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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.

Are You Liable For Your Customers’ Sales Taxes?

Tax laws, particularly those regulating e-Commerce and sales tax, have suddenly become a lot more complicated. Last year’s Supreme Court decision on South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. changed the entire landscape of sales tax regulations. Changes in the interpretation of nexus have caught many online businesses by surprise; physical presence is no longer the only consideration when determining nexus. E-Commerce sellers can have nexus with a state by simply selling into that state. The Court ruled that states can force online retailers to collect sales tax, regardless of the company’s physical location. And if they don’t collect sales tax from their customers, the burden to pay the tax falls on the seller, along with any penalties and interest the state may assess. Consequently, many retailers are realizing, sometimes too late, that their tax exposure is far greater than they thought. Even companies large enough to have their own in-house tax teams often find it hard to keep up with or prepare for the rapidly changing regulations. Startups and those companies that have experienced dramatic growth are particularly vulnerable.

Designing Chatbots That Evolve With Your Business

Chatbots are an essential element of today’s shopping experience. When a sneakerhead is on the hunt for a fresh pair of Jordans, Nike’s Messenger bot is here to help. Similarly, beauty fans rely on Sephora’s Kik chatbot for customized tips and cosmetic recommendations. These tools must keep up with the evolution of the business, however, to stay relevant to customers. So, how does a retail company ensure that its chatbots mature alongside its long-term business strategy?

How to Improve Your Instagram & Facebook Advertising in 2019

In 2012, the world's largest social media conglomerate, Facebook, acquired Instagram for $1 billion. Combined, the two social platforms have a whopping 3.23 billion monthly active users. With such a large audience, it's no wonder Facebook and Instagram ads have become a high priority for marketers. Here are the best practices for developing strong ad creative to engage your audiences and generate maximum ROI on Instagram and Facebook:

Retailers Need To Make Smart Choices On Network Infrastructure

For years now, the headlines have been loud and clear — brick-and-mortar retail is facing serious challenges. Not a day goes by without warnings of store closures or the increased pressure e-Commerce is putting on retail brands as they fight to retain customers. For every brand success, we’ve also seen a failure, including iconic retail brands like Sears and Toys ‘R’ Us. But there’s a story behind the headlines — one about smart, forward-thinking retailers that have reimagined their in-store experience and found new ways to surprise and delight customers. These retailers are accomplishing this through a focus on customer experience and smart investments in technology. And while we often hear about mobile applications or marketing technologies, some of the most rewarding and necessary investments aren’t as visible to customers.

Communication Tactics For Boosting Customer Loyalty

Every retailer strives to maximize customer retention and loyalty. While advertising is often seen as the linchpin in efforts to keep customers coming back, no savvy retailer should overlook the value of a solid communication plan. Here are five key tactics that can help your organization build a winning strategy to win and retain customer loyalty.

What Retailers Need To Know About The New Telephone-Based Payment Card Data Guidance

In November 2018, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) unveiled its newly revised guidance for Protecting Telephone-based Payment Card Data. Updated for the first time since 2011, this guidance underscores the urgency for protecting telephone-based payments in light of the evolving technology, and an ever-changing regulatory and fraud landscape. The highly anticipated new guidance provides a much clearer path for retail contact centers looking to ensure compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and provides critical recommendations on new technologies and processes for securing payment card data.

Fraud Report Reveals Importance Of ID Verification In Delivering A Seamless And Secure Customer Experience

With the rise of e-Commerce and prevalence of mobile devices, shopping has reached a new level of ease for consumers. Expectations for fast and easy experiences are higher today than they were just a few years ago, and while the growth of these convenient channels equals higher sales, it also opens the door for fraud. Most consumers are aware that data breaches and digital fraud are increasing at a rapid rate, and that their personal information is potentially already available on the dark web, yet their tolerance for adding friction to the authentication process for fraud prevention only goes so far: research from IDology’s Consumer Digital Identity Study showed that one in three consumers will abandon creating an account if the process is too cumbersome.

Should Online Retailers Blacklist Shoppers Who Return Too Much?

Today’s retail landscape is tough — and getting tougher. Businesses are under increasing pressure, from reduced margins to online competition, and now they’re facing another problem. I’m talking about “serial returners” — people who deliberately buy more items than they plan to keep and know they’ll return some of them later. This buying behavior is having a huge impact on UK retailers, one-third of themreport that they have seen an uplift in serial returners over the last year — with retailers of high end products seeing returns rates as high as 50% during holiday shopping periods. This rise is putting additional logistical pressure on retailers, and it is also contributing to a hefty annual £60bn returns bill for them.

PCI Isn’t Enough — How Retailers Can Truly Protect All Sensitive Data

When many of us think of sensitive data, we automatically think about credit card information. But what about all the rest? As recent data breaches taught us, hackers and bad actors can do quite a bit with other types of personal information, such as user names, passwords, addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and so on. As more retailers embark on a truly hybrid sales strategy that encompasses an online presence as well as a brick-and-mortar store, they find themselves with a wealth of sensitive information. So how can retailers keep that information safe? Payment Card Information (PCI) regulations cover credit card data during transactions, but do nothing to protect that information after a business has stored it in its IT systems. When PCI regulations were introduced, they were hailed as a great leap forward in ensuring that businesses maintained stringent levels of safety around payment cards. But since that time, we’ve seen an explosion in the online marketplace, which has made existing security regulations like PCI confusing to implement because they’re usually either limited or too broad.

Retailers Are Turning To Face Recognition To Thwart Growing Fraud And Shoplifting Threats

An increasingly large number of retailers are waking up to an unfortunate fact: despite loss prevention and asset protection professionals’ best efforts, organized retail crime and return fraud continue to rise. In order to combat these rising concerns, forward-thinking retailers have started employing facial recognition solutions to protect merchandise, employees and customers from threats. And while this technology is relatively new for retail, it just might prove to be the secret sauce for preventing shrink.

When New Technologies Like Augmented Reality Help You See Your Business Differently

New technologies and ideas are often met with equal parts excitement and skepticism, but more often than not, you’re only able to understand how truly game changing they were in hindsight. For instance, if Airbnb founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia came to you in 2007 with their idea, you could probably find a million ways to pick it apart. What do you mean people are just going to let strangers into their homes? What about liability? What if those “guests” are criminals? Knowing that others have faced skepticism for their ideas is cold comfort when you’re betting big on your own. After all, you don’t know how everything will turn out — will this technology truly disrupt your industry, or will it disappear faster than it came to market?

The New CX: How Technology Can Build Brand Loyalty For Retailers Of All Sizes

We all know that person who is impossible to shop for — the rare coin aficionado, the stamp collector, the vintage comic book junkie — the type of person who would scoff if they found a generic gift from a retail mega-brand under the tree — the type of person who wants their unique tastes and preferences reflected in a unique, personalized shopping experience. Of course, those of us who find ourselves shopping for these types of folks often find ourselves in an internal tug-of-war. We want to find the best, most unique gifts possible that even our pickiest, most opinionated friends and family members will love — but, at the same time, we want a streamlined, efficient, end-to-end shopping experience that fits seamlessly into our on-the-go lifestyles.

Turning Retailers’ Cybersecurity Strategy Inside Out

Cybersecurity professionals across industries are responsible for three distinct areas: 1) data confidentiality (ensuring privacy); 2) data integrity (ensuring accuracy); and 3) network/service/application availability (ensuring uptime). Since the advent of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) a decade ago, the retail industry has maintained a singular focus on confidentiality — more specifically, protecting customers’ credit card data. Retailers have devoted significant time, resources and budget to protecting their point of sale terminals, preventing data breaches and demonstrating PCI compliance. And as a result of their prioritization of payment security, coupled with the emergence of security technologies such as EMV chips, the risk of credit card theft has declined significantly over the past few years.

How The IoT Will Transform The Holiday Shopping Experience

Despite the emergence of new cloud, AI, IoT and other advanced technologies, Santa continues to deliver presents the old-fashioned way — on a flying sled pulled by reindeer. Yet these technologies have transformed holiday shopping experiences. From online “Wish Lists”, to in-store review and price checking on mobile devices, to last-minute delivery or in-store pickup of online orders, today’s holiday shopping experience is a lot different than it was 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. Today, Amazon, Walmart and other retailers that anticipated how these technologies might change holiday shopping are reaping the benefits, while many of those that were caught flat-footed by these changes are racing to catch up, if they have not fallen by the wayside like Toys ‘R’ Us and Sears. Given this, retailers today should be asking themselves how one of today’s most disruptive emerging technologies — the IoT — might transform holiday shopping in the future. If they can do this, these retailers can get a head start in using IoT technologies to offer better holiday shopping experiences to their customers, rather than find themselves trying to catch up with competitors in the future.

The Role Of Customization In Retail: Meeting Ever-Changing Demands With Unique Experiences

Shopping has changed. Solely meeting consumers with a traditional brick-and-mortar experience is a surefire way to become a victim of the retail apocalypse, and there are certainly enough tragic examples on record — from Toys ’R’ Us to Blockbuster Video — to prove the point. Whether surfing online from the convenience of their own smartphone or desktop, or actually stepping inside a physical location, potential purchasers are almost as interested in customized, unique experiences as the products or services they’re shopping for themselves. From interactive in-store demos to automated and personalized thank-you notes, the new retail ecosystem offers more opportunities to connect with target audiences than ever before, and those who take advantage are those that will most likely survive.
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