7 Ways Physical Retailers Are Trying to Fight Amazon in Their Stores

TheStreet – Amazon (AMZN) is every traditional retailer’s worst nightmare. The e-commerce giant is slowly but surely gobbling up market share and turning consumers into frequent online shoppers.

This past week, Amazon surprised Wall Street analysts with a nice profit of 17 cents per share on revenue of $25.4 billion, up 23% year over year. And Wells Fargo analyst Matt Nemer recently estimated that Amazon’s North American gross merchandise volume accounts for 36% of all retail dollar growth for the year (excluding vehicles, fuel and food/beverage). A scary figure for any non-Amazon retailer to see.

Amazon’s innovation in delivery and logistics plus its breadth of inventory have made it easier for consumers to choose e-commerce over brick and mortar, forcing physical retailers to get creative to keep consumers coming through the door.

“Retailers must infuse digital features into the store environment to exceed customer expectations, compete more effectively with online pure-play retailers and offer a better, more complete, shopping experience,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners.

Here are some of the best implementations we’ve seen.

Read the full article: 7 Ways Physical Retailers Are Trying to Fight Amazon in Their Stores

Selfridges brings personal touch to holiday shopping in astrological campaign

Luxury Daily – British department store chain Selfridges is taking consumers on a “Journey to the Stars” this holiday season with an astrologically themed campaign.

This year’s Destination Christmas diverts from the typical snowy atmosphere in favor of zodiac signs, using the personality profiles as a reference point for window displays, gifting merchandising and in-store events. Taking an out-of-the-box approach may help Selfridges differentiate itself from other retailers during the important holiday shopping season.

“Looking for a unique campaign to get consumers passionately engaged during the holiday season inspired Selfridges’ astrological sign campaign,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners. “It’s like magic. By shopping based on the recipient’s astrological sign, the giver can select a gift that will have a story associated with it, which make gifts more sentimental from a giver and receiver perspective.”

Read full article: Selfridges brings personal touch to holiday shopping in astrological campaign

VIDEO: Personalization – The “Amazon Experience” in the store

Retailers can now deliver the “Amazon Experience” in the store.

Retailers can identify who you are (if you opt-in), know what’s in your closet, your online footprint and your online cart abandonment all while you are standing in front of the sales associate. This is “real-time” retail!

Pricing is also going to evolve to a more granular, individual pricing level.

Watch this video blog post to learn more.

Visit our BRP Videos page to watch videos on other topics.

For more information on real-time retail, check out this report:

BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Real-time Retail – The New Retail Imperative

As always, I appreciate you thoughts on this topic. Please enter your thoughts and comments below.


Amazon lures Etsy users, brings handcrafts into the mainstream

Mobile Commerce Daily – Amazon is targeting customers of digital crafts retailer Etsy and peer-to-peer seller platform eBay with a new handmade shop available on mobile that could also produce higher sales for competitors as the ecommerce giant shines light on the category.

Mobile has paved the way for many unorthodox retailers to enter the commerce space, where digital platforms such as Etsy, thrive. Amazon is hoping to get in on the handmade merchandise game now that the facet of retail has become so popular and launched an artisanal space on its mobile application and desktop this week where users can shop products made by the seller.

“Handmade at Amazon will be a direct competitor to other craft marketplaces like Etsy,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners. “As the hand crafted online category gets crowded with more choices, it is imperative that individual marketplaces differentiate their site to attract new shoppers and maintain their current loyal customers.

“From another perspective, Amazon’s entry into the handcrafted category might actually generate more sales for Etsy and other marketplaces by creating more interest in the handcraft category, resulting in a halo effect.”

Read Full Article: Amazon lures Etsy users, brings handcrafts into the mainstream

Seeking Retailers’ Opinions – BRP E-Commerce Benchmark Survey

Nearly all retailers have an e-commerce presence and consumers expect it. Consumers typically visit a retailer’s Website for product research and comparison before they ultimately make their purchase either online, in the store or on their phone. E-Commerce and m-commerce continues to be a high growth opportunity for retailers and we are keen to learn how retailers are approaching e-commerce in their organization.

Boston Retail Partners (BRP) is pleased to announce that our E-Commerce Benchmark Survey is now available and we need your help!

This survey seeks to understand retailers’ current e-commerce and digital commerce priorities and initiatives as the retail industry continues its transformation into the digital world. The survey is now open to all qualified retailers, please take a few moments and share your thoughts on this important topic.

This brief survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete and covers the following e-commerce topics:Suvey Checkboxes with Computer Mouse 01

  • E-Commerce priorities and initiatives
  • E-commerce technology
  • Website strategies
  • Marketing and advertising
  • Unified commerce capabilities
  • Mobile
  • Payments

Please share your opinions:

Our E-Commerce Benchmark Survey is open now so please take a few minutes and give us your thoughts today:


As a bonus, all qualified retailers completing the survey receive the survey report before it is released to the public and are eligible for a 30-minute complimentary post-survey briefing with Boston Retail Partners!

The results of the survey will be compiled and analyzed and we will release the final report in late August.

We appreciate your input!


Real-time Retail Is the New Black

I recently wrote an article about real-time retail for Apparel Magazine and here is a recap of the article.

Woman on phoneIn apparel and fashion retailing, identifying the hottest trends and understanding your customers’ buying habits are critical to your success. Predicting what colors, fabrics, trends and styles will be popular in the upcoming seasons is crucial to maximizing sales and profitability. Buying the wrong colors or styles can be a costly mistake, so having access to your customers’ preferences in colors, sizes, styles and even how they choose to shop is key. Having this customer information in real-time not only allows you to understand your customer but also allows your associates to suggestive sell and enhance the shopping experience.

As you know, customers are becoming more demanding — driven by new technology and the real-time capabilities it enables. A customer can be shopping at a store for a specific purse or sweater design and she can take a photo of it and gain instant access to the best prices from multiple competitors and information on the closest store that carries it in stock — in real-time. Customers expect this seamless experience in the store, on the web or anywhere they choose to shop. “Real-time retail” is the new retail imperative.

What is real-time retail?

When a customer walks in your door, do you know who she is? Do you know what she abandoned in her online shopping cart this morning? Do you know that she looked at your daily specials on her smartphone 30 minutes ago? Can you see current inventory at your store and all other stores and distribution centers in your chain — in real-time? These capabilities are examples of real-time retail in action. Real-time retail is the ability to deliver a seamless experience to consumers whenever, wherever or however they choose to shop by gathering, analyzing and disseminating customer, product, pricing and inventory data across all channels — in real-time.

Imagine some of the following scenarios that are possible through real-time retail:

Woman Scaning Tag• A customer walks into your store and her favorite sales associate is immediately notified on her tablet or smartphone (assuming the customer has opted-in). The associate not only can see the customer’s prior purchases, but also her recent browsing history so the associate can direct her to similar items in the store.

• Your sales associate can see a customer’s holiday purchases from last year and make suggestions for this year’s purchases when she visits the store based on these insights.

• A customer posts an item to Facebook while in the store and gets feedback from friends in real-time on whether to purchase the item.

• As a customer is shopping in the store, she finds an item she likes but it is not available in her size; your associate can access real-time inventory information to find out where the item can be found and ship it directly to the customer.

• A customer is looking at a shirt in two colors and can’t decide which one she wants. Based on current sales and inventory levels, your store can offer the customer a 10 percent off promotion to encourage her to purchase one of the colors instead of the other.

According to the recent survey of North American retailers by Boston Retail Partners (BRP), one of the top priorities for retailers in 2015 is real-time retail. Nearly half of the retail respondents in the BRP 2015 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey indicated that real-time retail is among their top three priorities for 2015.

According to the survey, retailers are focused on expanding their real-time capabilities to deliver the enhanced services their customers now expect.

Tailoring the Customer Experience Chart

Enhancing the shopping experience

Retailers that can provide associates with customer data in real-time before the customer reaches the checkout are able to provide a more personalized experience and can offer suggestions to customers that impact their purchase decisions.  Many retailers are planning to personalize the customer experience by utilizing virtual closets (or room, garage or whatever is appropriate for the retailer). By understanding what is currently in the customer’s closet, a sales associate can easily suggest products that coordinate with the customer’s current wardrobe and even show her how well items can coordinate together.

According to our survey respondents, 510 percent more retailers will know what is in their customers’ closets within three years and provide this information to sales associates in real-time.

Personalized promotions

In the past, retailers’ pricing hierarchy was based on various levels: company, division, channel, zone and store. Now there is a new pricing strategy and structure at the personal level — based on an individual shopper. According to the survey, 174 percent more retailers will be offering personalized promotions in the next three years. By understanding a customer’s purchasing habits the retailer gains insight into the price point at which the customer may be willing to purchase and can offer incentives or promotions in real-time to help close the sale.

Personalized recommendations

Woman holding shirt up to friend in clothes storeOne of the biggest growth areas over the next three years will be to offer personalized recommendations based on an individual customer’s shopping history. Currently 20 percent of retailers offer the ability for their associates to suggestive sell based on a customer’s previous purchases and 56 percent more plan to implement this feature within three years — a 280 percent increase.

Even more interesting is the fact that retailers are beginning to offer associates the ability to suggestive sell to their customers based on the customer’s online browsing history. This offers the ability to transcend channels and tailor the shopping experience to the customer. Offering personalized recommendations based on online behaviors is a key capability in the convergence of the digital and in-store experience.

According to BRP’s survey, personalizing the shopping experience by understanding the customer’s online browsing history will increase by 1060 percent over the next three years.


Customers are forcing a fundamental reshaping of retail by demanding a seamless convergence of the in-store and digital experiences. Successful retailers realize that they can no longer divide that experience among separate channels and must work towards a holistic shopping experience that transcends channels. One of the keys to delivering this experience is real-time retail. This is why real-time retail is “the new black!” 

As always, I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this topic.  Please enter your comments and idea below.


Amazon Fire Phone – Should retailers be concerned?

With the recent introduction of the Amazon Fire Phone, it begs the question for retailers – should we be concerned about its impact on our business?

My answer to that question is “probably not, but maybe.” Let me explain…

We have researched the Amazon Fire Phone and recently published a white paper with in-depth analysis of the phone’s features and the impact on retail. Download the white paper:

WHITE PAPER: Amazon Fire Phone – Should retailers be concerned?

My take on the Amazon Fire Phone

There is nothing really special about the physical Amazon Fire phone itself – it is all about the app. The app that is getting a lot of attention is Firefly.

About Firefly

The Firefly app is designed to let you identify and shop online for things you see out in the real world. Using the smartphone’s camera activated by a dedicated Firefly button, the Firefly app lets you identify things like phone numbers, movies, books, games, CDs, food and more just by pointing your camera at them. Firefly is capable of recognizing over 70 million items. Once items are identified, the app provides links to product details and pricing options on

Firefly will amplify showrooming

Amazon intends to use the Firefly app as a means to facilitate showrooming at the evaluation and purchase phase of the buying process and the ultimate goal is to have consumers purchase the products identified on

For commodity items that can be purchased at multiple retail chains and online merchants, showrooming can turn retail space into a well-organized trial area for consumers before they do comparison-shopping online. This showrooming effect does not impact private label merchandising that is exclusively available only at the retail chain’s own branded stores.

Who should be concerned?

If you are a retailer that sells a high percentage of commodity merchandise that can be purchased at many other retail chains or at online commerce sites, you should be concerned. However, this will not impact those retail chains that focus on their own private label merchandise, which is only available for purchase at their branded stores or company Web site.

While this may not impact most retailers, this “scan and recognition” technology is very interesting and will present numerous other retail opportunities. It is definitely a technology to watch!

As always, I appreciate any feedback and additional thoughts you have on this topic. Please share your comments below.