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

Mobility_1

 

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

Tech Strategy_2

 

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

Unify Commerce_Blog

 

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

Two women shopping

 

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. 

Get this whitepaper to discover how to simplify omnichannel!

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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.

 

How well do you know your customer?

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Omnichannel Retailers Use Supply Chain to Lower Shipping Costs

samuel zellerOmnichannel retailers struggle with shipping costs: Charge too much, and customers flee, but charge too little and retailers are left with dwindling profits.

Customers who abandon shopping carts online, it often is a signal that your shipping costs are too high. It’s not uncommon: According to Baymard Institute, 67.45% of carts are abandoned. And CPC Strategy found retailers lose $18 billion annually due to shopping cart abandonment.

But lowering shipping costs while providing products at reasonable prices is a difficult balancing act. Solvency depends on making a decent margin on goods, but if prices are perceived as too high (because shipping is built into that figure), then the retailer risks having languishing product.

Customers often want free — not just inexpensive —shipping, delivered within a day or two. Many retailers struggle mightily trying to satisfy those demands. But for smaller chains, who may have less purchasing power with their suppliers, fulfilling that request is often impossible.

However, an omnichannel program with a strong foundation can help retailers identify where products are within their supply chains, and deliver them most efficiently to their customers. Ship-to-store capabilities help companies sell inventory wherever it resides, whether that’s at a store in Sacramento, CA, or Newark, DE.  Once located, retailers can direct the product to a store where it’s needed, or have it shipped directly to a customer. Not only does that “save the sale” but it also nurtures customer loyalty.

A ship-from-store strategy can reduce delivery costs for the customer because the retailer uses its own outlets as fulfillment centers. The closest location takes delivery of the product and ships it to the customer. The retailer must use its supply chain in the most efficient manner possible, and that includes being diligent about inventory visibility. Retailers must have up-to-date inventory count at all locations to reduce delivery costs.

It is a practical solution to the “delivery problem” to fulfill an order from a customer who lives virtually around the corner from a retail store with product from that location rather than have it shipped from a distribution center hundreds of miles away. Being able to take a close look at inventory lets retailers provide customers the delivery they want, without sacrificing good business sense.

 

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. 

Get this whitepaper to discover how to simplify omnichannel!

Get whitepaper