Tech Viewpoint: Three unexpected findings from NRF 2019

Chain Store Age – The NRF Big Show exhibit floor always throws a few curve balls, and that’s a good thing.

Before NRF 2019, I posted a column discussing three tech trends to watch. In what will come as a surprise to nobody who knows me, I didn’t exactly get it right. Here are three findings from the Big Show indicating where retail is truly heading this year.

Mobile is table stakes

Channels are so 2018

“Retail is theater,” according to BRP, retail consulting firm, principal, Ken Morris. There are no more channels, only different stages to perform the single task of getting customers the products they want, when and where they want them.

You can’t change the weather–but you can plan for it

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Study: 66% Of Retailers Say Inaccurate Inventory Data Creates BOPIS Inconsistency

Retail TouchPoints – Retailers are well aware that an omnichannel approach to both the customer experience and their internal systems is now a basic business requirement: 94% of retailers already have, or plan to implement, a single unified commerce platform within three years, up from 81% in 2017, according to the 2019 POS/Customer Engagement Study from BRP.

Even in-store, many retailers have failed to bring their systems up to the speed of innovation: just 25% of store networks, 32% of POS hardware and 25% of POS software is less than two years old, while 30% of retailers use POS hardware that is at least six years old, according to BRP. Before retailers can take advantage of the latest friction-reducing technology, they need to make sure their networks are capable of handling the unique challenges posed by omnichannel systems.

Read Full Article: Study: 66% Of Retailers Say Inaccurate Inventory Data Creates BOPIS Inconsistency

‘We are drowning in data’: Retailers are getting smarter about data collections

Glossy – Retailers have known for a long time that the collection and implementation of data is key to a modern, successful retail strategy — and now they’re getting smart about it.

For years, retailers were hungry for every source of data they could get their hands on, often stockpiling massive amounts of it. But now, they’re starting to understand that more data is not the goal to strive for. Instead, high-quality data — specifically, the kind that is actively given by consumers rather than collected passively — is the new goal.

“I mean we are drowning in data today,” said Jeff Neville, svp and practice lead at BRP, retail consulting firm. “I’ve spent hours getting sucked down the rabbit hole of Google Analytics, looking at various trends and things that don’t always lead anywhere. You need data that is accurate, that you can actually implement. There’s too much data around and not all of it is really useful.”

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Survey: Personalized Engagement Tops Retailers’ Must-Do List

HFN – Engaging customers with personalized and relevant messages are the keys to customer loyalty, according to the BRP 20th annual POS/Customer Engagement Benchmark Survey.

“As customer expectations for an increasingly customized experience increase and evolve, retailers are adopting new ways to identify customers and personalize their shopping journey,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP, a retail consulting firm.

“Retailers continue to offer more mobile services from a consumer-facing and associate-facing perspective that include personalized recommendations, loyalty rewards, coupons, discounts and promotions,” said Kramer, who noted that 63 percent of retailers plan to implement the ability for customers to use their own mobile device as a POS device within three years.

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Luxury retailers need to compete with mass brands in personalization: report

Luxury Daily – Personalization in a bricks-and-mortar experience has become just as important as it is in digital, and with mass consumers expecting an elevated individualized experience, luxury brands need to work harder at delivering customized retail.

A new survey from Boston Retail Partners shows that 79 percent of consumers believe that a personalized experience from a sales associate is an important driving factor in deciding where to shop. More than half of all retailers are focusing on personalization within stores for 2019, making it more important for luxury brands to heighten their customer service.

“A key takeaway from this year’s POS survey is that retail continues to rapidly evolve, with consumers as the catalyst and their constantly increasing expectations for a better shopping experience, including more personalization and an improved mobile experience,” said Brian Brunk, principal at BRP. “In the uber-competitive retail environment, retailers need to adapt quickly to new customer expectations.

Read Full Article: Luxury retailers need to compete with mass brands in personalization: report

Windstream banks on its consulting firm to better serve retail sector

FierceTelecom – Windstream and its retail consulting firm, BRP, are helping retailers make the transition to the cloud.

Windstream may not be among the biggest service providers in the U.S., but it does have a retail consulting firm that’s a key differentiator. Windstream acquired retail management consulting firm BRP when it bought Earthlink for $1.1 billion early last year. BRP largely helped out retail stores on the application level, but now it’s taking a network approach as retailers move more of their applications and service to the cloud.

“One of the areas that we’ve been really involved in a lot is assessing their networks and as part of that, we look at their communications and voice services,” said David Naumann, vice president at BRP, in an interview with FierceTelecom. “One of the big areas where we’re finding the biggest cost savings is replacing the POTS (plain old telephone service) lines with voice over IP and a lot of that savings can help fund other network investments that they’re making.

In addition to VoIP, some of the other things that we see driving the need for greater bandwidth in stores is greater demands on their WiFi from a consumer perspective and from connecting to the cloud. We often see an increased need and demand for greater bandwidth.”

Read Full Article: Windstream banks on its consulting firm to better serve retail sector

BRP Report Outlines Top Customer Engagement Priorities

Convenience Store Decisions – A majority of retailers set sights on finding unified commerce solutions within next three years. Customer expectations are continuing to shift, and retailers are looking for new ways to achieve customer engagement.

Customers want to shop wherever and whenever they want with the benefits of both the digital and physical experience. As retailers look for ways to differentiate in today’s highly competitive market, customer engagement strategies like personalization, mobile experience and real-time retail are critical components for optimizing the customer’s shopping experience.

In fact, according to the recent BRP Consumer Study, 79% said personalized service from a sales associate was an important factor in determining at which store they choose to shop. Retailers understand the importance of personalization as 53% are focused on this for 2019, according to the 20th Annual POS/Customer Engagement Benchmark Survey.

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Survey: Personalization critical component of in-store experience

Chain Store Age – Engaging in-store customers with personalized and relevant messaging is key to loyalty, according to a new survey.

The 20th Annual POS/Customer Engagement Benchmark Survey from Boston Retail Partners shows 79% of consumer respondents said personalized service from a sales associate is an important factor in determining at which store they choose to shop. In turn, 53% of surveyed retailers indicated personalization is one of their top customer engagement priorities.

Survey results also demonstrate that in-store customers increasingly expect an omnichannel shopping experience. Sixty-three percent of surveyed consumers use their mobile phone while shopping in a store to compare prices, look for offers/coupons, check inventory availability, etc.

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Are Smart Shelves The Tech Supermarkets Need?

Retail TouchPoints – Supermarket retailers have long been frustrated by the challenge of providing relevant information at a shopper’s point of decision — in the store aisle. Static signage and product labels share limited data, and they lack the personalization capabilities that have become so important in today’s shopper journey.

But smart shelf solutions appear to be a remedy for these woes — at least on the surface. The technology uses a combination of sensors and digital displays to provide detailed product information, marketing and cross-selling suggestions, and they also can give retailers invaluable insights into customer preferences and shopping patterns.

Smart shelves got two high-profile boosts recently: Hannaford announced a pilot of smart shelf technology at a redesigned concept store, and Kroger, which already is using its own version of the technology, revealed that it was partnering with Microsoft for pilots in two “connected” stores.

The RetailWire BrainTrust recently debated whether smart shelves offer real benefits to shoppers who are already carrying their own information devices, a.k.a. smartphones. They also discussed what retailers can do to make their smart shelves produce a measurable ROI while also maximizing their user-friendliness. Excerpts of the discussion follow:

Ken Morris, Principal, BRP, Retail Consulting Firm
For products that are complex or those that commonly call for customers to read their package labels, the smart shelf/touchscreen technology will be helpful. A good example is for medicine, which notoriously has print on packages that is too small to read. This technology won’t be needed for basic items like produce, meats, dairy and other staples like flour, sugar, etc., as consumers don’t need more details on these products. The pricing opportunity may be the biggest benefit to both customers and retailers, as individualized pricing and promotions will drive both acceptance and sales. The key will to be to focus the technology on the most relevant products and make sure it is easy and works flawlessly. Test, test and test.

Read full article: Are Smart Shelves The Tech Supermarkets Need?

Selfridges brings art to the masses in multichannel campaign

Luxury Daily – British department store chain Selfridges is embracing the intersection of art and fashion with a creative campaign that spans stores and digital channels. The newly announced “State of The Arts” initiative is influencing everything from Selfridges’ window displays and product offerings to podcast episodes. Retailers continue to seek ways to differentiate their in-store and online experiences from competitors’.

“Associating Selfridges and its fashions with art is a great way to elevate the brand and inspire customers to visit the store more frequently during the art campaign to see the latest artwork and experience workshops,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at Boston Retail Partners, retail consulting firm.

“Tapping into consumers’ multiple senses and incorporating art throughout the store make this campaign very interactive and unique,” he said. “Shoppers can listen to artist podcasts, see art in street windows and in the store, attend workshops, meet artists in-person and shop for art.” Mr. Naumann is not affiliated with Selfridges, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Read full article: Selfridges brings art to the masses in multichannel campaign