Starmount Partnership Powers Omnichannel Payments

Starmount logoA new partnership between Starmount and Aurus offers retailers the ability to implement payment solutions that are capable of processing both in-store and e-Commerce transactions.

Retailers will be able to incorporate payment-as-a-service with their Starmount POS solutions, including Starmount Engage mobile POS, managing consumers' payment processes separately from their POS transaction data.


Mobile Site Acceleration Boosts Conversions 23% At American Giant

Everyone talks about business agility, but American Giant has actually put it into practice — with impressive results. When the online apparel retailer shaved an average of five seconds off of its mobile site's speed, conversions increased 23%.

"Anything you can do to improve site speed will bring benefits," said Jennifer Patchen, Director of Site Operations for the San Francisco-based retailer. Reducing the desktop e-Commerce site's speed by just a single second boosted conversions there as well, by a smaller (though still measurable) percentage.


Audio Brand Harmonizes Digital Experience Worldwide With SaaS Platform

Until fairly recently, Harman International suffered from something of an identity crisis. If consumers knew the name at all, they associated it with high-end audio brands such as Harman Kardon and JBL. Yet the $7 billion company also is a leader in automotive technology, including GPS and navigation systems, as well as professional audio systems and even the ultra-hot Internet of Things (IoT) category.

Delivering a unified message about Harman — not to mention supporting cross-channel sales for a wide range of products— was a significant challenge not only because of the company's low profile, but also the scattered state of its digital presentation and supporting infrastructure. In 2014, Harman was operating 13 different e-Commerce systems, including separate platforms for seven global operating areas.


Rock/Creek Unites Digital And Store-Based Customer Tracking

Rock/Creek has a lot to gain from learning about its customers — particularly their plans for outdoor adventures. The retailer's most valuable shoppers are those who are about to "graduate"— set off on a backpacking trip across Europe, hike the length of the Pacific Coast Trail or scale the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Knowing exactly when these trekkers are prepping to leave allows Rock/Creek to supply them with everything they need to enjoy the trip (and hopefully survive to return and buy more products). The total "spend" from these customers easily can reach $5,000 to $6,000 per adventure, including items like specially designed shoes, GPS-enabled watches and emergency communicators.


Woodman’s Markets Grows Online Sales by 250% With E-Commerce Ordering

Consumer interest in online grocery ordering is on the rise. A 2015 survey by Nielsen showed that one-quarter of global respondents are already ordering grocery items online for home delivery, and 55% say they are willing to use it in the future.

Wisconsin-based Woodman’s Markets, however, had relied solely on brick-and-mortar sales for its growth. The family owned grocery store started as a produce stand and has expanded to operate 16 high-volume, large-format stores in Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

While Woodman's did operate a web site, it didn't allow customers to place orders. The rise of online ordering and delivery, especially from giants such as Amazon, encouraged Woodman’s to look for an experienced solution provider to create a branded website that supported online orders and in-store pick up, and was easily accessible on mobile devices.

Woodman’s chose e-Commerce technology provider GrocerKey to create, providing customers with an online presence that retains the Woodman’s brand identity and provides omnichannel solutions.

In the first full month of operation after a September 2015 launch, Woodman’s experienced significant growth in online orders, including:

  • 250% growth in online sales;
  • Average online orders that were approximately 500% larger than the average in-store transaction; and
  • More than 2,000 orders placed via mobile since the beta launch, accounting for more than $270,000 in revenue.

“We were one of the first going live with [an e-Commerce platform] in our area,” said Clint Woodman, VP of Woodman’s Markets. “We like to be ahead of the curve in that regard. GrocerKey has a lot of experience in the grocery market in Madison, Wis., where we are based. They understood our business.”


Single Store Serves As Fulfillment Hub

A main goal for Woodman’s was to be able to provide delivery and in-store pickups for online orders. The retailer chose its Madison location as the “hub” for these omnichannel offerings.

“We have three stores in the Madison area,” said Woodman. “We decided to base it out of one store and deliver [product] to the entire Madison area from that one store. That took a few months to get the equipment and everything set up. At the same time, we had to get our data systems synced up so [GrocerKey] could get the information on a daily basis. We were up and going in three to four months.”

GrocerKey worked with Woodman’s to establish criteria such as:

  • Data feeds: In order to ensure that the web site reflected the retailer’s latest pricing and products, GrocerKey required several data feeds, including a master item file, pricing files and transaction data;
  • Graphic images: GrocerKey worked with a third party to source images of all products sold, and with Woodman’s and its suppliers to gather images of private label products;
  • POS integration: GrocerKey worked with Woodman’s POS dealer to enable GrocerKey to send online transactions back to Woodman’s systems.

In order to effectively handle online orders, efficient physical order picking is vital for retailers as it represents hard labor costs. GrocerKey scanned every item in the Woodman’s store and coded each one so order pickers could navigate the retailer's large stores efficiently.

Woodman’s relies on its low prices and reputation to drive sales rather than investing heavily in marketing efforts. Woodman’s online shopping experience grew organically through word of mouth as well as the referral and email capabilities within the GrocerKey platform.

“GrocerKey understands the independent grocery business and what needs to be done to satisfy the customer,” said Woodman. “They’ve represented us very well.” 


#CCSeries Webinars Chart Roadmap To Retail's Future

In the fast-changing world of retail, the future is never very far away, and preparing for it is a full-time job. The Retail TouchPoints Connected Consumer Series, held March 14 to 17, featured nine webinars that provided attendees with a detailed, data-filled roadmap to a fast-arriving future.

Speakers from Accenture, RSR, EKN Research, Bronto, Aptos and other industry leaders shared actionable insights into such hot topics as:

• Personalization;

• Bringing Digital Convenience Into The Brick-And-Mortar Environment;

• Leveraging The Internet Of Things (IoT) in Real-World Retail; and

• Using New Tools To Engage With Connected, Time-Starved Consumers

Recaps of the sessions' highlights follow this complete list of the #CCSeries 2016 sessions, which are available on-demand:


Copenhagen Airport Enhances Omnichannel Abilities Of Resident Retailers

1copenhagenCopenhagen International Airport has tapped Episerver to help drive digital innovation initiatives geared to busy travelers, including access to travel information and airport services. Since retail purchases account for 50% of its revenues, the Airport is leveraging Episerver’s Digital Experience Cloud platform to add omnichannel capabilities to its e-Commerce presence. For example, the Episerver platform allows travelers to order duty-free items online and pick them up in-store.


Handshake Raises $14 Million To Broaden Omnichannel Offerings

1handshakeHandshake, a provider of software for wholesale business e-Commerce, has raised $14 million in series B financing. With the funding, the company plans to accelerate the development of its B2B Commerce platform, which is designed to offer a modern e-Commerce experience for customers, as well as broaden its omnichannel offering.

Silicon Valley-based Sozo Ventures led the funding, with additional participation from previous Handshake investors including Emergence Capital, SoftTech VC and BOLDstart Ventures. The company has raised a total of $23.5 million since its launch in 2010.


REI #OptOutside Campaign Results Show Power Of Sincerity Plus Engagement

While REI’s decision to close its stores on Black Friday as part of its #OptOutside social campaign prompted debate on whether it was a smart business move, the retailer’s year-end results indicate that the campaign has certainly paid off.

REI reported a 9.3% increase in revenues and a 7% increase in comparable store sales in 2015, but its biggest accomplishment was a 23% uptick in digital sales.


Q&A With Venture Capital Expert: Are Retailers Trapped By Outdated Performance Metrics?

Zach Ware VTF CapitalFor most of us, real estate represents a tremendous asset. But real estate also can become a heavy albatross (see The Big Short to refresh your memory about the bursting of the housing bubble in 2008). According to Zach Ware, Managing Partner of the venture capital firm VTF Capital, retailers need to seriously rethink the value of their real estate. They also need to start giving more weight to metrics that reflect the true health of their organizations — not same-store sales but the performance of all channels, and how well the retailer is meeting customers' actual needs.

My Q&A with Ware sheds light on how multiple trends — including Amazon's dominance, democratizing technologies like 3D printing and inexpensive analytics — are destroying traditional barriers to entry in retail and manufacturing. All this could spell trouble for those with heavy investments in brick-and-mortar store locations:

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