Omnichannel / Cross-Channel Strategies - Retail TouchPoints - Retail TouchPoints Wed, 12 Dec 2018 15:24:44 -0500 RTP en-gb Balance Convenience And Experience To Create The Ultimate Holiday Destination Balance Convenience And Experience To Create The Ultimate Holiday Destination

Despite the growing dominance of mobile, shoppers still enjoy shopping in-store. What’s changed, however, is their expectations around the brick-and-mortar experience, according to a pair of studies by GPShopper. Some shoppers highly prize stores’ convenience — the ability to quickly find an item, pay for it and go. Others respond to experiential retail; they are more willing to linger and browse until they find what they want. Retailers can adjust their stores’ layout, staffing and services to address both ends of this spectrum.

These insights are particularly relevant for the holidays, when 67% of those using tech in-store say they are interested in using tech in-store would like buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) options to minimize friction at checkout, according to the Holiday Shopping Experience: Immediacy as Currency report.

The importance of mobile hit its peak during Thanksgiving weekend, when the channel surpassed desktop for e-Commerce orders. “You’re just seeing a story emerge where consumers are taking back convenience and saying, ‘I don’t mind shopping because I can do it from the dinner table while listening to Aunt Edna’s 13th boring story and complete my shopping list,’” said Maya Mikhailov, CMO & Co-Founder of GPShopper in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Mobile devices are really powering that.”

Some of the key technologies shoppers want to use on their smartphones include:

  • Retailers’ mobile apps (36%);
  • Scan-and-go (35%);
  • Visual search (27%); and
  • Mobile wish lists (26%).

Mobile Technology Creates Brick-And-Mortar Opportunity

However, mobile devices aren’t just boosting e-Commerce — they’re also opening up new ways for retailers to minimize in-store friction. Only 17% of shoppers plan to do all of their shopping via e-Commerce, while 39% plan to split their time equally in-store and online. Additionally, while many shoppers are using BOPIS for quick trips, a significant share still interested in shopping the old-fashioned way.

Retailers must strike a balance between convenience and experience to meet the needs of both groups, according to Mikhailov. While BOPIS shoppers might want to have a dedicated area right up front that allows them to get in and out of the store within minutes, such a setup could look unappealing to experience-focused customers who want to bask in holiday displays and take their time finding the perfect gift.

“We have some shoppers that are completely convenience focused,” said Mikhailov. “They want to have done their shopping online, then they want to grab it and leave. Then you have retailers that are realizing they have other shoppers that really want an experiential approach. They don’t mind lingering here for a while, and they don’t even mind that they can’t leave with the product, but they want the full experience. What you’re seeing is retailers tap these different physical layouts to appeal to these different types of customers, because they’re realizing the one-size-fits-all layout that was the previous model does not work.”

Chasing after competitors, even successful ones, while planning store layouts isn’t guaranteed to achieve results, because different retailers count different demographics among their core customers. Every retailer needs to look at its own data to determine how shoppers are using their in-store and online offerings, then design their layouts to meet these demands.

However, whether the emphasis is on convenience or experience, any store plan should be designed to reduce or eliminate holiday shopping stress. In particular, retailers should do their best to address two of shoppers’ biggest issues:

  • Waiting in lines and crowds (53%); and
  • Not being able to find what they want (47%).

Tactile And Major Purchases Are Still The Domain Of Stores

A solid in-store experience is particularly important for retailers looking to draw in major gift purchasers, since 68% of shoppers include physical stores as one of their preferred shopping channels for large items, according to GPShopper’s Reality of Shopper Motivation report. These categories are more likely to lean toward experience than convenience, with shoppers more likely to make their purchase in-store rather than through BOPIS.

Retailers should keep these desires in mind for future holiday seasons as well. Some categories where shoppers still expect to prefer brick-and-mortar channels in 10 years’ time include:

  • Clothing, beauty and accessories (29%);
  • Food (50%); and
  • Major life items (35%).

Retailers’ decisions about how they balance in-store and e-Commerce offerings will determine how their customers buy from them. Depending on whether the emphasis is on convenience or experience, retailers can tailor the in-store experience to match the needs of the customer base.

“You’re either talking about creating convenience, or creating an experience,” said Mikhailov. “If your goal from the consumer is to create long-term in-store loyalty, you need to create an experience, you need to create a lifestyle around the product and around the buying experience. If your goal is simply to deliver products to their home, then your goal may not be so concerned about the in-store aspect of it.”

]]> (Bryan Wassel) Omnichannel / Cross-Channel Strategies Fri, 07 Dec 2018 09:00:09 -0500
Kroger Adds Curated 2,300-Item Assortments At 13 Walgreens Pilot Stores Kroger Adds Curated 2,300-Item Assortments At 13 Walgreens Pilot Stores

Expanding on the pilot program that began in early October, Kroger will add Kroger Express, a curated assortment of 2,300 products, at 13 Walgreens stores in northern Kentucky. The items will be selected using customer data and insights provided by Kroger subsidiary 84.51°. The first concept store already is operational in Florence, Ky., and the remaining 12 pilot stores are scheduled to go live in early 2019.

The Kroger Express selection will include Home Chef meal kits, national products and Kroger’s Our Brands private label items, along with dairy, meat, produce, frozen and meal SKUs. The Walgreens stores also serve as pickup points for online grocery orders placed on

“We are excited to enter the next phase of the pilot,” said Robert Clark, SVP of Merchandising at Kroger in a statement. “The Kroger Express concept creates easy access to our most popular Our Brands products through a fill-in grocery shopping experience for Walgreens customers, and our Home Chef Express meal kits provide customers with an on-demand solution for tonight’s dinner.”

Kroger and Walgreens also are integrating their product offerings in a larger market, making Home Chef Express meal kits available in 65 Chicago-area Walgreens stores. The kits already are available at certain Kroger banners in the area, including select Mariano’s stores.

During this pilot program, Walgreens will offer three unique Express meal kit options, with recipes rotating bi-weekly. Other recipes are available for delivery through

“We’re pleased to continue working together to explore new concepts that expand product selection to provide a better shopping experience and greater value for our customers,” said Richard Ashworth, Walgreens President of Operations in a statement.

]]> (Adam Blair) News Briefs Tue, 04 Dec 2018 12:14:03 -0500
Black Friday Draws 165 Million U.S. Shoppers As The Holiday Grows Abroad Black Friday Draws 165 Million U.S. Shoppers As The Holiday Grows Abroad

The period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday was a rousing retail success, with more than 165 million Americans shopping either in-store or online, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. The average spend across all consumers was $313.29 over the five-day period, down slightly from the $335.47 spent in 2017.

More than 89 million people shopped both online and in-store, up nearly 40% from 2017, and multichannel shoppers outspent single-channel shoppers by up to $93 on average. Other key takeaways include:

  • This was truly the year of the smartphone, and mobile conversion rates eclipsed desktop for the first time. Additionally, app downloads and usage rates were very high;
  • Outside the U.S., Black Friday was a bigger day than Cyber Monday. In fact, many U.S. retailers are now offering Black Friday deals for shoppers in foreign countries; and
  • Mobile ad spend brought strong returns due to the greater number of shoppers using these devices.

Mobile Has Evolved From A Search Tool To A Purchase Platform

Mobile devices are perfectly suited to a holiday like this one, when shoppers visiting with family don’t have access to their home computer — but they do still have the phone in their pocket. As a result, mobile accounted for 54% of e-Commerce sales on Thanksgiving, surpassing desktop for the first time, according to Salesforce. However, shoppers using desktop devices generated a higher average order value (AOV) than those on mobile.

“Generally speaking, the primary shift over the holiday was based on macro-level audience and shopping trends, which involve more time spent on tablets and cellphones,” said Chris Innes, COO of SteelHouse in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “When reviewing audience segment sizes before and after the holiday, we found that mobile was significantly higher than desktop compared to a non-promo timeframe. This is likely because users were out and about shopping or visiting family and less likely to be browsing on desktop devices.”

The factors boosting mobile helped the channel remain strong through Cyber Monday, according to NetElixir. Compared to 2017, the share of shoppers browsing on mobile devices rose significantly on key days:

  • Thanksgiving: Mobile accounted for 75.4% of visits, up from 70%;
  • Black Friday: 73.5% of visits, up from 68.9%; and
  • Cyber Monday: 67.1% of visits, up from 60.9%.

Mobile’s share of total e-Commerce conversions grew compared to the previous year as well:

  • Thanksgiving: 58.7% of orders, up from 53.7%;
  • Black Friday: 55.5% of orders, up from 50.7%; and
  • Cyber Monday: 48.5% of orders, up from 43.6%.

Despite mobile’s impressive numbers, desktop devices remain important: the AOV on mobile was 52% lower than on desktop. But mobile’s sheer volume of purchases can help make up for smaller individual order sizes, particularly in categories where impulse buys are common, such as apparel (where mobile accounted for 67.8% of e-Commerce orders) and beauty (where mobile made up 60.3%).

Apps were responsible for a large share of mobile spending, totaling 44% in the U.S., according to Poq. This is in line with overall app revenue growth, which now accounts for 34% of all mobile revenue (up 51% from 2017) and 20% of all e-Commerce revenue (up 40% from 2017).

The holiday weekend also proved to be an excellent time for retailers to get their apps out to new customers: 10 million people downloaded shopping apps in the U.S. between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, according to AppAnnie. The breakdown of individual days was:

  • Thanksgiving: 1.8 million downloads, up 25% compared to 90 days prior;
  • Black Friday: 2 million downloads, up 35%; and
  • Cyber Monday: 1.8 million downloads, up 25%.

Black Friday Is Famous Globally, And Still Growing Rapidly

While Black Friday originated in the U.S., the holiday’s fame has spread worldwide: global Black Friday e-Commerce sales grew at a rate 34% higher than Cyber Monday sales, according to eShopWorld. As e-Commerce continues expanding worldwide, shoppers are taking advantage of global promotions.

“We believe it is because the cultural phenomenon [and] the terminology around Black Friday is something that people are aware of, and they are newly able to buy more and more directly from American companies,” said Cynthia Hollen, President, U.S. at eShopWorld. “As they access to participate in Black Friday sales that they have always heard about, it’s something they’re jumping on top of.”

While Black Friday generated the fastest growth rate, the entire Thanksgiving weekend saw a sales boost compared to 2017. The five countries that generated the highest revenue growth during the period were:

  • Russia, where revenues rose 137%;
  • Australia, where revenues rose 114%;
  • UK, where revenues rose 71;
  • Canada, where revenues rose 23%; and
  • Germany, where revenues rose 17%.

The Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving are also notable shopping days outside the U.S., since only Americans can expect to get Thursday and Friday off, while shoppers in other countries have more time to shop over the weekend. Due to this, the UK and Germany both saw higher e-Commerce sales growth over the weekend than they did on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Mobile Ad Spend Rises As Users Multiply

The increase in shoppers browsing and buying on mobile has also led to a boost in outreach: the number of ads served on mobile devices doubled on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 compared to 2017, according to SteelHouse. Retailers were well-rewarded for their efforts in this area:

  • Return on ad spend on mobile ads was up 35% on Black Friday and 17% on Cyber Monday compared to 2017;
  • Mobile order value increased to 10% (up from 3%) on Black Friday and to 8% (from 2%) on Cyber Monday; and
  • Retailers saw a 29% increase in mobile conversion rates compared to 2017.

Contextual, moment-based ads are particularly important in mobile marketing, according to Fiona Swerdlow, VP, Research Director at Forrester. These ads should be served when they will be most impactful, and should directly link to a mobile-optimized page with quick access to store and product information.

For ads in general, retailers were somewhat divided on whether they favored “loud,” flashy ads with a focus on deep discounts, or “quiet” ads that drew less attention themselves. The choice largely depends on the brand itself. For example, while price is a strong sales driver, Nike only posted a small Black Friday discount code where it puts its daily deals.

“‘Loud’ marketing is designed to drive both awareness as well as immediate web traffic and conversion,” said Swerdlow. “On big holiday shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday there’s lots of noise, so promotions with hard deadlines make sense and appeal to customers. Conversely, if a brand needs to maintain price points on most products, it may take a more brand-focused approach to marketing on big shopping days, and be creative with things like free shipping or promoting its company values (e.g. REI’s now-famous annual #OptOutside initiative).”

Retailers also can harness smart advertising to help them tap the growing global Black Friday market. Improvements in personalization technology let brands approach each customer in their own language with local deals that appeal to them, and retailers should use these tools to create unique promotions suited to each market.

“We’re seeing more retailers and more brands looking for ways that they can build a deep, personal relationship with shoppers in every single country — differentiating a global shopper from a local shopper,” said Hollen. “The world is just getting flatter, and retailers can have a conversation with shoppers in their own language and on their own sites to have the relationship they want to have.”

Ultimately, the story of this Thanksgiving weekend was one of technology making connections — mobile devices letting people shop while spending time with their families, and global shoppers participating in an American holiday. By studying how these tools drove sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, retailers will be able to carry the weekend’s success to the rest of the holiday season.



]]> (Bryan Wassel) Omnichannel / Cross-Channel Strategies Mon, 03 Dec 2018 09:59:33 -0500
Getting Physical: Three Tips For Bridging Online And Offline Experiences In The New Year

0aaaCarl Tsukuhara OptimizelyRecently Wayfair and Casper joined the likes of fellow e-Commerce brands Amazon, Everlane, Glossier and many others that are all experimenting with, or opening permanent, brick-and-mortar stores. However, with many traditional retail stores closing shop in the last year, it's even more imperative to integrate offline and online channels to provide a consistent experience across all touch points.

These digitally-born businesses are in a battle with Amazon to retain customers by offering a great in-store experience at a reasonable cost, all while avoiding the mishaps Build-a-Bear and others recently encountered. In fact, while 87% of consumers say they expect an omnichannel experience, only 7% of retailers actually provide the ability to shop seamlessly across all channels.

That means opening physical stores requires delivering a hyper-personalized and streamlined experience that is massively digital-friendly. This is fundamental to the future of this omnichannel company’s business model. Here are three ways retailers can marry their online and offline customer experiences to accelerate growth in 2019.

Create A Personalized Experience

Customers have come to expect personalized experiences online, and brands need to find ways to replicate the tailored experience in store. Since 85% of customers say they like to shop in stores because they want to “touch and feel” items before they buy them, it’s imperative for brands to provide highly relevant experiences that are “digital enabled” as a way to enhance relationships with customers and boost sales.

Nordstrom has done this through its “reserve online and try in store” service. By giving customers the option to reserve items online before heading to the store — where they are met with a personalized dressing room with their name and selected items — the retailer is combining the best of personalization across online and physical experiences.

For 110-year-old legacy brand Neiman Marcus, personalization is the new loyalty. They’ve incorporated data and machine learning across all their platforms to learn more about what customers prefer, which includes embedding new capabilities on the devices its sales associates use in stores. For example, they launched the Snap Find Shop, a visual search feature in its app that lets customers take a photo of any clothing item and find a similar style in the store’s product line using AI. The company has continued to maintain its stellar brand reputation by using the data it collects online and off to provide superior customer service and a distinctive, personalized shopping experience.

Thanks to the endless amount of data businesses can collect online, retailers are able to create targeted experiences for their customers and build relationships with them based on their interests. This is a key point where experimenting with this holistic experience comes into play. Retailers can now experiment with their online and mobile experience with the direct objective of on-premise, physical conversion. In this case, the retailer owns the entire process and supply chain and can directly measure the impact of their digital experience on both the e-Commerce and physical world.

Think Outside How Digital Experiments And Success Can Enrich On-Premise Experience

Brands can now test all kinds of variations in the digital world that can be transferred to the physical storefront with much less supply chain and physical merchandising risk. By creating highly personalized digital experiments around things such as pricing, recommendations, bundling or affinity, teams can know how to execute with high levels of certainty in the physical world.

For example, any retailer can experiment with offers against specific customer “buckets” or try checkout-level offers to see what improves average order value for different audiences. Once the suggested variation is proven to work, then a physical version of such offers, sales or displays can be replicated in physical locations where similar customer demographics apply. By getting this right ahead of larger scale physical deployment, it reduces the need for storing inventory, cuts down on operating costs and provides customers with a tangible way to know the proper in-store experience before committing to deployment at scale.

As consumer expectations and demands continue to rise at an accelerated pace, retailers must stay unique, leverage their digital data and experiments and think outside a purely digital or physical (brick-and-mortar) box in order to stay ahead. You may have a great idea for a pop-up shop or an in-person campaign, but how do you know if anyone will actually show up? Who will be interested? By testing online first, brands can learn about the customer journey, consumer behaviors and individual preferences, and use that to foster loyalty in the physical space.

One brand demonstrating the power of experimentation before national success with brick-and-mortar is Warby Parker. While the company originally got its start selling eyeglasses online in 2010, it plans to have 100 physical stores open in the next year. Before creating any permanent stores, the company started with showrooms and pop-ups. In fact, they even had a school bus early on that traveled to different cities where employees sold their glasses on wheels. By learning about their customers’ wants and needs before setting up shop, they’ve been able to take the convenience of online shopping and combine it with the in-person experience found in actual stores.

Other examples include online dating app Bumble, which just launched “The Hive” in New York, a brick-and-mortar hangout space, and Refinery29, which now hosts pop-ups as a way to bring readers closer to their brand through visual, immersive experiences.


Brick-and-mortar isn’t dead, the model is just changing. While many brick-and-mortar stores are going out of a business in the digital age, this is largely due to lack of modernization. Bridging the online and offline experience will be necessary in order for retailers to succeed, and brands that successfully adapt their approach will keep their customers coming back for more.

Carl Tsukahara, a 25-year veteran of Silicon Valley, is Chief Marketing Officer at Optimizely, a leader in digital experience optimization with customers including Gap, Revolve, Trunk Club and Blu Dot. Prior to Optimizely, Tsukahara was CMO at Birst, which delivered enterprise business analytics to major global corporations. He also has held executive management roles at Evolv, Monitise and Vitria Technology.


]]> (Carl Tsukahara, Optimizely) Executive ViewPoints Wed, 28 Nov 2018 09:30:49 -0500
Smartphones Generate 49% Of Thanksgiving Weekend Traffic Smartphones Generate 49% Of Thanksgiving Weekend Traffic

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small-Business Saturday and Cyber Monday were powerhouse days for retail this year, racking up online sales of more than $20.8 billion, according to Adobe Analytics. Individual days’ e-Commerce sales and growth rates were:

  • Thanksgiving: $3.7 billion in revenue, up 27.9%;
  • Black Friday: $6.2 billion in revenue, up 23.6%;
  • Small-Business Saturday: $3 billion in revenue, up 25.5%; and
  • Cyber Monday: $7.9 billion in revenue, up 19.9%.

As expected, mobile set a strong growth pace: 34.3% of online Black Friday sales were made on smartphones, compared to 29.1% on Black Friday in 2017, and 49% of all e-Commerce traffic came from smartphones. Additionally, mobile devices accounted for 54% of e-Commerce sales on Thanksgiving, surpassing desktop computers for the first time, according to Salesforce. Other highlights include:

  • Average order value set a new record for Black Friday ($146), up 8.5% from 2017, according to Adobe;
  • Target saw Thanksgiving and Black Friday e-Commerce sales rise 48% from 2017, while Sears’ sales fell 47%, according to Edison Trends; and
  • Brick-and-mortar wasn’t slacking: 151 million people visited a mall or shopping center over the weekend, up from 145 million in 2017, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). And even though e-Commerce is making the headlines, omnichannel retailers captured 88% of Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales.

While malls and shopping centers registered traffic growth, overall brick-and-mortar traffic was down 1.7% on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday compared to 2017, according to ShopperTrak. However, this variance is still in line with results from the past several years, and ShopperTrak projects that Black Friday will remain the top brick-and-mortar shopping day in 2018. While Adobe expects more than one dollar in six to be spent online, physical stores will still account for the lion’s share of sales.

Mobile Shines On Thanksgiving Day

Turkey may have left many consumers too full to go out shopping, but they were happy to take advantage of sales from the comfort of their homes: revenue was up 18% on Thanksgiving Day compared to last year, according to Salesforce. Mobile phones in particular helped people shop while still sharing the company of their families (or gave them a heads-down excuse to avoid awkward conversations).

“Mobile is key,” said Rob Garf, VP of Industry Strategy and Insights at Salesforce in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Our data shows that mobile usage peaked to 70% of digital traffic over the holiday weekend and reached 68% on Thanksgiving Day, a critical shopping day. Consumers are increasingly using their phones to browse and buy, so retailers need to ensure they are providing consumers with the best mobile user experience to stay on top.”

The most important tool for capturing this traffic is a strong mobile app, and retailers used the Thanksgiving weekend excitement to bring in many new users. Retail apps received 1.8 million net new downloads on Thanksgiving and 2 million on Black Friday, according to Lexi Sydow, Market Insights Manager at to App Annie, a global provider of mobile data and insights. These numbers reflect entirely new users, not shoppers who had previously deleted the app or downloaded an update.

Retailers seeking to make the most of e-Commerce sales throughout the rest of the holiday season will need to offer convenient, shopper-friendly experiences on mobile devices, according to Sydow. They will need to keep in mind mobile devices’ smaller screens and the need for frictionless search and checkout, and they also should look beyond their own industry for inspiration.

“There are definite user experience and interface expectations that consumers have outside of shopping,” said Sydow. “Look at Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter — apps that have a simple, streamlined experience. That’s what people are comparing shopping apps to.”

Connected Shoppers Seek Omnichannel Convenience

Mobile and other online offerings work best when paired with brick-and-mortar options, and omnichannel retailers captured 88% of spending on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, according to the ICSC. Among shoppers that utilized click-and-collect services (27% of the total on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday), 64% made an additional in-store purchase.

“Retailers can make the most of the halo effect by investing in physical stores — and by ensuring that those stores create a memorable and positive experience for customers,” said Stephanie Cegielski, spokesperson for the ICSC. “Our research found that opening a store increases web traffic and brand awareness in that market; that means that retailers pursuing a true omnichannel strategy and investing in brick-and-mortar benefit across the board. When retailers listen to customers and emphasize experience-driven retail, their brands succeed.”

Omnichannel also can drive the in-store experience through mobile apps. Target offered shoppers maps of their local store in its app, with green dots marking where special Black Friday sales would be held as a way to help them plan their shopping trip. The retailer combined these features with skip-the-line and in-store ordering options to make the brick-and-mortar experience as frictionless as possible.

Shoppers are less likely to browse during major shopping times like Black Friday than at other times of the year, according to Erin Jordan, Senior Account Director and Partner at Walker Sands. They know the sales they are looking for, and if they are braving the crowd they want to get in and out of the store as efficiently as possible.

A Strong Black Friday Experience Lays Groundwork For The Holidays

While the single busiest day of the year has come and gone, the massive deals that brought in shoppers will have lingering effects: 57% of all Black Friday sales were to new customers, and based on 2017 data, an estimated 21% of these shoppers will make another purchase within the next 94 days, according to Bluecore.

Eight of the 10 busiest shopping days are still to come, according to ShopperTrak, including Super Saturday (Dec. 22) and the Sunday before Christmas (Dec. 23). This year also has four Saturdays in December prior to Christmas, which will enhance the importance of both Dec. 8 and Dec. 15.

Shoppers’ biggest complaint throughout the holidays is long lines (84%), and 60% of holiday shoppers are willing to change where they shop based on negative experiences last year, according to A.T. Kearney. Retailers need to stay alert for the major shopping days ahead, which will take strong logistics and smart staffing practices.

“When it comes down to being successful for retailers, it really comes down to logistics and transparency,” said Jordan. “Having good inventory management systems in place, especially when products are flying off the shelves as quickly as they are on some of those busier holidays, is going to continue being important.”


]]> (Bryan Wassel) Omnichannel / Cross-Channel Strategies Tue, 27 Nov 2018 10:13:34 -0500
56% Of ‘Growth CMOs’ Prioritize Data Analysis Ahead Of Brand Building, Storytelling 56% Of ‘Growth CMOs’ Prioritize Data Analysis Ahead Of Brand Building, Storytelling

The tools that are prized by the modern Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) continue to change as marketing becomes ever more technologically oriented. More than half (56%) of “growth CMOs” prioritize data and intelligence analysis as the top skill to help them evolve their growth agenda, according to a survey of 191 global CMOs from CMO Council and Deloitte.

Additional mandatory skills include:

  • Market insights and knowledge (50%);
  • Holistic view of the customer journey (49%);
  • Brand building and development (47%); and
  • Storytelling in a digital world (44%).

This emphasis on data and analytics has broadened many CMOs’ portfolio. “We are an extremely data-driven company,” said Monica Deretich, VP of Marketing and CRM of the JustFab business at TechStyle Fashion Group in a statement. “Yes, we collect data and feedback directly from our members so we can optimize her experience and keep an eye on the market around us. But as an organization, we are also committed to actively analyzing revenue performance data and looking for signals that identify and support efficiencies.”

Today’s growth-oriented CMOs understand the difference between short-term pops in engagement and transactions versus long-term, sustainable expansion through revenue-focused strategies.

“The CMO’s role in revenue growth will start to shift from focusing solely on the everyday customer funnel management, which is about tomorrow’s growth, and will instead look at how growth is achieved one or two quarters down the path,” said Shoumyan Biswas, VP of Marketing at Flipkart. “The CMO must be more strategic, not as tactical or short term.”

Many CMOs remain focused on brand development, customer engagement, lead management and media mix modeling. But these executives are missing opportunities to focus on business transformation initiatives like mapping global expansion, facilitating mergers and acquisitions, shaping pricing strategy or actively advancing distribution channels.

As many as 82% of all CMOs believe they are the primary driver of brand development and storytelling, but only 50% believe they own customer experience strategy development, the report said. Additionally, only 7% say they are the “data guru” that understands the voice and expectations of the customer.

“Sales and driving incremental revenue growth are the first steps on the path to profitability, but this is not the destination,” noted Liz Miller, Senior VP of Marketing for the CMO Council in a statement. “What best practice leaders have demonstrated is that ownership of experience strategy and voice of the customer must inform key business decisions, ranging from product specification to identification of market expansion and global market readiness. This will require a new mastery of data and intelligence, along with skills that cross finance and operations boundaries that most marketers feel uncomfortable and unprepared to cross.”

The survey revealed that 46% of CMOs indicated that they are “fairly well positioned” to reach their intended growth goals, but only 18% consider themselves “extremely poised” for success.

Silos Still Constrain Businesses; CMOs Must Bridge The Gaps

Functional silos often can block the companywide integration of comprehensive customer data or the development of organizational customer experience strategy. As many as 36% of growth-driving CMOs say silos plague their business, and 47% of all other respondents say silos that keep data and touch points separated threaten to derail the success of growth strategies.

While these silos can be a hindrance to the company’s progress, executives agree that the solution isn’t simply to remove silo walls. Doing so can threaten functional stakeholders and heighten a company’s aversion to risk. Instead, these executives should actively build connections between each silo, treating each group as a center of functional and tactical excellence that can be integrated and aligned into the overarching customer strategy.

When it comes to aligning business growth goals, 71% of all CMOs surveyed see the President or CEO as their primary ally, followed by the head of sales (56%) and line of business leadership (38%). However, growth-driving executives also see the board of directors as a key ally, with 35% indicating the board is a champion of growth strategy development.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Business Intelligence / Data / Analytics Mon, 26 Nov 2018 09:18:01 -0500
Exclusive CEO Q&A: How Touch Of Modern Uses Customer Feedback To Drive Merchandising 0aaaJerry Hum TouchofModernTouch of Modern, an e-Commerce retailer focused on selling lifestyle products, fashion and accessories for men, has always strived to introduce merchandise that shoppers can’t find anywhere else, even dabbling in wine sales. After six years in business, that mantra has clearly paid dividends; the retailer now generates $120 million in annual revenue and is profitable going into 2019. So how does Touch of Modern consistently deliver the right goods to its target audience? The retailer uses a strategic combination of customer feedback and merchandising analytics to determine its most loyal shoppers’ preferred products and buying patterns.  

In an exclusive conversation with Retail TouchPoints, Touch of Modern CEO and Co-Founder Jerry Hum reveals:

  • The company’s recently developed national television ad campaign;
  • Curating new merchandise that’s in line with the Touch of Modern brand;
  • How the company balances customer retention and customer acquisition efforts by educating the shopper on the product’s value;
  • Video’s role in educating shoppers on the Touch of Modern brand and products; and
  • Potential partnerships with more direct-to-consumer brands going into 2019.

RTP: Touch of Modern has been profitable going on 12 months. Has this changed your strategic approach to the 2018 holiday season?

Jerry Hum: The strategy that we took [to achieve profitability] was to realize that our largest costs, outside of the cost of goods, were on the marketing side. If we were to become profitable, we had to cut back on marketing, and in order to do that while maintaining revenue we had to make sure that our existing customers will keep repeating.

We did research on customer behavior and also their brand affinity and asked them, “Who are we to you?”, “Where are we lagging?” and “Where do we improve?” The great thing was, our customers actually saw us the way we saw ourselves. They recognized that we bring them high-quality goods, things that are hard to find at traditional retailers, and often, a lot of what we sell can only be found here. That’s why they kept coming back to visit.

One of the things they wished we could do better was shorten the delivery time. That’s a big push that we’ve been working on over the past year. It’s even more important now that we’re in the holiday season and it’s something that we’ll continue to keep working on for the future.

On the other side, when we became profitable, by coincidence, we had just started going into a new marketing channel — national television ads. At the time, we had no expectation as to performance — it was more of a bet. Not only did that perform well for us, it also opened up a whole new channel for us, at a volume that was comparable and larger than marketing on the web. It alleviated the pressure on the existing channels as well. We actually just pushed a new TV spot that first aired in October.

We’ve been testing iterations of it — the first one was a homegrown spot with just our own employees, the second one we pulled in some of our vendors, and the third is shot completely from the ground up.

RTP: How do you keep curating new and unique products that accurately embody the Touch of Modern brand, and how do you expand beyond what you already have?

Hum: When it comes to keeping momentum and staying fresh, the strategy we’ve come up with has always been pretty sustainable, and it’s inherently baked into the model. We email our customers every day, and they tell us through their purchases what resonates with them and what doesn’t. Every day we take that feedback and we use that to inform all our future merchandising.

We do this agnostic of the category. When new categories show up, we’re able to move on them pretty quickly. Because we’re able to be that fluid, we haven’t really had to change the fundamental formula. Through our research, we did find that things our most loyal customers bought were not the things that our least loyal customers bought. We did some pushing into the categories of where our most profitable customers were buying, to increase their lifetime value and keep them engaged.

RTP: How does Touch of Modern balance customer retention vs. acquisition?

Hum: What we’ve seen is that our best customers will spend more with us over time. Part of why we started Touch of Modern is because we felt that a lot of our prospective customers could use a bit of education. The other co-founders and I had a conversation early on about who made the best speakers, and our CTO had all this technical knowledge on speakers, so he won the argument and educated the rest of us on the topic.

That’s the kind of aspect we wanted to bring to our customers. A lot of these products are new or they appeal to a niche audience of enthusiasts. We want to bring them to the mass market to let people know about, not just items exposed in the malls or department stores, but also items that were created with more intention and more purpose. When we looked at that, we thought that if we could successfully educate somebody on why this product was better than your average, they might start to trust us and spend more with us over time. You start to realize that the thing that provides most value isn’t always what’s cheapest, it’s what’s the highest quality for the money.

When we see that our best customers start to spend more with us and their average order value continues to increase over time, then we’re successful at doing that. Between the existing customers and the new customers, we tend to walk them through that education process, first by showing products that are more affordable but still high-quality, and then moving them upward over time.

RTP: In the past, we’ve discussed content as a driver for marketing strategies. How much does that come into play as far as delivering the right information about a product to the consumer?

Hum: It’s an ongoing battle, and it’s something we think we have a lot of room to improve on. One of the things our customer research showed was that a lot of times, customers weren’t aware of the quality of the product from the get-go. They would have to go off our app to do research and find that out. That shows that we could be educating customers better than we currently are.

Video is a strategy we’re taking more advantage of — it’s a format shoppers are gravitating more toward for things that require more information. They don’t like reading big blocks of text. They’d rather watch a video informing them of why a product is special, rather than taking the same amount of time to read a paragraph.

We’re also operationally making sure that we are able to capture why we thought these products are unique and explain that to the customer for everything, and not just the few that stand out to us.

RTP: On the supply chain side, what do you feel has been working to help Touch of Modern handle increasing consumer shipping demands?

Hum: A lot of it is just sharpening the tool in terms of forecasting and then communication with the vendor. There’s no real magic sauce there, it’s more about being on the ball. I wish I could give a silver bullet for that, but there isn’t one, at least not yet.

RTP: Does Touch of Modern have any brick-and-mortar plans, and what would it take for the company to make that leap?

Hum: We actually opened and operated a small pilot in San Francisco just for a month, and we are expanding on it through the 2018 holiday season. We have not yet reached a conclusion about it, but a lot of the unit economics we’ve seen so far are very promising.

RTP: Are there any other trends that have affected Touch of Modern going into the holiday season?

Hum: You probably have seen this for a little while now — more direct-to-consumer brands are gaining traction and getting significant scale, and that’s something that we have to keep paying attention to. We’re actually seeing more of those kind of brands wanting to partner with us as well, so it can definitely benefit us.

Pure D2C is tough. If you had to do all your own marketing and bear the entirety of the customer acquisition costs while only selling a limited number of products, it’s going to be hard to get a return on investment. The beauty of a company like ours is that we have a lot of merchandise we can sell to customers. Therefore, we can stomach higher acquisition costs compared to a lot of pure D2C brands that only have five products to sell.

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Inventory / Merchandising / Supply Chain Wed, 21 Nov 2018 07:41:45 -0500
Study: 56% Of Shoppers Say Black Friday Offers Best Deals, But Cyber Monday Really Opens Wallets Study: 56% Of Shoppers Say Black Friday Offers Best Deals, But Cyber Monday Really Opens Wallets

While shoppers have spread out their holiday spending across Thanksgiving weekend in recent years, Black Friday remains at the top of the shopping totem pole, with 116 million people making purchases that day, according to National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. What’s the reason? More than half (56%) of shoppers still say it has the best deals, according to a Deloitte survey.

Even more shoppers (82%) said they shop in stores on Black Friday to take advantage of the deals, while 63% plan to take advantage of early Black Friday deals online. But many consumers (45%) have yet to decide which retailer they will shop over the entire weekend. Top shopping destinations for in-store shoppers include mass merchants (45%), department stores (43%) and electronics/office supply stores (33%), the survey said.

Holiday shoppers say they’ll spend an average of $420 between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, with Cyber Monday set to take the biggest share of dollars at an average of $170.

“People have responded to the early promotions that retailers have put in play to outdo the competition — from early Black Friday deals to free shipping — but the event still holds its place as a holiday tradition,” said Rod Sides, Vice Chairman, Deloitte LLP and U.S. Retail and Distribution Leader in a statement. “Most people maintain the perception that the best deals are on Black Friday, but it’s also become a day for spending time with family and friends. The same appears to be true for the group of people who have made Thanksgiving Day shopping their family tradition. We see an even bigger draw toward Cyber Monday, which is set to attract shoppers both in-store and online and capture the most dollars spent over the weekend.”

Nearly 73% plan to shop online Cyber Monday, which also is poised to take nearly half (47%) of all online spending occurring over the entire weekend.

Shoppers have mapped out their mobile and online backup options to manage the holiday rush:

  • 51% would go to another retailer if a site has technical issues;
  • 41% would buy something online while in-store if they get better pricing; and
  • 27% would check out while using their mobile device in the store to avoid long lines at the register.

It appears Thanksgiving Day still represents a minority of revenue generated as stores close on the holiday: 26% of weekend shoppers plan to head to the stores on Thanksgiving Day, and slightly more, 29%, will shop online. The main reasons people plan to shop in stores on Thanksgiving is to get a head start on the deals (68%), and because they enjoy shopping with family and friends or it’s become a Thanksgiving ritual (55%).

]]> (Glenn Taylor) News Briefs Mon, 19 Nov 2018 11:40:38 -0500
Exclusive Q&A: Navigating The Suddenly Crowded Grocery Delivery Landscape Jack O'LearyGrocery delivery is continuing to shake up the supermarket industry, and Amazon’s presence is only amplifying the disruption. Retailers seeking to compete in this highly competitive space must choose between using third-party solutions or handling operations in-house. They need to, carefully consider the pros and cons of each to ensure they roll out a platform that will both please their customers and provide them with acceptable margins, according to Jack O'Leary, Senior Analyst at Edge by Ascential (formerly PlanetRetail RNG).

In this exclusive Q&A, O’Leary shares his insights on where the grocery delivery market is headed and the pressures it is applying to the industry, along with the effects automation will have and how Amazon is carving out its place among fierce competition.

RTP: Have Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods and its launch of AmazonFresh had a particularly outsized effect on the industry, or is it just another competitor in a complex field?

Jack O'Leary: I think Amazon had a huge impact with the Whole Foods acquisition. They’re doing all the right things there to justify them being the ‘elephant in the room’ in terms of disrupting the space. One example is their rolling out Prime Now rapid delivery of perishable items from Whole Foods stores, in pretty much every single market where they have an overlap of Prime Now delivery drivers and Whole Foods’ store network. They are also testing click-and-collect at Whole Foods stores through the Prime Now app in a number of locations. We only expect that to expand. More fulfillment options that leverage Whole Foods locations will enhance the shopper experience and make Amazon a legitimate grocery competitor.

I think the best hedge grocery players have here against Amazon as a long-term threat is leveraging their existing store networks, like we’re already seeing them do in the case of Walmart, Kroger and others, to try and get a head start on Amazon with click-and-collect. This can truly be a differentiated experience that Amazon cannot match right now in the vast majority of the country where there are no Whole Foods stores.

I do think Amazon is going to be transformational in this space. The Whole Foods acquisition was the accelerating factor for that, not the legacy of AmazonFresh. Expect to see AmazonFresh and Prime Now further integrated into the experience going forward, and Whole Foods stores to continue being used to supplement that offering. Amazon’s going to put its flag in the ground and try being one of the most relevant online grocery players in the U.S.

RTP: How do you think Amazon’s alleged plans to open 3,000 additional Go stores will affect the industry?

O'Leary: I think the Go stores are serving a separate trip type. When thinking about the industry, we kind of get pigeonholed into believing that there will be one model that defines the future of how we grocery shop. I just don’t think that’s the case. There are multiple trip types, so there will be multiple shopping models to meet them.

For example, say I’m a Millennial in a city cooking dinner, and I need an ingredient very quickly — I might use Prime Now to order something delivered to my doorstep in under an hour. But if I’m a working mom in the suburbs and I’m at the office and I need to pick up my weekly grocery restock, I might build a click-and-collect order from my desk and pick it up at my local Walmart on the way home. If I’m looking to the future of the spontaneous convenience trip, maybe there’s a cashierless store option on a nearby city street to my office that I stop off in while walking home. I buy a protein shake and a power bar by simply scanning my app as I walk in, grabbing the item and walking out the door again.

There’s going to be new innovative retail business models to serve every single type of shopper need. No one is truly standing out across click-and-collect, home delivery, traditional grocery shopping trips and convenience trips as doing everything the best. The defining principle is that all of this is going to be increasingly digitally enabled, and increasingly convenient for the shopper.

RTP: Some retailers are harnessing third-party services to handle delivery, while others are taking their efforts in-house. What are the pros or cons of each approach?

O'Leary: The advantage of partnering with a third party is that it helps you get off the ground much more quickly, and at lower order volumes, than a grocer would normally have early on by itself. Instacart has shopper networks in all the cities they’re operational in, and they pick the items off the store shelves and deliver them to the shopper. They also have an Instacart brand name that brings shoppers to your platform and creates demand. All of this allows a retailer to get their grocery program off the ground at a much more rapid pace than building it themselves.

The disadvantage of a third-party program like Instacart is that, in the short-term, you’re giving up some percentage of sales to Instacart. You’re also having Instacart pickers (who are not your store employees) coming to your store aisles and selecting items. This can result, in some cases, in undesirable outcomes, with your perishable aisles becoming overpicked, or the pickers causing some sort of disruption in your store experience. Finally, Instacart controls the data on the shopper since the transaction happens on their platforms — and so they also own the shopper relationship.

In the long term, if this level of control from Instacart continues, it will affect a lot of retailers. There is a worry that Instacart starts to minimize your retailer branding and your grocery branding on their web site. The third party becomes the retail brand shoppers associates with, so you lose some of that loyalty you had as the shopper’s go-to grocer.

Alternatively, there are some major hurdles for grocers looking to do it themselves:

  • It’s a major investment;
  • Most grocery players are operating on a thin margin;
  • It’s a capability that you as a grocery player don’t currently have embedded in your culture; and
  • How do you recruit a network of delivery drivers to run a delivery business?

It’s really challenging to get off the ground facing those realities.

The advantages of doing it yourself are you can build a shopper relationship around online grocery, because you also control and own the data.

It’s a balancing act for many U.S. retailers. As you’ve probably seen in the news, many retailers are opting to partner with Instacart. I think many are opting for the speedy approach to really get online now with Instacart, or to try to build it out themselves. The stakes are too high with online grocery accelerating — these retailers need to retain their shoppers through this transition.

RTP: Do you expect other forms of automation, such as Kroger’s warehouses and delivery vehicles, to make an impact on the delivery arms race?

O'Leary: Our perspective on the home delivery landscape, for grocery at least, is that it’s going to be a mixed model across the country in terms of how it operates — meaning the model is going to be dependent on the characteristics of the local geography that’s being served.

In certain geographies, there simply aren’t enough online grocery shoppers to support having a full perishable automated delivery center like what you see from Ocado. It just isn’t going to make economic sense. In these cases, we think that the store-pick model, where you have an Instacart or you have something in-house where people are simply moving through the aisles to fill the baskets that are ordered online, will be the model that persists in those geographies.

In certain urban areas and certain cities where there’s going to be a tremendous amount of online grocery delivery orders, that’s where we think those big designated fulfillment centers that utilize innovative technology like Ocado’s automated basket-building robotics are going to be. These are really large investments up front, but more effective for efficiency in high-volume areas.

In between these two extremes, you’re going to see other models. You will see some grocery stores that have enough order volume where they will stop picking out of the aisles, and instead designate a space in the back room for building online grocery delivery orders with manual human pickers.

The future of grocery delivery and how that model operates is going to be dictated by the unique geographies of where it is being served, and where the orders are coming from.

]]> (Bryan Wassel) Omnichannel / Cross-Channel Strategies Wed, 07 Nov 2018 09:00:00 -0500
Albertsons Pilots Automated Online Fulfillment With In-Store Robotics Albertsons Pilots Automated Online Fulfillment With In-Store Robotics

Albertsons Cos. has big plans to automate fulfillment for local online grocery orders — and it all begins with a micro-fulfillment pilot concept powered by AI-enabled robots. The grocery giant entered a trial with Takeoff Technologies, unveiling the partnership at the Groceryshop conference in Las Vegas.

Albertsons has not revealed the store where the pilot will take place, and at this point there is no timeline for how long the pilot will last or any indication of further expansion plans.

The process works this way: Albertsons customers enter their grocery orders online or via a mobile device, and the orders are routed to the automated system. Takeoff’s technology then takes over the fulfillment process. The system creates a designated area within an existing store location, typically sized between 6,000 and 10,000 square feet, where the most popular items ordered online are stored. 

The AI-enabled robots, working with a system of totes and conveyors, deliver the items to an Albertsons employee who prepares the orders for customers. The system is designed to function at a fraction of the speed and cost of manual picking processes.

Albertsons partnered with Takeoff because its solution is ready for implementation now, according to a company statement. The retailer, which has nearly 2,300 stores in 35 states, operating under banners that include Albertsons, Safeway and Jewel-Osco, noted that Takeoff’s model leverages the existing supply chain and store footprint and is flexible in picking various types of products.

Kroger Moving Into Warehouse-Level Automated Fulfillment

The grocery giant is taking a different approach to online order fulfillment than one of its biggest competitors, Kroger. Kroger is presently expanding its online ordering, automated fulfillment and home delivery capabilities through a partnership with Ocado, a UK-based online grocery retailer.

While Albertsons is bringing its technology into individual stores, Kroger will be focusing on automation within the warehouse. Ocado operates automated warehouses to fulfill online orders, with purpose-built robots capable of picking a 50-item order in minutes. Kroger is expected to begin work on the first three warehouses before the end of this year and expand to 20 locations over the next three years.

“A lot of this will come down to the cost of investment, which is still unclear,” said Neil Saunders, Managing Director at GlobalData Retail in a RetailWire discussion. “However, the Albertsons approach makes more sense to me. First, it makes use of the existing store base. This is good for two reasons. It does not involve any additional capital expenditure on new property. And it sweats an existing asset that is under pressure from declining sales and profit densities. Second, fulfilling from stores is ideal because it means that last-mile delivery is relatively local and, therefore, less expensive.”

]]> (Glenn Taylor) Omnichannel / Cross-Channel Strategies Fri, 02 Nov 2018 12:28:10 -0400