Retailers embrace omnichannel selling but profits are elusive

Mobile Commerce Daily – While retailers and consumer goods manufacturers are investing heavily in omnichannel selling capabilities and often putting mobile at the core of these efforts, new research from JDA Software and PwC reveals that only 16 percent of companies’ efforts are profitable when it comes to fulfilling omnichannel demand.

The report, The Omni-Channel Fulfillment Imperative, highlights how the high cost of fulfilling orders is eroding retailers’ margins as they focus on enabling consumers order online and either have items delivered to their homes or pic them up at a nearby store. Mobile opens up opportunities for retailers to drive more profits from the omnichannel experiences by leveraging a shopper’s geolocation to minimize shipping costs.

“While most retailers aren’t doing it today, leveraging geolocation information of mobile shoppers represents a huge opportunity to minimize shipping costs for omnichannel sales and improve the customer experience,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners. “Based on a shoppers physical location, retailers can identify the closest store with the product (on hand) that they are browsing on their smartphone and direct the consumer to that store.

“This benefits both the retailer and the consumer,” he said. “The consumer can get the product quickly and see and/or try the product on, which makes the purchase easier and reduces the hassle of returns.

“The retailer can minimize shipping costs, reduce the costs associated with returns and potentially increase sales with incremental purchases when the shopper visits their store.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE: Retailers embrace omnichannel selling but profits are elusive

How to Become a "Real-Time Retailer"

BizTech Magazine – Advances in technology offer retailers unprecedented opportunities to achieve operational advantages. And these opportunities are emerging across all aspects of retail operations, from engagement with the customer to optimized inventory management and fulfillment.

But to capitalize on those opportunities, retailers must make thoughtful investments in both back-end and in-store infrastructures — essential enablers of next-generation retail operations.

Read full article: How to Become a “Real-Time Retailer”

Luxury Retail Outlook 2015

LUXURY DAILY – This special 43-page Luxury Memo report from Luxury Daily reporters from provides a bird’s-eye view of how luxury is expected to evolve this year.  The retail outlook report covers key luxury product lines such as apparel and accessories, automotive, food and beverage, fragrance, home furnishings, jewelry, and much more. The section on “retail” on pages 34-37 include insights from Ken Morris, Principal, Boston Retail Partners.

Read full report: Luxury Outlook 2015

Is RFID the Silver Bullet for Inventory Accuracy and Visibility?

RFID Whitepaper_Cover_Dec-2014In a recent BRP white paper, RFID – The Silver Bullet for Inventory Accuracy and Visibility?, we explore how radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology is emerging as a critical enabler of the omni-channel experience. RFID provides retailers with real-time visibility to accurate inventory across the enterprise, making it an imperative to real-time retail.

A catalyst for significant economic benefit, RFID gives retailers the ability to automatically identify and track goods, as well as capture instant information on a wide range of merchandise. As the technology has gained traction, it has allowed retailers to reap financial benefits and efficiency gains while strongly supporting the unified commerce model.

Retailers are taking note, evidenced by RFID’s deployment among retailers such as Zara, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Chico’s. As the retail industry accelerates the shift towards an omni-channel retail model, more retailers are likely to follow suit by incorporating RFID technology into their environments to support a true unified customer experience.

Evolution of RFID Technology

Despite the inherent benefits of RFID technology, its adoption by retailers has been a slow process for budgetary reasons. RFID per tag costs were previously prohibitive for many retail applications; however, technological advances have resulted in significant price decreases and have made RFID more accessible to a broader range of organizations.

Value Proposition

RFID technology provides retailers with an opportunity to significantly improve sales, gross margin and markdowns through better leveraging of real-time, accurate inventory information. Since logistical inventory tracking can be extremely laborious for all retailers, and particularly those with stock keeping unit (SKU) intensive models, organizations stand to profit considerably by RFID Benefitsemploying RFID.

Omni-channel Enablement

As it relates to omni-channel initiatives, RFID provides fundamental support to businesses that offer a large assortment of styles, colors, and sizes. Near perfect inventory accuracy is needed to realize real-time retailing capabilities such as buy online and pick up in-store, buy online and receive in-store, and buy in-store and ship to home. SKU depth can cause item quantity distortion, as maintaining exactness in inventory counts presents numerous execution issues.

Read the BRP RFID white paper for more details on RFID, including case studies and a 3-step methodology for implementing RFID.


WHITE PAPER: RFID – The Silver Bullet for Inventory Accuracy and Visibility?

While RFID has been slow for retailers to adopt due to cost and ROI challenges, reductions in costs and advancements in technology are certainly making RFID an attractive proposition for retailers.

But is it the silver bullet? What do you think?

As always, I welcome your thoughts and opinions. Please share your comments below.


Facing Fears in Omnichannel

VSR MAGAZINE – Over the past year, the term “omnichannel” has plummeted from buzz-worthy to cringe-inducing status. Even the smallest brick-and-mortar merchants know what it is, but many are intimidated. This article includes statistics from BRP surveys and quotes from Walter Deacon.

What are the Top Retail IT Initiatives for 2015?

As you create your budgets for 2015 and plan various projects and initiatives for the next 12-24 months, it helps to have resources to understand what the competition is doing, the trends in the industry, and the new and upcoming technologies that will be influencing your business. We can help you gain insight into what’s happening in the retail industry across all customer touch-points and channels, within the supply chain, throughout the merchandising process and the entire unified commerce enterprise.

Check out our industry-leading benchmarking surveys to help you plan for a better tomorrow.


This survey offers insights into retailers’ current state and planned initiatives, priorities, and future trends relating to CRM practices associated with the retail industry’s shift to Unified Commerce. Some of the findings include:

  • Within 5 years, 75% of retailers plan to identify customers when they walk in the store
  • 16% of retailers have real-time retail from POS (offering the “Amazon” experience in-store) and another 63% plan to implement within 5 years
  • 95% of the respondents indicated customer experience/ customer engagement is one of their top three current initiatives

Download: CRM/Unified Commerce Survey


The customer experience is the driver, with customer-facing technology a critical piece of allowing the customer to tailor his or her own shopping experience. Unified commerce is the means to meet customers’ needs and provide the expectedoverall customer experience, and real-time retail is the key to making it happen. This year’s findings include:

  • Retailers realize the significance of offering customer-facing technology in the store with more than half of the respondents ranking it in the top three areas of importance within the organization.
  • Unified commerce services are gaining traction with many retailers planning to expand their services and shipping options to make the customer shopping experience more holistic.
  • Retailers continue to focus on real-time retail to offer customers the online shopping experience, with its rich, detailed content and customer reviews, within the four walls of the store.

Download: POS/Customer Engagement Survey


93% of Retailers are Transforming their Supply Chain to Enable Real-time Retailing!

Progressive retailers are shifting their business organization and supply chain away from distinct shopping channels into a seamless, unified, customer-facing experience to meet the expectations of today’s consumer. This survey focuses on:

  • Unified commerce – 93% are adopting a unified commerce model with 54% in the planning stages and 39% currently implementing solutions
  • Cross-channel inventory fulfillment – 75% of retailers can fulfill inventory across multiple channels
  • Corporate initiatives – 63% identified “enable seamless customer experience online and in-store” a top initiative

Download: Supply Chain Survey


This survey provides both retailers and vendors with insight and observations into the planning and merchandising tactics and strategies that top retailers are currently utilizing, identifying the priorities and initiatives that are currently underway, and addressing what these retailers envision for the near future:

  • Expansion of omni-channel capabilities
  • Increased focus on unified commerce
  • Use of social media in merchandise planning and allocation decisions

Download: Merchandise Planning & Allocation Survey

We hope you find these research survey reports helpful in you 2015 planning.

I welcome any comments or questions you have about these surveys.  Please enter your comments below.


5 Challenges, Opportunities, and Imperatives for Retailers in 2015

CPC STRATEGY BLOG – This post summarizes insights from retail experts on the most pressing challenges, opportunities, and imperatives for retail in the next 12 months. See what Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners and six other retail experts have to say.

Read Full Article: 5 Challenges, Opportunities, and Imperatives for Retailers in 2015

New Channels and New Competition Challenge Retailers

HOME IMPROVEMENT RETAILING – This special feature report includes key trends and issues in supply chain and distribution with references to research findings from Boston Retail Partners and case studies from Home Depot, Lowe’s and several other home improvement retailers.

Inventory Optimization Tops Retailers’ Omnichannel Priorities

RETAIL TOUCHPOINTS SPECIAL REPORT – The Retail TouchPoints special report delves into current omnichannel inventory trends and includes quotes from Dimitry Erez, vice president at Boston Retail Partners. See pages 2 & 9.


Forget Omni-Channel; Retailers Move To Unified Commerce Model

ENTERPRISE APPS TODAY – This article highlights results from BRP’s Supply Chain Study that indicate retailers are focused on restructuring their supply chains to go beyond multichannel and omni-channel retailing.