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Expanding Use Cases for RFID – Enabling BOPIS, Cutting Inventory and Speeding Checkout

Retail TouchPoints – The increasing popularity of omnichannel initiatives such as BOPIS and ship-from-store has given new urgency to a perennial retail problem: executing store-level inventory accuracy. Reducing out-of-stocks always has been critical to boosting sales: after all, customers can’t buy what they can’t find. Now, however, with many stores doubling as online fulfillment centers, there are new requirements for quickly locating items ordered online so they can be prepped for shoppers coming into the store to pick them up. That makes its more vital than ever for retailers to know exactly what items are where at any given time.

Comments from Ken Morris:

The growth of BOPIS and other omnichannel services has ramped up retailer demands for more accurate inventory across the entire enterprise. For many retailers, “it’s not just inventory for the stores, it’s also e-Commerce, mobile and call center [channels],” said Ken Morris, Principal, BRP Consulting in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. Many retailers maintain separate inventories for each channel and still rely on technology that syncs them up nightly, or even less frequently than that. This is the equivalent of “trying to cross Fifth Avenue at noon with yesterday’s traffic information,” he added.

When retailers lack up-to-the-minute inventory data, “they use safety stock to account for the lag time,” said Morris. “For example, if the safety stock level for an item is two, and that’s how many are in a store, someone placing a BOPIS order will get a message that the item is out of stock. That’s crazy, because it means retailers are over- inventorying and buying more than they need.”

Costs go beyond just buying more items than are needed: retailers with excess inventory in the wrong places are “marking down product that they could have sold at full price, so they are often making little or no profit,” on those transactions, said Morris.

However, when armed with RFID-enabled inventory data from stores and distribution centers, retailers can enhance the profitability of individual transactions. For example, while most items bought online and shipped from a store are sent from the location that’s geographically closest to the customer, this isn’t always the most cost-effective move.

“I’m on Cape Cod, so most retailers would automatically ship an item from their Hyannis store,” said Morris. “But the reality is that if it’s a seasonal cold-weather item and it’s Cape Cod in the winter, they are quite likely to sell the item at full price in the store itself. But the same product might be sitting in ‘dead’ inventory in Jacksonville, Fla. If the retailer can get a full-price sale on the item, it can more than cover the extra shipping cost to send it from the Florida store.”

Integrating RFID and IoT also can help with in-store task management, providing associates with real-time data about misplaced products or items that need to brought onto the sales floor from the back room.

Retailers that have deployed IoT technologies in their stores also can get more out of their RFID investment. “There are a lot of devices — products themselves and smart shelves — that could be enabled, or already are capable of, broadcasting information, but no one is listening,” said BRP’s Morris. “Even the lights in the store are broadcasting, because when they fail they are providing an alert that they need to be replaced. We think that everything will broadcast in the future, so for example a smart shelf label could alert a system that an item is out of stock.”

Integrating RFID and IoT also can help with in-store task management, providing associates with real-time data about misplaced products or items that need to be brought onto the sales floor from the back room.

There are customer-facing applications as well: “We built a custom app for one of our furniture clients that leveraged RFID for product location,” said Morris. A customer that viewed a living room set online could later go to the store, and if the customer had opted in as a member of the retailer’s loyalty program, “they could bring up what they had previously viewed on the app, and get a map around the store to every product in the set, leveraging RFID,” said Morris. “People are merging the online and in-store experience in this way today.”

Read Full Article: Expanding Use Cases for RFID – Enabling BOPIS, Cutting Inventory and Speeding Checkout

UX: What’s In Store For Next-Gen Retail

TWICE – With all the focus on e-commerce and websites, it’s easy to forget that online sales still only accounted for about 10 percent of all retail transactions last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Meaning that 90 percent of sales took place in stores.

While no one’s suggesting that retailers let up on the digital gas pedal — in fact, just the opposite — neither should multichannel merchants neglect what remains their core asset: brick-and-mortar showrooms.

“The reality is, the store is still the foundation of retailing,” observed BRP, a retail consulting firm, in its 2019 Special Report: The Future Store. “It is where the tactile and sensory experience comes together for the consumer.”

But in the age of AR, AI, IoT and all other techno abbreviations, the online and offline worlds are beginning to merge, as digital disciplines filter into physical showrooms and shoppers, particularly of the Z Generation, come to expect it. “The store is not dead,” BRP declared. “It’s digitized.”

Some of those experiential ways include AR, VR and videoconferencing. According to BRP’s Future Store report, 36 percent of consumers said they would shop at a store offering virtual mirrors to envision themselves in different eyewear, garments or cosmetics, while 32 percent of respondents said they are likely to shop at a store offering an augmented reality experience. The research also showed that 29 percent would patronize a retailer with an element of virtual reality in their stores, and 27 percent would frequent a showroom that offered video conferencing from home with an in-store sales associate.

Read Full Article: UX: What’s In Store For Next-Gen Retail

MURTEC 2019: A Digitally-Driven and Hyper-Personal Guest Journey is Everything

With a few days to reflect on the conference sessions and my many conversations with restaurant operators and industry technology vendors at this year’s edition of MURTEC in Las Vegas, the disruptive effect of digital and mobile on the dining guest experience has shifted.  No longer are the impacts of these technologies on the extended guest journey a point of competitive differentiation.

They are, in fact, 100% table stakes for not just success, but survival – pure and simple.

According BRP’s previous restaurant consumer research, and we feel was confirmed by the themes in Vegas at MURTEC, the dining spend of restaurant guests is being increasingly directed to those restaurants providing the most flexible and frictionless experience possible.  We still expect that as much as 30% of total restaurant sales (or $300 billion if you are keeping track) could be generated via digital ordering methods as early as 2023.

And it’s not just the guest-facing, front-of-house improvements being driven by digital and mobile technologies, significant improvements in restaurant operations are also being delivered across areas like kitchen production, training, labor, and reporting and analytics.

Along with the strategic “call to action” themes we confirmed at MURTEC, we continue to see many areas of critical priority for restaurant chains and operators as we move through 2019, including:

Allowing the customer to order from you any way they want– This includes not only the methods by which customers order (traditional, phone, web, mobile) but also providing the same flexibility when fulfilling that order. Recognizing that a customer one day may want to order from their phone and eat-in when they arrive, while the next day they might want to order on the web and pick their order up in the drive-thru shows that you have the flexibility to adapt to any ordering scenario. And while we are thinking about flexibility, remember that different dining customers want to pay for their meals different ways so providing agile and secure payment systems are also key.

The Growth in Off-Premises Dining (OPD)– Operators are excited about the revenue growth opportunities presented by the dining consumer who wants to order food from their restaurant for either pick up or delivery.  The ability to natively support the plethora of 3rdparty delivery companies is key, as is considering the value of providing your own branded OPD capabilities.

Guest Engagement Innovation is Coming to Restaurants– As certain advanced technologies mature and dining guest acceptance becomes more commonplace, don’t be surprised to see a more rapid adoption of technologies like voice-assisted ordering, ordering via auto infotainment systems, augmented reality (AR) for both guest and staff immersion, and the broad acceptance of restaurant-oriented Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity and insight that will help further improve the automation and efficiency of key components of the restaurant.

Capitalizing on Customer Data– Managing a guest journey is one thing, being able to provide a true personalized experience at each stage of the guest journey is another.  While incenting guests to participate in your marketing and loyalty programs is important, the ability to effective leverage that customer insight during each stage of guest engagement (from reservation to arrival to ordering to pay) is what will create the right combination of customer satisfaction and financial value (through higher guest checks and increased frequency of visits).

The Shift to Next-Generation POS platforms – Many restaurants require increased flexibility and scale from their most important operational technology platform.   Often this means looking at shifting to a cloud-based platform and in some cases includes more native mobile tools.  In either case, continued reliance on a long-standing legacy POS system will make the shift to digital much more difficult.

Agile-oriented Thinking is an Imperative– With the rapid increase in guest expectations, restaurants need to adopt agile approaches to everything: strategy, development, processes, and system implementations.

We can’t stress enough how clear the message is from all parts of our industry – guests, vendors, and operators – that digital enablement is mission-critical to not just continued success in your restaurant operation, but to your survival.  If you aren’t moving fast toward this revolution, then now is the time to step up.

As always, I appreciate your thoughts on this topic. Please share your comments and opinions below.

Scott

Only 23% Of Retailers Leverage In-Store AI, While Just 19% Deploy IoT Devices

Retail TouchPoints – Retailers often describe the “store of the future” having multiple customer service options, such as automated returns or cashierless checkout, and offering disruptive technologies such as AI, VR, AR, virtual mirrors and IoT. But many of these brick-and-mortar upgrades remain saved for just that — the future. For example, only 19% of retailers have implemented IoT within their stores, with 23%implementing AI-powered platforms such as voice-activated POS and digital assistants, according to a report from BRP, retail consulting firm.

In another sign that adoption of these technologies is still a long way off, only 5% of retailers said they have implemented each technology and that it is working well.

The BRP report, titled The Future Store, is based on findings from the BRP Consumer Study and the 20th Annual POS/Customer Engagement Survey, which are designed to offer insights into customer expectations for the store of the future as well as how retailers’ current capabilities match up with these expectations. In total, 55% of retailers believe they will have implemented IoT in their stores within three years, while 53% say they will implement AI in that time frame.

Read Full Article: Only 23% Of Retailers Leverage In-Store AI, While Just 19% Deploy IoT Devices

The Rise of the Internet of Things in Retail

CSP Daily News – In today’s retail ecosystem, many shoppers are looking for an experience that satisfies both real-world and digital needs.

Retail management consulting firm BRP recently released The Future Store, a report that found that 19% of retailers currently offer internet of things capabilities and another 36% plan to within three years. Internet of things describes an environment in which the internet is connected to physical objects embedded with sensors that can then communicate. 

Internet of things is focused not only on gathering data but also on the analysis and usage of the data. It could change the way people shop while both browsing shelves and at the point-of-sale.

“While e-commerce and mobile continue to grow and garner attention, the store remains a key component of the brand experience and the central point of the customer’s shopping journey. In fact, nearly half of retailers plan to increase their number of brick-and-mortar stores,” said Ken Morris, principal with BRP, retail consulting firm. “However, the role of the store continues to change. The advent of the digital world offers consumers new ways and ‘places’ to research and shop. These digital possibilities, along with mobility, have modified consumer expectations and behaviors, and retailers must transform to succeed.”

Read Full Article: The Rise of the Internet of Things in Retail

More than half of retailers look to utilise Internet of Things in next three years, report claims

MarketingTech – A new report released by BRP, retail consulting firm, has argued that in order to offer customers a unique personalised shopping experience in every retail channel, stores must blend physical and digital strategies – including the Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented reality (AR).

Customers are interested in trying new technologies if they find improvement in their in-store shopping experience, the report notes. The results provided by the BRP Consumer Study are therefore interesting. It found 32% of consumers are likely to shop at a store offering an AR experience over a retailer that does not offer the service; 29% would like to experience VR as part of their shopping environment.

The report also noted customers were very interested when it comes to relying on technology rather than human interaction if it makes the purchase process easier and fast. For instance, 55% of customers are more likely to shop at a store with self-checkout as opposed to a store without, and 57% will go to a store that offers automated returns to speed the process.

Read Full Article: More than half of retailers look to utilise Internet of Things in next three years, report claims

Retailers catching up to consumers’ digital expectations

Luxury Daily – As consumers seek to shop in environments that are digitally integrated, retailers are playing catch up when it comes to technology such as augmented reality and video conferencing.

According to a report from BRP, retail consulting firm, rather than dying out, the bricks-and-mortar store is evolving in a more digitized direction. As retailers undergo an evolution to remain competitive in the face of disruption, very few currently have the capabilities in place to offer the technology that consumers say they desire in-store.

“The gap between customers’ expectations and retailer capabilities are a result of the combination of two things: continued acceleration and elevation of consumers’ expectations and the time and cost associated with implementing new retail capabilities,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners. “Consumers’ expectations are shaped by the wealth of information and capabilities at their fingertips via smartphones and the experiences they encounter at every other retail interaction — online, mobile or physical.

“Retailers’ lack of agility is often restricted by legacy software that is difficult to modify for the new technologies required to support consumer expectations,” he said. “There is also a disconnect between customer expectations for personalization and retailers’ capabilities.

“According to BRP’s survey, 79 percent of consumers said personalized service from a sales associate is an important factor in determining at which store they choose to shop, and 63 percent of retailers can’t identify their customers prior to checkout. If you don’t identify customers, you can’t fully personalize their experience.”

Boston Retail Partners’ 2019 Special Report: The Future Store is based on findings from its BRP Consumer Study and the 2019 POS/Customer Engagement Survey.

Read Full Article: Retailers catching up to consumers’ digital expectations

55% of Retailers Plan to Utilize the Internet of Things (IoT) within Three Years, According to New BRP Report

IoT offers new opportunities to gather and utilize data to enhance customer expectations

Boston, MA – January 29, 2019 – According to BRP’s SPECIAL REPORT: The Future Store, stores must now encompass both the physical and digital worlds as customers expect a personalized experience in every channel. Customers want the sensory experience generally available in the physical world, such as touching and feeling merchandise and personally interacting with a knowledgeable associate, married with the unique and personalized shopping experience common in the digital world.

Customers are willing to try new technologies if it improves their in-store shopping experience. According to the BRP Consumer Study, 32% of consumers are likely to shop at a store offering an augmented reality (AR) experience over a retailer that doesn’t offer AR and 29% would like a virtual reality (VR) experience as part of their shopping environment. Consumers are very interested in relying on technology instead of human interaction if it makes the purchase process quicker and easier. For example, 55% are more likely to shop at a store with self-checkout vs. a store without and 57% will choose a store offering automated returns to avoid human interactions and speed the process.

“While e-commerce and mobile continue to grow and garner attention, the store remains a key component of the  brand experience and the central point of the customer’s shopping journey. In fact, nearly half of retailers plan to increase their number of brick-and-mortar stores,” said Ken Morris, principal at BRP. “However, the role of the store continues to change. The advent of the digital world offers consumers new ways and ‘places’ to research and shop. These digital possibilities, along with mobility, have modified consumer expectations and behaviors, and retailers must transform to succeed.”

BRP’s SPECIAL REPORT: The Future Storeis based on findings from the BRP Consumer Study and the 20thAnnual POS/Customer Engagement Survey and offers insights into customer expectations for the store of the future and how retailers’ current capabilities match up with these expectations.

The Future Store key findings:

INTERNET OF THINGS

  • Retailer capabilities: 19% currently offer Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities and another 36% plan to within three years

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

  • Retailer capabilities: 23% currently utilize artificial intelligence and an additional 30% plan to within three years

AUGMENTED REALITY

  • Customer expectations: 32% are likely to shop at a store offering an augmented reality experience
  • Retailer capabilities: 9% offer augmented reality to their customers and another 29% plan to within three years

VIRTUAL REALITY

  • Customer expectations: 29% are likely to shop at a retailer offering virtual reality in their store
  • Retailer capabilities: 7% currently offer virtual reality capabilities to customers and 23% plan to add it within three years

To download BRP’s SPECIAL REPORT: The Future Store, visit:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2019-special-report-pos-future-store/.

The special report platinum sponsor is TSYS, the gold sponsors are Aptos,Diebold Nixdorf, ECRSand Fujitsu, and the silver sponsor is STORIS.

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.

Report: 45% of retailers expect to use AI within 3 years

MarketingDive – Retail management consulting firm BRP released its 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey and found 55% of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience to increase customer loyalty with tactics including improving the mobile shopping experience and creating a unified experience across all channels per a press release.

The survey also found that 45% of retailers intend to begin using artificial intelligence within three years to enhance the customer experience.

In the press release, Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at BRP, described the customer experience in unified commerce as more complex than in pure e-commerce or brick-and-mortar retail environments adding the complexity “expands exponentially” as technologies including social media, the Internet of Things, (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning impact the retail sector and its customer journey.

The unified commerce customer experience highlight by BRP points to one of the challenges facing traditional retailers, which is having to provide expected in-store experiences like being able to physically examine merchandise and interact with sales associates as well as unique and personalized e-commerce shopping engagements that are now expected by many consumers. While many retailers are already active in e-commerce to varying degrees, they will need to adopt newer technologies to stay current with consumers’ expectations.

BRP’s Kramer framed next-gen technology as exponentially expanding the complexity of retail, suggesting a significant issue retailers could face going forward will be the learning curve that will coincide with the maturation of emerging tech like AI, the machine learning subset of AI and even the proliferation of IoT devices. While technology might be a source of complexity, it is also very likely to become the future solution to the challenges facing retailers adjusting

Read Full Article: Report: 45% of retailers expect to use AI within 3 years

BRP Study Finds Retailers Looking to Incorporate New Technologies

Convenience Store Decisions – Unified commerce helps retailers reach customers. According to a new report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP), 55% of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience to increase customer loyalty by improving the mobile shopping experience and creating a unified experience across all channels.

“The customer experience in a unified commerce world is much more complex than it is in a pure play e-commerce or brick-and-mortar retail environment and we are seeing retailers map out the entire customer journey to design the optimal customer experience,” said Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead at BRP. “This complexity expands exponentially as the proliferation of social media, the Internet of Things, (IoT), artificial intelligence and machine learning influence the retail world and more specifically, the customer journey.”

Stores must now encompass both worlds – the sensory experience generally available in the physical world, such as touching and feeling merchandise and personally interacting with a knowledgeable associate – whether simply human or a combination of AI and human characteristics – married with the unique and personalized shopping experience common in the digital world. The physical and digital worlds are forever intertwined as we look to the future.

BRP conducted the 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey to understand retailers’ customer experience priorities today and for the future, and how the evolution of unified commerce helps provide retailers with the right people, processes and technology to enable retailers to enhance the customer experience.

Read Full Article: BRP Study Finds Retailers Looking to Incorporate New Technologies