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Amazon’s “style assistant” offers guidance, product suggestions

Luxury Daily – Online retail giant Amazon is looking to become a key source of fashion inspiration and advice through the nationwide roll out of its style-centric Echo Look device.

Originally launched last year on an invite-only basis, the Echo Look uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to help consumers pick between outfits or add to their closets. The Echo Look has the potential to change the way consumers shop for fashion and interact with their wardrobes, opening doors for Amazon and its brand partners.

“Echo Look is a logical extension to integrate with Amazon’s commerce platform,” said Laura Sossong, consulting manager at Boston Retail Partners. “It’s the perfect complementary offering to stimulate incremental sales and create cross-selling opportunities for Amazon’s existing fashion pieces and Alexa technology.”

“Fashion marketers will absolutely look to leverage Echo Look’s Style Check function to boost sales and increase exposure to their brand offerings,” Ms. Sossong said. “The social component of the device will allow sharing of look books, raising awareness and demand for labels and trending merchandise across social communities.”

“Playing upon successful components of social media, Echo will bring outside influence and inspiration to a consumer’s closet,” Boston Retail Partners’ Ms. Sossong said. “It will promote social shopping by introducing shoppers to new style ideas and brands that inspire purchases.”

Read Full Article: Amazon’s “style assistant” offers guidance, product suggestions

Retailers Want Your Data: Here’s How They Get It

PC Mag – If you’re a business owner, knowing your audience is key. But how best to collect data on customers? According to Boston Retail Partners, 37 percent of retailers use more personalized service as an incentive to have consumers identify themselves, while another 37 percent offer no incentives at all. About 30 percent offer product-based incentives (such as buy one-get one free), while others dangle easy returns or exchanges—if you sign up for an account.

The more a retailer knows about you—from products you’ve purchased to those you’ve browsed, favorited, or put in your cart for later—the easier it is for them to find ways to get more of your dollars. There is a whole industry filled with products, information services, and agencies designed to reconcile and act on much of the anonymous browsing conducted on retailer websites.

Read Full Article: Retailers Want Your Data: Here’s How They Get It

Unified Commerce is Here: The Customer Experience of the Future

MarTech Series – According to a Latest Report, 73% of Customers Want Order Tracking Across all Touchpoints but only 7% of Retailers Currently Offer “Start Anywhere, Finish Anywhere” Order Capabilities.

Customer-centric retailing and selling are the new business models. The new model goes beyond the traditional horizon of omnichannel, breaking down the lofty walls between internal intent silos and the potent customer experience platforms.

” Unified commerce and a customer experience (CX) that transcends channels are the foundation of the new retail model.” – BPR

The future of customer experience is now, and Unified Commerce would play the biggest role in assigning performance-related metrics to the use of emerging technologies — AR, VR, AI, and video for commerce. BRP’s 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce 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 report also compares retailers’ priorities with customer expectations – based on recent results from the 2018 Retail Consumer Study conducted by Incisiv and sponsored by BRP and Windstream Enterprise – to understand how retailer priorities align with customer expectations.

Read full article: Unified Commerce is Here: The Customer Experience of the Future

The Retail Firmament: Email And The Customer Experience

MediaPost – Retailers are crawling toward delivering a holistic customer experience. And they have a long way to go, according to The Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey, a report by BRP.

Most retailers use personal email — 81% say they do. And 12% expect to use it within three years. But 45% admit their email marketing needs improvement. And not all are succeeding at delivering a unified cross-channel experience to customers.

Of over 500 North American retailers polled, 81% pursue a multichannel or omnichannel program, but only 5% have reached a “true unified commerce model,” the study states.

The result is a “faux” omnichannel model, according to BRP, a retail management consulting firm.

Overall, the top priority of the respondents is to increase customer loyalty — 53% are pursuing this goal. The second objective, cited by 42%, is to optimize the customer experience.

Read full article: The Retail Firmament: Email And The Customer Experience

Study: ‘Seamless shopping’ is still a pipe dream

Chain Store Age – Retailers know it is critical for shopping experiences to be seamless and frictionless, yet these experiences are still few and far between.

While most consumers expect the ability to shop effortlessly across channels, only 7% of retailers currently provide a complete unified commerce experience that allows a customer to “start the sale anywhere, finish the sale anywhere,” according to the “2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey,” from Boston Retail Partners (BRP).

Knowing that consumers will often stop shopping a brand after just one bad customer moment, retailers are making big plans to converge digital and physical retail environments to facilitate a seamless experience across channels going forward. Within three years, 50% of companies plan to offer a complete unified commerce experience that allows a customer to start and finish the sale anywhere.

To help retailers prepare for this journey, BRP offers the “E5 of Customer Experience”: Educate, Engage, Execute, Enhance and Enabler.

“With customer expectations continuing to rise, it is promising to see how many retailers are focused on adding new capabilities to enhance the shopping experience,” said Perry Kramer, senior VP and practice lead at Boston Retail Partners.

Read Full Article: Study: ‘Seamless shopping’ is still a pipe dream

73% of Customers Want Order Tracking Across all Touchpoints but only 7% of Retailers Currently Offer “Start Anywhere, Finish Anywhere” Order Capabilities

BRP’s 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey Analyzes and Compares Consumer Expectations to Retailer Capabilities to Identify Opportunities

Boston, MA – May 24, 2018 – According to a new report from BRP, rapidly evolving customer expectations are driving a major transformation in retail. The 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey combines research on customer expectations with survey findings on retailers’ current capabilities and future plans to highlight areas of opportunities for retailers. As consumers will often stop shopping a brand after just one bad customer moment, it becomes critical for retailers to make the shopping experience seamless and frictionless.

“While most consumers expect the ability to shop seamlessly across channels, only 7% of retailers currently provide a complete unified commerce experience by allowing a customer to ‘start the sale anywhere, finish the sale anywhere,’ with another 50% planning to implement it in three years,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “With customer expectations continuting to rise, it is promising to see how many retailers are focused on adding new capabilities to enhance the shopping experience.”

BRP’s 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce 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 report also compares retailers’ priorities with customer expectations – based on recent results from the 2018 Retail Consumer Study conducted by Incisiv and sponsored by BRP and Windstream Enterprise – to understand how retailer priorities align with customer expectations.

The key survey findings are organized around the E5 of Customer Experience:

  1. Educate – Customers start the purchasing process by researching the brand and products so it is critical to ensure they and the store associates have information and tools that are easy to access and use.
  • 62% of consumers check reviews/ratings before visiting a store
  • 61% of retailers offer consumer product reviews for research
  1. Engage – The first step in customer engagement is to identify the customer early in the process and offer associates the ability to leverage customer information to allow personalized interaction.
  • 64% of consumers are fine with retailers saving purchase history and personal perferences if more personalization is offered
  • 61% of retailers make in-store and online shopping history available to associates to tailor the customer experience
  1. Execute – To meet and exceed today’s elevated customer expectations, retailers must deliver unified commerce capabilities and empower associates with the right tools to optimize the experience.
  • 73% of consumers want the ability to track orders across all points of interaction
  • 42% of retailers offer the ability to track orders across channels
  1. Enhance – Gathering feedback to understand customers’ likes and dislikes allows for a continuous improvement loop and helps empower associates to create a desired customer experience.
  • 51% of consumers will stop shopping at a retailer after 1-2 poor in-store shopping trips
  • 62% of retailers plan to improve their in-store customer experience within three years
  1. Enablers – Delivering a personalized customer experience requires the right technology and network.
  • 68% of consumers are more likely to choose a store offering an automated returns process
  • 13% of retailers offer an automated returns process

To download the complete 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, visit:

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

The 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey platinum sponsors are Aptos and Manhattan Associates, gold sponsors are Cayan, ECRS, enVista and PCMS, and the silver sponsor is STORIS.

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.

Most Retailers Haven’t Mastered Personalization Yet

eMarketer – Much has been written about value exchange and the push-pull of consumers’ willingness to give up personal info for personalization, offers or other supposed special treatment. Many US internet users, however, are reluctant to reveal anything more than their name and email address to marketers. 

At the minimum, a retailer should be able to discern and differentiate a consumer at some point during a shopping journey. An April 2018 BRP (Boston Retail Partners) survey of retailers in North America found very different capacities for identifying customers in-store vs. online. That’s not completely surprising since digital activity has been easier historically to track than behavior in-store.

Read Full Article: Most Retailers Haven’t Mastered Personalization Yet 

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).

Read Full Article: Why achieving unified commerce should be a priority

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