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Amazon’s New 4-star Store Concept – Thoughts from BRP

Today, Amazon extended its physical store presence with a totally new concept. Amazon 4-star is a new physical store where everything for sale is rated 4 stars and above, is a top seller, or is new and trend

Photo: Jordan Stead, Amazon

ing on Amazon.com. The first store is located in one of New York’s most vibrant neighborhoods—SoHo—on Spring Street between Crosby and Lafayette Streets.

Here is my take on this new venture from Amazon…

First and foremost, the physical store is not dead! It is great to see the renewed interest in brick-and-mortar stores and Amazon is making a full court press. As Amazon continues to expand its store presence from book, to grocery and convenience and now to stores focus on trending/hot products from its online commerce nearly all retail segments should be on high alert.

I believe they will rollout this concept across all metro areas. It isn’t a gimmick, but a sustainable concept based on localized assortment. The question is how localized will Amazon make the assortments? Will they add these to their Whole Foods locations?

For a few years, there have been rumors of Amazon expanding into gas stations and they have been focused on expanding their presence in apparel, furniture, pharmacy, which might evolve into physical stores in these categories. With more than 100 million Amazon Prime members, Amazon already has a loyal customer base for virtually any category they enter. That’s 40 percent of the adult population in the U.S.

Nothing is off limits for Amazon and they continue to surprise us with new ventures.

What do you think of Amazon’s new concept store – 4-Star? Please share your opinions on this topic below.

Ken

2019 E-Commerce Outlook Guide

Retail Touch Points – 16 experts share their insights into top digital retail trends for 2019.

The saying goes that “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” By contrast, what happens in e-Commerce doesn’t stay within the digital sphere; increasingly, it affects virtually all segments of the retail industry.

The new world of retail is an intersection of digital and physical. An increasing number of e-Commerce pure play companies are seeing the real benefits of moving into the brick-and-mortar realm. But physical retail is getting a much needed update from the next frontiers of technology, featuring AI, voice commerce and visual recognition solutions.

Retailers and solution providers are working to adapt the store shopping experience to the reality that consumers are entering store aisles led by their smartphones. But when it’s time to expand operations beyond U.S. boundaries, companies are embracing e-Commerce, which has broken down borders, making global retailing a practical reality for retailers of all segments and sizes. And even though stores are still where the vast majority of transactions take place, it’s the rare shopper journey that doesn’t include at least one digital touch point.

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BACK TO BASICS: HOW TO GET CUSTOMERS TO PURCHASE AGAIN
Jeffrey Neville, Senior Vice President and Practice Lead, BRP

It’s no secret that returning customers are better for your business than new customers. Studies have shown that a returning customer is less expensive to convert and has a higher average order value than a new customer.

However, the e-Commerce industry continues to focus mainly on the acquisition of new customers by adopting the latest technologies and marketing strategies. While this is necessary to remain competitive, there is simply no substitute for having loyal patrons.

Enhancing The Post-Purchase Experience

By crafting a post-purchase experience to minimize stress and maximize convenience, retailers make an investment in a sustained relationship with their customer. After a customer clicks “buy,” they enter a phase of uncertainty, where they are unsure whether their product will arrive on time or whether it will appear in one piece. Retailers who provide the right clues and reassurances can turn this period into a powerful moment of trust for the brand. Customers who shop without a sense of risk will feel more comfortable making repeat purchases in the future.

Read to full article to see Jeffrey’s suggested 8 best practices for optimizing the post-purchase experience.

Read Full Article: 2019 E-Commerce Outlook Guide

How Jet is targeting fashion brands to gain an edge over Amazon

Glossy – Walmart-owned e-commerce platform Jet.com is looking to stand up tall against stiff competition in the online retail world. As part of its larger rebrand, Jet has launched a new fashion and beauty experience aimed at giving customers a more focused look at apparel than they might receive at other multi-brand e-commerce platforms.

Jet will now offer customers a rotating curated collection of trends, with carefully chosen pieces from a variety of brands inspired by a particular theme. For instance, one of the first collections available is called For the Record and features clothes from Versace, Guess, Dr. Marten’s and more inspired by the grungy, punky aesthetic of the ’90s indie music scene. Another section contains editors’ picks of striking pieces all in the color red from brands like Michael Kors and Calvin Klein.

“Specializing in a niche audience or product segment and outperforming the online giants is a smart strategy for Jet.com. However, outperforming Amazon, even in a narrow segment, is a daunting endeavor,” said David Naumann, vp of marketing at BRP Consulting.

Daunting as it may be, the narrowed focus has allowed Jet to create something with more personality and more character than its competitors. This approach allows the brand to simplify the path to purchase for consumers by removing the need to sort through pages and pages of products and allowing them see entire outfits and complementary pieces in one place.

For Jet, trying to compete with Amazon at its own game is a fool’s errand. Amazon has far too much of an advantage for Jet to overcome it as a general online retailer of choice. But Jet is not trying to compete with Amazon on its own terms.

“Most customers think of Amazon as the first place to start their product search, and changing these entrenched habits is very difficult,” Naumann said. “Awareness is the biggest challenge, as Jet.com is not top of mind for consumers. It will take a significant investment in advertising and promotions to increase the awareness of Jet.com. Once they gain traction on awareness, they need to impress shoppers with a personalized and frictionless shopping experience so they are inspired to buy on Jet.com instead of Amazon.”

Read Full Article: How Jet is targeting fashion brands to gain an edge over Amazon

How will Google bust into brick and mortar?

RetailDive – It’s reportedly only a matter of time before the tech giant signs the lease on its first permanent store — and just what its physical strategy will look like remains to be seen.

It’s reportedly only a matter of time before Google signs the lease on its first permanent brick-and-mortar store. Last week, unnamed sources told The Chicago Tribune that the tech giant was mulling a two-level 14,000 square foot space in the city’s meatpacking district.

While Google hasn’t responded to Retail Dive’s request for information, nor has it spoken publicly to other publications, retail insiders aren’t holding back speculation over what a move into physical retail could mean for Google. In the past, the company has experimented with pop-up shops and other store-in-store concepts, but a commitment to a physical store of its own will make a brick-and-mortar strategy critical. Just what exactly that will look like has yet to be seen.

On the topic, the discussion forum RetailWire asked its BrainTrust panel of retail experts the following questions:

What kind of brick-and-mortar strategy, if any, makes the most sense for Google to support its hardware lineup? What lessons should Google take from pushes by Apple and Amazon into physical retail?

Do what Amazon did: Buy your physical footprint

Ken Morris, Principal, Boston Retail Partners: Physical stores make perfect sense to showcase Amazon’s current portfolio of tech products. It seems like a smaller footprint than 14,000 sq ft would make more sense, however, maybe they will lease some of the space to brands that are selling innovative products on Google Marketplace. Eventually, I expect Google to follow the lead of Amazon and expand its product portfolio significantly by adding private label brands of multiple product categories beyond technology.

I saw the barge idea in Portland and that was an ill-fated idea. Maybe acquiring a retailer with stores in key markets as a way to accelerate its physical presence — just like Amazon acquiring Whole Foods would be a better approach.

Read Full Article: How will Google bust into brick and mortar?

Can Conversational Commerce Fulfill Its Potential In Retail?

Retail TouchPoints – The remarkable growth of voice-assisted devices over the past year has expanded what “conversational commerce” truly means for retailers. While the term had largely been used to describe chatbot activity just a few years ago, voice now gives retailers yet another shiny toy to fulfill consumer needs — and hopefully create a new shopping channel. As such, there are high expectations around the technology: voice shopping is expected to account for $40 billion in U.S. consumer spending by 2022, according to a study from OC&C Strategy Consultants. However, for such a figure to be achieved, retailers must still surmount some high barriers.

It’s true that enthusiasm for the technology itself is high— voice-activated devices are set for 50% U.S. sales growth from the 2016-2017 period to the 2018-2019 span, according to NPD Group. Yet despite this popularity, interest in — or even awareness of — their commerce functionalities remains low.

“As much as retailers have made great strides over the past couple of years in being nimbler and more agile, this is such a unique technology that they will still struggle with,” said Jeffrey Neville, Senior VP and Practice Lead at BRP Consulting in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The thought of doing a pilot of a customer service/voice commerce program is going to be difficult because it’s so different. There’s a tendency to overthink the impact of something like this on their customers. As far as the base technology goes, you can get partners or cloud-based third-party applications to do a lot of the groundwork, but from a data integration standpoint and from an understanding of how you build and manage these tools — that’s going to be a struggle.”

“A big discussion in this space is: ‘Do we want the customer to think they’re speaking with a real human being or do we want the customer to realize that this is convenience with Watson or some other AI technology?’” said BRP’s Neville. “That’s a decision retailers have to make right now. Any AI using voice is probably going to mess up the conversation at some point, and the customer is going to realize that they’re talking to a computer.”

“If you look at apparel or luxury, you’re seeing companies like Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger use chatbots to be able to play the role of a stylist and provide fashion advice,” said Neville. “That’s where you may start seeing that relationship building through a chatbot, versus the stylist you’re used to going to at Polo Ralph Lauren. Not to bring this back to Amazon, but the Echo Look can take a picture of you in an outfit, and the long-term theory is to be able to combine this conversational commerce and voice shopping with image recognition. As you start to mix the concepts of being able to have a conversation with a computer-based stylist, and then having that computer-based stylist also be able to recognize patterns and colors, and making recommendations out of the existing retailer’s catalog, there’s some cool opportunities that retailers can tap into.”

Read Full Article: Can Conversational Commerce Fulfill Its Potential In Retail?  

New Report from BRP Offers Best Practices for Enhancing the Post-Purchase Customer Experience in Preparation for Holiday 2018

95% of Customers that are Satisfied with the Returns Process will Purchase from a Retailer Again

Boston, MA – August 15, 2018– According to a new report from BRP, the post-purchase experience is not getting the attention it deserves as retailers focus more on customer acquisition than loyalty. BRP published the Best Practices for Enhancing the Post-Purchase Experience report to address the importance of the time between the customer clicking the buy button and the customer receiving and using the product. This is your customers’ most recent experience with your company and impacts the feelings they share with friends and family and the relationship they have with your brand. The satisfaction level during the post purchase experience has a direct correlation on a customer’s decision to buy again, or not.

Retailers that meet or exceed post-purchase customer experience expectations create a unique brand experience that customers will “share” with others personally and on social media. Exceptional post-purchase customer experiences also inspire customers to build long-term relationship with brands.

“Retailers who communicate regular updates and reassurances on order and delivery status to customers create a moment of trust with the brand,” said Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead, BRP. “Customers who shop without a sense of risk will feel more comfortable making repeat purchases in the future.”

By crafting a post-purchase experience to minimize friction and maximize convenience, retailers make an investment in a sustained relationship with their customer. Enhancing your post-purchase customer experience doesn’t necessarily mean investing heavily in the latest technologies – it’s all about making the experience easy and transparent. Best practices that create a welcome and trusting experience for your customers to return time after time include:

  1. Set customer expectations before the click “Buy”
  2. Communicate tirelessly
  3. Set a fair and competitive return policy
  4. Simplify the return process
  5. Deliver your products in professional packaging
  6. Turn a digital experience into an omni-channel experience
  7. Use your stores for something more
  8. Gather customer feedback

To download Best Practices for Enhancing the Post-Purchase Experience, visit: https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-post-purchase-experience-white-paper/

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)
Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM
Unified Commerce | Customer Experience | Order Management | Networks
Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Private Equity

For more information on BRP, visit http://www.brpconsulting.com.

Optimizing in-store digital experience helps fashion retailers increase revenue 25 percent

FashionUnited – In a world where shopping experiences are influenced by digital in 75 percent of cases, digital already directly drives more than a third of all retail sales, and it further influences a much higher percentage, concludes a recent report by BRP & Windstream Enterprise.

‘Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations’ study reveals that within the apparel and shoes segment, digital sales make 29 percent of total sales, whereas 17 percent of store sales are attributed to digital.

A retailer with 1 billion dollars in annual revenue could potentially gain circa 260 million dollars by delivering a great in-store experience. Furthermore, reinventing the store to truly integrate digital and analogical can help retain consumers and grow their value by approximately 25 percent while acquiring new consumers from competitors.

Digital technology investment requires better alignment with consumers’ demands

However, digital in-store technology investment is misaligned as retailers’ investments haven’t kept pace with consumer expectations. Consumers value technologies that help them shop and pay at their pace, clearly favouring those retailers that give them the ability to control their checkout experience.

On a related note, while 71 percent of consumers rate highly the option of using self-checkout, just 42 percent of retailers are able to offer it. Being able to check out via mobile app is a priority for 50 percent of consumers, whereas just 42 percent of retailers actually offer this option.

Read Full Article: Optimizing in-store digital experience helps fashion retailers increase revenue 25 percent

Are you Offering Shoppers the Digital Experience they Expect?

New research identifies gaps between customer expectations and retail execution when it comes to digital experiences.

According to the Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations report, based on research conducted by Incisiv, there is a disconnect between customer expectations and retail execution. The research combines findings from surveys of 1,212 retail consumers and 60 retail executives to understand the effect digital has on the shopping experience.

“The digital divide in retail is growing, as over 75% of retail shopping traverses the digital realm, but less than half of retailers deliver on the most important digital capabilities that customers desire,” said Brian Brunk, principal, BRP. “Further, very few retailers offer the next generation digital technologies, like automated returns and proximity-triggered mobile coupons, that could significantly influence future purchase decisions. Retailers must transform and quickly close the digital gap to remain relevant with their customer.

Consumers are no longer confined to a linear buying journey and expect greater convenience and empowerment to shop the way they want and where they want. Digital sits at the core of that promise and it’s no surprise that most consumers research prices, reviews and product information before they set foot into a store and when they are in the store they perform these actions on their mobile devices.

“Mobile devices and the capabilities they enable are the primary catalyst for the continued evolution of the customer experience,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president and practice lead, BRP. “The majority of today’s consumers research products and brands digitally prior to visiting a physical store and, once they are in the store, about half of them use their mobile devices to perform price comparisons, read product reviews, and even validate inventory.”

Consumers are more likely to shop at retailers that align next-gen technologies to their digital preferences; however, in many cases, retailers don’t offer the capabilities that impact consumers’ shopping preferences.

Proximity-triggered Mobile Coupons – Consumers value digital discounts and promotions on their mobile devices. 

  • 65% of customers would more likely shop at a retail brand that offered this capability
  • 8% of retailers offer this capability

Augmented Reality Experience – Many consumers appreciate the opportunity to see products in a virtual environment.

  • 48% of customers would more likely shop at a retail brand that offered this capability
  • 15% of retailers offer this capability

Automated Returns Process – Consumers expect the returns process to be easy and frictionless.

  • 68% of customers would more likely shop at a retail brand that offered this capability
  • 8% of retailers offer this capability

I encourage you to download and read the complete Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations report:

DOWNLOAD NOW

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

David

Retailers’ Tech Capabilities Still Fall Short

eMarketer – Today’s consumers are open to various types of retail technologies, and they are even warming up to others that were once seen as too creepy.

A recent study by BRP (Boston Retail Partners) and Windstream Enterprise found that many consumers would be more likely to shop at a retailer that offered tech capabilities like automated returns, as well as augmented and virtual reality experiences. But while interest is there—and retailers are aware of the impact it could have if offered—a good number of them don’t offer such capabilities yet.

In fact, while 68% of US shoppers surveyed by BRP and Windstream said they would be more likely to shop at a retailer that offered automated returns capability, just 8% of retailers said they offer this feature.

Read Full Article: Retailers’ Tech Capabilities Still Fall Short

Retailers not yet meeting shoppers’ digital expectations: BRP

Luxury Daily – While digital influences up to 75 percent of all in-store visits, retailers have not been keeping pace with shoppers’ preferences, according to a new Boston Retail Partners report.

The consultancy’s “Retail’s Digital Crossroads” report examines how retailers who are quick to adjust to today’s non-linear, multichannel shopping journeys will attract more customers. Although retailers have been investing in the digital shopping experience, not all of these investments reflect consumers’ preferences.

“While we have intuitively known that digital had become such a pervasive element of the overall shopping experience, it was surprising to quantitatively validate how much it influences in-store consumer behavior and purchases,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP, Boston. “Consumers spend a considerable amount of time researching products, checking reviews, validating inventory availability and comparing prices before they even visit a store.”

The report is based on surveys of 1,212 retail consumers and 60 retail executives in the United States. Among the shoppers surveyed, there was a 50/50 gender split and Generation Z, millennials, Generation X and baby boomers were about equally represented.

Read Full Article: Retailers not yet meeting shoppers’ digital expectations: BRP