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Have Yourself an Omni-Channel Christmas

Material Handling and Logistics – By now you’ve probably had more than your fill of articles and news stories about the holiday shopping-and-shipping season, and admittedly MH&L is guiltier than most when it comes to covering every supply chain angle connected to the holidays, from e-commerce to fulfillment to the latest wrinkle in last-mile delivery. We’ve told you why warehouses are getting bigger; how retailers are rolling out every trick in the omni-channel book to make sure they don’t lose any potential sales; what types of predictive technologies consumer goods companies are using to ensure they’re producing the right amount of stuff (and don’t get stuck with too much inventory on December 26); why robots are appearing in more and more DCs; and how logistics companies are enlisting seemingly any vehicle and any breathing creature to deliver goods on time for Christmas.

As the speeds of ordering, fulfillment and delivery have increased, so too has the speed of impatience. Customers have never liked waiting, of course—no doubt some caveman was disgruntled at how long it took for the first wheel to be delivered—but the extent today to which people resent any kind of delay to their immediate gratification is threatening to cast a Scroogelike pall over the whole holiday season.

So I get that keeping products moving, moving, moving is the order of the day, especially during the time of year when the balance sheets of retailers and consumer products manufacturers are at their most vulnerable make-or-break moments. And it explains why the number of same-day deliveries have tripled over the past year, according to consulting firm BRP, and why the number of deliveries through third-party services like Uber and Lyft now account for fully one-third of all retail deliveries.

Read Full Article: Have Yourself an Omni-Channel Christmas

Holiday shoppers favor multichannel retailers

The Green Sheet – Early reports suggest merchants with both an online and brick-and-mortar presence attract more customers during the holiday shopping season. Analysts have seen a pre-shopping trend among consumers who research products online, then touch and buy in stores. Analysis published Dec. 4, 2017, by retail consultancy BRP, supports these observations. Gene Bornac, Senior Vice President at BRP, said technology has given customers more control of the shopping experience. “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,” he said.

Additional shopping data from BRP’s 2017 Merchandise Planning Benchmark Survey, found retailers updating their business models to accommodate tech-savvy shoppers. Following are some examples:

  • Integrated planning: 64 percent of retail respondents use integrated, cross-channel business planning mechanisms.
  • Advanced technology: 33 percent of retailers use omnichannel demand planning systems.
  • Real-time analytics: 42 percent of retailers use real-time customer feedback systems to react quickly to customer demands.

Read Full Article: Holiday shoppers favor multichannel retailers

Retailers intend to completely transform merchandising strategies: BRP

Luxury Daily – Due to a completely different customer journey of today, retailers are looking to transform their merchandising process, according to Boston Retail Partners.

The 2017 Merchandise Planning Survey shows that 47 percent of retailers are looking to customer-centricity as a top priority for their upcoming strategies. Customers are now beginning to “pre-shop” for products online before coming to a bricks-and-mortar location and are now looking for quick delivery.

“The key takeaway from this survey was that there is still a lot of work to be done to unify the organizations’ people, processes and technology to eliminate data and process silos,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “To innovate the customer experience, retailers 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.

“Another key takeaway is retailers huge desire to improve analytics, with 36 percent of retailers indicating ‘improve analytics’ was their top planning priority,” he said. “Analytics serve as an important tool in assisting retailers to find and interpret meaningful patterns in customer and inventory data to support decision-making.

“Insight into customer demand, price sensitivity, reaction to promotions, demographics and more are key to drive merchandise plans and actions that maximize profitability,” he said. “This is especially critical in an omni-channel environment, as understanding the preferences of disparate customer groups across different channels becomes more complicated.”

Read Full Article: Retailers intend to completely transform merchandising strategies: BRP

Silos Within Retail Firms are So 2016. This Year it’s Integrate or Die

Sourcing Journal – Out with the old, in with the new. Easy to say. Difficult to accomplish. That’s what retailers are finding as they attempt to adapt legacy mindsets, processes, operations and systems for today’s demanding consumers and omnichannel environment.

A recent report from retail consulting firm BRP, which incorporates responses from 500 North American retailers, takes a look how well these firms are recognizing the need for substantive changes, and to what degree they’ve been able to adopt them thus far.

Of the retailers that have recognized a need for change, some have focused on their org charts, specifically moving employees around to create an organization that better reflects one business rather than several silos focused on a single channel.

Of those surveyed, 50 percent of retailers say they’ve undergone a similar reorg but the changes still need improvement. Another 25 percent anticipate changes along these lines over the next two years and another 11 percent plan to undertake the challenge in the next three to 5 years. Only 8 percent say their company’s reorganization is already working well.

As these stores integrate their teams, BRP said planners are no longer solely focused on their sectors and more concerned with the health of the entire organization. Another benefit is that lessons learned can now benefit the whole retail group rather than a single sector.

Read Full Article: Silos Within Retail Firms are So 2016. This Year it’s Integrate or Die

Almost Half of Retailers Moving Toward Customer-Centric Model

Convenience Store Decisions – BRP survey shows as customer demands evolve, retailers are moving to a customer-led model. Innovating the customers experience is a top priority for retailers.

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.

Read Full Article: Almost Half of Retailers Moving Toward Customer-Centric Model

How Customer Feedback Helps Retailers Do This

Apparel Magazine – Today, retailers must accommodate a wide variety of customer demands: customers who “pre-shop” for merchandise online before they ever enter a store, customers who want one-day or even same-day delivery, and customers who want more personalization, a larger assortment, a more fulfilling experience and non-stop entertainment, according to a new report from BRP. Customer-led demand is driving retailers to transform their business to be more customer-centric.

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.

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: How Customer Feedback Helps Retailers Do This

The top strategic initiative for retailers is…

Chain Store Age – It really is—or should be—all about the customer. Customer-centricity ranked as the top strategic initiative in a new report from BRP. According to the report, 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 VP 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.”

According to BRP’s 2017 Merchandise Planning Benchmark Survey, it is imperative that retailers take a customer-centric viewpoint.

Read Full Article: The top strategic initiative for retailers is…

Meet with BRP at NRF 2018

Consumers want a mobile, personalized experience that seamlessly spans the physical and digital worlds. The retailers that win will be the ones that can transform quickly to deliver what their customers now expect. Book a meeting with us to discuss how BRP and Windstream can help you accelerate your retail transformation and get ahead of rapid changes in the industry—before you get left behind.

Merchandising Evolution With Social Media

Tech Talk – Social media, a word that we often use these days, is the reality platform from where we get the latest hot happenings of the world. As every possible industry is investing in social media, then, how can retail not? The footprints of retail activities can be easily reviewed on the networking platforms with a bunch of information. In its most basic form, it bestows a venue in which retailers can hold strong on communication with their universal followers base.

Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest: do these platforms make you move a little toward the stores? Does a buzz on social media create a desire in you to shop? Snapchat stories, swipe to shop, shoppable Instagram tags are the result of a huge wave of client engagement on the social landscape. Today’s hashtag generation that is totally open in putting their views forward is using these platforms as a medium to express their opinion on the brands and products.

With the advent of numerous platforms to guide and provide information about the retail universe, merchandising and social media are not far behind due to their correlation. How are retailers reinventing themselves according to social media adaptations, what role merchandising plays in it? That’s exactly what we are trying to understand here so, let’s have a look at the scope of social merchandising in the retail spectrum.

SOCIAL STATISTICS FOR RETAIL

The platform that alters a two-way communication plays an influential role in attaining valuable insights about customers preferences in order to achieve the goal of placing the right product at the right place and time. Consumer expression through quick responses via social media platforms in form of “likes, share and comment” empowers retailers to plan product assortment on the basis of demographics and other gathered data. Furthermore, social statistics help retailers to adjust the order levels and increase profit margins.

Retailers are trying to reinvent merchandising as per the gathered social statistics. According to a report by Boston Retail Partners, 27% of retailers use social statistics in product development and promotional planning. Furthermore, according to the statistics, social media use in data mining in retail marketplace is increasing with every passing year.

Read Full Article: Merchandising Evolution With Social Media

An analysis of brands’ own stores

BW Confidential – Standalone stores such as those from Dior enable brands to offer better services than traditional retail.

How the rise in branded standalone stores is impacting the market

The recent spate of beauty standalone openings is likely to stretch into a longterm trend, marking an important movement of brands taking on the role of retailers. Whether they be well-established luxury fashion houses or up-and-coming cosmetics brands from Korea, beauty players across the spectrum have been ratcheting up their own stores to sell directly to the consumer. Now, even mass and masstige companies are looking more closely at this retail model— L’Oréal Paris, for example, opened its first French standalone store in 2016, while Maybelline unveiled its second French store earlier this year. And when it comes to acquisitions, multinationals are pinpointing targets with a direct-to-consumer retail presence.

A key factor fueling this change is the number of new brands and the need to stand out. The Estée Edit and Dior make-up stores, for instance, are using their digital-prominent boutiques to target millennials. Meanwhile, luxury brands like Chanel and Burberry have set up beauty stores in high profile locations to capture new segments of shoppers, notably wealthy travelers. Ray Gaul, vp research and analytics, market insights at Kantar Retail comments: “It is not enough to open these stores in locations where there are lots of people—it has to be places with the right types of people,” he says, adding: “It’s more about engaging and making the international connection than about making sales in that location. Nearly every [standalone] location has add-on services that you would not find at a standard location. These are things like gifting, shipping, salon and advisory services, and so on. Fans of brands actively plan their travel to include the chance to visit these stores and play with new products and services. This allows the brand designers to get ‘focus group’ type feedback on new ideas and new designs.”

Brand experience

“The standalone store reinforces the brand. It allows brands to do services so consumers can really experience it,” says Strategic Mindshare founder and president Cynthia Cohen. Indeed, brand followers are often buying into the concepts of these stores almost more than the products themselves, and as such, the store’s success depends on the level of innovation and on keeping engagement high, says Kline & Company consumer products analyst Kelly Alexandre.

Laura Sossong, manager, professional services at Boston Retail Partners, comments: “Reinforcement of brand identity and resonating with the consumer is vital for survival in the retail space. By isolating themselves from the offerings of their competitors, branded stores encourage loyalty by compelling the consumer to think of a single location as a one-stop-shop for all their beauty needs.”

Having so much choice in beauty products and brands is becoming rather confusing to many consumers who want to buy not just a beauty product, but something unique with a story behind how it was made, says Kline & Company project manager Ewa Grigar. “Fierce competition in beauty has seen many marketers look for alternative distribution models to sell their products. It is difficult to cultivate loyalty in stores selling a broad range of different brands,” she comments.

Also driving the trend is brands’ frustration with retailers. Brands often criticize retailers for how products are presented in-store, the service they offer and the margins they demand. They also regret that retailers are pushing their own private-label or exclusive brands. In addition, many of today’s retailers, whether department stores or perfumeries, are having a hard time getting consumers into stores. Crucially, a branded standalone store enables companies to have more direct relationships with consumers. This relationship and the data they collect from their stores enables brands to run targeted marketing campaigns, invite VIP clients to events and find out what consumers want.

And the multi-brand retailer?

So where does this leave the multi-brand retailer? Some say these retailers will put even more focus on their private-label offers (which are already taking on more space and prominence at key perfumery chains). Others say that these stores will, like branded standalones, need to offer more services. “I would expect that multi-brand retailers will focus more on redesigning their existing stores to include more unique areas for consumers to play around with products, particularly with employing digital technology. […] At the same time, these retailers will also be more selective in choosing brands to work with by opting for those with high buzz, yet limited-availability to become more of a niche multi-brand retailer,” Kline’s Grigar adds.

“These labels are likely to adopt the Sephora experiential service-based model, then find ways to make it their own and distinct to the customer. Highly customized interactions with customers will be important to keep customers engaged and coming back for more,” says Sossong.