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Executive ViewPoints

The retail industry is fortunate to include numerous executives with extensive experience — and they are willing to share their insights in the Retail TouchPoints ViewPoints section. These byline pieces focus on industry trends and do not include solution provider sales pitches. Many of the byline pieces receive the greatest number of clicks on the RTP site each year.

Thriving In The New World Of Grocery: Five Keys For Brands

Much has been made of the challenges facing retailers in today’s grocery marketplace. However, their manufacturing trading partners are contending with equally pervasive disruption and the effects have been significant, with most of the top 100 brands continuing to lose market share to smaller competitors. The issues impacting large CPGs are many — and they’re growing. For one, shoppers are increasingly brand agnostic. They’re looking to manufacturers to address a need state and, if they have confidence that the product can meet their  need(s), it matters not the brand.

Crisis Management Lessons Learned From Starbucks

There are no shortages of public relations disasters among retail brands. Whether a crisis is caused by social media, employee scandal, data loss or racial discrimination, the impact on brand reputation and revenue can be severe. Some companies struggle to repair their search landscape for years, yet Starbucks search results seem to be immune to negative press. So how did Starbucks develop a seemingly bulletproof online reputation, and what can other retail brands learn from them? The answer is as simple as it is obvious; Starbucks has a textbook crisis management strategy and they execute it perfectly. Let’s dig into their recent racial discrimination incident to understand how they recovered so quickly.

Three Advanced TV Strategies CPG Brands Can Use to Increase Revenue

A 2017 report by Credit Suisse projected that the current distinction between “media” spend (TV, digital, print, radio, outdoor and cinema) and “below-the-line” marketing spend (price promotions, PR, sponsorship, direct mail and telephone marketing) would continue to blur in the future of advertising.   This co-branded television campaign by Tylenol and Stop & Shop targeting caregivers is a perfect example. Further, with advances in data-driven television ad buying and the scale that can now be achieved through household-level addressable TV, consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers should rethink how they allocate their marketing dollars in order to truly capitalize on their targeting and partner strategies. In other words, the ability to use rich datasets beyond age and gender demos for TV planning has created a real opportunity for CPG manufacturers to use TV to reach individual consumers with messaging that drives specific behaviors.

How Alibaba Developed Singles’ Day Into A $30 Billion Phenomenon

Alibaba has set a new high water mark for a single day of sales. The 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, held on Singles' Day, smashed previous records this year with sales reaching RMB 213.5 billion (USD $30.8 billion) an increase of 27% over 2017 and amounting to more than a billion orders. Singles' Day began as a celebration of pride in being single, held on the eleventh of November because the date consists of a series of ones: 11/11. It did not take long for retailers to recognize that the tradition, which began in the 1990s, was an opportunity to promote their products to the young, single consumers celebrating the unofficial holiday and it quickly became China's largest online sales day. Alibaba, the country's largest e-Commerce retailer, founded the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival to capture these sales.

The Three A’s Of Retail Experimentation Success

Between constantly-evolving competition and higher customer expectations, retailers are looking for innovative ways to delight their customers. From collaborative partnerships to interactive displays and activities, retailers are turning to experimentation and innovation to improve the in-store shopping experience. In fact, a recent national survey we conducted at Square Root highlighted retailers’ focus on the in-store experience, with 95% of retailers saying customer experience is a core priority for their organization. Additionally, 79% believe that physical stores are where brands really come to life, citing the in-store experience as the primary influencer of the overall customer experience. Retailers are turning to a variety of partnership formats to attract new, untapped customer bases and increase customer loyalty — including sharing real estate and testing technology. For example, Kohl’s teamed up with Aldi to “right-size” their locations. RadioShack has rolled out “RadioShack Express” locations with HobbyTown stores across the country. Macy’s partnered with b8ta, a try-before-you-buy technology that allows customers to try tech products in Macy’s stores that retailers wouldn’t traditionally offer. These strategic partnerships help brands provide customers a broader variety of choice with the convenience of a one-stop-shopping experience.

How To Optimize Mobile, Site Speed And Site Search Ahead Of Holiday 2018

For most retailers, the holiday season begins promptly in November, although some retailers start the previous month for Halloween and others as early as September for back-to-school. While retailers can forecast the start of the holiday season, one area that proves to be unpredictable are the strategies and tactics used to boost holiday sales.   The holiday season can represent as much as 30% of annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation. For online retail brands, understanding changing consumer behavior, technology and timing is critical to having a make or break year.

Mastering Retail’s Next Frontier

A decade ago, “going shopping” meant a modest trip to the store or a flip through a catalogue. While online shopping was on the rise, it was neither a de facto nor even a secondary consumer transaction platform. Who could have predicted that, by 2018, more than one in ten retail transactions would take place online, and of these online transactions, more than one in three would be made on a mobile device? Who could foretell that by the same year, 80% of all transactions would be influenced by a digital interaction or that one in five consumers would have made at least one voice-activated purchase through Amazon Echo or another digital home assistant. Much has changed in the past decade. But for all the sociological, technological and economic changes that have rocked the retail sector over the past decade, it is fair to say that when it comes to digital disruption we “ain’t seen nothing yet.”

‘Near Me’ Searches: What’s Pushing the Trend?

At this year’s Google Marketing Live event, it was revealed that mobile “near me” searches — when someone searches for a product or store nearby — have reached a new peak. Other data suggests that “near me” searches have grown by more than 200% since 2016. In the current landscape, we’re seeing a new “near me” economy develop — one that’s driven by a store or product’s location above all. It seems that customers are less motivated by brand loyalty and more by proximity and convenience. With this in mind, here’s a look at three factors responsible for its growth.

Get Your Business Ready For Holiday Sales: Five Sales Tax Tips

Since the Supreme Court decided the South Dakota v. Wayfair case in June, sales tax is more complex and difficult for businesses to handle than ever. New economic nexus law for over 20 states will go into effect before Christmas. This will expose thousands of sellers to new and complicated sales tax challenges. Despite the notoriously complex nature of sales tax, it is easy to be lured into a false sense of compliance. There are many nuances present in taxability legislation from state to state, and the more products you sell the more complexity you encounter — especially given that there are more than 12,000 tax jurisdictions in the U.S. alone, with differing rules about how to tax different products and at what rate. Many businesses relegate sales tax to the bottom of the to-do list, especially when the busy holiday season begins. However, out-of-mind does not cut it when it comes to sales tax — you do not want your business to lack compliance, as it could lead to loss of customer loyalty, brand value and more. Some common and avoidable sales tax mistakes have potentially devastating consequences. At the height of the holiday season, when there is a…

Search Beyond the Box: 4 Ways To Use Advanced Search Technology To Improve Conversion Rates

Search is a way businesses can connect with their users — to understand what they are looking for, anticipate needs and deliver a great shopping experience. However, search is not simply about helping the customer find what they are looking for; today’s consumers come to your web site for a relevant, personalized experience. When a shopper can discover something new or feel inspired to browse through recommendations, you’re turning a one-off buyer into a loyal returning customer. At its core, a powerful search experience harnesses the consumer’s intent and connects it to the product that the user wants to find. Innovative retailers use search technology as a strategic weapon — driving metrics that impact their business like conversation rates, “stickiness,” engagement and increased basket size. We’ll take a look at strategies in which search and discovery can help you understand your users and move your KPIs forward.

How Smart Retailers Are Leveraging AI

Imagine walking into your favorite clothing store. Rather than combing the shelves or checking the tags on mannequins, you walk up to a kiosk that recognizes you and you input what you’re looking for — a new suit for a business trip to New York. Using the data from your previous purchases, inventory available at the store, weather forecasts and current fashion trends, an AI algorithm puts together several suit options. With minimal effort, you find a suit, shirt and shoes perfectly suited to your taste and needs. Companies like Alibaba are already making scenarios like this one a reality. For Singles Day, Alibaba introduced a new app called FashionAI into 13 physical retail stores in Shanghai. The system scanned clothing taken into a dressing room by a shopper and tapped into the store’s inventory, as well as data collected from fashion experts and designers. Informed by that data, the retailer suggested complementary items. For Singles Day 2017, Alibaba drove a record $25 billion in sales for that one day.

Shareholders Beware: The AI Buzz Is Not All Real

We’ve all heard that artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to disrupt every industry — but where does the hype end and true AI step in? Companies that have already implemented AI and machine learning into their systems, or are taking actions to build them in now, will thrive as markets move into a new era of data-driven results. On the other side of the coin, hesitation to adapt by companies sticking to tried-and-true operating methods may turn out to be a fatal mistake. The AI washing trend is getting out of control as companies fear being pushed into irrelevancy. So what exactly is AI washing? To call yourself a true AI company, you need to engineer and utilize an AI product — it’s as simple as that. AI washing sees many companies serving enterprises calling themselves “AI” companies when they aren’t actually AI at their core. Instead, they are using alternative/old data analytics tools or acting as a consulting company under the pretense of AI, but without the technological bandwidth, task efficiency and overall intelligence to produce AI results. This marketing stunt helps these companies to align with winning AI companies, thereby inflating their product and in turn, their revenue.

5 Last-Minute Strategies To Drive Holiday Sales On Facebook And Instagram

The holidays are fast approaching. Accounting for the majority of annual retail sales, this time of year prompts most organizations to start preparations well in advance. Deloitte is forecasting that holiday sales could grow by 5.6% this year to more than $1.1 trillion – bringing even more opportunity for brands to boost revenue.

Yes, Customer Experience Still Matters For Retail

The pace of change, rising consumer expectations and emerging technologies give retailers a lot to consider as they try to create a just-right customer experience. People are spending more time online as screens become larger and web connections faster, but according to Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet trends report, with more people now owning smartphones, growth is harder to come by and there are fewer new people left to connect. With so many online businesses vying for a customer’s attention, brands need to focus more than ever on making meaningful connections to stand out.

How To Manage Holiday Worker Shortfalls With Analytics

The Black Friday countdown is on, and retailers are facing mounting pressure to get enough seasonal staff in time for the busiest shopping days of 2018. With U.S. consumer confidence reaching an 18-year high, the demand for seasonal workers in stores and distribution centers has become more intense. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 835,000 retail job openings across the U.S. in July 2018, about 95,000 more than in July 2017, and 138,000 more than in July 2016. In September, Target announced plans to hire 120,000 seasonal workers for the upcoming holiday season, an increase of 20% from its 2017 hiring commitment.
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