Harvey Nichols transforms into Holly Nichols for women’s wear push

Luxury Daily – British department store chain Harvey Nichols is getting in touch with its feminine side in a multichannel makeover in honor of its newly renovated women’s floor.

For the month of September, the retailer has changed its name to Holly Nichols, with both its bricks-and-mortar and online presence reflecting the updated persona. While a promotion for its updated store look, the campaign also hits as the United Kingdom celebrates the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, allowing Harvey Nichols to align its marketing with broader themes of female empowerment.

“Brands today shouldn’t think twice about celebrating historical ‘wins’ and emphasizing their core principles,” said Beatrice Egan, senior consultant at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “Staging this female takeover not only creates buzz but reinforces the brand’s steadfast values.”

“Changing the name to ‘Holly Nichols’ above its doors and on social media shows the brand’s firm commitment to female empowerment,” Boston Retail Partners’ Ms. Egan said. “Referencing a historical London moment reminds consumers of Harvey Nichols’ strong British legacy.”

“Consumers will remember this display of character for years to come,” Ms. Egan said. “Harvey Nichols is hoping to imprint on customers two brand equities: one, they continue to support women’s rights and two, they are a British brand with a strong history. Consumers want to shop at brands they feel connected with,” she said. “This extends beyond social media and the right merchandising mix to shared values and experiences.”

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How will Google bust into brick and mortar?

RetailDive – It’s reportedly only a matter of time before the tech giant signs the lease on its first permanent store — and just what its physical strategy will look like remains to be seen.

It’s reportedly only a matter of time before Google signs the lease on its first permanent brick-and-mortar store. Last week, unnamed sources told The Chicago Tribune that the tech giant was mulling a two-level 14,000 square foot space in the city’s meatpacking district.

While Google hasn’t responded to Retail Dive’s request for information, nor has it spoken publicly to other publications, retail insiders aren’t holding back speculation over what a move into physical retail could mean for Google. In the past, the company has experimented with pop-up shops and other store-in-store concepts, but a commitment to a physical store of its own will make a brick-and-mortar strategy critical. Just what exactly that will look like has yet to be seen.

On the topic, the discussion forum RetailWire asked its BrainTrust panel of retail experts the following questions:

What kind of brick-and-mortar strategy, if any, makes the most sense for Google to support its hardware lineup? What lessons should Google take from pushes by Apple and Amazon into physical retail?

Do what Amazon did: Buy your physical footprint

Ken Morris, Principal, Boston Retail Partners: Physical stores make perfect sense to showcase Amazon’s current portfolio of tech products. It seems like a smaller footprint than 14,000 sq ft would make more sense, however, maybe they will lease some of the space to brands that are selling innovative products on Google Marketplace. Eventually, I expect Google to follow the lead of Amazon and expand its product portfolio significantly by adding private label brands of multiple product categories beyond technology.

I saw the barge idea in Portland and that was an ill-fated idea. Maybe acquiring a retailer with stores in key markets as a way to accelerate its physical presence — just like Amazon acquiring Whole Foods would be a better approach.

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Lane Crawford offers guide to living well in multichannel campaign

Luxury Daily – Chinese department store chain Lane Crawford is helping consumers elevate their well-being through a campaign that invites them to learn and play.

“Good Feels” includes a series of workshops that allow shoppers to get in touch with their artistic or spiritual sides. Beyond serving as purveyors of physical goods, retailers are increasingly positioning themselves as one-stop shops for both acquisition and personal improvement.

“Lane Crawford has recognized that consumers are more and more seeking experiences over material items,” said Beatrice Egan, senior consultant at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “The emphasis on health and wellness experiences and becoming a lifestyle brand is a global trend.

“Increasing customer engagement through these wellness workshops should drive more store traffic at Lane Crawford stores and ultimately more sales,” she said. “For example, after attending a workshop about getting a better night’s sleep, it might inspire customers to shop for a silk eye mask and Frette bedding.”

“Consumers are ditching their shopping bags for salt caves, luxury work out classes and organic meal delivery programs as ways to enhance their health and lives,” BRP’s Ms. Egan said. “Lane Crawford is positioning the brand as not only a destination for lifestyle goods, but a Lane Crawford way of living.”

Read Full Article: Lane Crawford offers guide to living well in multichannel campaign

The associate is the key to the customer experience

As technology continues to advance and consumers change the way they shop, the customer experience also needs to evolve. The key is that it is all about the customer. Convenience and reducing frustration and aggravation are key priorities for most consumers. Whatever retailers can do to personalize the shopping experience and make it easy will go a long way towards earning loyalty and increasing sales.

While leveraging technology and self-service options are compelling options, I think some retailers are losing focus on customer service. As retailers look to cut costs by reducing staff in stores, it can have a negative impact on the customer experience. The big advantage that physical stores have over online shopping is the ability to provide a truly personalized shopping experience. However, if you don’t have enough sales associates in your store, you risk frustrating customers that are looking for assistance but can’t find an associate.

Consumers continue to spend time in stores because they seek unique experiences and the ability to touch and feel products. Creating the necessary customer experience also relies on well-informed and available sales associates. Today’s information-savvy consumers are not satisfied with just a ‘warm body’ or ‘one size fits all’ experience – they expect retailers to put time and effort into establishing and offering a personalized experience. Associates are a vital component of this effort, which means retailers need to effectively, train, educate, motivate and arm store employees with tools to ensure that they can and will fulfill the customer’s desire for a personalized experience.

Retailers can enhance their customer service offerings by empowering associates with mobile tools to access customer information based on providing associate-facing and customer-facing applications on their phones that leverage customer information. Knowing what is in the customer’s closet, what they have previously purchased, or even what other customers with similar profiles are mixing and matching together offers associates valuable data that can be used to tailor the shopping experience. In BRP’s 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Survey we found that 51% of retailers agree that empowering associates with mobile tools is a top customer engagement priority.

Providing associates with the tools needed will go a long way towards making the customer’s shopping experience personal and convenient without any added aggravation. The key is to remember the customer is the center of the universe.  Do your customers feel this way?

I appreciate your feedback on this topic. Please share your comments and opinions below.


Retail Industry Adapts To Rapid Change

Retail TouchPoints – Headlines screamed about a “Retail Apocalypse” in 2017, but what was really happening was a highly accelerated period of retail transformation. The 17 retail industry experts contributing to the Retail TouchPoints 2018 Outlook Guide paint a collective portrait of an industry undergoing seismic shifts in multiple areas:

  • Stores are emphatically not dead
  • Voice could radically alter the existing product search paradigm, giving a huge first mention advantage to the top result;
  • Mobile devices for store associates will become the new must-have business accessory;
  • Technologies including AIIoTbots, AR and even connected carswill start to prove their worth; and
  • Customer engagement, via advanced analytics and what one contributor called “right-sized personalization,” will continue to be the ultimate competitive battleground.

 “While it might be an “apocalyptic” outlook for some, the reality is that it is just the ever-evolving nature of retail and consumers.” said Brian Brunk Principal, BRP.

To Download the full report visit: 2018 Outlook Guide: Retail Industry Adapts To Rapid Change


Customer Experience Journey

Retail Personalization: Attracting & Keeping Your Customers

Customer Experience Journey

Engaging the customer through personalization and relevant messaging is the key to attracting and keeping customers. Customers want to shop wherever and whenever with the benefits of both the digital and physical retail environments. Personalization plays a critical role in optimizing the customer’s shopping experience. Retailers need to know whom the customer is to create a meaningful experience based on what they want and when they want it. Each step along the customer journey offers retailers another opportunity to engage with the customer and strengthen that personal relationship to drive sales and customer loyalty.

Customer Identification

With 62% of retailers indicating that customer identification is their top customer engagement priority (2018 POS/Customer Engagement Survey), stores are still identifying customers at the point of checkout. Many fail to realize it is too late to empower the associate to influence the current purchase decision at the checkout phase of the journey. Even though associates’ ability to custom tailor shopping experiences is currently limited the Survey shows that these capabilities are increasing.

Watch the Video Now

In a recent Retail Touch Points Video BRP Senior Vice President Gene Bornac talks about how customizing experiences around expectations is how retailers can attract and keep customers. Bornac points out that the fundamental challenge for retailers is understanding customer motivations for buying. Bornac also discusses how retailers should consider what’s relevant to the conversation regarding using personal information versus shopping trends.

Changing the Shopping Experience

Retailers should work on the transition from product-focused sales to experience-focused sales, looking to technology and customer journey planning to help move them forward. Some retailers are expanding the personalization aspect of retail into a “make shopping fun and engaging” experience. This includes gamification – where game-like interactions, rewards and incentives are offered for visiting a web site. The key to this personalization  is to tailor the interaction based on the customer’s habits. We are also seeing this augmented by artificial intelligence to keep the customer engaged and encourage further visits and interactions.

A current example of technology and customer journey combining is the launch of the Amazon Go store. With the use of multiple hardware and software technology advances the Amazon Go store is taking retail to the next level.

The Store of the Future

The store is not dead and focusing on the customer experience has never been more important. Consumers love the theater of shopping, which is why many pure-play online retailers are opening brick-and-mortar stores and store concepts continue to evolve. The in-store experience is paramount for apparel and other products that consumers want to touch, feel, demo or try on. Customers want a multi-dimensional or multi-sense purchase which leverages all their senses. For retailers selling commodity products, you could argue that the experience is the best way to differentiate their brand.

The time is now to innovate the customer experience by transforming your retail model for the new customer journey.


Watch the Using Personalization To Extend The Shopping Journey Video




As retail transforms, luxury will be last to join the movement

Luxury Daily – Consumers today are more interested in the convenient services that automation can offer, but luxury brands will be the last to replace human interaction.

A new report on POS/Customer Engagement from Boston Retail Partners explains that the retail industry as a whole is moving towards technology-based personalized services that luxury brands are reluctant to offer. Shoppers are interested and willing to interact with automaton replacements for human counterparts in retail, as long as the experience still offers quality service.

“Retail and customer engagement models must transform,” said Brian Brunk, principal at BRP. “However, the legacy retail applications and infrastructure still in place at many retail organizations are not properly equipped to support changing retail models and continuously evolving customer expectations.

“To meet the demands of their customer, the retail winners in 2018 and beyond need to accelerate the transformation to cloud-based unified commerce. Victory belongs to the agile,” he said.

Read Full Article: As retail transforms, luxury will be last to join the movement

Branded resolutions mirror consumers’ wellness mindset to start 2018

Luxury Daily – Retailers such as Mr Porter and Nordstrom are encouraging consumers to maintain New Year’s resolutions beyond the first week of 2018 through features supporting health and wellness.

As consumers increasingly turn to self-care, healthy eating and fitness routines, nearly every luxury industry has incorporated its own stance on health and wellness to speak to shoppers’ expectations and behavior. At the start of the new year, consumers often ramp up health-conscious resolutions, and messages of encouragement, recommendations and tips from favorite brands may inspire consumers to stick to reaching their goals.

“Consumers that are loyal brand enthusiasts respect the opinions of retail spokespeople and famous fashion designers,” said David Naumann, vice president at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “Retailers offering their perspectives and ideas for New Year’s resolutions will be welcomed by their loyal fans.

“As consumers continue to value experiential shopping, many retailers have infused interactive experiences and themed events to appeal to consumers’ affinity for the theater of shopping,” he said.

“With New Year’s resolutions that can be tied to retail products or services, these tips can inspire consumers to visit their store to try or test products that help them achieve their goals, which ultimately results in more sales.”

Read Full Article: Branded resolutions mirror consumers’ wellness mindset to start 2018

BRP REPORT: Customer-led Demand is Driving Retailers to Transform their Business to be more Customer-centric

ERP Retail News – According to a new report from BRP, retailers must accommodate customers who “pre-shop” for merchandise online before they ever enter a store, want one-day or even same-day delivery, and expect “more” from their shopping experience – more personalization, a larger assortment, a more fulfilling experience and non-stop entertainment. Customer-led demand is driving retailers to transform their business to be more customer-centric.

“Customers use technology daily to enable and control their shopping journey,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president at BRP. “Now it is up to retailers to play catch up with their organization, processes and technology to deliver the right products for the right price in the right place.”

For retailers, it is imperative to take a customer-centric viewpoint. To innovate the customer experience, they must transform their disparate systems, processes and organization into one cohesive environment with the ability to offer customers a seamless shopping environment across any channel and the capability to deliver merchandise immediately – wherever it is needed. It is time to prepare for the future of retail – it is here – whether we are ready or not.

Within this challenging environment, BRP conducted its 2017 Merchandise Planning Benchmark Survey to explore the current state of retail planning and to identify and understand retailers’ priorities as they strive to meet the needs and demands of today’s consumers.

Read Full Article: BRP REPORT: Customer-led Demand is Driving Retailers to Transform their Business to be more Customer-centric

Report: More retailers move toward a customer-centric model

Food Dive – As demand for online shopping and a compelling in-store experience grows, retailers are making their business models more customer-centric. A new report by Boston Retail Partners (BRP) says to make this happen, grocers will need to integrate planning processes across channels, adopt new omni-channel demand planning systems and incorporate real-time customer feedback into their seasonal planning.

BRP’s 2017 Merchandise Planning Survey finds that almost half (47%) of retailers say that customer centricity is a key strategic initiative within their organizations. While nearly two-thirds (64%) of retailers have integrated their business planning processes across channels, just a third (33%) have implemented new omnichannel demand planning systems within the past two years. Only 42% of retailers incorporate real-time customer feedback into their in-season planning, according to the survey results.

“Customers use technology daily to enable and control their shopping journey,” Gene Bornac, senior vice president at BRP said in the report. “Now it is up to retailers to play catch up with their organization, processes and technology to deliver the right products for the right price in the right place.”

Read Full Article: Report: More retailers move toward a customer-centric model