Stop & Shop Employees Return To Work After Strike Ends

BOSTON (CBS) – Stop and Shop employees got back to work Monday morning. Both sides have reached a tentative contract agreement, putting an end to the 11-day strike.

The first order of business was restocking the shelves after workers walked the picket lines for more than a week.
Sunday night Stop and Shop and the unions announced that they reached a tentative agreement. Thirty-one thousand workers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut walked off the job on April 11.

UFCW Locals 328, 371, 919, 1445, and 1459 called it a “powerful victory.” The unions released a statement which says in part: The agreement preserves health care and retirement benefits, provides wage increases, and maintains time-and-a-half pay on Sunday for current members.

“I’ve never felt so good on a Monday morning in my life,” said Anthony Pedriali, a Quincy Stop & Shop employee.
Employees said they don’t know the details of the deal, but have confidence in their union presidents.

Retail expert Ken Morris, Principal at BRP, retail consulting firm, says some customers may never return.

“When you have a good customer moment it’s great, when you have a bad customer moment, you tend not to shop as frequently at that location,” Morris said. “You get a chance to look at competitors, and perhaps you’ll go to someone else going forward.”

View Video Clip: Stop & Shop Employees Return To Work After Strike Ends

5 Things Customers Want from Retail Stores and How You Can Deliver

Small Business Trends – The world of retail is changing — perhaps faster than at any time in history. How can a small retailer keep up with what customers want? One way is by keeping up with the latest retail insights from retail consulting firm BRP. The company does a wealth of consumer surveys to find out what today’s shoppers want from retailers.

While some of the research is most applicable to larger retail chains with bigger budgets than small retailers, there is still a lot to learn. You’ll want to pore over the massive report yourself, but here are some of the key takeaways.

What Retail Store Customers Want:

1. Provide Personalized Customer Service
2. Offer Online/Offline Integration
3. Make the Most of Mobile Technology
4. Lure Them with Loyalty Rewards
5. Offer Store Financing

What do retail customers want? It changes from day to day. But since 63% of consumers will stop shopping at your store after just one unsatisfactory shopping experience, you’d better offer it.

Read Full Article: 5 Things Customers Want from Retail Stores and How You Can Deliver

One week in, Stop & Shop strike has no end in sight

Grocery Dive – Analysts say customer loyalty could take a hit as workers picket without wages and stores remain closed or are operating on limited resources.

The picket lines outside Stop & Shop locations across New England are still in full force today, marking one week since 31,000 workers walked out of their jobs. Right now, dozens of stores across New England are still closed and others are operating on limited hours with a reduced product selection and limited staff. Peapod deliveries have been put on hold, which is a significant issue for shoppers who rely on grocery delivery.

Limited services and closed doors have pushed shoppers into competing stores. That could cause a significant number to permanently defect, particularly if the strike drags on for a long time, said David Naumann, vice president of marketing for BRP Retail Consulting Firm.

“The strike, in and of itself, won’t be what erodes customer loyalty the most. It is the opportunity that it gives competitors to impress new shoppers (former Stop & Shop customers) to join their loyalty programs and convince them to switch their allegiance to their brand,” Naumann wrote in an email to Grocery Dive.

Read Full Article: One week in, Stop & Shop strike has no end in sight

Mapping Retail’s Last Mile Battleground

Retail TouchPoints – There are many reasons why the last mile has become a first-order concern for retailers. Topping the list is Amazon’s well-publicized ability to provide two-day, one day and even same-day shipping. Amazon’s ability to set a high standard for the retail industry is abetted by the fact that for more than 100 million Amazon Prime members, those shipping costs are bundled into their annual fees, making them essentially invisible and “painless.”

Another reason that last mile concerns are increasingly keeping retailers awake at night is the growing volume of digital sales and subsequent deliveries that are taking place. Results from the 2nd annual Retail TouchPoints Last Mile Benchmark Survey, which collected and analyzed responses from 138 retail executives, illustrate the last mile’s growth trajectory.

Below are pages with comments from Jeffrey Neville, SVP and Practice Lead at BRP Consulting:

Retailers also are reshaping their internal structures and responsibilities to handle last mile challenges. “Retailers are beginning to apply the agile processes they are using on their web sites to the last mile customer experience,” said Jeffrey Neville, SVP and Practice Lead at BRP Consulting in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They are assigning a product manager to the last mile experience, giving this person the ability to test and learn about the impact technical and non-technical changes can have on the identified last mile KPIs. These product managers are also engaging consumers in feedback of the initiatives before they roll out chainwide.”

“Meeting and exceeding the accelerating consumer expectations for fast and free delivery has retailers scrambling to figure out the most economical and reliable options,” said BRP’s Neville. “In addition, retailers must manage the costs and inefficiencies created by rushing to implement new delivery options to avoid customer disappointments.”

“Retailers are establishing KPIs, metrics and service level agreements (SLAs) to monitor and maintain consistent delivery quality,” said BRP’s Neville. “Establishing clear expectations of service levels with third-party delivery parties is imperative to ensuring customer satisfaction.”

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While managing the cost of returns was the top challenge for retailers in 2018, this year the list is led by the 64% that identified minimizing fraudulent returns. This is another complex problem with no single “silver bullet” answer, according to BRP’s Neville: “Preventing or limiting theft from delivery drivers, porch thieves and dishonest reports of theft from customers is a challenge,” he noted. “Retailers need to proactively identify theft as well as arm customer service representatives with a clear policy for customer appeasement for those customers that have experienced stolen packages.”

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BRP’s Neville recommends retailers provide a preprinted return label, including a prepaid shipping label, and also enable shoppers to easily print such labels from the retailer’s web site. “The prepaid label assures that a standard set of information is included with each return (invoice number, SKUs, quantities, etc.) to assist the returns team in processing it,” he said.

Read Full Article: Mapping Retail’s Last Mile Battleground

Bloated brands are looking to spin-offs to save themselves

DIGIDAY – J.Crew Group Inc. confirmed last week that it is considering taking its denim brand Madewell public as a separate company, potentially during the second half of the year. The news comes after J.Crew announced last week that it was appointing Madewell president Libby Wadle as the brand’s first CEO. And in February, Gap Inc. announced that it would spin off Old Navy as a separate brand.

The respective parent companies of Old Navy and Madewell have used the growth of their crown jewels to buoy otherwise unimpressive results for a few years now. Last quarter, Madewell posted a 32% growth in sales, while J. Crew’s sales fell by 4%. Madewell generated more than $500 million in revenue last year, accounting for about a fourth of J. Crew Group’s sales, but has seen its sales grow faster than its parent retailer since 2014.

“Old Navy’s growth will depend on continuing to introduce new trendy, low-priced clothes for its core target audience to retain their loyal customers,” Ken Morris, principal at BRP consulting said in an email. He added that “many people may identify and associate the Old Navy brand synonymously with Gap, and that the key for Old Navy will be “to clearly distance itself from Gap during the spin-off.”

Read Full Article: Bloated brands are looking to spin-offs to save themselves

As China’s luxury growth slows, brands are refocusing on the US

Glossy – While China continues to dominate the minds of many luxury brands, some are instead focusing their future on the U.S. market.

Il Bisonte, an Italian luxury leather goods brand founded in the 1970s, is a prime example. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, the brand operated in the U.S. and was sold at a number of American department stores like Barneys. But in the ’80s, CEO Sofia Ciucchi said that other markets began to overshadow the U.S. in importance.

But now, China’s luxury growth is slowing down. To use the same brand as an example, Burberry closed four flagship stores in China over the last eight months, as part of a larger strategy to realign the brand’s luxury positioning, according to CEO Marco Gobbetti. Meanwhile, the U.S. is increasingly looking like a valuable market for luxury brands. Il Bisonte, which has previously opened flagships in Hong Kong, said the U.S. is a much more crowded market to break into.

“While much of luxury expansion has focused on China, the U.S. continues to be a desirable market,” said David Naumann, vp of marketing at BRP, retail consulting firm. “One of the greatest challenges for a new brand looking to penetrate the U.S. market is brand awareness. There is a lot of competition for mindshare and existing brand loyalty from the plethora of existing luxury brands in the U.S.”

Read Full Article: As China’s luxury growth slows, brands are refocusing on the US

How Bloomingdale’s is using shop-in-shops to test wider retail strategy

Glossy – Late last year, Bloomingdale’s unveiled a major new concept: a rotating shop-in-shop section called The Carousel that would see curated collections of pieces from a variety of big and small brands centered around a theme. Now on its fourth iteration, Bloomingdale’s says The Carousel has been an important lesson, not just for how to improve its shop-in-shops, but also how to improve all of its retail efforts.

“The Carousel is a great place for us to test out new brands and see how they resonate with our shopper,” said Kevin Harter, vp of integrated marketing at Bloomingdale’s. “Through our learnings from The Carousel, we have been able to determine what could be beneficial to our overall assortment. We’ve also seen success in offering a cross-shopping experience and have expanded this idea to other areas in the store.”

“As stores rotate new trendy brands into their in-store shops, they capitalize on the latest hot brands,” said David Naumann, vp of marketing at BRP, retail consulting firm. “When the stores change the in-store brand, it gives them something new for customers to explore on their next store visit. It is a great way to increase the frequency of store visits.”

“Shop-in-shops, or stores-within-stores, is a growing trend,” said Naumann “For the anchor store, it can be a great way to attract new customers that don’t typically shop at the brand, and for the [brands], it gives them a captive audience of the anchor store’s shoppers. It also offers them a cost-effective space without committing to a long-term lease.”

Read Full Article: How Bloomingdale’s is using shop-in-shops to test wider retail strategy

Why Retailers Must Seize the Post-Purchase Opportunity to Create a “Moment of Trust”

Sourcing Journal – Writing last August about the importance of the post-purchase experience, BRP Retail Consulting SVP and practice lead Jeffrey Neville described retailers as creating a “moment of trust” when they regularly communicate order and shipping updates to consumers who would otherwise be left in the dark in the oft-ignored opportunity between purchase and package delivery.

“Customers who shop without a sense of risk will feel more comfortable making repeat purchases in the future,” Neville noted. Retailers are beginning to realize the value of the post-purchase opportunity as a time to strengthen the customer relationship and brand moments typically outsourced to third-party shippers.

Retailers that enrich the post-purchase experience stand to gain greater customer loyalty, an important move, BRP said, because these customers are between five and 25 times less costly to convert and 80 percent more likely to buy again in the future.

“By crafting a post-purchase experience to minimize stress and maximize convenience, retailers make an investment in a sustained relationship with their customer,” BRP noted.

Read Full Article: Why Retailers Must Seize the Post-Purchase Opportunity to Create a “Moment of Trust”

How much damage can one bad shopping experience cause a retail brand? A lot.

USA Today – Consumers have more choices about nearly every purchase than they’ve ever had before. It’s no longer necessary to visit a physical store to buy most things, and for the vast majority of products, shoppers can pick from multiple retailers on their phone or computer.

That creates a market where people don’t have to be all that forgiving of a bad customer experience, and it makes every interaction important – especially with new customers or those who have had limited experience with a company.

Indeed, 63 percent of consumers said “it only takes one unsatisfactory shopping experience” to make them stop shopping your brand, according to BRP’s Keeping Loyal Customers Happy report.

Customer loyalty is hard to win and easy to lose. One method of delivering a positive experience is by offering a personalized touch – that’s something 44 percent of survey respondents said would lead to them making repeat visits. And nearly twice that number (79 percent) indicated that personalized service from in-store personnel would influence their store choice going forward.

“Engaging the customer through personalized and relevant experiences is the key to attracting and keeping your customers happy and continuing to shop your brand,” said Senior Vice President Perry Kramer, BRP, retail consulting firm.

One challenge for retailers in providing that personalized service is convincing consumers to share their preferences. Among survey respondents, 75 percent of millennials and Generation Zers said they were fine with being identified via their smartphone when entering a store as long as they got something in return (like a deal or special incentive); for the full survey group, it was 64 percent.

“Retailers that identify customers when they enter the store and equip their associates with the proper mobile tools can personalize the shopping experience based on customer preferences, purchase history, what’s in their closet, online browsing history, time of day, weather and their physical location – all based on real-time information and personalized to create a bond with these valuable customers,” Kramer said.

Read Full Article: How much damage can one bad shopping experience cause a retail brand? A lot.

C-Store Loyalty Plans Spur Engagement

Convenience Store Decisions – C-store loyalty programs are enticing customers, while mobile options bring new ways for retailers to engage with shoppers.

Surprise and delight programs send customers coupons for free items, especially if they haven’t been to the store in a while, something particularly useful in driving fuel-only customers into the store.

“A loyalty program linked to a mobile application is powerful for retailers who have been able to get consumers to opt into the program,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead, BRP, a retail consulting firm.

Using today’s technological advances such as location data, geolocation, geofencing and beacon technology, retailers can leverage their ability to connect with the consumer electronically even before they pull their vehicle onto the property.

“These tools will continue to be used to speed up drive-through and in-store lines, offer personalized marketing while at the pump and in-store marketing,” Kramer said.

Unfortunately, 63% of retailers can’t identify their customer before checkout, according to BRP’s “2019 POS/Customer Engagement Survey.” Kramer noted c-stores should continue to focus on loyalty programs that allow them to identify consumers and connect with them in a personalized way.

Read Full Article: C-Store Loyalty Plans Spur Engagement