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.

From E-Commerce Platforms To Microservices Omni-Commerce

Traditionally, retailers have used e-Commerce platforms such as ATG, WCS, Hybris etc. to build and manage their online storefront. These monolith applications were based on three-tiered architecture. Over time, the modules were customized, integrated with many other enterprise systems and a lot of investments were made in running the operations. In recent years, however, many retailers have started to shift away from these platforms towards microservices-based commerce, which offers the flexibility to implement the customized features and scalability needed to meet omnichannel demand.

Six Takeaways For Globalizing Your E-Commerce Business

According to a recent report from McKinsey, China accounted for less than 1% of the global e-Commerce market in 2008. Now, 10 years later, its share is 42%. Comparatively, today the U.S. share of the e-Commerce market is 24%, down a whopping 11 percentage points from 2005. This is a telling sign — and perhaps a wake-up call — for businesses selling products and services only in the United States. But brands that ignore the growing global e-Commerce potential outside of the U.S. are doing major disservices to their bottom lines. Prospering businesses understand that to get more eyes and hands on product and services, demand should not be stifled by borders.

Savvy Retailers Know That Storefronts Must Fulfill And Strengthen Digital Promises

I remember when the first wave of corporate web sites hit the Internet. Designers at the time were thrilled to play with a brand new platform, and before long it felt like every site was competing to see which could have the most bells and whistles packed onto a single page. Granted, web design as a discipline was still in its infancy and people were literally learning as they went. But for a long time most pages were designed with creators, not the end users, in mind.

To Increase Customer Satisfaction, Start With Your Employees’ Satisfaction

A lot of the conversation about increasing customer satisfaction, in the retail sector or anywhere else, revolves around technology. Omnichannel strategies for multi-touch messaging. Automation to increase efficiency. Integrated platforms to bridge the online and in-store experience. The more powerful, connected and “smart” your tech stack is, the better your customers’ experience is said to be. Of course, a savvy technology strategy absolutely does contribute to customer satisfaction; we’re so sure that digital tools improve customer satisfaction that it’s one of our company’s brand values. Indeed, 94% of firms say their CRO initiatives have increased customer satisfaction, according to our recent commissioned study by Forrester Consulting.

What Retailers Learned In 2018: It’s All About Customer Data-Driven Strategy

At a recent industry event, I quipped that this is “the best of times and the worst of times” for retailers. Implicit in my comment — which was a paraphrase of the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities, the Charles Dickens classic about the French Revolution — that the retail industry is undergoing a revolution of its own. Never mind the “retail apocalypse.” What retailers have begun to realize is that the demise of their businesses is not a foregone conclusion. This is a time for retailers to take action, not sit idly on the sidelines. In 2018, we saw more retailers take action by equipping themselves with the most important weapon for battle: customer strategy fueled by customer data science. Why is this happening? It could be that the ever-looming threat of Amazon, which has ventured boldly beyond e-Commerce and into physical spaces as well, with the steady spread of its 4-star stores throughout the U.S. It could also be the emergence of grocery discounters that are forcing retailers everywhere to rethink pricing and overall value propositions for customers. It could also be the example of retailers of all sizes to embrace the art and science of…

Extinction Event Or Golden Opportunity?

There is no question that we live in a data-fueled marketplace, and no better illustration of how the retail landscape has changed than the fact that Walmart employs more data scientists than NASA. They are not just interpreting the vast data signal from online behavior and loyalty app purchases, they are examining the entire business from the aisle to the parking lot — and everything in between. Welcome to the new reality. What’s happening at the largest retailers is merely a reflection of a sea change in the marketplace — one that will lead to extinction for retailers and brands that fail to adapt and change. This demanding new landscape was created by three major forces that retailers must embrace to serve: data convergence and connection, machine learning and personalization at scale.

A Look At Holiday Retail Trends 2018: If You’re Not Mobile-First, You’re Last

While new and exciting technologies like the Internet of Things, augmented reality and voice assistants dominate retail conversations, a key area that many retailers miss the mark on is also one that has proven far more impactful for today’s shoppers: the mobile channel. Over the years, shoppers have continued to opt for the convenience, speed, personalization and ease of their mobile devices over in-store visits and purchases, but what exactly does this shift in shopper behavior mean forretailers? According to eMarketer's recent report on "Worldwide Retail and Ecommerce Sales: eMarketer's Updated Forecast and New Mcommerce Estimates for 2016-2021," mobile commerce sales are projected to represent nearly 73% of e-Commerce sales — meaning retailers who neglect to build upon and optimize their mobile strategies will fail to reach a key growing audience.

Killer Bugs And Their Effect On Your Conversion Rates

One of the biggest issues in e-Commerce today (and every day) is conversion. Data scientists and marketers actively influence and track every stage of the sales process, down to the movement of items successfully into shopping carts. Then something goes awry and the sale isn’t completed, leaving teams to question where their carefully planned experience went wrong. Often it’s a pesky little bug in the software that went unnoticed in initial testing or subsequent updates. Left unchecked, that tiny bug wreaks havoc. E-Commerce managers call these bugs “conversion killers,” because these issues can block potential customers from making a purchase when they want to or frustrate them enough that they stop attempting to buy it. Sale killed — and opportunity lost.

Addressing The Unique Marketing Challenges Of SMB E-Commerce Merchants

According to the latest numbers from the National Retail Foundation, SMBs make up more than 98% of all retailers today. This feels inflated when you consider all the large merchants in our news feeds every day, but if you look beyond the headlines and consider the vast opportunities offered by the Internet, it isn’t really so shocking. Robust e-Commerce platforms, codeless site design, simple payment systems and a myriad of affordable tools are available today to help ambitious entrepreneurs set up shop and establish a formidable online retail presence quickly and at minimal cost. For most online shoppers, as long as the goods, price and customer experience are up to snuff, sheer size of the merchant has little impact on purchase decisions. This “level playing field” means retailers of every size are competing for the same customers, pitting smaller teams with less money and not enough time against resource-rich retail giants like Amazon and Walmart. This competitive landscape makes marketing even more critical for smaller retailers trying to engage consumers, who often default to omnipresent merchants by habit or convenience.

Augmented And Virtual Reality’s Monumental Impact On The Retail Supply Chain

In today’s digital era, consumer expectations are constantly evolving, putting more pressure than ever on retailers to up-level the customer experience. To keep up with industry demands, stay ahead of competition and ensure brand loyalty, many retailers are looking to innovative solutions to redefine business processes. Recently, we’ve seen many top-name retailers implement a variety of technology platforms to transform their entire supply chains — from the front end to the back office. Two of the most powerful offerings include augmented realty (AR) and virtual reality (VR). According to recent research, the AR and VR market is predicted to reach $215 billion by 2021. As the technologies continue to develop, retailers are finding new ways to leverage their capabilities, transforming how consumers visualize products, how retailers complete the manufacturing processes, how companies deliver orders in a fast and efficient manner and more.

For Retailers, It’s Back To The Future

The proliferation of private label, white label, and store brands has caused a fundamental shift in how retailers think and operate from a supply management perspective. Retailers that are focused on private label can realize higher margins and improved customer loyalty through well-oiled supply chains, but they need to think and act like a manufacturer of consumer goods, food and beverage, high tech, pharmaceuticals or whichever industrial segment they participate in to do it.  By applying best practices and know-how from top-performing supply chains within the appropriate industry, retailers can stave off value leakage. How? By looking to the past and what has worked across industry segments, while at the same time turning to the future and working with contract manufacturers and other outsourced elements of their supply chain, leveraging digital technologies to drive advanced sourcing capabilities that deliver innovation, cost savings and efficiencies and business growth.

You Can Have It All: Customer Security And Convenience

As online retailers, you constantly struggle. You want your customers to have a great experience and avoid any hassles or unnecessary hurdles when visiting your site, but you also want them to be protected. We know that customers can find security protocols tedious. It’s frustrating to forget which password you used for a certain site, get locked out after a few login attempts, and then have to experience more obstacles to gain access. We live in a world with an ever-changing technology landscape, yet fraud continues to be a concern year after year. Despite occasional inconveniences, most consumers prefer to have some level of assurance that their personal data is safe when online. The balance between convenience and security is one of the more difficult challenges faced by all online businesses, including retailers. According to our Global Fraud and Identity Report, 66% of consumers prefer security protocols when making transactions online because the extra steps make them feel protected. In fact, lack of visible security was the number one reason customers abandoned a transaction. While your customers may feel protected, these steps may also contribute to a lower frequency of customer logins and transactions due to unpleasant user experiences. Fewer…

Getting Physical: Three Tips For Bridging Online And Offline Experiences In The New Year

Recently Wayfair and Casper joined the likes of fellow e-Commerce brands Amazon, Everlane, Glossier and many others that are all experimenting with, or opening permanent, brick-and-mortar stores. However, with many traditional retail stores closing shop in the last year, it's even more imperative to integrate offline and online channels to provide a consistent experience across all touch points. These digitally-born businesses are in a battle with Amazon to retain customers by offering a great in-store experience at a reasonable cost, all while avoiding the mishaps Build-a-Bear and others recently encountered. In fact, while 87% of consumers say they expect an omnichannel experience, only 7% of retailers actually provide the ability to shop seamlessly across all channels.

What 'Black Friday In July' Taught Retailers This Holiday Season

Amazon Prime Day — or “Black Friday in July” — offered several lessons for retailers to not only help them plan for this crucial shopping season, but also set themselves apart in the eyes of customers. The most critical to note: to level the playing field, and compete with e-Commerce giants like Amazon, location data and intelligence must to be at the forefront of their cross-channel strategies. For context, it’s important to first look at how brick-and-mortar sales and foot traffic fared against Prime Day’s competitive e-Commerce deals. Gravy Analytics’ Prime Day Foot Traffic Analysis (measured consumer visits at 1,400 retail chains for the two weeks prior and following Prime Day 2018, and compared it to 2017 data), found that for some retail categories — particularly consumer electronics stores and cosmetic shops — in-store shopping is in fighting form. In-store traffic across higher-end consumer electronic stores picked up on Prime Day this year, adding 5% over the average daily attendance rates for the two weeks prior.

Three Best Practices For Digital Customer Experience Success

Product, placement, price and promotion may have been the holy grail of marketing, but in the digital era, customer experience now tops the list. It is critical for all types of businesses, retail especially, to provide a positive, meaningful and engaging digital experience to its customers and prospects or else they will take their business elsewhere. In fact, a recent Salesforce survey found that 76% of consumers felt it’s easier now more than ever to take their business to a brand that better matches their expectations. Before e-Commerce, sales associates provided in-store service (and still do) to ensure customers are having a positive shopping experience. They would do so by visually understanding customers’ reactions — be it engaged with a product or frustrated they can’t find their size — and catering the customer service as needed. Store associates can easily alleviate confusion or frustration by visually observing body language — both on an individual level and for the broader audience. They can help someone find the right shoe size after watching them sift through several pairs, or offer a dressing room if their hands look full. Taking a macro perspective, if the arrangement of the clothing racks leads to people…
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