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 Retail CIOs Can Become Technological Trailblazers — While Still Managing Expectations

2018 is a particularly trying time for the typical retail CIO. Those with physical stores are hard at work figuring out how to integrate a seamless end-to-end purchasing journey that delivers the best possible customer experience, while remaining cost efficient and managing the expectations of the board. There seems to be little doubt that one of the keys to achieve success as a retail CIO lies in adopting innovative new technologies. Digitization of the physical store is paramount for the future and many of these solutions have the agility and flexibility to enable exciting new in-store experiences, enabling retailers to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Advertising In An On-Demand World: Why Brands Should Embrace The Connected TV Revolution

It’s no secret that the world of television is rapidly evolving. Gone is the age of ‘prime time,’ when audiences reserved television viewing for just a few hours each day. In its place, the digital age has ushered in a new concept entirely: prime time is now any time. As traditional cable subscriptions continue to decline, Connected TV (CTV) presents a modern-day vehicle for media consumption, offeringunparalleled reach and targeting capabilities and in turn, a fresh opportunity for brands to reach consumers through advertising. Connected TV, or Over-the-Top (OTT), refers to Internet-connected TV streaming content on the largest screens in the household. Advertising on this platform provides an experience that closely resembles watching a traditional TV commercial, as video ads are delivered alongside premium, professionally produced content on an Internet-connected TV.

Back To School — Keeping Up With The Kids

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. After a long summer, the kids are finally on their way back to school. Colleges open up in mid-August; elementary schools just after Labor Day. After a long and busy summer filled with family vacation, camp and holidays, Moms and Dads are ready to get back to the normalcy of everyday life. It seems that over the last couple of months they spent their time catering to the needs of “family fun” adventures and celebrations. Many of the true necessities of the family were put on hold, reasoning that there would be time in the fall to handle those tasks. The world now is getting back to work again. Are you ready? You are heading into one of the most important quarters of the year for your business. Did you take the summer off…? Here are several tips on making sure that you are doing all you can to have a great Q4 as your customers and their kids head back to school:

Product Recommendations: Three Shortfalls to Avoid

It’s no secret that consumer expectations for personalized content have shifted drastically in the last decade, requiring brands to rapidly mature in how they engage with their customers. In fact, according to Boston Consulting Group, personalization is a game changer that will shift $800 billion of revenue to the 15% of companies that get it right over the next five years. This evolution has impacted the retail industry more than any other. Retail once thrived solely on in-person shopping experiences, like smelling 10 candles before selecting the most enticing; trying on a shirt and asking the sales associate which pants in the store would match best; or shopping for a new mattress and laying on each one to ensure the right level of firmness. Now, much of the customer journey has become digitized, and consumers seek the same individualized experiences online.

Retailers’ Best Defense Against The Amazon Effect: Prescriptive Analytics

One of the biggest catchphrases in nearly every retail trend conversation today is the “Amazon effect.” And after looking at the latest sales data, it’s clear why that is. For example, Slice Intelligence reported that the 2017 online holiday season was the strongest ever, with 12% more buyers and shoppers spending an average of 10.7% more than the previous year ($637.77 in 2017 vs. $575.74 in 2016). Amazon captured 38% of the online holiday shopping frenzy, and the next closest competitor was Best Buy, which garnered just 4% of the overall pie. There were five months last year in which Amazon commanded 40% or more of the e-Commerce market share.

Affiliate Malware Makes Customers Disappear; Here's How To Make It Go Away

In one of the most successful, but least talked-about, tricks, hackers are ripping off online retailers to the tune of nearly a billion dollars a year using nothing but simple malware. And what's worse, retailers often aren't even aware that they are losing money. It's not magic hackers are using to scam online retailers, but a clever strategy called affiliate injected malware. Utilizing the malware, hackers inundate the computers and devices of potential customers with pop-up ads, banner ads, and toolbars designed to convince them to shop at alternative sites — in some cases even rerouting them to these affiliate sites, without the customer even realizing what is going on. For retail sites, it's tantamount to outright theft — resulting in the loss of huge numbers of customers.

Utilizing ‘Retailtainment’ As An Extension Of E-Commerce

We have reached “peak stuff.” You might have heard of this notion coined by IKEA’s CSO wherein financially stable consumers don’t have a need for anything more than what they already have. Pair this with many e-Commerce brands competing for attention in a congested market, while physical stores work hard to stay relevant in the digital revolution — omnichannel retailers are left with a tall order to not only effectively reach target consumer audiences, but earn their loyalty as well. Despite headlines of legacy retailers shuttering store locations, the death of the physical storefront is neither imminent nor wise. Retailers should prioritize the customer experience in stores by creating memorable interactions with brands. Retail marketers are realizing more and more how experiential retail can act as a unique extension of e-Commerce, offering an aspect of entertainment — “retailtainment” if you will — that enriches the shopper’s relationship with the brand and entices long-term loyalty. Large retail brands are already hopping on this train as evidenced by Macy’s Story stores offering yoga classes and cooking workshops or when Barneys New York launched its spring campaign alongside a virtual reality experience.

Addressing A Minimum Wage Increase Without Losing Your Staff

Money talks, but a minimum wage increase will interrupt the conversation. A legislative wage increase might throw your retail business into panic, that is if you don’t already have a strategy in place. When you must begin paying your employees more, it is easy to find and implement the quickest solution; to make up the cost difference and fast. This often takes the form of cutting employee benefits, and while this may be the fasted road to cost saving, it is also the highway to turnover. Cutting benefits means unhappy employees, lower retention and fewer job applications. A minimum wage increase can seem like the perfect storm, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the legislative change isn’t the problem, you just need to be armed with a sound strategy for when it occurs. Your approach should begin with recognizing the value of your entry-level employees and, in particular, your customer service staff.

Creating The Ultimate Digital Customer Experience

Consumers today believe they deserve a unique, invested experience, right now. And if you can’t provide it or align with their core values, they will quickly find it somewhere else.  Driven by ongoing digital disruption, hyper-adoption of new technologies, the role of social media, instantaneous customer service expectations and the blurring of the physical and digital worlds, “digital marketing” has taken on a completely new context and level of complexity. 

Ad Fraud, Audience Insights And Refined Targeting: 3 Insights For Today’s Retail Marketer

With an ever-changing digital marketing environment, it can be hard for retailers and brands to decide which advertising method is best for their business. Programmatic advertising has surged onto the scene in recent years and comes with a set of positive attributes, such as lower CPMs and automated workflows to help release some of the resource strain on advertising and brand teams. But where does this leave more traditional direct media buying? And how do brands and retailers feel about balancing the two? A recent study by RetailMeNot asked 200-plus senior retail marketing leaders to weigh in on their programmatic ad buying versus direct media buying plans, the topic of ad fraud as related to audience and traffic, and who they plan to target in 2018. Here are three takeaways for retailers as they continue to tweak their media and advertising strategy well before we head into the back-to-school and holiday seasons.

What Meerkat Can Teach Retailers About Building A Voice Strategy Solely On Top Of Amazon

It’s an all too familiar story. A company builds its entire product strategy on top of a wildly popular platform, with hopes to quickly gain distribution and adoption. While early adoption signals that building on top of the platform was a smart move, all of sudden access is cut off, and the company meets its demise. That was the story of Meerkat, the live streaming video app that rivaled another app called Periscope. They achieved massive adoption building on top of Twitter, leveraging their social graph to accelerate their growth. The companies, and businesses that leverage social graphs and the built-in audiences of these platforms, live in constant fear of having the rug pulled out from underneath them.

So, You Want To Build A Brand Community? 5 Questions To Ask Before You Commit

“I want to build a brand community like Peloton.” We’re hearing this more and more from clients. Tapping into a community makes sense. The conventional belief that consumers make purchase decisions in isolation, assessing the value of products or services in a vacuum, is inaccurate. Consumer culture theory recognizes the importance of consumer connectivity — the influence connections have on our purchases and brand decisions, and the impact consumption communities have upstream as co-creators, not just consumers, of value.

How Emerging Technology Can Help Call Center Reps Do More

Technology is disrupting almost every industry, and call centers are no exception. And although the most important part of a call center's function — human interaction — isn't going away, how, when and where center representatives interact with customers and prospects is certainly changing. Emerging technologies are helping call centers and the reps who staff them connect more seamlessly and improve their performance across the board.

It’s The Dog Days Of Summer And I’m Already Thinking Of Winter

Like many retailer planners and operators, the August heat doesn’t make me think about cool drinks on sandy beaches. Instead, it brings to mind thoughts of snow, chestnuts roasting on an open fire and yes, retail centers filled with shoppers (who are carrying filled bags of merchandise)! It is around this time of year that retailers are finalizing their plans for the holiday season. As you prepare, keep in mind the following points for making your season a strong one. Start With The End

5 Ways Brands Are Mixing Up Their Wholesale Sales Strategies

Last year, as big box stores struggled to keep pace with Amazon and other tech savvy e-Tailers, “the retail apocalypse” was constantly driving headlines. Now however, the retail industry is proving to be in far better shape than the media has given it credit for — retail isn’t dead, it’s just changing. In fact, Deloitte predicts the retail market will grow between 3.2% and 2.8% this year. While the outlook for retailers, particularly those embracing e-Commerce, is positive, there’s been little talk about how this industry shift is impacting brands. With today’s e-Commerce options, one might expect brands to ditch retailers and go direct to consumer; however, a recent independent survey of more than 400 brands conducted by NuORDER found that isn’t the case. Rather, brands today are working more strategically and insightfully with retailers, not ditching them. Based on the survey findings, we see five key ways brands are adjusting their retail partnership strategies.
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