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
Providing details about any criminal history is required on most retail employment applications, but a new movement, backed by guidelines currently under consideration by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, could ban the practice altogether. And where does this leave retailers? Without a crucial part of the hiring process relied upon by nearly 100 percent of retailers.
A recent study cited by TechJournal identified key qualities of customer experiences that drive business growth. The experience-focused approach is fundamental in retail. The principle hasn’t changed despite the growth of new channels to reach consumers. Customer service helps retain customers and attract new ones.
A recent article on Mashable.com highlighted a prototype grocery cart that gives shopping a futuristic makeover. Paired with Microsoft Kinect technology, the cart can pretty much do most of your shopping, including crossing off items on your grocery list and ringing them up as you go. This innovative way to cater to the customer’s needs is the future of retail.
The retail industry must embrace great customer service and brand identity in all its channels to attract today’s savvy consumer, according to an article from Inc. All these trends are going to come down to one thing: execution. How well can a retailer act on these ideas? It’s all about the “omni-channel” — approaching the customer through multiple shopping channels, such TV, mobile, web and brick-and-mortar.
While mobile device sales are still in their infancy, they will continue to rise. This will be a major trend during the next 18 months, and one that retailers should not ignore. Some are already feeling the upswing. Nearly 20 percent say they account for more than 10 percent of sales. The Dubin Amendment has also sweetened the climate, reducing transaction fees for nearly half of retailers.
Employee theft such as “sweethearting,” when an employee gives away products or services for a discount or free, is costing U.S. businesses billions of dollars a year. The best way to stop sweethearting is by never letting it start. Pre-screening applicants for personality traits and offering ethics training are low-tech, effective ways to combat theft, according to an article in Security Director News.
A major department store is overhauling its brand, trading in its history of making steep discounts on its merchandise for more consistent pricing, according to a recent article on Reuters. It’s a trend that other retailers are following as well; many are creating niche stores that focus on a boutique shopping experience with exclusive merchandise.
An uptick in the job market, new spring merchandise and warmer weather combined to create the perfect storm for February — boosting major retail sales 4.7 percent and beating out predictions of a 3.4 percent increase, according to an article from the Chicago Tribune. Consumers are feeling more confident and retailers can expect that an increase in the sale of luxury and non-essential goods will follow.
While reality TV shows and smartphones are making extreme couponing more popular and accessible, retailers are taking steps to monitor use. Whether it’s by limiting online coupons, or tracking usage through in-store automation and point of sale systems, the onus is on retailers to improve their systems and guidelines so that coupons are used as they’re intended.
De-shoppers are cheating retailers out of $14.4 billion a year, so why is this growing trend so difficult to stop? De-shoppers have become highly skilled at beating the system, and retailers are fighting back — tightening their return policies, placing customer return desks away from the shopping floor and checking identification so they can track repeat offenders.
A vertical mall in New York City is proving that shoppers will explore up to five levels of shopping, an innovative approach that is expanding the entire retail experience. While traffic — and sales — are often larger, it’s a model that works best in high-rent cities like Boston, LA and Chicago. But before you sign a lease, there are some things to remember.