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Tech Viewpoint: Three unexpected findings from NRF 2019

Chain Store Age – The NRF Big Show exhibit floor always throws a few curve balls, and that’s a good thing.

Before NRF 2019, I posted a column discussing three tech trends to watch. In what will come as a surprise to nobody who knows me, I didn’t exactly get it right. Here are three findings from the Big Show indicating where retail is truly heading this year.

Mobile is table stakes

Channels are so 2018

“Retail is theater,” according to BRP, retail consulting firm, principal, Ken Morris. There are no more channels, only different stages to perform the single task of getting customers the products they want, when and where they want them.

You can’t change the weather–but you can plan for it

Read Full Article: Tech Viewpoint: Three unexpected findings from NRF 2019

Study: 66% Of Retailers Say Inaccurate Inventory Data Creates BOPIS Inconsistency

Retail TouchPoints – Retailers are well aware that an omnichannel approach to both the customer experience and their internal systems is now a basic business requirement: 94% of retailers already have, or plan to implement, a single unified commerce platform within three years, up from 81% in 2017, according to the 2019 POS/Customer Engagement Study from BRP.

Even in-store, many retailers have failed to bring their systems up to the speed of innovation: just 25% of store networks, 32% of POS hardware and 25% of POS software is less than two years old, while 30% of retailers use POS hardware that is at least six years old, according to BRP. Before retailers can take advantage of the latest friction-reducing technology, they need to make sure their networks are capable of handling the unique challenges posed by omnichannel systems.

Read Full Article: Study: 66% Of Retailers Say Inaccurate Inventory Data Creates BOPIS Inconsistency

What are Retailers’ Top Customer Engagement Priorities for 2019?

As retailers look for ways to differentiate in today’s highly competitive market, customer engagement strategies like personalization, mobile experience and real-time retail are critical components for optimizing the customer’s shopping experience. In fact, according to the recent BRP Consumer Study, 79% said personalized service from a sales associate was an important factor in determining at which store they choose to shop. Retailers understand the importance of personalization as 53% are focused on this for 2019, according to the 20thAnnual POS/Customer Engagement Benchmark Survey.

Retailers understand the imperative for change, as 94% of retailers, up from 81% last year, have indicated that they have or plan to implement a single unified commerce platform within the next three years. “It is time to reimagine the customer engagement model as yesterday’s retail is dead, and agility is paramount as retail continues to rapidly evolve,” said Brian Brunk, principal at BRP. “Key to this agility and transformation is a single commerce platform. Victory belongs to the agile.”

“As customer expectations for an increasingly customized experience increase and evolve, retailers are adopting new ways to identify customers and personalize their shopping journey,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “Retailers continue to offer more mobile services from a consumer-facing and associate-facing perspective that include personalized recommendations, loyalty rewards, coupons, discounts and promotions. It is also interesting to note that 63% of retailers plan on having the ability to use a customer owned mobile device as a POS device within three years.

BRP’s 20thAnnual 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 with personalized and relevant messaging is the key to customer loyalty

  • 79% of consumers said personalized service from a sales associate is an important factor in determining at which store they choose to shop
  • 53% of retailers indicate that personalization is one of their top customer engagement priorities

MOBILE – The pervasiveness and ease-of-use of mobile devices offers tremendous opportunities for retailers

  • 63% of consumers use their mobile phone while shopping in a store to compare prices, look for offers/coupons, check inventory availability, etc.
  • 49% of retailers indicate that the customer mobile experience is one of their top customer engagement priorities

SEAMLESS – Today’s customer journey crisscrosses channels, requiring the retailer to provide a seamless, personalized experience

  • 56% of consumers indicate they are more likely to shop at a retailer that allows them to have a shared cart across channels
  • 94% of retailers have or plan to implement a single unified commerce platform within three years, up from 81% last year

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

  • 50% of consumers are likely to allow retailers to save purchase history, personal preferences and personal details if it eases the checkout process and allows for more personalized offers
  • 61% of retailers have implemented end-to-end encryption to offer customers greater security of their personal and payment data

I encourage you to download the complete 20thAnnual POS/CustomerEngagement Benchmarking Survey:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2019-pos-survey/

A special thanks goes to our POS/Customer Engagement Survey sponsors:  TSYS is the platinum sponsor, the gold sponsors are AptosDiebold Nixdorf, ECRS and Fujitsu, and the silver sponsor is STORIS.

As always, I appreciate your feedback on this report. Please share your comments and opinions below.

David

A Personalized Brand Experience Across Digital Channels is Imperative

Consumers now start and stop their shopping journey in different channels, including online marketplaces and social media, and frequently shop for the same product across different retailers, both online and in the store. Consumers don’t think in terms of channels, they think in terms of brands and experiences.

According to the 2018 Digital Commerce Survey, 51% of consumers feel it is important to get a personalized experience across all digital channels within a brand.

The good news is that retailers recognize the importance of the cross-channel, personalized customer experience, as their top digital customer experience priorities are creating a consistent brand experience across channels (57%) and improving personalization (38%).

The challenge for retailers is to “keep up” with continually evolving customer expectations. The growth of mobile is driving demand for increased digital capabilities bundled with personalization in the store. The gap between consumer demand for digital experiences and retailers’ current capabilities is what we call the “great digital divide,” and is driving additional changes in the industry.

The new retail model requires retailers to transform their business and reinvent themselves to create a successful blend of the physical and digital worlds to maintain their customers’ loyalty. New and innovative methods of shopping – driven by mobile technology, artificial intelligence and rapidly changing fulfillment methods – are elevating customer expectations. The speed of these changes requires organizational agility to quickly and easily react to increasing customer expectations and changing consumer behavior.

I encourage you to download and read the 2018 Digital Commerce Survey for more insights on the cross channel digital experience:

Download Now

As always, I appreciate your insights on this topic.  Please share your feedback and opinions below.

 

Jeffrey

Shopping experiences must be personalized across channels: BRP

Luxury Daily – As the lines between physical and digital stores continues to blur, retailers need to personalize shopping experiences beyond in-store and continue to create consistent brand experiences online.

A new report from Boston Retail Partners, retail consulting firm, finds that 51 percent of consumers want a personalized experience across all digital channels within a brand. Currently, less than a fifth of retailers use customer-identifying technology in their stores, pointing to the potential for more customized engagement.

“To engage with the customer and personalize their experience, retailers need to quickly and easily identify the customer,” Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead at Boston Retail Partners. “Identifying the customer as they enter the store – via their smartphone, beacon or other technology – affords the retailer the opportunity to personalize the customer’s shopping experience.”

Three-quarters of consumers use digital tools prior to their in-store visit, and 46 percent use mobile devices while shopping at bricks-and-mortar stores. Almost a quarter of retailers surveyed named improving mobile shopping experiences as their top priority.

Creating a consistent brand experience across channels is the top digital priority for retailers, and was named as a focus by 57 percent of respondents. Thirty-eight percent of retailers also cited wanting to improve customer loyalty, personalization and user experience.

However, retailers cannot improve personalization efforts without first identifying individual shoppers. Seventy-nine percent of respondents plan to introduce technology to better identify customers within the next three years, while 76 percent plan to integrate geolocation to improve how promotions are sent to customers.

Read Full Article: Shopping experiences must be personalized across channels: BRP

51% of Consumers Want a Personalized Brand Experience Across Digital Channels, According to BRP Report

Retailers’ Top Digital Customer Experience Priorities are Creating a Consistent Brand Experience Across Channels and Improving Personalization 

Boston, MA – October 24, 2018– Customers’ journeys are more complicated and varied than ever before. Consumers now start and stop their shopping journey in different channels, including online marketplaces and social media, and frequently shop for the same product across different retailers, both online and in the store. According to the 2018 Digital Commerce Survey, 51% of consumers feel it is important to get a personalized experience across all digital channels within a brand. Retailers recognize the importance of the cross-channel, personalized customer experience, as their top digital customer experience priorities are creating a consistent brand experience across channels (57%) and improving personalization (38%).

“The new retail model requires retailers to transform their business and reinvent themselves to create a successful blend of the physical and digital worlds to maintain their customers’ loyalty,” said Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead, BRP. “New and innovative methods of shopping – driven by mobile technology, artificial intelligence and rapidly changing fulfillment methods – are elevating customer expectations. The speed of these changes requires organizational agility to quickly and easily react to increasing customer expectations and changing consumer behavior.”

The challenge for retailers is to “keep up” with continually evolving customer expectations. The growth of mobile is driving demand for increased digital capabilities bundled with personalization in the store. The gap between consumer demand for digital experiences and retailers’ current capabilities is what we call the “great digital divide,” and is driving additional changes in the industry.

BRP conducted the 2018 Digital Commerce Benchmarking Survey to understand the current retail challenges and available opportunities as we face the future of retail. This report compares retailers’ priorities with customer expectations – based on results from Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations report[1]conducted by Incisiv and sponsored by BRP and Windstream Enterprise – to understand how retailer priorities are aligning with customer expectations.

Key findings include:

  1. Personalization – Effective customer engagement requires retailers to know whom the customer is to be able to offer personalized, relevant, compelling and consistent services across channels.
  • 51% of consumers feel it is important to get a personalized experience across all digital channels within a brand
  • 18% of retailers are currently utilizing customer identifying technology in the store and within three years, 79% plan to use it to personalize the experience
  1. Digital Influence – Retailers realize that mobile devices are ubiquitous and recognize that a mobile device in the customer’s hands holds tremendous opportunities to enhance the customer experience across channels.
  • 75% of consumers use digital tools prior to their in-store visit and mobile devices are leveraged in 46% of in-store shopping experiences
  • 67% of retailers provide online customer reviews to influence and drive purchases and 76% will extend mobile offers to customers in the store within three years
  1. Augmented Reality – Through augmented reality (AR), innovative retailers are inspiring their customers and offering them the ability to see what a product looks like in their home or even on their body.
  • 48% of consumers would be more likely to shop at a retailer that utilizes augmented reality
  • 32% of retailers will utilize augmented reality within three years

To download 2018 Digital Commerce Survey, visit:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-digital-commerce-survey/

The 2018 Digital Commerce Survey gold sponsors are ECRSand enVista. 

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.

[1]Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations, July 24, 2018. https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-retail-research-report/

The store is still a winning strategy. Here’s why

Retail Customer Experience – Physical retail is thriving. The National Retail Federation’s Consumer View report shows nearly four out of five (79 percent) consumers are shopping at brick and mortar stores. This includes millennials and Generation Z. Just 34 percent of these demographics are online-only shoppers.

But simply having a store doesn’t guarantee success. The brands and retailers who succeed will adapt and embrace the changing role of physical retail, and use the store to their advantage. In collecting and analyzing billions of data points across brick and mortar stores in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, we know a thing or two about what it takes to develop a winning in-store strategy.

Unified commerce is the process of “unifying” many selling channels to provide a cohesive shopping experience and path to purchase. Most (73 percent) of retailers plan to have a unified commerce platform by the end of 2019, according to Boston Retail Partners, retail consulting firm.

There are many components to unified commerce. The first and most important is marrying pricing and availability of online products with those in-store. Consumers are smart. They don’t want to arrive at a store with one price in their head, only to find a different one on the shelf. Unified pricing and promotions at the micro-level is vital in building and keeping consumer trust.

Products should also be available across channels. This is where brick-and-mortar retailers should consider how online and mobile commerce (m-commerce) fit into or impact the in-store experience. Shoppers should have access to store associates with tablets or free-standing kiosks where they can buy products in the event of an out-of-stock or online-only items. Add signage for buy online, pick up in store and process online returns in a profitable way with buy online, return in store. This is all part of the seamless shopping experience consumers have come to expect.

A seamless shopping experience also means cohesive branding. Match your look and feel, and customer service across all your physical and digital platforms. This includes social media profiles like Instagram, where shoppable posts are gaining global popularity.

Read Full Article: The store is still a winning strategy. Here’s why

BRP Consulting’s Agile Approach for Retail Helps Accelerate Business Transformation

BRP’s Agile Approach can Achieve 50% Faster Implementation Times

Boston, MA – September 13, 2018– BRP announces the availability of its innovative Agile Approach for Retail that helps retailers deploy software up to 50% faster than traditional efforts.  Retail is rapidly being redefined. With the swift pace of disruption occurring today, retail winners need to accelerate the transformation of their organization, business processes and technology to align with the demands of their customers.  With its Agile Approach for Retail, BRP is uniquely positioned to help forward-thinking retailers adopt this accelerated and flexible method for tackling enterprise projects.

BRP’s Agile Approach for Retail enables organizations to get to market faster by encouraging cross-organizational teamwork, collaboration and adaptability, all while ensuring better organizational ownership and more efficient adoption of newly implemented solutions. With significantly faster project completion times, retailers reduce the associated risks and costs throughout the lifecycle of the project. BRP resources are trained in Agile methodologies and have hands-on experience in supporting organizations as they make the necessary structural shift in the way team members and management work and communicate with one another.

“Adopting an Agile mindset allows organizations to quickly respond to changing customer demands. With traditional implementation approaches, requirements need to be defined 12-18 months before implementation, but an Agile approach allows retailers to easily shift requirements during project implementation to match today’s and tomorrow’s customer demands,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “As retailers are pressured to do more with less and quickly adapt to new retail realities, an Agile approach to technology and operations, has become a new retail imperative.”

Agile’s emphasis on continuously gathering customer feedback for inclusion in upcoming functionality allows retailers to ensure that they’re always working on the latest and most valuable functionality for the business. Retailers increase their return on investment while delivering high quality products that meet and exceed customer demands via Agile’s emphasis on small value-added increments. By implementing an Agile mindset and providing team members with a collaborative environment where they’re empowered to innovate and learn from their mistakes, retailers are taking the right steps towards surviving the retail transformation.

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.

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

Multichannel – Luxury Memo special report

Luxury Daily -There are many theories, explanations and predictions for how the way people shop is changing. But one undeniable reality is that customers no longer shop through single channels.

The rise of digital, the fragmentation of retail options and the dissolution of brand loyalty have all contributed to the rise of multichannel retail. Multichannel, or omnichannel as some call it, simply means that a brand or retailer is integrating the various channels of its business, such as bricks-and-mortar stores, social media and ecommerce, into one cohesive path.

This trend has been incredibly influential over the last few years, with brands across the luxury world radically reorganizing the way they do business to capture shoppers across touchpoints.

“Shopping today is all about digital, digital and digital,” said Brian Bunk, principal at Boston Retail Partners retail consulting firm, Boston. “With the advent of mobile commerce, consumers expect to shop whenever and wherever they want.

“The customer journey continues to evolve as consumers move across channels to research, purchase and review products with easy access to merchandise and information right in the palm of their hands,” he said. “According to a recent research report, Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations, digital influences up to 75 percent of all in-store visits and mobile is leveraged in almost half of all in-store shopping experiences.”

“A major trend is a focus on a holistic and personalized customer experience across any and all touchpoints,” Boston Retail Partners’ Mr. Bunk said. “Too many omnichannel efforts have failed because their main focus was on a technology or solution versus focusing on the desired customer experience.

“For many retailers, there should be more of a focus on the personalized digital experiences within the store, and the capabilities to support anywhere, anytime, anyhow shopping that customers now desire and expect,” he said. “Buy online, pick up in the store (BOPIS) is simply the table stakes for retailers, and the key is to execute it flawlessly.

“With increasing expectations, we are also seeing new twists on the BOPIS model to provide customers options, such as buy in-store, ship to home; buy online, ship to home; and buy anywhere, ship or pick-up anywhere.”

Read Full Article: Multichannel – Luxury Memo special report