Seamless Middle East 2018 energized retail with omnichannel customer experience focus

 

 

Seamless Middle East 2018, was hosted last week at Dubai International Convention Centre, bringing together the industry’s leaders in commerce, fintech, retail and payments at the Middle East’s most inspiring summit and technology exhibition.

H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior inaugurated the show, where over 350 global players and entrepreneurs showcased their latest products and solutions.

Technologies included the market’s top players in mobile POS, inventory management, mobile payments, and analytics, as well as digital marketing with omnichannel retailing, blockchain and AI.

 

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Speaker sessions featured discussion on Middle East retail’s current trends and key opportunities, including the latest technologies for creating seamless omnichannel customer experiences.

Consumer expectations for their shopping experiences have shifted significantly toward convenience – shopping with retailers on their own terms. So retailers are acting fast to adapt operations and adopt modern technologies that will help them launch their customers experience strategy innovations.

 

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One of the biggest retail players exhibiting at the show, Retail Pro International, showcased its globally proven and completely localized, flexible mobile and desktop POS and inventory management software.

Retail Pro International was joined by some of its expert support partners from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE – Inditech, Retail Technologies, Retail Information Systems, and Crystal Mind. Together with solutions partners Xretail omnichannel platform, Qwikcilver gift cards, and Darwin fashion retail planning, Retail Pro International made a strong case for the end-to-end retail offering.

 

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Darwin fashion retail planner

 

“We are pleased to have been serving serious retailers with the complete Retail Pro software platform, which is built on 30 years’ experience in specialty retail, and designed specifically for their needs,” commented Retail Pro International CEO, Kerry Lemos. “We know retail, and we specialize in it to help retailers achieve their operational and customer experience strategies. We have been partnering with retailers across the region for many years and are proud to say that the emergence of mobility and unified commerce in the Arab world is well supported by Retail Pro.”

 

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Today, 9000 special retailers – with over 450 based in the Middle East – use Retail Pro to improve efficiency in their store operations and add globally on-trend capabilities.

The POS software is adapted for local KPIs and market knowledge, making Retail Pro the go-to solution for top retailers in the Middle East.

 

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With Retail Pro, retailers can create consistent, impactful customer experiences and improve efficiency at every store, as well as:

  • Achieve seamless omnichannel operations by integrating all their retail technologies with Retail Pro, including SAP and other ERPs, loyalty, marketing, accounting, payments, and any other software
  • Streamline IT management with one single software for mPOS and fixed POS, available on the retailer’s choice of iOS, Windows, and Android mobile, laptop, and desktop devices
  • Easily manage complex tax scenarios, as Retail Pro software already comes equipped with customizable settings for VAT methods and over 15 years of proven track record of supporting VAT, sliding tax, and other complex taxation methods prevalent across the globe
  • Get actionable data with real-time visibility into sales performance at all levels of business, whether single brand or multiple-concept franchising models
  • Increase sales and customer loyalty by issuing and tracking fully-integrated gift cards, gift certificates and store credit across the entire chain
  • And much more

 

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“Middle East retail is quickly moving toward modernization, and top performers are choosing proven software to help them reach the next level – Retail Pro,” said Retail Pro International VP of EMEAA, Bevin Manian. “With our expert value-added resellers supporting retailers’ technology needs, Middle East retail is well-positioned to build their exact strategy and achieve growth.”

Enterprise retailers like Al-Haddad, Robinsons, Puma, Under Armour, MUJI, Pepe Jeans, and Adidas – to name a few – are all building their unique retail strategies on the robust Retail Pro platform.

 

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Brick and Mortar Retail Is On Its Way to Becoming a Media Channel

 

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Many brick and mortar retailers have invested in providing customers exciting, engaging and satisfying shopping experiences in order to effectively compete against e-commerce.

Online retailers have done a remarkable job of offering shoppers the goods, pricing, and availability they want. The most recent figures available show continued strength for e-commerce sales: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, total e-commerce sales for 2016 were estimated at $394.9 billion, an increase of 15.1 percent (±1.8%) from 2015. Online orders increased 8.9% in the third quarter of 2016. 

Retailers with a base of operations in the physical world are now not only deftly entering the e-commerce arena, but they are leveraging their physical presence as well.

Brands becoming part of the in-store experience

Today, brick and mortar retail is on its way to becoming a media channel. In fact, some have suggested that retailers will not simply offer products for sale, but actually charge brands an upfront fee for the privilege of being a part of the in-store experience. So retailers might have a larger selection available online to customers, but a few, select lines are actually available to see “in person” on the showroom floor.

Think of brand boutiques in larger stores as a similar example of the strategy, but more curated, and the brands pay the retailer for the privilege.

Beacons used for personalized suggestive selling

Beacon technology is another way retailers can learn about shopper behavior.

These devices can learn where shoppers linger within a store and also provide shopper-specific information if a client agrees to opt-in to that type of data collection. That information can then be used by retailers to personalize the in-store experience, for example, suggesting available merchandise. 

Beacons can also remind shoppers of products they may have overlooked during the current shopping trip that they have previously bought. Beacons can also spotlight products a customer has previously expressed interest in, as the technology detects customers’ lingering in particular locations. 

Instead of associates spending all their time and energy on duties such as stocking shelves, counting inventory, cleaning, etc., they can instead focus on providing the best customer service possible. Managers can then invest more time learning how the store functions as a destination and how it can improve to exceed customer expectations.

Use Mobile In-Store To Combat Online Competition

 

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Do you have mobile technology that your associates can use to help find products in different store locations, or to order an out-of-stock selection? Great, but if that’s the only reason for the technology, you’re stuck in 2014.

To keep up with the times and the online competitors who give your shoppers ultimate control – and attract Millennial shoppers – share that technology to beef up their customer experience.

Here are 2 ways to do it.

 

1. Self-serve mobile

First off, it’s an ideal way for the shopper who’s a “loner” – the one who wants nothing to do with associates and shops online for a reason!

A retail touchscreen lets these clients self-serve entirely. Think of it as an update to kiosk technology. This is more user-friendly, mobile and definitely full featured: Customers can search for items and complete the buying process independently.

And, with permissions levels easily set by your retail IT group, you can rest secure knowing shoppers won’t accidentally wonder off into your confidential retail records.

 

2. Mobile clienteling & endless aisle

Second, mobile technology can not only be used to locate products by the salesperson, it can also be used by the customer and associate together, for some human suggestive selling.

The salesperson can use a touchscreen as a tool to share items that are in the “endless aisle,” – products available but not physically in the store. In addition, the touchscreen can be a useful aid in retail clienteling.

Although Millennials are known to be rather aloof with salespeople and prefer a do-it-yourself approach to shopping, they do share purchase decisions and seek input from friends and perceived experts when shopping.

So, an associate might find something within the “endless aisle” and share it with the customer by physically handing him or her the screen. Customers could then add the suggestion to a cart or wish list, or begin a consultative conversation with the salesperson if the product didn’t quite hit the mark. At best, it’s a sale; at worst, it’s a solid conversation starter.

 

Supporting in-house mobile technology allows retailers to adapt readily to shopping preferences of consumers accustomed to taking control over their experience with online shopping.

Many shoppers complain of overbearing associates – when those salespeople have actually been trained to do many of the behaviors the customer finds annoying. By providing a mobile option, retailers are offering an alternative that will facilitate customer engagement in-store,  yet has more of the independence many of today’s shoppers want.

 

Want to learn about mobile POS options from Retail Pro?

Learn more about Retail Pro Prism

 

 

 

NRF 2017: In-Store Personalization and Better Store Fulfillment

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In-store personalization has been slow in coming, but at this year’s NRF Big Show, vendors showcased technology that indicated the tide may be turning. And why not? Retailers are well aware that the ability to create a personalized experience for every customer could methodically lead shoppers to the point of purchase.

However, while retailers have embraced personalization techniques online, that success has not provided the impetus for similar in-store implementations. The benefits personalization offers e-commerce are known and envied by their brick and mortar counterparts. But there are myriad types of personalization – navigational and predictive, for example. Personalization can be based on third-party data, database segmentation, past purchase history, location and more. It’s complicated to start on the path to personalized selling and it doesn’t get easier.

That may change shortly, as the costs of the technology have decreased, third-party integrators are more fluent with the necessary equipment and software, and the benefits are becoming more evident. Shoppers, too, expect a unified commerce, tech-driven experience in which in-store mirrors online, and vice versa. Vendors are more motivated than ever to provide retailers with tools that will help them reflect the online experience inside a physical store. In addition, increasingly, those tools are easier to use and to integrate with existing systems.

One of the big challenges for retailers is determining how to make in-store personalization attractive to shoppers; some customers see the technology as overly intrusive. In its second annual “Creepy or Cool’ survey, RichRelevance found customers embraced personalization when it suited their needs.

“For the second year in the row, the study finds that shoppers think it is cool to get digital help finding relevant products and information – on their own terms when they choose to engage,” said Diane Kegley, CMO of RichRelevance. “However, they are creeped out by digital capabilities that identify and track without a clear value offered in return.”

However, it’s difficult for retailers to understand exactly what shoppers’ expectations are at any given time because they are shifting and evolving. To address that, part of the focus of this year’s NRF was the underscoring of the need for retailers to get back to basics and to develop scalable, repeatable and reliable processes that support their enterprise order management capabilities. A solid foundation built on those principles is likely to be more responsive to constantly changing – and expanding – shopper expectations.

Much of the ordering technology that is currently available to retailers is focused on the flow of product from one channel to the next. Understanding and pleasing the customer, unfortunately, has until now been simply the result of having solid ordering technology. The customer experience is largely an afterthought.

Many of the vendors at NRF believe that consideration of customer satisfaction and their preferences will move to the forefront this year. While order systems must be accurate and efficient as well as cost-effective, those characteristics are no longer a differentiator in retail. Instead, they are a requirement. What will distinguish the great retailers are those that can receive orders and provide internal inventory visibility across all sales channels as well as track customer satisfaction with store fulfillment.

Although efficiency and process are obviously important to retailers, personalization offers the potential of increased sales as well as customer loyalty. People enjoy patronizing businesses that know their tastes and provide that personal touch. In addition, retailers can further improve the customer experience by providing insight into inventory and delivery, which in turn helps the customer feel empowered. As retailers continue to blend the right mix of product, service and ordering flexibility, they encourage a sense of empowerment that enhances the customer experience.

How to Unify Commerce

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Last week we invited you to meet with us at NRF to discover optimized retail with Retail Pro.

Let’s count down the final weeks before NRF with tips on HOW to optimize your retail operations, in step with market trends and proven strategies of retailers using Retail Pro.

Then – book your NRF meeting to talk with us in person about how Retail Pro can help you optimize and unify your commerce profitably.

Book my NRF meeting now

 

Omnichannel Retailers Use Supply Chain to Lower Shipping Costs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Going Omnichannel?

You know it’s critical to create a consistent customer experience across all sales channels – but you can’t afford for your omnichannel efforts to be seen as omni-failures. 

Get this whitepaper to discover how to simplify omnichannel!

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Customers Welcome Flexible Shopping Options

Ecommerce alone may not perform as well as omnichannel offerings.

Ecommerce alone may not perform as well as omnichannel offerings.

It’s a fact of retail life: Out of stocks can cost retailers not only one sale, but also future sales. Once the customer is disappointed, he or she may never walk through that business’ doors again. The sale is gone, along with any store loyalty. That’s why it’s critical for retailers to implement omnichannel strategies that let customers shop for and take delivery of products in the ways that fit their lifestyles.

According to a new report from AGC Partners, “The Retail Industry Disruptors: Specialty Online Retailers and Marketplaces Take Center Stage,” most shoppers welcome technology that lets them take advantage of retailers’ omnichannel strategies.

A solid omnichannel strategy lets shoppers buy online, buy in-store or do a combination: buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS), for example. Increasingly, customers are “taking control” of their shopping experiences. They are well researched, both in terms of what products they want to buy, and where they want to purchase. They are “smart shoppers,” who more than ever before are able to dictate how they want to purchase merchandise.

The report notes that now, shoppers are looking for what seems to be the inverse of BOPIS: They want in-store mobile technology that allows them to order a product from a retailer’s e-commerce site, if it is not in stock at the store. 64% of consumers responded that they are more likely to frequent stores that offer such technology, and 73% said that such an offering provides a “superior” customer experience.

Retail is an enormous, $22 trillion market worldwide. Right now, online retail only makes up 7.4% of that total. Retailers that can “rescue” an order that cannot be filled at a physical location by routing it to its e-commerce site, will increase revenue and build customer appreciation. In addition, online sales will grow. A sale is a sale, no matter where it originates or to where it is delivered. As long as a retailer provides the channel, customers have no reason to seek the item elsewhere.

Still, a number of hurdles need to be overcome, according to AGC:

  • Only 33% of all U.S. retailers can order out-of-stock products via a mobile device
  • Only 26% offer free Wi-Fi
  • Only 12% can have customers scan products and have them shipped home

That represents an enormous opportunity for retailers and their technology partners. Increased shopping on mobile devices is likely to drive overall growth in online retail. And many shoppers, particularly millennials, enjoy using smartphones and other mobile devices to shop: Of 2,000 millennials surveyed by Coupofy, 28% reported preferring to shop on their smartphone than on their computers. Therefore, by implementing solutions that allow customers to be flexible in how they shop, where they take delivery – and even make returns – retailers can grow revenue as well as customer satisfaction.

 

Going omnichannel?

You know it’s critical to create a consistent customer experience across all sales channels – but you can’t afford for your omnichannel efforts to be seen as omni-failures. 

Get this whitepaper to discover how to simplify omnichannel!

Get whitepaper

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fast Shipping: The Next Free Shipping?

 

Free shipping is a big perk for online shoppers, but fast shipping may be equally as appealing.

Free shipping is a big perk for online shoppers, but fast shipping may be equally as appealing.

 

When your business can’t afford to offer free shipping, consider offering affordable fast shipping instead.

While it’s true that free shipping not only attracts customers but also makes them more likely to buy (and remain loyal), it’s a strategy that doesn’t work for every retailer. It adds cost to the bottom line, and not all businesses can add it to the cost of goods and pass it along to customers while still remaining competitive.

So, how to compete against behemoths that have the resources to absorb shipping costs?

The option, like many things in retail, is to offer a benefit to an alternative that is desirable to customers, but which may not initially be their first choice. So, say a shopper’s inclination is to save some money by not paying for shipping. If that’s not offered, he or she may well look elsewhere to make a purchase. Right at that point where the purchasing decision is being made, the retailer must provide an attractive alternative.

Fast shipping addresses purchasers’ need for immediate gratification. Receiving an order quickly also delights the consumer in a way that could encourage purchasing and loyalty. That is particularly true for luxury items where a purchaser may be more interested in getting the item with immediacy: While free shipping is cost effective, it is often slow.

It’s possible to position fast shipping to be as alluring as free shipping.

How?

Offer ship to store
Retailers are learning that shoppers are increasingly taking advantage of click and collect, or ship to store programs. The convenience of shopping at home and ordering lets shoppers first locate and then “lock in” purchases. Some stores let customers pick up merchandise within a few hours, others will send email notifications when the product is ready. The strategy is appealing to busy customers who may not have time to physically browse stores’ inventories. Ordering can be done any time of day, and receipt of merchandise revolves around their schedules. Retailers can reap the benefits of added on, spur-of-the-moment purchases when the customer arrives to gather the order. Click and collect requires substantial investment by retailers to provide up-to-date, accurate inventory that is highly visible to shoppers.

Partner with UPS and…7-Eleven?
This strategy is similar to what Amazon has done with lockers. Stores partner with UPS, which locates Access Point lockers (usually) outside and accessible 24 hours a day at convenience stores and similar locations. E-tailers can incorporate the locker delivery addresses into their checkout processes to give consumers a local delivery location. The benefit for the convenience stores is an increase in foot traffic, and potentially Slurpee sales.

Oh, thank heaven.

 

Online Still Winning Customers from Brick and Mortars

 

 

Omnichannel retailers will have their work cut out for them this year, as they attempt to entice shoppers with both their web and brick and mortar presence in order to compete effectively against online-only stores.

A recent study by Wipro found that when consumers browse online and in a store, many opt to ultimately make the purchase online: 1/3 of both U.K. and U.S. consumers reported purchasing in that manner.

‘There is no doubt consumers are interacting with brands across both the online and in-store channels,” said Avinash Rao, Global Head, Wipro Digital. “But omnichannel retailers are missing a big opportunity to capture the 1/3 of consumers who say they are researching in store but leave to buy online.”

 

What’s driving e-commerce success?

The online shopping trend is being driven by 3 factors: greater convenience, better prices and ease of use.

Online pure play retailers are the big winners of this shift: 44% of U.K.  and 47% of U.S. shoppers report doing more than 1/2 their online shopping on such sites.

What should concern brick and mortar retailers is the finding that 1 out of every 4 shoppers are not even considering brick and mortar retailers’ websites.

Sounds like retailers need to leverage the one thing they have that those pure play online stores do not: location, location, location.

 

So how can bricks compete with clicks?

“Omnichannel retailers need to invest more in understanding and improving the customer experience journey to entice shoppers to spend more with them in-store,” said Rao. “Customer journey engineering as an approach to understanding, designing and delivering relevant and differentiated customer experiences across all channels and touch points will help retailers reverse the trend and avoid a future when consumers are no longer visiting their stores.”

Competitive pressures can be a motivating force to drive retailers to provide a differentiated shopping experience.

E-commerce retailers understand how customers want to shop online and deliver that experience well; brick and mortars need to learn what drives customers to buy from them, and capitalize on those strengths.

If retailers can determine the source of dissatisfaction and not just fix it, but turn it around into an enjoyable experience, that can turn consumer indifference into delight.

 

 

 

How platform tech helps you see retail customer needs

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Your retail software runs through oceans of discrete and inferred data at every moment.

  • Point of sale transactional data
  • E-commerce sales data
  • Browsing behavior data

In its disconnected state, the data is useless – just a torrent of numbers, sales figures, totals, and percentages. It tells you very little about the people who shop with you.

Many retailers today are still using software that keeps their data segregated by channel, which means they can’t see how the same customer is interacting with your online store versus your physical store. It means they can’t see whether their promotions are reaching their targeted customer to increase their shopping frequency.

That is what we at Retail Pro International call retail chaos.

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But when those various data points are unified, they create a single, 360° view of your customer – the numbers become an individual with actual likes, loves, and needs.

It also gives you a total, 360° view of your target customer base as a whole – which gives you a more complete understanding of how you can better meet and anticipate their needs with the products you sell.

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Platform software like Retail Pro is different from your average retail tech.

A platform is a digital foundation that connects data from every point at which it’s generated, including:

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  • Your mobile and stationary POS software
  • Your product planning, assortment, and merchandising software
  • Your business intelligence, loyalty, marketing, digital receipts applications
  • Your payments processor
  • Emerging tech like beacons, RFID, and footfall
  • Your e-commerce data
  • Your in-store endless aisle kiosk
  • And any other tools or applications you use

This means that:

  • You can see where all of your inventory is (at the warehouse, in transit, across the globe, on the shelf, in the bin, out of stock)
  • Your brick-and-mortar stores can see inventory availability at different locations
  • Your e-commerce store can see and use inventory from your physical stores
  • Your loyalty applications can tap into transactional data for initiatives targeted to a particular customer’s buying habits
  • Your marketing team can send emails personalized with a customer’s likes and dislikes
  • You can package slow and fast moving items for promotions across channels

…which means you get a complete picture of your customer’s interaction with you – and you retail smarter.

#stopretailchaos