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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.

How Technology Is Improving The Courier Industry

These days, technology is having a profound effect on the business world, making professional life easier and more productive. IoT technology specifically is revolutionizing several industries, including courier dispatch. For any courier company, staying ahead of deliveries is the key to producing happy customers. But with the current situation of vague five-to-eight-hour delivery slots, it’s hard to do so. That’s not to mention the boom in e-Commerce that is adding a lot more deliveries that need to take place.

How CX Will Make This Holiday Less Apocalypse And More Revival

As autumn moves into full swing, retailers work to finalize their preparations ahead of the holiday shopping surge. Each year, the fourth quarter plays a significant role in ensuring retailers remain profitable, but this season holds even more weight, as some experts predict it to be the most successful holiday season since the “retail apocalypse” began. The road to a profitable season is paved by those who do right by their customers; by those who provide a positive, personalized and multi-channel experience that leaves their customers wanting more.

Design Thinking For Retail Innovation

Having worked with the retail industry day in and day out, I have come to terms with the constant transformation that takes place in this world. However, the virtues that can hold the focus of your customers are ‘quality’ in quantity, ‘personalization’ between the usual, and ‘innovative value’ out of the molehill which is a constant amidst all the transformative change. Many a time, however, technology leaders fall short of asking the right questions to their business counterparts for a profitable quarter. After contemplating I realized that what they could be missing is ‘empathy.’ It is predicted that the year 2018 is the year of ‘Digital Transformation through empathy.’ And Incidentally, we do have a powerful framework at hand — the much talked about Design Thinking methodology, which allows you to empathize with your customers to find out their real need before creating something for their adoption.

How Home Delivery Services Have Changed Shopping Behaviors And Brand Loyalties

Home delivery is shaping the way businesses connect with their customers. Thanks to Amazon, the seismic shift in customer expectation and buying habits is not only felt throughout retail, but has even spawned new delivery-focused companies in other sectors such as Postmates and DoorDash.   Amazon became a revenue machine on the e-Commerce front primarily because of its Prime subscriptions that offer two-day shipping. Prime memberships have become a hallmark of the internet giant — exceeding 100 million paid Prime members globally despite losing vast sums of money on shipping.

Looking For A Competitive Advantage? Don’t Overlook Your Supply Chain

By 2021, 71% of logistics leaders believe their supply chain will be a key driver of quality customer service. But there’s a disconnect. Fewer than half of those same leaders view the supply chain as a key brand differentiator. We’re living and operating in the age of the consumer. Today, customer demands influence business decisions more than they ever have before. How companies deliver their goods, the experiences and value-added services they provide are now as important as the product itself. Shoppers want options and personalization. Companies like Stitch Fix and Imperfect Produce differentiate themselves by adding more value to the customer through their logistics. Stitch Fix delivers curated clothing and a personalized note from the stylist in every box. They also offer convenient try-on-and-exchange options to make the purchasing experience effortless. Imperfect Produce salvages ugly fruit and vegetables that otherwise wouldn’t make it to store shelves and delivers it to customers’ front doors. Subscribers can select the produce they want, including type, amount and where it’s sourced, and Imperfect will total how many pounds of food waste they save each week.

How Retailers Can Make The Most Of “America’s Hottest Job”

Bloomberg recently declared the data scientist to be “America’s Hottest Job,” citing a national trend of employing those with a master’s degree in applied statistics or similar training by leading companies such as Airbnb and Uber. This hiring trend is driven by company leaders who realize the importance of capturing, understanding and learning from the data they produce to improve operations. While understanding data is indeed key to future success in the retail and CPG industries, there may be better ways for these companies to use their efforts and resources, versus bringing this expensive and scarce talent in-house.

Using Location Intelligence To Boost Retail Efforts

Whether it is McDonald’s determining which locations are ripe for kiosk ordering systems or a mom-and-pop hardware store considering opening a second location, location intelligence and mapping technologies are valuable tools for retail and commercial industries. As over 15,000 users gathered together at Esri’s annual user conference this July know, a company that wants to reach new customers or users, expand offerings or break into a new market must first understand its core customer, and this often involves tapping into demographic information that helps shape smart business decisions. Analysts are able to use location intelligence powered by a modern geographic information system (GIS) to find insight on market conditions. This includes knowing what kind of products a customer browses and buys as well as what he or she cares about, and why he or she might be loyal to a particular brand. It’s a form of modern-day psychology that draws heavily on digital data to find insight on customer groups while respecting individuals’ privacy.

3 Ways Data Can Improve Customer Relationships

When it comes to data, marketers are under pressure to not only capture it, but to use it to good effect. The problem is that marketers have become adept at the first half of that equation and are now struggling to figure out the second half. Given how new marketing channels have come to the surface over the last few years — think social, voice and VR/AR marketing — there’s a tidal wave of data crashing down on marketers. The deluge is so great that marketers risk drowning in data if they can’t figure out how to navigate their way through it all. But it isn’t all bad news — having data is good, so long as you know what you have, why it matters to your goals, and how to use it to inform the next wave of consumer engagement. The next five years will focus on exactly this, with brands rethinking how they approach data strategies and determining which precise data points hold the most value. Only then will brands be able to effectively utilize and measure marketing strategies against bigger goals; beyond open rates, site visits and the like.

Beginner’s Guide To Building A Successful E-Commerce Web Site

Over the past decade, the volume of businesses that have established an online presence is astounding. It’s estimated that in the U.S. and Canada alone, there are approximately 1.3 million e-Commerce sites. Given this explosion of online stores, how is someone with little-to-no experience supposed to create an impactful web site that cuts through clutter, drives sales and fosters customer loyalty? Having observed many small businesses go from blank landing page to a three million dollar-a-year business, the Weebly team has taken notice of the best practices that help your online store drive business and repeat, happy customers.

The Deal Makers And Breakers Of Online Retail

Competition brings out the best in us. But in the present landscape of online retail, the competition is so fierce that if you are not constantly evolving your customer experience to meet — and exceed — the expectations of today’s shoppers, the same competitive fire that typically brings out your best may very well put you out of business. Through advances in technology, increased mobile acceptance and the well-documented demise of brick-and-mortar shopping, today’s virtual consumer has limitless options in where they buy, and the next purchase opportunity is as accessible as a click of the mouse. So what exactly makes an online sale, and what breaks one? If there was a universally accepted answer to that question, every last retailer’s online experience would look exactly the same, but that is far from the case. In order to shed some light on the answer to this all-important question, let’s examine responses from more than 1,300 online shoppers in a recent consumer behavior survey revealing up-to-date habits and preferences. Let’s begin with some deal makers.

AI, Real-Time, All-In-One: Personalization In Retail Explained

Despite personalization’s ‘must-have’ status in retail, it is also one of the industry’s most misunderstood concepts. Selecting and deploying personalization solutions is a challenge, and not due to lack of choice. In fact, there are numerous vendors that promise to enable personalized shopping experiences. In addition to an overpopulated marketplace, the industry is also confronted with another challenge: how to select and deploy personalization solutions when it is unclear what personalization looks like. Instead of thinking of physical, mobile, desktop, social etc. as individual channels, retailers must take a holistic view of their business that places the shopper at its heart. To achieve this, companies must truly understand their customer base and behavior, which means deploying the right personalization tools at the back end to deliver the right kind of personalized experience at the front end. Here’s how:

Managing The Details Can Help Differentiate The In-Store Fulfillment Experience

Omnichannel fulfillment, and specifically in-store fulfillment, has become table stakes for retailers of all shapes and sizes. But with this tactic officially being commoditized, retailers must do more to differentiate throughout the entire experience. Retail is rich with thoughtful resources on this topic, each analyzing, evaluating and opining on the industry’s latest trends, tactics and technologies. I do my best to help contribute to the collection on a regular basis. And while this vast collection of thought leadership can help set a powerful foundation for strategic store fulfillment decisions, I feel like we sometimes avoid the most important thing of all: our own opinions and experiences.

How Retailers And Suppliers Can Evaluate The Long-Term Impact Of In-Store Demos

The retail landscape is changing rapidly. In order to compete with online options, brick-and-mortar retailers must create amazing in-store experiences. Many are turning to a concept called Retailtainment, or retail marketing as entertainment. Author George Ritzer (in his book, Enchanting a Disenchanted World: Revolutionizing the Means of Consumption), describes Retailtainment as the "use of ambience, emotion, sound and activity to get customers interested in the merchandise and in a mood to buy." One retailtainment tactic is the in-store demo. Large retailers love them, because they draw customers and not only boost same-day sales of the demonstrated items, but also typically boost category sales. Plus, retailers collect a fee from the manufacturer.

The 7 Ways Strong Product Content Can Improve SEO

What makes for better SEO is constantly changing. In fact, Google changes its search algorithm 500 to 600 times each year. With this in mind, how can brands make sure their customers can easily find their products online and beat out their competitors? The answer lies in how brands position their online product content. For example, if a pair of shoes being sold online has only one photo, a short description and no reviews, it’s far from likely that they’ll ever have a high enough search ranking for customers to find them. On the other hand, a pair of shoes from a competitor’s page that has a detailed description, unique content and lots of customer reviews will organically earn higher SEO value, no matter which iteration of Google’s algorithm is live.

Holiday Marketing In October? You Better Believe it

Retailers often bring in as much as 30% of their total sales during the holiday season. With so much revenue on the line, this massive opportunity puts an equally massive amount of pressure on ambitious online businesses. Not only do they have to balance finding new shoppers, omnichannel campaigns, and optimizing on past successes — they also have to provide personalized and seamless customer experiences. Easy enough, right? If you’ve already started thinking about all of this, congratulations! You’re a few steps ahead of most online businesses. One of the biggest misconceptions about holiday marketing is that it starts right before Black Friday. Nope. That’s too late.
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