Retail Tech and Privacy

CPS Media – The dystopian novel “1984” begins with the protagonist Winston Smith hiding from a device called a telescreen. The telescreen is a combination TV and surveillance camera that the book’s fictional government uses to constantly monitor its citizens. In author George Orwell’s nightmare world, everyday people can watch programs on the telescreens, but it is always watching them back.

What does this have to do with convenience stores? More and more every day. When “1984” was published in 1949, Orwell could not imagine that we would have the ability to immediately identify almost anyone using facial recognition technology. The possibility that we as consumers might soon be surrounded by such technology in retail and restaurant settings is very real.

On one hand, facial recognition devices such as this could be the next logical step in providing the level of service customers increasingly demand. After all, BRP, a Boston-based retail analysis firm, recently released a study claiming that 79% of consumers see personalized service as an important factor when deciding where to shop. Furthermore, the study found that 64% of consumers are comfortable with retailers identifying them with their mobile phones when they enter the store if they are offered a personalized experience in return.

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State of payments in luxury – Luxury Memo special report

Luxury Daily – Payments in the luxury business have drastically changed since the retail revolution, leading even the oldest houses to incorporate new ways of transactions. A cashless society is becoming more conceivable, as digital solutions allow consumers’ smartphones to act as their wallets and financial services providers work on greater security for credit cards. One of the best-known disruptors in payments is Amazon, with its cashless bricks-and-mortar experiment, but many others have innovated and adapted to completely new ways of paying in the quest to make a frictionless experience for shoppers.

“Current payment trends in the retail industry continue to be born out of a combination of removing friction from the customer experience while also providing enhanced overall payment security,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP, retail consulting firm. “Specific efforts in support of these trends include ongoing replacement of legacy fixed payment terminals by retailers, continued mobile wallet adoption, further separation of payment card information and processing from the POS solution itself, and growth in the area of omni-tokens, a single payment token to be used across all sales channels for a given retailer.

“Additionally, for ecommerce payments, many retailers are trending towards the use of hosted checkout pages such as PayPal, Visa Checkout, Mastercard’s Masterpass, Vantiv, etc., which reduce the exposure to sensitive payment data while still providing an integrated, seamless checkout experience,” he said.

Top 5 trends in payments in luxury

  • Mobile pay
    Solutions that make it easier for shoppers to check out are growing in sophistication through smartphones.
  • One-click checkout
    Digital payment platforms are focusing on reducing the need to continually input payment information for faster checkout.
  • Conversational commerce
    Payment through messaging applications is becoming more popular as consumers find it more natural to communicate while paying.
  • Bitcoin and cryptocurrency
    Last year’s buzzword was bitcoin, as the currency increased in value and luxury retailers accepted it as a form of payment.
  • China’s impact
    Chinese affluents’ use of technology is making its way to the Western luxury business.

Read Full Article: State of payments in luxury – Luxury Memo special report

The Power of Mobile

There is no denying the power of mobile technology as a major disruptor in the retail industry. The proliferation and convenience of mobile devices has completely changed shopping behaviors and elevated customer expectations. And there’s no sign that it’s slowing down any time soon. In fact, according to the BRP Consumer Study[1], mobile shopping will continue to grow as 41% of consumers indicate they plan to increase their shopping frequency on their phone or tablet in the next 24 months.

However, purchasing via a phone is just one way that mobile devices are becoming more pervasive. Many consumers use their mobile devices as a research tool throughout the shopping journey. In the BRP Consumer Study, we found that 34% use their phone to compare prices and 28% look for offers/coupons, all while in the store. This makes it imperative for retailers to ensure their mobile app/website offers the tools and capabilities to keep the customer shopping their brand.

A retailer’s mobile capabilities can actually be a major driver for where a consumer chooses to shop, with 67% of consumers choosing a store based on the availability of mobile coupons and 49% choosing a store based on the ability to locate products via a locator maps on their mobile device.

Unfortunately, retailers are still trying to catch up to customer expectations. While two-thirds of consumers want mobile coupons, only 23% of retailers actually offer mobile offers within the store. Half of consumers want to be able to locate products in the store with their mobile device, but only 23% of retailers currently offer it.

There is a large gap between what customers want and what retailers can currently offer. Mobile technology, and the opportunities it offers consumers, requires retailers to upgrade and replace applications and systems to stay ahead of their competitors’ customer experience offerings and to keep up with their very informed, technology-savvy customers.

To learn more about the gap between customer expectations and retailer capabilities I urge you to read BRP’s recent SPECIAL REPORT: The Mobilization of Retail.

Please share your comments on this topic below.


[1]2019 Consumer Shopping Habits – The Generation Gap, April 16, 2019

67% Pick Stores Based on Mobile Coupons

MediaPost – Despite all the new technology that continually hits the market, consumers are still looking for a deal when they shop. The technology has made the deals much more portable.

Thanks to mobile, the shopping experience has been transformed from a serial process, as in when a consumer leaves home to go to the store to shop, to an iterative process, as in a smartphone-equipped consumer is shopping all the time.

About a third (34%) of shoppers use their phone to compare prices while in a store and nearly as many (28%) use their phones to look for offers, according to a recent BRP shopping study.

The pattern is not likely to change, with 41% of consumers planning to increase their shopping frequency on their phone or tablet within the next two years.

Read Full Article: 67% Pick Stores Based on Mobile Coupons

The long, slow fall of Lord and Taylor

Glossy – The world of department stores is facing rough seas. One company that has been hit particularly hard is Hudson’s Bay Company, the Canadian owner of retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue that announced plans earlier this month to sell the floundering Lord & Taylor brand.

“The challenges for department stores are primarily the result of selling commodity products — products that are available at their competitors’ stores and also sold by the manufacturers’ branded stores,” said Ken Morris, principal at BRP, retail consulting firm. “The best way to survive is to differentiate your brand through experiences, just like some of the successful European department stores such as Galeries Lafayette, Harrods and Selfridges.”

Read Full Article: The long, slow fall of Lord and Taylor

Focus on the phone

Produce Retailer – How does the average shopper experience your brand on her phone? That question should be a guide for your marketing efforts in the coming years. According to a new report by retail consulting firm BRP, 41% of consumers plan to increase how often they shop on their phone or tablet within two years. The report is based on a survey about shopping habits overall — not grocery shopping habits alone — but the findings are still relevant.

After all, the plethora of fast food options has certainly influenced what kind of products shoppers demand in grocery stores, leading to tremendous growth in fresh-cut and prepared foods sections, and the popularity of e-commerce in non-food retail sectors like clothing, books and electronics has prompted the rapid rise of grocery pickup and delivery services. We know shoppers are looking for convenience, and the BRP report indicates that for many people convenience is not just important but a make-or-break factor.

The firm found that 67% will choose a store based on the availability of mobile coupons and 64% will choose a store based on product information availability via a mobile device. BRP found that many retailers are already working to realize the opportunities those preferences present.

Read Full Article: Focus on the phone

Gap, Chipotle and Sephora test Ibotta’s new rewards-based payment tool

Retail Dive – Younger consumers are leading the way with the adoption of mobile payments, according to a survey by Origin, Hill Holliday’s independent research arm. Twenty-two percent of survey respondents under 40 said they use mobile payments daily, while 45% of people over 40 said they’ve never used mobile payments. The most popular payment apps on mobile devices in the U.S. are for person-to-person (P2P) transactions, eMarketer found. It estimated that P2P adoption of apps like Venmo will grow to 96 million users, or 40% of all mobile phone users, this year from 82.5 million in 2018.

Smartphones have become a key part of the shopping journey for many U.S. consumers, with 34% saying they use their phone to compare prices while in store and 28% looking for coupons, according to consulting firm BRP. About two-thirds (67%) of surveyed consumers in the U.S. said they’re likely to shop at a retailer that offers mobile coupons over one that doesn’t, the company said. Ibotta’s new feature aligns with these trends by streamlining mobile payments, couponing and rewards into a single app function.

Read Full Article: Gap, Chipotle and Sephora test Ibotta’s new rewards-based payment tool

Getting Chatty With Chatbots

E-Commerce Times – Chatbots have become an important part of the e-commerce shopping experience. They answer questions, provide information, and help customers along in their buying journey. Though they may never replace human beings entirely, they are central to many e-commerce-related interactions.

The chatbots that work best are those that are essentially human-like, and for that reason companies should hold their chatbots to the standards that apply to their human employees.

“Retailers should have the same expectations of a customer’s interaction with a chatbot as they do with their customer service representatives or sales associates,” said Jeffrey Neville, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP,  retail consulting firm.

“Chatbots should be human-like in their interactions and have a personality that matches the brand,” he told the E-Commerce Times. Chatbots also need to be able to remember past interactions with a particular customer and provide customized, relevant service.

“Like a good sales associate, they should remember past conversations, be tolerant of consumer’s typos and ambiguity, and be prepared to provide backup information for any question that can’t be answered completely,” explained Neville. “For example, ‘I’m sorry, but this part is not covered under your warranty — here is a link to our warranty policy.'”

Read Full Article: Getting Chatty With Chatbots

Mobile coupons drive customer loyalty

Retail Dive – As retailers compete for customers both online and in-stores, BRP’s report highlights the importance of building a mobile presence in tandem with a physical one, rather as separate endeavors. “A retailer’s mobile capabilities can be a major driver for where a consumer chooses to shop,” Marty Whitmore, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP, said in a statement. “With 67% of consumers choosing a store based on the availability of mobile coupons and 64% choosing a store based on product information availability via a mobile device, these are essential mobile capabilities for retailers.”

The success of a mobile-meets-store experience relies on providing customers the information they want without taking too much of their information in exchange for the convenience. The plans retailers shared with BRP to offer identification by WiFi, beacons and other technology to identify customers don’t yet match customer willingness to be identified by such measures. “Even with the best technologies to identify consumers, retailers need to convince consumers to opt-in to customer identification,” BRP noted. “They need to make it ‘valuable’ enough for customers to want to be recognized.”

Read Full Article: Mobile coupons drive customer loyalty

Highsnobiety begins its e-commerce transformation

Glossy – Highsnobiety, the streetwear media company founded in 2005, is adding e-commerce with the debut of an exclusive collection of Prada’s newly relaunched Linea Rossa athletic line. Highsnobiety will be the only place outside of Prada’s own channels where this collection can be purchased.

The new platform is intended to be a place for highly curated product drops and exclusive collaborations for Highsnobiety. Jeff Carvalho, managing director of Highsnobiety, said that launching with a traditional luxury brand like Prada, as opposed to a streetwear brand was a conscious move.

“Everyone probably assumed we would launch with a sneaker,” Carvalho said. “We wanted to do something a little surprising, and even in the short time since it launched, we’ve learned so much. We now know that our customer is willing to pay for a premium luxury product.”

“Selling streetwear on Highsnobiety enables Prada and other luxury brands to reach a large number of shoppers that are interested in streetwear,” said David Naumann, vp of marketing at BRP, retail consulting firm. “With more than 6.5 million unique visitors to Highsnobiety each month and more than 5 million followers [Facebook, Instagram and other social channels combined], Prada has a captive audience for this product category. Prada joins several other luxury retailers that are expanding into streetwear to attract younger customers to their brand, and leveraging third-party media and marketplaces is a great way to accelerate the awareness and sales of new product categories.”

Read Full Article: Highsnobiety begins its e-commerce transformation