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.

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.

Understanding The Real Cost Of Inventory To Free Up Working Capital

For many businesses keeping an up-to-date inventory can seem time consuming, but most understand the importance. Ensuring you have enough stock (and the correct stock) to meet demand means that products get to customers quicker, market share increases, further sales opportunities are seized and ultimately you have happy customers. However, what many businesses fail to understand is that the cost of the inventory is so much more than the cost of the goods themselves. It’s not the price that you sell an item for, but profits, and so into this cost analysis you must factor a whole host of additional elements. For example, if inventory turnover is low (a company holds onto its inventory for an extended period of time), it becomes more expensive.

Assessing The Value Of Retail Technology Investments

Across the retail industry, consumers are using a variety of channels to shop. We live in a world where consumers can browse for a great pair of sneakers on their smartphone during an evening show, buy it at their desk the next day and drive to the retailer's brick-and-mortar store to pick it up after work. As a result, retailers are actively working to address their customers’ buying patterns and behaviors. For example, Office Depot’s CEO, Gerry Smith, recently cited on an earnings call that the retailer is planning to leverage its brick-and-mortar stores to provide a competitive edge over online sellers, using their stores as extra distribution centers to respond more quickly to the changes in customer behaviors.

How AI And Machine Learning Can Transform The Customer Experience For Retail

According to IDC, the market for chatbots and conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platforms has exploded over the past year, with over 50 companies offering various tools and technologies. There are many reasons why retailers are jumping on the bandwagon to adopt these advanced technologies, but the most common is to improve the customer experience.   The customer experience is your retail customers’ perception of how the company treats them. These perceptions impact their buying behaviors, build memories and feelings as well as drive brand loyalty. Simply stated, if your customers like you and continue to like you, they are going to do business with you and recommend your company and products to others. According to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Top 5 Strategies For Selling To Millennials

Capturing and keeping the attention of Millennial shoppers is the holy grail of brands and retailers these days. At 80 million strong, Millennials represent one quarter of the nation’s population and starting this year, they will spend more than $200 billion annually, estimates Ad Age.   But the battle for Millennial mindshare won’t be won with traditional sales and marketing activities. In today’s digital economy, competition is fierce. The sharing economy and on-demand services have given Millennials more channels than ever before to obtain information on products and services.

Contextual Commerce: Engaging Shoppers On Their Terms

We’re living in the age of the customer. Retailers recognize the need to enable consumers to shop on their terms — however they want, wherever they are. The introduction of contextual commerce has enabled retailers to seamlessly implement buying opportunities into everyday activities. Whether a shopper is clicking on a Buyable Pin, using Facebook Messenger or talking to their Amazon Echo while doing their weekend housework, shopping is becoming more engaging because it’s happening at the moment of interest and intent to buy, in an environment that makes the experience very natural for the shopper. We’ve already begun to see forward-thinking brands starting to embrace contextual commerce — mostly in the form of hardware and mobile messaging apps. Specifically, messaging apps have exploded in popularity, eclipsing the top four social networks in active users as of late 2015. What’s more, mobile messaging apps have higher retention and user rates than most mobile apps, and the majority of messaging app users represent the most crucial demographic for brands, advertisers and publishers. With no additional infrastructure required of the consumer, contextual commerce can provide stellar customer experiences as well as interactive customer support.

How AI’s Retail Reinvention Is Transforming The Shopping Experience

Shopping is no longer simply about the utility of exchanging money for a product. Consumers are wielding their purchasing power to demand retail experiences that are both meaningful and personalized, as well as convenient and ubiquitous. One way retailers are rising to the challenge of delivering these new shopping experiences is by leveraging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI). While analyzing consumer data has been an integral part of market research for years — fueling product development, advertising and online searches — the predictive models and machine-learning advances that come with AI take shopper insights to a whole new level. With increased access to complex data, AI is enabling retailers to make shopping across all channels a smarter, more streamlined journey.

It’s A Holiday Jungle – A Retailer’s Guide To Amazon Marketing Services

Understanding and utilizing opportunities in the marketing space is essential for managing a successful e-Commerce program and, with the holidays fast approaching, many companies are already looking for high-impact strategies to get the most out of the 2017 shopping season. Amazon continues to be the first touch point along a shopper’s path to purchase. Many studies, including one conducted by BloomReach Inc. in 2016, state that more than 50% of all shoppers begin their journey on Amazon, meaning that if you have yet to begin marketing your products on this retail giant, heading into the holiday shopping season is the perfect time to claim your stake. In an ever-evolving industry like digital marketing, adaptability not only defines brands in relation to competitors in the short term, but could serve as a crucial catalyst of sales for years to come.

Brick-And-Mortar Renaissance: The Time Is Now For Independents

Throughout my years in the retail tech industry, I’ve been an avid supporter of independent businesses, and brick-and-mortar was the name of the game when I started Lightspeed 12 years ago. During this time, there have been various shifts in thinking on how retailers should approach sales, build customer relationships and adapt to industry changes as we undergo a rapid evolution of technology and how consumers shop. A decade ago, the prediction from many retail experts and analysts was that brick-and-mortar was unequivocally on its way out, but that isn’t true. In my mind, it wasn’t ever about the absence of physical stores, but how to make owning and operating a shop more accessible and deliver a better customer experience.

Creating A Successful Online Marketplace Environment For Retail 2.0

In today’s retail world, phrases like “retail transformation,” “retail apocalypse” and “retail renaissance” have become staple industry jargon. But what exactly do these buzzwords really mean for the retail industry? As retail continues to see the metamorphosis of the traditional brick-and-mortar store evolve into a true omnichannel environment, many retailers are looking to create a unique experience that rivals industry disruptors like Amazon, yet gives consumers the highly curated and personalized shopping experience they are in search of. Achieving a true omnichannel environment, and better yet achieving an environment that truly meets the needs and continuously captures the attention of consumers, is proving a tough task for retailers.

Why Advertisers Need To Do Their Homework On Back-To-School Shopping

Back-to-school shopping is big business for retailers. How does it measure up to other shopping seasons? Behind the holidays, it’s the second-most-popular shopping window of the year, and for the past two years, shopper spend has increased by 10% or more. If that trend holds this year, back-to-school spend could surpass $80 billion. The holiday shopping season has a well-defined shopping window, but back-to-school presents a much more complex timeline. The back-to-school shopping window begins as early as July but lasts longer, and it’s characterized with ups and downs that vary based on who’s shopping and what items they’re shopping for.

Fidget Spinners & Men’s Apparel: Back-To-School Digital Buying Trends

Back-to-school season is here, and to capitalize on big sales, retailers need to stay on top of rapidly changing digital buying trends. Did you know that 68% of parents will receive their child’s back-to-school supply list at least one month before school starts? Beyond simply understanding trend seasonality, relating to your audience is equally important. Buying has become more about storytelling, relating to shoppers — and that inspiration to purchase often starts with carefully cultivated publisher content. That’s why it’s critical for retailers to work closely with publishers to inform content that provides timely value to consumers. Below, we’ll detail the hottest products to highlight this back-to-school season and how you can boost sales.
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