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
Retail trade shows feature new grocery checkout innovations every year, but grocers are still looking for the fastest way to get consumers out of a supermarket. Smartphone scanners, self-checkout lines and even an MRI-like tube that scans a customer’s items have all been tried, but grocers find the technology often comes up short.
Deals are still driving sales for both high-end consumers and bargain shoppers, despite higher gas prices. The prices likely affect lower-income shopper more than others, but they still look for deals. The CEO of a major outlet center company put it this way: “In good times, they like a bargain,” he said. “In tough times like these, they need a bargain.”
A major home improvement retailer has reported double-digit increases in same-store sales as a warm spell swept the nation. Leading the way: gutters, siding, patio furniture, fencing, exterior paint, pressure washers and other staples of the spring clean-up season. More sales are expected as the retailer slashed prices for “Spring Black Friday.”
As fuel prices continue to rise, consumers will look for other ways to save money when they travel, according to a recent national survey. Drivers will not only travel less, but also plan to spend less on accommodations, eating out and shopping, according to an article on USAToday.com. To counter the rising gas prices, the travel industry will offer more deals and incentives to appeal to travelers.
Customized advertising that effectively identifies a narrow target audience is here. One electronics retailer used location-based apps to target consumers whose cellphone contracts were expiring. How did they do it? The apps examined anonymous data to identify older phone models or operating systems and sent ads to those phones with a map to the nearest store.
Security officers can use their knowledge of developmental psychology to effectively address unruly teens in malls. The need to “save face” and a lack of fear of authority are unique characteristics for this age group. Being calm and flexible when you speak to teens can prevent a situation from escalating, effectively creating a pleasant shopping experience for everyone.
The global demand for U.S. brands is on the rise, and retailers are looking to e-commerce to expand their international reach. According to recent data, online sales that originate outside the U.S. are expected to increase 67 percent between 2011 and 2015. Microsoft’s Dynamics AX can handle the multi-currency, multi-language and multi-company functions that retailers need when they go global.
Long lines could be costing retailers customers. A recent survey found that about 40 percent of smartphone users won’t complete their purchases if the line is too long. But enterprise resource planning systems can help stores track their inventory and shoppers’ volume patterns to better staff busy stores, leading to shorter lines at the registers.
Good news for retailers: The fall 2012 runway is showing more fashion-forward styles, according to an article on CNBC. It’s a sign that customers are ready to shed the basics they chose in the recession and open their wallets for the latest trends. Retailers are hoping that unique yet versatile fashion pieces will draw consumers to pay full price.
New smartphone credit card readers make it easier and faster for retailers to accept payments, simply by plugging in a small credit card reader. It’s a crucial part of the e-commerce trend, and an application that will be very attractive, not only with small businesses, but also major retailers. A major bonus: It’s also PCI compliant.
A high end grocer’s move into downtown Detroit has some questioning the retailer’s strategy. But, if you look more closely, it becomes more obvious why a downtown location — even in one of the most notoriously abandoned cities — is smart for business. There are many attractions, including proximity to a hospital, university and art museum.