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Why achieving unified commerce should be a priority

TheRecord – If unified commerce is high on your priority list this year, you’re not alone. Citing a recent survey by Boston Retail Partners (BRP), Retail TouchPoints reported that 81% of retailers will be using unified commerce platforms by the end of 2020.

And 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.”

Increasingly, a unified experience is also defined as a personalised experience. “Consumers no longer ‘need’ to go shopping — if a consumer wants an item she can pull out her smartphone, click a button, and the item will be at her door within a day or two. The advent of online shopping has made us constant consumers,” said BRP in a 2017 report, Personalising the Customer Experience. “Because of this constant ability to shop and easily research the lowest price, retailers — especially those with brick and mortar locations — need to further differentiate themselves to entice customers into the store. Providing a more personalised experience and offering value-add services can help even small retailers differentiate and compete successfully against companies like Amazon. The best and most powerful way to succeed is through personalisation.”

BRP’s report cited these findings from other studies, 84% of consumers choose to interact with sales associates when at a physical retailer (Salesfloor), 87% base purchasing decisions from the advice of a retail employee (Salesfloor) and 46% of shoppers will buy more from a retailer that personalises the shopping experience (eMarketer).

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Personalization key to retaining valuable clientele: Boston Retail Partners

Luxury Daily – Personalizing consumers’ retail experiences can lead to loyalty and increased spending, according to a new report from Boston Retail Partners.

Today consumers expect more individualized communications and interactions with retailers, with 59 percent saying that personalization impacts their purchasing decisions. Identifying and appealing to shoppers with relevant offers or communications can help to establish a relationship between consumer and brand.

“While many retailers think of Amazon as the enemy, they do many things very well that are worth emulating: offering personalized online experiences, efficient delivery times, reasonable or free shipping for preferred members and an easy checkout process,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at Boston Retail Partners, Boston. “Amazon has made personalization mandatory for most retailers because they have elevated consumers’ expectation for most shopping experiences.”

“Creating a personalized shopping experience is most critical for the luxury retail segment, as it typically has the longest one-on-one customer engagement model and customers expect the highest level of service,” Boston Retail Partners’ Mr. Kramer said. “Successfully engaging with customers on a personal level requires retailers to identify the customer early in the process at any touchpoint, which initiates dialogue and sets the foundation for relationship building and personalized experiences based on customer context.

“Customer context is the interrelated factors of customer insights and environmental conditions that make the shopping experience relevant,” he said. “It enables retailers to personalize the shopping experience based on customer preferences, purchase history, their closet, their most recent online browsing history, time of day, weather and their physical location – all based on real-time information, personalized to create a bond with customers and encourage customer loyalty.

Read the full article: Personalization key to retaining valuable clientele: Boston Retail Partners

Think Tank: Fixated on Data? OK, but Don’t Forget the Customer

WWD – Sam Kliger, founder and chief executive officer of KWI, explains. I love shopping. Yes, it’s my business, but personally it’s my passion, too. For example, I recently felt the need to write a letter to the owner of a high-profile fashion brand. I walked into the store, expecting to come out with a few new things as I enjoy the clothes — the quality, the minimalist look. Instead, I walked out with conviction for what companies such as KWI are doing for the retail business.

There’s a lot of talk about unified commerce, the move toward omnichannel retail that integrates your online and in-store platforms (and full disclosure, we’re talking a lot about it, too). Boston Retail Partners estimate that 81 percent of retailers plan to have unified commerce within three years. There’s a lot of talk about unified commerce, the move toward omnichannel retail that integrates your online and in-store platforms (and full disclosure, we’re talking a lot about it, too). Boston Retail Partners estimate that 81 percent of retailers plan to have unified commerce within three years. In its 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, BRP noted that retailers are putting a laser focus on these priorities:

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

By unifying your retail systems, you’re actually building a state-of-the art customer service vehicle. Yes, the data may indicate that customers in St. Louis buy jeans at 4 p.m. on Fridays. And that’s great for your inventory. But how can you better service your customer and build brand loyalty? The real ROI here is a repeat customer. Retailers agree: According to the BRP study, 62 percent of retailers indicate customer identification is their top customer engagement priority and 83 percent will use suggestive selling based on previous purchases within three years.

Read full article: Think Tank: Fixated on Data? OK, but Don’t Forget the Customer

The Future of Smart Packaging in the Retail Industry

TotalRetail – Nowadays, 90 percent of smartphone owners use their devices in-store to research products, meaning brand owners and retailers face tough competition. Shoppers can be tempted not only by other retail store competitors, but by online stores as well. It’s not enough to offer a good in-store experience or competitive price; consumers are looking for detailed information and personalized offers at their fingertips. Younger generations especially want active engagements with brand owners.

A number of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands are exploring NFC-enabled smart packaging as an innovative way to connect directly with customers, improve engagement and understand purchase decisions. There was an early buzz around this, and now Markets and Marketing predict that the smart packaging industry will reach $39.7 billion by 2020. So, what’s driving this resurgence in interest and how will it help brand owners and retailers connect with customers in fresh, engaging and creative ways?

NFC tags can contain unique identifiers by item, not just product type, allowing retailers to connect with shoppers personally. Brands can build customer loyalty by delivering exclusive content such as relevant cross-sell and upsell opportunities and discounts for regular purchases. In fact, 4info research shows that campaigns offering a promotion outperform others by up to 80 percent. If customers can access that discount while next to the item, they’re more likely to make a purchase.

To enable this personalized experience, customer identification is critical, as noted by BRP Consulting in its 2018 POS Survey. By using NFC to engage directly with customers and build information on their behavior and likes, the brand owner or retailer can be sure that in the future specific offers are perfectly targeted to increase the chances for conversion.

Read Full Article: The Future of Smart Packaging in the Retail Industry

Retailers’ Digital Transformation Requires New Thinking

Signifyd – There is good news for retailers who feel the ground shifting under them as they contemplate the stark choice of change or die. You’re not alone. And not just because practically every retailer has been, at one time or another, faced with the same unenviable reality. You’re not alone because there is a big and burgeoning ecosystem of technology partners — each an expert in some aspect of the retail transformation — that is anxious to help.

Retail technology has developed at an accelerating pace since the dawn of the internet and the answers to merchants’ challenges are becoming more sophisticated by the day.

But even in the good news there is some gloom. Providing a memorable and personalized customer experience has become increasingly vital to success. As a result, technological and business minds have answered the call with a dizzying array of products and services. In fact, there are so many choices that merchants can become paralyzed trying to select the best solution for any given omnichannel challenge.

Vetting technology can’t be all consuming

Retailers can’t make vetting new technologies a full-time job. After all, they have companies, stores and websites to run. They have customers to understand and serve.

These are all facts of retail life that Scott Langdoc, SVP and practice lead at consultancy Boston Retail Partners, has grappled with. I talked with him at NRF’s Big Show. In the video below, he shares some of his thoughts about the potential that technology partners provide and how old-school culture is preventing some retailers from taking full advantage of that potential.

Read full article: Retailers’ Digital Transformation Requires New Thinking

Most retailers likely to adopt unified commerce

Fashion Network – As many as 81 per cent retailers of North America are planning to have unified commerce within 3 years, says a recent report. Elevated customer expectations and disruptive technology are driving the need for retail transformation. The customer journey and associated expectations continue to evolve – driving a major transformation in retail.

Disruption and adaptation are changing the customer engagement model and blurring the lines among retailers, brands and wholesalers, says BRP’s 2018 POS/Customer Engagement Survey. BRP is an innovative retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients.

The survey offers insights into retailers’ current priorities and initiatives as digital and physical retail environments converge to facilitate a seamless experience across channels.

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

“However, the legacy retail applications and infrastructure still in place at many retail organisations 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.”

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Retail shows power of personalisation

Bangkok Post – Most retailers are looking for ways to improve the consumer  experience with their brand, but few are equipped to apply one of the most obvious and powerful approaches available, which is personalisation, says Diebold Nixdorf, a multinational provider of comnected commerce and cash-handling products and services.

In a survey to gauge retailers’ customer experience priorities last year, the US-based retail and restaurant specialists BRP Consulting found 55% of respondents said that optimising the customer experience was their top priority. Increasing customer loyalty was a close second (50%) and improving the mobile shopping experience (45%) came third.

However, only 24% of respondents indicated that providing personalised promotions, recommendations and/or offerings was a top priority.

How to get personal?

Mr Holterman offers some advice from Jeffrey Neville, a BRP vice-president who once said: “Personalisation may be the most powerful way for retailers to differentiate their brand and enhance the customer experience. The challenge is to identify the best method to customise the experience for each customer.”

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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

Four reasons why artificial intelligence belongs in your customer service strategy

Outsourcing-Today – At its core, artificial intelligence (AI) is about simplifying, streamlining and organizing information. Machines take on duties that have traditionally fallen to humans, freeing them up for more important and nuanced tasks.

When you break it down like this, it’s no wonder AI is becoming such a big part of customer service. With tools like chatbots and intelligent analytics platforms applied to the customer experience, contact center agents now have more time to deliver the personalized attention customers crave.

But that’s only one of the benefits of integrating AI into your customer service strategy. Leveraging this evolving technology can also have a positive effect on your business operations, brand and bottom line.

According to a recent study conducted by retail management consulting firm Boston Retail Partners, 45 percent of retailers intend to use artificial intelligence to enhance their customer experience within the next three years. In the travel and hospitality industry, 58 percent of businesses are already automating areas that include customer service and AI is becoming increasingly prevalent among financial services companies.

Read Full Article: Four reasons why artificial intelligence belongs in your customer service strategy

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