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Expanding Use Cases for RFID – Enabling BOPIS, Cutting Inventory and Speeding Checkout

Retail TouchPoints – The increasing popularity of omnichannel initiatives such as BOPIS and ship-from-store has given new urgency to a perennial retail problem: executing store-level inventory accuracy. Reducing out-of-stocks always has been critical to boosting sales: after all, customers can’t buy what they can’t find. Now, however, with many stores doubling as online fulfillment centers, there are new requirements for quickly locating items ordered online so they can be prepped for shoppers coming into the store to pick them up. That makes its more vital than ever for retailers to know exactly what items are where at any given time.

Comments from Ken Morris:

The growth of BOPIS and other omnichannel services has ramped up retailer demands for more accurate inventory across the entire enterprise. For many retailers, “it’s not just inventory for the stores, it’s also e-Commerce, mobile and call center [channels],” said Ken Morris, Principal, BRP Consulting in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. Many retailers maintain separate inventories for each channel and still rely on technology that syncs them up nightly, or even less frequently than that. This is the equivalent of “trying to cross Fifth Avenue at noon with yesterday’s traffic information,” he added.

When retailers lack up-to-the-minute inventory data, “they use safety stock to account for the lag time,” said Morris. “For example, if the safety stock level for an item is two, and that’s how many are in a store, someone placing a BOPIS order will get a message that the item is out of stock. That’s crazy, because it means retailers are over- inventorying and buying more than they need.”

Costs go beyond just buying more items than are needed: retailers with excess inventory in the wrong places are “marking down product that they could have sold at full price, so they are often making little or no profit,” on those transactions, said Morris.

However, when armed with RFID-enabled inventory data from stores and distribution centers, retailers can enhance the profitability of individual transactions. For example, while most items bought online and shipped from a store are sent from the location that’s geographically closest to the customer, this isn’t always the most cost-effective move.

“I’m on Cape Cod, so most retailers would automatically ship an item from their Hyannis store,” said Morris. “But the reality is that if it’s a seasonal cold-weather item and it’s Cape Cod in the winter, they are quite likely to sell the item at full price in the store itself. But the same product might be sitting in ‘dead’ inventory in Jacksonville, Fla. If the retailer can get a full-price sale on the item, it can more than cover the extra shipping cost to send it from the Florida store.”

Integrating RFID and IoT also can help with in-store task management, providing associates with real-time data about misplaced products or items that need to brought onto the sales floor from the back room.

Retailers that have deployed IoT technologies in their stores also can get more out of their RFID investment. “There are a lot of devices — products themselves and smart shelves — that could be enabled, or already are capable of, broadcasting information, but no one is listening,” said BRP’s Morris. “Even the lights in the store are broadcasting, because when they fail they are providing an alert that they need to be replaced. We think that everything will broadcast in the future, so for example a smart shelf label could alert a system that an item is out of stock.”

Integrating RFID and IoT also can help with in-store task management, providing associates with real-time data about misplaced products or items that need to be brought onto the sales floor from the back room.

There are customer-facing applications as well: “We built a custom app for one of our furniture clients that leveraged RFID for product location,” said Morris. A customer that viewed a living room set online could later go to the store, and if the customer had opted in as a member of the retailer’s loyalty program, “they could bring up what they had previously viewed on the app, and get a map around the store to every product in the set, leveraging RFID,” said Morris. “People are merging the online and in-store experience in this way today.”

Read Full Article: Expanding Use Cases for RFID – Enabling BOPIS, Cutting Inventory and Speeding Checkout

50 Retail Innovation Stats That Prove The Power Of Customer Experience

Forbes – How we shop has changed drastically in just the past few decades. Instead of window shopping in the mall, many customers now rely on AI product recommendations and shop via mobile without ever setting foot in a store. Retail technology and customer demands may be constantly changing, but one thing that will always be vitally important is customer experience. These statistics show the changing retail landscape and just how much customers depend on personalization, convenience and great relationships with brands.

  • 73% of consumers use multiple channels to shop. – Harvard Business Review
  • In 2018, 51% of e-commerce brands offered same-day delivery, up from 16% in 2017. Experts predict that within the next two years, 65% of retailers will offer same-day delivery. – BRP Consulting
  • 68% of consumers said they would be more likely to shop on sites that offer automated returns. – Windstream Enterprise

Read Full Article: 50 Retail Innovation Stats That Prove The Power Of Customer Experience

Mapping Retail’s Last Mile Battleground

Retail TouchPoints – There are many reasons why the last mile has become a first-order concern for retailers. Topping the list is Amazon’s well-publicized ability to provide two-day, one day and even same-day shipping. Amazon’s ability to set a high standard for the retail industry is abetted by the fact that for more than 100 million Amazon Prime members, those shipping costs are bundled into their annual fees, making them essentially invisible and “painless.”

Another reason that last mile concerns are increasingly keeping retailers awake at night is the growing volume of digital sales and subsequent deliveries that are taking place. Results from the 2nd annual Retail TouchPoints Last Mile Benchmark Survey, which collected and analyzed responses from 138 retail executives, illustrate the last mile’s growth trajectory.

Below are pages with comments from Jeffrey Neville, SVP and Practice Lead at BRP Consulting:

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Retailers also are reshaping their internal structures and responsibilities to handle last mile challenges. “Retailers are beginning to apply the agile processes they are using on their web sites to the last mile customer experience,” said Jeffrey Neville, SVP and Practice Lead at BRP Consulting in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They are assigning a product manager to the last mile experience, giving this person the ability to test and learn about the impact technical and non-technical changes can have on the identified last mile KPIs. These product managers are also engaging consumers in feedback of the initiatives before they roll out chainwide.”

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“Meeting and exceeding the accelerating consumer expectations for fast and free delivery has retailers scrambling to figure out the most economical and reliable options,” said BRP’s Neville. “In addition, retailers must manage the costs and inefficiencies created by rushing to implement new delivery options to avoid customer disappointments.”

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“Retailers are establishing KPIs, metrics and service level agreements (SLAs) to monitor and maintain consistent delivery quality,” said BRP’s Neville. “Establishing clear expectations of service levels with third-party delivery parties is imperative to ensuring customer satisfaction.”

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While managing the cost of returns was the top challenge for retailers in 2018, this year the list is led by the 64% that identified minimizing fraudulent returns. This is another complex problem with no single “silver bullet” answer, according to BRP’s Neville: “Preventing or limiting theft from delivery drivers, porch thieves and dishonest reports of theft from customers is a challenge,” he noted. “Retailers need to proactively identify theft as well as arm customer service representatives with a clear policy for customer appeasement for those customers that have experienced stolen packages.”

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BRP’s Neville recommends retailers provide a preprinted return label, including a prepaid shipping label, and also enable shoppers to easily print such labels from the retailer’s web site. “The prepaid label assures that a standard set of information is included with each return (invoice number, SKUs, quantities, etc.) to assist the returns team in processing it,” he said.

Read Full Article: Mapping Retail’s Last Mile Battleground

How the Retail Industry Rethought Delivery in 2017

eMarketer – Drones, augmented reality and algorithms are the new normal for many retailers and logistics companies. Here’s how the retail industry changed the way they deliver goods to consumers this year.

Robots and AR and Algorithms, Oh My

This year, logistics companies have been leveraging different types of technology to help meet demand for fast, cheap and consumer-centric deliveries. DHL is a prime example. Not only has the company been testing robots that roam around warehouses to pick up orders, but it has also used AR and developed in-house tools using machine learning and algorithms that streamline the delivery process. Meanwhile, UPS has been using advanced package scanning and sorting technology to increase processing speed and accuracy, and FedEx has been using sensor technologies that maximize the use of trailer space during the loading process.

Next-Day Delivery Is So 2016

Speed is a big factor in the delivery process. Nowadays, many consumers want the product they just ordered in their hands right away—as in the same day. And retailers are listening. Take Walmart—which recently acquired Parcel, a New York-based same-day and last-mile delivery startup—to provide same-day deliveries of general merchandise as well as fresh and frozen groceries from both Walmart and its Jet.com unit. Then there’s Target, which earlier this year acquired Grand Junction—which offers a marketplace that connects retailers, distributors and third-party logistics providers with a network of more than 700 carriers—to help meet demand for speedy delivery. Overall, more than half of retailers in North America offer same-day delivery, according to a study from BRP (Boston Retail Partners). By comparison, just 16% offered the service in 2016.

Read Full Article: How the Retail Industry Rethought Delivery in 2017

Prime Now chief takes over Amazon food delivery units

Retail Dive – Stephenie Landry, Amazon’s vice president for Prime Now, has been handed responsibility for Amazon Fresh (the company’s grocery delivery service) and Amazon Restaurants (its restaurant delivery service), Re/Code reports.

Amazon is constantly reiterating its own innovations, so a shuffle in some of its delivery operations is hardly a surprise. Landry, who has led Prime Now for more than a decade, is an obvious person to take on other delivery efforts there. Still, it’s an indication of how dynamic the retail delivery market is at the moment, with cumbersome last-mile practices and steep costs yet rising customer expectations.

Target last week announced the acquisition of same-day delivery startup Shipt, months after its purchase of same-day delivery company Grand Junction. In that time, a slew of other retailers have also announced same-day delivery services or expansions of existing same-day services, including Office Depot, Macy’s, Best Buy and Rent the Runway, to name just a few.

Walmart in recent months said it’s testing a program where store workers make last-mile deliveries on their way home from work. The retail giant also expanded Uber delivery of grocery orders.

More than half (51%) of retailers say they now offer same-day delivery, up from 16% last year, and within two years 65% plan to offer it, according to a survey from retail management consulting firm BRP. Third-party delivery, through the likes of Uber or Lyft, has also increased, from 20% of retailers offering that last year to 32% doing so this year, according to that report.

Read Full Article: Prime Now chief takes over Amazon food delivery units

Restaurants need to Double Down on Delivery

Grocerant Guru – Driving top line sales and bottom line profits while consumer’s path to purchase is evolving faster than most legacy restaurant brands has created a quagmire that stagnates customer count growth according to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

In a recent Digital Commerce Survey from BRP found that same-day delivery has tripled in the past year with more growth to come. Here are some specifics:

  1. Currently, 51 percent of retailers indicate they offer same-day delivery, a sharp jump from 16 percent last year.
  2. Within the next two years, 65 percent plan to offer this service.
  3. Delivery through third-party services, such as Uber or Lyft, also rose from 20 percent last year to 32 percent this year, as retailers try different ways of offering customers the flexibility to shop, purchase and receive goods on their own terms, the survey found.

Jeffrey Neville, vice president at BRP stated “With Amazon offering same-day delivery in some markets, the push is on for retailers to get items delivered to customers as soon as possible,” said. “Autonomous delivery and distribution are the next step with self-driving vehicles soon a reality and a few food delivery start-ups already testing the concept.”

Read Full Article: Restaurants need to Double Down on Delivery

Omnichannel Disconnect: Survey Shows Having a Strategy Doesn’t Always Result in Successful Execution

HFN – Retailers are acknowledging there’s a major gap between their expectations regarding an omnichannel plan and their ability to execute it.

As a new report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP) pointed out, retailers are increasingly focused on transforming their entire merchandising process and “customer-centricity” is a top strategic initiative for 47 percent of the retailers it surveyed.

Consumers “pre-shop” for merchandise online before they ever enter a store, want one-day or even same-day delivery and expect “more” from their shopping experience—more personalization, a larger assortment, a more fulfilling experience and non-stop entertainment, BRP’s 2017 Merchandise Planning Survey noted.

“Customers use technology daily to enable and control their shopping journey,” said Gene Bornac, senior vice president at BRP. “Now it is up to retailers to play catch up with their organization, processes and technology to deliver the right products for the right price in the right place.”

The BRP survey explores the current state of retail planning in an effort to identify and understand retailers’ priorities. The survey found 58 percent of retailers currently have an integrated planning organization across channels and 64 percent of them have integrated their business planning processes across channels.

In addition, 33 percent of retailers have implemented new omnichannel demand planning systems within the past two years. Forty two percent incorporate real-time customer feedback into their in-season planning.

Read full article: Omnichannel Disconnect: Survey Shows Having a Strategy Doesn’t Always Result in Successful Execution

Have Yourself an Omni-Channel Christmas

Material Handling and Logistics – By now you’ve probably had more than your fill of articles and news stories about the holiday shopping-and-shipping season, and admittedly MH&L is guiltier than most when it comes to covering every supply chain angle connected to the holidays, from e-commerce to fulfillment to the latest wrinkle in last-mile delivery. We’ve told you why warehouses are getting bigger; how retailers are rolling out every trick in the omni-channel book to make sure they don’t lose any potential sales; what types of predictive technologies consumer goods companies are using to ensure they’re producing the right amount of stuff (and don’t get stuck with too much inventory on December 26); why robots are appearing in more and more DCs; and how logistics companies are enlisting seemingly any vehicle and any breathing creature to deliver goods on time for Christmas.

As the speeds of ordering, fulfillment and delivery have increased, so too has the speed of impatience. Customers have never liked waiting, of course—no doubt some caveman was disgruntled at how long it took for the first wheel to be delivered—but the extent today to which people resent any kind of delay to their immediate gratification is threatening to cast a Scroogelike pall over the whole holiday season.

So I get that keeping products moving, moving, moving is the order of the day, especially during the time of year when the balance sheets of retailers and consumer products manufacturers are at their most vulnerable make-or-break moments. And it explains why the number of same-day deliveries have tripled over the past year, according to consulting firm BRP, and why the number of deliveries through third-party services like Uber and Lyft now account for fully one-third of all retail deliveries.

Read Full Article: Have Yourself an Omni-Channel Christmas

Same-Day Delivery Triples in Past Year With More Growth to Come

Convenience Store News – Most retailers are responding to consumers’ expectations of quick access to products by offering same-day delivery, according to the 2017 Digital Commerce Survey from retail management consulting firm BRP.

Currently, 51 percent of retailers indicate they offer same-day delivery, a sharp jump from 16 percent last year. Within the next two years, 65 percent plan to offer this service.

Delivery through third-party services, such as Uber or Lyft, also rose from 20 percent last year to 32 percent this year, as retailers try different ways of offering customers the flexibility to shop, purchase and receive goods on their own terms, the survey found.

“With Amazon offering same-day delivery in some markets, the push is on for retailers to get items delivered to customers as soon as possible,” said Jeffrey Neville, vice president at BRP. “Autonomous delivery and distribution are the next step with self-driving vehicles soon a reality and a few food delivery start-ups already testing the concept.”

Consumer behavior and mobile technology are dramatically changing the traditional retail model, according to the report. As Amazon continues to disrupt brick-and-mortar retail through the acquisition of Whole Foods, bankruptcies and store closures are making daily headlines and the phrase “retail apocalypse” is a common topic.

Read full article: Same-Day Delivery Triples in Past Year With More Growth to Come

Walmart's Jet is testing free same-day delivery in NYC

RetailDive – Walmart will be joining its Jet e-commerce division in testing free same-day delivery in the New York City area, a Walmart spokesperson told Retail Dive Friday.

Months after terming free two-day delivery “table stakes” for e-retailers, Walmart U.S. e-commerce chief Marc Lore told attendees at an advertising industry event in New York that Jet offers free same-day delivery in the area now and that Walmart will do so “very soon,” Bloomberg reported. Ravi Jariwala, senior director of public relations at Walmart.com, clarified to Retail Dive that the Jet service is only a test, but has already delivered “many” items to customers in the area.

More than half (51%) of retailers say they now offer same-day delivery, up from 16% last year, and within two years 65% plan to offer it, according to the “2017 Digital Commerce Benchmark Survey” from retail management consulting firm BRP. But only Amazon provides that for free with a minimum order, and only to Prime members.

Read Full Article: Walmart’s Jet is testing free same-day delivery in NYC