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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

The Future Retail Network Manifesto: Retailers Must Simplify and Optimize their Network to Increase Bandwidth, Improve Reliability and Reduce Costs

The future store requires a simple, fast, agile, reliable and secure network, according to a new report from BRP

Boston, MA – June 21, 2018– According to a new report from BRP, network bandwidth is becoming a bottleneck and applications are not performing efficiently. It has become so bad at some organizations, that retail store operations personnel refer to the network as the “not-work.” BRP published “The Future Retail Network Manifesto” to articulate its vision of the future store and identify the challenges and imperatives retailers face in delivering the expected customer experience. The network is a key enabler of the future store and most retail networks require a transformation to support the plethora of new applications that are putting a strain on bandwidth.

“We are in the midst of a retail renaissance, as the way customers shop has transformed the traditional store model. To meet consumers’ demand for the future store requires the adoption of real-time, cloud-based technologies enabled by a powerful network,” said Ken Morris, principal, BRP. “Retailers can no longer afford to operate with outdated networks. Now is the time to transform the network to support the store of the future.”

Consumer expectations have never been higher and will continue to rise. The digital world offers consumers new ways and “places” to research and shop. These digital possibilities, along with mobility, are raising consumer expectations and forcing retailers to transform and evolve to succeed. The store of the future requires a personal, mobile, relevant, ubiquitous and secure environment to meet these rising expectations.

Success requires retailers to operate in real-time with customer and product information visible and accessible across the enterprise – this necessitates the move to a unified commerce platform supported by a robust, fast, reliable and resilient network.  As retailers move more applications to the cloud, SD-WAN solutions optimize the network performance and ensures 100% uptime.

Retailers that simplify and optimize their network realize many benefits:

  • Elimination of plain old telephone service (POTS) lines
  • Significantly increased bandwidth
  • Improved network reliability, capability and diversity
  • Reduction in total network spend

To download The Future Retail Network Manifesto, visit: https://brpconsulting.com/download/the-future-retail-network-manifesto/

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 http://www.brpconsulting.com.

 

Unified Commerce Solutions Booming; A Third of Smartphone Users Will Pay via Mobile by 2018

ExchangeWire – RetailTechNews’ weekly roundup brings you up-to-date research findings from around the world. In this week’s edition: Unified commerce solutions booming; A third of smartphone users will pay via mobile by 2018; and Mobile email marketing draws level with desktop as m-commerce grows.

Unified commerce solutions booming

By the end of 2020, 81% of retailers will deploy unified commerce platforms, to support commerce across the enterprise’s stores, mobile users and the web, according to a survey by Boston Retail Partners (BRP). This is seen as essential to competing in the omnichannel environment.

The survey finds that 28% of respondents have implemented unified commerce, compared to 9% the previous year. Retailers are making progress on implementing unified commerce platforms. Last year, BRP predicted 73% of retailers would have such a platform in place by 2019, and 22% already had one deployed.

Moving forward, the top three priorities of retailers for the year ahead are:

– Customer identification and personalisation of the customer experience (62%)

– Alignment of the customer experience across mobile apps the web (54%)

– Empowering associates with mobile tools (51%)

Retailers are modifying the technology used to identify customers in their stores by decreasing their use of mobile websites, which declined from 40% in 2017 to 28% in 2018, and increasing the use of Media Access Control (MAC) addresses as unique identifiers by 26%. Also on the rise are beacons (19%), and Bluetooth (16%).

Read full article: Unified Commerce Solutions Booming; A Third of Smartphone Users Will Pay via Mobile by 2018

Survey: 81% Of Retailers Will Deploy Unified Commerce Platforms By 2020

Retail TouchPoints – Retailers understand that gaps between shoppers’ personalized experiences online and in brick-and-mortar stores are problematic, and they are employing technology to satisfy consumers across every channel, at any time and via the method of their choosing.

Boston Retail Partners (BRP) identifies cloud-based unified commerce — the use of a single platform to support commerce for stores, mobile and the web — as the linchpin to competing in a fast-changing, omnichannel environment. In an online survey of 500 top North American retailers, BRP found that 28% of respondents have already implemented unified commerce, more than three times the percentage (9%) reporting that capability last year. By the end of 2020, 81% of retailers will have deployed unified commerce.

“Retail and customer engagement models must transform,” said Brian Brunk, Principal at BRP in a statement. Because legacy retail applications and infrastructure are not equipped for today’s requirements, “retail winners in 2018 and beyond need to accelerate the transformation to cloud-based unified commerce.”

Three Top Customer Engagement Priorities For 2018

In its 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, BRP evaluated retailers’ progress in implementing technology solutions to meet customers’ ever-rising expectations. Retailers’ three top priorities for 2018 are:

  • Customer identification/personalization of the customer experience (62%);
  • Alignment of the customer experience across mobile apps and the web (54%); and
  • Empowering associates with mobile tools (51%).

Read Full Article: Survey: 81% Of Retailers Will Deploy Unified Commerce Platforms By 2020

With Amazon Go’s popularity, luxury must determine the cashierless model’s relevance

Luxury Daily – The long-awaited Amazon Go retail store has finally opened and there has been immense praise for its cashierless model, but is the concept one that can be emulated by luxury?

Amazon’s in-store concept works by letting users sign into an Amazon Go account on a mobile device, and then simply pluck desired items from the shelves and walk out with them while the smartphone tracks what was picked up, automatically charging the goods to the consumer’s account. While it is clear that the idea has immense potential, two questions arise: is it possible and is it right for luxury brands?

“The question is ‘Do other retailers have the competency?’ and that’s unclear,” said Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “More likely, there are pieces of the Amazon Go model that retailers should look at incorporating as they plan for their store of the future.

“Part of the benefit of the Amazon Go experience is speed and convenience for the customer, for the luxury market, this grab-and-go technology doesn’t necessarily make sense since a large part of luxury shopping is the time evaluating a high-ticket item and the interaction with the sales associate asking questions about fit, care and use,” he said. “However, the elimination of the traditional POS may open the door for retailers to redesign their stores and eliminate the classic cash wrap desk to enable more customer- associate interaction.”

Read Full Article: With Amazon Go’s popularity, luxury must determine the cashierless model’s relevance

Retail Industry Adapts To Rapid Change

Retail TouchPoints – Headlines screamed about a “Retail Apocalypse” in 2017, but what was really happening was a highly accelerated period of retail transformation. The 17 retail industry experts contributing to the Retail TouchPoints 2018 Outlook Guide paint a collective portrait of an industry undergoing seismic shifts in multiple areas:

  • Stores are emphatically not dead
  • Voice could radically alter the existing product search paradigm, giving a huge first mention advantage to the top result;
  • Mobile devices for store associates will become the new must-have business accessory;
  • Technologies including AIIoTbots, AR and even connected carswill start to prove their worth; and
  • Customer engagement, via advanced analytics and what one contributor called “right-sized personalization,” will continue to be the ultimate competitive battleground.

 “While it might be an “apocalyptic” outlook for some, the reality is that it is just the ever-evolving nature of retail and consumers.” said Brian Brunk Principal, BRP.

To Download the full report visit: 2018 Outlook Guide: Retail Industry Adapts To Rapid Change

 

Customer Experience Journey

Retail Personalization: Attracting & Keeping Your Customers

Customer Experience Journey

Engaging the customer through personalization and relevant messaging is the key to attracting and keeping customers. Customers want to shop wherever and whenever with the benefits of both the digital and physical retail environments. Personalization plays a critical role in optimizing the customer’s shopping experience. Retailers need to know whom the customer is to create a meaningful experience based on what they want and when they want it. Each step along the customer journey offers retailers another opportunity to engage with the customer and strengthen that personal relationship to drive sales and customer loyalty.

Customer Identification

With 62% of retailers indicating that customer identification is their top customer engagement priority (2018 POS/Customer Engagement Survey), stores are still identifying customers at the point of checkout. Many fail to realize it is too late to empower the associate to influence the current purchase decision at the checkout phase of the journey. Even though associates’ ability to custom tailor shopping experiences is currently limited the Survey shows that these capabilities are increasing.

Watch the Video Now

In a recent Retail Touch Points Video BRP Senior Vice President Gene Bornac talks about how customizing experiences around expectations is how retailers can attract and keep customers. Bornac points out that the fundamental challenge for retailers is understanding customer motivations for buying. Bornac also discusses how retailers should consider what’s relevant to the conversation regarding using personal information versus shopping trends.

Changing the Shopping Experience

Retailers should work on the transition from product-focused sales to experience-focused sales, looking to technology and customer journey planning to help move them forward. Some retailers are expanding the personalization aspect of retail into a “make shopping fun and engaging” experience. This includes gamification – where game-like interactions, rewards and incentives are offered for visiting a web site. The key to this personalization  is to tailor the interaction based on the customer’s habits. We are also seeing this augmented by artificial intelligence to keep the customer engaged and encourage further visits and interactions.

A current example of technology and customer journey combining is the launch of the Amazon Go store. With the use of multiple hardware and software technology advances the Amazon Go store is taking retail to the next level.

The Store of the Future

The store is not dead and focusing on the customer experience has never been more important. Consumers love the theater of shopping, which is why many pure-play online retailers are opening brick-and-mortar stores and store concepts continue to evolve. The in-store experience is paramount for apparel and other products that consumers want to touch, feel, demo or try on. Customers want a multi-dimensional or multi-sense purchase which leverages all their senses. For retailers selling commodity products, you could argue that the experience is the best way to differentiate their brand.

The time is now to innovate the customer experience by transforming your retail model for the new customer journey.

Download the 2018 POS/CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT SURVEY

Watch the Using Personalization To Extend The Shopping Journey Video

 

 

 

Should Your Small Business Accept Mobile Payments?

Business News Daily – In the past few years, you may have noticed a new kind of credit card terminal at cash registers, one that customers wave their smartphones over. These new mobile payment systems that use NFC technology have been cropping up everywhere, with companies like Apple, Samsung and Google hoping to make their mobile phones a new replacement for your credit cards.

Since going online in 2014, Apple Pay has been available to the roughly 90 million U.S. iPhone owners, with alternatives made available to Samsung, LG and other Android smartphones. However, most smartphone owners have not been using these virtual wallets.

While using your smartphone to pay for groceries, gas and other goods hasn’t become as synonymous as using your debit card, consumers are still interested in the convenience of carrying their cards with them virtually in their phone. According to a Boston Retail Partners study, Apple Pay, the most popular mobile wallet is currently accepted by 37 percent retailers, with 40 percent planning on accepting it in the near future. Apple’s competitors aren’t far behind either.

The more retailers offer the option for contactless, mobile payments, the more consumers will realize that it’s a viable option for payment, and vice-versa – as confidence builds that their private information will be kept secure, consumers will drive demand for more vendors to provide NFC contactless readers at the register.

Read full article: Should Your Small Business Accept Mobile Payments?

Retailers Reveal Top Priorities for Customer Engagement

HFN – As the retail industry adjusts and embraces the merging of brick-and-mortar and digital experiences, BRP’s annual POS and Customer Engagement Survey said yesterday’s retail model is dead, and retailers must transform their customer engagement models to an omnichannel approach.

Unified commerce is the new retail imperative, according to the survey, which polled more than 500 top North American retailers about their planned initiatives and priorities for 2018. Unified commerce combines in-store point-of-sale (POS), mobile, Web, order management, call center and clienteling (fostering long-term relationships with customers based on their shopping habits and preferences) into one integrated platform.

“Retail and customer engagement models must transform,” said Brian Brunk, principal at BRP, a retail consulting firm. “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.”

Top 2018 priorities for retailers include omnichannel integration, added capabilities to current POS system upgrades, payment security, a single commerce platform, mobile POS, and hardware upgrades, according to the survey.

While legacy retail has focused on POS, customers have come to expect a personalized, seamless, and secure experience in real-time, BRP said.

“Understanding the importance of personalization, 62 percent of retailers indicate customer identification is their top customer engagement priority as they transform the in-store customer experience,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP.

Read Full Article: Retailers Reveal Top Priorities for Customer Engagement