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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‘There are a lot of uncertainties’: The impact of the first direct-to-consumer brand IPO

Glossy – Late last year, DTC footwear brand Allbirds surpassed a $1 billion valuation, making it one of the largest DTC success stories of the last decade. But while an eventual IPO from either Allbirds or one of the other comparable DTC juggernauts like Warby Parker seems inevitable, it won’t necessarily open the floodgates for others in the space.

While competitors like Bonobos and Warby Parker have all hit the $1 billion mark, as well, Allbirds, launched in 2016, outpaced them both in terms of how fast it achieved unicorn status. Now that the company is one of the largest DTC fashion brands out there, the question is whether it will be pursuing an IPO. When reached for comment, the brand denied that an IPO was imminent.

“We have seen a shift in the last few years, as a number of manufacturers have moved to direct-to-consumer offerings,” said Kathleen Fischer, director of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “This disintermediation offers significant benefits that brands such as Allbirds and Casper have used to their advantage. If [a major DTC brand] has a successful IPO, we will likely see additional DTC brands testing that route. But as they look at this option, these brands need to remember that IPOs require companies to release public metrics and answer to shareholders, which may make it not as desirable as finding a partner to acquire the brand.”

Read Full Article: ‘There are a lot of uncertainties’: The impact of the first direct-to-consumer brand IPO 

How Retailers Can Capitalize on Instagram Checkout

Total Retail – In March, Instagram publicly announced a new e-commerce feature. Rather than tagging items in posts and redirecting interested parties to an online shop, “Checkout on Instagram” enables brands to sell products to users directly inside the app. The promise is that companies can minimize any extra steps in the transaction process, and therefore decrease the likelihood of abandoned shopping carts. Furthermore, they can better capture consumer interest — while they’re heavily engaged on social media — and thereby increase sales conversions.

Currently, more than 20 brands are beta testing the feature, including Adidas, Burberry, Dior, MAC Cosmetics, Prada, Warby Parker, and Uniqlo. Among these select brands, Adidas has already been generating results. CEO Kasper Rørsted shared on the brand’s earnings call that, in the first quarter of 2019, online sales saw a 40 percent year-over-year jump, which he largely attributes to the new Checkout feature and product launches via the Instagram app.

This makes for a more personalized experience, where people see products that they truly like, which leads to a higher likelihood of conversion —and means increased profits and less wasted ad spend. According to BRP Consulting’s 2019 Real-Time Retail report, 87 percent of customers today want a personalized and consistent experience across all shopping channels.

BRP Consulting’s Real-Time Retail report also notes that 56 percent of consumers are more likely to shop at a retailer that offers a shared cart across channels, yet only 7 percent of retailers currently offer that capability. With Instagram becoming a viable sales channel, there’s an opportunity now to incorporate social media into a greater omnichannelretail experience, where there are no barriers between online and offline channels.
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Loyalty Programs in an Omnichannel World

MarTech Series – More than ever, consumers demand a fast, seamless and flexible shopping experience. They want to maintain their preferences across all channels—web, mobile, and within a physical store – and they want the perks of their loyalty programs no matter the shopping experience they choose. A recent survey from Boston Retail Partners found that 87 percent of consumers are interested in a personalized and consistent experience across channels.

By now, most retailers and brands are on board with loyalty programs and even have a successful one implemented. However, as consumer shopping habits evolve and their demands become more complex, loyalty programs need to be adjusted to compete in an omnichannel world.

According to Boston Retail Partners, 68 percent of consumers would choose a store that provides personalized/discounts over a store that doesn’t offer them. Therefore, personalization is yet another crucial aspect of a current loyalty program. Personalization should not be compromised as the customer moves from channel to channel.

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The always-connected/always-on consumer

Today’s consumer is always connected and always on. The advent of the Internet and mobile phones has created a new 24/7/365 world of shopping that has forever changed customer expectations and the traditional retail model. Consumers now expect retailers to provide service anytime, anywhere and any way they want it or the customer will simply move on to the competition.

Consumers now start and stop their shopping journey in different channels and frequently shop for the same product across different retailers, via mobile, online or in-store. The path to purchase also varies by consumer and the type of product being purchased. Customers expect a frictionless shopping experience across an entire brand and they don’t want disruptions as they cross individual channels or locations. The experience must be seamless as the customer’s “shopping cart” and browsing history follow her throughout her journey.

The growth of digital – both online and mobile – is driving demand for increased digital capabilities bundled with personalization in the store. To survive, retailers must undergo a transformation requiring a true unified commerce approach. This approach delivers the convergence of the digital and physical shopping experiences to create a holistic customer shopping experience.

Fortunately, many retailers realize this need and are prioritizing the improvement of the customer experience. In this year’s Unified Commerce Survey retailers’ top unified commerce priorities were to create a consistent brand experience across channels (59%) by improving the online experience (52%), improving personalization (45%), and improving the mobile shopping experience (41%). Retailers realize that the online experience is a big part of their customers’ shopping experience, but delivering on customer expectations means not only improving what customers see, but also everything behind the scenes that is required to provide a seamless customer experience across all channels.

To learn more about the gap between customer expectations and retailer capabilities and see where retailers are focusing their efforts, I urge you to read BRP’s recent SPECIAL REPORT: The E-commerce Effect.

Please share your comments on this topic below.


‘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.”

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

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.

Read Full Article: Nearly 40 Percent of Dining Experiences Involve a Smartphone

Ahold Delhaize opens new tech office

Grocery Dive – Retail Business Services, Ahold Delhaize’s services company, opened a 30,000-square-foot office this week in Quincy, Massachusets, which houses 200 information technology employees and an innovation lab, according to a company press release. The effort is dedicated to discovering technologies that improve the in-store experience for customers and make grocery shopping easier, according to the company. Retail Business Services also hosts a six-month incubator program and engages in partnerships with startups, universities and other entities that focus on grocery retail.

Target and Kroger have both partnered with incubator and innovation labs to attract tech startups to reinvigorate the grocery space and stay relevant to younger, tech-savvy shoppers.

Consumers are most concerned with convenience and in-store experience these days, and technology is the main tool that retailers are using to deliver what they want, with 49% of retailers focused on in-store mobile experience, accoding to BRP Consulting. Almost everyone has a smartphone in their pocket these days, making it a powerful tool for capturing customers’ interest and wallets.

Read Full Article: Ahold Delhaize opens new tech office

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.”

Read Full Article: What Target Should Have Done Amid Massive Register Failures

‘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.

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