Gap Inc. has begun enabling shoppers to reserve items online and pick them up in the chain’s stores. For now, “Reserve in Stores” is available only at select Gap and Banana Republic stores in Chicago and San Francisco, the retailer says.
Gap did not immediately respond to a request for comment about how many stores have rolled out the service. A Gap women’s blazer within 25 miles of Chicago’s Loop was available for pickup at seven locations, though the web site also listed four locations where the blazer was available without the reservation option.
Online shoppers reserve items by clicking “Find in Store” beneath the price information on the product page. That prompts the consumer to enter her ZIP code to find where an item in a particular size and color is available nearby. The Gap and Banana Republic e-commerce sites claim to update store item availabilities every 20-30 minutes. Customers may reserve up to five items from either Gap or Banana Republic per day, regardless of which locations they use for pickup, Gap says. Stores hold reserved items until the close of the next business day.
Shoppers do not have to pay for the items they reserve online until they pick them up, Gap says. That way, they can try them on and change their minds if they choose. When they buy, they pay the lowest in-store price for the item, even if it differs from the online price, Gap says.
Gap sends shoppers an e-mail—and a text if they enter a mobile number—when their orders are ready for pickup. It promises to put items on hold within an hour of a shopper reserving them online; If the store is closed for the day, the confirmation message will arrive in the first hour of the next business day, it says.
The retailer announced it would roll out the online reservation servicein a Q1 earnings call with investors.
Gap Inc. Direct, the retailer’s e-commerce unit, is No. 19 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates one of the largest public transportation systems in the world, is bringing digital touch-screen displays to public phone kiosks in the New York City Transit network. The interactive kiosks, most of which are located in NYCT subway stations, will provide users with a variety of information via 47-inch touch-screen displays.
The MTA has retained Control Group to design and implement the first phase of 90 interactive displays, which will reflect a vision of an “open network” for the city, including support for third-party apps (subject to MTA approval, of course). One of their major functions will be an interactive map of the city’s subway system, which can provide directions to anywhere in the city from the user’s current location, plus a guide to attractions and points of interest. They will also provide information about service delays and outages, as well as carrying advertising. Last but not least, the displays will function as Wi-Fi hotspots.
According to the original request for expressions of interest released by the MTA last year, ads would be located at the bottom portion of the digital screen display, or appear on the side of the kiosks through a branded sponsorship.
The interactive kiosks are just one part of a larger citywide digital out-of-home build-out planned by the MTA. Last year CBS Outdoor partnered with the MTA to install a network of 100 large, double-sided digital displays at the entrances to subway stations around Manhattan. The “Urban Panel” network is intended to improve New York City Transit’s ability to communicate with passengers about route changes and other important information. The displays also carry paid advertising messages.
Meanwhile the city’s public phones are getting a big makeover courtesy of Pacific Telemanagement Services, which bought most of them from Verizon in 2011. PTS is replacing most of the phones with computer kiosks called “My Internet Kiosk Everywhere,” or MIKE, which let users access the Web, email and various apps (for a small fee) via a 22-inch touch-screen. The kiosks also include charging stations for power-hungry mobile devices.
According to the annual survey of global shoppers by PwC, based on more than 11,000 shoppers in 11 different countries spanning four continents, the study debunks some of the mythology concerning consumers, retailers and CPG companies. Using a “10 Myths” framework, the report separates fact from fiction to better serve today’s multichannel shoppers. John Maxwell, Global Retail and Consumer Leader, PwC, says to take social media, for example: There's no denying that the world is changing fast as consumers use social media to research brands, praise their favorite products, and point out the weaknesses of other products. But the survey data reveals that just 12% of the respondents have purchased an item through a social media site, up from 5% in 2011, and only 18% purchased a product as a result of information obtained through a social media site.
Myth 1: Social media will soon become an indispensable retail channel
On its own, social media isn’t likely to become an important retail channel anytime soon, says the report. But it’s becoming more popular every year, and it’s driving more shopping across all channels, not just online ones. While social media is not yet a separate retail channel for most markets, it’s clearly a robust marketing and communications tool for retailers and consumer product companies. According to the study, 49% of survey respondents say they’ll click through to a specific online store if offered a good sale or an attractive special offer.
Brand Lovers, Deal Hunters And Social Addicts Have Different Motivations For Visiting Brand Social Media Sites
Motivation to Visit
% of Respondents
Opportunity to participate in contests
Interested in new product offerings
Follow the brand because I shop with them
Interested in interacting with the brand
Interested in interacting with others that follow this brand
Friends or expert recommendation
Friends also interact with this brand on social media
Feedback about a good or bad experience1
To research products before I buy them
Access to customer service through social media
Source: PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), January 2013
Myth 2: Stores will become mainly showrooms in the future
Many multichannel shoppers say they research online, but more still prefer to buy products at a physical store. Far from cannibalizing store traffic and turning physical locations into showrooms or museum pieces, says the report, web product research drives far more shoppers to make a physical store purchase than vice versa. 23% of respondents research consumer electronics online and then go to a store to buy the product, compared to only 2% who do it the other way around. A similar ratio holds true across several shopping categories. With the exception of the books, music, movies and video game category, consumers don’t yet seem ready to erase the traditional retail outlet from their shopping landscape.
The ability to see, touch and try products still ranks as shoppers’ number one reason to visit a store in person. Getting the product immediately is important to almost as many. The study respondents make more daily or weekly purchases in brick-and-mortar stores than they do online. And while significant numbers of shoppers intend to shop more online next year, most don’t plan to concurrently cut purchases from physical stores.
Myth 3: The tablet will soon overtake the PC as the preferred online shopping device
While tablets and smart phones are catching up, shoppers are still overwhelmingly using their PCs to shop online. In 2012, the world saw a 100% increase in global tablet sales, and by 2015 Gartner expects tablet sales to reach 320 million units. Tablets aren’t just replacing smart phones or laptops, they’re expanding the ways people use online devices. Three-quarters of tablet users reach for their device at least once a day and nearly half spend more than 11 hours per week on their tablets. By 2015, the manner by which consumers will access the Internet will look much different than it does today, with the smart phone accounting for 40% of Internet traffic, computers 34% and tablets 26%. Global spending on mobile apps is projected to soar from $7 billion in 2010 to $35 billion in 2015. The survey suggests that tablets will not soon take over as the preferred online shopping device. Only 9% of shoppers say they they’ve changed their habits to shop with a tablet more often, and three out of five don’t use this type of device to shop at all. The respondents don’t expect to increase their tablet purchases much next year, with only 11% thinking they’ll shop more with their tablet. Smart phones aren’t making serious inroads as a shopping device, either. As with tablets, most of those using these devices don’t expect to use them more for shopping in the near future. And many still don’t use them for shopping at all. In fact, the overwhelming majority of respondents still use their PC to make purchases. That situation doesn’t look likely to change anytime soon. More than one-third of the global sample expects to increase their PC shopping next year, far more than the percentage who say they expect to shop more using other devices.
A quick look at more of the Myths exposed is summarized here, with access to the PDF file containing details at the conclusion:
Myth 4: As the world gets smaller, global consumers are getting more alike
Although consumers shop with more global retailers than ever before, there is a wide range of local difference in consumer behaviors.
Myth 5: China is the future model of online retail
China is at the forefront of some key trends, but the study suggests its multichannel and online model is unique.
Myth 6: Domestic retailers will always have a “home field” advantage over global retailers.
Foreign retailers are making inroads into consumers’ lists of favorite multichannel retailers.
Myth 7: Global online pure players like Amazon will always have a scale advantage over domestic online pure players.
Many domestic online pure players are holding their own.
Myth 8: Retailers are inherently better positioned than brands, as they are closest to the customer
Consumers are shopping directly from manufacturers and many no longer distinguish between retailers and their favorite brands.
Myth 9: Online retail is cannibalizing sales in other channels
Consumers are actually spending more with their favorite multichannel retailers, not just shifting some purchases to a different channel.
Myth 10: Low price is the main driver of customer spend at favorite retailers
Customers value quality and innovative brands over price when shopping at their favorite multichannel retailers.
The report concludes by noting that when it comes to channels and devices, CEOs should have realistic expectations. Social media and tablets aren’t taking over any time soon, but no executive can afford to ignore them either. Realism is the key-word when it comes to China, as well. While there’s no disputing it will be an important market, but Global consumers continue to have far more differences than they do similarities. While domestic retailers have some advantages in the multichannel arena, foreign players are breaking into the scene, and consumers are buying direct from some brands too. Domestic online pure players are also holding their own against global online pure players in a number of markets.
In the view of the study analysis, moving into the multichannel space can have big advantages, particularly in emerging markets where the potential for revenue growth is highest, and consumers aren’t as tied to the idea of a physical store. For considerable detail about the Myths, and charts and graphs illustrating the conclusions, please access the PDF file here.
AT&T's flagship store on Chicago's Magnificent Mile took home top honors during the 42nd Retail Design Institute Design Awards Gala. The AT&T Michigan Avenue store was honored with the first place award in the Service Retail Category, and a Special Merit Award for Innovation in Customer Experience and Technology.
The 10,000 square foot Michigan Avenue store is the largest AT&T store in the nation, the announcement said. In addition to products and services found at AT&T's more than 2,300 retail stores nationwide, the flagship brand store provides exclusive accessories by Chicago-area artists and other products unique to the Windy City.
Designed with the customer experience in mind, the Lifestyle Boutiques organizes products, apps and service based on customers' interests to the Experience Platform that showcases what's next in wireless technology.
"Our Michigan Avenue store helps bring the AT&T brand to life in ways that are meaningful and specific to each customer that walks through the door," said Paul Roth, president of AT&T retail sales and service. "Customers can learn more about who we are, what we do, and what that can mean in their daily lives at home, work, play, and the journey in between."
Omnichannel seems omnipresent in most discussions about the future of retail. The term refers to connecting the store, the web and the mobile web into a seamless experience that …
By Joe Holley
Omnichannel seems omnipresent in most discussions about the future of retail. The term refers to connecting the store, the web and the mobile web into a seamless experience that embraces the reality of a varied path to purchase.
Retailers are delivering cross-channel experiences to shoppers as they work behind the IT curtain to connect infrastructure so that one day soon consumers don't even think about where and how they're interacting; they're just getting the job done in a new omnichannel world. Much of the behind-the-scenes work has to do with enabling compatibility and visibility across platforms, but in-store merchandising plays a role in connecting the online world with the offline world in a targeted way that is very much evident to the retail shopper.
In-store merchandising has long been able to bridge the online and retail worlds with shopping kiosks and more recently with tablet kiosks. Now with the integration of a mobile call to action, any type of in-store merchandising can move the shopper toward an omnichannel experience.
Deloitte's Global Powers of Retailing study predicts a major shift in retailing that will result from a "collision of the virtual and physical world." Such talk may conjure up visions of some terrible seismic event–and mobile has certainly been disruptive — but perhaps the concept of a harmonious fusion of visual display and mobile connectors on the retail floor is a more constructive image we can hold onto. We are beginning to see examples of in-store merchandising that embrace the notion of the shopper proceeding to the cash register or alternately down a mobile path to purchase.
Below are two executions, and one I'd like to see, that illustrate how retailers can unlock real value by encouraging mobile commerce in a store setting. If mobile is the bridge in these examples, in-store merchandising is the support.
The in-store merchandising end cap has always been instrumental in making products easier to discover, consider and purchase. During the holidays when toy sales are at their most competitive and shopping parents are the most frazzled, Target simplified the task. Target displayed twenty toys with QR codes the shopper could scan and buy on her cell phone with free delivery right to the door. Even if the shopper walked out of the store without spoiling the Santa surprise and completing the transaction, she walked out with the ability to hit "buy" on her phone at a more convenient moment.
Customization and Choice
During the fall football season, Kohl's used mobilized in-store merchandising as a bridge to a wider product assortment. They used in-store merchandising and mobile marketing to combine awareness and availability on the spot. A mobile call to action on a display to win football-themed prizes was a gateway to a mobile commerce page with expanded choices for Adidas merchandise.
A recent experience with the purchase of a shower curtain at an upscale home store which thrives on providing multiple, subtle variations on the same hew, yielded the perfect example of how a retailer could cross-sell complementary products using a mobile connector. It took conversations with two store associates about the refined differences in color between various shower curtains and towels and a search through a drawer of color samples before coming to the conclusion that the sought-after companion item wasn't in stock. How easy would it have been to provide a QR code on each shower
curtain on display that led to a mobile commerce page for the purchase of complementary items?
The mind runs freely to other categories that are fertile ground for mobile connectors that marry in-store merchandising and mobile commerce, doesn't it?
I know you will find it hard to believe but having a 5 year old daughter I generally end up in the Disney Store when I go to the mall. On out last trip I saw this digital sign that I though was pretty interesting. The picture doesn't quite do it justice but it is in the shape of a tree and continually moving. While I was watching it was depicting Alice in Wonderland. I was not the actual movie but the character moving around on the screen and interacting.
I thought it was a very interesting use of digital in the store. To me, this is something they used to enhance the fairy-tale experience in retail. It might be worth trying something similar in our stores, though I have no idea how I'd prove out a business case for a digital sign that just adds to the general feel of the store. I guess, in this case, you could make a case for drawing people into the store with interesting digital material.
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has today published Apple’s latest trademark certificate, which covers the “distinctive design & layout” of its iconic retail stores. The Cupertino company originally filed for the trademark back in May 2010, nine years after the first Apple store opened its doors in Tysons Corner, Virginia.
The trademark consists of two designs, according to Patently Apple, which first discovered the new certificate — one in color and one in black and white. The designs both resemble the typical Apple retail store layout, with wooden tablets in the middle and at the sides where customers can play with Apple products, and a Genius Bar and accessory shelves at the back.
Apple retail stores are an important part of the history of Apple Inc., and they have attributed to the Cupertino company’s overwhelming success for many years. The first one opened in May 2001 in the Tysons Corner Center mall in Tysons Corner, Virginia. However, the first store to sport the current layout — the one protected by the trademark — was opened in Pasadena, California.
Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and former CEO, and Ron Johnson, its former Senior Vice President of Retail Operations, are credited with the design and layout of the Apple store, which consumer electronics company’s like Samsung and Microsoft have been working hard to replicate in recent years.
Apple now has around 400 retail stores worldwide, with global sales of $16 billion in 2011. The company is also opening new locations regularly. Its most profitable store is on Regent Street in London, where it sells around £60 million ($94.7 million) worth of merchandise each year. That equals around £2,000 ($3,157) per square foot.
NEW YORK — For all the buzz around mobile commerce, many retailers are surprisingly lukewarm about its ability to get digital-savvy shoppers buying more from their websites.
A new report by Forrester Research for trade group Shop.org shows that smartphones generated a small portion of online sales last year — about $5 billion of a $226 billion e-commerce market.
Retailers will continue to invest in mobile strategies, but the bulk of their technology spending in 2013 will be on the basics, such as improving online checkout, product descriptions and the overall user experience, according to the report, which is based on a survey of stores with e-commerce operations, as well as Internet pure-plays.
“Retailers have been burned getting very, very hyped up over mobile,” Forrester Research e-commerce analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said in a presentation at the National Retail Federation’s annual convention this week in Manhattan. “Even though consumers have these phones, the number of transactions on those phones is still small.”
More than 27,000 people attended the federation’s conference, which was highlighted by the presentation of the organization’s annual Gold Award to Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Seattle-based Amazon.com.
At the conference, which ended Tuesday, retailers discussed a number of topics, including mobile commerce.
Mulpuru said one challenge of mobile commerce is an ever-growing list of tablet devices, including Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Microsoft’s Surface. She said that makes things “messier from a design and development perspective,” adding rhetorically, “What device do you develop for?”
The Forrester survey’s retailers reported average online-sales growth last year of 28 percent. But Mulpuru warned that the explosive growth won’t last forever, noting that the number of new online shoppers has begun to taper off. She predicted that e-commerce will max out at 20 percent of a retailer’s sales, up from about 10 percent today.
“Be prepared for the party to end. It has to end at some point,” she said
Tuesday, the retail federation reported that U.S. nonstore sales during the holiday season increased 11.1 percent from a year ago. That was well above the 3 percent gain for all holiday sales but down from last year’s 15 percent rise in e-commerce.
Altogether, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday that all retail sales reached $415.7 billion n December, an increase of 0.5 percent.
For the year, retail sales in the U.S. increased 5.2 percent, according to the Commerce Department, compared with a 7.9 percent surge in 2011
Not long ago, Square CEO Jack Dorsey challenged his team to create a solution for accepting payments at Starbucks, which the mobile-payments company had partnered with in August. When an engineer worked out a solution (using QR codes within the Square Wallet app that could tap into Starbucks' preexisting system), Dorsey was so giddy that he grabbed a high-end bottle of scotch off his desk and gave it to the engineer as a reward. The only catch? As both would soon learn, the bottle of alcohol was worth a lot more than Dorsey had initially realized--roughly $2,000.
Now, as the tale around the office goes, every time Dorsey retells the story, the price of the bottle keeps shooting higher and higher--an anecdote Dorsey facetiously uses to highlight his unmatched generosity toward employees. "It became like Gob's suits in Arrested Development," the engineer told me with a smile on a recent visit to Square's headquarters.
It's a funny story, sure, but it also serves to show what's rewarded at Square: problem solving. Though Square is often lauded for its culture of design, that understanding overlooks a simple truth. "We're not just a design company; we're not just an engineering company," says CTO Bob Lee. "We're strong in both areas--we need to be." And part of what's made Square such a success story is its ability to cultivate a collaborative atmosphere for designers and engineers--a DNA of problem solving that unifies its various product groups.
Since the service launched several years ago, Square has become as much known for its industrial design as for its dead-simple digital services, which include Square Register and Square Wallet. Its secret sauce has been ridding pain points from the traditional process merchants had to endure to begin accepting payments at their businesses. That commitment to simplification--a commitment Square COO Keith Rabois once referred to as being "obsessive compulsive"--is the result of blurring the lines between design and engineering. As Lee, an engineer who also has a design background, puts its, "From an engineering perspective, design is not just about how something looks, but about how something works. We look at reliability, robustness, and performance as features of the design." That thinking has paid off, too: Square now processes $10 billion in annualized payments.
Thus, Dorsey can afford to reward his employees with a nice bottle of scotch or two--likely a better incentive for good work than what he used to offer. "This is true: For my signing bonus at Square, Jack gave me a bag of Reese's Pieces," recalls Square creative director Robert Andersen, one of the company's earliest employees.
"Oh, Reese's Pieces? I thought I offered you Skittles," Dorsey jokes.
Square's Well-Rounded Aesthetic
Late last year, web design lead Geoff Koops sat in an interview opposite Jack Dorsey. He was considering leaving Apple for Square, but before that was even option, he had to clear this most important hurdle in the interview process. "He'd ask me these big questions--like, 'What is design?'--then sit back with his impeccable posture and watch me flounder," Koops says. "He kind of observes you, without giving that nodding, smiling feedback that keeps you going. I was nervous."
But not nervous enough to throw a tough question back to Dorsey when the time came. "I asked him very specifically for his thoughts on skeuomorphic design," recalls Koops, referring to when an object retains ornamental or decorative elements of past versions of that object--say a digital writing application modeled after a real-life yellow legal notepad, complete with margins and paper tears.
The debate around skeuomorphism exploded in the last year, but at Square, it was arguably a blip on the radar, at least in the public's eye. The company's original leather-textured wallet app was redesigned in March with a simplified interface sans skeuomorphic elements. Since then, Square has managed to rally its teams around a unique aesthetic: a minimalist grayscale color scheme, high-res imagery, playful interactions, and subtle animations. Square's distinct design DNA--which Andersen calls "a combination of simplicity, straightforwardness, and cleanliness"--is identifiable across its hardware, apps, and websites, a feat few startups accomplish so early on. "We try to keep everything related to each other across our products and videos and marketing--they should all speak to each other," Andersen says. "We hold each other accountable for designs that seem arbitrary at Square."
Toward this end, it's partly Andersen's job (which he refers to as "chief collaborator") to make sure all the groups at Square speak the same language. ("It's not my job to tell everyone what to do, though I of course have strong opinions," he laughs.) The startup holds weekly all-hand meetings--called Town Square--where everyone from engineers to PR workers can show off their latest projects; the design teams also hold regular creative reviews. The gatherings are crucial to making sure the various groups are on the same page. When I ask Lee whether his engineers could define skeuomorphism, for example, he responds, "Absolutely, absolutely."
Koops says it's about "internal education." Otherwise, as Andersen says, "the left hand wouldn't know what the right hand is doing."
It may sound simple, but as companies grow, this becomes increasingly difficult to scale, and can have tremendous impact on a company's culture and aesthetic. At the extreme end, just look at a company like Microsoft, which for some time seemed to be driven by disparate product thinking: It would be hard to tell that Windows and Xbox were created by the same company, in other words. It may explain why Square appears so committed to cross-pollination and self-review--especially as the company starts to move to its new headquarters next summer, plans to grow to 1,000 employees, and continues to acquire startups as it did with design studio 80/20.
In early November, Andersen took me to Square's creative review space, which looks like a yoga studio or, as one employee puts it, an "art gallery." Here, Andersen says part of his job is to "keep everything in sync."
"Even though our Register and Wallet teams are technically separate--they report to two different people--it needs to be an integrated system, so information sharing is really important," he says.
Senior interaction designer Mia Blume describes a typical review. "We pin up all our work on the wall and share with other designers to get fresh perspective," she says. "We get so close to the product that it's really hard for us to step back and look at it. There are 100 different ways to solve a problem."
"That's actually something I used to do a lot at Apple, and something I do a lot here now," Koops says. "People naturally form a semi-circle around the work, and there's something democratic and academic about that. It feels like an art critique."
These reviews were helpful in dealing with the internal debate around skeuomorphism, which still percolates inside Square. Says Andersen, "We learned a lot of things both from what we missed from the leather-bound app and things that had been improved with our new UI. These thoughts and lessons will influence the future of that product--though it's not that we're specifically going away from any category."
The more significant point here is that the company seems to take a democratic approach to problem solving. "If it were just one person's job, that would be both impossible and single point of failure," Andersen explains.
Lee says his team of engineers are a "first-class part of the conversation," likely because the company hires hackers who also have a good sense of design. "We look for engineers here who have that sense of product you really need to achieve a level of polish, because if you don't have an engineer that notices those details, it will just be too arduous for the designer to nitpick every little thing," Lee says. "I would say that engineering really is all about design. Even when I'm designing an API, for example, I think of it as a user interface."
Still, that doesn't mean leaders like Dorsey and Andersen don't often drive Square's design through their own strong points of view. As Koops recalls of his question to Dorsey about skeuomorphism, "I remember Jack made a convincing argument [in my interview]--he immediately had five really salient thoughts top of mind."
Adds Lee, "Jack fundamentally believes these details are important; he's equal parts design and engineering."
Receipts Can Be Sexy
Ever dreamed of working under Jack Dorsey's direction at Square? For a startup as sexy as Square is in the Valley, the company is tackling some rather unsexy problems: credit card processing, receipts, point-of-sale systems. "Jack is a big fan of trying to make the mundane feel fun and whimsical and interesting, even a refund screen, for refunding credit-card payments,"Andersen says. "He calls us out on that kind of stuff all the time. Some people when they hear that are like, 'Oh my god, that's not helpful at all. I don't understand why this should be fun.'"
I don't blame them. I'm with Andersen in the center of Square's offices, in between the rows of iMac-lined desks that separate the startup's dining area and in-house coffee shop. With Dorsey standing close by with a group of employees, I can't help but draw a blank in imagining how to redesign a refund screen into something that's fun, let alone whimsical. "Well frankly, this industry has been neglected for so long that even putting in a modest amount of thinking in terms of modern user experience makes this stuff way better," Andersen says.
He points to Square's rethinking of receipts. "People don't like paper," he says. "Whenever I get a receipt, I cram it into my pocket and throw it away. It's such a waste. So when we think about making this more fun, we first think about taking the pain out of it. Like you know what? A receipt should have beautiful photos of items on it; maybe it should actually come with a description. Now our receipts just push directly to your phone. Fun also comes from usefulness--people get bogged down by things they think are trash."
Mia Blume ticks off the industry's myriad headaches. "For a lot of traditional POS systems, [merchants] have to spend thousands of dollars, and get someone to go out and program it for them. There's a lot of setup time, and it's very static. Once they've set it up, they can't really change it themselves. It's overly complex and time-consuming." Hence, for SMBs, it's perhaps fun just being able to accept a signature on an iPhone or customize an inventory list on an iPad.
"That stuff is very challenging to implement...design is more than the way things look," Lee says. He recalls working with Andersen on everything from authorizing payments over a network to verifying account funds to determining when to send a user his or her receipt. "Do you send the receipt information before or after taking the signature?" he says. "You have to consider this kind of stuff."
Often, merchants won't even notice all the clever elements the Square team embedded in its services. "People appreciate design on different levels, so I think the stuff that you pick up on isn't likely the same as the pizzeria owner in Iowa," says Koops. "But everybody notices good design, and I think everybody benefits from it. There's no wasted effort here."
Sweat The Small Stuff
No wasted effort? I'm sitting with Koops in one of the cabanas at Square, where the designer is, in great detail, describing a slight drop shadow resting below an image of a price tag on the company's website. When the price tag sways--ever so subtly, for only a moment or two--the shadow underneath follows its path, back and forth. It's an elegant animation, though hardly noticeable--if you blink you might miss it. "That really came to life in the hands of the engineers," Koops says. "And the shadow actually matters to that pizzeria owner in Iowa."
He's being serious.
The level of detail is common of Square's team, which pays its products pixel-close attention. Once, for example, the team urged Fast Company to change an image we featured in a Square story about Starbucks because it contained the incorrect rendering of the picture's green coloring. ("It's subtle," the PR rep wrote to me then by email, "but the green at the top is [fashioned after] a [Starbucks] apron [material], versus just being green and flat.") And that sense of detail stretches to the highest levels of the company.
Koops cites the time when Jack Dorsey and Robert Andersen were looking over a redesign of the company's website. The site would soon relaunch, and the two were staring at one image on the company's website: an iPad, sitting atop a metal stand, running Square Register. "Jack said, 'That's weird--it looks like a wonky iMac or something,'" Koops recalls. "Once I saw that, I couldn't un-see it. It was ilke, 'Oh, you're right.'"
Koops and his team had spent months drafting designs for the new website; detailing the page's layout; and enlisting top-notch photographers for the site's images. Now, Dorsey was questioning the site's launch due to this one, inconspicuous metal stand. ("And this was like a $10,000 photograph...whoops!" Koops says.)
"So we came up with this idea of taking a plywood Eames chair, and repurposing it into this stand--this stand that never actually existed," Koops explains. "Just changing the material was enough to remove that potentially bad perception--that confusing perception [that an iMac was required to use Square]."
Adds Koops, "That's one of those awesome little details that I don't think would've been bothered with elsewhere."
National Public Radio's Audie Cornish has been exploring the evolution of the American shopping experience and recently interviewed retail architect M.J. Munsell and retail consultant Bob Hetu. The discussion speculated on what a typical shopping experience in the future might look and feel like. According the conversation, shoppers of the future will have a digitally enhanced and highly personal retail experience.
CORNISH: So we've had a tour through the store of the future. But what will our shopping experience look like in the future? Those are the kind of decisions Bob Hetu makes as a retail consultant. He works with major retailers as they look into the future.
Hi there, Bob.
BOB HETU: Hello, Audie.
CORNISH: So we've just heard about this brave new world of, you know, digital dressing rooms and hyper-customized shopping experience when we go into physical stores of the future. But what is the sort of thing that you're telling retailers would be a good investment to help build the shopping experience?
HETU: Well, we're really focused on something that I refer to as either back to the future of retail. You know, one of the things that we're talking a lot with retailers about today is the idea of personalization; the idea that we understand you as a consumer and we can present to you products that will really appeal directly to you, at a price that makes sense - promotional activity that makes sense - for you as an individual.
CORNISH: So I have to assume that this is a ramping up of all that data they're collecting on us these days, right? In the future, they'll know what dress I want before I step in the store?
HETU: Yeah, ideally it is. You know, retailers for a long time have had what we call big data, which is, you know, just a huge amount of information available to them. But now it's gotten significantly more complicated because when you think about it, they have, you know, additional, you know, social media activity, you know, varieties of loyalty program data. And now they're putting together both that structured point-of-sale information, which is what you bought, when, with some of those unstructured things that are about you as a person, in order to help develop a better customized assortment of products for you.
CORNISH: So what's the role of the store in that?
HETU: Well, the store is still very, very important. We're still forecasting store to be above 80 percent of sales still, at least through 2015 into 2016. And, you know, the future of it looks like we're going to see where people have registered online; maybe their cell phone number is part of the loyalty program. And they may be aware that you have pulled into the parking lot, or you've entered the door, and they might be able to greet you by name.
They may be able to offer you, you know, the ability to view certain products that they know - based on your past buying experience - are things you might like to have.
CORNISH: Now, Bob, you said that this is a consumer-oriented experience. But it also sounds a little bit creepy...
On average, that's how many tweets were sent, every day, in 2012. The total number of tweets sent since the site launched just seven years ago is in the hundreds of billions. That's an awful lot of information, 140 characters at a time.
Twitter, of course, is one of many social networking sites that retailers have struggled to figure out in recent years. Facebook has also been a behavior-changer for countless people, and companies are still developing their best practices for how best to use these networks to communicate with their customers and prospects.
Many retailers are using social media to amazing effect, however, and that's what we're celebrating with this infographic. It's particularly fascinating to see how different types of retailers are using different networks based on their business and audience - for instance, the craft retailer Michael's taking advantage of the visual nature of its product selection on the visually driven Pinterest.
Tell us in the comments ... which retailers do you think make the best use of social media, and why?
Jan 8 (Reuters) - Target Corp said on Tuesday it will match on a year-round basis the prices found on the websites of key rivals Amazon.com Inc, Best Buy Co Inc , Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Toys R Us, its latest tactic to hold onto shoppers focused on price.
The move extends an online price-matching program that Target introduced over the holiday season and which was supposed to last only from Nov. 1 to Dec. 16. It also comes after Target last week reported flat sales growth in December at stores open at least a year.
"I think this is largely symbolic, it's akin to removing the Kindle from their stores," said Wells Fargo analyst Matt Nemer, referring to Target's decision to stop selling Amazon's tablet devices last year.
In November, Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel said Target was not seeing a lot of price-match activity in its stores.
"It's not likely to have a huge impact on financials or customer behavior," said Nemer, who noted that customers are not likely to go to Target's guest services desk for a refund for just a small difference in price.
Also, much of what Target sells, such as apparel and accessories, is exclusive to the store, so there would be no comparable prices from competitors.
But Target will now also match prices year-round from its own website in its stores.
Nemer called that "a really important step," saying it removes confusion for customers who sometimes see different prices for products such as televisions in stores and online.
While shopping online has grown rapidly in recent years, it still represents a small fraction of overall shopping in the United States. Target's policy of matching online prices differs from policies at several chains, which match only printed advertised prices for items sold at stores.
Target said that throughout the year it will match the price when a customer buys an eligible item at one of its stores and finds the same item at a lower price in the following week's Target circular or in a local competitor's printed ad. It will also match the price if the customer finds the same item at a lower price within a week on Target's website or the websites of Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and Toys R Us.
Amazon says it offers competitive prices and does not offer price matching when an item's price drops after a customer buys it, with the exception of televisions. Walmart matches the prices of print ads from competitors and said it has no plans to change its policy. Walmart also says it checks the prices of 30,000 items at competing chains each week to make sure it has the lowest prices.
Best Buy matches the price from a local competitor's store, a local Best Buy store or its own web site. Toys R Us matches in-store prices and certain online prices.
Shares of Target were down 60 cents at $60.70 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
Global fashion brand Lacoste has picked YCD Multimedia's digital signage platform to manage and control video walls at three stores in the U.S., including the brand's flagship store on 5th Avenue in New York City.
The stores' digital signage includes various video walls — including a ceiling display in Miami — intended to add a modern flavor and communication tool to the classic and traditional brand, created in 1933 by the French tennis legend René Lacoste.
The video walls tell the Lacoste story, while promoting merchandise through the evolution of the product. The content tells the brand story from conception, to the first clothing line and materials used, and segues to current days where there are many colors available based on the original concept of René Lacoste. The content was developed by Lacoste and is updated remotely by Lacoste headquarters.
"We are excited to be selected by one of the world's most famous brands in the apparel industry," said Noam Levavi, CEO of YCD Multimedia. "These new generation stores, using digital media, allow customers to enjoy a luxurious ambience and feel like they are in a prestigious fashion show. This enhances both customer experience and brand equity, creating a unique shopping environment."
The latest store to install YCD's Messenger platform is Lacoste's new boutique on Lincoln Road in Miami. This installation followed Messenger's implementation at Lacoste Soho boutique on Broadway and the flagship store on Fifth Avenue, both in New York City.
"We wanted to convey our brand and communicate with customers in a very modern way," said Peter Wiegand, senior project manager at Lacoste. "In order to do this we needed a solution that wouldn't compromise on the quality of playback or be a barrier for Lacoste Corporate to update the content."
Posted By Lauren Johnson On December 14, 2012 @ 4:30 am In Apparel and accessories,Featured,Multichannel retail support
The Jones Group-owned Nine West is arming sales associates with iPads this holiday season to provide customer service and serve as an internal sales tool.
The Jones Group is working with EachScape to develop a mobile application that will be used internally by the company. With growth in mobile direct and influenced sales this holiday season, retailers are increasingly turning to in-store devices to help shoppers.
“We are focused on providing our Nine West consumers with the richest shopping experience possible by directly connecting our online and offline channels, and empowering our sales associates to provide an elevated customer experience that gives them greater resources and direct access to ecommerce to utilize the full breath of our online assortments,” said Scott Bowman, group presidentof global retail and international development at The Jones Group.
The Jones Group is a designer, marketer and wholesaler for more than 35 footwear, jewelry, apparel, jeanswear and handbag brands.
In-store companion Nine West will develop the app to serve as an in-store tool for employees at wholly-owned stores.
Store associates will be able to help shoppers by pulling up lookbooks and the ecommerce site to place orders and upsell.
Furthermore, store associates can also use the app to access store layouts of retail locations and training materials. The app can also be used to provide tracking and feedback to managers.
The app is planned to be rolled out in stores by Christmas.
“Clearly, this holiday season has been a big year for mobile commerce, and we think it’s only the beginning,” said Ludo Collin, CEO of EachScape, New York.
“On the retailer side, brands can be both innovative and effective by using mobile,” he said. “They can drive sales by presenting ideas about how groups of products work well together, ordering out-of -stock items from other locations and generally exciting the shopper about what they’re doing. This is critical since shoppers are also on their devices, so they need to be engaged with the brand and buying rather than using their mobile to find alternatives or better pricing through competitors.”
“From the back-office perspective, mobile can also be used as an efficient means of inventory management and training for those in store.”
Tis the season Nine West is the latest in a string of retailers that are rolling out in-store mobile devices this holiday season.
Retailers are deploying in-store mobile for a variety of reasons from cutting in-store lines, driving online sales and building loyalty programs.
For example, lifestyle retailer Alex and Ani recently rolled out mobile POS to help consumers check-out quicker this holiday season (see story).
At a mass merchant level, Kmart and Sears rolled out in-store tablets this year for store navigation (see story).
“Given that consumers are armed with mobile devices and resources to shop anywhere, it’s harder and harder for retailers to capture their shopping dollars, even when they are in the store,” Mr. Collin said.
“By putting these tools in the hands of sales associates, brands get a leg up on the shopper and can enhance and improve her shopping experience, locking in a purchasing customer who hopefully will also become a loyal customer,” he said. “The loyalty can be reinforced with consumer applications that have ongoing appeal.”
“There’s also been a clear rise in mobile payments, which is just at the beginning of the trend curve. It’s bigger than last year and will continue to increase.”
Final Take Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
For traditional retailers, the little price sticker on your favorite can of soup probably represents the last bastion of "how it's always been done." The way a retailer arrives at that magical number is a closely guarded secret, involving part competitive matching, part cost-plus calculation, and part pure gut feel. Balancing the true cost of a product with profitability to arrive at a figure that wins business has never been an easy task.
Major global retailers have understood that an analytics initiative offers fresh insights when formulating pricing strategies. But there is a huge variation in rigor and sophistication. Accenture studies have shown that approaches to pricing analytics vary by industry segment, market strategy, and analytical maturity. A retailer at an early stage of maturity may rely on just cost-plus estimates, while one at a more advanced stage may employ sophisticated pricing optimization models. Leading analytical retailers are working to systematically embed analytically arrived prices across all their products and categories.
In recent years, determining prices has become increasingly trickier. Web sites and mobile technologies that offer price comparisons have redrawn the power equation to a point where it is now the consumer that writes the sticker, not the retailer. What's more, the multiplicity of channels, both physical and digital, now empowers consumers to make smart purchase decisions irrespective of location. This evolving omni-channel shopping experience is redrawing the contours of modern retail.
These developments come as the result of four important trends in the retail sector:
Globalization: The rapid growth of middle-class consumption and accompanying retail traction in emerging markets like China and India
Mobilization: A virtual explosion in the use of smartphones and tablets for price comparison or as a point of sale, for in-store solutions, and for enterprise solutions
Large digital channels: Greater organizational and process integration with other channels to create a seamless experience for the customer
Transforming stores: Increasing deployment of in-store systems that are global, scalable, easy to deploy, multichannel integrated, and cost effective
These trends represent a huge challenge—as well as a huge opportunity—for retailers at a time when they are grappling with the effects of protracted sluggishness in consumer spending. Redefining the way retailers look at price determination is, in a way, the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle that portrays a whole new picture of retailing in the future.
The new pricing paradigm will call for a fundamental shift in the way retailers determine price. Companies that are able to convert data from both online and real-world environments into a 360-degree picture of individual customers and use this information to offer them bespoke price offerings will leave the competition behind. Retailers that have a wide breadth of functionality and services will thrive in the personalized, dynamic pricing future. Distilling our analysis and experience with leading retailers across the globe, here are five ways that companies can prepare for the future.
Accept that change is inevitable. Unfortunately, many traditional retailers are still in denial of the changes being wrought by digital commerce. But they cannot wish away one simple truth: Online stores will carve out larger slices of market share from traditional retailers. Retailers that recognize this early on can concentrate their resources on holding on to individual customers by offering their best patrons better prices.
As long as differentiated pricing strategies are seen as fair and transparent, customers will embrace the new pricing paradigm. Furthermore, accepting change means drawing up new strategies to tackle emerging pricing models. Dismissing the discount algorithms of online retailers could put brick-and-mortar retailers at a distinct disadvantage in times to come.
Adopt new tactics. As the focus shifts from pricing individual items or categories to the long-term economic value of individual customers, retailers will need to revise their analytics strategy too. The analytics will now need to optimize prices for individual customers, trips, and baskets.
As a consequence, retailers will need to find ways to deal with customers on the wrong end of the differential pricing continuum and who feel left out. Strategies to tackle such issues could include creating tiers of customers with benefits calibrated to economic value—or simply letting go of unhappy patrons.
Aggregate the right data. Retailers already have mountains of data. But this information may not be pertinent for price-related statistical modeling and predictive analysis. The real game-changer is "universal data," or general spending habits across channels and retailers (as opposed to spending in a specific store). This data can prove critical when determining prices.
Retailers also need other specific types of data, such as true costs (including "cost to serve"). The analytics emerging from crunching thousands of such variables may not only help determine the true profit of a price, but have implications for product range and inventory forecasting.
Assemble the infrastructure. Leading retailers know that building a robust supply chain—the ability to get goods in the store quickly and efficiently while limiting the amount of capital tied up in inventory—can prove a decisive ingredient of success. The transition to dynamic and personalized pricing will call for the construction of new types of infrastructures. These include wireless networks, integration with manufacturers' networks, and analytics systems that determine the right prices for individual customers and generate offers almost instantly.
Articulate pricing strategy via a dynamic customer interface. Traditional retailers would do well to learn from their online peers how to offer customized prices and bundles, dynamically and instantly. Retailers with physical and virtual stores can leverage both channels to generate an array of customized offers, depending on each customer's preferences and buying patterns. In this analytics scenario, the retailer sets the perfect price regardless of the channel. However, this is hard to pull off, and most retailers are a few years from trying it.
The tectonic plates of pricing are shifting. Data from all touch points is empowering today's retailer to make smarter, informed decisions. However, having the right kind of data and the right analytic tools could tempt many retailers to drill too deep. They must, therefore, tread a fine line between obtaining actionable insights that help them determine dynamic pricing options and invasion of privacy. Retailers that achieve this will be well positioned to offer shoppers a differentiated and personalized pricing experience.
In an era of unparalleled consumer power, multi-channel specialty retailers and brands are finding their success hinging increasingly on their ability to aggregate, analyze and act on the flood of customer data flowing through their sales channels.
And to the delight of many, big data’s biggest benefits are accruing as much to retailer’s brick-and-mortar stores as their e-commerce operations. In the last year or two, many retailing CEOs have gone from expressing alarm at the growing threat of showrooming to extolling the virtues of mobile technology — including the ability to send personalized marketing messages to customers as they step out of their cars at the mall parking lot and equipping store associates with mobile devices that enable them to better serve customers.
In a survey last year, Forrester Research found midmarket retailers were ramping up their IT budgets in a big way in a bid to compete with big box retailers. Fourteen percent of the survey’s respondents planned to invest at least 10 percent of revenues in IT capital projects. While some of this money was aimed at generating quick returns via online price optimization and promotions tools, Forrester found many mid-size retailers were setting aside significant resources to “develop deeper customer intimacy and to promote service-based competition” that will provide a long-term competitive advantage against big box specialty retailers that typically spend 5 to 7 percent of their revenue on IT projects.
In other words, the front line in today’s retailing war is coalescing around the ability to harness customer data to create more intimate bonds with their customers regardless of how they shop. It represents a huge effort to catch up with consumers’ diverse and rapidly changing shopping habits.
“The customer is in charge, and retailers and wholesalers alike need to tap in to more sophisticated ways to understand customer behavior by understanding what it is the customer values,” said Will Manzer, chairman and CEO for Eastern Mountain Sports and chair of the Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) board of directors. “This is about knowing that the customer can purchase goods and services in ways they have never been able to do before and do it at an alarming rate of speed.”
Several trends have brought the industry to its focus on data analytics, including:
Commoditization. Multi-channel specialty retailers and brands have grown wary of the commoditization effect of major online retailers like Amazon. To sustain their business models and margins long-term, they are searching for ways to enhance the customer experience so they don’t have to compete on price. (See related story from OIA archives.)
Channel fragmentation. Consumers have adopted smartphones much more quickly than anticipated and now move effortlessly among online, mobile and brick-and-mortar channels. Yet most retailers operate these channels as separate silos that often don’t talk to one another. This sets up customers for disappointment if they arrive at a local store only to find the color and style they saw online is out-of-stock or being sold at a higher price. The bigger and more complex the retailer, the more vulnerable it is to disappointing customers. (See related story in this issue.) The need to present a uniform customer experience across all channels will only become more urgent with the aging of younger consumers — 18- to 34-year-olds — who have much higher expectations, according to some research.
Rising customer acquisition costs. Many independent retailers say they have halted their paid search advertising in the last 18 months as costs have spiraled. (See related story from OIA Archives.) As the cost of acquiring new customers rises, companies are working harder to earn more business from existing customers, who can be reached via email, social media and other low cost channels. One way to do this is to use customer data to anticipate customer needs, personalize marketing messages and create a more intimate brand experience.
Tough economy. Margin pressure and tight budgets have caused more executives to demand hard data before making or renewing investments, whether this is in a new line, a hire or an IT project. Data-driven decision making is touching virtually all aspects of organizations, from human resources to marketing and merchandizing.
Empirical evidence. Nearly nine in 10, or 86 percent, of top performing retailers use a business intelligence (BI) stack compared to 55 percent of retail followers, according to a recent report by the Aberdeen Group. The BI stack consists of data collection, analysis, reporting and dashboards that Aberdeen says can reduce decision time from 48 hours to as little as 20 minutes.
Channel Integration Enables Shift to True Omnichannel Retailing
A dozen years after launching online stores, many U.S. retailers are coming to understand an important distinction: there is a big difference between being a multichannel and being an omnichannel retailer. The former may be able to sell through multiple channels, but the latter can aggregate data on customer behavior across all channels to anticipate demand, segment marketing and coordinate fulfillment in ways that differentiate their brand.
IT gurus call this “demand-driven retail” and say Tier 1 retailers have used it to chip away at mid-tier and specialty retailers’ business since the 2008-09 recession. Yet even Tier 1 retailers have yet to unlock the full value of omnichannel retailing, which involves mining the vast torrent of customer data retailers now collect to improve not only inventory management and online pricing but virtually all facets of the customer experience.
“Marketing today requires a clear change in perspective — from just driving acquisition of new consumers to a prioritized focus on retention and loyalty of existing customers,” writes Zain Raj, author of Brand Rituals and CEO of the digital marketing network Hyper Marketing Inc. “Much of the data analysis has been going into driving traffic, conversions and transactions rather than reinforcing bonds with existing customers. This has led to a short-term boost in sales, but a long-term threat to brand value. A higher number of bonded customers is not only possible but absolutely necessary if you and your company want to create sustainable brands that defy competitors for decades. In an age of universal price transparency, brand loyalty is harder and more important to gain.”
Research increasingly shows that the ability to collect, interpret and act on data gives retailers a competitive advantage across all their channels. While overall retail sales in the United States grew at an annual average of just 3 percent between 2006 and 2011, digitally influenced in-store sales grew at an average of 13 percent. Forrester Research reports that demand-driven retailers realize 27 percent greater return on assets, 23 percent more inventory turns and 26 percent revenue growth compared to their peers. Much of this is attributable to the ability to use data to personalize marketing offers, dial in-store layouts and assortments and otherwise create a superlative experience that keeps customers coming back even when they can find the same products cheaper elsewhere.
Yet 74 percent of multichannel retailers recently surveyed by the Aberdeen Group still operate their sales channels as separate silos that can’t easily exchange customer information. Nearly one in six, or 58 percent, report they have not integrated their business processes or technologies across these channels. This means customers may encounter different assortments, prices, loyalty programs and return policies depending on how they shop. This lack of consistency is undermining many brands and stands to worsen as more and more people opt to shop via smartphones and tablet computers, like the iPad, Aberdeen concludes.
The lack of integration is also inflating inventory costs, according to Celerant Technology Corp., which specializes in providing multichannel management software to rapidly growing small and mid-size retailers.
In the two years since Celerant helped Fontana Sports integrate its POS and budding e-commerce operations, the Madison, Wis., retailer has grown sales 15 to 20 percent annually with 20 percent less inventory. This has enabled Fontana to increase inventory turns from two to three to four times per year just through improved inventory management, according to a case study.
Celerant argues that retailers who were late to launch online stores — Fontana only began selling online in 2008 — may be able to leapfrog big box competitors because they don’t have to integrate separate inventory, warehouse and fulfillment platforms.
More and more POS vendors, including Celerant, are offering software that integrates all channels of a multichannel retail enterprise, including POS, warehouse, inventory management, sales back office, data mining, open-to-buy, mail order/catalog and e-commerce. This enables retailers to port gift registries, inventory management and other features between channels with a single interface.
“From the consumer’s perspective,” asserts a Celerant white paper, “the framework facilitates what so many retailers are striving for — a seamless customer experience at every touch point.”
Data Enabling More Personal, Less Promotional Marketing
Among marketers, the 2010s may go down as the golden era of data mining. Never before have marketers had access to so much information about their customers, and this data is enabling a transition to more personal and less promotional marketing.
Whether it’s tracking customers as they cruise websites, monitoring their comments on Facebook, or reviewing purchases registered through loyalty programs, retailers and brands are harnessing data to gain unprecedented insight into customer behavior.
“We know if you're one of our customers through our catalog or from dot-com,” Cabela’s CEO Tommy Millner told analysts in May. “We know where you live and if you have one of our credit cards. We also know what you spend, not just at Cabela's, but on other things. So that's a wonderful modeling tool that allows us to go where the fish are.”
While retailers and brands remain concerned about identity theft, consumers seem willing to volunteer personal information to brands they trust.
In the first quarter of 2012 alone, 350,000 people joined Sport Chalet’s Action Pass loyalty program. REI ended 2011 with 4.7 million active co-op members, up 300,000 from a year earlier. Cabela’s calls the loyalty program it offers through its Cabela’s Club Visa credit card, which is issued by a bank the retailer owns, “the glue that sticks customers to our brand.”
The flood of data has enabled marketers to identify trends based on how individual consumers research, and buy or don’t buy products. It is helping retailers identify and target niches such as backcountry skiers or shoppers who have abandoned an online shopping cart filled with disc golf equipment in the last 30 days. When done correctly, such data can be used to personalize marketing messages in a way that strengthens a brand’s bonds with its customers.
A 2011 survey by the Aberdeen Group shows retailers who personalize online marketing messages see 16 percent increase in retention rates and 15 percent increase in response rates.
Sport Chalet fully analyzes the buying pattern of each of its Action Pass loyalty club members by store and by season, down to how frequently they purchase specialty services like bike tune-ups or SCUBA lessons. This enables the company to understand how each item it sells performs in every store, by size and by color. It also helps it identify cross-selling opportunities, since research by The Outdoor Foundation shows how participants in some so-called “gateway” activities like camping and fishing are more inclined to try other sports. (Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) is hosting a series of market research seminars at the upcoming Outdoor Retailer Summer Market.)
“We study our customers’ online behavior and how they use our website to learn more about the products and services we offer in our stores, as well as their online purchasing behavior,” reads Sport Chalet’s 2011 annual report. “All of these data collection points help us to understand our business within a diverse marketplace and to make more informed decisions relating to marketing, store assortments, employee staffing and training, and store location planning both on a short-term tactical basis as well as a long-term strategic basis.”
Having a better grasp on what products its customers are likely to buy has enabled Sport Chalet reduce markdowns, advertising and other promotional costs.
In May, Eddie Bauer announced it had outsourced its customer relationship management activities, including its customer database, to Merkle in a bid to transition to a more personal and less promotional marketing model.
“As our multi-channel marketing efforts progress, we were looking for a partner who could help Eddie Bauer integrate data from catalog, email and other offline and digital interactions; and then use advanced analytics to create insights that give us a 360-degree view of our customers’ needs, preferences and values,” said Eddie Bauer Senior Vice President of Marketing, Ecommerce and Creative, Adam Diamond. “We chose Merkle because of the team’s deep expertise in the specialty retail sector, and their ability to support Eddie Bauer’s move from a campaign-oriented model to one that is customer-centric in its approach.”
Will big box retailers’ embracement of advanced data analytics put smaller retailers at a disadvantage? Three independent outdoor specialty retailers OIA contacted for this story don’t seem to think so. All three said the smaller size and less complex nature of their operations means they can sense the trends that are most meaningful to them with tools in their POS system, Google Analytics, their email vendor or through inexpensive online services they can use to automate and monitor social media feeds.
“You can spend so much time on analytics and not get anywhere with it,” notes John Hutchinson, president of Fontana Sports of Madison, Wis. “It often gets really confusing and it’s easy to lose track of the forest from the trees. Besides, data analytics only helps with what we do sell, but not with what we don't sell, such as stand-up paddleboards.”
For that Fontana takes advantage of free access to OIA VantagePoint he enjoys as an OIA member. Specifically designed for the outdoor industry, OIA VantagePoint tracks sales of outdoor products at more than 10,000 retail stores in seven channels, including online. (OIA VantagePoint Monthly Trend Report for June 2012.) Brands and retailers use the tool to spot and document trends early and gauge the potential market for new products or category launches.
“When it comes to analytics, the information we get from OIA is probably the most valuable,” said Hutchison. “Because its shows us what trends are building in the larger market place that we could not see otherwise.”
Online Data and Analytics Helping Boost Brick-and-Mortar Profits
Data analytics is having at least as profound an impact on helping retailers hone their brick-and-mortar operations as their online marketing. From reducing out-of-stocks to trimming shipping costs and dialing in local assortments, data analytics are yielding benefits up and down the supply chain.
Zumiez executives attributed the retailer’s astounding 12.9 percent comp store growth in the first quarter not just to the quality of its store employees but to the ability of its merchants to micro merchandise product assortments.
“As a multi-branded retailer, that really is trying to capture each of the micro trends as they are occurring, it really takes a dedicated, very hard focus on the data, and really trying to keep everyone of those hot products in stock,” said Marc Stolzman, Zumiez's CFO.
Zumiez CEO Rick Brooks said the action sports retailer monitors POS data on a daily basis to keep inventory and demand aligned.
“We really make sure that whatever the trends are telling us, we're reacting in real-time to have the right product in the right location in the right channel to serve our customers,” Brooks said in May.
When data showed many customers passing over boots and outerwear to shop warm weather gear in the fourth quarter, Cabela’s worked with vendors to halt replenishment of winter products and move up deliveries of spring merchandise. The move enabled the retailer to grow comp store sales by 4.2 percent and merchandise margins by 150 points in the first quarter even as other retailers were slashing prices to clear surplus winter merchandise.
Cabela’s recently told investors and analysts it has only just begun to tap the power of data analytics to streamline order fulfillment and replenishment and localize assortments. It is working toward a much more dynamic system that can fulfill or replenish from vendor warehouses, its own distribution centers or any of its nearly 40 stores in North America, depending on which is most efficient. The objective is to minimize the movement of inventory, said Douglas Means, an executive vice president and Cabela’s chief supply chain officer.
“We look at product in a vendor's hands and we look at product in a store or in a customer's hands and everything else in the middle is time and money,” Means said. “Whatever we can do to reduce that we feel is a win.”
For independent specialty retailers that lack the resources to develop data-mining tools in-house, there are POS and e-commerce vendors that offer order management systems as add-ons that can provide the kind of fulfillment versatility such as Cabela’s is seeking. Celerant Technology Corp., which provides retail management systems to several outdoor specialty retailers, offers “on-the-fly decision making logic” that enables retailers to pick the most efficient fulfillment channel.
“The logic kicks into gear and determines the most efficient means for order fulfillment,” reads a Celerant white paper. “If the ordered item is available in 10 different stores and a warehouse, for instance, the system uses predefined parameters, such as shipping costs, store staffing and inventory levels, to determine which location should field and fulfill the order.”
Outdoor specialty retailer Moosejaw is using data collected from online customers over the last 17 years to decide where and how to stock its first brick-and-mortar stores outside of Detroit and Chicago. The company also used online surveys to dial in assortments for its recently opened store in Boulder, Colo. The retailer is developing an order management system that will enable it to ship from any store to fulfill online and catalog orders.
Macy’s attributed a 38 percent jump in first quarter profits in part to its My Macy’s strategy, which uses data analytics to tailor assortments at its more than 900 stores to local tastes. This has helped it speed up inventory turns, reduce discounting, raise margins and improve customer satisfaction. Now the company is pushing to become a true omnichannel retailer. In the first quarter, Macys.com began offering products that will be 100 percent fulfilled by its stores and is looking at ways to reduce inventory at brick-and-mortar stores to free space for expanded assortments that can be fulfilled online.
Big box retailers such as Target are relying more on data analytics as their ability to open new stores hinges increasingly on entering smaller markets with smaller stores and narrower assortments.
“We've got a lot of work to do to determine exactly by trade area, what assortment is going to be in and out,” Target Chairman, CEO and President Gregg Steinhafel told investors last summer in a discussion of the company’s plans to open 40,000-square-foot stores outside its traditional suburban markets.
Given the seemingly unlimited capacity of humans to come up with ways to collect and analyze data, it appears retailers are only just getting started.
Footlocker is already experimenting with heat mapping technology that allows it to visualize how much time customers spend in which sections of its stores. Stores that have too much blue and not enough yellow and red are targeted for improvement. It’s also vetting business intelligence systems in hopes of better serving Hispanic customers with smaller shoes sizes and neighborhoods that lean more toward the Sox than the Cubs.
“The system that we have, while effective, is not as efficient and effective as it could be,” Footlocker Chairman and CEO Kenneth Hicks told investors in March. “That's why we're evaluating new opportunities and that's something we will put in place over the next couple of years.”
As Facebook Use Soars, Social Media Analytics Come of Age
As Facebook closes in on 1 billion users, social analytics is entering a new era, unharnessing the power of data to guide company decision making. A host of companies has emerged in the last five years to help brands identify and reward their most influential online ambassadors and get a better grasp of their return on investment in social media.
One common theme across these tools is that when it comes to measuring the value of social media, quality often trumps quantity. Brand managers are learning that likes, friends and posts on Facebook are a dime a dozen. To identify true online influencers requires closely monitoring social media streams. With five of every six online product searches resulting in a consumer buying in a brick-and-mortar store, it’s getting more important every day to identify and reward your online evangelists. A definite social media hierarchy is emerging that ranges from national celebrities, magazines and retailers to bloggers, athletes, outfitters, ski pros and store employees all the way down to local enthusiasts.
Fortunately, it’s getting easier every day to sort out the true influencers. Below is a sampling of data analysis tools companies can use to measure both their own social media influence and that of others, and to gauge general sentiment toward their brands. They range from solutions that cost tens of thousands of dollar per year to web-based tools that can cost just dollars a month and are often offered for free on a trial basis.
Channel Signal. Builds “big, powerful feedback loops” that brands can use to measure consumer sentiment toward them, their products and events, according to Founder and CEO Paul Kirwin. The company has developed a system for monitoring and categorizing product reviews, feedback on Twitter and Facebook, and blog entries. Companies also use Channel Signal’s data to research target markets, product ideas and new channels of distribution.
First Insight. Fortune 500 companies use this product to gather and analyze input from online consumers to guide their decision making throughout the product development cycle. Retailers can use First Insight’s predictive analytics to guide their decisions on product design, buying, assortment planning, pricing and marketing.
Klout. Businesses and individuals can use Klout to measure their own social media influence. Klout assigns rolling 90-day scores to users based on how often and recently their content is read or viewed, liked, retweeted, commented on or otherwise shared. By measuring such engagement against the number of posts a user makes, Klout hopes to recognize the most engaging rather than the most prolific content providers.
HootSuite. Companies can use this site to automate distribution of content to multiple social media sites from a single online interface. It includes social analytics for measuring engagement and campaign success, allows collaboration among team members, and provides a dashboard for monitoring incoming social media feeds. Many email marketing companies, such as iContact and Streamsend, are now offering similar social media tools.
Hearsay Social. Provides many of the same services as HootSuite. Hearsay Social is geared toward large corporations that want to facilitate the use of social media by their independent agents, reps or store managers while remaining in compliance with local, state and federal regulations. Clients include big insurance and financial services companies and 24 Hour Fitness. Hearsay Social provides easy-to-understand analytics that track activity on multiple social media sites in real time at both the aggregate and individual customer level.
Experticity. Through its 3point5 and ProMotive platforms, Experticity enables brands to offer discounted product to qualified store employees and other industry professionals and influential product users. Experticity clients can use its eXpert Analytics suite to measure sales by these pro-deal recipients and view other data that helps them measure their return on investment.
Booshaka. Provides free software that companies can use to publish a leaderboard on their Facebook pages to rank top contributors based on the quality of their interactions and their ability to engage other fans. The tool app is used to identify and recognize the most influential brand ambassadors. For a fee, Booshaka customer can upgrade to a pro version of the application that enables them to also reward top fans with gifts, perks and experiences. Essentially, the tool enables companies to use Facebook as loyalty marketing hub.
One-in-five consumers are now showrooming, according to new research by Aprimo/Teradata and Forrester Research, which revealed that 96 percent of those surveyed said they plan to use their smartphone to research prices the same way or more in the future.
Here are three ways retailers can help retailers win the showrooming challenge, according to business2community.com:
Harness the Power of Multi-Channel: An IAM survey found that 73 percent of consumers said they have used their mobile phones in a store. Retailers should leverage the power of the mobile phone and tablets through a multi-channel strategy. Take this opportunity to send location-based messages via text, email, or push notifications to their mobile phones.
Don't Try to Fight Showrooming: A number of retailers have recently launched their own mobile apps to create incentives for in-store browsing and subsequent purchases. The argument can be made that apps make a shopper's experience richer, but showroomers are savvy consumers and apps can be skeptically viewed as an attempt to push branded content and products as consumers seek more complete and unbiased information. Mobile websites can make comparisons easier.
Get Creative with "Point-of-Decision" Mobile Marketing Tactics: If a customer is comparing prices, make it plainly obvious via both the in-store and online channels that you will meet a competitor’s price. If price match does not provide enough differentiation, then go beyond your competitors by improving your customers'experience with some added value options.
PicPay is a new Brazilian mobile payment startup with a simple value proposal: to make a purchase, all you have to do is to scan a small QR code with your camera-equipped phone or tablet.
This comes with the caveat that you first have to download the app and save your credit card data; but once you have, PicPay promises that the process is as seamless as its name makes it sound.
Despite its global name, PicPay’s Android and iPhone apps are only available in Portuguese for now. As for its codes, they can be inserted in digital content, printed ads and TV commercials.
According to PicPay’s co-founder, Anderson Chamon, his startup relies on the ubiquity of mobile cameras and on the need for immediacy:
“With our solution, advertisers can now insert codes in their online and offline campaigns, which PicPay readers decode through the camera, while exponentially increasing immediate conversion rates. With PicPay, the companies do not only improve engagement with their audience, but they let them make purchase at the exact time they are reached by media actions.”
PicPay’s existing users include perfume and cosmetics e-commerce store Perfumagi, Rocket Internet-backed sports retailer Kanui and surf magazine Fluir. In addition, it has closed a partnership with major Brazilian credit card operator Cielo.
PicPay has capital to expand its client portfolio; around $1.2 million (R$2.3m) have been invested in the company so far, coming from its co-founders and unnamed angel investors. To speed up its adoption, it also plans to add a retailer sign-up page to its site.
M-commerce has been growing fast in Brazil; according to a recent study by the Brazilian e-Commerce Chamber, it represented 10% of online commerce in 2012, compared to 5% in 2011.
Disclosure: This article contains an affiliate link. While we only ever write about products we think deserve to be on the pages of our site, The Next Web may earn a small commission if you click through and buy the product in question. For more information, please see our Terms of Service.
We have plenty of projects in underway to try and determine the path forward for Agile Commerce. If you haven't been associated with it in the past there is a meeting every Friday to discuss the status of our programs and what needs to happen next. As a short summary, here is what's going on.
Project Symphony - is being led by Anthony Fasl, under Paget's direction, to wrap up and create a business case for all of the various multichannel projects we have. Boston Consulting Group initially started this work but has now transition off the project. In a separate post I can share the output of those meetings. Currently, VPs and above are discussing the viability of making Omnichannel into a program similar to the Web 2.0 overview.
Order Management & Inventory Management - As the Web to Retail program has been rolling out we have been designing a direct integration between Sprint.com and RMS (the retail point of sale). While this is a cheap and expedient way to help us launch Buy Online Pick Up in Store, it doesn't help us when we want to integrate other channels, like Telesales, into the multi-channel family. IT, under Susan C., if in discussion with vendors to determine if there are better solution for our current inventory and order management systems that my be a little more expensive for the current project but would make integrations much easier in the future. We have been evaluating Oracle, IBM Sterling, and Amdoc solutions with the expectation that a decision will be made by December 22nd if it seems financially viable to use an enterprise tool here. There are also discussions on if we should use a systems integrator to help us in this capacity.
Digital in Retail - Debbie S. and Matt E. have been hard at work supporting Retail through the holiday season. As we transition out of this part of the year, we need to quickly determine a plan to turn the digital properties in Retail into the agile / analytics driven program like Sprint.com. Store of the Future work is underway to inform our new target customers and how we want to interact. Christine B. has asked for retail pricing to be supplied by the web so more digital fact tags can be created. The Scala system needs to be evaluated. NFC, self serve kiosk, mobile points of service, and geofencing all need to be evaluated to determine best practices and if we should incorporate into our retail experience.
I am sure I am missing some things, which I will add in later version or separate posts. Tell me what your priorities are and what you think we should be focused on.
Posted By Chantal Tode On December 14, 2012 @ 5:00 am In Featured,Merchandising,News,Online retailers | No Comments
The new Gilt iPad app
Flash sales business Gilt Groupe is experiencing strong mobile engagement and sales results this holiday season thanks to a focus on merchandising and other strategies that help close the loop on browsing and sales.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, mobile orders on Gilt more than doubled compared with last year to account for 40 percent of total orders while mobile traffic increased 50 percent. These results point to Gilt’s leadership role in mobile commerce.
“The lower conversion is par for the course in the industry,” said Jason John, vice president of online, mobile and social marketing at Gilt Groupe, New York. “We are striving to improve that every day, mostly with our merchandising.
“We have started to see step improvements in conversions this year and this will be a big focus in the first quarter of next year,” he said.
“This is especially important as more of our traffic comes from mobile – we are close to 50 percent of traffic on mobile.”
New iPad app This week, Gilt launched a new iPad app that leverages what the merchant has learned about mobile merchandising.
The new app is more weighted toward visuals and adds functionality such as a new shelf that enables users to easily browse between categories and items within a category with one tap. The app also features an improved shopping cart.
The iPad is just one example of how Gilt is becoming smarter about mobile merchandising and understanding which categories and price points sell better on mobile versus the Web.
One learning is that because mobile shoppers are typically more task-oriented, shopping by price point or category tends to be more prevalent on mobile. To address this, Gilt is focused on making it easy for customers to shop by price point or category.
Some recent design changes have also focused giving users the ability to easily move between categories with one swipe of their thumb.
“Shopping on mobile is more need based – they have a task to accomplish versus desktop or even tablet,” Mr. John said.
Up to speed Gilt is also focused on fine-tuning its apps and site to the point where the look and feel is optimized for speed from a shipping and stability standpoint. The goal is to optimize the user experience by providing a one-minute purchase process.
“There is an understanding that customers on mobile need to get in, shop and get out quickly,” Mr. John said.“That is hard to do in practice – it has taken a lot of refinement on our apps and site.”
The retailer also built its new iPhone app to feature larger images so it is easier for users to see the details on products.
Another focus is on creating more mobile-exclusive sales and prominently featuring these.
“Even if someone is going to cross-channel shop, this gives them something exciting on mobile,” Mr. John said.
Segmenting push notifications Another key way Gilt is trying to close the loop on mobile browsing and sales has been getting a strong push notification strategy in place for the holidays. For the first time this fourth quarter, the merchant’s push notification strategy includes custom push notifications to different segments of the Gilt customer base.
Gilt is focused on segmenting its customers based on standard CRM segments, such as buyer, non-buyer, recent buyer and lapsed buyer. There are also more simple segments, such as sending notifications about men’s sales to male customers.
“As simplistic as that produces a lift in our push responses,” Mr. John said.
More broadly, Gilt is also focused on how to unify its messaging across channels and deploy mobile advertising to drive traffic and revenue opportunities.
For example, Gilt is working with Google on using mobile remarketing for the first time this holiday season. The retailer is also doing some testing on driving YouTube views for a recent TV campaign and driving traffic this way.
“At the end of the day, [closing the loop in mobile] is about reaching an audience and getting your message in front of them and driving them back to the site,” Mr. John said. “It is about targeting and targeting the right customers.”
Final Take Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
Apparel retailer Aeropostale aims to entice its young clientele with a new concept store outfitted with iPad-powered displays, offering everything from e-commerce to in-store music selection.
The company’s revamped outlet at Roosevelt Field Mall in New York launched Friday boasts four iPad kiosks placed around the store, which the brand’s teen shoppers can use to create their own outfits.
In addition to providing a style guide that allows users to view their new looks, they can email assembled outfits to friends for their input or to themselves.
Developed with mobile and multichannel technology company Usablenet, the kiosks also offer an optimized version of Aeropostale’s Web site to place orders to ship home and dig up hard-to-find items.
Another feature geared especially to the retailer’s high-school-age customers allows them to use the iPads to vote on music playing inside the store.
"The new concept store is the latest step in our initiative to provide our shoppers with a unique and innovative experience,” stated Mary Jo Pile, EVP of customer engagement at Aéropostale. “It’s about creating an environment where our customers feel at home and free to engage in their lifestyle while shopping.”
Based on customer response, a company spokesperson said Monday that Aeropostale will decide over the next few months whether to extending the technologies to any of its other retail locations. The company operates 913 Aeropostale stores in the U.S., including its flagship presence in Times Square.
Along with its high-tech elements, the Roosevelt Field mall location is intended to evoke a New York City vibe with the iPad-equipped fitting rooms designed to suggest different city neighborhoods including SoHo, the West Village, Williamsburg and Park Slope.
For its part, Usablenet has previously given similar upgrades to retailers such as U.K.-based Marks & Spencer. Its stores incorporate Wi-Fi, touchscreen kiosks and iPad-toting sales associates. It has also created mobile sites and apps designed to sync with in-store shopping to bridge the digital/brick-and-mortar divide.
A new forecast from U.K.-based ABI Research projects mobile payments powered by Near Field Communications (NFC) will jump from $4 billion this year to more than $100 billion by 2016 and hit $191 billion in 2017. Driving that vertiginous growth will be the convergence of different payment types -- proximity, P2P and online -- on one NFC-equipped handset to enable ticketing, retail and loyalty card transactions.
ABI predicts transportation and ticketing will be the first categories to benefit from this trend, with 26% of all NFC handsets to include a contactless ticketing application in 2017. Plus, transportation authorities will have the ability to offer other services, such as route planners, schedules and alerts, as well as related advertising opportunities.
Still, ABI acknowledges NFC-based mobile payments are still at least a couple of years away, with barriers remaining to wider adoption. “The business models have not yet been clearly identified and proven with no real-world case studies to demonstrate the potential returns,” said ABI practice director John Devlin. “Current MNO [mobile network operator] pricing strategies makes market entrance and investment difficult for potential partners.”
That uncertainty has kept operators from large-scale investments in NFC smartphones. Telefonica’s 02 mobile wallet and Barclay’s PingIt, for instance, have not included NFC functionality in their mobile offerings at launch. Given that skepticism, it’s hard to see how ABI projects NFC mobile payments will ramp up to $100 billion in four years.
The ABI report follows on the heels of a separate forecast from eMarketer projecting the total transaction value of mobile payments in the U.S. will reach $640 million this year and grow almost tenfold to $2 billion in 20016. (That covers all point-of-sale (POS) transactions made using a mobile device at a register or by tapping a device to complete a purchase.
The average mobile payments user will spend just $62 a year on their phones this year, but that amount leaps to $1,294 in four years, according to the eMarketer estimate. Among the mobile payments initiatives is Isis, an NFC-focused effort led by Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. The consortium this weekconfirmedhttp://www.fiercemobilecontent.com/story/isis-confirms-oct-22-launch-20-payment-ready-devices-years-... the Oct. 22 launch of its long-awaited trial in Austin and Salt Lake City on Oct. 22. By year’s-end, it said as many as 20 “Isis-ready” handsets would be in the market.
Other companies are not waiting for NFC to gain traction to tackle mobile payments. eBay, for instance, said during its third-quarter conference call Wednesday that it expects its PayPal unit to handle $10 billion in mobile payment transactions this year, up 150% from a year ago. In addition to its smartphone apps and PayPal Here service, the company is currently trialing a mobile wallet offering with stores including Home Depot, JCPenney, Office Depot and Toys “R” Us.
In an effort to show off its swanky new app, complete with wish lists and fashion look books, Saks Fifth Avenue says it has launched AT&T Wi-Fi at each of its 44 stores.
Shoppers with Wi-Fi enabled devices will automatically get connected each time they visit a store. Since introducing the feature at its New York City flagship last November, it says it has made five million connections to the in-store network.
Last holiday season, it says customers exchanged some 17 million MB of data traffic, sharing shopping decisions and perusing new looks.
The world’s largest retailer may be getting behind the mobile self-checkout model of in-store smartphone use. According to a Reuters report, the company recently tested the system with a group of employees in their Rogers, Arkansas location. The subjects were asked to scan items with their phones and then go to a special self-checkout counter for payment. It is not clear how much time, effort or retail resources this saves over a typical self-checkout aisle in any other retail grocery or store.
Walmart announced recently that it planned to add more self-checkout lanes to its stores to increase efficiency and reduce labor costs. A smartphone complement could help encourage cashier-less checkout.
According to Reuters, Walmart customers often complain on Twitter about long checkout waits at stores and too few cashiers.
In most mobile self-checkout schemes we have seen, the user scans a product, pays by phone in the store and then has a mobile receipt to show an attendant at the exit for proof of purchase. The Walmart test did not allow people to pay for items on their phones, but simply bag them as they shopped in order to pay faster at the checkout aisle.
In addition to reducing staffing costs, a retailer like Walmart may also use mobile devices to improve the overall experience of in-store buying. A smartphone scan can help the shopper identify prices (not always easy in many Walmarts) and track cart size, specials pricing, etc. before checking out. Inducing shoppers to use a Walmart app in-store also gives the retailer the opportunity to upsell, make recommendations and merchandise.
August 14, 2012Share on www.retailcustomerexperience.comShare on emailJapanese electronics manufacturer Casio announced the release of an Android-based tablet designed for commercial and business use. Retail workers will soon be able to answer customer inquiries instantly and check stock inventories with their fingertips—greatly improving the customer experience, a Casio spokesperson said in a release.
The V-T500-GE and V-T500E series tablets are slated to have full point-of-sale capabilities, as well as a dust-proof and splash-resistant shell and the durability to withstand a three-meter drop.
"The new hardware provides potentially endless possibilities for the retailer, and is tough enough to survive the rigors of the retail business environment," said Casio senior product marketing manager Guy Boxallat.
The tablets boasts a 10.1-inch screen with multi-finger touch controls and 5.1 megapixel rear and front cameras. An NFC reader/writer will be a standard on all the devices, utilizing RFID tags and non-contact IC cards, while a wireless WAN module is available as an option.
So far, the launch of the tablets will be relegated to retailers in Japan starting in September, with pricing not yet available.
Thanks to its partnership with a Verizon Wireless retail store, Kitchen 67 Brann's Café, a new fast casual restaurant created by Johnny Brann Jr., not only specializes in breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it also serves its Michigan customers a hefty portion of technology.
Verizon recently opened a new store concept in an adjacent 3,600-square-foot space accessible from inside Kitchen 67. A digital queue in the restaurant gives visitors waiting for service at Verizon the flexibility to grab food while keeping their place in line; they're notified via digital screen in the restaurant when it is their turn. Restaurant diners may also venture into the Verizon side to play with smartphones, tablets and other devices while they wait on their food.
"Verizon Wireless is the ideal neighbor for Kitchen 67," Brann Jr., said. "Our tech-forward concept compliments Verizon's innovative products and services. The collaborative efforts we are working on will enhance the customer experience for our customers and theirs."
Most of Kitchen 67's menu is under $10 and includes steak burgers, Sizzle Wraps and hot-pressed sandwiches. Pastries, scones, custom-roasted K67 Coffee, beer and wine are also available.
The 4,500-square-foot restaurant employs 45 people and is open seven days a week. It has a 20-seat outdoor patio and a drive-through window for coffee and call-ahead orders.
If successful — and Brann said he expects nothing less — he will open other locations in the near future.
"The concept was definitely created to be the first, but not the last, of its kind," said Brann Jr.
The convergence of websites, kiosks, tablets, smartphones and social media with brick-and-mortar stores is the backbone of today’s exciting retail world. But where would the omnichannel environment be without sound marketing principles on Main Street? To better understand the synergy, we asked Array Marketing’s EVP for Marketing and Business Development Rob Gruen to explain why retail executives should not overlook basic in-store principles, and what retailers need to be doing to have an effective strategy on both fronts.
What should retailers be doing to better understand how customers view the in-store experience?
While there is plenty of buzz surrounding the effect omnichannel retail is having on the industry, retail executives must remember to get ‘back to the basics’ when it comes to leveraging a memorable in-store experience. Retailers must ask themselves — Have we forsaken the basics of retail inside the four walls of our stores? Are we forgetting the impact of in store marketing and the need for a compelling brand experience?
A strong grasp on how consumers perceive your store is critical to success. In order to have brand integrity and consistency in the store and online, retailers should have their store managers do these things first:
Rob Gruen, EVP, Marketing and Business Development, Array Marketing
Measure your store traffic – The old-school gauge for success is knowing how many people are coming through the front door. It’s important to determine if customers have a compelling reason to come in and shop, and if they understand the brand message you’re trying to convey in an appealing, easy-to-shop manner.
Take a look at your in-store conversion rates – A mainstay metric of online retail, conversion rates are still an important factor on Main Street. Don’t overlook the 4 P’s of Marketing – store layouts and store presentations are designed to maximize sales. Paired with the right product at the right price, customers will find a reason to come back and shop.
Look at the average transaction: Are there enough impulse items? – A recent study by OlilvyAction reported in RetailWire indicated that 29% of respondents made unplanned category purchases when going into a store. Retailers should not lose sight of the effect of eye-catching, point-of-purchase products as a way to drive sales and build transaction size.
Spend time in your stores watching and talking to the customers and store associates – Don’t just rely on reports coming across your desk. Watch how customers shop, what they are buying, and more importantly, what they are not buying.
What recent example have you found where a retailer has gone ‘back to the basics’ and reconnected with their customers?
The success story of Lululemon immediately comes to mind. I was impressed by comments in a recent article which said, ‘when it comes to making decisions, Lulu has gone back to basics. It doesn’t use focus groups, website visits or customer-relationship management software, which tracks purchases…Instead, Chief Executive Christine Day spends hours each week in Lulu stores observing how customers shop, listening to their complaints, and then using the feedback to tweak product and stores.’ I think this type of customer engagement is something all retailers can benefit from.
What advice do you have as the retail industry continues to evolve?
A recent report by Deloitte issued last year entitled ‘The Next Evolution: Store 3.0′ clearly stated that the retail store is not dead. Their research said, “while social and mobile channels provide avenues for retailers to be cutting edge, the consensus among the executives surveyed is that brick-and-mortar stores are still the leading format for providing higher service and promoting brand awareness.”
There’s no magic formula, but retailers should not lose sight that over 90% of retail sales are happening in the physical world. As we continue to integrate into the omnichannel environment, let’s make sure we don’t forget the sound marketing principles that have always proven effective. Having the right product at the right price, promoted and presented properly in store will always work.
More of what we already know from the Center of Media Research, but great validation with some highlights below:
According to a new report, titled “Digital Shopper Relevancy” by Capgemini shoppers are not loyal to one channel but expect a seamless integration across online, social media, mobile and physical stores.
72% of digital shoppers surveyed rated internet sites as important or extremely important for learning about products, followed by email and in-store technology such as kiosks. Social media was cited ahead of smartphone applications, with call centers trailing.
Most Important Digital Channels for Product Awareness (Important/Very Important For Learning About Products)
% of Respondents
Email (newsletters, offers)
Phone (call centers)
Source: Capgemini, July 2012
Women are generally more engaged than men when using digital channels. They are more interested than men in receiving personalized offers, recommendations and information about new products. In addition, women are more interested than men in using digital devices inside the physical store to order products that are not available in the store; they are also more interested in the ability to easily compare different products before making the final purchasing decision, and in being offered visual aids (such as “howto” videos) to help them choose the most suitable product.
Older shoppers place less importance than their younger counterparts on digital channels in general. But this doesn’t mean they don’t see value in these channels. In particular, they are heavy users of Internet sites, especially during the early phases of the shopping journey. Older shoppers are interested in using blogs and social networks to find consumer recommendations and reviews, although they are less likely than younger shoppers to follow retailers on social media. A surprising number want to receive location-based messages and offers from retailers via digital channels. Overall, shoppers in the older age groups are less interested in using mobile apps, although they do see value in in-store technology such as kiosks and digital devices integrated into shopping carts.
The differences were less pronounced when it came to demographic factors such as education and income levels. A detailed segmentation analysis identified six distinct segments of digital shoppers: Techno-Shy Shoppers, Occasional Online Shoppers, Value Seekers, Rational Online Shoppers, Digital Shopaholics and Social Digital Shoppers.
Each segment uses digital channels and devices in different ways during their shopping journeys. For example, Digital Shopaholics are early adopters and experimenters; they use digital channels and devices like smartphone apps and in-store technology very actively throughout the shopping process. In contrast, Value Seekers are price-sensitive shoppers with low interest in digital shopping and new technologies. They shop online primarily to find the best deals on products they know they want and seldom use smartphone apps, social media or instore technology when shopping.
Digital shoppers, especially those in mature markets, want retailers and consumer products companies to get basics right before they will be open to engage. When researching, comparing and choosing products through digital channels, half or more of respondents said that these factors are extremely important:
Clearly marked product price
Availability and delivery charges
Comprehensive product information
Digital shoppers expect online prices to be lower than those in physical stores, cited by 73% of all respondents. Digital Shopaholics and Social Digital Shoppers are most likely to think online prices should be lower. More than 80% of these more digital-savvy shoppers said online prices should be lower vs. about 60% of non-digital-savvy respondents.
Across the phases of the shopping journey, Internet sites remain the dominant digital channel in all of the product categories studied, followed by e-mail:
79% of electronics shoppers said the Internet is important
74% of DIY shoppers said the same
73% of fashion shoppers
70% of health and personal care shoppers
59% of food shoppers
The study findings show that shoppers are no longer loyal to an individual channel but rather to an experience across all channels, says the report. The majority of shoppers said they are likely to spend more money at a physical store if they use digital channels to research the product prior to purchase. In addition, they said they will spend more money with a particular retailer if products are available anytime via any channel.
Nearly 60% of respondents said they expect channel integration to be the norm by 2014, but more than half said that most retailers currently are not consistent in the way they present themselves across channels.
The report concludes by noting that “... understanding how shoppers are using channels and devices in the context of their daily lives is a critical starting point to serve them in a relevant manner... providing a seamless interaction across channels is challenging for retailers and consumer products companies... requiring considerations that impact the entire enterprise... shifting from a product- or feature-focused approach to a consumer- and shopper focused approach... integrating processes such as merchandising, order fulfillment and inventory management by category rather than by individual channel... “
Brick-and-mortar stores look to bridge the gap between online, mobile and in-store experiences
Today’s brick-and-mortar retailers are faced with a number of challenges when it comes to acquiring and retaining shoppers. Some are making in-store technological changes in hopes of improving the customer experience and keeping up with the stiff online competition. In the May report, “What's Driving Tomorrow’s Retail Experience?” published by Motorola Solutions, US retailers expressed their primary reasons for investing in technology in physical stores.
According to the Motorola Solutions data, 51% of retailers were investing in technology to improve customer service in stores. Moreover, 22% were doing so to keep up with the competition, and 18% aimed to increase inventory choices.
Out of all the technology investments, in-store Wi-Fi bubbled up as a clear imperative for many retailers. The Motorola Solutions survey suggested that while just over one-third of retailers were providing guests with Wi-Fi already, more than half of them planned to offer it by 2017.
Providing more flexible purchase and fulfillment options also topped the list of to-dos for retailers. And within this category, mobile is an important piece. Motorola Solutions found that although only 39% of retailers enabled shoppers to buy on mobile, then ship to home, 59% planned to do so by 2017. Currently 29% of surveyed retailers said they enabled consumers to buy on mobile and pick up in-store. However, 58% said they will offer that option by 2017.
A consumer-based survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) echoes the demand for more flexible purchase and fulfillment capabilities involving mobile devices. According to the IAB study conducted by On Device Research, 30% of mcommerce users in the US would like retailers to enable them to pay for something by phone and then pick it up in-store. Moreover, nearly one-third of mcommerce users said they would like retailers to offer proactive alerts to let them know when products they want or need hit store shelves.
As ecommerce superpowers continue to weigh heavily upon brick-and-mortar stores’ bottom line, retailers will likely become more creative in offering consumers more options to boost the in-store experience. From Wi-Fi to innovative pickup and delivery options, retailers are recognizing they must change their ways in order to meet the expectations of ecommerce-savvy consumers.