Posts

Elevated Customer Expectations, Evolving Retail Models and Disruptive Technology are Driving the Need for Retail Transformation, According to BRP’s 2018 POS Survey

81% of Retailers Plan to Have Unified Commerce within Three Years

Boston, MA – January 10, 2018 – According to a new report from BRP, the customer journey and associated expectations continue to rapidly evolve – driving a major transformation in retail. Disruption and adaptation are changing the customer engagement model and blurring the lines among retailers, brands and wholesalers. Online pure-plays are opening brick-and-mortar stores and traditional retailers are experimenting with new store models: stores as showrooms, theatre, distribution centers or pop-ups. To enable the new customer experience and support its rapid evolution requires a different technology approach. According to the 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, retailers recognize the urgency to transform their operations and 81% plan to have unified commerce within three years.

“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.”

“As customer expectations have been reshaped by the digital retail experience, successful retailers have shifted their focus in the physical store environment,” added Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “Customers appreciate personalized offers and recommendations when shopping online or via mobile, and now they expect the same personalization, or better, when they shop in a store. Understanding the importance of personalization, 62% of retailers indicate customer identification is their top customer engagement priority as they transform the in-store customer experience.”

Unified commerce is the key to this retail transformation. Critical to unified commerce are the four key pillars that we have identified to define the required customer experience: personal, mobile, seamless and secure.

BRP’s 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current priorities and initiatives as digital and physical retail environments converge to facilitate a seamless experience across channels.

The key customer experience trends driving today’s initiatives are:

Personal – Engaging the customer through personalization and relevance is the key to attracting and keeping customers.

  • 62% of retailers indicate customer identification is their top customer engagement priority
  • 83% will suggestive sell based on previous purchases within three years

Mobile – The pervasiveness and ease-of-use of mobile devices offers tremendous opportunities for retailers as the customer takes control of their own retail experience across channels.  

  • 62% plan to increase their use of mobile devices as the POS by the end of 2019
  • 42% will use customer-owned mobile devices as a point of sale within three years

Seamless – Customer expectations for a personalized and seamless experience require retailers to follow customers’ journeys across channels as they research, shop and purchase.

  • 81% plan to offer unified commerce by the end of 2020
  • 91% plan to offer order visibility across channels within three years

Secure – Today’s retail environment requires security beyond retailers’ current focus on payments and networks.

  • 91% will have end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by the end of 2020
  • 61% will offer a single token solution across the enterprise within three years

To download the complete 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, visit:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-pos-survey/.

The 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Survey platinum sponsors are Aptos and Cayan, and the gold sponsors are Diebold Nixdorf, ECRS, Fujitsu, Manhattan Associates, and PCMS.

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail management 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 https://brpconsulting.com.

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

Can Collaboration Shore Up Brick-and-Mortar Retail?

eMarketer – As malls, department stores and other retailers struggle to drive traffic, some players are considering sharing data.

Mall developer Westfield, the owner of 35 shopping centers, is seeking to persuade retailers, brands and even competing malls to share data such as what consumers have just bought to allow partners/rivals to better target potential customers for related sales.

“In order for us to be successful we have to collaborate across different partners and partner with competitors too,” said Lindsey Thomas, who heads marketing at Westfield’s newly rebranded OneMarket unit, formerly known as Westfield Retail Solutions. “Seamless integration is what we are preaching. If you want to get a well-rounded view of consumers, you need to know the ins and outs about the consumer.”

Data sharing isn’t the only mission of this OneMarket network. The idea is also to get the participants to invest in tech initiatives from natural language to AI, with the goal of becoming more competitive with digital leaders and keeping up with consumer expectations.

Retailers are struggling to innovate at a pace that allows them to keep up with consumers’ shifting expectations, Thomas said.

The goals of better targeting and personalization certainly maps to what retailers have said they want to do. A Boston Retail Partners survey found that retailers’ top customer engagement priority this year involved customer identification and personalization.

Read Full Article: Can Collaboration Shore Up Brick-and-Mortar Retail?

Stop the Disappearing Associate Act with Mobile Technology

Third Channel Blog – Most consumers today have experienced the vanishing retail associate act: The associate, when asked to locate a product, will tell a consumer they’re going to “check the system” or “see if it’s in the back,” only to disappear and not return. The consumer is left wandering the sales floor, unsure of the associate’s return, impatience mounting. Meanwhile, the sale and that consumer’s satisfaction hang in the balance.

A recent report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP) found of the 49% of retailers that implemented a mobile solution, only 13% said it’s working well—while 36% said their system “needs improvement.”

While most companies focus on successfully implementing technical solutions, the report found that retailers overlook the importance of training staff during this implementation. Associates should be prepared to answer the most common questions: such as checking inventory for a certain size, pulling up a customer’s previous purchase information, and recommending what other products a consumer might like.

The key is having the device on-hand, which keeps the associate engaged with the consumer through every step of the buying process.

“The chances of the person leaving the store go up every minute that you’re not engaged with them,” Perry Kramer, Vice President and Practice Lead at BRP, says. “The sales associate doesn’t have to leave the customer…Have somebody else run to the stock room and get [the product],” Kramer says.

In the event that an item is out of stock, the ability to instantly order online or identify stock in another store can deter the customer from going elsewhere. Staying with the customer also offers the associate greater potential to not only save the sale, but up-sell complementary products and accessories.

Most brands and retailers are choosing to go mobile, according to Kramer. The BRP report found nearly 90% of retailers plan to deploy some type of mobile solution to store associates within the next three years. In addition to access to inventory and product information, 84% of retailers plan to utilize a mobile point of sale by 2020.

“Start with the basics,” Kramer advises retailers and brands considering taking the mobile leap. “Use mobile to support a good customer experience.” Approach a mobile implementation with a comprehensive plan to bring product information, inventory data, customer preferences and the ability to process payments to the associates. By empowering them to stay engaged with consumers and drive sales in-stores, brands and retailers will see a much higher rate of success.

Read Full Article: Stop the Disappearing Associate Act with Mobile Technology

Amazon delivers near-instant gratification in speedy service

Luxury Daily – Following its release of complimentary two-day, next-day and same-day delivery for Prime members, online retailer Amazon’s latest service makes fulfillment even faster, putting pressure on competitors.

Instant Pickup, launched Aug. 15, allows shoppers living nearby to select Amazon locker locations to pick up their order in just a handful of minutes. While Amazon and luxury retailers largely do not play in the same space, the ecommerce giant shares a large portion of customers with high-end stores and brands.

“Consumers’ expectations are getting more demanding as retailers continue to raise the bar on customer service,” said David Naumann, vice president of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “Amazon has been the leader in pushing the envelope on fast and convenient delivery,” he said. “As soon as other retailers like Walmart and Target catch up with Amazon service levels, Amazon continues to change the game.

“Amazon Instant Pickup is a great way to increase the loyalty of consumers, such college students, that want everything immediately.”

Mr. Naumann is not affiliated with Amazon, but agreed to comment as an industry expert. Amazon was reached for comment.

While available for more than just co-eds, Instant Pickup is centered on and around college campuses.

The service will operate at Amazon’s staffed pickup locations in Los Angeles; Atlanta; Berkeley, CA; Columbus, OH and College Park, MD. Amazon plans to expand beyond these locations in the months to come.

“As consumers get accustomed to instant pickup services, it will force other retailers to offer similar fulfillment options,” Mr. Naumann said. “The instant pickup services will be most relevant for commodity and frequently purchased merchandise and most customers will not likely expect the same immediate access for luxury products.”

“The best way for luxury retailers to compete against Amazon is to sell private label or exclusive products that are not available on Amazon,” Mr. Naumann said.

“Luxury retailers selling ‘commodity’ products or brands available at other retailers and on Amazon have greater challenges,” he said. “These retailers need to differentiate their brand by offering personalized services that their customers value.”

Read Full Article: Amazon delivers near-instant gratification in speedy service

3 Keys to Addressing Today’s Retail Personalization Gap

Retail TouchPoints – Retailers seeking to bolster their personalization efforts need to move their POS systems entirely to the cloud, according to Ken Morris, Principal of Boston Retail Partners. A cloud-based system would be able to integrate data, regardless of whether the shopper journey took place in the store, online, on mobile or even through a call center.

“In order to really personalize, you need to know that 85% to 90% of the sales still take place in the store unless you’re Amazon,” Morris said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Very few people can identify someone before they check out. We believe that moving the POS to the cloud, or order management as the new POS, is a key component. What good does it do you to identify someone after they check out? You can’t affect the sale — you can’t upsell or cross-sell that particular client, or personalize the experience if they’re gone. The opportunity when they walk into the store is to identify who they are, what’s in their closet and what they are most likely to buy based on the context of the interaction.”

 

Morris emphasized that the human interaction still goes a long way in gathering this kind of information before the POS, or any technology for that matter, enters the picture. For example, ABC Fine Wine and Spirits has instore sommeliers and wine consultants asking shoppers questions regarding the type of wine they’re looking for. These questions can include:

  • “Is it for a special meal, or a special event?”
  • “What are you having to eat with it?”
  • “What kind of wine do you like?”

The brand takes this expertise and then exposes it to the whole organization, so store associates can have a better idea of what they’re selling, and who they’re selling wine to. “Not all associates are created equal,” said Morris. “You have A, B, C and D associates. A is the sommelier and D is the high school kid, somebody who works part time and probably doesn’t know much at all.”

Morris noted that the more expertise the associate has with a product, the better chance the retailer has to convert customers and increase profitability. The TimeTrade survey noted that 88% of shoppers said that, when helped by knowledgeable associates, they are “somewhat likely” or “extremely likely” to make the purchase. Unfortunately, 70% of the time consumers shop, they “never” or only “sometimes” can find a sales associate when they need assistance.

Read full article: 3 Keys to Addressing Today’s Retail Personalization Gap

How AI Can Improve The Customer Experience

Forbes – Retailers’ No. 1 priority is providing customers with a good experience. And to do so, they’re constantly finding new ways to communicate with customers. These channels — from social to email to chatbots — are what ensure e-commerce remains more convenient, accessible and inspirational than traditional, in-store shopping. However, the technological aspect also removes face-to-face interactions, making it harder for brands to build deeper customer relationships upon which many well-known retailers were built. To adapt to changing shopping behaviors and customer expectations, retailers should seek new ways to not only engage their customers but ensure a positive experience that might earn more brand loyalty than the rising generations seem to have.

One way retailers are improving online customer experience is by leveraging emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. A recent survey by retail management firm BRP Consulting found that 45% of retailers are expected to increase the use of artificial intelligence for customer experience in the next three years, and 55% of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience to increase customer loyalty. This means that if retailers want to keep their customers happy (or keep them at all), then they need to remain on the front lines of technology adoption.

 

The bottom line is that it’s harder than it used to be to deliver experiences that meet or exceed customer expectations. But fortunately, we have technology on our side to not only improve these experiences but to also give brands the opportunity to provide a truly differentiated experience. If a brand is willing to shy away from using technology to streamline its customer experiences, then it’s only going to lose in the end. Technology is part of our world, and it isn’t going anywhere. It only makes sense that we use it to our advantage.

Read Full Article: How AI Can Improve The Customer Experience

Mobile devices are rapidly changing the customer shopping experience

Global Business North America – According to a special report by Boston Retail Partners (BRP), retailers are focused on significantly expanding the use of mobile technology for customer identification, customer engagement, associate training and task management, point of sale (POS) and payments. The BRP Special Report: The Mobile World of Retail assesses how mobile devices are completely changing retail operations and the shopping experience for today’s consumers.

“Putting mobile devices in the hands of store associates is now a necessity to keep up with the customer who has a plethora of information available at her fingertips,” said Perry Kramer, vice president, BRP. “Associates mobile devices enhance the shopping experience by accessing real-time inventory and customer data and offering the ability to service customers and process transactions anywhere in the store.”

To better understand the actual impact mobile devices are having on retail and the shopping experience, BRP surveyed the top North American retailers to explore the current state of how mobile technology is shaping retail capabilities, priorities and processes. This special report digs deeper into the findings from the BRP 2017 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey to explore the significant impact of mobile devices on store operations and how they are “changing retail as we know it.”

Read Full Article (pages 72-77): Mobile devices are rapidly changing the customer shopping experience

89% Of Retailers Plan To Provide Mobile Solutions To Associates By 2020

Retail TouchPoints – Consumers certainly love their mobile devices, but the majority of retailers still feel there is room for improvement with regard to their own use of the technology. Just 9% of retailers say they have implemented mobile POS that is “working well,” with another 20% saying it needs improvement, according to Boston Retail Partners (BRP). Only 13% say they have implemented associate-facing mobile solutions that are working well, while 36% more believe there is room for improvement.

Despite their dissatisfaction, most retailers that haven’t yet implemented these mobile technologies plan to offer these solutions within the next three years. While 31% said they’d implement a mobile POS within 12 months, 9% said they would do so at some point within the one- to three-year mark.

In total, within three years, 89% of retailers plan to offer mobile solutions to their store associates and 84% plan to have a mobile POS solution.

To conduct the report, titled: The Mobile World of Retail, BRP surveyed more than 500 North American retailers to explore the current state of how mobile technology is shaping retail capabilities, priorities and processes.

Read Full Article: 89% Of Retailers Plan To Provide Mobile Solutions To Associates By 2020

Retailers: How Well Are You Using the Most Powerful Tool in Your Arsenal?

LinkedIn – One of the greatest tools for driving connected commerce is probably sitting within five feet of you right now – in fact, you might even be reading this blog on it.

Of course, I’m talking about smartphones – one of the most accessible, ubiquitous methods retailers have to connect with their customers digitally and physically. Here’s the thing: While it may seem like a purely digital tool, the reality is that mobile accessibility can drive better engagement with customers in the store as well.

One of the greatest tools for driving connected commerce is probably sitting within five feet of you right now – in fact, you might even be reading this blog on it.

Of course, I’m talking about smartphones – one of the most accessible, ubiquitous methods retailers have to connect with their customers digitally and physically. Here’s the thing: While it may seem like a purely digital tool, the reality is that mobile accessibility can drive better engagement with customers in the store as well.

A new special report from BRP, “The Mobile World of Retail,” explores the growing trend of mobile in the brick-and-mortar retail experience. “Retailers now have opportunities to guide customers to areas of the store that should be of interest to them based on their preferences, purchase history, and environmental factors such as weather and store location,” the authors explain. “If a customer normally shops at a store in the Northeast but is in Florida, the software may assume they are on vacation and offer them a coupon targeting relevant merchandise.”

Connecting with customers through mobile devices is paramount. The study, which polled major North American retailers, found that their top three customer engagement priorities utilize mobile devices in some form.

“If a customer normally shops at a store in the Northeast but is in Florida, the software may assume they are on vacation and offer them a coupon targeting relevant merchandise.”

Connecting with customers through mobile devices is paramount. The study, which polled major North American retailers, found that their top three customer engagement priorities utilize mobile devices in some form.

Read Full Article: Retailers: How Well Are You Using the Most Powerful Tool in Your Arsenal?