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.

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.

Preparing To Mobilize The Retail Workforce

Exclusive Q&A with Frank Riso, Senior Director, Global Retail Lead, Motorola In its annual holiday study, Motorola took a new approach to its traditional consumer survey, questioning store associates as well as consumers. The resulting responses from 545 store associates were enlightening for the retail industry, according to Frank Riso. In a recent Q&A with Retail TouchPoints, Riso shared his perspectives on the study results, as well as his outlook for mobility in retail. Retail TouchPoints: What were your goals for this year's holiday survey? Frank Riso: This year was a little different than in the past. This year we surveyed store associates in addition to shoppers. We were looking to understand their experiences and attitudes toward the use of in-store technologies. Because of so many things happening with regard to the consumers and the staff in the store ― those are the kinds of things that were quite revealing in the survey, particularly in the fact that 55% of store associates believe consumers had more information about their products than they did.

Change Management by the Numbers: Devising a Strategy That Produces Results And Advocates

Second In A Two-Part Series:Rolling Out Change The key to engineering any successful structure, whether it is an office tower or a shift in company-wide operations, is a solid foundation. In the case of change management, that foundation is a living entity, and its most critical strength is the ability to continuously test, measure, refine and communicate change throughout the process. In the first installment of this series, we walked through a proven approach to enabling the change to a shopper-centric strategy — how to develop and launch a successful proof-of-concept (POC) plan. This includes: The development of a dedicated change management team; prioritizing strategies and tactics to maximize success; defining a shopper centric approach; developing a comprehensive POC plan; and executing and measuring.

Turn Browsers Into Buyers With New Video Technologies

Retailers are quickly learning the power of adding rich media to websites, but they aren’t the only ones catching on. As videos work their way onto the websites of retailers, consumers are starting to expect them to be there. According to a recent study by comScore, Internet users watched online video content for an average of 15.9 hours in May 2011, and engaged in 5.6 billion viewing sessions during the course of the month. With so many consumers tuning in to retail videos, it is quickly becoming one of the best ways to turn browsers into buyers. Why You Need Video Not only are consumers tuning in to online videos at an all-time high, brands like Zappos are seeing an increase in sales from 30% to 60% on products with video.Also, if consumers are watching the video online, they can share the video online. Video is easy to share via social media channels like Twitter or Facebook and has the power to spread the brand name virally.

Reengage Your Customers, Revitalize Your ROI

Online marketers are aware of how powerful shopping-cart abandonment tools are, but the reality is that solutions addressing shopping-cart abandonment alone are missing a significant amount of potential sales that are lost before a shopper can add a product to a shopping cart. Finding a way to positively reengage these visitors and monetize their visits would allow the eMarketer to receive that unrealized income…as well as provide a valuable service to customers. Companies need to identify and pursue those opted-in consumers who show interest in the eCommerce web site yet don't place items in a shopping cart. It's also a necessary component of a robust CRM program. When companies communicate with the opted-in customer based on the exact content that person is viewing, random messaging is eliminated and the company shows consideration to that customer in terms of both time and relevancy.

Laying The Foundation For Innovation In Payments

And so you’re a retailer looking for new ways to reduce operational costs, improve the shopping experience, enhance customer loyalty, and ultimately increase sales. At the heart of all of these objectives is a payment transaction – and the retail world is buzzing as never before with the promise of new technologies that will revolutionize the way consumers make payments. Isis, Google, PayPal, Square and many other companies have introduced new payment technologies in just the past few years. For retailers, the complexity and pace of change can be daunting. After all, retailers are already faced with a dizzying array of payment options to manage and each with its own unique value proposition, risk profile, and cost/benefits to carefully consider. And now we add a tidal wave of innovation to the mix.
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