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Transform the Customer Experience – Keys to Mobile Success

This is a recap of an article I wrote for the RIS New Special Report: 2016 Mobile Products & Solutions Guide (see page 6 – Transform the Experience).

Transform the Experience

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-1-12-39-pmThere has been a huge technology shift in the past few years and mobile technology is the driver. Mobile capabilities enable retailers to break down the barrier between the online digital environment and the physical store. The proliferation of tablets and smartphones has created new opportunities for retailers to enhance the customer experience to meet the expectations of their very informed and technology-savvy customers.

Retailers are increasingly using mobile devices to transform the customer experience in three key areas:

POS

Mobile POS frees associates from the checkout desk to enable more personal interaction and it simplifies the customer’s experience. According to BRP’s “2016 POS Survey,” 20% of retailers have implemented mobile POS and 78% plan to utilize within three years. We are seeing a growing trend of retailers implementing a flexible mobile POS option where a tablet inserted in a docking station can be a replacement for traditional POS. Mobile POS offers a lower initial upfront cost and is disposable, enabling retailers to eliminate annual maintenance costs.

Guided Selling

Retailers can leverage the knowledge and skills of an “A” associate through mobile apps, ostensibly turning their “B” and “C” associates into “A” associates. According to the 2016 POS Survey, only 14% of retailers currently offer suggested selling based on a customer’s previous purchase, however, 72% of retailers plan to offer this service within three years.

Customer Engagementscreen-shot-2016-11-07-at-1-00-13-pm

Leveraging consumers’ mobile devices to identify them as they walk into the store enables retailers to enhance the shopping experience through more personalized services. Once customers are identified, retailers can send personalized offers and recommendations to their smartphones and provide interactive product suggestions. According to the same survey, only 10% of retailers can identify customers via near field communications (NFC) today, however, within three years 50% of retailers plan to have this capability.

Keys to Mobile Success

There is no debate that mobile is a key component to enhancing the customer experience. Below are a few best practices to ensure your mobile deployment is a success:

  • Identify customers as they enter the store and know everything about them and their environment: personal preferences, purchase history, key dates, browsing history, and cart abandonment information.
  • Train sales associates and educate customers on using mobile technology.
  • Have the right infrastructure: network, WiFi, middleware and order management.
  • Ensure real-time visibility and access to product information across the enterprise.

Mobile is clearly the new frontier changing retailers’ customer engagement model, operational budgets, in-store procedures and layouts. Mobile is definitely the future of retail, consumers demand it and retailers are focused on meeting consumer expectations by enhancing their mobile capabilities.

Are you keeping up with your customers’ desires for mobile features?

As always, I appreciate your feedback and insights. Please share your opinions below.

Ken

Transform the Experience

RIS News – There has been a huge technology shift in the past few years and mobile technology is the driver. Mobile capabilities enable retailers to break down the barrier between the online digital environment and the physical store. The proliferation of tablets and smartphones has created new opportunities for retailers to enhance the customer experience to meet the expectations of their very informed and technology-savvy customers.

This is an excerpt from a byline article by Ken Morris, principal at BRP, that was published in the RIS New Special Report: 2016 Mobile Products & Solutions Guide.

Retailers are increasingly using mobile devices to transform the customer experience in three key areas:

transform-the-experiencePOS. Mobile POS frees associates from the checkout desk to enable more personal interaction and it simplifies the customer’s experience. According to BRP’s “2016 POS Survey,” 20% of retailers have implemented mobile POS and 78% plan to utilize within three years. We are seeing a growing trend of retailers implementing a flexible mobile POS option where a tablet inserted in a docking station can be a replacement for traditional POS. Mobile POS offers a lower initial upfront cost and is disposable, enabling retailers to eliminate annual maintenance costs.

Guided Selling. Retailers can leverage the knowledge and skills of an “A” associate through mobile apps, ostensibly turning their “B” and “C” associates into “A” associates. According to the 2016 POS Survey, only 14% of retailers currently offer suggested selling based on a customer’s previous purchase, however, 72% of retailers plan to offer this service within three years.

Customer Engagement. Leveraging consumers’ mobile devices to identify them as they walk into the store enables retailers to enhance the shopping experience through more personalized services. Once customers are identified, retailers can send personalized offers and recommendations to their smartphones and provide interactive product suggestions. According to the same survey, only 10% of retailers can identify customers via near field communications (NFC) today, however, within three years 50% of retailers plan to have this capability.

Read full report (Transform the Experience – Page 6):

2016 Mobile Product & Solution Guide: Mobile Customers, Mobile Retailing, Mobile Generation

The Future POS

RIS News – Tomorrow’s POS will be mobile, virtual and unified. Point-of-sale (POS) devices have advanced tremendously over the past 30 years, but during the next five years this evolution will really accelerate. With the pervasive adoption of mobile devices among retailers and consumers and fast, reliable and secure networks, it is the perfect storm to truly revolutionize POS. The traditional fixed POS device will be augmented, and in many cases totally replaced, with a combination of new technologies that are mobile, virtual and unified.

Read the complete POS Special Report: Sparking POS Innovation

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Connected vehicle commerce must prove its functionality to prevail

Mobile Marketer – As vehicle manufacturers compete for innovation leadership in connected cars, commerce is playing a big part, but not all new features are likely to be deemed practical by users.

Toyota, Ford and Honda are among the multitude of manufacturers partnering with commerce companies and software developers to bring payment features to connected vehicles for a broader stance in mobile. While all brands are focusing on creating solutions for vehicle-based retail such as parking and gas, Visa is broadening its capabilities through a Pizza Hut partnership, but some speculate on its necessity.

“Consumers love convenience and the initial reaction of using their car to pay for services may be intriguing,” said David Naumann, director of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “However, there are a lot of challenges that may make mass adoption less interesting or attainable.”

“How is this different and better than using apps on mobile devices to accomplish the same objectives, with the exception that drivers will be touching the monitor on the dashboard instead of their phone and is this really that much safer,” he said. “Some challenges with separate connectivity from the auto’s dashboard monitor include, does it require an additional monthly fee for access and internet connection, how long will it take manufacturers to build it into their traditional 5-year production roadmap, will it be more difficult to update systems than for mobile apps?”

Read Full Article: Connected vehicle commerce must prove its functionality to prevail

Retailers Not Quite Ready for the Cloud

Enterprise Apps Today – Retailers are dragging their feet in moving key retail applications to the cloud. Retailers have a love/I’m not sure yet relationship with the cloud, according to retail industry observers. While companies are moving at least some retail applications to the cloud, others aren’t ready to break up their longstanding relationships with legacy technologies.

For retailers the cloud question is determined by economics, technology issues and the boardroom, with security concerns factoring in as well.

“Retail is moving slower than many other industries, because much of the technology is still inside the store,” said Ken Morris, principal at consulting firm Boston Retail Partners. Because decades ago technology failures tended to happen in centralized locations, retailers decentralized their hardware and software in an effort to contain tech problems. Retailers still run many of those technologies, like point-of-sale (POS) systems, at the store level.

Read Full Article: Retailers Not Quite Ready for the Cloud

VIDEO: The Future Store – Real-time Retail Changes Everything

We are on the cusp of a significant and fundamental transformation within the store environment. The future store must encompass both worlds – the sensory experience of the physical store combined with the personalization and convenience of online shopping. The most successful retailers will seamlessly blend the physical with the digital in the future store. Retailers can no longer afford to operate from within silos and must transform their technology, business processes, and organization to align with their customers’ expectations.

Watch this video blog post to hear Ken Morris, Principal, Boston Retail Partners & Eric Olafson, SVP Store Solutions, Demandware, discuss how the store has changed and will continue to change.


Boston Retail Partners & Demandware Talk Stores 2.0 at NRF Big Show

For more information on the transformation of the store, read this white paper:

The Future Store Manifesto

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

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

David

The Transformation of the Store

CIO Review – With the rapid adoption of smartphones, today’s consumers are always connected and have access to unlimited information at their fingertips. Consumers expect their shopping experience to transcend channels so that they can shop anywhere, buy anywhere, pick up anywhere and receive service anywhere.

“While the store isn’t going away, it’s about to get a whole lot more connected, mobile, smarter and exciting.”

The digital world is infiltrating the physical store, where consumers are equipped with their smartphones and a new set of expectations. While two-thirds of online transactions occur after a shopper visits the store, 90% of all retail sales transactions still occur within the store.

The Store is not Dead–It’s Digitized

Over the past twenty years, many in the retail industry have predicted the demise of the physical store. The store is still the foundation of retail; it is where the tactile and sensory experience comes together for the consumer. The store is the theatre for shopping. However, we are on the cusp of a significant and fundamental transformation in the store environment. Online shoppers are now accustomed to features such as product reviews, extensive assortments, one-click transaction processing and personalized recommendations.

Unfortunately, these expectations don’t dissipate when they walk into the physical store. Retailers must therefore infuse digital features into the store environment to exceed customer expectations. The store of the future must be mobile, relevant, personal, ubiquitous and secure.

Read Full Article: The Transformation of the Store

Infusing digital into bricks-and-mortar retail will prevent its demise: BRP

Luxury Daily – Despite many industry insiders predicting that bricks-and-mortar will be phased out, 90 percent of retail sales transactions still occur in-store, according to a new report by Boston Retail Partners.

Boston Retail Partners’ “The Future Store Manifesto” focuses on how future retail will be an “omnichannel theatre blending the physical sensory experience with the convenience of digital,” a strategy that is slowly being implemented by retailers across industry sectors. As consumer expectations have shifted toward increased mobile interaction, retailers have been faced with challenges, and necessary adaptations are needed to deliver the experience expected in-stores.

“The number one key to retail success in the future store is to personalize the shopping experience with customer context – bringing the ‘Amazon experience’ to the store,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners. “Customer context – the interrelated factors of customer insights and environmental conditions that make the shopping experience relevant – is essential to personalizing the experience.”

“Successful retailers will infuse digital features into the store environment to exceed customer expectations, compete more effectively with online pure-play retailers and offer a truly unique, sensory and personalized shopping experience,” he said. “Over the past 20 years, many in the retail industry have predicted the demise of the physical store. However, 90 percent of all retail sales transactions still occur in the store and, according to McKinsey & Company, e-commerce only accounts for 4 percent of luxury retail sales.”

Read full article: Infusing digital into bricks-and-mortar retail will prevent its demise: BRP

The Future Store Manifesto – Real-time Retail Changes Everything!

Boston Retail Partners published “The Future Store Manifesto” today to articulate our vision of the future store and identify the challenges and imperatives retailers face in delivering the experience consumers expect.Store of Future Quote2 This blog post is an executive summary of the Manifesto. I encourage you to read to full The Future Store Manifesto to see what the future holds for retail stores.

Here is an abridged version of the paper…TheFutureStoreManifesto_Cover

With the rapid adoption of smartphones, today’s consumers are always connected and have access to unlimited information at their fingertips. Consumers expect their shopping experience to transcend channels so they can shop anywhere, buy anywhere, pick up anywhere and receive service anywhere.

The digital world is infiltrating the physical store, where consumers are equipped with their smartphones and a new set of expectations. While two-thirds of online transactions occur after a shopper visits the store, 90% of all retail sales transactions still occur within the store.

Over the past twenty years, many in the retail industry have predicted the demise of the physical store. The store is still the foundation of retail; it is where the tactile and sensory experience comes together for the consumer. The store is the theatre for shopping. However, we are on the cusp of a significant and fundamental transformation in the store environment.

Online shoppers are now accustomed to features such as product reviews, extensive assortments, one-click transaction processing and personalized recommendations. Retailers must therefore infuse digital features into the store environment to exceed customer expectations.

The store of the future must be mobile, relevant, personal, ubiquitous and secure.

MobileFutureStore_Mobile

There’s no question that mobile devices are pervasive, and have changed shopping behavior and elevated expectations. Wearables, a form of mobile, are now available to the masses. The store of the future will allow the shopper to simultaneously browse online through their digital glasses while shopping within the store, and then simply wave their watch to purchase their items. Mobile devices enable associates to enhance customer service through mobile point of sale which enables the completion of a customer’s purchase on the sales floor at the moment a buying decision is made.

Relevant

Identifying customers when they walk in the store allows the retailer to understand shopping history and communicate relevant and personalized information to the shopper based on “customer context.” Customer context – the interrelated factors of customer insights and environmental conditions that make the shopping experience relevant – is essential to personalizing the shopping experience. Technologies such as touch screens, virtual mirrors and virtual reality offer possibilities for further interaction and a more immersive environment.

FutureStore_PersonalPersonal

Mobile devices used by store associates to assist customers with clienteling, guided selling, inventory look-up, and even checkout throughout the store are prime examples of ways retailers personalize the customer experience. The future store may also enable customers to videoconference with their favorite sales associate – from home.

Ubiquitous

“Real-time retail” is the ability to deliver a seamless personalized experience to the shopper whenever, wherever and however they choose to shop. It enables retailers to identify shoppers and gather, analyze and disseminate customer, product, pricing and inventory data across all channels – instantly. Without real-time data, information provided internally and externally is out-of-date and risks being inaccurate and out of context.

FutureStore_SecuritySecure

The store of the future requires a secure environment beyond retailers’ current focus on payments and network security. Retailers need to strike a balance with consumers between gathering information and maintaining trust. As retailers seek new ways to provide relevant information and experiences, like product recommendations via digital screens in the dressing rooms or facial recognition alerting an associate to a shopper’s arrival, they must understand the impact on the customer relationship.

Challenge – Current Environments Can’t Support the Store of the Future

Realizing the store of the future will be a challenge. Retailers have legacy systems, inconsistent customer data, and are generally not organized in a way that supports this transformation.

Outdated Legacy Systems

FutureStore_SilosThe evolution of the store has been constrained by disparate systems built in silos based on old technology and paradigms and a lack of robust networks; all creating today’s architecture and integration challenges.

For decades, retailers added new technology to support channels without integrating the application portfolio. Retailers now often have separate inventories and systems for order management, customer relationship management (CRM) and merchandising for each channel.

Multiple Versions of the Truth

Retailers have struggled to gain consistent, shareable and accurate customer and inventory data across the enterprise, which has hampered their ability to provide personalized, relevant service. As data grows exponentially, organizations grapple with distinct silos where inaccurate, incomplete, inconsistent and redundant data resides. It is not surprising that a single version of the truth rarely exists. The ability to more effectively manage and synchronize data throughout the enterprise is an essential requirement for real-time retail. Real-time visibility to customer, product, price, inventory and order information across all channels is critical to deliver a seamless customer experience.

Organizational Change Fatigue

For most retailers, the pace of technology acceleration is confusing, overwhelming and exhausting. This has caused organizational change fatigue. Along with technology architecture and usability, retailers must address organizational change. Store associates must often learn new processes and take on additional responsibilities, often without receiving extra resources or relief from their everyday responsibilities. Retailers need to manage change and embrace a different architectural approach for today’s retail paradigm.

Key Takeaways

While the role of the physical store is changing, it remains the hub of the shopping journey. The digital world offers consumers new ways and “places” to research and shop. These digital possibilities, along with mobility, have raised consumer expectations, and forced retailers to transform and evolve to succeed.

The physical store will continue to be the heart and soul of retail operations for the foreseeable future; however, a transformation is in process. While the store isn’t going away, it’s about to get a whole lot more connected, mobile, smarter and exciting.


 

Download the full The Future Store Manifesto paper to get the complete story including the “Future Store Imperatives,” which are not included above.

As allows, I appreciate your opinions and suggestions.  Please leave your comments below.

Ken

Fandango shores up mobile ticketing leadership in Latin America

Mobile Commerce Daily – NBCUniversal’s Fandango is expanding its digital presence and bringing one of Brazil’s largest online movie ticketing services to its mobile application to gain greater traction within the Latin America film market.

The digital ticketing retailer recently acquired Ingresso, another online events retailer located in Brazil and hopes to merge it with its app as well as its desktop Web site. Fandango is hoping to significantly increase its presence with Latin film, and corner the film market on a whole.

“Competing event ticket apps should not be surprised to see Fandango continue to press ahead with additional expansion,” said Ryan Grogman, vice president, Boston Retail Partners. ”Combined with their acquisition of Movieclips in 2014, moving into additional entertainment offerings and geographical markets is a logical progression for this market leader.

“It should serve notice that these other apps will need to find creative and unique ways to grab and retain the tech-savvy entertainment consumers,” he said.

Read full article: Fandango shores up mobile ticketing leadership in Latin America