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For stores today, omni-channel retailing is no longer a lofty goal. Emerging technology and mainstream mobile devices are making the seamless integration between online and physical stores not only a reality, but a requirement.
A recent article on The Guardian website highlights this trend. Technologies like radio-frequency identification (RFID) and near field communication (NFC), along with the rising use of smartphones and tablets, is making omni-channel retailing more achievable and important than ever before.
And yet many retailers still aren’t ready. They don’t have the right infrastructure. In fact, many still have mainframes. How can you take advantage of these new technologies with an aging architecture? It’s all about the flow of information. It’s one thing to have all of this data, but what are you going to do with it?
Retailers need a flexible, extensible environment to leverage these advances in technology. The good news is that a lot of these technologies are cheaper than they once were. Sure, retailers might have to bite the bullet and throw out their old infrastructure, but it will be worthwhile in the long run.
The article takes a look at how other retailers are moving ahead. For example, one national U.S. retail chain plans to have RFID in all of its locations this year. Customers will be able to purchase items at self-serve stations and through their mobile devices, cutting costs for checkout transactions.
It’s just one example of how retailers are making changes to “enhance the retail formula.” Retailers must provide convenient ways for customers get store information and share their shopping experience. It’s a lot like “the good parts of e-commerce, with all the fun and tactile richness of real life thrown in,” the article notes.
If omni-channel retailing is your goal, The Guardian article recommends three ways to make it happen.
- Spread digital operations across the organization: Too often, the digital operations work in “silos.” This prevents retail or other departments from taking full advantage of omni-channel retailing opportunities.
- Invest in technology: Some retailers have held off on implementing more digital capabilities due to high implementation costs. But the costs are dropping rapidly.
- Explore opportunities today: Keeping up and preparing for digital developments requires a long-term plan. Start planning today. Retailers should explore what they can do now to connect with their customers via multiple channels.
Source: The Guardian, February 2013
RECENT RETAIL MANAGEMENT NEWS
Word-of-mouth marketing can go a long way, especially when it comes from a celebrity. Grocery stores are taking advantage of that influence. An article on SupermarketNews.com featured one Texas-based chain who works with suppliers to get enough product in stock before the mad rush following a celebrity endorsement. The influence these celebrities have is incredible. It doesn’t matter what the product is; they talk about it and promote it, and the effect is extreme.
For years, registries were limited to weddings and showers. Now, retailers are fully immersed in “celebration” registries, a trend featured in a recent article on The Detroit News’ website. Registries are on the rise for all celebrations in life, including graduations, anniversaries and birthdays. It’s an example of really innovative thinking that’s increasing market share.
The entire retail market is evolving because “SoLoMo” is taking over. Anytime, anywhere commerce is being adopted by everyone, including baby boomers. According to research cited on Blog.shop.org, people from every age group use a variety of devices several times a day, no matter where they are, to find product information, reviews, discounts or anything else they need.
Online product research has become the modern-day version of window shopping, according to an European study that looked at consumer behavior. Most consumers research a product online before purchasing offline, known as ROPO, and it’s a behavior that retailers must embrace. All stores, even places where purchases are made in-person such as car dealerships or supermarkets, must have an online presence.
Retail can take a few notes from print media’s digital transformation. Major newspapers and other media outlets are creating brands that are compelling, engaging and socially optimized, according to a report cited on Forbes.com. Retailers need to make sure that they’re taking advantage of the digital format by presenting their products in an engaging way and creating a strong social media presence.
Even today’s “omnichannel” approach could learn a thing or two from its predecessor, the shop on Main Street. An article on the National Retail Federation blog noted a few “back-to-basics” principles that still are relevant in the digital age: measure in-store traffic, mind the four P’s of marketing, and learn about customer needs in person.
Baby boomers have the spending power and in-store shopping preferences that retailers should pay attention to. According to recent data cited on CPExecutive.com, seniors per capita spent 57 percent more in average expenditures than their younger counterparts in 2010. The 55-and-older demographic is a fairly significant channel and retailers really should be catering to them.
Retail sales blossomed in May thanks to good weather and holiday promotions, according to a recent report by a research firm highlighted in an article on the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s website. Traditionally May is a good month, driven by the sale of summer fashions. But retailers need to keep an eye on the economic news coming out of Europe.
Showrooming — when consumers try out a product in-store but buy it online — is a significant issue for brick-and-mortar retailers. A recent study illustrated that point: 52 percent of consumers use their smartphone to research products while shopping in stores. An article on MediaPost’s website offers tips on how brick-and-mortar stores can start ringing up more sales.
More and more consumers are using their smartphones in the shopping and purchasing process. A majority of smartphone owners use their mobile device to research a product, check prices or look for discounts while shopping in the store, according to a survey cited in an article on MarketingLand.com. Retailers need to be ready and incorporate this mobile consumer behavior.
With constant, instant access to information, many consumers get bored and overstimulated. A recent conference highlighted ways to fight through the information clutter. Here are four tips compiled on marketing blog Cooler Insights: Let consumers discover your brand; embrace “fan culture”; invest in “everyday life” consumer technology; and create a service experience that goes beyond the product.