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The Future Retail Network Manifesto: Retailers Must Simplify and Optimize their Network to Increase Bandwidth, Improve Reliability and Reduce Costs

The future store requires a simple, fast, agile, reliable and secure network, according to a new report from BRP

Boston, MA – June 21, 2018– According to a new report from BRP, network bandwidth is becoming a bottleneck and applications are not performing efficiently. It has become so bad at some organizations, that retail store operations personnel refer to the network as the “not-work.” BRP published “The Future Retail Network Manifesto” to articulate its vision of the future store and identify the challenges and imperatives retailers face in delivering the expected customer experience. The network is a key enabler of the future store and most retail networks require a transformation to support the plethora of new applications that are putting a strain on bandwidth.

“We are in the midst of a retail renaissance, as the way customers shop has transformed the traditional store model. To meet consumers’ demand for the future store requires the adoption of real-time, cloud-based technologies enabled by a powerful network,” said Ken Morris, principal, BRP. “Retailers can no longer afford to operate with outdated networks. Now is the time to transform the network to support the store of the future.”

Consumer expectations have never been higher and will continue to rise. The digital world offers consumers new ways and “places” to research and shop. These digital possibilities, along with mobility, are raising consumer expectations and forcing retailers to transform and evolve to succeed. The store of the future requires a personal, mobile, relevant, ubiquitous and secure environment to meet these rising expectations.

Success requires retailers to operate in real-time with customer and product information visible and accessible across the enterprise – this necessitates the move to a unified commerce platform supported by a robust, fast, reliable and resilient network.  As retailers move more applications to the cloud, SD-WAN solutions optimize the network performance and ensures 100% uptime.

Retailers that simplify and optimize their network realize many benefits:

  • Elimination of plain old telephone service (POTS) lines
  • Significantly increased bandwidth
  • Improved network reliability, capability and diversity
  • Reduction in total network spend

To download The Future Retail Network Manifesto, visit: https://brpconsulting.com/download/the-future-retail-network-manifesto/

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)
Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM
Unified Commerce | Customer Experience | Order Management | Networks
Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Private Equity

For more information on BRP, visit http://www.brpconsulting.com.

 

Automating Hospitality

Hospitality Technology – The use of robotics is experiencing exponential growth with global robotics market revenues forecasted to grow from $28 billion in 2015 to $151 billion a year by 2020. Tractica predicts the majority of that growth will come from “non-industrial” robots. Scott Langdoc, senior vice president and practice lead at Boston Retail Partners (https://brpconsulting.com), says that the hospitality industry will not be immune to the increasing applications for machines taking on tasks once relegated to humans.

Hospitality Technology’s research reveals that robots are a burgeoning area of interest for hotels and restaurants. According to the 2018 Lodging and Restaurant Technology Studies, one out of four hotels (25%) named robotics a top emerging technology, and 33% of restaurants believe robots will make an impact on foodservice.

“We expect to see a significant increase in the deployment of both customer-facing and efficiency-oriented robots throughout the hospitality industry — both in terms of total robotic units deployed and in the number of hospitality locations using them,” Langdoc states. With dramatic improvements in cost, industrial design, and AI-based engagement capabilities, the number of potential robotic uses cases has tripled in the last 18 months.”

Though social acceptance of robots is increasing and more people are willing to use, touch and interact with them, many worry about what they see as the inevitable loss of jobs as the usage of robots increases in the hospitality industry. Boston Retail Partner’s Langdoc sees this as a challenge.

“The use of robotics must be seen by the guest as an augmentation of guest services, not as a replacement for the human labor element,” he says. “It is paramount that companies deploying robots properly promote and communicate the initiatives to avoid potential negative reaction from guests that perceive the robots are ‘taking away jobs.’”

Read full article: Automating Hospitality

Amazon’s “style assistant” offers guidance, product suggestions

Luxury Daily – Online retail giant Amazon is looking to become a key source of fashion inspiration and advice through the nationwide roll out of its style-centric Echo Look device.

Originally launched last year on an invite-only basis, the Echo Look uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to help consumers pick between outfits or add to their closets. The Echo Look has the potential to change the way consumers shop for fashion and interact with their wardrobes, opening doors for Amazon and its brand partners.

“Echo Look is a logical extension to integrate with Amazon’s commerce platform,” said Laura Sossong, consulting manager at Boston Retail Partners. “It’s the perfect complementary offering to stimulate incremental sales and create cross-selling opportunities for Amazon’s existing fashion pieces and Alexa technology.”

“Fashion marketers will absolutely look to leverage Echo Look’s Style Check function to boost sales and increase exposure to their brand offerings,” Ms. Sossong said. “The social component of the device will allow sharing of look books, raising awareness and demand for labels and trending merchandise across social communities.”

“Playing upon successful components of social media, Echo will bring outside influence and inspiration to a consumer’s closet,” Boston Retail Partners’ Ms. Sossong said. “It will promote social shopping by introducing shoppers to new style ideas and brands that inspire purchases.”

Read Full Article: Amazon’s “style assistant” offers guidance, product suggestions

Retailers Want Your Data: Here’s How They Get It

PC Mag – If you’re a business owner, knowing your audience is key. But how best to collect data on customers? According to Boston Retail Partners, 37 percent of retailers use more personalized service as an incentive to have consumers identify themselves, while another 37 percent offer no incentives at all. About 30 percent offer product-based incentives (such as buy one-get one free), while others dangle easy returns or exchanges—if you sign up for an account.

The more a retailer knows about you—from products you’ve purchased to those you’ve browsed, favorited, or put in your cart for later—the easier it is for them to find ways to get more of your dollars. There is a whole industry filled with products, information services, and agencies designed to reconcile and act on much of the anonymous browsing conducted on retailer websites.

Read Full Article: Retailers Want Your Data: Here’s How They Get It

Despite Anchor Store Closures, Malls Can Secure Success With Dining, Experiences, Entertainment

Retail TouchPoints – As many as 30% of malls will need to close due to the oversaturation of shopping centers in the U.S., estimates Coresight Research. But the need to reduce significant square footage isn’t all bad news. While more than 1,100 department stores are set to close between 2018 and 2023, mall operators can secure future success by:

  • Focusing on potential “anchor” replacements, but not in the form of large format stores;
  • Prioritizing high-end dining and experiences to cater to future generations of shoppers; and
  • Embracing the concepts of “destination centers” and “retaildential” complexes.

While it’s true that many malls are suffering and may close, others are finding new ways to attract more shoppers. Malls range in grades, from A++ to D. High-performing Class A malls constitute only 20% of the market, yet represent 72% of total mall sales, according to data from Green Street Advisors. These “A” malls have experienced double-digit sales growth since 2012, Coresight reported.

Within “A” malls, occupancies remain in the high 90% range, said Michael Brown, a partner in the retail practice of A.T. Kearney, and author of the report The Future of Shopping Centers. For the most part, those malls will be safe from the expected 30% of malls anticipated to close. But with so many department store closures on the horizon, there will still be spaces opening up, even at some of the top-performing malls.

“Most of the retailers we see that are anchors — and I literally mean anchors — they’re not driving traffic and they’re holding down the mall,” said Ken Morris, Principal at Boston Retail Partners. “They didn’t pivot to online sales right away and were late to the game. Those are the people that are anchoring a lot of the failing malls, especially in the C and D class malls.”

Morris highlighted the Apple store as a retail environment that modern retailers should strive to copy in some ways, particularly if they desire attention from mall operators.

“There’s something for everyone [at the Apple store], regardless of if you’re six or seven years old, or 70 years old,” Morris said. “It’s an event. It’s theater, and the reality is that’s going to draw people all of the time.”

Read Full Article: Despite Anchor Store Closures, Malls Can Secure Success With Dining, Experiences, Entertainment

Unified Commerce is Here: The Customer Experience of the Future

MarTech Series – According to a Latest Report, 73% of Customers Want Order Tracking Across all Touchpoints but only 7% of Retailers Currently Offer “Start Anywhere, Finish Anywhere” Order Capabilities.

Customer-centric retailing and selling are the new business models. The new model goes beyond the traditional horizon of omnichannel, breaking down the lofty walls between internal intent silos and the potent customer experience platforms.

” Unified commerce and a customer experience (CX) that transcends channels are the foundation of the new retail model.” – BPR

The future of customer experience is now, and Unified Commerce would play the biggest role in assigning performance-related metrics to the use of emerging technologies — AR, VR, AI, and video for commerce. BRP’s 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current priorities and initiatives as digital and physical retail environments converge to facilitate a seamless experience across channels.

The report also compares retailers’ priorities with customer expectations – based on recent results from the 2018 Retail Consumer Study conducted by Incisiv and sponsored by BRP and Windstream Enterprise – to understand how retailer priorities align with customer expectations.

Read full article: Unified Commerce is Here: The Customer Experience of the Future

73% of shoppers want to start, end shopping anywhere

FierceRetail – As many as 73% of consumers want the ability to start and end their shopping journey on any platform they see fit, yet only 7% of retailers currently offer a completely unified commerce experience. According to a new report from BRP, 50% of retailers said they are planning to implement the ability to start a sale anywhere and finish a sale anywhere in the next three years.

But in the meantime, the report solidifies that retailers are struggling to keep up with consumers’ omnichannel demands.

Perry Kramer, senior VP and practice lead at BRP, says there are several reasons why retailers seem to be scrambling to keep up with customer expectations regarding the shopping journey. In part, many retailers have yet to assess the new customer journey and address what is required to deliver the seamless experience that these shoppers expect.

“A good first step is to begin with the concept of building blocks that can be leveraged as part of a holistic customer journey,” Kramer told FierceRetail. “This approach allows a retailer to focus on the areas that are most impactful to the consumer, which varies greatly based on each retail segment. Additionally, this approach allows a retailer to flex and adapt with the rapidly changing set of customer expectations while leveraging past development as opposed to constantly starting over again.”

“The areas of customer experience, customer journey and unified commerce are all moving very fast and morphing like a piece of playdough. If a retailer starts chasing today’s norm without the ability to flex and rapidly change, they will be behind the competition by the time they implement their changes,” Kramer said. “A key guiding principle should be ‘quality needs to exceed quantity.’ This should not be confused with not experimenting, taking risks and learning from misses. The important message is to learn from your misses and do not miss because of quality—miss because you dared to challenge the norm and were willing to learn from it.”

Read full article: 73% of shoppers want to start, end shopping anywhere 

The Retail Firmament: Email And The Customer Experience

MediaPost – Retailers are crawling toward delivering a holistic customer experience. And they have a long way to go, according to The Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey, a report by BRP.

Most retailers use personal email — 81% say they do. And 12% expect to use it within three years. But 45% admit their email marketing needs improvement. And not all are succeeding at delivering a unified cross-channel experience to customers.

Of over 500 North American retailers polled, 81% pursue a multichannel or omnichannel program, but only 5% have reached a “true unified commerce model,” the study states.

The result is a “faux” omnichannel model, according to BRP, a retail management consulting firm.

Overall, the top priority of the respondents is to increase customer loyalty — 53% are pursuing this goal. The second objective, cited by 42%, is to optimize the customer experience.

Read full article: The Retail Firmament: Email And The Customer Experience

Study: ‘Seamless shopping’ is still a pipe dream

Chain Store Age – Retailers know it is critical for shopping experiences to be seamless and frictionless, yet these experiences are still few and far between.

While most consumers expect the ability to shop effortlessly across channels, only 7% of retailers currently provide a complete unified commerce experience that allows a customer to “start the sale anywhere, finish the sale anywhere,” according to the “2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey,” from Boston Retail Partners (BRP).

Knowing that consumers will often stop shopping a brand after just one bad customer moment, retailers are making big plans to converge digital and physical retail environments to facilitate a seamless experience across channels going forward. Within three years, 50% of companies plan to offer a complete unified commerce experience that allows a customer to start and finish the sale anywhere.

To help retailers prepare for this journey, BRP offers the “E5 of Customer Experience”: Educate, Engage, Execute, Enhance and Enabler.

“With customer expectations continuing to rise, it is promising to see how many retailers are focused on adding new capabilities to enhance the shopping experience,” said Perry Kramer, senior VP and practice lead at Boston Retail Partners.

Read Full Article: Study: ‘Seamless shopping’ is still a pipe dream

73% of Customers Want Order Tracking Across all Touchpoints but only 7% of Retailers Currently Offer “Start Anywhere, Finish Anywhere” Order Capabilities

BRP’s 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey Analyzes and Compares Consumer Expectations to Retailer Capabilities to Identify Opportunities

Boston, MA – May 24, 2018 – According to a new report from BRP, rapidly evolving customer expectations are driving a major transformation in retail. The 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey combines research on customer expectations with survey findings on retailers’ current capabilities and future plans to highlight areas of opportunities for retailers. As consumers will often stop shopping a brand after just one bad customer moment, it becomes critical for retailers to make the shopping experience seamless and frictionless.

“While most consumers expect the ability to shop seamlessly across channels, only 7% of retailers currently provide a complete unified commerce experience by allowing a customer to ‘start the sale anywhere, finish the sale anywhere,’ with another 50% planning to implement it in three years,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “With customer expectations continuting to rise, it is promising to see how many retailers are focused on adding new capabilities to enhance the shopping experience.”

BRP’s 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current priorities and initiatives as digital and physical retail environments converge to facilitate a seamless experience across channels. The report also compares retailers’ priorities with customer expectations – based on recent results from the 2018 Retail Consumer Study conducted by Incisiv and sponsored by BRP and Windstream Enterprise – to understand how retailer priorities align with customer expectations.

The key survey findings are organized around the E5 of Customer Experience:

  1. Educate – Customers start the purchasing process by researching the brand and products so it is critical to ensure they and the store associates have information and tools that are easy to access and use.
  • 62% of consumers check reviews/ratings before visiting a store
  • 61% of retailers offer consumer product reviews for research
  1. Engage – The first step in customer engagement is to identify the customer early in the process and offer associates the ability to leverage customer information to allow personalized interaction.
  • 64% of consumers are fine with retailers saving purchase history and personal perferences if more personalization is offered
  • 61% of retailers make in-store and online shopping history available to associates to tailor the customer experience
  1. Execute – To meet and exceed today’s elevated customer expectations, retailers must deliver unified commerce capabilities and empower associates with the right tools to optimize the experience.
  • 73% of consumers want the ability to track orders across all points of interaction
  • 42% of retailers offer the ability to track orders across channels
  1. Enhance – Gathering feedback to understand customers’ likes and dislikes allows for a continuous improvement loop and helps empower associates to create a desired customer experience.
  • 51% of consumers will stop shopping at a retailer after 1-2 poor in-store shopping trips
  • 62% of retailers plan to improve their in-store customer experience within three years
  1. Enablers – Delivering a personalized customer experience requires the right technology and network.
  • 68% of consumers are more likely to choose a store offering an automated returns process
  • 13% of retailers offer an automated returns process

To download the complete 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, visit:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-unified-commerce-survey/.

The 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey platinum sponsors are Aptos and Manhattan Associates, gold sponsors are Cayan, ECRS, enVista and PCMS, and the silver sponsor is STORIS.

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)
Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM
Unified Commerce | Customer Experience | Order Management | Networks
Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Private Equity

For more information on BRP, visit http://www.brpconsulting.com.