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.

Customer Lifecycle Marketing: A Simple Yet Powerful Concept

Studies show it costs nearly five times as much to acquire customers than to retain them over the long term. For marketers, this makes sense. Rather than spending valuable time and resources continuously searching for new customers, marketers can spend that time and those resources keeping current customers happy and engaged throughout the customer lifecycle. And it works. Increasing those customer retention rates by as little as 5% can increase a brand’s profits by 25% to 95%. As a result, brands must create and execute powerful customer lifecycle marketing strategies to drive customer loyalty at every point of interaction, each bespoke and unique to the lifecycle stage in which the customer is engaged. Specific, intentional and well-planned marketing strategies for each stage of the customer lifecycle can help e-Commerce brands and retailers retain customers and create incredible brand loyalty.

Data Convergence; The Role of Machine Learning in Retail

Big-data driven changes are sweeping through the retail industry. Though the retail sector is no stranger to big data, much of the focus has been on analyzing historical data. While this has been useful in creating efficiencies and identifying consumer trends, retailers need to go further if they want to remain competitive and increase their margins. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in real time is the key to unlocking deeper insights in all aspects of retail operations. Big data and machine learning promise payoffs at nearly every stage in the retail process, ranging from supply chain optimization to inventory management to workforce scheduling to customer personalization. McKinsey has estimated that retailers can use big data and machine learning to increase their operating margins by up to 24%. By harnessing big data and real-time analytics, retailers can deliver customized experiences that anticipate and reward customer behavior in a way that creates not only long-term bonds but powerful word-of-mouth advocacy. In addition to improving the customer’s overall shopping experience, machine learning can be used in retail to manage operations and inventory.

The Customer Knows Best: Why Retailers Need To Work Like Consumers Shop

In the digital age, consumers have been treated to a steady parade of innovations that have improved the shopping experience. From online shopping to computer-generated fitting rooms to virtual stylists, the industry has embraced technological advances at every turn to help improve sales, loyalty, transparency and ease-of-use. While it may seem like retail has left no cyber-stone unturned, there is one major boulder under which the key to retail efficiency and efficacy lies. Despite the industry’s tech affinity, many large retail brands have yet to embrace digital tools on the backend, where innovation is critically needed. Some retail executives have already started thinking beyond traditional boundaries in order to develop innovative strategies that help move the retail industry forward. However, many major players are still stuck in the mire of legacy tools and processes. The unfortunate reality for these brands is that no matter how much novelty is injected into consumer-facing resources (we’re looking at you, holographic store greeters), if the backend still relies on outdated technology, they’ll struggle to remain competitive among true innovators.

5 Things Retailers Need To Know About The Impending TLS Deadline

In the war against increasingly sophisticated hackers, retailers continue to find themselves on the front lines, grappling with the unfortunate reality that there is no easy fix for their difficult security problems. It’s truly a race for retailers — especially as more and more businesses migrate online and to Internet-connected terminals — to find and implement the best security protections. Take, for example, the aftershock the industry felt after two high-profile bugs, Heartbleed and Poodle, rocked the security world. According to the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC), 18 months after the Heartbleed vulnerability was announced there were reportedly still 200,000+ vulnerable devices on the Internet. These vulnerabilities served as a painful reminder that security is only as strong as its weakest link.

12 Tips To Build A Lasting Email Connect With Subscribers During Holidays 2017

While it is the fall season for the common man, winter preparations have begun in full swing for marketers, who are all set to woo a huge number of customers during the holiday season. This holiday season, e-Commerce is expected to rise by 15.8%. It is likely that US retail e-Commerce sales will surge to 16.6%, catapulted by mobile commerce and the neck to neck competition between large retail shops and online marketplaces. The entire year becomes successful if the holiday sales season goes well, and therefore, for many marketers the holiday shopping season is like a “Do or Die” situation. And if you are an email marketer, NOW is the right time to start planning your holiday emails.

4 Retail Experience Centers That Are Gateways to the Future

What does the future of retail look like? You don't need a time machine to see it, but a few plane tickets would help. Right now, around the world, forward-looking designers, architects and retailers are building the next generation of stores and malls for the digitally oriented shopper. Mobile integration is not the whole story: online shopping can't provide immersive experiences and social interactions that are possible in a brilliantly designed real-world retail environment, energized by audiovisual experiences. At Westfield's "mall of the future" in San Francisco; at Comcast's flagship store in Chicago; at Cadillac's new corporate headquarters in New York; at the Meraas City Walk in Dubai, new ideas using integrated audiovisual experiences have come to life, to explore new retail design concepts, and to demonstrate that the future of retail belongs to those who can provide the most compelling and memorable experiences.

A How To Guide To Embracing Retail’s Digital Transformation

We live in a digital age where consumers are increasingly relying on the Internet and mobile devices for everything from paying bills to entertainment. This tech-savvy mentality is having an impact on the retail market. In 2015, 205 million Americans shopped online, eroding in-store revenues and forcing more than 6,000 store closings in 2016. However, according to a recent consumer survey, 85% of customers prefer to shop in a physical store. This preference for the in-store experience is one that e-Commerce competitors cannot touch. The retailers that embrace today’s tech-savvy consumer lifestyle with the preference for the in-store experience will win every time. Delivering in-store shopping experiences that leverage mobile and digital technologies to be more convenient, secure and personal are key to this success.

Retail Events: Navigating The Speed Of Risk

For retailers, the story is usually one of the same: surviving the busy season. With increased customer demand, staffing requirements and dependencies on supply chains, the busy season has long stood as the greatest risk facing retailers. But today’s market is showing an increase shift when it comes to risk. As retail has emerged as an “always on” industry, savvy retailers are noticing that risks aren’t just coming from their busy season, but are instead present in everyday retail events. From weather-related supply chain issues to food-borne illnesses, theft and even security breaches, today’s retail environment is fraught with everyday risks.

Direct Mail Evolves With Analytics

How often do you get home, open your mailbox, and find it stuffed with a barrage of useless advertisements tailored more toward your grandmother than you? How many of those direct mailings have no bearing on your interests, purchases or lifestyle? How many pieces would you say you throw out each week? I’m going to guess that the answer is “A lot.”

What U.S. Retail Can Learn From Europe

There was a time when the mighty shopping mall conquered all. But U.S. retail has reached a tipping point. As more chain stores such as Sports Authority and American Apparel close, consumer apathy towards the once shiny malls is increasing and new thinking about the delivery of the retail experience is needed to encourage spending and bring the excitement back.

What’s In Store for Holiday 2017: The Top Shopping Trends

Though my body is holding on to the last days of summer (and some shorts that my wife can’t wait to throw out), my mind has been filled with preparation for Holiday 2017. Because we work with so many top retailers (Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Toys ‘R’ Us) and see their aggregate online sales data, we have a unique window into e-Commerce buying patterns and product trends. Our research and business intelligence team has compiled the trends that marketers and retailers should understand and act on now to be ready for the flood of shoppers in Q4: 2017 An Enlightened Holiday. Consumer Electronics is always one of the top sellers for holiday gifting, and I’m fascinated by the fact that in the U.S., UK, France and Germany, nostalgic tech is a big seller. Generation Z loves the tangible and is driving the return of turntables, cameras and even film. Seems like every tween wants the instant camera that I had when I was a kid. In contrast to that, we are in the midst of a big upgrade cycle as shoppers are finally ready for newer tech like 4K televisions. All of the major CE companies have voice activated assistants…

3 Ways To Drive Sky High Retention Rates

With the excessive increase in marketing content blasted out to consumers on a daily basis, it’s often a challenge for retailers to create new, organic and compelling messages that will grab a consumer’s attention. Even when brands are successful in appealing to a consumer’s interest, they still face the challenge of retaining loyal customers at a high level. To no one’s surprise, both in-store and online retailers agree that new customers are more difficult and expensive to acquire compared to repeat customers. As a result, retailers are constantly looking for new ways to retain customers to maximize the company’s return on investment (ROI). For retailers looking to engage customers on a deeper level and increase customer lifetime value, below are three tips to help exponentially increase retention rates.

8 Things You Need To Know About Hiring Seasonal Workers

The summer season is quickly coming to an end (I know, I know, it feels like it just started!). Your summer seasonal workers are already headed back to school. If hiring, paying or managing your seasonal employees this year was a little trickier than you imagined, you're not alone. Now is a great time to review your seasonal hiring policies and ensure you're complying with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Data Breaches Are A Big Problem For Small Retailers: Be Prepared

Don’t think for a minute that the “little guys” are safe. Small and medium sized businesses are in fact often preyed upon by cybercriminals, who view them as having fewer resources to manage cybersecurity. Making matters worse, attacks against SMBs are increasing, despite the Chip and PIN payment technology, as smaller vendors can be slower to adopt the new system. With the threats continuing to increase and SMBs being an attractive target for attack, it’s not a matter of if but when a company will experience a security incident. It is critical that small retailers are up to speed on how to best prepare for and mitigate the fallout of a major security incident. The following are key areas of consideration to keep in mind when managing this major risk.

The New Out-Of-Home Advertising And The Third Screen Experience

Out-of-home (OOH) advertising has traditionally meant billboards, bus wraps, taxi toppers, etc. However, as brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling to compete with e-Commerce alternatives, many are turning to digital OOH advertising to supercharge the in-store shopping experience and drive sales. Brands are on board as well, given the rise of web ad blocking and the hyper-relevancy that comes with advertising to consumers that are already in a particular store. In fact, eMarketer has projected digital OOH advertising spending will reach $4.5 billion in 2019, up from $2.7 billion in 2014, in the U.S. alone. Recent studies suggest that digital OOH seems to be working, as it was found to be 34% more effective at promoting items than your weekly circular. However, we’ve really only begun to scratch the surface of its potential, and brands and retailers should be paying attention. Beyond simply letting shoppers know what’s on sale in aisle seven, in-store video advertising is much more powerful when it’s viewed by brands as a continuation of their desktop, mobile and social messaging, and as a way to bridge the gap between a consumer’s physical and digital purchasing behavior.
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