Mobile Apps: Building Unified Loyalty In-Store and Online

 

 

Loyal customers are repeat customers.

They are particularly valued because the cost of customer acquisition is high.

However, loyalty is not just about repeat business – otherwise, all repeat customers would be considered loyal, and they aren’t.

 

Repeat customers vs loyal customers

 

The difference is that loyal customers make a conscious choice to do business with a company even when a less expensive, more convenient or higher quality alternative is available somewhere else.

So why are customers loyal to a retailer when sometimes it seems illogical?

Because of that store’s superior customer service.

Creating an easy, frictionless shopping experience makes customers happy -- and that satisfaction can be parlayed into loyalty.

 

Converting online browsers into in-store customers

 

Only a few years back, brick and mortar stores were dying on the vine.

Customers were going online, finding the lowest price for items, checking them out in stores but buying them via e-commerce.

Soon, though, traditional retailers realized that those shoppers who were browsing but not buying could be turned into customers -- after all, they were in the store already.

Shoppers were saying they enjoyed the efficiency of e-commerce, but they also wanted to touch and feel certain items.

And other items benefited from having knowledgeable salespersons educate shoppers on features, uses, etc.

 

Building loyalty through mobile apps

 

Retailers are answering customers’ demands for more efficiency by adding mobile apps to their sales processes.

App Annie, an app market data and insights company, tracks usage and consumption for the average smartphone owner:

  • Average daily use: 2 hours and 15 minutes
  • Average number of apps installed: 60 to 90
  • Average number of apps used monthly: 30
  • Average number of apps launched daily: 9

With so many mobile phones in use, retailers are finding that the mobile app customers could be a key to increasing brand awareness, driving sales and increasing mindshare.

A survey of more than 500 mobile shoppers by research company Clutch, found that not only are consumers using e-commerce apps, but they’re also looking for features that go beyond browsing and buying: “Consumers want an easy, frictionless, and entertaining experience when using apps.”

Clutch noted that shoppers use e-commerce apps primarily for four reasons:

  1. To receive deals and offers (68%)
  2. For the flexibility to buy at any time (64%)
  3. To compare products and prices (62%)
  4. To save time at the store (54%)

 

The problem with mobile shopping apps

 

Too few retailers create apps with the consumer in mind.

What shoppers want to do with a retail app is what should drive app creation.

Retailers should develop a focused strategy when developing an app that targets the way shoppers use apps.

Many shoppers want apps that personalize the in-store experience, such as deal alerts, which are enabled when the customer is inside the physical store.

Also, Clutch reported that if an app syncs a business’ loyalty rewards, more than 80% of consumers would use the feature.

Mobile shopping apps are the future of unified retail.

Retailers should continue to increase their capabilities according to shoppers’ requests and usage patterns, and look to include discounts, rewards, personalization, and even augmented reality in the near future.

 

Has Walmart cracked the omnichannel challenge?

 

 

Offering customers the ability to seamlessly move from online shopping to brick and mortar and back to online is the crux of the omnichannel experience.

Shoppers can buy products 24/7, go to a physical store for an in-person inspection, and then make the purchase using either channel based on convenience.

Increasing numbers of retailers are incorporating omnichannel aspects into their business plans, including buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS), endless aisles and curbside pickup.

Creating efficient and profitable omnichannel strategies is a challenge for any business, yet their importance is well understood.

A recent study by Multichannel Merchant and Brightpearl found that 87% of retailers agree omnichannel is a critical business function, yet only 8% believe they are proficient at implementation.

That indicates a long road ahead: Retailers are clearly overcome with the technical challenges and customer expectations that are large parts of implementing an omnichannel presence.

 

What Walmart is doing

 

Recently, retail powerhouse Walmart has taken up the omnichannel challenge.

Walmart introduced its shoppers to a new e-commerce feature: 3D virtual shopping. Viewers can "walk through" an apartment outfitted with home goods sold by Walmart.

Certain items are designated as being available through the retailer, and by selecting an icon, the shopper can view a brief description and is offered an option to place it into a shopping cart.

The experience offers shoppers the benefit of seeing how items look in context: How an object will look in a home, rather than on a shelf in a store with dozens of similar items next to it.

Furniture stores have been using similar staging techniques forever. But Walmart, like other big-box retailers, has no space to devote to setting up faux living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms.

So using e-commerce site — where space is plentiful — is the perfect solution.

The apartment showcases roughly 70 different items, and it is easy to see how the virtual environment can be used an infinite number of ways.

Walmart plans to add "Buy the Room," which lets customers add groups of coordinated products to their shopping carts at one time.

Aimed initially at shoppers for dorm-room items, five curated collections will be offered.

Such unique online experiences can help create a seamless omnichannel experience for shoppers.

For example, a mom and daughter go shopping for the daughter's first apartment. They arrive at Walmart, but are overwhelmed by the selection and can't visualize how items will look in an apartment.

Pulling up walmart.com on a mobile phone offers a 3D apartment tour, helping put the items in a more familiar environment.

Some of the items can be purchased while they are in the store — and others may be only available online.

Both sales channels are used to provide the customers exactly the items they desire.

 

Customers want a better, integrated shopping experience

 

A recent Accenture study found that 32% of consumers said that the integrating the mobile, website and in-store shopping experience is the biggest improvement retailers need to make.

The old “customer-centric,” multichannel approach is being replaced by a more assertive, customer-driven approach.

It is not enough for companies to simply know each customer, but they must also respond dynamically to customers who are constantly re-evaluating what they want to buy and where they want to buy it.

 

 

 

Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

Retailers going omnichannel pass on tech benefits to customers

 

 
In-store customers account for 50% of all eCommerce activity, research by Salesforce found, so closing the online-offline gap is critical for customer experience.

In response, retailers pursuing omnichannel with Retail Pro are turning their technology gains into customer-facing conveniences for unified commerce that puts shoppers first.

Here are three ways you can pass on the benefits of full data visibility in Retail Pro to your customers.

 

1: Show store inventory availability online

 
79% of shoppers research products online before buying in stores. Analysts are calling the trend ROPO – Research Online, Purchase Offline.

With so many shoppers choosing this blended approach to shopping, you can use your inventory data in Retail Pro to give customers online visibility into a product’s availability at their local store and secure the sale.

 

2: Make personalized recommendations

 
Though personalized recommendations generate only 7% of online visits, they result in 26% of online conversions – well worth the effort.

You can analyze customer history data in Retail Pro to personalize your marketing with recommendations based on items they recently or frequently purchased.

Effective recommendations are those that complement what the shopper already purchased from you, rather than simply other iterations of items the shopper has already browsed or bought.

 

3: Blend channels into one holistic shopping experience

 
For on the go consumers, the real shopping is done on your website.

They see your store as a fulfillment center where they will try on or pick up what’s needed on their way to do other things.

Integrated ecommerce and store POS can help you create a streamlined experience for these busy shoppers: shoppers can plan ahead and fill up their online shopping cart, and then access it at your store POS to complete the purchase and get the goods.

 

Omnichannel at Kanmo Group

 

Kanmo Group took this kind of holistic approach to managing data with Retail Pro Prism.

"To truly benefit from our omnichannel strategy, Kanmo Group has to look beyond simply engaging customers through offline and online means. When you look at the customer behavior in Southeast Asia, you will see that shoppers love to fill up their basket online – but they still prefer to complete the purchase in physical stores," commented Bhavin Patel, Omnichannel Director of Kanmo Group. "We want to give our customers flexibility to collect and check out the ‘basket' they created by communicating with a salesperson or through the real-time Retail Pro Prism POS system."

 

Customers can fill up their shopping cart online. If they are in the area, they might choose to visit a nearby Justice store and complete their purchase there.

 

Going Omnichannel with Retail Pro Prism

 
Retailers pursuing omnichannel are taking on the monumental task of integrating all their data sources into a 360 degree view of their business.

With full integrability in the Retail Pro platform, omnichannel is becoming attainable reality rather than simply rhetoric.

Accurate, real-time communications in Retail Pro help you keep your inventory and customer information up to date across the entire business, so you can make better decisions from holistic, integrated business insights.

Whether you’re leveraging Retail Pro for your brand stores, ecommerce, kiosks, outlets, franchises, store-in-store, or pop-ups, Retail Pro is one solution for all your retail and helps you unify commerce in a way that puts shoppers first.

 

To see what it will take to unify commerce with Retail Pro Prism in your business, contact your Retail Pro Business Partner or request a demo today.

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.

 

unified commerce with Retail Pro

 

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.

 

See Retail Pro in action

Request your demo today >

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

Unify Commerce_Blog

 

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!

Get whitepaper

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Customers Welcome Flexible Shopping Options

[caption id="attachment_1674174" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Ecommerce alone may not perform as well as omnichannel offerings. Ecommerce alone may not perform as well as omnichannel offerings.[/caption]

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