WEBINAR: Straight Talk about the Changing Face of Retail

Mark your calendar and watch this Webinar to learn why leading retailers are adopting unified commerce platforms to break-down channel silos.

RIS News Webinar: Straight Talk about the Changing Face of Retail

Event Date: 3/5/2015 1:00 PM (EST)

Register Here

Customers are completely changing the face of retail, forcing retailers to change their siloed thinking of the past. A key element in this evolution is the convergence of online and in-store systems into a unified commerce platform that leverages the latest technological advances to serve omnichannel shoppers. According to a recently released study by Boston Retail Partners, the pace of unified commerce platform implementations will increase by 663% over the next four years. More than a third of retailers will carry out an implementation within two years and more than 50% within four years.

In this webinar you will hear from Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners, and Keith Swenson VP of R&D at Fujitsu America, who will provide straight talk and insight into key developments that are driving the evolution of the store:

  • Breaking down channel silos – the Achilles Heel of retail technology
  • Understanding the building blocks of unified commerce – robust middleware, master data management and business process management
  • Best practices from successful use cases of unified commerce in action today

Join this webinar to get a jump start on your unified commerce transformation.

Joe Skorupa, Editorial Director, RIS News

Ken Morris, Principal, Boston Retail Partners
Keith Swenson, VP of R&D, Fujitsu America

BPM White Paper CoverFor more information on this topic, I recommend you read this white paper:

Achieve Unified Commerce With The Right Technology






Why Millennial Moms Rock

Motherhood Through My Eyes Blog – This post discusses key findings fromBabyCenter’s latest report on millennial moms, and stats from Pew Research as well as thoughts from Ken Morris of retail consulting firm Boston Retail Partners on how brands are connecting with millennial moms.

Read full article: Why Millennial Moms Rock

Real-time retail will revolutionize shopping as we know it: report

LUXURY DAILY – Within the next two years, approximately 300 percent more retailers plan to deploy mobile point-of-sale tactics into in-store strategies, according to a new report from Boston Retail Partners.

After slowly coming to terms with the importance of mobile in a bricks-and-mortar setting, retailers are now embracing the opportunities this technology presents. Mobile devices have become omnipresent in the lives of consumers and have had a significant impact on retail and the shopping experience, causing retailers to adapt to catch up with modern behavior.

Read this article to see how retailers are using mobile technology to enable real-time retail.

Read full article: Real-time retail will revolutionize shopping as we know it: report

Nearly 300% more retailers plan to deploy mobile POS in two years

BRP_Special_Report_-_Mobile_TechnologyMobile devices have become ubiquitous in the lives of consumers, dramatically changing how they shop. According to a November 2014 report by comScore, Inc., 182 million people in the U.S. own smartphones, which is a 74.9 percent mobile market penetration.[1] Having a constant, virtually unlimited amount of information at their fingertips has changed consumers’ shopping behavior and elevated their expectation for customer service. Consumers now use mobile devices to research products, compare prices, complete purchases online and increasingly to pay for in-store purchases.

The proliferation of tablets and mobile phones has also created new opportunities for retailers to enhance customer service. Putting mobile devices in the hands of store associates enables inventory look-up (enterprise-wide) even for products not immediately available, supports the associate providing assistance to the customer on the selling floor and enables transaction processing anywhere in the store.

To better understand the actual impact mobile devices are having on retail, Boston Retail Partners (BRP) surveyed the top North American retailers to explore the current state of how mobile technology is shaping retail capabilities, priorities and processes. In the BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Mobile Technology – Transforming the Customer Experience we explored several key findings that validate the significant impact of mobile devices on store operations and how they are changing retail as we know it.

This special report explores how mobile devices are impacting retail in three key areas:287 Percent Increase in Mobile POS

  • Mobile POS – utilizing a mobile device as the checkout device
    • Nearly 300% more retailers plan to deploy mobile POS in the next two years
  • Customer-facing mobile services – leveraging mobile devices to enhance the shopping experience
    • Approximately 200% more retailers plan to use geolocation within three years
  • Mobile payment – utilizing a customer’s smartphone as a payment device
    • 350% more retailers plan to support NFC payments by October 2015

I encourage you to read the complete survey report for additional insights on retailers’ top priorities and how they are focused on improving the customer experience.

Download Now: 

BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Mobile Technology – Transforming the Customer Experience

As always, I welcome your thoughts and opinions. Please share your comments below.


[1] ecomScore Reports December 2014 U.S. Smartphone Subscriber Market Share, February 9, 2015,

Selfridges accounts for rise in tax-free shopping with new service department

LUXURY DAILY – British department store chain Selfridges is responding to the rise of international consumers by organizing a dedicated customer service center inside its London flagship.

“Selfridges is a world-renowned international shopping destination with a rich heritage of delivering extraordinary customer experiences,” said Brian Brunk, principal at Boston Retail Partners, Boston.

Read full article:

Selfridges accounts for rise in tax-free shopping with new service department

Retailers’ Top IT Priorities for 2015, According to Retail Survey

2015 POS Survey CoverAccording to BRP’s 16th Annual POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, the top priorities for retailers in 2015 are focused on:

  • Improving payment security
  • Developing a unified commerce platform
  • Enabling real-time retail.

This survey of top North American retailers explores the current state of the industry and how technology is shaping retail capabilities, highlighting the priorities, processes, tools and strategies of today’s retailers.

More than 63% of the retail respondents in the 2015 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey indicated that payment security is one of their top three priorities for 2015. While real-time retail and unified commerce were priorities last year, payment security has now jumped to the forefront in 2015 as the number one priority for retailers. This is really not surprising after last year’s data breaches at a number of major retailers plus the looming October 2015 deadline for credit card liability shift associated with EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) compliance.

Retailers are realizing that they can no longer fragment the customer experience by channel, but must deliver a holistic customer experience that transcends channels. Today’s always wired customers, with real-time communication being the norm, have come to expect the same interactive experience with the brands they shop. Retailers can’t afford to operate from within channel silos, and must transform their organization, business processes and technology if they want to align with their customers. Unified commerce is the new retail paradigm, driven by a customer that is forever redefining retail.

And an integral enabler of unified commerce is a single, centralized commerce platform for all channels. While only 8% of retailers have implemented a single commerce platform, more than half of the retailers indicated they will have a single commerce platform implemented within the next 4 years – that’s a 663% increase! It is encouraging to see the commitment from retailers to provide the seamless shopping experience consumers want.

Key Survey Results

Retailers’ top priority is payment security:

  • 650% more retailers will support EMV by October 2015
  • 151% increase in the use end-to-end encryption by the end of 2016
  • 130% increase in the use tokenization by the end of 2016

Unified commerce continues to be a high priority for retailers:

  • 663% more retailers will have a single commerce platform in four years
  • 250% increase in the implementation of order management solutions in three years

Real-time retail is becoming a reality:

  • 510% more retailers will know what’s in their customer’s closet in three years
  • 1060% increase in retailers personalizing the shopping experience by understanding the customer’s online browsing history in three years

Special thanks to the gold sponsors of this year’s POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey: Epicor, Fujitsu America, Inc. and Hughes.

I encourage you to read the complete survey report for additional insights on retailers’ top priorities and how they are focused on improving the customer experience.

Download Now: 2015 POS/Customer engagement Benchmarking Survey

As always, I welcome your thoughts and opinions. Please share your comments below.


Omnichannel vs. Unified Commerce

eMARKETER- An Interview with Ken Morris

Excerpt from the interview:

eMarketer: What is the difference between unified commerce and omnichannel?

Ken Morris: In omnichannel, you have multiple channels but you don’t have one piece of software, one version of the truth: You have many versions of the truth. In the unified commerce world, it’s all connected in real time. I don’t just mean the web side but the mobile side, the web side and the store side—all in real time. Fifty years ago, retailers made a decision to decentralize point of sale [POS] because of a lack of network technology. The networks at that time weren’t redundant, they weren’t fast enough and they were too expensive to connect. When we talk about unified commerce, it’s bringing that all together in real time.

Download the complete interview: here (requires eMarketer subscription)

Seeking Retailers’ Opinions – 16th Annual POS and Customer Engagement Survey

Customers want a personalized seamless shopping experience – we all know that – but what does that mean for retailers? What are retailers doing to offer their customer the shopping experience she wants, when and where she wants it? These are some of the areas that BRP’s POS/ Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey addresses this year.

This is our 16th year for this industry-leading survey and it is interesting how the survey has changed through the years.  When we first started the survey, we asked questions about “cash registers” and whether retailers were looking at expanding to the Internet. Now we are asking retailers about offering customers the ability to use her own mobile phone to purchase items in the store! And with pervasive data breaches impacting all retail segments, payment and data security has become a retail imperative.

In addition to the core questions on traditional point-of-sale hardware and software, the survey has continued to expand into the key topics that are top priorities for retailers, including:

  • Customer experience and personalizationSuvey Checkboxes with Computer Mouse 01
  • Mobile POS
  • Virtual POS
  • Payment security
  • Order management
  • Unified commerce

Please share your opinions

Our POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey is open now so please take a few minutes and give us your thoughts today:  TAKE SURVEY HERE.  The results of the survey will be compiled and analyzed and we will release the final report at NRF’s BIG Show on January 11th, 2015.  If you are planning to attend NRF please plan on stopping by Booth #1230 to say hello to all of us and find out what retailers are doing now and in the next few years to engage the customer and personalize the shopping experience.

We appreciate your input and look forward to seeing you at NRF.

Why is Real-time Retail the New Retail Imperative?

Would you cross the street based on yesterday’s traffic information? Of course not!

Well that is essentially the risk that retailers are taking by making decisions based on old information – batched sales from yesterday or last week. Ok, it’s a little overdramatic, but you get my point.

As you know, customers are becoming more demanding – driven by new technology and the real-time capabilities it enables. A customer can be shopping at a store for a specific model of computer and she can take a photo of it and get instant access to the best prices from multiple competitors and the closest store that has it in stock – in real-time.

Consumers expect a seamless experience in the store, on the Web or anywhere customers choose to shop. This is why “real-time retail” is the new imperative. Unfortunately, most retailers don’t have real-time retail capabilities today.

What is Real-time Retail?

When a customer walks in your door, do you know who she is? Do you know what she abandoned in her online shopping cart this morning? Do you know that she looked at your daily specials on her smartphone 30 minutes ago? Can you see current inventory at your store and all other stores and distribution centers in your chain – in real-time? These capabilities are examples of real-time retail in action.

BRP Definition of Real-time Retail:

Real-time Retail – Delivering a seamless experience to consumers whenever, wherever or however they choose to shop by gathering, analyzing and disseminating customer, product, pricing and inventory data across all channels – in real-time.

What industries have embraced real-time retail?

Banking was the first industry to capitalize on the power of networks to enhance the customer experience with real-time retail. Until the 1970’s banking required personnel to handle a transaction, but everything changed with the development and utilization of automated teller machines (ATMs) supported by a robust and redundant network. When ATMs were tied into systems, it facilitated access to, and transfer of, real-time cardholder account information. Today, consumers can get cash, deposit checks and conduct nearly all their banking whenever and wherever they want – in real-time.

Why don’t all Retailers have Real-time Retail?

The simple answer is that it is the road less traveled. Very few people really want to risk their career on innovation, especially when it is a complex undertaking. While the technology is readily available, most retailers are saddled with legacy systems that are not conducive to massive real-time read/write demands. Integrating numerous systems together to work in near real-time is even a daunting proposition. And the time and cost to do a total systems rip and replace is not usually an option.

Developing a strategy and roadmap for real-time retail is now an imperative for success. For established retailers with legacy systems, the only feasible approach is to prioritize the most critical real-time capabilities and start there first

The Problem is that Infrastructure has no “home!”

No department in the retail organization is willing to invest in infrastructure. While all departments require, and indirectly benefit from, a strong infrastructure, projects to improve technology infrastructure rarely gets allocated budget funding. Why? Because it is hard to demonstrate the ROI and there are a lot of other projects with quick payback that get funded instead. Just as railroad projects in the 1800s and highway projects in the 1900s were funded without a tangible ROI, infrastructure projects need to be justified in the same manner – because “it is the right thing to do.”

What do Leading Retailers Think about Real-time Retail?

To get feedback from retail industry experts, I recently moderated a lively workshop session on “Real-time Retail: It’s What Customers Demand” at the RetailConnections Omnichannel Retail Executive Forum in New York. Check out the Workshop Recap of the ideas and comments debated and discussed in this session, including:Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 8.10.52 PM

  • Real-time Retail
  • Personalized Selling
  • Interactive CRM
  • Monitor & React
  • Task Management
  • Nimble Execution

Why will Retailers move on this?

Once retailers have the infrastructure in place, they will follow the money. Historically, IT expenses are 60% hardware, 20% software and 20% services. With a robust infrastructure that requires minimal/thin hardware, it will take almost half the costs out of projects and be extremely cost effective to achieve real-time retail capabilities. It will be an easy decision!

Real-time retail is becoming a mantra in the retail industry and is a key focus area for most of our clients.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and any examples of retailers having success with real-time retail.

Please share your comments below.



Customer Engagement & Personalization are HOT Topics!

CRM Study Report2A good barometer of what topics are hot is the media coverage a press release receives.  A week and a half ago, we issued a press release on the results of our CRM/Unified Commerce Study and there have been 24 articles covering this topic.  The key priorities identified by retailers in the Boston Retail Partners 1st Annual CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey focused on enhancing customer engagement, collecting and analyzing customer behavior and personalizing the experience.

This news has received more coverage than any other press release that I have issued in the past 15 years (including more than 100 releases at two $5+ billion companies).  This is real evidence that customer engagement and personalization are very hot topics in the retail industry. It also supports the priority that retailers are making on delivering “real-time retail.”

Here is a list of the media coverage to date:

93 Percent of Retailers Strive to Bridge E-Commerce and In-Store Supply Chains

Only 38% of Marketers Can Separate Prospects From Existing Customers

Most retailers plan to find out who’s in-store

Most Retailers Plan To Soon Be Able To Identify Customers When They Walk Into Their Stores
Business Insider

Customer Experience, Engagement Among Top Retail Initiatives: Study

Survey: Customer Engagement Top Retail Initiative 
Independent Retailer

Upward Trend: Identifying 75% of Customers When They Walk in Your Store
Loyalty 360

From omni-channel retail to unified commerce, smart shopping is on its way
Telecom TV

Most Retailers Can’t Yet Identify Shoppers via Mobile

Identifying customers in-store is high on retailers’ agendas

Unified Commerce- The New Mantra for Retailers?

75% of retailers will identify customers at hello by 2019

Study reveals within 5 years, 75% of merchants plan to ID customers
The Green Sheet

Only 3pc of retailers recognize in-store shoppers via mobile: report and

Retailers Must Merge Marketing and IT Strategies to Enhance Customer Engagement Experience
VSR Magazine

Survey: Three in four retailers plan to identify customers in-store
Chain Store Age

Retailers have plans to connect in-store


Customer Engagement Top Goal For Retailers
Convenience Store Decisions

Retailers want to gather all possible information about their customers – Shopping Center Industry News

Boston Retail Partners: Within 5 Years, 75% of Retailers Plan to Identify Customers when they Walk in the Store.

Drug Store News

Within 5 Years, 75% of Retailers Plan to Identify Customers When They Walk in the Store