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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.

Understanding Generational Differences: Why More Data Should Mean More Value For Customers

You have likely heard a lot about Millennials — roughly 80 million Americans ages 23 to 41 — and perhaps a bit less about Generation Z — roughly 70 million Americans ages 7 to 22. Chances are, though, you have heard from Gen Z more than you realize. These younger generations are sharing vast amounts of information. Not surprisingly, they are actively engaged on social media sites and feeds. Up to 60% of Millennials on Twitter tweet every day, 96% of Gen Z teens are on YouTube, and almost 70% of Gen Z is on Instagram. As social media provides an opportunity for conversation, both generations share freely — photos, jokes, current events and their thoughts on a wide variety of topics, as they seek ways to connect and feel known, loved and respected. These younger generations say they feel more connected by virtue of participation and feel they are getting something in return.

Your 2019 Retail Innovation Playbook

Today more than ever, people seek out meaningful, shareable experiences in their daily lives. We see evidence of it everywhere. Travel, theme parks, fitness studios, concerts, movie theaters, casinos, restaurants. Each offers an experience. Each arms its recipient with a story to share. One segment that hasn’t kept up with this ‘rise of experience’ trend, however, is retail. People didn’t abandon shopping. Retailers abandoned shoppers. They took shoppers for granted, and assumed they would remain loyal to old habits. Look no further than the weekly bankruptcy headlines to get a feel for the damage this type of dogmatic thinking has done to the industry.

iPaaS: E-Commerce Integrations For Happy Online Shoppers

Purchases via e-Commerce channels are expected to grow from 9% to 14% of all US retail sales by 2021. With 80% of shoppers shopping online monthly, and one-third shopping weekly, e-Commerce is expected to continue annual double-digit growth for several years. In this landscape, an explosion of new applications and services has become available to help retailers ride this tremendous wave of growth. These applications and services make it easier for companies to reach and target potential shoppers, merchandise products, offer personalized interactions, outsource fulfillment, provide seamless returns and many other capabilities to successfully grow in the online channel.

How To Handle Unauthorized Sellers On Amazon

It’s fairly obvious that Amazon is growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, Amazon was estimated in July 2018 to own 49.1% of all online retail purchases in the U.S., and 5% of total retail purchases in the U.S. If you think about it, it’s pretty insane. And it doesn’t show any signs of stopping any time soon.

2019 Retail Predictions: Surprise Partnerships, Robot Coworkers And A Brick-And-Mortar Renaissance

As we’ve seen throughout this past year, consumer shopping patterns and behaviors have undergone a fundamental shift as technology and social media have created new avenues of distribution and access. Consumers are savvier, more quickly decisive and also have ever-higher expectations around retailer responsiveness and product personalization.Shoppers have readily opened up their pocketbooks during this holiday season, with technology contributing greatly at every stage of the shopping journey — both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. Retail in 2018 was driven by speed, technology and constant evolution. Over the next year the accelerated pace of innovation will continue — from the reinvention of brick-and-mortar, to novel brand partnerships, to humans partnering harmoniously with their robot colleagues.

4 Keys To Building A Successful Gift Card Program

With little time left in the holiday season, many Americans are eagerly scrambling to put together last-minute presents for everyone from loved ones to work friends. Perhaps they need the perfect bite-sized gift for an acquaintance, or would like to introduce someone to a brand he or she may like. At this time of year, no product reduces consumer stress better than a gift card. Frantic shoppers often rely on gift cards during the last-minute spending rush, meaning gift card programs, also referred to as branded currency programs, represent a strong growth opportunity for merchants hoping to capitalize on consumer enthusiasm. To avoid wasting this chance, the smartest merchant program managers are partnering with marketing, sales and merchandising experts. These departments are best equipped to drive the direction and execution of gift card campaigns, given their experience managing revenue-generating projects.

Analysis Paralysis: How Brick-And-Mortar Can Compete With Data That Matters

“Survival” is the word of the year for department stores. Since the online boom, digital has slowly — but surely — chipped away at the medium’s profits and the perceived value these establishments can offer. Consumers are firmly grounded in the online era of commerce. And while outliers exist, several stores are being forced into a make-or-break moment of viability. How then can a department store thrive in this familiar, but ever-changing, landscape? Can they follow a model like Saks Fifth Avenue, which now has workout gyms, boot camps and smoothie bars to draw people in? It’s questionable since these offerings vary in scalability. Or maybe they can be more like Walmart, a company flourishing in the digital age? It’s unlikely.

Successful Experiential Retail Demands A Connected Workforce

Experiential retail can present unexpected challenges. For instance, in July 2018, North American retailer Build-a-Bear had to end a special “pay your age” promotional day early because the deluge of customers challenged the stores’ inventory and staffing capabilities. The well-intentioned day quickly became chaotic with hours-long lines across Build-a-Bear’s stores in the U.S. and Canada. While brick-and-mortar stores should prioritize experiential retail opportunities like these, they also need to make sure that an enhanced consumer experience doesn’t come at the expense of internal preparedness. That’s where it pays to focus more on simplified workforce communication and task management.

More Holiday Sales Cheer, Less Returns Season Fear: Optimizing Your Returns Strategy on Amazon

Each year, the season of giving also sparks the season of giving back —  and not of the philanthropic measure. With U.S. holiday sales projected to increase nearly 5% this year over last, and averaging as much as 30% of a store’s total annual revenue, the holidays present a massive profit potential for brands and retailers. However, these increased product sales can also lead to increased returns once the wrapping paper is torn off. In fact, one in three people will return a gift, amounting to about $90 billion in merchandise returned to U.S. retailers. Returns are a recurring pain point for all retailers, but as return rates for e-Commerce purchases triple those of in-store purchases, they are a much larger threat to profit potential for brands and retailers on Amazon. When you begin to add up shipping costs, picking and packaging fees, refurbishing fees, advertising costs and customer support, it becomes clear how much returns can cut into profit margins. In many cases, the combined losses from these fees equals 50% of the shelf price of the item, an almost guaranteed loss of profit on that item. When managed properly, returns can also create opportunities to drive new sales…

Consumers Are Willing To Pay More For Better Customer Service. They Shouldn’t Have To

You’ve probably seen the statistic. Consumers are willing to pay up to 16% more for a better customer experience, according to PwC. Everything from wait times to hold music has steadily deteriorated in quality over the past two decades due to retailers’ over-reliance on tech and a shortage of experienced call center customer service agents. Every day, consumers across the U.S. spend hours of their lives dealing with robots that aren’t built to meet their basic or even more complex questions and needs, or agents who aren’t prepared to. There’s a more accurate, practical and consumer-centric way to understand the issue: the brick-and-mortar customer service model is broken. In other words, the problem we’re facing isn’t consumers expecting more, but brands delivering less.

From Catalogs To E-Commerce: Using Personalization To Deliver Customer Loyalty

In Venice in 1498, publisher Aldus Manutius created a catalog of the books he was printing. 15th century Europe was going through a publishing revolution. The invention of the Gutenberg press and movable type in the mid-1400s opened a world of mass printing. By the end of the century, there were 417 presses just in Venice — one of the major printing centers — and the output of the western European printing industry had reached twenty million volumes.

Data Monetization: Gaining, And Maintaining, A Competitive Edge In The Age Of Amazon And Era Of Consumer Trust

If retailers could improve omnichannel conversations with customers, why wouldn’t they? Because change is difficult, and trying to keep pace in an increasingly complex retail world can be challenging at best. Data monetization is a perfect example. Though an increasing number of change advocates across the retail industry recognize the advantages of monetizing data, for everything from adapting business models for e-Commerce to measuring brand sentiment, not all retailers have successfully kept pace with the changing landscape, and there is more to be learned by all. Those who do “get it” are helping their company leverage this revenue stream in new ways, to compete and differentiate themselves in the competitive retail ecosystem, and are doing so while keeping consumer trust and transparency top of mind. Here’s how.

Audiovisual Technology Leads To Better Business Outcomes For Retailers

Leading retailers are implementing top-down audiovisual (AV) transformations of their brick-and-mortar stores to drive traffic, reinforce brand and offer customers experiences that can’t be had online. Whether they sell beauty products, mattresses or home storage solutions, retailers can benefit from AV technologies that help customers make decisions, test options, learn about product benefits and connect the in-store experience with online shopping. At the International Retail Design Conference, AVIXA, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association, moderated a panel titled “Embracing Audiovisual Experiences to Fuel Retail Growth,” that featured Rebekah Sigfrids, VP of Store Design for Sephora; Angela Gearhart, VP of Brand Experience for Sleep Number; and Robyn Novak, VP of FRCH, the design firm behind the Container Store’s new digitally-enhanced Dallas flagship store.

How Do Small Merchants Tackle 'Amazonization'?

Amazon has transformed the retail world. From humble roots, this little online bookstore has become one of the largest businesses on earth. Indeed, Amazon’s pervasive position has spawned a new concept, with a rather awful name, Amazonization. This refers to the wholesale disruption occurring across retail and e-Commerce thanks to the leviathan-like presence of companies like, well, Amazon.
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