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.”

Read Full Article: Most retailers likely to adopt unified commerce

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.”

Read Full Article: Retail shows power of personalisation

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

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.


Watch the Using Personalization To Extend The Shopping Journey Video




Using Personalization To Extend The Shopping Journey

Retail TouchPoints – Once retailers define customer expectations, they can build the right personalization journey, according to BRP’s Gene Bornac. “In the store, most importantly retailers need to enable sales associates with technology or process to understand that they need to slow the customer down, because customers do want to be identified,” Bornac explained. Bornac also discussed the potential ‘creep’ factor when moving down the road to personalization. He also shares insights into BRP’s AI research.

Watch Video:Using Personalization To Extend The Shopping Journey

As retail transforms, luxury will be last to join the movement

Luxury Daily – Consumers today are more interested in the convenient services that automation can offer, but luxury brands will be the last to replace human interaction.

A new report on POS/Customer Engagement from Boston Retail Partners explains that the retail industry as a whole is moving towards technology-based personalized services that luxury brands are reluctant to offer. Shoppers are interested and willing to interact with automaton replacements for human counterparts in retail, as long as the experience still offers quality service.

“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 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,” he said.

Read Full Article: As retail transforms, luxury will be last to join the movement

The 3 Keys for Marketers to Survive in 2018

Martech Advisor – In the age of Amazon, customer expectations for tailored, personalized experiences and instant gratification — across every industry — are at an all-time high. While daunting, technological advancements in marketing have made it possible to keep pace with this changing landscape. Using data as a guiding light, brands can tell powerful stories and deliver cohesive journeys across channels. How will this play out for marketers in 2018? Read on to find out:

  1. Customers are your best marketing—give them a story to tell

A great storyteller knows his audience, and in marketing, it’s no different . Forrester’s ‘Predictions 2018’ report foresees a faction of forward-thinking brands leaping ahead of the competition by fully embracing customer-obsessed marketing. Long gone are the days of creating a customer experience in a siloed process that takes months of focus groups. Consumer preferences are evolving in real time. Increasingly, customers are doing research online before they purchase a product or service, and they’re more heavily analyzing customer reviews and social media to inform their purchasing decisions.

This means that as retailers look to create engaging customer interactions that leave a lasting impression, the unification of personalization and experimentation will play a key role. According to BRP’s 2017 Digital Commerce Benchmark Survey, 38 percent of retailers indicated that improving personalization is a top goal for digital customer experience. Truthfully though, many brands assume they have successfully achieved personalization when they really have barely scratched the surface. Companies need to combine a range of best practices to ensure they’re personalizing at scale and looking at the digital experience from both a user interface and feature level perspective. There is no silver bullet for how this will be achieved, but, rather, it will take a skillful combination of factors to gather the right data insights and take action to provide the best customer experience possible. The marketers who adopt continued testing and experimentation and collaborate with their technology and eCommerce partners to gauge customer engagement and adopt continuous innovation strategies will be the most successful in driving the right business outcome.

  1. Develop an online-offline strategy or die

Over the last few years, retailers have come to understand that online and offline markets are converging. In 2018, omnichannel retail orders will get smarter to adapt to consumer preferences – for example, retailers are seeing an increase in demand for in-store pickup of online orders, forcing the hand of marketers to bridge the gap between online and offline experiences. In fact, according to a recent BRP Digital Commerce Survey, 90 percent of retailers will offer the ability to buy online and pick up in-store by 2020. Retailers must start to analyze online and offline data together to get a more comprehensive picture of their customers’ shopping journeys  — or risk losing loyal shoppers.


Read Full Article: The 3 Keys for Marketers to Survive in 2018