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Consumer-centric retail environment calls for data-driven planning

Luxury Daily – Despite the potential of leveraging consumer insights to guide merchandising decisions, many retailers are failing to effectively incorporate shopper data into their planning stages.

According to a new report from BRP, retail consulting firm, 54 percent of retailers are looking to better integrate consumer data into their planning process, making it the top priority for the next year. As retailers look to deliver the assortments and seamless shopping experiences that consumers crave, being able to mine real-time data from a wider set of sources can help stores drive sales and loyalty in a competitive environment.

“Many retailers aren’t using customer data in their planning because is difficult from many perspectives,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “Gathering customer data from multiple sources and systems and integrating it into planning systems and process is a lot of work and many retailers don’t have the time, or think they don’t, to solve this challenge.

“The retailers that use customer data in their planning process enjoy the benefits of more accurate forecasts, assortments and allocations, which results in optimized inventory and sales,” he said.

BRP’s 2018 Integrated Planning & Inventory Management Survey is based on an online survey of retailers.

Read Full Article: Consumer-centric retail environment calls for data-driven planning

Elevated Customer Expectations Require Integrated Planning Processes and Systems, According to BRP Report

54% of Retailers are Focused on Better Integration of Customer Data into Planning Activities

Boston, MA – December 13, 2018 – As customer shopping journeys continue to span across channels, it is imperative for retail planning processes, systems and organizations to be streamlined and integrated to meet increased customer expectations. Current disparate solutions must be transformed into one cohesive environment with the ability to offer customers a seamless shopping environment and the capability to deliver the right merchandise immediately – wherever it is needed. BRP published the 2018 Integrated Planning and Inventory Management Survey to offer insights on the key challenges and benefits of integrating planning processes and systems and identify where retailers are on this path to providing a holistic shopping experience.

“Today’s customer journey requires retailers to use an integrated set of solutions, processes and organization to create and deliver the shopping experience consumers expect,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president and practice lead, BRP. “The good news is that many retailers realize their systems and processes need improvement and are planning to replace more than 50% of their planning systems within the next three years. Retailers are also focused on improving the integration of actionable customer data into their planning activities, as customer demand is a critical variable in today’s customer-led demand planning.”

To achieve an integrated retail planning model, retailers need to:

Align the organization

  • 40% of retailer currently have an integrated planning organization across channels and 73% of those indicate it needs improvement
  • Within three years, 87% of retailers plan to have an integrated planning organization across channels

Integrate planning processes

  • 43% of retailer currently have an integrated planning business processes across channels and 84% of those indicate it needs improvement
  • Within three years, 93% of retailers plan to have integrated planning business processes across channels

Implement technology

  • 39% of retailer currently have an integrated planning systems across channels and 82% of those indicate it needs improvement
  • Within three years, 89% of retailers will have integrated planning systems across channels

Prioritize customer data

  • 54% of retailers are focused on better integration of actionable customer data into their planning activities
  • 44% of retailers utilize customer feedback in real-time to impact in-season planning

To download the 2018 Integrated Planning and Inventory Management Survey, visit:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-integrated-planning-survey

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.

EMV is here to stay — but has it helped?

STORES – The din from the drum of the EMV mandate is not what it was three years ago. But the reverberations over compelling retailers to adopt costly new point-of-sale technology in order to accept new chip-based credit and debit cards — and the debate over whether doing so has reduced fraud — continue to ripple through the industry.

“The road to adoption of EMV in traditional POS has been painful,” Boston Retail Partners Senior Vice President Perry Kramer says, noting “many of the regulations were still being finalized as merchants were developing processes” to implement the technology. Retailers faced challenges such as customers learning to “dip” rather than swipe. And consumers complained that EMV transaction took longer than mag-stripe, although that issue was largely resolved through the card industry’s rollout of “quick chip” EMV technology in 2016, he says.

“What you see today is that the majority of the Tier 1 retailers have it in, and it is working very well,” Kramer says. But “there’s a broad user experience still out there with EMV, some of it being very good and some of it not being so good.” Many smaller retailers continue to struggle through the transition, Kramer adds. “This is due to a number of reasons including the cost of upgrading the software and hardware,” he says. “Change management and resource efforts required to make the changes continue to compete with other business priorities in a segment that has a very small resource pool.”

Read Full Article: EMV is here to stay — but has it helped?

AI is not here to take jobs, just to make work more meaningful

F3 News – Many fear that AI is taking away jobs, but this notion is misguided. Recent trends show that companies are using artificial intelligence and automation to improve efficiency, reduce errors, and enhance communication among employees — not to cut workforces.
In fact, about 89% of retailers plan to put mobile solutions in the hands of their store associates over the next three years, according to new research from Boston Retail Partners, retail consulting firm. Walmart recently announced that the rollout of a suite of apps to help employees with everyday tasks. These applications will enable store associates to look up inventory in real-time, or instantly find out what products have just arrived in store.

They are also designed to streamline store operations through up-to-the-minute insights, such as enabling associates to look up when a product went out of stock as well as get assistance identifying the root cause, such as shelf capacity.

Read Full Article: AI is not here to take jobs, just to make work more meaningful

Windstream Enterprise and BRP to share insights from latest POS and Consumer Shopping Surveys at NRF 2019

LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Dec. 11, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)Windstream Enterprise(WE), a leading supplier of advanced network communications announced that it will be exhibiting with its subsidiary BRP, an innovative retail management consulting firm, at National Retail Federation (NRF) 2019—Retail’s Big Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, N.Y. Windstream Enterprise and BRP will be meeting with retailers in booth #4609.

Highlighting this year’s show will be the release of findings from BRP’s much-anticipated 20thAnnual POS/Customer Engagement Survey. The 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. BRP will also be publishing the insights from its annual Consumer Shopping Survey identifying the latest consumer shopping preferences and trends.

“Today’s retail industry is under increasing pressure to meet customers’ growing demands for faster and a more personalized experience regardless of how they choose to interact with the company,” said Layne Levine, president of Windstream Enterprise and Wholesale. “Retailers who help customers reimagine their place in an increasingly digital world are in the best position to win in the market.”

“We are in the midst of a retail renaissance. The customer journey and associated expectations continue to rapidly evolve – driving a need for retailers to adopt a new mindset to meet their customers’ needs,” said Ken Morris, principal at BRP. “Legacy retail applications and infrastructure at many retail organizations don’t support this new model. Retailers need to reimagine their organization, business processes and technology to align with the real-time demands of their customers. Victory belongs to the agile.”

Many retailers are moving applications to the cloud as it offers the quickest and surest path to seamlessly connect all e-commerce, mobile commerce and in-store POS transactions. In addition, cloud-based applications offer the benefits of speed of deployment, faster software updates, lower software costs and a real-time, single version of the truth. Windstream is  committed to being the retail cloud leader and solving business problems by transforming retail technology to a utility-based model where retailers pay for services and transport based on what they use.

Attendees looking for more ways to connect with BRP and Windstream Enterprise during NRF 2019 can follow @BRPConsulting and @Windstream or search for #WIN4Retail on Twitter to learn more about the latest retail technology trends from Retail’s Big Show. 

About Windstream

Windstream Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications and technology solutions for consumers, businesses, enterprise organizations and wholesale customers across the U.S. Windstream offers bundled services, including broadband, security solutions, voice and digital TV to consumers. The company also provides data, cloud solutions, unified communications and managed services to small business and enterprise clients. The company supplies core transport solutions on a local and long-haul fiber network spanning approximately 150,000 miles. Additional information is available at windstream.com. Please visit our newsroom at news.windstream.comor follow us on Twitter at @Windstream.

PCI Compliance | SD-WAN Concierge™ | Unified Communications | Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) | Secure WiFi & Analytics | Managed Network Security | Hybrid Networking | Professional Services

For more information on Windstream Enterprise, visit http://windstreamenterprise.com

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail 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.

Virtual reality plays growing role in retail

The Republic – Retailers in central Indiana, including the Macy’s at Castleton Square Mall and the Carmel-based franchise of California Closets, are using the technology to help customers visualize products and make purchasing decisions. For various reasons — including cost, cultural barriers and fear of the unknown — the technology is not yet in widespread retail use.

“The virtual reality experience has some barriers to it,” said Jeffrey Neville, a senior vice president and practice lead at Boston-based retail consulting firm BRP Consulting.

People might be self-conscious about wearing the goggles, and the immersive nature of the experience can cause motion sickness or dizziness.

“It’s not quite a comfortable experience just yet,” Neville said.

But in the next few years, the use of virtual reality and its close cousin, augmented reality, should become more common in the retail world, experts predict. “This technology is maturing quite quickly,” Neville said.

Read Full Article: Virtual reality plays growing role in retail 



Integrated Planning Solutions are Imperative to Retail Success, According to BRP Report

The BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Integrated Planning – Getting it Right, Identifies Key Challenges and Benefits of Integrated Planning Processes

Boston, MA – December 6, 2018– Streamlined and integrated planning processes are foundational to developing sound strategies and plans that align with consumers’ expectation of a seamless, cross-channel shopping journey. BRP published the SPECIAL REPORT: Integrated Planning – Getting it Right, based on the 2017 Merchandise Planning Survey, to offer insights into the key challenges and benefits of integrating planning processes and systems.

“While some retailers have been able to work with legacy tools and disjointed processes, their results have been hindered by siloed data. In order to keep up, retailers must evaluate their processes and technology, automate tactical activities, and focus on how they can position their organization for success,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president and practice lead, BRP. “With the knowledge that they have the right data integrated across the process, it will improve retailers’ ability to focus on finding the right products and distributing them to the right places. Integrated planning processes and technology are key to this effort by providing a single source of truth, collaborative approach, and organizational alignment.”

Retailers are gathering more data, across multiple channels and customer touchpoints, that is being leveraged by financial plans, demand plans, assortment plans, and store plans. The importance of a fully integrated planning solution to analyze and utilize this data is key to ensuring retailers remain competitive in this rapidly changing landscape. An integrated planning solution eliminates silos, leverages the same data, streamlines decisions, and builds consensus.

Integrating planning process is important, but also challenging.  This special report acknowledges the obstacles involved to eliminate silos and integrate people, processes and technology: resource constraints, disparate systems, organizational/process challenges, and budget constraints.

To download the BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Integrated Planning – Getting it Right visit:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-special-report-planning

The BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Getting it Right: The Science of Planningplatinum sponsor is Aptosand the gold sponsors are enVista, Mi9, Logility, NCR, and Retalon.

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail 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.

The Post-Purchase Experience Is Essential to Retaining Customers

CRM Magazine – It’s a well-established fact that repeat customers are more valuable to businesses than new ones, but e-commerce retailers remain focused on acquiring the latter, according to a recent report from BRP, retail consulting firm.

Online businesses also miss another crucial opportunity, the report finds. Specifically, after customers make online purchases, they enter a period of uncertainty, unsure of whether their products will arrive on time and in one piece. By providing regular updates on the status of the order, retailers can transform this period of doubt into a trust-affirming one. Removing that risk makes customers more likely to make repeat purchases.

For setting expectations before the customer clicks the buy button, Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP, says retailers need to ensure that shipping and return information is “clear, concise, and conveniently displayed.”

Then companies need to provide notifications at the five major stages in the delivery process—order confirmation, item dispatched, in transit, out for delivery, and delivery, the report maintains. Doing so will keep customers engaged and informed.

As for simplifying the return process, Neville states that doing so “increases customer satisfaction and loyalty.” In the report, he points out that including an adhesive, preprinted, prepaid shipping label with every package is essential, though it can also be helpful to let customers generate their own shipping labels through other channels if needed.

Read Full Article: The Post-Purchase Experience Is Essential to Retaining Customers

Unified Commerce Is Essential to Meeting Customer Expectations

CRM Magazine – To keep up with consumers’ habits and expectations, retailers must move to a unified commerce model that allows people to shop whenever, wherever, and however they want, BRP (retail consulting firm) concludes in a recent report. But to do this, they must first achieve “the five Es” of customer experience: educate, engage, execute, enhance, and enable.

“To deliver the five ‘Es’ of customer experience, the most successful retailers have transitioned their business processes, development, and delivery processes to enable agile and similar methodologies,” says Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “This transformation to an agile approach enables retailers to react at a pace that allows them to stay ahead of the rapidly changing demands of their consumers. Retailers are changing their core engagement systems to a much more flexible micro-service framework that allows for rapid change in smaller increments.”

Read full article: Unified Commerce Is Essential to Meeting Customer Expectations

Virtual reality plays growing role in retail

Indianapolis Business Journal – Walmart is among the earliest retailers to embrace virtual reality on a large scale. It is in the process of deploying some 17,000 Oculus Go virtual-reality headsets to all of its 4,500 U.S. stores as a training tool for employees.

Other retailers in central Indiana, including the Macy’s at Castleton Square Mall and the Carmel-based franchise of California Closets, are using the technology to help customers visualize products and make purchasing decisions. For various reasons—including cost, cultural barriers and fear of the unknown—the technology is not yet in widespread retail use.

“The virtual reality experience has some barriers to it,” said Jeffrey Neville, a senior vice president and practice lead at Boston-based retail management consulting firm BRP, retail consulting firm. People might be self-conscious about wearing the goggles, and the immersive nature of the experience can cause motion sickness or dizziness. “It’s not quite a comfortable experience just yet,” Neville said.

Read Full Article: Virtual reality plays growing role in retail