Retail TouchPoints – Even in a “normal” year, holiday predictions are challenging — and 2017 is not a normal year. Retail experts are struggling to make sense out of political news, combined with uncertainty about health care, trade policies, a host of laws and regulations, and the debatable demise of brick-and-mortar retail.
Despite all the challenges, consumers remain upbeat — to a point. While consumers have a largely optimistic view of the macro environment, they also are taking a cautious approach to near-term spending. Additionally, retailers continue to struggle to adapt to the fast growth of mobile shopping. The “commerce” and “fulfillment” elements of purchases are now separate, meaning that a shopper may buy something in one place (or channel) but take possession of it at a totally di erent time or location.
The Retail TouchPoints 2017 Holiday Guide explores several topics within two distinct sections:
• How channel-agnostic retail is reshaping many of the big-picture aspects of holiday planning, including marketing, experiential retail and business intelligence and analytics; and
• The Nuts & Bolts that contribute to a successful holiday season: inventory, price and workforce optimization as
well as the latest innovations in shipping (such as partnering with Uber or Deliv) and customer service (such as AI-powered chatbots).
Throughout the Guide, look for practical advice, retail success stories and provocative ideas for making holiday 2017 both pleasant and profitable.
EXCERPTS FROM BRP EXECUTIVES:
Training And Education Are Critical
Retailers can’t assume that just because everyone has their own mobile device that they automatically will know how to use them in a business setting. Everyone — associates and customers — needs education to get the most out of mobile technology.
“Retailers need to train both associates and customers on new mobile processes,” said Marty Whitmore, Vice President, BRP in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “With the addition of many temporary or seasonal associates during the holidays, thorough training is even more critical.”
The need for education is particularly acute with mobile payment: “We have found repeatedly that not only are consumers unsure of how and when mobile payments can be used, but even more telling, associates are unsure,” said Whitmore. Additionally, retailers need to ensure “that a transaction using a mobile device is not longer or more complicated than a traditional payment method for either the customer or the associate,” he added.
How REI And CVS Tackle Holiday Mobile Challenges
A number of retailers have been able to successfully combine multiple mobile functionalities to improve the customer experience. BRP’s Whitmore mentioned REI as a good example: “Each associate in their stores is equipped with a mobile device that allows them to access deep product information so they have just as much information as their customers who have done research before the shopping visit,” he said. “They even take it one step further and use the same devices for line-busting at the front-end checkout area or to complete the transaction at the point of purchase.”
Other retailers have focused on enhancing the utility of their mobile apps for shoppers: “CVS has done an excellent job within their mobile application by integrating their loyalty system, promotional system and pharmacy system into their application, which makes it more compelling for the customer to download and use,” said Whit- more. Making a mobile app “sticky” is vital: “Unless a consumer is a very frequent shopper, they need strong incentives to download another retailer loyalty app, as many consumers are reaching the point of ‘app fatigue.’”
To Optimize Inventory, Factor In Fulfillment Destinations
“Retailers have large amounts of customer data,” said Gene Bornac, VP at Boston Retail Partners. “To prepare for holiday and better understand customer anticipation, retailers should be using their data to track buying and shopping patterns as well as look at their customer’s sentiment on social media.”
4 Tips To Minimize Seasonal Workforce Security Risks
Make hiring plans now and communicate them to stores and DCs: “Seasonal help is often a reactionary action at the store level instead of a well-planned and communicated strategy,” said Perry Kramer, VP and Practice Lead, BRP. Providing plenty of lead time enables stores to be more proactive in hiring, “which facilitates a more effective new-hire processing and training time frame,” said Kramer.
“This allows stores to be more selective, including performing background checks on associates in higher risk areas.”
Spend sufficient time on training: “Retailers should spend the time necessary to train seasonal workers on how to use the tools available, or at a minimum what tools are available, before the worker is exposed to any customers said Kramer.
Don’t Break The Bank Competing With Amazon On The Last Mile
“A cost-effective shipping and delivery strategy is critical for every retailer,” said Perry Kramer, VP and Practice Lead at BRP in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “This is extremely relevant for retailers since delivery and shipping fees often are the difference between making money and losing money on e-Commerce transactions. Retailers need to focus on finding the right product mix and understanding the customer’s need for same-day or next-day delivery, and then minimize the costs associated with these services.”
Read Full Article: 2017 Holiday Guide – Navigating the Modern World of Channel-agnostic Retail