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Customer experience – doubling down

Essential Retail – Retail is evolving rapidly – no big secret. It seems an eternity since retailers’ main challenges were ‘just’ delivering excellent customer service and ensuring product availability. Compared to yester-year, today’s smartphone-clutching consumer can shop anywhere, at any time, for almost anything. They have a wealth of information available to inform their choice of products and services. And whatever they purchase, they can often take delivery, consume and enjoy it at a time and place of their choosing.

“The digital world is infiltrating bricks and mortar stores where consumers want full transparency on product pricing and availability. Miss a step on any of these data points, and your customer can immediately shop the competition, even while still in your store. This is the new normal.” – The Future Store Manifesto, BRP, retail consulting firm.

When combined with mobile apps, and mobile loyalty programmes; “…these technologies enable identification of the customer before they make a purchase decision, which allows the retailer to tailor the shopping experience and influence the purchase decision” – BRP.

Read Full Article: Customer experience – doubling down

BRP Consulting’s Agile Approach for Retail Helps Accelerate Business Transformation

BRP’s Agile Approach can Achieve 50% Faster Implementation Times

Boston, MA – September 13, 2018– BRP announces the availability of its innovative Agile Approach for Retail that helps retailers deploy software up to 50% faster than traditional efforts.  Retail is rapidly being redefined. With the swift pace of disruption occurring today, retail winners need to accelerate the transformation of their organization, business processes and technology to align with the demands of their customers.  With its Agile Approach for Retail, BRP is uniquely positioned to help forward-thinking retailers adopt this accelerated and flexible method for tackling enterprise projects.

BRP’s Agile Approach for Retail enables organizations to get to market faster by encouraging cross-organizational teamwork, collaboration and adaptability, all while ensuring better organizational ownership and more efficient adoption of newly implemented solutions. With significantly faster project completion times, retailers reduce the associated risks and costs throughout the lifecycle of the project. BRP resources are trained in Agile methodologies and have hands-on experience in supporting organizations as they make the necessary structural shift in the way team members and management work and communicate with one another.

“Adopting an Agile mindset allows organizations to quickly respond to changing customer demands. With traditional implementation approaches, requirements need to be defined 12-18 months before implementation, but an Agile approach allows retailers to easily shift requirements during project implementation to match today’s and tomorrow’s customer demands,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “As retailers are pressured to do more with less and quickly adapt to new retail realities, an Agile approach to technology and operations, has become a new retail imperative.”

Agile’s emphasis on continuously gathering customer feedback for inclusion in upcoming functionality allows retailers to ensure that they’re always working on the latest and most valuable functionality for the business. Retailers increase their return on investment while delivering high quality products that meet and exceed customer demands via Agile’s emphasis on small value-added increments. By implementing an Agile mindset and providing team members with a collaborative environment where they’re empowered to innovate and learn from their mistakes, retailers are taking the right steps towards surviving the retail transformation.

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.

Study: The store of the future is digitized, and now it needs a network

Chain Store Age – As retailers infuse more digital features into the store experience, they need robust networks to support their digital offerings.

A majority (79%) of consumers prefer to shop in stores, however mobility is playing a stronger role in these visits. In fact, 29% of consumer plan to increase their mobile shopping experiences in the next 24 months, according to “The Future Retail Network Manifesto,” a study from Boston Retail Partners.

According to data, 41% of shoppers utilize their mobile device in the store to look up product information, and 39% use their smartphone to compare prices and availability with the competition.

As consumers rely on mobile devices to research, communicate and purchase in a non-linear shopping journey, retailers are being forced rethink the networks they use to support the evolving store experience. As retailers make a move toward the store of the future, they need to embrace new network imperatives: simple, fast, agile, reliable, and secure.

“We are in the midst of a retail renaissance, as the way customers shop has transformed the traditional store model,” said Ken Morris, principal, Boston Retail Partners (BRP). “To meet consumers’ demand for the future store requires the adoption of real-time, cloud-based technologies enabled by a powerful network,” he said. “Now is the time to transform the network to support the store of the future.”

Read Full Article: Study: The store of the future is digitized, and now it needs a network

‘It’s the way of the future’: Express debuts a new store concept for the modern worker

Glossy – Today, Express launched a new store concept in NYC dedicated to the modern worker. It’s a testing ground for a number of experiential activations the 38-year-old retailer could roll out to its 600-plus stores.

Located on Madison Avenue in Manhattan, the longstanding store has been revamped to feature product “stories” dedicated to a variety of work styles — for example, there’s a space for the office worker and one for the more creative type. There’s also a lounge-style workspace, equipped with charging stations and WiFi. Kornberg expects that shoppers will browse, work, stay a while. The fact that updates mirror American malls’ buzzy transition to lifestyle centers was no mistake.

With its new concept store, the retailer is moving in the right direction, said David Naumann, vp of marketing at consulting firm Boston Retail Partners. “Stores must now encompass both worlds — the sensory experience generally available in the physical world, and the unique and personalized shopping experience common in the digital world,” he said. “To meet consumer expectations and survive in today’s challenging retail climate, most retailers will need to transform their retail and customer engagement models to be successful.”

Read Full Article: ‘It’s the way of the future’: Express debuts a new store concept for the modern worker

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

The Future of Retail Requires Transformation

Retail Executive Magazine – “4 key trends are shaping future strategies and tactics to help retailers survive, adapt, and win,” said Brian Brunk, Principal at BRP. The traditional retail model has experienced significant disruption over the last decade. This cycle of disruption is being driven by ever-increasing customer expectations, competitive pressures from new entrants, and the proliferation of new technology like the smartphone. Customers’ journeys are varied and much more complicated than in the past.

Consumers now start and stop their shopping journey in various channels, including social media, and frequently shop for a product across different retailers, online and in the store. The path to purchase also varies by consumer and by the type of product they are purchasing. Consumers expect their experiences to be seamless and to have their “shopping cart” follow them throughout their journey. They perceive one experience across the entire brand, not broken into individual channels or locations.

As retailers adapt, customer engagement models must transform. Traditional retail lines are rapidly evolving. There is a blurring between the physical and digital environments but also an evolution of retail formats to include virtual showrooms, retail “theatre,” pop-ups, stores within stores, and more. As retailers find it more difficult to compete with commodity products, we expect to see more private-label brands as a key differentiator. In some cases, wholesale will become the new retail.

“The real disruptor on the horizon is self-driving vehicles, which will disrupt traditional supply chain models, consumer expectations, and the retail world.”

IT’S JUST RETAIL

Is this disruption new to retail? No — retail has gone through many periods of disruption over the years. The introduction of catalogs, the move to suburban malls, the rise of Walmart, and the advent of e-commerce are all examples of retail disruption cycles. However, the current rate of disruption and the subsequent transformation are probably the greatest many of us have seen or will ever see.

With the flurry of retail bankruptcies and store closure announcements, “Retail Apocalypse” has been the pervasive topic of the last 12 months. Mentions of “apocalypse” might work well when trying to grab headlines; however, the reality is something much subtler and far more interesting — the ever-evolving nature of retail and consumers. Retail is simply transforming. Overall, retail is growing, with many retailers opening new locations, increasing sales, and investing in the future. Retail is changing and, as always, there will be winners and losers.

Focusing on the “Retail Apocalypse” is liking hitting the pause button and ignoring what is really happening. Call it the “Great Retail Transformation”; it doesn’t matter. It’s the future, and it’s just retail.

Read Full Article: The Future of Retail Requires Transformation

Retailers Must Become More Customer-Centric

CRM Magazine – Although customer-centricity is the top strategic initiative for 47 percent of retailers, customer demand is making it essential for all retailers to become more customer-centric, Boston Retail Partners (BRP) concludes in a recent report.

The report then lays out five key practices for retailers to become more customer-centric: align the organization, integrate planning processes, implement the right technology, prioritize customer insight, and take action.

This first step, which involves shifting internal culture and organizational mind-sets to a view of the enterprise as a whole rather than as a collection of separate divisions, is one of the major challenges facing retailers because most of them still operate within functional siloes, the report notes. With this in mind, BRP analysts urge companies to establish cross-functional teams equipped to work collaboratively to plan, manage, and execute the functions necessary to run omnichannel organizations and deliver seamless customer experiences.

“For retailers to start making profits, especially with the increase in demand for omnichannel, buy-anywhere-sell-anywhere-pick-it-up-anywhere [mind-sets], retailers really have to get the right product in the place where the customer wants it so that they only have to touch it once,” says Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “The challenge for retailers is that quite often they break even at best on omnichannel sales. When you put in the labor, transportation cost, shipping fees, and all of that, they generally have a much more profitable sale when they have it in the store. If they actually have to touch the product more than once to move it to a place to get it shipped, it really becomes very unprofitable.”

Good customer service today means having the right product in the right place, “and to do that, you have to understand your customer and you have to anticipate where they’re going to be, where they’re going to want it, and you have to have that right product mix close,” Kramer says.

Read Full Article: Retailers Must Become More Customer-Centric

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

81% of retailers will use unified commerce platforms by 2020

Retail Dive – By the end of 2020, 81% of retailers will deploy unified commerce platforms, to support commerce across the enterprise’s stores, mobile users and the web, according to a survey by Boston Retail Partners (BRP). This is seen as essential to competing in the omnichannel environment.

In the online survey of 500 North American retailers, BRP found 28% of respondents had implemented unified commerce, compared to 9% the previous year.

This year’s BRP survey shows that retailers are making progress on implementing unified commerce platforms. Last year, BRP predicted 73% of retailers would have such a platform in place by 2019, and 22% already had one deployed.

Technology and consumer expectations are constantly moving the needle on what is expected from retailers across all channels of their operations.

BRP evaluated how retailers are doing in implementing solutions to meet consumer demands in its “2018 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey.” Moving forward, the top three priorities of retailers for the year ahead are customer identification and 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%).

“Customers appreciate personalized offers and recommendations when shopping online or via mobile, and now they expect the same personalization, or better, when they shop in a store,” said Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP in a statement. “As customer expectations have been reshaped by the digital retail experience, successful retailers have shifted their focus in the physical store environment.”

Retailers are modifying the technology used to identify customers in their stores by decreasing their use of mobile websites, which declined from 40% in 2017 to 28% in 2018, and increasing the use of Media Access Control (MAC) addresses as unique identifiers by 26%. Also on the rise are beacons (19%), and Bluetooth (16%). There will be continued increases in the use of beacon technology in the near future, according to BRP.

Read Full Article: 81% of retailers will use unified commerce platforms by 2020

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