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COVID-19 forced retailers worldwide to pivot fast to survive this unprecedented and wholly unexpected market downturn.
From shifting to ecommerce-only and fast fulfillment strategies, to staying connected with customers during lockdowns, your ability to adapt and take assertive action is crucial for your business to survive.
Now more than ever retailers must turn to their data to monitor KPIs and get insights that will help you combat the ongoing effects COVID-19 will have on consumer mindsets and economies.
Join us in this webinar to see 7 insights you need to search out now from your data to help you shape your retail decisions post COVID-19 and position you to make the most of the shopping season remaining in 2020.
Consumers love a seamless experience, and retailers are on task, moving ahead to meet those customer demands.
Meanwhile, more shoppers are using visual search, social shopping and augmented reality.
The ability for a shopper to take a photo of a dress seen on someone walking down the street and quickly identify and buy it, or the ability to click and purchase the sofa that a popular social media influencer is lounging on in her latest Instagram post — those capabilities are going to keep e-tail moving ahead in 2020.
1: Visual Search
Shoppers who are looking for an item but can’t describe it in words — but will know it when they see it — will flock to visual search technology.
Visual search will help find items that are similar to an uploaded photo.
Computers and smartphones have the ability to recognize and identify the most obscure as well as the most common items, from celebrities to logos to landmarks.
The technology isn’t new—Macy’s iOS app incorporates image recognition and visual search software, which lets consumers search through a plethora of inventory items just by using pictures snapped from their iPhone to find similar products.
The difference now is that other companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Visual search is particularly gaining momentum in the fashion and home decor sectors, including retailers such as Wayfair and ASOS.
2: Social Shopping
According to a GlobalWebIndex Trends Report “Social Commerce,” smartphone ownership has risen to 95% of the population.
Retailers are subsequently motivated to create ecommerce sites that are handheld device friendly.
The goal is to engage shoppers fully, so they complete the purchase journey while remaining within the ecosystem of these social platforms.
Direct-to-consumer companies, such as Warby Parker, Everlane and Casper, rely on social networks for customer acquisition, and have become a staple of the social commerce landscape.
They’ve been highly successful at not only marketing products through social networks, but also at closing the sale without leaving the platform.
3: Augmented Reality
AR can transform traditional retailers. It can show a customer how a product will look — whether that is furniture in a room or shoes on feet — without having to physically have the item.
Sephora’s Virtual Artist App with Modiface, for example, shows users via their smartphone camera how makeup products will look when applied.
For customers who are painting walls and not their faces, Home Depot’s Project Color app lets users view a paint color in a room.
The AR technology factors in lighting, objects, and shadows in the room, to help provide a realistic view of how the paint color will actually look.
Customers benefit from retailers’ investments in a variety of technologies when finding new brands, learning about products, and making transactions.
Weaving features such as visual search, social ecommerce and AR into their offerings provides an engaging shopping experience which consumers are starting to expect.
Those retailers that are willing to implement new technology and create better experiences will reap the benefits of listening to and anticipating the needs of their customers.
Since the value of a retailer’s inventory is generally one of the largest assets on the books, efficient management of goods in stock is critical to profitability.
Though most retailers use inventory management systems, many often hang onto their legacy system well beyond the point where they’ve outgrown it.
Inventory management systems should support the purchasing, business analytics, and inventory control departments, and they are a crucial component of supply chain management.
But when your retail team has difficulty locating products, fulfilling orders or spotting trends, this may be the canary in the coal mine telling you you need a more efficient inventory management software.
Here are 3 benefits to be gained in updating to a modern POS.
1: Flexible product lookup
Retail associates, like their inventory management systems, have an intimate and robust relationship with the goods on your shelves. They know what items are selling, which are lingering, and how shoppers pair them with other products.
To help increase sales efficiency, a good POS system assists employees by helping them find items using SKUs as well as names and descriptions, and sales reports from your POS data can help you do a basket analysis to spot those sales correlations and apply that on a broader scale.
In addition, modern POS gives you direct insight into inventory levels at each store within a chain, to avoid the disappointment of purchasers who arrive at a store with none of the desired items available.
With Retail Pro Prism POS, your retail associates can look up inventory across locations and send the sale to the location carrying the item in the size or color your shopper needs, so your team can save every sale.
Flexible inventory lookup capabilities are also critical to success when offering buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) services. Research from Oracle reported that 14% of baby boomers, 30% of millennials and 25% of Gen Z consumers use BOPIS. Since BOPIS is popular across demographics, it will be well worth the investment.
Another benefit of modern POS is help in forecasting.
Retailers must be able to calculate when a product will sell out based on marketing plans, rate of sale, and product demand as well as rates of sale and vendors’ lead times.
POS software that can store a multi-year item history is a valuable asset in planning; carrying too much stock–or the inability to meet demand–causes retailers to lose money.
Retailers that carry extra stock or don’t have enough to meet demand lose money, and it’s already too easy to lose a sale to Amazon because of an inventory shortage.
Demand forecasting also helps businesses effectively manage cash flow and maintain lean operations.
An important way to achieve greater retail success is to be more data-centric.
Relying on retail analytics and hard data rather than guesswork helps companies make more educated decisions about the products they carry.
They can dig into point of sale information across the entire enterprise and send the right mix of products to the stores best suited to sell them.
Understanding the customer helps retailers improve customer satisfaction and earn higher profits.
Data collection is ubiquitous.
Ecommerce shoppers understand their information is logged and stored with each transaction, even if anonymously.
Brick and mortar retailers collect data through cash registers and gather geographic information by entering ZIP codes.
The information that can be collected is varied, but at a minimum includes customer, transactional, inventory, and shipment data.
There’s also data to be mined in social media, location and in-store movement.
Retailers have always needed to pay attention to what customers are thinking.
Whether the buzz is about a hot brand, a rising trend, or a celebrity endorsement, savvy retailers are in-the-know.
Today, much of that type of information is just a click away, on platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.
“Social listening” requires retailers to pay attention to what target customers are saying.
Many use social media monitoring services to analyze their audiences and identify product gaps in their offerings compared with competitors as well as with customer expectations.
As they say in real estate, “location, location, location.”
Retailers looking to expand can use current-store data to inform decisions when selecting future sites.
By studying where target consumers visit most frequently and analyzing movement patterns around specific areas, retailers can take much of the guesswork out of expansion plans.
Incorporating demographic information and personas into location vetting provides insights into consumer behaviors, helping to ensure that the ultimate site selected will have the “right” customers nearby.
Geolocation has been used for several years by retailers who use the technology to alert nearby customers to promotions.
Today, location-tracking technology can monitor shoppers with pinpoint accuracy, allowing retailers to know, for example, if a customer went to the fitting room but didn’t make a purchase, or which cosmetic counters were visited.
Sales of location-targeted advertising could reach $21 billion this year, according to CNBC.
However, it’s not the quantity of the data collected that is most important, rather it’s knowing how to digest and use it that counts.
Collecting and consolidating all of that data provides a powerful overview of every action customers have taken – on their mobile devices, on the website, or in a brick and mortar store.
It is no small thing that this year’s NRF was called 2020 Vision.
The show shed light on retailer’s perspectives and trajectories for 2020 – and perhaps more significantly highlighted what deeper visibility into your data can and should lead to: understanding your customers.
The conversation continued in full length at the Retail Pro booth, where specialty retailers of all shapes and sizes came to see what’s new in Retail Pro Prism and how it is that every day, ordinary, unsexy technology like POS turned out to be one of the most helpful to retailers for seeing your customers more clearly.
Retail is about people
No matter the trend, retail is – and always should be – about the people.
NRF sessions highlighted the sober truth that with the flux of rapid business expansion and the advance of technologies used in and around the store, attention devoted to customers tends to get ebb and flow congruently, sometimes resulting in neglected shoppers.
But in the immediate past, retailers’ use of technology has returned to its senses and refocused on the improvement of shopper experiences.
For example, we see more long-standing retailers taking on Retail Pro Prism on mobile devices, so associates can spend more time interacting with shoppers on the sales floor.
Mobility breaks the mental mold of needing to stand behind a counter at all times and releases the power of more personal interactions. Your customers get personal attention; you get a person’s loyalty.
“I’ve been on a mission to basically tell businesses and companies to understand their customers as people. Not as shoppers, not as users, not as callers. And there’s a subtle difference,” said Genov. “It’s all great to look at big data and statistics, but without understanding individual customers…it’s very hard to build emotional and memorable experiences.”
Well said, Genov.
How you frame our thinking about the people who shop with you will impact the technology investments you find yourself willing to make.
How you view your customers, too, will impact what kind of data you’ll be after, and what you’re going to do with it, and as one presenter infamously quipped, YOU NEED CLEAN DATA.
Let’s make another claim that just as painfully obvious, and just as operationally challenging: to actually understand your customers, you need to understand how they are interacting with you at all your touchpoints, and you need to look at that data holistically.
The Retail Pro solution gives retailers a head start with the ability to integrate all data sources, including everything from your POS to your social media, to get the kind of holistic insight on your fans and customers that you need to deliver memorable experiences.
It’s great that Marketing is looking at who’s clicking on your emails and SMS offers and whether they follow through to make a purchase.
And it’s great that you retail GM is looking at product sell-through.
But who’s looking at both of those pictures to see what it says about the interplay between the individual and the whole?
There’s a lot to learn about the unique, individual customer by looking at them against the backdrop of the whole customer base, and unifying your data will go a long way toward getting you there.
PetSmart, for example, is funneling their data into a solution of AI with indoor location tech to better understand and cater to their customers.
“Maybe you’re walking into our services area and we can tell in real time whether you’re a services customer or not,” said Dave Caldwell, PetSmart’s vice president of IT service delivery, in their session. “If not, would it be appropriate notify an associate to approach you to ask if you’d like to learn about, say, grooming? Or suppose a known cat owner is browsing the puppy food aisle. That’s a customer who might benefit from a new puppy starter kit, so maybe an employee should suggest it.”
Captivating with creativity
Brands are evolving as much in technology as they are in concept.
Many of the sessions at NRF2020 reflected exuberantly retail renewed flair for the colorful, with pop up concepts and creative ways to build community with your brand.
As a browser-based solution, Retail Pro makes it easy to launch a new mobile POS for your one-month pop up in the heart of NYC or your traveling VIP events.
The creativity for community challenge was highlighted especially in a session with Rod Sides, Deloitte’s vice chairman and U.S. leader for retail, wholesale and distribution practice, and Kevin Plank, executive chairman and brand chief of Under Armour.
“The question for retailers is, how do we create that stickiness? How do we create community? How do we remain relevant in the lives of consumers? It’s about promise. It’s the promise of, ‘Here’s what my brand is all about.’ It’s about being able to connect with the consumer in a different way, and it’s about being able to deliver on that brand promise.”
Plank comments, “Today we’re in 60 countries representing about 10 miles of storefront, or 170 football fields. So, we’re alive and we’re thriving, but we stay aware that you’ve got to bring it to life every day.” Under Armour has some 1,200 stores, 300 of which opened last year, most in the Asia/Pacific region running the Retail Pro Prism software.
Didn’t get to see Retail Pro Prism at NRF this year? See it in action for yourself with a free demo.
Today’s retail is a broad spectrum of digital and brick & mortar options: great for the customer, complex and costly for the retailer.
Within the ambition for omnichannel, your team also has a lot on their plate in working toward increasing profitability, optimizing for operational efficiency, and all your efforts to delight customers across channels.
And they have lots of questions.
Which products sell better?
What sells better online vs in stores?
What sells better at which location?
Where is inventory turn too low?
How can I improve turn without losing so much on margins?
What am I losing by holding too much inventory?
What is the opportunity cost of out of stocks?
What is the cost of losing customer trust due to out of stocks?
Your retail data has the answers.
But how do you go from data to insight?
Get insight with Retail Pro
The future of retail is insight: not just knowing the customer; understanding the customer.
So give your team the technology every department will use and benefit from with the powerful Retail Pro POS and retail management software – named top POS worldwide for midmarket retail.
Get total data visibility across the enterprise worldwide
Centrally manage and regionally tailor all your subsidiaries and locations
Dig into integrated POS & ERP data to get the right products to the right stores
Empower associates to get answers for customers with lookup and orders on mobile POS
Discover shopper insights with unified POS, ecommerce, website, and social media data
Act on insight with AI-powered personalized marketing and promotions
POS as deep as your enterprise
With total visibility and powerful visual analytics tools in Retail Pro, you can get insight into how your retail customers shop with you and what they’re after.
Plus, Retail Pro gives you the power and flexibility to run your multifaceted business your way.
MULTI-NATIONAL Expand into new and emerging markets with globally trusted Retail Pro POS
MULTI-REGION Customize your Retail Pro POS to region-specific needs and requirements
MULTI-SUBSIDIARY Centrally manage data for each subsidiary in one application
MULTI-LANGUAGE Choose from 18+ built-in languages or easily plug in other localizations for your region-specific needs
MULTI-CURRENCY Accept multiple currencies and tenders in one transaction
MULTI-TAX Meet regional fiscal and tax requirements like VAT, GST, HST, and ICMS
Visit us at NRF booth 5573 to see how you can get insight on what your shoppers want in both goods and experience with the end-to-end, unified Retail Pro solution.
Keeping “just enough” inventory on hand to cover demand is a strategy retailers can use to keep more of a company’s value in cash, increase its liquid assets and offer more access to investing options.
The JIT model across industries
Just-in-time (JIT) strategies have been popular in the auto and manufacturing industries since the 1970s, but today are gaining momentum in retail, as that segment increasingly embraces business automation.
The methodology is being considered as a method for improving retail profitability and operations.
Toyota many years ago made the JIT inventory system a mainstream model of efficiency.
Instead of ordering excess product, JIT managers focused on ordering just the amount of parts that were needed to get through a production cycle, thereby reducing the amount of “buffer” product.
Unused buffer is, ultimately, waste; in retail, that buffer is excess inventory.
JIT works better with better data
One tool retailers can use today that wasn’t available in the 70’s is data analytics.
The collection and analysis of big data makes it possible for any retailer to forecast demand reliably.
Every item sold can be tracked, as well as when it was sold, how many people walked by the store, how many of those came inside, how foot traffic changed when it rained, etc.
Although major big box retailers such as Best Buy and Target may be able to easily afford large quantities of inventory to fill their shelves, new and boutique retailers don’t have such large bankrolls.
They often are challenged to keep up with demand without spending a significant amount of cash on inventory.
A JIT strategy of supply-chain management provides flexibility, because the model is set up to minimize inventory on-hand and in storage.
That lets them order to meet demand, and not be stuck holding inventory that doesn’t sell if trend forecasts go sideways.
JIT retailers won’t be tying up capital in inventory, so they’ll have cash on-hand to invest in competitive endeavors or in other opportunities.
Tying up money in inventory means a retailer can’t react swiftly to a sudden consumer trend, because there’s no liquid capital available.
So retailers are forced to respond by quickly offloading their old excess inventory to make room for — and pay for — products that are in demand.
Compounding the situation, the stale stock is usually sold off at a steep markdown. JIT delivery of inventory frees up space in the warehouse and reduces “dead” inventory.
Shorter lead times
Shortening lead times with suppliers also creates a JIT atmosphere.
Waiting one week rather than three for shipments means a smaller inventory buffer is needed to cover spikes in demand.
By working with suppliers and vendors, retailers can shorten lead times, and gain more freedom to run a lean inventory system.
When retailers err on the side of ordering too little, the result is a poor selection — and experience — for customers.
Data is the backbone of inventory planning function and is vital to providing a good experience that entices customers to return.
We are honored to announce that the cross-platform, cross-channel POS and retail management software Retail Pro® was ranked number 1 retail mid-market POS in market share, global reach, innovation, and growth in the latest Retail Executive Advisory Program Research Study from IHL Group.
The study evaluated retail technology providers from all over the world based on relative strength, growth, direction, resilience, and market share.
“Over the years we’ve amassed a tremendous amount of primary and secondary-source data in this pursuit to assist retailers in vendor selection and to help understand the trends transforming our industry,” said Jerry Sheldon, Vice President of the IHL Group. “The study considers primary and secondary source data to evaluate and rank on-premise and SaaS POS for retailers with chains ranging from 1 to 100 locations – representing over 9 million POS locations installed POS units worldwide.”
In this hyper-competitive context, Retail Pro holds 5.9% market share in the midmarket slice for general retail and also ranks as a top performer in IHL’s positioning map which measures vendors by innovation and market strength dimensions.
Kerry Lemos, CEO of Retail Pro International, comments, “We thrive in the highly creative and demanding environments in all major markets worldwide. Striving together with our loyal customers drives us to keep honing our technology to be more efficient, more innovative, and more adaptable to the diverse retail brands using Retail Pro worldwide.”
As retail in emerging markets continues to expand and enterprise retailers are rearchitecting systems for unified commerce, IHL projects the POS software market will grow 53% from $3.2 billion in 2018 to $4.9 billion in 2023, implying further growth opportunity for top POS providers.
“In spite of economic condition setbacks in some markets, retail continues to advance in North America, EMEA and APAC. This presents our retail technology solution providers with an opportunity to move forward and prosper in the era of intentional innovation,” commented Greg Buzek of IHL. “These companies, ranked above all others in our study, represent a cohort of movers who push and help organizations drive growth. We congratulate the top-performers who move our industry forward.”
We are humbled at the significance of being ranked top POS at a global scale, and it is not by our efforts alone that this achievement was earned. Thus, we would like to recognize the people who work so hard every day, everywhere in the world, who are the hands, feet, minds, and retailers behind this triumph:
Our brilliant retailers who are always optimizing for more beauty and efficiency in retail experiences – and are using Retail Pro to do it.
Our forward-thinking designers, architects, engineers, and developers who create and support Retail Pro, and our dedicated team of business staff who keep the company on an upward trajectory.
Our skilled Business Partners who labor day and night to serve the 9000 retailers worldwide entrusting their operations to Retail Pro.
Our innovative Strategic and Development Partners who augment Retail Pro with the plugins and integrations they create.
All striving together for opportunities to push beyond what we thought we could do yesterday. All uniting to make retail what it is today.
Globally, 91% of consumers said they’d recognize a brand for its authenticity by purchasing from, investing in or endorsing a purchase.
The number is less in the United States but is still an impressive 62% of respondents who say they’d be apt to purchase from a brand that they viewed as authentic.
Building your brand’s authenticity is, therefore, an important strategy for cultivating and engaging customers. A few items on the to-do list would include alignment, commitment and storytelling.
Align your brand and messaging
Align your business slogan with the way you actually how you do business.
Dust off your company slogan. Consider how it impacts your current customers, what it says to them about your brand and the ways in which it evokes an image.
Then, think about whether those answers line up with your business strategy.
For example, Audi’s slogan is “Truth in Engineering,” which makes little sense. That begs the question, are there lies in engineering?
Compare that to Ford’s “Go further,” which is appealing to customers who want to be adventurous, do a little more, etc. In addition, the company has stated the slogan performs double-duty, acting as a motivator for employees as well.
A slogan is not a vision statement, but the two should complement each other.
For example, Ford’s vision statement is: People working together as a lean, global enterprise to make people’s lives better through automotive and mobility leadership.
The slogan ties into the vision by underscoring the company’s resolve to “go further” for its employees and customers through exemplary leadership.
Commit to innovation
Your customers grow, change, move and evolve. To survive all that movement, your brand needs to keep up.
Understanding who your customers — are as well as their goals — is critical.
For instance, outdoor apparel company Patagonia was founded as a clothing and hardware shop for mountain climbers in 1973.
Today, Patagonia sells outdoor gear for a variety of hobbies and was instrumental in the development of a number of fabrics, notably Synchilla, which doesn’t pill, and Capilene polyester, which withstands the heat of a dryer better than polypropylene.
In addition, the company uses its popularity to raise awareness around environmental issues and climate change and also provides an in-depth history — including its trials and tribulations–on its website.
Tell your story
Like Patagonia, Yankee Candle’s history builds a story that is complementary to its brand.
The company’s founder was a broke teenager who melted crayons to create a Christmas candle for his mother.
A neighbor asked to buy it and thus began the company’s first sales cycle.
That one-man business gradually exchanged the crayons for paraffin and the operation moved from a residential kitchen to a former paper mill and then to a 1,600 sq. ft. factory store in 1983 which remains the company headquarters.
That loyalty to its roots coupled with a heartwarming inception story appeals to customers and sets the brand apart from its competition.
Being authentic, sharing history and providing transparency helps brands retain customers and improve loyalty.
As Millennials become a driving retail force, taking this kind of conversational, inclusive approach with marketing will be much more effective than traditional advertising strategies.
Pop-up stores are a popular way to freshen brick and mortar presence as well as to physically connect e-commerce retailers to their customers.
They have been around for a few years, but they have steadily become increasingly popular.
In fact, the recently defunct Toys R Us chain had reportedly exploring popups as a possible comeback before deciding finally to reimagine their in-store experience.
The strategy is a cost-effective way for many types of retailers to experiment in physical retail, from e-commerce giant Alibaba to brick and mortar veteran Macy’s.
Here’s how you can use pop-up shops’ popularity to boost your profits.
1: Collect data
Pop-up stores that are spawned from brick and mortars tend to be much smaller and more focused than their parents.
New brands or trendy items can easily be curated and then tested in a pop-up shop.
Once inside, shoppers movements can be tracked with video cameras, allowing retailers to learn what items piqued shoppers’ interests, and what didn’t.
2: Promote your cause
Popups are a great way to illustrate the power of cause marketing.
Retailers often have “pet” charities, and popups let retailers focus on that cause.
Specific merchandise is showcased and a portion of the profits are directed to the charity.
Press coverage is often also a welcome by-product of this strategy.
Customers expect their favor stores to align with charitable causes: 86% of consumers believe that companies should take a stand for social issues.
64% of those who said it’s ‘extremely important’ for a company to take a stand on a social issue said they were ‘very likely’ to purchase a product based on that commitment, according to the 2018 Shelton Group’s ‘Brands & Stands: Social Purpose is the New Black.‘
3: Connect with the neighborhood
E-commerce companies looking to form a local connection have found popups an ideal solution.
More than 100 brands participated, including L’Oréal, Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Lego.
4: Test new technology
Due to their small size, popups are the equivalent of a test market.
New POS software, smart shelves, and virtual reality solutions such as the “magic mirror,” which lets shoppers try on items such as sunglasses, cosmetics and apparel virtually.
Pop-up stores provide a bit of spark to brick and mortar retailers that may be unable or unwilling to shake things up inside their existing stores.
Popups’ focus on trends or charitable causes is an effective method to encourage brand loyalty as well as bring in new clientele.
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About Retail Pro International
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 25 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.