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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.

Predictive Analytics: Optimizing Pricing And Promotions In E-Commerce Means Combining Tools

Most retailers are already engaged in data analytics and predictive modeling. Today, using data to predict more successful outcomes — ultimately leading to increased sales — is not as mystifying a concept as it was even a year ago. But with a market being upended by an omnichannel imperative and consumer demand for instant gratification, how can e-Commerce retailers continuously and dynamically test out business models and strategies, refresh their questions and findings, and find out what works, particularly when it comes to pricing and promotions? Advances in AI have a role to play here. Machine learning is very powerful in point prediction, point estimates in price — the goal being to make sure you are dynamically pricing. And it’s very effective when pricing at speed. It can help improve recommendations based on a continuous learning loop, and it’s particularly applicable in price and promotion optimization.

The Death Of Retail Or A Retail Renaissance — Which Is It?

Both property companies and retailers are reporting a crisis and the death of retail. Stores are being shut down or shrinking their footprints, and the traditional retail format with merchandise lined up on shelves is a dying breed. Yet at the same time there is a renaissance going on in retail, and we are seeing examples of brands and retailers that are able to reinvent their businesses and adapt to a new market and new consumer behaviors — allowing them to increase customer loyalty in the bargain.

Brick-And-Mortar Clothing Retailers: Replace Mannequins With In-Store Tech

Once you’ve worked in the mannequin business, you become judgmental of others — other mannequins, that is. And I mean really judgy. You might not consider mannequins terribly significant, but they are: Brands that “get it” make hefty investments to design custom mannequins in an effort to illustrate their brand stories. Brands each have a unique fit, attitude and persona, and mannequins are a way to personify the brand and bring designs to life through well-crafted and thoughtful aesthetics. Consider Nike: It pushes the creative envelope time and again with custom mannequin collections, featuring poses from static to full-on active (like its NFL collection from 2012, for example, created through design firm Fusion). Not only was this mannequin line aspirational, but it also brought a brand story to life, fusing Nike’s activewear with America’s love for football.

3 Ways For Retailers To Leverage The Extended ‘Back To School’ Season

Class may be in session, but that doesn’t mean back to school shopping is over. According to an August survey from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, as students prepared to head back to school, only 17% of school shoppers and 15% of college shoppers were completely done, while 21% and 23%, respectively, hadn’t even started yet. This delay in shopping means there are still ways to reach consumers, especially as retail brands are continuing to look for ways to remain competitive. In this unpredictable market it’s important that brands rethink how they communicate with consumers online, captivate them, and understand how their purchase decisions evolve over time. This will ultimately help retail businesses personalize and tailor the user experience and allow them to continue to thrive in this challenging environment.

Creating Omnichannel Retail Insight To Drive Competitive Advantage

According to Harvard Business Review, 73% of customer journeys occur across multiple channels, and omnichannel customers spent 4% more on every in-store shopping occasion and 10% more online than single-channel customers. Whereas the mentality five years ago focused on brick-and-mortar being replaced by cloud services, the current mentality focuses on using digital and physical channels as complements to differentiate and drive better customer engagement. As a result, businesses are in a race to shift from the “digital first” organization to the “data first” organization, using real-time data insights to directly affect customer engagement and create a 360-degree customer view across all channels.

Turning Followers Into Customers: The Tipping Point For Social Commerce

For several years now, the concept of social media channels as captive sources for commerce has been a tantalizing promise for retailers and brands. So far, that promise has yet to be realized. Yet the question remains: With so much consumer engagement on social media, what is the breakthrough needed to transform these channels into new shopping opportunities?

It’s What’s On The Inside That Counts

Just as retail stores constantly change their display windows to remain fresh to the consumer’s eye, so too is the retail industry undergoing constant adaptation to a changing and sometimes hostile world. Whether it’s the death of shopping malls, the rapid growth of direct-to-consumer (D2C) businesses, or consumers’ obsession with 24/7 access to products and/or companies, very little in retail is what it used to be. Which begs the question: What is the future of retail? I believe, and have said in the past, the future of retail looks a whole lot like…well, retail! Those who argue that brick-and-mortar shops no longer exist, and have been replaced by something else, are incorrect. Not only are the structures still there, but they are in more places and from more brands than ever before. Customers can still drive to a store, wait in line to pay and leave with a newly purchased, handpicked item.

How Millennials Want To Engage With Retail Loyalty Programs

CodeBroker surveyed more than 440 Millennials belonging to loyalty programs from retail, credit cards, restaurants, travel and other industries in a 2018 Millennial Loyalty report. These young consumers were asked about the top challenges they face in using the loyalty programs and how they would like to engage with them. They were also asked what changes they would like to see. From the survey, some very interesting facts were determined. Only 11% actively engage in all of the loyalty programs in which they are members. Why is that? Before we answer that question, check out the next clue: 97% of Millennials said they would actively engage with loyalty programs if they could access their rewards information directly from their smartphones.

Friction Is Your Retail Enemy

Netflix did not kill Blockbuster. It is true that Blockbuster would have survived longer had Netflix not come along, but then some other business like RedBox would have pushed them out. Rather, what killed Blockbuster was friction. In this instance, friction comes in the form of having to drive to the store, hope the movie you wanted was in stock, and often, pay late and/or rewind fees — thinking back, it was quite the hassle. Customers do not want friction; they want smooth, seamless and painless experiences. Take the example of the cab. For a traditional taxi, customers must stand on a street corner to flag down the vehicle, call the dispatcher and wonder when the taxi will show up, and at the end of the ride, search for correct change to pay the driver. Uber found ways to remove each of these points of friction from that experience, and from that, created a company worth $72 billion.

The Evolution Of Retail Tech: What We Have Learned, Where We Are And Where We’re Headed

Since the dawn of retail in the late 1800s, the retail industry has continued to influence present-day consumer expectations through the use of cutting-edge technologies. From the first cash register and bank-issued credit cards, which were introduced in the 1950s to provide "pay later" options and encourage more consumer spending — to the advent of online shopping enabling digital transactions between consumers and businesses, no other industry has experienced such extreme shifts in consumer behavior as a result. Consider the rise of Big Box retailers, which took the department store model and supersized it to offer even larger product selections and cheaper prices. Some, like Toys ‘R’ Us, Linens ‘N Things, Circuit City, Filene's Basement, Sports Authority and Borders Bookstore, ended up in the ever-growing retail graveyard, while others like Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, TJ Maxx, Dick's Sporting Goods and Barnes & Noble endured. Most experts agree that in the contest of survival, the fittest prevailed and bigger no longer meant better in the eyes of consumers who could now compare prices and read customer reviews online.

Bon-Ton May Make A Comeback After Sale Of Intellectual Property Rights

Although Bon-Ton Stores shuttered the remainder of its stores in August, the brandalready may be primed for a comeback. A subsidiary of CSC Generation Holdings, a retail technology platform provider, has signed a deal giving it the rights to Bon-Ton and its subsidiary department store chains, Boston Store, Bergner's, Carson's, Elder Beerman, Herberger's and Younkers, according to USA TODAY. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware must approve the agreement for it becomes final.

New InRiver CEO Offers Perspective On Why PIM Is Becoming Top Priority For Marketing Execs

One of the fastest growing areas of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) space over the past decade was marketing automation, and one of the brands that helped define that category was Eloqua. The company would go on to be acquired by Oracle in 2012 for a reported value of $870 million. During Eloqua’s formative years, 2005 through 2007, I had the opportunity to work closely with Thor Johnson in his role as head of marketing for the company, on a number of initiatives that helped define the category and position it for successful adoption.

Want To Reinvent The Customer Experience? Start With Assortment Planning

Every retailer knows that if it wants to be successful and profitable, it must strategically align its product selection to meet customer needs. Creating compelling, curated collections requires more capable assortment planning. However, assortment planning can be a major pain point for retailers, due to the number of people involved and the complexity of the details required to be effective. Traditionally, the process includes a slew of meetings, the never-ending consolidation of spreadsheets, and cobbling together information from dozens of systems to get it all done. Retailers are perpetually racing against the clock, yet at the end still often find themselves saying, “We could have done this a lot better, but we ran out of time...”

Lessons On The Future Of Retail From The ‘Last Mall Built In America’

Have you ever been to The Mall at University Town Center (UTC) in Sarasota, Florida? If not, you might be missing out on a piece of history, because, by most accounts, it just might have been the last new-build enclosed mall constructed in America. In fact, after a series of stops and starts, its opening in 2014 was the first of its kind in more than five years. Like many malls before it, the UTC venue was born from complicated and costly commercial agreements, property development and town planning considerations, delaying its completion for more than a decade. When it finally opened, it was already old news. Technological progress had left it behind.

E-Commerce’s $200 Billion Problem: One That AI Can’t Solve

Anytime I read the trades, glance at news headlines, or talk to other executives, AI seems to be the solution to all of our problems. Everyone is talking about AI. Emerging tech companies now have AI solutions at their forefront, but for companies looking to expand their e-Commerce reach globally, especially within emerging markets, AI is not the solution. When it comes to e-Commerce issues, specifically at the local level — frequent cart abandonment, low payment conversion rates due to network instability, consumers’ inability to pay with the right credit card — we can't wrap them in an AI blanket. These problems can only be solved through offering locally-relevant solutions that minimize friction at the checkout.
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