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Social Commerce Best Practices: Optimize Mobile, Match Products To Platform Strengths

 

Retail TouchPoints – Social media is no longer just a place for building brand awareness or loyalty: it’s another potential storefront, a frontier where the customer journey can take on fresh new forms. There are approximately 3.2 billion active social media users today, according to Hootsuite. The major platforms have enormous audiences that are too big to ignore.

The vast majority of retailers already are active on social media, with 92% of brands using two or more channels, according to Brandwatch. However, engaging in social commerce takes greater effort than just maintaining a presence on a social media platform, and the process of delivering sales through these third-party sites carries its own unique risks and rewards. Joining social commerce early adopters such as Burberry and Target, are brands such as apparel retailer MM.LaFleur that are just beginning to explore this terrain.

“Big-ticket items that typically involve a lot of research and consultation from a sales associate are not as conducive for social commerce,” said Jeffrey Neville, SVP and Practice Lead at Boston Retail Partners in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “However, social media does open the door for consumers to dialog with a retail associate to move them down the path to purchase.”

MM.LaFleur has used social media both for relationship building and driving incremental revenue, according to Neville. The retailer’s Instagram presence has been driving sales online, and it uses the tools provided by social media to empower in-store associates, inspiring trust in shoppers and helping them choose the right merchandise.

Read Full Article: Social Commerce Best Practices: Optimize Mobile, Match Products To Platform Strengths

5 Important Consumer Demands Retailers Need to Know

Material Handling & Logistics – Last mile logistics are a complex undertaking that has recently been at the forefront of the dialogue around the “Amazon Effect” and how it impacts consumers, retailers and logistics companies alike. Consumer expectations for faster delivery times are growing rapidly, and retailers are tirelessly strategizing ways to provide these services. And logistics companies are looking toward new technology to make the last mile of delivery more efficient and less costly.

Nearly two times as many consumers say they took advantage of same-day delivery in the last 12 months versus the year prior. And consumers aren’t happy when same-day isn’t an option: nearly 1/3 of consumers now say they feel ‘frustrated’ when a company doesn’t offer same-day delivery.

Delivery speed has become a crucial aspect of the online shopping experience and a major decision factor for online shoppers. 53% of consumers have abandoned a purchase because of slow delivery times. That’s a lot of missed opportunity!

Over the last year, we’ve seen a number of retailers add same-day delivery to their options at checkout. In fact, Boston Retail Partners’ 2017 Digital Commerce Survey showed that same-day delivery was offered by 51% of retailers in 2017. While that may sound like retailers are making real inroads, more than half described their service as “implemented and needs improvement.”

Read Full Article: 5 Important Consumer Demands Retailers Need to Know

Deliver Us From Amazon: Why The E-Commerce Titan May Not Win The Same-Day

Investor’s Business Daily – Roadie, a startup that gets everyday folks to deliver packages while on their way to wherever they’re already driving, has notched a lot of oddball same-day delivery jobs that Amazon (AMZN) doesn’t do. A glass aquarium from Fountain Valley to Long Beach, Calif. A set of keys to someone locked out of her house in Georgia at 2 a.m. A box of trial evidence from San Francisco to Napa in time for a panicked lawyer’s court date.

The driving force behind this latest retail trend, as ever, is Amazon. Its Prime same-day delivery service follows a free-shipping perk that is now a de facto requirement for online shopping. But after scrambling to catch up to Amazon on free shipping, these old brick-and-mortar titans are rushing to stay ahead of the e-commerce giant on same-day delivery. And this next online battleground might actually tilt in their favor, some analysts say.

Speedy delivery doesn’t come cheap. Customers could pay anywhere from $5.99 to $9.99 per shipment for the pleasure. But demand continues to mount, which makes it “absolutely essential” for retailers in order to compete in this “instant-gratification economy,” said Retail Metrics head Ken Perkins, who thinks one-hour delivery might be the next goal. “People want to see a package on their door when they return from work.”

Boston Retail Partners analyst Scott Langdoc knows that serious pain. As a former C-suite exec at “mini-Webvan” delivery company PDQuick at the start of the new millennium, he says that Google Maps would have made all the difference.

“If I had the tools that are available today, starting with Google Maps but fast-forwarding to the (artificial intelligence and machine learning) tools that are available today, it’s amazing to think what I could’ve done at my scale or what Webvan or Kozmo could’ve done at their scale,” he said.

Like many of its peers of the time, PDQuick didn’t survive. It was bought out and went back to its roots as a scaled-down SoCal neighborhood delivery service, Pink Dot.

“What we’d intended to do before the 2001 implosion was basically do what Shipt did, which was to generalize the delivery and logistics capability for any retail platform so we could bring in inventory. A retailer brought in drivers and you would be able, based on location, to provide that capability,” said Langdoc.

“Fast forward 15 years, that is what Shipt is; that is what Instacart is.”

Read Full Article: Deliver Us From Amazon: Why The E-Commerce Titan May Not Win The Same-Day

How Smaller Merchants Can Get Amazon-Style Logistics

PYMNTS.com – Divey Gulati knows firsthand how challenging it can be for eCommerce merchants to fulfill and mail orders. After all, Gulati and a co-founder once had their own eCommerce business.

While Gulati and his co-founder managed to automate practically every function, there was just one piece of their business they couldn’t wrap their heads around — shipping and logistics.

As a result, Gulati helped build ShipBob, which provides merchants with Amazon-style logistics. An end-to-end fulfillment solution, the company provides warehousing for customers and package delivery in one to two business days, along with additional software features that help merchants manage their inventory.

 

The company is also eyeing same-day delivery, since the market is trending strongly toward same-day delivery. According to the “2017 Digital Commerce Benchmark Survey,” conducted by Boston Retail Partners, some 65 percent of retailers will offer same-day delivery within the next two years.

As of 2017, 51 percent of retailers said they offer same-day delivery, a massive jump from the 16 percent offering it only a year before. Increasingly popular and helping to make those same-day deliveries happen, third-party apps like Uber and Lyft have moved up from 20 percent of the same-day market to 32 percent over 12 months.

In all, consumers want their purchases on their doorsteps faster than ever before. Two-day shipping just may not cut it in the future.

Read Full Article: How Smaller Merchants Can Get Amazon-Style Logistics

‘It’s the way of the future’: Express debuts a new store concept for the modern worker

Glossy – Today, Express launched a new store concept in NYC dedicated to the modern worker. It’s a testing ground for a number of experiential activations the 38-year-old retailer could roll out to its 600-plus stores.

Located on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, the longstanding store has been revamped to feature product “stories” dedicated to a variety of work styles — for example, there’s a space for the office worker and one for the more creative type. There’s also a lounge-style workspace, equipped with charging stations and WiFi. Kornberg expects that shoppers will browse, work, stay a while. The fact that updates mirror American malls’ buzzy transition to lifestyle centers was no mistake.

With its new concept store, the retailer is moving in the right direction, said David Naumann, vp of marketing at consulting firm Boston Retail Partners. “Stores must now encompass both worlds — the sensory experience generally available in the physical world, and the unique and personalized shopping experience common in the digital world,” he said. “To meet consumer expectations and survive in today’s challenging retail climate, most retailers will need to transform their retail and customer engagement models to be successful.”

Read Full Article: ‘It’s the way of the future’: Express debuts a new store concept for the modern worker

Nordstrom Deals Raise Question: Should Retailers Acquire Tech Startups?

Forbes – Nordstrom is the latest retailer trying to fill in its digital gaps through acquisitions. The department store chain last week announced the acquisition of two tech startup companies, BevyUp and MessageYes.

BevyUp is a digital selling platform that Nordstrom intends to integrate into a new app for its employees later this year. MessageYes is a conversational commerce platform that allows shoppers to interact with a retailer via text message and receive AI-generated personalized recommendations. Nordstrom expects to increase its facility with engineering, data science and machine learning through that acquisition.

While acquisition is emerging as a popular way for companies to boost their digital operations, some members of the RetailWire BrainTrust wondered in an online discussion last week if it makes sense for Nordstrom.

 

 

“Owning the development and innovation of new technology gives retailers ultimate direction and control over new feature design,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners. “However, this also has the potential of costing more than buying/licensing technology it could take some executive focus away from their core responsibility of increasing sales and enhancing the customer experience. You can still be a technology-focused retailer without owning the product.”

Read Full Article: Nordstrom Deals Raise Question: Should Retailers Acquire Tech Startups?

Same-Day Delivery Drives Brand Loyalty and Purchase Intent

TotalRetail – While the holidays come just once a year, a brand’s reputation can easily be damaged and customers quickly lost when expectations aren’t met during the pivotal shopping season. This past holiday season, we saw retailers make changes to their delivery options to provide shoppers with conveniences they increasingly see as essential, like same-day delivery. At the same time, in what’s become an annual ritual, the major shipping providers announced an array of rate increases and late holiday deliveries.

Managing shipping costs is a challenge for retailers, which are already facing tight margins and immense competition. While last-mile delivery, or the final transit of a product to its destination, can be the most expensive and poses numerous challenges for retailers, it’s nonetheless a key differentiator and an offering retailers can no longer ignore.

According to Dropoff’s 2nd Annual Holiday Survey, 60 percent of U.S. holiday shoppers indicated they were more likely to purchase holiday gifts from retailers that offered same-day delivery. It also showed a significant number of consumers — 67 percent — planned to do last-minute shopping, and expected retailers to accommodate their needs. Ninety percent of last-minute shoppers said they were more likely to purchase from retailers offering same-day delivery.

Interestingly enough, Boston Retail Partners’ 2017 Digital Commerce Survey showed that same-day delivery was offered by 51 percent of retailers in 2017. While that number seems significant, more than half of those described their service as “implemented and needs improvement.” It’s clear retailers are headed in the right direction, but there are a few areas to focus on to ensure you’re on the right path to delivering the most cost-effective, efficient and reliable same-day delivery for your customers.

Read Full Article: Same-Day Delivery Drives Brand Loyalty and Purchase Intent

6 Ways to Sell Point-of-Sale Systems

Business 2 Community – The good news for point of sale resellers is that today’s market is a fertile one. More merchants than ever want to adopt the latest and greatest POS devices that enable them to handle a wider variety of transactions than ever before, and harness the informational power modern POS provides. However, because the ground is so fertile, overall, there is also plenty of competition out there from other POS resellers. So the question for any reseller becomes, “What can be done to stand out from this crowded field?”

The answer boils down to the ability to sell not only POS platforms and card readers themselves, but also the services resellers provide that others may not.

At the end of the day, it’s also worth considering that merchants are not only trying to meet their own internal needs, but also those of their customers. To that end, the fact that EMV and mobile have really gained a foothold in the market, and are only likely to keep gathering momentum in this regard, makes a reseller crucial to just about any merchant, according to BRP Consulting. Merchants of all sizes now recognize that they have to confront the future head-on and deliver as much personalized, direct attention to each customer as possible. As such, recent data suggests that the majority of merchants will try to achieve those goals over the next two years or so.

To that end, modern POS is there to support those efforts in multiple ways, and resellers play a role insofar as they can provide crucial insights and help merchants follow a roadmap that will provide them with near- and long-term success.

Read Full Article: 6 Ways to Sell Point-of-Sale Systems

Retail shows power of personalisation

Bangkok Post – Most retailers are looking for ways to improve the consumer  experience with their brand, but few are equipped to apply one of the most obvious and powerful approaches available, which is personalisation, says Diebold Nixdorf, a multinational provider of comnected commerce and cash-handling products and services.

In a survey to gauge retailers’ customer experience priorities last year, the US-based retail and restaurant specialists BRP Consulting found 55% of respondents said that optimising the customer experience was their top priority. Increasing customer loyalty was a close second (50%) and improving the mobile shopping experience (45%) came third.

However, only 24% of respondents indicated that providing personalised promotions, recommendations and/or offerings was a top priority.

How to get personal?

Mr Holterman offers some advice from Jeffrey Neville, a BRP vice-president who once said: “Personalisation may be the most powerful way for retailers to differentiate their brand and enhance the customer experience. The challenge is to identify the best method to customise the experience for each customer.”

Read Full Article: Retail shows power of personalisation

The 3 Keys for Marketers to Survive in 2018

Martech Advisor – In the age of Amazon, customer expectations for tailored, personalized experiences and instant gratification — across every industry — are at an all-time high. While daunting, technological advancements in marketing have made it possible to keep pace with this changing landscape. Using data as a guiding light, brands can tell powerful stories and deliver cohesive journeys across channels. How will this play out for marketers in 2018? Read on to find out:

  1. Customers are your best marketing—give them a story to tell

A great storyteller knows his audience, and in marketing, it’s no different . Forrester’s ‘Predictions 2018’ report foresees a faction of forward-thinking brands leaping ahead of the competition by fully embracing customer-obsessed marketing. Long gone are the days of creating a customer experience in a siloed process that takes months of focus groups. Consumer preferences are evolving in real time. Increasingly, customers are doing research online before they purchase a product or service, and they’re more heavily analyzing customer reviews and social media to inform their purchasing decisions.

This means that as retailers look to create engaging customer interactions that leave a lasting impression, the unification of personalization and experimentation will play a key role. According to BRP’s 2017 Digital Commerce Benchmark Survey, 38 percent of retailers indicated that improving personalization is a top goal for digital customer experience. Truthfully though, many brands assume they have successfully achieved personalization when they really have barely scratched the surface. Companies need to combine a range of best practices to ensure they’re personalizing at scale and looking at the digital experience from both a user interface and feature level perspective. There is no silver bullet for how this will be achieved, but, rather, it will take a skillful combination of factors to gather the right data insights and take action to provide the best customer experience possible. The marketers who adopt continued testing and experimentation and collaborate with their technology and eCommerce partners to gauge customer engagement and adopt continuous innovation strategies will be the most successful in driving the right business outcome.

  1. Develop an online-offline strategy or die

Over the last few years, retailers have come to understand that online and offline markets are converging. In 2018, omnichannel retail orders will get smarter to adapt to consumer preferences – for example, retailers are seeing an increase in demand for in-store pickup of online orders, forcing the hand of marketers to bridge the gap between online and offline experiences. In fact, according to a recent BRP Digital Commerce Survey, 90 percent of retailers will offer the ability to buy online and pick up in-store by 2020. Retailers must start to analyze online and offline data together to get a more comprehensive picture of their customers’ shopping journeys  — or risk losing loyal shoppers.

 

Read Full Article: The 3 Keys for Marketers to Survive in 2018