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.

Oracle’s Cross-Channel Commerce Platform

Following Oracle OpenWorld 2011 held in San Francisco in October, Retail TouchPoints connected with Mike Webster, General Manager of Oracle Retail, and asked him to elaborate on Oracle’s cross-channel commerce platform. RTP: Are there particular implementations toward which more retailers are leaning this year versus other years? If so, to what do you attribute these trends? Webster: There are two. First, we are seeing a greater shift toward implementing suites of business applications, not point solutions. I attribute this to the multichannel phenomenon: Multi-channel retailing, the interplay between commerce, mobile and stores, requires cohesive processes that reflect a holistic view of the business. Day-to-day, that means we are helping retailers and partners implement more planning, merchandising, supply chain and commerce solutions that are truly engineered to work together. Second, we are seeing an explosion of processing speeds and cloud computing. Retailers are moving to those solutions that make them more agile, and we are seeing an increased adoption of the combined hardware and software platform as a way to improve performance and spend less time on maintenance. This has implications regarding how we architect solutions and the user interface, and what consulting services we provide.

Code of Content

According to comScore’s recent study of mobile quick response (QR) code scanning, 14 million Americans scanned QR codes from their mobile phones this past June. But before you integrate QR codes into your marketing strategy, consider what your content strategy will be. This strategy should be top priority, and this doesn’t just mean offering “other items you might like” or “newly reduced sale items.” Because the customer already has been convinced to scan the QR code, you shouldn’t try to continue to sell them – you should give them something that allows them to fully interact with the brand experience. So how can you do this effectively? Read on for three best practices of how smart companies should use QR codes, as well as examples of who has a great content strategy and who is missing the mark.

Making The Sale When The Path To Purchase Leads To Your Door

As consumers continue to trim spending and shift their shopping to the Internet, two significant retail store trends have emerged. Bigbox retailers are moving to smaller formats to reduce under-utilized space and stay profitable. Also, consumers are treating retail stores as showrooms, testing merchandise before making a purchase. While the testing may lead to an in-store purchase, shoppers increasingly are purchasing items online at lower prices, or turning to their mobile devices to seek a better price elsewhere. These trends are driven not only by today’s volatile economy, but by the growing influence of tech-savvy consumers known as Generation C. (The “C” stands for connected, content-centric, communicating, computerized, community oriented and always clicking). Generation C — born between 1990 and 2000 — represents a community of digitally connected consumers willing to partner with brands, retailers and other customers to review, produce and consume content and experiences in real time.

Is Ticket Or Traffic Driving In-Store Sales?

Whether same-store sales are up or down, analysts and other stakeholders want to know what drove results. If you've listened in on an earnings call for a major retailer lately, undoubtedly you've heard the question: was it ticket or traffic? It seems Wall Street analysts who poke and prod retail executives during the sometimes contentious Q&A sessions have distilled the “what drove same-store sales” question down to these two variables — either more people came into the store and/or more stuff was sold to the buyers.

Six Ways To Transform Software Into Emotional Concepts that Customers Love and Buy

I remember a January afternoon in our start-up company’s Dallas showroom. Mycolleagues and I were perfecting our pitch to sell digital marketing software to indie store owners. We were coming off a new software release and were counting on thisshow’s momentum to help us demonstrate traction. Making the software less frightening was part of our strategy. Small business owners who buy our product access a simplistic way to send marketing campaigns to their loyal customers via email, Facebook or Twitter. At one point in our discussion, an affable 60-year old woman approached me, and thefive-minute conversation she and I had became the basis of ourchanged product positioning strategy.“My grandson is proud of me,” she said,“After I used your product, I told him how Ipost to Facebook, create campaigns with a computer, look at my reports, and he thinks I’m cool.”

3 Steps to Bridging the Gap Between Online Conversions and Buyer Intent

It’s been more than 10 years since e-Commerce became a truly viable way of doing business ― light-years by technology standards. The U.S. Commerce Department now estimates e-Commerce sales at $165.4 billion for last year. That’s a significant number but considering the phenomenal amount of technology and marketing innovation over the past decade, is it what it could be? I’d argue a resounding ‘no.’ Since conversion rates have been tracked by the industry, the average has hovered between 2% and 3%. Yet according to the Fireclick Index, 10% of visitors come to e-Commerce sites intending to make a purchase.

Measuring Beyond Conversion: The Impact Of Video On Customer Experience

By evaluating web site metrics, retailers have learned that video provides ROI through increased conversion rates. According to Internet Retailer, visitors who view product videos are 144% more likely to add products to their cart than other shoppers. In addition, there are several key metrics that help us understand how video impacts customer experience and quality of engagement. This article explores how both quantitative and qualitative metrics can be used to evaluate the customer experience.

Retail Workforce Management Is About Understanding The Customer Experience

I don’t know about you, but I take most of the articles I read about the retail customer today with a pinch of skepticism. If we are to believe everything we read, this species is rarer than the Giant Panda; has the research disciplines of Albert Einstein; has smartphones integrated into its soul; and can simultaneously shop, scan codes, exploit promotions, calculate the nutritional benefits of a cardigan, stream tweets and pay without blinking. Who are the people in these articles and where do they find the time to do all of that ― and still wish their 130 Facebook friends a happy birthday on time? Skepticism aside, I believe that retail customers know what they want, what they like and more importantly what they dislike; they are craving to be heard and know that retailers truly appreciate them and the hard earned cash they spend. To that end, we come back around to the question of what successful retailers are doing to ensure they deliver a consistent customer experience to the masses through a highly aligned Workforce Management strategy.

The Optimized Mobile User Experience

Convergent Commerce Series, Part II Mobile commerce has quickly advanced past a cut-and-paste of a retailer’s ecommerce site—it is a viable, independent channel that needs its own strategy, unique capabilities, and personality if it is going to be a valuable part in a retailer’s cross-channel commerce strategy. In the first Convergent Commerce Series Article, Cross-Channel Plan for Mobile Engagement, the growing reasons to integrate a cross-channel strategy incorporating online, mobile, brick-and-mortar and social were highlighted with a specific focus on mobile. The most effective mobile platform consists of a mobile optimized website, downloadable rich app, and in-store mobile engagement. Incorporating mobile into the overall marketing strategy is an effective means to increase consumer awareness of a retailer’s various channels. In doing so, retailers can attract more visitors, generate more sales, leverage their marketing and merchandising spend, gain insight into customer purchase decisions, and heighten customer relations.

Shopping Cart Abandonment Strategies For The Holidays

Last year’s holiday season exceeded everyone’s expectations with online sales totaling $32.6 billion, a 12% increase over 2009.This includedCyber Monday’s record breaking $1.028 billion sales total, marking the first sales exceeded $1 billion. Considering the 2011 holiday sales projections are even greater this holiday season, it’s imperative for retailers to have sound strategies in place. One imperative issue for online retailers is the rising shopping cart abandonment rate, which has risen from 71% to 75% during the first half of this year. Imagine the impact on holiday sales if you were able to recoup those lost sales? It’s significant! Here are a few key tips for a sound shopping cart abandonment strategy.

Making Mobile Devices Actually “Pay”

Think about your cell phone. You never leave home without it, right? But what does it actually do? Right now, people primarily use mobile devices for communications ― calls, texts, emails — and some extend the use to Internet, games, apps and music. But, what if we could broaden the role that mobile devices play in people’s lives even more to store and share the critical payment information we use every day? Near field communication (NFC) technologies, combined with convenient contactless payment applications, play an increasingly important role in retail. Plus, with this year’s announcement of Google Wallet, this type of technology is getting more publicity than ever before. Not only can these applications drive revenue at a time when retailers need it most, they can also increase in-store customer satisfaction and loyalty.

From the Source’s Mouth: What Consumers Say About Live Chat

Shoppers rely on live chat technology for a variety of sales and servicerelated functions, including answering questions prior to making a purchase, getting help with the checkout process, and inquiring about purchases already made, just to name a few.  To delve deeper into the value of live chat for consumers — and retailers — Bold Software surveyed more than 1,000 regular Internet shoppers in its third annual study, “The Effectiveness of Live Chat Technology.”  The project sought to ascertain shoppers’ feelings about and experiences with live chat, including how chat influences purchase intent and their opinions of retailers who offer a live chat option. The research uncovered several key conclusions for retailers selling online.

Back-To-School 101: A Crash Course In Effective Email And Social Media Marketing For The Season

As summer comes to a close, kids reluctantly trade in their swim trunks for school supplies. The back-to-school season holds tremendous significance for consumers and marketers alike. Back-to-school is the second busiest shopping season, trailing only the winter holidays. The wrong marketing strategy during this key back-to-school season can cause a successful business to earn a failing grade. This makes it all the more important for marketers to capitalize on the opportunity to use email and social media marketing to build their brand, strengthen recognition and engagement, and stand out from competitors. How do you distinguish your company from the rest? Here are some ways to put your back-to-school email and social media marketing strategy well on track towards graduating to the next level:

The Remote App: Maintaining Brand Relevance in the “SplinterNet” Age

The fact that more CEOs are looking for new ways to get closer to their customers is hardly breaking news. The challenge in today’s environment is that the proliferation of new digital mediums, interaction models and touch points has fragmented the customer journey. These customer interaction touch points make it more difficult to connect with perspective customers — who may not start their journey through a search engine or your website. In fact, today customers are more apt to seek their friends’ opinions on social networks or read product reviews on trusted sites before in order to validate their purchases. Product discovery also happens in new ways as customers shop on an affiliate’s website, read blogs and community threads, or ask their social network contacts for opinions. As a result, they form their impressions before they are exposed to a brand’s well-defined marketing campaign. This new playing field presents challenges for retailers, which if not handled properly could leave them completely disconnected from their customers. The good news is that new Smarter Commerce approaches are taking shape and best of all, they delivering tremendous benefits.

Consumer And Technology Challenges In A Cross-Channel World

Q&A with Jerry RIghtmer, President, Starmount Systems In this exclusive Q&A with Retail TouchPoints, Jerry Rightmer, President of Starmount Systems, shares his view of the current cross-channel marketplace and his advice for retailers. Retail TouchPoints: How has the convergence of shopping channels changed the retail shopping experience - for shoppers and for retailers? Jerry Rightmer: I believe the biggest change has come in the role of the store in the consumer’s shopping process. Before multiple shopping channels existed, the entirety of the shopping process happened in the store. With multiple channels, the shopping process has spilled out of the store. The store still has a strong role to play in the process, but the degree of channel convergence achieved by retailers will determine how well the store fulfills its role, and ultimately how consumers view the overall experience.
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