Solving the In-Store Personalization Challenge

RIS News – Every savvy retailer knows just offering merchandise isn’t going to draw shoppers into stores today. For brick and mortar to thrive, stores need to offer a personalized customer experience that fosters loyalty between the shopper and the retailer. But how do you solve this seemingly simple, but extremely complex, challenge?

While there’s a plethora of ways to make shopping in stores more personal, one thing rings true for most shoppers. Eighty-seven percent of consumers indicate an interest in a personalized and consistent experience across channels, according to BRP’s 2019 Unified Commerce Survey.

“The growth of online and mobile is driving the demand for increased digital capabilities bundled with personalization across all channels,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP.

Knowing who the shopper is and when they are in your store is the foundation of providing personalized offers. And when it comes to physical stores, 68% of consumers would choose to shop at a store that offers personalized promotions and discounts over a store that doesn’t offer these services, according to the BRP Consumer Study.

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‘Competing for mindshare and market share’: W Concept aims to popularize Korean fashion in the states

Glossy – The domestic Korean market is big business for Western brands like Chanel and Vetements — Vetements said last year in W Magazine that Korea was its second-biggest market after the U.S. Now Korean brands, in turn, are working hard to boost their visibility in the states.

W Concept, a Korean e-commerce company dedicated to selling and promoting Korean fashion brands to U.S. customers, just added a new brand to its roster: the buzzy streetwear brand System. System is one of many Korean fashion brands that has recently set its sights on a global market. The U.S., overtaken by China last year, is the second-largest fashion consuming market in the world, and for many fashion brands selling in America and New York especially is a rite of passage.

“The U.S. fashion retail market is crowded with all the major global brands competing for mindshare and market share,” said David Naumann, vp of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “Korean fashion brands expanding to the U.S. need to cut through the clutter to get noticed by doing something unique, such as an event that gains media attention or collaborating with a celebrity endorser.”

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Nearly 40 Percent of Dining Experiences Involve a Smartphone

QSR – Mobile technology is radically altering customer expectations. Data showed that 58 percent of customers would visit a restaurant more often if experience-enhancing technologies were available.

Smoked brisket and Korean crossover—menus change all the time—but so do customers’ technology habits, particularly when it comes to mobile. In casual and quick-service dining, the future will depend on how well operators adapt to the dominance of smartphones in customers’ lives.

It’s not a question of short-lived gimmicky promotional apps. Customers now expect to choose, order, receive offers, and store loyalty points on their phones with as much ease as messaging their friends. If they cannot, the lack of functionality will discourage them from remaining customers in the same way a sirloin cheeseburger is a turnoff for vegans.

Quick-serve operators cannot afford to ignore the way smartphone technology is radically altering customer expectations. Research from BRP Consulting found that 38 percent of dining experiences now involve smartphone or mobile devices—from initial research to sharing the experience on social media. It’s a trend that is gathering strength. Millennials, almost all of who grew into adulthood using smartphones, will overtake Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the U.S. next year, according to Pew Research. Patience among this generation has worn thin and restaurants lacking time-saving technologies such as ordering ahead, self-scanning or in-app payments will see customers melt away.

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What Target Should Have Done Amid Massive Register Failures

RIS News – For two days in a row this weekend, Target experienced separate incidents which impacted registers and lines at the national retail chain.
“For a retailer the size of Target, with the volume of transactions they conduct on the weekends, this was quite a significant outage with both short-term financial implications and longer-term customer service concerns,” BRP’s SVP and practice lead Ryan Grogman tells RIS.

On Saturday, an outage was the result of an “internal technology issue that lasted for approximately two hours,” Target said in a statement the same day.

“Communication is always key when it comes to customer service during a crisis or issue: let customers know there is an issue, explain what that issue means, and provide them updates on when the issue will be resolved,” Grogman advises. “There were reports from some Target stores that associates handed out snacks and drinks to customers who were waiting out the outage, which is a terrific example of trying to own the narrative. All shoppers deal with technology issues in their own life, so the more that Target can own up to the issues and work with customers as opposed to creating a divide, the better.”

“Another example that Target could have followed would be to offer the in-store customers with coupon codes for a percent off their next transaction, as a gesture for the inconvenience as well as a way to entice them to return and refill their shopping carts. Finally, because it seemed that Target’s buy-online-pickup-in-store functionality was not impacted, Target could have taken advantage of a tremendous opportunity to work with customers on their devices or via in-store computers to create online accounts and walk them through the omni-transaction in person.”

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‘It’s a different play for them’: Luxury brands are turning to mega-celebs to lure young shoppers

Glossy – Seeking out collaborators with mega-star power among young audiences is trending among luxury brands. Stella McCartney is the latest, announcing on Friday a new collection with Taylor Swift tied to Swift’s upcoming album, “Lover.” Few details other than the collection’s existence have been shared — a post by Swift on Instagram said more information will be revealed closer to the album’s late-August release.

While this is Swift’s first fashion collaboration, Stella McCartney has previously worked with designers including Stan Smith and Ed Ruscha. But Swift is easily its highest-profile collaborator — with millions of young fans — and notably comes from outside the fashion industry.

This is a tactic that is becoming common for luxury brands. In March, Tommy Hilfiger debuted a collection designed with actress and singer Zendaya, who has 56 million Instagram followers. In late 2017, Helmut Lang collaborated with hip-hop star Travis Scott, who has 17 million Instagram followers.

“Luxury brands’ loyal customer bases are aging, and many of these brands realize the importance of attracting younger segments,” said David Naumann, vp of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “Some brands have added new lines to appeal to younger shoppers, such as streetwear or styles at lower price points.”

“Celebrity collaborators that are popular among younger consumers help luxury brands increase awareness among this new customer segment and inspire them to shop at a store they normally don’t,” Naumann said.

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Giant Works to Live up to its Name

Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer – The Ahold banner makes a couple of bold moves in an effort to differentiate itself from mainstream competitors. With a name like Giant Food Stores, consumers tend to expect a lot. To be honest, though, the 96-year-old, Carlisle, Pa.-based chain, part of Ahold Delhaize USA, is generally viewed by shoppers as a very average supermarket, consistently ranked near the middle of the pack. “It’s a reliable, middle-of-the-road grocer, but not a destination,” confirms Karen Strauss, principal at Wilton, Conn.-based Cadent Consulting Group. That’s all well and good, she continues, except that Giant happens to operate in the same market as some pretty heavy hitters, most notably Wegman’s.

Although e- commerce reportedly represents only about 2% of total Ahold sales, “Online ordering and fulfillment are definitive ‘must-have’ services for grocers to compete both locally and nationally,” says Scott Langdoc, senior vp and practice lead at Boston-based BRP Consulting. From Kroger and Safeway to Target and Walmart, “Major national brands are pouring millions into e-commerce, and regional brands must work to keep pace as differentiating will be increasingly difficult.”

That said, Langdoc likes what he sees from Giant so far. But in order to stay ahead of the curve, the chain will have to remain “hyper-focused” on ways it can improve. “Customers expect the perfect blend of the assortment they know from Giant stores along with the most efficient, frictionless e-commerce experience possible,” he says. So although the chain is off to a good start, there’s no letting up.

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Ecommerce experience heightening consumers’ retail expectations

Luxury Daily – Consumers’ shopping habits are increasingly cross-channel, but new research finds retailers are putting more emphasis on consistency of experience rather than the convergence of their digital and physical channels.

According to a report from Boston Retail Partners, 82 percent of consumers have browsed or researched online before heading to a store to make a purchase. The more educated, ecommerce-connected consumer has raised expectations for retailers, calling for brands to ramp up their offerings to remain competitive.

“Ecommerce and mobile commerce has put additional information and enhanced functionality into the hands of both customers and associates,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “This, in turn, has increased customer expectations as she now has more shopping options than ever before with access to competitive pricing, greater merchandise assortments and faster delivery.”

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Now public, Revolve will test investor appetite for influencer marketing

Glossy – On Friday, Revolve made its Wall Street debut, one of several online fashion companies to go public in recent months. Stitch Fix went public in November 2017, followed by Farfetch in September 2018. The RealReal filed for IPO just last month.

One of the greatest concerns when any company goes public, and one that most public retailers are grappling with, is the subsequent rate of growth expected. For Revolve, one of the biggest questions is how much more it can grow through influencer marketing, which brought in nearly 70% of sales for the brand in 2018, and experiential events like #RevolveFest.

“Once there’s a capital infusion via an IPO, the expectations on these retailers are pretty aggressive. The whole goal of the infusion of cash or investment is really to grow the brand fast,” said David Naumann, vp of marketing at management consultancy BRP Consulting. “There’s only so much you can do for growing a brand online. The biggest way to grow and scale is to open some stores.”

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Retailers prioritize mobile shopping experience

Retail Dive – More retailers are focused on creating a seamless shopping experience across all of their channels, and fewer retailers are blending their online and in-store shopping experience, according to a 2019 BRP report emailed to Retail Dive. Fifty-nine percent of retailers said they’re focused on consistent branding that carries across channels, but only 18% are focused on converging on and offline shopping environments, the report found.

More consumers are heading online for product information before they visit brick-and-mortar stores, according to the findings. Eighty-two percent of respondents shopped and reviewed products online and then bought goods at the store, and 62% of consumers said they compared prices online before going to a store.

Retailers are also working to improve their mobile shopping experience. Forty-five percent of retailer respondents said they were working on improving customer personalization and 41% said they are polishing their mobile shopping experience.

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Ecommerce’s Effects Felt In Consumers’ Offline Shopping

PPAI Media – Ecommerce’s disruption of the shopping experience extends to brick-and-mortar purchases as well. A study conducted by retail management consulting firm BRP found that 82 percent of consumers shop and review products online before purchasing them in a store and warns that only 18 percent are focused on increasing the convergence of physical and digital shopping environments.

BRP’s research focuses on the customer journey as ecommerce has elevated consumers’ expectations of the shopping experience and retailers must now provide service anytime, anywhere and in any way customers desire. Consumers now have more shopping options than ever before with more competitive pricing, greater merchandise assortments and faster delivery.

“Since consumers use digital devices throughout the shopping journey to research product information, compare prices and read consumer reviews, providing as much relevant information via the retailer’s website helps keep customers loyal to the brand,” says Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “As ecommerce continues to represent a greater share of retailers’ revenue mix, it is imperative that retailers continue to enhance their online capabilities to keep up with their competitors that are just a click away.”

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