How to Unify Commerce

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

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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







Fast Shipping: The Next Free Shipping?

[caption id="attachment_1674151" align="aligncenter" width="600"]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.[/caption]


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.


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


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.

data torrent-02

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.


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:

Prezi images-11

  • 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.


Omnichannel panel: retailers discuss their take on building omnichannel

At our 2016 Retail Pro Americas Summit, we asked retailers building their omnichannel strategy with Retail Pro why they're doing it, what it takes to make it happen, and where they are in implementing their strategy. Here's what they said.



Allow us to introduce...


Our retail panelists. See their bios way below!

Omnichannel panel guest speakers. See their bios below.



What's inside:


Going Omnichannel
Supply chain integration at Earthbound Trading Co.
Balancing D2C and wholesale at Burton Snowboards
Decreasing the cost of endless aisle at Mexicali Blues
Is omnichannel the end of brick and mortar retail?
Omnichannel generation: millennials’ habits impact retail strategies
Future directions for building omnichannel




Going omnichannel


Dan Jablons Our panel today is about omnichannel. Topher, you’ve done a lot of omnichannel work already, and Eric and Marcelo are starting to work out their omnichannel strategies for Burton Snowboards and Earthbound Trading Company, respectively.

Topher, you’ve done the most omnichannel work out of anyone in the room, apparently. What made you say, "You know what? We have to attack this thing. We have to go after it"?


Topher Mallory We thought about where we saw the largest opportunity and that was online. There’s a lot of overlap with the product lines but as far as the business goes, we've only got 6 stores plus our online store, and our warehouses are 2000 square feet.

We wanted to leverage our in-store inventory like we showed in the video and the biggest things was data architecture. That’s where UniteU came in.

The biggest challenge was really finding someone who would listen to somebody small like we are, see the opportunity we saw, and  create a data architecture that could go both ways.

Obviously the big picture of Omni is endless aisle and different channels that might not even be in the marketplace yet. Today, it is taking that store inventory and leveraging it to make our online offering larger.



We thought about where we saw the largest opportunity and that was online.

Topher Mallory



Check out their video here:


[caption id="attachment_1674044" align="aligncenter" width="751"]See how Mexicali Blues implemented omnichannel in their stores Topher Mallory of Mexicali Blues shares how he built his omnichannel strategy[/caption]



Dan So for you, there was an online opportunity but it was also about leveraging existing inventories and getting better sales.


Topher Exactly. Then we started to see that we needed more transparency in the supply chain and all that’s how we came to all those challenges we're dealing with today.


Dan Eric, what drove your decision to go after omnichannel?


Eric Bergstrom Actually, something quite similar. We have a real strong online business. We have 13 stores in the US. About this time every year, we sell out of products online but these same products are still sitting in stores. Our objective is to make that store inventory available on the web so that a customer can find it. That way we would really leverage the inventory and sell it.


Marcelo Fleitas We have 136 stores nationwide and we're trying to accomplish something similar to Mexicali Blues. The customers of today's world require a lot of maintenance. They request a lot of information so we need to provide it.

That's what Earthbound is trying to do.

We're trying to provide information from our vendors to the store for a particular item and create an experience for our customers through mobility. We have a segmented customer profile and tools to understand what the customer wants, and we deliver that.





Supply chain integration at Earthbound Trading Co.


[caption id="attachment_1674008" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Earthbound Trading Company is a lifestyle shop for the nomadic spirit who embraces individuality and craves exploration. Earthbound Trading Company is a lifestyle shop for the nomadic spirit who embraces individuality and craves exploration.[/caption]

I was amazed at how Retail Pro Prism® works, because the platform is exactly what we need. The last piece of the puzzle is to feed that information to Retail Pro® and because it's based on APIs, everything can be integrated.

Marcelo Fleitas


Dan One of the things that I was told about the tools you’re using, Marcelo, is that you actually have been integrating various departments together. Overseas vendors and employer systems interact and talk to each other.


Marcelo That's right. One of the biggest challenges that we have at Earthbound is collaboration. We have venders overseas and we deal with big vendors, small vendors, and various departments like accounting and the photographers who take inventory pictures for the online store.

We really had to create a collaboration tool, but not only that – we needed to create a flow between them.

For instance, in order to bring something from overseas, you have to follow a lot of customs codes and we need to make sure we capture product history for things we bring from China, from Brazil. We can't lose that information.

So we created a portal where vendors can actually talk to us directly. All our internal departments can interact within the system, and the system enforces proper flow.


Dan I’ve got to believe that also helps you in terms of gaining more product knowledge, which helps you get more sales too.


Marcelo Exactly. I was amazed at how Retail Pro Prism® works, because the platform is exactly what we need. The last piece of the puzzle is to feed that information to Retail Pro® and because it's based on APIs, everything can be integrated. I’m very happy that that's the direction for Prism.





Balancing D2C and wholesale at Burton Snowboards


[caption id="attachment_1674009" align="aligncenter" width="670"]In '77, Jake Burton invented the Backhill - a narrow board with single strap bindings and a rope and handle attached to the nose. Life on shred begins. In '77, Jake Burton invented the Backhill - a narrow board with single strap bindings and a rope and handle attached to the nose. Life on shred begins.[/caption]


Dan Eric, let me ask you a question. Burton has 13 stores but you also sell through dealerships. So now you have a situation that a lot of independent retailers get a little bit worried: Burton is going direct, and some retailers are panicking like, "That's the end of the world. It's over." But there's a lot of business to be made. So how have you had to balance the direct versus channel sales?


Eric Our primary business at Burton Snowboards in wholesaling to dealers across the globe. I have 13 stores and 1000 dealers or more. We are real careful about where we put stores. We want to put our stores where we see an opportunity to expose the brand but not step on our dealers’ toes. And then we look for other ways to try to incorporate our dealers into the exercise that we're going through.

For example, we have a tool that we titled Send It, which allows our stores to drop-ship or custom order any product and ship it directly to the customer's house.

We’ve opened that up to our retailers to allow them to do the same thing. They have access to all the Burton inventory, which they would have anyway because they can always reorder the product, but it's a tool that allows them to do the same thing, use their own POS system, and ship directly.

So they're getting the sale and they're really in the sense just buying the one item, but it doesn't ship to the store. It ships directly to the customer.

This functionality is something that we've offered out to retailers.





Decreasing the cost of endless aisle at Mexicali Blues


[caption id="attachment_1674010" align="aligncenter" width="640"]A love of music, a passion for travel, and a mindful devotion to fun. That’s all it took to launch Mexicali Blues back in 1988. A love of music, a passion for travel, and a mindful devotion to fun. That’s all it took to launch Mexicali Blues back in 1988.[/caption]


Dan This leads into my next question, Topher, for you. You and I had a chance to talk about the concept of the endless aisle earlier a little bit.

People talk a lot about the endless aisle. I don't think anyone knows what it really means. And you've mentioned to me before that the definition of endless aisle is still in motion and changing, so how do you see endless aisle right now?


Topher We did this in small, bite-sized pieces. I think it speaks to Retail Pro's direction as to how they're letting omnichannel unfold a little bit. We saw this ability to leverage the inventory, and we saw an increase in 50% of our orders. We were doing this all manually behind the scenes. UniteU created the architecture but we had all this in the POS and we said, “Ok, we'll just figure this out.”

There was one employee, a woman named Lauren, whom you saw in the video. All she did was take an excel spreadsheet, dump all this data from UniteU and all our inventory data from Retail Pro. She would look for like, Monday, December 5th and then see how many of the 300 online orders have some item from the stores.

That was nuts but we saw a huge increase in number of orders and the number of items picked. We came back to UniteU after the holiday and said, “Here are all the variables,” which was great, because we could really define what online endless aisle meant.

We want to control this. We don't want a truly endless aisle if it is going to be an unprofitable order. If they're unprofitable, then these are the variables we should consider.

We needed a set that we could tweak by the minute, if it was needed. We needed to be able to turn store inventories on and off if there was a scheduling issue or delivery problem. We had 5 or 6 of those and we have a workflow where you can actually change those logistics.

So now we're looking at what I need in stores and trying to think about the same thing - if we want it to be endless aisle, if we want to sell to zero. The first challenge was just seeing Lauren do all that work and saying, “Hey, this is great – we have increased revenue.” But we've also diminished what we're making on every order and every product if we're touching them 1000 times. How do we prevent that?

The first thing was an algorithm. That worked out very well and now we're doing a lot of circling back with analytics go from that end.

We're also working on transparency with vendors so that we can get these things in our warehouse. We're going to roll it out in the store first with the idea of Ship-to-Store.

Then hopefully we’ll get some kind of mobile device that's more functional. Right now we have this algorithm on an OS-based device that uses FoundryLogic technology so that when we get the order, we see what is needed for the order that’s in-store. We can see all that transparently on the UniteU level but the next step would be to take that FoundryLogic reference to UniteU or Retail Pro on some kind of mobile device.





Is omnichannel the end of brick and mortar retail?


[caption id="attachment_1674011" align="aligncenter" width="567"]Photo courtesy of Forbes Photo courtesy of Forbes[/caption]


People were very scared of brick and mortar stores dying but it all changed. It didn't happen. We evolved.

Marcelo Fleitas


Dan There’s a lot of concern amongst the brick and mortar retailers about omnichannel. I’m often asked if there’s ever going to be an end to the world of brick and mortar and I think it’s an important question. What do you see omnichannel doing? Do you see it advancing or taking away from brick and mortar?


Marcelo Several years ago, people were talking about that. At the beginning of the summit today, Kerry Lemos mentioned that too. People were very scared of brick and mortar stores dying but it all changed. It didn't happen.

We evolved.

We grew our communications and we’re using mobility to improve our brick and mortar. I don’t think brick and mortar will become extinct, and I think all of us are on the right track. We are improving our channels, improving our communications, using the devices, using social media to enhance our experience in-store. You guys are doing a fantastic job on doing exactly that and I’m happy that this is going to continue to happen. This is not the end of the brick and mortar store.


Omnichannel is the revival of brick and mortar.

Topher Mallory


Topher I want to add to that and say I think it's the revival of the brick and mortar. For us, we’re enhancing a lot of the inventory-driven processes but we're also doing the same thing with our customers.

We're doing segmentation, which is key.

You can get your customer data and see who's researching online but not converting there. If they come in the store, I have data about their buying history. So maybe I can bring some consumer confidence and have them looking across platforms, or maybe they're just forever going to research online and come in-store to buy tangibly. They can try the product on and have that added value of the experience with one of our associates.


Eric It’s real similar for us. Step one working to leverage the inventory. We’re adding a customer focus as well.


Dan And Burton, specifically in terms of profiling, is looking for ways to segment the list based on the channel they came from, right? Is that part of your strategy?


Eric Yes. Today we already pull in our Retail Pro data from the stores and our e-commerce data, our customer data, our transaction history. We tie it all together in a giant database and then access that to segment customers when we send marketing emails and such. But it gets stuck there quite often so we need to get it beyond that. We need to have access to that data at the store level so we can open it on a dashboard and know what you've bought from us online or in the store





Omnichannel generation: millennials' habits impact  retail strategies


[caption id="attachment_1674012" align="aligncenter" width="700"]Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of[/caption]

This is bigger than just millennials. In today's retail environment you need to be available to every customer however they want to shop. Millennial or not, you just have to let the customer choose. 

Eric Bergstrom


Dan It's important to you to understand where those guys are coming from. There's also a lot of talk about capturing the millennials. Is that a concern for you in terms of how to market to millennials?


Marcelo We have the data for it now and without that, we're going to be behind. I think that’s a trend. I see it over and over again. We've adapted to this new generation of people who use smartphones. The average adult uses their device 150 times; millennials use it 1000 times a day for various things. That’s exactly the type of crowd that we need to start marketing to.


Dan Eric, are the millennials a key target for Burton?


Eric Yes, in that that age group is a big part of our key market demographically. But this is bigger than just millennials. In today's retail environment you need to be available to every customer however they want to shop. Millennial or not, all of these options of Buy Online, Pickup In Store, etc., you just have to be available and let the customer choose.


Dan Topher, what's your take on this? How are you marketing to millennials?


Topher With a message that's catered to them. Hopefully. I feel like we're trying our hardest to! And we're trying to take the platforms they interact on and bridge them into our in-store experiences.

With non-millennials, similar to Marcelo, we communicate the story of product origins. We use words like responsibility, transparency.

We talk about how companies are producing items. Like knowing that process for this tie-dye that I’m wearing, for example. The company uses dental floss, of all things, to get this type of crazy design. There's a video with this on our responsively designed mobile site, so they can bring up that video for a customer on the same mobile device the FoundryLogic is working on.


Dan So there are all these different channels and the key through it seems to be being able to collect data out of these channels, analyze it, leverage the inventory so you can get the most out of it, but also give your customer the option to pick this up here, there, or anywhere. They can find you and transact with you. Marcelo, where are you in all this omnichannel business?


Marcelo We have a team developing this right now. We’re hoping that in about 2 months we'll be fully developed in that area.






Future directions for building omnichannel 


[caption id="attachment_1674043" align="aligncenter" width="751"]See the strategy and future behind the Retail Pro retail management platform See the strategy and future behind the Retail Pro retail management platform[/caption]


Dan Topher, you've got omnichannel in place. What's next for you now in the next 12 months? What’s the next evolution for Mexicali Blues to drive excitement for the customer?


Topher Pushing it the other way. It’s the endless aisle component in the stores but really trying to define the experience. Retailers are trying to solve the inventory problem with an experience – you come in store we'll wine and dine you all you want. Well, all our customers are coming to us saying, “No, I want that in red, and I wanted it yesterday.” So our goal is to figure out how to meld those things together.


Dan Eric, you're starting on omnichannel. What challenges are you running into right now and how are you going to overcome those?


Eric It starts with coming to this conference! My first step is going to be migration to the Retail Pro 9, and we're going to get that done by June.

At the same time, we're working on the first omnichannel step from there, which is test for getting store inventory available online. We want to do that by the fall. We'll probably only make a limited selection of inventory categories available online, just to get it started.

Those are our first steps and then we're going from there.


Dan And Marcelo?


Marcelo We will continue to improve our collaboration systems and bring the experience to the customer. We really deliver for our customers, because, like you said, Topher, they want our products yesterday. We want to continue to deliver on that, to improve our systems, to have more mobility involved on this.





Meet the Panelists


Topher Mallory | Mexicali Blues | CEO Topher-Mallory

In just 11 years, Topher's "all in" approach to retail transformed a laid-back import store with three brick-and-mortar locations and no website into a vertically integrated omnichannel brand. With Mexicali Blues now making millions of dollars online and off, he simultaneously launched Maine's first grain-to-glass organic distillery, Split Rock Distilling. Both businesses show his signature approach to retail sales: authentic passion, hands-on leadership, grassroots marketing and forward-thinking financial analysis. Topher turns loyal customers into a long-lasting community and loves every minute. 

You can talk retail (or rock climbing, tie dye, Maine and more) with @TopherMallory on Twitter.



Eric Bergstrom | Burton Snowboards | Director of Retail Eric-Burton

As Director of Retail for Burton’s US Direct to Consumer retail business, Eric Bergstrom manages the Flagship and Outlet channels, establishing the strategic direction for existing stores and identifying potential growth opportunities. For nearly 20 years, Eric has been creating and growing successful retail organizations, optimizing existing operations, and planning and designing new stores.





Marcelo Fleitas | Earthbound Trading Company | Director of Information Technology Marcelo-Fleitas

Marcelo Fleitas is the Director of Information Technology at Earthbound Trading Company, a Texas based company with more than 1000 employees. Marcelo has more than 10 years in the retail industry performing innovation and implementation of POS systems. He has a background in Electronic Engineering, Oracle Databases and Microsoft SQL Servers, currently pursuing his Masters of Science in IT Management.






Dan Jablons | Retail Smart Guys | Owner Dan-Jablons

Dan Jablons is an expert retail consultant providing guidance to retailers across 15 countries. Dan helps retailers achieve their business goals through optimization of operations, merchandising, marketing and other key retail practices.







3 Technologies Retailers Need In 2016

As we are in the last hours of 2015, it seems like an ideal time to reflect on three technologies that made a large impact on retailers this year, and that are poised to make a “huge”— to use a word commonly used by one certain presidential candidate — impact in 2016. Retailers looking to increase visibility as well as revenue should consider these implementations.

1. Beacons and geofencing
Beacons give retailers visibility over foot traffic, in addition to the ability to push relevant information to consumers’ smartphones.

Geofencing lets retailers promote products when shoppers enter a specific, predetermined area. It’s not difficult to see how these technologies can complement each other and drive quality customers through the door. However, geofencing works best when used in combination with beacon technology, and can provide a more complete view of customer behavior. Retailers are beginning to see the potential; according to, investment in geofencing will reach $300 million by 2017. The challenge for retailers is to get customers to enable location services and bluetooth on their smartphones. Such services use battery power and, to some, bring up privacy issues. Given the proper incentives by retailers, much of that resistance can be overcome.

2.  RFID
Yes, this technology has been around--and around. But it’s time to shine has finally arrived. Juniper Research recently reported

[caption id="attachment_107584" align="alignright" width="150"]RFID tags can be used for a number of retail purposes. RFID tags can be used for a number of retail purposes.[/caption]

that Internet of things (IoT) technologies will be implemented by far more retailers in 2016; the firm expects merchants will spend an estimated $2.5 billion in hardware and installation costs, nearly a fourfold increase over this year’s estimated $670 million spend. And RFID is a part of that investment. RFID helps retailers with in real-time asset tracking, reduced labour costs and even dynamic pricing according to stock levels and online pricing. Software applications are catching up to what this veteran technology can offer. Linking the potential capabilities of RFID tags with beacons and geofencing promises more thorough business insight and an improved customer experience.

3. BOPIS: Buy online, pick up in store
Shoppers are looking for ways to streamline their lives, just like retailers want to make their operations more efficient. By facilitating “strategic strikes” — shopping trips that are meant for specific items, in which the customer is a buyer, not a shopper — retailers cultivate goodwill. A customer who knows a trip for a specific green sweater will be met with success and will require minimal waiting on a checkout line is likely to return. Look for BOPIS to evolve to include curbside pickup. Target and Kroger recently rolled out curbside pickup services in some locations, while Sears has expanded its in-vehicle curb services to include returns and exchanges. Curbside services acknowledge that the customer is patronizing the store for a specific reason and does not want to go inside. Rather than fight that fact and risk antagonizing customers with offers to “come inside for…” smart retailers are accommodating the desire to pick up merchandise and leave. They recognize that they’ll be back again, either for a quick trip or an extended visit. Either way, a sale is a sale.


Retailers Found Unprepared to Meet “I Want It Now” Consumer Demand


Retailers are working hard to transform their supply chains to a customer-centric, omni-channel model, but 80% are not prepared for the magnitude of change required, according to HRC Advisory (HRC), a leading strategic retail advisory firm and unit of Hilco Global. The finding was revealed today as part of HRC’s latest retail industry study, which found that expensive online returns, cannibalization of in-store sales and outdated systems are some of the challenges restraining retailers.

“Today’s consumer is driven by an ‘I want it now’ mentality, yet many retailers are still struggling to deliver, said Farla Efros, President of HRC Advisory. “Competing with pure-play e-commerce retailers, and accommodating the multitude of new fulfillment options, requires a significant increase in supply chain flexibility and better integration between the physical store and e-commerce network,” she added “Without these changes, traditional retailers will not be able to execute a truly customer-centric model."

Want to see how Retail Pro tools can give you clear visibility across every channel and help you build omnichannel fulfillment in your stores? Sign up for the webinar on 9/16/2015 at 11 am PDT here or leave a comment with your request for a link to the recording after the date.


The study found that retailers are struggling with the following key challenges:

  • Online returns are expensive. 95% of retailers said their biggest issue in transforming the supply chain was how to mitigate online returns, which can run as high as 30% and are quite costly to a retailer. 85% of retailers noted the high cost of online returns to a store, particularly when the item is not carried in that store. And when returning to a fulfillment center or supplier, retailers incur incremental freight costs, the possibility of shipping-related product damage, as well as a lost opportunity for a replacement sale in-store.
  • Cannibalization of in-store sales. 75% of the retailers surveyed said that some of their e-commerce sales are cannibalizing sales that would have otherwise been in stores. And, although e-commerce sales growth rates are often 10-15% greater than physical store growth rates, 70% of retailers are still struggling to develop a profitable economic business model for e-commerce while maintaining acceptable profitability for stores.
  • Systems and infrastructure are outdated. All of the retailers surveyed felt that fully integrating inventory and fulfillment between the online and physical store channels would achieve the most effective customer outcome and the lowest margin risk. But more than half (52%) admitted that they do not have the systems in place to provide the required visibility to inventory in each store. Further, retailers lack the necessary processes to compete with their e-commerce-only counterparts, as only 35% of those surveyed had online capabilities such as vendor drop ship, or order in-store and deliver to the customer. The good news is that 60% of the retailers surveyed have plans to invest further in their e-commerce-related systems to provide an improved customer experience.

Key Additional Findings:

  • 80% of the retailers surveyed identified inventory visibility and accurate assortment planning between online and physical channels to be the top-two challenges in enabling fulfillment capabilities.
  • Only 53% of retailers are currently able to present customers with accurate inventory information and to fulfill the entire order at the time of online purchase.
  • Only half of the retailers are able to ensure fulfillment from the closest location when an item is available in multiple locations and distribution centers.
  • More than half (55%) of the retailers continue to have dedicated fulfillment facilities for each channel. Only 25% of these retailers are launching initiatives to combine these facilities in order to serve both channels more cost-effectively and optimize their working capital investments in inventory.

Notes on Survey Methodology and Analysis

HRC Advisory conducted detailed survey interviews with executives from April 2015 to June 2015. The study surveyed 20 North American Supply Chain executives from brick & mortar retailers in the electronics, food, health and beauty, fashion apparel, and accessories sectors. The objective was to understand what steps retail executives are taking to profitably adapt their Supply Chains to remain competitive in today’s environment and how they are addressing the challenges being faced. 65% of the companies were publicly traded, and 35% were privately owned.

See the original article on Sector Publishing Intelligence.

Beacons, SMS Combine To Boost Loyalty


Today’s retail channel is so fluid that consumers move effortlessly between channels. A shopper may begin online, for example, to learn the price of a 50-in television. But that’s just the beginning.

Online, the shopper might discover he can afford a 55-inch television, so he begins his search again. Then, he realizes he'd like to view the picture quality in-person, so he searches for a nearby store. Once there, he pulls out his smartphone and looks for brand reviews online. The product has a QR code, so he scans it with his mobile device for more information. If the brand meets all the shopper’s criteria — quality, price and style — and is in the store, odds are the purchase will be completed at the brick and mortar location. If not, the consumer may opt to order online, place an order at the store, or, in the worst case for retailers, decide to postpone the purchase.

As retailers evolve to make the most of the ever-changing marketplace, they must select digital technology to enhance their model. For example, online services such as Amazon Mom offer special savings for a targeted group of shoppers: caregivers of small children. Amazon recognized that some items are purchased on a regular basis and are completely driven by need, rather than spontaneity or, frankly, fun. Buying baby wipes and diapers is a necessity for parents of young children, and once a brand is selected, there is an associated degree of loyalty, for any reason: Fit, absorbency, price, etc. Amazon takes some of the drudgery out of such mundane purchases by offering members benefits such as 30 days of Amazon Prime including free two-day shipping, 20% off diapers which are on an auto-delivery schedule, and other promotions geared toward parents.

Auto-replenishment is a terrific driver of loyalty online, encouraging shoppers to "set it and forget it." But brick and mortars can boost loyalty as well, and in a few crucial ways are better equipped to do so. The primary factor offering them the advantage is what defines them in the first place — their physical presence.

Some stores promote loyalty by their atmosphere and their sales people. Savvy retailers understand the need to build on that using digital technology. Beacons, for example, can alert shoppers to in-store promotions as well as offer coupons and invitations to exclusive events. In return, the retailers receive analytics from which they can create marketing solutions. Business Insider Intelligence predicts that the technology will be used at 85 of the top 100 US retailers and influence $44 billion in retail sales in 2016.

[caption id="attachment_1565337" align="alignright" width="300"]Mobile devices are surging to the forefront of how people interact in today's retail industry. Mobile devices are surging to the forefront of how people interact in today's retail industry.[/caption]

Combine that with SMS messaging, which can be used for proximity marketing campaigns, and that’s a powerful retail solution. Take a look at a recent Adroit survey of 1,000 U.S. and Canadian consumers, ages 18 to 34 and 500 U.S. and Canadian consumers ages 35 and up. Adroit found that the majority of paths to purchase are affected by digital: In both age groups, more than 70% were likely to change their plans to visit a retailer or restaurant if they were away from home and received an advertisement on their mobile devices for local deals or discounts.

The winning equation for brick and mortars? Beacons plus SMS equals efficient, affordable tools, ready to arm retailers in the battle for customers’ loyalty.