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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.

How To Solidify Your Digital Core With The Right Retail Innovations

It’s a digital-first world, and to keep up with the current industry pace, retail must be prepared to innovate. Innovations like artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) commerce, robotics and 3D printing have impacted all elements of the retail industry. A recent study by IDC Retail Insights finds innovation is at an all-time high, with more than $4 billion invested worldwide in retail startups over the past 12 to 18 months.   These new innovative technologies are central to the digital business transformation in retail. With more IT budgets invested in innovation, it has become imperative for retailers to leverage enabling technologies and new business constructs at scale.

Black November Learnings And How Retailers Can Prepare For 2018

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, or collectively “Black November,” are exciting times for shoppers and retailers, but my favorite part of this season (even more than the cheap deals on tablets and HD TVs) is the influx of data that is collected and interpreted in the weeks following the sales. The sheer volume of transactions that take place results in an enormous data set that is a dream for any company looking to guide 2018 strategies based on the latest consumer buying habits. This year in particular has been especially monumental, as we’ve witnessed major milestones like mobile, for the first time ever, surpassing desktop shopping, capturing 47% of all orders. So what does it all mean? Consumers have grown accustomed to shopping just like they do everything else: seamlessly, quickly and likely using their smartphone. Before brick-and-mortar stores panic, there is hope, as the world of in-store retail is surely not broken — it just needs to evolve in certain areas to keep up. As 2018 is on the horizon, here are three predictions using learnings from Black November to fuel my recommendations for retailers to remain competitive in the most chaotic of times.

Cash In Data Analytics: 5 Big Data Use Cases for Retail

The retail industry continues to accelerate, and with it, the need for businesses to find the best retail use cases for big data. Sales alone are expected to grow by 3.5% in 2017, and e-Commerce continues to make massive gains with an expected growth of 15% this year, according to Kiplinger. New sources of data, from log files and transaction information, to sensor data and social media metrics, present new opportunities for retail organizations to achieve unprecedented value and competitive advantage in an expanding industry space.

How AI Can Streamline The Shoe Design Process

Individuality is highly valued in today’s fashion world, with fashion enthusiasts constantly trying to stay one step ahead before the next latest and greatest trend takes hold. For many, footwear is the perfect canvas to showcase individual style, and make a personal statement in everyday life. Years ago, shoe brands recognized that the market could meet consumers’ desire for this high level of personalization and uniqueness, and launched online programs that enabled online shoppers to design their perfect shoe. This level of customization is a process that people appreciate because it gives them the opportunity to create a pair of shoes exactly the way they want them.

Four Factors Contributing To Slow Mobile Payment Adoption Rates In The U.S.

Mobile devices are unquestionably one of the most important customer touch points for a commercial organization. As these devices have become an integral part of our lives, they also serve as a central channel for companies to leverage customer engagement, offer services and facilitate payments. In the last few years there has been unprecedented growth in the mobile space, with a specific focus on mobile payments. However, while mobile payments are experiencing growth, the market is still far from mass adoption. According to research firm eMarketer, in 2016, 38.4 million Americans 14 and over used mobile phones to pay at checkout at least once in the preceding six months. Surprisingly, this number represents just 19.4% of U.S. smartphone users. Similarly, a recent study by consulting firm First Annapolis found that only 5% of consumers were using a mobile payments wallet at least once a week. So, what are key factors behind slower than expected mobile adoption rates in the U.S.?

Four Ways To Make This Year’s Holiday Shipping A Success

E-Commerce businesses understand the holiday shopping season can mean survival of the fittest. This crucial peak season can make or break financial goals, and retailers will use many moves — from unbeatable sales and offers to free shipping — to remain competitive. This year is likely to be even busier, with online shopping and e-Commerce sales expected to grow by an astounding 20% to $1.5 trillion globally1.   While competition for online sales is strong, the holiday season also can be a prime opportunity for smaller businesses to shine with specialty gift items that big box stores do not offer. You just may have the opportunity to take sales to the next level and turn new customers into repeat buyers. As a first step in preparing for the busy season, I encourage you to reevaluate a critically important logistical line item: your shipping strategy. After all, shipping has become a powerful incentive to shop online, with 95% of consumers saying better shipping options are the key to holiday sales.2

The Evolution Of Retail: Past, Present And Future

The retail industry is a dynamic one, always adapting to better cater to customers. For the past decade, we’ve seen a handful of updates and advancements that have propelled the industry forward. No matter how much the industry changes, the idea that “customer experience is king” will always stay the same.  To understand the past — as well as the future — of retail, it’s critical to understand a fundamental concept documented by Harvard University’s N.S.B. Gras. In 1939, he observed that the progression of any institution, including the retail industry, “is linked to the progression of the economic and social system.” In other words, retail is at the effect of economic and social forces and must constantly adapt as it seeks to win customers and create the ultimate customer experience.

Mobile Commerce’s Most Dangerous Fraud Tactics And Ways To Stop Them

From 2012 to 2015 mobile commerce grew from $24 billion to $122 billion in the U.S. And with this growth came an increase in fraud and an all new breed of fraud threats. Nearly 40% of merchants surveyed by Kount indicated that mobile fraud had increased, up 17% over the previous year. Criminals have discovered new ways to leverage mobile as a means to commit fraud. Mobile fraud is negatively impacting merchants’ bottom lines. One study from Javelin Strategy found that 16% of chargeback losses stem from mobile transactions, nearly equal to losses stemming from in-store purchases. The same study pointed out that retailers are overly reliant on username and password to authenticate purchases.Unfortunately, these simple identity factors are not enough to stop sophisticated criminals.

How VR Is Transforming Retail Market Research

When we hear about virtual reality in the news, it’s usually a story about consumer-facing applications like video gaming or the ability to shop in a virtual store from the comfort of your couch. But even with this summer’s HTC Vive price cut (following a short-term discount of Facebook’s Oculus Rift), consumers have not yet flocked to using VR headsets as fast as some predicted. But where individuals aren’t seeing value, businesses are. For instance, UPS has incorporated virtual reality into its student driver program, Walmart announced employee training through VR headsets, and other companies have found use of VR applications for maintenance.

What’s Ahead? December 2017 Gift Shopping Forecast

With online sales from Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday reported to be up more than 15% over last year, we saw a distinct shift in shopping preferences. Conversion among all digital devices was in double digits, higher than any previous year. The dip in crowds and cacophony at physical retail stores showed the new tendency of shoppers. More of them are opting out of traffic jams andcheckout lines and opting in for convenience, ease and privacy in their shopping experiences. The much anticipated past four days in the annual retail cycle showed us the steady and indisputable win of e-Commerce, with mobile taking its boldest bow yet. Salesforce’s retail intelligence unit says 42% of Black Friday orders were placed on a smartphone. Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping data came as no surprise on the back of the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey. “Consumers voiced greater certainty about their expectations for income, employment, and inflation. Inflation expectations have shown the smallest dispersion on record, and increased certainty about future income and job prospects has become a key factor that has supported discretionary purchases.”

3 Ways Retail Marketing Will Change In 2018

At Optimizely, we work closely with some of the top retail companies as well as 22 of the Fortune 100 and have seen firsthand how marketers are adapting their strategies to the changing times. Several common themes have emerged from our observations, and I have a few predictions on how these will play out in 2018 and beyond. Retail marketers, take note:  Retail brands offering the best digital experiences will win: Customer experience is at a tipping point, and retailers thatprovide a seamless customer-centric experience will not only stand out from the rest but encourage loyalty. Case in point —online mattress startup Casper found a way to upend the traditional way of mattress shopping by reinventing the entire experience online, emphasizing the ease of purchase, delivery and return process. The company has won a cult-like following for its digital presence too, including the use of “Staycation Story Hacks,” a Casper-owned website that houses content readers can share on social media. We’ll see more of this in 2018 as consumer experiences increasingly focus on storytelling and engagement.

Checkout Challenges: 4 Reasons Customers Abandon Their Carts…And How You Can Bring Them Back

With peak season almost here, retailers will soon see an uptick in web site traffic. In 2016, Cyber Monday accounted for nearly $3.5 billion in revenue, according to TechRadar. Even more astounding than total receipts? How much money is potentially left on the table. A Yahoo Small Business survey recently found 83% of consumers don’t buy the items they place in their virtual carts.

The Top Three Fraud Types Threatening Retailers This Holiday Season

A healthy economy, a rising stock market, and falling unemployment could put consumers in a festive mood this holiday season. According to PwC, consumers are expected to up their spending by 6% this year. Unfortunately, the spending surge, which for many retailers can mean the difference between a successful and a mediocre year, is likely to also mean a spike in fraud. Many of the holiday purchases will occur electronically, as Cyber Monday has replaced Black Friday as the most anticipated shopping day of the season. Research from Euclid, a retail analytics firm, shows that 42% of shoppers plan to do more than half of their holiday spending online. In fact, online holiday spending is expected to exceed in-store for the first time. All of this could open the floodgates for e-commerce fraud.

How To Enhance CX By Acting On Available Data

Have you ever spoken to someone so inquisitive that they ask you more questions before you’ve even finished answering the first? Or even worse, as you answer their questions thoroughly, they don’t even give you so much as a head nod to let you know they’ve understood? It is a frustrating situation to feel as though you aren’t being heard, or that your voice has gone in one ear and out the other. In the retail industry, the customer is at the core of success (as the saying goes, “the customer is always right”), which is why there is a constant desire to know more about them. What do they expect, what do they like, did they enjoy visiting the store, were the employees helpful? Generally, we believe that the more feedback we solicit, the more data we receive. And the more data points acquired from the customer, the better retailers can understand how to both cater to and enhance their experience.
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