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.

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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How to Build Your Tech Strategy

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Technology empowers efficiency in your retail operations, so building a solid tech strategy is critical to effective execution.

See how Earthbound Trading Co is increasing operational efficiency by building their tech strategy with Retail Pro.

Then – book your NRF meeting to talk with us in person about how Retail Pro can help you optimize your retail tech strategy.

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How to Unify Commerce

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Last week we invited you to meet with us at NRF to discover optimized retail with Retail Pro.

Let’s count down the final weeks before NRF with tips on HOW to optimize your retail operations, in step with market trends and proven strategies of retailers using Retail Pro.

Then – book your NRF meeting to talk with us in person about how Retail Pro can help you optimize and unify your commerce profitably.

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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.

 

 

 

Battery Life Important for mPOS Success at Holiday Time

 

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Mobile POS systems are becoming increasingly important to many retailers.

With the Christmas season just about officially starting, retailers are readying the last few tools needed to make point of sale transactions as efficient as possible. One area in need of improvement is the battery life of mobile POS devices.

Often used for “linebusting,” mPOS is a great way to ensure customers have a smooth, expedited checkout experience. It’s also a terrific means of engagement with customers on the sales floor. Many retailers have transformed the customer experience by integrating mPOS into the checkout.

But the batteries used in the tablet devices are notorious for having short lives.

Retailers with extended sale hours, for example, would need to have mobile battery packs on hand to keep devices functioning, even if it they were fully charged when doors opened. Few things are more frustrating than missing out on sales because there is no way to authorize transactions.

Larger retailers and those handling greater numbers of transactions – holiday rush, anyone? — are seeking longer battery life to reduce the need to recharge. That way, store staff can transact sales continuously for an entire shift, reducing overall recharging requirements as well as the number of devices retailers need to keep on hand.

Overall, battery life in consumer electronics is constantly being upgraded. Today, for example, laptop battery life is roughly two and a half times longer than it was in 2012. So it’s logical to assume that mPOS battery life will ultimately improve as well.

To that end, manufacturers are debuting new products that have batteries that can be swapped out easily for rapid replacement, along with docking stations that can be used to simultaneously charge not only mPOS devices but also the accompanying mobile or tablet devices.

Other improvements are on the horizon as well: Often, mass market devices are not durable enough to withstand the hazards of the sales floor. Spills and drops leave many merchants with broken devices, and software or connectivity malfunctions are sources of further frustration. Many retail merchants are therefore migrating from popular commercial hardware to more purpose-built retail solutions. Ruggedized solutions (from Panasonic, for example) are becoming popular also.

Implementing tools that can reduce line time and improve the customers’ interaction with sales associates is, of course, a move in a positive direction. Retailers need to be aware of potential pitfalls brought on by poor battery life and be ready to quickly circumvent any problems that arise.

Ironically, new technology that fails can irritate customers more than the previous “old system.” So, until improved battery life is commonly available on mPOS devices, make sure your equipment is fully charged, and you have spare battery packs or devices on hand.

3 Tips to Improve Your Loyalty Program

 

What every woman wishes retailers knew

If your loyalty program is lacking luster, it’s likely time for an overhaul or at least a close inspection.

So, you have a loyalty program, but:

  • It’s not attracting new members
  • Its members are not as active as you’d like
  • No one knows about it

Your program is dying on the vine, and it’s top management’s fault. If it’s not top of mind for managers, it won’t be for anyone else, certainly not customers.

Successful loyalty programs are big. Sure, they have plenty of members, but they are vibrant and enticing to customers. Here are three ways to improve your program:

Devote Time To It

Cultivating customer loyalty is a strategy. Retaining existing customers is less expensive than finding new ones, so it’s worth investing the time and effort into making them feel special.

Define specific goals for the program: Do you want to increase memberships? Boost members’ sales? Only then can you forge a roadmap to make those goals a reality.

Improve Your Customer Service

No one wants to be loyal to a place that doesn’t treat them well.

If your customer service isn’t top notch, ask yourself, “Why would anyone return?” Terrific service lays the groundwork for customer loyalty.

73% of consumers say friendly customer service reps can make them fall in love with a brand, according to RightNow.

Furthermore, providing a superior experience not only helps to retain that customer but also to grow your base, because consumers with positive experiences tend to recommend the brand to others.

Go Big

Let’s face it: The value proposition must be extremely compelling.

Many of your competitors have loyalty programs. And if they don’t, they might just be offering something you can’t: Lower pricing, free shipping, certain brands, etc.

Grab Stats notes that the average U.S. household belongs to more than 18 programs, but is active in only 8.4. Therefore, your loyalty program must stand out and offer something irresistible.

Sephora members, for example, earn points with each purchase that they can redeem for rewards. The program is tiered depending on the dollar value of customers’ annual purchases. Spending more is an incentive to get free products as well as entry into exclusive events.

What differentiates a great loyalty program from others is that customers are eager – excited, even – to join a program that meets their needs.

The day someone asks an associate to join your program without being coaxed is the day you know you’ve hit on a winning formula.

But customers’ tastes change. So enjoy the winning formula while you can – and keep innovating.

 

 

 

POS App Gets It Right

 

Customers want easy ways to shop for routine items – those products they use daily, that are staples of their homes or workplaces.

For these types of purchases, ease of doing business is extremely important. No one wants to stand in line for a bottle of shampoo after a long day of work and an evening of household chores ahead.

Being respectful of customers’ time is a big part of creating great shopping experiences for customers.

While an exciting store design and atmosphere can lure customers, execution excellence – clerks who are quick to respond, cashiers who are fast and accurate, associates who will efficiently check stock —  provides the foundation for any responsive business.

A familiar neighborhood  retail recently launched a point-of-sale mobile solution aimed at creating a more convenient customer experience.

CVS Health’s core competency is in personal staples: everything from toothpaste to stationary to prescription meds. But its new app illustrates how selling any product, whether it’s luxury or commodity, can put customer needs front and center.

CVS Health

CVS Pay is a new, end-to-end mobile payment solution that integrates payment, prescription pickup, and its ExtraCare loyalty program, and is part of the CVS Pharmacy mobile app.

Here’s how it works:

  • CVS customers can combine multiple steps into one scan.
  • Customers can refill, manage multiple prescriptions and get alerts when prescriptions are ready, all within the app.
  • They then pick up and pay using a single barcode.
  • Their ExtraCare card can be linked as well, so at checkout all ExtraCare deals will be processed.

“We’ve been excited by the level of customer adoption of these digital solutions, and we will continue our quick pace of innovation and deployment to make our customers’ health care experience even easier,” said Brian Tilzer, SVP and chief digital officer, CVS Health in a press release.

When an app eases a shopping pain point, it will be a success.

Too often, retail apps feel like an “add on” — something more for the consumer to do, without an evident value proposition for the consumer. CVS Pay is integrated into the customers’ shopping experience, which makes it a natural fit rather than an appendage.

 

 

 

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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