathy, Founder and CEO of Indix. “We are thrilled to collaborate with Revionics to provide retailers with easy access to critical product intelligence data on hundreds of millions of products.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Wed, 11 Feb 2015 11:17:21 -0500
Empower Software Unveils EmpowerOne Empower Software Unveils EmpowerOne

empoweroneEmpower Software Solutions, a provider of workforce and human capital management solutions, has introduced EmpowerOne, a new solution designed to improve employee communication and collaboration among human resources and operations departments.

EmpowerOne, which also is positioned to help retailers boost employee engagement by offering more access to training and recognition opportunities, will be released in Q2 2015.

“We call EmpowerOne the world’s first Unity System, because of its power to unify an entire organization around goals, projects, and tasks,” said Jim Hoefflin, President and CEO of Empower Software. “When you can enable the entire workforce in a powerful yet streamlined communication network, giving them the ability to work smarter, send accolades to peers, and connect with the larger organization via a mobile app that is functionally consistent with the popular apps used outside the workplace, you have the potential to drive employee engagement to a whole new level.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 11 Feb 2015 09:43:23 -0500
PetSense Onboards Shopatron To Provide Inventory Visibility Across Stores PetSense Onboards Shopatron To Provide Inventory Visibility Across Stores

PetSense, a specialty pet retailer, has selected Shopatron as its inventory lookup and analytics partner to support its new e-Commerce site, which launched in November 2014. The Shopatron Retailer platform will support more than 3,000 product SKUs, allowing the retailer to see which items consumers are searching for most frequently in specific locations.

Shopatron’s integration partner, Gamma FX, helped PetSense implement the solution within 60 days. During 2015, PetSense will implement inventory lookup and analytics capabilities for more than 20 additional stores. 

“Retailing is no longer separate channels, and we want to be on the forefront of integrating all customer points of contact into a seamless shopping experience,” said Joshua Patterson, E-Commerce Director at PetSense. “The Shopatron platform is a huge part of this initiative, allowing customers to look up their local store’s inventory without ever leaving their home.”

Patterson also noted that PetSense hopes to roll out buy online, pickup in-store over the next year to further enhance the customer experience. 

In September 2014, Shopatron launched a free two-year pilot program that allows retailers to select solution modules that meet their business goals. The modules include:

  • Ship-from-store;

  • Same day in-store pickup;

  • Inventory lookup;

  • Ship-to-store for in-store pickup;

  • Ship-from-warehouse;

  • In-store returns; and

  • Vendor drop ship.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 11 Feb 2015 09:21:17 -0500
Party Galaxy Sees 1,520% Boost In Social Media-Driven Site Traffic With SocialCentiv Party Galaxy Sees 1,520% Boost In Social Media-Driven Site Traffic With SocialCentiv

Retailers can use social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to connect with brand fans and even engage prospective customers. Some retailers are bringing their social strategies to the next level by using tools and implementing campaigns that drive traffic to their stores and e-Commerce sites, and eventually, boost sales.

For example, Party Galaxy, a party favor, decoration and costume retailer, used the Twitter marketing tool SocialCentiv to increase traffic generated by social media by 1,520%. Over the course of several months, Party Galaxy also tripled the number of its Twitter followers.

Despite being on Twitter for more than five years, Party Galaxy wanted to ramp up its social presence. Using SocialCentiv in partnership with agency SYN3RGY Creative Group, the retailer was able to improve its strategy and drive consumer action. For one campaign, SYN3RGY ran a coupon incentive on Twitter using SocialCentive, which helped drive traffic to the web site.

“As a third-generation, family-owned business, we’re excited about the momentum SYN3RGY has given to our online marketing efforts and look forward to seeing how the campaign will grow,” said Marty Dillon, Co-Owner of Party Galaxy. Not only was Party Galaxy able to increase brand awareness, the retailer also was able to engage with consumers more effectively online.

SocialCentiv identifies consumers in real time who are tweeting about a product or service. Retailers can then use the tool to deliver personalized incentives and drive buying decisions.

"We set up our keywords and began listening for conversations on Twitter by targeting keyword phrases such as 'birthday party,' 'Halloween costume' and 'need party inspiration,' said Steven Newlon, Founder and Chief Relationship Officer at SYN3RGY Creative Group. "Conversations that mentioned these keywords would appear in real time on the software dashboard and Party Galaxy could choose the conversations that were appropriate to respond to with a 20% off coupon."

After a successful first campaign, Party Galaxy plans to use SocialCentiv for core seasonal events, such as Valentine's Day, according to Newlon. "Through online marketing advice, we will continue to help Party Galaxy drive awareness and engagement via social channels through consistent, relevant content, fan development, an e-newsletter and other proprietary social strategies."

SYN3RGY Creative Group is using SocialCentiv to conduct A/B testing on multiple incentives for the next stage of the Party Galaxy campaign, which will span over several months.

"Through the combined use of A/B testing and marketing research, we have reaffirmed the recommendations regarding broad-based consumer offers, such as 'get 20% off your purchase,' versus those targeted to a niche, themed event, such as 'get 10% off St. Patrick’s Day costumes," Newlon said. "The messaging strategies that work best for our consumers are an offer of a discount of at least 20% or more."


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Wed, 11 Feb 2015 07:00:00 -0500
The Changing Faces of Retail

rtp boston roundtable eventbrite


In today's hyper-competitive retail environment, marketers must work diligently to reach customers with personalized and relevant messaging at every touch point. As Retail Systems Research (RSR) points out, one of the greatest challenges is "Understanding and accommodating how different customer segments engage with us," in particular across mobile devices.

During this exclusive, invitation-only retail executive RoundTable event, Steve Rowen, Principal Analyst, RSR will address this challenge and share insights from other recent industry studies. We'll also explore how to leverage insights from relevant customer data to provide more personalized shopping experiences across all touch points, channels and languages.

Dig out from the long, cold winter and join us for some of the best New England fare, while discussing and debating the best way to capture long-term loyal customers.

Please note that this event is open to executives from retail companies only. Executives from solution provider companies and others will not be accepted as attendees. Please contact if you have any questions.


Monday March 23, 2015 from 6:00pm to 9pm (EST)


Mamma Maria
3 North Square
Boston, MA 02113
Featuring a Four Diamond Rating from AAA Travel Guide


]]> (Devin McDonnell) Retail Industry Calendar Tue, 10 Feb 2015 12:00:45 -0500
The 'Switching Economy' Leaves $1.6 Trillion Up For Grabs The 'Switching Economy' Leaves $1.6 Trillion Up For Grabs

Shoppers today have access to more product and brand options due to their day-to-day use of digital tools and touch points. As a result, these savvy consumers are more prone to switching businesses if they do not receive the best possible experience, according to Accenture research.

In fact, 56% of consumers reported that the number of brands they consider has increased significantly over the past 10 years. And up to 46% of consumers said they are more likely to switch providers versus 10 years ago.

The 'Switching Economy' encompasses the potential revenue up for grabs due to consumer spending patterns and switching rates. This economy has reached $1.6 trillion in the U.S., a 29% increase since 2010.

To determine the global impact of the 'Switching Economy', Accenture surveyed 23,665 consumers worldwide regarding their marketing, sales and service experiences. All results were shared in the Global Consumer Pulse Research report.

A key takeaway from the report is that consumers are seeking more digital experiences to drive their decision-making process. As many as 78% of respondents use at least one online channel while looking for a new service providers, while 24% said they want more digital interactions with organizations.

{loadposition GIAA}Are businesses successfully delivering these digitally connected experiences? Not quite, according to the research. Only 11% of consumers strongly agree that companies are successfully converging digital, mobile, social and traditional channels.

“Many established companies are reacting too slowly to the needs of today’s ‘non-stop customers’, and consequently, they are seeing both a customer exodus and a decrease in their revenue potential,” said Robert Wollan, Senior Managing Director at Accenture Strategy. “While many companies have been chasing the opportunity digital brings, they have not addressed the root causes of the problems that are exposed when they don’t execute well. Companies have been focused only on ‘doing the same things better’ when these issues really require them to ‘do things differently’.”

Loyalty Remains A Moving Target

As a result of consumers having access to more options and buying channels, they are feeling, overall, less loyal to businesses. Only 28% of U.S. consumers feel very loyal toward providers and only 31% would be willing to recommend companies to friends, family members and peers. 

Many consumers also do not believe they are receiving exemplary service, which is hindering their willingness to be loyal to a brand or retailer. In fact, the top three frustrations among U.S. consumers include:

  • The inability to solve an issue during the first interaction (86%);
  • Lengthy hold times (85%); and
  • Interacting with service representatives who cannot answer questions (84%).

Despite consumers being more apt to switching brands and providers, there is an opportunity for retailers to win shoppers back. More than one quarter (27%) of consumers said they would consider returning to a previous provider, especially if the price is right (56%) and if they have a superior product or service (47%).

Click here to download the complete Accenture report.


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Tue, 10 Feb 2015 11:27:57 -0500
Taking Things Personally: How Connected Data Enables Personalized Customer Courtship Taking Things Personally: How Connected Data Enables Personalized Customer Courtship

VP OrderDynamics head shot1The retail environments we recognize today have seen a massive transformation since the storefronts of the 1500s in the English countryside. Each had a sign, a storefront and an owner, serving the unique and very personalized needs of residents in the surrounding hamlets — the clothiers, the haberdashery, the grocery, the cobblers, the butcher and the blacksmith. Owners knew every patron and family by name, along with their inseam measurements, shoe size, weekly grocery list and personal wardrobe preferences.

Since then, retail has come a long way with store design, staffing, inventory and scope. However, it has in many ways lost its focus on knowledge of the customer’s true needs, as retailers have used averages or groupings to scale their merchandising decisions. Further, personalized interactions have fallen adrift with the introduction of today’s mass market selling strategies across brick-and-mortar stores and e-Commerce sites.

{loadposition GIAA}With today’s consumers openly preferring a shopping experience that fosters connections and builds relationships, it’s no surprise that personalization tops the list of priorities among retailers in 2015. According to Gartner, less than 10% of Tier 1 retailers are highly effective at personalization, and nearly one-third report having limited or no capability to support personalized initiatives. Yet, consumers clearly desire a personalized experience. More than half of respondents in a recent Gartner consumer survey reported that they are willing to receive real-time personalized offers to a mobile device for immediate redemption.

Leading retailers understand the absolute requirement to return back to basics on what it really means to bring personalization to the shopping experience.

Connect Siloed Data Channels For An Enterprise Strategy That Meets Customer Expectations

With numerous channels, touch points and unlimited data at our fingertips, there’s a wide world of personalized possibilities within reach. Winning retailers understand the need to harness that power and transform a mundane and impersonal routine into a tailored and comfortable shopping experience that meets the needs of each and every customer.

However, most retailers have business tools that seek to execute decisions that are focused on averages, zones, groups or some other surrogate for the individual consumer. Retailers have long moved past the need for more data or more insights.  What the best retailers report they are looking for is an understanding of what should be done (a recommendation) given the behaviors of the consumer (described by data strewn across the enterprise) and the conditions of inventory and competition.  

Unfortunately, the consumer is understood in bite-sized chunks throughout the organization and most retailers do not have tools that join all enterprise information. Because of the massive amount of data and minimally effective tools on the market to provide valuable context, it can be difficult for retailers to see what is accurately occurring in their stores and affecting the supply chain, inventory and customer satisfaction across all channels.

Retailers must connect siloed data outputs in order to see a single, seamless view of the retail enterprise. In turn, they will be able to meet and exceed a customer’s expectations for a personalized retail experience. Here are a few key tenants of crafting a personalized relationship with customers:

Promote Available Inventory With Marketing To Drive Shopper Demand

The retailers that prioritize serving their customers' needs better than their competitors need to promote available inventory to win. This sounds simplistic, but is often a significant challenge for most retailers with operational siloes and with a lack of holistic data insight across the enterprise.

Focusing on consumer preferences with a simultaneous understanding of inventory availability allows retailers to meet shopper expectations through personalized experiences and offers, as well as lower excess inventory on items that have historically been left out of marketing campaigns or promotional pushes. Retailers can promote inventory to the shoppers that are most likely to be interested in purchasing, letting consumer preferences drive full price sell-through of excess inventory.

By connecting channels and order data, retailers can see every touch point of the enterprise that affect the customer journey to make operational and marketing decisions that positively impact the bottom line.

Achieve One View Of The Customer, And Shape Their One View Of You

Winning retailers will achieve one view of the customer across all channels unlocking their ability to understand, target and win at the moment of truth — the order — be it in-store or online.

A new breed of retail software is required to gather, evaluate and provide actionable insights and deliver true prescriptive recommendations. While back-end data analysis is the biggest component, retailers that invest incrementally in store technology can enable insightful interactions between store associates and shoppers that enable a more intimate relationship. Appreciation and understanding is a two-way street; if retailers take the time to understand their shoppers and deliver intimacy, shoppers will discover a deeper sense of engagement and affiliation with their products and services.

An industry shift toward personalized retailing is not a marketing-only initiative, but an enterprise-wide effort that requires the right organizational structure, data reconciliation and a deep understanding of your valued customer base. The end goal is well worth it. After all, consumers long for the time of in-depth understanding that was once the hallmark of the local shopkeeper.  

By connecting the data and getting a clear view of each shopper’s personal set of preferences and purchase history, retailers will be able to deliver on the promise of a truly personalized shopping experience, every time.

At the end of the day, creating lasting customer relationships through personalization requires retailers to use their data wisely by:

  1. Exposing all enterprise data to all decision makers;

  2. Connecting the data through artificial intelligence to begin to truly understand the consumer and the challenges/opportunities of the enterprise; and

  3. Using technology that recommends actions based on this new understanding and offers a holistic and honest view of the enterprise and the consumer.

As CMO of OrderDynamics, Kevin Sterneckert leads all internal and external communication and marketing activities. With more than 20 years of comprehensive retail experience, Sterneckert brings a keen understanding of the challenges retailers face to his role as CMO. Previous to his appointment to CMO of OrderDynamics, Kevin served as a Gartner Research Vice President and lead retail analyst where he oversaw analysis of hundreds of retail-focused software solutions each year.  His thought leadership and recognized expertise helped retailers and software companies understand the possibilities of Big Data, the future of merchandising and the path to creating excellence in the supply chain. Sterneckert also served as senior director of global product strategy at Oracle Retail, and as the vice president of retail for DemandTec.

]]> (Kevin Sterneckert, OrderDynamics) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 09 Feb 2015 12:05:11 -0500 Expands Secure Rewards To All Consumers Expands Secure Rewards To All Consumers

SS ImageWhen effective, personalized deals, offers and messages can help retailers foster long-term engagement and loyalty.

To ensure customer data remains secure, has unveiled the retail rewards marketplace, which is designed to help retail brands target influencers and consumer segments with exclusive offers, while protecting them from fraud.

The marketplace extends coverage from niche affinity groups such as the military, first responders and students to all retail consumers. The solution rewards these consumers with increased cash back and special coupons from numerous retail partners. currently powers affinity marketing programs for Dell,, Uber and Under Armour and more than 100 other leading retailers.

The U.S. Department of Commerce named one of the top five identity products in the U.S. in 2013, issuing the company a $2.8 million grant. Prior to the grant, secured $16 million in equity and venture debt financing.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 09 Feb 2015 11:59:57 -0500
NET-Count Provides Detailed Store Traffic Intelligence NET-Count Provides Detailed Store Traffic Intelligence

SS Net-Count ImageTraffic counting solutions can help retailers understand how many consumers visit a store throughout the day, week or even month, providing them with detailed intelligence to improve staffing and the overall in-store experience.

CountWise has added NET-Count, a traffic intelligence device, to its suite of Shape Recognition Technology (SRT) solutions. NET-Count combines shape recognition with motion detection and tracking to count in-store customer traffic with 95% accuracy.

One central NET-Count video processing device can monitor up to four entrances or zones in a store, reducing the solution’s costs and producing a plethora of real-time traffic data. The product distinguishes counting for adults, children and carts.

NET-Count does not require hosting or ongoing processing and reporting charges, so the retailer has access to data at all times.

More than 55,000 locations worldwide tout the NET-Count technology, including Allen Edmonds, Bentley, Cartier, Forever 21, Gucci, Harry Winston, Havertys, HBC, Helzberg Diamonds, Lord & Taylor, Tesco, Tiffany & Co. and Tory Burch.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 09 Feb 2015 11:54:48 -0500
Macy’s And Nordstrom Are Most Buzzed About On Social Media Macy’s And Nordstrom Are Most Buzzed About On Social Media

RR Infegy imageBy monitoring social media feedback and conversations, brands and retailers can determine how top-of-mind they are with consumers.

Of all brands and retailers, Macy’s is the most talked about, with up to nine million shopping-related social media posts being published about the retailer, according to a report from social media monitoring company Infegy. The posts revealed that Nordstrom generated the most purchase-related posts, and most consumers perceived the brand as having the highest product quality and attractiveness.

{loadposition GIAA}To conduct the report, Infegy analyzed online conversations from the top 18 most-mentioned retailers. Conversations took place on blogs, forums and social media channels within between 2012 and 2014. The report, which was released in August 2014, sorted the retailers into four tiers:

  • Luxury;

  • Mid-range;

  • Budget; and

  • Discount.

Barneys New York had the highest discussion rate of shoppers 24 years old and younger, while Nordstrom Rack had the highest rate of conversations for 25-34 year olds. Burlington Coat Factory and Macy’s garnered the most online engagement for consumers 55 and older.

Women account for 68% of all collected posts, ranging as high as 80% for TJ Maxx. Men comment the most on Walmart, accounting for almost half (48%) of its conversations.

The survey also measured family purchasing behaviors, by tracking social posts from parents discussing what their children needed. Overall, family purchasing discussions decreased from 2012 to 2013, with only Dillard’s and TJ Maxx/Marshalls experiencing a year-over-year boost.

Although Black Friday ads and conversations increased from 2012 to 2013, negative sentiment in posts increased from 31% to 37%. At the same time, statements indicating plans to purchase fell from 6.2% to 3.6%, while comments about actual purchases declined from 4.7% to 2.1%.

Online advertising saw a dramatic shift from 2012 to 2013, with retail presence largely moving from winter to fall. With the exception of Neiman Marcus, each retailer had its lowest digital presence during winter 2013. Unlike the rest of the retailers analyzed, Burlington Coat Factory accelerated its digital advertising during spring 2013.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Social Mon, 09 Feb 2015 09:00:00 -0500
Retailers Embrace Omnichannel Fulfillment Strategies To Exceed Customer Expectations Retailers Embrace Omnichannel Fulfillment Strategies To Exceed Customer Expectations

Following is Part 1 of the report, titled: How To Choose The Right Delivery Models. This feature will outline delivery and fulfillment trends from the 2014 holiday season and reveal which retailers are embracing newer tactics such as ship-from-store and in-store pickup.

A true omnichannel shopping experience is the ultimate value proposition retailers can offer their customers, and the order delivery and fulfillment experience is a vital part of this new shopping journey. To succeed, retailers must allow shoppers to receive their items at any time, and through any channel.

{loadposition GIAA}With Amazon offering more convenient shipping options, such as free shipping through its Prime service and one-hour shipping in New York City, customers are expecting their shopping experiences to be easier, faster and even cheaper.

“Amazon Prime let the genie out of the bottle,” said Eleanor Powers, Head of Proprietary Research and Acting CFO at L2. “Retailers are having to subsidize free shipping in order to compete. Now, speed of fulfillment is the next area of competition. As retailers have fought back against Amazon with omnichannel delivery and returns options that leverage their store locations as a competitive advantage, consumer expectations are increasing with this regard as well.Retailers are having to increase their investments in inventory visibility and fulfillment capabilities.”

Retailers such as Best Buy, Macy’s, Shoe Carnival and Target are ramping up their delivery and fulfillment strategies by offering:

  • Buy online, pickup in-store (also called click and collect);

  • Buy in-store, ship to home;

  • Ship-from-store;

  • Same day/on-demand delivery.

Nordstrom And Zappos Meet Bold Shipping Promises During The Holiday Season

During the 2014 holiday season, online sales reached an all-time high. To meet and exceed shopper expectations, many retailers made bold promises, guaranteeing on-time delivery of all gifts, even if customers ordered them at the last minute.

Apple, Dell, Nordstrom and Zappos were among the businesses that not only set the bar high for fast shipping during the holidays, but also delivered on their promises. All four brands guaranteed delivery by Christmas Day for online orders placed as late as Dec. 23, 2014. To measure the effectiveness of various holiday delivery methods, customer service performance monitor StellaService placed four orders with 40 different retailers on their respective Christmas Day cutoff dates. Upon arrival of the packages, the company discovered that the four retailers that offered the latest cutoff date all delivered their packages on time.

Retail consulting firm Kurt Salmon conducted a similar experiment in December 2014, placing two orders with 50 different retailers on their cutoff dates. Similar to the StellaService survey, Kurt Salmon found Nordstrom and Zappos, as well as Staples and REI, to be the top performers of the season. The survey found that only 13% of orders did not make it to shoppers in time for Christmas, an improvement from the 15% failure rate in 2013. Additionally, the research found that none of the late deliveries could be attributed to carriers such as FedEx and UPS, whereas 44% were attributed to them in 2013.

Holidays Bring New Opportunities For Target And Shoe Carnival

The holiday season also gave businesses the opportunity to be more creative with their delivery models.

In an Amazon-like maneuver, Target waived its standard shipping fee for all purchases on made from late October 2014 through Dec. 20, 2014. With this move, Target hoped to revive a consumer base that had been dormant following the retailer’s data breach that took place between November and December 2013. The introduction of free shipping, combined with the increasing popularity of the Cartwheel digital couponing app, contributed to a record holiday season that saw Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday e-Commerce sales increase 40% over 2013.

By Dec. 20, doubled its holiday sales year over year, according to a company statement.

Shoe Carnival is another retailer that revamped its fulfillment strategy just before the holiday season. The retailer partnered with eBay Enterprise in September 2014 to deploy order management and ship-from-store capabilities. As the retailer’s inventory scalability improved, it also saw an increase in conversions and customer satisfaction, and a decrease in shipping costs throughout the holiday season.

“Our holiday results were tremendous versus last year,” said Kent Zimmerman, VP of E-Commerce at Shoe Carnival. “We think that it was a matter of making some usability changes to the site, docking the right inventory. Our ability to leverage our distribution center as well as our stores put us in a place where we were able to fulfill a lot of high-volume orders over a short period of time and take that off of the store operations personnel, but at the same time, continue to do business as normal. With a higher volume, spread across multiple stores, we were able to get product to the customers quicker.”

Shipping From Store

ShoeCarnival is one of many retailers adopting “ship-from-store” as a means to extend the omnichannel delivery experience beyond the warehouse. Kurt Salmon 2014 holiday shipping data estimated that as many as 50% of major retailers would use ship-from-store technology throughout the holiday season, a substantial increase from the 15% projected in 2013.

With ship-from-store, retailers can turn their brick-and-mortar stores into fulfillment centers so consumers can receive orders from the closest location instead of a central warehouse. The benefits of the method include faster delivery and access to a larger product assortment.

Retailers can implement this method without having to disrupt the customer-facing aspects of the brand experience. No changes need to be made to the store layout, purchasing process or e-Commerce site appearance. Therefore, the consumer shopping experience is enhanced through all channels without the consumer even knowing it.

“In theory, our customers should never really see this,” Zimmerman said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “This is not necessarily an option that we’re giving them. If they were shopping on our site one day when we were working with our third party logistics provider, and then shopping the next day with our new system in place, they wouldn’t have noticed anything different other than the fact that there was so much more inventory available to them. We believe our customer satisfaction metrics are going up because we’re providing more product to the customer, which is what they’re looking for.”

Best Buy, Macy’s, Target and Walmart also have successfully added ship-from-store to their delivery strategies. Best Buy, in particular, has seen a massive surge in e-Commerce sales since presenting the option in January 2014, increasing year-over-year online revenue by approximately 22%. From October 2013 to April 2014, the average delivery time for Best Buy (3.3 days) was actually faster than that of Amazon (3.6 days), according to data from StellaService. The retailer is arguably the biggest ship-from-store success story thus far, with its stock expected to boost 20% in 2015 to $45 per share, according to Barrons.

Macy’s completed the rollout of its ship-from-store program in the spring of 2014 to all Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s locations, while Walmart currently ships out of 83 Supercenters. Target rolled out its ship-from-store program in 2014 as well, with 136 of its stores now equipped to fulfill online orders. As a result, Target is now equipped to reach approximately 91% of U.S. households by ground transit within one or two days, according to TheStreet.

Although it seems that many major retailers have hopped on the ship-from-store bandwagon, the majority of the industry is still lagging behind. In fact, a Shopatron e-Commerce study conducted in November 2014 revealed that 59% of retailers said they did not have plans to deploy new order fulfillment solutions such as ship-from-store or in-store pickup. The study also noted that 71% of retailers do not have a position in their company with “omnichannel” in the title, calling into question the breadth of resources many retailers actually have in planning and executing these initiatives.

“Shipping from store is obviously a big opportunity for retailers, but then you’re taking in-store associates and in-store square footage and dedicating it to logistics,” said Gregg Aamoth, Co-Founder of omnichannel commerce solutions provider POPcodes. “Those options are for companies that haven’t invested much in central distribution facilities yet, and get a chance to spread their logistics out across the geography to reduce shipping costs in time.”

Leveraging Webrooming To Successfully Deploy In-Store Pickup

While ship-from-store is gaining steam among major retailers, there are other fulfillment/delivery options that they have adopted, including in-store pickup. With in-store pickup, retailers have the ability to re-engage customers and drive further sales once they enter the store.

For customers, the value of in-store pickup is the ability for them to order an item on a desktop or mobile device and then pick it up while they are already out and about. Retailers can emphasize in-store pickup as a way to complement webrooming, which is the process of researching products online before entering the store. In a Retail TouchPoints guest blog post, Gary Edwards, Chief Customer Officer at Empathica, explained that 88% of consumers are actively webrooming.

“Every channel and touch point produces data that retailers can leverage to understand customer behaviors and to improve customer experiences,” Edwards explained. “More than ever, retailers need to monitor, measure and analyze multichannel customer feedback to optimize webrooming opportunities and create customer experiences that meet real marketplace needs.”

An overwhelming 86% of consumers want more retailers to add buy online, pickup in-store to their arsenal of shipping methods, according to a WD Partners report, titled: The Next Killer App: Stores.

“A significant amount of e-Commerce sales growth consists of omnichannel or buy online, pickup in-store,” Aamoth of POPcodes said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Macy’s, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Sears — all of the big retailers that have reported ongoing significant growth in their e-Commerce channels — have simultaneously reported significant shifts of customer behavior to pickup in-store.”

A former VP of Customer Marketing Systems and Privacy at Macy’s, Aamoth noted that pickup in-store drives more than 30% of the retailer’s total e-Commerce sales. He also explained that many retailers utilizing in-store pickup would report the sales through e-Commerce, although technically, the logistics and final purchase are conducted inside the brick-and-mortar store.

“I think it’s appropriate to recognize that initial product purchase as an e-Commerce purchase, but the fulfilling goes through to the store and they get the opportunity to sell additional products to the customer, so it’s a win-win for the merchant,” Aamoth stated. “It’s a win-win for the consumer as well, because they get that immediacy of buying the product when they want to buy it and getting the product when they want to get it. As long as the in-store fulfillment process is smooth, it meets all of those needs. I don’t have to pay more, I don’t have to wait longer, and it’s a pretty easy process to understand.”

Most still credit the brick-and-mortar store for bringing in the most sales, with 79% of retailers stating it as a primary source of revenue, according the Retail TouchPoints survey, The Omnichannel Challenge: Strategies That Work. The survey noted that 71% listed e-Commerce as a primary revenue driver.

Of course, the key to success, like every delivery point, is the implementation of the model itself. A StellaService study determined that buy online, pickup in-store services at 11 big box retailers saved an average of only 96 seconds over simply buying the item in the store.

The study determined that three major factors drive the success of a retailer’s buy online, pickup in-store strategy:

  • How quickly a retailer notifies the consumer that an order is ready;

  • The shopper’s ease in finding the online order pickup area; and

  • The associate’s ability to quickly pick and pack the order at the checkout desk.

However, many retailers are still early in implementing and refining their strategies, according to Kevon Hills, VP of Research at StellaService. But “if buy online, pickup in-store proves popular with consumers, you can expect retailers to continue to invest in a more efficient process.”

Ship-from-store and buy online, pickup in-store are not the only effective models designed to create a true omnichannel shopping and delivery experience. In part 2 of this feature, industry experts will share insights regarding how retailers can optimize their supply chains to facilitate omnichannel fulfillment, outline the growth of same-day delivery, as well as the difficulties experienced before and after implementing omnichannel delivery models.

Part 2 of this feature will appear in the February 17 newsletter.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Special Reports Mon, 09 Feb 2015 11:05:44 -0500
Resilient Loyalty: A Retail Value Proposition For The 21st Century Resilient Loyalty: A Retail Value Proposition For The 21st Century

VP site only ThoughtWorks headshotWhat we’ve come to call loyalty is badly broken. Businesses have let themselves slip into a mass-market definition of loyalty that isn’t pretty. We foster fear and pander to greed all the while pretending its love.  

Deeply disruptive changes are on the horizon that will make this shallow engagement obsolete. Fortunately, these same forces offer a new path for building individual relationships that merit something closer to true loyalty.

Failing Visions Of Loyalty

The concept of a trusted brand emerged in the 20th Century in response to a marketplace that was generally opaque and worrisome to consumers. In the 1960s, Americans traveling along one of the new interstate highways didn’t know which motels or diners were clean or safe, but they knew that a Holiday Inn or McDonalds would provide good, reliable value.

Today, the buyer’s need for trusted brands has been undermined by unprecedented market transparency driven by the likes of Yelp, Facebook and Angie’s List. In the past, customers may have been fearful of trying an unknown product, but that simply isn’t a problem anymore. We do not need to be loyal because we are afraid.

Loyalty point programs may seem to be on firmer ground, but that is hardly the case. History shows that these costly programs thrive during periods of market commodification, and today, largely undifferentiated industries like airlines, hotels, and credit cards turn to customer bribes when they have few other opportunities to distinguish themselves.  

These are not programs that foster love. They are more like expensive investments to drive an addiction. When the bribes fail, buyer dollars move and consumer anger spreads across social media. An estimated $10 billion in business moved between competitors following a downsizing of hotel loyalty programs.  

Disruptive Serial Innovators Change The Game

When genuinely original competitors emerge in the market, they can leap frog incumbents weighed down by lookalike products and the cost of loyalty programs.
During the mid-20th Century, S&H Green Stamps pioneered spend-and-get loyalty, printing more stamps than the US Post Office. Yet they disappeared along with their five and dime clients when new, sophisticated retail models entered the market and reshaped the entire sector.   

Today, retail, travel, finance and almost every other industry, are entering a period of unprecedented disruption. Rapid advancements in technology, falling barriers to market access, and an explosion in the number of empowered competitors have combined to drive established business propositions into obsolescence with ever-accelerating speed.    

As disruptive change becomes increasingly commonplace, loyalty programs that presume a stable and commodified marketplace won’t survive. Today’s new competitors enter the marketplace in ways that undercut incumbents along every major dimension: Cost, quality and value. Loyalty as usual won’t survive these attacks. Companies can’t create the façade of trust, or pay a bribe for love if no one even wants their services.

A New Kind Of Value-Based Loyalty

Hypercompetitive markets force businesses to become serial innovators. New sources of value, not just more points, are required. Fortunately, there are exceptional new opportunities to offer genuinely different products, services and experiences to customers, building intimacy at a level that hasn’t been possible through most of the mass-market era.

Three big developments in technology are intersecting to create an incredibly powerful ecosystem for innovating highly personalized contextual value. Big Data drives unprecedented consumer insight. The Internet of Things empowers this insight with a million ubiquitous touch points, and the Cloud opens the door to an unlimited number of providers who can deliver to a customer’s unique moment of need.  

Consider the commonplace act of putting on makeup for an evening out. Imagine Fernanda receives a dinner invitation on her phone late in the afternoon. In the world of Big Data, information about the evening’s weather, drawn from public weather data available in the cloud, can be combined with updates about planned lighting levels from the restaurant’s automated building management system. She is automatically provided with insights into and recommendations for tonight’s event.

Now we put that knowledge to use. Rebecca Minkoff and eBay recently launched a smart dressing room, improving a traditional in-store buying experience. That same technology could be leveraged to produce much greater intimacy and value in the home. So, when Fernanda arrives home and takes a dress from the closet, her home network of interconnected devices all share in the knowledge that she’s wearing a green silk dress.  

We can even match this with observations about her current skin tone as seen in the mirror. Perhaps she picked up a nice tan that weekend, and it becomes possible to recommend a highly personalized makeup plan, tailored to her individual complexion, that can be displayed in the mirror itself. Her surroundings become a true partner in her daily life.  

Replacing The Old Loyalty

This is just a fraction of the emerging ecosystem for creating personalized value.  There are no targeted coupons or points to break a tie among lookalike competitors.  There is a real reason for continued engagement based on the intimate knowledge that can be woven into daily life.

This is a big disruption. We can stop paying bribes. We can stop trying to make people be afraid. Instead we can be serial innovators of personalized value. We can create the kind of service and engagement that largely vanished a hundred years ago, but is waiting to be reborn today. A lot of loyal customers are waiting.         

Dan McClure is the Innovation Design Practice Lead at ThoughtWorks. He has extensive experience and enthusiasm for blowing up the status quo. He has spent over 30 years as an insurgent innovator for organizations ranging from automotive manufacturers to educational institutions. Today he leads Innovation Design for ThoughtWorks in North America.


]]> (Dan McClure, ThoughtWorks) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 09 Feb 2015 10:56:29 -0500
Super Bowl Social Activity Reaches New Heights, But Brands Fail To Capitalize Super Bowl Social Activity Reaches New Heights, But Brands Fail To Capitalize

Over the years, the Super Bowl has evolved from the must-see event for sports fanatics, to a cultural phenomenon of sorts. Now, football fans or not, consumers across the country tune in to the Super Bowl to catch the latest ads from brands and, of course, the half time show.

This year's Big Game brought in the highest ratings for any Super Bowl to date, garnering a 49.7 rating in 56 metropolitan markets across the U.S., according to Nielsen. The Associated Press indicated that this stat means nearly half of homes in those areas were watching the game.

On Facebook, up to 65 million people talked about the game, with 265 million individual posts, comments or "likes," according to the social network. Viewers generated approximately 28.4 million tweets throughout the game, a 14% increase over the 2014 Super Bowl.

{loadposition GIAA}The spike in social activity potentially reaffirms what all brands and advertisers believe: The Super Bowl can be a prime time to capture eyes and dollars. This year, there were 56 ads dispersed throughout the game's entirety. Each 30-second ad cost approximately $4.5 million, and commercials between 45 seconds and a minute cost up to $8 million, according to Nasdaq.

The top five most-mentioned brands on social media during Super Bowl XLIX, according to Salesforce, were:

  • Budweiser (22% share of social buzz);

  • Nationwide (17% share of social buzz);

  • Skittles (7% share of social buzz);

  • Doritos (5% share of social buzz); and

  • McDonald's (5% share of social buzz).

In terms of brand sentiment, Doritos, Budweiser and McDonald's skewed most favorably.

On the over end of the spectrum, Nationwide was hit with a barrage of negative feedback for its Super Bowl ad. Up to 64% of the social updates regarding the commercial were negative, according to research from Amobee Brand Intelligence.

To boost social activity and buzz, half of the 56 ads touted hash tags. But what impact did these tactics have on word-of-mouth and overall marketing effectiveness?

Not much, according to analysis from Jeff Rohrs, VP of Marketing Insights at Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

"The average time a hash tag was on screen during a Super Bowl commercial was less than one second," Rohrs explained. "Not even the most adept texting tweenager can capture and type a hashtag that fast. But only GoDaddy,, and the marketing brains behind The Kingsman movie seem to understand that. They were the only ads in which a hashtag appeared on screen for the entire ad. Otherwise, only Budweiser (#UpForWhatever) and Procter & Gamble (#LikeAGirl) leveraged well-established, pre-existing hash tags in their ads."

Rohrs also argued that Super Bowl advertisers failed to engage mobile consumers who were using their devices to update social networks during the Big Game. He indicated that more ads contained phone numbers than calls-to-action to download mobile apps or engage via text message.

"In order to generate direct results from a TV commercial, you must ask the viewer to do something specific on their device," Rohrs said. "You can't take a customer on a journey with you unless you prompt the first step."

Want to see the Retail TouchPoints team's feedback on Super Bowl Ads? Click here to access the blog.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Fri, 06 Feb 2015 09:58:04 -0500
Café Britt Increases Email Open Rates By 18% With AgilOne Café Britt Increases Email Open Rates By 18% With AgilOne

Retailers are implementing more personalized messages, offers and campaigns to engage with consumers and drive ongoing revenue.

Café Britt, a gourmet coffee and chocolate retailer, selected predictive marketing provider AgilOne to craft customized campaigns such as abandoned browse reminders, smart product recommendations and reactivation offers.

{loadposition GIAA}Within six months of implementing AgilOne, Café Britt saw an 18% increase in email open rates and a 15% increase in conversion rates. The retailer also was able to bring back 9% of its inactive customers through birthday and anniversary campaigns.

“The best part is, once we started putting these campaigns in place, we started some seeing results after two weeks,” said Sourav Sharma, Head of Online Marketing and E-Commerce at Café Britt. “We gave it more time to see whether that positive trend continued. We are confident that these kinds of campaigns definitely drive a decent revenue for us that otherwise wouldn’t have been in place.”

Café Britt has stores in 11 countries and plans to open in three more. Each store is tailored to the design preferences and culture of each region. The e-Commerce site offers gourmet coffee options from Colombia, Costa Rica and Peru.

Using the AgilOne platform, Café Britt can segment customers by product preferences and buying behaviors, and then use this information to deliver more relevant content. For example, the retailer is now able to group customers who only buy chocolate products, understand the flavors they tend to buy and more accurately cross-sell to these customers with coffee products they may like.

“During our kickoff call with the AgilOne reps, we designed some objectives that we wanted to accomplish out of the partnership,” Sharma said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Our biggest goal was to increase the number of active customers we had, and bring back a lot of the older customers who were not coming back.”

However, Café Britt is in the midst of remodeling its web site, and has put campaigns on hold. Once the new site is launched, Café Britt will focus more extensively on re-engaging consumers who abandon the browsing experience. The retailer also plans to implement a “restarting” campaign that incentivizes consumers to make a second purchase.

“Café Britt has been known for delivering an amazing coffee from the best regions and locations, but a lot of new customers in particular are not being educated the way they should be,” Sharma stated. “One of the things we have designed using AgilOne is our welcome series that is doing an amazing job for us so far. With the new web site coming in, there will be a lot more content, how-to videos, videos of the roasting process of how the chocolates are being made. A customer who buys only chocolates or a customer who buys only coffee from different regions will be catered content that is pretty much related to that.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Fri, 06 Feb 2015 08:00:00 -0500
Niemann Foods Engages In-Store Shoppers With Personalized App Experiences Niemann Foods Engages In-Store Shoppers With Personalized App Experiences

Niemann Foods, a grocer operating under the County Market brand, has implemented the Shopper Engagement platform from locations analytics provider Birdzi. Currently deployed in eight County Market stores, the platform is integrated into the grocer’s mobile app and paired with iBeacon technology placed throughout the store to provide shoppers with personalized services and offers. Niemann Foods plans to roll out the solution to all 45 of its locations in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri by Q2 2015.

Since implementing Birdzi, Niemann Foods has reported several thousand downloads of the County Market mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android devices. Recent data from Niemann shows “higher-than-industry-average” mobile app retention rates and in-store shopper engagement, according to a company statement.

“From day one, the Birdzi team has also provided us with an attention to detail and responsiveness that is second to none,” said Ron Cook, VP and Director of Marketing at Niemann Foods. “Birdzi has provided us with more than just a mobile app. We now have a complete target marketing solution that our customers have fully embraced as part of their shopping experience in our County Market stores.”

Niemann Foods also utilizes the Shopper Engagement platform to support its loyalty program, create and manage campaigns designed to grow shopper value, promote products and categories and maximize shopper traffic through the store.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 05 Feb 2015 16:14:17 -0500
Credorax Adds Visa Alum To Board Of Directors Credorax Adds Visa Alum To Board Of Directors

JoshFloumOnline payment processor and bank services acquirer Credorax has named Joshua Floum Chairman of its Board of Directors. In this role, Floum will further facilitate the company’s growth in merchant acquisition.

Prior to joining Credorax, Floum served as the EVP and General Counsel at Visa. Reporting directly to the CEO, Floum also served on the Visa Executive Committee and helped guide the company through its merger and birth as a global public company. He devised the company’s “retrospective responsibility” plan, and built Visa’s legal and government relation departments to global world-class scale. 

“With licenses now solidified across Europe and Japan and in the near future in the U.S., Credorax is on the brink of becoming the first global smart acquirer,” said Benny Nachman, CEO of Credorax. “It is therefore critical that we move forward with an even stronger global board of directors. Josh’s proven success at Visa makes him a natural to serve as our chairman. He is able to draw upon his experiences to deliver the perfect balance of legal expertise, leadership skills and deep knowledge of the intricacies of payments.”

Earlier in his career, Floum served as Chairman of the California litigation practice of Holme, Roberts & Owen, and specialized in antitrust and competition law, intellectual property, bankcard and banking practices, and telecommunications law. Floum also took on several pro bono cases while a Senior Partner at Heller, Ehrman, White & McAuliffe.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Thu, 05 Feb 2015 15:42:18 -0500
Caché Files For Bankruptcy Caché Files For Bankruptcy

Women’s apparel retailer Caché has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, making it the fifth mall-based retailer to file over the last three months. Body Central, Deb Shops, Delia’s and Wet Seal all have filed for bankruptcy protection since December 2014.

Caché intends to continue to operate its business as usual, according to a company statement. Salus Capital Partners, the retailer’s lender, will provide up to $22 million in debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing to fund operations during the process. The retailer will close some of its 218 stores and renegotiate leases as part of the proceedings. The retailer also has a contingency plan in place, seeking proposals from experienced liquidators to serve as a “stalking horse purchaser” for its assets.

The Caché Board of Directors determined in December 2014 that the company needed to explore and evaluate strategic alternatives including a possible merger, sale or other form of business combination.

“We took this action today with the goal of securing Caché’s future,” said Jay Margolis, Chairman and CEO of Caché. "Our team has been working tirelessly to implement a turnaround. In a short period of time, we upgraded key stores and closed unprofitable ones; launched a more vibrant and robust e-Commerce site where conversion has doubled; and have seen same store comp sales from our 2014 holiday season increase 9.5%, with this positive momentum continuing through January. However, the depressed brick and mortar retail market, the continued growth of online shopping, and rapidly changing consumer tastes and habits thwarted our efforts.”

Caché has not reported a profit over the past nine financial quarters. On Jan. 27, 2015, NASDAQ notified the retailer that it was in the process of the delisting the retailer’s shares. Caché will not appeal the decision.

Cache owes Salus $16.43 million on the pre-bankruptcy facility and another $11.36 million in trade debt, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company owes more than $1 million to both Simon Property Group Inc. and General Growth Properties Inc. and has defaulted on 50 of its leases.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 05 Feb 2015 12:06:25 -0500
Encouraging Innovation And Organizational Change Encouraging Innovation And Organizational Change

During his tenure at Hudson’s Bay Company as SVP of Corporate Strategy, Ryan Craver helped the retailer implement a multitude of innovative marketing and engagement concepts.

In February 2014, Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor implemented Pounce, a mobile app that allows consumers to scan and buy items in circulars directly through their mobile devices.

Throughout the year, the retailers also successfully implemented iBeacon technology in stores. Prior to the holiday season, 50 Lord & Taylor stores and 90 Hudson’s Bay locations were equipped with the technology, allowing consumers to receive tailored mobile messages as they ventured through the store.

“Generally speaking, department stores have been on this downward trend in terms of sales,” Craver said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor were two of the oldest operating department stores in North America. So we wanted to make sure that everyone was motivated and excited to come to work because they were going to help us evolve the next phase of retail.”

{loadposition GIAA}Now an investor, advisor and mentor for different organizations, Craver is helping retailers embrace — and even encourage — disruption. However, with many organizations still battling technological and organizational silos, how can retailers take that leap without losing site of who they really are?

“Retailers need to embrace heritage yet harness innovation,” Craver explained. “The No. 1 learning throughout my career is how influential that statement needs to be and how many people need to buy into that slogan.”

Pointing to the beacon rollout as an example, Craver explained that although the technology is easy to implement, “it took 20,000 associates across the organization to make it successful because we were spread so far and wide.” Retailers also need to take the following strategic steps to ignite excitement and joy within the organization, which will eventually encourage change:

  • Take small, calculated bets: “Have a group of employees within the organizations that are young Millennials and are the voice of the modern consumer,” Craver said. “They are the ones that are well aware of what’s happening outside of retail.”

  • Show team members how organizations outside of retail are pushing the envelope. OpenTable is one company that is innovating within the restaurant industry. Although many consumers use the app to book reservations, some markets have the ability to order directly via their phone, swipe to pay and even book an Uber cab ride at the end of the dining experience.

    “When I showed this example to retailers, I asked them why we couldn’t create the same experience,” Craver said. “For example, what if a customer could bring an item to the dressing room, complete the transaction through their phone and schedule their Uber so it arrives as soon as they’re finished?” 

  • Consider strategic partners: Retailers also can work with startups to build up their arsenal of innovative technologies and business concepts. For multi-million or billion-dollar businesses, the initial impact on new technology rollouts is “so tiny and no one really cares,” Craver noted. “Startups can work with retailers to do what I call ‘cheap and cheerful projects’ that are potentially very impactful down the road and help you get ahead of the curve.”

    Craver added that retailers “won’t be able to drive disruption and innovation internally until they find those strategic partnerships.”

The Role Of The Innovation Lab

Retailers such as Nordstrom, Target, Walmart and Zappos have invested in innovation labs to test new tools and technologies that improve the customer experience. However, retailers are at different levels of technological maturity, which is influencing their overall approach to innovation labs.

“The retailers that know they need to push their money towards digital have gone well beyond just an innovation lab,” Craver said. Companies like Walmart “have moved their mobile or digital groups out to San Francisco, Israel or have acquired companies. They believe they’re going to bring that acquisition in-house and execute new ideas themselves.”

Other organizations, such as Nordstrom, have developed their own internal labs but are keeping them within the corporate structure. On the completely other end of the spectrum, Hudson’s Bay and Lord & Taylor “believe in piggy-backing on startups but are also trying to figure out how this massive wave of disruption works and how to address it.”

Although retailers are at various areas of the maturation cycle, “the industry as a whole gets it,” Craver said. “They know we’re going through this massive wave of disruption and they need to determine which model or approach is right for their business.”


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Thu, 05 Feb 2015 10:57:47 -0500
Target Focuses On Smaller-Format Stores In 2015 Target Focuses On Smaller-Format Stores In 2015

Target will open 15 stores in 2015 using multiple formats that appeal to urban shoppers. The retailer will open eight TargetExpress locations, one CityTarget and six general merchandise stores in different cities across the U.S.

TargetExpress is the retailer’s smallest store format at approximately 20,000 square feet per location. These stores will open in Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, St. Paul, Minn. and Washington, D.C.

Target currently operates one TargetExpress location in Minneapolis, which opened in July 2014. Since the opening, Target has made multiple changes to the location. For example, the assortment has expanded to include baking supplies, belts, sunglasses, jewelry and select apparel items.

Beyond 2015, Target is exploring the opportunity to bring TargetExpress to additional major markets across the country, including the greater Philadelphia area, Los Angeles, the greater Washington, D.C. area, Chicago and the San Francisco Bay area.

CityTarget debuted in 2012, touting an edited assortment of the retailer's best-selling merchandise and smaller pack sizes so urban shoppers can easily carry their purchases home. CityTarget stores typically are smaller than traditional Target stores, ranging from 80,000 to 160,000 square feet in size. There are currently eight CityTarget stores, including three in Los Angeles, two in San Francisco, one in Seattle, one in Portland, Ore. and one in Chicago. Over the next two years, Target will open its first CityTarget store in Boston, followed by a location in Brooklyn, N.Y. in the City Point development.

Experimental General Merchandise Stores

Target also is testing new layouts and merchandise assortments with general merchandise stores. For example, the Fort Worth, Tex., store will feature Target’s home product assortment in a lifestyle setting, so consumers can easily imagine how products may look in their own homes. Additionally, the new Oahu-Kailua, Hawaii store will offer merchandise from approximately 30 local vendors to provide relevant merchandise to guests.

“Our store growth looks different today than it did five years ago, driven by guests’ expectations for ease and personalization in their shopping experience,” said Tina Tyler, EVP and Chief Stores Officer at Target. “Smaller formats like TargetExpress and CityTarget offer customized assortments and services to meet the needs of guests who are increasingly moving into urban centers. In our general merchandise stores, we’re embracing a test and learn philosophy, innovating with layouts and experiences and bringing digital and bricks-and-mortar together like never before.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 04 Feb 2015 15:38:42 -0500
BCBGMaxAzria Maximizes Email Performance With Personalization And Automation BCBGMaxAzria Maximizes Email Performance With Personalization And Automation

BCBG emailWith a thriving, 25-year history, BCBGMaxAzria has made its mark in the fashion and retail worlds by creating high-quality apparel and accessories that appeal to the wants and needs of its customers.

Across all three brands — BCBGMaxAzria, BCBGeneration and Herve Leger — marketing campaigns and engagement strategies focus on the subtle, yet extremely important details of each item. To create more tailored and compelling email campaigns, BCBGMaxAzria has leveraged Bluecore, which has helped create highly personalized, automated trigger campaigns.

Thus far, BCBGMaxAzria has deployed customer and catalog behavioral-based triggers, according to Tom Lamb, e-Commerce Marketing Manager at BCBGMaxAzria. These triggered emails average a 525% increase in click-through rate versus non-triggered emails. The brand also has seen a lift of more than 220% on click-to-open rates. 

"What is critical to the BCBG customer is specificity," Lamb said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. "A black cocktail dress is not just a black cocktail dress. The details — style, fabric, cut — they all matter. Providing this level of detail via our triggered emails speaks to our customers on a personal level. It’s not enough to know they want a black dress. We need to know which dress, and the types of dresses that are similar that may be a great option for our customer to consider."

{loadposition GIAA}Prior to implementing Bluecore, BCBGMaxAzria never leveraged customer lifecycle marketing or triggered email campaigns. After discovering Bluecore's automated marketing capabilities, the brand determined that with its streamlined integration, ease-of-use, ROI and program scalability, it would be the ideal fit for its business needs.

The Bluecore system is designed to take care of "all the data tracking and analysis on the fly," according to Lamb. The solution then generates the corresponding email trigger in seconds.

"With Bluecore, we are now effectively and efficiently managing our business, which gives us more time to spend focusing on caring for our customers," Lamb said. "We have been really impressed with how Bluecore automates and simplifies many of our common marketing responsibilities. Not only is the technology thorough and responsive, but it also is extremely flexible, depending on our specific needs each time."

Building Customer Connections

Over the past few years, the BCBGMaxAzria marketing team has been working to evolve its overall approach to email marketing. 

With a goal of creating more personalized connections with consumers, the brand also aimed to increase revenue while improving day-to-day marketing tasks.

"Bluecore’s email marketing solutions are simple and efficient, ensuring that valuable time is spent on customer needs, rather than dealing with tedious, antiquated processes," Lamb explained. "The technology has created an additional revenue channel without adding another level of approval process, or creating additional creative workload."

BCBGMaxAzria is now exceeding its email revenue goals while streamlining its daily operational processes, Lamb said. "Our best practices show that getting personal — down to the color, style and previously viewed product — is critical to conversion. Taking it a step further we provide customers a look a related best-selling products that are specific to past browsing behaviors. And finally, we often send along free shipping and other promotions to sweeten the deal and bring customers back to the site to complete a transaction."


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Wed, 04 Feb 2015 14:43:59 -0500
H&M To Open 400 Stores And Launch Beauty Brand H&M To Open 400 Stores And Launch Beauty Brand

After reporting a 17% increase in gross profits in 2014, Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) has plans to open 400 new stores in 2015. The company, with brands including H&M, & Other Stories, H&M Home and Cos, also opened 379 net new stores in 2014.

While the bulk of the expansion will take place in existing markets, with most of the openings in the U.S. and China, H&M also will expand to several new markets including South Africa and India in 2015, according to a company statement. The fast-fashion retailer’s online presence will further expand into new European markets as well, including Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland.

In addition to its expansion plans, H&M will debut a new brand concept in 2015, called H&M Beauty. The new brand will launch in approximately 900 stores and online in autumn 2015. The concept is set to include a range of make-up, body care and hair care products.

The store and brand expansions reflect the company's recent financial success.  H&M’s FY 2014 net profit, ended Nov. 30, 2014, rose 17% to 19.98 billion Swedish kronor (SEK), or approximately $2.44 billion in U.S. dollars.

“Well-received collections for all our brands and continued strong expansion both in stores and online have helped increase our market share and have further strengthened our position in the market,” said Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of H&M. “As always, we worked on continuous improvements during the year in order to be a leader in everything we do and the preferred choice for our customers. We have made many long-term investments in IT, online sales, new brands and in broadening the product range.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 04 Feb 2015 10:36:55 -0500
As Macy's Executive Team Changes, Bluemercury Acquisition Boosts Financial Predictions As Macy's Executive Team Changes, Bluemercury Acquisition Boosts Financial Predictions

Macy's is predicting financial results for the 2014 fiscal year to fall between $4.35 and $4.37 per diluted share, higher than the retailer's initial expectations of $4.25 and $4.35 per share.

This estimate does not include approximately $110 million that is designated for merchandising and marketing restructuring, as well as store and field adjustments and store closings, among other tasks.

These updated financial predictions come on the heels of Macy's announcing several executive changes and revealing that it will acquire cosmetics brand and retailer Bluemercury. In a $210 million cash purchase, Macy's is aiming to further expand its beauty business and create better experiences in standalone Bluemercury stores. The transaction is expected to be finalized in Macy's Q1 2015, which ends May 2, 2015.

Bluemercury, based in Washington, D.C., operates approximately 60 specialty stores in 18 states. Marla Malcolm Beck will continue to act as CEO and Barry Beck will continue as Chief Operating Officer. The current team of up to 500 sales associates will remain in their current roles.

Organizational Shifts Drive Omnichannel Change

Aligning with its goal of driving profits as an omnichannel retailer, Macy's has announced a series of new executive appointments.

Company President Jeff Genette will concentrate more time on facilitating broader growth strategies within the existing omnichannel business. He will oversee merchandise planning, as well as merchandising and marketing for Macy's stores and digital, and provide brand development. Although he will still report to CEO Terry Lundgren, he will relinquish day-to-day responsibilities as Chief Merchandising Officer.

Among the other executive changes:

  • Timothy Baxter, Macy's former Executive Vice President and General Merchandise Manager for Ready-to-Wear, will now succeed Genette as Chief Merchandising Officer;

  • Previously Executive Vice President for Men's and Kids Private Brands, Molly Langenstein has been promoted to Chief Private Brands Officer;

  • Patti Ongman, former Vice President for Omnichannel Strategies, has been promoted to Chief Merchandise Planning Officer; and

  • Peter Sachse, Chief of Stores since 2012, will take on a new role as Macy's Chief for Innovation and Business Development. He will report directly to Lundgren and oversee current and future growth initiatives, focusing on off-price strategies, new store formats, the application of technology to the shopping experience, among other areas.

Macy's will report complete Q4 sales and earnings on Feb. 24, 2015. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Financial News Wed, 04 Feb 2015 08:48:03 -0500
Is ‘Name-Your-Own Price’ The Next Step In Retail Personalization? Is ‘Name-Your-Own Price’ The Next Step In Retail Personalization?

shadow RTP RT047 SR Pricing Feb 2015In the current omnichannel climate, retailers are working to create seamless experiences across all touch points. Simultaneously, retailers are focusing on developing more compelling and personalized assortments, offers and prices across all channels. Both initiatives will help retail organizations stand out against competitors, while satisfying today's demanding shoppers. 

In fact, 55% of consumers would like to receive unique pricing, automatic discounts or pre-sales based on loyalty and purchase history, according to the Accenture report, titled: Optimizing Pricing And Promotions In A Digital World.

“Omnichannel customers are looking for relevant and compelling deals,” according to the report.“Companies that can offer personalized and dynamic pricing, at scale, have a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”

Many retailers are keeping pace with shopper expectations by ensuring prices (45%) and promotions (43%) are consistent across all channels, according to research from Retail TouchPoints. The 2014 Store Operations Survey also indicated that more than half of retailers (51%) are customizing pricing and promotions based on shopper loyalty across channels. Another 18% of respondents said they plan to begin personalizing pricing and promotions in the future.

Fill out the form below to download the complete PDF report, titled: Omnichannel Pricing In A New Retail Era.


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Special Reports Tue, 03 Feb 2015 12:38:18 -0500
Target Appoints New CIO To Lead Digital Transformation Target Appoints New CIO To Lead Digital Transformation

Target has appointed Tesco alum Mike McNamara as its new Executive Vice President (EVP) and Chief Information Officer (CIO). McNamara will replace Bob DeRodes, who is retiring after guiding Target’s information security efforts. He will report directly to CEO and Chairman Brian Cornell. 

In his new position, McNamara will help Target advance its digital transformation and reaffirm its position as an omnichannel retailer. He will oversee the retailer’s technology team and operations, and will help shape overall enterprise strategy with the Target leadership team.

 “Technology is critical for Target’s future success,” Cornell said. “So finding the right leader for this role was one of my absolute top priorities.”

As part of the Tesco executive team for more than 15 years, McNamara “has been a driving force for technology innovation throughout his career,” Cornell explained. “He’s got a stellar track record, and I’m excited to see how he’ll help our team continue to push new innovations that enhance the shopping experience for Target guests, both online and in stores.”       

In 2011, McNamara was named the CIO of Tesco, helping the supermarket retailer modernize and advance its IT and supply chain worldwide. During his tenure, McNamara also helped Tesco unveil “scan-as-you-shop” capabilities and launched its innovation lab.

“I have long admired Target as a retailer and its legacy of putting customers first,” McNamara said. “To be part of an organization like Target and help shape the future of its technology and omnichannel strategy was a dream opportunity for me.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Movers & Shakers Tue, 03 Feb 2015 11:59:26 -0500
RadioShack Files For Bankruptcy, Sprint To Purchase Fraction Of Stores RadioShack Files For Bankruptcy, Sprint To Purchase Fraction Of Stores

UPDATE: RadioShack has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to The Associated Press. The electronics retailer will sell up to 2,400 of its stores. As part of the bankruptcy filing, Sprint will purchase approximately 1,750 stores. The deal is part of RadioShack's sale of a portion of its assets and assignment of specific leases to General Wireless, which is a subsidiary of Standard General LP, RadioShack's largest shareholder.

When the transaction is approved by bankruptcy court, Sprint and General Wireless will establish co-branded stores thate will exclusively sell mobile devices from the Sprint brand portfolio and select RadioShack products, services and accessories. In essence, Sprint will operate a store within a RadioShack store, operating approximately one third of each location's space.  

"We've proven that our products and new offers drive traffic to stores, and this agreement would allow Sprint to grow branded distribution quickly and cost-effectively in prime locations," said Marcelo Claure, CEO of Sprint. "Sprint and RadioShack expect to benefit from operational efficiencies and by cross-marketing to each other's customers." 

Below is Retail TouchPoints' initial coverage, which was published early the week of Feb. 2. 

and Sprint may acquire some of RadioShack’s 4,000 stores, according to Reuters. The news comes as RadioShack moves closer to filing for bankruptcy.

Earlier reports from Bloomberg indicated that Amazon is aiming to bolster its brick-and-mortar presence and use the locations to showcase hardware products. This move would help the online giant bring its Kindles and Fire phones closer to consumers, creating a touch-and-feel experience designed to compete with Apple, its strongest competitor in the space. There are rumors the stores also will be used for logistical purposes.

At the same time, Sprint is in talks to purchase between 1,300 and 2,000 of the remaining locations. As part of the negotiations, Sprint discussed potentially co-branding some of the RadioShack stores. The news comes shortly after Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure told investors that the company planned to open more locations in the near future.

“This is a year in which we intend to grow our distribution dramatically,” Claure said. “You are going to see the opening of more and more Sprint stores as this is one area that we work on.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Mergers & Acquisitions Fri, 06 Feb 2015 00:00:00 -0500
Staples Buys Office Depot For $6.3 Billion Staples Buys Office Depot For $6.3 Billion

Office Depot-StaplesUPDATE: On Feb. 4, 2015, the Associated Press confirmed that Staples will buy Office Depot for $6.3 billion. Through the cash-and-stock deal, all Office Depot shareholders will receive $7.25 per share in cash. At closing, Staples also will give shareholders 0.2188 of its shares for each Office Depot share. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2015. 

Below is 
Retail TouchPoints' original coverage of the deal, which was published on Feb. 3, 2015. 

Approximately three months after Office Depot completed its acquisition of OfficeMax, the office supply retailer is in advanced talks with Staples Inc. to combine companies, according to The Wall Street Journal. However, sources familiar with the matter say there is “no guarantee a deal will be reached.” 

Together, the two companies operate approximately 4,000 stores and bring in annual sales of more than $35 billion. However, both Office Depot and Staples have faced their fair share of struggles as retail behemoths like Amazon and Walmart have acquired a larger share of the office supply market. In fact, same-store sales for U.S. Staples locations have not increased since 2007. Office Depot’s U.S. same-store sales have been stalled since 2006.

Both chains also have been closing stores nationwide. In spring 2014, Staples announced plans to shutter up to 225 stores nationwide during the year, while Office Depot closed 20 locations in Q3 2014 alone.

But overall, both retailers have focused on creating more seamless, omnichannel customer experiences. During a presentation at the 2015 Nation Retail Federation BIG Show, a Staples executive spotlighted the benefits of focusing more on digital channels, as they are impacting more sales than traditional ones. Also recently, Office Depot implemented the LiveContext solution from CoreMedia to create more immersive online shopping experiences via desktops and mobile devices. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Mergers & Acquisitions Wed, 04 Feb 2015 00:00:00 -0500
74% Of Online Retailers Send Irrelevant Promotions 74% Of Online Retailers Send Irrelevant Promotions

RR OrderDynamics ImageDespite a myriad of research studies pointing to the importance of personalization, the majority (74%) of online retailers still promote irrelevant items to shoppers via email, according to OrderDynamics research. Some retailers (33%) don’t even sufficiently follow up with consumers after they sign up for the brand mailing list.

The report, titled: Customer Relationships: The Dating Game, compares retailing to dating, in that businesses have to convince consumers to “go out” with them to start and continue a business relationship. The study specifically measures the effectiveness of a “first date,” or purchase, as well as the long-term relationships that can lead to additional purchases and increased order values. Opinion Matters conducted the study on behalf of OrderDynamics by surveying more than 60 retailers and 2,000 consumers.

{loadposition GIAA}“Our message to retailers is simple: Customer relationships are theirs to win or lose, and retailers must focus on these disconnects in their customers’ experiences to succeed,” said Kevin Sterneckert, CMO of OrderDynamics. “They must use data more intelligently and effectively in order to engage and win shoppers. Retailers must walk a fine line between romancing customers and over-approaching them to ensure that shopping is a seamless experience. If retailers disappoint shoppers, they risk losing not only the initial sale but the customer relationship as well.”

Building customer satisfaction and loyalty hinges on a retailer's ability to create a seamless customer experience and keep customers in the know regarding their purchases. However, only 15% of retailers offer consumers end-to-end order tracking through their web site. This is a significantly lost opportunity, considering 56% of shoppers said they want to be able to track their order through the retailer they're buying from. To that end, the report recommends that retailers streamline their communication systems, arguing that complications with back-end systems should never impact the customer journey.

The report concluded that retailers looking to drive repeat purchases should focus on understanding their customers’ purchasing behaviors. Additionally, the study suggested that retailers design a testing plan that will help them determine:

  • When to send follow-up emails;

  • When to recommend another product in different category; and

  • The most profitable time to offer incentives.

Click here to access the OrderDynamics study, titled: Customer Relationships: The Dating Game.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Shopper Experience Tue, 03 Feb 2015 08:00:00 -0500
Gifting As Referral Marketing: Are You Leaving Sales On The Table? Gifting As Referral Marketing: Are You Leaving Sales On The Table?

VP SmartGift head shotThe winter holiday season has wrapped up, but retailers are knee deep with gift returns, year-end inventory and planning. E-Commerce competition is heating up, pressing merchants to innovate, adapt and optimize their digital marketing mix. Search, social, email and affiliate are all popular marketing tactics — but there is another highly effective method of driving traffic and sales you may be overlooking.

Referral marketing is a powerful way to supercharge customer acquisition and sales. However, according to a June 2014 GigaOm Research Report: "Only 39% of marketers use it [referral marketing] regularly, but 43% of those who do use it acquire more than 35% of their new customers with it." This is significant, as retailers stretch their dollars and focus intently on marketing ROI.

{loadposition GIAA}A type of referral marketing that stands out for its simple yet compelling nature is gifting. Retailers who implement an e-gifting strategy and understand its efficacy to attract customers and boost sales gain a valuable long-term competitive advantage. So, how does referral marketing differ from other types and how does gifting fit into the picture?

Referral Marketing Vs. Word-Of-Mouth

Word-of-mouth is a tried and true way to reach new customers. Over time, satisfied shoppers become brand evangelists, spreading positive sentiment about your products and services to friends and family.

So is referral marketing the same as word-of-mouth and if not, what is the difference?

The value of referral marketing lies not only in the number of customers you reach but how much revenue those customers drive for your store. Here is a basic word-of-mouth marketing scenario: A customer buys a new handbag. Out one night, her friend comments how much she likes the bag. The customer mentions where she bought it. The bag is the perfect size, style, quality, etc. She loves and highly recommends it.

Now, consider referral marketing. A customer buys the same handbag from your store. You then follow the purchase up with an offer. If she refers a friend, she will receive 20% off her next purchase and her friend(s) will also receive 20% off their first purchase. Referral marketing is about brand exposure and driving sales from that exposure. Core benefits of referral marketing are that this tactic can:

  • Provide an incentive/reward both for referring and buying;

  • Provide a clear path to purchase, not just a product recommendation; and

  • Reach people not actively searching for or aware of your brand.

Referral marketing programs also are controlled by the retailer while word-of-mouth is controlled by the customer.

Gifting As Referral Marketing

By its nature, gifting is a form of referral marketing that automatically creates two customers with a single transaction. E-gifting specifically allows a customer to buy an item from your online store and send the gift by electronic notification. The recipient can then select the item details such as size, color, style and confirm the shipping address before the item is shipped.

Even without a proactive offer such as a discount, e-gifting is a de facto form of referral marketing. When someone buys for him or herself, the incentive is self-fulfillment. Conversely, when buying a gift, the incentive is to pick out the perfect item — something the recipient will like and reciprocate with feelings of joy and appreciation. The gifter gets a psychological "reward" and the recipient, of course, gets a new item.

Referral marketing gives word-of-mouth a turbo shot by providing a clear call-to-action. With the act of e-gifting, the giver is in effect saying: "Here is an item from a brand that I like and trust that I think you will like, too." However, instead of just shipping the item and hoping the details are correct, e-gifting directs the recipient to your online store to select the details, creating a path to sale in the form of upselling and cross-selling.

Gifting opens doors to brand/product exposure, often to people who were never previously aware of your brand or online store. For gifters, this often comes through organic search, but referral marketing can create a cycle of giving and receiving. Gift recipients also likely give many gifts throughout the year. That great item she received from a new independent brand becomes the perfect idea for the friends and family on her gift lists.

A Treasure Trove Of Data

If this all occurs even without a proactive offer, imagine what is possible when you leverage gifting data to make optimal and targeted marketing and merchandising decisions. Gift transactions generate a lot of useful information about both gifters and recipients. Retailers can use this data to re-target abandoned gift carts, locate brand ambassadors and generate gift guides/recommendations based on gender, occasion, price points and geography.

This data can also be used to create targeted referral marketing offers in an effort to attract gift shoppers to buy from your store and further incentivize recipients to add purchases on to their gift and become repeat customers. In fact, gifting lends itself perfectly to personalized offers. Using data, retailers can identify their top gift shoppers and target them with sales discounts, using the same incentives for first time gift recipients for their very first purchase.

Retailers of all sizes and types can benefit from gifting data and use it to invest in part of their overall referral marketing program. While proactive offers and incentives do give up a small portion of the profit margin, the long-term goal is to acquire a steady stream of new customers, which ultimately leads to sustained revenue growth and profitability.


Monika Kochhar is CEO and Founder of SmartGift. She is an entrepreneur, business leader and technology evangelist with a passion for advancing the role of women in business. In her current position, Kochhar is responsible for corporate leadership, product and advancing the company's mission of becoming the standard in gifting for brands and retailers. Prior to SmartGift, Kochhar advised winning e-Commerce start-ups into strong exits and spent over a decade on Wall Street trading and structuring investment opportunities. She regularly speaks at events and conferences on e-Commerce, technology, and woman entrepreneurship.

]]> (Monika Kochhar, SmartGift) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 02 Feb 2015 14:29:51 -0500
Lululemon Athletica Founder Steps Down From Board Of Directors

Chip-Wilson-of-Lulumon-head-shot 124731Founder of lulemon athletica, Chip Wilson, has announced that he is leaving the board of directors since the company is now "back on track" with a solid management team, according to Reuters.

"I believe that now is the right time to step away from the board," Wilson said in a statement on Monday. "I now believe the company has returned to the core values that made it great."

After founding lululemon athletica in 1998, Wilson remained entrenched with the retailer's day-to-day activities until early 2012. He stepped down as chairman in late 2013 after the brand was hit by a significant product recall scandal. Then-CEO Christine Day also eventually left the company, in June 2013, after taking the helm in 2008.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Movers & Shakers Mon, 02 Feb 2015 14:33:55 -0500
Hubba Helps Streamline Product Information Management Hubba Helps Streamline Product Information Management

SS Hubba ImageTo drive product awareness and sales, brands and manufacturers must share relevant inventory with retailer partners. However, retailers sometimes do not have the most accurate or up-to-date data, which can potentially hinder sales.

Hubba is a cloud-based business-to-business (B2B) product information network that enables brand marketers and product managers to create product profiles that can be shared with business contacts. Launched in July 2014, the network serves as a central hub for all product content, including images, videos, documents, core specifications, marketing and promotional materials, pricing, ratings/reviews and more.

Using Hubba, brands and manufacturers can curate products in a central location and syndicate information to their business contacts in real time. Companies leveraging the solution include L’Oreal, Purity Life, Rawlings and Unilever, among other apparel, sporting goods and CPG brands.

“Brands are faced with an increasing amount of information to manage, an increasing amount of channels in which to distribute the information and an increasing demand from consumers to access this information,” said Ben Zifkin, CEO of Hubba. “Product content is the foundation that powers omnichannel commerce initiatives, but many brands and retailers struggle to provide comprehensive and current information.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 02 Feb 2015 14:18:12 -0500
Forever 21 Selects Oracle Retail To Improve Assortment Planning Forever 21 Selects Oracle Retail To Improve Assortment Planning

forever21Fast fashion retailer Forever 21 is using Oracle Retail Merchandise Planning and Optimization solutions to better predict demand and align assortments to customer preferences and expectations.

With Oracle Retail Assortment Planning and Size Profile Optimization, Forever 21 can create assortments based on factors such as neckline, price point and fabric, among other variables that can influence sales. Now, the retailer can make planning decisions based on data from across business units, taking into account the fast pace of style changes, number of SKUs, seasonality and sizing demands, as well as product fabrication requirements and Average Unit Retail costs.

Forever 21 collaborated with Oracle and Veltio, an Oracle PartnerNetwork Gold-level member, to launch the solutions in May 2014. The implementation lasted nine months, and included data cleansing, design and user acceptance testing.

Over the next three years, Forever 21 plans to open up to 600 new stores. In light of this aggressive growth plan, the retailer's merchandising team will tap Oracle to better predict item demand across all stores and its six web sites.

“The Oracle Retail solution gives us a blueprint of where the assortment is going to lead us,” said Robert Kim, VP of Planning and Allocation at Forever 21. “Seeing the past performance by segment and looking at color penetration and fashion attributes is in itself a giant step forward, and the data can be sliced and diced in a way that is meaningful for our merchants. Oracle took a very complicated model and made it user-friendly. We expect to gain more insight and deliver an even better product assortment for our customers as we expand our use of the Oracle Retail solution.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Mon, 02 Feb 2015 13:52:32 -0500
Quri IMPACT Analyzes The Impact Of Retail Promotions Quri IMPACT Analyzes The Impact Of Retail Promotions

SS site only Quri ImageRetailers create in-store promotions to boost foot traffic, drive impulse purchases and generate loyalty among consumers.

Quri, a retail intelligence solution provider, has launched IMPACT, a platform designed to combine retail sales data with in-store conditions data. As a result, retail execution managers can determine the success of in-store promotions and identify strengths and potential weaknesses.

IMPACT performs granular, real-time analysis of in-store conditions data including location, merchandising efforts and inventory to calculate sales lift and ROI. After reviewing this data, managers can closely review and adjust individual promotions.

Managers also can tap into IMPACT to analyze the entire history of their promotional performance by channel, vehicle and geography, allowing them to improve their brand’s long-term strategies.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 02 Feb 2015 13:37:58 -0500
LamaLoLi Drives 20% Of Revenue Through Mobile Site LamaLoLi Drives 20% Of Revenue Through Mobile Site

lamaloliAs more consumers browse through their tablets and smartphones, best-in-class retailers are focusing on creating seamless, compelling and personalized mobile brand experiences.

LamaLoLi, a children’s apparel retailer, collaborated with mobile commerce solution provider JustDomobi to launch its mobile commerce site in November 2013. Within a year of introducing the mobile-exclusive site, mobile has exceeded 20% of the retailer’s total B2C revenue. There are five versions of the site for consumers in France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the European Union.

{loadposition GIAA}Since unveiling the new sites, LamaLoLi has learned that mobile generates approximately 80% as many conversion rates as the company’s e-Commerce site. Shoppers spend twice as much time on the mobile site as they do on the e-Commerce site, and view twice as many items, according to a company statement.

“Having more and more traffic coming from mobile devices, and with email campaigns opened mainly on mobile devices, we needed to improve our offering to mobile users,” said Yair Agami, CEO of LamaLoLi. “The current mobile web site is actually LamaLoLi’s first mobile web site. Before expanding to mobile, we wanted to make sure that we had the right partner and solution. After meeting with the JustDomobi team and seeing their technology, they made it easy for me to say yes.”

Agami describes the relationship between the two companies as “very productive,” noting that every requested change and addition to the site has been implemented quickly.

Creating A Hassle-Free Shopping Experience

The LamaLoLi mobile site touts a more streamlined search and navigation functionality, which helps shoppers find the products they are searching for quickly and seamlessly.

“People arrive on a mobile web site with a task to complete and they expect to do so instantly,” said Yigal Carmi, Co-Founder of JustDomobi. “We planned so that any shopper can buy two t-shirts in less than a minute including the searching process, selecting the right size, placing the items in the shopping cart and completing the purchase. From our research, we understood that enabling shoppers to swipe between items would be crucial to the success of a mobile commerce site because the swiping functionality enables easy mobile browsing.”

The mobile site is a separate entity from the e-Commerce site, so the LamaLoLi team didn’t need to make any changes to its original web site to accommodate the mobile release. However, since the retailer has exposed APIs in its management system, the mobile site is updated in real time as images and content are added to the e-Commerce site.

“I am particularly impressed with JustDomobi’s swiping functionality, which makes it easier for shoppers to move from one item to the next,” Agami said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “I’m also impressed by its strong search capabilities and the whole user experience designed for a single purpose — to make the user’s journey as fast and enjoyable as possible. Mobile shoppers are able to browse our site, find the products they desire, add them to the cart and be at the checkout in about 40 seconds.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Mon, 02 Feb 2015 10:36:42 -0500
Winning The Fulfillment Battle Against Amazon

1 vidTo win the battle against Amazon, best-in-class retailers are investing in omnichannel inventory and order management. Up to 43% of retailers currently have enterprise-wide inventory visibility and 36% have rolled out real-time inventory updates. 

Watch this video to learn the four best practices to win the fulfillment battle.


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Fri, 30 Jan 2015 10:14:16 -0500
Volusion Secures $55 Million In Funding Volusion Secures $55 Million In Funding

Volusion Logo BlueVolusion, a provider of e-Commerce software and services, has secured $55 million in a financing round led by Main Street Capital Corporation. The company will use the funds to further develop the Mozu enterprise solution and modernize the Volusion SMB platform.

Mozu, an API-first platform introduced in January 2014, is designed to bring clients to market faster and more cost effectively.

“Mozu’s first year went better than any of us could have anticipated and this round of funding will be instrumental in fanning the fire of Mozu altering the enterprise space,” noted Clay Olivier, CEO of Volusion. “Not only were we able to launch numerous clients within the first 12 months, we have seen each of those sites experience faster performance than with previous providers.”

Volusion also plans to make major updates to its SMB platform by adding a new administrative interface and a theme engine in 2015.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:22:18 -0500
Kate Spade To Shutter All Saturday And Jack Spade Stores Kate Spade To Shutter All Saturday And Jack Spade Stores

Kate Spade & Company has announced that it would shut down all Kate Spade Saturday and Jack Spade stores by the summer of 2015. 

Currently, the company operates 28 Kate Spade Saturday and Jack Spade stores worldwide, including Saturday’s 3,000-square-foot location in SoHo, New York City. The SoHo store opened shortly after the success of the digital display store, which was developed in partnership with eBay Inc. 

Moving forward, the Saturday brand will operate as part of the Kate Spade New York brand and product portfolio. Kate Spade Saturday's 19 store locations will close through the first half of 2015. The e-Commerce site will stay active until the label is incorporated and reintroduced into the Kate Spade New York brand.

{loadposition GIAA}Jack Spade will move forward with a completely new business model, selling primarily through the e-Commerce site and a network of retail distribution partners.

"A key tenet of our roadmap for growth is ensuring that we are disciplined and forward-looking with our investments, putting our resources behind targeted initiatives that will maximize profitability and shareholder value in the near, mid and long term," said Craig A. Leavitt, CEO of Kate Spade & Company. “By taking these actions, we will be able to accelerate the fulfillment of our lifestyle brand vision, expanding our product categories and reaching customers in all facets of their lives, better positioning us to deliver on Kate Spade New York's full potential."

For the 2014 fiscal year, Kate Spade & Company expects to report a 40% year-over-year increase in net sales, reaching up to $1.14 billion. With the new business direction, Leavitt anticipates that Kate Spade & Company will eventually become a $4 billion business. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:15:19 -0500
Celerant Conversion Center Offers Cart Abandonment Recovery And Live Cart Tracking Celerant Conversion Center Offers Cart Abandonment Recovery And Live Cart Tracking

celerantCelerant Technology has unveiled the Conversion Center module for e-Commerce merchants, allowing retailers to respond to potential shopping cart abandonment in real time. The Conversion Center provides visibility into shopping carts, allowing retailers to convert customer orders and provide shipping options.

Celerant Conversion Center logs customer information in a marketing automation database when an email address is entered during the checkout process. Using the module, retailers set their own rules for how and when to contact unconverted customers, and can provide offers to help close the sale such as discount codes, free shipping or shopping assistance from a representative.

The module’s live cart tracking functionality grants customer service representatives immediate access to customer shopping carts.

“If you can imagine a professional shopping assistant standing over a customer’s shoulder providing step-by-step guidance throughout the checkout process, that’s the level of service our cart tracking provides,” said Ian Goldman, CEO of Celerant Technology.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:30:27 -0500