Executive ViewPoints - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints https://www.retailtouchpoints.com Fri, 15 Nov 2019 10:13:36 -0500 RTP en-gb How Retailers Can Become Resilient To Costly Outages https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/how-retailers-can-become-resilient-to-costly-outages https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/how-retailers-can-become-resilient-to-costly-outages

0aaaPeter Mattis CockroachLabs

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?

Understanding Resilient Systems And High Availability

Service outages are often caused by bad weather like hurricanes, electrical, ice or snowstorms, and sometimes human error. When outages happen in retail, transactions come to a grinding halt causing the retailer to immediately lose revenue. To be successful in today’s competitive environment, when every second counts, retailers rely on high availability RIS systems to prevent costly outages and process transactions before the opportunity is lost.

Any downtime, even one second will damage the brand reputation and trust with a consumer and lead to lost transactions — impacting revenue. This is especially important as Amazon continues to dominate the retail industry. The way to compete with Amazon is by providing consumers with frictionless, fast and efficient service, especially during the holiday season.

Historically, highly available systems used to be systems with redundant, hot-swappable power supplies, disk drives and even CPUs. However, today there are better approaches to high availability than making a single machine highly available. Now retailers have access to services that are highly available by using large clusters of machines, where any node in the cluster can fail without impacting the consumer experience.

What this means is that if there is a disaster that affects one node it doesn’t cause the retailer's entire infrastructure to cease processing transactions. Today's resilient, distributed retail systems that are built to failover in cloud-native ways are no longer prone to outages like this.

It’s 2019, Why Do RIS Outages Still Happen?

Good question. So why do retailers still have outages? They happen for many reasons, including network configuration errors created by humans, denial of service attacks, natural disasters, etc. While none of these causes are going away any time soon, some RIS outages caused by humans can be averted and data outages due to disasters can be made history.

One approach retailers can use to prevent costly outages is to make retail information systems resilient. This means moving legacy activities like point-of-sale systems, inventory and shopper behavior, etc., to the cloud and selecting a system that:

  • Eliminates maintenance windows: Maintenance windows are designed to minimize user impact, but any planned downtime is an unacceptable consumer experience. Look for an RIS that keeps point-of-sale systems up and eliminates all mandatory maintenance downtime.
  • Automate resilience testing: Simulating disasters (and recovering from them) shouldn’t be a manual process. Retailers that build this into their everyday processes, like Netflix, have a working model that makes emergency protocols not an edge case, but the norm.
  • Adopt a self-healing database: Choosing a database that self-organizes, self-heals and automatically rebalances is a crucial component of resilience. By making component failure an expected event that a system can handle gracefully, retailers will be prepared when a data center goes down for whatever reason.
  • Select an RIS with built-in redundancy to ensure data replicates: To survive disasters, retailers need to replicate the data stored in their RIS and have redundancy built into the system to eliminate all points of failure. Prepare for disaster by having data transactionally replicated to multiple data centers as part of normal operation.

While it might seem daunting to migrate RIS data to the cloud, it is an effective approach to keep processing credit card transactions during the busy holiday season without experiencing a costly outage. In order to compete, retailers need to consider adopting a high availability platform that supports their RIS system and helps them move merchandise.


 

Peter Mattis is the co-founder and CTO of Cockroach Labs where he works on a bit of everything, from low-level optimization of code to refining the overall design. He has worked on distributed systems for most of his career, designing and implementing the original Gmail backend search and storage system at Google and designing and implementing Colossus, the successor to Google's original distributed file system. In his university days, he was one of the original authors of the GIMP and is still amazed when people tell him they use it frequently.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Peter Mattis, Cockroach Labs) Executive ViewPoints Fri, 15 Nov 2019 09:21:57 -0500
Your Ultimate Guide To Guideshops https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/your-ultimate-guide-to-guideshops https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/your-ultimate-guide-to-guideshops

0aaaJeff Hastings VisualCreationsFrom 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.

Enter guideshops.

No, literally, enter some guideshops. Sit back and relax, and we’ll guide you through a guided tour of the latest in retail guideshop innovation.

But first, a bit of background.

E-Commerce today is booming, growing by an average of 15.3% since 2017. But the competition is fierce and there are some retail products and brands that struggle when only offered online. For certain items, including clothing and high-price-tag products, shopping online can lack what a physical store can provide — the ability to try on clothes, to touch and interact with products, and to receive personalized customer service in the form of a friendly conversation with a helpful human being.

Although some big names in retail are able to respond to this by offering same-day delivery, other brands are taking another approach — opening small brick-and-mortar locations that focus more on a unique, curated shopping experience, and that emphasize building brand recognition and loyalty rather than focusing on the transaction that has traditionally defined the in-store shopping experience.

Below, we highlight several brands that have optimized the brick-and-mortar shopping experience for the modern consumer. From custom fixtures to curated inventory, we focus on how the design of these spaces provides customers with a memorable shopping experience, creating a positive impression of the brand and leaving them wanting more.

Guideshop Tour Stop #1: Bonobos And The Evolution Of Retail

It’s probably just a coincidence that a company named after an endangered great ape is the highest-profile example of a key trend in the recent evolution of retail. But Bonobos, the menswear retailer founded online in 2007, became a much-watched retail innovator when it opened its first guideshops in 2012.

The Bonobos guideshop experience typically involves making an appointment to receive high-touch, one-on-one service without the hassle of crowds, imposing walls of merchandise, uncomfortable fitting room sessions and bulky shopping bags. Customer service guides, also called “ninjas,” help shoppers find ideal fit and styles, then place orders on the spot for one- to two-day direct delivery.

Freed to place far less emphasis on inventory, the Bonobos guideshops feature spacious, uncrowded interiors with adventurous designs and comfortable places to sit and relax while “shopping.” According to a report in Forbes, Bonobos’ quest to deliver optimal customer experience also includes offering guests a free beverage, with many opting for a cold, frosty beer.

Guideshop Tour Stop #2: Dyson Demo

Dyson, the household appliance maker best known for its high-tech vacuum cleaners, has also embraced the guideshop model with its Dyson Demo Stores, like this one in San Francisco.

“The best way to understand our technology is to experience it yourself,” says the caption under a photo of a young man maneuvering a sleek, cord-free cleaning device. “Test it against 30 different types of debris, plus choose from exclusive colors and a range of Dyson-engineered tools to help make your cleaning easier.”

Give your guests a 360-degree view: Dyson is a good example of one key tenet of guideshop strategy — showcase the product in a way that emphasizes the relationship you want shoppers to have with the product. Using large plinths, none of which are positioned against the walls of the demo store, products are displayed so customers can walk around and view them from all angles.

Dyson’s goal was to teach consumers about the technology behind their brand in hopes of fostering respect and a relationship with their line of highly engineered products. Other products are displayed on near-invisible mounts, keeping hairdryers and vacuum components freestanding with less visual clutter. The lighting design also keeps the focus on the products while interest is created with full-wall LED screens.

Guideshop Tour Stop #3: Cuyana

A well-known merchandising strategy is to give more expensive items more space. Psychologically, shoppers understand the value of square footage, so when generous space is devoted to a limited number of items, it gives a sense of quality and price point.

Spacing out items when designing your guideshop also gives your customers a better experience — ultimately creating a shopping environment that is less about the transaction at the end and more about providing an enjoyable experience that will motivate shoppers to come back and visit again.

Digital-first retailer Cuyana does this by using large surfaces to showcase a curated collection of products; they do not have rows or stacks of products, and all products have lots of breathing room.

If the new brick-and-mortar is about the experience you are able to provide to visitors, then unique fixtures and displays are a must. On-brand fixtures add to the overall aesthetic you are trying to achieve. Details great and small — from the materials and finishes to making a statement with oversized lighting — can push your guideshop experience to the next level.

The curves and pink color of Cuyana’s furnishings is great branding and can be seen in the shop from floor to ceiling. The curved walls with gold-colored hang rails running all along them lead guests through the entire collection and the curves are mirrored in the front window, bench legs and tables. Cuyana also offers in-house monogramming to create a personalized experience and encourage return visits.

Guideshop Tour Stop #4: M.Gemi

Getting creative with your fixtures and displays is one hallmark of the guideshop experience. One way that Italian shoemaker M.Gemi does this is by using mirrored displays to showcase just one shoe, while the reflection in the mirror mimics the look of putting both shoes on display. This reduces the amount of product displayed on the floor while still giving guests the chance to see the shoe as a pair.

M.Gemi maximizes its brand impact with the use of modular/movable plinths that can be turned, moved and stacked differently, allowing shoppers to see something fresh, but familiar, upon each return visit.

As guideshops like those operated by Bonobos and others have become an industry success story, a quick look at the pros and cons of this model helps explain why.

Retail Guideshop Pros And Cons

Andy Dunn, CEO and founder of Bonobos, said in an interview that when he started the online retailer in 2007 he didn’t envision Bonobos ever having a brick-and-mortar presence, but decided on the term “guideshops” to highlight a clearly differentiated shopping experience.

“In a lot of clothing and apparel stores, you’ll see the staff fussing around with the stock — straightening it, counting it, replenishing it. That sucks up a lot of their time, leaving only marginal attention for the customer. When you take the inventory out, your store personnel can focus more on your customers,” he said. “We chose to stay small, experiential, high intimacy, and high customer service.”

The formula has not only worked wonders, it has launched a trend, which is not surprising when you consider the pros and cons.

Pros:

• Customers are more relaxed.

• Far less space needed for inventory.

• No competing for retail space with other brands.

• Guides help customers find the best fit.

• Guides also double as stylists.

• Average orders are larger than online-only orders.

• More repeat purchases (sizes are kept on file).

• Fewer returns.

• Brand loyalty is high.

Cons:

• No “instant gratification.” Shoppers must wait one to three days for delivery.

Guideshops represent another example of how the future of retail is personal, how the most creative retailers are finding new ways to differentiate themselves with next-level customer service and unforgettable customer experiences. As his own empire evolves, Dunn observed, the focus will be on continuing to explore “how we can own the relationship with the consumer.”


 

Jeff Hastings is the Chief Marketing Officer for Visual Creations, Inc. A retail merchandising and marketing veteran, Hastings has over a decade of retail design experience, knowledge and insight from serving as the Senior Director of Retail Design, Director of Visual Merchandising and Senior Marketing Director for multiple retail and graphic companies across the U.S. Visual Creations/Rose Displays is a full-service provider of cost-effective custom fixtures, furniture, millwork and signwareä solutions. With decades of design and manufacturing experience, VCI/Rose partners with leading U.S. retailers and brands to create memorable in-store experiences.

 

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Jeff Hastings, Visual Creations Inc.) Executive ViewPoints Thu, 14 Nov 2019 09:17:08 -0500
Preparing Your Team For AI Adoption In Retail Pricing https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/preparing-your-team-for-ai-adoption-in-retail-pricing https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/preparing-your-team-for-ai-adoption-in-retail-pricing

0aaaAlexandr Galkin CompeteraMultitasking 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%.

In general, productivity uplift is expected to account for an incremental $6.6 trillion by 2030 thanks to AI adoption. Meanwhile, to benefit from intelligent automation, retailers need to ensure that their teams and businesses are AI-ready. The team comes first, as the effectiveness of a certain technology depends on how well you can use it.

How To Gear Up Your Employees For AI

Machines should be responsible for routine tasks like data processing and insight (or price recommendations) generation. In the meantime, humans will have a chance to switch to high-level management like strategy creation and talks with manufacturers.

At the same time, retail managers rarely accept AI adoption willingly since it requires mastering a new skillset and mindset. Most people don’t like leaving their comfort zone.

To make the transition smooth and beneficial, retail executives should bear in mind three things:

- Pricing managers need to become proficient users of a new tool. Teams have to be able to launch a repricing cycle, set goals and order from vendors, among dozens of other tasks they can do, with the help of technology.

- Pricing analysts should learn to switch from micro- to goal-management. Managers who do not understand the logic algorithms used to make price suggestions often refuse to apply them. But retail teams do not need to control the price of every product anymore. Instead, they should focus on the performance of the whole category or product portfolio. If the goal (for example, to increase sales while keeping margins, liquidate excessive stock or maximize profit) is hit, then it should not matter if algorithm-generated price recommendations seem illogical. 

Also, managers should remember that an AI solution is just a tool, while they call all the shots when it comes to pricing. They set KPIs for algorithms, which analyze vast amounts of data, look through thousands (or even billions) of pricing scenarios and suggest the optimal one that allows hitting the goals.

If managers feel uncomfortable using machine-generated price recommendations at first, they can always set restrictions and/or test their hypotheses via a “sandbox” before applying them in real life. 

- Pricing teams need to test the effectiveness of price analytics solutions firsthand with support from their top management. That’s why one of the first steps would be to launch a market test (which can take anything from eight weeks to several months), during which managers can apply price recommendations to a particular group of products. 

From my experience, usually the results of such price optimization are very promising (e.g., a 24.7% sales surge). Therefore, retail teams start feeling more confident when using the machine’s suggestions, as they experience a major boost in efficiency and the quality of their pricing decisions. For example, by spending just 15 minutes instead of over an hour for repricing and setting optimal prices for any number of products.

Optimal prices for every product (in other words, a soaring revenue) are a reality for retailers using price optimization software in their pricing. However, to make the most of AI, retail businesses need to prepare their teams — or the end users of the tool — thoroughly. The preparation includes the following stages:

  • Teaching managers to use software;
  • Helping teams transition to strategic thinking and goal-management; and
  • Launching market tests to help employees feel more confident when applying machine-generated price recommendations.

Gearing up your team well means the best use of your investment in the optimization of pricing and translates into growing sales and revenue for you.


 

Alexandr Galkin is CEO and Co-Founder of Competera, price optimization software for enterprise retailers looking to increase revenue and stay competitive. He is a Forbes contributor, speaker at IRX, e-Commerce and RBTE conferences. 

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Alexandr Galkin, Competera) Executive ViewPoints Wed, 13 Nov 2019 08:49:42 -0500
Can Artificial Intelligence Solve The Returns And Overstock Crisis? https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/can-artificial-intelligence-solve-the-returns-and-overstock-crisis https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/can-artificial-intelligence-solve-the-returns-and-overstock-crisis

0aaaBen Whitaker B-StockAs 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.

According to the National Retail Federation, two in five retailers are already using intelligent automation and predictive analytics to detect patterns, improve customer engagement and encourage a purchase. For example, retailers are using behavior analytics powered by AI-backed surveillance to study how customers act both online and in store. The system uses information about where customers look in the shop, which areas they buy from the most, which sales they buy from the most, etc.

So, what can be — or what is being — done when it comes to leveraging AI and/or AR to combat excess stock and volume of returns? Is technology the antidote?

In order to keep up with the unprecedented rate of returns retailers must adopt newer, more efficient, technology-driven programs to deal with the merchandise. Using automated analytics and AI, retailers can manage their returns and ensure that they are dealt with in the best way possible. With SaaS inventory management solutions, retailers can determine the best channel for an item once it returns to the warehouse, whether that is to re-shelve, refurbish, liquidate or scrap the item. This automated process allows retailers to quickly process, reroute, and track merchandise, boosting efficiency.

Automated apps that specialize in helping retailers manage online returns are also hitting the market. For example, Returnly is an app that facilitates the return of a product and provides an instant refund to the customer.

Using AI And AR To Offset The Return

Companies also should be investing in AI and AR so customers can accurately see what the item would look like in their environment before they order it. This concept started in the beauty industry, with AR mirrors to help customers discover and try on new products, and it is now playing a key role in the wider retail industry as retailers realize the benefits it could bring. The trend is moving beyond beauty, with homeware brands being among the latest to subscribe to virtual try-before-you-buy applications — the hope being to drive engagement and sales, and of course reduce returns.

As an example, Lowe’s currently offers two different AR apps called Measured and Envisioned, as a means to provide convenience to consumers when shopping for furniture. IKEA recently introduced an AR application, IKEA Place, where customers are able to drop virtual furniture into their own homes and view it through their smartphone camera. The company also plans to integrate more AI into its AR application in the future, giving users the option to select a budget and have an assistant suggest how they should furnish their room.

Shoppers also are now able to trigger animations, showing how complex products will work so that they are familiar with the product before they purchase it and are left with no surprises. Nespresso uses AR technology in its app, to enable customers to not only explore its range of products but also to customize them specifically for their home, helping customers to make well-informed purchasing decisions by empowering them to try the products before they buy them. When people have a clearer idea of size, color and style, it reduces the likelihood of buyer’s remorse and ultimately the item being returned.

With AI and AR, e-Commerce is evolving to serve time-stretched and more demanding shoppers that are used to having everything at their fingertips, including what something will look like specifically for them before they purchase the item. Technology is now smarter and more realistic and affordable than it has ever been, allowing these innovative ideas to become a reality for retailers worldwide. As technology advances in the future, the impact of AI and AR in the retail industry is sure to flourish.

A Step In The Right Direction, But Not The Whole Solution

However, even with Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality applications playing a key role in the retail industry both now and in the future, there will always be returns. It is almost impossible to predict the perfect order simply because there are so many varying factors that can lead a buyer to return an item. With this in mind, companies should have a plan in place for returns coming back, especially the merchandise that can’t go back on primary shelves and is slated for liquidation into the secondary market.

With returns having such an impact on the bottom line, many retailers are opting to leverage their own B2B marketplaces in order to auction bulk quantities of returned and excess merchandise directly to business buyers around the country. A robust buyer base exists for returned and excess inventory regardless of product category or condition; an online auction marketplace is a great way to tap into this buyer base. For the retailer, using an online auction channel sets up a dynamic where many buyers are competing for the inventory; this pushes prices up, allows for a faster sales cycle and reduces the cost of processing returns.

In addition to using this type of marketplace platform to sell their liquidation inventory, retailers should be sure to apply data to achieve their goals, be they recovery, velocity, brand control, etc.; the smallest adjustments can drive substantially better results. For example, auction lot optimization, low start prices, accurate manifests, targeted marketing and other strategies all contribute to better pricing.

As consumers shift from purchasing in-store to online, retailers also will need to shift gears in how they think about and approach returns. The best plans will combine pre- and post-return strategies. Retailers will need to work to prevent the return from happening, whether that is through the use of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality solutions or automated analytics. They also need to have a process in place should returns happen, to offset the maximum amount of loss. This includes looking to liquidation as a viable option.


 

Ben Whitaker serves as B-Stock’s EMEA Director. In this role, Whitaker oversees B-Stock’s European-based team and is responsible for leading B-Stock through the opening phases of its new business operation in this area. Whitaker has worked in e-Commerce since the late 1990s as an investor, consultant and operator, with significant exposure to developing cross border e-Commerce marketplace solutions in Europe and Asia. He is an experienced Director with a demonstrated history of working in the e-Commerce, logistics and supply chain industry and is an experienced speaker, having spoken at conferences and roundtables around the world.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Ben Whitaker, B-Stock) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 12 Nov 2019 09:15:00 -0500
The Role Of The CDP In Personalization In Both Known And Anonymous Environments https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/the-role-of-the-cdp-in-personalization-in-both-known-and-anonymous-environments https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/the-role-of-the-cdp-in-personalization-in-both-known-and-anonymous-environments

0aaaJohn Nash RedPointGlobalFor 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.

Recent research found that 37% of consumers will not do business with a brand that fails to offer a personalized experience. Moreover, 31% report being “very frustrated” when a company doesn’t recognize them as an existing customer. For this reason, personalization should not be left to whim. Just one frustrating experience for a customer could undo even the best efforts of personalization and end a relationship. For example, a relevant email offer in pitch-perfect sequence with a customer’s shopping intent will be offset if it’s followed by a mobile message that is irrelevant or, worse, in conflict with the previous offer.

Changing Role Of The DMP For Anonymized User Data

The reputation of the DMP as a primary source for consumer data for use in the AdTech ecosystem has been in steady decline for some time. However, two recent trends helped to accelerate its demise: new restrictions on web cookies and an increased ability to anonymize data from a customer data platform (CDP).

DMPs can handle first- and third-party data, which led to the misconception that they can serve as a customer engagement system of record. However, it is only a subset of data and it’s all anonymized. Further, DMP measurement capabilities can give advertisers a broad sense of what is happening with online messaging — but that’s only half the picture. Marketers want to know how their advertising is performing as well as its impact on offline behaviors and transactions.

A DMP can provide cookie-based information about consumer audiences via demographics or metadata that may help retailers understand which macro-level segments are interacting with their brand. DMP’s also fall short of offering advanced analytics, so for sophisticated digital marketers, a DMP at its best will simply serve as another data source for CDPs. Enter the Anonymous CDP (aCDP).

Anonymous CDP: How It Works

Retail marketers can now bring the disciplines of direct response marketing to digital paid media though advanced CDPs that can manage and interact with anonymous data. Brands use a CDP to define audiences for targeting and suppression. Then, within a single UI, they onboard audiences for activation across the AdTech ecosystem. Post-campaign data is then brought back into the anonymous CDP for measurement, analysis and insights into offline behaviors such as store visits, purchases or other interactions.

An aCDP is fully compliant with privacy regulations with strict controls that prevent the re-identification of anonymized data. Brands can also rely on aCDP data to personalize experiences for first time, anonymous traffic to their own web site. With aCDP that can personalize in addressable and non-addressable channels for both known and unknown consumers, marketers manage and optimize revenue growth from both AdTech and MarTech environments.

From a digital paid media perspective, a CDP provides superior audience segmentation — an important buffer against the significant problem of ad fatigue. An enterprise-grade CDP accomplishes more granular audience segmentation than a DMP while maintaining privacy compliance by keeping PII and anonymized data separate and distinct.

Having the ability to customize digital advertising content based on anonymized records of actual consumers enables enterprise-grade CDPs to deliver personalization in a way that appears seamless to the consumer. Bridging addressable and non-addressable channels while remaining fully compliant will transform customer relationships and foster loyalty.

Brands rely on a CDP to add the data ingestion, standardization and identity matching that are key to a brand’s ability to deliver a real-time personalized experience in the context and cadence of a customer journey. In owned channels, CDPs give marketers the single point of control necessary to manage and optimize customer journeys across all touch points.

Today’s customers (in the retail industry or otherwise) demand seamless, highly personalized customer experiences with a real-time cadence, and DMPs simply aren’t built for that purpose.

Personalization Can’t Wait

From the customer’s perspective, seamless personalization across addressable and non-addressable channels reduces friction and enhances loyalty. A first-time visitor to a web site presented with personalized content has a higher propensity of becoming a second-time visitor. Brands that extend consumer insights gained from their CDP into the anonymous ecosystem not only reduce waste and improve relevance, they’re also rewarded with the profitable growth that comes from loyal customers.

Personalized marketing in today’s complex ecosystem has its challenges, but the challenges do not outweigh the customer’s expectation for personalization across a dynamic customer journey. Taking the easy way out by waiting to deliver personalization until a customer appears in an addressable channel is no longer tenable in an environment where the consumer has control over their own journey and expects it to be uniquely tailored to their preferences and interests.


 

John Nash has spent his career helping businesses grow revenue through the application of advanced technologies, analytics, and business model innovations. As Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at RedPoint Global, Nash is responsible for developing new markets, launching new solutions, building brand awareness, generating pipeline growth, and advancing thought leadership. Connect with Nash on LinkedIn.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (John Nash, RedPoint Global) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 11 Nov 2019 09:22:52 -0500
Taking Advantage Of The Change Freezes This Year https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/taking-advantage-of-the-change-freezes-this-year https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/taking-advantage-of-the-change-freezes-this-year

0aaaSteve Winterfeld AkamaiHoliday 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.

This can be problematic at the end of the year, as many companies have locked in next year’s budget, so there may not be an opportunity to impact the plan. If that’s the case, then use this time to take the strategic plans and develop operational plans and tactical projects to execute it. This can include developing specific epic or sprint tasks in the backlog if you are an agile shop. The time to set next year’s individual goals is just around the corner, so it is a good time to build the specific tasks for those evaluations as well.

At the team level, one area you can maximize is around education. If you’re moving to the cloud or DevOps/DevSecOps, it’s time to take the team though new skill development. This can be a challenge at the end of the year, when most budgets are exhausted, so it may take some creativity. I’ve found that there are several demos, podcasts, books, YouTube videos and free trials folks can take advantage of. For example, if you are moving to the cloud, you can have the team create individual test accounts and leverage the training capabilities they offer.

Many vendors will work with you to increase skills around their products, so it is worth checking in with them as well. Another great technique is having members of the team develop classes, which creates internal SMEs and elevates everyone’s skills. Finally, you can try to create some gamification-based training by introducing a hackathon-based event. This can be a capture-the-flag competition or a codefest aimed at developing a beta of a useable security feature/solution. All of these are great ways to invest in your people and energize the team.

Change lockdowns also are a great time to inventory your technical debt and come up with a prioritized plan to address it. Most of us have purchased a tool to solve a specific gap, but then not optimized its capabilities beyond that single use case. Ideally, you can optimize multiple controls, and with the overlap in capabilities, remove a tool. It might also be worth looking at where you can consolidate to a smaller set of partners, by moving to vendors that offer integrated platforms. Once you have reviewed the maturity of your current set of capabilities, it’s time to create a backlog of issues and start to prioritize how you will address them.

If you have a test environment, you can do some proof-of-concept testing on how to optimize current capabilities and get buy-in from partners on what to focus on after the holidays. Additionally, you can demo new tools you have been considering. This can be problematic during a freeze, so you may need to conduct this on a separate vendor network (if you use a Value-Added Reseller try asking them for help) or cloud environment.

Finally, don’t limit yourself to single tools: depending on the complexity of the product(s) you are testing, this could be an excellent time to look at changes to your architecture. Legacy issues often prevent us from moving to the latest strategies, like zero trust.

At the program level, this is a great time to conduct a postmortem on how the team performed over the year, and turn those lessons learned into updated processes. There are always several issues that you had to push though in the drive to the holiday season that were solved, but not documented as updated processes. This is especially important as we are in a regulated industry, so auditors want to see processes, flow diagrams and most importantly for PCI assessments — your current network diagrams. Additionally, it might be a good time to do a customer satisfaction survey with internal partners/customers. 

We have covered several options, so based on the size of your team and complexity of your infrastructure, you should determine what is best for you. If you’re concerned about talent, then focus on training. If you’re worried about compliance (and most of us are, with the new privacy laws) then review tech debt based on the new requirements. If budgets are the issue, then it might be time to review the maturity of your controls based on the risk reduction they provide. Bottom line, it’s time to develop a plan to take advantage of holiday freezes.


 

Steve Winterfeld is the Senior Director of Security Strategy at Akamai. Before joining Akamai, he spent over 10 years building security programs to protect companies and their customers as Director of Incident Response and Threat Intelligence at Charles Schwab, Director of Cybersecurity for Nordstrom and CISO for Nordstrom and supporting national defense efforts at Northrop Grumman/TASC. Now he is focused on being the voice of the customer for Akamai’s security vision and helping CISOs solve their most pressing issues.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Steve Winterfeld, Akamai) Executive ViewPoints Fri, 08 Nov 2019 08:39:21 -0500
Why Customer Data Is Your Most Important Holiday Gift https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/why-customer-data-is-your-most-important-holiday-gift https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/why-customer-data-is-your-most-important-holiday-gift

0aaaChris Vaughn ShippingEasyThe 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.

If You ‘Get’ Customers, They Stick Around

Personalization in e-Commerce is far beyond the table stakes of “Hi, [first name.]” According to a recent eMarketer study, only about 17% of consumers say they find it appealing when a business uses their name in communications. That means it’s not surprising or unique anymore.

Consumers want brands to understand them. They know businesses have information on their past purchases and behaviors, and it turns out they actually want businesses to use that data when approaching them. The same eMarketer study says that 50% of consumers want brands to suggest products related to their interests. Only 47% of those surveyed say they get that from brands currently.

Segmentation fuels personalization. The data that merchants have on customers can be developed into unique marketing opportunities. For example, shipping local is much cheaper than across the country, especially with services like USPS Priority Mail Regional Rate. Segmenting a list of local customers and offering them free shipping or “locals only” deals can create a sense of community and sentimentality with a brand. Consumers don’t just shop with their wallets; they also shop with their hearts. In a 2018 Adobe study, about 50% of digital device users said personalization pushes them to become loyal to a brand.

Use Shipping And Order Data To Predict Customer Behavior

Shipping data contains much more information than when a product arrived at a customer’s door. Shipping data tells you how fast someone wants something to arrive, and if they’re willing to pay extra for it. This data also tells you the geographic location of a customer, and if they prefer deliveries to be made at their home or business. There are some creative ways e-Commerce merchants can analyze this data to create unique experiences and even predict customer behavior.

For example, merchants can take a look at shipping data during the holiday season, and see who paid for expedited shipping the week before Christmas. Those are the people who procrastinated last year, and they’ll likely do it again. Merchants can create personalized messaging in an email campaign targeted to these people, reminding them not to put themselves in that bind again this year. Messaging can focus on avoiding stress or avoiding the increased cost of paying more to ship. Either way, it will feel hyper-personalized to each of those customers, which can increase the likelihood of a purchase.

Merchants that have the ability to mark items as a gift can use that information to set up repeat business. Sending a buy-it-again reminder email to those who purchased something designated as a gift can be a unique way to show your customers you’re paying attention, and may save them from forgetting.

Address information from customers also can be used to mitigate issues. With the winter holidays comes the winter weather. When the inevitable major snowstorm hits, merchants can pull customer address data to find customers in the affected areas and remind them that the weather may cause delays. If merchants offer two-day shipping, it might even be possible to get ahead of impending weather, reminding customers they can get their items before the storm hits by selecting the faster shipping option.

Set Your Business Up For Success In 2020

Smart merchants are always looking forward. The data acquired from new and returning customers during the holidays can set up opportunities to create repeat business for the coming year. There are two specific email campaigns that every e-Commerce merchant must have running to make the most of customer data after the holidays.

The first must-have campaign is a feedback request campaign. A staggering 91% of people say they read reviews before making online purchases, which means reputation management is crucial to success in e-Commerce.

These campaigns can be targeted at acquiring either product-centric reviews or feedback based on the experience with the business. Which you should focus on and when depends on your goals and the platform(s) you sell on. For example, an Amazon seller just starting out may want to build up their seller reputation and then switch to product feedback. Someone selling a niche product or a relatively unknown product may want to focus solely on getting customers to share their personal experiences with the product to help familiarize others.

Shipping data fuels the timing of product feedback request campaigns. An email that arrives in the inbox before the product hits the doorstep is ineffective. Email automation that is built on shipping data solves this by making sure the email arrives at the right time after delivery, increasing the likelihood of a review.

The second must-have email campaign is product recommendations. As mentioned above, customers want brands to make recommendations to them based on their interests and previous behavior. When brands nail this, they create loyalty because customers feel like they’re understood.

Once again, recommending a product purchase before the previous order has even arrived will likely render the email useless. Basing the email automation trigger on your delivery data lets you send this email at the most effective time to increase sales and create repeat business.

Your customer data and shipping data is the gift that keeps giving, both to your business and your customers. When used effectively, the benefits will last through the holiday season and far beyond the new year.


Christopher Vaughn is VP of Marketing at ShippingEasy, the only complete solution for e-Commerce merchants to automate order imports and shipping, manage inventory, and increase sales through customer email marketing and online reviews. Powerful integrations with leading online channels such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Walmart, Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce and many others allow merchants to manage orders, products and customers from everywhere they sell — all in one place. ShippingEasy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP).

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Christopher Vaughn, ShippingEasy) Executive ViewPoints Thu, 07 Nov 2019 09:18:06 -0500
Planning For ‘What-Ifs’ Isn’t A Luxury—It’s A Necessity https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/planning-for-what-ifs-isn-t-a-luxury-it-s-a-necessity https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/planning-for-what-ifs-isn-t-a-luxury-it-s-a-necessity

0aaaSue Welch BambooRose 250pxaIn 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.

These days, however, retailers have even more issues to contend with, especially with the ongoing trade war between the United States and China. Businesses need to be agile to keep up with competition, changing political landscapes and any sticky, last-minute situations. And while tariffs have caused uncertainty in the past, they haven’t been the key focus of retailers’ strategic planning — that is, until now.

Tariffs Spark Contingency Planning

Any good go-to-market strategy comes equipped with some basic emergency planning, just in case unforeseen roadblocks occur. But today’s retailers know that emergency planning requires a little bit more than just your standard coverage. Now, companies realize the importance of agility when it comes to preparation for market shifts and other “what if” scenarios. It’s the difference between brands that succeed and those that fall flat to competition.

So how do companies leverage specific techniques to plan for the unexpected? And how can they ensure success by navigating unforeseen circumstances, like tariffs? Here, we’ll take a look at some of the ways retailers not only mitigate risk, but also maintain, or even succeed, their business objectives.

Calculate Costs With Pricing Tools

Technology has found a way to aid the global retail community in decreasing consumer costs while increasing margins and revenue. And this help comes courtesy of patented pricing tools provided by the likes of some of the world’s most strategic software companies. These pricing tools not only help retailers successfully navigate supply chain disruptions, like natural disasters or factory equipment recalls; they also allow retailers to analyze various tariff rates and how they’ll impact overall cost.

More specifically, pricing solutions can calculate the potential impact of cost fluctuations by country, supplier, order, program and/or item, from design phase to manufacturing. Rather than simply raising prices for consumers or waiting out the effects of trade wars, retailers can now easily forecast financial risk, develop alternative solutions and mitigate potential pitfalls before even submitting a purchase order. Also, implementing a tariff analysis tool is a great way for retailers and suppliers to keep operations on point in a volatile global trade market.

Use Your Data

Sometimes the best resource for “what if” planning lies just within reach. That’s because one of the easiest ways to prep for supply chain disruption is to review what you already know — the data. Every bit of information is extremely useful to retailers in today’s digital age, and it’s readily available.

But before the advent of digitalized data analytics, it was standard for retailers to review cost on an annual basis. Unfortunately, yearly cost analyses no longer cut it. With tides turning at the drop of a dime and political developments happening overnight, it’s almost impossible to accurately forecast pricing based on historical data only. It just isn’t a practical approach in our digitally connected world.

A company that wants to stay ahead of the curve should leverage its data consistently and discuss potential “what if” scenarios that could impact operations. Retailers should also have seamless, transparent communication with suppliers and manufacturers to mitigate risks. With this real-time exchange of information, all supply chain partners have an accurate record of data.

The simplest way for retailers to kickstart data-driven communication across the supply chain is to hold monthly analytics reviews. These team meetings can help retailers understand the various factors impacting cost and operations, and these insights can then be shared with fellow supply chain partners to enable a more cost-efficient approach to sourcing.

Prioritize Agility

Agility is no longer a plus; it’s a business must. So even companies with a proper costing strategy in place need to be flexible enough to change directions on the fly. That’s why “what if” pricing tools and market solutions are so important; they allow companies to cut time from administrative tasks, giving them more time to compare various scenarios and drive strategic decisions.

For instance, imagine a brand is completely unaware of a recent tariff placed on a specific type of silk material. Without this knowledge, the brand continues its sourcing operations as usual, setting the company back thousands of dollars and slowing time to market. But when the brand fosters seamless communication among warehouses, suppliers, manufacturers and buyers, its team can proactively mitigate risk without wasting valuable time or money.

Being ready to act is a business’ best asset. Having the resources to make snap decisions and handle trade war fallout will propel any company past its competitors.

Negotiate On The Fly

The price of basic commodities — oil, cotton and sugar, among others — varies greatly. And those variations place a huge impact on retailers reliant upon their respective suppliers. Because of this, retailers spend a lot of time negotiating cost of goods from around the world, and they’re familiar with average pricing.

But even if a company secures a good price from a supplier, in most cases, they don’t realize the added overhead costs associated with the finished product. They’re simply thinking short term, and by the time a product hits store shelves, it’s far too late for the company to make cost adjustments and be profitable.

To be successful, a retailer must always be open to negotiating new deals. And planning ahead for different scenarios, like a market crash or a cotton shortage, should be at the forefront of a retailer’s sourcing strategy. Any company willing to find the best material, products or design ideas for the benefit of its bottom line must be committed to constant negotiations with a variety of suppliers and manufacturers.

Every retailer wishes they had a crystal ball to see the roadblocks coming up ahead. But that’s just not the case, nor is it a possibility. That’s why supply chain visibility and costing analyses are so important to achieving the ultimate goal: increased profit margins. Planning for the “what ifs” and leveraging different tactics and solutions are essential, and they’re key to bringing one’s company to the next level.


 

Sue Welch is CEO of Bamboo Rose.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Sue Welch, Bamboo Rose) Executive ViewPoints Wed, 06 Nov 2019 08:37:50 -0500
Why The Tastemakers Will Survive Amazon https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/why-the-tastemakers-will-survive-amazon https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/why-the-tastemakers-will-survive-amazon

0aaaVivek Sriram LucidworksAmazon 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?

First, it’s important to understand that by employing a strategy of offering greater selection at lower prices, Amazon attracts an ever-increasing, deeply loyal customer base whose trillions of clicks train its personalization machine to become more skilled at predicting each want and desire.

This algorithmic machine improves by generating data with data, guiding almost three fourths of all online purchases in the U.S. Amazon’s platform is fueled by the digital desires of a full one third of US shoppers who want their shopping experiences to be more highly personalized. These modern consumers want retailers to deliver a buying journey that is guided, familiar and fast.

Braced by a vast array of sophisticated algorithms, Amazon can make educated recommendations, and tell its shoppers that people who have bought X also have bought Y, that people who have looked at A have eventually bought C. Its enormous catalog allows for a near-infinite permutation of items, people, intents and actions, a dizzying combination of machine-generated buying advice available at every moment.

The flywheel is a self-propagating juggernaut. It efficiently figures out the best possible way to deliver things quickly at the lowest possible price, increasingly before people even know that they need it.

But it turns out that brand loyalty and tastemaking go hand in (designer) glove as the primary mechanisms to create sustained competitive advantage. iFans buy from Apple directly. Outdoor lovers flock to REI to indulge their enthusiasm for kayaks and snowboards. Bonobos grows 30% annually by directly selling men well-fitting pants.

Each has secured a place in the online retail market. And each has the power to shape trends. Their strengths lie in service and experience, not cost and convenience. They extract high margins from smaller catalogs, narrowly focused on vocal, loyal and affluent buyers.

There are a few common patterns across these companies — they are winners who have thrived despite the proliferation of Amazon- and Walmart-sized low-cost catalogues. They all value the human experience as paramount, a personal touch from actual living people. They see the process of customers evaluating and buying products as intimate, unique endeavors. For instance, Apple hires in-store associates based on tests that gauge their capacity for kindness and empathy.

REI merges online and in-store shopping experiences with experts in segments across their catalogs, while blogging about the subtleties of various kinds of kayaks, and waxing poetic about the joys of paddling the oceans. In-store associates know the peculiarities of waist packs, bivy sacks, and which kind of water filtration tablets are best for which situations.

Bonobos built a massive business almost entirely predicated on soothing the male ego from the disappointment of being born with unflattering bums. It is not possible for Amazon to profitably deliver this type of expert guidance or personal experience at Bezos-scale.

That’s not to say tastemakers are abandoning technology. Rather they are using technology to augment intelligence and enable their employees serve their customers better. This includes delivering more informed and relevant advice about product choices or solving customer issues faster, more personally and with more empathy. They see technology as a way to augment a hyper-personalized customer experience, not replace it.

They also all have adopted business models and technologies that maximize their strengths in service and experience and diminish their weaknesses in cost and convenience. For example, Warby Parker uses an app that enables people to virtually try on frames before they buy.

Stitch Fix gives their customers access to algorithm-empowered personal stylists. Bonobos gives access to their customer service agents via phone, email and video chat. These experts know everything there is to know about getting men’s pants to fit better. It’s no surprise that Bonobos has built an army of engaged, vocal advocates to spread word of their wares.

As Mike Lowndes from Gartner noted, "Sellers that personalize customer experience see greater levels of customer engagement, higher retention, greater repurchase rates, high average basket sizes and increased rates of conversion."

Tastemakers new and old, from Toms and Healthy Mummy to Apple and Nike, combine a human touch with mastery over sophisticated AI technologies to delight customers with service and experience, allowing them to extract high margins while conceding cost, convenience, and commodification to the ruthlessly efficient low-margin machine that is Amazon.com.

To build a brand with loyal, fanatical customers who keep coming back, do not look to Amazon as an example. It is, for all practical purposes, impossible to compete on cost and convenience without the operational, logistics and pricing power advantages that Amazon enjoys.

Instead, compete on service and experience by putting to work all the brand recognition, industry knowledge, trends and the individual peculiarities of your vertical to build a tremendous long-term advantage. By being uniquely personal, you won’t have to rely on algorithms alone as your only source of strength and strategy.

Prior to joining Lucidworks, Vivek Sriram led product and business development for the search business at Amazon Web Services, where he co-created Amazon Elasticsearch Service and helped grow the search business from inception to large scale. In his 20+ years in software Sriram served in engineering, business development, and product roles at various companies including Lucidworks, Vizu (acquired by Nielsen), Aggregate Knowledge (acquired by Neustar), and SBI Razorfish.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Vivek Sriram, Lucidworks) Executive ViewPoints Tue, 05 Nov 2019 09:07:11 -0500
Why Your Business Needs Better Product Experience Management (PXM) https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/why-your-business-needs-better-product-experience-management-pxm https://www.retailtouchpoints.com/features/executive-viewpoints/why-your-business-needs-better-product-experience-management-pxm

0aaaMarcel Hollerbach ProductsupIn 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.

Here’s what companies are struggling with when it comes to product information management, and what you can implement to help:

Emerging E-Commerce Channels Create Challenges

Successful retailers aren’t just selling on one or two channels anymore. Customers shop in-store and online, but they also expect to see your products on third-party sites like Amazon and even within shoppable social ads on platforms like Instagram. That’s good news for you, since customers have more opportunities than ever to engage with your brand, wherever they are. But it means you must be prepared to support these channels, which is no easy task if you don’t have the right processes and technology in place.

Your product information, advertisement specifications and more need to be consistent and accurate across every channel, while also adhering to platforms’ differing standards. While that sometimes entails more superficial changes (like adjusting product specifications to meet different guidelines for Instagram and Facebook), it could also mean more sweeping ones that affect how you handle product content in general. For example, a customer expects more concise and thorough product information when ordering via a voice device like a smart home hub, since they can’t actually see the product.

Global Commerce Adds To The Complexities     

Emerging channels make product information management difficult enough, but crossing borders complicates the picture even further. Not only do you need to maintain product information across multiple platforms, but you need to ensure you’re following national protocols that might differ significantly for regulatory, technical or cultural reasons.

Easy examples come to mind — for one, when a U.S. company sells products in Europe, they must list prices in euros, not dollars. But beyond the most obvious examples, cultural and regulatory differences could make or break your business in other countries.

For instance, you can’t make the same claims about skincare and cosmetic products in the UK as you could in the U.S. American companies selling moisturizers across the pond must wave goodbye to “anti-aging” branding, since that claim isn’t legally allowed.

Other cultural considerations are important but easily overlooked. For example, what Americans call a "soccer ball" would be called a "football" in countries that use British English. Or a cookbook publisher looking to expand sales to Israel might omit pork-based recipes in order to appeal to the new audience. These are small details, but incredibly important to remember.

Product Experience Management (PXM) Tools Prepare You For Future Growth

To maximize your reach to customers across borders and channels, you’ve got to perfect product experience management. And if you’re truly invested in expanding your audiences, manual processes simply won’t scale up fast enough, leading to inefficiencies and costly mistakes. You need the right technology to ensure your data is accurate, consistent and updated constantly to meet changing requirements.

PXM tools help you overcome the challenges of manual processes and accommodate today’s retail realities. Using a PXM solution, you can make changes to product information all at once, while ensuring that it’s up to code across channels and markets. That means product descriptions, technical specifications, categorizations and more. If you’re using an effective solution, PXMs will save time, effort and money.


Marcel Hollerbach is CMO and board member of Productsup, a Berlin-based tech company providing an award-winning solution for product content integration, transformation and syndication. A serial entrepreneur, Hollerbach also is a founding partner of Venture Capital Fund Cavalry Ventures, which specializes in early-stage investments in European tech startups. He also founded video streaming platform hiClip, which was acquired by Adconion Media Group and NativeAds, which merged with Seeding Alliance and was later acquired by Ströer.

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feed@retailtouchpoints.com (Marcel Hollerbach, Productsup) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 04 Nov 2019 09:14:39 -0500