Latest retail management news:
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
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Using prepaid cards for online and in-store purchases is on the rise, according to a recent report. This growing trend has many advantages for retailers and underbanked consumers. Retailers must pay attention to this trend and make sure that their infrastructure — specifically their point of sale and enterprise resource planning systems — are updated and robust.
The changing ethnic makeup of many areas is transforming retail. Aging baby boomers and the growing Hispanic population are changing the needs of communities across the U.S. Executives must get back to the concept of neighborhood retailing. Retailers must do market research to fully understand product demand and customize each store’s selection.
Product sampling, especially for food retailers, is a low-cost and highly effective way to introduce a new product to customers. A National Retail Federation Stores article featured one food company that got a 25 to 30 percent customer conversion rate after it held product sampling events at groceries and community festivals. However, product sampling is most effective for new brands.
Occupancies in U.S. shopping centers showed a net gain, according to an article on Businessweek.com. The decline in vacancies are slight, reflecting a slowly improving economic recovery. Rents at shopping centers are holding steady, and rents at regional malls were up. Economists remain cautiously optimistic as they wait for more signs of improvement in the coming months.
The rise of tablet users is giving online shopping a makeover. According to Mashable.com, tablets are outpacing smartphones when it comes to mobile shopping. Retailers must embrace tablet devices and support them in their e-commerce efforts. As consumers’ buying habits and methods continue to change, retailers need to be thinking about choosing flexible business services that allow them to adapt.
Trade association National Retail Federation keeps its finger on the pulse of the industry by conducting surveys, reports and lobbying activities. Recent reports released by NRF highlight industry growth, an increase in spring spending and loss prevention methods. NRF supports a variety of initiatives that help retailers reduce their costs, which can, in turn, reduce costs for consumers.
As the economy rebounds, the retail industry is among the front-runners in the hiring comeback. According to a report cited by the National Retail Federation, companies are hiring more in response to the improving economy. About 245,000 jobs were added each month between January and March. As the retail sector grows and starts hiring more people, it will cause a ripple effect throughout the economy.
Retail spending in March roared in like a lion: Several retailers and department store chains reported strong March sales, outpacing many industry analysts’ expectations. Warm weather and spring fashions enticed consumer confidence out of hibernation, according to an article on Washingtonpost.com. Ultimately, the economy is doing better, people are feeling better about it and that’s driving sales.
Coupon-clipping may be one of the hottest trends in retail this year, and it’s not just because of the economic downturn. Innovative retailers have made bargain-hunting a fun and exciting hobby. And now, with coupons available online and through daily-deal sites, the hunt has gotten more extreme, with consumers looking for ways to save a buck or two (or even more).
Online shopping is revolutionizing brick-and-mortar stores, and smart retailers will imitate digital channels as they go forward. More stores are embracing ways for consumers to use their smartphones as well as digital displays to give consumers a more interactive experience. But many retailers don’t have the infrastructure in place and will need to upgrade to embrace this new trend.