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.

How Inventory Turnover Can Affect Your Retail Business

  Inventory turnover is a critical ratio that retailers can use to ensure they are managing their store's inventory and supply chain well. It is one of the crucial KPIs used to measure the overall performance of your business. Put simply, it is how many times during a certain calendar period you sell and replace your entire inventory. Most small retailers are not thrilled when they find out they have excess inventory. Storage costs, insurance, damage, obsolescence, taxes and loan interest can add up to almost 30% of the cost of our inventory annually! These costs will only continue to rise as your excess inventory numbers climb. This is why inventory management is one of the best investments you can make for your business. When you trim away your excess inventory through inventory management, you leave your business running better than ever. So why is inventory turnover crucial to this process?

The Future Of Online Shopping, And How Retailers Can Get There

Picture this: you find yourself in need of laundry detergent to finish packing before your big vacation. You ask Alexa to order some while figuring out where you left your passport and, 30 minutes later, a drone delivers your purchase right to your doorstep. No credit cards, no lines and no stress. Just you on your way to some well-deserved time off. Most shopping experiences will look just like this in a few years’ time. Sophisticated technologies and major advancements in e-Commerce systems have ushered in a new era of online shopping. From multiple easy payment options to virtually real-time fulfillment, technology has enabled new customer capabilities around every turn (or click). Convenience is the norm, and these advancements are making their ways in-store, too. Amazon Go’s cashier-free store fronts and Walmart’s recent biometric investments are just the beginning in terms of how technologies will simplify and enrich your shopping experience.

Fraud Blacklists: What They Are, And Why You Shouldn’t Rely On Them

By necessity, all e-Commerce companies are constantly on guard against card not present (CNP) fraud. Aside from the financial losses incurred from the refunded amounts, chargeback fees, and merchandise replacement costs, there is also the looming threat of losing the ability to do business — payment processors will stop working with a merchant if the chargeback rate exceeds a certain threshold.  Those on the front lines of this ongoing war against fraudsters are the analysts tasked with screening out the fraudulent transactions. They have to satisfy conflicting requirements: brief turnaround time for order accept/decline decisions, minimizing chargeback losses, and keeping the total cost of fraud prevention low. These fraud management teams are the Rodney Dangerfields of e-Commerce, since they usually don't get much respect from senior management, who often view their department as a cost center rather than a revenue protector.  It's no surprise that merchants are quick to adopt and hesitant to abandon tools that are simple, quick, cheap, and seem to do a good job of rejecting fraudulent orders while accepting the legitimate ones. This is how we ended up with e-Commerce fraud prevention tools like blacklists.  Blacklist Basics Here's how blacklists work: When merchants approve an order…

A Great Customer Experience Starts With Your Employees

The retail landscape is going through massive disruption. Traditional big-box brands are closing down, while online and specialty retailers are opening new ‘experience-centric’ stores. On top of that, consumers now have access to virtually unlimited information and ways to shop at their fingertips. From placing a repeat order on Amazon to trying on clothes through VR or picking up an online purchase in-store, the retail customer experience has certainly evolved. Amidst all this change, one thing remains constant: the physical store still plays a critical role in the buyer’s journey. A 2017 study conducted by TimeTrade found that if an item is available both online and in-store, 75% of consumers prefer to shop in-store. Further, 88% of consumers say they are more likely to buy when helped by a knowledgeable store associate.

Digitalize To Survive: How To Ride The Change

Across every sector, digital transformation is enabling businesses to operate at breakneck speeds, rejuvenating the competitive playing field. In retail specifically, forward-thinking enterprises have been able to harness next generation technologies such as cloud and IoT to accelerate the delivery of digital services to consumers. For example, the recent acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon illustrates the popularity of the digitally transforming grocery market. As the last of the traditional milkmen ride off into the sunset, you can hear consumers firing up their AI personal shoppers: “Ok Google, order me half a gallon of milk from Ralphs.”   Over the last couple of years, online shopping — increasingly now through mobile devices — has taken off. Every week we hear how the ‘mobile shopping boom’ is boosting those online retailers with a streamlined, omnichannel presence. Mobile commerce now accounts for over 30% of total online sales[1], and this in turn has led to competitive retailers embracing next generation technologies to digitally transform their business models, and subsequently rejuvenate their customer experience. This has meant that those that have been slow to digitally transform, such as Toys ‘R’ Us, have struggled to survive.

How Retailers Get The Last Mile Wrong

The last mile. The final stretch where nothing and everything can go wrong. For retailers, that last mile is an oft under-considered part of the customer journey that can ultimately drag down their bottom line and chip away at customer equity in ways that aren’t immediately apparent. So let’s talk about retail’s last mile problem, as manifested in both the online and offline worlds. I Don’t Like Surprises You’ve made all that effort to lure a shopper to your site, merchandise and optimize it based on their needs and behaviors, ensure seamless product selection and checkout, and that’s it. Now you can sit back and watch that order make its way to the customer, right? Not so fast. While it might seem like the lion’s share of the work has been completed on your end, this is only the start of the journey for the customer. And if you don’t play that anticipation right with regularly-cadenced communications and follow-through with on-time delivery, you will have hell to pay.

The Real-World Abandoned Shopping Cart

According to Business Insider, $4.6 trillion worth of merchandise was abandoned in carts in 2016 alone. This has led to an uptick in the number of retailers who send shopping cart abandonment messages, as well as a renewed concentration on using those items left unpurchased to retarget customers, creating another consumer touch point. But while it’s all well and good to use digital data to capture revenue that might have otherwise been lost, what about all of those real-life shopping carts that have been left to languish in brick-and-mortar stores? How can companies solve the problem of the real-life abandoned shopping cart? Ad campaigns are usually measured according to their successes: how many people went to a store and bought something as a result of seeing the ad, how much money they spent. But retailers should also start looking at other metrics; namely, how many people went into a store and didn’t buy anything. By using location and proximity data in conjunction with data from transactions, brands will have the ability to see if a person went to a store and bought something — or didn’t buy anything — and then use that information to build a profile and retarget them accordingly.

Holiday Season 2017: A ‘State of the Union’ For E-Commerce Site Performance

The 2017 holiday season was notable due to its strong e-Commerce site performance (speed, availability), with clear signs showing e-Commerce retailers are improving their ability to perform under load. The top performers made incremental load time improvements this year compared to last. In holiday season 2017, the top-performing sites (both desktop and mobile) got faster under load compared to 2016. For example, the top three desktop sites in 2017 delivered performance ranging from 0.88 seconds to 1.29 seconds, compared to 1.25 to 1.48 seconds last year. On mobile, the top three sites ranged from 0.84 seconds to 1.3 seconds. Last year, those numbers ranged from one second to 1.3 seconds. While several leading e-Commerce retailers, including The Gap, H&M, Lowe’s and J. Crew experienced problems during Black Friday weekend, these issues were much shorter in duration than the prolonged outages we’ve seen in past years.

3 Tech-Driven Priorities Retailers Must Have In 2018

The holiday season may be over, but in the world of retail nothing stands still for long, and it is straight into the next promotional push or the never-ending seasonal planning.  The recent NRF Big Show gave me a great chance to not only speak with a whole host of retailers, but also to reflect on the key trends that will drive decision making in the year ahead. Time and time again executives talked about the three areas below, but of particular interest was the acknowledgement of the role that technology has to play in helping to deliver each.

Who Pinned It Best? 3 Steps For Retailers To Win At Pinterest Marketing

Every small retailer knows that Pinterest is one of the most loved sites by women (71% of the company’s 72.5 million users, to be exact). But getting started can be downright confusing. With so many posts about exercise routines, top recipes and house cleaning tips, how can an independent retail store or small chain utilize this channel to drive interest, provide helpful resources and ultimately promote merchandise? On top of that, it’s key to understand the audience of a retail store and the merchandise being sold. For some industries — such as those focused on beauty and athleisure — the audience is likely made up of mostly females. Others selling sports gear or auto accessories may be made up of mixed audiences.

3 Strategic Opportunities That Come From Clean Data

Data’s importance in any industry, especially retail, can’t be overstated. But not all data is created equal. The difference between data and clean data — and how clean that data really is — can be the difference between millions of dollars in revenue for companies in an industry that generates $2.6 trillion annually. Investing in clean data and enforcing data hygiene policies is the foundation of sustainable success in today’s fast-paced environment. Companies that build strong data structures and scalable governance policies have significant advantages over their competitors. Once you’ve set up your system, you can make informed decisions on the basis of accurate information and mine data repeatedly without sacrificing quality.

The Top 10 Workplace Design Trends For 2018

The modern office in 2018 should be a far cry from the cubicle-filled rooms of past decades. Thanks to the rapid expansion of Internet connectivity and the boom in personal technological devices, today’s employees can — and often do — work away from the office as often as they do within it. This game-changing transformation of the way we work has been reflected in the way our offices are designed.

How To Successfully Manage A Digital Transformation In Retail

The future of physical retail spaces has never been more uncertain. As many as 3,000 stores are expected to close this year, including locations of major brands such as Macy’s and Sears. But even though physical retail spaces are in decline, retail spending is expected to increase in 2017 over 2016 numbers. What has changed is when and where the average consumer goes to shop. E-Commerce environments allow customers to purchase everything from luxury clothing to toilet tissue. Retailers who hope to survive the latest industry upheaval must begin building a long-term strategy focused on evolving from physical to digital showrooms.

AI-Driven Analytics: Taming The Wild World Of Grocery Data

When it comes to gathering data, few retail categories handle a greater volume than the grocery business. With potentially hundreds of thousands of SKUs and millions of transactions, it’s no surprise that supermarkets have been at the forefront of many important data-driven innovations over the decades, from barcode scanners and panelist data to loyalty programs and even the humble coupon. But this is also a crowded marketplace with fierce competition, including brick-and-mortar specialty food retailers and the expansion of grocery sections in big box stores. Then, of course, there is the loud march of e-Commerce into the grocery space providing a myriad of pickup and delivery options, while the biggest online behemoth, Amazon, is shaking up the entire space with its recent acquisition of Whole Foods. Grocers are well aware that in order to keep up, they need to leverage their hard-earned data and glean the best insights from consumer behavior and shopping preferences.

Why Retailers Need To Prioritize E-Commerce Automation

When consumers visit a retail store to buy their groceries or pick up a new outfit for work, part of the shopping experience is the service they receive. Was the cashier friendly? Is the sales associate on the floor knowledgeable? Was the overall experience pleasant? Contrast that service experience with online buying, where shoppers rarely interact with real people. But this newer form of shopping is where e-Commerce automation comes in. It offloads more decision making to the e-Commerce platform to determine what is deemed fraud and what isn’t. Fraud has increasingly become a costly risk factor for retailers. Last year, e-Commerce fraud increased by 33%, according to data compiled by credit reporting agency Experian. The cost of fraud to retailers has been estimated at around $2.40 for every dollar of fraud. That doesn’t only account for stolen goods, but also credit card transaction fees, shipping and packaging costs.
Subscribe to this RSS feed