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Mobile technology. Digital innovations. Social Commerce. These and many other trends are constantly being changed and being updated with new solutions, services and strategies. Retail TouchPoints editors stay on top of the latest activities and announcements, and bring you fresh perspectives on the hottest trends affecting the marketplace. Check back regularly for the latest new perspectives.

RSP Series: How Retail Leaders Improve Customer Acquisition And Retention

Any retailer’s long-term health requires finding the right balance between acquiring and retaining customers — particularly the loyal and big-spending types of shoppers. But rapid changes in both consumer expectations and the competitive landscape have rewritten many of the established rules for customer acquisition and retention. The 2018 Retail Strategy and Planning (RSP) webinar series, hosted by Retail TouchPoints, uncovered several new strategies for tackling these timeless challenges. Following are brief recaps of six webinars in the #RSP18 series, now available on-demand. [Read a recap of the Holiday Predictions webinar, sponsored by Salesforce, here.]

Exclusive CEO Insights: 3 Reasons Brands Need An Online Marketplace Strategy

Today's fiercely competitive online marketplaces have changed marketing. With the advent of behemoth online marketplaces like Amazon, gone are the days of throwing ideas against the wall and hoping something sticks. Achieving exceptional marketplace sales requires an exceptional marketplace plan. Here are three reasons why brands need an online marketplace strategy:

Shop.org Recap: Personalization Will Drive $800 Billion Revenue Shift

Photo credit: NRF Personalization has been at the forefront of many retail conversations over the past year, and the concept once again took center stage at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Shop.org conference in Las Vegas, held Sept. 12-14. The conference made clear that bringing a personalized experience to the customer journey and focusing on lifestyle are the top engagement drivers for retailers seeking to stay ahead of the pack.

The Evolving Luxury Industry Embraces Social Media And Personalization

Social media, which was once shunned by luxury retailers for fear of cheapening their exclusive image, is now being recognized as a valuable tool both online and in-store. The most successful luxury retailers also are increasing their personalization efforts, ensuring that customers feel like their personal style is at the forefront of the experience no matter how they shop.

Exclusive Q&A: Which Retail Jobs Are Safe From A Robot Takeover?

Retail, hospitality and other service-oriented industries have been seen as relatively immune to the job-killing effects of robotics, automation and AI. But as these technologies grow more sophisticated, retail’s resistance is weakening. Futurist Martin Ford, author of Rise Of The Robots: Technology And The Threat Of A Jobless Future, notes that robots are already reducing (or eliminating) the number of humans needed to do many jobs, including: • Warehouse work;• Checking in-store inventory;• Providing customer service; and• Staffing points of sale. In an exclusive interview with Retail TouchPoints, Ford identifies the advances in robotics and AI that are accelerating the fastest. He also identifies a selection of job categories that are safe from the march of automation — at least for now.

Can Conversational Commerce Fulfill Its Potential In Retail?

The remarkable growth of voice-assisted devices over the past year has expanded what “conversational commerce” truly means for retailers. While the term had largely been used to describe chatbot activity just a few years ago, voice now gives retailers yet another shiny toy to fulfill consumer needs — and hopefully create a new shopping channel. As such, there are high expectations around the technology: voice shopping is expected to account for $40 billion in U.S. consumer spending by 2022, according to a study from OC&C Strategy Consultants. However, for such a figure to be achieved, retailers must still surmount some high barriers. It’s true that enthusiasm for the technology itself is high— voice-activated devices are set for 50% U.S. sales growth from the 2016-2017 period to the 2018-2019 span, according to NPD Group. Yet despite this popularity, interest in — or even awareness of — their commerce functionalities remains low.

Retail Remix Of 'Love Will Keep Us Together’: Takeaways From Etail East

Retail today is all about getting the customer to fall in love with products and brands. In personal relationships and in retail, love is complicated and must be nurtured. In retail that means delivering unique and compelling experiences; personalized messaging and offers; and relevant marketing and communications — consistently across all channels. When thinking about writing this article, I could not get this song out of my mind: "Love Will Keep Us Together," from 1975 by Captain and Tennille. Yes, I’m dating myself, but indulge me for a few minutes and listen to it. It pretty much lays out the strategy retailers should be thinking about as they are planning new customer strategies and technology implementations. During the 2018 eTail East event in Boston this month, many conversations and presentations were focused on how to win the hearts and minds of consumers. Clicktale, which offers Experience Analytics solutions, is working with a cognitive psychologist to better understand customer behavior in the digital world. Liraz Margalit, PhD has conducted studies covering the “Mobile Mindset” triggered by smartphone use; “Stress Shopping,” and “Emotions in the Digital World.” She explained: “Emotions are a gateway to our memory” about a brand. So how are retailers…

Exclusive Q&A: Branding Expert Dissects Papa John’s CEO Woes

Human nature being what it is, sooner or later a certain number of top corporate executives are going to behave badly in one way or another. They will commit fraud and insider trading; express prejudiced beliefs or use racial, ethnic or religious slurs; sexually harass people or condone such behavior in others. And in the current communications landscape, with everyone equipped with a video camera and a social media megaphone, these behaviors are more than likely to become public knowledge. When the inevitable happens, what is a brand to do? These are questions that branding expert Deb Gabor, CEO of Sol Marketing and author of the book Branding Is Sex, has been dealing with her whole professional life. They are also increasingly urgent queries for companies — particularly with the parade of CEOs Behaving Badly that have marched through the public square during the past year, from Harvey Weinstein and CBS’ Les Moonves to John Schnatter of Papa John’s Pizza. In the last case, the accusations of racist remarks and sexual harassment are particularly damaging because Schnatter has long been the public face of the company.

Exclusive Q&A: Explosive Growth Of Direct Brands Reveals Seismic Retail Shift

Earlier this year, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released a report titled: The Rise of the 21st Century Brand Economy, which examined the sputtering growth of traditional retail and CPG brands versus the rise of direct brands over the past decade. To delve deeper into the findings of the report, Retail TouchPoints recently sat down with Randall Rothenberg, CEO of IAB, a trade association for interactive marketing representing more than 600 leading media, marketing and technology companies.

5 Keys to Successful Influencer Partnerships

The U.S. influencer marketing industry will reach up to $10 billion by 2020, according to Bloglovin' research. While some brands have seen success with endorsements from celebrities with hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of followers, these partnerships can cost brands a pretty penny. Bloggers, micro-influencers and experts in specific fields may be a better investment, particularly for brands just starting to test influencer marketing campaigns. Although these influencers don't have millions of followers, they often are more impactful due to their small yet highly engaged followings. Consider this: just 3% of consumers are influenced by celebrity endorsements, according to research from Collective Bias. Conversely, 30% of consumers are more likely to buy a product that a non-celebrity blogger recommends. These bloggers are also 10 times more likely to influence an in-store purchase than a celebrity.

Exclusive Q&A: How Perry Ellis International Took Fashion Forward With A Technology ‘Pitch-Off’

With a portfolio of more than 20 apparel brands, Perry Ellis International has a vast footprint in fashion. But this very scale brings pressure, as shoppers continue to demand more out of the shopping experience. Already having built out an Amazon Alexa skill to help men dress for any occasion in late 2017, Perry Ellis International has continued to ramp up its tech capabilities in order to spearhead a consumer-friendly fusion of fashion and technology. In an exclusive Q&A with Retail TouchPoints, Isaac Korn, Director of Product Innovation and Automation atPerry Ellis International, details: The origins of the first annual technology pitch-off, “Pitch To PERY,” which generated submissions from 100 startups; His experiences with integrating different technologies throughout an extensive portfolio of brands; How a trip to CES 2016 inspired the company to create a “Tech Wallet” designed to help shoppers find their missing wallet; and How the apparel giant leverages data to integrate fashion and technology.

For Top Retailers On Prime Day, Expect High Revenues But Thin Margins

Amazon’s fourth annual Prime Day, starting July 16 at 3 pm Eastern, will drive an estimated $3.4 billion in global revenue for the e-Commerce giant, but its popularity has forced other retailers to take action if they want a piece of the pie. Retail’s biggest players, including Walmart, Target, eBay, Best Buy and Macy’s have implemented sales of their own to align with the event, with Kohl’s holding the “It’s A Big Deal” promotion on July 10. The decision by these retailers to capitalize on a “Black Friday in July” promotion makes sense when looking at last year’s sales totals. The biggest beneficiaries of these campaigns will be large retailers with more than $1 billion in annual sales and niche retailers with less than $5 million in revenue, according to research from Adobe Digital Insights. In 2017, the $1 billion+ retailers saw a 34.9% sales lift on Prime Day, whereas the niche retailers reeled in 17% more than usual. However, everyone in between $5 million and $1 billion in annual sales actually experienced a sales loss of 0.5%.

Exclusive Q&A: How b8ta Aims To ‘Fix’ Brick-And-Mortar, Starting With Macy’s And Lowe’s

While b8ta has nine standalone stores, the innovative “retail-as-a-service” concept made its biggest retail splash in late 2017 when it partnered with Lowe’s on a connected store-within-a-store SmartSpot experience in more than 70 locations. With a company mission of nothing less than to “fix brick-and-mortar retail,” b8ta is giving Lowe’s consumers the chance to try technology products before they buy them. The experiences offer a curated selection of 60+ smart home products such as security systems, lighting and cameras, but more importantly, they also are designed to emulate a lab-like experience and encourage shoppers to test the merchandise. If anything, the Lowe’s partnership revealed that b8ta is willing to partner with retailers not primarily associated with technology products to carry out its mission.

Forrester Study: Only 26% Of Companies Are B2B E-Commerce ‘Masters’

Strong, mature B2B e-Commerce capabilities bring numerous benefits to organizations. These companies can maximize the potential of digital channels and add self-service capabilities; use merchandising features to frame their products and solutions in a better light; and create multiple selling sites dedicated to specific geographies, customer segments, product lines and channels. But while the benefits of B2B e-Commerce maturity are clear, the road to achieving it is a long one. A June 2018 Forrester study, titled: What It Takes To Be A Leader In B2B eCommerce, reveals that no more than 50% of companies surveyed have any one of the following five best practices for B2B e-Commerce:

Study: Amazon And Walmart Top Retail Loyalty List

A new customer loyalty study defines consumers as three types: Loyalists, Roamers and Neutrals. Loyalists (35%) find a go-to retailer for their needs and stick with them; Roamers (35%) always tend to shop around prior to making a purchase; and Neutrals (30%) have some go-to retailers for particular purchases but also shop around, according to the 2018 consumer survey conducted by customer.com, a division of Customer Communications Group. To maximize customer loyalty, retailers need first to understand what elements of their current shopper experience appeals to each group. Beyond the convenience that is valued by all shopper types, Loyalists are more motivated by “Passion Factors” such as trust, fair treatment and a caring staff. In contrast, Roamers can be convinced to consolidate their purchases with a single retailer by stressing more practical elements, such as ease of purchase and returns, customer service and incentive offers. Additionally, all retailers should involve the entire enterprise in their customer loyalty efforts.
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