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 Retailers Can Become Resilient To Costly Outages

Earlier this year, Target had a major database outage as a result of an error made during regular retail information system (RIS) maintenance. During the outage, Target was unable to process consumer credit card transactions for over an hour, resulting in a frustrating experience for shoppers. In 2019, when high availability is the norm, why do retailers still experience outages? And what can retailers like Target do to avoid costly downtime in advance of the holiday season?

Your Ultimate Guide To Guideshops

From brick-and-mortar to e-Commerce to omnichannel, retail is constantly reinventing itself in the face of ever-changing technology, trends and customer expectations. Today, we’ll take an in-depth look at a retail phenomenon that is shaking up the industry — one that at first glance might seem counterintuitive, but that is inspired by the belief that retail is not just about product and price anymore, it’s about customer experience.

Preparing Your Team For AI Adoption In Retail Pricing

Multitasking is a major skill that retail pricing managers need to have today — and maybe it shouldn’t be that way. Tasks and KPIs are so abundant that optimal prices, a key to satisfying customers and increasing revenue, seem a goal reached only rarely, for selected items and after overcoming endless distraction in the process. What makes things worse is that pricing decisions are needed constantly, giving your team no time to analyze the past and plan for the future. Market leaders and a growing number of smaller companies are embracing AI-enabled pricing analytics software to optimize the business and boost financial performance. Look at Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab or Amazon’s 35% of the revenue brought by AI price suggestions. Algorithm-powered solutions augment the capabilities of retail teams and streamline processes to let retailers increase revenue by up to 16%.

Can Artificial Intelligence Solve The Returns And Overstock Crisis?

As the amount of online spending continues to grow, there is a subsequent spike in e-Commerce returns, resulting in more excess stock than ever before. Upwards of 30% of online purchases are returns and close to 20% of consumers purchase items across different sizes, colors or styles with the intention of sending back the majority of the order. In many cases, what is returned to the retailer will not go back on primary shelves due to product obsolescence: this is often the case with fast fashion or tech products. While 2019 has seen a rise in retailers cracking down on serial returners and implementing a more efficient and sustainable approach to the handling of returned and excess stock, the issue isn’t being solved at a fast enough rate. When you consider the value of returns will reach $550 billion by 2020 (not including restocking expenses or inventory losses), retailers should be looking to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Augmented Reality (AR) as a way to forecast for and offset returns and overstock.

The Role Of The CDP In Personalization In Both Known And Anonymous Environments

For years, retailers have relied on various systems to store their shopper data and insights — from endpoint engagement systems to data management platforms (DMPs). Many of the systems were for a particular channel and in the case of digital advertising, DMPs enabled a basic level of segmentation. However, with customer data now exploding at a rapid rate, retailers must take a unified approach to understanding everything possible about individual consumers to personalize engagement in any environment. The challenge for brands is how to satisfy the consumer demand for consistent personalization across every channel and touch point, both in addressable and non-addressable channels. Brands no longer have the luxury of waiting to deliver a personalized experience until the customer appears in an addressable channel. New capabilities are required to deal with decentralized data, anonymous environments and personalized marketing at scale.

Taking Advantage Of The Change Freezes This Year

Holiday season is a stress test of everything you have done to make the customer experience smooth and enjoyable. One of the things we don’t want to do during this key period is make changes that might impact that experience, so companies go into freeze or change lockdown — typically from mid-November until the end of December. This leaves the team with time on its hands. Most teams have been in a full-court press to get everything ready for the holidays, so they are ready to just relax. But based on my prior experience, I would encourage you to use this time to get set up for success in 2020. Below are some things you can do to prepare. Strategic planning is always a good place to start. Review how your security strategy and technical roadmaps are tied to the business plan goals. For each business and IT strategic goal, the security team should map out how they’ll support the effort. It’s surprising how many times I have heard people say they do this, but when asked how — they can’t articulate what they’re doing. It is worth the effort to document it.

Why Customer Data Is Your Most Important Holiday Gift

The holiday season represents anywhere from 20% to 30% of many businesses’ annual revenue. Much of that considerable spike comes from new customers who are discovering businesses for the first time, both online and in-store. Many retailers will concentrate much of their attention on acquiring more new customers, as they should. That being said, it can be more lucrative to focus equal attention on current customers — the ones merchants already have a treasure trove of customer data on. When a business knows a customer’s interests, purchase history and preferences, marketing campaigns can be hyper-personalized, resulting in better conversion.

Planning For ‘What-Ifs’ Isn’t A Luxury—It’s A Necessity

In the past 10 years, retail has undergone a massive transformation. Once dictated by the comings and goings of seasonal trends, the industry now caters to the whims of customer demands, which change more often than not. Despite the shifting tides of retail, one thing has remained the same: retailers have always come prepared with contingency plans for those pesky “what if” scenarios. Whether it’s a hurricane in the Pacific or a new tariff imposed by a government administration, these circumstances become huge factors affecting whether retailers can successfully follow through with orders in the fastest, most cost-efficient way possible.

Why The Tastemakers Will Survive Amazon

Amazon became the indisputable winner of the retail universe by engineering a self-perpetuating, data-crunching colossus. From diapers and cat food to batteries and books, Amazon has clearly mastered cost and convenience for a massive range of commodity items. Is it really possible that machines — no matter how much data is available — can accurately capture all our wants and desires? For all those items that aren’t commodities, the bigger purchases that aren’t rote, will we ever give up needing the wisdom of human tastemakers? Will cost and convenience always outweigh service and experience for non-commodity items?

Why Your Business Needs Better Product Experience Management (PXM)

In a crowded e-Commerce market, your business needs to do everything to ensure your products stand out — and that starts with good product data. Small mistakes or discrepancies in listed product attributes such as price, size or availability can mean a lost sale, a return or a negative review. But maintaining accurate product data is no easy feat, especially as customer touch points multiply. Companies must constantly optimize their product listings to avoid frustrating customers or breaking regulations. Unfortunately, many retailers aren’t prepared for this reality.

Blockchain-As-A-Service: How Brands And Retailers Can Get In On The Blockchain Game

When most hear the term blockchain, the first thing that comes to mind is cryptocurrency. And while it was initially developed to track the exchange of bitcoin, blockchain (also known as distributed ledger technology) has evolved far beyond its financial origins. Now, organizations across every industry are exploring blockchain for its ability to create an immutable, shared record of all business data and transactions. Blockchain has become a hot topic, particularly among consumer brands and retailers. The technology has been projected to impact nearly every aspect of the retail landscape in the coming years, from payment methods and customer engagement to marketing and — perhaps the most promising application — supply chain management.

Tracking Holiday Gifts With Intelligence And Purpose

As the holidays draw near, front doorsteps everywhere pile high with boxes filled with presents. Where do they all come from? Some attribute the phenomenon to reindeer, sleighs and a shop in the North Pole. Others point to delivery drivers and parcel trucks. Either way, the packages just keep arriving. But what about the gifts inside? How much do we know about the origins of the products we give and receive and the sustainable business practices involved in their manufacture and distribution? Increasingly, shoppers lend considerable weight to such factors. A recent survey from Accenture gauging the views of 1,500 consumers in the United States reveals that nearly half (45%) of respondents believe retailers have a responsibility to address social issues through their business practices.

Protecting Your Customers From Counterfeits — A Brand Imperative For Retailers In 2020

According to the OECD, in 2018 $509 billion dollars’ worth of counterfeit goods were sold globally. This not only damages brands’ reputations, but also weakens consumer trust and ultimately hurts the e-Commerce industry as a whole. Unfortunately, many online retailers do not have the knowledge or tools to filter counterfeit products for every single item sold on their sites. However, it’s more important than ever for businesses to ensure consumer perception of their brand isn’t undermined by counterfeit goods. Brands should consider that any interaction consumers believe they’ve had with the brand, whether genuine or counterfeit, will impact their overall perception of and loyalty to the brand. Emerging brands that are online first and direct-to-consumer (DTC) are no exception to this rule, as consumers are less likely to forgive bad experiences from a brand they are unfamiliar with.

How Smart Automation Powered By Retail AI Can Improve Your Retail Business

Scaling a modern retail business requires a combination of automation and predictive analytics. Here's how to leverage these technologies to get real results. Across nearly every industry, business leaders are touting the benefits of automation — and there are plenty. Automating certain repeatable processes within a business is the key to freeing up human workers to do the "big-picture" strategy work required to scale up.

Why Commoditization Is The Best Thing To Happen to E-Commerce

For many sellers, establishing an e-Commerce presence is an intimidating proposition. They view site design and organization as obstacles in a long, labor-intensive process that can stretch on for months, and even more than a year.  To support this view, recent research conducted by my company, Unilog, revealed that 51% of B2B e-Commerce implementations took more than nine months to go live. One of the major reasons for this seems to be the desire of many companies to reinvent best practices for e-Commerce sites. Why is this the case, when early adopters have already invested millions of dollars on research and development, creating standards for delivering a high-quality e-Commerce experience? 
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