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.

Mobile Retargeting In A Cookieless World

I’ve read countless stories about crumbling cookies in mobile advertising, which typically include a level of fear for what this means for advertisers. What I say to that is fear not, marketers, some ad tech companies have been preparing for some time now. Retargeting on mobile has had distinctly different strategies for mobile web and mobile apps. While Apple may have recently announced restrictions to cookies in Safari mobile, in-app advertising was built using persistent advertiser IDs for personalizing ads rather than cookies. This comes as a benefit to advertisers who have focused on advertising in-app.

Retail Trend 2018: The Rising Popularity Of Subscription Programs

“Will retail fare better or worse in 2018?” It’s the question on everyone’s lips. It’s a controversial topic to be sure, but everyone can agree that change is in the air. One industry trend we’ve seen is retailers experimenting with physical subscriptions that allow them to ship products directly to consumers. Companies such as Ann Taylor, Gap, JCPenney and Under Armour have recently begun to test the waters with subscription services, and that trend will certainly continue this year.

For A Limited Time Only: How Companies Can Use Data To Create A Sense Of Urgency

Retail marketers have used scarcity — the diminishing supply of a product or service — as a way to attract customers for years. Research has proven that scarcity makes people perceive limited quantities as more precious and valuable. We’ve all seen and heard the advertisements: “Limited time offer!” “While supplies last!” “This offer won’t last long!”

The Art Of The Possible — How IoT Is Reshaping Retail

The Internet of Things (IoT) is creating new opportunities to drive competitive advantage in retail. Retailers have long touted potential use cases for IoT, from predictive maintenance to temperature sensors. And before that, talk of the “RFID revolution” and its promise to transform inventory management dates back almost 20 years. While RFID technology is often seen as a precursor to IoT, the truth is the retail sector has been slow to invest in IoT.

The Emergence Of Conversation Commerce And The Implications For Merchants

The next great market shift is here. 2017 proved that the long-promised "smart home" is finally here — and this has distinct implications for merchants. Central to the smart home is the voice-activated personal assistant, which in turn gives rise to conversation commerce, the intersection of "chat" apps and shopping. If there was still any doubt, the success of Alexa during the 2017 holiday shopping season should put that to rest. Alexa, Amazon's voice-activated personal assistant, was the #1 app for both Android and iPhone on Christmas Day. The software's flagship device, the Echo Dot, was the #1 bestselling item in any category on with millions sold. Amazon does not release sales numbers for their devices, but they did announce that "tens of millions" of Alexa-enabled devices were sold over the holidays, meaning that there is now roughly one Alexa device for every two American households.

5 Steps To Avoiding A Data Breach

Seems like another retailer announces a data breach every day and each is worse than the one before. Target and Home Depot seem like a distant memory since Equifax, Uber and a dozen more in the past few months. We all know standard security is broken, but what can we do about it? Most retailers already implement best practices like rotating passwords, requiring multi-factor authentication (MFA) and notifying customers of suspicious behavior. While these sound great on paper, they aren’t enough. To actually reduce the threat of a breach, retailers have to do more:

Pervasive Intelligence: The New Sales Assistant For The Digital Age

As traditional retailers up their game against the disruptive digital pure plays, they’re rediscovering an essential attribute: their purpose. It’s this which ultimately differentiates how they offer, how they sell and how they operate. And the most successful are blending their core purpose with advanced digital technologies to maximize operational efficiency and experiment with new forms of in-store engagement. It’s all about taking the best of the digital and the best of the physical to forge stronger, more powerful connections with customers — and making a clear declaration of who they are and what they are here to do. These ideas are at the heart of this year’s Accenture Technology Vision, which identifies a series of current technology trends with critical implications for retailers today. Here’s how retail leaders are using technology and purpose to regain the advantage in the digital economy.

4 Market Conditions Retailers Must Understand For Successful Sourcing

“Source. Sell. Repeat”. This, in a nutshell, is what e-Commerce — or any commerce for that matter — is all about. For thousands of years, people have made a living by sourcing products and selling them. But while the basic idea remains the same, the tools of the trade change constantly. In fact, the pace of change keeps accelerating. For the past decade or so, data has been the name of the game. With the ability to track the entire workflow and break it down into components came the ability to understand the weak points in the funnel. This understanding is the first step on the way to optimization. Even minute changes can increase margins and contribute to profitability or reduce inefficiencies.

Former Home Depot CEO Reveals Rules For Leadership At Aptos Engage

When Frank Blake became chairman and CEO of The Home Depot in 2007 — after then-CEO Robert Nardelli stepped down amid criticism of his pay package and management style — the first thing he did was focus on the core of the company. The retailer operated a variety of different store banners and formats, including Expo Design Center, YardBIRDS and HD Bath, and Blake cut them all. He also took a half-billion-dollar write-off to stop building new stores. “For the last 11 years, The Home Depot built very few stores as we grew sales by approximately $40 million,” he said during a keynote at the Aptos Engage conference, held April 16-19 in Las Vegas.  Blake shared valuable leadership and business lessons learned during his time at The Home Depot. “[These lessons] were learned very rapidly because I didn’t have the time to sit and study,” said Blake. “I had the benefit of having worked for some extraordinary leaders in the past. I worked for Jack Welch (former chairman and CEO of GE). Earlier in my career, I worked for George H. W. Bush, I worked for George Bush the son as Deputy Secretary of Energy and I worked for Ronald Reagan. So…

How Technology Debt Prevents Retailers From Delivering The Experience Customers Want

Every week, it seems, another prominent retailer announces store closings. Nearly 7,000 stores shut their doors in 2017, according to FGRT, including Sears, Payless ShoeSource, JCPenney and Macy’s. That was more than in 2008, when the global financial crisis hit. These store closings can be broadly blamed on a failure to meet customer expectations. Consumers today expect an experience that is relevant, timely, accurate and consistent. They expect any item to be available anytime, anywhere — in a store, online, via mobile app or by phone. Failure to meet that standard translates to lost revenue that leads to shuttering stores. A seamless customer experience is the lone path to success for retailers today.

AI – Customer Experience Friend Or Foe?

The idea of using artificial intelligence in customer service is nothing new. Up until recently, though, it either felt too far-fetched (like something Hollywood cooked up) or actual implementations — like interactive voice response systems — were more faulty than helpful. Customers hate using these systems and agents hate the fact that they are on the receiving end of frustrated customers who this technology has failed.

How Wearables Are Reshaping Customer Loyalty

Financial technology describes the evolving connection of financial services and technology, disrupting traditional financial services, including mobile payments, money transfers, loans, fundraising and more. From new financial services that, until recently, one could only get from banks or financial advisors, to innovative payment products (wearables), FinTech is transforming the customer journey and the way shoppers interact with brands.

Meet 2018 Goals By Making Payment Solutions Your Next Loyalty Campaign

Returning customers drive more than 22% of retailer revenue and spend 15% more than new customers on any given order, according to a study by StitchLabs. Given this obvious financial incentive, not to mention the high cost of attracting and activating new customers, investment in programs that drive loyalty and customer retention is essential. Today’s tech landscape and proliferation of e-Commerce offers more opportunity than ever for retailers of all sizes to leverage cost-effective retention strategies at one key element of their operations: the POS. “We believe customers are first and foremost loyal to the solutions that solve their problems and we are passionate about that,” said Patrick Gauthier, VP of Amazon Pay. “Today over 50% of Amazon Pay buyers are Amazon Prime customers, demonstrating the benefit of providing familiar, trusted payment methods wherever they shop.”

Reframing Retail — Getting Underneath The Headlines And Hype

There isn’t an industry today devoid of technology. It has completely revolutionized the ways in which business gets done — from improving personalized customer knowledge through data, to reducing costs and increasing accuracy in supply chains, to using chatbots and other artificial intelligence (AI) to improve customer service. For the consumer, tech has leveled the playing field — most immediately, from a customer service perspective. Treated unfairly on a flight? Tweet about it. Experience a product fail? Take pictures and email them to customer service. But the extent of retailers’ technological support cannot just emerge when things go wrong. Tech in the retail space must be about making experiences seamless throughout the journey. Perhaps when that happens, we’ll see less volatility in the industry.

Pumping Up The Balloon: How To Grow Retail Customer Counts

Why is everybody talking about customer counts — the number of customers coming into the database, buying for the first time, buying again, fading away and leaving — these days? Digital advertising metrics say that our campaigns are working. Our metrics suggest the same is true for our direct marketing efforts. Yet, the company reports a flat or shrinking top line. This dilemma has retail CEOs and marketers rethinking how they let profit and loss (P&L) statements guide their marketing and their customer relationships. It’s a dated, inflexible approach that is costing many retailers dearly at a time when they can least afford it. Think of a brand’s portfolio of customers as an expandable balloon. The goal is to grow the size of active customers in the balloon making purchases and contributing revenue. What is an active customer? Most brands say it’s anyone who has purchased in the last 12 months, a benchmark they use to report progress to stakeholders and shareholders every year. But the balloon isn’t getting bigger as they continue pumping it with new customers; in many cases, it is shrinking.
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