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Amazon Bookstores Solve Pain Points, Create Destinations

HFN – Amazon’s recent news about opening more bookstores will help it reduce shipping costs, particularly last-mile delivery issues, and will create more ways for consumers to interact with the brand, according to retail analysts.

The retail giant has five more physical bookstores slated to open in New York, Chicago, Paramus, N.J., Dedham, Mass., and Lynnfield, Mass. During the last half of 2016, Amazon opened bookstores in San Diego and Portland, Ore. Its first store opened in Seattle in November 2015.

While Amazon already has a wide distribution network, the bookstores provide another way for customers to get packages, and could increase impulse buys in the stores, said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. A large segment of consumers enjoy “the theater of shopping,” Naumann said, noting Barnes & Noble’s new format that features a restaurant in the center of the store to encourage consumers to spend hours there. “It’s an opportunity to make it a destination.” Physical stores help “consumers develop personal relationships with the brand.”

The reality is that 90 to 92 percent of sales happen in physical stores, Naumann said. “Amazon realizes the importance of physical stores.”

Read full article: Amazon Bookstores Solve Pain Points, Create Destinations

Ikea’s Omnichannel Experiment

HFN – The Swedish retailer makes up for lost time with a thorough and deliberate approach to the newest form of retailing. Big boxy Ikea may ultimately prove that slow and steady wins the omnichannel race—and be surprisingly nimble at it in the process.

Ikea U.S. is broadening its vision from a traditional brick-and-mortar focused retailer to encompass an omnichannel experience, said Paul Dubie, manager at Boston Retail Partners. “At present, this transformation is still in its infancy. With broader product selection available for online purchase and delivery, mobile shopping and catalog apps, it is easy to see the retailer’s vision to offer its customers the omnichannel experience they now expect.”

“Ikea is striving to provide stock availably and inventory information that is truly cutting edge. Ikea makes it easy for customers to determine when the item is most likely to be available in her local store, based on current stock levels and forecasted shipment inventory.”

Ikea also excels at making detailed data available through the product description pages of its website, Dubie said. This includes useful descriptions, product and shipping dimensions and downloadable assembly instructions, coupled with coordinating products and related items.

Read Full Article: Ikea’s Omnichannel Experiment

In Pursuit Of The Perfect Payments-As-A-Service Pairing

PYMNTS.com – When it comes to full-service payments, one size does not fit all. With more options available than ever before, PYMNTS spoke with Perry Kramer, vice president of Boston Retail Partners, about how his team helps retailers adopt new payments solutions. You can find that, plus the latest headlines and a directory of 75 global players, inside the October Payments as a Service Tracker™.

To find out how companies can choose the best solutions for their needs, PYMNTS recent caught up with Perry Kramer, vice president of Boston Retail Partners, to talk about the state of the full-service payments industry, the method his team uses when helping retailers find and adopt new payments solutions and what he sees coming down the pike.

Here’s a preview:

The glut of full-service features and solutions in the marketplace is having an effect not only on the modern merchant but also on the modern consumer.

As more retailers roll out experiences designed to improve their customer in-store experience, consumers are beginning to expect merchants to cater to their various whims. That may include faster or mobile checkout processes, loyalty programs, targeted promotions or many other perks or benefits.

Kramer noted that many merchants come to him and his team looking to solve this challenge by upgrading their payment systems so that they can offer their customers some of these features.

“Everything right now is centered around understanding the customer and being more in touch with them,” Kramer said. “It’s about identifying … what they want and finding out how we give them a personalized experience and, on the payments side, a frictionless experience.”
Read full article: In Pursuit Of The Perfect Payments-As-A-Service Pairing

Victoria’s Secret use of Snapchat modernizes its traditional freebie coupons

Mobile Commerce Daily – Victoria’s Secret is influencing its millennial demographic to come into its bricks-and-mortar stores through a special Snapchat freebie, in an adapted version of its iconic coupons.

Snapchat’s experience still has a cool factor for its users, allowing brands to share fun and interesting call-to-actions that require consumers to directly participate. Victoria’s Secret is rewarding users who screen shot its Snapchat coupon with a giveaway.

“Consumers are most apt to participate in campaigns where opting in is virtually effortless, particularly when a true benefit is offered,” said Laura Sossong, manager at BRP. “For this reason, screen shot technology is certainly an innovative sector to explore. Victoria’s Secret stands to benefit, as they can gauge relevance and traction of screenshot based promotions to impact future initiative planning.”

Read full article: Victoria’s Secret use of Snapchat modernizes its traditional freebie coupons

Apple Wants More Enriching In-Store Experiences

Forbes – If it’s true that consumers today are more into experiences than simply buying products off of shelves, than Apple may be onto something with its new generation design focused on transforming its locations into something akin to “town squares.”

Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of retail, told attendees at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit that the company’s new generation of stores is more about enriching the lives of its customers than simply selling them things. Ms. Ahrendts, as reported by MacRumors, told attendees that Apple’s mission goes beyond simply generating ever-greater profits. “The bigger the company, the bigger the obligation,” she told attendees, going on to explain her vision of Apple’s retail locations serving as places for education and community.

The new stores, as reported by Fortune, will hold what Ms. Ahrendts called “Teacher Tuesdays” to help educators discover ways they may more effectively bring technology into classrooms. The stores will also conduct three “how to code” sessions daily for kids, parents and teachers. Apple already offers summer tech camps at its locations. Creative pros will also be available to help customers learn how to perform tasks, such as taking better photos using their iPhones. These associates serve a function beyond Apple’s Genuises who are on hand to help customers with products in need of repair.

By the end of the year, 95 of Apple’s stores nearly 500 stores will be remodeled to reflect the company’s new vision for its retail business. Among the new community features of the new stores is Apple’s plan to recruit artists, musicians and others to “bring people out of their digital bubbles,” according to MacRumors.

In an online discussion last week, the RetailWire BrainTrust generally supported Apple’s town square concept, pointing out that management is only codifying a strategy they have long been winning with.

“The town square approach is essentially making the current community center mindset more formal,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners. “I don’t think the ‘town square’ terminology or store layout will dramatically change consumers’ perception of Apple, as consumers are already flocking to Apple store for the experience and education that are a part of Apple’s DNA.”

Read Full Article: Apple Wants More Enriching In-Store Experiences

Despite Uncertainty, The Presidential Election Is Unlikely To Rattle Retailers

Retail TouchPoints – The upcoming 2016 presidential election certainly has captured the attention of most U.S. consumers for both its political and entertainment-driven value. But as retailers and shoppers await the results with uncertainty, consumer spending may not be significantly impacted. In fact, retail sales have increased 0.6% in September 2016 — the biggest spending jump in three months.

The majority of consumers have stated that the election results aren’t going to affect their holiday spending, according to RetailNext. As many as 70% of shoppers say that if Republican nominee Donald Trump is elected, their spending habits will not change, while 68% say the same if Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is elected.

“Who wins the election matters little to the retail outcome,” said Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst at The NPD Group. “While it may matter to them personally, it doesn’t change the needs of the consumer.” And despite the fact that 2016 is an election year, the National Retail Federation (NRF) recently forecast a 3.6% increase in 2016 holiday spending, higher than the forecast growth rate of 3.0% in 2015, a non-election year.

“No matter what happens, I just don’t see a significant change,” Ken Morris, Principal at Boston Retail Partners (BRP), said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “I think retailers are taking the lead from the consumer. The consumer hasn’t backed off, and quite the opposite is happening. Retailers are realizing that it’s not such a disaster, and that whatever happens, the consumer is still likely to be spending. That’s what drives retail. Despite all the distraction, more people have jobs and they have more disposable income, and that’s going to be reflected in the holiday sales.”

Regardless of the election’s outcome, Morris of BRP advised retailers to “stay the course” as far as deploying their holiday strategies and plans. With consumer confidence reaching a nine-year high in September 2016 as more shoppers gain faith in a resilient labor market and continued economic growth, retailers should take the time to reciprocate that self-assurance into the holiday season.

Read Full Article: Despite Uncertainty, The Presidential Election Is Unlikely To Rattle Retailers

Mobile Is On The Rise, But Still Not Where Retailers Would Like It

PYMNTS.com – Mobile is one of the fastest-growing retail sectors at the moment and still projects to grow for years to come, but the technology is still not where most retailers want it.

But a new survey from Boston Retail Partners that polled 500 retail executives in North America found that mobile technology and its retail applications are still not where most retailers would like it to be. 

Of those surveyed, 58 percent of companies said they had implemented some form of a mobile-specific website, but about half of those companies that had mobile sites — 27 percent — believe their current mobile site needs improvement, compared to 31 percent of retailers who said their mobile site was working well for consumers.

Twenty-five percent of those surveyed said they planned to implement their mobile site within the next two years.

When it came to mobile apps, the numbers were even worse, with only 12 percent of retailers surveyed stating they were satisfied with their current mobile app. Twenty-four percent said it needs improvement, while another 47 percent still hadn’t implemented it yet and said they planned to do so over the next several years.

“When it comes to implementing newer mobile capabilities, according to the data, many retailers don’t seem to be there yet,” according to an eMarketer report on Boston Retail Partners’ survey. “Roughly a quarter of the executives polled said that executing geolocation and in-store customer ID technologies would likely happen in the next three to five years. Conversely, at the time of the survey, only 2 percent said they had geolocation in place that’s working well. Meanwhile, no one felt they were at that stage of success with customer identifying tools.”

Of those companies surveyed, more than half said the biggest hurdle to implementing a successful mobile strategy was the integration of the strategy itself, followed by united marketing and IT departments, followed by a lack of the staff needed to implement the strategies. But a new survey from Boston Retail Partners that polled 500 retail executives in North America found that mobile technology and its retail applications are still not where most retailers would like it to be.

Of those surveyed, 58 percent of companies said they had implemented some form of a mobile-specific website, but about half of those companies that had mobile sites — 27 percent — believe their current mobile site needs improvement, compared to 31 percent of retailers who said their mobile site was working well for consumers.

Twenty-five percent of those surveyed said they planned to implement their mobile site within the next two years.

When it came to mobile apps, the numbers were even worse, with only 12 percent of retailers surveyed stating they were satisfied with their current mobile app. Twenty-four percent said it needs improvement, while another 47 percent still hadn’t implemented it yet and said they planned to do so over the next several years.

“When it comes to implementing newer mobile capabilities, according to the data, many retailers don’t seem to be there yet,” according to an eMarketer report on Boston Retail Partners’ survey. “Roughly a quarter of the executives polled said that executing geolocation and in-store customer ID technologies would likely happen in the next three to five years. Conversely, at the time of the survey, only 2 percent said they had geolocation in place that’s working well. Meanwhile, no one felt they were at that stage of success with customer identifying tools.”

Of those companies surveyed, more than half said the biggest hurdle to implementing a successful mobile strategy was the integration of the strategy itself, followed by united marketing and IT departments, followed by a lack of the staff needed to implement the strategies.

Read Full Article: Mobile Is On The Rise, But Still Not Where Retailers Would Like It

Wonderful Pistachios competes for marketing mascot fame on mobile

Mobile Marketer – The Wonderful Company is spearheading the most expensive campaign in its history with the help of WWE wrestler John Cena and NFL star Richard Sherman.

The $55 million campaign coincides with the largest pistachio crop in history, a whopping 800 million pound harvest. In response to the boon, Wonderful Pistachios has crafted a new animated mascot, Ernie the Elephant, voiced by Mr. Cena and featured in ten mobile-optimized videos that will be aired over the coming months, paired with a series of digital videos starring Mr. Sherman on the health benefits of pistachios.

“Social media is a perfect way to extend and build upon traditional advertising campaigns,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at BRP.

“The Wonderful Company can repurpose its TV and print ads across its social media platforms to magnify the reach to all of their fans and their friends when followers ‘like’ the messages.

“Since more Internet usage now occurs on mobile devices than desktop or laptop computers, it is imperative that all campaigns are designed for mobile viewing and interaction. Exposure to these campaigns on consumers’ phones, while they are shopping, might influence impulse purchases, especially if they are in, or near, a store that sells Wonderful Pistachios.”

Read Full Article: Wonderful Pistachios competes for marketing mascot fame on mobile

Report: Seamless shopping, mobile commerce are top online priorities

Chain Store Age – Providing shoppers with a consistent brand experience across channels is retailers’ top digital priority. That’s according to a survey from Boston Retail Partners (BRP), in which 56% of surveyed retailers said they were focused on a consistent brand experience across channels as a top digital priority, followed by improving the mobile shopping experience (46%) and personalization (40%).

“Today’s unified commerce imperative moves the heart of the transaction to a centralized platform,” said Jeffrey Neville, VP at BRP. “This allows retailers to become more innovative and agile with their digital commerce offerings to further enable a personalized customer experience. It is promising to see that retailers are laser focused on delivering the seamless, cross-channel experience consumers expect.”

Read Full Article: Report: Seamless shopping, mobile commerce are top online priorities

Bargain hunters on the prowl: Off-price retailers are gaining ground in the retail apparel industry

Vegas Inc – How are retail apparel businesses catering to the consumers who insist on paying as little as possible? “The key to attracting and keeping customers in the off-price segment is to consistently wow customers with great deals, again and again,” said Ken Morris, principal of Boston Retail Partners. “The ‘treasure hunt’ excitement is what will continue to keep customers coming back.”

Another interesting approach, he said, might be to adopt the jet.com dynamic pricing strategy, where the shopper gets a greater discount based on a higher basket value. “Or the old Filene’s Basement automatic markdown cadence, where the price automatically drops 25 percent every 15 days until it is sold or sent to Goodwill.”

Loyalty is “a challenging goal for retailers in a segment where consumers are almost entirely driven by price,” Morris said.

Although some off-price retailers offer loyalty programs, none seems to stand out as especially compelling.

“Some offer 1 percent rewards based on combined purchases, and others offer special promotions or sweepstakes,” Morris said. “However, none of these appears to be enough incentive for consumers to be loyal to an off-priced brand.”

Morris said he would like to see a retailer offer a program with greater rewards.

“If consumers knew that they would be getting extra discounts based on how much they spend,” he said, “maybe they would spend more or shop the same brand more regularly.”

The biggest mistakes for off-price apparel retailers, Morris said, are stale assortments, unorganized and messy stores, and too much focus on price.

“If consumers see the same merchandise every time they visit your store, they will lose interest,” he said. “They will be even more turned off if the store unorganized, cluttered or dirty.”

Regarding price, he adds, consumers know they are going to get low prices at off-price stores “so retailers should focus more on the quality, style and assortment they offer.”

Read full article: Bargain hunters on the prowl: Off-price retailers are gaining ground in the retail apparel industry