55% of retailers focusing on unified mobile experience

Fierce Retail – Retailers need to rethink old paradigms and adopt a new approach to unified commerce. More than half of retailers are focused on optimizing the customer experience by creating a unified mobile shopping experience.

As the future of retail becomes the present, consumers expect retailers to combine the sensory of the physical world with the personalized shopping experience of the digital world. Boston Retail Partners (BRP) conducted the 2017 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey, categorizing customer experience capabilities as the following: educate, engage, execute, enhance and enablers. When it comes to educating consumers, more retailers are using social media as a way for consumers to research products than last year, up from 73% to 92%.

“One of the areas of greatest improvement retailers have made in the past year is the offering of social media as a research option for customers to learn more about the brand and products,” David Naumann, vice president of marketing at BRP, told FierceRetail.

Retailers are realizing the important role that social media plays in the customer journey. According to a recent UPS Pulse Survey, 77% of online shoppers use social media and one-third indicate that social media influences their purchases.

And while 67% of retailers are offering consistent product assortment across channels, their execution is not up to par, as 43% indicate that their processes still need improvement.

Read Full Article: 55% of retailers focusing on unified mobile experience

Data analytics is paramount for retailers, but luxury faces challenges: report

Luxury Daily – As data collection technologies progress, retailers are finding more reason to expand their analytics abilities, something in which luxury retailers can benefit.

According to a report from Boston Retail Partners, 44 percent of retailers think that analytics is a major priority in the future. Additionally, more than 82 percent identified the need to improve their planning systems to act on data analytics as something that they need to focus on in the future.

“Luxury brands face a few unique challenges around analytics,” said Gene Bornac, vice president at BRP, Boston. “The main challenge is the smaller data set.

“Luxury brands sell to fewer customers at higher prices,” he said. “Unfortunately, analytics work better with larger numbers.

“That being said, luxury retailers generally tend to know their customers better and can utilize that information to improve their results from data analysis.”

For larger retailers such as Walmart or Best Buy, collecting this data is not a problem as they got thousands of customers each day at many of their locations.

Luxury on the other hand has a more difficult obstacle to surmount: the low sample size.

Retailers that sell luxury products, by definition, serve a smaller segment of the population. This means that with fewer people coming in, there is less data to collect as well as a higher propensity to have the data skewed by outliers.

But luxury retailers can alleviate these pressures in a few ways. For one, they can work on making the data that they do collect as comprehensive as possible. One solution is to use WiFi, which is more reliable than beacons, for mobile data collection in-store.

WiFi, once the dominant in-store location technology, has seen its role come under attack from newer, less-expensive solutions such as beacons. However, WiFi’s broader reach along with recent advancements that make it more cost efficient and accurate, underscore its ongoing relevance.

Accurately tracking traffic and determining how it relates to conversions is a key to sustaining in-store revenue, yet many retailers have not equipped themselves or their employees with the tools to determine and act upon these relationships. In-store remains a crucial part of a retailer’s strategy even as numbers fall, but brands must first make use of the data they already have before they can improve.

Luxury brands that make the most of the data they can collect should be able to circumvent the problems presented by a small sample size.

“Like all brands, luxury brands benefit the most from pulling all of their data together,” BRP’s Mr. Bornac said. “Using the advantage that they have with their customer relationships, they can create a real-time view of their customers’ needs and business opportunities.”

Read Full Article: Data analytics is paramount for retailers, but luxury faces challenges: report

Mobile Marketer's Mobile Women to Watch 2017

Mobile Marketer – The eighth annual Mobile Women to Watch list has one defining characteristic: extremely smart executives who are thriving in an era of rapid technological change. These 25 women are raring to go prove themselves even more in a world highly influenced by mobile advertising, marketing and media. Laura Sossong, manager at BRP, is one of the 25 Mobile Women to Watch (see page 66).

From executives working at brands to retailers, agencies, technology platforms and publishers, they all understand that mobile and the change it has wrought is all about anticipating and meeting consumer needs.

These 25 women highlighted by Mobile Marketer readers and newsroom members are just the candidates to handle 2017’s mobile-driven opportunities and challenges.

We salute these executives and wish them all success in 2017. Do read their profiles and reach out to them. You never know how they can change your company’s destiny as well.

READ FULL ARTICLE: Mobile Marketer’s Mobile Women to Watch 2017

Report: Retailers lack formal omnichannel demand planning processes

Chain Store Age – While retailers are focused on unified commerce, most retailers’ planning tools are not capable of supporting this digital environment.

This message was revealed in Boston Retail Partners’ “2016 Merchandise Planning Survey,” a report based on responses from more than 500 North American retailers. The report delivers insight into retailers’ planning initiatives, priorities and future trends.

Many issues continue to stymie retailers’ efforts to create an efficient and effective omnichannel environment, including current organizational roadblocks; ineffective or unintegrated planning applications, and a lack of business intelligence tools to support the increasingly complex analysis of big data — a pre-requisite for companies eager to optimize planning decisions and meet customer demand.

“While unified commerce is the desired model to which most retailers strive, planning organizations are struggling with the current lack of system, process and organization integration to support the necessary model,” said Gene Bornac, VP at Boston Retail Partners (BRP).

Specifically, 71% of companies do not have formal omnichannel demand planning processes. While 44% of retailers have integrated planning teams, 86% of these groups and related efforts are in need of improvement. Finally, 38% of companies still create brick-and-mortar plans independently of digital channels, the report shared.

READ FULL ARTICLE: Report: Retailers lack formal omnichannel demand planning processes

Retailers’ Planning Organizations are not Ready for Unified Commerce, According to BRP Survey

2016-merchandise-planning-survey-coverSavvy retailers know their current planning tools are not capable of supporting the unified commerce environment necessary to satisfy today’s customers. According to the BRP 2016 Merchandise Planning Survey, retailers understand that merchandise needs to be available across channels, however, this makes planning exponentially more complex and challenging.

Today’s retailers wrestle with a myriad of business and IT issues as they strive for an efficient and effective omni-channel environment. The common issues include: current organization structure is not set up to plan and support an omni-channel environment, planning applications are ineffective and not integrated, and the current environment can’t support the complex analysis of the high volume of data required to optimize planning decisions and meet customer demand.

“While unified commerce is the desired model to which most retailers strive, planning organizations are struggling with the current lack of system, process and organization integration to support the necessary model,” said Gene Bornac, vice president at BRP. “The good news is that retailers recognize that there is a problem and there are a number of very good tools available to address the current planning needs. The bad news is that getting the budget and resource commitments to upgrade systems is a huge challenge.”

BRP’s 2016 Merchandise Planning Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current state of merchandise planning and their priorities and challenges as they strive to meet the needs of today’s omni-channel customer. Key findings from the survey include:




I encourage you to download and read the complete report:

2016 Merchandise Planning Survey

A special thanks goes out to the 2016 Merchandise Planning Survey sponsors: Logility (platinum), ANT USA (gold), JustEnough (gold), TXT Retail (gold) and Island Pacific (silver).

As always, I appreciate your feedback on the this report – please share your comments and insights below. I hope you enjoy it!



Snickers backs up campaign with fictitious Web site

Mobile Marketer – Mars’ Snicker brand is building a multifaceted experience for its latest installment of You’re Not You When Your Hungry campaign, bringing a fake online service to life.

The Snicker brand is taking a page from modern editorial content by creating a real Web page for a fictional business featured in its latest ad campaign. The candy brand has launched a new TV spot and mobile ad campaign that advertises a fictitious service that gives customers football predictions from a psychic, supported by a real online site.

“Many retailers are executing cohesive campaigns across all channels; however, this Snickers campaign is certainly unique and will break through the clutter of traditional advertising.” said Paul Dubie, manager at BRP. “It will be interesting to see if it inspires consumers to click through to the online ordering site and actually purchase Mars products or if it annoys and alienates consumers.

“This campaign seems pretty risky for a company with a strong brand reputation,” he said.

Read full article: Snickers backs up campaign with fictitious Web site

Harvey Nichols says “Ciao” to holidays with playful tribute to Italy

Luxury Daily – British department store chain Harvey Nichols is paying homage to the culture, fashion, food and lifestyle of Italy with a festive campaign that looks beyond traditional holiday themes.

The retailer’s “Britalia” campaign, supported by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development and the Italian Trade Agency, spans digital content, in-store events, product edits and window displays. For Harvey Nichols, curating this whimsical Italian celebration may help differentiate it from other stores during this important shopping season.

“This entertaining campaign focuses on the theme of family, food and fashion, which are all extremely relevant themes around the holidays,” said Laura Sossong, manager at Boston Retail Partners. “As Italy is the on the forefront of exquisite luxury brands and design, it’s a relevant locational choice to feature as the focal point of this campaign.

“It allows shoppers to see a whimsical, inventive side of the brand which will resonate with consumers—particularly as it highlights the dramatic and bittersweet nature inherent in spending quality time with loved ones during the holiday season, which is something that is identifiable for all,” she said. “Many luxury brands have a perception of being conservative and serious, and this campaign breaks the mold on common perceptions.”

Read full article: Harvey Nichols says “Ciao” to holidays with playful tribute to Italy

Victoria’s Secret use of Snapchat modernizes its traditional freebie coupons

Mobile Commerce Daily – Victoria’s Secret is influencing its millennial demographic to come into its bricks-and-mortar stores through a special Snapchat freebie, in an adapted version of its iconic coupons.

Snapchat’s experience still has a cool factor for its users, allowing brands to share fun and interesting call-to-actions that require consumers to directly participate. Victoria’s Secret is rewarding users who screen shot its Snapchat coupon with a giveaway.

“Consumers are most apt to participate in campaigns where opting in is virtually effortless, particularly when a true benefit is offered,” said Laura Sossong, manager at BRP. “For this reason, screen shot technology is certainly an innovative sector to explore. Victoria’s Secret stands to benefit, as they can gauge relevance and traction of screenshot based promotions to impact future initiative planning.”

Read full article: Victoria’s Secret use of Snapchat modernizes its traditional freebie coupons

8 experts predict the 2016 holiday shopping season

Retail Dive – The holidays are synonymous with a multitude of traditions, including a deluge of seasonal shopping forecasts. As in years past, the National Retail Federation has looked into its crystal ball, and it likes what it sees: The trade organization anticipates sales in November and December to increase 3.6% year-over-year to $655.8 billion — a notable boost over the 10-year average of 2.5%.


Following this flurry of forecasts, discussion forum RetailWire asked its BrainTrust panel of retail experts two questions:

What is your forecast for the 2016 holiday selling season?
How big a role will cross-channel capabilities play in sales performance this year?


Priorities in place

Ken Morris, Principal, Boston Retail Partners: The holiday sales forecasts from NRF seem pretty optimistic. I hope they are right. The final results may depend on how well retailers promote deals, the timing of those promotions and how well they execute on omnichannel services.

Ken Morris: The final results may depend on how well retailers … execute on omnichannel services.

tweet this quote
Last holiday season, many retailers had missteps when trying to execute flexible delivery/pickup options. According to a post-holiday study, 60% of click-and-collect orders placed on Cyber Monday had problems.

The good news is that many retailers are taking this seriously and are making unified commerce a priority this year. According to [Boston Retail Partners’] 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey, 85% of the respondents indicate that unified commerce is their top priority. Many retailers have taken the “just get something done” approach to deliver a seamless customer experience that transcends channels. The unfortunate result of this quick fix approach is a “faux” omnichannel model that doesn’t execute as promised and has the risk of disappointing customers. While 60% of retailers indicate they have implemented “inventory visibility across channels,” 80% of those retailers indicate that the system “needs improvement.” The ISCS consumer research dovetails nicely with our own retailer survey results.

Let’s hope that retailers have taken steps necessary to improve omnichannel services and they delight their customers this holiday season.

Read Full Article: 8 experts predict the 2016 holiday shopping season

Lands’ End hooks subscribers with discounts, strategy keeps them on the line

Mobile Commerce Daily – Apparel retailer Lands’ End is opting in more subscribers to its text message service by offering a discount for sign ups, but it is its eight-texts-per-month limit that will help it win out.

Retailers that introduce SMS programs are still seeing success by keeping customers informed of sales and exclusives that are relevant to them, through a simple interface that they are comfortable with. Land’s End is hoping to usher in more sales by signing up more SMS subscribers with its 40 percent off deal, but the text service limits itself to eight a month to alleviate marketing overkill.

“SMS programs are most effective when the offer is truly compelling to the consumer,” said Laura Sossong, manager at Boston Retail Partners. “In this case, the Lands’ End 40 percent off promotion provides a strong incentive for shoppers to enroll in its SMS program to receive valued benefits.

“Today’s customer segment is bombarded with attempts by retailers to collect their personal information,” she said. “There is certainly more persuasive pressure for them to share when they receive something meaningful as part of the exchange.”

Read Full Article: Lands’ End hooks subscribers with discounts, strategy keeps them on the line