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Executive ViewPoints

The retail industry is fortunate to include numerous executives with extensive experience — and they are willing to share their insights in the Retail TouchPoints ViewPoints section. These byline pieces focus on industry trends and do not include solution provider sales pitches. Many of the byline pieces receive the greatest number of clicks on the RTP site each year.

Secrets To Building Successful Mobile In-Store Experiences

AVP Hughes headshotDo you have a mobile in-store experience strategy? Many articles and studies tell us mobile is the greatest technology disrupter in retail since the barcode. At three Retail TouchPoints executive breakfasts in New York City, Dallas and Minneapolis earlier this year, mobile was the hottest topic of discussion. So hot that at one event the presenter never made it past the third slide when mobile strategy was brought up for discussion! The question for retailers remains deceptively simple: How do you build a successful mobile in-store experience that leads to higher conversion rates and larger basket sizes?

A successful mobile experience starts with a well-defined strategy, beginning with a basic choice between mobile app and mobile web. This may lead to questions concerning user interface or device type — are you designing for an iPhone experience or Android? Is it a customer facing or associate driven experience? What features are needed across channels and should they all be delivered at once or over time? Will push notifications be implemented? Keep in mind 86% of mobile users’ time is spent in apps vs. mobile web since April 2014 according to a Flurry Analytics, comScore and NetMarketShare study.

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Analytics That Make A Difference: Data Shows Increased Conversion Rates For Staffed Fitting Rooms

AVP site only RetailNext headshotIt’s a constant struggle for retailers to protect margins. If it’s not global macro-economic concerns, it’s unseasonable weather, intensified competition, multichannel conflict and inefficiencies, increased theft or any number of countless other causes. In response, many retailers have responded with short-term fixes of reducing staffing coverage and labor costs, but in doing so, have created long-term unintended consequences.

Professor Saravanan Kesavan and a team of researchers at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business recently published a paper that considered the case of a large Midwestern department store chain that changed its operational models to include a self-service fitting room. The research findings illustrate the need to complement value and intuition with hard data in making decisions to optimize retail store operations.

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Why Intelligent Alerting Beats Predictive Analytics

AVP Kim Garretson head shotA news headline from June 2015 reads: “Why investors can’t stop investing in predictive analytics.” This makes me scratch my head, because in my view, most predictive platforms promise negligible increases in conversion. I wonder: Why not just ask the non-buying shopper what she wants to buy next and why?

But the tide is turning, and some retailers who profess to be “customer-centric” realize that expensive predictive platforms using past-history browse, CRM, purchase and other data sets, while improving, are still merely ‘guesses’ at future purchase intent. And, even worse, they often irritate shoppers when un-requested retargeting emails and ads plead for a second chance to sell them something.

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Google’s 'Mobilegeddon' Forces Emphasis On Site Design And Performance

AVP site only Catchpoint head shotThe recent buzz surrounding “Mobilegeddon” (or in less dramatic terms, Google’s adjustment of its mobile search algorithm to include “mobile friendliness” as a search ranking factor) has created quite a stir in the Internet universe. Specifically, the search giant has reevaluated this algorithm to reflect the current state of the mobile Internet and recent advancements in mobile devices. So web administrators are now scrambling to make their sites more “mobile friendly” in order to remain as high as possible in Google’s mobile search rankings.

The mobile friendliness of a site can be determined in several ways, depending on the search engine. Considering that Google is the most popular search engine in the world—according to DigitalTrends.com, Google occupies 68.75 percent of the global search engine traffic — it’s sensible, some would say mandatory, to abide by its criteria. The publicly-available Google criteria for mobile friendliness include:

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E-Commerce Economics: Why Up-And-Coming Online Brands Are Going SaaS

AVP site only Bigcommerce head shotI know, the holidays seem so far off, but trust me: They are approaching full speed. For e-Commerce companies, the holidays are a black train in the night –– but one for which you’ve already bought a ticket and are excited about the destination. You know it is coming, you know it will be on time, but the anticipation, the necessary preparation –– well, those are a bit less exciting than the benefits of the trip itself.

When it comes to the holidays, e-Commerce benefits more and more year-over-year. In total, the 2014 holiday season saw a 7% increase in e-Commerce sales –– bumping up the total revenue to $100 billion. For individual days, though, the increase was much more significant with the biggest year-over-year gains in e-Commerce spending being Thanksgiving Day (32%), Black Friday (26%) and Cyber Monday (17%).

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Improving The Customer Experience And The Bottom Line In The Store Of The Future

AVP site only Wincor-Nixdorf head shotHow well do you know and communicate with your customers? Are you ready to harness technology to treat customers as individuals rather than campaigns?

Modern technology is already starting to develop the store of the future. With new software and personal secure smart devices, stores can provide better, timelier offers, and a more personalized shopping experience tailored to each customer’s habits. It’s time to reconsider how we use technology to attract people to the store and how to keep them there once they’ve arrived.

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5 Marketing Realities To Maximize Customer Lifetime Value

1 cassie web
In June I attended Retail TouchPoints’ Retail Innovation Conference (RIC) here in New York, and with a stated theme of “reimagining the customer experience,” I could not have felt more at home. I admittedly attended the conference with my own agenda — to persuade an audience on the power of personalization in driving customer lifetime value — but was thrilled to see many of the day’s sessions round out this thesis.

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Content Gone Wild: Digital Rights Management Best Practices For Retailers

aVP Canto headshotThe massive collection of content, digital images and video that companies collect over time has become about as easy to manage as trying to herd feral cats in the dark. In spite of everything they do to make sure they are managing online and offline channels effectively on a daily basis, retailers have an especially challenging job when it comes to maintaining massive libraries of digital content. To make matters more complex, retailers must always put cross-channel brand consistency, from in-store, to online to mobile, top of mind.  

Besides just organizing content, images, photos and videos, there are other more serious ramifications of not using a systematic approach to content management, one of which is copyright infringement. Not only can retailers be subjected to steep fines for using content that they haven’t licensed for specific uses, they can be ordered to take down web site pages, or even their entire web site, if found guilty of infringement violations. Instead of just having to pay fines that may be in the thousands of dollars, the damage to the company’s brand and loss of sales revenue due to lack of site access could be immeasurable.

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Omnichannel Gift Card Programs Offer New Income Streams, Customer Data And Peace Of Mind

AVP site only SVS headshotLeading retailers have made it a priority to create seamless omnichannel experiences for their customers; from apparel through health and beauty to restaurants, brand owners are adding features that allow their customers to order products online or from their mobile devices, and either pick them up in the store or have them delivered to their home.

Women’s apparel retailer Athleta, for example, has laptops set up in-store that allow customers to check on availability of items and order online, if they’re not available at that moment in the store. Cosmetics giant Sephora has an app called “My Beauty Bag” that allows customers to track their purchase history and store their favorite products online, whether from their laptops or a mobile device, for use in ordering or when shopping in-store.

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Engaging Millennials Through Proximity Marketing

AVP iSignMedia headshotAs the Millennial generation moves out of budget-constrained youth into their higher earning years, their buying prominence will change, but not at the expense of how they interact with the market. This is a culturally savvy demographic that is not as easily motivated as prior generations. Today, traditional marketing is being replaced by newer, more relevant methods, and companies that want to stay ahead of the curve will need to change with the times.

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Is Your Advertising Campaign As Stale As That Ad?

AVP site only ChoiceStream headshotIn the age of Big Data, most brands have access to a plethora of consumer information. Though many use this intel to enhance campaign targeting, few are leveraging these insights to create truly engaging and relevant display ads.

If your brand is still serving up static display ads to a broad base of consumers, you’re stuck in 2010 — and you’re not getting the most bang for your buck.

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How To Create In-Store Experiences That Keep Shoppers Coming Back

AVP site only Vend headshotFinding ways to lure people into stores isn’t as big of a challenge as some retailers may think. After all, there isn’t a shortage of ways to drive in-store traffic. There are plenty of tactics — including the use of loss leaders and PR stunts — that can lure customers into stores.

But these things, while effective, aren’t always sustainable. And this is where the real challenge lies. Any retailer struggling with improving in-store sales should go beyond gimmicks and short-term gains, and instead focus on strategies that can not only bring people in, but also get them to stay and come back.

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Mastering The Data-Driven Customer Experience

AVP TimeTrade ImageDelivering superior customer service has been a focus for retailers since the dawn of modern shopping. We’ve all heard the phrase, “the customer is always right,” an indicator of the importance retailers put on delivering an excellent shopping experience. After all, a happy customer means a loyal customer, which in turn, means more sales.

That said, what constitutes a great shopping experience has dramatically changed over the years. With the rise of e-Commerce, more and more consumers are researching their purchases at home before they ever visit a store. The ability to investigate and compare products from the comfort of your home — or even from a mobile device — minimizes time spent visiting stores and gives consumers the freedom to browse at their convenience.

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6 Steps To Getting Started As An Amazon Seller

AVP site only Appeagle headshotBecoming an Amazon seller comes with many factors to consider. Everything from how to sell, to what to sell, to where to sell — not to mention all the rules and regulations involved — can make the setup process intimidating for aspiring sellers. Not to worry! The following points are designed to make getting started easier.

1. Decide What Kind Of Seller You Will Be: One of your most crucial decisions will be whether or not you ship using Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA), Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN), or both. The best way to decide which method will work most effectively for you is to carefully account for your needs and make sure you are choosing the most congruent method for your business.

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