Understanding Key Performance Indicators

As a retailer in a competitive marketplace, a major focus should be monitoring the health of your business. For most retailers this means getting a handle on your Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs.

Defining KPIs

A KPI is a metric that is designed to give you a quick snapshot of some aspect of your business. A KPI might be a measure of sales, customer activity, or financial strength.

More than simply a bottom line number, a KPI is usually expressed as a comparison with some other factor. For example, looking at the average sale per customer gives you an understanding of the potential value of each customer.

Which KPIs should I track?

There are hundreds of KPIs that a retail business owner could be using at any one time. If an activity can be tracked and measured in your store, a KPI can be developed to provide you with business intelligence. One of the challenges is to decide on a handful of KPIs that provide you with the most valuable information based on the goals and objectives of your operation.

Every retailer will have a different set of KPIs. For example, a business that uses commissioned sales associates to sell to customers may place a heavy emphasis on KPIs that track the effectiveness of an individual sales associate while these KPIs may be irrelevant for another retail business.

You may want to track KPIs related to your customers. Simply knowing the number of customers who enter the store each day may not be enough for you. You may want to gain a deeper understanding about your customer’s shopping patterns and what converts them from a casual shopper into a dedicated, returning customer.

To do this, you need to carefully consider what data you should collect and analyze.

Choosing the right data

Data, by itself, is not a KPI until it’s arranged in a meaningful way. A list of sales transactions throughout the day is good data to have but it’s not the whole picture. The next step might be to calculate the total dollar amount of sales for the day. You can arrange the data in any number of ways: sales by department, sales by item, or sales by cashier. At this point, you still only have data to analyze.

The strength of KPIs is knowing how to use data to gain a competitive advantage. It all comes down to the goals and objectives you set for your business.

For each goal you establish, you must also create the metric that will determine if you are successful in reaching that goal. Your KPIs become the method by which you track your progress. If your key performance indicators do not reflect progress toward your goal, you must change the tactics you are using in your business.

Using raw data to optimize your retail operations

Let’s look at one simple example of how your goals and KPIs come together to give you a competitive advantage.

Marlene runs a small clothing store in a mid-size urban market. Lately things have been going good but the business has leveled off. She would like to increase her business over the next year. She creates a goal to increase her sales by 10%.

Marlene realizes that an obvious KPI is her total sales. She can also break down her sales on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis to compare with the previous year. This gives her the maximum degree of flexibility especially since her sales tend to fluctuate according to well-defined fashion seasons.

Marlene decides that a good strategy would be to do more advertising on radio and television during the coming year. To find out if the advertising is bringing customers into the store, she decides to track footfall, the number of people coming into the store. Fortunately, she tracked her traffic last year but if she didn’t, she could use the new data by correlating store traffic with the dates and times that advertising is running to see if the ads have an immediate effect.

If she notices that store traffic increases for a few days after a television ad appears, she may make more strategic choices about when to run television ads. Or she may be sure to have a special sale during the weekend following a big flood of advertising.

By tracking average customer spend, Marlene can determine how much the average customer spends during each purchase transaction. In order to increase sales, she decides to place some displays with accessories, scarves, and jewelry close to the cash registers. The strategy works and she notices that her average customer spend amount increases due to impulse purchases while customers are waiting in line.

Although her total sales KPI indicates some overall growth, Marlene is not satisfied with the progress she is making. She begins to track her conversion rate, the number of transactions throughout the day divided by the number of people who enter the store. This seems to indicate that a lot of people are coming into the store but not many are making purchases.

To combat this, she could implement a number of new strategies. Perhaps she should take a look at rotating her inventory more frequently so the styles are kept fresh. She might decide that she needs to add new merchandise. Eventually, Marlene decides to hire additional staff to take more time with the customers and help them pick out merchandise.

To maximize the effectiveness of her new employees, she tracks shopper to staff ratio. This KPI lets Marlene determine if she has the appropriate number of employees on the sales floor to handle the volume of shoppers. Monitoring her wage costs, which is wages paid divided by the total sales, will also help her monitor her costs.

As her business grows, Marlene may decide to implement different strategies or develop completely new goals for her business. These goals and strategies may necessitate new KPIs to help her determine if they are effective. As her needs change, so will her data collection requirements and so will the way she analyses that data.

Tracking KPIs in your Retail Pro

Retailers using Retail Pro have several built-in tools to help them track important KPIs easily and automatically, including pre-designed reports that can be accessed in Retail Pro Reports.

Filters allow you to easily report on different aspects of your operation and break down your data into different segments to allow you to take a birds-eye view or get down into the weeds.

Retail Pro reports can also be completely customized. This allows you to save time and money by adapting an existing report to show exactly the information you need without a lot of work and effort.

From inside Retail Pro, you can use customer or inventory statistics to gain more perspective.

X-Out and graphical reports allows you to look at sales activity throughout the day and get instant analysis.

Have a different KPI that makes your retail life easier, or have questions about KPIs? Email us at training@retailpro.com with your comments and questions.

Happy tracking!


Enhancing the In-Store Shopping Experience With a Loyalty Program

Guest post from Antavo

In-store promotions are designed to attract customers to brick-and-mortar stores, build brand or product awareness and provide benefits that online shopping simply just cannot give them. If customers are not visiting the store they might be missing out on special promotions, discounts or free giveaways. 

Also when customers shop at a local business, they are strengthening the local economy as well. 

In order to compete with eCommerce, loyalty programs for physical stores have to be more than just membership cards. Creating a loyalty program is a great way to effectively strengthen your brand image, connect with your customers, improve your retention and drive more in-store sales. Following the pandemic touchless solutions are playing an essential role in the in-store experience. It is crucial that retailers show customers that they are invested in their safety as stores reopen.

Enroll Customers Into Your Loyalty Program In-Store In a Fun Way

Show customers how your in-store location is just as enjoyable as shopping online by:

  • Vivifying the thrills of shopping in person via allowing your customers to browse your online shop in your physical location 
  • Implementing click and collect 
  • Making sure your physical and digital stores work together
  • Letting your customers interact with your products 

Also, reward your returning customers with a loyalty program by offering discounts after a certain amount of visits, access to special in-store events and other perks. If they like the program they are more likely to recommend your store to friends and their families.  Special offers by push notifications, personalized offers will help you enhance brand experience. 

Bridge the gap between offline and online customer interactions with digital loyalty cards, which is an effective solution to boost in-store engagement and reach more customers through location-based messages, thereby driving multiple business KPIs.

Experiential Retail 

According to a study by Deloitte experience has become the differentiating factor for businesses. Over 50 percent of customers say that the overall enjoyment of the shopping experience was important when making their final decision. When customers visit a store and are offered experiences such as large video display walls, a cafe, kids’ corner, virtual reality they will want to return. All these create a memorable experience and soar customer expectations.

Retailers can engage with in-store customers by enriching the offline customer journey, by offering them fun, easy and convenient ways to interact with gamified features. For instance, an offline treasure hunt, where customers need to find marked treasures or products inside the store, then use their mobile to scan the item’s barcode for a reward. You can prompt customers to thoroughly inspect the whole store, ensuring that they discover products or sections they would have overlooked otherwise. Send customers a push notification inviting them to play a fun game and win rewards. A Prize Wheel is ideal for mobile apps if you prefer touchless engagement for in-store devices. Showcase the prize wheel on an in-store device to instantly catch customers’ attention. Customers can approach the wheel and take a spin, giving you a new way to engage them.

A Prize Wheel is ideal for mobile apps and for in-store devices as well.
After spinning the wheel and landing on a reward, customers are asked to log in or enroll in the loyalty program to redeem it. This ensures that they identify themselves while shopping.

QR Codes  

Implementing a touch-free solution like QR codes on brochures or on signages in different areas of the shop, on the counter or in the dressing rooms, is a great way to make customers aware of your loyalty program. You might consider putting a QR code on the tags of your most popular products, so customers can scan it with their phone and receive a reward in return such as a small gift at the counter or a sum of loyalty points. Make sure to let the customer know that upon scanning the QR code they get rewarded.

DSW, the American branded footwear and accessories retailer featured QR codes on their magazine ads to engage customers. When customers scan the QR code they are taken to the DSW’s mobile site, where they can find the store nearest to them to view the products in person, check their order status, view DSW’s rewards program, and redeem their loyalty points, or make a purchase then pick up their order curbside, completely contactless.

The visual design of Timberland’s Manhattan flagship store
The NFC technology helped Timberland increase customer engagement. The store could track, analyze and interpret their shoppers’ behavior

NFC Technology

NFC technology is a great way to spice up in-store customer engagement. With its help, you can create novel in-store experiences. It allows retailers to connect quickly and easily with customers at every step of the customer journey. In a loyalty program, NFC enables people to use their smartphones to interact with store-exclusive loyalty program features. 

In Timberland’s Manhattan flagship store around 50 percent of the store’s inventory had been equipped with NFC tags. Upon tapping information about the product came up on the screen. The NFC tag was integrated to collect data from the customer. The store started adding credit for customers who signed in on the tablets, adding an extra touch to the customized shopping experience.

Beacon Technology

Beacon technology boosts customer experience by increasing efficiency, providing money savings, convenience, inspiration, and personalization. With targeted ads and brand offers, notifications and greetings on special occasions, you can add value while increasing trust. With just a single beacon near the entrance of a store, you could send a promotional notification to the user whenever they enter it or track how many users come to the store in a specific timeframe. 

Target, the American retail corporation, is using beacon technology to help in-store customers to use Target’s app to create shopping lists, and then see where items are located in-store. As they move, their location changes in real-time, showing them whether they’re getting farther or closer to the product.

Target’s application will show your location on the map
The new Target application will actually show your own location on the map, as indicated by a blinking dot. As you move through the store, your location will update, too. (Source: TechCrunch

Introduce a Kiosk In-store

Self-service kiosks are a rising component of in-store technology. It gives customers the possibility to shop for both the physical and online product offerings. They help shoppers gather information and speed up the shopping process. In-store kiosks are also a great way to promote a loyalty program. You can either set up a kiosk where waiting customers typically gather or offer priority lanes as a members-only feature. It is also an excellent solution to make sure customers are entertained while standing in line. 

In order to help the customer as much as possible in finding products and to prevent lost sales, the ANWB,  a travelers’ association in the Netherlands, needed a new solution to offer customers products that are not yet in stock. The kiosk has almost the same performance as the webshop on a PC, but the navigation especially works in terms of visual language and icons.  By adding NFC technology to the kiosk retailers can ensure contactless touch screens for the customers making in-store shopping even safer in the post-pandemic world.

ANWB’s in-store kiosk makes sure that their full online catalog is accessible
With the in-store kiosk ANWB makes sure that their full online catalog is accessible. (Source: Kega)

Sales Associates

Obviously, human interaction has a great impact on a customer’s emotional connection to a retailer. It will be especially of outstanding significance following the pandemic when everyone is craving a return to normal face-to-face communication. Well-trained sales associates can help boost loyalty program membership rates, as one of the easiest ways to inform your customers about your loyalty program and how their today’s transaction will get them closer to earning exciting rewards.

The Douglas perfumery chain’s loyalty card, called the Beauty Card, makes it possible for the company to serve their customers in a much more personalized way both online and offline. Besides offering several benefits, such as birthday surprises, product samples and invitations to exclusive events. They also offer makeup refreshing, skincare services, and beauty tips in-store.

A sales associate is giving makeup tips to a customer in a Douglas store.
In Douglas stores, customers can collect Beauty Points on their Beauty Card with each purchase, regardless of where it takes place, at the brick-and-mortar store, online or via their smartphone. (Source: ixtenso)

Brick-and-Mortars Coming Back to Life

Following COVID-19 face-to-face interactions will be receiving an even greater emphasis, as customers are hungry for communication. As shopping has evolved dramatically over the past several decades, the competition between retailers is fiercer than ever. Customer buying behavior is constantly shifting, not only when it comes to in-store shopping but online shops have also joined the race for customers, providing them with more choice and convenience. 

Nevertheless, it is important not to overlook your stores as a crucial touchpoint in generating long-term customer loyalty. While customers are growing more comfortable with online shopping every day, the in-store experience isn’t going away anytime soon.


Integrating Retail Pro POS data and COVID-influx of ecommerce data for hyper-personalization

two businesswomen wearing face masks, facing each other looking the same direction.

Amid recent retail turbulence, there has emerged an opportunity to provide customers a better, more intuitive shopping experience in the wake of a global pandemic that had serious repercussions in the retail sector.

With many shoppers staying out of brick and mortars due to COVID concerns, online shopping became significantly more popular, especially for buying everyday items like groceries and toiletry items.

As a result, retailers now have a year’s worth of data on new (and existing) ecommerce shoppers that can be integrated with store sales data from the Retail Pro POS for personalization, providing a more holistic customer view.

By preparing personalized and integrated customer solutions, retailers can be better positioned for success as the ability and customer willingness to visit stores increases.

Learning from your customer data

Hyper-personalization refers to enabling personalized, contextualized interactions across all channels, including sales and marketing.

A study from Ascend2 found that 62% of marketing professionals consider hyper-personalization to be critical, but only 9% have successfully implemented the strategy. Traditionally, personalized marketing would include, for example, inserting a customer’s name into an email or serving up specific content on a landing page. Personalized experiences in stores would stem from a salesperson’s ability to engage in clienteling based on the client’s history with a brand, especially in luxury retail.

Today, hyper-personalization uses intelligent tools like visual analytics software like Retail Pro Decisions to aggregate store and ecommerce data, the marketer’s email engagement data, website interactions, and other sources of third-party data to predict customer behavior.

AI algorithms can also compare a company’s shoppers with others online who display the same interests.

AI can aggregate similarities and predict future actions based on those that have already been taken by similar users.

That allows companies to deliver extremely relevant offers or product recommendations.

Rather than making recommendations to shoppers based on their own purchase history, AI compares their preferences and buying patterns to millions of others to discover more advanced, nuanced purchasing habits.

The strategy also builds brand loyalty: The more personal the customer experience feels, the stronger the relationship can be. Integrated data analysis combined with AI-powered loyalty and personalized marketing tools like AppCard for Retail Pro offers retailers something more than the competition.

Acting on data gathered during COVID’s ecommerce upsurge

With the sudden influx of customer data during COVID, retailers are learning more about what is truly important to customers, and what is not.

For instance, curbside pickup is a highlight coming out of the new normal shopping experience, a feature that in particular is helpful to parents of young children, those with disabilities or anyone on a tight schedule.

Prior to the economic lockdown during the first half of 2020, curbside delivery was pretty much limited to grocery pick up.

Retailers must leverage their data analysis capabilities while considering how recent customer trends will impact their supply chains.

They can then accurately respond to both vendors and customers in specific, relevant ways. By understanding the context of what customers want, retailers can adjust to meet those expectations. Retailers can move beyond providing customers with a robust product selection online and in-store. Today, the top retailers also offer a customized, cross-channel, personal shopping experience, resulting in loyal, satisfied customers.


Retailers benefit from unified commerce insights

For retailers, a unified commerce strategy is built on the foundation of integrated retail technology for an efficient, frictionless customer experience across channels.

Unified commerce gives retailers a smooth, efficient means of transacting business, because inventory, sales, e-commerce, and fulfillment system data is integrated to regularly and automatically keep inventory availability and customer details synced and up to date.

From Point of Sale to e-commerce, from CRM to inventory management, all these technologies need to be connected so retailers have a clear picture of who their customers are and how to provide what they want.

Interaction with customers

Woman examines various items of dishes. Beautiful woman shopping tableware in supermarket. Manager helps a costumer.

Each time a customer enters the retail store, they leave behind a wealth of data for any retailer who can measure their interactions within the store:

  • What was bought?
  • What was picked up but not purchased in the end?
  • What was the dwell time near products that were not purchased?
  • How long was the customer in-store?
  • Was this an online pickup?
  • Did they purchase other items along with their online pickup?

Those answers, when documented with technology, inform a retailer’s back-end systems, so inventory can keep pace with demand, and so marketing teams can keep pace with customer needs.

To collate and analyze that information, retail processes and tools must be intelligently integrated in a retail management platform like Retail Pro to enable sharing of relevant data across both customer-facing systems and those that integrate with backend vendor systems.

Applications from the point-of-sale report on purchases, inventory, and customer data. Sharing this data with an integrated warehouse management system allows warehouse staff to have insight into stock levels currently on the shelves, and to place orders with suppliers as supplies diminish.

Sharing the data with a loyalty and personalized marketing platform like AppCard for Retail Pro allows marketing teams to create targeted campaigns around a customer’s purchase history.

Consistent data across channels

That principle also applies to in-store sales staff—they should have the same product information available as retailers’ online channels.

Integrating your ecommerce software with your POS can give store staff the visibility they need to serve customers who call in to verify stock availability before coming in.

Customers who started their retail journey at home but then switch “channels” to come into the brick-and-mortar store must be certain that inventory is in sync: Surprises such as realizing that products aren’t in stock when the web site said they were there are unacceptable.

If your website indicates there is a pair of shoes in certain size on the shelf, your in-store staff should be able to verify that through an inventory management application.

Retailers that use disparate, unintegrated systems risk delays in communication because data is manually updated at the end of the day, causing inventory counts to become out of sync and unreliable.



Customer-facing systems for engagement

There are a number of technologies that retailers can put in place to provide a seamless customer-facing experience.

Shelf labels and cameras can map consumers’ movements within the store. That helps in product layout for future products, and in product forecasting. They can also indicate where is the heaviest foot traffic within the store.

Beacons can communicate with an app on the customer’s phone to notify them of product sales when customers are in the store’s vicinity, enticing them to stop in.

When integrated with the POS as well, interactions in the app which originated from a beacon trigger and resulted in the ultimate purchase can be properly attributed to track the efficacy of the tools and campaigns put in place.

The connected data then provides insight also on unvoiced customer needs which are nevertheless discernable through their interactions with a retailer’s various channels.

Integrating data in retail technologies provides the foundation for retailers to more effectively determine and act on customer needs for a better customer experience.


Retailer innovations during COVID aim to keep customers happy

Excellent customer service has always been the hallmark of well-established, highly respected retailers.

Nordstrom’s, Zappos and Trader Joe’s are a few of the best examples of retailers that make concerted efforts to make and keep customers happy.

Before 2020, many retailers were happy to let those top-rated companies be the standard bearers for superior customer experience.

Meanwhile, many retailers continued servicing customers with no real CX roadmap.

It appeared to the uninformed that the return on investing in the customer service wasn’t worth the time and money spent.

And, the truth was, mediocre customer service was tolerated – until COVID came and retailers were forced to answer a deluge of customer questions and provide new services without much preparation.

In 2020, customer service became the only thing that mattered to customers.

COVID led to an expanded definition of customer service

Image: Anna Shvets

Shopping last year meant dealing with lockdowns caused by COVID-19.

The global pandemic made getting to stores difficult, so, at first, many if not most customers were ordering online.

And while those retailers may have believed they dodged the CX bullet, they were in for a surprise.

Retailers learned the customer service is not simply to answer questions about shipping and billing, but it is also to offer information and help for those struggling with the Coronavirus.

Customers may be desperately searching for products or information on payment options because can’t pay a bill, or are otherwise frustrated by the pandemic hindrances to getting products they need are reaching out via texts, online chat and phone calls.

This year, Forrester predicts customers will continue to look toward retailers for sympathetic customer support.

Forrester Principal Analyst Ian Jacobs recently wrote, “With U.S. unemployment peaking in April, millions of individuals found themselves struggling to pay for food, bills, and other necessities. Organizations must react to provide high-quality, emotionally sensitive customer support in the flexible ways that consumers need.”

In Forrester’s retail predictions for 2021, Jacobs said digital customer service interactions will increase by 40%. That gives retailers many more chances than ever before to prove their mettle.

Self-service options improve customer experience

One way to improve CX, ironically, is to offer more self-service opportunity.

Customers have reported liking to use self-service options, if the process is quick and easy.

In a word, it must be frictionless. For example, a capable site search tool can be invaluable for customers.

Likewise, chat bots are particularly helpful for providing succinct answers quickly; in addition, bots with the power of artificial intelligence bots can reflect whatever personality a brand wants to project.

Adding relevant services based on discerned customer needs

Image: Laura James

Another way to differentiate customer service is to launch a virtual service based on fulfilling a defined need.

Online pet supply provider Chewy, for example, has seen a huge surge in business during the coronavirus pandemic.

But its newest offering, a telehealth service for pets, was launched in response to customers telling service agents about their pet’s problems – while they are ordering food, treats, toys, etc.

The virtual service was on the roadmap for years down the road, but the company saw the need was for now, and launched in October.

Which services will carry on beyond COVID?

Image: Anna Shvets

This year, consumers will let retailers know which innovations will “stick,” and become part of their future shopping expectations.

Top of mind are questions such as: Will the evolution of click and collect to curbside delivery remain a shopping option? Will jewelers continue to offer virtual consultations? How will retailers be able to support the expansion of the sales channel without spreading their staffs too thin?

Those and many others will be answered by 2021 shopping patterns. And perhaps some new “kings of customer service” will be crowned.


Contactless payment and Augmented Reality: CX aids during COVID

Image: Karolina Grabowska

During the past year, brick and mortar retailers have struggled with encouraging people to visit their stores while keeping them as safe from COVID-19 as possible.

In addition to limiting the number of shoppers inside and enforcing mask-wearing mandates, contactless payments and augmented reality have suddenly seen significant growth as aids to shoppers’ experience in stores.

Contactless payments

Image: Cottonbro

According to the “Visa Back to Business Study – 2021 Outlook,” 56% of consumers have used contactless payments whenever possible in the past three months, making it the biggest shift in terms of shopping habits during the pandemic.

This past June, only 20% of SMBs had offered contactless payments; a few short months later, 39% have started to accept new digital forms of payments.

And a vast majority — 74% — expect consumers to prefer contactless payments once a vaccine is widely available.

In fact, the study found that 65% of consumers said that post-vaccine they are likely to continue to use contactless payments at least as much as they are currently.

Those numbers skew by generation: Millennials are the most likely to embrace contactless payments.

However, all age demographics seem to have a level of interest in contactless payments, perhaps due to the sanitary nature of the system.

Because of its wide acceptance—61% of Boomers have expressed a preference for contactless, according to Visa—it is likely here to stay.

Augmented Reality

Image: Fauxels

With consumers preferring to avoid contact even briefly during the payment process, it’s no surprise that dressing rooms are standing empty or even locked.

However, shoppers who try on clothing are much more likely to buy, so some retailers have replaced their shuttered fitting rooms with virtual ones.

In-store, shoppers can stand in front of a camera and see themselves on a large screen. They then select different products for their virtual self to model, allowing themselves to see exactly how they’d look in the selected outfit without having to try on a single piece.

Those mirrors could one day be linked to social media, which will provide an enriched interactive experience.

For retailers with an online presence, adding a dressing room widget to their websites allows customers to upload a single photo to instantly see themselves in selected clothing.

Using augmented reality to facilitate virtual try-ons also helps retailers reduce return rates.

As they head into 2021, retailers will be further developing those types of technology solutions, which helped get them through the pandemic.

Strategies that include contactless payments and AR will find expanded uses as the economy reopens in the second half of the year.


How connected data personalizes shoppers’ experience

Image: Gustavo Fring

Providing a personalized experience that’s “just right” — not overly intrusive but offering information relevant to each shopper — is the Holy Grail of retail.

Deep visibility into data unified across channels and technologies through the Retail Pro Prism platform can give retailers the level of information needed to offer the right products to the right customers at the right time, through a preferred channel or combination of channels.

A single view of inventory, orders and customer data provided by a unified system of technologies offers retailers insights about their entire business in real time.

But unified commerce has a customer benefit also, allowing customers to take advantage of up-to-date product inventories and the flexibility to browse, buy, and fulfill orders any way they choose.

Read now: What does it take to unify commerce?

Creating interaction points to learn what your customer wants

Image: Andrea Piacquadio

Customers want efficient trips and will seek retailers that streamline the purchasing process, and which may include an online-to-offline experience.

Enhancing purchasing channels so they complement and build on each other helps retailers optimize their investments, focus efforts, and support their customers’ journeys.

Omnichannel offers customers multiple touch points, each a part of a seamless experience, and unified data helps retailers deliver instant, informed personalization.

One way to do that is to review past purchase data, converged between transactions in-store with Retail Pro, on ecommerce, mobile, social sales, and any other channels a retailer may use.

But for new visitors, providing interactive content not only engages the shopper but also benefits the retailer by sharing customer likes—and dislikes—with the retailer.

That data helps build a unique profile for future interactions whether online or in-store.

Every personalized shopping experience is created based on customer interactions.

As the retailer determines customer intent, an online strategy must be in place to quickly feature certain products in a relevant manner, with pertinent information and offers readily available and presented to the customer with immediacy.

Matching products to the right customer with personalized recommendations

While customers appreciate personalized shopping, unified commerce also provides retailers the data for targeted inventory.

By converging a customer’s interactions with your brand at various touchpoints into one cohesive customer profile and analyzing that holistic data, retailers can learn what products are popular for which types of customers.

The information can inform text and email messaging through AppCard for Retail Pro, providing personalized content which entices shoppers to visit (or return to) brick and mortars.

Stores can reduce or optimize in-store inventory by matching certain high-inventory products to potentially interested customers.

Based on analyzing shoppers’ data, a store can determine what products will appeal to which customers and present those options proactively.

Communications that are in the know with the customer

Image: Torsten Dettlaff

Customer segments may require different handling; some use email, others text messaging.

Retailers who can reach the customer during the decision-making process will remain top-of-mind as a trusted provider of quality goods and services.

Engagement might be driven through personalized email reminders that highlight where they can pick up their purchased product in-store, as well as recommending complimentary products to the items they just purchased.

Mobile push notifications or text messages can highlight related items to opted-in shoppers via the retailer’s app or loyalty program.

Most important is the unified experience from the customer’s point of view: When he or she returns to the retailer’s site, they should also see updated recommendations and search results based on in-store — or previous online —purchases.

Unified commerce provides the foundation for customers to easily shop whenever and wherever they want, including starting on one channel and finishing through another.

And that is an important step toward frictionless retail.


2021 Retail trends: 3 ways to generate repeat business with offerings that build on each other

Digital acceleration will be one of the most popular topics in the retail world in 2021.

Coming out of a pandemic-centric 2020, retailers expanded e-commerce capabilities, cultivated (and relied upon) core customers and became creative with customer fulfillment.

How they continue to improve and iterate on those solutions will determine how customers view them in the year ahead.

Layering these offerings so that they build on previous interactions and offerings will also help deepen the bond with your brand as shoppers build their lifestyle on the conveniences you afford them.

Here are 3 trends that can help you generate more repeat business by building on your customers’ needs .

Expanded service capabilities

Image: Karolina Grabowska

A one-time purchase can be converted into regular repeat purchases with the offer of subscription services. Subscription services provide customers products delivered to their doorstep with minimal effort.

Some subscriptions are predetermined; a subscription to a shaving club may mean automatic delivery of razor blades and shaving cream on a monthly basis.

Others might provide something unexpected, an assortment of athletic wear or a collection of spring shoes for different occasions, for example, curated especially for the customer.

During shelter-in-place orders implemented to stem the spread of COVID-19, such services became particularly popular with consumers who appreciated this type of expanded e-commerce capability.

According to Zuora’s Subscription Impact Report, a measure of the economic impact of COVID-19 on subscription businesses, subscription-based revenue continued to grow between March 1 and May 31, 2020, increasing at a 9.5% annual rate.

S&P 500 sales in Q1 2020 contracted at a -1.9% annual rate in the same quarter.

The key for companies will be to not only continue growing its subscriber numbers, but to also increase the average revenue per subscriber.

And that will require a focus on building customer relationships.

One way to do that is to offer incentives for brand loyalty.

Perks that build retail relationships

Image: Andrea Piacquadio

Some retailers have taken the past year to reevaluate their rewards programs.

As more customers were locked down, retailers saw foot traffic dwindle.

Statista found 52.7% of U.S. Internet users avoided stores due to COVID-19 in February 2020, and a virtually identical number, 52%, who reported shopping more online in May 2020.

Now more than ever, loyal customers need to know retailers are thankful for them and appreciate their business.

Smart retailers are examining the data collected from their loyalty programs and discovering more about the members, so they can tailor rewards that are extraordinary.

The result will be stronger bonds with customers, resulting in more sales and referrals in the future.

Customers who have been cooped up due to COVID-19 restrictions are also hungry for interaction.

Retailers are looking at video to help bridge the physical distance between customer and retailer.

Livestreaming with product and personality

Image: Lisa Fotios

With more than 24 million e-commerce sites vying for attention, using video via livestreaming is a way for retailers to differentiate their brands, even if it does seem a bit nostalgic of Home Shopping Network.

“Live commerce” brings together digital and physical shopping experiences.

While it’s a trend that became more popular as retailer’s faced slower foot traffic as a result of a global pandemic, it’s one that will continue in the years to come.

With livestreaming, or live commerce, customers watch a presentation on a product or service, coupled with a social element such as a video call or comments.

Content can be viewed within a retailer’s app, on a website, social media, etc.

The strategy, especially when coupled with a high-profile celebrity, can yield outstanding results.

For example, in November 2019, Kim Kardashian joined top Chinese influencer Viya Huang on her livestream channel and sold 15,000 bottles of her KKW fragrance in under an hour.

Not all retailers have such firepower available, but livestream events simply centered around “real users” could add the bit of differentiation some may need to jumpstart sales.

The “new normal” for retailers revolves around augmenting the familiar areas of customer experience.

By providing more convenience, working toward improving loyalty, differentiating their brands and working to transform themselves from old sales models, retailers can position themselves for success in 2021.


How Digital Communication is Giving Businesses a Boost This Holiday Season

The holiday season has arrived and while we can’t expect business to resemble years prior, there is a way retailers can make the most of it.

Customer experience matters now more than ever and everyone knows it! Many retailers are running promotions to attract business, and those without a means to directly communicate these promotions will struggle.

So how do you stand out from the crowd this holiday season?

Watch this webinar to see:

  • How to creatively use the Holidays as a means to gain shopper attraction
  • How to create a safety net for your business in the upcoming year
  • How businesses using AppCard for Retail Pro are able to personally connect with shoppers via SMS and Email

3 ways to drive incremental revenue with 2020’s digital retail traffic

Image: Andrea Piacquadio

Improving digital conversion rate is always a concern of retailers.

For those with both online and brick-and-mortar presence, conversion is even more important during COVID-19, as storefronts are hit with less foot traffic and reduced store hours.

One way to increase interest in your business is to give something away.

It could be a one-month trial of a personal shopping service, or a free online fashion tutorial; it simply needs to be of interest to your customers as well as something that has “staying power” i.e., can remain on your site for a few months.

This is not how many retailers traditionally engage customers.

Door prizes are exciting, but that type of giveaway is generally a one-shot deal.

Furthermore, at a time when people are social distancing, the thought of physically going to a store and competing for a door prize is unappealing.

Giveaways can be too much of a gimmick; they increase foot traffic the day of the promotion, but they don’t promote recurring sales.

Here are 3 ways to drive revenue with 2020’s big shift to digital retail.

1: Online tutorials

Fashion tips, makeup how-tos, home style ideas are all great ways to engage customers right from your ecommerce site.

During the demonstrations, offer a discount so shoppers can immediately select the product, go to their carts, enter the promo code and place their orders.

Offer the ability to pickup their purchased items in stores via curbside pickup, to give the option of immediate fulfillment for those shoppers who want it.

On the technology side, retailers can integrate promotions data from Retail Pro Prism POS software using Retail Pro’s open API for online redemption. This lets you use the flexible promotions capabilities in Retail Pro Prism to define promotion codes and pass the data to the ecommerce shopping cart.

2: Personal shopping

Image: cottonbro

Offer consultations with your professional, talented associates who can guide customer purchases.

These meetings can be free of charge or an “insider” exclusive, and shoppers can access the service through one-to-one conversations over conferencing software or via video calls to set up their profiles.

In addition, providing online questionnaires so customers can keep multiple profiles on file is an ideal way to help them organize and to streamline gift giving.

As your personal shopper meets with new clients, they can take note of shoppers’ preferences in the customer management area of Retail Pro Prism, for use in clienteling, to make more tailored recommendations during future visits using their purchase history.

Custom fields in Retail Pro can also be created and defined to standardize the data that comes in, for cleaner use in personalized marketing.

3: Offer subscriptions

Image: mentatdgt

These have become increasingly popular in the last couple of years.

Customers can enjoy regular deliveries of goods as varied as IPAs and organic snacks to razor blades and workout clothing.  

A curated selection of product is sent based on certain customer preferences detailed at sign up.

Retailers can use deep reporting capabilities in Retail Pro to report on most popular items and determine complementary products to include in a subscription package. Transaction data from point of sale software is immensely useful here.

Payment is made in advance, and the subscription renews automatically at the end of the payment period unless cancelled. 

Recurring revenue is a reliable way of generating regular income so it can be more confident of its future.

Some segments fit more naturally on the subscription model, such as health and beauty care.

However, by thinking a bit outside of the box, almost any retailer can benefit from offering creative options that are easily accessible by customers and generate profits even in seasons with less foot traffic.