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Customer Identification Key to Creating Personalized Shopping

Convenience Store Decisions – BRP finds customer identification in the store continues to challenge most retailers. How well do you know your customers? Customer identification is the first step necessary to personalize the shopping experience, yet most in-store shoppers are anonymous until they check out.

According to BRP’s 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, only 13% of retailers identify customers when they walk in the store and another 10% identify customers pre-checkout. Retailers fare better online, as 30% identify customers when they enter the website and another 30% identify customers pre-checkout.

“While most online retailers are able to identify customers early in the browsing process in order to create a more personalized experience, identifying customers in the store continues to be a challenge for most brick-and-mortar retailers,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president, BRP, retail consulting firm. “Those online experiences have heightened customer expectations for personalization and they now expect the same level of service while shopping in a store. This is tremendous opportunity for retailers to improve the customer experience – turning anonymous shoppers into loyal customers.”

Read Full Article: Customer Identification Key to Creating Personalized Shopping

Customer Identification is Key to Personalizing the Shopping Experience, Yet Most Customers are Anonymous until Checkout at Stores

Only 23% of Retailers Identify Customers Before Checkout in Stores Compared to 60% Online, According to BRP Report

Boston, MA – October 17, 2018– Customer identification is the first step necessary to personalize the shopping experience, yet most in-store shoppers are anonymous until they check out. According to BRP’s 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, only 13% of retailers identify customers when they walk in the store and another 10% identify customers pre-checkout. Retailers fare better online, as 30% identify customers when they enter the website and another 30% identify customers pre-checkout.

“While most online retailers are able to identify customers early in the browsing process in order to create a more personalized experience, identifying customers in the store continues to be a challenge for most brick-and-mortar retailers,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president, BRP. “Those online experiences have heightened customer expectations for personalization and they now expect the same level of service while shopping in a store. This is tremendous opportunity for retailers to improve the customer experience – turning anonymous shoppers into loyal customers.”

It is critical to identify the customer early, as soon as they enter the store or begin researching online. This allows retailers to personalize the experience and influence customers’ shopping behaviors. Unfortunately, in most cases customer identification still happens at the point of checkout in the store, which is too late to empower associates to influence the current purchase decision. Without early identification of the customer, retailers miss critical engagement opportunities, such as clienteling and guided selling, which can increase sales and deliver an enhanced customer experience. Even more concerning that 20% of retailers still have no ability to identify their customers in the store, even at checkout, which eliminates any opportunities for improving the post-purchase experience or customer loyalty.

To download 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, visit: https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-unified-commerce-survey/

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail 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.

Free People launches in-house fragrance to test market opportunities in beauty

Glossy – With the launch of its first in-house set of fragrances, Free People wants a coveted place on the vanity.

The fragrances are free from synthetic ingredients, parabens, colorants and more, making it a clean perfume option. Currently, there is a dearth of fragrance options available at Free People, Richards said, adding that Free People’s own line helps fill a white space. Free People’s in-house scents join a burgeoning category of clean fragrance, alongside brands like Skylar Body and Phlur. Free People’s beauty and wellness offerings include crystals, sexual wellness, makeup, oral care and aromatherapy, and has grown from 395 SKUs at launch in 2016 to 1152 SKUs today.

Rather than partnering with a third-party manufacturer, Free People opted to develop its fragrance in-house by hiring a dedicated fragrance product developer to create brand equity, said Richards. “I didn’t want people to think we just found some juice and stuck on our name on the label,” she said.

That the company not only created the fragrance in-house but also owns the distribution rights helps with positioning it in the space, according to Erin Smith, a senior consultant at BRP retail consulting firm.

“If Free People releases this fragrance and is the sole distributor, I can’t go to Amazon to get it. I have to go online or in-store,” she said. “It’s an additional asset that they have; instead of sourcing goods and selling them, they now also have this other model where they produce products themselves, and that increases the value of the company.”

Read Full Article: Free People launches in-house fragrance to test market opportunities in beauty

This is why online retailers need to improve the post-purchase experience

Chain Store Age – Retailers say customer loyalty is critical to their business, yet few actually measure retention.

This was according to “Best Practices for Enhancing the Post-Purchase Experience,” a study from Boston Retail Partners, retail consulting firm. While it is no secret that a returning customer is less expensive to convert and has a higher average order value than a new shopper, the e-commerce industry continues to be mainly focused on the acquisition of new customers — a strategy that requires adopting the latest technologies and marketing strategies.

“By crafting a post-purchase experience to minimize stress and maximize convenience, retailers make an investment in a sustained relationship with their customer,” the study revealed. “Enhancing your post-purchase customer experience doesn’t necessarily mean investing heavily in the latest technologies. We believe [our best practices] can create a welcome and trusting experience for your customers to return time after time.”

Read Full Article: This is why online retailers need to improve the post-purchase experience

How to retain digital shoppers: BRP

Luxury Daily – Retailers are too focused on overall sales and figures rather than harnessing the potential of returning customers, who are proven to have lower costs for conversion and have a higher average order value.

A new study from Boston Retail Partners shows that only 40 percent of retailers measure customer retention to their detriment, especially for luxury brands who rely on loyal consumers. There are a variety of steps that retailers can take after a customer makes a purchase to build a strong connection of trust.

“Improving the post-purchase experience can have as much, if not more, impact on a retailer’s bottom line than just focusing on driving visits and customer conversion. Many improvements to the post-purchase experience, like professional packaging and enhanced communications do not require technical support or investment,” said Jeffrey Neville, SVP and practice lead at BRP, retail consulting firm. “These improvements can be made in small, iterative sprints and have a dramatic effect on the overall customer experience.”

Read Full Article: How to retain digital shoppers: BRP

Less than Half of Retailers Measure Customer Retention

Convenience Store Decisions – Studies have shown that a returning customer is less expensive to convert and has a higher average order value than a new shopper. However, many retailers are focused on measuring total sales and comparative sales, while customer loyalty strategies and customer retention are not getting the attention they deserve.

“Retailers are focusing more attention on customer acquisition than loyalty. While acquiring new customers and driving top-line sales are important, building long-term relationships with customers is imperative for healthy long-term performance,” said Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “Paying more attention to the post-purchase experience and measuring its impact on sales, will increase the lifetime value of customers and maximize total revenues and profits.”

Read Full Article: Less than Half of Retailers Measure Customer Retention

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.”

Read Full Article: Harvey Nichols transforms into Holly Nichols for women’s wear push

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.

Read Full Article: How will Google bust into brick and mortar?

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.

Ken