Ready for Black Friday? How Retailers are Customer-izing Themselves this Holiday Season

 

shutterstock_122884453

 

Holiday shoppers will be headed out to the malls and Main Street this year.

They might also be shopping online, but the foot traffic is music to most retailers’ ears.

According to a study by Natural Insight, 87% of shoppers are planning to hit the road and shop. That number is spread out among younger shoppers, age 18 to 29, as well as older ones, age 45 to 59.

Once they’re in the store, the trick is to entice them to become customers.

Smart retailers will analyze customer data to pinpoint areas of differentiation. Providing a relevant, efficient customer experience is the end game. The trick is getting there.

Here are a few ways two big retailers are strategizing to make the most out of the most critical shopping time of the year.

 

Target

Target is striving to reignite its hip style image, while keeping products affordable.

 

Ship to Store

Target is offering its ship-from-store program at an additional 300 stores this holiday season.

The offering gets online orders to customers faster, and brings them into the store — where impulse shopping can drive up the total sale.

 

Reduce returns

Target’s GiftNow relieves some gift-giving anxiety.

A customer selects the GiftNow button when buying an item on Target.com.

The recipient receives the present as a digital gift box and has the option to accept, modify or pick an entirely different item.

In effect, the recipient can exchange the gift before ever receiving it. Less hassle for the recipient and less costly for Target.

 

Understanding demographics

Target has had success attracting families and Latinos with last year’s holiday campaign, but it didn’t connect with either young adults without children or empty nesters.

Some of the exclusive brands it plans to launch, including Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, a partnership with HGTV ties, and JoyLab, an atheleisure line, are geared toward appealing to that market.

 

Toys R Us

Success this holiday season is a life or death proposition for Toys R Us, which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

 

Technology

The toy retailer is using augmented reality technology to transform its customer experience.

Customers – in particular, their children – use an app to view AR activities that implant computer-generated images on top of a real-world environment, a la Pokemon Go.

Shoppers are guided by flashing icons and stickers on the floor, and by pointing their mobile devices at shelf sign or floor decal, see a toy or activity come to life on the screen.

Each activity lets the player earn stars; as more stars are earned, more experiences are offered.

The idea is to offer shoppers a compelling customer experience so they  visit a store, rather than shop online.

The goal is to be a shopping destination where fun informs purchasing decisions.

 

Experiential retail

In addition, the retailer will open playrooms at many of its stores, where children can try out toys and demonstrations will be available.

That can go a long way in reversing a mindset of not wanting to shop with the kids who are frustrated at not being able to touch and play with toys on the shelf.

Instead, the strategy encourages bringing children and listening to their feedback.

 

Brick and mortars that understand their shoppers and formulate strategies specifically geared toward them will be best positioned this holiday season.

Those who continue with tired formulas that meet neither the needs nor the expectations of shoppers will lose out to online competitors, as well as to the brick and mortars that are evolving with their customers.

 

 

3 Expensive Flaws in Inventory Management

Woman examines books in retail store

Got a handle on inventory? If you know how much to sell, when to sell it and who is buying it, you are more than one step ahead of the competition. Larger companies should be automated with solutions such as bar codes and RFID tagging, but too many are not making the investment.

Here are 3 expensive flaws businesses face concerning inventory, and how to address them.

 

1. Bloated inventory

Who knew those lime green sweaters were going to turn out to be duds? Sometimes, it is tough to predict a trend. Have a foundation of the tried a true: Using sales history, you’ll be able to project much of what types of products will sell during any particular season as well as how many units.

For global retailers, it’s imperative for inventories to be consolidated by region or total values. That lets supply chain managers make logical and informed business decisions and keep every store running at peak (and accurate) inventory levels.

 

2. Poor inventory tracking

After you determine what products you need and the quantity, be sure the items are available in your store. Manual counting alone is not reliable, because humans make mistakes. Consider bar coding or using an RFID solution to maintain accurate counts, and cross-referencing with stated levels in your POS. If RFID is not in the immediate budget, implement cycle counting and count a few items in specific locations daily. Then compare the inventory record to the actual count. This is less disruptive than a full inventory count.

Further, retailers are stretching into new regions worldwide, attempting to reduce sourcing costs while exploring new business opportunities. By collecting real-time inventory data across the globe, retailers have the best chance to sell existing material stocks as well as reduce locked-in inventory costs.

 

3. No backup

Even if your inventory is kept electronically, unless you’re backing it up either to a cloud storage service or another offsite facility, when disaster strikes you could lose all of that information. Fire, flooding, theft or even employee vandalism puts you at risk. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than 40 percent of businesses never reopen after a disaster, and for those that do, only 29% still operate after two years. And those that lost their information technology for nine days or more after a disaster often face bankruptcy within a year. Use a software solution that backs up your data nightly. And it can’t hurt to send a backup copy to your accountant monthly.

See our Best Practices for Disaster Preparedness on the My Retail Pro user portal for more good tips on safeguarding your data.

Do your business a favor: Even the largest global retailer needs to tackle its inventory woes. By understanding your inventory situation better, you’ll be able to sell as quickly as you stock — which eliminates unsightly clearance sections or, conversely, customer frustration when a store is out of stock. By dealing with inventory issues as they occur, retailers not only wind up with a tidier profit, but also with a better customer experience.

 

See how Retail Pro can help you simplify inventory management

 

 

All Things Retail Webcast: Promotions

 

When competing for a share of shoppers’ hearts and wallets, promotions are a good way to increase traffic and sales, which in turn can help you become more profitable. Promotions draw in new customers and infrequent shoppers, and all those socially-oblivious laggards who just don’t see the need to shop with you (until now ???? ).

To help make your customer hunt a little easier, this month’s All Things Retail webcast talks about the kinds of promotions you can create with Retail Pro enterprise retail software. Retail Pro is designed to for ultimate flexibility so you can tailor your retail management software to your business operations, and the promotions capabilities in Retail Pro are no exception.

Retail Pro promotions come with 8 types of promotions out of the box:

  1. BOGO
  2. Coupon
  3. Item
  4. Pack
  5. Quantity
  6. Rolling
  7. Tiered
  8. Transaction

These promotions can be used on their own or in any combination of promotions, which means you have total control over creating and testing as many diverse and complex promotions as your marketing team can throw at you.

When you choose the type of promotion you will run, you get to set the activation rules that will trigger your promotion to be automatically applied to a customer’s transaction. You can set the start and end date and determine to which products the promotion will apply. You can also choose to activate the promotion for all or distinct subsidiaries, brands, countries, or business entities within your enterprise.

Next, you set the validation rules. These rules validate whether the customer’s purchases qualify for the promotion. The promotion can be activated by your choice of any of the following criteria:

  • At the sale of a particular item or combination of items
  • When a set threshold amount is met at the sale subtotal
  • If the customer uses a coupon
  • If the customer meets a particular qualification, i.e. if the customer is part of your loyalty program, etc.

These validation rules allow you to cast the promotion for as broad or as targeted a group as you determine is profitable for your business.

Once validation rules are set, you can then set the reward rules, which determine what reward and how much of it the customer would get for meeting the reward rules.

Retail Pro POS tracks the redemption of the reward, helping you get a better report on the promotion’s performance.

Careful planning and solid promotions tactics can play a significant part in converting a shopper from someone who’s only ever walked past your store to a repeat customer who loves the way your products fit their life and will buy from you even when you’re not having a sale.

So how do you create the kind of promotions that encourage good shopping habits?

That may be a question for business psychologists and your marketing team, and definitely will depend on your business’ unique circumstances and brand value in consumers’ eyes – but it’s evident that promotions impact retail operations in critical ways.

Historical data sets tracking sales during and after promotions show that customers resume normal purchase habits once a promotion is complete. Whatever your promotions strategy, it’s best to think long term – creating customer purchase habits rather than simply meeting this quarter’s sales goals.

1. Promotions create buzz; buzz creates customers.

JC Penney abandoned their long-lived coupon strategy in favor of everyday low prices and experienced disheartening sales and earnings. At a time when everything is accessible for less on Amazon, JC Penney’s coupons played a critical role in generating the buzz that would bring shoppers to their stores.

Once that buzz fizzled away, so did discount-trained shoppers, and everyday low prices became everyday low sales.

2. Supply chain and replenishment blunders can cripple promotion performance.

Promotions put pressure on your supply chain operations and retailers are often left with an unprofitable inventory glut or lack in the post-promotion period. Sales exceeding your forecast sounds like a positive problem to face, but stock outs leave mean lost sales both during and after the promotion. Retailers must be responsive and on top of their replenishment game.

Of course, for some retailers, stock outs are part of the strategy to create buzz. Ty in the 1990s stringently controlled the supply of Beanie Babies available to the public, even discontinuing toys rising in popularity to spur frenzied sales over scarce supply.

3. Promotions affect sales for other products, and creative inventory management

Promotions influence sales for other products, and smart inventory management can help you maximize its positive effects. When preparing for the promotions period, order more complementary, non-competing products, since basket analysis often shows a lift in sales of these items due to the halo effect. For example, a promotion on jackets can cause an increase in scarf sales in cooler months.

The same promotion can cause cannibalization of sales for items in the same category, so order less of the competing item for the period of the promotion. The pull-forward effect can also impact post-promotion sales, especially for commodities like laundry detergent, which has a long shelf life. This occurs when shoppers stock up on the sale item, causing a hiccup in their regular purchase frequency and therefore lower sales in the months following the promotion.

Promotions are important elements in the retailer-customer relationship, and how you set expectations today can impact how your business performs for decades to come. In any case, you can count on Retail Pro to give you the flexibility you need to create the promotions strategy that makes most sense for your business.

 

Want to see it in action?

 

Request a consultation

 

All Things Retail Webcast: Multiple Languages and Currencies at the POS

Let’s face it – the world is still far from having a single world language.

Until then, retailers like you will likely use multiple languages and currencies in your stores across borders.

When investing in POS and retail management software, it’s important to consider whether your tech tools can support your company’s language and currency needs today and as you keep expanding globally.

In this episode of the All Things Retail webcast, you’ll hear how Retail Pro POS software’s language and currency capabilities provide greater flexibility and financial reporting ease for multi-geography implementations.

 

 

 

Introducing the new Retail Pro Webcast: All Things Retail

Have you wondered what will you gain by switching to the latest Retail Pro software?

Regardless if you have been a Retail Pro user for years or are a retailer looking to retire your other tools in favor of this world-class software to improve your operations – either way – our new webcast series was made just for you.

Every other week we will get together for a quick 5 minute chat on how your team can accomplish their daily retail operations more efficiently with powerful functionalities in the latest Retail Pro software.

  • Replenishment
  • Promotions
  • Orders
  • Disbursements
  • Customer management
  • Send Sale & Fulfillment
  • Open & Close Day Procedures
  • And many others….

Tune in to our Retail Pro YouTube channel, subscribe so you never miss a webcast, or just watch Episode 1 here today! First webcast is on Open Day procedure.

 

 

 

2 Things Retailers Forfeit By Foregoing Employee Training

shutterstock_166783751

 

Providing customers in-store experiences that are unique, fun and yet still profitable is the challenge retailers with physical stores continue to face. The cornerstone to providing that vision to shoppers are employees.

Good employees keep a retailer running; great employees are its heart and soul. They believe in the product, brand or mission of the company. And they are customers themselves, so the know how to make shoppers feel special, convert browsers into buyers and cultivate loyalty.

But too many retailers underestimate the value of trained employees.

Just 35% of employers trained low-skill workers and hired them for high-skill jobs in 2015, and slightly fewer — 33% — plan to do the same this year, according to CareerBuilder. And while 68% of firms say they offer training programs, 50% say the budgets have not changed and 11% say budgets have decreased.

Here are 2 things retailers forfeit when they do no invest in training.

 

1. Cost Savings

Training can save retailers money. It reduces turnover, and staff retention reduces costs. It’s expensive to hire staff. It also provides the worker with the precise skills needed for his or her current position. It’s obvious that higher-end retailers, such as Nordstrom’s, think of service as a culture and use training to reinforce that ethic.

But smaller and lower-margin retailers are also embracing training for employees.

For example, Dollar General this month announced its full-year sales rose nearly 8%, and noted part of the reason for the sales bump were its managers.

During a conference call, CEO Todd Vasos said: “To strengthen our position for the long-term, we are making significant investments, primarily in compensation and training for our store managers given the critical role this position plays in our customer experience, as well as strategic initiatives.”

Dollar General saw a nearly 1% increase in same-store sales in 2016, and the discounter plans to open 1,000 more outlets this year. “In fiscal 2017, these investments will be focused on an increased compensation structure and additional training for our store managers, as they play a critical role in our customers’ experience and the profitability of each store.”

 

2. Staff Loyalty

Investing in employee training is a great way to improve your in-store service and get employees “on the same page” about what is expected, desirable, etc. In addition, employees expect some sort of training – Accenture found that 80% of 2016 college graduates expect some formal training from their employers.

Unfortunately, only 14% of employees would grade their company an “A” for the availability of training resources, according to another study from Spherion.

Training can make workers feel more marketable, which is appealing to staff but is often the reason employers shy away from it. Too many are concerned about training staff who will leave for a competitor. Given the high turnover rate at some retailers, it’s a valid concern.

However, while we think of providing high-quality service as driving customer loyalty, offering relevant employee training as a central benefit of a customer-service driven, flexible and creative work culture may be just the way to increase staff loyalty as well.

Retail Pro Heads to Switzerland to Equip Akris for Streamlining Operations

 

2017-03 Akris_for blog_2

 

This month, Retail Pro went to St. Gallen, Switzerland to hold an on-site training class for tech staff at Akris, an internationally-recognized luxury fashion house.

 

Background

Founded 90 years ago, Akris remains a family-owned business with strong local ties. Its clothing creations are known as much for comfort and wearability as for high fashion.

Today, third generation brothers Albert and Peter Kriemler manage the business, which grew from its humble beginnings into a global fashion label available via their brand stores, as well as in over 300 high-end department stores throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States.

Akris has been using Retail Pro POS and retail management software in its 17 brand stores since 2000, and is looking forward to growing deeper in its use of robust Retail Pro functionality.

Recently, Akris began thinking of additional ways that Retail Pro could be used to streamline company operations, so they contacted Retail Pro University, Retail Pro International’s training department, to discuss training options.

Retail Pro worked closely with the IT staff at Akris to develop a custom training solution to address the company’s current and future needs. A class was held on-site over a five day period in March at the company’s headquarters in St. Gallen. Attendees included representatives from the Akris IT department, software development team, and operations staff.

 

2017-03 Akris_for blog

 

Retail Pro Training Spurs Creative Thought for Solving Business Challenges

Akris already had a strong background in Retail Pro and did not need a basic training in how to use the software. Instead, they wanted to gain an in-depth understanding of how particular features could be leveraged in their current environment, and their impact on future operations.

To accommodate their unique requirements, the training process moved fluidly between product demonstrations, discussions, and consulting on how to best use Retail Pro features within the Akris IT system.

At one point, the team, inspired by a key feature, paused training to actually test drive it. They developed new tools and reports in their test environment on the spot to ensure it could be easily implemented.

 

Multi-Subsidiary Deployment & ERP Integration 

Akris team members also collaborated on system configuration in a multi-subsidiary deployment to determine how to achieve the best results for stores across geographies. Akris has stores in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and flexibility in Retail Pro enabled them to navigate through complex regional requirements for functions like merchandise transfers.

As a manufacturer, Akris uses an ERP system to manage product development. Through tight integration between Retail Pro and the Akris ERP, merchandise is introduced into the system through vouchers and transfers between stores and subsidiaries.

 

2017-03 Akris_Switzerland_Training

In March, Retail Pro held an on-site training class with the business applications team at Akris at their headquarters in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Left to Right: Cerine Stephen, Jelena Scheller, Charles Davidson, Lukas Knutti, and Katie Ernest.

 

Plans for Growth & Deeper Use of Retail Pro

Many of the features they would like to implement have long existed in Retail Pro 9, and simply had not been leveraged. During the training session, the team developed a strategy to begin phasing in the use of strong features like commissions and markdowns. Akris is looking to expand on the current Retail Pro deployment as it grows and will possibly add new stores in the future.

 

Want to Increase ROI in Your Retail Pro?

Retail Pro University offers training courses and videos, as well as custom and on-site training options to help your retail and IT teams become Retail Pro experts. These training options can be a cost-effective solution for retailers experiencing high turnover or rolling out new functionality.

To discuss solutions for your training needs, contact us at training@retailpro.com.

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!

Want to learn more?

See how Retail Pro can help you improve visibility into your data using KPIs.

Contact us today

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!

Book my NRF meeting now