Influentials: Top Movers and Shakers in Retail 2019

RIS News – The retail industry touches the lives of everyone on a daily basis. Filled with innovative technology in a rapidly changing landscape, retail is constantly on the move ― and its success is impossible without knowledgeable leaders working hard to evolve the industry and steer the ship into the future.

RIS’ third annual “Influentials: Top Movers and Shakers in Retail” highlights the retail executives, analysts and solution providers that are shaping the retail landscape and developing and deploying cutting-edge technology.

The executives featured below were chosen for their contribution to the retail industry and their respected companies. Whether they are launching a new retail venture, innovating cutting-edge technology, or helping set the retail agenda, these exceptional leaders are pioneering the entire industry forward. To compile this list, RIS interviewed each executive to uncover the keys to their success and the technological innovations they have helped bring to the market.
Read on to find out more of what makes each of these leaders a retail tech influencer and one of RIS’ Top Movers and Shakers.

Throughout his four decade career in retail technology, Ken Morris has held IT leadership positions at leading retail companies and his consulting expertise has helped hundreds of retailers solve business and IT problems.

Prior to founding BRP (retail consulting firm), this industry thought leader was CEO and president of LakeWest Group and founder of CFT Consulting and CFT Systems, a retail software company. Earlier in his career, he held retail information technology executive positions at Lord & Taylor, Filene’s (Macy’s), Talbots, Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, and Sears.

Morris said his biggest accomplishment has been that he designed, built and owned the largest lost prevention solution, XBR, before selling it to Micros/Oracle. He also founded and built best-in -class retail management teams – BRP and CFT Consulting.

BRP is working with several retail clients that are implementing augmented reality at stores with visual products, like furniture, making this innovative technology a game changer in the retail customer experience. He’s also working on real-time retail.

“Today’s retail model is moving beyond omnichannel 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,” Morris notes. “The importance of real-time visibility and access to product and customer information across channels has grown significantly over the past few years as it drives significant benefits to retailers and consumers.”

Morris says if he could change one thing in retail, it would be to get retailers to invest in infrastructure.
“Retailers have notoriously been reluctant to invest in infrastructure, because they are too focused on quarterly results,” he notes. “Where would we be as a country if we didn’t invest in railroads and highways? Retailers should apply the same long-term approach to their technology strategy.”

Read Full Article: Influentials: Top Movers and Shakers in Retail 2019

UX: What’s In Store For Next-Gen Retail

TWICE – With all the focus on e-commerce and websites, it’s easy to forget that online sales still only accounted for about 10 percent of all retail transactions last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Meaning that 90 percent of sales took place in stores.

While no one’s suggesting that retailers let up on the digital gas pedal — in fact, just the opposite — neither should multichannel merchants neglect what remains their core asset: brick-and-mortar showrooms.

“The reality is, the store is still the foundation of retailing,” observed BRP, a retail consulting firm, in its 2019 Special Report: The Future Store. “It is where the tactile and sensory experience comes together for the consumer.”

But in the age of AR, AI, IoT and all other techno abbreviations, the online and offline worlds are beginning to merge, as digital disciplines filter into physical showrooms and shoppers, particularly of the Z Generation, come to expect it. “The store is not dead,” BRP declared. “It’s digitized.”

Some of those experiential ways include AR, VR and videoconferencing. According to BRP’s Future Store report, 36 percent of consumers said they would shop at a store offering virtual mirrors to envision themselves in different eyewear, garments or cosmetics, while 32 percent of respondents said they are likely to shop at a store offering an augmented reality experience. The research also showed that 29 percent would patronize a retailer with an element of virtual reality in their stores, and 27 percent would frequent a showroom that offered video conferencing from home with an in-store sales associate.

Read Full Article: UX: What’s In Store For Next-Gen Retail

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.


Do you really need augmented reality for your brand?

Thrive Global – The history of AR gets back to 1968 (yes, augmented reality is that old!) when Ivan Sutherland designed his Sword of Damocles. Yet, the popularity of AR got to the businesses around the world when Nokia launched its tennis app in the 2000s. In 2008, BMW became the first company who began using AR for commercial purposes and since 2016 the concept has become mainstream after the extremely successful launch of the Pokemon Go game. While it took the augmented reality more than 50 years to become popular and find its way into the market, many young businesses still question the reasonability of using AR for their niche.

Let’s talk numbers first. AR is expected to hit $90 billion in revenue in the next three years according to Digi Capital. Thrive Analytics calculated that 32% of all consumers in the world are already using augmented reality while 73% of mobile AR users report great satisfaction from the experience. BRP Consulting calculated that about half of current customers would be more likely to shop with a retailer who uses AR in its apps. Yes, the numbers might seem to be selected one-sided here but the general trend of capital investment into AR in the world and the number of emerging apps that implement the technology to prove the point. So in the long-term perspective and from the potential ROI of augmented reality, this is yet another “pro” for the technology.

Read Full Article: Do you really need augmented reality for your brand?

Only 23% Of Retailers Leverage In-Store AI, While Just 19% Deploy IoT Devices

Retail TouchPoints – Retailers often describe the “store of the future” having multiple customer service options, such as automated returns or cashierless checkout, and offering disruptive technologies such as AI, VR, AR, virtual mirrors and IoT. But many of these brick-and-mortar upgrades remain saved for just that — the future. For example, only 19% of retailers have implemented IoT within their stores, with 23%implementing AI-powered platforms such as voice-activated POS and digital assistants, according to a report from BRP, retail consulting firm.

In another sign that adoption of these technologies is still a long way off, only 5% of retailers said they have implemented each technology and that it is working well.

The BRP report, titled The Future Store, is based on findings from the BRP Consumer Study and the 20th Annual POS/Customer Engagement Survey, which are designed to offer insights into customer expectations for the store of the future as well as how retailers’ current capabilities match up with these expectations. In total, 55% of retailers believe they will have implemented IoT in their stores within three years, while 53% say they will implement AI in that time frame.

Read Full Article: Only 23% Of Retailers Leverage In-Store AI, While Just 19% Deploy IoT Devices

Study: Retailers lag shopper expectations for in-store tech

Mobile Marketer – Shoppers are ready to try new technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and cashierless checkout that improve their in-store experience but retailers are lagging in providing them, according to a survey by BRP Consulting.

Almost one-third (32%) of consumers say they’re likely to shop at a store offering an augmented reality (AR) experience, but only 9% of retailers offer the technology to overlay digital images on a real location seen through a smartphone camera. Another 29% of retailers plan to offer AR in the next three years.

Shoppers are slightly less interested in virtual reality (VR), which requires them to wear specialized headsets to see a completely computer-generated environment. Twenty-nine percent of consumers are likely to shop at a store with VR, while 7% of retailers currently offer the technology and 23% plan to add it within three years, per BRP.

Read Full Article: Study: Retailers lag shopper expectations for in-store tech

Technology is Keeping Physical Stores Off of Life Support

Sourcing Journal – The retail storefront isn’t dead, even as large shopping centers and chain stores shut down locations nationwide. Most retail purchases, a figure around 90 percent, are still made in stores. For retailers, that means turning attention and resources toward the in-store shopping experience, even as chatbots and other tech tools redefine e-commerce channels.

BRP Consulting’s latest special report, The Future Store, illustrates how next-generation tools like video chat and AI will factor into shoppers’ purchasing processes. The report draws from two different studies, a 2019 consumer study as well as a POS/customer engagement survey targeting retailers, to envision what’s to come for retail and illuminate how brands approach supply chain management, including staffing and inventory decisions that can facilitate a seamless omnichannel experience.

The findings show consumers are willing to rely on technology in place of human interaction—but only if it makes the purchase process quicker and easier. Fifty-five percent are more likely to shop at a store with self-checkout instead of a store without, and 57 percent will choose a store offering automated returns if it allows them to avoid human interactions and speed up the process.

Read Full Article:Technology is Keeping Physical Stores Off of Life Support

Retailers Deploy Virtual, Augmented Reality, Voice Assistants

Media Post – Retailers are moving ahead with more in-store tech ranging from virtual and augmented reality to virtual mirrors and digital voice assistants. Nearly a third (29%) plan to add augmented reality within the next thee years and 9% already use it, according to a study by BRP.

Virtual reality is also on the agenda, with 7% of retailers already using it and 14% more planning to within the next 12 months, according to the online survey of executives at North American retailers, 58% of which had sales of more than $1 billion.

BRP estimates that nearly a third (32%) of shoppers are likely to shop at a store offering an augmented reality experience and 29% would like virtual reality to be part of their shopping environment.

Other technologies are also either here or coming at retail. Artificial intelligence in the form of voice-activated, point-of-sales terminals or digital assistants are already implemented by 23% of retailers with another 30% planning to add them within the next three years.

Read Full Article: Retailers Deploy Virtual, Augmented Reality, Voice Assistants

Top 5 Trends Driving Retail Innovation

Retail TouchPoints – With any technology, new or old, the biggest challenge comes not in the invention itself but in its application. AI as a concept has been around for decades, but it’s only in the past few years that retailers and solution providers have figured out how it can enhance shopper experiences and streamline internal operations. Additionally, successful technologies breed a desire for even stronger applications: with personalization, for example, it’s no longer enough to know a shopper’s past habits and favorite items — retailers also must understand which complementary items would be of interest, and how their preferred lifestyle may affect future purchases.

Turning the theoretical into the practical will be a retail industry priority in 2019. Retail TouchPoints has identified five major technology and business trends retailers should pay close attention to this year:

• AI and machine learning;
• Enhanced personalization;
• Exemplary in-store experiences;
• Sustainability and ethical retailing; and
• Unified commerce.

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With AR and VR adoption spreading, especially in certain segments, the idea of what represents retail real estate is transforming and expanding. It’s no longer just the store — it can be almost anywhere, including the customer’s home. Retail stores have traditionally been the focal point for the theater of retail, but now AR and VR allow the customer to directly control where that experience happens.

Read full article: Top 5 Trends Driving Retail Innovation

2019 OUTLOOK GUIDE: Top Trends Driving Retail Growth

Retail TouchPoints – Retailers are hoping that a solid 2018 holiday season will usher in an even better 2019. There’s certainly reason for optimism: high consumer confidence, low unemployment and low fuel prices are generally a winning combination. But as in previous years, every customer dollar will be hard-won. The retail transformation (some called it an apocalypse) that swept the industry in 2017 is still shaking things up, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  The 13 retail industry experts contributing to the Retail TouchPoints Outlook Guide bring a wide array of viewpoints and experience to their predictions for 2019.

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Reimaging the Definition of Retail

Brian Brunk, Principal, BRP, Retail Consulting Firm

I’ve previously highlighted the “Great Retail Transformation” — the historic wave of disruption that is sweeping through retail. We continue to see the negative side of this disruption, with more than 5,000 store closings and 16 U.S. retailers filing for bankruptcy in 2018. However, we also saw some positive news with strong retail growth, 2018 YTD retail sales up 5% (through November), and great stories about retailers that are adapting their in-store experiences to experiential retail concepts that meet new customers’ expectations.

As we consider the evolving store of the future, we find ourselves asking fundamental questions like, What is retail? and What is a store? While the definition of retail has evolved, it has always centered around the concept of a market — from early local markets, to the growth of mercantile and department stores, to shopping malls, to whatever is next. Regardless of format, brick-and-mortar retail remains a real estate game. Now, we’re seeing the rise of creative uses for retail real estate, as brands create a customer experience that breaks the mold of traditional retail perceptions. The trick is to morph your store into new experiential forms that appeal to consumers.

  • Complementary Brands: Store-within-a-store is nothing new, but we’re seeing more retailers sharing real estate with complementary brands. One great example: Target and CVS, two brands that traditionally overlapped and competed. Now, Target has turned over its in-store pharmacy operations to CVS. JCPenney has experienced success with Sephora shops in its stores, and Best Buy carved out space for Sony, Samsung, Microsoft, Pacific Kitchen and Magnolia in many of its stores.
  • Multipurpose Space for Food, Beverage and Events: A growing trend is multipurpose utilization of real estate. An interesting example is the focus on adding food and beverage options, such as space for a café or restaurant. This has been a trend with both small, boutique retailers and large fashion retailers like Brooks Brothers and Tiffany’s, which have added or are exploring cafes, tea rooms, bars or even dedicated private event space, to better engage customers and maximize their real estate. Every segment seems to be exploring this in its own way, with more grocers, such as Whole Foods, adding restaurants. As shopping behavior continues to change, we expect this to become a much larger play for retailers looking for new experiential brand strategies to increase store dwell time and generate much- needed additional revenue.
  • Real Estate Sandboxes – Brands and Specialty Renaissance: As the retail landscape changes,
    online retailers are opening physical stores, and traditional retailers are experimenting with new store concepts. We are also seeing several traditional manufacturing or wholesale brands now expanding their retail presence for greater control of their brand experience. With the retail landscape morphing, we also expect to see a renaissance of more curated, specialty retail as customers demand more options and in-person experiences with knowledgeable associates. Manhattan is a great model of this, as new entrants look to take advantage of vacant retail space. For example, Brookfield Property Partners recently bought property on Bleecker Street to create an incubator space where new entrants can test brick-and-mortar strategies.
  • Virtual Showrooms – Beyond The Four Walls: With AR and VR adoption spreading, especially in certain segments, the idea of what represents retail real estate is transforming and expanding. It’s no longer just the store — it can be almost anywhere, including the customer’s home. Retail stores have traditionally been the focal point for the theater of retail, but now AR and VR allow the customer to directly control where that experience happens. Macy’s is a recent example, as they’re currently rolling out a new virtual VR across 70 locations — combined with an AR app for home use — to offer an immersive furniture shopping experience that allows browsing and visualization of a much larger assortment of furniture than a typical store. Sephora’s “Virtual Artist” app uses AR to scan your face, figure out where your lips and eyes are, and sample different looks on your smartphone.

Retail offers the vision, value and convenience offered by the curator. That is what defines retail. Consumers want to shop versus just source items, and that is what they need and want from retail. Traditionally, retail space is the theater where this takes place. The future of retail remains very interesting, as we see themes like the renaissance of specialty, brand expansion and the evolving experiential theater creating headlines that define the store of the future.

Read full report:  2019 OUTLOOK GUIDE: Top Trends Driving Retail Growth