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Transform the Experience

RIS News – There has been a huge technology shift in the past few years and mobile technology is the driver. Mobile capabilities enable retailers to break down the barrier between the online digital environment and the physical store. The proliferation of tablets and smartphones has created new opportunities for retailers to enhance the customer experience to meet the expectations of their very informed and technology-savvy customers.

This is an excerpt from a byline article by Ken Morris, principal at BRP, that was published in the RIS New Special Report: 2016 Mobile Products & Solutions Guide.

Retailers are increasingly using mobile devices to transform the customer experience in three key areas:

transform-the-experiencePOS. Mobile POS frees associates from the checkout desk to enable more personal interaction and it simplifies the customer’s experience. According to BRP’s “2016 POS Survey,” 20% of retailers have implemented mobile POS and 78% plan to utilize within three years. We are seeing a growing trend of retailers implementing a flexible mobile POS option where a tablet inserted in a docking station can be a replacement for traditional POS. Mobile POS offers a lower initial upfront cost and is disposable, enabling retailers to eliminate annual maintenance costs.

Guided Selling. Retailers can leverage the knowledge and skills of an “A” associate through mobile apps, ostensibly turning their “B” and “C” associates into “A” associates. According to the 2016 POS Survey, only 14% of retailers currently offer suggested selling based on a customer’s previous purchase, however, 72% of retailers plan to offer this service within three years.

Customer Engagement. Leveraging consumers’ mobile devices to identify them as they walk into the store enables retailers to enhance the shopping experience through more personalized services. Once customers are identified, retailers can send personalized offers and recommendations to their smartphones and provide interactive product suggestions. According to the same survey, only 10% of retailers can identify customers via near field communications (NFC) today, however, within three years 50% of retailers plan to have this capability.

Read full report (Transform the Experience – Page 6):

2016 Mobile Product & Solution Guide: Mobile Customers, Mobile Retailing, Mobile Generation

Aldo’s bricks-and-mortar connected store experience laces up mobile-inspired sales

Mobile Commerce Daily – Footwear and accessories retailer Aldo is the latest brand to integrate mobile with the bricks-and-mortar landscape, enabling shoppers at its new Westfield World Trade Center location to use its application and self-serve tablets to enjoy a more personalized shopping experience.

Aldo’s connected store opened its doors at the Westfield World Trade Center in New York this week. Shoppers can leverage the brand’s mobile app to unlock various features, such as product wish lists, and purchase items that may not be physically present in a desired size or style, showcasing how retailers can use smartphone-led technology to expand consumer-facing inventory and revamp traditional bricks-and-mortar browsing experiences.

“The enhanced personalized features driven by mobile apps and more meaningful interactions between the customer and sales associate will help customer find and buy the right products based on customer context,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners. “With customer context, retailers can guide the shopping journey based on what a customer has in her closet, what she previously purchased, what she browsed on the Web site and abandoned in her online cart, when she is near your store and even exactly what she is browsing and where within the store.

“In addition to customer insights, customer context considers environmental conditions such as current and forecasted weather, time of day, time of year, media, social media, traffic, holidays, events, and other conditions that impact a consumer’s purchase decision,” he said.

“The main reason customers leave empty-handed is because they are not helped by an associate or can’t find what they are looking for. The new features of Aldo’s new connected store, which leverages customer context, will help eliminate this problem.”

Read Full Article: Aldo’s bricks-and-mortar connected store experience laces up mobile-inspired sales

The Hospitality Industry Is Getting a High-Tech Makeover

BizTech – Building and maintaining strong customer relationships is crucial for long-term success in the hospitality industry. To seal customer loyalty, hospitality businesses of every type can now take advantage of a wide range of affordable, easy-to-deploy technologies that result in a competitive advantage and meet guest expectations for quality, value, promptness, responsiveness and flexibility. These solutions also offer a wide range of other service attributes that lead to repeat sales.

Technology is no longer just solving backend business problems or allowing guests to connect their devices to the Internet, observes Sanjay Garg, senior product manager for hospitality marketing and solutions with Aruba Networks. “Today, technology is enabling the industry to offer guests an immersive, personalized experience like never before, from wayfinding and push notifications based on their location and personal preferences to simplified check-in/checkout and a more ‘homelike’ experience while they’re traveling,” he says. “Technology is no longer just about infrastructure; it is a true enabler for offering the traveler a ‘wow’ experience in every step of their journey.”

“Mobile apps, combined with loyalty rewards programs, now allow hospitality providers to create a persona-based experience,” says Perry Kramer, vice president and practice lead for customer engagement with Boston Retail Partners, a consulting firm. Using data supplied by a guest via an app, a hotelier can immediately see and accommodate preferences, such as a lower or upper floor, a handicapped room or dietary needs. “This speeds check-ins, increasing customer satisfaction, and encourages return visits,” Kramer says.

Read full article: The Hospitality Industry Is Getting a High-Tech Makeover

Are social media buy buttons on the way out?

Mobile Commerce Daily – Twitter’s plans to scale back its buy button alludes to a stalemate for retail on social media as consumers fail to adopt native shopping experiences, although Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest could still prevail.

While Twitter is trying to establish itself more as a image-enabled social media platform, its consumer behavior is rooted heavily in text-based posts where direct purchasing ability is less likely to flourish. Other social platforms with heavier focuses on images may be more successful with buy buttons, but dynamic product ads offer the most potential when it comes to retail-enabled social pushes.

“Twitter’s recent decision to scale back the buy button seems indicative of a larger struggle that social sites are facing generating traction for social commerce,” said Laura Sossong, senior consultant at Boston Retail Partners. “Though social media has made tremendous gains in popularity, finding new ways to generate revenue and monetize on offerings has been a taxing trial and error process for all companies.”

“From a user experience perspective, the real-time, feed-based Twitter platform lacks the natural look and feel of a traditional commerce platform,” she said. “Shoppers lack of comfort with buy buttons and their concern about data security has contributed to their hesitation in adopting this technology.

“Social commerce platforms must strike a balance between providing ease of purchasing while at the same time preserving the aesthetic and security elements of traditional e-commerce sites. Until then, use of dynamic product advertising will likely offer more investment potential for social sites.”

Read full article: Are social media buy buttons on the way out?

The Perry Ellis Paradigm

STORES Magazine – Apparel brand turns the men’s department into an experiential destination. The 21st-century shopper is forcing retailers to offer an experience that is personalized and engaging if they want to secure consumers’ loyalty. By creating a “connected store” that uses digital tools to deliver individualized shopping experiences, Perry Ellis International is retaining existing loyal shoppers, as well as attracting a new genre of customers.

There is no denying that retailers are exploring ways to adopt innovative digital technologies as a means of bolstering the customer experience. In fact, 68 percent of retailers are focused on improving the consumer experience by identifying customers, utilizing customer-facing technology and empowering associates with information in real-time, according to Boston Retail Partners’ 17th annual point-of-sale/customer engagement survey.

Read full article: The Perry Ellis Paradigm

Residential, customer-oriented design gives in-store a space in a digital world

Luxury Daily – Physical retail is not dying, but brands need to adjust to consumers’ digitally informed expectations. Despite many industry insiders predicting that bricks-and-mortar will be phased out, a November 2015 report from Boston Retail Partners noted that 90 percent of retail sales transactions still occur in-store.

Boston Retail Partners’ “The Future Store Manifesto” focuses on how future retail will be an “omnichannel theatre blending the physical sensory experience with the convenience of digital,” a strategy that is slowly being implemented by retailers across industry sectors. As consumer expectations have shifted toward increased mobile interaction, retailers have been faced with challenges, and necessary adaptations are needed to deliver the experience expected in-stores (see story).

Enhancing customer experience and customer engagement is retailers’ top priority, according to an executive from Boston Retail Partners speaking at the Mcommerce Summit: State of Mobile Commerce 2016 on May 5.

Consumers have embraced mobile devices, and improving their experience equates to meeting their needs on that platform. From the business’ perspective, integrating a unified commerce experience will not only improve service but also increase productivity and mitigate costs (see story).

Read full article: Residential, customer-oriented design gives in-store a space in a digital world

Kmart, Sears embrace mobile’s exclusivity with inventory scanning, sales alerts

Mobile Commerce Daily – Kmart and Sears have both updated their applications with the ability to receive alerts on specials before they are available more broadly and scan in-store items to check online inventory, highlighting how retailers can leverage mobile to provide added value to loyal shoppers.

Users are now able to take advantage of the enhanced features within the Kmart and Sears mobile apps, both of which aim to transform consumers’ smartphones into personal shopping companions for in-store and at-home use. The brands are also ensuring that mobile-savvy individuals receive the first crack at any sales and new tools, a strategy that all major retailers should take advantage of when it comes to pleasing frequent customers.

“The key to getting consumers to download mobile apps and keep them on their phone is to offer compelling value,” said Gene Bornac, vice president of Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “Kmart’s strategy to promote Bluelight Specials on its mobile app is a great way to garner more app downloads and the value of access to instant specials will help inspire customers to use and keep the app.”

Read Full Article: Kmart, Sears embrace mobile’s exclusivity with inventory scanning, sales alerts

Beacon Technology for Retail Programs: Tailoring Messages at Store Level

Samsung Blog – Personalization is the key to driving loyalty, yet retailers still struggle to make a one-on-one connection with their most valuable store-level shoppers. The addition of beacon technology for retail programs is changing this paradigm by driving a new level of customer engagement through personalization — a move that creates a valuable loyalty proposition in an omnichannel retail model.

As retailers decipher how to connect with shoppers while they’re making purchase decisions, more are eager to harness the power of consumer smartphones. Within five years, 53 percent of retailers plan to begin identifying customers via smartphones when they walk into the store — this is a significant jump from the six percent of companies currently utilizing this technology, as discussed in a session conducted by Boston Retail Partners at Shop.org’s 2015 Digital Summit in Philadelphia.

Read Full Blog Post: Beacon Technology for Retail Programs: Tailoring Messages at Store Level

Study: Retailers seek seamless store capabilities

Chain Store Age – Retailers’ top priorities for POS and customer engagement reinforce the concept of the store as the foundation of an omnichannel enterprise.

According to the Boston Retail Partners (BRP) 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey, a leading 85% of respondents said having a unified commerce platform that seamlessly operates across all commerce channels is a top priority. Another 68% cited customer experience and engagement as a top priority.

“Saddled with legacy systems that are not designed to accommodate today’s retail environment, retailers have scrambled to cobble things together in attempts to deliver the omnichannel capabilities customers expect,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners. “Retailers need to invest in infrastructure, networks and service oriented architecture (SOA) layer and do it right. The risk of losing customers due to disappointing shopping experiences caused by a flawed omnichannel architecture is deadly and that is why “real” unified commerce is retailers’ top priority for 2016.”

Read Full Article: Study: Retailers seek seamless store capabilities

2016 Outlook Guide

Retail TouchPoints – Where are retailers along the path to omnichannel excellence? How much time and budget should be devoted to security issues in 2016?
These and other questions are asked and answered in the Retail
TouchPoints 2016 Outlook Guide. A total of 11 retail industry experts —
including leading industry analysts, consultants, researchers and retailers
— have shared their expertise and predictions for 2016 and beyond.

This year, we asked some of last year’s contributors to reflect on their
2015 predictions before commenting on 2016. You’ll be pleasantly
surprised at their candor and comments related to past, present and
future insights.

Some key topics for 2016 include: Omnichannel, Data Security, Mobile
Technology, Payments, Cloud and much more. Our experts have
contributed tips for executives in all types of retail segments, from
specialty and big box to grocery and home improvement.

See insights from Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners, about how retailers will be bringing the “Amazon Experience” to the store (page 15).

Read the full article: 2016 Outlook Guide