CRM / Loyalty - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Sun, 16 Dec 2018 00:48:17 -0500 RTP en-gb Shopper Loyalty Study: Use Price, Brand Differentiators To Woo Competitors’ Customers Shopper Loyalty Study: Use Price, Brand Differentiators To Woo Competitors’ Customers

Even though 75% of shoppers say they have a preferred brand when shopping, these preferences can certainly be changed: 76% were likely to change that preferred brand, according to a survey of 1,000 shoppers by Adtaxi. The single largest deciding factor in brand-switching is price, which 83% of shoppers rely on when making a purchasing decision, followed by:

  • Quality (80%);
  • Reputation (47%); and
  • Service (39%).

Retailers seeking to get a customer to switch to their brand can use price as a lure, but they will need to make it worth the shopper’s while. While specific discount levels will vary based on the retail vertical and product type, “I think the consumer will jump ship for a 20% price difference,” said Evan Tennant, National Director of E-Commerce at Adtaxi in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. For example, even if a certain product attribute, such as its being made in America, is very important to a shopper, they can still be convinced to purchase a comparable non-American-made item — if it’s priced 20% less than the American-made version.

E-Commerce multiplies the potential for brand-switching by giving shoppers thousands of brands to choose from, compared to the limited stock a brick-and-mortar store may carry. However, the Internet also is a tool retailers can leverage to draw business from competitors who aren’t meeting their shoppers’ needs: most shoppers (79%) learn about new products by browsing online, compared to 56% who learn via word of mouth.

Use Authenticity And User-Generated Content To Reach Potential Brand-Switchers

Retailers looking to push their products’ best features to a fickle public need to home in on authenticity, according to Tennant. Getting satisfied customers to share their positive experience provides some of the strongest outreach available. Key ways to stand out from the crowd include:

  • Focus on differentiators: Whether it’s free returns or a low price point, retailers must tell shoppers what they offer that can’t be found elsewhere; 
  • Tell your story: If a retailer has an interesting feature, such as their products being hand-made, a video or post on the topic can help them stand out; and 
  • Practice quality brand management: If a retailer is contacted by a shopper on social media (or through email), the response should be as immediate and thorough as possible.

Social Media Is Where Brands Can Stand Out

Social media is an ideal way to get a brand’s best features out to potential new shoppers: 49% of respondents said their purchasing decisions are influenced by friends’ social media posts, and 30% are influenced by brands and retailers they follow.

Influencers also are a powerful resource: 56% of respondents considered making a purchase after seeing a product in an influencer’s post, and 56% of this group went on to complete the purchase. But while consumers may be swayed by influencers in practice, few admit it: only 26% said their purchasing decisions are impacted by influencers, and 24% gave influencers the same level of trust as friends when it comes to product opinions.

However, retailers should be careful of overly slick production values when presenting their brand story. Genuine, authentic social media posts, such as reviews from satisfied customers and videos showing off the human side of the business, are a much more effective way of reaching potential shoppers on their level and convincing them that your product has the attributes they seek.

“In my opinion, social media has lost some of its luster because of the professionalism and its polished look,” said Tennant. “True social content connects with the audience you want. Create stuff that people can relate to, create things that allow people to put them in that experience rather than essentially focusing on production values. Focus on your brand — what does your brand do?”

Retailers seeking to attract — and hold on to — brand-switching shoppers need to use multiple tools. By positioning themselves on price, quality, customer service or a combination of the above, smart retailers can take less adept competitors’ customers for themselves.

“The proof is in the pudding in terms of our respondents. All of these things are very powerful – reputation, quality, price, all of it – but people will still jump for missing parts of that set,” said Tennant. “Missing parts of brand management will send people away, or recruit them to you from someone else.”

]]> (Bryan Wassel) CRM / Loyalty Tue, 04 Dec 2018 09:00:17 -0500
Three Best Practices For Digital Customer Experience Success

0aaaBen Harris DecibelProduct, placement, price and promotion may have been the holy grail of marketing, but in the digital era, customer experience now tops the list. It is critical for all types of businesses, retail especially, to provide a positive, meaningful and engaging digital experience to its customers and prospects or else they will take their business elsewhere. In fact, a recent Salesforce survey found that 76% of consumers felt it’s easier now more than ever to take their business to a brand that better matches their expectations.

Before e-Commerce, sales associates provided in-store service (and still do) to ensure customers are having a positive shopping experience. They would do so by visually understanding customers’ reactions — be it engaged with a product or frustrated they can’t find their size — and catering the customer service as needed. Store associates can easily alleviate confusion or frustration by visually observing body language — both on an individual level and for the broader audience. They can help someone find the right shoe size after watching them sift through several pairs, or offer a dressing room if their hands look full. Taking a macro perspective, if the arrangement of the clothing racks leads to people constantly asking where to find items, or cause the flow of traffic to be dysfunctional, a visual merchandiser might be asked to readjust.

In today’s e-Commerce world, the same level of service must be provided digitally. But online, understanding those confusions and frustrations is not as simple.

As e-Commerce continues to grow at an unfathomable rate, marketers need to provide the same empathy and experience for shoppers online as they would in person. To reach this level of behavioral knowledge and mirror in-store customer service for online consumers, marketers should change their mindset and best practices.

1. Take offline behavioral knowledge and apply it to online strategies

In a digitally-driven world, marketers must understand the “why” behind online shopping behavior at a deep level — far beyond the “what” behind traditional, quantitative metrics. Take the following anecdote that everyone can relate to:

  • A shopper scrolls through a web site for an hour, opening tab after tab, trying to find the perfect pair of sunglasses and finally makes the choice;
  • Excited, she presses the checkout button, but it malfunctions and results in an error page instead of confirming the purchase;
  • The user becomes extremely frustrated, feeling that she wasted her time and exits the web site;
  • The retailer doesn’t understand the real reason why the shopper left the page after being so close to making the purchase, attributing it to cold feet or going elsewhere for the purchase, and as such continues targeting her with ads for the sunglasses; and
  • These taunting ads make her more frustrated, and the improper and uneducated response from the brand ultimately costs them her customer loyalty.

In an industry with endless choices for nearly every type of product, marketers need to be equipped to identify when an issue arises and show empathy to quickly alleviate it, as they would in-person. To reach the level of real-time intelligence required to best understand and connect with consumers, retailers need to take what has long been done offline and apply the same practices online.

2. Read between the clicks to understand behavior

Measuring online behavior to improve and manage the customer experience is no easy task. Traditional subjective metrics, such as Net Promoter Scores or surveys, no longer provide marketers with the full insight required to note what works versus what makes someone run to another brand. To understand state of mind and gather objective, qualitative data, reading and tracking digital behavior is key. And fortunately, similar to in-store shoppers, online consumers provide warning signs of an issue through digital body language.

Every engagement and gesture made on a web site or app — what happens between the clicks — represents digital body language. Being able to understand and address behaviors such as those listed below are critical to analyzing and benchmarking the brand’s success.

  • Multi-click indicates user frustration; when a web link is broken, or a confirmation button is slow or unresponsive, users might click repeatedly until the link works.
  • Bird’s nest identifies user frustration, too; a jumbled mouse trail from a user clicking around rapidly, resembling a bird’s nest, might occur when a page is unresponsive or poorly designed.
  • Mouse reading behavior refers to when a shopper directly follows the content they are reading on a website with their mouse, denoting engagement.

3. Address confusions and frustrations to build lifetime loyalty

To understand and address the pain points that customers face on a web site, marketers must be able to read online behavior as seamlessly as they would in person. Building an understanding for digital body language indications over time lets marketers quickly intervene when a user becomes frustrated, thus solving the issue for the individual while also offering an opportunity to fix the problem for any future shoppers. This is critical to not only ensure an ongoing positive relationship but also to benchmark and improve online performance over time.

Without having the ability to pinpoint confusion or frustration, it is impossible for marketers to create a positive, personalized experience. Attaining this intelligence and alleviating issues will ultimately increase the user’s perception of the company, enabling them to return and build the relationship. Acquiring new customers is not cheap, nor easy, so in a world where consumers can leave one brand for another in the blink of an eye, retailers that will win in the long term are those that focus on creating loyalty with existing customers over time.

Ben Harris is CEO and co-founder of Decibel, the leader in Digital Experience Intelligence. Having started a London-based digital agency in 2002, Harris became increasingly aware of the gap between traditional web analytics and the ability to make informed decisions to improve web site performance, so he set about creating marketing technology company, Decibel. His vision for Decibel was to make customer experience an objective science; reinventing the approach companies take to create, measure and optimize digital experiences in ways that are obvious, compelling and actionable. Now Harris helps the world’s leading retailers — such as LEGO, River Island, CVS, TUI and British Airways — leverage machine learning that automatically measures and understands how customers feel when interacting with web sites and apps so the organizations can create better experiences. Harris has worked for over 20 years in the delivery of digital projects for clients including Microsoft, NYSE, Nestle, Nokia and Citrix.

]]> (Ben Harris, Decibel) Executive ViewPoints Mon, 26 Nov 2018 09:23:26 -0500
Exclusive Q&A: Why Retail Marketers Must Make An Emotional Connection With Consumers Exclusive Q&A: Why Retail Marketers Must Make An Emotional Connection With Consumers

In a world where consumers have an almost unimaginable array of choices, successful marketing campaigns require something more than just persuasion and personalization. Retail brands need to establish an emotional connection with consumers to convince them to step into a physical store. Marketers can establish such bonds by putting themselves in the customer’s place, factoring in shoppers’ needs as well as the brand’s goals.

In this exclusive Q&A, Kiran Smith, recently named CEO of advertising and branding agency Arnold, reveals how her marketing experience across the retail industry, at companies including Brookstone, Stride Rite and Shaw's Supermarkets, now helps her craft emotionally resonant campaigns. Smith also has served as a consultant with Accenture and Alliance Consulting Group, where she worked with multiple iconic brands.

Retail TouchPoints: What strategies or best practices do you see at the core of a strong retail marketing campaign?

Kiran Smith: A strong retail marketing campaign relies on understanding who you as a brand are targeting and how your brand is unique within the consumer’s consideration set. Retailers are often so close to their own brands that it’s challenging to see themselves in the same way consumers see them. A retail marketing strategy has to be based on understanding how consumers currently perceive them, how they would like to change this perception, and what changes consumers will embrace. A campaign relies on creating a true and emotional connection with the consumer much more than it relies on functional purpose. Consumers live in a world of so many choices, so when they make the choice to go into a physical store it’s because they want to. That emotional desire is based on a deeper connection with the brand.

RTP: Which of the retail campaigns you’ve headed stand out as particularly successful during your career?

Smith: During my time at Stride Rite, we created a loyalty program based on the idea that parents are an engaged group of consumers looking to get the most they could from the brand. We know that kids grow quickly, and once kids get into their first walker shoe, parents are already thinking about their next purchase in the next size up.

We built the program on this insight, allowing us to communicate with parents in a relevant way by providing incentives and helping consumers save money based on their previous purchases. The idea of targeting parents with their own kids’ needs, rather than offering blanket incentives to all consumers, made it unique as a loyalty program. The program had an extremely high adoption rate and helped the brand to much more accurately target its current customers and attract new ones. I think this example speaks to the importance of delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time.

RTP: How can brands best identify their audience and tailor their message to match their interests?

Smith: There is so much information out there — it can be overwhelming, so brands have to understand the purpose and true value of analytics in order to better define who they are targeting and why. It’s important to have a good strategy in place to identify an addressable audience, determine what the opportunity is to offer something to that audience, and then leverage the right tools to determine where those consumers are, how they shop and how they behave.

Arnold, for example, has a strong Strategy and Insights Team, not only to help clients identify and analyze current consumer segments, but also potential new consumer segments. We utilize demographics and psychographics to provide a fuller understanding of a consumer base, including media habits and personal interests. This provides a more meaningful foundation to drive the creative and channel strategy. This team isn’t an isolated unit, but an integral part of how Arnold does business.

RTP: What technologies do you see having the largest impact on marketing in the near future?

Smith: Augmented reality (AR) and voice are having a real impact on how consumers interact with brands. As we get more advanced from a personal device standpoint, retailers have to adjust the way they do business — including how they reach their customers, their payment systems and overall capabilities — to keep up. The brands that can create relevant and seamless interactions will win.

For us at Arnold, technology is always part of the conversation. Ensuring that we are able to be thought leaders for our clients and bring them opportunities to interact with their customers in new and meaningful ways as technology changes is a top priority.

RTP: You’ve worked in the supermarket, footwear and specialty goods channels. In what ways does marketing vary between retail verticals, and in what ways does it remain the same?

Smith: After 10 years in grocery, I had the opportunity to choose what was next in my career. I chose to see how my skill set applied to a new industry. For me, what was amazing is how similar the challenges and opportunities are between retail industries. Across each industry I’ve worked in, we had similar goals: we were looking to drive engagement, communicate with consumers more effectively and provide a more meaningful experience with the brand.

The learning curve and differences came into play in the product development space, as the goods themselves were the biggest differentiator. While I built my foundation in retail through my experience in grocery, I was able to apply many of those learnings to my next venture, and even in my transition into advertising as many of our clients also have similar objectives. The products are different, but most are always looking to connect with their customers more efficiently and effectively.

RTP: Can you tell us about your biggest professional influence, and what you learned from them?

Smith: There are two women that I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from in my career. Sharon John, the CEO of Build-A-Bear, was crucial in instilling in me the importance of diversity and encouraging a diverse work environment, and supporting employees all the way through their careers. I learned from her key skills in how you can take a very diverse group of people and get them working together with a common vision, as well as how important it can be to the individuals, but also to the company as a whole.

Gillian Meek, the President of Keds, was another big influence, as we were advancing in our careers at the same time. She is a huge advocate of female empowerment — particularly in the workplace — and showed me that two women working closely together as they progress in their careers can genuinely be each other’s greatest cheerleaders and challengers when needed, while also being non-competitive. She taught me the importance of having the opportunity to find someone to progress through your career with you.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) CRM / Loyalty Wed, 14 Nov 2018 09:00:00 -0500
Self-Service App Deepens Customer Connections At Fairway Market Self-Service App Deepens Customer Connections At Fairway Market

Some retailers worry that adopting a self-checkout solution will deprive them of a key point of contact with their customers. Fairway Market, a New York City metro area chain of 15 supermarkets and four wine and spirit stores, wanted to be absolutely sure that wouldn’t happen when it deployed a self-checkout app, because the retailer prides itself on a family atmosphere and a close relationship with shoppers.

The retailer is in the process of rolling out its first self-checkout app and will be seeking results that include:

Faster, more convenient checkouts for app users;
Line-busting capabilities, a big benefit at Fairway’s smaller-footprint urban locations;
• The ability to provide customers with product recommendations, coupons and in-store specials during their shopping trips; and
Detailed data about length of shopping trips, customers’ paths through the store and product selection preferences that the retailer hopes will deepen relationships with customers.

“Aside from the normal center store grocery items, the foods we offer our customers are all specialty items, including imports and things we make here,” explained Genine Fargnoli, EVP of Information Technology at Fairway Market in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We feel the app is in line with all of that, by offering customers the newest technology to enhance their experience, but not removing the personal touch and family connection.”

The app, designed by FutureProof Retail, allows Fairway shoppers to scan item barcodes or use product lookup for non-coded items such as produce. The app keeps a running total of purchases and also delivers appropriate product recommendations as well as information about coupons and store promotions. To pay for their purchases, customers scan a QR code displayed on the wall before leaving the store. There also is an associate-facing version of the app that allows Fairway employees to respond when shoppers need assistance.

Self-Checkout Facilitates Effective Line-Busting

Fairway began with a very basic reason for seeking a self-checkout solution: line-busting. “Our city stores have a small footprint, and lines there tend to build very quickly,” said Fargnoli. “The initial desire was to reduce the size of lines and have customers check out faster to enhance their shopping experience.”

The retailer investigated several self-checkout options, including those using camera technology to track the items shoppers put in their carts. One of the reasons Fairway chose FutureProof was that the smartphone app improved “our ability to speak to the customer in multiple ways,” said Fargnoli. “You can’t do that when you’re using camera technology.”

Shoppers can provide ratings about the app and their shopping experience, adding another real-time data source for retailers. Approximately 95% of initial users at Fairway have rated the app with four or five stars, according to Fargnoli.

“Retailers can take more action with the data,” said William Hogben, CEO of FutureProof Retail in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They can crunch the data and reach customers while they’re shopping, as opposed to printing an offer on a receipt at the checkout. Essentially they can use the customer’s basket to generate an offer.”

Understanding What Shoppers Try But Don’t Buy

Data from the app also provides retailers with a linear view of the shopper’s journey around the store. “I think we’ll get some valuable data from the app, and we’re not yet data-rich,” said Fargnoli, noting that Fairway does not currently operate a customer loyalty program. “The one thing it’s telling us that the point-of-sale can’t is how much time the customer is spending on shopping — how long they have been in a location and what kinds of things they are looking at.”

The self-scanning aspect of the app also can provide Fairway with insights into items customers take off the shelf but ultimately don’t purchase. Such data points “let us know which items might need that extra push, whether that’s with better signage, more information or making them look more enticing,” said Fargnoli. “This will give us a lot more information about our store layouts.”

The retailer began investigating self-checkout solutions in late 2017 and selected FutureProof, which has deployed self-checkout solutions in other supermarkets since 2015. Fairway implemented a slow rollout in selected stores beginning in August 2018, using its own employees as beta testers. The retailer began a public deployment with five stores in September, rolled the app out to three more locations in early November and plans to have it available in all 19 stores by December, according to Fargnoli.

The rollout has been low-key, promoted only with in-store signage and via word of mouth, so only about 1% of Fairway shoppers are using the app. “We haven’t done an ‘official’ launch yet and advertised that this is available,” said Fargnoli. “We haven’t discussed specific goals for usage, but I think 10% to 15% of shoppers is a reasonable goal. We don’t expect that 90% of customers will sign up, especially those in the suburbs that are doing a much bigger shopping trip at one time. In our urban stores, where people do a number of smaller shopping trips throughout the week, we think people will see the convenience with a small basket.”

Most important for Fairway, the app appears to be enhancing its relationship with shoppers. “The specific comment that stands out the most to me was from someone who loved the app but said ‘I miss saying hello and goodbye to the cashier, so can we go through the regular lane as well?’,” said Fargnoli. “They miss that connection, but with the app we felt it was a way to have the best of both worlds: convenience and connection.”

]]> (Adam Blair) Retail Success Stories Thu, 08 Nov 2018 17:21:47 -0500
7-Eleven Debuts Scan & Pay Using Shoppers’ Smartphones In 14 Stores 7-Eleven Debuts Scan & Pay Using Shoppers’ Smartphones In 14 Stores

Supermarkets have traditionally been the leaders in self-scanning solutions, but convenience stores have been unexplored territory — until now. Following a three-month test at the 7-Eleven store located in its Dallas headquarters, the retailer is now launching its Scan & Pay offering in 14 Dallas-area stores, with plans to expand to additional markets in 2019.

The solution, which works for both Android and iOS systems, will be integrated directly into the 7Rewards loyalty program app, explained Gurmeet Singh, Chief Digital Officer and CTO of 7-Eleven. “If the store a customer enters offers Scan & Pay, geofencing means that the shopper automatically sees this option on their app,” said Singh in an interview with Retail TouchPoints.

Customers scan barcoded items which are automatically added to their basket. The app also lists available discounts, loyalty program rewards and promotional pricing. Shoppers can pay with Apple Pay, Google Pay or a traditional debit or credit card. Scan & Pay “confirmation stations,” equipped with clear shopping bags, are located in the participating stores. Once a customer pays, they scan the QR code appearing on the Scan & Pay station screen and go.

The three-month test period gave 7-Eleven valuable feedback from both customers and store associates. “We wanted to explore consumers’ adoption of the technology: How do people learn about it? How do they onboard, and how do they use it?” said Singh. 7-Eleven placed point-of-purchase signage in the stores to help guide customers, and added the confirmation stations because, “Contrary to what people might think, consumers want confirmation of their purchase,” said Singh. “They don’t want to feel like they’re walking out of the store without paying.”

The addition of Scan & Pay is part of the retailer’s effort to “make every interaction more valuable and delightful,” said Singh. “We’ve rethought the in-store experience with innovations including 7Rewards, the addition of Apple Pay and Google Pay, acceptance of Alipay and WeChat in our Canadian stores and also AR experiences. We’re looking to both drive innovation and redefine convenience.”

]]> (Adam Blair) News Briefs Mon, 05 Nov 2018 09:36:29 -0500
The Snuggle Bugz Baby Formula: Abundant Content Builds New Parents’ Confidence The Snuggle Bugz Baby Formula: Abundant Content Builds New Parents’ Confidence

There’s no shortage of advice for parents, particularly first-timers. In fact, it’s all too common for new moms and dads to suffer from a bad case of information overload. Retailers in this space want (and need) to be perceived by shoppers as trusted advisors, so it makes sense that the corporate mission of Canadian baby retailer Snuggle Bugz is to give confidence to customers navigating parenthood. Fulfilling that mission means providing plenty of solid content, both about the products it offers and other parenting issues.

Unfortunately, the retailer’s old e-Commerce platform was causing a confidence gap between its in-store and online customer experiences. “Our stores are beautiful, and people can get all the information they need there,” said Sharron Vanderbeek, Director of E-Commerce at Snuggle Bugz, noting that the average employee spends more than 100 hours in product knowledge training each year.

“We wanted to move to a content experience online that would replicate the confidence you got in the stores,” said Vanderbeek in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “We want to offer videos, comparison guides, compatibility information and reviews without ‘splitting’ the content into two different silos. We don’t want to force people to go to a store to get the answers they need, when they can ideally go to the site and get the answer whenever they want.”

Snuggle Bugz, which operates 11 stores in Ontario and British Columbia, has adopted an e-Commerce platform from Workarea to replace its existing solution. The retailer’s six-month deployment is scheduled to go live in February 2019, and the new platform will provide benefits that include:

Omnichannel inventory management that works across multiple locations;
• Improved site search, navigation and product recommendation capabilities;
Real-time, store-specific inventory for users of the Snuggle Bugz baby registry; and
Greater internal control of the site, allowing employees across marketing, e-Commerce and customer care to handle content publishing, manage a large SKU catalog and make site changes without development resources.

Snuggle Bugz Screenshot 2018-10-10Vanderbeek expects that the new platform will help provide an improved site experience that encourages longer online sessions, and that the enhancements will boost KPIs including top-line revenue, share of wallet and customer lifetime value. Somewhat surprisingly, however, she predicts that conversion rates could actually decrease, because the site will attract more people seeking parenting advice rather than those visiting with a strong purchase intention. But that’s not bad news for the business: “The next time their best friend is having a child, they can say ‘Hey go to this site, it has great information,’” said Vanderbeek. “If the conversion rate drops, that means we’re serving more people in the way we want to be serving them.”

Enhancing Navigation For Both Products And Content

The retailer began searching for a new platform in fall 2017, and quickly narrowed down its choice to three suppliers, including Workarea. “Because of our catalog size and the requirements of the baby registry, it was easy to get to these top three,” said Vanderbeek. “We’re talking about a large product catalog with complex variants, and in addition we are totally omnichannel, so our inventory data has to operate over multiple locations as well as online.”

Powerful search capabilities included in the Workarea solution were a key selling point for Snuggle Bugz. “We’re talking about search that’s not just for products but for content: ‘Here’s why this stroller is perfect for your family,’” said Vanderbeek. “By wrapping product and content searches together, customers can walk away with this ultimate feeling of confidence.”

Another customer-facing benefit involves the baby registry. “People will typically have 20 to 25 friends and family using a baby registry with their first child,” said Vanderbeek. “Now when these people go into a store they can pull up the registry on their phone and find out which registry items are in that store, right now. If it’s not in-stock, we can wrap it up and deliver it.”

Making Marketing More Agile

On the internal side, Vanderbeek is enthusiastic about the new platform’s impact on marketing. “We will be able to schedule anything — content, promotions, product launches — and break it down to the minute,” she noted. “We can even overlay multiple rollouts, working weeks or months ahead instead of day to day. Even with a very small team, we anticipate that we will get results that are equal or better than we would get with a marketing agency.”

Greater internal control also will provide Snuggle Bugz with the ability to react quickly to changing conditions. “If it’s something like a flash sale, where we promote a certain item for 45 minutes, we could go immediately if one of our vendors said to go live now,” said Vanderbeek. “That level of agility is what we really needed.”

The retailer expects the new e-Commerce platform to enhance a number of performance metrics, including top-line sales, customer service, share of wallet and customer lifetime value. “It all comes down to the experience we’re trying to replicate — that your best friend is sitting there with you, helping you shop,” said Vanderbeek. “We’re also looking for longer online sessions and lower bounce rates. We call it the confidence effect.”

]]> (Adam Blair) Retail Success Stories Fri, 26 Oct 2018 09:16:26 -0400
How Home Delivery Services Have Changed Shopping Behaviors And Brand Loyalties

0aaJeff Scott Infinite PeripheralsHome 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.

Amazon’s willingness to experiment with technology and innovation, including physical stores and same-day shipping, is hyper focused on creating a convenient, quick and accurate experience for its customers. It is not the purchases themselves that build brand loyalty, but the Amazon experience that keeps customers returning.

As consumers grow accustomed to breakneck delivery speeds as the new norm, retailers are expected to follow suit. If they fail to modernize their operations, they will lose to the store that can deliver faster. Previous notions of brand loyalty only go so far, as today’s consumer is most loyal to the idea of convenience.  

Although companies must harness innovation, data and technology in order to build a seamless experience, there are many roads to get creative and intentional when growing brand loyalty. Luckily, businesses no longer have to spend excess time convincing their customers to try new offers and services.

From Millennials to baby boomers, generations across the board have become increasingly open to adopting mobile technologies. As 78.9% of U.S. Internet users prefer home delivery as their default delivery option, they are more willing to trial a home delivery experience with the safety net of discontinuing if the experience does not meet expectations. This willingness and even expectation toward innovation offers retailers the opportunity to reinforce their intended brand experience from a trial, use, adoption and eventually establishing long-term loyalty.

Implementing home delivery is imperative to businesses today, but it must also take a holistic approach. Brick-and-mortar retail stores still thrive in today’s e-Commerce environment and can continue to do so with the right plan and amenities. For example, businesses can explore merging channels (online, in-store, mobile) to create even more ways to shop and delight. By adopting an omnichannel approach, companies can build engagement with extended options for digital purchases, such as in-store returns and free ship-to-store options.

Home delivery by itself can be impersonal and lack a genuine human connection; thus it must appropriately tie into other channels and incorporate a brand’s overall vision. Integrating every aspect of the buyer’s journey will allow brands to create personalization, build community and benefit from all of the facets of brand loyalty, such as repeat purchases, referrals and high online ratings.

Finally, the proper strategy and mobile technologies must reinforce a well-rounded, omnichannel approach to the new wave of shopping behaviors. Luckily, next-generation mobile hardware and software solutions proliferate daily, offering businesses more tools and opportunities to customize their strategy. From a comprehensive overview of home delivery logistics to an expedited in-store shopping experience, mobility equips businesses with the proper foundation to integrate their separate channels and truly deliver a delightful experience for consumers, right to their homes.


Jeff Scott is the CEO of Infinite Peripherals, a company delivering scalable and customized mobility solutions to a range of industries. Innovative, humble and a pioneer in mobile solutions and technology, Scott has helped some of the leading brands in the U.S. since founding Infinite Peripherals in 1993. His focus at the company has been playing any role that’s needed to understand client challenges and then help them become more efficient when transacting business with their customers. The lengthy roster includes T-Mobile, The United States Postal Service and Mayo Clinic, among others. His most significant innovation occurred when Infinite Peripherals became the very first company to develop an enterprise-based product for the Apple product line. The success of the Apple partnership has helped propel Infinite Peripherals into one of the leading providers of enterprise solutions — with more than one million solutions deployed. Before founding Infinite Peripherals, Scott received his BS in Entrepreneurship from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.

]]> (Jeff Scott, Infinite Peripherals) Executive ViewPoints Thu, 25 Oct 2018 08:37:26 -0400
Empowered Managers Are At The Heart Of A Positive Retail Experience Empowered Managers Are At The Heart Of A Positive Retail Experience

Most retailers feel their customer experience could use improvement: 96% agree that it is a core priority for their organization, but 75% believe they need to do it better, according to The Black Hole for Retailers report by Square Root. The brick-and-mortar experience is particularly important, as 79% of retailers believe what shoppers encounter in-store is one of the biggest influencers of the overall customer experience.

However, it’s not enough for retailers to create a single, undifferentiated experience across their entire store network. Crucially, they need to take these plans and pass them down to the local level. From there, corporate can help managers interpret the strategy in a way that will produce optimal results at their particular stores.

“That’s where the magic is,” said Chris Taylor, CEO of Square Root in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Our thesis is the agile retailer will survive, and agility is defined by how you can roll out strategy down to the store managers and district managers. If we can empower those folks with the right information to make the right decisions, then you’re going to be super-reactive to the market and you’re going to win. If you can’t do that, you’re going to be out of business in five years.”

Retailers still have work to do on this front: 42% say their initiatives aren’t well-integrated across the business. Giving district and store-level managers the tools and knowledge they need to mold companywide initiatives into local tactics is the first step in providing a strong customer experience.

Corporate And Local Leaders Want Different Data

Every store in a retailer’s portfolio has its own needs. A successful promotion at an urban store may not have the same draw at a rural location, while a small shop will have fewer resources to work with than a flagship store. Retailers must align their data in a way that makes sense for the stores in question, since a high-level overview might not be useful to a location with unique strengths and weaknesses.

“Typically, there’s a large business intelligence tool that can gather all the information in one place for analysis,” said Taylor. “The dream of those tools is that they also provide store-level insight to drive accountability. What we see in practice is that those tools work pretty well in the boardroom for the things that we want to try to move across the organization. Where they fall short is how they paint with a very broad brush, and often aren’t really telling the stories in a way that’s useful down to the store and district managers.”

Rather than simply telling a manager what the overall data shows, executives need to present information that fits the proper context, according to Taylor. A small store might be able to explain away low sales by blaming its size, but being shown that it is among the lowest-performing small locations chainwide provides context that highlights the issue. From there, the retailer can suggest tactics that have worked at successful stores with similar demographics. By applying tightly focused lessons rather than a high-level overview, retailers can drive success on a more granular level.

A Better Backend Creates A Better Customer Experience

Technology also can be a valuable tool for managers: 78% of retailers agreed that improved backend tools and technology would help them better understand and improve the customer experience. However, 71% said their organization invests almost exclusively in customer-facing technology.

“If you can get a tool to the district and store managers that allows them to really understand and set priorities, that’s what’s going to make all these different initiatives effective in the store,” said Taylor. “The reality is each store probably has different initiatives that it focuses on, or a different way a corporate initiative is happening.”

Ensuring that the various tools offered to managers are integrated with each other can improve efficiency, which can in turn lead to a better shopping experience. Managers can use the extra time to teach associates and ensure initiatives are being rolled out properly, ensuring that customers are getting the attention they deserve.

Empowered district and store managers are among the most powerful tools retailers have on the ground. These local leaders can become the lynchpin of a successful strategy, by tailoring the store’s presentation to the customers they work with every day.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) CRM / Loyalty Tue, 23 Oct 2018 09:10:11 -0400
Authenticity And Education Sway Shoppers More Than Social Media Influencers Authenticity And Education Sway Shoppers More Than Social Media Influencers

Celebrity influencers are starting to lose their luster: shoppers are 2X as likely to order a product recommended by a friend on social media rather than by an influencer or celebrity, according to Sprout Social. Additionally, 61% of consumers said they’d be more likely to research a product or service recommended on social by a friend, compared to 36% for a post from an influencer.

The key to creating social media content that resonates with shoppers is authenticity, according to Rachael Samuels, Social Media Manager at Sprout Social. A strong content strategy should educate customers and make them want to share because they support the brand, not because they’ve been influenced by the rewards or see a post from someone famous.

“I think audiences can sense when something’s authentic,” said Samuels in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “When you want someone to share something, really setting the stage for the story and what makes it authentic — that really can inspire people to share in and of itself. To say ‘Hey, full transparency, we’re really excited for this and want to share it with you.’”

While influencers with enormous followings still have their place, retailers are increasingly interested in smaller players. Loot Crate used influencers to build its brand, but the retailer has switched its focus to micro-influencers who command smaller audiences but higher loyalty.

Additionally, 70% of social marketers use employees as influencers or advocates, or want to do so in the future. Retailers can tap the enthusiasm of their most devoted workers to develop a network of social media boosters who make up for their limited reach with personal authenticity.

“It’s not necessarily someone who has a high social reach, but it is someone who is in your network that you genuinely trust,” said Samuels. “I think leaning on all of your employees, not influencers, is the way to go.”

Moving away from influencers also can offer financial benefits — only 19% of marketers surveyed by Sprout Social had the budget for an influencer program. Approximately 1% to 11% of shoppers actually consume influencer content, depending on the platform, and 3X as many consumers prefer seeing posts that announce what is happening at the retailer than company posts featuring influencers or celebrities.

Shoppers Want An Education

Even as retailers shift toward employee advocates and micro-influencers, they should keep the content shoppers want to see in mind. Approximately 30% of shoppers want to see posts with links to more information, while 18% like graphics and images and 17% look for videos. In terms of content, customers are looking for:

  • 72%: Information about discounts or sales;
  • 60%: Showcases of new products or services;
  • 59%: Posts that teach something;
  • 56%: Posts that entertain; and
  • 49%: Posts that inspire.

However, fun and education will only bring customers so far. Retailers must turn the social media interest they develop into genuine loyalty, and give their social media followers a reason to become shoppers.

“You can’t build an entire social strategy around discounts,” said Samuels. “What you have to do is set the stage for awareness of your brand, bring people into consideration by teaching them something, by inspiring them to do something and by talking to them about the things they love, so when the discounts do come along, they still want to use them.”

Ultimately, retailers need to consider their audience when developing a social media strategy. Companies should start with a listening strategy to understand what platforms their customers use and what content resonates most strongly, then formulate outreach that builds on their brand values.

“The most important thing is relevance,” said Samuels. “Things that can directly tie to the conversations you’re having about your brand, the way you’ve positioned your brand and the things that are relevant to the end consumer — that is what’s going to make a post feel authentic and like it’s genuinely coming from the people that are behind the brand.”

]]> (Bryan Wassel) CRM / Loyalty Mon, 08 Oct 2018 09:02:31 -0400
Exclusive Q&A: How Retailers Can Benefit From Taking A Political Stand PeterHorstRetailers can no longer stick their heads in the sand and ignore events outside of their industry. Shoppers prefer brands that match their personal beliefs, and some retailers are embracing causes even if it will hurt the bottom line in the short term.

It’s not enough for retailers to avoid courting controversy — they need to understand what they stand for and embrace it, according to Peter Horst, Founder of consulting firm CMO Inc. and author of Marketing in the Fake News Era. Retailers can take several steps to improve their ability to handle contentious events:

  • Understand their constituents and what they care about;
  • Generate an internal culture of responsibility;
  • Discuss when it is appropriate to take a principled stand; and
  • Learn when it is best to ignore a potential powder keg.

In an exclusive interview with Retail TouchPoints, Horst discussed how retailers can both protect themselves from potential public relations crises and show their shoppers what they stand for.

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): Retailers need to consider all their constituents when identifying optimal brand actions. What is the best way to reach out and determine what these different groups, from customers to employees to shareholders, expect of the company?

Peter Horst: The first important step is to make sure you do a thorough job of thinking through who those constituents are. You mentioned several of the critical ones — shareholders, customers, employees — but there may be others. There might be partners, like people in the supply chain, or it might even be outside interest groups who feel a stake in some aspect of your business and who will be watching, and you want them to understand you and be on your side.

In terms of how you find out where they are and what they care about, there are a variety of ways to do that — ranging from reaching out and having a conversation, to the more formal gathering of insights through qualitative means like focus groups or dinners with key constituent representatives, to more statistically reliable quantitative surveys. You may want to really get a projectable read on the things these key people care about, and some of the nuances within them. It’s the nuances that often trip people up.

RTP: The modern political climate means brands can become involved in hot-button issues entirely by accident. What should retailers keep in mind when designing ads and other outreach to avoid creating unnecessary stress?

Horst: I think of the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It starts with whether or not you ever want to lean in and proactively engage in a dialogue. Then it’s a process of understanding what are your brand and corporate values and beliefs, and what are the principles that really guide the decisions you would make, and what are the issues you would or would not stand up for. The reason to do that is that it’s impossible to create a script that will guide every choice every day and keep the company out of trouble.

With that kind of moral, ethical values compass, retailers can stay out of trouble before it happens. But when there is an instance, as there somewhat inevitably will be, then you need to address it head-on. You also need to be thoughtful but quick, because in the fast news cycle you just don’t have the luxury of time to sit around to evaluate and discuss and develop your position. You quickly get a handle on what’s the nature of this issue, what kind of response is called for, and if something like an apology is called for, do it quickly, do it fully, with no caveats, no ifs, ands or buts, and make it as sincere and human an apology as possible.

RTP: When is it appropriate for a brand to take a strong stand on a topic? Does it matter if the subject in question indirectly affects the company in question, such as with gun sales?

Horst: I think there’s a really important question around what issues should a retailer or any brand engage in. It should start with one that has a real authentic, genuine connection to the business. Without that you just look like a cynical bandwagon jumper, trying to capitalize on some concern. It really doesn’t connect in any meaningful way, and people will spot that and they don’t like it.

Start by asking, “What are the issues that really connect us?” That could be the leadership — the founder really cares deeply about the issue. Starbucks was really engaged in the issue of affordable health care because as a child [founder and former CEO] Howard Schultz saw his dad injured on the job and then have no insurance, no backup and no support when he was unable to work. There was a deep personal connection there that made it very valid.

RTP: Can you provide any examples of retailers who took a risk with a bold stand, and were rewarded for their efforts?

Horst: An interesting example is Patagonia, which has for a very long time been a good example of practicing brand purpose, which is where you embrace some higher objective and cause and attach your brand to that. In the book I talk about four layers of engagement. Purpose is where you embrace sort of a broad, evergreen positive issue like protecting the great outdoors, as Patagonia did.

Then, when the president signed an executive order wiping out millions of acres of parkland, that leads to a much more aggressive posture where they took a position that is much more sharply defined than broad purpose, where you say I’m for this, I’m against that. They came out and within mere hours took out full page ads saying the president is robbing you, we’re suing Trump and they took on a much more sharply defined position and a possibly controversial stance. In doing so they really showed their customers and their tribe, so to speak, that they were serious about their brand purpose, it wasn’t just lip service and they were ready to really stand up for what they believe in.

RTP: Can you provide any examples of the opposite, where a retailer was punished for taking a stand?

Horst: An example there might be Target. If you remember when North Carolina implemented its bathroom use policy, it was considered unfriendly to the trans community. Target was pretty much alone amongst the major retailers in making an announcement that their policy was you could use whatever bathroom you were comfortable with. What was interesting was that had always been Target’s policy, and in fact was the policy of most retailers like Target, but none of the others made a public statement.

Because they took such a public stance there was a meaningful backlash, and in a market where they had already been feeling competitive pressure, there’s a belief that this may have pushed them past the tipping point where they saw fairly significant revenue drops in that marketplace. What they hadn’t aligned on, according to news reports, was whether or not to publicize it. The CEO in particular had not been brought onto the decision. That illustrates the importance of making sure everybody’s on board with any decision you make, so that if any backlash occurs you’re all in that boat together.

RTP: When responding to negative buzz, what is the best approach for a retailer to take to defuse the situation?

Horst: I think you need to decide what are you dealing with, and is this a bit of noise that doesn’t warrant a response and will go away? A great example of that is Nordstrom when, early on in the Trump administration, he tweeted about them dropping Ivanka’s product lines. They very wisely said we’re not going to respond to this, we made our decision, we know we’re righteous in how we made it, so we’re going to let it go. If anything there was a positive response.

On the other hand, is the issue that it’s part of an ongoing narrative, or is this one in a long line of issues that will continue to recur over time and therefore won’t go away? For example Wells Fargo, where it was just one piece of bad news after another about how customers had been misled, that called for a much more thoughtful and proactive response.

RTP: It sounds like you’re saying not all negative buzz deserves a response, particularly on social media. How should retailers determine when to respond and when to stay quiet?

Horst: In an era where more and more brands are developing social listening capabilities, it becomes all too easy to overreact to a blip in the social arena. Some noise is just noise and you want to let it go. The first thing is to look at how big this is: Is it a few tweets, or is it a groundswell that’s growing? Have some benchmarks that tell you at what threshold do you start to get concerned and start to engage more of your response process.

Another thing to look at is whether this is so much static on Twitter, or if it is actually affecting your brand health. Typically, retailers don’t do daily brand tracking, so depending on the systems you use you may or may not have timely information on this. As you’re thinking about how you respond, try to get a handle on whether any of this is affecting your actual brand metrics. If it’s just noise on Twitter and it’s not affecting your brand, it may not call for a proactive response.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) CRM / Loyalty Wed, 26 Sep 2018 09:00:00 -0400