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.

Brands Find Their Voice And Take Back Digital

Over the last 10 years, advances in technology have led to the rise in affiliate and aggregator web sites. At the onset of the e-Commerce industry, brands were happy that retailers such as Amazon were helping drive revenue through online. But as the digital world took shape and online became an essential part of the business, brands realized those once-valuable online partners were now cannibalizing their revenue streams. Now, as brands strike a balance between online and in-store strategy, they’re experimenting with new, more powerful approaches to take back revenue from their third-party competition. To understand this shift, it’s helpful to take a look at how the struggle between online and offline began. When the Internet first started to take shape, marketers dabbled in the online world, creating simple destinations to secure a web presence for consumers who were active on the new medium. Yet despite the allure of online, there was still hesitation when it came to using the platform for purchasing. Consumers were concerned with associated risks (buying before trying, sharing personal data, etc.) and brands weren’t ready to fully invest in building e-Commerce destinations as brick-and-mortar was still their bread and butter.

Creating A Data-Dominant Retail Organization In An E-Commerce World

If 2017 is any indication for the future of e-Commerce, chances are online shopping is not slowing down anytime soon. For example, according to a recent U.S. Department of Commerce Study, more than 12% of all retail spending in 2017 occurred online, with over $105 billion in sales during Q2 2017 alone. This change in pace speaks to the fact that shoppers are increasingly comfortable using the Internet for even more of their shopping needs. And while these numbers are incredibly excitingfor e-Commerce and omnichannel retailers, having even a small disconnect within their online data structure can mean potential havoc. Therefore, creating a data-dominant retail organization that actively analyzes and brings together product and behavioral data and ensures overall data protection is a major component of ensuring success in today’s e-Commerce-led environment.

Right Product, Right Place: Positioning Inventory For Omnichannel Success

People talk about retail reinventing itself, but if we’re honest with ourselves, the key elements are the same today as they have always been. Call the state of retail today “omnichannel” or call it “unified commerce,” but it’s still “retail.” At the end of the day, the fundamentals of retail have always been about getting the right product to the right place at the right time. The challenge is figuring out how to get valuable inventory closer to where the customer needs it to be, but before solving for that equation, what steps should a retailer take?

Personalization — Beyond Experience To Products And Services

A few years back, personalizing the experience was more of a set of specific options that you could choose from a set of possibilities — a specific color, a nice monogram, cuts and smaller things that focused on the soft factors but did not usually impact the composition of the product itself. Today, with rapid advances in technology, dramatically enhanced customer expectations and the increasing need for organizations to differentiate to stay relevant, more and more organizations are including a true personalization experience into their portfolio. Interestingly, some of these offerings have progressed beyond simple, trivial variations to core changes in the composition of the product itself or the way it is consumed.

Retail Refresh: Using Data To Revolutionize The Shopping Experience

I recently happened upon a new Dallas boutique that stunned my technological senses. Flat screens were mounted on every wall; iPads were sitting out on each table surface, and streamlined racks of clothing — each featuring only one item per style — beckoned. The lack of crowded clothing racks confused me at first, but a stylist approached immediately and explained that I could browse the racks, find items of interest and head to the nearest touchscreen monitor to digitally select garment sizes and colors, and have them “sent” to my fitting room. Stylists would pull inventory from the back room and deliver my selections to the fitting room while I’m still browsing.

The ABCs Of Retail Cybersecurity: Protecting Assets, Brand And Customers

There’s something uniquely gratifying about a shopping bag full of new goods or a big brown box waiting on the porch. The American love affair with shopping is legendary. Whether it’s downtown, at the mall or online, we’re always looking for a deal, the latest and greatest, or something stylish. Our national pastime has changed a lot in the last 20 years, and not always for the better. Cybercriminals like to shop online too, but they’re not looking for shoes. They want your personal and financial data…and lots of it.

How To Reach Your Customers In The Voice Search Era

Twenty-five years ago, people searched for purchases by flipping through a catalog. Fifteen years ago, they typed keywords into Google to find sale items and track trends. Now they are using voice assistants like Amazon Alexa to guide them through the purchase journey. According to a new report from Juniper Research, smart devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home will be installed in a majority — 55% — of U.S. households by 2022. Retailers need to come to terms with the new reality: In five years, most consumers will rely on voice-based product searches to buy everything from basic grocery items to fashion splurges and even large household appliances. Think about that: You will search for almost everything by asking a small speaker for help.

Cut Shrinkage And Throw Out The Planogram With Mixed Reality Merchandising

It’s rare that one technology set could solve retailer woes related to both merchandise theft and in-store planogram stipulations, yet virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) offer promise in both arenas. Retailers are cutting shrinkage of high ticket-value items by displaying virtual versions that utilize mixed reality implementations, while other retailers are eliminating tedious planogram issues by employing AR to easily configure visual store layouts and signage – all in real time. Walmart recently thwarted in-store theft by partnering with deviceless AR technology provider Spacee to install interactive product displays in five Texas stores. These displays showcase connected devices, like the Nest smart thermostat, allowing passersby to learn more about the products by engaging with the 3D touch screen displays. These endcaps have enabled Walmart to cut the risk of theft of real merchandise and lower costs associated with employee training, while still offering interesting product experiences and sharing features that can boost sales of pricier merchandise. In a video posted on Facebook, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon called the Spacee-enabled display "the future of shopping."

How Graph Analytics Is Powering E-Commerce

We have entered an era where e-Commerce rules retail. Consider how reports project online sales to hit more than $4 trillion by 2020, representing 14.6% of total retail spending worldwide (source: eMarketer). Over the past few years, online shopping has transformed how we buy, bringing in a new “Age of the Consumer.” Today, shoppers have access to more information than ever around products and brands, all informing their purchasing decisions. They also are taking the lead in their own online shopping experiences, with the global marketplace available at their fingertips. In turn, e-Commerce has embraced AI-powered assistants, recommendation engines and even automated platforms to help consumers consider what to evaluate and buy. Insights generated from AI platforms provide tremendous value, and can potentially drive further revenues for companies, as well as provide shoppers with a better, more customized customer experience.

From Browsers To Buyers: The Three Stages Of Customer Conversion

With thousands of options available at the click of a button, standing out as an e-Commerce retailer is one of the most difficult tasks facing online businesses today. Brick-and-mortar retailers have the convenience of working with customers face-to-face to engage them at the right time with the right touch point, but when there’s no human interaction, it’s harder to make an impact in the oversaturated online marketplace.

For Retailers Battling With E-Commerce Goliaths: Human-Empowering Tech Is A Slingshot

Another day, another industry disrupted by the e-Commerce giants. One thumb-scroll down we read the closure of yet another retailer — most recently seen with the news of Toys ‘R’ Us and Bon-Ton. As these stories become the day-to-day reality of retail in the digital age, legacy brick-and-mortar retailers must make a choice when it comes to differentiation. In a world where store location doesn’t hold a candle to two-day shipping in the battle for convenience, and price wars favor big box giants like Walmart and Target, niche retailers must carve out their own space in the market. To survive in this climate, retailers have looked for ways to create operationalized value, cutting costs by tracking units with shelf monitors, cheapening marketing collateral and lessening the number of sales associates. But no one ever wins when looking to enter a race to the bottom — the race to have the lowest price has driven retailer after retailer into the ground. While technology can be invaluable in creating efficiency, it’s not able to replace the personal touch that humans in a store provide.

Beam It To Me, Scotty

It wasn’t long ago when same-day delivery service was reserved for extremely sensitive and important business documents and medical supplies, or highly perishable gifts such as fresh flowers. Even purchasing next-day delivery has traditionally cost a fortune. Of course that’s all changed now, as large retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Target are competing for customer loyalty by offering same-day delivery for a few more dollars than other options. Same-day service isn’t available for all items in all markets from these retail giants, but that’s certain to expand in due time. The mainstreaming of mobile apps like Uber and Lyft have made the stakes higher, with just-in-time ride services that are super easy to use and affordable too. Consumers increasingly prefer companies that give them really good experiences. A recent survey by logistics and warehousing provider 2Flow found that nearly half of shoppers are more likely to shop online if same day delivery is offered, while 63% say that receiving information about an estimated or guaranteed delivery date is an important factor in online shopping.

Fish Where The Fish Are!

As any experienced fisherman will tell you, the difference between a long day of sitting in a rusty rowboat in the burning sun with the only bites from pesky mosquitoes versus a triumphant return to friends and family with a line full of fish for a convivial barbeque is one simple tool…a fish finder. This relatively simple technology transforms electrical impulses into sound waves in the water, reflecting the location, size and velocity of objects that interrupt them, like say…FISH. As a manufacturer of goods sold by sales reps or agents into smaller independent retailers, don’t you wish you could equip them with a fish finder to pinpoint where they should drop their line? Sure, they still need to use skill and finesse to hook and land the fish, but you’ve made their selling far more effective if they fish where the fish are.

Using Digital To Drive Footfall: The Power Of Getting The Basics Right

In a world where people use their phones for almost everything, retailers need to be visible where their customers are. But even in 2018, many brick-and-mortar retailers are still falling down on some very basic issues around online visibility. Consumers consult their phones for information dozens of times per day. Some of this activity is e-Commerce related, but huge numbers of consumers are also looking for information about local businesses. Google reported a 900% increase in searches for products and services “near me” between 2015 and 2017. Many retailers are still failing to take full advantage of this behavior.
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