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.

The Future Of Voice Shopping And Experience

How do we shop? We no longer just “go to the store”. We can buy on our computers, phones, watches and speakers. We get custom recommendations from our AI assistants. And digital commerce hasn’t even reached its peak — global e-Commerce sales exceeded $2 trillion in 2017, and are on pace to double by 2021. That means more new ways and places to shop are inevitable. As the ways we buy change, so do the services and experiences of the companies we buy from. Shopping and messaging are overlapping as buyers come to expect conversational service that fits into their lives. While trends are always changing, knowing everything about your customer — and acting on it — will always reap rewards for your business.

Three Common Retail Innovation Mistakes Brands Make And How To Avoid Them

Magic mirrors, virtual rails, digital fitting rooms, even brainwave readers — these are just a few examples of the retail industry’s attempts to improve in-store customer experience with cutting edge technology. Somewhat surprisingly, they haven’t driven the kind of business value we’ve expected. In fact, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers announced 6,400 store closures in 2017. Large or small, we’ve seen many casualties. Something clearly isn’t working. Here we examine three common mistakes brands make when trying to deploy innovative customer experience technology, and suggestions on how to avoid them. Mistake #1: Sticking To One-Way Communication That holy grail of in-store experience comes at the tail end of a long chain of customer interactions with brands. You can’t analyze interactions effectively without looking at how brands communicate with customers — and vice versa. What we’ve witnessed lately is not only the failure of traditional retail, but also the failure of mass scale B2C marketing. Traditional consumer marketing is quickly becoming that guy who won’t stop talking about himself when he goes on a date. Customers want retailers to know them intimately and they expect a personalized shopping experience — both online and in-store. Unfortunately, when brands roll out new technology, they often…

Online Journey Hijacking: The Phenomenon Costing Retailers Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars

Leading up to the holiday season, retailers spend significant time and resources optimizing their customers’ online shopping experience. Their efforts seem to be working, as e-Commerce sales during this past holiday season hit a record $108.2 billion, a 14.7% increase from 2016, which was $91.7 billion. However, a report analyzing 500 million web sessions found that online retailers were still expected to lose up to $2.1 billion in sales during the 2017 holiday season. This is caused by a phenomenon called Online Journey Hijacking, which involves unauthorized product ads injected into consumer browsers while visiting retailer web sites.

Sometimes It Is About Looks — Implementing Visual Merchandising In Your Online Store

Most shoppers are visual deciders, and they react best when they can see what they are about to buy. In brick-and-mortar stores, visual merchandising is about how you set up your front windows and how your products look, so how can that be done in an online store? How do you replicate that split decision which often happens at the shelf?

Wayfair Is Not Amazon-Proof And Has A Huge Challenge In 2018

Over the last 10 years, Amazon has become the dominant platform that sells products to customers. There are two categories however, that Amazon has battled to conquer: apparel and furniture. In 2017, Amazon made it clear that they are trying to capture the category and place pressure on Wayfair and Williams-Sonoma. According to Fortune, Amazon appears to be doubling down on furniture as it eyes taking a bigger piece of the $150 billion market. The company is opening a number of new warehouses to store and ship furniture as well as expanding its inventory of furniture and home goods.

How To Elevate The In-Store Customer Experience In The Me-Commerce Era

In the age of e-Commerce, most consumers are used to the notion of instant gratification. With the growing acceptance of ‘on-demand’ options, they’ve become accustomed to quick and easy access to items and services with just the click of a button. For some small, local businesses, this leaves them shaking in their boots at the thought of this “me-commerce” era that’s become entirely dependent on digital strategies. However, it is possible for brick-and-mortars to survive and — even better — thrive. A recent BrightLocal survey found that 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017, with 12% looking for a local business online every day.

5 Best Payments Solutions For Pop-Up Shops

Who doesn’t love a pop-up shop? The quirky, short-term retail stores are on the upswing as of late, keeping neighborhoods vibrant by temporarily filling vacant spaces and giving brands the chance to show off their goods to the public — even if it’s just for two-day sprints. For customers, pop-up shops deliver an exciting experience and fill them with a sense of urgency to get the latest sales. However, that feeling of excitement could quickly diminish if a they find the shop doesn’t take debit or credit, putting an unexpected hurdle in the way of completing their purchase, and diluting the whole customer experience.

When It Comes To IoT, Everyone Can Learn From Retail

It seems like everyone’s getting into the Internet of Things (IoT) these days. The truth, however, is that we’ve barely cracked the surface of the number and types of companies who could be selling IoT products and services to their customers and — for whatever reason — aren’t. Most of that market noise you’re hearing is from the vendors themselves, and from the traditional retailers who successfully sell IoT products in the same way they sell other products such as WiFi routers, laptops and diapers.

Why Online Merchants Should Make Security A Year-Round Priority

If I could encourage all e-Commerce merchants to take one piece of advice to heart, it would be: Shore up your security. That advice may sound too general to be practical, but my recommendation to retailers is to break it down into digestible steps and considerations. Why make security a point of emphasis? Well, consider that in 2016 online fraud rose 40%, and I have little doubt the 2017 numbers will be even more harrowing when they’re released. If you’re willing to heed my advice and resolve to commit resources to improving security, here’s where to start:

Retail Winners Are Taking A New Approach To Space Management

More stores opened than closed in 2017, according to IHL Group, with retailers like T-Mobile adding 1,500 new locations. Yet, JCPenney, Foot Locker, Toys ‘R’ Us and others have shuttered hundreds already this year. How are some retailers increasing sales in retail and expanding their store footprint, while others shut their doors? While there are many factors, successful retailers are taking a new, more aggressive approach to space management. Instead of relying on traditional clustering and one-size-fits-all planograms, they are taking a more ‘store-centric’ approach — investing in building robust digital models of their entire store footprint, putting digital merchandising tools in the hands of their associates, and using automation to enable visual merchandisers and space planners to quickly and easily create store-specific plans.

Bringing Distribution Center Science To The Art Of Retail

Brick-and-mortar retailers today are faced with a hyper-competitive and continuously evolving landscape in which consumer expectations for the ideal shopping experience have never been higher. To differentiate themselves from online-only retailers, physical stores are offering shoppers new features such as click-and-collect and ship-from-store as well as value-added services such as gift wrapping and personalization. But retailers are finding these services to be time-consuming, inefficient, inconsistent and often unprofitable.

Getting Beyond Holiday Gift Guides: Ensuring Year-Round ROI From Commerce Content

In an effort to keep content strategies targeted and timely, many merchants focus their efforts this time of year on earning inclusions in holiday gift guides. Almost all major publishers put out their own versions of these guides, which recommend on-trend products to a range of audiences leading up to the year’s peak period for purchasing. While these product mentions are useful in that they create a sense of urgency for consumers searching for the right gift, resulting in a higher purchase volume, they only have a shelf life of a couple months.

The New Rules Of Retail: How Brands And Retailers Can Adapt To Change In 2018

The retail landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, and brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to stay relevant in a digitally-driven world. From the closing of hundreds and thousands of long-established stores like JCPenneyto the utter downfall of the toy empire Toys ‘R’ Us, the evidence is obvious. Mom-and-pop stores are still facing hard times too, with most bankruptcy filings coming from retailers with only one location. Most of these retailers can attribute their financial troubles to a number of reasons: crippling debt, online competition and customer loss. But what all of these stores have in common is a failure to adapt to change. Retailers have struggled to keep up as technology has slowly made its way into every facet of the business. Though every store has different customers, different needs and a different culture to consider, there are a few solutions for digital transformation that all retailers can adopt.

Automate Everything: Why It’s More Critical Than Ever To Survive In Retail

In the current retail landscape, where competition is fierce and overhead keeps rising, efficiency counts. Retailers must examine every task and every labor hour — and labor hours that aren’t customer-facing are subject to even further scrutiny. Additionally, every task that can be outsourced or automated must be optimized. It’s no wonder, therefore, that a recent study predicted that the retail automation market is growing at a CAGR of 10.96% and will be valued at $18.99 billion by 2023. Let’s examine what’s behind this laser focus on operational efficiency and what retailers are doing to make sure they’re achieving the results they need to thrive.

Killing Cash? Why Digital Payments, Bitcoin Can’t Finish The Job. Yet.

The global payments infrastructure is experiencing massive digital upheaval. Mobile and proximity payments are quickly entering the mainstream. Bitcoin has a market cap that could make a blue chip blush, and new retail concepts like Amazon Go and Shake Shack’s cashless store bring momentum to the theory that cash could essentially become useless in a future retail environment. The Indian government has even undertaken, and largely achieved, an ambitious digitization of its economy and financial infrastructure. But is cash really on the road to obsolescence? Not yet.
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