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 Does Your Customer Experience Stack Up?

If there was an award for Buzzword of the Year, Digital Transformation would obliterate the competition. It may be overused, but digital transformation is a very real strategy that is changing the customer experience for retailers. Simply put, achieving digital transformation allows retailers to combine the physical and digital customer experience into one seamless occurrence. According to a Walker study, 85% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as key brand differentiators. This stat alone should be enough to have retailers doubling down on their digital strategies. However, implementing digital change is something that many retailers struggle with, mainly because a lot of companies don’t know where to begin.

Why A Culture Of Experimentation Is Integral To The Future Of Retail

Fifty years ago, retail was a very different industry. There were no online retailers, consumers relied heavily on salespeople and advertising consisted mostly of TV, print, and radio. Today, however, is a different story. In an age when new brands can seemingly pop up overnight, it’s critical companies remain nimble and receptive to new ideas in order to maintain success. Determining how to go about integrating new ideas into your organization can be difficult, though. One way to assure your brand is staying on top of trends and ahead of competitors is through experimentation and A/B testing.

Content’s Role In The Customer Experience

Any retail marketer knows that customer experience is critical. With numerous touch points — web site, in-store, Amazon, advertisements, contact centers and more — retailers are more responsible than ever for providing a great experience for customers regardless of the channel. The one aspect that factors into every customer touch point is content. Whether it is product information or a content marketing campaign, all details must be consistent — and in the customer’s language. According to a recent Forrester report, 80% of business leaders believe that content challenges prevent them from delivering on their business objectives. This is not very surprising when you consider the volume and velocity of digital content that makes its way across all of the customer communication channels. This level of content can be tough to manage if businesses do not have the right strategies in place.

3 Compelling Ways Women Are Shaping Online Shopping

Women are the world’s most powerful consumers, with a global income projected to hit $18 trillion within the next five years. They manage 85% of all consumer purchases and are more likely than men to buy online. In fact, women are heading to the web for the bulk of their purchases: 63% of women shop online for clothing and accessories, 54% for beauty and personal care and 59% buy electronics and technology from the web, according to research by PopSugar. Because of their purchasing power, women are redefining expectations of the online shopping experience, requiring retailers to optimize for mobile, offer personalization and create compelling content to be in with a chance at winning their dollars. Here’s how those three strategies are shaping online shopping — and how retailers can get onboard.

Preparing For Peak Web Site Traffic

The marketing spend on digital advertising is enormous, having eclipsed television ad dollars in the U.S. in 2017. Among the gold rings retailers crave: getting as many shoppers as possible to their web sites. But if you want strong traffic, be sure your site can handle it. Peak traffic periods can occur at any time, though many are predictable: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, during special promotions and of course, the big holiday season: Christmastime, starting with Black Friday. Catchpoint benchmarks the online performance (load time, availability) of hundreds of retailers. Looking back to last Christmas, most did a good job keeping their sites or apps up and running smoothly on Black Friday through Cyber Monday. But as traditional as the holidays are the inevitable retail site crashes and slowdowns. There were several on Black Friday 2018, with a few name brands going offline or showing “we’re having problems” slides.

What Retailers Can Learn From The Amazon Vs. Walmart Tech War

At the end of 2018, Walmart announced an impressive 43% increase in e-Commerce sales. This significant jump was largely fueled by investment in digital assets like its online marketplace, new partnerships with online brands and increased locations for online grocery order pick-up. With an increasingly tech-driven strategy and the results to show for it, it appears that Walmart may have the cracked the code on Amazon’s formula for success, which prioritizes customer-driven tech investments.

Protectionism Won’t Save Retail — But Technology Might

It is a well lamented fact that the brick-and-mortar retail industry faces a crisis. The fundamentals in big, bellwether markets are nigh-on disastrous, and have been since the retail apocalypse began in earnest in 2015. This onslaught has brought many business leaders and policymakers to advocate for protectionist action — yet it is with technology, not tax, that the solution lies. The rot is setting in far and wide. In the U.S., a stock price crash at the tail end of the year affected retailers across the board, underlining the fragility of the industry. Over 8,000 brand chain stores had closed their doors in 2017, compared with 6,000 closures in 2008. In Britain, Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley warned that the High Street risks being “smashed to pieces,” saying, “November 2018 was the worst on record, unbelievably bad.” And it’s not just the Anglosphere that's suffering — Europe is struggling too. Seven of its nine major economies posted negative year-on-year footfall growth in Q4 of 2017. And in Sweden, for example, world famous H&M closed 170 stores in 2018.

Keeping Carts Full Requires More Than Digital Deals

As 2019 continues, some of the biggest shopping days are ahead of us again: Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the Christmas shopping season. This year, marketers, agencies and brands are looking for trends and new ways to interact with shoppers across all channels to keep the online carts and in-store baskets full ahead of peak season. What will drive sales this year? What digital and social marketing campaigns will reach people and turn them into actionable buyers? The key to creating a successful retailer strategy is to understand more about target groups than simply demographics — as it is their habits and behaviors that shape their purchasing decisions.

Identity Theft Can Even Make Shopping Stressful

As online and mobile shopping continues to gain in popularity, identity thieves have more opportunities than ever to steal sensitive financial information from unsuspecting consumers. Customers expect retailers to take extra steps to keep their data safe, but with record-setting data breaches constantly in the news, it’s no surprise that nearly half of respondents to Generali Global Assistance’s recent Cyber Barometer indicated that companies are not doing enough to protect their personal information.

Are You Liable For Your Customers’ Sales Taxes?

Tax laws, particularly those regulating e-Commerce and sales tax, have suddenly become a lot more complicated. Last year’s Supreme Court decision on South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. changed the entire landscape of sales tax regulations. Changes in the interpretation of nexus have caught many online businesses by surprise; physical presence is no longer the only consideration when determining nexus. E-Commerce sellers can have nexus with a state by simply selling into that state. The Court ruled that states can force online retailers to collect sales tax, regardless of the company’s physical location. And if they don’t collect sales tax from their customers, the burden to pay the tax falls on the seller, along with any penalties and interest the state may assess. Consequently, many retailers are realizing, sometimes too late, that their tax exposure is far greater than they thought. Even companies large enough to have their own in-house tax teams often find it hard to keep up with or prepare for the rapidly changing regulations. Startups and those companies that have experienced dramatic growth are particularly vulnerable.

Designing Chatbots That Evolve With Your Business

Chatbots are an essential element of today’s shopping experience. When a sneakerhead is on the hunt for a fresh pair of Jordans, Nike’s Messenger bot is here to help. Similarly, beauty fans rely on Sephora’s Kik chatbot for customized tips and cosmetic recommendations. These tools must keep up with the evolution of the business, however, to stay relevant to customers. So, how does a retail company ensure that its chatbots mature alongside its long-term business strategy?

How to Improve Your Instagram & Facebook Advertising in 2019

In 2012, the world's largest social media conglomerate, Facebook, acquired Instagram for $1 billion. Combined, the two social platforms have a whopping 3.23 billion monthly active users. With such a large audience, it's no wonder Facebook and Instagram ads have become a high priority for marketers. Here are the best practices for developing strong ad creative to engage your audiences and generate maximum ROI on Instagram and Facebook:

Retailers Need To Make Smart Choices On Network Infrastructure

For years now, the headlines have been loud and clear — brick-and-mortar retail is facing serious challenges. Not a day goes by without warnings of store closures or the increased pressure e-Commerce is putting on retail brands as they fight to retain customers. For every brand success, we’ve also seen a failure, including iconic retail brands like Sears and Toys ‘R’ Us. But there’s a story behind the headlines — one about smart, forward-thinking retailers that have reimagined their in-store experience and found new ways to surprise and delight customers. These retailers are accomplishing this through a focus on customer experience and smart investments in technology. And while we often hear about mobile applications or marketing technologies, some of the most rewarding and necessary investments aren’t as visible to customers.

Communication Tactics For Boosting Customer Loyalty

Every retailer strives to maximize customer retention and loyalty. While advertising is often seen as the linchpin in efforts to keep customers coming back, no savvy retailer should overlook the value of a solid communication plan. Here are five key tactics that can help your organization build a winning strategy to win and retain customer loyalty.

What Retailers Need To Know About The New Telephone-Based Payment Card Data Guidance

In November 2018, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) unveiled its newly revised guidance for Protecting Telephone-based Payment Card Data. Updated for the first time since 2011, this guidance underscores the urgency for protecting telephone-based payments in light of the evolving technology, and an ever-changing regulatory and fraud landscape. The highly anticipated new guidance provides a much clearer path for retail contact centers looking to ensure compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and provides critical recommendations on new technologies and processes for securing payment card data.
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