Many retailers are heading into the holiday season facing low stock and a reduced workforce, increasing the need for supply chain resilience.
Investments in technology may be the fastest way for retailers to meet the needs of shoppers, particularly as stores are facing a shortage of labor as well as products.
Omnichannel POS systems like Retail Pro Prism help fill the gaps created by these problems.
Supply Chain Resilience Fills the Shelves
Once a customer is in the store, keeping them there with a breadth of products is the key to sales and repeat business.
Empty shelves are the enemy of the retailer.
Spotty selection often equates to no sales and the customer is lost, perhaps permanently, to the competition.
In addition, today’s shoppers may not be as brand loyal as they may have been previously.
Customers being ready to entertain brands they haven’t been loyal to also demands that retailers stay abreast of trends to conduct successful merchandising.
Retailers wishing to capitalize on increased desire for brick & mortar shopping would do well to heavily curate their selection.
A recent study found that 80% of retailers believe customers will prioritize stock immediacy over brands, so having a selection of similar products is more important than focusing on a top brand.
Product visibility, from the vendor through the delivery dock, helps ensure retailers have stock when they need it.
Product visibility encourages consumers to shop in-store – seeing products they desire and wish to see in-person in stock across channels – regardless of any loyalty or lack thereof to that particular retailer.
Omnichannel systems account for both online and in-store purchases and help customers as well as sales associates understand where inventory is located.
To derive the most thorough data, they should be integrated with other technologies, such as point-of-sale technology, inventory tracking, and customer relationship management systems across all in-person locations as well as online stores.
Customer data is also necessary to inform retailers’ decisions about what to buy and when to buy it. Managers use SKU-level sales and warehouse inventory insights to gear up for holidays as well as to predict the next “big thing.”
During times of supply-chain uncertainty, getting stuck with unwanted products is a luxury that retailers can’t afford. Planning can be more accurate and efficient by sharing inventory, sales and order data with vendor partners.
In addition, accurate demand forecasting cuts waste in production, leading to more sustainable consumption and production.
When demand is predicted more precisely, items can be manufactured and ordered according to customer demand.
Fill the Job Roster
Business analytics can also maximize efficiency by providing instant access to store staffing data and order volumes. That helps managers plan work shifts and also improves employee productivity.
Some retailers are automating more tasks‑‑for example, increasing self-checkout‑‑to accommodate a shrinking workforce.
Others are looking to software that can help accurately target the timing of store visits so retailers can provide the personal touch when it’s needed.
Mobility tracking data provides retailers insights about what’s attracting customers to shop in-store.
Additionally, it offers information about where shoppers may linger, avoid and pass through. That data can be used to reorganize stock, change department layouts and set staff schedules.
Anonymized tracking doesn’t compromise customer privacy, but offers managers the ability to draw more meaning from analytics, and to understand customer behavior with greater accuracy and detail.
COVID-19 taught retailers that they can’t control major disruptions that impact the global supply chain.
However, with proper planning and implementation of software tools they can increase visibility into their supply chains, which will lead to better resilience through the holiday season — and beyond. With Retail Pro Prism POS associates have visibility across stores and channels, and are able to quickly determine any weaknesses within their supply chain and possible solutions.
Now, against the backdrop of smooth, systemically-run performance, independent retailers are taking a double hit. You are competing against Tier 1’s brand equity and economies of scale, and you’re losing profit to pure-play retailers who are saving on overhead costs and investing into channel efficiencies. Bottlenecks, duplicitous inventory and process, and lost opportunities are multiplying your costs at exponential rates. A well-planned and customized retail tech strategy is a necessity.
So how can you use Retail Pro technology to adapt to the demands of modern retailing and deliver the quick and efficient experience consumers expect from you? What does it take on the technology end to make it happen?
Here are 9 best practices for building your tech strategy with Retail Pro Prism.
1. Define the challenge
Focus on one operational bottleneck or customer-facing issue. Topher Mallory of Mexicali Blues chose to focus on the issue of inventory optimization.
You might choose to focus on promotions or employee management, or vendor relationships. Whatever your focus, make sure it’s specific enough so that you aren’t trying to reinvent your whole retail operation before the weekend comes.
2. Determine the outcome you want to achieve with your tech strategy
Once you have in mind the particular area of your business that you want to reform, think about what you’d like to achieve. Is it a particular inventory turnover rate, or a certain increase in customer retention from your loyalty initiatives, or greater collaboration along the supply chain?
3. Design the experience
How do you want customers to interact with you? How do customers expect to interact with you? What will the experience be like in your store versus online? How will you connect the two, along with any pop-up stores, kiosks, catalogs, etc. that you may have?
Online How will your online channel be tied into your physical stores? Will your shoppers have the ability to see which nearby store has the product they’re looking for? Will they be able to reserve or buy online, and then pick it up at that location? How will that store location know to have the product ready for your customer?
In the store, do you want customers to have a self-guided digital experience or a high-touch, personalized experience? That’ll determine hardware – mobility or kiosk? How will payments fit in? Will you need Bluetooth printers for mobile devices? You’ll need Wi-Fi for that. Will your store associates be able to look up inventory at other locations? How will you collect data from all of that – and more importantly, how will you CONNECT the data points to know when they’re talking about the same customer? What’s the recurring theme here? Connectedness. How will you connect your channels, connect your inventory, connect your data?
4. Build the foundation for connected retail with platform retail management technology
Platform retail management software is a foundation for your technology.
Think of it as if you’re building a store out of legos:
Lego shelf structures with little beacons attached.
Lego checkout counter with POS, EMV compliant mobile payments platform, digital receipts, and loyalty application.
Lego kiosk where shoppers can order something that’s out of stock.
Lego backroom with RFID-tagged inventory.
Lego server where your web store lives.
Lego store in a different part of town.
Lego warehouse where vendor trucks are delivering products.
Lego vendor warehouse where those products are being picked and packed.
And what is this whole retail world standing on? A base. A platform that is connecting all of those different touchpoints to the same reality.
That’s what platform retail management technology does. It creates a base to which you can connect:
your customer data
your inventory data
your transaction data
data from your e-commerce, payments, marketing, loyalty, business intelligence applications
data from your vendors for drop-ship
Any kind of tool you use, a retail management platform will be the point of connection to which all data flows. And with Application Program Interface, you can build on it – your applications are running on shared data. Your loyalty application is being informed by both your online and in-store channels. Your digital receipts are generating data that can be pulled into your business intelligence and marketing software to help optimize processes or personalize your marketing communications.
A platform unifies all your data into one data set, so you’re getting a holistic picture of how your customer is interacting with you.
Wherever you are in your tech strategy, having platform technology like Retail Pro Prism is a foundational step to achieving that kind of connectivity and thriving in modern retail.
And you have a lot of options in how you can get there with Retail Pro. These are some of the things you can do with Retail Pro Prism today.
In-store mobility – The Retail Pro Prism app supports Apple’s iOS along with Windows and Android devices. Portrait layout in the Retail Pro Prism user interface gives greater ease when accessing the software on small mobile devices like the iPod Touch.
Omnichannel order fulfillment – Retail Pro Prism allows associates to create sales at one location and fulfill the order at any other location, as part of retailers’ BOPIS, Click and Collect and other omnichannel offerings.
On-hand inventory availability lookup – With inventory visibility that goes deep into a particular store (within a single bin or shelf) or enterprise-wide, sales associates can look up product availability and validate items by their inventory image straight from the POS. Retailers can tie this visibility to their e-commerce site and allow shoppers to reserve items from the nearest store.
Customer-centric flexibility at the POS – Sales associates have easy access to POS options, including transaction lookup, pending transactions, central customer lookup, gift card balance check, promotions, and customer tax assignments and rebates.
Purchasing & Receiving – Create purchase orders to order merchandise from vendors and create vouchers to receive merchandise and update inventory on-hand quantities.
5. Build the infrastructure of your tech strategy
How will your tech facilitate that experience? There are 2 parts to consider here: deployment and use.
Deployment with Retail Pro Prism is flexible. You can choose to deploy centrally or at a local, store level server, or a hybrid of the two. Some retailers are running Retail Pro from the cloud.
Retail Pro Prism handles a great variety of retail environments, so you’ll need to decide how you will put it to best use for your retail objective, whether you use it as your customer-facing, mobile POS with custom-branded UI, or as your complete retail management solution with full employee management, promotions, and store operations with omnichannel functions like send-sale.
6. Connect ancillary tools and supply chain
At this point you’ve established your foundation and now, with Retail Pro Prism APIs, you can integrate your supply chain and any of the ancillary tools you use.
One Retail Pro user, Massey’s Professional Outfitters in Louisiana, USA, integrated an e-commerce solution and a vendor drop ship solution to their Retail Pro platform. Because both of those solutions are exchanging data through Retail Pro, they were able to automate the process such that, when the software acknowledges the absence of the inventory upon order completion, it sends the order directly to the vendor for fulfillment, eliminating stock outs and transportation costs. The kind of visibility they have with the Retail Pro platform allows them to keep lower inventory and rebalance inventory between stores.
7. Connect the digital with the experience
Once you have the infrastructure and tools in place, now apply them to both the virtual and physical experience your customers will have. That, primarily, translates to how you leverage the data you collect from all those touchpoints.
Some Retail Pro users have iPads with their e-commerce site at each of their stores for cross-selling across their various locations. For you, it’s a sale. For the customer, it’s happiness – they never leave your store disappointed because you didn’t have what they wanted. As one Retail Pro retailer said, “In order for the specialty store to survive, we have to change the way we do business. Our goal is to combine the in-store personal shopping experience with the convenience of online shopping.”
8. Train the employees
Employee buy-in is absolutely critical for your strategy to work so take the time and really train them on the process, on how to make the most of your Retail Pro investment, on how to reinforce your brand essence in every interaction with the customer.
In talking to retailers who are moving to Retail Pro, we often hear that the in-store mobile POS was gathering dust because employees weren’t trained on how to maximize its use in various everyday scenarios like:
Customer history lookup for clienteling
That’s why Retail Pro users have access to the Retail Pro University with its flexible training options, including online training so you can train employees at the pace of your retail environment. This is especially useful considering the employee turnover rate in retail! You have hundreds of training videos available to you on the My Retail Proresource portal, along with other useful resources like documentation, knowledgebase articles from our Tech Support team, and the App Market, which shows you our various development partners for applications like loyalty, payments, marketing, etc..
9. Use your findings to keep optimizing the tech strategy
Calibration is an ongoing art. Use the data you collect and the insights you make to keep refining your strategy as the industry changes, as your customers grow up, as their needs change.
Identifying your ideal tech strategy for optimizing your ability to drive sustainable sale growth and operations takes some intentional effort that repays you in dividends. Important elementary elements of the process are analyzing your current state and data and your business goals, and applying the same attention to detail to connecting each channel of your business. The foundation of any retail technology strategy is a retail management platform, which creates a base to which you can connect each tool your operation uses and the data that they all collect. Retail Pro Prism gives the ability for functions important today such as omnichannel order fulfillment and provides a flexible foundation for building off of, incorporating ancillary products easily with API choices.
One of the biggest drivers of shopper loyalty is the ease of doing business. Customers have little patience for any sort of friction when buying from a retailer.
Shoppers are well aware they needn’t put up with inconveniences – the after-effects of COVID-19 taught them that stores could be flexible and accommodating.
For instance, many retailers embraced a “click and collect,” strategy, also called “BOPIS”: buy online, pick up in-store.
Click and collect operations at the least are difficult if a retailer isn’t omnichannel.
With the rising importance of recent retail innovation in features such BOPIS to customers, omnichannel operations are now necessary to keep up with the fast-changing retail landscape.
Retail Pro Prism makes it easy to achieve and customize the way your business does omnichannel.
At the time, homebound shoppers found the method irresistibly convenient: Online, they simply “clicked” to buy, but rather than have their purchase shipped, they headed to the store to “collect” it. Many retailers coupled the offering with curbside pickup.
Today, the COVID-19 shopping restrictions are gone, but customers want retailers to continue offering such conveniences.
While click-and-collect was offered prior to 2020, the economic lockdown that the pandemic created saw the strategy surge by 107% in 2020.
It accounted for $72.46 billion in sales, according to Business Insider, and that number is predicted to continue to grow steadily during the next few years.
With busy lifestyles and people reassessing how they want to spend their leisure time, click and collect will likely continue to be a key differentiator for retailers wanting to position themselves as more convenient than their competitors.
Here are five things to consider when building a competitive click-and-collect or BOPIS strategy.
1. Let data drive the understanding of omnichannel shoppers’ habits
Click and collect is an omnichannel retail tactic that lets shoppers pick up their purchases more quickly than waiting for home delivery.
Studies have also found that the strategy not only increases online buying, but it also bolsters in-store traffic, as customers often make additional purchases at pickup time.
Buying online and picking up in store (“BOPIS”) has significantly increased due to COVID-19: Research firm McKinsey reported in the early stages the global pandemic that BOPIS usage grew 28 percent year over year in February compared with 18 percent in January. The data gathered from these customers provides visibility into the type of BOPIS customer a retailer has, as well as what drives them into the store, and can provide a marketing roadmap.
2. Perform an audit of your software systems
The strategy requires sophisticated management software, which receives customer requests from the e-commerce platform. You may also need to upgrade your point-of-sale solution.
The OMS includes inventory visibility, order confirmations, alerts and updates, and distributes orders to the most local store with stock.
Pickup is automatically based on proximity to the address a customer has entered. The best systems provide personalized customer service and are seamlessly integrated, so store associates — as well as e-commerce customers — know what stock is currently available.
3. Real-time inventory is visible to all parties with click and collect
However, the stock needs to move from the shelf to the customer, so efficient in-store operations for “picking” orders are critical.
The real-time visibility across all channels, branches, and designated permissions gives associates the ability to track down an item a customer has seen online, for example.
Staff must be allocated to pick products from the floor without disrupting normal in-store sales.
However, other retailers set aside an area to fill and hold orders, rather than pulling them from the floor or inventory shelves.
Another challenge is ensuring product availability. Advanced analytics and artificial intelligence can help create forecasts that consider click-and-collect purchases to get the right amount of inventory to the appropriate locations in a timely manner.
Inventory transparency can help avoid customer frustration: No one wants to arrive at the store expecting to pick up an item that was sold moments before because the inventory system wasn’t properly synched.
To avoid that, some retailers choose to have “safety stock” built into their inventory management software.
4. Consider the customer experience around click and collect
BOPIS with curbside pickup is convenient, but it can minimize the chances that customers will make additional purchases.
Retailers are looking to extend the reach of customer pickup with innovation. For example, by offering an express pickup desk, retailers encourage a trip inside.
Also, location-based text messaging can detect when a customer is arriving for pickup and provide an incentive to go into the store, such as discounts, loyalty points or an easy way to add in-store items to their pickup order.
5. The problem of returns
Though returns are a fact of retail life, streamlining the process makes it easier for the customer and less intrusive for the retailer.
Preventing them where practical is ideal; as a result, some clothing retailers are now providing an opportunity for customers to try on items before leaving the store.
Where trying on first isn’t possible, businesses are studying how to streamline the retail process.
Some ask customers to begin their return through the store’s website or mobile app.
Brick and mortars can benefit by enabling in-store returns of online purchases, as that drives store traffic and provides an opportunity to immediately recapture shoppers’ initial expenditures. Approximately 30% of Inmar survey participants said they “usually” or “always” stay in the store and shop with their refund money.
A survey from Inmar found that most shoppers want to return in-store, largely due to the hassle of packing up a return.
However for the customers who prefer stores that allow them to make their return as quick as possible, retailers can provide an option so seamless it’s sure to keep them loyal with a small programing task to set up their systems for all future returns. When the customer heads to the store, the associates are notified and provided with an exact time of arrival, and the customer is greeted upon arrival for a quick handoff or exchange.
Click and collect is a strategy that can offer retailers data that can inform their inventory selection and stock levels.
It helps customers see retailers as accommodating and flexible, and it requires planning and investment to be successful long-term.
When executed properly, friction is removed from the customer journey and it enhances the fulfillment process.
With a wealth of plugins available, Retailers can customize their omnichannel operations to offer return processes that are convenient for customers and work seamlessly with their retail and inventory management.
The last two years have seen dramatic changes in the retailer-vendor relationship. Supply chain shortages caused by the pandemic are still reverberating throughout retail operations.
While the online channel unsurprisingly grew in response to imposed lockdowns, the less-popular hybrid shopping model known as “click and collect,” also gained tremendous momentum.
Retail Pro’s customer ACFC was able to make BOPIS a reality early on in the pandemic thanks to Prism’s data integration and total inventory visibility.
And, although shopping has returned to pre-COVID routines, supply chain issues remain. Here are some ways retailers are handling post-pandemic challenges.
The Product Journey to the Customer
Dropship is more popular. Published statistics show that the global dropshipping market is forecast to reach $196.78 billion in 2022, a substantial increase of 23.7 percent from 2021.
That number is expected to continue to rise, reaching $243.42 billion next year.
The uptick in retailers needing to fulfill online orders during the past two years is a big reason for the dropship surge.
Retail Pro’s ability to streamline inventory visibility across all channels and give retailers a single view makes it easier for them to reduce the margin of error in fulfilling online orders.
Retailers Expanding Retailer-Vendor Relationship
Retailers have expanded their footprint to include marketplaces such as Amazon and Alibaba, as well as social platforms including Tik Tok and Instagram.
Miniso’s UK branch was able to experiment easily with selling on Amazon in the face of tough challenges brought on by COVID with Retail Pro Prism, opening their understanding of future operations possibilities
In fact, TikTok has been experimenting with shoppable ads and shoppable livestreams indicate its readiness to compete for retailers’ attention with Instagram and Facebook.
That has boosted brand awareness not only for the retailer, but also for the supplier. As product demand increases, however, shortages sometimes occur.
Expanding selection through third-party relationships. Some large retailers, notably Lands End, Hudson’s Bay and Anthropologie have begun their own marketplaces.
Those retailers feature channels on their websites that allow select third-party brands to sell products directly to their customers. It increases selection while letting the retailer avoid increasing the number of vendor relationships they must manage.
Automation of Operations
Increasing workflow automation. Reducing or eliminating the manual creation of reports regarding orders, stock levels, and sales trends, and automating that process can accelerate the receipt of information regarding potential stock shortages.
That is particularly helpful when earmarking stock for in-store purchases; for ecommerce order fulfillment and for pickup by click and collect customers.
Automation reduces errors and makes data collection more efficient. Retailer Saleem Fabrics was able to automate their inventory to lessen challenges brought on during COVID with the help of their Retail Pro Business Partners at System Plus and Retail Pro’s software plugin capabilities.
The best supplier-buyer relationships require collaboration. Retailers and their suppliers must be committed to the long-term pursuit of value.
Working with Retail Pro and our partners means a retailer has engaged support and help to take any steps necessary for the sorts of modernizing changes in operations mentioned above.
Together, retailers and their partners are employing innovative solutions to offer joint opportunities to create and retain significant value.
Good products attract customers. Great experiences keep them coming back. Retail Pro Prism’s capabilities gives you the tools to choose where and how you reach your customers, and the POS data to inform your approach.
POS Shopper Data
Shape your CX strategy with pertinent shopper data collected in the POS workflow.
Make personalized recommendations with access to customer details in Retail Pro on mobile.
Give shoppers all the options when you’re out of stock with total inventory visibility for every location.
After two years of isolation, customers are ready to visit retailers, and stores are more than ready to greet them as they look to expand operations.
Anticipating pent-up demand, retailers are looking at not just beefing up their square footage but also global expansion to meet customers’ demands for exceptional selection and outstanding experience.
The recent past has been tough on retailers: COVID magnified existing weaknesses, accelerated emerging trends of increased online shopping, and forced organizations to adopt new technology faster than they had anticipated.
Approximately 40 million workers were furloughed or laid off as demand dipped and factories and offices were closed to prevent the spread of the virus, according to Deloitte.
Additionally, people stopped traveling and leaving their homes to shop: Business Insider reported an 82.6% year-over-year foot traffic plunge for the week ending April 18, 2020. E-commerce took hold as brick and mortars complied with government mandates to close.
Retailers that had entertained physical expansion plans in 2020 quickly course corrected and invested in online sales platforms to try to make up lost revenue. That strategy – which included click and collect and curbside pickup — helped many physical locations remain in business.
As the pandemic waned and retailers reopened, they started streamlining operations to ensure that their physical stores were in sync with their online systems, which had become more robust during the last 24 months.
Retail Pro Prism’s omnichannel retail management platform gives retailers the tools to monitor their inventory across channels, keeping in-store and online records in sync. The operations were often merged into a hybrid store/warehouse, in which online orders could be fulfilled by the stores’ brick and mortar locations.
Strategies to expand revisited
With those new logistics in place, retailers are once again considering and moving ahead with physical expansion. But, for the largest, most well-known names, creating more big stores isn’t in the game plan.
Instead, smaller, more boutique-type stores that focus on the customer experience is the winning strategy.
Take Nordstrom’s, which even prior to the pandemic offered curbside pickup and has continued to strengthen its integration between online and offline channels.
Nearly five years ago, Nordstrom Local launched. The stores are roughly 3,000 square feet and do not carry dedicated inventory, but instead are focused on service: Amenities include complimentary personal stylists, eCommerce order pickup, returns, alterations, gift wrapping and complimentary refreshments.
Betting that less space could pay off more was a good gamble: On average, a Nordstrom Local customer spends 2.5 times the amount of a regular Nordstrom customer.
The retailer sees the locals as a way to complement their existing larger stores, and cater to customers more conveniently.
Post COVID, many shoppers are looking for convenience, particularly when at brick and mortars.
The fundamental reasons for shopping in person haven’t changed: They enjoy social interaction and they want to interact with products before purchasing.
However, shoppers may now be a bit more exacting in what they expect from retailers’ service.
Businesses looking to expand their physical footprint must be certain that their existing software can handle the new load.
POS software, in particular, must be scalable in order for the business to remain efficient.
Retail Pro Prism is a scalable, comprehensive software package that can be cloud-based and offers remote support — ideal for an expanding company.
For example, Miniso UK currently has seven stores and has plans to grow its business with Retail Pro Prism to 50 stores in five years. “As you grow, you need clear visibility on all parts of the business and we want to ensure we’re not letting down one side of the business at the expense of the other,” said Miniso UK’s Chief Operating Officer, Saad Usman. “To be successful, we have to develop the online and offline experience simultaneously, which we’re trying to do.”
Growth Requires Local Support
Once software requirements have been established, retailers should consider their support options. Having local IT partners can help ease concerns and create an atmosphere of camaraderie.
Retail Pro has a Global network of local IT support partners in 130 countries, helping their clients with implementations, integration of retail solutions including loyalty, ERP, ecommerce etc.
Local partners also know the region better than anyone, so they can assist with localization of the software for language and branding, and are familiar with legal requirements, such as fiscalization (fiscal law aimed at preventing retailer fraud) as well as tax reporting.
Retail Pro is compliant with regional fiscal and tax requirements such as VAT used in many regions globally, India’s GST, Canada’s GST/HST and Brazil’s ICMS, and various tax zones.
In addition, any software that a growing retailer selects should be “expansion-friendly.”
Retail Pro’s robust API provides centralized flexibility that adapts to local regulation variations, allowing retailers to customize their retail POS systems to specific regional requirements.
For more than 30 years, Retail Pro has provided a base platform and API that supports regional requirements, which are specific to a retail management system and point of sale.
From the UX –where local language support is key– to the more complex needs of taxation and reporting requirements, localization has and continues to be part of Retail Pro’s DNA.
Globally, language can also be a business barrier. Because all languages have a vernacular, idioms and regional “quirks,” Retail Pro has a fully translatable user interface, so translations can be tailored toward local dialects for a given region, specific business or vertical type.
Finally, partnering with the right IT solution provider is critical for retailers’ success domestically and abroad – and the right fit can help both companies grow, especially if they operate with similar values.
Authorized partners are not only trusted technology advisors, but they are also serving as IT project managers for store launches in different regions of the same country as well as coordinating store launches in new countries.
Establishing mutually-beneficial goals motivates all parties. Post-COVID, analysts expect the global retail market to reach $39,933.3 billion in 2030, up from nearly $20,331.1 billion in 2020. Retail implementation of regionally-savvy software and partnerships with local solution providers will be crucial for success.
When a retailer collects information about its customers, the data reveals important statistics, such as what’s popular, the timing of purchases, who’s buying (demographics), and how customers are shopping, i.e., online or in-store.
But the real “secret sauce” comes in the consolidation of data to get one holistic view of the business.
Data consolidation combines information from different sources into one. Retailers are compiling and analyzing transactions to better inform their product mix and promotions.
Such businesses can more easily obtain a 360-degree view of their customers and avoid data silos, which can lead to inefficient decision-making.
Retail management platforms such as Retail Pro Prism, integrate seamlessly with other retail software in use – like ERP systems, loyalty, analytics, emerging technologies and other solutions – to provide a 360-degree customer view, which allows retailers to make effective use of big data, improve shoppers’ experiences and even predict trends.
Automated Data Consolidating and Decision Making
A larger retailer can generate tons of data every day, which makes governance complicated and time-consuming.
Automated data consolidation extracts the data from each source in real-time, transforms it into a consistent-format joint data-set, and loads it into a database. That database can then be used for analytics, monitoring, controlling, evaluating business practices, extracting information, etc.
Data analytics are the next most important step for retailers to get the most out of consolidated data. Retail Pro Decisions converges all your disparate databases, software tools, and other data sources and gives you a visual layouts and feedback you can tailor to your goals.
Consolidating data provides retailers with more control over their data.
The strategy also avoids or eliminates data silos, which helps prevent duplication, errors, and outliers, so data quality improves.
Retail executives can trust the data to make critical decisions that help to inform planning and risk management.
Retailers can use consolidated data to make data-driven, evidence-based decisions. For example, by including e-commerce sales data with that of in-store purchases, retailers can get an understanding of omnichannel customer spending and compare it against brick-and-mortar shoppers.
That’s powerful marketing information; considering research shows that omnichannel customers are more profitable. So, promoting in-store shopping to online customers – and vice versa — could pay off handsomely.
In addition to influencing marketing and sales strategy, data consolidation can drive product roadmaps as well as optimize human and capital assets.
Omnichannel shoppers are engaged and loyal, according to industry research. A recent study reported that customers who purchase across channels tend to purchase more often and spend up to 20 percent more compared with shoppers who buy only in-store.
With OptCulture for Retail Pro, you can understand the data behind both online and in-store transactions, and reach customers wherever they are engaging at the time, whether through a mobile app, text messages, push notifications, emails or digital receipts.
Loyalty and Data Consolidation
Loyalty programs should be structured to ensure all shoppers benefit equally but should provide incentives to purchase across channels.
The emphasis should be on driving repeat purchases to build long-term engagement, with an emphasis on the ease of cross-channel purchasing.
Data consolidation can help identify which customers are in loyalty programs and who would benefit most from enrollment, point redemption details, and what types of promotions are best suited for the most loyal customers.
By consolidating data, retailers can enhance operations and improve their responsiveness to customers.
Streamlining that information provides a clear, complete view of the customer, which can enhance flexibility, improve inventory, promote loyalty and boost sales.
Knowing your customers is key to creating effective marketing campaigns and promotions.
There are myriad ways to slice your retail data, so how can you form smart segmentations that will help you deliver tailored marketing messages to relevant group of customers for higher redemption rates and sales?
As a retailer, you are collecting lots of useful data through your Retail Pro POS. OptCulture Marketing for Retail Pro is the tool that allows you to use that data in a way that facilitates a higher level of customer engagement leading to increased revenue for your business.
OptCulture provides retailers with a complete suite of solutions that integrate directly with your Retail Pro point of sale system and ecommerce platforms, giving your customers a full circle experience with loyalty and promotions.
Customers that enroll online can redeem points in-store and customers that earn rewards in-store can redeem online.
OptCulture also offers loyalty mobile applications that can display the latest offers for customers as well as keep them up to date on rewards earned through recent purchases.
Using integrated data in your OptCulture Marketing for Retail Pro, you can create better segments that will help you boost sales.
Segmentation is basically an elaborate way of describing the filtering of customers.
Which of your stores is their go-to location? What are they buying? How often are they opening and clicking through emails?
These are just the basics. The real fun begins with asking the right questions.
Where to start
Think of the different products your store sells.
Do your customers exhibit brand loyalty? Are there different genders that purchase from different departments? What is the average purchase amount per customer? How often are your regular customers visiting the store?
All of these questions lead to better answers when it comes to communicating and advertising to your market base.
Why should you do this? In today’s data driven marketing environment, customers simply do not engage with advertisements for things they are not interested in.
If I have only bought Nike shoes from my local shoe store and they keep sending me advertisements for Adidas shoes, New Balance, Vans, etc., I am very unlikely to engage with those communications and may just unsubscribe altogether.
Consider your inventory and what products you see customers purchasing or not purchasing.
As a sports clothing retailer, segment your customers based on the team that they support.
Look at sales reports, is there a day that is always slow? Consider running double rewards on these days.
What questions do you have and how can the data you are collecting be used to answer them?
What follows next are the 6 easiest examples of customer segmentation that every retailer should be doing, and then we’ll look at post-campaign analytics which will help refine our next steps in the overall marketing plan.
This first example is a very easy segment to set up. Think of how often your average customer shops. Is it once every 3 months, every 6 months, once a year? Then let’s take those rules and go right on into OptCulture and create the segment.
For this example I have created a segment for customers that have made less than 2 purchases and have not shopped with me in the last 6 months.
To do this I simply click on the rule I would like and drag it into the appropriate area. Rules can be combined in an “and” fashion as well as an “or” fashion.
I can now target these customers every 6 months with an automated email or SMS message and include an offer in attempt to get them back into the store
Our second example relates to items in your store.
Are there products that your customers need to replenish or refill? Customers that shop for products that have limited lifespans will need to buy more at some point.
Think about tire shops. When you get new tires in Houston, after a few months I will get a reminder for balance and rotation and then a few months later an advertisement for all new tires. All retailers should be doing the same things in regards to their products.
Here’s another example: High performance surfboards last at most a year or two.
Segmenting out customers who purchased that product within a particular time frame gives me an idea of who should be coming back in for a new one. If they have not, I could create a call list for my staff to reach out to.
The third example also relates to products. Are there items that are typically sold together? Shoes and socks? Kayaks and paddles.
Think of products you sell that go together and come up with some rules that you can take to OptCulture.
An example we came up with would be if a customer purchased a bike but without making a purchase for a Helmet.
Reach out to them with an email advertising safety equipment that is important for bike riders, or even places to ride their new bike and groups to meet up with.
Our Fourth example is going back to customer behavior.
What seasons or months are most important to your business? Are there holidays that your customer base shops on? Mothers Day? July 4th?
Create a segment for them and advertise products that are popular for that season.
Here we created a segment for customers that shopped prior to Christmas and we also added a rule that targets customers who on average spend $100 or more.
This will give us a good group of customers to reach out to when we know what we will have in stock for the Christmas season.
In this fifth scenario, we look at items that require special care or warranty information to be filled out.
In the event that a garment requires special care, with OptCulture you can follow up that purchase with an automated email or SMS explaining exactly how to care for that product.
Are there items your store sells that require customers to fill out warranty information?
In the example of a bike store, customers who purchase high end bicycles fill out warranty forms that are returned to the manufacturer. Make this process seamless by automatically emailing these customers the details that relate to their warranty.
Here we created a segment for customers that purchased a silk item the previous day.
This segment can be attached to a daily email campaign and customers who fit that criteria will be sent the necessary email. This is just a simple example.
Any information you are bringing into Retail Pro can be mapped to OptCulture so that you can segment out exactly the customers you are looking for.
6th and last on our list, while certainly not least, relates to segmentation based on customers interacting with your communications.
Consider the seasonal email you just sent out for summer items.
What was the open rate? Were there any clicks?
Why not reach out to those who clicked through the original email with a follow up in a few weeks?
Even better, reach out to those who clicked but did not make a purchase. Their click expressed interest; segment them out to see if they acted on that interest.
Once you have put together some segments and run some campaigns, look at your reports. Are these groups coming in and making a purchase?
Create a segment for customers who opened the campaign and add purchase rules and find out.
Consider expanding the rules to include more or less customers.
Discover what is working by looking at promotional redemptions for customers who have been sent exclusive offers.
Continue to ask questions and to use your data and OptCulture to maximize engagement and increase revenue at the same time.
A quick look at the email reports dashboard will show you if customers are opening and clicking through emails.
Clicking on the name of the campaign will take you into more detailed reports such as how many opens or clicks for a given time period, or even what devices customers are using to view emails.
So let’s talk. Give OptCulture a call to discuss how you are currently marketing to your clients and how using segmentation can help your business increase customer engagement.
OptCulture Marketing for Retail Pro helps specialty retailers improve customer loyalty and engagement with their brand via customizable, omnichannel marketing. Capabilities and features include: Omnichannel loyalty, digital receipts, email & SMS marketing, campaigns & automation, custom promotions, ecommerce purchase data integration, mobile client app for accessing rewards, tablet or kiosk for in-store loyalty signups, analytics, and omnichannel customer data management.
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are becoming a bigger part of the fashion landscape. In so doing, they are also becoming a substantial part of retail.
An NFT is a unique, “bespoke” item that by its very nature fits right into the fashion world.
To put it in terms of physical collecting: anyone can buy a Givenchy dress. But only one person can own a bespoke version (like Megan Markle).
An NFT is registered on a blockchain, which is used to record ownership of an asset. Limited-edition, unique digital fashion items are purchased, and buyers receive “1 of 1” certificates of ownership – adding a level of exclusivity that has long been the hallmark of fashion culture.
NFTs and brand loyalty
NFTs can also be integrated successfully into loyalty programs. With NFTs, fashion brands can give customers tokens for enticements, including yearly access to new products, discounts, admission to exclusive events and private communities.
For example, Dolce & Gabbana debuted its NFT collection, Collezione Genesi, which has physical, digital, and experiential value.
The NFT holder receives the physical, fitted version of Dress from a Dream, an original signed sketch, and a custom digital recreation of the dress—in addition to two-year access to Dolce & Gabbana Alta Moda, Alta Sartoria, and Alta Gioielleria couture events in Italy.
In that way, the customer is encouraged to continue engaging with the brand.
Hype and controversy
The strategy to market NFTs with products can be wildly lucrative.
For instance, Adidas made its first NFT drop, Into the Metaverse, of 30,000 NFTs, priced at $800 each. The drop sold out almost immediately, and generated more than $23 million in sales.
But not everyone is gung-ho over NFTs. Much of the controversy surrounds the carbon footprint of NFTs.
They are supported by blockchain technology, which is extremely energy-intensive. The cryptocurrencies used to buy and sell NFTs generate millions of tons of planet-heating carbon dioxide emissions.
Others argue against NFTs because they are part of a new, unregulated market – and those types of markets, in general, have a greater propensity to harm the environment.
Digital opportunities around NFTs
But NFTs and cryptocurrencies are offering retailers entry into new markets. Some shoppers don’t have access to bank accounts or credit cards—and others simply don’t want them.
Those customers can now make electronic transactions with cryptocurrency.
According to Statista, the number of blockchain wallet users is increasing dramatically: From roughly 69 million in February 2021 to 81 million a year later. Benefits include superior payment security, lower transaction fees, and speedier transactions.
Those well-known luxury brands and others are forging into the “metaverse,” expanding their retail channels. And retailers see that brand expansion into NFTs offers a way not only to expand sales but also to increase revenue receipts via cryptocurrencies.
Sustainability means serious business to a new generation of customers.
Business sustainability is far more than using recycled plastic in shopping bags or motion-sensing lighting.
It’s not a feel-good buzzword. Rather, it’s a way of doing business that considers the effect companies have on the environment or society.
Sustainability – from Millennials & Gen Z to Mainstream
For Millennials and Gen Z customers, sustainability includes reusability.
Thrifting or “resale marketing,” is popular with this group, and the secondhand market, including clothing retailers such as Poshmark and ThredUp, is thriving.
The similar concept of “circular fashion” considers the entire lifecycle of a garment, from how it’s made to ensuring its durability so it can ultimately be passed to several owners.
Established brands are joining the party; for example, Patagonia’s “Worn Wear” program offers credits toward new items when customers trade-in gear.
With Millennials representing $600 billion in spending power and Gen Z at $140 billion, their preference to shop sustainably can’t be ignored.
Increased appetite for sustainability
Not every product can be reused, however, so looking at responsible, “green” ways of manufacturing continues to be important.
What has changed, however, is that customers are more willing to pay for sustainable products. For example, last July, a survey from First Insight and Wharton’s Baker Retailing Center of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers found 68 percent of them willing to pay more for sustainable products, up from 58 percent from a survey taken in 2019.
That’s a compelling argument for retailers to create, source, and sell more sustainable goods.
Sustainability and cost incentives
Sustainability aligns with business goals as well – and though many small and midsize retails are leading the charge, it’s not solely the purview of smaller companies.
A great example is “Amazon Day” when the behemoth retailer packages into one weekly delivery, chosen by the customer. That’s a huge savings in gas costs for Amazon, while it reduces environmental pollution.
In addition, Amazon has committed to produce 100,000 electric vehicle delivery vans for Amazon through 2024.
Brick and mortar retailers that provided enhanced delivery and customer pickup services might consider reducing the resulting carbon footprint by bundling packages for customers, which will consolidate the number of delivery/pick up trips.
Employees and sustainability goals
Finally, companies that embrace sustainability as a key purpose may be better positioned that their competitors to attract motivated, skilled workers that drive financial success.
Everyone likes to rally around a common goal, and employees with shared purpose are likely to be more satisfied at work – and happy employees are great ambassadors for your business.
Retail Pro International (RPI) is a global leader in retail management software that is recognized world-wide for rich functionality, multi-national capabilities, and unparalleled flexibility. For over 35 years, RPI has innovated retail software solutions to help retailers optimize business operations and have more time to focus on what really matters - cultivating customer engagement and capitalizing on retail's trends. Retail Pro is the chosen software platform for omni-channel strategy by retailers in 130+ countries.