The Power of Mobile

There is no denying the power of mobile technology as a major disruptor in the retail industry. The proliferation and convenience of mobile devices has completely changed shopping behaviors and elevated customer expectations. And there’s no sign that it’s slowing down any time soon. In fact, according to the BRP Consumer Study[1], mobile shopping will continue to grow as 41% of consumers indicate they plan to increase their shopping frequency on their phone or tablet in the next 24 months.

However, purchasing via a phone is just one way that mobile devices are becoming more pervasive. Many consumers use their mobile devices as a research tool throughout the shopping journey. In the BRP Consumer Study, we found that 34% use their phone to compare prices and 28% look for offers/coupons, all while in the store. This makes it imperative for retailers to ensure their mobile app/website offers the tools and capabilities to keep the customer shopping their brand.

A retailer’s mobile capabilities can actually be a major driver for where a consumer chooses to shop, with 67% of consumers choosing a store based on the availability of mobile coupons and 49% choosing a store based on the ability to locate products via a locator maps on their mobile device.

Unfortunately, retailers are still trying to catch up to customer expectations. While two-thirds of consumers want mobile coupons, only 23% of retailers actually offer mobile offers within the store. Half of consumers want to be able to locate products in the store with their mobile device, but only 23% of retailers currently offer it.

There is a large gap between what customers want and what retailers can currently offer. Mobile technology, and the opportunities it offers consumers, requires retailers to upgrade and replace applications and systems to stay ahead of their competitors’ customer experience offerings and to keep up with their very informed, technology-savvy customers.

To learn more about the gap between customer expectations and retailer capabilities I urge you to read BRP’s recent SPECIAL REPORT: The Mobilization of Retail.

Please share your comments on this topic below.

David

[1]2019 Consumer Shopping Habits – The Generation Gap, April 16, 2019

Consumers Shop Differently – The Generation Gap

While the shopping journey varies depending on the customer, product and even season, there are similarities within generational groups. Digital Consumers (ages 18-37) have higher expectations for the retail experience than Traditional Consumers (ages 38+) and embrace the use of technology to make their research and buying process more convenient. Traditional Consumers are more focused on the basics of finding their desired product at the right price.

BRP surveyed 1,298 U.S. consumers to identify how and where they prefer to shop and which factors influence their shopping journey. The findings of the survey are covered in the 2019 Consumer Shopping Habits – The Generation Gap report.

As retailers plan their in-store, online and mobile shopping experience strategies, it is imperative that they align with the desires of their target audiences. Making every experience a positive one is also key, as nearly two-thirds of ALL consumers will stop shopping at a retail brand after one unsatisfactory experience.

DIGITAL CONSUMERS (ages 18-37)

As Digital Consumers research products, they seek out consumer reviews to make more educated purchase decisions. When choosing a store, 65% want the ability to receive personalized recommendations and 65% prefer the ability to pay via a mobile wallet or retailer app. Receiving merchandise quickly is important with same day delivery a reason to choose a store for 77% of these consumers. Digital Consumers are more likely than Traditional to share feedback on social media for both exceptional and unsatisfactory shopping experiences.

TRADITIONAL CONSUMERS (ages 38+)

Traditional Consumers focus on the basics when they shop – product availability and competitive pricing. While shopping for products, 63% choose a store based on the associates’ ability to order out of stock products. While they are more tolerant on the timing of deliveries, 86% will choose a store with free delivery over one that doesn’t offer this service. Traditional Consumers rarely share feedback on social media for any shopping experience, but for unsatisfactory experiences, 64% will contact the retailer to share their dissatisfaction.

For more information on the generation gap between Digital and Traditional Consumers, download the 2019 Consumer Shopping Habits – The Generation Gap report:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2019-consumer-shopping-survey

I hope you enjoy this report.  Please share your comments below.

David

The Store Still Matters

Despite what the media and industry analysts want us to believe, the store still matters. 79% of the consumers in our recent Consumer Study indicate they purchase merchandise in a store frequently. So, the store is not likely going away any time soon. In fact, this is likely to rise as 27% of consumers indicate their in-store shopping frequency will increase over the next 24 months.

With the store still a major part of the customer journey, the point of sale or commerce platform plays a critical role in shaping the customer shopping experience.Since the checkout process in stores is often the most frustrating aspect of an in-store shopping experience, it is important for retailers to ensure that this technology is efficient to make the process quick and easy. Most consumers (96%) feel that the ease of checkout and payment is an important factor in choosing where they shop so getting it correct is important.The right technology foundation is essential to support the best in-store customer experience and allow it to continue to evolve.

Instead of a simple checkout device, your commerce platform needs to serve as the link to customer information, shopping history and purchasing behavior across channels, not just in the store. Unfortunately, many retailers are utilizing old, outdated hardware and software that can’t support today’s requirements. This leads to associate and customer frustration because of slow transactions, lack of accessible information and potentially, increased theft and fraud. The challenge for retailers is to identify and implement a new holistic commerce platform across channels that addresses these issues and avoids being obsolete in a year or two.

More than half (53%) of the retailers in our 2019 POS/Customer Engagement Survey are focused on adding capabilities to their current POS with 41% focused on implementing a unified commerce platform so retailers are heading in the right direction. But we challenge retailers to look at cloud-based solutions to enable real-time capabilities and create a scalable and agile platform that supports your evolving business needs.

A cloud approach enables you to significantly reduce infrastructure, improve security and increase operational effectiveness by centralizing data management and processes. This allows you to be more agile so you can continue to meet your ever-changing customer needs and make sure that your store still matters.

I encourage you to download the BRP SPECIAL REPORT: The State of Store Technology for more information on what today’s store environment requires.

Brian

Consumers want a shared cart across channels

In BRP’s Consumer Study, 56% of consumers indicated that they were more likely to shop at a retailer that allowed them to have a shared cart across channels instead of a retailer that does not offer this service. Yet only 7% of retailers currently offer this shared cart concept – that’s a huge gap that retailers are struggling to bridge.

According to BRP’s SPECIAL REPORT: Real-Time Retail, customers want access to a single cart to shop across channels and be able to reach their cart via phone, computer, or even in the store – they want to “start anywhere and finish anywhere.”

As consumer expectations continue to rise, we have seen the importance of real-time visibility and access to product and customer information across channels grow significantly. With real-time inventory visibility and access across the enterprise, retailers can reduce or eliminate safety stock, which is a significant cost savings. Knowing where your products are in real-time also increases sales and minimizes markdowns.

Today’s retail model has to venture beyond omni-channel by breaking down the walls between internal channel silos and leveraging a common commerce platform with a single order management system to deliver a holistic, real-time, personal, seamless experience.

As consumers expect a seamless experience in the store, on the Web and via their mobile device – ‘real-time retail’ becomes the new industry imperative. In my experience, many retailers can check inventory in real-time but the data they are accessing is actually from yesterday, as the data is not really updated in real-time. This is ‘faux real-time retail’ based on the traditional store and forward architecture of legacy POS and e-commerce systems. As retailers move to unified commerce, full access to enterprise-wide data in real-time becomes more common as it is a necessity to survive.

This is ‘faux real-time retail’ based on the traditional legacy POS and e-commerce architecture where copies of master files are maintained at the store and updated on the headquarters’ system each night via transaction logs (TLOG). The enterprise master data records are essentially a day behind actual data.

Your customers are telling you what they want, are you listening?

I encourage you to download the full report to better understand the necessity of real-time retail to ensure you are meeting your customers’ expectations.

Ken

MURTEC 2019: A Digitally-Driven and Hyper-Personal Guest Journey is Everything

With a few days to reflect on the conference sessions and my many conversations with restaurant operators and industry technology vendors at this year’s edition of MURTEC in Las Vegas, the disruptive effect of digital and mobile on the dining guest experience has shifted.  No longer are the impacts of these technologies on the extended guest journey a point of competitive differentiation.

They are, in fact, 100% table stakes for not just success, but survival – pure and simple.

According BRP’s previous restaurant consumer research, and we feel was confirmed by the themes in Vegas at MURTEC, the dining spend of restaurant guests is being increasingly directed to those restaurants providing the most flexible and frictionless experience possible.  We still expect that as much as 30% of total restaurant sales (or $300 billion if you are keeping track) could be generated via digital ordering methods as early as 2023.

And it’s not just the guest-facing, front-of-house improvements being driven by digital and mobile technologies, significant improvements in restaurant operations are also being delivered across areas like kitchen production, training, labor, and reporting and analytics.

Along with the strategic “call to action” themes we confirmed at MURTEC, we continue to see many areas of critical priority for restaurant chains and operators as we move through 2019, including:

Allowing the customer to order from you any way they want– This includes not only the methods by which customers order (traditional, phone, web, mobile) but also providing the same flexibility when fulfilling that order. Recognizing that a customer one day may want to order from their phone and eat-in when they arrive, while the next day they might want to order on the web and pick their order up in the drive-thru shows that you have the flexibility to adapt to any ordering scenario. And while we are thinking about flexibility, remember that different dining customers want to pay for their meals different ways so providing agile and secure payment systems are also key.

The Growth in Off-Premises Dining (OPD)– Operators are excited about the revenue growth opportunities presented by the dining consumer who wants to order food from their restaurant for either pick up or delivery.  The ability to natively support the plethora of 3rdparty delivery companies is key, as is considering the value of providing your own branded OPD capabilities.

Guest Engagement Innovation is Coming to Restaurants– As certain advanced technologies mature and dining guest acceptance becomes more commonplace, don’t be surprised to see a more rapid adoption of technologies like voice-assisted ordering, ordering via auto infotainment systems, augmented reality (AR) for both guest and staff immersion, and the broad acceptance of restaurant-oriented Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity and insight that will help further improve the automation and efficiency of key components of the restaurant.

Capitalizing on Customer Data– Managing a guest journey is one thing, being able to provide a true personalized experience at each stage of the guest journey is another.  While incenting guests to participate in your marketing and loyalty programs is important, the ability to effective leverage that customer insight during each stage of guest engagement (from reservation to arrival to ordering to pay) is what will create the right combination of customer satisfaction and financial value (through higher guest checks and increased frequency of visits).

The Shift to Next-Generation POS platforms – Many restaurants require increased flexibility and scale from their most important operational technology platform.   Often this means looking at shifting to a cloud-based platform and in some cases includes more native mobile tools.  In either case, continued reliance on a long-standing legacy POS system will make the shift to digital much more difficult.

Agile-oriented Thinking is an Imperative– With the rapid increase in guest expectations, restaurants need to adopt agile approaches to everything: strategy, development, processes, and system implementations.

We can’t stress enough how clear the message is from all parts of our industry – guests, vendors, and operators – that digital enablement is mission-critical to not just continued success in your restaurant operation, but to your survival.  If you aren’t moving fast toward this revolution, then now is the time to step up.

As always, I appreciate your thoughts on this topic. Please share your comments and opinions below.

Scott

Empowering Retail Associates with Technology

There is no denying the power of mobile technology as a disruptor in the retail industry. Mobile devices are ubiquitous in our lives; dramatically changing how we interact with each other, obtain information and shop. Having this constant, virtually unlimited amount of information at our fingertips has changed consumers’ shopping behavior and elevated our expectations for customer service.

While much of the retail mobile technology discussion addresses the effect on consumer behavior, this proliferation of tablets and mobile phones also offers many new opportunities for associates to enhance customer service. Putting mobile devices in the hands of store associates is a necessity to “keep up” with the customer who has a plethora of information available at her fingertips.

Associate mobile devices enhance the shopping experience through access to real-time inventory and customer data and offer the ability to service customers and process transactions anywhere in the store.

Within the next three years, the number of retailers that use mobile devices and tablets in the hands of associates will double to three-quarters of retailers. This increased rate of adoption is driven by several factors, including the declining price of mobile technology, the growth in maturity and range of tools, and the critical need for store associates to have the necessary tools to enhance the customer experience and “keep up” with the abundance of information that customers have at their fingertips.

However, retailers need to continue to improve their mobile capabilities through refined processes, better technology and enhanced training for associates. Powerful associate tools are only helpful if associates are trained to use them effectively, especially when associates are dealing with sensitive customer information. Unfortunately, retailers are still playing catch-up to consumers that constantly research and buy products on their ubiquitous mobile devices.

Download the full report to better understand what retailers are doing and should be doing to ensure they can “keep up” with their customers.

I appreciate you opinions on this topic. Please share your comments and ideas below.

David

The 80/20 Rule for Keeping Customers Happy

According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers, so it makes sense to focus on those 20% who are loyal, repeat customers as they are the most valuable to your business. Your customers expect engaging and relevant interactions and conversations across any and all channels, however, they don’t have the tolerance for complicated processes. They want and expect personalization and if they are treated well, they will reward you through additional purchases.

In fact, according to the 2017 State of Personalization Report of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers, 44% of consumers say that they will likely become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience with a particular company[1]. A happy customer is likely to be one that is loyal, valuable and – perhaps most importantly – a customer who will be an advocate for your brand.

So, how do you keep these loyal customers happy?

Engaging your customers through personalization and relevance is the key to attracting and keeping your customers happy so they continue to shop your brand. If you can identify your customer when she enters the store and equip your associates with the proper mobile tools, they can personalize the shopping experience based on customer context. This enables your associates to offer recommendations and promotions to your customer based on her preferences, purchase history, closet, most recent online browsing history, time of day, weather and even her physical location – all based on real-time information and personalized to create a bond with this valuable customer.

Why is this important?

Keeping loyal customers happy is critical as it only takes one unsatisfactory shopping experience for 63% of consumers to stop shopping your brand[2]. Your most valuable customers have already established their loyalty to your brand, but to keep them coming back and to encourage their advocacy of the brand, it is important to ensure each and every shopping experience in every channel, is seamless, personal and positive.

I encourage you to read the BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Keeping Loyal Customers Happy for more insights.

As always, I appreciate your thoughts and opinions on this topic.  Please share your feedback below.

Perry

[1]“The 2017 State of Personalization Report,” 2017. http://grow.segment.com/Segment-2017-Personalization-Report.pdf

[2]2019 BRP Consumer Study

Using Biometrics to Identify Consumers – Key Considerations

As the expectations of Millennial and Gen-Z consumers continue to drive the in-store experience, there is and execution gap between customer expectations and retailer capabilities.  The Restaurant Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Guest Expectations report, based on research conducted by Incisiv and sponsored by BRP and Windstream Enterprise, exposes that many firms are still unprepared to deliver the frictionless encounter consumers expect. This reality has companies examining any technology that might aid in providing the assumed experience, even if some improvements, such as using biometrics (facial, fingerprint, iris) for patron recognition, are cemented in a debate.  For example, Marriot in China is experimenting with facial recognition to reduce the check-in process.  By using the patron’s photo and profile information, a kiosk will issue a room key, once the guest’s identity is confirmed.

Even though the application of this tech is still in the early stages, it could quickly become a crucial component in providing a frictionless experience in the future. Walmart, BurgerFi, KFC, and Caliburger are some of the first brands to experiment with utilizing this technology for purposes such as; to capture customer satisfaction, trigger loyalty programs, infuse guests’ preferences, and accelerate the transaction process.  However, even with the vast number of business applications, the controversy hovering over this technology is something to keep in mind.

Consumers right to data privacy remains a focal point for authorities both domestically, and internationally. The highly publicized cases, within both the private and public sectors, should bring caution to decision makers when examining how to leverage this technology. However, many companies are exploring these technologies as the benefits from the enhanced capabilities may outweigh the possible public pushback. Organizations should consider the following factors when building a strategy for leveraging biometric identification in-store.

Sell the benefits to both your customers (consumers and staff)

With features such as facial, and fingerprint scanning becoming a more mainstream way for users to authenticate purchases, and unlock their smartphones, it’s not surprising that customers are warming to the notion of brands using biometrics to produce a better experience. A recent BRP study revealed that 30% of shoppers are likely to allow retailers to use their biometric data to enhance the shopping experience. However, for those consumers willing to have their biometric identity collected, a substantial payoff will be expected. So, whether it is a more personal experience, timely offers, or simplifying loyalty program participation, the brand must ensure that the patron will notice the payoff.

Similar to customers, employees are cautious about having “big brother” watching over them. As more employers trend towards adopting biometrics as a means for logging onto registers, or clocking out for lunch, they will be easier to sell the benefits for implementing this new technology. Leaders will need to strive towards turning workers into promoters of these new initiatives, by proving how this solution will not only make their jobs easier to perform, but also help deliver a better experience for the customer.

Informed Opt-In, and Easy Opt-Out for Customers

If any lesson can be learned from Facebook’s ongoing battles to allow their facial recognition capabilities to be available within Canada, and the EU, is that informed opt-in, and easy opt-out is a necessity when implementing this technology. Companies must be prepared to comply with the consumer’s demands of having complete control over his/her privacy, but also the evolving regulations that continually changing. For a brand to successfully navigate through these uncertain times, they need to present customers with a well-informed and simple opt-in and opt-out processes.

The opt-in procedure should include full disclosure, with easy to follow documentation. There cannot be any hidden use cases. The company must be completely upfront about the information collected, and how the company uses that knowledge. Business leaders could even go further by using marketing campaigns, and press releases to communicate to consumers details on any changes to how they handle customer data.

The creation of a customer portal or application would also allow the customer to inspect the personal information collected. This portal can also provide customers with a quick way to opt-out, and to have their data wiped. Once a customer has chosen to opt-out, their data should be blacklisted moving forward. Once the new system identifies the person, all data collection should stop for that particular customer.

Preventing Service Drop off for Opt-out Customers

Some states are taking it upon themselves to ensure that business owners do not punish the opt-outs. In California, companies are awaiting clarification on whether they can offer financial incentives to those who opt into a loyalty plan with the passing of the new 2018 Act. Another concern to consider is ensuring that the consumer’s experience does not suffer for those who decide to opt-out.  Customers expect the same level of service without having to sacrifice their privacy, which firms can prevent by putting the right alternatives, staffing, and training in place.

Cover all your bases

Just recently, TSA has been voluntarily working with the ACLU to ensure that their new facial recognition, is correctly setup to deliver fair results for all patrons.  By taking the time for outside resources, legal, and advocacy groups to vet the core functionality and architecture of the proposed solution, companies can reduce the possibility of a large-scale pushback by the public. This extra effort will also result in a solution that is agile enough to handle future challenges that might surface.

Conclusion

Leaders will be looking to biometrics to aid in providing the frictionless experience expected by Millennial and Gen-Z consumers, even within a continuous elastic climate. The companies who can balance their creativity with due diligence will be more likely to benefit from utilizing this technology, while better also being better prepared to handle its challenges.

I appreciate your thoughts on this topic. Please share your opinions and comments below.

Joseph

Consumers Choose Retailers that Offer a Personalized Experience

Offering a personalized service requires identification of customers as soon as they walk in the store, but only 37% of retailers are able to identify their customers before checkout.

Customers want to shop wherever and whenever they want with the benefits of both the digital and physical retail environments. As consumers “check-in” on retailers’ e-commerce and mobile sites, they automatically receive personalized offers and recommendations based on their purchase and browsing history. However, most shoppers are still anonymous when shopping in a physical store so they don’t get the same level of personalized service.

We recently conducted our 20thAnnual POS/Customer Engagement Survey and compared our findings on retailer capabilities with consumer expectations from the BRP Consumer Study (report coming soon!) to identify gaps between customer expectations and retailers’ capabilities. BRP’s SPECIAL REPORT: Personalization gives you a closer look at what consumers expect from their shopping experience and what retailers can currently offer.

Our study found that 79% of consumers indicated that personalized service from a sales associate was an important factor in determining at which store they choose to shop. Consumers understand that receiving personalized service requires retailers to identify them. While this has been the normal standard online or via mobile, identifying the customer in the store is a little more difficult and not as common.

Most retailers who identify customers in the store use the customers’ mobile phone as the identification tool paired with a combination of beacons, WiFi, MAC address, etc. While 64% of consumers are comfortable with retailers identifying them via their mobile phone when they enter a store, as long as it means they are offered a personalized experience, only 37% of retailers are able to identify their customers prior to checkout.

Customer identification is a requirement for any type of personalization of the shopping experience and if a retailer can’t identify the customer until she is at the checkout then it’s too late to empower the associate to influence the current purchase decision. Without early identification of the customer, retailers miss critical engagement opportunities to deliver a personalized customer experience and increase sales. And in today’s crowded and highly competitive market, personalization is a critical component for optimizing the customer’s shopping experience.

The customer has spoken and she wants a personalized shopping experience in the store, how are you going to provide her that experience? Download the report now to understand how retailers are measuring up to consumer expectations.

I appreciate your opinions on this topic.  Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Ken

The Future Store is Here

The retail industry is in the midst of a retail renaissance as we move from the ‘olden days’ of a person walking in to a store to simply purchase a commodity, into a new technologically advanced era where artificial intelligence helps customers make informed purchasing decisions leveraging associate or customer facing technology along with augmented reality that enables them to view products on their body or virtually in their homes. Technology is bringing new life to brick-and-mortar stores as the physical and digital worlds collide.

The store is not dead, it’s digitized…

Over the past twenty years, many in the retail industry have predicted the demise of the physical store. That seemed like a reasonable assumption given the accelerated growth of e-commerce and advancements in mobile technology; however, the reality is, the store is still the foundation of retailing. It is where the tactile and sensory experience comes together for the consumer, but the traditional store concept is changing.

Disruption and adaptation are changing the retail model and blurring the lines among retailers, brands and wholesalers. Online pure-plays are opening brick-and-mortar stores and traditional retailers are experimenting with new store models and in some cases, expanded experiential brand strategies that include new revenue sources, such as services or food and beverage options. Retail is theater and with technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), the retail store is no longer the only stage where the theater of retail can take place. New technology will further empower customers as they can dictate their own personal stage and experience.

The physical store remains the foundation of retail; however, a significant and fundamental transformation of retail is underway and will change the requirements for the store of the future.

We recently conducted our 20thAnnual POS/Customer Engagement Survey and compared our findings on retailer capabilities with consumer expectations from the BRP Consumer Study (report coming soon!) to take a closer look at what the store of the future looks like. BRP’s SPECIAL REPORT: The Future Store gives you a closer look at what consumers expect from the store.

Download the report now because the future store is here, ready or not.