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.

Virtual Assistants: What Consumers Want, And How To Deliver

In an independent survey of 3,000 U.S. and UK consumers conducted by in late 2017, consumers said no to virtual assistant (VA) or chatbot silos. Key findings and our corresponding viewpoints are: 59% of respondents (62% in the U.S. and 55% in the UK) found that having to repeat information and context to a human agent in the event of escalation from chatbots was the biggest hassle by far in using virtual assistants. The second biggest deterrent at 32% (29% U.S. and 37% UK) was chatbots “getting stuck and not knowing what to do next.”

Leveling The Retail Analytics Playing Field

Data is increasingly at the heart of every business. The ability to collect, analyze and derive actionable insights from multiple sources of data in real time can be the difference between winning a customer or seeing them captured by the competition. And retail is no exception. Brick-and-mortar retailers have, in the past, failed to keep pace with their e-Commerce rivals in the capture and use of data to optimize the customer experience. While digital visitors to an online retailer’s web site can be tracked, analyzed and influenced throughout their journey from site entry to sale, retailers in the real world have struggled to source the same level of analytics from entry into the store to the checkout. However, that could be changing.

Getting The Whole Customer Feedback Story

Good or bad — customer feedback promises to make its mark on your top line. Rave reviews can help attract new customers and even keep existing ones coming back for more. Nearly 90% of Americans trust online reviews to help them choose between local businesses. Meanwhile, negative reviews help highlight ways to improve the customer shopping experience. Or, at least they should.

Is Cash Dead? An International View

It’s widely believed that the ancient Greeks invented money as we know it. On the contrary, however, the first coins to ever appear came from a coastal kingdom on the Aegean Sea in ancient Turkey, about 2,700 years ago. The amount that each coin was worth was embossed on gold or silver flat coins. They were used to trade with visiting merchants from overseas. That’s a far cry from the “international payments” scene today. Nevertheless, it would be fair to say that for thousands of years, not much really changed with money. Cash was king. Even as credit card payments really took off during the 1980s, they were initially mostly for domestic, not international, use.

Nine Things Retailers Can Do To Compete With Amazon

2017 did not go easy on retailers. Despite retail spending growing globally year-over-year, more than 6,700 store closures were announced last year among brands like Macy’s, Gap and RadioShack. Amazon is much to blame for the meltdown, and for good reason: its “one-click” navigation, vast inventory, competitive pricing, fast and free shipping (for Prime members) and easy return process have all contributed to its global dominance. But that’s not all that’s causing the collapse of retail. The high volume of brick-and-mortar locations combined with the prevalence and general ease of purchasing items online (51%of Americans purchase items online vs. in store) are also contributing to the downfall. Additionally, people are now spending money on experiences and not necessarily goods.

CRM, Redefined: Transitioning From Traditional Segments To Shopper Missions

The explosion of interaction and commerce touch points has transformed shopping from a linear, transactional process into a topsy-turvy journey. Consumers have completely taken over. They shop at their discretion, hopping between store, search, mobile and social networks according to both need and whim. They have more power over the journey than ever before and they demand full control of their shopping experiences. They dictate when, where and how they engage with brands, and now they have raised the bar even further, requiring customized, omnichannel journeys that are tailored to their wants, needs and preferences.  Because every consumer is unique and every journey different, it has become extremely difficult for retailers to truly understand their customers and the experiences they seek. This disconnect leaves many retailers struggling to refine and reinvent their experiences so they remain relevant in consumers’ lives.

10 Tips To Maximize Your Omnichannel Marketing Strategy

There are plenty of ways to connect with customers on their channels of choice. What can be difficult is getting the relevant content and mix of channels right for every customer. The challenges associated with managing vast amounts of content, and sharing that content globally and in multiple languages, can be a painful logistical issue for marketers who are not equipped with the right process and tools. With this in mind, here are 10 tips to help you maximize your success. I’ve seen these tactics deliver consistent results in multiple real-world omnichannel marketing initiatives. Why not try a few and see what happens?

Augmented Reality Is The New Reality: What To Expect And Learn From Brands

As expected, Apple’s iPhone X showcases an array of impressive features. Among them are advances like FaceID, high definition cameras, stronger glass and — perhaps most interestingly for marketers — augmented reality (AR) abilities. AR, once considered a futuristic technology, has officially made its way into the mainstream thanks to Apple and its ARKit software. In its highly anticipated keynote, Apple demonstrated the new technology’s ability to superimpose images onto reality, integrate voice and expression into ‘animojis’ and more — and we know this is just the beginning. Apple’s ARKit allows consumers to look through the iPhone camera and see virtual objects and personal information overlaid on top of physical objects in the real world (think Pokémon GO). This outfits the iPhone with augmented reality abilities in an accessible way.

A New Approach To Brand Loyalty: How To Stand Out In The Experience Age

In this age of empowered, always-on consumers, loyalty is the ultimate signifier of a customer’s relationship with a brand and is a testament to a winning customer experience. In turn, real loyaltytranslates into the customer becoming a valuable advocate for the brand. But what is “real loyalty” and how can a brand tailor programming to catalyze it? Following our extensive proprietary research, we explored the context behind why and how the approach to loyalty is shifting, analyzing brands on the forefront of loyalty programs that garner results and distilling our findings into actionable suggestions for brands to incorporate into their own strategies.

2018 Will Be A Retail Tipping Point

2018 is going to be a tipping point in the retail world, one that will see winners exploit new omnichannel strategies, where marketing will be reinvented (again) to exploit the increasing growth of new social media and digital trends. The store will become increasingly experiential, and of course, those that fail to adapt fast enough will disappear. 2018 will be the year when it has never been easier to quickly gain some new customers, yet it will also be more difficult to hold them. Let me explain why. We’re seeing that the retail world is experiencing a seismic shift driven by three colliding forces — massive price deflation, the great fragmentation of the consumer and the impact of an underlying technology revolution.

Creating An Omnichannel Experience For Customers By Employing IoT And AI Analytics

You’re sold on the value of giving your customers a seamless omnichannel experience. Now how do you make your vision a reality? Delivering the omnichannel experience customers crave isn’t easy. It requires a complete about-face in the way most retailers conduct business. Each department and channel can no longer do its own thing. The entire organization must coordinate carefully to respond to customers’ actions and preferences in a consistent manner across online, mobile and in-store touch points.  

How Data Virtualization Is Helping Retailers Revitalize The Customer Experience

For the last two decades, retailers have been challenged to meet the needs of increasingly fickle consumers. Thanks to mobile devices, today’s shoppers are always on, which empowers them to research available options, check ratings, compare notes with their personal and professional networks and switch brands. They now expect to interact with retail brands with the same immediacy that they interact on social networks. This trend shows no signs of slowing, and to remain competitive and meet the expectations of today’s customers, retailers need to be able to provide “streamlined and personal experiences both online and in stores,” according to Forrester. This requires both established and modern retailers to adopt hybrid strategies that embrace physical and virtual stores simultaneously.

Implementing Influencer Marketing With Offline Retail Networks

As 2018 has taken off and goes into full swing, the influencer marketing space is continuing to accelerate and grow. But for brands to get in on the market’s success, they need to identify the right influencer(s) to reach their target audiences. As Amazon increasingly takes over the online sales market, it's more important than ever for retailers to accurately target and create meaningful relationships with their core buyers. With the abundance of data available online, it's simple to identify what influencers will be impactful with a brand's’ audience given the right tools. But without insights into data on in-store sales at vendor retailers like Macy's or Nordstrom, it’s hard to identify what influencer relationships are most relevant for those buyers. Here are a few tips for brands looking to target those shoppers who still purchase merchandise in-store via influencer marketing, especially when sales data isn’t easy to obtain.

How To Cut $50,000+ In Operational Costs From Retail Districts By Cutting Out The Middle Man(ager)

With the new year ahead, many smart executives are thinking beyond trimming waistlines and instead focusing on trimming bloated budgets. E-Commerce is putting the squeeze on traditional retail and retailers need to find an edge to keep their stores profitable. Well, just as calories can hide anywhere, so can unnecessary expenses, and this year is the perfect time to make a resolution to target underperforming retail budgets and inject new life into tired operating models. A great place to start is the district manager. This is the middle man in retail, and there’s a way to reduce the number of district managers needed, while dramatically improving the performance of the tighter management roster that remains. The answer starts with an honest evaluation of the roles and responsibilities of the district manager.

Driving Private Label Differentiation Through Collaboration And Insight

It’s no secret that the private label market is evolving rapidly and picking up steam in the U.S. In fact, customers recently ranked Trader Joe’s and Aldi in the top five for favorite grocery stores[1]. Additionally, the launch of Lidl in the U.S. market in 2017 puts added pressure on U.S. consumer goods companies and grocery retailers to control their costs whilst reducing prices in order to remain competitive. Meanwhile, Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market may set a new standard for online grocery and force traditional retailers to leverage ‘e’ strategies. In response, more and more retailers are using private label to enhance their overall brand image and differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive landscape.
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