Loyalty Programs in an Omnichannel World

MarTech Series – More than ever, consumers demand a fast, seamless and flexible shopping experience. They want to maintain their preferences across all channels—web, mobile, and within a physical store – and they want the perks of their loyalty programs no matter the shopping experience they choose. A recent survey from Boston Retail Partners found that 87 percent of consumers are interested in a personalized and consistent experience across channels.

By now, most retailers and brands are on board with loyalty programs and even have a successful one implemented. However, as consumer shopping habits evolve and their demands become more complex, loyalty programs need to be adjusted to compete in an omnichannel world.

According to Boston Retail Partners, 68 percent of consumers would choose a store that provides personalized/discounts over a store that doesn’t offer them. Therefore, personalization is yet another crucial aspect of a current loyalty program. Personalization should not be compromised as the customer moves from channel to channel.

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‘Competing for mindshare and market share’: W Concept aims to popularize Korean fashion in the states

Glossy – The domestic Korean market is big business for Western brands like Chanel and Vetements — Vetements said last year in W Magazine that Korea was its second-biggest market after the U.S. Now Korean brands, in turn, are working hard to boost their visibility in the states.

W Concept, a Korean e-commerce company dedicated to selling and promoting Korean fashion brands to U.S. customers, just added a new brand to its roster: the buzzy streetwear brand System. System is one of many Korean fashion brands that has recently set its sights on a global market. The U.S., overtaken by China last year, is the second-largest fashion consuming market in the world, and for many fashion brands selling in America and New York especially is a rite of passage.

“The U.S. fashion retail market is crowded with all the major global brands competing for mindshare and market share,” said David Naumann, vp of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “Korean fashion brands expanding to the U.S. need to cut through the clutter to get noticed by doing something unique, such as an event that gains media attention or collaborating with a celebrity endorser.”

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BRP Cloud Rolls Out

RIS News – BRP Consulting announces its BRP Cloud services. BRP Cloud is a new service offering from BRP that includes turn-key services for implementation, support and maintenance of cloud-based applications. Many retailers recognize the value of cloud-based software solutions, but don’t have the internal resources to quickly deploy and support the applications.

“With the growth of cloud-based applications, retailers are eager to simplify and optimize their software systems by moving many applications to cloud-based solutions,” said Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP and BRP Cloud. “BRP Consulting launched BRP cloud as a separate entity from its consulting business to satisfy retailers’ need to accelerate their move to the cloud and simplify their ongoing maintenance and support.”

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Nearly 40 Percent of Dining Experiences Involve a Smartphone

QSR – Mobile technology is radically altering customer expectations. Data showed that 58 percent of customers would visit a restaurant more often if experience-enhancing technologies were available.

Smoked brisket and Korean crossover—menus change all the time—but so do customers’ technology habits, particularly when it comes to mobile. In casual and quick-service dining, the future will depend on how well operators adapt to the dominance of smartphones in customers’ lives.

It’s not a question of short-lived gimmicky promotional apps. Customers now expect to choose, order, receive offers, and store loyalty points on their phones with as much ease as messaging their friends. If they cannot, the lack of functionality will discourage them from remaining customers in the same way a sirloin cheeseburger is a turnoff for vegans.

Quick-serve operators cannot afford to ignore the way smartphone technology is radically altering customer expectations. Research from BRP Consulting found that 38 percent of dining experiences now involve smartphone or mobile devices—from initial research to sharing the experience on social media. It’s a trend that is gathering strength. Millennials, almost all of who grew into adulthood using smartphones, will overtake Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the U.S. next year, according to Pew Research. Patience among this generation has worn thin and restaurants lacking time-saving technologies such as ordering ahead, self-scanning or in-app payments will see customers melt away.

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Ahold Delhaize opens new tech office

Grocery Dive – Retail Business Services, Ahold Delhaize’s services company, opened a 30,000-square-foot office this week in Quincy, Massachusets, which houses 200 information technology employees and an innovation lab, according to a company press release. The effort is dedicated to discovering technologies that improve the in-store experience for customers and make grocery shopping easier, according to the company. Retail Business Services also hosts a six-month incubator program and engages in partnerships with startups, universities and other entities that focus on grocery retail.

Target and Kroger have both partnered with incubator and innovation labs to attract tech startups to reinvigorate the grocery space and stay relevant to younger, tech-savvy shoppers.

Consumers are most concerned with convenience and in-store experience these days, and technology is the main tool that retailers are using to deliver what they want, with 49% of retailers focused on in-store mobile experience, accoding to BRP Consulting. Almost everyone has a smartphone in their pocket these days, making it a powerful tool for capturing customers’ interest and wallets.

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What Target Should Have Done Amid Massive Register Failures

RIS News – For two days in a row this weekend, Target experienced separate incidents which impacted registers and lines at the national retail chain.
“For a retailer the size of Target, with the volume of transactions they conduct on the weekends, this was quite a significant outage with both short-term financial implications and longer-term customer service concerns,” BRP’s SVP and practice lead Ryan Grogman tells RIS.

On Saturday, an outage was the result of an “internal technology issue that lasted for approximately two hours,” Target said in a statement the same day.

“Communication is always key when it comes to customer service during a crisis or issue: let customers know there is an issue, explain what that issue means, and provide them updates on when the issue will be resolved,” Grogman advises. “There were reports from some Target stores that associates handed out snacks and drinks to customers who were waiting out the outage, which is a terrific example of trying to own the narrative. All shoppers deal with technology issues in their own life, so the more that Target can own up to the issues and work with customers as opposed to creating a divide, the better.”

“Another example that Target could have followed would be to offer the in-store customers with coupon codes for a percent off their next transaction, as a gesture for the inconvenience as well as a way to entice them to return and refill their shopping carts. Finally, because it seemed that Target’s buy-online-pickup-in-store functionality was not impacted, Target could have taken advantage of a tremendous opportunity to work with customers on their devices or via in-store computers to create online accounts and walk them through the omni-transaction in person.”

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‘It’s a different play for them’: Luxury brands are turning to mega-celebs to lure young shoppers

Glossy – Seeking out collaborators with mega-star power among young audiences is trending among luxury brands. Stella McCartney is the latest, announcing on Friday a new collection with Taylor Swift tied to Swift’s upcoming album, “Lover.” Few details other than the collection’s existence have been shared — a post by Swift on Instagram said more information will be revealed closer to the album’s late-August release.

While this is Swift’s first fashion collaboration, Stella McCartney has previously worked with designers including Stan Smith and Ed Ruscha. But Swift is easily its highest-profile collaborator — with millions of young fans — and notably comes from outside the fashion industry.

This is a tactic that is becoming common for luxury brands. In March, Tommy Hilfiger debuted a collection designed with actress and singer Zendaya, who has 56 million Instagram followers. In late 2017, Helmut Lang collaborated with hip-hop star Travis Scott, who has 17 million Instagram followers.

“Luxury brands’ loyal customer bases are aging, and many of these brands realize the importance of attracting younger segments,” said David Naumann, vp of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “Some brands have added new lines to appeal to younger shoppers, such as streetwear or styles at lower price points.”

“Celebrity collaborators that are popular among younger consumers help luxury brands increase awareness among this new customer segment and inspire them to shop at a store they normally don’t,” Naumann said.

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BRP Report: 82% of Consumers Shop Online Before Purchasing In-Store

Convenience Store News – Both physical and digital shopping environments are necessary to create a consistent brand experience across channels. According a report by to retail management consulting firm BRP, only 18% of retailers are focused on increasing the convergence of physical and digital shopping environments, despite 82% of customers shopping and reviewing products online before purchasing in-store.

Because e-commerce has elevated consumers’ expectations of the shopping experience, retailers must now provide service anytime, anywhere and any way customers’ desire.

Consumers now have more shopping options than ever before with more competitive pricing, greater merchandise assortments and faster delivery to get their desired product wherever and whenever. This makes the customer journey more complicated than ever before.

“Since consumers use digital devices throughout the shopping journey to research product information, compare prices and read consumer reviews, providing as much relevant information via the retailer’s website helps keep customers loyal to the brand,” said Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “As e-commerce continues to represent a greater share of retailers’ revenue mix, it is imperative that retailers continue to enhance their online capabilities to keep up with their competitors that are just a click away.”

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Giant Works to Live up to its Name

Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer – The Ahold banner makes a couple of bold moves in an effort to differentiate itself from mainstream competitors. With a name like Giant Food Stores, consumers tend to expect a lot. To be honest, though, the 96-year-old, Carlisle, Pa.-based chain, part of Ahold Delhaize USA, is generally viewed by shoppers as a very average supermarket, consistently ranked near the middle of the pack. “It’s a reliable, middle-of-the-road grocer, but not a destination,” confirms Karen Strauss, principal at Wilton, Conn.-based Cadent Consulting Group. That’s all well and good, she continues, except that Giant happens to operate in the same market as some pretty heavy hitters, most notably Wegman’s.

Although e- commerce reportedly represents only about 2% of total Ahold sales, “Online ordering and fulfillment are definitive ‘must-have’ services for grocers to compete both locally and nationally,” says Scott Langdoc, senior vp and practice lead at Boston-based BRP Consulting. From Kroger and Safeway to Target and Walmart, “Major national brands are pouring millions into e-commerce, and regional brands must work to keep pace as differentiating will be increasingly difficult.”

That said, Langdoc likes what he sees from Giant so far. But in order to stay ahead of the curve, the chain will have to remain “hyper-focused” on ways it can improve. “Customers expect the perfect blend of the assortment they know from Giant stores along with the most efficient, frictionless e-commerce experience possible,” he says. So although the chain is off to a good start, there’s no letting up.

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Ecommerce experience heightening consumers’ retail expectations

Luxury Daily – Consumers’ shopping habits are increasingly cross-channel, but new research finds retailers are putting more emphasis on consistency of experience rather than the convergence of their digital and physical channels.

According to a report from Boston Retail Partners, 82 percent of consumers have browsed or researched online before heading to a store to make a purchase. The more educated, ecommerce-connected consumer has raised expectations for retailers, calling for brands to ramp up their offerings to remain competitive.

“Ecommerce and mobile commerce has put additional information and enhanced functionality into the hands of both customers and associates,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “This, in turn, has increased customer expectations as she now has more shopping options than ever before with access to competitive pricing, greater merchandise assortments and faster delivery.”

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