How NFTs are Influencing the Retail Market

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.

Ralph Lauren has been selling branded digital apparel in virtual worlds such as Zepeto, while Dolce & Gabbana has auctioned millions of dollars in NFT-based digital couture.

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.


The Opportunities in Your Data

Modern graphic interface shows massive information of business sale report, profit chart and customer data analysis on screen monitor.

You’ve collected and stored all that information. Now it’s time to use it.

One of the great advantages of having an online store is the customer data that can be generated.

In addition to demographics, online reporting can provide insights regarding seasonality, product trends, and customer behavior.

Data Analytics are important and should be applied to every aspect of business to get the most out of the data you collect. Retail Pro collects data from your POS and unifies it with your online data in one view for a complete picture. Customer analytics takes the transactional data collected and crunches those numbers to help make sales, marketing, and product development decisions.

But while many e-commerce retailers use that information to improve customer experience, ironically, online sales data can also be used to help determine where physical stores would thrive.  

Retailers are discovering opportunities to open brick and mortar stores in new markets based on data gathered during the past two years of focus on e-commerce.

Customer profiles informing locations

store associate helping customer with data collected

Sales reports are chockful of information about markets that have driven online sales, which hints at the possibility of opening physical stores in those locations.

Online retailers use sales data to assess their performance and predict future trends, as well as understand their customers.

Because of their familiarity with data analytics, using customer data for real estate site selection is unsurprising.  Familiar retail brands, including Madison Reed, UntuckIt, and Casper are following the lead of retailers such as Warby Parker and Amazon and opening physical locations.

But there’s more to this science than mapping sites to areas with the most customers. Retailers also need lifestyle information, which is easily determined by their purchase histories.

Once the best customers are identified, businesses can use those profiles to identify where similar consumers live and shop.

The value of each potential customer can be determined for any potential store location.

Creating separate customer profiles for your online and brick-and-mortar customers helps to identify differences in the types of customers each channel attracts. In addition, it will also help determine how many customers in a potential location are likely to shop online versus in-store.

OptCulture for Retail Pro gives you omnichannel abilities in your marketing operations so you can understand the data behind both online and in-store transactions. It also gives you the ability to reach customers wherever their preferred touchpoint is: mobile app, text messages, push notifications, emails or digital receipts.

Future of brick & mortar in omnichannel landscape

store worker loading open trunk with curbside pickup order

Pre-pandemic, retailers were focused on improving eCommerce.

Those ahead of the curve and with physical stores were enhancing their buy online, pickup in-store (“BOPIS”) offerings. Few offered curbside pickup.

Fast forward two years and every retailer – from Main Street USA to the global conglomerates — have changed the way they do business to reduce customer friction.

Omnichannel operations are now necessary to keep up with the fast-changing retail landscape, and Retail Pro Prism makes it easy to achieve and customize the way your business does omnichannel.

Today’s retailers are focused on gathering and analyzing customer data to offer products and services customers want, whether that’s online, in a convenient nearby physical location, or using a combination of both.

Curbside pickup has become an extremely popular method that is unlikely to disappear, and Retail Pro has mobile POS options available on Windows, Apple and Android devices that make it even easier to provide flexibility to shoppers.

In so doing, they’ve blurred the lines between where online retail stops and where in-person shopping begins.

The journeys have converged, and brick and mortar stores have arisen like a Phoenix to become an attractive growth channel.


NRF 2022: Simplifying the omnichannel purchase journey

Woman hands bag of various items of dishes to retailer. Beautiful woman shopping tableware in supermarket. Manager helps a costumer with returns

Omnichannel is about making it easy for customers to buy from you, get their products from you, and make returns.

A shopper’s purchase journey goes through multiple stages and retailers must think through the omnichannel experience at each phase.

  • PRODUCT RESEARCH PHASE How do the online and in-store experiences complement each other to help shoppers get a tangible feel for the products they’re exploring?
  • PRODUCT PURCHASE PHASE How can we best simplify the path to purchase to win more sales and avoid losing customers due to out of stocks or poor experiences?
  • PRODUCT FULFILLMENT PHASE What are cost-effective ways to get customers what they’ve ordered?
  • PRODUCT RETURN PHASE How can we streamline the omnichannel returns experience for shoppers?

Request your consultation now >


Streamline omnichannel orders & fulfillment with Retail Pro Prism

POS kiosk with orange/coral background featuring woman laying down wearing pearls and orange tinted sunglasses

Improve efficiency in operations needed to support your omnichannel retail environment for more efficient omnichannel operations.

  • Connect all points of purchase for efficient order management and fulfillment
  • Execute on BOPIS and curbside pickup with mobile POS
  • Keep accurate inventory counts with integrated, affordable RIOT RFID for Retail Pro
  • See inventory in the warehouse, in transit, in the back room, or on the sales floor

Request your consultation now >

NRF 2022: Connecting your physical and digital store experience

Building an omnichannel strategy brings up myriad details to think through:

  • Can customers see store stock availability online?
  • Do both e-commerce and in-store purchases score points for loyalty?
  • Can we tap into our inventory sold elsewhere for an in-store endless aisle?
  • What is the process for restocking returns from online purchases?
  • How will we handle picking and fulfillment for orders placed in-store?
  • How do we improve shopper experiences with what we’re learning from our data?

Request your consultation now >

Request your consultation now >


Retail Pro Prism: Platform POS & retail management technology

tablet and desktop POS

Take control of omnichannel store operations with flexible Retail Pro Prism POS and retail management software.

  • Get total data visibility across the enterprise worldwide
  • Centrally manage and regionally tailor all your subsidiaries and locations
  • Go global with localizations for any world language, currency, and tax structure
  • 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
  • Get full POS functionality on the desktop or mobile device of your choice

Request your consultation now >

6 Ways to connect your physical and digital store operations with Retail Pro Prism for better omnichannel experiences

The struggle is real for customers hoping to take some of the legwork out of shopping by researching products online before heading to a store – only to make the drive and discover the product they decided on isn’t available, as it is in omnichannel experiences they have at other stores. 

For retailers, such deflating experiences can mean a loss of loyal customers as well as a damaged reputation.

As shoppers become more strapped for leisure time and less willing to browse for hours just for fun, connecting a physical and digital store experience is increasingly critical for retail longevity.

It’s all about what some refer to as Retail FOMO: That is, customers’ fear of missing out on things they want, and retailers’ fear of missing a sale.

Here are 6 ways you can connect your physical and digital store experiences with Retail Pro Prism POS and retail management software to remove some of the friction shoppers are experiencing while retailers are building their omnichannel strategies.

1. Show in-store stock availability online

Research suggests that roughly a quarter of customers won’t visit a store if they aren’t sure what they are looking for is available. In addition, more than half will leave a store disappointed if they can’t find the item they had in mind.

One way to avoid that is by showing customers stock availability online. That way e-window shoppers can be assured that what they are looking for is available when they visit.

And, in the unfortunate case that a particular item is sold moments before a shopper arrives, enabling in-store ordering for free home delivery is one way to compensate the customer.

Retail Pro Prism has accessible APIs and hundreds of Plugins and integrations on the Retail Pro App Market to help retailers connect their ecommerce with inventory information in Retail Pro.

The ability to straightforwardly integrate any technology retailers already use (or might choose to use in the future) gives retailers control over decisions like which platform will be the data master through which they’ll reference and report on stock availability and needs across all their store locations, including ecommerce.

2. Show off your full selection with endless aisle

Endless aisle can accommodate retailers that, often because of a small physical footprint, can’t stock a wide range of products.

The technology lets customers virtually browse or order a wide range of products that are either out of stock or not sold in-store and have them shipped to the store or their home. 

Because Retail Pro Prism is browser-based software and not solely a mobile or desktop app, retailers can run Retail Pro both on their desktop computer or laptop at the till – or on an iPad or other mobile device so that sales associates can access inventory information when helping customers on the sales floor.

So when a product is not available at this store, sales associates can easily show customers the item images for the product they want and place an order for them, saving the sale.

3. Give them an occasion to shop in-store

Happy couple looking at big shop display

In addition to providing a better customer experience, providing inventory information drives customers into stores, opening the door to additional purchases.

Impulse buys are more common for shoppers at brick-and-mortar retailers, because those stores can influence customer shopping experiences by tailoring layout and staffing decisions based on their clientele.

According to A.T. Kearney, 40 percent of customers make unplanned purchases at physical stores and spend more money, compared to 25 percent of online shoppers.

4. Reward their loyalty across channels

Aligning physical and digital stores also means ensuring that shopping benefits are equivalent.

Loyalty rewards should be earned in the same manner, for example, and coupons should be valid online and in-person. Being a rewards member should be the ultimate frictionless experience.

Using an integrated loyalty platform like AppCard or OptCulture with Retail Pro Prism not only saves your associates and customers time at checkout when handling loyalty, but also ties in the POS transaction data with your loyalty platform so you can run campaigns based on actual purchase data.

5. Work out the kinks for online returns in-store

Despite the best intentions of retailers and customers, sometimes merchandise must be returned. How a retailer handles this onerous process with the customer is reflective of its overall commitment to customer service.

By working through the kinks for in-store returns of online purchases, retailers can offer their shoppers a less stressful initial purchasing experience, because they are assured that if they are unsatisfied, returning is a simple process.

Because all inventory items (whether online or in-store) would have been created in Retail Pro Prism and then used to populate a retailer’s online inventory when integrated, retailers will be able to accept the online inventory without the backend hassle of accounting for online versus in-store purchase origin.

Once the item is returned, it can be assimilated into the physical store inventory, accounted for and ready to be resold.

6. Help your store staff get to know your omnichannel shoppers

When a customer begins a journey online, or has a history of shopping through a retailer’s online channel, that data can and should be used to personalize the in-store shopping experience.

By analyzing and connecting transactional data from their Retail Pro POS into one holistic view, retailers can learn how often a customer shops, what they purchased, where they are from, how much they spend across different channels, and whether they are new or repeat buyers.

That can help inform associates in the physical store as they engage with shoppers, as well as help form future decisions for an omnichannel product and customer engagement strategy, especially when retailers use an integrated business intelligence and visual analytics solution with the rich data they collect at the Retail Pro Prism point of sale.

The information conduit flows both ways now, not just as a funnel into one channel or another, so retailers can fix broken customer journeys and convert more sales, improve efficiency and increase loyalty.

Bringing both worlds together – digital and physical – will mean some parts of the journey will still have bumps along the way.

But addressing the operational challenges in each of these areas will help retailers smooth some of the friction that arises as they build their omnichannel strategy.

Going to the

2022 Retail Technology Show?

26-27 April 2022 | Olympia, London | Stand 6e28

About Pinnaca Retail & IT Solutions

Founded in 2015, Pinnaca Retail & IT Solutions is a family-run business offering retail solutions, specialist management consultancy and IT services. Our company is UK based, with offices in London, and a client base across the globe.

We work with all levels of business to define and develop strategies focused on our clients’ needs and objectives. Our tailored solutions are developed and optimised to fulfil your key business demands.

Over time we have added to our 20 years’ experience in the field and built up a team of experts, with a wide range of experience and in-depth knowledge, who are eager to help your business succeed and grow.

About DataScan Retail Systems

Datascan Retail Systems are a leading UK and European supplier of solutions to the retail sector, from small businesses through to mid-tier and international enterprises. We have vast experience in the analysis and design of retail IT and the implementation of EPOS and Stock Control Systems and provide all the services required to plan, implement and maintain an effective Retail Management System. We are committed to match the Retail Pro System to the exact needs of the retailer, utilising our development, training and help desk teams.

About RIOT

RIOT is turning traditional RFID solutions for retail on their head with RIOT Insight​. Insight is RIOT’s real-time inventory accuracy service offered as a simple but powerful add-on to a retailer’s existing systems. 100% inventory accuracy to support Omni-channel is now yours on demand.

About PAR

PAR Technology Corporation provides industry leading software and hardware solutions that are always there when you need them but never in your way.

  • State of the Art Point of Sale Systems.
  • Tablets and Portable Devices.

About XRetail

XRETAIL is a Global leader in Unified Commerce solutions, with a prime mission to empower enterprise retailers by helping to boost their sales and retain their clients. Through state-of-the-art technologies, integrations, and solutions, the XRETAIL platform creates unified sales channels including eCommerce, Mobile commerce, and Social commerce. XRETAIL’s Cloud-based platform creates seamless end-to-end solutions allowing enterprise retailers to blend brick-and-mortar and digital retailing into one unified platform, with notably enhanced customer experience both online and offline.

About Loqate

Combining leading technology with the richest data, Loqate provides several solutions to help bring businesses across the globe closer to their customers:

Address Validation
A faster, easier way to capture and verify addresses in real-time for your online forms and checkouts.

Email validation
Increase email delivery rates, boost customer marketing and reduce bogus registration when you verify email addresses upfront.

Mobile & phone validation
Take the guesswork out of reaching customers. Capture the right phone number, mobile or landline at the point of entry.

Data maintenance
The foundation of any customer management strategy, Loqate’s cleansing and maintenance software helps build lasting customer relationships.

Lux Customers & the Omnichannel Experience

In the aftermath of COVID-19 restrictions, even luxury brands have ventured into the world of e-commerce.

Many leading brands are taking the best of their existing bricks-and-mortar customer service and applying that to enhance their online offerings — as well as using digital tools to enhance the in-store experience.

Drivers of luxury shopping

Beautiful middle age woman working in jewelry store. She holding and showing expensive watch to male buyer.

The luxury shopper of yesterday embraced conspicuous consumption and fashion, often incorporating a brand’s name overtly into its design.

Today, a company’s commitment to sustainability and social awareness are more important to the new generation of these shoppers than a particular brand name.

However, one thing has remained the same: Luxury doesn’t have to be rational. It can be pure fun with little or no practicality.

Luxury shoppers tend to make a purchase to make themselves or others feel good, rather than because they require the item.

Their purchases can be impulsive or for gift-giving; a Deloitte study found that 20.5% of millennials bought a high-end item for a particular occasion and 18.5% bought one as a “treat.” 

Take the Louis Vuitton skate shoe for instance – or the diamond and ruby studded Victoria’s Secret bra. How could any data support creating such items? But even if only a handful are ever produced — that rarity is part of what makes them luxurious.

Luxury is about a vision that totally transcends data.

Luxury omnichannel experiences

Attractive young woman jewelry store clerc smiling talking to her customer helping her choosing items.

Luxury is fantastic at cultivating extraordinary customer experiences beyond the product and making people feel good about their purchases.

With COVID, many luxury retailers began selling online for the first time in their history. Luxury has sat out from the ecommerce game for years, since a major part of what makes a luxury experience luxurious is the personal, human touch that surrounds the client with readiness to anticipate and exceed expectations.

Now, with nearly two years of online selling under their hand-crafted cowhide belts, luxury retailers are applying their creativity in reinventing digital experiences both online and in-store.

Bootmaker and Retail Pro user Lucchese is an example of a luxury brand offering clienteling online to replicate the personal nature of in-person shopping.

The company offers chat – “live shopping” – that enables a customer to connect with an in-store associate for virtual personal shopping, fit advice and style recommendations.

For a shoemaker that makes every pair by hand, having one-on-one help helps ease concerns, particularly about fit.

Retail Pro technology for a personal touch

To a large degree, success will be dependent on luxury brands taking the opportunity to extend the personal touch to both the online and in-store experiences, based on previous interactions and reflecting the quality of interaction their high-profile customers experience in-store.

It’s omnichannel taken to the next level: Offering that personal touch regardless of where the purchase is made.

In this arena, there’s a valuable opportunity to use technology to recognize enthusiasts and online customers when they come to pick up or tailor their online luxury purchase in-store, and provide exemplary service that’s personalized, relevant and unique.

As much as customer engagement strategy differs between brands, one thing is consistent across the board: the POS is still the one thing that never fails to bring sales associate and customer together.

And last impressions matter.

Using Retail Pro Prism on mobile devices frees your sales associates from the cash wrap so they can more meaningfully engage with shoppers on your sales floor and learn about them.

There is no better way to personalize a customer’s experience than by actually getting personal and asking questions. What are they looking for? What’s the occasion? Can we help you find something to go along with the item you’re trying on?

That kind of human connection through clienteling makes customers feel like they’re shopping with a friend, and it builds emotional attachment to a luxury brand.

Clienteling data not only enhances the shopping experience for those in physical stores but is also used by associates to reach out to customers between visits.

Associates with access to customers’ spouses’ birthdates, for example, might place a well-timed call detailing the latest merchandise that would make a great gift.

Such focused, one-to-one outreach is extraordinarily effective in attracting high-value customers.

Going to the

2022 Retail Technology Show?

26-27 April 2022 | Olympia, London | Stand 6e28

About Pinnaca Retail & IT Solutions

Founded in 2015, Pinnaca Retail & IT Solutions is a family-run business offering retail solutions, specialist management consultancy and IT services. Our company is UK based, with offices in London, and a client base across the globe.

We work with all levels of business to define and develop strategies focused on our clients’ needs and objectives. Our tailored solutions are developed and optimised to fulfil your key business demands.

Over time we have added to our 20 years’ experience in the field and built up a team of experts, with a wide range of experience and in-depth knowledge, who are eager to help your business succeed and grow.

About DataScan Retail Systems

Datascan Retail Systems are a leading UK and European supplier of solutions to the retail sector, from small businesses through to mid-tier and international enterprises. We have vast experience in the analysis and design of retail IT and the implementation of EPOS and Stock Control Systems and provide all the services required to plan, implement and maintain an effective Retail Management System. We are committed to match the Retail Pro System to the exact needs of the retailer, utilising our development, training and help desk teams.

About RIOT

RIOT is turning traditional RFID solutions for retail on their head with RIOT Insight​. Insight is RIOT’s real-time inventory accuracy service offered as a simple but powerful add-on to a retailer’s existing systems. 100% inventory accuracy to support Omni-channel is now yours on demand.

About PAR

PAR Technology Corporation provides industry leading software and hardware solutions that are always there when you need them but never in your way.

  • State of the Art Point of Sale Systems.
  • Tablets and Portable Devices.

About XRetail

XRETAIL is a Global leader in Unified Commerce solutions, with a prime mission to empower enterprise retailers by helping to boost their sales and retain their clients. Through state-of-the-art technologies, integrations, and solutions, the XRETAIL platform creates unified sales channels including eCommerce, Mobile commerce, and Social commerce. XRETAIL’s Cloud-based platform creates seamless end-to-end solutions allowing enterprise retailers to blend brick-and-mortar and digital retailing into one unified platform, with notably enhanced customer experience both online and offline.

About Loqate

Combining leading technology with the richest data, Loqate provides several solutions to help bring businesses across the globe closer to their customers:

Address Validation
A faster, easier way to capture and verify addresses in real-time for your online forms and checkouts.

Email validation
Increase email delivery rates, boost customer marketing and reduce bogus registration when you verify email addresses upfront.

Mobile & phone validation
Take the guesswork out of reaching customers. Capture the right phone number, mobile or landline at the point of entry.

Data maintenance
The foundation of any customer management strategy, Loqate’s cleansing and maintenance software helps build lasting customer relationships.

Why in-store fulfillment is a must for retail & how to pull it off with less resource strain

Photo by: https://burst.shopify.com/@matthew_henry

Today’s customers are looking for a seamless purchasing experience, whether that’s in-store, online, or a combination of both. But the so-called “last mile” — the time it takes for a shipment to reach a customer —can be a thorn in the side of a retailer. Enter in-store fulfillment. 

Benefits of in-store fulfillment

curbside fulfillment - girl  wearing mask holding shopping bags sitting against her open trunk

Mounting shipping costs are costly for retailers who are reluctant to pass them along to customers who are looking for the best price for every item, as well as free shipping. 

By offering in-store fulfillment, the delivery process can be seamless as customers choose from curbside delivery, click and collect, and buy online/return in-store options. 

Employees can address customer requests in real-time, monitor inventory, and deliver attentive service.

In-store fulfillment means retailers no longer have to route products exclusively to a warehouse.

Nordstrom and Kohl’s are excellent examples of putting the strategy into practice. 

They can fulfill orders from the store closest to the customer’s location, leveraging their stores as fulfillment centers and shipping orders directly to customers, reducing costs and speeding up deliveries.

Requirements for in-store fulfillment

sales associate executes sale fullfullment using Retail Pro Prism POS

While the benefits are clear, implementing in-store fulfillment requires an omnichannel strategy in which inventory data is tightly integrated across ecommerce and the in-store POS

Ship-from-store, ship-to-store, and in-store pickup can then be handled with one solution that optimizes in-store inventory usage and reduces the time and cost for fulfilling online orders.

Perhaps the most daunting part of the process is getting a 360° view of inventory by connecting data from e-commerce sales with in-store transactions. 

Determining the correct timing for syncing online data and orders with in-store POS is vital; solutions can be configured to sync data at any interval, including real-time, hourly, nightly, or at other intervals that make sense for a retailer’s operations and network capacity.

If syncing lags, inventory can fall behind, and there’s a risk of selling out of products that have already been committed to online orders. 

With seamlessly connected channels, shoppers can buy products online and pick them up in the store that same day. 

Store associates can receive pick lists to select and package the products ordered online. 

Selecting off-the-shelf products increases inventory turn and decreases the duplication that comes with holding a separate online order inventory.

In-store fulfillment completes the frictionless purchasing experience. 

Customers get quick, free delivery — often receiving their items even faster than ordering online. 

Retailers, in turn, move inventory more rapidly, helping to maintain price stability. 

Both shoppers and retailers benefit from a more efficient customer experience.


DTC brands have a big impact on traditional retail

modcloth, bonobos and jet logos in a walmart shopping cart, harry's, casper, and care/of in target shopping cart. DTC brands impact traditional retail

Direct to consumer (DTC) products have been wildly popular in the past few years, and as they slowly infiltrate big box retailers’ shelves, brands such as Casper, Harry’s and Bonobos are gaining more attention and getting an even bigger sales boost.

But traditional retailers are learning from them as well.

For the biggest retailers, partnering with DTC has been mutually beneficial. Walmart bought men’s fashion retailer Bonobos in 2017 for $310 million. Target is partnering with Harry’s to sell the well-made, discount-priced razors in stores, as well as Casper mattresses — which can also be found in top-tier stores such as Nordstrom’s.

Mutual gains

two businessmen shaking hands - DTC brands impact traditional retail and it's mutually beneficial

Part of the draw of those and many other DTC brands is their popularity: They will drive customers into stores and online. Forging partnerships with newer, more sought-after brands helps retailers attract and create relationships with a new segment of shoppers who may not have otherwise shopped with them.

In addition, what big retailers such as Walmart, Target and Nordstrom’s can gain from well-established DTC brands is digital expertise. These products have successfully launched and sold products online with no physical stores. They are marketing powerhouses, and big box stores are learning from their strategies, particularly for their own private-label merchandise. For example, Target’s partnership with Harry’s spurred it to step up its men’s grooming selection by expanding its own Goodfellow & Co’s offering to more than 30 products. (Target is clearly focusing on the segment and rounding out its offerings by also incorporating Ulta Beauty shops this year into 100 locations this year.)

Fluid shopping

dark skinned woman with big short curls wearing orange shirt shopping on laptop on couch, DTC brands impact traditional retail - teaching big box stores about online marketing

What these relationships mean for consumers is that brands and retailers are becoming more attuned to the future of shopping. Customers are fluid in how they want to shop: One day they may opt for a personal, immersive experience at Sephora and the next they’ll order lipstick online. Convenience is a driving force, but it doesn’t always mean ecommerce. Sometimes, convenience is the ease of being able to go to a physical location and try on, inspect, and ask questions.

Successful retail has always meant providing what customers want, when they want it. Today’s technology merely widens the possibilities, and requires retailers to be intuitive and flexible.


In-store shoppers, in-store fulfillment: Planning for inventory challenges

safe retail shopping during COVID

Handling a supply chain is always part art, part skill — but during 2020, it sometimes seemed like it was also part magic act.

Getting products on shelves was a testament to the relationships retailers had built over the years with their suppliers, and only the strongest survived.

COVID inventory crisis

man staring at wall with papers pinned to it

A little more than one year ago, COVID-19 lockdowns began — ushered in by a period of consumer buying never before experienced.

Within days, paper goods and disinfectants were out of stock, available only on the black market for outrageous prices.

A year later, quarantines are gradually being lifted, in some areas more quickly than in others, and most — if not all — of the items once in short supply are reliably back on retailers’ shelves.

A year ago, however, many retailers were forced to close very quickly, with little notice and stockrooms full of inventory.

Those retailers not considered “essential” were left with a surplus of stock that during the ensuing weeks and months became outdated and unwanted; many people weren’t leaving their homes, so foot traffic hit all-time lows.

Adapting stock strategies

Online retailers and brick-and-mortar shops alike depend on good inventory management to run an efficient business.

Now that stores are open on a more regular schedule, their managers are recognizing that inventory strategies must change.

By offering a more curated selection than pre-COVID, retailers can more adeptly handle the ongoing uncertainty in customer traffic and buying behavior.

A number of retailers, including Gap and Nordstrom’s, reportedly reopened with a limited stock strategy, to hedge against a less-than-robust shopping season.

BOPIS challenge

In some respects, offering customers the option of buying online, picking up in-store (BOPIS) saved the day.

Many retailers further simplified the process for customers by offering curbside pickup; customers never had to leave their cars to retrieve their purchases.

By allowing customers the flexibility of purchasing online and retrieving products safely without leaving their cars, retailers eliminated a point of customer friction: Customers had the convenience of ordering online plus, in many cases, same-day pickup.

However, retailers faced the challenge of maintaining the right amount of inventory in stores to keep brick-and-mortar shoppers happy while still profiting from opportunities to move inventory through digital channels.

Stores that came up with the perfect balance will likely continue to offer the service post-COVID because of its popularity with customers.

Visibility into inventory movement

Retailers can only be successful at both in-store selling and e-commerce with accurate insight from trading partners into what is coming in and when.

With integrated inventory visibility from suppliers, retailers won’t be risking the safety stock they’ve built for in-store consumers.

For example, sending shipment information within two hours of shipment departure, and including scannable barcode labels on all packages can help retailers manage appropriate safety stock thresholds for in-store and BOPIS experiences.

Inventory management tools like Retail Pro also make the process more efficient for retailers.

When ordering merchandise on a multi-store Purchase Order in Retail Pro, a retailer can generate an advance ship notice for each store so each store knows what merchandise to expect.

When the merchandise arrives at the store, managers can generate a voucher from the advance ship notice to receive the items ordered on the PO into inventory.

Recovery ahead

Inventory management pre-COVID required effort and attention to detail.

During COVID, the supply chain was thrust into chaos, as manufacturers slowed production due to workers’ illness at their facilities, and orders fluctuated from exceeding capacity to trickling in.

Post-COVID, in the weeks and months ahead, the economy will begin to recover, and inventory management will face challenges as demand increases and stock levels race to meet it. When vendors are transparent and help retailers plan based on accurate delivery forecasts, retailers will be able to pursue sales opportunities in digital channels, resulting in improved top-line revenue and contributing to a global economic recovery.


Why the ‘Last Mile’ should be retailers’ first thought

person signing for delivery on ipad over a box that a delivery person wearing a denim shirt is holding

The anticipation of receiving that perfect order can be easily derailed by a poor product delivery experience.

The “ultimate” shopping experience depends on excellence from beginning—the order—to end, the delivery.

How quickly goods get from a warehouse to a customer depends on what’s called the “last mile” of the supply chain.

The efficiency of that final leg ultimately determines the customer’s satisfaction with the buying journey.

The Last-Mile challenge

person in fuzzy brown sweater holding two smaller boxes

Retailers face the challenge of managing their supply chains to keep delivery times short while keeping costs low.

Customers overwhelmingly opt for fast, free delivery when placing orders, which has led to a growing need for a broad distribution network, including warehouses.

Logically, such distribution centers should be in close proximity to the customers they serve.

CBRE Research analyzed the 15 largest U.S. metro areas and found that distances range from six miles in the San Francisco Bay Area to nine miles in the “Inland Empire,” a region east of Los Angeles County.

Not surprisingly, highly urbanized and dense population centers tend to be closer to last-mile facilities, while more suburban locations were farther away.

Proximity is important because customers expect fast delivery.

As Amazon continues to push the limits of logistics by offering same-day delivery, other retailers are expected to provide two-day delivery — at the latest. That final step in the delivery process is the most expensive and complex.

Gather and analyze logistics data

person in front of brick wall in denim shirt holding medium cardboard box

Companies collect so much data that it’s easy to suffer from information overload.

Gathering data is only the first step in understanding what is happening.

The real valuable information only comes to light after the analysis.

Put all of the “last leg” data in one centralized visual analytics tool, crunch the numbers to better understand the ins and outs of the last mile delivery process, and make regular adjustments as needed.

Offer Real-Time Delivery Tracking

Static tracking numbers are so last decade.

Invest in building or sourcing an app for your customers that tracks driver locations live and provides accurate ETAs, like the Uber of last-mile deliveries.

In addition, text messaging customers with updates on the delivery process creates a transparent process that supports a frictionless buying experience.

Many challenges associated with last mile delivery are outside of the retailer’s control, for example:

  • The number of orders picked and packed daily
  • The frequency that orders are picked up by the carrier
  • The proximity of the warehouse to the customers
  • The number of deliveries made daily

Many retail businesses partner with external fleets and use multiple carriers.

But there are ways to improve the “last mile,” and retailers can take more control of their business’s last mile logistics to identify inefficiencies quickly and improve their customers’ experience in a delivery-first world.