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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.

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.

Understanding The Psychological Appeal Of The Internet

As retailers struggle to compete with the Internet, how is it that this relatively recent technology upstart has had such a dramatic impact on the retail landscape? More importantly, perhaps, how can understanding its appeal help retailers focus their efforts on innovations that are likely to be successful? I’m old enough to remember the days before Internet retailers existed, and the critics who said it was risky and they would never use it for shopping. We’ve come a long way in the last decade or two.

4 Simple Ways To Make Your Category Pages Sell More

As with any e-Commerce web site, the number- one mission for online retail sites is driving customers to the shopping cart. And preferably, with as little friction as possible to avoid losing their interest along the way. As more and more retailers are discovering, the oft-dismissed category page can be a surprisingly critical factor in that process. It’s easy to brush it off as an interim step, but case study after case study shows that a well-designed and optimized category page can have a surprising effect on sales, upsells, and even impulse buys. The primary task of your category pages is to sort and organize — making it possible for customers who don’t know the exact product they want to browse “strategically” by product type, brand or other defining characteristic. This functionality allows them to explore a number of options that meet their broader criteria to find the best match — or matches. It’s basically the e-Commerce site equivalent of a “qualified prospect list,” which is one of the reasons it offers so much potential. Many times, customers identify several options they like. In all cases, however, your priority on this page is to tempt the buyer to click through…

The Future Of Retail: Harnessing Technology And Big Data For Big Sales

When it comes to the use of technology in retail, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what can and will be done in the near and long term. Not only will we see changes in core operating technologies (better inventory control, better time management, and better consumer experience) but we will also see significant, even radical, changes in business processes and business models. Talk as we will about new and cool technologies, the greater challenge is in their adoption and deployment. The technology is available, yet traditional brick-and-mortar retail has waited decades to deploy it.

Standing Out In A Crowd(ed) Inbox

During the holiday season, the average consumer receives about 38 promotional emails from retailers each week, according to Chad White, Research Director at Responsys. That’s an average of 5.4 emails a day, all typically arriving between the hours of 7–11am. Now that the holidays are over, it feels like this number has held steady, if not increased. I, for one, wake up each morning and check my smartphone, typically having received a minimum of five new emails from my favorite retailers. Each subject line attempts to outshine the other to get my attention. The onslaught continues when I open my inbox when I get to work. This isn’t surprising because, for retailers, email remains the best marketing channel to get more revenue from their customers: it’s inexpensive, easy to personalize, highly trackable and offers the broadest reach to store, Web and mobile customers. So how can retailers trying to take advantage of this medium stand out in what has become an increasingly crowded inbox?

Four Simple Reasons Retail Analytics Matter

Traditional retailers worldwide are challenged with going head to head with online shopping. From PCs to smart phones to tablets and everything in between, market share is under competitive duress. On one hand, many retail financial leaders don’t seem overly worried. Nearly 90%t of U.S. retail CFOs said in a recent survey they are not concerned with showrooming, which is when shoppers check out merchandise in a store but purchase them online — in some instances via smart phone while they’re standing in a store.

Reinventing Retail

 The forces of globalization, the Internet, social media and emerging sourcing models have drastically and permanently changed the retail dynamic — giving customers new choices for where to shop, what to buy and how to buy it. Under this change, retailers have access to new information that allows them to truly understand their customer and their shopping preferences.  Winning retailers are capitalizing on this digital shift to reshape their strategies, processes, organizations, and technology infrastructure to stay ahead of customer demands and keep competitors on their toes. This two-part series will address the top four myths related to how retailers are moving beyond the traditional model and reinventing  the ways the support new business realities.

Modern Day Focus Groups

You and your team settle in behind one way glass as eight women file into a room, all about the same age, all about the same income and all with about the same level of education. On paper, they look like they are “the same” and they fit the demographic your data tells you about who purchases your products. As the evening progresses, the responses from these women is definitely not “the same.” Three of them like your marketing message, 3 seem undecided and the other 2 think it misses the mark. You wonder: Is it the moderator? Maybe it’s the questions? or Could it be what you are testing? Thankfully, you have a second group — maybe you will get some direction.

Five Steps To Build A More Personal Path To Purchase

Consider the last time you bought something either online or at a store. Industry studies show that if you felt good about the experience, you are more likely to buy from that retailer again. For retailers to increase sales, they need to leverage available technology to create stronger and more meaningful connections with shoppers to achieve a larger share of their wallets. Why? Because today, everyone has more choices and loyalty is vanishing quickly. As consumers, we decide how, when and where to interact and the retailers who win are ready when we are. The better you know your shoppers, the easier it is to build a relationship with them. Intelligence is one of the many benefits digital channels provide. And with intelligence comes the ability to personalize based on purchase history, preferences and behaviors. Every channel you offer creates a portal to tell your brand story — and if done right, a unique and recurring opportunity to connect with and add value to your customers.
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