NRF 2017: In-Store Personalization and Better Store Fulfillment

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In-store personalization has been slow in coming, but at this year’s NRF Big Show, vendors showcased technology that indicated the tide may be turning. And why not? Retailers are well aware that the ability to create a personalized experience for every customer could methodically lead shoppers to the point of purchase.

However, while retailers have embraced personalization techniques online, that success has not provided the impetus for similar in-store implementations. The benefits personalization offers e-commerce are known and envied by their brick and mortar counterparts. But there are myriad types of personalization – navigational and predictive, for example. Personalization can be based on third-party data, database segmentation, past purchase history, location and more. It’s complicated to start on the path to personalized selling and it doesn’t get easier.

That may change shortly, as the costs of the technology have decreased, third-party integrators are more fluent with the necessary equipment and software, and the benefits are becoming more evident. Shoppers, too, expect a unified commerce, tech-driven experience in which in-store mirrors online, and vice versa. Vendors are more motivated than ever to provide retailers with tools that will help them reflect the online experience inside a physical store. In addition, increasingly, those tools are easier to use and to integrate with existing systems.

One of the big challenges for retailers is determining how to make in-store personalization attractive to shoppers; some customers see the technology as overly intrusive. In its second annual “Creepy or Cool’ survey, RichRelevance found customers embraced personalization when it suited their needs.

“For the second year in the row, the study finds that shoppers think it is cool to get digital help finding relevant products and information – on their own terms when they choose to engage,” said Diane Kegley, CMO of RichRelevance. “However, they are creeped out by digital capabilities that identify and track without a clear value offered in return.”

However, it’s difficult for retailers to understand exactly what shoppers’ expectations are at any given time because they are shifting and evolving. To address that, part of the focus of this year’s NRF was the underscoring of the need for retailers to get back to basics and to develop scalable, repeatable and reliable processes that support their enterprise order management capabilities. A solid foundation built on those principles is likely to be more responsive to constantly changing – and expanding – shopper expectations.

Much of the ordering technology that is currently available to retailers is focused on the flow of product from one channel to the next. Understanding and pleasing the customer, unfortunately, has until now been simply the result of having solid ordering technology. The customer experience is largely an afterthought.

Many of the vendors at NRF believe that consideration of customer satisfaction and their preferences will move to the forefront this year. While order systems must be accurate and efficient as well as cost-effective, those characteristics are no longer a differentiator in retail. Instead, they are a requirement. What will distinguish the great retailers are those that can receive orders and provide internal inventory visibility across all sales channels as well as track customer satisfaction with store fulfillment.

Although efficiency and process are obviously important to retailers, personalization offers the potential of increased sales as well as customer loyalty. People enjoy patronizing businesses that know their tastes and provide that personal touch. In addition, retailers can further improve the customer experience by providing insight into inventory and delivery, which in turn helps the customer feel empowered. As retailers continue to blend the right mix of product, service and ordering flexibility, they encourage a sense of empowerment that enhances the customer experience.

Understanding Key Performance Indicators

As a retailer in a competitive marketplace, a major focus should be monitoring the health of your business. For most retailers this means getting a handle on your Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs.

Defining KPIs

A KPI is a metric that is designed to give you a quick snapshot of some aspect of your business. A KPI might be a measure of sales, customer activity, or financial strength.

More than simply a bottom line number, a KPI is usually expressed as a comparison with some other factor. For example, looking at the average sale per customer gives you an understanding of the potential value of each customer.

Which KPIs should I track?

There are hundreds of KPIs that a retail business owner could be using at any one time. If an activity can be tracked and measured in your store, a KPI can be developed to provide you with business intelligence. One of the challenges is to decide on a handful of KPIs that provide you with the most valuable information based on the goals and objectives of your operation.

Every retailer will have a different set of KPIs. For example, a business that uses commissioned sales associates to sell to customers may place a heavy emphasis on KPIs that track the effectiveness of an individual sales associate while these KPIs may be irrelevant for another retail business.

You may want to track KPIs related to your customers. Simply knowing the number of customers who enter the store each day may not be enough for you. You may want to gain a deeper understanding about your customer’s shopping patterns and what converts them from a casual shopper into a dedicated, returning customer. To do this, you need to carefully consider what data you should collect and analyze.

Choosing the right data

Data, by itself, is not a KPI until it’s arranged in a meaningful way. A list of sales transactions throughout the day is good data to have but it’s not the whole picture. The next step might be to calculate the total dollar amount of sales for the day. You can arrange the data in any number of ways:  sales by department, sales by item, or sales by cashier. At this point, you still only have data to analyze.

The strength of KPIs is knowing how to use data to gain a competitive advantage. It all comes down to the goals and objectives you set for your business.

For each goal you establish, you must also create the metric that will determine if you are successful in reaching that goal. Your KPIs become the method by which you track your progress.  If your key performance indicators do not reflect progress toward your goal, you must change the tactics you are using in your business.

Using raw data to optimize your retail operations

Retailers assess KPI performance indicators to determine how to optimize their business.

Let’s look at one simple example of how your goals and KPIs come together to give you a competitive advantage.

Marlene runs a small clothing store in a mid-size urban market. Lately things have been going good but the business has leveled off. She would like to increase her business over the next year.  She creates a goal to increase her sales by 10%.

Marlene realizes that an obvious KPI is her total sales. She can also break down her sales on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to compare with the previous year. This gives her the maximum degree of flexibility especially since her sales tend to fluctuate according to well-defined fashion seasons.

Marlene decides that a good strategy would be to do more advertising on radio and television during the coming year. To find out if the advertising is bring customers into the store, she decides to track footfall, the number of people coming into the store. Fortunately, she tracked her traffic last year but if she didn’t, she could use the new data by correlating store traffic with the dates and times that advertising is running to see if the ads have an immediate effect.

If she notices that store traffic increases for a few days after a television ad appears, she may make more strategic choices about when to run television ads. Or she may be sure to have a special sale during the weekend following a big flood of advertising.

By tracking average customer spend, Marlene can determine how much the average customer spends during each purchase transaction. In order to increase sales, she decides to place some displays with accessories – scarves and jewelry – close to the cash registers. The strategy works and she notices that her average customer spend amount increases due to impulse purchases while customers are waiting in line.

Although her total sales KPI indicates some overall growth, Marlene is not satisfied with the progress she is making. She begins to track her conversion rate, the number of transactions throughout the day divided by the number of people who enter the store. This seems to indicate that a lot of people are coming into the store but not many are making purchases.

Retail conversion rate

To combat this, she could implement a number of new strategies. Perhaps she should take a look at rotating her inventory more frequently so the styles are kept fresh. She might decide that she needs to add new merchandise. Eventually, Marlene decides to hire additional staff to take more time with the customers and help them pick out merchandise.

To maximize the effectiveness of her new employees, she tracks shopper to staff ratio.  This KPI lets Marlene determine if she has the appropriate number of employees on the sales floor to handle the volume of shoppers. Monitoring her wage costs, which is wages paid divided by the total sales will also help her monitor her costs.

As her business grows, Marlene may decide to implement different strategies or develop completely new goals for her business. These goals and strategies may necessitate new KPIs to help her determine if they are effective. As her needs change, so will her data collection requirements and so will the way she analyses that data.

Tracking KPIs in Retail Pro

Retailers using Retail Pro have several built-in tools to help them track important KPIs easily and automatically including 160+ pre-designed reports that can be accessed using the Retail Report Viewer tool.

Filters allow you to easily report on different aspects of your operation and break down your data into different segments to allow you to take a bird’s-eye view or get down into the weeds.

Retail Pro reports can also be completely customized using an ODBC-compliant report writer like Crystal Reports. This allows you to save time and money by adapting an existing report to show exactly the information you need without a lot of work and effort.

From inside Retail Pro, you can use customer or inventory statistics to gain more perspective.

X-Out and graphical reports allows you to look at sales activity throughout the day and get instant analysis.

Happy tracking!

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New year, new retail! 5 ways to use mobile in your stores

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Each new year comes with new excitement, new potential, new initiatives – like mobile in your stores!

Start 2017 off right – see how one fashion retailer uses mobile in their stores. Then, book your NRF meeting to talk with us in person about how Retail Pro can help you go mobile!

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7 Retail Resolutions for 2017

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As 2017 quickly approaches, here are 7 New Year’s resolutions for retailers to consider.

 

1

I will think of and connect all our digital and physical channels as one whole so we can unify commerce.

2

I will use our retail data to plan inventory better so customers always get what they want and I always sell down to zero.

3

I will reach higher to grow my business, whether that’s expanding my merchandise, my team, my tech, or my operations – globally.

4

I will use my retail management tech to its full capacity to automate more and operate more efficiently.

5

I will leverage mobile POS to liberate my sales staff from bondage to the cash register, and empower them to better engage our customers and sell more with hyper-relevant data insights.

6

I will attend to my most important customers better and create a smooth and consistent experience however they choose to shop with our brand.

7

I will optimize retail.

 

 

Keep your 2017 resolutions with Retail Pro

 

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3 Tips for Using Your Retail Data to Attract More Customers

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For retailers, much of the work that goes into making a sale is done before your customer ever sets foot in your store. Here are 3 tips for using your retail data to attract more customers.

 

1. Use outbound marketing as a targeted follow-up to inbound marketing.

Fresh, high-quality content is available to sales prospects 24/7. Whether it’s on the web, in stores, or via email, information is out there, waiting to be consumed by eager customers. Savvy retailers are using their content assets to attract customers, and it’s working: Interesting, relevant material attracts leads to a business’ site, social media presence and/or store. That content must position your company as a market leader. Valuable content that informs the customer is key. The more specific your content, the more focused you can be.

2. Collect data on your customer.

To really provide such highly focused, relevant content, you must understand customers’ interests and tastes, as well as their demographic information. Only then can you tailor both your content, which attracts customers, and the message, which will be used to close the sale. Outbound marketing only succeeds when it reaches the appropriate audience. Personalized campaigns can go a long way when you are courting a customer. Let the data you gather help inform the way you engage with customers.

3. Use predictive analytics.

Look back and use past performance to gauge future sales. Predictive analytics examines a variety of data and then systematically offers the makeup of the best leads. Big data crunching can help find those sweet spots invisible to the naked eye. In addition, sales teams knowledgeable in the science of data analytics can gain insight into purchasing triggers. Paying attention to small triggers can get your retail marketing campaigns out ahead of the competition’s.

 

 

 

Millennials and the Importance of Authenticity

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Millennials are coming on strong. Retailers expect Millennials – who were born between 1976 and 1994 — to spend more than $200 billion annually starting in 2017. Further, they are projected to spend more than $10 trillion during their lifetimes, according to Advertising Age.

Millennials currently account for $1.3 trillion in consumer spending, and with 80 million potential millennial customers, retailers will be rewarded if they can attract this segment.

AdAge estimates these young adults spend 25 hours online weekly. They are gathering information — retaining what is appealing, discarding what is not. To avoid having your content in land in the virtual recycle bin, it must be authentic.

Authentic means more than just being unique or having originated from your store. Rather, authentic means that the content “rings true” to the consumer. It is written in a manner that is familiar to the millennial, and that gives it credibility. Content that is not authentic sounds phony or forced and turns off this age group.

What that means is that most traditional advertising sounds fake to Millennials. According to Forbes research, a mere 1% of millennials surveyed said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more. One percent. Clearly, advertising budgets for this group need to be rethought.

However, remember all that time spent consuming content on the Web? Much of that is spent doing research on future purchases. Forbes said 33% of millennials rely mostly on blogs before they make a purchase, compared to fewer than 3% for TV news, magazines and books.

If you are looking to invest in TV commercials, you’re looking to attract baby boomers, not millennials.

In addition, millennials check sources of material for their authenticity as well. If they trust the content creator, they’ll trust the information.

All of that is great information to keep in mind when creating any marketing collateral for your company — and that includes social sites. It’s imperative to have a presence on the networks that make sense for your business, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

And millennials expect nearly instant responses to their comments: Getting back to a complaint on Facebook two days later is not acceptable. In addition, those responses must be personal and respectful.

Whole Foods offers a great example (click to enlarge):

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Seriously, if Whole Foods can reveal itself as truly caring about a customer’s trash bag selection, you can surely create authentic content about your product as well.

Hispanic Shoppers Embrace Omnichannel

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Hispanic shoppers are more likely to have smartphones than the population as a whole, and they rely on their phones and computers to make purchase decisions.

It’s not just Millennials that appreciate the ease and convenience of online shopping. Hispanic shoppers are more likely to have smartphones than the population as a whole, and they rely on their phones and computers to make purchase decisions. They embrace the omnichannel experience.

In particular, Hispanic shoppers plan to increase their online purchases of grocery products from large retailers at a significantly faster pace than non-Hispanics, according to a recently released IRI Hispanic Shopper Study. At Amazon, for example, the grocery uptick is expected to be more than 40%.

That’s in large part because the Hispanic population has taken to the convenience of online grocery shopping. And even when they don’t place their orders through a website, 38% look online for deals and coupons before making a shopping trip, and 33% look to blogs or social media for beauty product recommendations.

The Hispanic segment is hugely important to retailers: U.S. Hispanic spending is expected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2020, according to the Latin Post. And a large part of that is going to go to groceries. The segment generally has larger families than the other parts of the population, so it tends to spend more on regular, routine trips to the store, as well as “quick runs to the corner.” And, according to Retailleader.com, Hispanics often bring their children along when they shop, so the youngsters influence purchase decisions, further increasing the value of their shopping carts.

With such a large market opportunity, retailers should implement a plan of action to attracting Hispanic customers online, whether to complete the transaction using e-commerce or to entice them into a brick and mortar. Social media is particularly effective with this group: According to a Pew Hispanic Center Research study, 68 percent of Hispanic Internet users are active on Facebook, Twitter, and other social network sites, compared to 58 percent of all U.S. Internet users. The audience is there – but how to engage it?

The EC Hispanic Media report U.S. Hispanics and Facebook: The Generation of Growth found that one of the best strategies to motivate Hispanic customers was to offer discounts and promotions. Not all interaction needs to be coupon based, however. By asking for ideas, comments, and opinions, retailers can connect effectively with the second-largest consumer market in the United States.

 

 

Going Omnichannel?

You know it’s critical to create a consistent customer experience across all sales channels – but you can’t afford for your omnichannel efforts to be seen as omni-failures. 

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Are You Making the Most of Social Media?

The importance of social media is not lost on retailers - many businesses are on the sites to promote their products and help consumers resolve their service issues.

The importance of social media is not lost on retailers – many businesses are on the sites to promote their products and help consumers resolve their service issues.

Many retailers have a presence on social media, at a minimum in an attempt to get the word out about their brands. Some – a few – go the extra mile and parlay their presence into a real relationship with customers, answering questions and offering feedback.

One of the main reasons retailers use social media networks is to reach new customers, According to CustomerThink.com, social media use is pervasive: 75% of all Internet users are on some type of social network. Retailers need to communicate with shoppers through every available channel.

Research has found that once an in-store customer posts on social media about a brand or store, a store representative  has only a very short period of time – say, two to three minutes – to send a response. Is that window closing on your responses? It likely is.

Still, according to a Boston Retail Partners report a whopping 69% of retailers see opportunities to use social media to enhance their customers’ experiences. However, many are likely to be short on time and resources to act on this action item.

Social media monitoring tools are available that can help organize this new chore. They can track online conversations that mention brands and retailer names, which can have very real consequences. However, the Boston Retail Partners study found that a large number of retailers using social media to interact with customers — 81% of respondents — indicate that their processes need improvement.

Participating in social media provides information to the retailer enabling them to understand who customers are, what they want, as well as when and where they want it. Responding to individual’s posts and offering appreciation for their patronage — such as coupons for “liking” a page — aim to improve the customer experience for all their guests.

But what about when posts are not glowing and may even be negative? Retailers can that take the opportunity to respond and get ahead of the situation. By posting a quick response, a retailer demonstrates not only that they are aware of the problem but are eager to fix it. That leaves customers feeling empowered, happy with the outcome, and secure with the knowledge they can return to the store and not face the same problem.

The implementation of social media monitoring tools, lets retailers easily understand their customers’ desires, and tailor their products and services accordingly, a crucial competitive advantage in the current global retail world.

 

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Ensuring retail success in the post-peak era

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Retailers have been pushing to extend peak seasons like Christmas to gain more sales, but modern consumers shop on their own schedule and retailers must adapt and cater to their off-season needs.

By Kerry Lemos, CEO, Retail Pro International

 

Christmas coming earlier every year might be a cliché for most people, but for the retail industry it’s a simple fact.

We’re already seeing retailers prepare for the festive season, identifying the key products that will be this year’s must-haves and gearing up their Christmas campaigns.

This is very much in line with the traditional retail business models built around spikes in activity brought on by peak shopping periods. With stock piled high and temporary recruits boosting numbers on the shop floor, activity can be ramped up for a few weeks before returning to normal levels.

In recent years, however, these peaks have become much less well-defined.

Take Christmas, for instance. The season now covers much more than just a few weeks. It now spans the extended period from the build-up to Thanksgiving through to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the January sales, where some retailers might hope to do half of their annual business.

This period of retail chaos means retailers are in direct competition for the same limited number of festive shoppers for an increasing amount of time, with both shoppers’ attention and supply chains becoming squeezed.

 

A new world

At the same time, Christmas is no longer the only peak period retailers need to be aware of.

In the UK, the growth of festivals such as Eid, Diwali and the Chinese New Year has introduced new periods that retailers may need to prepare for. Beyond these major festivals, there are other times of the year that could be seen as a peak period to some, or all, of the population, from the first day of spring to the beginning and end of the summer holidays.

What all of these periods show is that many retailers’ approach to consumers needs to change. Customers cannot be treated as a single mass who all shop at the same time, in the same way, and for the same things.

Focusing attention on a single, defined peak period is a strategy that retailers must move on from: individuals have their own approach to shopping, and as such have developed their own personal peak shopping periods.

 

Giving the public what they want

 

The question for retailers then is, how do they support these individual peak periods without losing the ability to maximize the potential of established shopping seasons?

Here are 3 actions retailers can take that will tip the odds in their favor.

 

Cross channels

We haven’t just seen an evolution in when people shop, but in how they shop. Customers won’t restrict their peak shopping period to simply visiting a select number of brick-and-mortar stores.

On the other hand, few consumers will do a hundred percent of their shopping online, instead welcoming the opportunity to browse for certain items in the flesh. Retailers should ensure these customers have a seamless experience, whether shopping online or in-store, with access to the same information and interactions however they purchase their products.

Ideally, a customer should be able to begin their shop in-store and complete it online, or vice versa, in a consistent, omnichannel exchange.

 

Map the landscape

With “peak” periods becoming more of a constant presence, it’s important that retailers understand exactly when these periods happen.

For instance, the Christmas period now begins in November and ends in January; but within this, there are individual days which show still-increased activity or relative slowdowns.

Not only this, but retailers must decide how they switch to peak periods; does activity accelerate overnight, or is there a slow build-up and deceleration to ensure they can attract shoppers who are operating on a slightly different timetable?

 

Build profiles

While predicting and supporting the shopping habits of every single individual is beyond the reach of retailers, they should still ensure they have categorised how their customers behave in peak periods and act accordingly.

For example, what proportion of shoppers do their holiday shopping early, and which wait until the last minute? How many spread their shopping across the whole period, and how many spend everything on one or two occasions? And when exactly do their customers flock to the store?

Using this information, retailers can build profiles of their customers and anticipate their needs throughout the year as appropriate.

 

By offering an omnichannel experience, mapping out the peak calendar and ensuring they have profiled their customers, retailers can ensure that they are supporting peak shopping for all their customers; whether it happens at Christmas or Candlemas.

 

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“Omnirelevant” Experiences Are Key to Building Brand Loyalty

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Retailers must deliver more effective digital interactions between consumers and their brands through omnirelevant strategies, said Globant, a digitally native technology services company that creates digital journeys for its customers, in its quarterly Sentinel Report.

Brands must focus on asserting and maintaining relevance to consumers, who are constantly inundated with technologies that compete for their attention, explains the report. Companies that are in tune with their users can identify important moments in the customer journey, and leverage this insight to deliver more relevant, impactful interactions.

“Without awareness of the digital journey, brands will fail to impress consumers and win their trust and engagement,” said Martín Migoya, Globant CEO and co-founder. “Focusing on relevance and quality of user interaction over quantity of touch points is at the heart of effective digital strategy. This requires consumer-centric thinking from the outset.”

The report highlights five elements that must exist in equilibrium in order to achieve omnirelevance:

  • Harmony  - The deeply-rooted connection and affinity that this series of interactions has with a user’s flow, producing a pleasant effect
  • Familiar Security  - The feeling of familiarity and trust customers experience at each moment of their journey, fostering an intimate and sage relationship between the customer and the brand
  • Contextual Content  - Content that is able to fulfill a user’s needs at any given moment
  • Sensory  - Creating brain stimulus that will give a physical reality to the experience
  • Surprise  - The level of unexpected momentum to an experience or an interaction must have to catch the user’s attention and leave a lasting, positive impression

“Omnirelevant Experiences” represents the fifth edition of Globant’s Sentinel Report – a quarterly analysis on global market trends and consumer behavior insights and their application to various industries. Furthermore, the report includes stories and business case studies that show how omnirelevance is already being pursued in the technology, retail and entertainment sectors.

Adapted from Erie TV News.