+1 916 605 7200          moreinfo@retailpro.com        
 
   +1 916 605 7200              moreinfo@retailpro.com            

The practicality of endless aisle when supply chain delays cause in-store stockouts

In retail’s busiest months when supply chains are most strained, stores face stockouts that translate to lost sales and potentially lost customers.

Endless aisle improves a brand’s ability to satisfy customers by offering a more robust product selection.

Online, selections are virtually limitless; endless aisle solutions allow traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to effectively compete and save sales.

Extending in-store inventory

True omnichannel offerings match, complement, and sync customers’ online and mobile experiences with that of an in-store visit.

Endless Aisle can be achieved simply at your store by offering inventory visibility to both customers and associates through mobile touchpoints.

For example: While that Michael Kors bag may not be on the shelf in hot pink, it is an available color offered by the brand.

Using an in-store mobile device, a customer can peruse all the brand’s selections, and an associate can place the order for any desired color—as well as any matching accessories—and have it delivered to the customer’s home.

Though the delivery will still have to pass through the same supply chains, the customer is satisfied in knowing the item has been purchased and is on its way, rather than feeling the frustration of not getting the item upon which they had set their hopes.

Checking stock availability for BOPIS

In addition to extending the in-store experience, Endless Aisle can manage a number of tasks for at-home shoppers as well.

That includes stock visibility for those who want to check whether a product is available before heading in-store to purchase, as well as those who simply want to pick up their online orders at a retail location.

Buying online and picking up in store (“BOPIS”) has significantly increased due to COVID-19: Research firm McKinsey reported in the early stages the global pandemic that BOPIS usage grew 28 percent year over year in February compared with 18 percent in January.

For those shoppers wanting to avoid the ecommerce delivery wait with impacted supply chains, getting visibility into in-store stock availability helps them leave the house with a plan and a high probability of its success.

Saving sales for out-of-stocks

It’s estimated that 10% of online and in-store sales are lost due to items being out of stock.

It’s even possible that, if potential customers are turned away, they may never return, compounding the loss of revenue.

Providing associates with quick and easy one-touch access to inventory of a network of stores or warehouses reduces the likelihood of losing sales, especially when the product is in stock at another store location.

Creating a personal shopper experience

Endless Aisle solutions offer retailers flexibility with inventory: Stores don’t have to stock every single item.

They can showcase best-selling items in their (often very) expensive retail space.

Pricey or very large items can be represented on the retail floor, and a full complement can be viewed in-store within the Endless Aisle on a mobile device, with an associate close at hand to answer any questions.

In that way, salespeople become trusted advisors, instantly accessing detailed product information and stock availability, searching for products in other store locations and within warehouses.

AI-generated style recommendations can help round out a sale with perfect add-on accessories.

Orders are placed directly and can be sent right to the customer’s home or business.

By avoiding lost sales and delighting customers with virtually limitless options, Endless Aisle technology can boost revenue and sales.

An effective Endless Aisle solution blends the best part of online and in-store shopping, helping you outpace the competition.







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 benefits of investing in your team now with retail and POS training

Image: Edmond Dantès

Morale is vital to the success of retail: Happy employees make customers feel welcome.

And during times when customers are hesitant about making shopping trips to brick and mortar stores, retailers are wise to address reasons for dissatisfaction among associates.

Retail is always shifting, and even more so during COVID-19.

Investing in your team with training will improve morale and simultaneously boost productivity.

Here are 3 benefits of investing in your team with training in retail and POS skills.

Improve employee efficiency

Image: Polina Zimmerman

Speak to your employees to learn what they view as the team’s operational shortcomings.

Rather than prescribing what they need to learn, ask for their perception and work from there.

Often, they know where they need to improve, but don’t have the tools to do so.

Provide those tools and they will be more confident, and you’ll get a better employee.

Train new employees on important POS features in Retail Pro Prism with structured or on-demand training on the My Retail Pro resource portal, available free with an active Software Assurance plan.

You can download the POS video user guide from My Retail Pro to help your team in walking through the deep features in Retail Pro POS.

Better training at the POS increases transaction speed and improves the checkout experience for your customers.

With curbside pickup, some retailers are using mobile POS to allow customers to pay for orders reserved online from the convenience of their car when they pull up for curbside pickup.

Training on Retail Pro prepares employees for the switch to mobile POS as well, since you get access to all the same tools, whether on mobile or desktop.

Expand team skillsets

Cross-training employees for different jobs boosts morale and protects your business.

An employee who learns various jobs picks up more skills.

That puts an associate in a position for favorable recognition for different talents.

Cross-training also alleviates employee boredom because they’re not in a rut, performing the same tasks every day. 

Periodic cleaning to keep your team and customers safe may not feel like a high-skill job, but putting this task in the right perspective – as something that adds to customers’ ease and experience in your store – helps employees see more value in the task.

Employees who have been with your team longer and are more in tune with store needs can be trained to take up other operations tasks, like X and Z out reports and physical inventory tasks.

Increase employee retention

Employees who feel outdated are generally less happy than those who are up to date on their industry.

Offering employees the chance to learn new skills and improve existing ones makes them more invested in your business, and more likely to continue growing with you.

Your workers feel appreciated and appreciate the opportunity to grow.

In addition, training employees on new technologies and industry changes helps them stay current and do their jobs well.

Training in clienteling skills, too, can increase employee effectiveness on the sales floor and their interest in putting forth more and better customer support.

Customer history tools in Retail Pro Prism offer insights on past purchases and customer statistics to help your associates make more relevant suggestions and land a sale.

With COVID-19’s shift to online shopping, in-store associates have had more occasion to pivot on their daily tasks, with new responsibilities in cleaning and curbside pickup, among others.

Empowering your team to do their jobs well with Retail Pro training keep morale higher and associates happier.







US retail’s recent rush to adopt contactless payments

Image: Pixabay

The COVID-19 pandemic has motivated retailers to turn to technology to help their businesses plan better, increase productivity, and service their customers.

Contactless payments are one of the areas that, because of COVID-19, will change forever the way retailers do business.

Safer and faster checkout

safe retail shopping during COVID
Image: Anna Shvets

These RFID-enabled payments have been available for years but have surged in popularity during the pandemic.

Not only is contactless more hygienic – in the time of COVID-19, no one wants to touch cash that’s been touched by hundreds of strangers – but it also streamlines the entire checkout process.

While the pandemic may have provided a strong push toward a cashless society, customers could still choose to use a traditional payment card, rather than NFC technology, and be safer from virus exposure during the transaction because they are operating the card reader rather than handling cash.

However, because they use radio-frequency identification, contactless payments reduce time waiting in lines.

The “tap-and-go” process generally results in speedier transactions. While the transaction time for a chip-enabled card can take as long as 30 to 45 seconds, a contactless transaction can be as short as 10 to 15 seconds.

Global adoption of contactless payments

Contactless transactions build upon RFID and typically use NFC technology, the foundation for services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Globally, this method of payment is very popular. 

The United States, however, has been slow to adopt contactless payments.

In 2018, only 3% of cards in use in the United States were contactless, compared with 64% in the United Kingdom and up to 96% in South Korea, according to global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney.

Even prior to the pandemic, Juniper Research reported that contactless payments would triple to $6 trillion worldwide by 2024, up from roughly $2 trillion this year.

OEM mobile wallet transactions were predicted to increase as banks expanded the use of contactless cards. 

In the U.S. market, contactless transaction values were expected to rise at an even higher rate than the global market, reaching $1.5 trillion by 2024, compared with the approximated $178 billion in 2020. 

Once COVID-19 hit, contactless payments began to surge.

By August 2020, the global contactless payment market was valued at $ 1.05 trillion by 2019 transaction value, and is now predicted to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of roughly 20.01% between 2020 and 2027.

Today, the global contactless payment market value is expected to surpass $ 4.60 trillion by 2027.

Customers have enough friction getting out to the store today. By offering contactless payments, retailers can provide an efficient, safe method for purchasing goods and services while enhancing the customer’s overall experience.







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.







Predictive analytics: Looking at the past to shape future sales

Understanding customer behavior and shopping patterns is difficult enough during “normal times.”

So, when a shockwave hits the system – like a global pandemic or natural disaster – it stresses the supply chain and puts planning on its ear.

Accounting for seasonality in demand

Image: JESHOOTS.com

Predictive analytics can help retailers prepare for all types of seasonal happenings, including not only holidays, but also hurricanes and wildfires.

Natural disasters are often seasonal: For example, wildfire season is August-November and hurricane season is slightly longer, starting in June.

While it is impossible to predict the final landfall point of a hurricane or the path of a wildfire, goods can be procured in a way that optimizes costs while considering all path probabilities.

Making accurate predictions regarding the types and amounts of products demanded by consumers is not trivial: Ineffective forecasting efforts result in shortages of in-demand products as well as overages of unwanted products that ultimately must be salvaged.

Focusing predictive analytics on concrete business objectives

Image: shattha pilabut

It seems paradoxical that predictive analytics uses historical information to determine future shopper actions.

Such retail data might include transactions, sales results, customer complaints, and marketing information.

Retailers use predictive analytics with a business goal in mind. 

By harnessing large, heterogeneous data sets into models, they can glean clear, actionable intelligence that helps them achieve their goals, such as more sales, less inventory, and faster deliveries.

Having the right data is key to predictive analytics success. That information may include:

  • Point-of-sale data
  • Consumer-related information (e.g., loyalty programs)
  • Store layout
  • Online navigation traffic flow
  • Consumer demography
  • External factors, such as weather

Retailers can prepare for seasonal shopping by crunching last year’s sales data, combining it with those other pieces of information, and creating a game plan that can meet any storm – or holiday – head on.

The key to retail growth in today’s marketplace is unlocking the benefits of predictive analytics to gain a deep understanding of the customer base to maximize sales, improve inventory churn and increase customer satisfaction.







Customer data: collecting selectively for better service

Today’s retailer faces stiff competition, particularly from ecommerce.

In a world in which fewer people want to visit malls and other enclosed spaces, retailers have had to pull out the stops to provide exceptional customer service.

In addition, online retailers are fiercely competitive with one another, angling for the best way to attract and keep shoppers.

Customer loyalty is critical to success – and profitable retailers know how to foster repeat business.

Understanding customers to predict future purchases

Image: Porapak Apichodilok

Customers respond to the personal touch.

It’s one area in which in-person, brick and mortar stores can effectively compete against their online cousins.

But virtual stores can and do also provide personalization.

Data analysis is used by all varieties of retailers to predict future purchases by analyzing customers’ previous shopping history.

A “360 customer view” is used to create a strategy that considers each shopper’s interaction history and maps out an outcome for each event.

But recent research by Gartner points out that collecting the “right” data is much more important than collecting “all” the data.

Unifying data sources for a holistic customer view

The key to understanding the customer is having software that brings together certain data that is scattered throughout the business.

Combining various data sources into a heterogeneous whole in business intelligence solutions like Retail Pro Decisions helps retailers consume data to uncover customer patterns and needs and optimize processes for serving these needs.

That information may lie within other channels and includes shopping history, preferences, consents, products owned and relationships with other customers.

Many of those other channels, such as social media or mobile apps, provide rich information on customer preferences.

Brick and mortar locations use POS data as well as technology such as line-of-sight detection, which uses sensors to collect data from eye movements, allowing retailers to identify shopping patterns and tailor the customer experience to those habits. 

Collecting focused data to solve specific needs

Image: Jopwell

Collecting every shred of information is time consuming and burdensome.

It is also, according to Gartner, unproductive.

Identifying a problem first and then collecting data related to that issue is a far more efficient solution.

A number of customer experience problems can be addressed by gathering specific information and applying it to specific problems, such as long customer wait times, inadequate communication and low inventory.   

POS solutions like Retail Pro Prism that integrate CRM software can be tailored to collect certain information that provides a customer view that will help retailers predict shopping trends.

What information should be collected?

Retailers should filter their data through a lens of what will help them improve each interaction with a customer.

All information gathered should be able to be used to enhance the relationship with that customer.

The more precise the data is, the more targeted marketing campaigns for each customer segment can be.

And that will provide retailers with the ability to offer more personal, proactive customer service based on an individual’s buying habits. 







3 Operational benefits of 5G-powered IoT interconnectivity

5G networks have rolled out in only a handful of U.S. cities, but that momentum is growing.

Recent research from Barclays Corporate Banking suggests that 5G could supercharge the UK economy by up to £15.7 billion per year by 2025.

The technology is 20 times faster than 4G and will connect not just people, but interconnect and control machines, objects, and devices as well.

That speed, coupled with virtually no latency, means the new networks will nearly eliminate lag time.

1. Improving communications along the supply chain

For supply chain management, 5G provides greater connectivity and reliability, which will lead to improved communications between brands, transportation, and consumers.

While the technology will transform warehouse management through the use of the internet of things, artificial intelligence, and robots, it will also improve the in-store customer experience.

Providing 5G connectivity in physical stores means Internet of Things (IoT) devices can easily communicate on a fast, reliable network that doesn’t require too much power.

Because of their low power consumption, 5G networks can provide up to 10 years of battery life for low-power IoT devices.

2. Optimizing inventory visibility and management  

Image: Polina Tankilevitch 

Technology such as smart shelving, which uses many sensors to provide real-time inventory visibility and pricing updates, as well as dynamic pricing, automated checkouts, connected fitting rooms, and automatic replenishment will benefit from 5G networks.

In addition, the boost in speed will power retail analytics, inventory visibility, demand forecasting, and endless aisle technologies.

The faster network will enable more accurate real-time data to flow, ultimately facilitating smarter, more robust systems.

More operational and inventory decisions will be handled by automation.

Inventory, for example, will be tracked more quickly and accurately, which will improve forecasting quantities.

Sales associates won’t have to do manual inventory counts and can spend more time interacting with customers.

Having the right amount of stock on hand increases customer satisfaction, because — thanks to accurate inventory counts — products will be available on demand.

3. Boosting digital connectivity

Image: Gustavo Fring

5G promises to facilitate a whole new world of digital connectivity.

Mobile shoppers will benefit as the paths to purchase in even the busiest of stores will be smooth.

5G also offers low power consumption (a 90% reduction in network energy usage from 4G) and high reliability, which makes it well suited for the retail space.

For example, in China, the Shanghai Lujiazui L+ Mall uses the 5G digital indoor system, network connectivity across 12 floors and more than 140,000 sq. meters of floor area.

5G enables the connection of more devices than 4G and improves the responsiveness of wireless technologies.

Because of its ability to improve backend processes through its support of IoT devices, as well as the overall customer experience, 5G technology will rock retail’s world.







How AR can bring immersive retail to shoppers staying at home

Image: Vlada Karpovich

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently told Bloomberg that augmented reality (AR) is “changing the whole experience of how [customers] shop.”

Considering the typical experience of entering a store, looking through the merchandise, speaking to an associate and paying for the purchase has, in some cases, changed very little in the United States since Colonial times, until COVID-19.

Now, with social distancing and the Stay at Home life, augmented reality can bring brand stores home to their customers.

AR for COVID-19 omnichannel

Image: cottonbro

AR could be a very effective tool for retailers looking to enhance their omnichannel retail strategy while shoppers are still hesitant to return to stores with the pandemic’s ongoing threat.

AR adds digital elements to a live view usually by using the camera on a smartphone.

In a store, shoppers typically already have their smartphones out, so taking over that screen’s real estate with AR content can deliver additional information that will grab consumers’ attention and keep them focused on making a purchase.

Brick and mortars and e-commerce could benefit from AR advantages over more traditional advertising efforts.

Merging digital and physical retail

Image: Oladimeji Ajegbile

The technology can merge online and offline customer experiences through an intuitive, context-sensitive, and socially connected interface.

How will that desk look in my home office? Will that color red look good on me?

AR puts the desk in your room or the blazer on your back, using the smartphone’s camera.

AI currently serves as an attention-grabber for retailers looking to deliver novel experiences.

It also provides interesting potential benefits to customers – such as allowing them to “showroom” a product at home, or see a product in its future environment, helping them to make more informed purchase decisions.

With shoppers unable or unwilling in many regions still to visit stores, augmented reality’s showrooming benefits could be an opportunity for a more consultative approach to distance sales.

Bringing customer value

Image: Ola Dapo

Customers have been slow to warm up to AR, often considering it gimmicky and failing to see much value in it, but COVID-19 may change that perception.

The technology can deliver real value during the lockdown if firms are able to prioritize actual customer needs, such as more efficient and enjoyable shopping experiences that reduce decision-making uncertainty.

In contrast to other emerging technologies, which immerse customers into a fully synthetic environment (e.g., virtual reality), AR supplements reality rather than replaces it.

As such, it is the perfect lynchpin between the online and offline world.

Contextualizing experiences & spreading the word

Image: Anna Shvets

AR contextualizes products and services by embedding digital content into the customer’s physical environment, interactively and in real-time and increasingly allows customers to share their enhanced view of reality with others.

Customers draw on their own physical experiences and actions to learn more about products and services, while also relying on others to support them in product or service evaluation.

Because people have a natural tendency to share their experiences with peers, customers commonly consult peer reviews, go shopping together, and increasingly share their shopping in real-time through highly visual social media such as Snapchat.

AR blurs the boundaries between online and offline channels by providing a combination of embedded and extended experiences.







Measuring ROI of relationship building with loyalty programs

Customer retention is a huge challenge for retailers, and all recognize the advantages of cultivating a base of customers: A 5% increase in customer loyalty can increase the average profit per customer by 25% to 100%, according to fitsmallbusiness.com.

Creating a customer experience that is satisfying is a much more cost-effective strategy than constant prospecting.

Short-term value of increasing sales vs building relationships

Some businesses assume that by simply rewarding customers with discounts, shoppers will become more loyal; JC Penney discovered the unintended side effects of sale psychology too late.

However, cultivating a strong emotional bond between a brand and its customers is what makes it more likely that a customer will continue to visit the store or website in the future.

And the intangible aspects of relationship building come actually with a very clear ROI, if you’re tracking the right metrics.

For example, offering a sales discount as part of a birthday recognition personalizes the rewards experience to every member, making each feel special and recognized for being a loyalty club member.

Yes, you’re making them feel special and a little more bonded emotionally to your brand.

And yes, you see immediate ROI on those relational tactics when they redeem their birthday offer.

Watching for and leading customers to the next phase in the journey toward a higher overall CLV should be the goal of every loyalty program, and can be accomplished more effectively with loyalty and personalized marketing tools like AppCard for Retail Pro.

While well-run loyalty programs that deliver customer satisfaction clearly improve retention rates, they can also be a means to attract new customers.

First-time shoppers can easily recognize a program that makes customers a priority and that anticipates and exceeds their needs as soon as they join.

Having a well-designed loyalty program not only keeps returning customers happy, but it also grows the retailer’s customer base.

Millennial mindshare: Experiential loyalty

Millennials are the largest group of shoppers in the current market, and as a demographic, they are very brand loyal.

However, they are particular about what they are looking for in a loyalty program.

No punch cards for this generation — or trading stamps.

The key to success with millennials is building a relationship, and that’s done through offering special experiences rather than coupons.

For example, a credit card that offers advance ticket purchasing for popular events; a coffee roastery that gives members a heads up to new roasts and coffee tastings or a makeup line that provides VIP access to a celebrity Q&A on a social network are ways to make a customer feel special and want to be part of a loyalty program.

Loyalty programs are important to retain customers and attract new shoppers, as well as to help retailers forge deeper, richer, customer connections.

Happy customers spread the word, and prospective customers generally trust friends’ feedback more than advertisements or other types of marketing.

Loyalty programs help polish a retailer’s image.

Humans want to feel special, and loyalty programs help retailer provide that experience.

By doing so, retailers reap the benefits of repeat customers while attracting new ones — and enhancing their brand’s reputation.







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Countries

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Customers

54000

Stores

159000

Points of Sale

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Countries

9000

Customers

54000

Stores

159000

Points of Sale

130

Countries

9000

Customers

54000

Stores

159000

Points of Sale