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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.

Three Essential Tips In Preserving Next-Gen Customers

What’s the secret behind the success of today’s best young consumer-facing brands? Authenticity and personalized experience curation. Realistically, the customer isn’t always right, but without servicing them in a way that resonates, businesses won’t thrive. Seems logical, doesn’t it? Apparently not. Almost daily one could find headlines about the disconnect between legacy brands and their consumer base, whether it’s ethical discrepancies (Hey Facebook!) or basic customer service needs (à la United Airlines). While it’s difficult to quantify how much budget is allocated on average to bettering customer service across industries, clearly it’s not a top priority for many companies. If nothing else, 2018 taught us that customer service is integral to attracting and retaining today’s more discerning and fickle consumers, and that without a personalized approach your business will take both a financial and public relations hit.

Myths Vs. Facts: Debunking Myths In Retail Payments

In our bustling retail landscape — today’s most competitive market — it’s hard to believe that many online merchants, particularly those based in the U.S., avoid access to global transactions. When considering U.S. cross border e-Commerce is expected to bring in $203 billion by 2021, it should be a no-brainer for online retailers to consider capitalizing on the growth potential that exists beyond American borders. But even with online transactions being more popular than ever before, payments fraud and security scams run rampant across the online commerce exchange — a paramount concern for merchants apprehensive about expanding to international markets.

What The Modern Grocery Store Can Teach Other Brick-And-Mortar Businesses

On a recent family visit to upstate New York I found myself in DeCicco & Sons, the local grocery store chain, when my niece suggested we grab a drink. I was enthusiastic but a bit befuddled as she led me through the frozen section until I saw that, lo and behold, this grocery store had a microbrewery right on the premises. Sipping my IPA and watching the shopping carts drift by got me thinking that few industries are innovating on their brick-and-mortar experience at the pace of grocery stores, and there’s a lot that restaurants, banks and any other businesses with physical locations can learn about attracting and maintaining relationships with digital-native consumers.

Technology In Retail; Dynamic Pricing In Store — One Possible Future

John Russo, our Retail leader, and I recently visited Amazon’s 4 Star store in New York City. The concept is simple enough — popular items, biased towards gifts/specialty items, with 4-star reviews or higher on Amazon.  I walked in expecting to see a lot of the technology innovations that we’ve come to expect from an Amazon Go or similar concept… but realistically it looked like a nice, normal gift shop…no crazy ceiling with a million cameras or other loads of unusual hardware. What the store did have was Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs). At Eversight we’re a big fan of ESLs and their breakthrough capabilities when it comes to digitizing the physical shelf. But a big dilemma that we wonder about is how ESLs will realistically support dynamic pricing in store. 

E-Commerce Search Is On The Verge Of A New Era

After Baymard Institute completed a large-scale usability study on e-Commerce search in 2014, the web usability research firm declared it was “tempted to declare the current state of e-Commerce search ‘broken.’” When test subjects were assigned product-finding tasks on various sites, they were unable to locate the item almost one-third (31%) of the time. When shoppers can’t find what they want within the first set of results, they don’t rethink their searching behavior and try different strategies. After all, these people have high expectations for the search experience after years of using Google’s AI-powered engine.

Data As Currency: Personalization With Permission Increases Share Of Wallet

The scales of power are tipped in favor of the consumer. With a single click or tap of a button, consumers can order anything they want and have it delivered in mere minutes to their doorstep. But it’s no longer enough for brands and retailers to have a one-way conversation with customers. The majority of individuals demand a two-way dialogue. That means companies must not only streamline the checkout process, they also have to provide consumers with a personalized experience along the way. The shift from transactional to meaningful customer relationships requires data from the consumer to personalize the process. But just as consumers are in control of their path to purchase, they are also in charge of their personally identifiable information (PII). They can enable push notifications or text messages to alert them about the next best offer, and they can certainly choose which data they want to allow brands and retailers to have access to. They expect that brands will request permission to use their data — and if/when they hand over their information, they want it to be used to enhance their experience. These new levers of consumer power are driving changes in marketing behavior.

Minimizing Legal Risks For Retailers That Use Biometric Data

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools offer retailers large chunks of data that are helpful in creating robust customer profiles, as well as curated and frictionless customer experiences. Many retailers are aware of the benefits offered by the subset of AI tools that involve biometric data. Facial recognition technology is automating and improving the customer experience in both the online (mobile try-on features) and brick-and-mortar (cashierless stores) sales environments. Some retailers use it as an asset protection measure (to identify known shoplifters). Fingerprinting employees is likewise automating retail timekeeping and jumpstarting wellness programs. Third-party vendors are out in the marketplace aggressively pitching retailers on the exciting benefits of cutting-edge technology tools. Yet retailers’ use of biometric data in certain jurisdictions presents legal and compliance challenges distinct from other types of data. Select state privacy statutes and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) impose additional requirements on businesses that collect or utilize biometric data from either customers or employees. While no federal law preempts those state statutes, the Federal Trade Commission has issued guidance on facial recognition technology that cites its authority under Section 5 of the FTC Act to police unfair or deceptive biometric data practices.

Winning On Google: How Retailers Can Evolve Their Search Strategies

When it comes to search engine optimization, our work is never done. That’s because Google’s algorithms are constantly changing, as they work to provide the most relevant information easier and faster. With this mind, here are four important steps retailers can take to evolve their search strategies and achieve greater online visibility:

EPrivacy — Are You Ready For The Next Chapter In Data Compliance?

In May 2018, for the first time retailers have had to think very carefully about the data they collect, for what purpose, and how they process it, after being hit with the most significant changes to data protection laws in the UK for 20 years. Three new regulations, including the infamous GDPR, were introduced simultaneously, which together with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Act of 2003 form the four sets of data protection regulations that retailers must comply with.

Employees Are The Key To A Successful Product Launch

A new product launch is an exciting time for a brick-and-mortar retailer — there’s so much potential for the company’s brand image, customer relationships and, of course, sales. A whopping 68% of consumers say their impulse buys happen in brick-and-mortar stores, and with the newness and excitement of a product launch, it’s the ideal time for customers to buy on a whim.   With so much at stake, retailers need to ensure their customers have a grade-A experience in the store during a launch. And making that happen is simpler than you think: It’s all about how employees interact with customers. Strong employee engagement boosts sales and customer satisfaction, so retailers must keep a staff of engaged, empowered individuals who are ready to deliver information to and answer questions for anyone who walks in the door.

Why Video Is A Must-Have In Your Marketing Toolbox

You only have to do a Google search these days and you’re hit with a number of videos waiting for you to watch them. That’s because video is today’s top-drawer tool in your marketing toolbox. Research published by Cisco found that by 2022, 82% of all business and consumer traffic will be video, up from 75% in 2017. People love to watch videos. With one-third of online activity spent watching videos, it’s easy to see why people love them: they are fun and effortless. Have you integrated video into your marketing strategy? A few years ago, video marketing was underrated, but today, if you want to be found you have to have video. We have rounded up a list of reasons why you need to consider video marketing for your business.

Why Google Shoppable Image Ads Are So Important

Every day, consumers go to Google and ask Google questions. I’m stating the obvious, sure, but it’s also not as simple as that. Consumers are increasingly using Google Images as a way to discover new brands and products, according to the search giant. So much so that Google has announced a new ad format, called Shoppable Image Ads.

Leverage Payment Platforms For Precision Marketing Aimed At Chinese Consumers

In this age of big data, social media and integrated marketing ecosystems, it’s sometimes hard to know who owns the customer. Traditionally, the merchant, retailer or brand tends to “own” the customer in terms of building loyalty, repeat business and add-on sales. But with the emergence of cashless mobile payment systems and associated payment gateways, new opportunities to deliver marketing campaigns that drive sales are giving merchants more options beyond their traditional databases. These systems are evolving to be much more than just transaction processing platforms. They collect vast amounts of data that can be used effectively for marketing purposes. For example, they could deliver personalized and highly targeted messages based on a consumer’s known buying behaviors and patterns. Data collected from mining transaction details can be used to garner effective insights into buyer personas, which can then be put to use for new types of media buying and other digital marketing programs that drive foot traffic, sales leads and social media engagement. These mobile payments platforms do so in a manner that is seamlessly integrated in consumers’ everyday patterns of communicating, planning and making purchase decisions.

Leading Retailers Are Overcoming Analysis-Paralysis

There is a lot of talk about data-led, people-based marketing, but I’m often surprised to find that some retailers are not acting on the real opportunities to harness the power of their data to deliver growth and business impact. In talking with retailers across the marketing maturity spectrum, one shared characteristic stands out amongst those leading retailers that are reaping the rewards of people-based marketing: they don’t get stuck in analysis-paralysis. In fact, they limit their preparation analysis to the most critical elements, then put real ideas into the market to learn quickly. Perfection is the enemy of now, and it turns out now is the only time to make progress. For those retailers that want to use the remaining half of 2019 to make an impact in this hyperconnected, on-demand marketing environment, here are four people-based marketing tactics you can implement today.
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