Retail TouchPoints - Your Source For The Latest Retail News And Trends - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Mon, 30 Mar 2015 01:45:46 -0400 RTP en-gb El Corte Inglés Taps 3DEXPERIENCE To Accelerate Product Time-To-Market El Corte Inglés Taps 3DEXPERIENCE To Accelerate Product Time-To-Market

el-corte-inglesSpain-based department store chain El Corte Inglés has implemented the “My Collection for Fashion” solution from Dassault Systèmes to accelerate time-to-market for its private label fashion collections. 

Powered by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, “My Collection for Fashion” provides El Corte Inglés with a single, unified digital environment designed to improve supply chain integration, visibility, flexibility and decision-making across product categories.

By connecting internal and external stakeholders and encouraging collaboration, the retailer can improve product development and mitigate the risk of incorrect samples, additional costs and production errors or delays. The “My Collection for Fashion” solution touts myriad applications, including: Global sourcing and global collaboration, consumer-led design, virtual prototyping, virtual stores and channels, integrated merchandise assortment planning, product development and social analytics.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:23:02 -0400
Amplience Closes $10.5 Million In Series B Funding Amplience Closes $10.5 Million In Series B Funding

Amplience logo
E-Commerce technology provider Amplience has received $10.5 million in Series B funding to support its ongoing growth in North America and Europe.

Octopus Investments led the funding round, although additional financing was provided by a series of existing stakeholders and investors, such as Northstar Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank.

Since opening its first U.S. office in 2013, Amplience has reported significant expansion across the region due to a stream of customer wins, expansion of existing accounts and the development of its AmplienceOne Big Content Platform. In 2014 alone, Amplience added more than 50 new customers to its roster, which includes Marks and Spencer, Saks Fifth Avenue and Tesco. Employee count within the organization also increased by 60% over the past year.

In addition to supporting global expansion, the investment also will help fund continued enhancements of the AmplienceOne Big Content Platform. Most recently, Amplience added a social and user-generated content solution, which will be used by Dune, L.K. Bennett and Shop Direct, among others.

"With today's consumers expecting nothing less than a perfectly seamless experience across all retail channels, Amplience is perfectly placed to enable retailers to cater to this customer demand," said Jo Oliver, a member of the Ventures team at Octopus. "Here at Octopus, we are dedicated to supporting businesses that have an exceptional ability to transform an industry. We are excited to provide Amplience with financing that will help the company further develop its North American footprint as they continue to shape the ecommerce technology marketplace."

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Financial News Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:13:41 -0400
Marine Depot Experiences 11% Revenue Boost With Improved Search Capabilities Marine Depot Experiences 11% Revenue Boost With Improved Search Capabilities

Having exceptional search capabilities is vital to success for any retailer with an e-Commerce site. In order for consumers to find the products they want, web sites need to tout optimized search software that guarantees visitors will have a seamless and successful shopping experience.

Marine Depot, an online retailer of aquarium equipment, nutrition and supplements, has achieved an 11% improvement in revenue since implementing solutions from on-demand site search software provider SLI Systems. The online retailer has been a SLI Learning Search, SLI Site Champion and SLI Rich Auto Complete user since February 2012.

Since implementing the SLI solutions, Marine Depot has not only increased revenue, but also decreased web site bounce rate by 68%. Additionally, the eTailer has seen a boost in transactions (4%) and average order value (7%).

Prior to working with SLI Systems, Marine Depot collected insights from customers that used the web site’s search functionality to find products. After hearing negative feedback regarding the efficiency of the search software, the retailer decided it was necessary to seek out more robust third-party search solutions.

{loadposition GIAA}“There was a clear complaint from customers in that they couldn’t find what they were looking for,” said Jeff Johnston, Head of Marketing at Marine Depot. “If you searched for a product that had an acronym like A.R.M., you might search for a variation and it wouldn’t show up even though we had it, or maybe it would show up on page two. We were constantly having to Band-Aid the search and it was just getting to the point where it was becoming unmanageable.”

After rolling out the SLI solutions, Marine Depot has made a series of simple changes to improve the user experience, such as adding flags next to products that are on sale. The eTailer also plans to flag new products to give them more visibility on the site, according to Johnston.

Making Search More Interactive

As an extension of its improved search capabilities, Marine Depot has added a video tab to the e-Commerce site, which has increased total video views and subscribers. The page includes short video clips and how-to guides designed to educate users about aquarium products. The company also is looking to integrate a separate knowledge base into the e-Commerce site. The knowledge base includes nine years of content and educational blogs, which allows consumers to submit equipment-related questions to a team of experts.

“Internally, we’re migrating the knowledge base into a new blog engine that will live within the frame of the store for a more seamless reading-to-shopping experience,” Johnston said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Once that migration is complete, we’re going to have SLI be able to retrieve those search results. Like the video tab, if someone searches for aquarium filters, finally we’ll be able to serve that nine years of content for people that are looking for it.”

Modifications have been, and will continue to be made to the e-Commerce site on an ongoing basis, according to Johnston. Marine Depot, in conjunction with SLI, is optimizing search through numerous testing methods. For one test, the retailer made the search box larger so it was easier to find. At the end of the test, there was more than 80% confidence in the bigger box. Although the Marine Depot team was happy with the results, they didn’t feel it was convincing enough to judge long-term success. As a result, the team is currently undergoing a follow-up test to compare the original search box with three new variations.

“The variations all are larger, but each is a little different in some way,” Johnston explained. “One has popular search terms inside the search box. Another has popular search terms and will show an item number inside the search box. The search button says ‘go’ instead of ‘search.’ The final variation shows popular search terms under the search box as links. The goal, in addition to testing a larger search box, is to see if a more suggestive search box would lead to more revenue and confidence in our test results.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Fri, 27 Mar 2015 08:15:06 -0400
Perry Ellis Upgrades To Oracle Retail Release 14 To Deliver ‘Commerce Anywhere’ Perry Ellis Upgrades To Oracle Retail Release 14 To Deliver ‘Commerce Anywhere’

PerryEllisApparel retailer and wholesaler Perry Ellis International has updated its retail systems to Oracle Retail Release 14 to ensure inventory is available and can be fulfilled across all channels.

With the update, Perry Ellis can unite U.S. and European retail locations with a single Oracle Retail Merchandising System that serves both markets. The retailer also can take advantage of expanded international transaction, tax and fiscal functionalities built into the latest update.

{loadposition GIAA}Perry Ellis started implementing Oracle Retail Release 14 applications in April 2014 as part of a companywide initiative to create more customer-centric merchandising, marketing and fulfillment strategies.

“We are committed to providing a consistent shopping experience and to meeting customer expectations across channels by aligning pricing, promotions and inventory availability online and in-store,” said Luis Paez, CIO at Perry Ellis International. “With Oracle Retail Release 14, we have a consistent view of all inventory, so we can offer customers any product we have in stock regardless of where it resides.”

The retailer implemented numerous Oracle applications to help enhance performance and scalability and provide a platform for growth, including:

  • Oracle Retail Merchandising System;

  • Oracle Retail Price Management;

  • Oracle Retail Sales Audit;

  • Oracle Retail Allocation;

  • Oracle Retail Store Inventory Management; and

  • Oracle Retail Central Office.

The Oracle Retail Merchandising and Oracle Retail Sales Audit upgrade will enable Perry Ellis to link customer order numbers to individual items within an order, giving them the functionality to ship different items from different locations within a single transaction.

Additionally, the brand and retailer can use Oracle Retail Sales Audit to meet local government regulatory requirements for computing taxes at the individual item level, eliminating the need for a third-party software program.

Perry Ellis also will use Oracle Retail Allocation to determine inventory requirements at the item and location level, even as the company accelerates international expansion. Oracle Retail Store Inventory Management provides real-time, multichannel inventory access to empower associates, improve customer service and reduce costs. In addition, Perry Ellis is using Oracle Retail Price Management to increase the efficiency of its sales and promotion processes.

BTM Global, a Gold-level member of the Oracle PartnerNetwork, assisted Perry Ellis throughout the implementation process. The software consultant provided a full range of system integration services, including functional and technical design work, custom integration points, interface designs, development and testing, and scripting through training and user-focused testing.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:54:39 -0400
Kount And Ethoca Collaborate To Tackle E-Commerce Fraud Kount And Ethoca Collaborate To Tackle E-Commerce Fraud

KountFraud technology provider Kount has partnered with Ethoca, a network for card issuers and merchants to connect and work cooperatively outside the payment network, to help e-Commerce merchants increase transaction acceptance levels and mitigate fraud.

Through the partnership, Kount now offers global merchants Ethoca Alerts as an additional complimentary service. These alerts are designed to catch fraud that has already been confirmed between the card issuing bank and the cardholder. Ethoca sends this data to merchants in the form of alerts that arrive in a matter of hours. Merchants would normally have to wait three to six weeks to receive this information through the chargeback and dispute process.

Ethoca Alerts provides an early warning on fraud and disputes that cardholders have already confirmed, enabling merchants to tackle additional fraud and issue a refund to avoid a possible chargeback. The service acts as an extra layer of protection that catches fraud post authorization and/or settlement and gives retailers another tool to safely increase acceptance levels and boost revenue.

“Through our partnership with Ethoca, we can bring Kount merchants a proven service that helps further increase acceptance levels without worrying about the impact of increased fraud and chargeback costs,” said Rich Stuppy, COO of Kount. “We’re excited to empower our customers with the same Ethoca service that more than 2,000 merchants around the world rely on every day.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:18:27 -0400
CardinalCommerce Extends Bitcoin Acceptance To Retailers With Bitnet Partnership CardinalCommerce Extends Bitcoin Acceptance To Retailers With Bitnet Partnership

bitnetMobile payment solution provider CardinalCommerce has partnered with Bitnet to allow its retail clients to accept bitcoin as a payment option.

With the Bitnet integration, CardinalCommerce users will be able to accept payments from dozens of digital wallets and alternative payment brands from around the world — without cross-border fees. Cardinal manages all program updates made by the wallets or payment providers, and keeps tabs on maintenance and version changes.

{loadposition GIAA}Merchants can display the prices of their goods in any of the 60 major world currencies, accept bitcoin as payment and receive funds in their local currency without handling bitcoin transactions internally.

Since the Bitcoin system doesn’t allow payment cancellations, there are no chargebacks, eliminating a risk merchants typically need to address. Transaction fees also are lower with bitcoin than any other payment method.

“Bitcoin has turned the global Internet into a secure, seamless payment network — likely the most significant leap forward in FinTech history,” said John McDonnell, Co-Founder and CEO at Bitnet. “We are honored to be partnering with CardinalCommerce to deliver the tremendous benefits of bitcoin to merchants.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Thu, 26 Mar 2015 08:51:29 -0400 Re-Launches E-Commerce Site, Expands Product Line Re-Launches E-Commerce Site, Expands Product Line

Pure play e-Commerce retailers have one major avenue to sell the customer on both their overall shopping experience and the products they offer: the web site. That’s why keeping the web site optimized both visually and functionally at all times is the top priority of retailers.

To address this priority, formally re-launched its e-Commerce site with a new design and an expanded product offering, which now includes more than 450 brands. As part of the design, offers new search and navigation capabilities designed to make the purchasing process easier for the consumer.The eTailer will use a deeper taxonomy structure to include additional levels of sub-categorization.  

{loadposition GIAA}The new e-Commerce site also includes customer reviews and clearer, more descriptive product images to give the consumer a better understanding of a product’s look and feel. Select products even have videos accompanying them.

“The previous site had a very low conversion rate,” said Roger Hardy, CEO at “This was a systemic issue and highlights that fact that people were not able to find what they were looking for. We focused on improving navigation and product discovery. You can really consider this to be the first version of our new site”.

The retailer will continue to refine the web site over the next six months, with many adjustments based on A/B testing, according to Hardy. The web site also features responsive design capabilities that adapt the site to the mobile screen.

“With any significant change like this you always plan for the worst,” Hardy said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “In general, conversion rates are supposed to go down initially as customers adapt to the new site design and navigation. We are very happy with what we have seen so far as it contradicts this; conversion rate is up as is average order size. As customers get used to the new site and we continue to make tweaks, we anticipate these metrics to further improve.”

As part of the re-launch, the web site has added more than 90 new brands including Miz Mooz, Easy Spirit, Nine West, Hokka, Naot, Vionic and Under Armour.

“We were able to leverage existing vendor relationships for brands that were previously not merchandized on the site,” Hardy explained. “The process of reaching out to brands and letting them know of the upcoming opportunity to be featured on was fairly quick and very well received.”

Prior to the 2014 holiday season, the company also launched PIKA, its first original line of footwear and accessories. The PIKA product line includes shearling and mukluk boots, as well as backpacks and duffle bags. designed the line with the intent of offering a casual and more affordable footwear option.

The brand expansion fits in line with the major goals Hardy outlined for the company to start the year. SHOEme, the parent company of and, expects to earn a record net revenue of $250 million in 2015, or $50 million more than in 2014. Hardy projects the company to continue growth at more than 30% a year over the next five years.

Hardy has indicated that he will look to take the company public later in 2015 at a major U.S. exchange, the Toronto Stock Exchange, or perhaps both, according to Reuters.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) E-Commerce Thu, 26 Mar 2015 07:02:56 -0400 Drives Growth With Ratings And Reviews Drives Growth With Ratings And Reviews

Buying eyeglasses online can be a challenging process. After all, there is a multitude of factors to consider, including face shape, lens strength and overall style and durability of the frames. 

Using consumer ratings and reviews, provides shoppers with a wealth of knowledge and insight regarding the quality and style of its glasses and eyewear. With Trustpilot, the eTailer collects approximately 3,600 reviews a year, leading to a 4.1 star rating, which it displays in search engine results.

Year over year, the business has grown by 32%. The team attributes a significant fraction of this growth to making ratings and reviews a part of the brand experience.  

“If some customers are tentative about buying eyewear online, they may pay more attention to ratings and reviews because they don’t understand the technical side of buying eyewear,” said Brad Berbetter, COO of “They want to make sure potential purchases have good ratings because it makes them feel more comfortable spending a few hundred dollars on new eyewear.”

{loadposition GIAA}Due to Trustpilot’s reputation among retail peers, implemented the technology, according to Berbetter. Within two months, the eTailer integrated into its IT framework.

Although cannot measure the overall influence ratings and reviews have on transactions, “we have complete faith that they make an impact,” Berbetter said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We know customers are going to look at them.”

Turning Negative Reviews Into A Competitive Advantage uses Trustpilot on a “very deep level,” tapping into the system to track consumer trends and respond to questions and concerns in a timely fashion.

“We read and respond to every review,” Berbetter said. “We also use reviews to give employees positive feedback.”

However, if customers submit negative reviews, the team turns this feedback into learning experiences.

“When we get three stars or fewer on a review, we respond on the same day but then review them every week together so we can determine the cause or reason they were dissatisfied,” Berbetter explained. “Every review gets some form of action.”

Speed of response is especially important because “people don’t want to wait,” Berbetter said. “It’s technically impossible to remove Trustpilot ratings so it’s important that we act on them. A lot of reviews are created because there’s an unanswered question or issue, so we respond and let them know how we can help.”

When the team responds to ratings and reviews, consumers tend to change their feedback based on their latest experience.

If consumers do not voluntarily submit ratings and reviews, Trustpilot sends an email to shoppers two weeks after their order ships. That way, customers can share their thoughts on the product and experience while the brand is still top-of-mind.

New reporting features within the Trustpilot platform will empower the team to spot review trends more seamlessly.

“That hopefully will allow us to get more insights into whether an issue has been rectified because of an action we take,” Berbetter said. “We meet with Trustpilot a few times a month to further develop the tool and determine whether we’re using the solution to the fullest.”




]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Wed, 25 Mar 2015 12:00:00 -0400
LE TOTE Brings Subscription Model To Dresses, Jewelry LE TOTE Brings Subscription Model To Dresses, Jewelry

Purchasing new clothing can be an exciting venture for many shoppers, but it still involves risk, especially for expensive products. Consumers might find themselves having buyer’s remorse after purchasing an expensive item, such as a dress, if they only wear it once or dislike the appearance.

LE TOTE, a rental service for women’s apparel and fashion accessories, enables shoppers to add new items to their wardrobe with a subscription model that costs $49 per month. Shoppers can sign up for the e-Commerce site and receive items from more than 80 apparel brands including BCBG, French Connection and Splendid.

{loadposition GIAA}Each delivery includes a tote bag with three garments and two accessories that the customer can hold onto for as long as they want before deciding they want to return the items. Garments may include dresses, cardigans, jackets or pants, while accessories may consist of necklaces, earrings, scarves and handbags. Once the shopper returns the items, Le Tote will send a new batch including different products immediately. Shoppers can even purchase items that they like at a discounted rate of 20% to 50% off the average retail price.

“The whole idea is to give the customer that variety for everyday wear at a fraction of the costs of purchasing those items,” said Rakesh Tondon, CEO and Co-Founder of LE TOTE. “They can keep the box, for let’s say two days, then send it right back and we’ll send them another box that they can keep for two weeks. It’s all up to them and at their cadence.”

The retailer takes data-driven approach toward pleasing its consumer base through offering recommendations, according to Tondon. In fact, LE TOTE built its own recommendation tool, as well as a proprietary fit and styling algorithm to determine which items are most suitable for individual consumers.

“When women sign up, they can tell us a little about themselves, their style, and their sizing,” Tondon said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They can add some items to their own virtual closet online and then we offer them recommendations based on the questions that they’ve answered. We also base recommendations on the comparisons to other similar shoppers that might have liked or disliked certain items.”

Upon receiving the items, shoppers can rate them by fit and style to inform the retailer of what type of clothing and accessories suit them best for future deliveries. So far, the experience appears to be paying dividends in terms of customer satisfaction, with the retailer experiencing a 94% customer retention rate month-over-month as of February 2015.

LE TOTE increased revenue growth by 600% in 2014, sending more than 60,000 items on average per month. After shipping approximately $15 million worth of inventory to consumers, the retailer anticipates it will ship as much as $75 million worth in 2015.

“I think it’s validation that people are really excited about what we’re doing,” said Brett Northart, President and Co-Founder of LE TOTE. “This whole idea of getting access to items versus owning them is really taking off. Largely, this generation of consumer is just looking to get the things that they want when they want them on not necessarily have to own them.”

In February 2015, the retailer announced it had raised $8.8 million in Series A funding led by Azure Capital, boosting their total venture funding to $12.5 million.

The retailer also recently introduced the Tote Swap feature, which enables LE TOTE shoppers to see a snapshot of the five pieces in their totes and decide if they want to keep the selected items or swap them out for different items ahead of delivery. Nearly 80% of customers have adopted Tote Swap, according to a company statement, indicating that personalization is an influential option for subscription services.

LE TOTE also is focusing on expanding its product portfolio for the future, with the buying and merchandising teams engaging in discussions with numerous brands, according to Northart. The additions of new potential partners would give present a wider selection of items to consumers, and furthermore, possibly promote the company to a wider consumer demographic.

“We’re realizing as we grow that people want different tiers of brands,” Northart stated in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We want to offer different aesthetics, and I think that has a lot to do with our existing segment. Right now, there’s a lot of different categories that we could expand this model into, since we’re building the infrastructure to rent out anything. Today, LE TOTE is largely focused on contemporary wear for 28-to-35 year old women, but as we grow there’s a huge opportunity to use this business model and apply it to other segments.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Wed, 25 Mar 2015 06:14:40 -0400
Bluestone Creates Visualizations And Analyzes Data With Qlik Sense Bluestone Creates Visualizations And Analyzes Data With Qlik Sense

bluestoneqlikBluestone, an online jewelry retailer based in India, is using Qlik Sense to provide business users with self-service visualization and data analysis.

In selecting Qlik, the organization sought an agile analytics solution that allowed it to leverage data from multiple sources and help employees respond to customer needs more quickly and effectively.

“Qlik Sense helps us analyze data across several departments at Bluestone, including supply chain and inventory, sales, and operations,” said Gaurav Kushwaha, a Founder of Bluestone. “We’ve only just deployed the visualization platform but the feedback from our users has been fantastic. The fact that the team can all become ‘data analysts’ without any technical knowledge is an important benefit for us as we look to increase our share of the fast-growing online branded jewelry market.”

The Bluestone team worked with Qlik partner Greencube Global to implement the Qlik Sense platform. Greencube Global helped Bluestone create business dashboards that provided insights into the ‘health’ of its business and targets. The dashboards help to maximize the customer experience and enable Bluestone to respond to customer needs and demands in real time.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:32:06 -0400
Former Frito-Lay Exec Joins IDC As Retail Analyst Former Frito-Lay Exec Joins IDC As Retail Analyst

victoria brownFormer Frito-Lay supply chain leader Victoria Brown has joined IDC Retail Insights as a Senior Research Analyst for the Retail Supply Chain. In this role, Brown will spearhead the supply chain research program, which covers topics that include inventory management, warehouse management, logistics and omnichannel distributed order orchestration.

At Frito-Lay, Brown oversaw load balance and tracking distribution channels for the company’s third largest plant in North America. Brown previously held supply chain positions at VistaPrint and Procter & Gamble.

“We are thrilled to welcome Victoria to the team,” said Robert Parker, Group VP of IDC Retail Insights. “Her recent industry experience will be valuable to clients and prospects seeking to modernize their supply chain infrastructure to meet the demands of today’s savvy consumers. A complement to our existing library of research, Victoria’s work will dive deeper into the business and technology challenges facing retailers today with respect to the supply chain and their IT priorities in 2015 and beyond.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:18:45 -0400
CRMC 2015 CRMC 2015


Designed for retailers, by retailers, CRMC brings merchants together to openly share their Marketing and CRM strategies, ideas, and challenges in a casual and comfortable environment; and to foster the relationships built at the annual event throughout the year.

A fast-paced agenda, attendees representing over 150 retail chains, ample networking opportunities, and industry-leading vendor sponsors come together at the CRMC to provide an event unlike any other in the industry. Experts speaking at the session will also cover digital marketing, mobile and social media, customer behavior, the economy and other topics of importance to retail CRM practitioners.


June 3-5, 2015



View the schedule >>

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Industry Calendar Tue, 24 Mar 2015 15:03:49 -0400
Bruneau Selects Symphony EYC G.O.L.D. To Optimize Supply Chain Bruneau Selects Symphony EYC G.O.L.D. To Optimize Supply Chain

Bruneau, an online B2B provider of office supplies and equipment, has selected the Symphony EYC G.O.L.D. unified platform to optimize its supplier and inventory performance. The French retailer plans to deploy G.O.L.D. Master Data Management, Merchandise Management, Supply Chain Management and Warehouse Replenishment.

Bruneau carries more than 15,000 SKUs across six distribution centers in France, which fulfil 25,000 orders per day for approximately 1 million customers in France, Belgium, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.

The G.O.L.D. deployment will enable Bruneau to:

  • Achieve complete and accurate visibility of item, inventory and merchandise flows for multiple warehouses and customers;

  • Optimize vendor negotiations and purchase conditions within one unified platform; and

  • Simplify operations and inventory for international B2B e-Commerce.

“It is critical to leverage inventory performance,” said Nicolas Potier, General Manager of Bruneau. “With the Symphony EYC G.O.L.D. unified retail platform and tools, we can apply best practices across our supply chain, obtain benefits in vendor deals and service levels, then leverage these gains in terms of product availability and pricing to our customers both in France and our international markets.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 24 Mar 2015 09:56:07 -0400
Sportsman's Warehouse Hosts Fifth Annual National Ladies' Night In Stores Sportsman's Warehouse Hosts Fifth Annual National Ladies' Night In Stores

SportsmansSportsman's Warehouse, a sporting goods and outdoors retailer, is hosting the fifth annual Ladies’ Night in stores on March 26, 2015. The retailer designed the event to celebrate thegrowing number of women who regularly participate in outdoor sports such as hunting, fishing, camping and shooting.

During the Ladies Night event, attendees will have access to a series of educational seminars and clinics. Subject matter will range from shooting sports seminars to Dutch oven cooking demonstrations. Consumers also will be able to participate in contests, drawings, raffles and games, and enjoy free food, beverages and in-storespecials.

"We are thrilled to host this great event for its fifth year,” said Karen Seaman, CMO of Sportsman’s Warehouse. “We continue to engage our ever growing female customers who range frombeginners to avid outdoors women."

Event hours vary by store location. Consumers can access the store locator tool on the Sportsman’s Warehouse web site to learn more.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Tue, 24 Mar 2015 09:43:21 -0400
13 Retailers Recognized As Social Media Mavens 13 Retailers Recognized As Social Media Mavens

shadow RTP RT053 AWD SocialMediaMavenAwards Mar 2015Nearly a decade ago, social media was a small fraction of retailers’ marketing mix. Most of the time, businesses were focused on building up their social profiles and pushing out messages and coupons to their followers.

But now, the rules of social engagement have changed: Best-in-class retailers understand that ongoing communication, information sharing and engagement drive successful social initiatives.

For the first time, Retail TouchPoints is honoring brands and retailers that are using social media in innovative ways to improve their engagement, service and selling strategies.

Winners of the 2015 Social Media Maven Awards include both large, national retailers and smaller brands and startups. Award recipients also vary in their product and service offerings, from accessories to apparel, cosmetics and office supplies.

This year’s winners are (in alphabetical order):

  • Adore Me
  • Belk
  • Claire’s
  • DollarDays
  • Jamba Juice
  • Kohl’s
  • Lilly Pulitzer
  • Lorna Jane
  • Marc Jacobs
  • Saddleback Leather Co.
  • Softlips Lip Balm
  • Staples
  • Yes Sir

 Complete the form below to access the inaugural Social Media Maven Awards!

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Special Reports Tue, 24 Mar 2015 08:27:47 -0400
The New Rules Of Engagement: How Location-Based Technology Builds Customer Loyalty The New Rules Of Engagement: How Location-Based Technology Builds Customer Loyalty

VP Zebra ImageRetailers increasingly recognize that to stay competitive and provide a new, more personalized shopping experience for customers, they need technology.

Here is one possible scenario, featuring a consumer named Sue:

{loadposition GIAA}During the holiday season, Sue vowed to get everything on her shopping list purchased and wrapped early. To stay organized, she used her favorite retailer’s smartphone app to create a detailed shopping list. Sweater for Jane; scarf for mom; boots for Danny. The list grew longer each day. Sue headed to the store determined to make a dent in her list.

Once she pulled into the parking lot, Sue’s smartphone recognized the store Wi-Fi and prompted her to connect, giving her access to wayfinding and offers. The retailer greeted her via her smartphone: “Welcome back, Sue! We have special pricing on several items on your shopping list.” Sue’s customer loyalty soared. At her first opportunity, she shared her love for this personalized shopping experience on all her social media accounts.

Making Personal Customer Engagement A Reality

Locationing platforms are the new shiny carrots that enable retailers to capture more insight into shopping behaviors. But more than that, they can unlock the door to a new level of business success.

The latest generation of solutions can reveal which aisles and products customers prefer, which products they purchased in the past and what influences their buying decisions. This level of visibility makes new, deeper transactions possible and empowers loyalty applications to evolve to deliver even more value to customers, such as:

  • Offer shoppers store maps to quickly find the products they want;

  • Prompt associates to tend to customers who linger in certain areas;

  • Communicate promotions based on shopper proximity and relevancy; and

  • Marry retail and eTail for a seamless, personalized shopping experience.

To make locationing a reality and reap all of its considerable business rewards, retailers need several important things: A loyalty app with a strong base of users and a compelling value proposition to continue to drive engagement and downloads. From there, a new level of mobile marketing can take flight.

How It Works

Next generation locationing engines use the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth Smart features of mobile phone carrying customers to determine where they are in the store and define the action that should take place based on that location. Easy and cost-effective to deploy, these solutions deliver three powerful levels of identification capabilities, allowing you to consistently provide every customer with “personal shopper/concierge” style services right from the app in the palm of their hands.

Presence: Presence provides some critical pieces of customer information. It detects when a customer walks in the door via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth Smart, or if network coverage extends outside, when they pull into the parking lot. This allows for the opportunity for a personalized welcome message, promotional coupon or the location of items on their shopping list.

Zone: Zone allows Wi-Fi or Bluetooth Smart to identify when customers are in specific areas of the store, like the lobby or electronics department. This allows you to dispatch an associate to the area for assistance or again, push product information or personalized coupons to their mobile devices.

Position: Position-level details allow retailers to pinpoint a customer’s exact location. This type of visibility can identify individual aisles and product interaction, leading to any number of potential and real-time interactions.

Bottom line? The more real-time information you have, the better service you can provide and the more revenue you can generate per customer.

Locationing is definitely the next big thing in retail. It puts more power behind your loyalty app, giving you an opportunity to add value to your customer relationships in new, dynamic ways via a device that is always within reach. The latest platforms deliver instant visibility to what’s happening in your store — how many customers there are, where they are in relation to your staff. This helps reduce wait times, speed checkout and present an invaluable opportunity to provide exceptional customer service.

When evaluating options, look for solutions that provide multiple levels of presence, capture and store data and allow access to the system from anywhere on virtually any device. Advanced analytics will help you identify buying trends, traffic patterns and customer behaviors so that all elements of the store experience you deliver can be optimized in real-time to drive efficiencies and greater profitability.

Sue, and others like her, await. Investing in the right locationing solution will give you an opportunity to engage with her in exciting new ways. And win her business — and loyalty — every time she shops.

For more information about mobile marketing solutions, please click here.


Gary Singh leads global product and strategic marketing for the enterprise network communications division at Zebra Technologies. A twenty-year Silicon Valley industry veteran, Singh joined Zebra as part of the Motorola Solutions acquisition and was previously with Nokia where he was MD/General Manager Nokia Mobile Payment Services.  Singh has also held leadership positions with Obopay, Aruba Networks and Symbol Technologies. He holds multiple patents and graduated from Punjab University.

]]> (Gary Singh, Zebra Technologies) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 24 Mar 2015 07:57:09 -0400
83% Of Organizations Don’t Think Current IT Systems Will Meet Future Contact Center Needs 83% Of Organizations Don’t Think Current IT Systems Will Meet Future Contact Center Needs

RR DimensionData ImageUp to 83% of organizations indicate that their current IT systems are not equipped to meet future business needs, especially within their contact centers. Furthermore, 33% of executives say that their current systems don’t even meet current needs, according to research from Dimension Data.

To address these challenges, organizations are exploring new solutions and are designing innovative technology frameworks. For one, they are implementing a new hybrid technology model in which legacy systems work alongside cloud-based solutions.

{loadposition GIAA}These systems can be deployed more seamlessly, which can help organizations receive a faster return on investment. Using cloud-based solutions, 93% of users agree that their IT costs have decreased, while 88% said that the cloud technology offers them access to new functionalities.

The 2015 Global Contact Center Benchmarking Report is designed to provide a single point of reference on key elements affecting customer management in contact centers. The report surveyed more than 900 participants working in 12 industries and 72 countries.

Contact center representatives can gain a wealth of knowledge about customers, and collect invaluable data about their preferences, browsing and buying behaviors, and overall satisfaction. However, 51% of the participants said their contact centers don’t share customer intelligence with the rest of the business, and 58% said that core analytic systems aren’t integrated across the organization. Despite respondents indicating that data analytics will change how they connect with consumers within the next five years, 40% of contact centers do not have data analysis tools in place.

Digital non-voice calls are set to rise in 89% of contact centers within the next two years, while standard voice traffic is expected to drop in 35% of contact centers over the same period. As contact centers continue to evolve, customers will gain access to seven different digital channels in addition to the standard phone-based call center. The percentage of contact centers using smartphone applications will reach 55% within 12 months and web chat will jump to 69% over the same time.

With the expansion of customer service channels, organizations are looking to expand their workforce, as well. In fact, contact centers will either maintain (30%) or grow (52%), their employee base in the near future.

Click here to access the report.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Store Operations Tue, 24 Mar 2015 07:00:00 -0400
Udizine Creates Online Store For Retailers’ Store Design Needs Udizine Creates Online Store For Retailers’ Store Design Needs

SS Udizine ImageRetailers that plan to open new stores strive to develop cutting-edge designs that stand out to their target customers. As a result, businesses tend to invest a lot of capital in design elements such as fixtures and displays.

To support retailers and their design needs, Udizine has created an online store that includes store fixtures such as shelving, clothing displays, shoe and product displays and signage. Udizine established the store to provide retailers with seamless access to contemporary, functionally smart, and innovative systems that are cost-effective but also can lead to an increase in sales.

The Udizine web site also includes a display ideas section, which can provide retailers with inspiration for new and creative store ideas. Displays are suitable for any retailer, including apparel, footwear, sporting goods, home décor, electronics and health and beauty.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 23 Mar 2015 10:18:59 -0400
Not Just For Shoppers: How Mobile Helps Store Associates Not Just For Shoppers: How Mobile Helps Store Associates

VP site only PointInside head shotHave you ever worked as a retail store associate? If so, how long did it take you to memorize the location of 45,000 products? On day one, you’re just learning where to clock-in but by the end of the week, you could probably identify the location of the different departments. Chances are, you haven’t memorized all of the products and locations — no matter how long you’ve worked in a store — and things move around a lot each month.

Consider that the average store has between 800 and 2,500 categories and tens of thousands of products. Add in the impact of resets, seasonal items and inventory fluctuations, and you’ve got product in constant motion.

{loadposition GIAA}As we speak, this motion is only increasing. This past holiday season, retailers hired on temporary workers in record numbers in response to high sales predictions. For the 2014 season, Walmart hired 60,000 temporary workers, Kohl’s hired 67,000, Macy’s hired 86,000, and the list goes on. As we settle into the New Year, CIT reports that retailers plan to continue to bring on new employees as sales climb steadily throughout 2015.

No doubt that high retail sales is great news for the economy, but also poses some serious challenges for retailers. How can retailers maintain their brand promise during busy shopping periods, especially when hiring on completely new associates? How can retailers quickly train thousands of workers who need to hit the ground running on day one?

The answer is the same tool that shoppers already use in stores every day: Mobile.

Arming associates with mobile devices starts new temporary workers on the right footing by supplying instant information in the palms of their hands. Mobile also helps current associates, providing important visibility into product inventory, product location, associate location, store metrics, search and more. If a shopper asks where an item is, store associates can use their phones to look up the exact location instead of offering their best guess. Accurate product location also helps associates return items correctly to store shelves — a common problem in-store.

Most importantly, mobile can answer shoppers’ two most frequently asked questions: “Do you have it?” and “Where can I find it?” Many shoppers prefer to use their phones to get these answers rather than find and ask a real person. By looking up a product’s location and inventory in the aisle, shoppers can service their own requests, including the all-famous question: “Where is the bathroom?”

For those shoppers who would like to speak to a real person, mobile phones can also help shoppers find associates in-store. Wandering the store looking for an associate is frustrating for shoppers, other store associates and store managers alike. Imagine store associates being able to pinpoint their colleagues on a phone to let them know a shopper needs help, or shoppers able to find the location of the nearest associate and send him or her a message via mobile. The possibilities are endless.

Mobile also makes the checkout process seamless. I have yet to meet a shopper who loves waiting in the checkout line. To combat this, retailers such as Nordstrom have associates waiting in-aisle with mobile phones and bright green shirts, ready to check out any guest wherever he or she is at — streamlining the shopping experience for customers and making the process more efficient for employees.

The final piece of the mobile puzzle is its ability to make store operations more efficient — especially important for new employees just learning the ropes. Completing routine workflow management, such as walking the floor to perform managerial duties, can be difficult if employees have to walk to the front of the store to address each problem. Employees waste time and productivity by continually pacing across thousands of square feet.

With mobile, store associates can instead identify exactly where a problem is and notify the appropriate personnel to address it. Mobile tools can also help store associates carry out a number of other routine operations, such as setting a planogram, setting new stock on store shelves or reordering products. Employees can easily reorder items by scanning them using their phones or finding them through mobile product search.

Implementing mobile tools for associates requires its own strategy — but that’s a completely separate topic in itself. What retailers need to know now is that by empowering store associates with mobile, they can change conversations with shoppers from answering location and inventory questions to conversations where they can provide expertise and recommendations.

Mobile answers shoppers’ most-asked day-to-day questions while giving store associates both the confidence and the time to represent the brand. Using mobile, associates have the tools to truly be the connection between store operations and the enterprise to the shopper — in turn increasing revenue and basket size for retailers and improving the overall shopping experience for customers.

Josh Marti is the CEO and Co-Founder of Seattle-based Point Inside, a provider of in-store SaaS solutions for mobile shopper engagement. Top retailers like Lowe’s and Meijer drive billions in mobile influenced in-store sales using Point Inside's StoreMode™ platform. Every day, Point Inside processes billions of retail data points to deliver brick-and-mortar shoppers search, product mapping and personalized recommendations specific to their local store. Considered an expert in wireless location-based services, Marti was responsible for several of Qualcomm’s largest gpsOne deployments prior to co-founding Point Inside in 2009. Voted a Seattle “40 Under 40” honoree in 2012, he holds a bachelor’s of science in electrical engineering from Seattle University and sits on its EE & CE Advisory Board.

]]> (Josh Marti, Point Inside) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 23 Mar 2015 08:59:35 -0400
Adroit Digital Shopper Cooperative Gives Retailers Access To 400 Million Anonymous Consumer Profiles Adroit Digital Shopper Cooperative Gives Retailers Access To 400 Million Anonymous Consumer Profiles

SS Adroit ImageTo successfully engage consumers who have access to a wealth of brand and product options, best-in-class retailers are focusing on refining and optimizing their personalization strategies. However, retailers must have detailed data about their target customers, their preferences and past behaviors.

The Adroit Digital Shopper Cooperative gives retails access to consumer data from hundreds of brands, enabling them to identify unique audiences to target and market to. The data pool consists of more than 400 million anonymous consumer profiles and 100 million unidentified unique buyers.

Leveraging this wealth of information, marketers can craft highly personalized campaigns and messages at scale.

The Digital Shopper Cooperative includes:

  • A performance media product that touts integrated analytics designed for full-funnel, goal oriented marketing campaigns;

  • Shared commerce data sourced anonymously from more than 250 brand advertisers;

  • A media collective that provides cross-channel access to a private marketplace and open exchange media; and

  • A predictive modeling engine that facilitates data modeling.

“Currently in the industry, true commerce data exists in a highly fragmented state at a time when consumer attention is increasingly directed online,” said Jacob Ross, President of Adroit Digital. “Our clients are able to leverage a large-scale, rich pool of shared, anonymized consumer data to solve this critical problem.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 23 Mar 2015 07:45:58 -0400
Amazon Plans To Close Webstore In 2016 Amazon Plans To Close Webstore In 2016

Amazon is telling all online merchants using its Webstore e-Commerce platform that it will be shut down starting July 1, 2016, according to posts on an Amazon forum. Although the e-Commerce giant has not confirmed the shutdown, it indicated on the Webstore site that the service will not be available to new sellers. Retailers using Webstore have 15 months to migrate to another web hosting service.

Webstore is the latest web hosting service to shut down. In February 2015, eBay discontinued its Magento Go offering, leaving SMBs scrambling to find another e-Commerce solution. Yahoo, meanwhile, announced its plan to spin off its Small Business platform into an independent company, called SpinCo in Q4 2015.

{loadposition GIAA}Similar to major competitors Bigcommerce and Shopify, Webstore is designed to help retailers build their own online storefronts. With so many small and growing retailers lacking the internal resources to custom build an e-Commerce site, these solutions have become a necessity for entrepreneurs. Tim Schulz, Chief Product Officer at Bigcommerce, noted that on average, his company’s retail clients log in to the Bigcommerce control panel approximately 17 times a day, which is more than they log in to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

“It’s really difficult to start an online business once it’s live,” said Tim Schulz, Chief Product Officer at Bigcommerce. “You have to put a lot of work into the brand and the shopping experience. You have to configure payment gateways and accounting software, and the e-Commerce platform is really the heart and soul of a merchant — especially an SMB.”

Did Limitations And Lack Of Focus Set Amazon Webstore Up For Failure?

When solutions and services like Webstore fill such a significant market need and still fail, industry players can’t help but wonder: What went wrong?

A lack of customer focus and the need to tailor solutions and services to too many businesses may have been the root of the problem, according to Leah Anathan, CMO at PrestaShop, an open source e-Commerce platform provider. Webstore and Magento Go worked with thousands of businesses, which means they had to adapt to the needs of every end-user, a difficult task for even the largest organizations.

“The issue for these companies that are trying to serve the e-Commerce needs of everyone — from the largest vendors to the smallest vendors — is that you can’t really serve the needs of the small business without really focusing in on what the small business needs,” Anathan said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “A small e-Commerce business is oftentimes started by an entrepreneur that could be a first-time business owner. It’s not just providing them with a technology solution. You as a business have to provide them with the software and the guidance for marketing, payment and shipping, search and even product photography.”

After all, the e-Commerce needs of a top 100 retailer and a business just launching an e-Commerce site are vastly different, which makes the relationship building, solution development and management process extremely complex for service providers.

“If one of your clients is a major retailer, the business model and needs around that client are going to be much more people-intensive and personalized,” Anathan explained. “They’re expecting technology solutions and they have full-time experts in-house dedicated to their e-Commerce store. What they need from you is totally different from an SMB because they have legal, marketing, shipping and fulfillment people. They have people for everything, because it’s a multimillion dollar business all by itself.”

Additionally, the e-Commerce platforms that are closing have limitations, so many merchants invest extra time and money to find loopholes such as custom APIs or spreadsheet hacks to work around them, according to Schulz. Eventually, some sophisticated retailers will decide to take that investment and move to a platform that can handle more complex needs. When Magento Go announced its shutdown in July 2014, it had a built-in transition plan including timelines to ensure that its retail users could transition to Bigcommerce smoothly.

“My hope is that Amazon, Yahoo and some other providers choose to go down this road too, because it’s a real knock on their brand if they don’t take care of these people,” Schulz said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They’re not just using a product that’s outside Amazon’s core business; a lot of them are listing on Amazon and they use this product in what ends up augmenting Amazon’s business. It would be good if they invested in a smooth migration plan with a trusted partner.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) E-Commerce Mon, 23 Mar 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Indix And Prosperent Bring Product-Specific Content To Retailers Indix And Prosperent Bring Product-Specific Content To Retailers

indixprosperentIndix, a cloud-based product intelligence solution provider, has partnered with consumer product content marketing company Prosperent to organize, categorize and streamline up to 50 million products a day from 4,800 merchant partners.

Prosperent is designed to help content creators earn money by tying relevant products to their content. For example, the solution can pair a customer’s blog post about Nike shoes with an ad for those same shoes, which are sold by partner retailers including Nordstrom, Overstock, Walmart and Zappos. When ad clicks convert to sales, the content publisher can earn a commission as high as 80%, while the retailer earns the full price of the sale.

By leveraging the data science algorithms from Indix, Prosperent can manage and streamline the product information it gathers from retailers and brands.

“Working with Indix dramatically improves the quality of our product search engine across the 50 million products in our tool set,” said Mike Christensen, President of Prosperent. “The Big Data and machine learning solution that Indix provides to improve data quality, price points and categorizations significantly advances our product and improves revenue for our publishers and conversions for the merchants we work with.”

The partnership between Indix and Prosperent "enables publishers and merchants to connect products to a precisely targeted audience through the use of data science," added Sanjay Parthasarathy, Founder and CEO of Indix, “providing a seamless experience from search to final sale.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 20 Mar 2015 14:13:50 -0400
Foot Locker Shuts Down Lady Foot Locker Brand Foot Locker Shuts Down Lady Foot Locker Brand

LadyFootLockerFootwear and apparel retailer Foot Locker plans to gradually phase out its Lady Foot Locker business over the next few years, the company revealed during a call with investors. Dick Johnson, CEO of Foot Locker, noted that the retailer would “manage the portfolio down” as individual store leases expired, but did not provide an official closing date for the Lady Foot Locker brand.

Foot Locker has gradually closed Lady Foot Locker locations over the past decade due to lagging performance, going from 567 locations in 2004 to 213 by the end of 2014.

{loadposition GIAA}The stores range between 3,200 and 3,400 square feet and, in turn, are “too large to be profitable,” according to TheStreet. Johnson pointed out that the Lady Foot Locker brand had an “awful lot of testosterone” injected into it because the brand emphasized general footwear styles that didn’t cater to women.

As Lady Foot Locker shutters, the retailer will shift focus towards its standalone store concept: SIX:02. The SIX:02 brand sells yoga and training apparel for women, and will seek partnerships with local fitness influencers at gyms and exercise studios. The concept initially launched in 2012 at three locations, and will expand to 35 stores by the end of 2015.

“We view SIX:02 as the more formidable evolution of Lady Foot Locker,” Edward Plank and Randal Konik, analysts at Jefferies, wrote in a note to investors. “As the concept gains scale, it may have the ability to disrupt the women's mono-branded specialty athletic channel via its unique assortment of key branded apparel.”

In addition to the new SIX:02 concept stores, Foot Locker plans to include more female apparel, footwear and accessories in its name brand locations.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Fri, 20 Mar 2015 14:56:49 -0400
Mobile Payments Market Starts To Take Shape Mobile Payments Market Starts To Take Shape

Apple Pay'sheadshot robFee introduction last fall kick-started mobile wallet adoption into high gear. I chalk this up to Apple's ability to create excitement around its product launches while effectively streamlining and explaining the technology. After all, how many brands have potential customers on the edges of their seats during product release press conferences?

Now that consumers know more about mobile wallets and NFC payments, the market is beginning to materialize after a few stagnant years.

Google, well aware that not everyone is an Apple user, boosted its Wallet app by convincing AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon to give up their stakes in the mobile wallet race and purchasing intellectual property from Softcard — the payments app created by a joint venture of the three wireless providers. Previously, customers of those networks had to either use Softcard for NFC payments or unlock their phones to be able to use Google Wallet.

Coming soon: Google's Android Pay, announced a few weeks after the Softcard acquisition, which promises more payment flexibility and security enhancements that Google Wallet's tap to pay functionality lacked.

Samsung also entered the fray when it announced its own payment solution — Samsung Pay. Perhaps the biggest problem facing mobile payments is the lack of vendors that have the hardware to accept these payments. Samsung claims it solved this problem by integrating mag stripe technology that is compatible with older terminals. While Samsung says this enables approximately 90% of merchants to accept its payment solution, it may be a moot point with the upcoming EMV deadline in October 2015 leading retailers to upgrade terminals.

Which company will win this race? The model pushed by wireless carriers, Softcard, never took off, which opened the door for device makers and software developers. This means there is room for more than one provider in the market. Apple Pay will almost certainly win its devoted iOS fan base. Android users, however, have more choices. My prediction: Android Pay wins out.

Most surprising in all of this, however, is the amount of control over payments that banks have been willing to relinquish. Why haven't banks and credit card providers created their own payment apps? These financial institutions might already be working on their own solutions. I suspect their involvement could be the next turn in this race. 

]]> (Rob Fee) Editor's Perspective Thu, 19 Mar 2015 15:17:57 -0400
Target Raises Minimum Wage To $9 Per Hour Target Raises Minimum Wage To $9 Per Hour

Target will increase the hourly wage for entry-level employees to $9 starting in April 2015, according to a report from Reuters. Although Target has not made a formal statement, this news comes shortly following both Wal-Mart Stores and TJX announcing that they would raise their minimum wages during 2015.

The wage raise will affect its approximately 1,800 Target stores nationwide. It is not clear how many of the retailer’s 347,000 employees will see a pay bump.

{loadposition GIAA}Previously, the retailer paid employees more than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. But similar to Walmart, Target felt pressure from advocacy groups, particularly UltraViolet, who ran an online campaign aimed at shoppers who live near select Target stores. Banner ads read, “Did you know there's a Walmart near you that pays higher minimum wage than Target?”

However, Target has made an effort to tailor salaries and wages based on the cost of living. The retailer already pays workers at least $9 an hour in areas with higher living costs such as New York or North Dakota, which has the highest wages, according to John Mulligan, CFO at Target. When addressing the topic at a March conference call with analysts, Mulligan said a flat minimum wage was “just not reasonable. It's about being competitive locally at a store level within a marketplace.”

Earlier this month, Target revealed a cost-cutting plan designed to save $2 billion by restructuring its corporate workforce and streamlining internal technology and processes. As part of the plan, Target said it would eliminate “several thousand positions over the next two years,” mostly from its corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, Minn. Thus far, Target has laid off 1,700 employees and permanently closed 1,400 open positions.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Thu, 19 Mar 2015 11:56:53 -0400
Vestique Streamlines Business Expansion With Springboard Retail Vestique Streamlines Business Expansion With Springboard Retail

SMBs that expand online and to multiple stores sometimes have issues scaling their POS systems, inventory management strategies and overall business reporting to meet and exceed growth objectives.

Experiencing these challenges firsthand, women’s apparel retailer Vestique implemented Springboard Retail as its new POS system and to monitor inventory levels for its e-Commerce site and seven retail locations in North Carolina and South Carolina.

{loadposition GIAA}“Our inventory moves so quickly,” said Morgan Lashley, Co-Owner of Vestique. “We get a top or a dress in stock and it’s gone within a few days, so there’s a really high turnover rate. The inventory management system we were originally using was just not for us at all. It had been very expensive, and we didn’t want to get locked into a longer-term deal again.”

Together, Lashley and Caroline King, her business partner and Co-Owner, coordinate the boutique’s merchandise buying — even after expanding Vestique from an online storefront in 2010 to multiple locations. As the business grew, Lashley and King had less bandwidth, making it more difficult for them to monitor stores and identify which products were selling the best.

“Springboard has a sophisticated reporting tool that can show you products sold by day and by hour,” Lashley said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We were able to pull up reports on our stores and see not only which products were selling, but which categories were selling. That way, we could buy more of the appropriate products and sell them in our stores.”

The Springboard platform also enables Lashley and King to train the retailer’s 50 part-time employees quickly and efficiently, according to Lashley. Whenever the retailer purchases a new product and enters it into Springboard, the system creates a new bar code. This makes it easier for employees to retag all items and scan them into the system.

In addition to helping Vestique improve inventory efficiencies, Springboard also helps the retailer optimize its POS experience.

With the platform, the retailer can develop portable checkout terminals on laptops during busy shopping days. This gives the individual stores not one, but two, outlets to interact with consumers during the checkout process.

“We’ve had a ton of positive feedback about the checkout process in our stores,” Lashley stated. “Before, it took a long time to check someone out. We didn’t have a scanner and bar code system, so it would take three or four minutes to get one customer checked out. For a small boutique, we service a lot of customers, and the lines used to be ridiculous at our stores. On Black Friday this year, we didn’t see a line in our stores, which was great because it meant we were getting customers in and out with our new system.”

Within the next six months, the boutique will further integrate its e-Commerce site with the Springboard Retail platform to expand inventory and order management capabilities, allowing customers and team members to access items across all channels.

“If for some reason we sell out of an item online, the site will pull it from another store’s inventory,” Lashley explained. “Until the item is completely gone in all seven of our locations, we’re still going to be able to sell it online. They’re going to be able to ship it out from that particular store that still has it.”

Lashley anticipates that this capability will help Vestique increase sales. “We are finding that when we buy a lot of the same inventory for all the stores, one store may blow out of something quickly, but another store may hold the same item around for a few weeks. Now we’ll be able to sell these items across the board.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Fri, 20 Mar 2015 07:00:00 -0400
Nature & Découvertes Reduces Network Costs By 50% With Ipanema Technologies Nature & Découvertes Reduces Network Costs By 50% With Ipanema Technologies

nature-et-decouvertesNature & Découvertes, a European retailer with 83 stores across Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland, has reduced application response time by 50% since partnering with application performance management provider Ipanema Technologies. As part of a two-year, enterprise-wide digital transformation, the retailer also reduced network costs by 50% and operating expenses by 10%.

Ipanema helped the Nature & Découvertes IT department facilitate the transformation and automate the prioritization of network applications, including SAP HANA, Microsoft Office 365, POS and a real-time BI solution.

{loadposition GIAA}“With Ipanema we do more with less, which allows us to invest in new 2.0 retail projects with confidence and flexibility,” said Josselin Ollier, CIO of Nature & Découvertes. “Thanks to well-defined business service-level agreements, we can guarantee the performance of our business-critical applications in real time and deliver an efficient customer-centric approach in our 2.0 shops. With multichannel and cross-channel 2.0 applications working efficiently, we strongly contributed to increasing customer satisfaction while providing new services.”

Additional benefits of the Ipanema solution included the ability to:

  • Manage increased traffic and an application flows matrix without adding network capacity;

  • Maximize the customer experience across multiple channels and during peak periods;

  • Centralize the IT decision-making process through improved communications between business units; and

  • Provide regional directors with KPIs based on their stores and shoppers.

The IT department can now detect network trouble before it impacts employees or customers, which allows Nature & Découvertes to concentrate primarily on supporting sales objectives and maximizing the company’s productivity.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Wed, 18 Mar 2015 14:24:32 -0400
Crocs Increases Online Revenue Per Visit By 50% With ShoeFinder Experience Crocs Increases Online Revenue Per Visit By 50% With ShoeFinder Experience

Some shoppers enjoy the thrill of hunting for products online. Others, however, become annoyed if they cannot quickly find a specific item they are looking for.

Crocs is appealing to both groups with ShoeFinder, an interactive and intuitive tool designed to help shoppers discover shoes. Since unveiling the new feature, Crocs has seen online revenue per visit increase by 50%. The brand and retailer also has seen customer satisfaction scores and average ticket prices increase.

Based on internal research, Crocs found that many consumers were unfamiliar with the variety of shoe styles the brand offered. In fact, Crocs has evolved into a complete lifestyle brand, which has led to an increase in distribution points and a greater breadth and depth of shoe designs.

“Over the past five years, this has been the biggest change,” said Harvey Bierman, VP of e-Commerce Technology and Operations at Crocs, Inc. “It makes shopping and browsing more complex, but also more rewarding for the consumer.”

An increasing global footprint also has made the search experience more challenging.

“Our global footprint was making it more and more challenging to keep up with translation and localization efforts,” Bierman explained. “We wanted to provide an alternative form of navigation to our customers that was a more visual approach to search and navigation that did not require knowledge of terms like ‘loafer,’ ‘mary jane’ or ‘flat.’”

{loadposition GIAA}By partnering with innovation and solution provider Fluid, Inc., the retailer created ShoeFinder, a seamless, fun and quirky experience for shoppers. 

The ShoeFinder tool presents consumers with an interactive and visual way to find shoes. Touting a variety of design elements — such as color, silhouette and gender — builds a more streamlined shopping experience for consumers all over the world.

“The Crocs ShoeFinder is different from most product finders because it is highly visual and not as linear,” noted Bridget Fahrland, SVP of Client Strategy at Fluid. “This means it meets the needs of both surgical shoppers and casual browsers.”

ShoeFinder also removes language barriers and empowers shoppers worldwide to find and purchase the shoes they covet.

“Having a visual tool for the shopping experience that is not dependent on text is one tactic we’ve taken to be more consistent in how we define our customer journey,” Bierman said. “Now a customer in the UK, U.S. and Japan can find a classic Crocs clog without having to know it’s called a ‘clog’ or ‘Classic.’ They just have to know what the general silhouette looks like.”

Although the variety of product attributes helps make sifting through inventory easier, Crocs has no plans to expand its menu of features.

“There is definite value in providing customers with some level of detailed technical product attribution,” Bierman said. “However, our image as a fun, comfortable and colorful brand encourages our customers to browse larger selections of appealing styles versus refining their results to an explicit subset of products that meet a defined set of criteria only.”


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Thu, 19 Mar 2015 06:00:00 -0400
Getting Strategic With The Right Data

RTP-roundtable header MN


Thursday May 21, 2015 from 8:30am to 11am (CST)



More info coming soon!

]]> (Devin McDonnell) Retail Industry Calendar Wed, 18 Mar 2015 07:29:02 -0400
Optimizing The New, More Powerful Store Experience

RTP-roundtable header NYC


Tuesday April 21, 2015 from 8:30am to 11am (EST)


Ai Fiori
400 5th Ave. #2
New York, NY 10018


While 90+% of retail sales continue to be finalized in physical stores, store traffic is declining due to massive online and mobile commerce growth, as well as other rapidly changing consumer behaviors. To manage those challenges, it is now both an imperative and opportunity for retailers to use advanced in-store analytics to understand and optimize the in-store experience. 

Join Steve Rowen from RSR Research, retail peer executives, and other industry leaders for a dynamic, roundtable discussion on this critical topic.  Learn industry best practices, share ideas, and get a glimpse of the art of the possible!

We are looking forward to sharing some great breakfast fare with you and your retail peers, 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.

]]> (Devin McDonnell) Retail Industry Calendar Tue, 17 Mar 2015 14:00:00 -0400
Frank & Oak Brings Brand Culture To Life With In-Store Mobility Frank & Oak Brings Brand Culture To Life With In-Store Mobility

Although Frank & Oak started as an online-only business, CEO Ethan Song never considered it to be strictly an e-Commerce company.

“We always wanted to find ways to connect with our customers whether it was online, via mobile or physically,” Song said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. Despite having a loyal base of 1.6 million online members across the U.S. and Canada, Frank & Oak found a store to be an important component of its relationships with consumers. By Nov. 13, 2014, Frank & Oak opened its first flagship store in Toronto.  

“We are always looking at where our customer is so it felt natural for us to choose Toronto as the location for our store,” Song said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Our store really reflects the overall brand experience as it’s a combination of content and personal service.”

For example, in addition to selling a variety of products, the Frank & Oak store includes a coffee shop and barbershop. “For us, the brand story is about creating a space for entrepreneurs and young creative,” Song said. “We wanted to create a store where people can hang out, which is why we incorporated these important lifestyle elements.”

{loadposition GIAA}To make the brick-and-mortar experience even more interactive and compelling, Frank & Oak has rolled out the tablet solution from Tulip Retail, which provides a suite of sales associate mobility tools.

“We knew Tulip from the tech community in Canada,” Song explained. “We really wanted to offer a personalized service and having a mobile solution is the core of it. So when we were looking for a solution it felt natural to speak to Tulip.”

Enriching The Customer Experience

Using the Tulip platform, Frank & Oak Style Advisors are empowered with a wealth of information and resources to drive omnichannel sales. They have access to an enhanced product catalog that touts detailed product information and inventory levels; customer profiles that highlight purchase history and available store credit; and POS capabilities so they can complete in-store and e-Commerce transactions anywhere in the store.

“Frank & Oak has millions of fans who have already purchased from the brand and are familiar with it,” said Ali Asaria, CEO of Tulip Retail. “Our challenge was to build a customer experience for loyal shoppers and newcomers equally simple and enriching as they shop the Frank & Oak store. We know that consumers expect continuity in their shopping experience as they shop online and in-stores. Frank & Oak is one of the first retailers to pull off a truly omnichannel experience.”

Now, Style Advisors have access to information on who the customer is, which helps them provide better service, according to Song. “The full customer profile and past purchase history of the customer allows our Style Advisors to give personalized recommendations. And the fact that we have a mobile solution allows us to move away from the cash counter, which makes the relationship with the customer much more organic.”

Frank & Oak will refer to sales data as well as customer and employee feedback to determine the overall impact of the mobile solution.  

“Our employees are a vital part of the integrated experience and their feedback is key,” Song noted. To capture associate engagement and ensure buy-in, the retailer needed to “make sure that our Style Advisors understood the vision and the experience that we want to create. It’s also about giving them the proper training to make sure that the tools are fully exploited.”

Tulip plans to actively support the Frank & Oak team by training associates when new stores open by “visiting them in-store to answer questions and gather feedback,” Asaria said. “This is one of the hidden factors that ensure we are successful in our work together.” 


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Wed, 18 Mar 2015 06:00:18 -0400 Sets Sights On Amazon As Debut Nears Sets Sights On Amazon As Debut Nears

Although it has not sold a single product yet, online marketplace is aiming to become top competition for Amazon, which has strongly claimed its place as an e-Commerce leader. How exactly is the company planning to do that when others have failed so severely? By providing consumers with 10% to 15% off their online purchases, according to company founder Marc Lore. gained publicity after raising $220 million in numerous funding ventures, including a recent $140 million financing round led by Bain Capital. Despite not being open to the general public, the company already has a valuation of approximately $600 million.

{loadposition GIAA}Lore is the Founder and former CEO of Quidsi, the parent company of and, which had competed directly with Amazon in the baby and health products categories. After Amazon cut diaper prices by one-third, Quidsi’s profitability fell, forcing Lore to sell the company to the e-Commerce powerhouse for $545 million. Lore continued running Quidsi for more than two years under the Amazon umbrella, and as such, is very familiar with his largest and most powerful competitor.

Taking Aim At Amazon Prime plans to generate revenue from its $50 annual membership fees, which are half of the $99/year cost of Amazon Prime. The marketplace will gain additional revenue through partnerships with retailers that will give the company a percentage of each sale. By 2020, expects to reach $5 billion in annual sales.

Retailers that are currently partnering with include Sears Hometown & Outlet Stores, Sony and The marketplace also has created Jet Anywhere, an affiliate program that will reward members with 20% to 30% credits of their purchases if they shop with partners such as Gap and J.Crew, according to the Re/code report.

When shopping at, shoppers will be able to purchase wholesale items from a range of sellers and combine everything in one box. As customers add more items to the cart, each individual product price will decrease.

“Lore is just taking the money that most companies put in their pocket and is giving it back to the consumer,” said Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Marketing Group. “The logistics side of the house is going to be the really interesting part of the business model. How are they getting this data and where are they sourcing what location that baseball bat is closest to? How will they marry that with a baseball and a glove? That’s going to be the real magic in this model if it does truly work.”

The business model could potentially encourage bulk purchases by providing a digital version of the Costco shopping experience. Rather than visiting many stores on a more frequent basis, consumers can purchase in bulk to save more money and make their lives easier.

“The Costco business model came to be 21 years after Walmart was founded and it worked,” Lore said in the interview with Re/code. “It didn’t crush Walmart or hurt Walmart. Coincidentally, it’s been 21 years post-Amazon. We’re doing to Amazon what Costco did to Walmart: Not beat them up, but just introduce a new way to save.”

The site will open to the general public in spring 2015, with the first 100,000 “Jet Insiders” gaining access on a rolling basis in early March. The Jet Insiders originally signed up for the service through word-of-mouth marketing, and have received a free six-month membership. The company closed off the program after it obtained more than 350,000 signups, according to Lore in a Forbes interview.

Building A Business On Cost Savings

In an online presentation hosted by e-Commerce software provider ChannelAdvisor, Scott Hilton, Chief Revenue Officer at, revealed that members may get additional discounts if they join a mailing list, pick up an item in a brick-and-mortar store or even if they pay using a debit or credit card.

All orders worth $35 or more will receive free shipping. Otherwise, shipping will cost an extra $6 per order. The shipping model, like every other aspect of the service, focuses more on cost savings than speed or convenience. Items with free shipping will be delivered in a window of three to five business days, while “consumables” will be shipped in a maximum of two days.

Customers who promise not to return items will get a 3% discount on their purchase, according to Hilton. He noted that customers who accept the discount and end up wanting to return an item will be forced to pay a penalty.

The penalty does present potential challenges for the business model, particularly if the shipment comes in with the wrong product, or is timed poorly.

“The consumers will absolutely speak loudly if it’s not something they like,” Caporaso said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They have enough channels via social and blogs as the power has really shifted to them. It will get noisy if lays out the benefits and value propositions but doesn’t execute on them. It will be interesting to see how the customer service team responds to it, whether by changing the product offerings or adjusting the value proposition.”

If a retail partner doesn’t have an item that the consumer purchases through the marketplace, it will still place the order and provide a discount. When the item is in stock, shipping will take just as long as it would have if the item was originally available, delaying the process. In the meantime, though, some consumers may decide to purchase the item from another retailer — even at full price — in order to receive the product faster.

“If you look at online concierge shopping, it’s not new but it’s not usually targeted at a cost-conscious shopper, and we don’t know if these shoppers find this appealing,” Caporaso stated. “ has gone on record and said customers will save $150 per year. From a value proposition perspective, are you willing to pay $50 to save $150? There are other opportunities out there with other products where the value proposition or the value generated through a subscription product is significantly higher. I would put these factors in the unknown bucket as we watch and see the rollout.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) E-Commerce Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:00:00 -0400
J.C. Penney CMO Resigns J.C. Penney CMO Resigns

BermanPenneyDebra Berman, Chief Marketing Officer at J.C. Penney, has resigned from her position effective immediately.

In her role, Berman launched the retailer’s "When it fits, you feel it" slogan, oversaw the company's first sponsorship of NBC's Olympic broadcast and helped orchestrate an initiative during the 2014 World Cup developed to engage Hispanic consumers.

{loadposition GIAA}“Debra enjoyed being a part of J.C. Penney's turnaround efforts, including the repositioning of the J.C. Penney brand with our new ‘fit’ campaign, but ultimately decided this was the right time to leave J.C. Penney and bring her same brand focus to other companies,” a J.C. Penney spokesperson said in a company statement. “J.C. Penney is grateful for her service, and we wish her well in all future endeavors.”

Prior to her time as CMO at J.C. Penney, Berman was the retailer’s SVP of Marketing. Berman also previously served as the VP of Marketing Strategy and Engagement at Kraft Foods Group.

Kirk Waidelich, VP of Marketing Strategy, will temporarily oversee customer strategy, as well as media and marketing integration at J.C. Penney. Meanwhile, Lynne Bartron, another VP of Marketing Strategy, will temporarily oversee creative, production and operations, publicity and partnerships until a permanent replacement is found.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Tue, 17 Mar 2015 15:28:25 -0400
Versa Wins Bid To Acquire Wet Seal Versa Wins Bid To Acquire Wet Seal

Versa Capital Management has won a bidding war for the remaining assets of apparel retailer Wet Seal, according to a statement from the private equity firm. Wet Seal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2015 and has closed 338 stores and laid off more than 3,700 employees.

The winning bid will be presented to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware on March 18, 2015, for final approval.

{loadposition GIAA}“We believe our agreement with Versa provides the best possible outcome for our creditors, employees, customers and other constituents,” said Ed Thomas, CEO of Wet Seal. “We are focused on executing an orderly emergence from bankruptcy court supervision and collaborating with Versa to improve the operational and financial performance of the business.”

The Versa deal includes: $7.5 million in cash that will be shared among unsecured creditors; an agreement to pay cure costs as well as administrative and priority claims; and $10 million in exit financing. Versa also agreed to take over a $20 million bankruptcy financing commitment from competing bidder B. Riley Financial, and paid them a $625,000 breakup fee.

B. Riley initially agreed to take 80% of the equity in Wet Seal in exchange for $25 million before Versa exceeded its offer.

Wet Seal estimated that its assets were worth between $10 million and $50 million, according to its bankruptcy filing, with liabilities between $100 million and $500 million. During the bankruptcy, the retailer continued to keep its remaining 173 stores open.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Mergers & Acquisitions Tue, 17 Mar 2015 11:48:44 -0400
Retailers Simplify Workforce Tasks To Foster Engagement Retailers Simplify Workforce Tasks To Foster Engagement

Shadow RTP RT049 SR Workforce Mar 2015Strong employee engagement is the key for retailers looking to maximize revenue and retain their workforce. While many retailers already have taken measures to boost employee satisfaction, there is room for improvement.

To improve organizational morale and build a better financial outlook, retailers such as Belk, PSK Supermarkets, Rite Aid, Simms Fishing and Wireless Vision are implementing solutions with capabilities including:

  • Schedule management;
  • Human resources and payroll management;
  • Quarterly/monthly goal planning; and
  • Advanced analytics and reporting.

Complete the form below to download the entire report, titled: Engaging And Empowering Today’s Workforce.


]]> (Glenn Taylor) Special Reports Tue, 17 Mar 2015 09:52:30 -0400
Are You Mobile-Ready? Gilt And GLAMSQUAD Co-Founder Will Share Tips And Best Practices At FD Mobile Are You Mobile-Ready? Gilt And GLAMSQUAD Co-Founder Will Share Tips And Best Practices At FD Mobile

Retailers of all sizes and across categories are looking at mobile as a new engagement and commerce necessity. But there are many questions that emerge as executives determine their strategies and investments, such as: Should my business invest in a mobile-optimized site or app? Are our emails tailored to mobile screen sizes? How can we successfully connect our mobile and brick-and-mortar experiences? 

These questions — and many more — will be investigated during FD Mobile, an intimate event developed by Sandy Hussain, Founder and CEO of Fashion Digital. Solution providers looking to attend FD Mobile can click here to receive a special discount on registration, courtesy of Retail TouchPoints. Retail executives can get on the attendee list by emailing

First unveiled in an interview with Retail TouchPoints, FD Mobile touts a comprehensive agenda that hones in on the importance of being mobile-ready in the new era of retail. The event will take place on March 24, 2015 at the Digital Sandbox in New York City.

{loadposition GIAA}Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Co-Founder of Gilt Groupe and Co-Founder/CEO of GLAMSQUAD, will participate in keynote fireside chat with Aslaug Magnusdottir, Co-Founder of Moda-Operandi. Executives from Adore Me, Alex & Ani, American Eagle, Brooks Brothers and Kate Spade, also will participate in the day-long event, which will include intimate sessions and workshops on how retailers can create first-class mobile strategies.

"In a world where technology is constantly evolving, brick-and-mortar is not the only way to access consumers anymore,” said Wilkis Wilson in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Mobile is now a necessity for brands that need to operate digitally. And a conference of this nature is a powerful way for industry leaders and executives to gather together to brainstorm, collaborate and learn.” 

Topics covered during FD Mobile include:

  • Using analytics to optimize mobile design;
  • The keys to mobile commerce success;
  • How to acquire and retain customers via mobile;
  • Mobile and implications for omnichannel; and
  • Location-based selling: Beacons, wearables and payment solutions.

While many — if not all — retail events touch on mobile in some capacity, FD Mobile is the first event solely focused on mobile trends and best practices for fashion brands and retailers.

"Retail and fashion in a mobile world will be fundamentally different than it is today,” said Ian Thiel, Head of Mobile at Optimizely. “As a platform and touch point, mobile presents a unique opportunity to connect directly with customers in deep, meaningful ways. FD Mobile is a first-of-its-kind event for top fashion and retail brands to share best practices and insights on mobile.”

In an effort to move beyond the typical event format, Hussain aimed to eliminate a lot of the “noise” that comes with large-scale events. According to Hussain, “there will be no exhibit tables and certainly no pitching. Instead, we’ll focus on core roundtable discussions, case studies and insights that are backed by industry data.”

Roundtable conversations and more workshop-style sessions also will encourage vibrant communication and collaboration, allowing executives to share their experiences and best practices in the new mobile world. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Sun, 15 Mar 2015 23:00:00 -0400
NetBase Secures $24 Million In Funding NetBase Secures $24 Million In Funding

NetBaseSocial media analytics company NetBase has secured $24 million in Series E financing from Spring Lake Equity Partners. Venture capitalist firms Thomvest Ventures, Altos Ventures and WestSummit Capital also participated in the funding round.

NetBase will use the money to: accelerate its market position within the core listening analytics space, further develop its innovation roadmap, support critical alliances and drive global expansion.

“We seek to partner with great management teams at later-stage, technology-oriented private companies to help them take their businesses to the next level, creating value for all stakeholders,” said Carmen Scarpa, Founding Partner at Spring Lake Equity Partners. “It was a natural decision to invest in NetBase. The company is disrupting the social analytics space with its proprietary technology and innovation, and we’re well-matched to pursue the ambitious goals for growth.”

Since transitioning to a new management team, NetBase has experienced a ten-fold boost to its customer base and a seven-fold increase in revenue in the social analytics space, according to a company statement.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Mon, 16 Mar 2015 09:39:40 -0400
80% Of Shoppers Are Swayed By Personalized Email Campaigns 80% Of Shoppers Are Swayed By Personalized Email Campaigns

RR Listrak ImageThe majority (80%) of Americans who read promotional emails find it helpful when retailers feature recommended products based on past purchases, according to a survey from Listrak.

But retailers can leverage a variety of different data points to create more relevant and tailored marketing messages. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of consumers say it’s helpful when emails are based on products they looked at online, but didn’t purchase. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents said they still like when retailers address them by their name in the subject line or copy of emails. Harris Poll conducted the survey to understand the email consumption habits and preferences of U.S. consumers.

{loadposition GIAA}The report revealed that 81% of consumers who read promotional emails do so because they’re interested in learning about new discounts and sales. Consumers also want to receive emails focused on:

  • Items organized by price (40%);

  • New items (39%);

  • Highest-rated products (38%);

  • Top sellers (31%); and

  • Most “pinned” products (8%).

Looking at email frequency, retailers are extremely persistent. Nearly half (44%) of consumers said they receive five or more emails per week from their favorite retailers, while 21% of respondents receive nine or more messages.

When asked to share the maximum number of emails they would want to receive each week, 21% responded with five or more. Only 17% said they did not have a maximum number, and another 5% said they are unsure of the maximum number.

“It’s not surprising that more than twice the number of shoppers in the survey say that they receive five or more emails per week from their ‘favorite retailer,’ then say that five or more weekly is the maximum that is acceptable,” said Ross Kramer, CEO of Listrak. “When asked how many emails they want to receive, subscribers tend to say fewer although their actions prove otherwise.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Digital Marketing Tue, 17 Mar 2015 07:00:00 -0400
Smart Investments In 2015 Smart Investments In 2015

VP Mindtree head shotAs retailers map out their spending strategy for the rest of 2015, a big question is: What have we learned over the last 12 months that can help them tailor their budget investments?

Midway through 2014, Mindtree conducted a survey of 2,400 shoppers in the U.S., to try to better understand what’s driving their continued disruption of the retail world. We discovered that 60% of U.S. shoppers saying they combine online and in-store experiences in whatever way is most convenient or efficient for them. This is the “phy-gital shopper” — our term for the new wave of connected consumers who leverage the power of smart devices and the internet to make their shopping experiences easier, cheaper, more flexible and tailored to their individual needs.

{loadposition GIAA}But if phy-gital is the new norm, how should retailers respond to win the hearts and minds of these shoppers? There are multiple ways to do that, of course, and no one-size-fits-all approach. But following are a few of the key areas retailers should focus on throughout 2015.

Smart Promotions…

It’s no secret to retailers that the rise of the phy-gital shopper has corresponded with a decline in the effectiveness and influence of promotions on sales and consumer behavior. Shoppers are tuning out the “noise” from the flood of promotions that fill their screens, mailboxes and inboxes. Instead, they want fewer promotions but deeper cuts, with 25% as the minimum suggested discount. With a better discounting regime and more discipline, retailers can pave the way for improved shopper satisfaction.

…Driven by Data

If part of the key is delivering fewer promotions, how do you ensure that the ones that do get sent are based on true shopper needs? The answer lies in technology and data to deliver strategies such as context-aware offers to individual shoppers in retail stores. For instance: A mother enters the produce section of a supermarket and gets an alert on her phone — a promotional discount for fruit that comes with recipe ideas for fruit snacks that are fun and appealing to kids. This kind of scenario is fast becoming a reality as stores deploy indoor positioning system technology, which is made even more powerful when retailers can identify shoppers personally and make recommendations based on data of their past purchases or stated interests.

One big hurdle in this scenario is getting the shopper to agree to share his or her personal information and be tracked. But the good news on that front is that in our survey, 90% of shoppers said they are willing to actively share personal information in return for a better shopping experience.

The New Three Cs

The term “three Cs” is usually applied to e-Commerce, meaning content, community and commerce. But we see another three Cs for the CPGs that are upping their game to get closer to shoppers.

  • Channel Management — Many CPGs feel it’s just not feasible to sell direct-to-consumer. But we are seeing some stand out from the pack by employing a strong channel management approach, or displaying a dedication to the importance of channel management.

  • Consumer Strategies (in particular direct-to-consumer strategies) — For CPGs with a viable opportunity to sell direct-to-consumer we noticed two distinct trends, indicating that one size may not fit all. Some are creating their own platforms for selling directly to consumers, and depending on volume they have either brought them in-house or are using SaaS platforms. Meanwhile, other companies are using established marketplaces (such as Amazon) to drive e-commerce in a way that tends to be less expensive, without the marketing costs associated with raising consumer awareness about native platforms.

  • Content-Led Marketing — Creative, engaging content as marketing is no longer just the domain of fashion retail. Companies are using content to engage, inspire or educate consumers before prompting or leading them to buy, and it’s resulting in a lot of commerce.

All of the above are just a few examples of many that may loom large this year, but the point is that the answers are out there, and so is the technology to fulfill these needs. The retailers that want to lead the pack will make a point of going into the future based on what we’re learning now.


Radha R has more than 20 years of IT industry expertise with deep understanding of the Consumer Product Goods (CPG), Manufacturing, Retail and Travel & Transportation Industry. As the vertical head, Radha has established long-term strategic relationships with some of Mindtree’s largest global clients. She has played a decisive role in laying out the strategic roadmap to transform Mindtree and make it ready for 2020.

]]> (Radha R, Mindtree) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 16 Mar 2015 11:10:48 -0400
VisitBasis Helps Retailers Leverage Data To Improve Store Operations VisitBasis Helps Retailers Leverage Data To Improve Store Operations

SS VisitBasis ImageRetailers need visibility into their in-store environments to make more informed decisions regarding employee scheduling, merchandising, inventory management and more. Many times, retailers use field teams to visit local stores and rank the overall experience.

VisitBasis has released Retail Execution, a cloud-based mobile solution for managing, scheduling and monitoring field team activities. The solution can be used for merchandising, service audits, secret shopping, field sales and promotions. Retail Execution also can help field reps take in-store photo assessments, as well as complete surveys and price checks, among other tasks. Meanwhile, office supervisors can tap into web-based dashboards and reports to track all field activities in real time.

With VisitBasis, field reps and supervisors can plan recurring visits, overall routes and territory management. Supervisors also can leverage GPS monitoring to prevent fraud.

The data capture system is a pay-as-you-go solution; no licenses or subscriptions are required. Field reps can use their own mobile devices to access the VisitBasis app.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 16 Mar 2015 11:05:41 -0400
IBM i2 Enterprise Insight Analysis Exposes Potential Data Breaches IBM i2 Enterprise Insight Analysis Exposes Potential Data Breaches

SS site only IBM ImageThe industry has endured several high-profile data breaches over the past 15 months, putting an increased amount of pressure on retailers to keep customer, payment and corporate data secure. Illegal transactions that are the result of hijacked data can easily be lost due to activities such as transaction denial, a billing dispute or multiple store purchases.

IBM has released i2 Enterprise Insight Analysis (EIA), a new solution that allows retailers to uncover hidden cyberthreats within structured and unstructured data. Using the platform, retailers can find patterns within data to reveal the source of a covert attack.

With EIA, retailers can identify criminal activity weeks and even months earlier, empowering them to take action before any significant damage is done. The platform supports operational and technical interoperability, and integrates with existing infrastructure as well as third-party solutions and data sources. EIA also facilitates information sharing between organizations.

“While most organizations understand how Big Data can help prevent the ever increasing threat of cybercrime, they are so overwhelmed by massive data volumes that they can’t act fast enough to turn it into meaningful intelligence to stop criminals,” said Bob Griffin, General Manager of i2, Threat and Counter Fraud at IBM. “With IBM i2 Enterprise Insight Analysis, we’ve changed the ability of investigators to find that illusive needle in a haystack that helps them detect a cyberattack. This provides any organization with always-on analytics that turns massive amounts of data into real-time insights in a way that simply wasn’t possible before.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 16 Mar 2015 10:19:55 -0400
Your Customers Are Carrying More Than Plastic And Cash In Their Wallets Your Customers Are Carrying More Than Plastic And Cash In Their Wallets

VP site only NCR head shotWhen Cloud99 Vapes co-owner Robert Testagrossa heard his point-of-sale system started accepting bitcoin, he set it up right away, knowing that customer demand for the alternative payment method was high.

When it comes to growing demand of payment methods such as LevelUp, Apple Pay and bitcoin, the Nanuet, NY-based vape shop is hardly alone.

{loadposition GIAA}Over the past year, we’ve witnessed what is likely the start of mobile payments’ slow move to the mainstream. Apple Pay, for example, now available on the ubiquitous iPhone 6, was launched. Oxford Dictionaries even added the word “bitcoin.”

A recent study from Forrester indicates that consumers will increasingly rely on their phones as wallets, predicting that mobile payments will jump to $142 billion in 2019 — a $92 billion increase from 2014.

As a retailer, are you ready for this?

More Secure Way To Pay

EMV, commonly known as chip and PIN, which is coming to a credit card near you by year’s end, is a great advancement in the fight against hackers. That’s because it’s very hard to duplicate a chip and PIN.

But the real evolution in payment security is on your cellphone.

Apple Pay, for example, uses a one-time unique ID code instead of a consumer’s credit card number during transactions. Hackers have less of an opportunity to steal critical customer information, as the ID codes are generated at random.

Convenient For Customers

Aside from peace of mind, consumers are flocking to mobile payment options, in particular, because of their convenience.

It’s estimated that the average person checks his phone 150 times a day! Yes, it’s safe to say more people have their phones on hand than cash.

According to a recent survey by Wakefield Research, 53% of U.S. consumers view mobile payment acceptance as important and think it’s critical for more retailers to use POS solutions that are compatible.

While cash still technically rules the payment roost, it’s on the decline. ATM Marketplace says cash has seen a 3% drop in use every year for the past five years.

Leveraging mobile, retailers can provides consumers with more seamless ways to pay, help them keep tabs on spending, and give access to discounts via retailer loyalty programs.

Mobile Pay Can Grow Loyalty

Coupled with mobile payments, loyalty programs can be beneficial for consumers and retailers alike.

Kohls, for example, is leveraging mobile to expand its loyalty program and improve its checkout process for customers. Kohls shoppers can simply scan their phones at the register and instantly redeem their discounts.

Independently owned and operated businesses, like Philadelphia-based More Than Just Ice Cream, see the importance, too. It leverages LevelUp — the nation’s leading mobile loyalty and payment platform — to offer payment flexibility and instant rewards to customers as well. 

Well, Are You Ready?

The reasons for accepting mobile payments are becoming more concrete.

The benefits are palpable. Consumers are growing more ready by the minute. And cloud POS systems such as NCR Silver are increasingly integrating these payments into the mix.

Everything is ready when you are.


Reggie Kimble is director of business development at NCR Small Business and NCR Silver, a complete cloud point-of-sale system for retail shops, cafes, service providers and food trucks.

]]> (Reggie Kimble, NCR) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 16 Mar 2015 09:10:19 -0400
Adobe Summit: The Convergence Of Brick-And-Mortar And Digital Takes Center Stage Adobe Summit: The Convergence Of Brick-And-Mortar And Digital Takes Center Stage

More than 6,000 marketers congregated in Salt Lake City, Utah, for the 2015 Adobe Summit to learn how to create consistent customer experiences that connects to their products. Although this was undoubtedly a core theme for the event, which took place March 9-13, there was another core theme for retailers in attendance: How to successfully integrate digital presence with the brick-and-mortar store.

In the opening keynote, Adobe execs and their partners unveiled updates to the Adobe Marketing Cloud, Adobe Campaign and Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), and also revealed new solutions.

{loadposition GIAA}For one demonstration, Jody Giles, SVP of Product Integration and Commercialization at Under Armour, highlighted how large AEM Screens help the retailer bring products from “concept to customer.”

The AEM screens enable retail marketers to display interactive content such as product images, 3D interactive models and videos. The screens can integrate with a brand’s mobile app, enabling shoppers to upload photos directly from their mobile phone to the screens with the swipe of a finger. If a shopper already has a product in mind when they go to an Under Armour location, they can pass that item onto a large screen and display it to in-store employees.

Loni Stark, Senior Director of Strategy and Product Marketing at Adobe Systems, said that the screens serve to disrupt retail by making the in-store visit more interactive and provide a consistent and continuous experience across all channels.

“The shopper that comes into a retail store today is very different than shoppers from 10 or 20 years ago,” Stark said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “You want to step into the store for a particular reason, but most of us feel a heightened level of frustration. It’s not because store associates have been trained any worse than they were in the past; it’s because they haven’t been trained differently and our expectations have increased. The point of frustration is having to share the entire context of why you’re in the store. The screens make for a cool demo, but more importantly, we’ve connected a very digital experience on web sites and mobile apps to an analog conversation that has value.”

Personalization Still Top-Of-Mind For Retailers

Personalization and real-time marketing are two trends that are on the minds of most retail marketers today, according to Michael Klein, Director of Industry Strategy for Retail, Travel and Hospitality at Adobe Systems. Klein also noted that in conversations with retailers, other core concerns include how to:

  • Acquire and understand new audiences;

  • Retain customers in the wake of disruptive retail competitors;

  • Optimize mobile, including the app and the mobile site; and

  • Refine the multichannel customer experience.

“If last year was the year of mobile, this year I see more of how digital can enhance the in-store experience,” Klein said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Some might call it ‘merchantainment,’ which is the idea of entertainment and merchandising together, and we all know that foot traffic in physical stores is down, so there needs to be a more compelling reason to go into the brick-and-mortar space. The pet industry is doing that more, where they’re taking space out of inventory and providing more services in the physical store such as grooming. Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table have been doing this for years with their cooking classes. You’re going to see more of that, and digital is a weapon that more retailers are investing in.”

Closing The Personalization Gap

Numerous retail-focused sessions held throughout the Summit focused on the industry’s ability to monetize the convergence of digital and physical media. Speakers included:

  • Paul Elliott, EVP of Marketing and Innovation at Rosetta;

  • Jason Goldberg, GVP of Commerce Strategy at Razorfish;

  • Frederick Lecoq, SVP of Marketing at FGL Sports LTD;

  • Rex Lee, VP of Digital Technology at Canadian Tire; and

  • Adam Silverman, Principal Analyst at Forrester.

Klein indicated that there is a personalization gap between retail marketers and consumers. In fact, 83% of marketers feel they are doing a satisfactory job in personalizing to the consumer, while only 29% of consumers feel the same way. One of the pitfalls here is that while 86% of marketers were personalizing the desktop experience, only 69% were personalizing in-store. Mobile hasn’t yet caught up to either venue, with 56% personalizing the experience.

Silverman stated that in-store personalization faults are not a technology problem, but suffer due to a lack of strategy and a failure to integrate teams and systems. Additionally, the measurement of success isn’t clear and privacy concerns aren’t being addressed.

To address these issues, Silverman recommended that retailers set the groundwork for enabling a single view of the customer, expose inventory visibility and focus on service and convenience.

“Build your digital store platform,” Silverman said. “Start to expose your legacy systems and think about turning them into systems of engagement rather than systems of record.”

SportChek Gets “Phy-gital”

Lecoq of FGL Sports LTD, parent company of sporting goods retailer SportChek, shared insights regarding how the retailer transformed its Edmonton, Canada store into a “Phy-gital” business. The location, which touts a variety of digital technology, has experienced a 50% lift in sales since the revamp took place.

The store includes 800 screens with 220 channels worth of product images and deals on display, as well as community walls filled with local sports information. Special technology also allows shoppers to walk on a treadmill and find the correct sneaker size that fits them best, order skis that are professionally tuned, or test their golf swing and have it analyzed to correct mistakes.

SportChek has since remodeled a second “Phy-gital” store in the Vancouver area.

“Most of the time, retailers put technology in their stores and in their marketing, but we’re doing it much more from a ‘Why not?’ perspective,” Lecoq said. “We need to shift our mindset and say precisely ‘What are we doing this for?’ Technology in the store is not a ‘Why not,’ it’s a ‘What for?’ and that has to be your starting point. Digitizing your store is redefining your customer experience. Being a brick-and-mortar retailer, if I can redesign the experience, I will create value.”

Lecoq shared five rules the SportChek team followed to create the new store concept:

  1. Content is key in the new media world;

  2. Move from broadcast to unicast by replacing print flyers with digital flyers;

  3. Every impression should be the result of a calculation;

  4. ROI and spending effectiveness — not marketing spend — drive the business; and

  5. Remodel the POS into point of experience.

“Retailers need to focus on the purchase stage of the consumer decision journey,” Lecoq said. “It’s all about the last click. Retailers need to find the most influential touch points and win at each of them. Being a retailer, the evaluation stage is critical. How do you go there? Measure everything that you do.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Digital Marketing Mon, 16 Mar 2015 04:47:30 -0400
Apple Watch Presents Retailers With More Opportunities For Real-Time Engagement Apple Watch Presents Retailers With More Opportunities For Real-Time Engagement

Mobile has become a critical channel for retailers to connect with consumers more directly, whether they are at home or on the go. But the new Apple Watch is expected to help retailers to make that connection even more real time and powerful. Retailers such as QVC are already developing apps for the new hardware.

Earlier this week, Apple officially unveiled the Apple Watch, with CEO Tim Cook announcing that the new wearable will be available in nine countries on April 24, 2015. 

“Apple Watch begins a new chapter in the way we relate to technology,” Cook said in a press statement. “We can’t wait for people to start wearing Apple Watch to easily access information that matters, to interact with the world, and to live a better day by being more aware of their daily activity than ever before.”

Apple Watch is available in three collections: Apple Watch Sport ($349-$399), Apple Watch ($549-$1,099) and Apple Watch Edition, which is crafted from custom rose or yellow 18-karat gold alloys (starting at $10,000).

Scaling Down Mobile Messages And Apps

Although the different price points and design concepts are a strong selling point for consumers, brands and retailers are wondering how the widespread availability and eventual adoption of Apple Watch will impact their app and messaging strategies. 

After all, during the official press conference, Apple's SVP of Design Jony Ive promised that the Apple Watch would merge hardware and software “like never before. In Apple Watch, we’ve created three beautifully curated collections with a software architecture that together enable unparalleled personalization in a wearable device.”

The core difference between mobile devices and the Apple Watch is the screen size, which marketers see as valuable real estate. Scaling down apps and messages from an iPhone screen to a watch face may seem nearly impossible. However, industry experts argue that this presents retailers with an opportunity to leverage shorter, snappier messaging tactics. 

“Regular mobile push notifications are exciting because they require immediate action,” said Heidi Trethaway, Director of Marketing Communications at Urban Airship, in a recent Retail TouchPoints webinar. “Take that immediacy and multiply it by 1,000 and that’s the height of urgency smartwatches can create.”

While engaging with a regular smartphone push notification, “consumers take about 30 seconds to glance at the message and open the app,” Trethaway noted. “But smartwatch notifications will be scaled down to glanceable moments of approximately three seconds. That means brands are going to get awesome at creating those micro-scale mobile moments.”

Brands, retailers and agencies already are working to keep pace with the arrival of Apple Watch by developing unique apps and integrations, according to Trethaway. “Many of our top brands and agency partners are currently developing for the watch, and they plan to integrate their smartwatch notifications with their overall app strategy.”

Apps currently compatible with Apple Watch include Facebook, Instagram, Shazam and Uber. Retale, a location-based app that connects shoppers with nearby deals and discounts, also has developed an app for the Apple Watch, making it the first mobile shopping platform available on the device. The app is set to launch in April when Apple Watches are available in-store.

The Retale Apple Watch app will build on the location-based features in the initial iOS offering, including the “Store Finder” tool. Retailer ads also will be visible on the watch, serving as an extension of the Retale iPhone and iPad apps.

“We’re providing the best features from Retale on iOS in a frictionless setting, helping retailers more easily connect with customers and customers access more deals,” said Pat Dermody, President of Retale. “By using the Apple Watch almost as a shortcut to the fuller experience on the iPhone or iPad, making it more convenient for our users to engage with our retailers’ content.”

Omnichannel retailer QVC also is planning to roll out an Apple Watch app as an extension of its current mobile offerings. 

“We’re very excited about opportunities to deepen our relationship with our customers through a wearable device.” Alex Miller, SVP of Digital Commerce at QVC, told Retail TouchPoints. “The QVC experience on Apple Watch will extend the functionality of our iPhone app, yet will be contextual to the small screen format of a wearable. We believe our customers will enjoy this new way of checking-in with the brands and products they have come to love with a simple glance to their wrist.”

Moving forward, there's opportunity for Apple Watch and other smartwatches to act as a natural extension of smartphones to create more urgency for consumers as they're browsing and buying, especially if the technology is combined with beacons. 

"The combination of Apple Watch and iBeacon is going to be powerful," said Sandy Hussain, Founder and CEO of Fashion Digital. "Will we be alerted when walking past our favorite store that that dress we were eying online is just a few feet away and on sale. Very soon the gap between online and offline channels will completely disappear, and it might be because of that little watch on our wrist."

Apple Pay Integration A Key Selling Point

Although the Apple Watch provides new engagement opportunities for brands and retailers, the device’s integration with Apple Pay also is a core selling point.

“Apple Watch will be a game-changer for in-store NFC payments,” explained Ralf Gladis, CEO of Computop, a payment services provider. “The Apple community will love Apple Watch because it’s cool, apps are handy and payments will be fast and simple.”

Whole Foods is one retailer that is currently using Apple Pay and is expected embrace smartwatches as a new engagement and revenue opportunity.

"We're committed to providing innovative new choices and conveniences for our customers, and the ability to buy groceries with just a simple touch of a finger elevates convenience to a whole new level," said Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb in a press release. Since rolling out the technology on Oct. 20, 2014, Whole Foods has seen Apple Pay account for 2% of all transactions.

In an interview with TheStreet, Robb alluded to Whole Foods’ eagerness to experiment with Apple Watch.

"Our customers compared to most supermarkets are more digitally savvy, and inclined to use these sorts of products and processes," Robb said. "The real question is how Apple moves to the Watch, and as they start to build out their mobile payment ecosystem, what other sorts of items come to the customer beyond the wallet function — I think it's another way for the customer to shop." 

Speed is a core benefit of Apple Pay. Consumers can use their iPhones, and soon Apple Watches, to tap their devices on a POS terminal. Not only is this easier for consumers, it also helps accelerate checkout times for retailers during peak times.

“Those are two powerful advantages that will not only lead to Apple Pay’s success but also help Visa, MasterCard and American Express with the deployment of EMV and Near Field Communication (NFC) enabled POS terminals,” Gladis said. “To date, NFC has delivered slow adoption. That will likely change now as Apple Watch will be an accelerator for NFC and a door opener for Visa, MasterCard and American Express which have been challenged in the area of mobile payments by many small but innovative competitors.”

Although it is still early days for Apple Watch, the technology presents a variety of exciting opportunities for retailers across verticals. Retail TouchPoints will continue to report on new developments and trends as they emerge.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Fri, 13 Mar 2015 13:00:00 -0400
GameStop Now Accepts Apple Pay GameStop Now Accepts Apple Pay

GameStop is rolling out Apple Pay in all of its 4,200+ U.S. stores during March 2015, allowing shoppers to purchase products using their phones and eventually, their smart watches.

“We are excited to make it easier and more convenient for our customers to shop at GameStop,” said Jason Cochran, SVP of U.S. Stores at GameStop. “Providing a positive, memorable customer experience is our top priority. Incorporating the latest in mobile technology, such as Apple Pay, into our stores is another way we are offering customers options to help simplify their purchases.”

When a shopper adds a credit or debit card to Apple Pay, the actual card numbers are not stored on the device or on Apple servers. Instead, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in the Secure Element on their device. Rather than referring to the security code on the back of a credit or debit card, each transaction is authorized with a one-time unique dynamic security code.

Apple Pay will be available to consumers who have the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and/or the new Apple Watch. GameStop’s other retail brand, Spring Mobile, will start accepting Apple Pay later in 2015.

GameStop Expands Gift Card Exchange To Stores

GameStop also is now offering GameStop Exchange, its online exchange program, to its retail stores. Initially launched in 2014, GameStop Exchange was developed in partnership with gift card exchange platform Cardpool.

Consumers who participate in GameStop Exchange can sell select retailer gift cards in-store and have the amount loaded to a GameStop gift card that can be immediately used to make in-store purchases.

“We've always provided the best value through our trade-in and pre-owned offerings, and the success of our original gift card exchange offering has proven that,” said Jon Haes, Senior Director of Pre-Owned Merchandising at GameStop. “We're excited about our growing partnership with Cardpool. This is the logical 'next step' in revolutionizing the way major retailers offer prepaid gifting exchange while providing customers even more ways to access immediate value both in their retail stores and online.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 13 Mar 2015 08:52:52 -0400
Google Takes A Bite Out Of Apple With New London Store Google Takes A Bite Out Of Apple With New London Store

Many consider the Apple Store to be a technology Mecca of sorts, but Google is adding competition to the mix by opening its own location in the UK. 

The Google “shop in shop” is stationed in a Currys PC World location on London’s Tottenham Court Road, a famous technology hub for the city.

With Google shop, consumers will have the chance to sift through Google’s variety of Android phones and tablets, Chromebook laptops and Chromecasts.

Visitors also will have the chance to play with the latest software tools and apps from Google. Installations within the store include:

  • An immersive surround screen installation called “Portal,” where shoppers can “fly” through any part of the planet via Google Earth;

  • A Doodle Wall where consumers can use digital spray cans to paint their own version of the Google logo, and then share their creations on social media; and

  • A Chromecast Pod where customers can use a Chromecast dongle to watch Google Play Movies, YouTube and other media channels.

“The pace of innovation of the devices we all use is incredible, yet the way we buy them has remained the same for years,” said James Elias, Head of UK Marketing at Google, in a press release. “With the Google shop, we want to offer people a place where they can play, experiment and learn about all of what Google has to offer; from an incredible range of devices to a totally connected, seamless online life. We think it’s a genuinely unique try-before-you-buy experience.”

Enhancing this highly tactile experience further, Google plans to host regular classes and events for consumers — similar to what Apple’s Genius Bar provides. Children also can learn coding basics by attending “Virtual Space Camps.”

Although this is the first Google shop experience, the tech company plans to open two similar locations in Currys PC World’s Fulham and Thurrock Megastores. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Trend Watch Fri, 13 Mar 2015 08:01:41 -0400
The New, (Powerful) Role of Stores in an Omnichannel World

rtp roundtable header plano-hughes


Tuesday April 7, 2015 from 8:30am to 11am (CST)


NYLO Plano at Legacy
8201 Preston Road
Plano, TX 75024


While 90+% of retail sales continue to be finalized in physical stores, store traffic is declining due to massive online and mobile commerce growth, as well as other rapidly changing consumer behaviors. To manage those challenges, it is now both an imperative and opportunity for retailers to use advanced in-store analytics to understand and optimize the in-store experience. 

Join Paula Rosenblum from RSR Research, retail peer executives, and other industry leaders for a dynamic, roundtable discussion on this critical topic.  Learn industry best practices, share ideas, and get a glimpse of the art of the possible!

We are looking forward to sharing some great breakfast fare with you and your retail peers, 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.

]]> (Devin McDonnell) Retail Industry Calendar Wed, 11 Mar 2015 11:00:00 -0400
Starbucks Expands Mobile Order & Pay To 650 Locations Starbucks Expands Mobile Order & Pay To 650 Locations

Following a successful pilot program for Mobile Order & Pay, Starbucks is expanding the service to 650 locations in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. 

Starbucks initially piloted Mobile Order & Pay on Dec. 3, 2014, in Portland, Ore. Using Mobile Order & Pay, consumers can place orders via the Starbucks app and pick up their food and beverages at a selected location. Because the feature is available through the app, it also is integrated with the My Starbucks Rewards loyalty program. 

Mobile Order & Pay is designed to benefit both customers and baristas by accelerating speed of service, boosting incremental transactions and increasing throughput across stores, according to a company announcement.

Starbucks plans to expand the feature to more of its 12,000+ U.S. locations through a national rollout during 2015. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Thu, 12 Mar 2015 13:13:06 -0400
Dooney & Bourke Transitions E-Commerce To The Cloud With Demandware Dooney & Bourke Transitions E-Commerce To The Cloud With Demandware

Dooney & Bourke, an American designer of luxury handbags and other accessories, has migrated its digital commerce operations from an on-premise solution to Demandware Commerce. A new e-Commerce site is designed to provide an enhanced online shopping experience to consumers across more than 40 countries in the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific. In addition to its e-Commerce site, Dooney & Bourke operates more than 25 retail and outlet stores throughout the U.S., and more than 150 boutiques internationally.

“Our online presence often serves as the first touch point with our brand, so we needed a solution that would enable us to provide a rich and consistent customer shopping experience,” said David Burbine, Director of e-Commerce at Dooney & Bourke. “Demandware’s flexible and scalable cloud platform supports our growth, enabling us to deliver a sophisticated customer shopping experience and expand our digital commerce operations.”

The new site features detailed product information as well as compelling branded content such as videos, lifestyle imagery and a shoppable lookbook. Enhanced navigation capabilities allow consumers to shop based on style, material, collection or specialty shop, giving them the resources to find the products they want quickly and easily.

Demandware LINK Solution partner Optaros led the implementation for Dooney & Bourke. Optaros also leveraged a variety of pre-built integrations from Avalara, Bazaarvoice, ChannelAdvisor, Clutch, Gigya, PayPal, Pitney Bowes and Tealium — all available through the Demandware LINK Marketplace.

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Thu, 12 Mar 2015 10:03:26 -0400
Urban Decay Adds Some Glitz To Mobile Search Urban Decay Adds Some Glitz To Mobile Search

Cosmetics, by nature, are highly visual and have a variety of subtle characteristics. Whether it’s an eye shadow, concealer or lipstick, consumers consider many things while shopping: color, shade and finish, to name a few. 

But sifting through hundreds or even thousands of products while they’re shopping online can be inundating for consumers. Even if they have a specific product in mind, subpar search functionality may leave them frustrated and empty-handed. 

Drawing inspiration from Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, cosmetics brand Urban Decay is making its mobile site more compelling and inspirational. As an early adopter of Visual Shopping, a new solution from Edgecase, the brand has created a visual and streamlined shopping experience that empowers customers to find products faster, and in a more dynamic environment.

Early results show that consumers who interact with the mobile Visual Shopping function view five times more products per session than those who do not. Urban Decay also has seen 150% higher conversions when shoppers interact with the tool.

“We’re giving people the ability to filter Urban Decay products so we can show them multiple finishes, even if they didn’t know they were looking for that kind of variety,” said Katherine LaFranchise, AVP of Urban Decay. “We’re giving them an added layer of filtering capabilities and then adding machine-based learning to give them the right results.”

Tackle The Mobile Conversion Issue

Up to 60% of all Urban Decay e-Commerce traffic is coming from mobile devices, according to LaFranchise. Despite seeing this ongoing growth, conversions have not followed in the same direction.

{loadposition GIAA}“We know that consumers are [on their mobile devices], and they’re also highly engaged on sites like Pinterest and Instagram,” LaFranchise said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Knowing this, we were asking: How do we optimize these two things together? How do we convert these people in a way that they’re used to shopping?”

Edgecase developed Visual Shopping to add a more human touch to the online shopping experience. Currently available for eye cosmetics, Visual Shopping allows consumers to select how they want their eyes to look: brilliant, smoky and neutral. They also can draw from a range of colors, shades and finishes, and even identify whether they want vegan or Paraben-free products. 

To make the searching process even more personalized, consumers can select their eye color and skin tone, so they only receive the product recommendations that best match their unique needs.

“This gives consumers the ability to find something they didn’t even know that they were looking for,” LaFranchise noted. “The great thing about the solution is that it uses real human thinking and shopper perspectives to produce these results; they’re not just algorithms.”

Once consumers find the product they are searching for, they can look at all shades available and even access similar products. Finally, they can share their favorite products with friends through Twitter, Pinterest, email and more.

Due to the positive response, Urban Decay plans to make Visual Shopping available for more products on the m-Commerce site.


]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Thu, 12 Mar 2015 07:45:25 -0400
Edmunds Accelerates Engagement With SMS Marketing Edmunds Accelerates Engagement With SMS Marketing

Although mobile-optimized sites and apps can help brands successfully engage with smartphone users, Short Message Service (SMS), or text message marketing can help organizations connect with a larger sample of consumers. 

Edmunds is an online platform that allows car shoppers and local dealers to connect directly, as well as research, sell and purchase cars. Using the SMS platform Carcode, Edmunds is helping consumers and dealers communicate on a more direct and intimate level.

Offering the Carcode feature to all partners free of charge, Edmunds has seen dealer leads increase by 19%. Moreover, 29% of text-based conversations eventually convert into phone calls.

“Our own research tells us that at least one-third of shoppers would prefer to communicate with dealers via text, and dealers know that text messaging is proven to be an effective tool to close more deals,” said Avi Steinlauf, CEO of Edmunds. “Carcode also allows them to better manage text messages on their customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, which has always been an obstacle when they've used text messaging in the past.”

With seamless CRM integration, dealers can ensure follow-up conversations with customers continue, even if their designated representative is out of the office.

{loadposition GIAA}“Dealerships haven’t had a way to move conversations between salespeople and keep shopper interactions alive,” Steinlauf explained. If a salesperson is unresponsive because they are unavailable, has a day off or is sick, he added, there is always a chance that the dealership will lose the opportunity.

Using SMS text messaging, dealers can provide “immediate answers to questions around inventory availability and verification, price, photos on new and used cars, and trade-ins,” Steinlauf added. Edmunds initially discovered Carcode during the Hackomotive competition, which invites start-ups to refine their ideas and products designed to improve car shopping.

“Carcode won first place at Hackomotive, and we were so impressed with their product that we invited them to participate in our Fastlane Accelerator,” Steinlauf said. “The Accelerator is a three-month program where startups work with Edmunds to test new car shopping products and experiences. After working so closely with Carcode, we recognized the urgent need to bring this technology to a wider audience of shoppers and dealers.”

A History Of Service Innovation

Developed to help take the pain out of car shopping, the foundation of Edmunds’ business model is to assist shoppers in finding the right car, at the right price, from the right dealer. In fact, its focus on customer service and experience led to J.D. Power naming Edmunds the best third-party automotive web site.

Because cars have such a high price point, consumers often take longer, and prefer to consult a variety of sources, before making a final buying decision. To drive education, engagement and conversions, Edmunds provides a variety of services and products. For example, the Price Promise platform ensures that Edmunds offers a guaranteed upfront price on an in-stock vehicle. This platform is accessible via the Edmunds mobile app and also provides inventory updates for specific areas.

Edmunds also recently developed a “build and locate” feature that lets allows consumers to configure a car and match it with inventory that meets those exact specs. From a service perspective, Edmunds not only offers live chat to bring a human touch to online car shopping, but also posts ratings and reviews for all cars and dealers.

“It isn’t about quoting our customers the lowest price on a car that doesn’t exist — and initiating a bait-and-switch once on the lot,” Steinlauf said. “Instead, it is about being transparent and arming our customers and dealers with the information they need to make confident decisions, whether at home or on the go.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Success Stories Wed, 11 Mar 2015 08:02:20 -0400
Superdry Rolls Out iPads In All UK Stores Superdry Rolls Out iPads In All UK Stores

Superdry, a British premium fashion retailer, has collaborated with multichannel retail specialist One iota to install iPads in all of its UK stores. 

Following its 2014 pilot program, Superdry has placed 250 more iPads in 86 stores. Many of the devices were rolled out in time for the holiday season, according to a company statement. To boost employee engagement and adoption, Superdry trained all staff to teach them how to leverage assisted selling to boost sales.

“As part of our ongoing strategy, we continue to drive multichannel innovation to meet the needs of our customers by providing them with world-class shopping experiences,” said Jon Wragg, E-Commerce and Marketing Director at Superdry. “We wanted to develop an in-store solution to meet customers’ demands for our full range of products, while fulfilling our objective of joining up both online and in-store.

The clienteling technology includes iPad minis touting Bluetooth Chip and PIN payment capabilities. Sales associates carry the devices around the store so they can increase sales opportunities anywhere in-store. The associates also can assist shoppers by helping them purchase out-of-stock items and have them delivered to their homes. 

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) News Briefs Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:56:04 -0400
Former eBay VP Joins Deliv Team Former eBay VP Joins Deliv Team

Ken Pate-DelivDeliv has onboarded Kenneth Pate, former VP of Product Management at eBay, as its new Head of Product. In his new position, Pate will be responsible for maintaining the Deliv experience for retailers, consumers, drivers and mall operators. 

During his tenure at eBay, Pate led product and engineering teams to build a variety of retail products. His experience in helping retailers build world-class customer experiences will be invaluable as Deliv tackles its business goals for 2015 and beyond, according to Daphne Carmeli, Founder and CEO of Deliv.

“Pate is an exceptional leader with a thorough understanding of retailers and their customers,” Carmeli said. “He has an impressive track record building scalable world class products, and we’re excited to have him help us execute the extensive roadmap to support our next phase of explosive growth.”

]]> (Alicia Fiorletta) Retail Movers & Shakers Tue, 10 Mar 2015 10:06:14 -0400
Gordmans Leverages Loyalty Data To Respond To Customer Preferences Gordmans Leverages Loyalty Data To Respond To Customer Preferences

Mid-market retailers face a unique combination of pressures from today’s highly connected consumers. These customers seek the personalized attention and service that smaller retailers are known for, but they have also come to expect the wide product selection and expanded range of delivery options offered by the country’s largest retailers.

The 98-store Gordmans department store chain, celebrating its 100th year in business, faces this paradox, along with the challenge of balancing its upcoming online offerings with the brick-and-mortar stores that are still central to the business. Richard Heyman, Senior Vice President and CIO for the retailer, spoke about keys to success at the Oracle Retail Midmarket Merchandising Customer Luncheon held in conjunction with the NRF 2015 BIG Show in New York City.

For Gordmans, learning more about what actually motivates customers to visit its stores is critical to the retailer’s expansion plans, which include a target of topping the 100-store mark this year. The need for insights is being met with a growing repository of data about customer preferences generated by Gordmans' popular gRewards loyalty program, Heyman explained.

{loadposition GIAA}“This program provides us with valuable information, including guest behavior across merchandise categories and multiple shopping trips,” Heyman noted. Analysis of the loyalty program data has encouraged Gordmans to expand its use of digital marketing vehicles such as e-mail campaigns.

Gordmans' ultimate goal is to use loyalty data to inform store assortments, supporting regional or granular store-by-store variations, Heyman said. The retailer previously had implemented an Oracle merchandising solution that provided more immediate insight into item performance, helping the company tailor its product offering to meet the expectations of its best guests.

During a Q&A at the session, Heyman confirmed that there is an expanding role for IT within retail enterprises, particularly as technology becomes a more integral part of basic functions such as merchandising. For example, Gordmans’ adoption of Oracle Retail solutions that went live in 2012 mandated changes to several merchandising processes such as item creation.

The opportunistic nature of Gordmans’ supply chain meant that, previously, identifying key item attributes such as color and size distribution was not required, Heyman explained. However, with the enablement of the e-Commerce channel in 2015, such information is vital to item creation. The Oracle solution has a structured process for item creation, but Gordmans’ IT and training departments worked together to create a change management curriculum for its merchant partners. Gordmans wanted to ensure that its valued partners understood the new processes and were able to use the new system effectively.

“Implementing new solutions with only minimal modification means that the burden of change rests with the user," Heyman reported. "This has extended IT’s mission. It’s no longer just about IT providing technical support for systems; it’s about helping to foster adoption of new solutions to ensure that the company is deriving value from its technology investments.”


]]> (Debbie Hauss) Retail Success Stories Tue, 10 Mar 2015 04:04:40 -0400
Bi-Lo Empowers Associates With Axonify E-Learning Bi-Lo Empowers Associates With Axonify E-Learning

BiLoAxonifyEducating in-store associates on the store environment can enable retailers to provide a unique brand experience that differentiates from competitors and fosters customer loyalty.

Bi-Lo Holdings, parent company of Bi-Lo, Harveys and Winn-Dixie supermarkets, has adopted the Axonify e-Learning program to engage and mobilize employees on a daily basis. The company is still in the process of developing the platform and expects to roll out the pilot program in March 2015.

{loadposition GIAA}One program that was two-and-a-half hours long is going to be 45 minutes by the time we complete the rollout,” said Rebecca Sinclair, Chief Human Resources Officer at Bi-Lo Holdings. “We’re going to cover more ground to orientate our employees, and we’re going to be able to validate the knowledge and facts we want them to know are important when they join the company. We’re going to save millions of dollars because we have a 70,000 employee base that turns over at a retail rate.”

With the Axonify platform, Bi-Lo Holdings seeks to tie learning to metrics, specifically around revenue, customer service scores, shrink and incident rates. Axonify designed its platform to deliver a learning experience that is consistent across all three Bi-Lo Holdings supermarket chains, advancing the organization’s goals of providing one unified brand voice. One advantage of the Axonify platform is its ability to engage retail associates to learn industry best practices voluntarily.

“I need for employees to be what I call 80% ready to go,” Sinclair said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “For example, if a prior manager didn’t do their job correctly, than I already have a more competent employee coming out of this program that would be able to fill that void. We prefer an employee that understands this process versus someone who either wasn’t trained or took the job but couldn’t retain the information provided in their traditional learning process.”

A major feature of the e-Learning platform is its gamification capabilities, which enable the associate to learn using tablet devices. By answering work-related questions correctly throughout the game, associates can win reward points and potentially redeem them for prize items. The gamification process serves as a motivational tactic for these associates, according to Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify.

“Using that kind of experience or desire on the part of an individual and incorporating that into a corporate purpose is a way to have consistency or extend the consumer experience into the enterprise,” Leaman said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The fact that it’s fun and very fast mimics that personal experience, but interestingly, employees quite often say to us that one of the key reasons they love the platform is because they see their personal learning path and they understand that they’re actually learning things. When people feel knowledgeable, it translates into confidence on the job, and when they’re confident they do better and they get recognized for it.”

Not only does the Bi-Lo team expect to motivate the in-store associates to learn more, it also expects to measure the effectiveness of in-store promotions and test compliance issues on a store-to-store basis

“We’re using this differently for end-to-end training, which isn’t exactly how Axonify opened the platform, and it still works for us,” Sinclair stated. “We’re actually using this not just to reinforce something we want them to know, but for a bigger talent management need, such as knowing how to get a cashier up and running.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Success Stories Mon, 09 Mar 2015 11:24:20 -0400
Industry Players Converge To Improve Associate Engagement Industry Players Converge To Improve Associate Engagement

Retailers rely on in-store employees to represent their brands, engage with consumers and, of course, sell merchandise. Potentially more than any industry in the global economy, retail hinges significantly on workforce management optimization to acquire, retain and engage employees.

But the reality is: all organizations are fighting a daunting engagement problem.

{loadposition GIAA}As of 2013, only 30% of the U.S. workforce is actively engaged in their jobs, according to the State Of The American Workplace report from Gallup. These unenthused employees can have a significant impact on bottom-line results. 

In fact, the Gallup research indicated organizations with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experienced 147% higher earnings per share compared to competitors. Conversely, organizations with an average of 2.6 engaged employees per actively disengaged employee earned 2% lower per share than their competition.

While these numbers do not particularly put the modern workforce in the most positive light, retailers have the opportunity to improve management conditions and amplify employee engagement. The most impactful employee engagement drivers — according to a survey of more than 560 employees from the Harvard Business Review — include:

  • Recognition given for high performers (72%);

  • A clear understanding of how the job contributes to the company’s strategy (70%);

  • Senior leadership continually updates and communicates their strategy (70%); and

  • Business goals communicated company-wide are understood (69%).

Retailers are recognizing these engagement drivers and, in turn, are responding by rethinking and improving their:

  • Overall company culture;

  • Training methods;

  • Internal communication strategies; and

  • Employee salaries and benefits packages.

Creating A Culture Of Inclusion

Looking specifically at employee satisfaction, U.S. retailers perform below industry averages, according to The Answers American Employee Study. Retail employees ranked their satisfaction level at 63, two points below the 65 average of all 12 industries surveyed. Only the restaurant industry (60) scored lower than retail.

“When we think about the workforce of retailers, the reality is that employees deserve better,” said Eric Feinberg, Senior Director of Product Strategy at Answers. “Retail employees are looking to their employers to deliver a better experience."

Answers defines engagement as “the degree to which an employee feels an emotional connection with the retailer,” according to Feinberg. “The reason why they don’t feel as emotional of a connection to the retailer as other employees do in other industries, is because they’re less connected to leadership. The American retail employee deeply craves company leadership that supports long term growth over short-term gain.”

Many retail businesses are structured so each individual store supervisor delegates to employees and then reports back up to corporate headquarters. Larger merchants with dozens, or even hundreds, of brick-and-mortar locations employ store associates that only know the confines of their own store, and are generally only familiar with that store’s management. Thus, associates might not fully understand the corporate management structure of the company, or have any concept of the goals the organization aims to accomplish.

“The speed of which we are moving in the business world is probably the biggest driver of disengagement,” said Jonathan McClellan, Director of Employee Recognition at Hallmark Business Connections. “It’s hard to pause and make sure that people are all on board and all pointed in the right direction. It’s hard enough in an organization that has a lot of employees in the same building or at least on the same campus. But it's even more difficult when employees are spread out over an entire region or country.”

The traditional retail business structure has led McClellan to believe that middle management holds the greatest opportunity to influence employee engagement. After all, middle managers oversee daily activity, attitudes and behaviors that store employees exhibit. They easily can converse one-on-one with associates, identify their strengths and weaknesses, develop goals and show recognition via rewards programs.

Feinberg holds a similar view on the significant impact management teams have in that they must foster an environment that enables employees to stay “plugged in” to the company’s direction.

“I call this the culture of inclusion,” Feinberg stated in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Do they feel included in the overall culture? It was surprising to see in our data that even people who work in retail locations hundreds of miles away from the headquarters want that kind of connection. Being plugged into the leadership and the vision helps contribute to an employee’s understanding that they do have a part to play in the company’s overall direction and success.”

Filling The Workforce Skill Gap

Finding the leadership to build a thriving culture was the most crucial concern global businesses had in 2014, according to research from Deloitte. More than two-thirds (38%) of organizations rated leadership as “urgent” and 48% ranked it as “important,” according to the 2014 Global Human Capital Trends report. Not far behind, 26% of businesses said retention and engagement were “urgent,” while 53% rated them as “important.”

Most (75%) global organizations across industries agree that workforce capability — or the internal building of technical and professional skills — is an “urgent” or “important” issue. However, only 15% believe they are ready to address this challenge. The overall skill and knowledge gap within these organizations illustrates the lack of dynamic training provided to employees not only when they start a new position, but also as they continue to grow and learn in their role.

“Many organizations are looking in the wrong place, believing they can fill their capability gaps by ‘hiring the right person’ in their current markets,” the Deloitte report explained. “Yet this traditional approach is increasingly a zero-sum game with as many losers as winners. Even if companies can identify the right people, they must then attract them, compete with others to hire them, and train them further once they are on the job. The reported backlog of skills gaps appears to suggest the old way is no longer working.”

Do Retailers Have To Pay To Increase Engagement?

Employee training, whether five weeks in or five years down the line, conveys the message that the employee is valued as a company asset for the long term. However, an undeniably important factor to employees is their ability to make a living wage, particularly in the retail industry, where many workers are in-store associates who work part-time.

Retailers such as Costco and Trader Joe’s start their entry-level store employees with salaries much higher than the average, and provide a variety of opportunities for employees to advance within the business. In fact, Costco store employees are reported to make $21/hour on average, with the store experiencing just a 6% yearly turnover rate. The Container Store pays its employees an average of $50,000 annually, a total that is unheard of relative to industry standards. In fact, the Container Store salary nearly doubles the $23,690 average national salary of a retail sales employee, according to 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Store-based retailers must create incentives for store employees to engage with both their customers and complete their non-revenue generating tasks quickly and efficiently,” wrote Paula Rosenblum, the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at RSR Research, in a contributed article to Forbes. “The baseline for that employee engagement is a living wage.”

Walmart, a subject of criticism from employee rights groups, is trying to improve brand perception and worker morale by increasing entry-level wages to $9/hour in the first half of 2015. The hike impacts approximately 500,000 full-time and part-time associates, and will jump to $10/hour by Feb. 1, 2016.

In addition to addressing employee wages, Walmart also plans to invest $1 billion in 2015 on hiring, training and realigning the store operational structure. As part of this initiative, the retail giant also has committed to giving $100 million over the next five years to increase economic mobility for entry-level employees. Thus far, the retailer invested $16 million of that total in seven national nonprofit organizations designed to provide education and skills training to 12,000 retail workers.

TJX, the parent company of discount retailers TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods, followed Walmart’s lead in increasing minimum wage of part- and full-time workers to $9/hour in June 2015. Similar to Walmart’s policy, in 2016, all TJX employees working for more than six months will have their salary raised to $10/hour.

Rosenblum argued that the raises are not only beneficial to the employees from an economic standpoint, but also as a morale booster, as the higher wage total signifies higher value to the company. A more productive employee can potentially garner more customer interactions and sales. In fact, 77% of high prioritizers — companies that see engagement as an extremely important priority — and 69% of moderate prioritizers believe employee engagement has a considerable impact on customer satisfaction, according to a report from HBR.

Answers Corporation recently released findings discussing the relationship between the two variables, indicating that employee engagement has a positive effect on customer satisfaction. Of the 25 retailers included in the study, Advance Auto Parts, Ann Taylor, Apple and Barnes & Noble attained the highest customer satisfaction rates.


Answers scored satisfaction on a 100-point scale; with 80 generally considered the threshold for excellence at which an organization meets and exceeds employee or customer expectations.

“Retailers need to be as good to their employees as they are to their customers,” Feinberg stated. “That’s where some retailers are going to get hit over the next couple of years going forward.”

Understanding Internal Flaws

Despite knowing the correlation between employee satisfaction, customer engagement and overall sales, some retailers may struggle to make the proper changes to their workforce strategies. But how can organizations get started?

“It starts by looking within and taking the time to clearly identify what is the source of the business opportunity or the business problem that you’re trying to solve,” McClellan, of Hallmark Business Connections, said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “For those companies that struggle in this space, it’s very clear they haven’t taken the time to clearly articulate and define what it is that they’re trying to accomplish. They instead look to the external environment to tell them what other organizations are doing. The challenge there is that they don’t know what they’re getting into nor how to apply these examples in their organization, because they haven’t tied it back to their needs.”

Once these retailers understand their pain points and have a game plan on what they want to accomplish, they can then take the initiative to reach out to solution providers who can help them in areas such as schedule management, department-to-department communication and customer service management.

Part 2 of this report, which will appear in the March 17 newsletter, will discuss how retailers are simplifying the work environment for in-store and corporate employees to boost organizational morale.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Special Reports Tue, 10 Mar 2015 06:00:00 -0400
nChannel Improves Product Data Management nChannel Improves Product Data Management

Brands and retailers are generating a plethora of data on a daily basis. Although inundating, best-in-class retailers are striving to integrate and analyze this data to unlock valuable insights about their business and their consumers’ shopping habits.

To help brands and retailers better manage product information and access data to measure business performance, nChannel has released an extension of its cloud-based AppSuite solution.

With AppSuite, retailers can create a single version of the truth for all products. The app collects product data from all systems, spreadsheets and suppliers, and can organize details by region, brand, season and promotion to simplify updates and merchandising. The solution also can perform bulk updates to help organizations search for and analyze key product data, empowering them to create more effective pricing and promotions strategies.

The nChannel app analyzes real-time company data through pre-built dashboards, allowing users to track and compare business performance by region, product, category, store, channel and timeframe. In addition to these functions, the solution includes customer experience management and supply chain management applications.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 09 Mar 2015 10:36:01 -0400
E-Commerce Marketing And Real-Time Analytics: Strategies For Success E-Commerce Marketing And Real-Time Analytics: Strategies For Success

VP Cake head shotHow important is it for e-Commerce businesses to capture marketing analytics in real time? What does “real time” technically mean? Is it just another marketing buzz term destined to lose its luster, or a new “must have” in the rapidly evolving landscape of digital marketing?

In a world where online consumers can now buy products anytime and anywhere from all manner of devices, businesses need to be able to respond fast and adapt their marketing strategies based on what’s happening in the moment. A tweet mentioning your product, a news story, or even a change in the weather can prompt an uptick in demand. Taking advantage of these opportunities demands access to “fresh” data, making a very strong case for the importance of real-time analytics.

{loadposition GIAA}What’s the best approach for e-Commerce businesses that want to incorporate real-time analytics into their marketing strategies? Here are a few things to consider:
  • What real time really means. There is some debate going on about how long the time delay can be between data being generated and data being accessible for analysis in order for it to be defined as real time. And realistically, a little lag time (seconds or even minutes) is acceptable, as long as the data is accurate and actionable the moment that it is delivered. E-Commerce businesses should be able to use the information they are capturing to refine and adjust marketing campaigns as they are happening. Information that arrives once a campaign has ended is not nearly as valuable. Seasonal sales, for example, are inherently time sensitive. If an offer is not showing the expected percentage of conversions, real-time data can help a business identify problems to address before it’s too late. For instance, catching and fixing a technical glitch in a landing page link for a shoe discount offer can make all the difference between a successful campaign or a wasted investment.

  • Be selective. As the volume of information available for businesses to analyze continues to explode, beware of gorging yourself on data. Just because something can be analyzed doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be analyzed. There’s no need to capture metrics on 20 to 30 different variables when looking at two or three will tell you what you need to know. Too much data can be overwhelming and lead to “analysis paralysis” for marketers. Before engaging real-time analytics, it’s important to have a game plan. Think carefully about what you want to measure, identify the metrics that really matter to the success of your campaign and concentrate on those.    

  • Be patient. This may sound counterintuitive when it comes to real-time analytics, but it also is important to give your campaigns some time to reveal useful insights. For example, the real-time data coming in within seconds or even a few minutes of an e-Commerce campaign being launched may not give an accurate assessment of how well things are working overall. While it’s critical to capture this information, often performance data needs to be analyzed across a specified time period in order to identify key patterns. A campaign that appears to be bombing at the outset may just need some time to build momentum, so be careful of making snap judgments based on incomplete information.   

  • Technology. Technology is an essential component of real-time analytics. In the past, businesses were limited by the available technologies for gathering and analyzing data, which were often historical in scope. Today, marketers can use tracking and attribution technology to see, in real time, how a campaign or offer is performing, how many people are viewing it, how many are clicking and how many are buying — and even drill down to attribute which specific channels, strategies or affiliates are having the greatest impact. For brands with thousands of product lines and SKUs, this is a real game-changer. For instance, Atlantic Coast Media Group, an online purveyor of multiple beauty brands, tracks all of its affiliate sales in real time. This data allows the company to analyze which affiliates are delivering the best leads by product, so that it can modify its marketing spend and even customize the types of offers it gives to each affiliate — ultimately optimizing performance and ROI. This is the power of real time in action.

Unlike other passing marketing buzzwords and fads, “real time” is the real deal. With the right technology and strategy in place, e-Commerce businesses can take advantage of real-time analytics to increase the power of their marketing spend.

As CTO and founder of CAKE, Dave Stewart oversees research and development for the company’s marketing technology products. He manages a talented team of engineers, in support of current customer needs as well as ongoing product innovation. Dave has spent much of the past decade architecting software and is an expert in systems architecture, front- and back-end web technologies, database design and development, cloud infrastructure and complex UX design.

]]> (Dave Stewart, CAKE) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 09 Mar 2015 10:24:29 -0400
Movable Ink Helps Retailers Streamline Email Campaign Creation Movable Ink Helps Retailers Streamline Email Campaign Creation

Retailers can no longer rely on batch-and-blast emails to engage customers and drive conversions. After all, customers are interacting with more messages and promotions across channels and, in turn, have become desensitized to certain marketing tactics.

To stand out in consumers’ crowded email inboxes, retailers need to tailor emails to individual customers and their unique attributes, preferences and past purchases. Movable Ink is helping retailers facilitate email personalization with a real-time email marketing tool that allows marketers to generate responsive email templates quickly and efficiently.

Called Inkbrush, the hosted email design and coding solution is free and touts the same capabilities of Movable Ink’s flagship software, agileEMAIL, which is designed to help marketers optimize, target and personalize emails the moment they’re opened by consumers. Marketers using the platform can optimize their email content for desktops, smartphones and tablet devices.

Other key capabilities of the responsive design solution include:

  • Automatic email-compliant HTML code generation;

  • Centralized link and content management for email;

  • Device detection for optimal email experience;

  • Email compatibility reports on major email clients;

  • Hosted email design for desktop and mobile templates; and

  • Seamless integration with email service providers.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Solution Spotlight Mon, 09 Mar 2015 10:15:16 -0400
Putting The Customer At The Center Of Your Global E-Commerce Strategy Putting The Customer At The Center Of Your Global E-Commerce Strategy

VP site only IBM head shot 1Every day it seems another major retailer announces plans to dip its toes in international waters and expand its e-Commerce initiatives into new geographic markets. The opportunity to move beyond home borders and tap into growing markets is just too tempting to ignore.

Worldwide B2C e-Commerce sales are expected to reach an astounding $1.5 trillion this year, an increase of more than 20%, according to eMarketer. This growth is being led by emerging markets such as China, which is projected to overtake U.S. e-Commerce spending by early next year, along with other high growth markets across Asia, Europe and South America.

{loadposition GIAA}On the surface, standing up a new digital storefront in a new country seems like the easiest path to growing revenues. The alternatives — such as adding new product categories or building physical stores — can be significantly more costly and risky ventures. Online expansion gives retailers a more efficient way to test these markets without investing excess capital and instead contract with local distribution companies to manage fulfillment and returns.

But international expansion isn’t as simple as translating your site into local languages and declaring yourself open for business in Country X. We live in the era of the empowered consumer. No matter where they live around the world, customers expect products when and how they want them on their own terms — and those terms can vary wildly from one region and culture to the next.

Even a seemingly minor misstep in how a product is presented can reveal telling signs to the local consumer that your business is just another multinational outsider that doesn’t understand their market. And once that perception sticks in their minds, it can be extremely expensive and time consuming to reverse.

For example, failure to seamlessly handle local tax considerations or provide options for dealing in local currency can cause unease in customers that result in abandoned shopping carts. Proper language becomes a critical detail. For example, the term “buy online and pickup in-store” is common in the U.S., while in the UK, it’s called “click and collect.” Secure drop boxes also are a popular option for product delivery in some European countries, while it is much less common in the U.S.

To differentiate themselves, e-Commerce retailers need to deeply understand their customers’ buying tendencies in each individual market, while anticipating their possible behavioral shifts for the future. The customer must alwaysbe at the center of every business decision to ensure a superior experience that truly translates across borders and inspires customer loyalty.

The Value Of Commerce Analytics

New e-Commerce business models are rapidly changing the game and raising customer expectations around the world, making it even more important for global retailers to know what’s resonating and what’s not in each market. For example, that hot new mobile payment application that has been so well received in one country may be shunned in another country where users are less comfortable transacting on smartphones.

This is where commerce analytics can open up a whole new world of opportunity for your business. By understanding not just what local customers buy but also analyzing how and why they behave that way from one country to the next, e-Commerce retailers can better personalize the experience in a way that makes the customer feel like they are “buying local.”

By constantly analyzing their customers’ online behaviors, retailers can make quick adjustments to optimize the customer experience — whether it’s pinpointing a particular feature of the site that’s causing customers to abandon their shopping carts or understanding why a particular marketing campaign just didn’t resonate well in one country versus another. This also extends to analyzing pricing options, which can make or break product sales if they aren’t optimized to compete with prices offered by local competitors.

In an era of cloud computing, businesses now have the power to strike quickly to capitalize on new market opportunities when the time is right for them. Consider El Corte Ingles, a retail institution in Spain for more than 70 years with more than 80 stores across the country. In the last year, El Corte Ingles decided it was time to leap across borders for the first time and reach a new generation of digital consumers in countries such as the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. With a cloud-based platform, El Corte Ingles was able to quickly ramp up its expansion plans while meeting the needs of customers in each country. They can now manage orders from all target countries, customize promotions and pricing in real-time and adjust as local behaviors and needs change.

As retailers find success in new markets and further expand to new regions, it’s easy to slowly fall into the trap of addressing each country in a fragmented silo as each regional site becomes more and more customized to serve local needs. Over time, this becomes increasingly difficult to manage as the business scales, and it slows their ability to react with speed and agility to shifts in customer demands and preferences.

By centralizing their e-Commerce operations on a common platform on the cloud, retailers can apply one common set of data — such as product descriptions or company branding — across all sites at the same time while also managing localized issues such as currency conversion, language translation and regional regulations from a centralized system. This gives them the power to operate on a global basis and still personalize the experience to account for local country preferences.

And in the end, this ability to scale on a global level while maintaining a uniquely personalized touch will win the hearts of your customers — wherever they may be in the world.

Morgan Crew directs product strategy and roadmap for IBM Commerce’s Selling and Fulfillment solutions portfolio. Crew has more than 15 years of experience in electronic commerce with a focus on omni-channel commerce technologies and the sell-to-fulfill lifecycle. Morgan’s leadership experience spans product management, strategy, mergers and acquisitions and venture investments. His mergers and acquisitions experience includes Sterling Commerce, Yantra, Comergent, Nistevo, Demandtec and Emptoris, among many others.

]]> (Morgan Crew, IBM Commerce) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 09 Mar 2015 09:59:24 -0400
Plastic And Digital Gift Card Sales Continue To Rise Plastic And Digital Gift Card Sales Continue To Rise

RR GiftCards ImageAs many as 81% of U.S. consumers said they planned to purchase the same amount or more plastic gift cards in 2014 compared to 2013, according to a report from First Data. More consumers (84%) planned to purchase the same amount or more e-gift cards, with 33% definitively noting that they would purchase more in 2014.

To conduct the report, titled: The 2014 Prepaid Consumer Insights Story, the company distributed online surveys to more than 3,700 U.S. consumers over 18 years old. More than 2,300 of the respondents said they had purchased or received closed-loop plastic or virtual cards within the past 12 months.

{loadposition GIAA}Gift cards are an effective method for retailers to drive foot traffic and increase overall consumer spending, according to the report. On average, consumers spent $23.41 more than the gift card’s initial value in 2014, an increase from $20.79 in 2012. More than half (51%) of respondents said that receiving a gift card prompted them to visit a store more often than they otherwise would have.

Over the past year, digital gift card sales have increased from 26% in 2013 to 34% in 2014. Meanwhile, on-premise purchases have actually decreased from 51% to 44% during that stretch. The study spotlighted mobile apps as effective gift card purchasing channels, stating that 13% of respondents have taken this route to obtain a gift card. More than half (55%) of consumers also said they are interested in using an app to store virtual gift card information on their mobile phones.

Incentives and rewards still continue to drive gift card sales, with 32% of consumers making a purchase directly because of an incentive. Up to 40% of respondents said they spent more money than they originally planned after being offered an incentive. On average, respondents purchased 2.2 cards within the past year because they were offered loyalty and rewards points.

While gift card sales continue to make up a large fraction of total retail sales, 68% of respondents have never actually reloaded their gift card with money. Of the respondents who do reload their gift cards, most of them do so to make additional purchases (54%), while more than one third (35%) said they are interested in claiming loyalty or rewards points. The other reasons consumers reload gift cards are all money-related, with respondents stating they want to receive discounts (28%), don’t carry cash (26%) and seek to manage their budget (24%).

Click here to access the complete report.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Shopper Experience Mon, 09 Mar 2015 07:47:28 -0400
DICK’S Reports 12% Q4 Income Boost, Shares Expansion Plans DICK’S Reports 12% Q4 Income Boost, Shares Expansion Plans

dicksDICK’S Sporting Goods closed out Q4 2014 with a net income of $155.5 million, a year-over-year increase of 12%. The Q4 financial results totaled approximately $1.30 per diluted share, beating DICK’S initial expectations of up to $1.28 per diluted share.

Net income for the entire fiscal year also increased by 2% over 2013, reaching a total of $344.2 million. Net sales climbed to $6.8 billion, a 10% boost from $6.2 billion.

{loadposition GIAA}Due to its positive growth results, the sporting goods retailer plans to open 54 new stores during the 2015 fiscal year, including 45 stores under the DICK’S brand and nine locations under the Field & Stream name.

“The 17% increase in earnings per diluted share was driven by the continued growth of our omnichannel network, our powerful marketing and merchandising strategies and the execution of these strategies by our store associates,” said Edward W. Stack, Chairman and CEO of DICK’S Sporting Goods. “The strong performance validates the merchandising and space allocation strategies that we put into place during this past year. Our team also successfully navigated a heavily promotional environment while exceeding our top line and bottom line targets, and our inventory is well-positioned as we head into 2015.”

E-Commerce also is becoming a more important sales channel for DICK’S Sporting Goods. Online sales accounted for 14.4% of the retailer’s total revenue in Q4 2014, compared to 12.2% during Q4 2013.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Financial News Fri, 06 Mar 2015 17:09:59 -0500
Hackers Use Apple Pay To Make Purchases With Stolen Data Hackers Use Apple Pay To Make Purchases With Stolen Data

Cybercriminals are using credit card data stolen during the Home Depot and Target data breaches to make fraudulent purchases via Apple Pay. Approximately 80% of the unauthorized purchases were for high-value items and were purchased using iPhones at Apple stores, according to a source of the Wall Street Journal.

Hackers have not compromised the Apple Pay encryption system. Rather, they are entering stolen credit card data into the mobile payment prompt to make a purchase. The system’s weakness lies in the verification process, which is controlled by the card-issuing banks.

“Apple Pay is designed to be extremely secure and protect a user’s personal information,” an Apple spokesperson told the Guardian. “During setup, Apple Pay requires banks to verify each and every card and the bank then determines and approves whether a card can be added to Apple Pay.”

Users can add their credit accounts to Apple Pay by taking a picture of a physical card, or by manually entering card information. This data is encrypted and sent to Apple’s servers, where it is decrypted, checked, re-encrypted and passed to banks for verification. This is known as the “green path” authentication system, which validates the card.

But the weakness rears its head in the “yellow path.” During this process, some cardholders’ banks take additional steps to verify account details. For example, some banks request the last four digits of the user’s social security number, which typically is already in the hands of fraudsters who have stolen credit card data.

Banks are bolstering their verification processes so consumers can feel at ease when they use Apple Pay to complete a transaction.

“The bank may send a one-time authorization code to the customer’s email or mobile phone that must be entered into the Apple Pay set-up,” said Robin Sidel, in a Wall Street Journal blog post. “Other banks may ask the customer to call a toll-free number where a customer service representative will try to verify the person’s identity with a series of questions about recent purchases or a home address.”

Multiple banks also are taking the extra step of asking customers to authorize their Apple Pay request by logging into their online bank account, according to the same Wall Street Journal post.

Mobile payments specialist and financial industry consultant Cherian Abraham first reported the situation on his blog: “At this point, every issuer in Apple Pay has seen significant ongoing provisioning fraud via customer account takeover.”

Abraham indicated that organized crime rings are handing out prepaid card data to mules around Miami, Fla. And Dallas, Tex., and are largely isolated: “In some cases, fraudsters are calling the bank’s call center themselves to ‘alert the bank about a trip out of town’ so that fraud rules looking for transaction anomalies (such as customer living in California and transacting in Miami) do not trip up as fraudulent transactions.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) POS / Payments / EMV Fri, 06 Mar 2015 16:51:32 -0500
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
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