Retail’s Superpower: Leveraging Digital to Reinvent the Enterprise

Incisiv – Recent research from Incisiv and Windstream/BRP show that retailers are actively investing in digital initiatives across the enterprise, yet they still face challenges across many areas. We sat down with two key executives to understand where retailers should prioritize and focus to ensure success.

Dave Weinand, Chief Customer Officer, Incisiv:

The increasing influence of digital is driving retailers to experiment with new store experiences and formats to deliver on customer expectations. In your opinion, what are the most compelling new in-store applications and/or formats you are seeing in the market?

Jeffrey Neville, Senior Vice President and Practice Lead, BRP Retail Consulting Firm:

One of the more compelling store formats is the “new retail” concept, called Hema, run by China’s e-commerce giant, Alibaba. The Hema stores simultaneously act as marketplaces, commerce platforms, fulfillment centers and innovation hubs where they allow customers to experience new brands and products. The 25 Hema stores are a unique and entertaining experience that act as a destination.

The in-store shopping experience is centered around the Hema mobile app and shoppers must use the app to fully optimize the services. These include:

Scan barcodes on products for information on sourcing, branding, pricing and nutritional value.
Pay for products by scanning them at a self-checkout counter and pay using the app, which is integrated with the Alibaba mobile payment service, Alipay.
Request products delivered to their home free of charge within 30 minutes. Hema associates collect the products, bag them and place them on an in-house transportation network that spans the store’s ceiling.

The mandatory use of the Hema app allows the store to leverage big data to optimize the store’s offerings.

Ken Feyder, Senior Director, IT Business Solutions, Tapestry (Coach):

With so many applications available on the marketplace, it is difficult for me to pinpoint a particular app or concept that I would rate dramatically more innovative than others. That being said, I think we are experiencing a significant shift in customer behavior. We’re seeing this globally and I’ll use as a example a scenario we experienced with the world’s foremost luxury shoppers – Chinese consumers.

About 6 or 7 years ago, I remember seeing a Chinese tourists’ group schedule for visiting Paris. It allocated more time to visiting Galleries Lafayette Department Store for shopping than it did for visiting The Louvre! Over the last decade, this notable group of customers has shaped the retail experience of many brands. The retail-centric behavior of Chinese shoppers continued to drive a more focused response from many retailers. That, in turn, created a market place for countless point-solutions related to improving a particular aspect of the shopping experience.

However, I have recently observed a shift in this group’s behavior. When traveling to tourist destinations like Paris, New York, or London, today’s Chinese tourists are less inclined to adhere to a shopping-centric itineraries in lieu of cultural experiences. Less time is being spent on shopping. To me it signifies the beginning of the evolution where a retail experience becomes a logical bi-product of tourism, as opposed to its former position “at the center” of travel. Hence, digital technology that focuses strictly on retail (i.e. improvements in payment, seamless omni-channel, ease of returns etc.) while remaining important, will only deliver marginal results. In my opinion, better focus on digital technology that is NOT dedicated to purely commerce (such as partnerships with Chinese travel service CTrip, or integrations with hospitality technology providers etc.) would ultimately deliver better results as it relates to delivering a more logical and cohesive retail experience many brands desire.

Read full article: Retail’s Superpower: Leveraging Digital to Reinvent the Enterprise

53% of Millennials use Digital to Augment Dining Experience: Study

Hospitality Technology – According to a report from BRP (restaurant consulting firm) and Windstream Enterprise, restaurant guests, especially millennials, use mobile devices to enhance their dining experiences.

Digital is becoming deeply embedded into the entire dining journey. Pre-meal research is a habit across all generations and demographics, especially for discovering new restaurant choices and selecting fine dining options. Digital ordering (whether from home, by app or at restaurant) is a growing expectation while sharing results of dining experiences with friends via social media has become a form of entertainment in itself.

Millennials use digital devices to enhance their dining experience over half the time (53%). Their digital activities range from researching where and what to eat (60%) to checking ratings/reviews while in a restaurant (51%) to sharing pictures and content (23%) during and after the visit.

Read Full Article: 53% of Millennials use Digital to Augment Dining Experience: Study

The Evolution Of Retail Tech: What We Have Learned, Where We Are And Where We’re Headed

Retail TouchPoints – Since the dawn of retail in the late 1800s, the retail industry has continued to influence present-day consumer expectations through the use of cutting-edge technologies. From the first cash register and bank-issued credit cards, which were introduced in the 1950s to provide “pay later” options and encourage more consumer spending — to the advent of online shopping enabling digital transactions between consumers and businesses, no other industry has experienced such extreme shifts in consumer behavior as a result.

Whether a startup or a seasoned household brand, longevity is more than a promise or a boardroom mantra or a rock bottom price; it’s a deliberate commitment to focus on the customer at every level, every stage and on every platform — in real time. That, according to key finding from the 2017 POS/Customer Engagement Survey conducted by Boston Retail Partners (BRP), is the future of retail, and one that will require new technology to provide the kind of unified customer experience that is personal, mobile, seamless and secure, rather than disparate technology and stand-alone systems that for decades have duplicated cost structures at almost every customer touch point. Convenience is also key to the experience.

Personal: Taking cues from those who proactively send consumers personalized offers, flash sale notifications and product recommendations, many brand manufacturers in retail are discovering that “knowing” or identifying the customer right from the start is the key to personalizing the shopping experience. That’s why 70% of retailers indicate customer identification is their top customer engagement priority, with the most prevalent technologies including WiFi (43%) and mobile web sites (40%), both of which over 70% of retailers plan to use in the next three years.

Mobile: Mobile devices including smartphones, tablets and wearables have not only changed the way shoppers research and purchase but also elevated customer expectations toward service. That’s why 49% of retailers (up from 31% in 2016) are using mobile solutions for store associates, with 89% planning to offer a mobile solution within the next three years, while 84% plan to implement mobile POS.

Seamless: By the end of 2019, 71% of retailers plan to have a unified commerce platform in place, with cloud technologies the basis for offering a centralized POS, cross-channel and fulfillment services, real-time visibility and access to product and customer information and analytics.

Secure: With data theft and fraud a growing threat to retailers and consumers alike, most survey respondents indicated a move toward a multi-layer security plan to protect sensitive customer and organization data. In addition to 96% planning to implement end-to-end encryption by the close of 2019, 73% will offer a single-token solution within three years.

Convenience: Thriving brand manufacturers and retailers have learned that providing today’s savvy customers with what they want means offering more efficient pathways to purchase. Evidence of this can be seen in the growing use of online location finders, live chat widgets and in-stock features. Moreover, with options for curbside pick-up (such as Target’s rapidly growing Drive Up feature), 24-hour delivery and multiple shipping possibilities from potentially thousands of sites around the globe, choice is allowing customers to experience the kind of shopping they crave from beginning to end.

Read Full Article: The Evolution Of Retail Tech: What We Have Learned, Where We Are And Where We’re Headed

New Report from BRP Retail Consulting Firm Offers OMS Solution to Solve the Great Digital Divide

Consumers state that digital influences up to 75% of pre-store visits but less than half of retailers deliver these capabilities

Boston, MA – August 29, 2018– According to a new report from BRP, retailers are not keeping up with customer expectations.  This gap between consumer demand for digital capabilities within the store and most retailers’ current ability to support this is the ‘great digital divide’ that is plaguing the retail industry. BRP published the special report OMS – The Brains of the Operation, based on the 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, to address retailers’ need to find a solution to meet rising digital expectations.

Consumers say that digital influences up to 75% of pre-store visits and is leveraged in 46% of their in-store shopping experiences; however, less than half of retailers deliver on the most important digital capabilities that customers desire.[1]  To meet rising customer expectations, retailers can no longer rely on legacy systems that are not designed to accommodate today’s retail environment. Retailers realize that unified commerce is a retail imperative, but execution on that strategy is challenging. The answer may be utilizing an order management system (OMS) as the platform for unified commerce.

Many retailers have cobbled systems and processes together as a ‘just get something done’ approach in an attempt to deliver a seamless customer experience across channels. The unfortunate result of this quick fix approach is a ‘faux’ omni-channel model that doesn’t execute as promised and risks disappointing customers.

“While retailers understand the importance of moving to a unified commerce model, executing the strategy is challenging,” said David Russo, vice president, BRP.  “It can be a daunting project when considering the scope of a commerce platform that enables and supports every customer touch point – in real-time. The answer may be utilizing an order management system as the platform for unified commerce.”

To fix this problem, retailers need to rethink old paradigms and adopt a new approach to unified commerce. To support this desired experience and increased capabilities, retailers need a robust order management solution that can serve as the anchor for the single shared shopping cart and operate as the brains of a unified commerce platform.

To download OMS – The Brains of the Operation, visit:

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

[1]The Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectationsreport conducted by Incisiv and sponsored by BRP and Wind, stream, 07/24/18,

Optimizing in-store digital experience helps fashion retailers increase revenue 25 percent

FashionUnited – In a world where shopping experiences are influenced by digital in 75 percent of cases, digital already directly drives more than a third of all retail sales, and it further influences a much higher percentage, concludes a recent report by BRP & Windstream Enterprise.

‘Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations’ study reveals that within the apparel and shoes segment, digital sales make 29 percent of total sales, whereas 17 percent of store sales are attributed to digital.

A retailer with 1 billion dollars in annual revenue could potentially gain circa 260 million dollars by delivering a great in-store experience. Furthermore, reinventing the store to truly integrate digital and analogical can help retain consumers and grow their value by approximately 25 percent while acquiring new consumers from competitors.

Digital technology investment requires better alignment with consumers’ demands

However, digital in-store technology investment is misaligned as retailers’ investments haven’t kept pace with consumer expectations. Consumers value technologies that help them shop and pay at their pace, clearly favouring those retailers that give them the ability to control their checkout experience.

On a related note, while 71 percent of consumers rate highly the option of using self-checkout, just 42 percent of retailers are able to offer it. Being able to check out via mobile app is a priority for 50 percent of consumers, whereas just 42 percent of retailers actually offer this option.

Read Full Article: Optimizing in-store digital experience helps fashion retailers increase revenue 25 percent

Retailers’ Tech Capabilities Still Fall Short

eMarketer – Today’s consumers are open to various types of retail technologies, and they are even warming up to others that were once seen as too creepy.

A recent study by BRP (Boston Retail Partners) and Windstream Enterprise found that many consumers would be more likely to shop at a retailer that offered tech capabilities like automated returns, as well as augmented and virtual reality experiences. But while interest is there—and retailers are aware of the impact it could have if offered—a good number of them don’t offer such capabilities yet.

In fact, while 68% of US shoppers surveyed by BRP and Windstream said they would be more likely to shop at a retailer that offered automated returns capability, just 8% of retailers said they offer this feature.

Read Full Article: Retailers’ Tech Capabilities Still Fall Short

Retailers not yet meeting shoppers’ digital expectations: BRP

Luxury Daily – While digital influences up to 75 percent of all in-store visits, retailers have not been keeping pace with shoppers’ preferences, according to a new Boston Retail Partners report.

The consultancy’s “Retail’s Digital Crossroads” report examines how retailers who are quick to adjust to today’s non-linear, multichannel shopping journeys will attract more customers. Although retailers have been investing in the digital shopping experience, not all of these investments reflect consumers’ preferences.

“While we have intuitively known that digital had become such a pervasive element of the overall shopping experience, it was surprising to quantitatively validate how much it influences in-store consumer behavior and purchases,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP, Boston. “Consumers spend a considerable amount of time researching products, checking reviews, validating inventory availability and comparing prices before they even visit a store.”

The report is based on surveys of 1,212 retail consumers and 60 retail executives in the United States. Among the shoppers surveyed, there was a 50/50 gender split and Generation Z, millennials, Generation X and baby boomers were about equally represented.

Read Full Article: Retailers not yet meeting shoppers’ digital expectations: BRP

BRP Report Shows How Digital Influences Shopping

Convenience Store Decisions – Consumers expect greater convenience and empowerment to shop the way they want and where they want. According to a new report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP) and Windstream Enterprise, rapidly evolving customer expectations and digital technologies are driving a major transformation in the retail industry.

“The Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations” report, based on research conducted by Incisiv, combines findings from surveys of 1,212 retail consumers and 60 retail executives to understand the effect digital has on the shopping experience.

“The digital divide in retail is growing, as over 75% of retail shopping traverses the digital realm, but less than half of retailers deliver on the most important digital capabilities that customers desire,” said Brian Brunk, principal, BRP. “Further, very few retailers offer the next generation digital technologies, like automated returns and proximity-triggered mobile coupons, that could significantly influence future purchase decisions. Retailers must transform and quickly close the digital gap to remain relevant with their customer.”

“Mobile devices and the capabilities they enable are the primary catalyst for the continued evolution of the customer experience,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president and practice lead, BRP. “The majority of today’s consumers research products and brands digitally prior to visiting a physical store and, once they are in the store, about half of them use their mobile devices to perform price comparisons, read product reviews, and even validate inventory.”

Read Full Article: BRP Report Shows How Digital Influences Shopping

Ease in Payments And Ordering Are Central to Restaurant Success, a Survey Finds

Digital Transactions – What do diners want most when they go out to eat? Apparently, easy ordering and payment. That’s the big takeaway in the “Restaurant Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Guest Expectations” report released Thursday.

Hassle-free ordering and payment are especially important to younger consumers, defined as those between 18 and 37 years old. Seventy-four percent of them said ease of ordering and payment is extremely important to them, yet only 45% of restaurants meet that expectation, found the report from Boston-based BRP Consulting, which specializes in retail and restaurants.

“For Millennials, digital is shorthand for taking friction out of the order and payment process, allowing them to shop the way they want wherever they want,” the report said. “They, along with Gen Z, also value interactive technology and digital content (music, movies, games, digital shorts) more so than older generations.”

While restaurants whose primary guests may not have the same expectation now, BRP says such demands will become “table stakes in two years.”

Read full article: Ease in Payments And Ordering Are Central to Restaurant Success, a Survey Finds

New Survey Findings Confirm the Digital Lag between Guest Expectations and Current Restaurant Technology

The team at BRP is excited to have sponsored (along with our parent company Windstream Enterprise) a new report titled The Restaurant Digital Crossroads:  The Race to Meet Guest Expectations.  The report was produced by Incisiv and details the research survey findings from 1,225 restaurant guests and 60 restaurant executives.  The central message derived from the findings was crystal clear to all of us – rapidly evolving guest expectations and digital technologies are driving a major transformation across the whole of the restaurant industry.

Looking deeper into the themes the survey data told us, as guest expectations continue to rise, restaurants must transform their business with new, digital-enabling technologies to make the dining experience more seamless and frictionless – period. Unfortunately, many restaurant brands and franchisees (and you know who you are) have a long way to go to catch up to guest expectations. The good news is that restaurants (both brand owners and their franchisees) are increasingly aware of the gap the report calls out, and their short and long-term future plans include enhancements to key areas that guests deem important for a great experience, including easing the of ordering and payment process, adding or improving guest WiFi availability, and mobile POS capability.

Restaurant guests expect (make that demand) a frictionless dining experience that empowers them with relevant, helpful information, all while making it MORE convenient for them to operate on their own time and at their pace.  This requires restaurant operators to embed a broader spectrum of digital technology across the entire dining journey.

As you would expect, the Millennial and Gen-Z consumer demographics have the highest expectations for digital capabilities. The report identifies significant gaps between what younger generations feel is extremely important and what current capabilities many restaurant operators have in place.  Specific examples of this gap from the Incisiv/BRP survey findings include:

Ease of ordering and payment – Guests expect the ordering and payment process to be easy and frictionless.

  • 74% of guests feel it is extremely important
  • 45% of restaurant operators state this capability is operating excellently

Guest WiFi availability – Guests expect fast and free WiFi in restaurants, especially where cell reception is limited.

  • 60% of guests feel it is extremely important
  • 44% of restaurant operators state this capability is operating excellently

Discounts and promotions – Guests expect to receive digital discounts and promotions on any platform they choose, especially their mobile devices.

  • 60% of guests feel it is extremely important
  • 35% of restaurant operators state this capability is operating excellently

There is a lot more data and strategic insight behind the excellent work Incisiv did on behalf of BRP and Windstream Enterprise.  I encourage you to download and read through the entire Restaurant Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Guest Expectations survey findings report:

Download Now

As always, I appreciate your opinions – both on the insight from the report and across the broader restaurant and hospitality space.  Please share your thoughts and opinions below.