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.

What Walmart’s Aggressive E-Commerce Target Means To Your Brand

There's no other way to put it — Walmart's ambition is to match Amazon step for step. Just look at the company's October 2017 earnings report. Walmart, already the No. 2 e-Commerce player in the U.S., has set incredibly aggressive goals for 2018. The commerce giant aims to grow e-Commerce sales by 40%, add another 1,000 online grocery pickup locations and improve product returns through its mobile app. Walmart will lean on its suppliers in order to execute on these goals. They have asked their sellers to prioritize updating stellar product content and enabling store pickup in 2018. Take them at their word, or your brand seriously risks not benefitting from Walmart's overall e-Commerce efforts.

Personalization: A C-Level Priority

Achieving personalization at scale is increasingly being recognized as the “holy grail” of marketing. However, far too many CMOs are delegating the quest to their direct response teams, divorcing personalization from larger efforts to build a company’s brand. This approach is misguided and fails to leverage personalization as a tool for building brand equity while driving revenue.   Personalization is not just an initiative for mid-level marketing managers or product people anymore. The executive team can’t afford to take a hands-off approach as too many fundamental pillars of the business are at stake. A personalized consumer experience affects so many touch points across platforms that it needs to be a C-suite priority for online retailers, publishers, and travel brands.

Key Trends From The 2017 Holiday Shopping Season

The 2017 holiday shopping season was record-breaking. Black Friday sales alone totaled $5 billion — with customers spending more than $1 million per minute online, according to e-commerce platform Shopify. Additionally, Cyber Monday 2017 was the single largest shopping day worldwide in Amazon’s history — overcoming its annual summer sales holiday, Prime Day, by a long shot. Overall, it was estimated that retail sales from November 1 through December 24 (Christmas Eve) were up 4.9% over last year, the largest year-over-year increase since 2011, according to data from Mastercard SpendingPulse.

Battle For Position In Voice-Shopping War Heats Up

Smart speakers are the new best-selling consumer gadget, faster than AR, VR or wearables. Sales grew over 300% in 2017 alone. The voice shopping market is materializing rapidly as major players jockey for position during the holiday season, forging alliances and introducing new voice-activated smart speaker devices. Although voice shopping is still in its early stages, millions of users are buying smart speaker devices, with sales at the end of last year reaching a record high.

New Technology Levels The Playing Field For Physical Retailers

Online commerce has changed how people shop and how retailers market their wares, but new technologies are finally giving brick-and-mortar retailers the tools to go toe-to-toe with their online counterparts. While digital behemoths like Amazon are entering the in-person retail business and consumers are being served data-driven personalized ads every time they browse Facebook or Instagram, physical stores can now fight back with real-time analytics and data collection on customer behavior in the real world. If it sounds a little science fiction-y, that’s because it’s using the latest technologies and algorithms to keep track of the real world in a way that wasn’t possible just a few years ago. Using normal IP video cameras paired with advanced artificial intelligence software, we’re beginning to answer questions like: How long do customers take to decide on a purchase? What kinds of sales attract the most attention? What product placement encourages spontaneous purchases? Exactly how many people or passenger vehicles attended our event? What moments solicited the strongest positive emotional responses from shoppers or attendees? What did they not like, and how can we improve for tomorrow?

10 Things Retailers Need To Know About Blocking Good Customers

Retailers have come to expect some collateral damage in their never-ending battle against fraud. After all, it’s impossible to block fraudsters without accidentally blocking a few good customers, right? And false positives certainly seem better than a runaway fraud problem. But blocking good customers may hit a company’s bottom line harder than they’d think, and in ways they haven’t anticipated. Here are 10 things retailers need to know about blocking good customers as they work to grow their business.

Retailers As Media Companies

Back in the day, retailers were retailers and media companies were media companies. Then came the Amazon Media Group and over the past several years, their development — and similar ones by other retailers — have redefined what it means to be a media company. It’s a reality other retailers need to recognize and replicate if they hope to survive in a world where retail dominance and media might are tightly entwined. Retailers too stubborn, short-sighted or just plain too foolish to follow Amazon’s media path will put themselves firmly on the road to financial decay.

The Strategic Risk Of E-Commerce Fraud

As e-Commerce channels account for an ever-increasing share of consumer and business spending, payment fraud grows virtually in lockstep — and poses an ever-higher performance risk to its enterprise victims. Total payment card fraud volume worldwide rose 19% from 2015 to 2016, according to The Nilsen Report, a trade newsletter covering the card and mobile payment industries. That outpaced the 15% gain in card transaction volume. The problem was particularly bad in the U.S., where 12.75 cents of every $100 in transaction volume was fraudulent last year, compared with 3.73 cents for all other regions of the world combined.

The True Impact Of Self-Service

Self-checkout stores like Amazon Go and Walmart Scan & Go are hyped as holding the promise to revolutionize in-store experiences. In fact, some believe that the self-service concept is positioning itself as the heir to the customer service and convenience throne. However, this begs the question: does self-service really facilitate the change in service that customers expect from today’s stores? In 2017, Macy’s announced that it would bring its new self-service shoe concept to three Chicago-area stores, allowing customers to bypass the sales associate and just buy the shoes themselves. Macy’s is facilitating this initiative by bringing stock from the back room to the sales floor, giving customers quick access to the entire inventory. Along with offering self-service, Macy’s is also improving its merchandising and assortment strategies for shoes. Collectively, these initiatives have led to shoe sales increases that are “well above” that of regular stores. However, Macy’s and the media seem to boast about the self-service aspects rather than the tactics that improve in-store inventory, claiming that in-store shopping behavior has changed.

How Should Retailers Leverage IT Expertise During RFID Deployments?

IT departments are increasingly involved in retail RFID deployments, and for good reason. Along with store operations, they are responsible for systems, data and process infrastructure (or nervous system) across the retail chain. Based upon my experience, here are five critical areas at various times of an implementation where IT expertise is required to ensure successful RFID deployments. Perform frequent, accurate updates of product master data: If you want to reap benefits from an RFID implementation, it’s paramount to identify the information required and then maintain accurate and up-to-date data. After all, what good is tagging merchandise if you can’t keep up with new products as they are launched? Many apparel retailers have 10-14 new collection “seasons” per year. For some fast fashion retailers, that number could be as high as 50. So specify requirements ahead of time, and garner a clear understanding of all the information that needs to be put into the system. Pay particular attention to mapping out data fields correctly. And while updating inventory numbers daily may not be feasible, obtaining accurate information at least weekly if not more frequently will contribute to your project’s success.

Retail Price Myths Broken Down: The Shoppers Speak On Their Views Around Pricing And Promotions

In an era of ubiquitous Big Data, and where shoppers increasingly engage online at every phase of the purchase journey, we should have a more detailed understanding of shopper perceptions around price and promotion than ever before. Yet the reality is that retailers and industry pundits all too often blindly rely on conventional wisdom that is frighteningly out of synch with shoppers’ true sentiments about retail pricing and promotions. Rather than second-guess what’s in shoppers’ minds, we at Revionics decided to go straight to the source, commissioning Forrester Consulting to survey shoppers in the U.S., UK, France, Germany and Brazil.i

5 Things Multi-Location Retailers Need To Know For Effective Review Management

Do you know the business impact of your bad reviews on social media and other online outlets? The truth is, negative reviews cost more than you think. Research has suggested that just one bad review can cost you up to 30 new customers. No matter your industry — and especially in an industry as fickle as retail — these reviews can add up to millions in lost revenue.

NPS Only Tells A Piece Of A Retailer’s Health; Why Does The Industry Rely On It?

Acquiring new customers is hard work and costly, so making sure that customers are happy, coming back and buying again is every retailer’s number one priority. Which is, in part, why the retail industry has relied so heavily on Net Promoter Score (NPS) data to gauge customer satisfaction. But, while NPS gives insight into general customer satisfaction, i.e. likelihood to recommend, one of its major drawbacks is that it cannot be used to guide a business to the specific areas that need focus in order to improve. Certainly, NPS has its value. For example, NPS can be used to predict customer lifetime value, price sensitivity, willingness to try new products and a range of other metrics associated with loyalty. Therefore, when you see that you’ve done something to change your NPS score, you can estimate that change’s impact on financial outcomes. NPS also is valuable because it is easy to benchmark to your direct competitors on an ongoing basis.

The Secret To Retail In 2018: Win Customers With A Connected Workforce

Have you ever noticed the most successful retail businesses have a fairly simple plan? Author Michael Leboeuf said it best: “A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” What truly makes an exceptional customer experience is at the heart of every business — its employees. From stores to corporate headquarters to warehouses and distribution centers, employees are driving customer loyalty and creating lasting impressions on the shopping journey. Consumers now expect personalized and intelligent interactions with retail associates and brands. Employees expect mobility and connectivity regardless of locations to gain access to information anytime, anywhere. At the same time, technology teams are facing expanding complexities with dated legacy systems and the need to modernize infrastructure. If not addressed, these challenges can lead to high employee turnover, siloed communications, unsatisfied customers and inconsistent customer engagements.

The Truth Behind The AR/VR Hype

With smartphones paving the way for easy access to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), real opportunities are emerging for retailers and e-Commerce companies to engage with their consumers in new and creative ways. Both technologies are already shaking up retail. The AR/VR market is projected to amount to $120 billion by 2020, according to forecasts by Digi-Capital. Even now, companies are working on creating AR/VR platforms for experiential shopping online. Yet despite the obvious promise of AR and VR, there are still many barriers to widespread consumer adoption of these technologies. Chief among them are fragmentation and a lack of standards for sharing data. Google, Facebook and many other technology titans are now engaged in what will likely be a multi-year battle to become the company to fix this and control this emerging space.
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