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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.
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.
The goal was to infuse the market with insights on digital transformation processes accelerating companies around the world.
Speakers included top brands like Under Armour, Grupo Martí, Aldo Conti.
Technology experts Grupo Ambit and Retail Pro International also shared their experiences on marketing trends, omnichannel strategies, customer experience and best practices for better performance in ecommerce.
Retail Pro International CEO, Kerry Lemos, offered his vision on better customer experiences through unified commerce, emphasizing that retailers need to go beyond the omnichannel goal, expanding their tactics to maximize ROI with better data-driven store management.
The audience from different industries took notes from Lemos, who gave insights on improving operations and acting on shoppers’ demands to respond quickly to industry change and increase profitability.
Under Armour shared their insights on improving brand performance and creating seamless shopping experiences across ecommerce sites and marketplaces.
The Aldo Conti brand shared its tactics and experiences during the “HotSale” period, a season akin to Cyber Monday, where thousands of companies in Mexico create huge discounts exclusively in ecommerce.
Grupo Martí, the leading retailer of sporting gear in Mexico, shared the story of how they began the journey toward digital transformation and its importance for the CEO’s strategic plans.
The sports retailer talked about breaking out of cloistered mind-sets and reallocating investments for future digital efforts.
Undoubtedly, events like this, hosted out by VTEX, are creating an increasingly powerful retail community that is changing the landscape toward unifying commerce in Mexico.
Note to retailers: Be willing to disrupt the ways you sell products to customers.
That was one of the key messages at the National Retail Federation Big Show 2019 in New York City earlier this month.
How can disruption work to a retailer’s advantage, when common sense says customers appreciate stability and a sense of continuity when shopping at their favorite stores?
Sometimes, familiarity breeds contempt, as the old saying goes.
Don’t be afraid to try something new, particularly if research backs up your instinct for change is correct.
Here are three ways retailers can use disruption to their advantage to delight the customer.
1: Be human
Many retailers have adopted technology that helps them respond more efficiently to business needs, but they should also be meeting customer needs effectively.
Break away from a technology for technology’s sake mindset.
Every store’s competitive advantage is its staff.
From founder to sales associate, those are the people who set the tone and the sale environment.
The customer wants to be uniquely known in a way that is meaningful to him or her, said Lindsey Roy, chief marketing officer of Hallmark Greetings, during her closing keynote for the NRF’s Student Program.
Customers are sensitive to a brand’s authenticity and they notice its in-person interactions as well as those through social media.
While technology can fulfill some vital company tasks such as inventory requests, point-of-sale needs and logistical information, providing a meaningful human contact is crucial to nurturing a customer connection.
Customers should feel as though a retailer values their business enough to provide an associate to assist when necessary.
2: Get physical
Brick and mortar stores are becoming important as a way for retailers to combine online and in-store experiences to engage meaningfully with today’s consumers.
Digital brands are now opening physical locations; offering an in-store experience is a key retail differentiator.
Despite some very convincing chatbots in the e-commerce world, shoppers enjoy the rush of adrenaline they feel when they find the just-right product in a physical store.
Even Amazon, the creator of the ultimate product recommendation engine, is acknowledging the importance of having a physical presence with its launch of Amazon 4-star retail stores.
So far, the Amazon 4-Star locations offer top-rated products, curated for each specific location.
They are designed with the “discovery shopper” in mind.
Encouraging that sense of wonder in shoppers strengthens the bond between retailer and customer and fundamentally promotes loyalty.
3: Use your data
Today’s retail needs technology, but it should largely be implemented to improve how associates interact with customers.
By collecting and aggregating customer information, stores can provide richer experiences for shoppers.
Retailers that don’t correctly identify customer pain points run the risk of rolling out expensive technology that doesn’t enhance the shopping experience.
Technology is not a substitute for the human touch.
A recent survey by PWC found the payoffs for valued, great experiences are significant: up to a 16% price premium on products and services, in addition to increased loyalty.
Artificial intelligence can gather data using chatbots, for instance, and then use that information to assist employees who are busy working to satisfy customers’ needs.
Looking to improve inventory productivity and control?
Join Retail Pro International and Management One for this 3-part Retailer Success webinar series on August 8th, October 10th, and December 12th to see principles and tactics that will help you manage inventory better and compete profitably.
Getting a single, 360° view of your customers and stock performance from your retail POS is crucial and retailors are thinking through integration of mPOS with ePOS for greater flexibility and data unity.
Get them into your customers’ hands faster – by integrating all your retail software for end-to-end visibility into customer information and stock performance that helps you improve speed-to-market in your production cycles.
Dedagroup Stealth Retail ERP provides luxury and fashion retailors with a modern technology platform that enables them to run an efficient, responsive and profitable omnichannel business, built on insights about their customers’ needs.
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.