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3 Guiding Principles Of Developing A 1-to-1 Customer Experience

0aChris Bryson UnataThe 1-to-1 customer experience: it’s what your shoppers expect. They experience it with Netflix and Facebook on a daily basis, and they anticipate that same convenient experience when they shop with you, too. If your experience doesn’t make it easy for your shoppers to find the right products, they’re likely to give up and go somewhere else. And in grocery, where your catalogue consists of tens of thousands of products, the challenge is even greater and more important.

Good news! By leveraging data from a shopper’s online transactions (and their in-store purchases, if you have a loyalty program), you can tackle this challenge and deliver a world-class experience. From the home page to the catalogue to the cart, you can present each shopper with the products and specials that they are most likely to want, based on the trends in their purchase history.

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Storyselling Marries Content And Commerce To Build Long-Term Loyalty

Many brands are embracing the convergence of content and commerce known as "storyselling" — even though metrics around its effectiveness are still being developed. The ROI of storyselling can be difficult to measure, because interactions are more about building positive relationships with consumers versus achieving an immediate conversion.

"Telling stories is a way to tell your company's point of view, and we think about it as adding value to shoppers’ experience," said Amanda Hesser, CEO and Co-Founder of Food52, which sells kitchen products. Food52's storyselling efforts have helped the retailer improve its conversion rates by 20% over the past year, but she believes its true value will be long-term. "For example, if a customer sees a platter we're selling that has a salad on it and they click on the salad recipe, that's still a win, because you've piqued their interest. If they don't convert but you're building trust with them, you're building lifetime value."

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SmarterHQ Raises $13 Million To Expand Into New Verticals

1smarterHQSmarterHQ, maker of a customer personalization engine, has secured $13 million in funding. Spring Lake Equity led the round with additional participation from Simon Venture Group and Battery Ventures. SmarterHQ will use these funds to expand sales and marketing efforts as it continues growing into new vertical markets, including financial services, travel and hospitality.

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NYC Juice Bar Determines Optimal New Locations Via AI Platform

0apuregreenExpansion can be difficult for businesses with a small footprint, especially when that footprint begins in the packed confines of New York City. But one juice bar, Pure Green, is gathering consumer data via artificial intelligence, to map growth outside of its four present locations: three in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn.

With the help of Genie, an AI-powered recommendation engine from Grey Jean Technologies, Pure Green can gather and analyze transaction and consumer data from its current stores to determine the best areas to set up new retail locations. Thus far, Pure Green already expects to open two more Manhattan stops in the near future — one in the East Village and another in Tribeca — with the ambitious goal of opening 30 locations by the end of 2017.

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Aeropost Channels Web Traffic To Boost Conversion

Unless you are an e-Commerce shopper in the Caribbean or Latin America, you may not have heard of Aeropost. The 30-year-old services company provides shopping, payment and last-mile delivery support for e-Tailers (including major players like Amazon and eBay) in 40 countries throughout the region.

In addition to its web site, Aeropost operates 100 storefronts throughout the region that function as e-Commerce service centers. The locations are equipped with web-connected terminals and staffed with purchasing assistants who can help novice e-Commerce shoppers navigate different sites to find the items they're seeking. Shoppers can pay for their purchases either in cash or with a credit card, and they can pick up the items they've ordered at the Aeropost store rather than dealing with the vagaries of last-mile fulfillment — a big benefit in countries that lack a strong delivery and shipping infrastructure.

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3 Lessons From Rent The Runway’s New Futuristic Flagship

0Glenn head shotWith its new flagship store location that opened in Manhattan on Dec. 6, fashion rental retailer Rent the Runway is the latest signal that the “store of the future” is here. With a “Dream Closet,” its own bar-like concierge and a personalized Style Studio, the 5,000-square-foot storeis three times the size of any of the retailer’s existing stores and rotates the merchandise that appears on its floor daily.

Last Friday, Dec. 9, I had the opportunity to take a tour of the recently opened store to capture the experience firsthand. Given the constant struggle retailers face in building out omnichannel experiences, the Rent the Runway flagship offers three key lessons for brands seeking to further engage consumers:

  • Leverage full inventory visibility to extend store experience value;
  • Cater to on-the-go shoppers via mobile and open communication; and
  • Emphasize striking visuals within the store.
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Bold Metrics Rebrands, Expands Into Sports And VR

1-boldmetricsFashion Metrics, which provides machine learning technology designed to deliver a truly personalized fit and sizing experience, has renamed itself Bold Metrics. In addition to the rebranding, the company is adding Sport Metric and VR Metric to a product portfolio that includes Fashion Metric. 

Bold Metrics, which includes a team of data scientists and one of the largest data warehouses of human body measurements, launched Fashion Metric in 2013 to make more accurate apparel design and size predictions. Predictions come within 3% of what a master tailor would measure in person. The company is expanding into new retail verticals, including sports and fitness, along with emerging VR offerings. Sport Metric will aid consumers in buying sporting goods relative to their body shape, and VR Metric will help users create authentic avatars.

“We see the world changing a lot with increased consumer desire for personalization and with the advancements in VR and AR, and it’s especially exciting to be making an impact in these areas,” said Morgan Linton, Co-Founder and CRO of Bold Metrics in a statement. “In addition, the technology provides feedback data based on real-life body measurements to enable brand manufacturers to more accurately design and size their products.”

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Starbucks Five-Year Plan: 12,000 New Stores And A Focus On China

While Howard Schultz’s upcoming retirement as Starbucks’ CEO has sparked many questions about the coffee giant's future direction, the company certainly isn’t slowing down its expansion efforts. Starbucks plans to add a whopping 12,000 stores globally by 2021, upping the brand’s projected store footprint to 37,000 locations.

The five-year expansion plan revealed at the Starbucks Investor Conference includes these ambitious goals:

  • Add more than 5,000 new stores in China;

  • Expand its high end Roastery and Starbucks Reserve store experiences;

  • Introduce artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to its mobile app;

  • Increase revenue by 10%;

  • Increase earnings per share (EPS) by 15% to 20%; and

  • Drive mid-single-digit comparable store growth each year.

China appears to be the most urgent imperative in Starbucks' global expansion plans going forward; the coffee giant projects that it will one day eclipse the U.S. market in size. China is already home to nearly 2,500 Starbucks locations and the company estimates it is opening an average of more than one store per day in the country. This pace is set to accelerate to achieve a total of more than 5,000 additional stores by 2021.

As part of the Chinese expansion, Starbucks is collaborating with social media platform WeChat to bring digital payments and social gifting capabilities to its mobile audience. With WeChat having more than 800 million monthly active users, Starbucks has a tremendous opportunity to engage potential shoppers before, during and after they pick up a cup of coffee.

The WeChat payments feature complements Starbucks’ own mobile payment system for its My Starbucks Rewards program members, which it launched in China earlier in 2016.

Schultz’s Destination Dream To Become A Reality

Starbucks is further highlighting the “experience” aspect of its stores as part of the expansion, with an increased emphasis on the higher end Roastery and Reserve brands. This focus is Schultz’s pet project in his new role as Executive Chairman, fulfilling his desire to portray the brand as a destination spot for consumers. Since the company’s expansion is happening so rapidly, the introduction of numerous brands will be carried out to prevent product dilution.

This plan includes opening 20 to 30 planned Roasteries, which are the company's tourist-friendly locations that serve premium coffee and drinks for $10 a cup. The first location is in Starbucks' headquarters city of Seattle, with plans set to open the next Roasteries in Shanghai in 2017, Tokyo and New York City in 2018. A fifth location in Europe will be announced early in 2017.

Each Roastery will serve as the foundation for the brand’s new Starbucks Reserve store formats, which will integrate the unique culinary experience of the company’s new Italian food partner, Princi. The first of these new stores will open in Seattle and Chicago in the second half of 2017, with plans to open 1,000 or more globally over time. In addition, Starbucks plans to open standalone Princi stores in Seattle, New York and Chicago in late 2017 and in early 2018.

Starbucks also is extending elements of the Roastery experience to its core Starbucks stores, with the expectation of adding Starbucks Reserve experience bars in up to 20% of its total portfolio (including new and renovated locations) by 2021.

AI Brings Voice Commands, Personalization To Mobile App

With eight million people now using the Starbucks mobile app to pay ahead of pickup times, Starbucks is adding yet another ordering functionality to the mobile experience. The brand has unveiled an artificial intelligence (AI) platform, My Starbucks Barista, enabling customers to place their orders via voice command or a messaging interface. The feature will roll out first on iOS in limited beta in early 2017 and be made available to more iOS and Android users in subsequent releases.

By early 2017, the company expects to complete the rollout of personalization features such as suggested selling and recommendations during Mobile Order and Pay checkout.

 

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‘Suggested Selling’ In Stores To Top 51% By 2019

As the store’s role continues to evolve with consumer shopping preferences changing, omnichannel retailers aren’t just dabbling in personalization; they’re betting the farm on it. While currently just 7% of retailers use suggested selling based on what’s in the customer’s closet, that percentage is expected to jump to 51% by 2019 — a 629% increase, according to Boston Retail Partners (BRP).

In November 2015, BRP highlighted in its Future Store Manifesto that retailers are changing their initiatives to align with five key future store imperatives: mobile, relevant, personal, ubiquitous and secure. One year later, BRP followed up the report with a scorecard identifying where retailers have taken strides in these categories, projecting mobile and relevance will see the biggest growth in the store of the future:

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