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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.

Issues With The Lack Of A Universal Sizing System

We’ve all experienced the frustrations associated with the lack of a universal sizing system across retail. It’s created a perpetual guessing game of what size will fit you best when shopping across different brands — at one store you may be a small, but at the next, you’re a medium. A recent tweet from aggravated consumer Chloe showcases this issue perfectly by including a picture of seven pairs of jeans that are all labeled size 12, but the waist bands of each vary in width. Not only does this issue highlight the exclusivity of retail sizing, it also leaves consumers self-conscious and confused, especially when shopping online. With the inability to try clothing on before making a purchase, consumers are left to assume which size will fit best based off what size they buy most across brands. However, with the discrepancies in sizing, this method isn’t always reliable and often results in receiving items that need to be returned due to improper fit.

The On-Demand Economy And Retail: Is The Tipping Point Upon Us?

I read a poignant column the other day from a favorite journalist of mine, Kara Swisher, Editor of Recode and a contributor to The New York Times. It was titled: “Owning a Car Will Soon Be as Quaint as Owning a Horse.” In it, she mused that thanks to trends like car sharing apps, ride-hailing services, on-demand scooters and autonomous vehicles (AVs), the days of people actually owning their cars might be numbered. To be clear, Swisher emphasized that her use, indeed affection, of cars was not going away, “But the concept of actually purchasing, maintaining, insuring and garaging an automobile in the next few decades? Finished.” I wondered if she could have just as easily been talking about retail, specifically the idea of big, permanent brick-and-mortar giving way to more flexible options. We’ve all heard the rhetoric of the retail apocalypse and predictions that online commerce will wipe out retail as we know it. It’s not happening. I prefer to see it as an Uber-like renaissance that our industry is going through. Just as Swisher enjoys the experience of cars, people still like to shop in person, and deal with real humans. This is universally true, even across younger…

How Embracing Informal Learning Can Help Retail Organizations Thrive

Engaging, retaining and growing talent in retail has implications far beyond employee churn. Companies that cultivate an organizational culture of learning and development (L&D) have a distinct advantage over their competitors — when executed well. Research reveals that workers today spend an average of 505 hours learning each year: 494 informally and 21 formally, with informal learning comprising at least 80% of all workplace learning. Although a limited training budget might mean scaling back on the hours spent in training courses, seminars, classes and workshops, that doesn't mean employees can't learn in other ways.

How Retail Inventory Efficiency And Accuracy Impacts The Customer Experience

As omnichannel retailing requires greater and greater precision, the stakes surrounding inventory accuracy — or the lack thereof — are increasing dramatically. According to a report from the International Council of Shopping Centers, an estimated 151 million people visited a mall or shopping center over 2018’s Black Friday weekend. The vast bulk of spending volume for the weekend — 88% — went to omnichannel retailers, i.e. brands with web sites the consumers at least had the opportunity to shop before entering the store.

How To Make Retail Influencers More Accountable

Anyone who has watched one or both of the recent dueling Fyre Festival documentaries was undoubtedly struck by one realization: Wow. Influencer marketing is powerful stuff. Of course, in this case, the success of influencers in driving paying attendees to the ill-fated festival isn’t a case study any reputable brand would be in a hurry to replicate. But the power of influencer marketing — particularly behind a reputable product — is undeniable. Influencer marketing has been picking up steam for years now, and it shows no sign of slowing. By 2022, influencer marketing could reach anywhere between $5 billion and $10 billion. Even if you take the midpoint of that estimate, we’re still looking at a robust five-year compound annual growth rate of 38%.

Why 3D And AR E-Commerce Should Take Priority In Your Digital Content Strategy

Content is king — and as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. A recent report showed nearly two-thirds of B2C marketers increased their investment in visual content in 2018. More than half (52%) used it to generate sales and 63% to build loyalty with existing customers. Yet as brands generate more content — from photos to videos — they face a new challenge: they must focus their investments on the experiences that drive purchasing and offer differentiation in a crowded field of rich media.

Want To Survive And Thrive In Retail’s New Shopping Battlefield? Capitalize On These 10 Winning Trends

Almost no one can argue that the retail ecosystem isn’t changing at an accelerated pace. But a school of thought around the shift misses the mark pretty badly. Specifically, there are a lot of doomsayers out there who look at store closings (Sears, Lowe’s, JCPenney, Macy’s, etc.) as the harbingers of worse to come for retail, but the truth is that retail is just changing and sales are growing. It’s about where, when and how consumers buy goods that is shifting. That said, there’s a grain of truth to what the doomsayers think: For those retailers, marketers and brand owners that can’t capitalize on the morphing landscape and prepare themselves for and take advantage of disruption, the prognosis is pretty poor as far as their company’s survival goes. Thankfully, as winners and losers emerge on the way to retail’s jagged future, some clear trends for success are emerging. Retail and brand leaders should hop onto them fast if they want to flourish. Here are some of the biggest retail trends, and what brands can do about them:

How To Benefit From AI To Win The Market

Retail is changing at breakneck speed. The e-Commerce market is growing increasingly fast. Consumers are getting more demanding and sophisticated, as they expect personalized customer experience. Also, by using a variety of online tools, buyers have more means to instantly compare what different retailers have to offer. The amount of data retail teams need to process to set the optimal price is surging and becoming unmanageable for humans. The retail market is embracing artificial intelligence and its core element, machine learning, to optimize pricing. For example, Amazon, which accounted for nearly half of the U.S. e-Commerce market, or $258.22 billion, in 2018, has come so far as to outsource a big chunk of the pricing process to AI. Its recommendations engine generates 35% of the company’s revenue by setting optimal prices based on customers’ purchasing history. It is easy to calculate how much artificial intelligence lets the U.S. giant earn.

The Rise Of The Nano-Influencer And Activating Word-Of-Mouth Marketing

What’s more influential, an A-list celebrity or the Millennial with a knack for social media? While influencers may be taking the throne, there’s no right answer — different brands work with different tiers of creators for different reasons. And what might work for one brand may not work for another. Ultimately, creator selection is dictated by your intended impact. As of late, brands have been favoring micro-influencers for campaigns and collaborations thanks to their ability to reach niche audiences as well as — perhaps more importantly — their affordability against macro-influencers or celebrities. In an even further expansion into niche marketing, brands also have been tapping the nano-influencer, creators with no more than a couple of thousand followers whose audiences are even more focused. The nano-influencer provides that genuine word-of-mouth effect that so many brands strive for, building trust with consumers through that friend that’s always in the know (and really good at social media).

10 Things That Will Change As Gen Z Comes Into Buying Power

Generation Z is a consumer powerhouse. This isn’t a demographic that retailers can afford to ignore, since they will account for over 40% of retail purchases by 2020. Gen Z consumers are highly trend-sensitive and don’t have the same path-to-purchase as their predecessors –– instead, their shopping journey revolves around social media. To reach these discerning young shoppers, retailers need to reframe how they implement technology, source products and market their brands. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that retailers will need to pivot in the coming years to resonate with new age consumers.

How to Boost E-Commerce Revenue During A Slow Sales Month

If you’re scrambling to generate revenue during slower months, it can feel like you’re doing more for less. But don’t despair. There are still plenty of would-be buyers to be had. Driving revenue could be as easy as using seasonal slowdowns effectively, getting focused and implementing a few sales saving strategies to get you through the slump and back on the up and up. Think of the following practices like a Whole30 for your online store — a healthy way to get back on track and increase sales during inevitable downturns.

Why The Retail Supply Chain Demands Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is at the top of the agenda for many retailers; however, this is only the beginning of the retail industry’s efforts to embrace digital change. According to a 2018 report by SAP, only 22% of retailers investing in digital transformation were within the planning stage, and 55% were still running pilot schemes. Evidently, there was still a long way to go, as only 3% of retail businesses had completed digital transformation projects. Consumer demand has shifted, with fast-changing preferences seeing consumers demanding the products they want, when they want and where they want them. Today’s consumer lives in an ‘always-on’ world, driven by connected technologies centered around convenience. The retail sector has been slow to keep pace with this changing consumer demand, and unless it can accelerate the pace of digital transformation, the gulf between consumer demand and satisfaction will only grow wider, placing customer loyalty at risk.

Why Relevance At Scale Should Be The Number One Growth Priority

The industry continues to experience major shifts and companies are at a crucial point in their competitive and consumer journeys. Traditional market-leading positions are under threat. A combination of rapidly changing consumer needs and expectations and a levelling competitive playing field is creating a highly uncertain, disruptive environment — one full of challenges, but ripe with new possibility too. What’s the right play for consumer brands? The answer: relevance at scale. Today mobile-enabled consumers expect brands to know them inside out — and use that knowledge to deliver authentic products, services and experiences that are entirely relevant when it really matters.

Establishing Zero Distance Supply Chains – A Survival Necessity For CPG

(Left: Takshay Aggarwal, Middle: Manish Varshney, Right: Kishor Gummaraju) The key mission of every CPG company is to deliver its brand promise. The Baby Boomer generation drove the growth of packaged goods and made companies like Kellogg’s, P&G and Kraft Heinz household names and darlings of Wall Street. While the growth in the last three decades has been good, this engine has been slowing and has come to a grinding halt in the last five years, in the range of 0.6% to 1.0% growth. In addition, stocks of major CPG companies hit 52-week lows in a roaring stock market.
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