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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 Elevate The In-Store Customer Experience In The Me-Commerce Era

In the age of e-Commerce, most consumers are used to the notion of instant gratification. With the growing acceptance of ‘on-demand’ options, they’ve become accustomed to quick and easy access to items and services with just the click of a button. For some small, local businesses, this leaves them shaking in their boots at the thought of this “me-commerce” era that’s become entirely dependent on digital strategies. However, it is possible for brick-and-mortars to survive and — even better — thrive. A recent BrightLocal survey found that 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day.

5 Best Payments Solutions For Pop-Up Shops

Who doesn’t love a pop-up shop? The quirky, short-term retail stores are on the upswing as of late, keeping neighborhoods vibrant by temporarily filling vacant spaces and giving brands the chance to show off their goods to the public — even if it’s just for two-day sprints. For customers, pop-up shops deliver an exciting experience and fill them with a sense of urgency to get the latest sales. However, that feeling of excitement could quickly diminish if a they find the shop doesn’t take debit or credit, putting an unexpected hurdle in the way of completing their purchase, and diluting the whole customer experience.

When It Comes To IoT, Everyone Can Learn From Retail

It seems like everyone’s getting into the Internet of Things (IoT) these days. The truth, however, is that we’ve barely cracked the surface of the number and types of companies who could be selling IoT products and services to their customers and — for whatever reason — aren’t. Most of that market noise you’re hearing is from the vendors themselves, and from the traditional retailers who successfully sell IoT products in the same way they sell other products such as WiFi routers, laptops and diapers.

Why Online Merchants Should Make Security A Year-Round Priority

If I could encourage all e-Commerce merchants to take one piece of advice to heart, it would be: Shore up your security. That advice may sound too general to be practical, but my recommendation to retailers is to break it down into digestible steps and considerations. Why make security a point of emphasis? Well, consider that in 2016 online fraud rose 40%, and I have little doubt the 2017 numbers will be even more harrowing when they’re released. If you’re willing to heed my advice and resolve to commit resources to improving security, here’s where to start:

Retail Winners Are Taking A New Approach To Space Management

More stores opened than closed in 2017, according to IHL Group, with retailers like T-Mobile adding 1,500 new locations. Yet, JCPenney, Foot Locker, Toys ‘R’ Us and others have shuttered hundreds already this year. How are some retailers increasing sales in retail and expanding their store footprint, while others shut their doors? While there are many factors, successful retailers are taking a new, more aggressive approach to space management. Instead of relying on traditional clustering and one-size-fits-all planograms, they are taking a more ‘store-centric’ approach — investing in building robust digital models of their entire store footprint, putting digital merchandising tools in the hands of their associates, and using automation to enable visual merchandisers and space planners to quickly and easily create store-specific plans.

Bringing Distribution Center Science To The Art Of Retail

Brick-and-mortar retailers today are faced with a hyper-competitive and continuously evolving landscape in which consumer expectations for the ideal shopping experience have never been higher. To differentiate themselves from online-only retailers, physical stores are offering shoppers new features such as click-and-collect and ship-from-store as well as value-added services such as gift wrapping and personalization. But retailers are finding these services to be time-consuming, inefficient, inconsistent and often unprofitable.

Getting Beyond Holiday Gift Guides: Ensuring Year-Round ROI From Commerce Content

In an effort to keep content strategies targeted and timely, many merchants focus their efforts this time of year on earning inclusions in holiday gift guides. Almost all major publishers put out their own versions of these guides, which recommend on-trend products to a range of audiences leading up to the year’s peak period for purchasing. While these product mentions are useful in that they create a sense of urgency for consumers searching for the right gift, resulting in a higher purchase volume, they only have a shelf life of a couple months.

The New Rules Of Retail: How Brands And Retailers Can Adapt To Change In 2018

The retail landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, and brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to stay relevant in a digitally-driven world. From the closing of hundreds and thousands of long-established stores like JCPenneyto the utter downfall of the toy empire Toys ‘R’ Us, the evidence is obvious. Mom-and-pop stores are still facing hard times too, with most bankruptcy filings coming from retailers with only one location. Most of these retailers can attribute their financial troubles to a number of reasons: crippling debt, online competition and customer loss. But what all of these stores have in common is a failure to adapt to change. Retailers have struggled to keep up as technology has slowly made its way into every facet of the business. Though every store has different customers, different needs and a different culture to consider, there are a few solutions for digital transformation that all retailers can adopt.

Automate Everything: Why It’s More Critical Than Ever To Survive In Retail

In the current retail landscape, where competition is fierce and overhead keeps rising, efficiency counts. Retailers must examine every task and every labor hour — and labor hours that aren’t customer-facing are subject to even further scrutiny. Additionally, every task that can be outsourced or automated must be optimized. It’s no wonder, therefore, that a recent study predicted that the retail automation market is growing at a CAGR of 10.96% and will be valued at $18.99 billion by 2023. Let’s examine what’s behind this laser focus on operational efficiency and what retailers are doing to make sure they’re achieving the results they need to thrive.

Killing Cash? Why Digital Payments, Bitcoin Can’t Finish The Job. Yet.

The global payments infrastructure is experiencing massive digital upheaval. Mobile and proximity payments are quickly entering the mainstream. Bitcoin has a market cap that could make a blue chip blush, and new retail concepts like Amazon Go and Shake Shack’s cashless store bring momentum to the theory that cash could essentially become useless in a future retail environment. The Indian government has even undertaken, and largely achieved, an ambitious digitization of its economy and financial infrastructure. But is cash really on the road to obsolescence? Not yet.

Mobile Retargeting In A Cookieless World

I’ve read countless stories about crumbling cookies in mobile advertising, which typically include a level of fear for what this means for advertisers. What I say to that is fear not, marketers, some ad tech companies have been preparing for some time now. Retargeting on mobile has had distinctly different strategies for mobile web and mobile apps. While Apple may have recently announced restrictions to cookies in Safari mobile, in-app advertising was built using persistent advertiser IDs for personalizing ads rather than cookies. This comes as a benefit to advertisers who have focused on advertising in-app.

Retail Trend 2018: The Rising Popularity Of Subscription Programs

“Will retail fare better or worse in 2018?” It’s the question on everyone’s lips. It’s a controversial topic to be sure, but everyone can agree that change is in the air. One industry trend we’ve seen is retailers experimenting with physical subscriptions that allow them to ship products directly to consumers. Companies such as Ann Taylor, Gap, JCPenney and Under Armour have recently begun to test the waters with subscription services, and that trend will certainly continue this year.

For A Limited Time Only: How Companies Can Use Data To Create A Sense Of Urgency

Retail marketers have used scarcity — the diminishing supply of a product or service — as a way to attract customers for years. Research has proven that scarcity makes people perceive limited quantities as more precious and valuable. We’ve all seen and heard the advertisements: “Limited time offer!” “While supplies last!” “This offer won’t last long!”

The Art Of The Possible — How IoT Is Reshaping Retail

The Internet of Things (IoT) is creating new opportunities to drive competitive advantage in retail. Retailers have long touted potential use cases for IoT, from predictive maintenance to temperature sensors. And before that, talk of the “RFID revolution” and its promise to transform inventory management dates back almost 20 years. While RFID technology is often seen as a precursor to IoT, the truth is the retail sector has been slow to invest in IoT.

The Emergence Of Conversation Commerce And The Implications For Merchants

The next great market shift is here. 2017 proved that the long-promised "smart home" is finally here — and this has distinct implications for merchants. Central to the smart home is the voice-activated personal assistant, which in turn gives rise to conversation commerce, the intersection of "chat" apps and shopping. If there was still any doubt, the success of Alexa during the 2017 holiday shopping season should put that to rest. Alexa, Amazon's voice-activated personal assistant, was the #1 app for both Android and iPhone on Christmas Day. The software's flagship device, the Echo Dot, was the #1 bestselling item in any category on Amazon.com with millions sold. Amazon does not release sales numbers for their devices, but they did announce that "tens of millions" of Alexa-enabled devices were sold over the holidays, meaning that there is now roughly one Alexa device for every two American households.
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