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.

Four Strategic Ways Retailers Can Use Location Data Beyond Advertising

It’s widely assumed that location data is collected primarily for the purposes of targeting and advertising — like the time American Eagle Outfitters geofenced its outlet stores to deliver nearby customers timely promotions and notifications in the malls’ parking lots — to boost not only foot traffic but sales. While location data does enable a variety of successful advertising initiatives, what’s often overlooked is its broader, strategic business power. Location intelligence — generated from opt-in data that is thoroughly cleansed and, most importantly, aggregated and anonymized — can provide retailers with invaluable insights about their customers (both current and prospective), telling the stories of where they go and what they do there. Armed with these insights, retailers can better understand the markets in which they operate, the behaviors and motivations of their customers, and even benchmark against their competition.

Cross-Border Competition: Top Three Tips For E-Commerce Global Expansion

Must Compete with Amazon. It’s a mantra for many retailers in today’s day and age. Shifting consumer expectations around e-Commerce have challenged retailers that are still struggling to turn around two-day deliveries or meet online-order customer care needs. Unfortunately, the next big hurdle retailers must overcome is already here...succeeding at cross-border e-Commerce. Amazon made headlines earlier this year when they reported that more than a quarter of all revenue for sellers globally was from cross-border transactions, an increase of more than 50% from the year prior. Amazon’s current cross-border sales amount to between $50 billion and $75 billion USD. Cross-border e-Commerce is a major, ongoing area of focus for the industry giant, and other powerful players such as Walmart and Alibaba. A recent study from UPS reinforced this growing opportunity for retailers who dare to break borders. The study revealed that cross-border e-Commerce sales are set to grow 25% per year on average, twice as fast as domestic e-Commerce.

What Big Retailers Can Learn From E-Commerce Startups

Technology is a tool. A commodity. But its effect on business models and competition is time relative. Today, no company has an advantage over their competitors because of how they leverage landline phones. But at one time, long before the world knew of “Internet companies,” the business world was in thrall to “telephone companies.” To be clear, these were not companies involved in the manufacturing of telephones or service providers — these were companies using telephones! Telephones were no doubt a competitive advantage, but like all technologies, an advantage that erodes with time. To stay ahead of the competition, companies are constantly looking for the next technological advantage — the modern version of the mid-20th century telephone. This drive is most evident with technology companies that are built around innovating in the digital space.

9 Sales Tax Tips To Keep Your Small Business Mighty

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair has redefined sales tax, and every business selling online will need to assess its impact. Interpreting the implications of new policies across different states is far from the only sales tax challenge small businesses will face in 2018. Changing tax rates and rules, along with transaction and invoice data residing in multiple systems, will continue to complicate sales tax for the remainder of the year and beyond. As a result, many small business owners and operators are struggling to keep up with filing correctly. There’s a better way. Here are nine tips to help your company avoid costly errors and audit headaches — and focus on growth and success.

How Today’s Game-Changing CIOs Are Driving Retail Results

For years, CIOs were seen as order takers rather than change agents or strategic drivers of company growth. That perception is shifting; today’s retail workforce demands more from IT. The employee composition has shifted to include new positions with unique needs, from warehouse associate to e-Commerce manager. The standard corporate IT stack no longer cuts it when it comes to maximizing both employee and customer experiences. Meeting these evolving demands requires investing in IT, but the true “secret sauce” lies in hiring a game changing CIO. As the CIO of Fuze, a communications and collaboration software company, I have had the pleasure of working with many of these visionary IT leaders across industries. Retail is one of those industries that finds itself at a unique inflection point. Today’s game changing CIOs are doing a lot more than helping manage costs or tech buys. They are changing the fabric of how companies work. These IT leaders understand that digital transformation is a continuum, not an event with a finite end. It is a continuous effort to modernize work streams with technology and automation.

The Fractional Ownership Of Everything

The “modern” consumer is rethinking the value of ownership. Over the last several years they’ve come to realize that the sharing of items and services is cheaper, less burdensome, more convenient and better for the environment than traditional ownership. While this peer-to-peer (P2P) way of sharing may seem like an entirely new concept, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The sharing of goods and services has taken many forms throughout history. In fact, Benjamin Franklin is credited with founding the first modern library some 300 years ago. His concept embodied how we think of “fractional ownership” today: A central body (a library) acquires assets (books) and makes them available to consumers (readers) for a sufficient amount of time so that he or she can glean value from the asset without buying it themselves. It took nearly 240 years after Mr. Franklin’s concept to take root in a commercially viable way in the United States, when the rental company as we know it today began popping up in towns across the U.S. soon after World War II.

Top Predictions For AI, Big Data, Pricing By 2025

I’ve been in the retail pricing industry for the past 40 years as an entrepreneur and tech innovator. I wanted to share with you where I think AI, Big Data and Algorithmic Retailing are headed in the next few years, and I’m going to make five predictions about the state of the industry and what it is going to look like in 2025. [To view the video of Ken’s predictions, go to:]

In Today’s Commerce World, There Are Clear Winners And Losers

As physical and digital commerce converge, the brands dominating and thriving in the market are those optimally engaging customers, meeting their expectations and delivering consistent, stellar, personalized brand experiences across the enterprise. Expanding channels, marketplaces and consumer expectations are also pressuring manufacturers and distributors to both improve fulfillment and service levels for their retail clients, and to develop direct-to-consumer digital commerce channels. In a race to compete, it is the retail fast eating the retail slow.

Innovative Use Cases Leveraging RFID In Retail

With the integration of RFID, brands are finding ways to gain greater real-time insights beyond the store shelf via on-site and off-site inventory visibility, allowing them to improve inventory accuracy, product return efficiency and loss prevention. According to Accenture, research showed 73% of retailers have implemented or were currently implementing or piloting RFID, almost double the number from 2014. A top trend driving implementation continues to be RFID as the engine for visibility in retail as it’s a critical enabler of improving efficient uses of assets and inventory management, as well as improving the productivity of employees’ time utilization and retail execution. However, benefits don’t stop at visibility, as consumer engagement scenarios are also proving to drive consumer engagement, education and omnichannel experiences.

Data Makes The Difference: How Direct-To-Consumer Brands Can Take Data And Personalization To The Next Level

The e-Commerce world is constantly transforming thanks to the rise of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands over the past few years. From razor blade subscription services to major apparel brands, more and more companies are tapping the Internet to sell their products straight to customers. DTC sales are expected to increase by 71% in 2018 alone, according to Forbes. While DTC business models are profiting from eliminating third-party resellers that have typically served as middlemen, one of the biggest benefits of this shift is that brands are now able to learn more about their customers than ever before. By owning the customer relationship from start to finish, brands are able to collect a wide range of transactional, behavioral, demographic and CRM data.

The Death Of The Store? How Digital Technology Can Breathe New Life Into Physical Retail

While retail stores are closing at an alarming rate, the demise of physical retail is exaggerated. In fact, America’s top retail chains reported a net increase of 4,000 new store openings in 2017 and are projecting a further net increase of more than 5,500 new stores in 2018. Over the past two years, retail growth in the U.S. exceeded that of GDP by nearly a full percentage point and is expected to continue to outperform GDP for at least the next two to three years. U.S. retail is a $4.8 trillion market with specialty, discount and grocery stores leading current growth. However, general merchandise stores, especially department stores, are struggling to compete with players like Amazon and Walmart that offer a wide range of products, lower prices and the convenience of easy, online transactions. Fortunately, while a significant segment of consumers prefer shopping online, a comparable segment enjoy the in-store shopping experience. This presents an opportunity for retailers to create unique, personalized experiences that inspire buyers at the point of discovery and decision as well as the end transaction.

Brands Find Their Voice And Take Back Digital

Over the last 10 years, advances in technology have led to the rise in affiliate and aggregator web sites. At the onset of the e-Commerce industry, brands were happy that retailers such as Amazon were helping drive revenue through online. But as the digital world took shape and online became an essential part of the business, brands realized those once-valuable online partners were now cannibalizing their revenue streams. Now, as brands strike a balance between online and in-store strategy, they’re experimenting with new, more powerful approaches to take back revenue from their third-party competition. To understand this shift, it’s helpful to take a look at how the struggle between online and offline began. When the Internet first started to take shape, marketers dabbled in the online world, creating simple destinations to secure a web presence for consumers who were active on the new medium. Yet despite the allure of online, there was still hesitation when it came to using the platform for purchasing. Consumers were concerned with associated risks (buying before trying, sharing personal data, etc.) and brands weren’t ready to fully invest in building e-Commerce destinations as brick-and-mortar was still their bread and butter.

Creating A Data-Dominant Retail Organization In An E-Commerce World

If 2017 is any indication for the future of e-Commerce, chances are online shopping is not slowing down anytime soon. For example, according to a recent U.S. Department of Commerce Study, more than 12% of all retail spending in 2017 occurred online, with over $105 billion in sales during Q2 2017 alone. This change in pace speaks to the fact that shoppers are increasingly comfortable using the Internet for even more of their shopping needs. And while these numbers are incredibly excitingfor e-Commerce and omnichannel retailers, having even a small disconnect within their online data structure can mean potential havoc. Therefore, creating a data-dominant retail organization that actively analyzes and brings together product and behavioral data and ensures overall data protection is a major component of ensuring success in today’s e-Commerce-led environment.

Right Product, Right Place: Positioning Inventory For Omnichannel Success

People talk about retail reinventing itself, but if we’re honest with ourselves, the key elements are the same today as they have always been. Call the state of retail today “omnichannel” or call it “unified commerce,” but it’s still “retail.” At the end of the day, the fundamentals of retail have always been about getting the right product to the right place at the right time. The challenge is figuring out how to get valuable inventory closer to where the customer needs it to be, but before solving for that equation, what steps should a retailer take?
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