Shopper Experience

Shopper Engagement delves into the latest trends and strategies retailers are using to cultivate long-term relationships with shoppers. Social media, mobile technology, in-store tablets and more are covered in this section. Subscribe to the feed and stay in touch with the latest retail happenings.

Walmart Launches Traveling VR Entertainment And Shopping Experience

Spatial&, Walmart’s virtual reality (VR) platform and content studio, will use VR technology at Walmart stores across the country to offer a virtual experience titled, “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Virtual Tour.” The retailer and solution provider created the VR-driven retail experience in collaboration with DreamWorks Animation and sponsorship from HP, Intel and Positron.

Creating A Unique Customer Experience To Drive 2019 Success

There’s no way to avoid it — retail in 2019 is all about the experience. And to create a stellar experience, retailers must view the customer holistically rather than as an online shopper vs. an in-store shopper. For years, the retail buzzword was “omnichannel,” or how to seamlessly deliver what the customer wants. But a sole omnichannel focus will prohibit retailers from competing in the future. Instead, the industry should set its sights on creating the “complete customer experience,” which is richer, more memorable and personalized. And this process begins long before the customer steps into a store or shops online.

Is Breaking Up Easier Than Bargain Hunting?

Occasionally, we do a piece of customer research that hits home in a really personal way.  As someone who grew up frequenting flea markets with an extended family of bargainers and sharp-eyed deal seekers, the findings from Citi Retail Services’ annual Savvy Shopper Study really resonated with me — and underscored how in a digital world, bargaining has become less personal, more attainable and more relevant than ever before. Not surprisingly, 82% of consumers compare or track prices when shopping.  But an equal number now leverage search engines such as Google Shopping as do window shopping or shop in stores.  And more believe that they get better deals when doing so — 36% compared to 28% who physically visit stores.  Consumers are largely impulsive when they do track prices — almost half will make their purchase decision within a week, while the remainder wait on average about three weeks to make a decision.

Return Shipping Fees Scare Away 69% Of Consumers

With January in the rear-view mirror, retailers have made their way through what is perhaps the toughest part of the holiday season: returns. More than one in five (22%) of shoppers have returned a gift they received to an online retailer, according to Narvar. Even though returns are complex and expensive for retailers to handle, they are a cost of doing business in today’s environment. In fact, retailers that are tempted to discourage returns with fees and restrictive rules run the risk of reducing initial sales. Consumers identified three major returns-related purchasing deterrents: Having to pay for return shipping (69%); Restocking fees (67%); and Finding it difficult to find the return or exchange policy (33%). “If you don’t offer convenient returns options, or you don’t provide transparency, there is a silent majority of customers that won’t shop with you,” said Amit Sharva, CEO of Narvar in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “People think that having a nice product page or a competitive price is a sure shot way of getting customers to buy, but that’s only half of the story. Customers won’t shop with you if you don’t tell them details of how and where they can return the product,…

NRF2019: Innovation Lab Showcases Frictionless Self-Checkout, Facial Recognition And Last Mile Transparency

Photo credit: NRF For the third year the NRF Big Show put a spotlight on its top innovators, giving attendees tools and ideas for solving consumer needs in 2019 and beyond. The eclectic, hand-picked group of 50+ startups — broken out into customer convenience and customer experience sections — showcased new ways for retailers to manage some of their most pressing concerns, including: Removing friction from checkout; Providing targeted content to shoppers using facial recognition; Offering personalized assistance, whether in-store or online; and Adding transparency to last mile delivery.

Mastering Post-Holiday Customer Service

Ask a retailer what keeps them up at night when they think of the month of January, and there’s a good chance the answer will be “returns.” Since Thanksgiving and Black Friday, merchandise has been flowing out of the stores full tilt, into the hands of eager gift-givers and (at least theoretically) happy and grateful recipients. As we enter the post-holiday season, it’s not time to take the foot off the pedal. Retailers must be prepared for those gifts that didn’t make the cut. Some of these purchases come back through channels other than the one they left by, and often without a receipt. For an in-store purchase, it’s common for the customer to ask for — or the associate to suggest — a gift receipt, proactively addressing a potential return. With more mobile-driven purchases the shopper needs to remember to indicate that this is a gift. This process poses additional challenges when the customer is ordering online and having the gift shipped directly to the recipient.

Philanthropy, Local Connections Create Event Marketing Success For Kendra Scott

Experiential retail has become a popular buzzword in the industry, as retailers seek to deliver memorable experiences in stores, both to build relationships with customers and grow sales. For brands like jewelry retailer Kendra Scott, there’s no better way to do that than with in-store events. At each of its 94 stores, the brand hosts 12 to 20 events per month. During a pre-NRF 2019 event hosted by the jewelry brand alongside event marketing solution provider Splash, Kendra Scott Director of Retail Marketing Amy Young sat down for a fireside chat with Splash Co-Founder and CEO Ben Hindman to discuss the brand’s unique event strategies and what drives their success. Q: How do you leverage events as part of Kendra Scott’s go-to-market strategy? Amy Young: Events are a huge revenue driver for us. We task our stores with hosting an insane number of events on a weekly basis, and a lot of times we have our influencer events, local media events and shopping parties. We have what we call Kendra Gives Back (KGB), which is where we tap into the local community — local charities and local causes — and host events where a percentage of proceeds from that event…

How Can Retailers Turn Disgruntled Customers Into Happy Ones?

Retailers have tried for decades to improve customer satisfaction, yet recent Customer Rage surveys indicate that complaint satisfaction is lower today than it was in the late 1970s. Reasons such as the explosion of social networks mean that every unhappy customer reaches an average of 280 others every time they post on social media. Retailers have invested in technology and staff training, yet clearly we need to try harder if we are to convert these customers into loyal ones who recommend rather than criticize our products or services. As noted by the MIT Sloan Management Review, businesses should be encouraging customers to complain, and they should be ready and willing to resolve complaints before word-of-mouth criticism does significant damage.

NRF2019: How STORY, B8ta And Marxent Fortify Macy’s Experiential Arsenal

Macy’s had an eventful 2018 as it sought to transform its customer experience across all channels, acquiring New York City concept shop STORY, investing in b8ta, which labels itself as a “retail-as-a-service” concept and even deploying in-store VR experiences with Marxent. At the NRF Big Show, CEO Macy’s Jeff Gennette let the companies’ CEOs reveal how each enterprise is encouraging experiential retail at every touch point. The panel included: b8ta CEO Vibhu Norby; STORY CEO Rachel Shechtman; and Marxent CEO Beck Besecker.

NRF19: 36% Of Shoppers Want Better Personalization, But Hesitate To Share Personal Info

Personalization will continue to be a hot-button investment item for retailers in 2019, but they will have to struggle with consumers’ cognitive dissonance to implement it effectively, according to Sucharita Kodali, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. Kodali spoke during the State of Retail Innovation 2019 session on Sunday, Jan. 13 at the NRF Big Show. Up to 36% of shoppers say retailers need to do more to offer more personalized experiences, with this percentage reaching 43% for households that earn more than $100,000 annually, according to data from Forrester Research. Yet despite the evident desire for personalization, shoppers are still hesitant to share the personal information that can steer retailers in the right direction, and are overall distrustful of the concept.

Macy’s And Kohl’s Disappoint During Holiday, But Target Finishes Strong

Department stores came into the holiday season with high hopes, particularly as initial online Thanksgiving weekend numbers indicated that sales would be plentiful. However, recent holiday sales reports from Macy’s and Kohl’s reveal that though their expectations were great, the reality was anything but. However, one major retailer, Target, actually surpassed expectations. Macy’s saw shares drop as much as 19% on Jan. 10, after the retailer unveiled November-to-December same-store sales only increased 1.1%, with a lull occurring in the mid-December period. CEO Jeff Gennette said holiday sales disappointed in sportswear, sleepwear, jewelry and cosmetics, and Macy’s now expects no net sales growth for fiscal 2018, scaling back initial projections of 0.3% to 0.7% growth. The company also dialed back its earnings per share range, from $4.10 to $4.30 to $3.95 to $4.00.

CES 2019: Chinese Retailers, Suning Give New Meaning To ‘Smart’ Retail

With more than 180,000 attendees, 4,500 exhibitors and 3,000 product launches, CES (formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) brings out the best technology retailers can look forward to experimenting with in the coming year. But this year, two China-based retailers stood out for their innovations displayed throughout the event.…

Kroger Pilots Two ‘Connected’ Stores With Microsoft Partnership

In its latest push to drive forward its Restock Kroger initiative, the retailer is partnering with Microsoft to pilot a connected store experience and jointly market a commercial retail-as-a-service (RaaS) offering to other retailers. The two pilot stores are located in Kroger’s home city, Cincinnati, Ohio, and the Redmond, Wash. headquarters of Microsoft. Results of the pilot will guide expansion plans in 2019 and beyond, according to a joint statement. To provide a guided, personalized shopping experience, the stores will leverage the Microsoft Azure cloud technology and connected IoT sensors to bridge Kroger’s proprietary EDGE (Enhanced Display for Grocery Environment) shelf-edge screen technology with its Scan, Bag, Go mobile checkout feature. Customers using Kroger’s self-checkout app will be guided through the store to items on their shopping list, and will encounter personalized icons on digital shelves that are below the next relevant product on their list.

Hannaford Tests Smart Shelves At Redesigned Concept Store

Hannaford has launched a tech-focused pilot store in Portland, Maine, featuring digital shelves that promote certain product categories and make shopping more convenient, according to Central Maine. The 181-store supermarket retailer wants to see whether the solutions will lead to increased sales and a better customer experience before rolling out the concept at other locations.

JOANN Unveils 3D Laser Tech For In-Store Product Customization

JOANN is rolling out 3D laser printer/cutter technology in select stores as part of its investment in 3D printing startup Glowforge. Terms of the investment were not disclosed. The fabric and crafts retailer currently offers 3D laser cutting and engraving in the JOANN Custom Shop in the Natick Mall outside of Boston; the in-mall kiosk offers custom framing in addition to laser cutting and engraving.
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