Latest Retail News, Strategies, & Trends - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Wed, 20 Feb 2019 00:20:53 -0500 RTP en-gb Kibo Acquires Certona, Adding Personalization To Cloud Commerce Offering Kibo Acquires Certona, Adding Personalization To Cloud Commerce Offering

Kibo will acquire Certona, an omnichannel personalization solution provider, combining Kibo’s cloud commerce solutions with Certona’s personalization offerings. The financial terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed.

As part of the deal, Kibo clients will gain additional personalization options, as well as access to Certona’s experience and expertise.

Certona leverages machine learning and predictive analytics to provide a deep level of personalization, helping retailers optimize content and messaging designed to increase engagement and conversions across all touch points. Properly analyzing existing data to offer accurate personalization is an important task — while 36% of shoppers say retailers need to do more to offer more personalized experiences, 52% worry about retailers knowing too much about them, and 17% refuse to share any information at all, according to data from Forrester Research.

“Kibo is dedicated to partnering with our clients to provide retailers with robust commerce solutions, which enable them to deliver outstanding consumer experiences,” said David Post, CEO of Kibo in a statement. “To that end, we also believe those experiences are more powerful and compelling when they are personalized to the needs of the consumer. To prepare our clients for what’s to come in commerce, we looked for a true innovator that would elevate our current personalization capabilities, and we found it in Certona. Together, we will continue to partner with our clients, meeting them where they are along their digital transformation journey.”

]]> (Bryan Wassel) Mergers & Acquisitions Tue, 19 Feb 2019 15:17:30 -0500
Walmart Holiday E-Commerce Revenue Jumps 43%, Comp Sales Growth Is Up 4.2% Walmart Holiday E-Commerce Revenue Jumps 43%, Comp Sales Growth Is Up 4.2%

While last week provided some discouraging, but potentially skewed, numbers related to sinking December retail sales, Walmart saw significant Q4 growth, suggesting that shoppers were spending for basics and lower-end goods vs. luxury items.

The retail giant saw U.S. comparable sales rise 4.2%, beating Wall Street analyst expectations of 3.2%, and also saw adjusted earnings per share ($1.41 vs. $1.33) and revenue ($138.79 billion vs. $138.65) outperform expectations. Online sales jumped 43% during Q4, matching growth during the previous quarter. The holiday quarter pushed Walmart to its 2018 e-Commerce sales growth target of 40%. Full-year U.S. comparable sales growth reached 3.6%, Walmart’s strongest in 10 years.

Overall, the performance was a major improvement over Walmart’s 2017 holiday season, when e-Commerce sales increased 23% and U.S. comparable sales increased 2.6%. While operational issues such as higher product volumes slowed down holiday sales after a very strong 2017, Walmart avoided these problems due to continued supply chain and merchandising investments.

Walmart Invests $11B In 2019 Growth

The company is targeting e-Commerce sales growth of 35% for the coming year, which won't be as robust as what it was able to achieve last year. But the company is committed to spending to ensure growth continues: with $11 billion in capital expenditures anticipated for store remodeling, customer-facing initiatives, e-Commerce and supply chain in 2019.

Online grocery has been a significant contributor to online growth for Walmart, generating “mid-single digit” growth increases, the retailer reported. Currently, the company is working with seven grocery delivery partners as part of plans to double its grocery delivery footprint to 1,600 stores by the end of 2019. The retailer has existing agreements with DoorDash and Postmates, and forged new agreements with Point Pickup, Skipcart, AxleHire and Roadie in January and Spark in September 2018.

Buy online/pick-up in store also has contributed to Walmart’s e-Commerce growth, with 2,100 stores presently equipped for grocery pickup, increasing to 3,100 by the end of 2019.

"We're making progress in e-Commerce," CEO Doug McMillon said on a call with analysts and investors. "Our focus remains on earning repeat visits and strengthening our assortment of merchandise.” McMillon indicated that shoppers who buy both in stores and online are spending 2X as much as those who exclusively purchase from one channel.

“Walmart is proving the Amazon-driven, retail apocalypse storyline is a myth,” said Jack O’Leary, Senior Retail Analyst at Edge by Ascential, in commentary provided to Retail TouchPoints. “Reinvented and nimble omnichannel players have distinct advantages against Amazon when they leverage their physical store networks, focusing on the shopping experience there by layering on convenient digital capabilities in fulfillment, offering refreshed and differentiated assortment and building on pre-existing brand equity with shoppers.”

Walmart is maintaining its sales outlook for 2019, predicting U.S. same store sales to rise 2.5% to 3%.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Tue, 19 Feb 2019 14:30:46 -0500
Payless Will Close All Company-Owned Locations Amid Bankruptcy Filling Payless Will Close All Company-Owned Locations Amid Bankruptcy Filling

Paylesswill shutter all 2,100 company-owned stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, according to the Associated Press. The retailer also will wind down its e-Commerce operations, but franchise and Latin America locations will continue operating as usual.

The stores started liquidating on Feb. 17, with the company filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time in three years. All will remain open until the end of March, with the majority remaining open until May. The company had reportedly been weighing its options for bankruptcy prior to the announcement.

Payless previously entered bankruptcy proceedings in April 2017. The chain emerged from bankruptcy that August with 3,500 stores (down from 4,400) after eliminating more than $435 million in debt.The retailer still has approximately $470 million in outstanding debt, according to the bankruptcy filing.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) News Briefs Tue, 19 Feb 2019 10:37:07 -0500
The ‘Art’ And ‘Science’ Of GDPR Consent For Retailers

0aaaEric Holtzclaw PossibleNOWYou’ve seen it before, the long form you must sign before participating in a potentially dangerous activity, the checkbox at the bottom of an end user agreement before you can use a new piece of software, the numerous documents that are part of every major financial purchase.

These arduous processes are developed by companies in response to a regulation, an issue or advice from a lawyer. Not surprisingly, organizations are responding similarly to growing regulatory concerns such as GDPR, ePrivacy and CCPA. In hopes of addressing the new regulations quickly and efficiently, enterprises err on the “science” side of consent collection while ignoring the “art” of consent collection. This is an important distinction because customer consent is the key that unlocks customer conversation and insights that drive a more meaningful exchange.

What is the ‘science’ of consent collection? It is the technology, data and regulations surrounding such collection. These elements are well-defined, understood across any retailer, are trackable and can be readily reported both inside and outside the retailer.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with viewing consent this way, by only approaching preference and consent management scientifically, enterprises are only “checking the box” — doing the bare minimum to achieve a passing grade. Just because a company deploys technology doesn’t mean it fully addresses customer and retailer needs or the intended spirit of the laws. In fact, a science-only approach prevents good retailers from benefiting from the best aspects of what consent management can offer.

In European countries, many companies are more mature in their view and further along on the timeline of allowing customers to provide consent. Organizations in these locales realize that to get a bigger take rate on collecting consent, they must marry preference with consent management to offer an incentive. If there is no perceived value to the individual providing consent, why would they willing provide it?

By adding preferences to consent, retailers allow customers to be specific with the types of communications, the cadence and the mode that they receive such communications. This increased specificity is a building block for trust between companies and customers, ultimately establishing and bolstering a long-term relationship.

To achieve the greatest return on investment for addressing mandatory compliance requirements, organizations should include a focus on the ‘art’ of consent and preference management. In doing so, preference and consent management drives initial adoption and results in the greatest long-term benefit.

Retailers must further approach consent with the goal of empowering customer conversations. They must focus on deploying implementations that drive more granular preferences across business units, applications, products, communication channels and desired frequency. This long-term perspective leads to healthy and profitable customer relationships. Factors such as timing, placement and design drive adoption by both the company and by its customers.

Aspects of deploying consent artfully include:

  • Consent Spot Collection: Instead of requesting consent via one singular checkbox or a long comprehensive form, consent is spread thoughtfully through the customer journey. Consent and preferences are collected from the customer at points that are significant — during registration, when looking for new products, etc. Taking advantage of these “moments that matter” increases the likelihood the customer will understand what they are agreeing to and their willingness to provide consent increases.
  • Ability to Opt Down: After consent is collected and communications are received, organizations that think of consent in broader terms provide well-designed and tailored forms that allow customers to opt down from communications they are currently receiving. These forms should be easily accessible from any customer touch point. A sophisticated opt-down approach is a step toward turning a would be global opt-out into a more useful and specific opt-in.
  • Proactive Suggestion: Based on customer behaviour, lack of engagement with outbound communications or customer-driven actions, companies may offer alternatives to current modes, frequency and types of communications. This prediction of a potential change in consent increases the likelihood of maintaining some level of consent for continued communications.

Privacy technology must be considered with industry-specific and problem-specific best practices — for example, a financial services company needs the ability to collect consent across multiple channels, such as in-person interaction, while an e-Commerce-only company does not. A one-size-fits-all approach will fall flat and ultimately negatively impact a company’s consent collection initiatives.

The best way to successfully combine the science with the art of consent and preference management is to review and evaluate implementations based on real world use cases. Spend time on competitive web sites, follow the “unsubscribe” link in emails and study customer engagement best practices. Combining this research with an understanding of why your customers provide consent in the first place, and how they benefit from doing so over their relationship with your company, is the foundation for a winning approach.

Regardless of your organization’s approach to addressing consent, download The Forrester New WaveTM: GDPR And Privacy Management Software, Q4 2018 report. This report provides insight into vendors that are equipped to solve your organization’s unique consent challenges across the spectrum of science to art.


Eric V. Holtzclaw is Chief Strategist of PossibleNOW. He’s a researcher, writer, serial entrepreneur and challenger-of-conventional wisdom. Check out his book with Wiley Publishing on consumer behavior – Laddering: Unlocking the Potential of Consumer Behavior. Holtzclaw helps strategically guide companies with the implementation of enterprise-wide consent and preference management solutions. PossibleNOW leverages powerful technology and industry-leading expertise to enable companies to listen to customers, remember what they like and dislike and respond in useful, personalized ways. Its enterprise consent and preference management platform, MyPreferences®, collects customer and prospect preferences, stores them safely and makes them available to any other system or application in the enterprise. PossibleNOW strategic services experts identify opportunities, plan technology deployments, design preference collection interfaces and position clients for a win. For more information call (800) 585-4888 or visit

]]> (Eric V. Holtzclaw, PossibleNOW) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 19 Feb 2019 09:23:01 -0500
Eddie Lampert Steps Down As Sears Chairman Eddie Lampert Steps Down As Sears Chairman

In the wake of gaining approval to purchase Sears in a $5.2 billion lifeline bid, Chairman Eddie Lampert has stepped down from its Board of Directors, according to a company securities filing. Lampert had already stepped down as CEO of Sears when the company filed for bankruptcy in October 2018, but remained as Chairman to keep the business afloat during the auction process.

Lampert placed the winning bid for the retailer through his hedge fund, ESL Investments, after numerous previous attempts were rejected, so he will still serve as the owner of Sears Holdings as a private company.

His resignation relates to the completion of the transaction and is not the result of any disagreement with Sears, according to the filing. Another board member, ESL Investments President Kunal Kamlani, also resigned from the Board.

There has been no indication of who will serve as the next Chairman, or how Sears will undergo the search and selection process. When Lampert resigned as CEO, the Sears Board created an Office of the CEO, which is responsible for managing the company's day-to-day operations as they search for the next chief executive.

Lampert’s departure may also position Sears more positively in the eyes of critics — namely creditors — if it means that the Board includes more outside influence. Unsecured creditors sought permission to sue Lampert for deals made under his tenure as Sears Chairman and CEO, filing an objection to the $5.2 billion bid in January. 

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Retail Movers & Shakers Fri, 15 Feb 2019 16:57:35 -0500
2 Retailers Tap Customer Knowledge To Quickly Drive Strong Results 2 Retailers Tap Customer Knowledge To Quickly Drive Strong Results

The extremely fast pace of modern retailing means merchants need to quickly and efficiently market their offerings in order for them to reach their full sales potential. Both TeePublic, an e-Commerce marketplace that lets artists sell their designs on a variety of products, and Topo Designs, an outdoor apparel and accessory brand, faced challenges that required rapid iteration to meet their sales goals.

Both companies harnessed AdRoll, an e-Commerce growth platform, to help tackle their challenges. TeePublic used the solution to quickly improve its personalization capabilities, while Topo Designs was able to focus on promotions while AdRoll handled the creative side.

Segmented Messages Help TeePublic’s Eclectic Selections Thrive

TeePublic’s audience is extremely diverse: the site offers more than 1 million designs from a wide range of artists, and its shoppers have an equally wide range of tastes. This makes messaging based on intent extremely important, as not even the top sellers are guaranteed to resonate with every potential customer.

“Because our business model is based on very long tail, hyper-niche design audiences, the creative can’t be scaled with static creative images sent to everyone,” said Adam Lasky, Director of Marketing at TeePublic in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We rely on dynamic creatives — based on what the customer viewed on the site, that’s what we showed them. If we were dealing with customers that maybe looked at a search page but not a specific product, we would then use the dynamic creative to have recommendations based on what they searched for.”

When TeePublic set its ROI goals for holiday 2017, the brand had just two months to hit its goal of 20% year-over-year revenue growth. AdRoll’s tools helped the retailer rapidly build out a list of former shoppers and segment them based on their previous buying habits. From there, the retailer could use targeted messages to reactivate them as recurring customers.

“That really expanded our reach,” said Lasky. “We were able to reach dormant customers and customers who we felt we could reactivate based on their previous behavior.”

The solution ultimately helped TeePublic move from batch email blasts to more personalized forms of outreach, and allowed the company to show off more than the top sellers. The results of the new campaign were impressive: the retailer more than doubled its revenue projections for November and December 2017.

Topo Designs Turns Sales Around In Less Than 24 Hours

In 2016, Topo Designs was faced with an even tighter deadline: the brand’s Black Friday Weekend results were below its goals, and Cyber Monday was less than 24 hours away. Immediate change was needed.

“We were looking at what other brands were doing, both competitors and aspirational brands we look up to, and we realized that the deal we had planned for Cyber Monday wasn’t going to be good enough,” said Abby Czarniecki, Digital Marketing Analyst at Topo Designs. “There was no way we were going to make up what we needed that weekend.”

It was too late to come up with a new plan, but AdRoll already was directing enough traffic to the site — with the outreach already handled, the challenge was turning those visits into conversions. To sweeten the existing gift card and free shipping deal, Topo Designs applied a 25% off discount to the entire site.

“We decided to beef up the deal and make it better,” said Czarniecki. “We knew there was going to be a ton of traffic and a ton of eyes on the site, so why not make it a more enticing deal when they arrive and hopefully inspire them to spend even more?”

The gift card giveaway was the result of a plan to generate more creative promotions, but the message proved difficult to express in ads, and often failed to resonate with shoppers. The sitewide discount was a return to the basics: something both easy for shoppers to understand and for the retailer to execute.

The lessons Topo Designs learned proved valuable during Black Friday Weekend in 2017: the retailer mustered a 5X return on ad spend, and smashed its Cyber Monday revenue goal by 156%.

In both instances, the key to success was understand the audience and quickly moving to generate messaging that met their needs. Retailers can’t be afraid to experiment, and proper communication with their shoppers ensures that even daunting odds can be overcome.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) E-Commerce Tue, 19 Feb 2019 09:00:00 -0500
How Out-Of-Home Advertising Will Help Amazon Unify The Customer Experience

0aaaMichael Provenzano VistarMediaAmazon is now one of the top three digital advertising players, overtaking Oath and Microsoft just weeks after it became the second company in history to reach a $1 trillion market capitalization.

The growth of the retail giant’s advertising business has been fueled by innovative technical approaches — header bidding strategies and the development of a proprietary and vertically-integrated advertising platform — that have allowed Amazon to successfully capture customers from its primary competitors Facebook and Google.

To continue its dominance, the company will now look to one of the oldest forms of advertising, billboards and other out-of-home (OOH) media, to shape online retail habits and unify the customer experience online, in-store and at any location along the way.

Why Focus On OOH Media?

To start with, Amazon has won the battle with Google for supremacy in product search.

If a consumer is looking for information about a retail product, more than 50% of the time they’ll go directly to, or if on mobile, the Amazon app. The company has changed consumer behavior for retail in the same way that LinkedIn or Facebook have changed the way people search for work and develop the social aspects of their lives.

Despite its massive presence in online retail, Amazon has yet to build a significant footprint in physical retail, outside of grocery with Whole Foods. But that may change fast with Amazon Go stores, which could reach 3,000 locations by 2021.

Most notably, Amazon is locked in a battle with Walmart, still the world’s largest retailer, which is making a strong push to grow its online shopping market share. Amazon, for its part, may seek to differentiate itself through the experience it offers in its physical retail stores.

To this end, Amazon can take a page from Apple in building a successful retail strategy in the physical world. Even though all of its products can be purchased online, Apple has invested heavily in its retail stores. They offer an elegant retail environment, with digital signage, powerful WiFi, solid power infrastructure and a mobile point-of-sale platform that makes it a truly seamless customer experience.

In contrast, Amazon has mass reach with different product sets and brands, allowing customers to make purchases of almost anything in one click, anywhere and any time. This gives the company unparalleled insight into the minds of shoppers based on intent, and where they can easily tie this back to purchasing behaviors both online and offline.

OOH advertising finishes the last mile in the marathon of reaching consumers along the entire customer journey. Digital OOH screens represent a massive opportunity for Amazon and other e-Commerce players, to partner with CPG manufacturers to create more impactful and seamless ad campaigns than ever before. The channel has also enjoyed a renaissance of late as the only traditional form of advertising expected to grow in 2018, up 2% to $8 billion.

The application of online ad marketplace and data analytics capabilities of OOH pave the way for the tech titans to use the medium to their advantage. According to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), the top 10 spenders on OOH advertising include the likes of Apple, Google, and yes…Amazon.

Unifying The Customer Journey With The Right Product At The Right Time

Consumers now have the ability to shop anywhere, so billboards and other OOH inventory can be transformed into virtual, on-demand shelves and venues for targeted product placement. Amazon can now draw on mobile data to showcase the right products at the right time on OOH media to drive in-app activity and purchases.

For example, Amazon might use mobile app location data and purchase history to reach the highest concentration of mothers in a specific area who have purchased baby products like Pampers in the past month, then direct discounts and recommendations for Bugaboo strollers and accessories. Similarly, location data could be used to identify regular Starbucks customers, then show them early Black Friday deals for Nespresso coffee machines.

The contextual relevance of DOOH could also act as a filter for product display. Treating digital displays as “virtual shelves” would allow Amazon to, for example, showcase health-related products on consumer health kiosks and in physical therapy and doctor’s office waiting rooms. Digital out-of-home can help e-Commerce brands extend their physical presence, to engage consumers with advertising for products of interest at the precise moment decisions are being made about their health.

Reinventing Retail Through Data

With the reinvention of retail thanks to proximity marketing and the demands of Millennials in the mobile and e-Commerce era, Amazon has a huge leg up on its competition thanks to the data it already has on file.

Consumers today expect a connected and unified experience in the physical world as well, where brands and retailers communicate with them when and where it makes most sense. And there is a lot at stake, with more than 80% of the total U.S. retail sales still being made in store.

Anything is possible when you pair finely tuned demographic data, based on location, with the specific time and situational conditions to present the right set of products. Further, Amazon would be able to take device ID exposure logs or even deliveries against a product line to see a change in sales for a particular SKU. The added benefit will come in the form of campaign measurement in real time, where creative content decisions can be adjusted for and made on the fly.

It’s just the beginning, but expect to see the unification of the customer experience take another leap in 2019 with digital OOH, led by Amazon, and this will become table stakes for experiential retail over the next several years.


Michael Provenzano is the CEO and founder of Vistar Media, a geospatial technology company bridging the space between advertising ecosystems, consumer movement patterns and purchase behavior. Founded in 2012, Vistar created the first and only universal marketplace for out-of-home media, building a programmatic platform that has been widely adopted by buyers and sellers. Vistar provides marketers with unprecedented access to consumers at the right place and right time, through a data-agnostic system for analyzing consumer movement patterns and activating cross-screen mobile and out-of-home media. Previous to Vistar, Provenzano co-founded Invite Media, the first universal demand side platform for online display advertising, which was purchased by Google in 2010. Based in New York, Michael has a BSE in Materials Science Engineering from University of Pennsylvania.

]]> (Michael Provenzano, Vistar Media ) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 18 Feb 2019 08:38:55 -0500
Revived FAO Schwarz Moves Beyond Toys Into Home Products, Accessories And Candy Revived FAO Schwarz Moves Beyond Toys Into Home Products, Accessories And Candy

Three months after FAO Schwarz made its triumphant return to New York City with the opening of its new flagship store at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and the debut of its first airport location at LaGuardia Airport, the iconic retailer has announced that it will expand its product assortment beyond toys to include candy, and home products and accessories.

FAO Schwarz has entered into licensing agreements with Britannica Home Fashions, Galerie USA and Uncas International to create a wide array of lifestyle products that will be available in fall 2019. As part of these agreements:

  • Britannica Home Fashions and FAO Schwarz will develop a collection of home fashions including various styles of bedding, bath and soft holiday décor items;
  • Galerie USA and FAO Schwarz will create chocolates, gift sets and bespoke candy offerings that celebrate the seasons, such as Valentine's Day, Easter and Christmas confections; and
  • Uncas International will launch a line of new FAO Schwarz accessories including jewelry, hair products and key chains.

Beyond the new product partnerships, FAO Schwarz is expanding its footprint outside New York City, with a second airport store opening at Chicago Midway International Airport in 2019.

Through an exclusive agreement with Hudson Group, an operator of North American travel retail stores, additional FAO Schwarz and FAO Schweetz shops will open throughout the year in airport terminals nationwide, including one at Indianapolis International Airport.

FAO Schwarz Will Go Global In 2019

FAO Schwarz will even expand outside the U.S. later this year in three major markets: the UK, China and Canada.

The company’s European flagship store will open in London on Nov. 1, 2019, located within the Selfridges Oxford Street flagship location. More than 20,000 square feet of space will feature a full collection of FAO Schwarz products and theatrical experiences.

FAO Schwarz also has partnered with Kidsland, China's largest toy distributor and retailer with nearly 300 stores. Additionally, a 27,000-square-foot FAO Schwarz flagship is scheduled to open at China World Mall in Beijing in May 2019.

FAO Schwarz will move into Canada with shop-in-shops at Hudson’s Bay locations, although the company hasn’t revealed how many stores it will have a presence in.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Fri, 15 Feb 2019 14:32:19 -0500
Walmart Launches Traveling VR Entertainment And Shopping Experience Walmart Launches Traveling VR Entertainment And Shopping Experience

Spatial&, Walmart’s virtual reality (VR) platform and content studio, will use VR technology at Walmart stores across the country to offer a virtual experience titled, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Virtual Tour.” The retailer and solution provider created the VR-driven retail experience in collaboration with DreamWorks Animation and sponsorship from HP, Intel and Positron.

Participants will don headsets and sit in motion-controlled VR chairs powered by VR backpacks to take a five-minute journey through the world of How To Train Your Dragon, the popular film series that debuted in 2010 and will continue with the release this year of How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. They will then have an opportunity to browse related merchandise in an immersive branded gift shop. The experience will travel to 16 cities between Feb. 15 and April 9, 2019.

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“Collaborating with DreamWorks Animation and its iconic How to Train Your Dragon franchise is such an exciting way to bring Spatial&’s first-ever activation to the public,” said Katie Finnegan, CEO of Spatial& in a statement. “Spatial& was founded based on the belief that VR will transform merchandising and retail, and we can’t wait to finally share this uniquely immersive shopping experience with consumers across the country.”

Walmart may devote more of its physical stores’ real estate to VR experiences as more sales move online. Finnegan told CNBC that such a shift could occur “in the five- to seven-year time horizon.”

In the meantime, Walmart is harnessing VR and AR to enhance the online shopping experience. The retailer is offering shoppers the ability to browse a curated 3D apartment that shows off 70 branded and private label products.

The technology is also operational behind-the-scenes, where new associates are training using VR headsets. More than 1 million workers have been taught how to use the headsets, which offer lessons on empathy, customer service, using new technology and compliance.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) Shopper Experience Fri, 15 Feb 2019 12:52:45 -0500
Taking Digital Marketing Strategies In-Store

0aaaPeter Luff IpsosDespite living in a world of ultra-fast online services, a reported 54% of U.S. shoppers prefer shopping at brick-and-mortar stores.

Learning From E-Commerce

While benchmarking your store against others in a similar sector is a great way to measure performance, it can be beneficial to compare with a business completely outside the realm of brick-and-mortar retailing. The longstanding example of learning from another sector or field is that MBA students study how Southwest Airlines applied the quick turnaround of Formula One racing cars in pit stops to their aeroplanes, taking the non-profitable time on the ground from 40 minutes down to 12.

In a similar vein, retailers could apply the efficiency of online checkout procedures to their stores, as online shoppers never deal with the hassle of checkout queues since their details are stored in the system. With a simple ‘pay now’ button, online consumers can make a purchase in mere seconds.

I am not suggesting that stores will be as slick as their online counterparts for transactional activity, but they can certainly close the gap. By implementing technology, perhaps in the form of point-of-sale and personal scanners, shoppers will undoubtedly feel the value of the improved in-store experience — helping to increase store traffic as a result.

Playing To Your Advantages

While it is true that online shopping is advancing, there will always be a place for high street retailers in consumers’ eyes. The in-store experience is what gives physical retailers the edge, whether this is social interaction, the instant purchase gratification, or being able to actually see and feel the products before purchasing. Even though online shopping offers the convenience of purchasing whatever you want, wherever you want, there is still the waiting period between deliveries that puts the process at a disadvantage. Convenience works differently for brick-and-mortar, and plays to those who need to test out the products before purchasing.

It is imperative for brick-and-mortar retailers to keep stores updated in order to achieve a stronger ongoing retail experience. Retailers are more competitive on the high street and the slowing consumer demand for physical shopping has left the weakest retailers, who refuse to embrace the technology that delivers experiential shopping experiences, to fade into obscurity.

The Power Of Technology

Advancing technology and software are both obviously increasing popularity for online shopping, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for physical retailers. Technology can be used to drive people into stores through the use of such initiatives as pop-up sales and special offers when consumers actually visit the store. If retailers use digital tools like this, they should make sure to keep the physical store updated as well. You want your customers to enjoy shopping online, but then not feel like they have stepped back in time by 20 years when they walk into the store.

There are a number of methods and technologies that retailers can utilize and implement to improve their stores. When it is used correctly, technology can help you understand how your customers interact with your brand, provide insights into what works and what doesn’t and curate a story for in-store teams based on shopper habits.

In the same way that analysts spend a huge amount of time monitoring what online customers are doing, retailers should pinpoint how many touch points a shopper has as they move through competitors’ web sites. The same principles can be applied to customers in a store, and where possible, look at the emotional journey within your store to create those all-important memorable experiences.

The Benefits Of Facial Profiling

Digital displays and signage can be used to narrate stories for all types of audiences. Think about the demographics of specific shoppers that come into your store, and ask yourself ‘How can I get a message across to multiple age groups and genders?’, or ‘If a man comes into the store, what does he want and how can we help him to get there?’.

If you have a message based on a product that is typically purchased by, for example, women, try to think of how you can tailor it to target other demographics too. Every display and signage should appeal to whoever walks in the store. Allowing digital signage to be controlled by its audience in this way will have a positive impact on every customer, not just one.

Facial profiling is one of the latest trends in in-store digital marketing, allowing retailers to display targeted promotions based on consumer insights. Using data such as gender and age, the software displays adverts and information based on whoever stands in front of the display. Utilizing the data collected on the purchasing habits of similar shoppers, it delivers relevant messages that are designed to drive positive purchasing behavior.

By measuring all marketing efforts and costs, and then overlaying this with the year-on-year traffic for the retail sector, accurate comparisons can be made against a specific store’s performance.

Final Thoughts

Even though online shopping is growing ever more popular, successful retailers are giving consumers a reason to put down their smart devices and visit the stores. As we have seen, investing in the correct technology can deliver tangible in-store results. Keeping up with industry trends and monitoring customer data helps retailers deliver in-store displays and marketing campaigns, allowing a stronger focus on what is proven to drive greater traffic and sales. The in-store experience is what keeps people walking through the doors, but to stay relevant, retailers need to keep an eye on their online counterparts, and keep their approach modern and fresh.


Peter Luff is the president of IPSOS Retail Performance, a leading global retail and traffic consultant. Alongside his team, Luff collects traffic data for brick-and-mortar stores to help retailers identify consumer trends, habits and insights to improve the general customer experience. Working with some of the world’s largest brands, IPSOS delivers data from across 50 countries, monitoring over 3.1 billion visits every year.

]]> (Peter Luff, IPSOS Retail Performance) Executive ViewPoints Fri, 15 Feb 2019 10:15:04 -0500