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Executive ViewPoints

The retail industry is fortunate to include numerous executives with extensive experience — and they are willing to share their insights in the Retail TouchPoints ViewPoints section. These byline pieces focus on industry trends and do not include solution provider sales pitches. Many of the byline pieces receive the greatest number of clicks on the RTP site each year.

Brands And Retailers Are Leaving Offline Revenue On The Table

The Internet has revolutionized the way shoppers interact with brands and retailers. We browse, shop, compare product features and pricing — and we’re buying more online every year. Naturally, brands and retailers continue to shift a greater portion of their marketing dollars online to capitalize on this trend. I could reference and quote numerous studies, stats and research demonstrating this shift, but I won’t because you’ve already seen them and you probably have another alert about e-Commerce growth hitting your inbox right now. We’re now seeing a similar evolution and revolution with mobile. Smartphones and tablets have put computers into our pockets, purses and messenger bags. We’re always on the go, and now mobile commerce is the hottest trend. A wave of new studies and research point to the growing importance of the mobile channel for shoppers, brands and retailers – not only in the U.S., but across the globe.

Untaming Your Brand For The Tech Jungle

If you’ve felt overwhelmed by the jungle of new social platforms, new e-Commerce tools, and new mobile devices, you aren’t alone. Technology is evolving at breakneck speeds, and it can easily spook us into jumping blindly into areas we don’t need to be, or else waiting in hiding until we know what works. We either run madly into the jungle or we nervously look in from the outside. The truth is that neither answer is very helpful because they’re based on an incorrect understanding of the jungle. It’s not just technology in there. It’s everything — tech, sure, but also our consumers. And our brands should be in there, too — not battling against technology, but learning how to live in harmony with it and with consumers.

5 Trends To Anticipate In Dynamic Pricing

If you are just starting out in online retail, or have maintained a profitable business for some time, you will inevitably have to compete with the big marketplaces. Companies like eBay and Amazon and even Staples have a multitude of resources that make them the most successful retail sites on the web. Your company may not have the resources of these retail powerhouses, but can still tailor your pricing strategy to increase competitiveness online. Here are some tips for bringing ‘Amazon Wisdom’ to your business:

Change Your Mobile Strategy To A Commerce-Anywhere Strategy

Mobile might be in the forefront of your mind, but just catering to it could easily steer you into a dead end. What you actually need is a commerce-anywhere strategy, which will allow you to enable commerce on any Internet device without spending a lot of time and money every time a new Internet-enabled device emerges. It’s a common misconception that tablets and mobile phones, not to mention other Internet-enabled devices, e.g., TVs, are a disrupting force. The disruption has already happened:

Making PCI Compliance More Affordable And Less Complicated

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI DSS, was established to reduce the risk of breaches and all merchants that accept credit cards are required to comply. But in reality many retailers are not compliant due to lack of time and resources and misconceptions about the requirements for compliance. The lack of adequate security has made retailers a primary target for hackers, with as many as 1 in 6 small businesses suffering from a breach in the next 24 months1. Restaurants are particularly vulnerable; according to Visa, in 2011 restaurants accounted for 73% of all breach incidents in the U.S. We often perform a quick initial assessment of companies by asking three simple questions: Have all employees completed a security awareness training program upon hire and annually thereafter? Have all employees read and signed a formal security policy? Can you demonstrate that all remote access from you, your employees or vendors requires two-factor authentication?

Will Showrooming Hinder 2013 Holiday Sales?

With Showrooming, a consumer visits a brick-and-mortar store to research a product first-hand. But what happens next stops the sale in its tracks. Empowered by mobile information, the consumer finds a better deal from a competitor and strolls away — not a penny spent at your store. If you’re a retailer with a brick-and-mortar store, you can bet Showrooming will impact your revenue. But just how concerned should you be? In a January 2012 Pew Internet & American Life Project report, The rise of in-store mobile commerce, by Aaron Smith, store shopping behavior was observed around the 2011 winter holiday season. The findings show that over half of U.S. cell phone owners used their phones while in the store to seek help with purchasing decisions: 25% to gather price comparisons; 24% to look up online reviews; and 38% to call a friend for advice. In addition, 19% of those who searched for a better price via phone eventually bought the product online. That’s a sizeable hole in the brick-and-mortar store’s revenue.

Integrating Service Design Into Retail Environments

Digital devices are making our lives easier by the day, almost to the point that we don’t even notice it anymore. Think about it: when you can’t remember your way around a city, GPS navigation is everywhere; when you want to take a note and learn more about an object, Amazon’s Price Check is available at the push of a button to do it for you. The list goes on and on. The advancements are making retailers scramble to play catch up as consumer expectations grow. The question is quickly becoming how to plan and prioritize digital investments in this ever-changing and complex new world. By engaging all of the stakeholders — designers, managers, planners and leaders throughout the company — retailers are taking control of the experience as they tie the digital to the analog world. Eliciting an increased level of brand loyalty by constructing a seamless integration within a multi-channel environment isn’t our future; it’s our current reality.

Consider Interactive Product Tours To Increase SEO And Sales

In September of 2012, a study released by research and advisory firm the e-tailing group, concluded that 54% of U.S. consumers who regularly shop on the web, research products online before making a purchase, whether they buy in a store, on the web, via a mobile device, or through a catalog call center. With Google Catalogs and Facebook Gifts, it’s evident the e-Commerce industry is receiving an influx of industry leaders vying for a spot. It’s clear that a more dynamic, informative and interactive shopping experience is required long before the shopper walks through the retailer’s front door. Additionally, today’s mobile shopper is not just looking at your offering…once they find something they like; their ability to find the best price is only a few touches away.

What Mid-Size Retailers Think About Financing And Investment In 2013

Mid-size businesses are powerful, often underappreciated drivers of the U.S. economy. Defined as companies with annual revenues between $10MM and $1B, mid-size businesses account for one-third of private sector Gross Domestic Product and employ about 43 million people in the U.S. It’s also a sector that might be finally turning a corner, according to a recent survey of industry executives, including leaders at mid-sized retailers. The National Center for the Middle Market (NCMM), a partnership between The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business and GE Capital that tracks more than 1,000 Chief Executive Officers and Chief Financial Officers in private and public businesses, found that revenue growth among middle market companies began to pick up by the end of 2012. Mid-sized businesses showed average revenue growth of 7% during the past year, and retailers project revenue increases of 5.2% in the next 12 months, outpacing their peers in all other surveyed industries.

The Global Spread Of The Micro-Mobile Merchant

The growing ubiquity of mobile devices is changing the face of business transactions around the world. Merchants are no longer forced to invest in large, expensive countertop machines in order to accept payments beyond cash. And those who have already invested in POS systems are no longer tied to their countertops. Mobile is leveling the playing field for merchants in countries all over the world, making it possible for businesses large and small, brick-and-mortar or on the go, to accept payments anywhere in any form. New technologies are also forging a strong connection between mobile, web and countertop payment systems, creating value for customers and merchants alike throughout all aspects of the consumer-business relationship. All of this will inevitably have a huge impact on the global economy. In fact, last year’s March cover story dove into the size of this opportunity. Though there were already 8 million merchants accepting cards in 2012, reporter Marc Abbey pointed out there are also more than 21 million businesses in the U.S. with just one employee. Many of these qualify as "micro-mobile merchants," meaning their businesses are small and lack a fixed location. Farmers selling their goods at market, crafters hawking their wares at…

Capture The Power Of Smart Devices To Reach Today’s Connected Consumers

As consumers demand greater access to information, offers and payment functionality — anytime, anywhere, through any type of device — the lines between in-store commerce, e-Commerce and mobile commerce are blurring. The payments ecosystem continues to undergo a rapid transformation and, in response, retailers need to clearly understand how to reach increasingly tech savvy customers to stay competitive and have success. Retailers must understand how consumers shop: they constantly are seeking smart, integrated and personalized shopping experiences across all channels, and thereby setting the stage for increased use of smart devices.

Size Does Matter: Keeping Perspective on Your Mobile Shopping Experience

Ask yourself this question: Would you design and merchandise a mall kiosk the way you would a big-box store? Most people would say “no,” but that’s exactly what retailers often are doing when it comes to implementing a mobile shopping experience. To set the stage, let’s look at how a handful of popular retailers tackled the down economy by following their markets into airports. Retailers as diverse as Gap, H&M, Bass Pro Shop and Vera Bradley have learned the new smaller turf requires new rules. For example:

Credit Card Fraud Prevention Essential To Retail Success In 2013

As the U.S. moves further away from recession and retail sales continue to pick up momentum, merchants must keep an eye on their credit card sales. Fraudsters have long been a threat to retailers and consumers alike, but the proliferation of mobile phones and other technology resources are now serving as entry points for scammers looking to capitalize on poor credit card security measures in place at some retail outlets. Compounding the issue, a new Javelin Strategy & Research study found that only 44% of issuers are adequately satisfying fraud prevention criteria. This figure is down from 54% last year.

Actionable Insight From Customer Buying Patterns

Shoppers expect that when they make a purchase, they do it in groups. It is the job of the retailer to figure out what kind of stuff we buy together, so that they can optimize their assortment planning. Shoppers rely on relevant recommendations and even look for them at the checkout. Simple example — If Susie cannot buy both bagels and cream cheese at the same time, she will instead seek out a store where she can get everything she needs. In SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) rationalization, a retailer examines the profitability of items and vendors as a whole. When done in a linear fashion it results in lost sales and bringing back the SKUs.

Rise Of The Chinese Retail Market

If you are looking for growth markets in e-Commerce, look no further than China. Once dismissed as too difficult to break into, the Chinese market is now more accessible to retailers than ever before. With more than 500 million Internet users, China boasts an e-Commerce market which grew by 29% in 2011, to a total volume of $23 billion. In our business, we have seen a 200% growth in demand for Chinese payment solutions from U.S. and European retailers in the past year.
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