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

Upgraded Technology, Upgraded Experience: Using Mobile Devices In Your Store

Independent Retailer – Technology advancements have abounded this year. From retail robots, to the introduction of shopping through augmented reality, technology has become an essential part of retail development. Throughout the years, as new technology has developed, one thing has remained the same: shoppers want increased convenience. Portable technology, such as mobile devices and tablets greatly increase both customers’ experience in-store as well as your store associates’ training.

Based on research done by Boston Retail Partners, 89% of retailers plan to put mobile solutions in the hands of their store associates and 84% of retailers will use mobile point of sale systems in-store by 2020. The major categories in which mobile devices can be used are customer identification and engagement, associate training, task management, and point of sale.

Registers are anchored to counters, but new technology allows purchases to be made anywhere in the store. Using mobile devices as points of sale eases the checkout process for customers. Rather than waiting in line, an associate can help shoppers find an item and checkout from anywhere in the store. In addition to checking out anywhere, if a customer is looking for a specific product, rather than walking to the back room or the computer to check inventory, having a phone or tablet to quickly search, find, order, and purchase the item makes the entire process seamless. Offer customers the ability to checkout instantly without waiting in line or walking to a cash register.


Read Full Article: Upgraded Technology, Upgraded Experience: Using Mobile Devices In Your Store

Nina Ricci sweet friendship with a road-side baking competition

Luxury Daily – French fashion label Nina Ricci is building on its focus of friendship with a special video series that tempts followers to indulge in its fragrances.

Nina Ricci’s parfum line, Nina & Luna, is being promoted with a fun summer campaign that shows two best friends exploring Paris while embarking on a baking challenge. The “Les Gourmandises de Nina & Luna” video series represents the fragrances as the perfect accessory for the season and as a sweet treat.

“With so many new fragrances being launched, this trend-focused social marketing is taking a new, fresh approach to building consumer appeal,” said Laura Sossong, manager at BRP, Boston. “Nina Ricci is inviting customers to visualize their product as a perfect accompaniment to life’s exciting adventures, using colors and design to portray the scent as a delicious fragrance to be savored.

“This is sure to stand out to the target market, who is delighted by creative curation of campaigns involving videos that promote experiential elements,” she said. Ms. Sossong is not affiliated with Nina Ricci, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

“Many fragrance launches rely on traditional magazine or television ads to promote their product,” BRP’s Ms. Sossong said.

“By utilizing social media capabilities in a way that personifies the perfume, on top of layering in today’s food truck trend, this unique compilation of videos and pictures will increase the excitement of younger women and make them more inclined to sample and purchase Nina Ricci fragrances,” she said.

Read Full Article: Nina Ricci sweet friendship with a road-side baking competition

Can Backstage attract shoppers to Macy's mall stores?

RetailDive – As the department store pushes ahead on off-price concepts, experts say there’s a fine line between attracting new shoppers and heading too down market. Macy’s has embarked on an ambitious effort to remake the department store model and a component in the strategy is boosting its the off-price retail model, which includes Macy’s Backstage, an effort launched in 2015.

Read Full Article: Can Backstage attract shoppers to Macy’s mall stores?

5 tips for luxury brands to get ecommerce returns right

Luxury Daily – With the rise of ever-present mobile devices, ecommerce is becoming even more common. Along with ecommerce comes the customer expectation of returns. Nowadays, customers want to be able to return products quickly and easily – something that luxury brands will have to contend with if they want to keep the fastest-growing part of the retail business. Here are five tips on how luxury brands can nail ecommerce returns from experts in the industry.

“Luxury retail has always prided itself on providing a level of customer service far above the service provided by traditional retailers,” said Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at Boston Retail Partners. “For as long as most of us can remember, the sale and return process in luxury retail has been based on personal relationships and a little black book of clients.

“Retailers such as Cartier and others luxury retailers are selling very high-value items online and now accepting returns in the stores from customers that may have never stepped foot in their stores,” he said. “Consumers’ understanding that they will be able to return items in a pleasant environment and treated with the highest level of respect is a key component of their customer journey.”


One of the most important things that luxury brands can do to make sure their customers are getting the most out of ecommerce returns is also one of the simplest: be upfront about how to return items.

“Luxury retailers should make the returns process easy and transparent to strengthen their relationship with customers,” said Jeff Neville, vice president of Boston Retail Partners. “Retailers should allow customers to return products across all channels, regardless of where they made the initial purchase.”

Making the return process easy to understand will build trust in the brand.

“For returning online purchases, offering free shipping and pre-printed labels will go a long way in keeping customers happy,” Mr. Neville said.


Returns have to be convenient.

Customers expect a certain level of accessibility and ease to ecommerce transactions. Brands cannot afford to make the process of returning items more difficult than it already is.

“From a transparency perspective, it is helpful to make the return policy and directions easy to find in several places, in the box and online,” Mr. Neville said. “Communicating frequently with the customer on the status of their return, receipt of goods and credit processing is key to keeping customers satisfied.”
Read Full Article: 5 tips for luxury brands to get ecommerce returns right