6 Essential Elements of a Winning Independent Retail Strategy



Looking to improve inventory productivity and control?

Watch this final part of our 3-part Retailer Success webinar series to see principles and tactics that will help you manage inventory better and compete profitably.

Part 3: Six Essential Elements of a Winning Independent Retail Strategy

  • See how high-achieving independent retailers differentiate themselves to compete successfully in the changing world of Amazon retail
  • Learn the major factors you can implement immediately to differentiate your business in this 6-point plan from Management One


Mobile Apps: Building Unified Loyalty In-Store and Online



Loyal customers are repeat customers.

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

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


Repeat customers vs loyal customers


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

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

Because of that store’s superior customer service.

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


Converting online browsers into in-store customers


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

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

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

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

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


Building loyalty through mobile apps


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The problem with mobile shopping apps


Too few retailers create apps with the consumer in mind.

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

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

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

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

Mobile shopping apps are the future of unified retail.

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


Has Walmart cracked the omnichannel challenge?



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

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

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

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

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

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


What Walmart is doing


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Customers want a better, integrated shopping experience


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

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

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




Photo by Nicole Honeywill on Unsplash

Retailers going omnichannel pass on tech benefits to customers


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

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

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


1: Show store inventory availability online

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

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


2: Make personalized recommendations

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

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

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


3: Blend channels into one holistic shopping experience

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

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

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


Omnichannel at Kanmo Group


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

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


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


Going Omnichannel with Retail Pro Prism

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

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

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

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


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

How AI Can Help Retailers Fight Shrink



Retailers struggle with "shrink" — thefts from retailers that includes shoplifting and employee stealing — to the tune of $46.8 billion in 2017, according to the National Retail Federation.

Retailers lose an average of 1.33% of sales, on average annually to shrink.

However, artificial intelligence (AI) is now being integrated into technology solutions, which increases retail security and helps prevent theft.


Video Analytics

Video analytics is being transformed by AI.

Because AI does away with the need for pre-programmed algorithms, sensor technology can capture a large amount of metadata in real time.

As a result, AI allows video analytics to do much more than just alert users when a person or object has crossed a barrier; security cameras can specifically identify a person entering a store or department through facial recognition software, for example.

Retailers can even intercept known shoplifters by using cameras running analytics software.

The devices quickly and efficiently scan approaching vehicles and their license plates and then cross-reference that information with persons of interest to alert security teams.

By applying advanced video and data analytics to existing POS video and data streams, retailers can also curb loss by identifying the products that go without scanning at check out.

The electronic point-of-sale (POS) system can be connected to the surveillance system to track the entire POS activity and identify potential irregular operations.

Two other major causes of retail shrink result from "sweethearting" and self-checkout.

"Sweethearting"— when a cashier allows a customer to pass through the register lane without paying for a product — can include covering barcodes, stacking items one on top of the other, and skipping the scanner and directly bagging the merchandise.

AI fights sweethearting by applying advanced computer vision algorithms to the existing camera feeds, to see and analyze what is happening at the checkout and track each item.

It associates every item within a transaction to the transactional data feed from the POS system to flag anomalies.

Self-checkout fraud includes customers bypassing the scanner, tampering with price codes and leaving merchandise in the basket.

An intelligent computer vision system automatically reconciles what should be on the transaction receipt and the items being scanned in the video.


Internet of Things (IoT)

The IoT connects devices as varied as smartphones to wearable devices to products on the retail shelf.

As the use of IoT increases at a business with the expansion of sensors and devices — including from security-related devices — the volume of data being created will increase rapidly, which will require AI-enabled software and machine learning to analyze that information meaningfully.

For example, some businesses are implementing wearable devices for employees that can learn habits and create patterns based on usage.

An employee who strays from a regular routine sends a flag to security, which may then choose to investigate.

Despite Hollywood's eagerness to portray AI and machine learning as dominated by robots, in reality, machine learning is a part of everyday technology.

Its ability to synthesize data and help humans draw conclusions makes it a tool with a bright future in retail.

Refining the Retail Experience

The goal of experiential retail is to foster a sense of community in an entertaining setting.

Examples of the experiential retail trend are the increase in outdoor malls referred to as “lifestyle centers” and the emerging trend of mixed-use lifestyle centers.

Sadly, few retailers offer a truly memorable experience.

Apple does, with its merchandise displayed in a customer-friendly manner, basically inviting customers to come in and play.

What differentiates it from competitors is the full complement of staff ready and waiting to answer questions (and sell products).

For those seeking a slightly more special experience, customers can make an appointment for an exclusive one-on-one at the Genius Bar.

Apple customers expect -- and receive -- a hands-on tech experience that satisfies their needs, whether they stopped in to ask questions, buy some gadgets or get a feel for a particular set of products.

It wasn’t that long ago that industry experts were mumbling about the demise of Best Buy.

Many thought it would go the way of Circuit City, CompUSA and Crazy Eddie.

But, instead, the big box electronics retailer transformed itself during the last six years into a powerful competitor by confronting the challenges of showrooming and e-commerce.

First, Best Buy created an in-store shopping experience in which customers could watch movies on leading-edge TVs, play with the latest gaming consoles and listen to music on high-quality audio equipment.

The retailer gave customers a reason to visit the physical store.

Second, Best Buy’s size meant it can negotiate discounts with suppliers—and pass the savings on to customers.

Best Buy was, therefore, able to offer product pricing comparable to its online competitors.

Combining experience and pricing with instant gratification proved to be a winning solution.

Retailer Topgolf has taken experiential retail to new heights.

The retail chain is planning a three-level building in San Jose, Calif., with 3,000 sq. ft. of private event space and 120 hitting bays.

The company’s newest location offers golfers the opportunity to hit microchipped balls at colorful targets, challenge friends on the World Golf Tour app, follow shots on the range using Toptracer Ranger and view celebrities on the retailer’s original online content.

To be successful, experiential retail must be authentic: It must have a clear tie to the retailer.

In addition, a strong human element is also needed.

It’s not enough to have associates; frequently, shoppers will complain about intrusive employees.

More often than not, however, shoppers welcome friendly and knowledgeable staff -- after all, they chose to shop in a physical store rather than online.

What they really want is staff that adds value to the transaction.

Having an associate ready and eager to offer advice and to help them navigate their product choices enhances the overall experience.

Get end-to-end integration and streamline your operations


Sales associate using mobile POS to engage with customer


Seamless omnichannel customer experiences require omnichannel retailor operations.

But many European retailors today still struggle from a lack of visibility due to unintegrated technologies and scattered retail and customer data along their channels, which are foundational for omnichannel.

On 2 – 3 May, visit us at RBTE stand H-150 to see how with Retail Pro and our partners you can get end-to-end integration of your mission-critical retail software to unify your operations and secure all your retail data for GDPR compliance.

  • Improve efficiency with customizable workflows in the powerful Retail Pro POS
  • Leverage expert support and integration services from Retail Pro Businses Partners Pinnaca Retail Solutions and Datascan Retail Soulutions
  • Manage risk by using GDPR-compliant software and services
  • Complete transactions anywhere on the sales floor with mobile POS and flexible mobile and fixed payments systems from BS Payone
  • Transform your online experience with fully integrated ecommerce and digital marketing services from Pimble
  • Integrate production processes, logistics, and sales information for a connected supply chain with Stealth Retail ERP

Book your RBTE appointment with us today to see how our end-to-end solution that will help you build a solid foundation for your omnichannel retail operations.


Book my RBTE meeting today






Overcoming the data deluge: 3 steps for retailers to cut through the noise and drive success




Retailers of a certain age will be able to cast their minds back to the 1990s, when they didn’t need to look much further than the trusted combo of a ‘POS’ and supply chain management tool. A lot has changed in the decades that have passed since: an ever-increasing amount of functions are running in the back end, so a typical retailer now uses a multitude of systems, including marketing systems, communications, RFID, ECMS, ESS, IMS, ICMS, DSS, WMS and many others. There’s been talk of Big Data across multiple business sectors in recent years, and retail is clearly an area where vast amounts of it have been created.

The growing amount of systems are the cogs that have made the wheels of the omnichannel retail explosion turn; however, for all the benefits they bring, it can prove easier said than done to manage all of them in tandem before you even start thinking about the impact the data generated can have on wider performance.

Put simply, failing to put that data to use means retailers are missing out. As the amount of data has grown, businesses have begun to offer to run analyses for retailers, using data to feed into decision-making, or even predict which American malls might be set to close. Specialist data analyst firms can certainly bring value, but it’s also crucial that as a bare minimum, retailers are on top of their own data, and able to put it to use themselves. Here are three steps retailers can take to ensure they overcome the data deluge:


1. Eliminate siloes

The first step is to make sure all the information generated by the various systems they use is fed back into the wider organization. Without this, the data points gathered will only benefit one isolated part of the organization, and will not be able to inform wider analyses.

Not all retail systems will be built with this in mind, so retailers should not just assume that everything will already be interconnected. They could even consider it as a potential selling point of new retail systems that are brought into the business in the future.


2. Get a holistic view

Once the data points have been connected, retailers need to ensure they are able to look over them from a top level, so they can see the bigger picture. This means having a system in place that allows them to plug all the data insights into one central pane.

This will put them in a position to make sense of it all, whether that’s for a quarterly update meeting with board members, or a luxury retailer being able to check all channels and locations for a specific item, so that it can be supplied to a high-net-worth customer at the drop of a hat.


3. Cast a critical eye

The final and most important step is for retailers to start drawing insight from what the consolidated data points are telling them. This is process turns ‘Big Data’ into ‘Smart Data’. For this to work, retailers must look to use the data to help draw an accurate picture of exactly what has been going on, what’s happening right now, and future trends.



Driving progress

Having taken these three steps, retailers can cut through the noise and be clear on exactly what the data points are that they have access to, and start to think about what they mean. Most serious retailers already have years’ worth of data to begin this process. Learning can come from customer data and their purchasing history, inventory data, vendor performance and brand preferences which then in turn can be used to feed marketing, clienteling and inventory management decisions. Then retailers can think increasingly smarter about the trends and opportunities that will drive future successes. Then they will be able to manage that knowledge in the longer-term, putting them in a great position to be confident they know what their customers want, and satisfy their needs.



3 Ways To Get Personalization Right




Today's shoppers have immediate access to product information at their fingertips.

Competition is plentiful and fierce, so retailers must differentiate themselves to be top-of-mind.

To be that "go-to" store, retailers increasingly must create personalized experiences that appeal to an individual's desire to be valued and sought-after.

Retailers must leverage the customer data they have -- or should have -- to create that unique environment.

Intelligence on customer preferences and their interactions must be accessible and actionable; in other words, if you have information, use it. Analyze it.

And interpret it through the prism of providing a top-notch retail experience.

Why? Because it's profitable.

Customers report that meaningful personalization does increase spending.

Retailers using personalization strategies experience revenue gains of six to 10 percent, a rate two to three times greater than other retailers, Boston Consulting Group research reports.


Here are three ways to get personalization right:


1.  Create personalized marketing campaign around product usage

Consider how your products or store can help customers achieve their goals.

The data that helps you determine which products customers may be interested in will also help you figure out why they need those items.

That knowledge will help you craft an individual message to every shopper.

Sometimes a group message is appropriate, but most often, the more you treat your customer as an individual with unique needs, the better you can illustrate your brand's respect for individual customers.


2. Use detailed customer data to meaningfully personalize teasers, promotions and discounts

Communicate through data-driven email.

Personalizing messages requires email segmentation, analyzing customer data and creating a 360-degree customer view from a centralized database.

However, although email list segmentation has proven to lead to higher sales rates, half of marketers surveyed by Tune said they are not segmenting their email lists and less than nine percent of marketers said they aggregate their data within a single system of record.

Targeted email marketing is very successful; 47 percent of marketers told Emma’s 2017 Email Marketing Industry Report that email generates the most ROI for their organizations.

To take full advantage of email’s potential, retailers can send personalized teasers, promotions and discounts to loyal shoppers as well as prospects, in addition to those who’ve abandoned their shopping carts.


3. Engage consumers at key moments in their shopping experiences with push notifications

Text notifications can push shoppers through your door.

Research has found that 57 percent of shoppers spent more money at a retailer after receiving a notification.

An even more impressive figure is that 68 percent of consumers reported an impulse buy after receiving a notification.

Sending push notifications effectively helps boost sales by engaging consumers at key moments in their shopping experiences.



How To Win More Customers This Holiday Season




Holiday shoppers will be headed out to the malls and Main Street this year.

They might also be shopping online, but the foot traffic is music to most retailers’ ears.

According to a study by Natural Insight, 87% of shoppers are planning to hit the road and shop. That number is spread out among younger shoppers, age 18 to 29, as well as older ones, age 45 to 59.

Once they’re in the store, the trick is to entice them to become customers.

Smart retailers will analyze customer data to pinpoint areas of differentiation. Providing a relevant, efficient customer experience is the end game. The trick is getting there.

Here are a few ways two big retailers are strategizing to make the most out of the most critical shopping time of the year.



Target is striving to reignite its hip style image, while keeping products affordable.


Ship to Store

Target is offering its ship-from-store program at an additional 300 stores this holiday season.

The offering gets online orders to customers faster, and brings them into the store -- where impulse shopping can drive up the total sale.


Reduce returns

Target’s GiftNow relieves some gift-giving anxiety.

A customer selects the GiftNow button when buying an item on Target.com.

The recipient receives the present as a digital gift box and has the option to accept, modify or pick an entirely different item.

In effect, the recipient can exchange the gift before ever receiving it. Less hassle for the recipient and less costly for Target.


Understanding demographics

Target has had success attracting families and Latinos with last year's holiday campaign, but it didn't connect with either young adults without children or empty nesters.

Some of the exclusive brands it plans to launch, including Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, a partnership with HGTV ties, and JoyLab, an atheleisure line, are geared toward appealing to that market.


Toys R Us

Success this holiday season is a life or death proposition for Toys R Us, which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.



The toy retailer is using augmented reality technology to transform its customer experience.

Customers – in particular, their children – use an app to view AR activities that implant computer-generated images on top of a real-world environment, a la Pokemon Go.

Shoppers are guided by flashing icons and stickers on the floor, and by pointing their mobile devices at shelf sign or floor decal, see a toy or activity come to life on the screen.

Each activity lets the player earn stars; as more stars are earned, more experiences are offered.

The idea is to offer shoppers a compelling customer experience so they  visit a store, rather than shop online.

The goal is to be a shopping destination where fun informs purchasing decisions.


Experiential retail

In addition, the retailer will open playrooms at many of its stores, where children can try out toys and demonstrations will be available.

That can go a long way in reversing a mindset of not wanting to shop with the kids who are frustrated at not being able to touch and play with toys on the shelf.

Instead, the strategy encourages bringing children and listening to their feedback.


Brick and mortars that understand their shoppers and formulate strategies specifically geared toward them will be best positioned this holiday season.

Those who continue with tired formulas that meet neither the needs nor the expectations of shoppers will lose out to online competitors, as well as to the brick and mortars that are evolving with their customers.