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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
Big data — information involving consumer behavior, transactions or internal operations — can provide a wealth of knowledge, but it still struggles to answer the big question: So what? As an article on Finchannel.com notes, what’s critical is using that data to create information that’s actionable, which is where an ERP system is useful.
Retail used to be a personal experience where everyone knew your name. The only difference today is that retailers don’t need to know names. A customer’s identity — in the form of preferences and likes — is what retailers are using in the current “Identity Economy,” to increase business, according to an article on the Unbound Intelligence website.
These days everything is about what gets attention, especially when it comes to mobile. An article on MobileGroove.com looked at the trends affecting mobile consumers and here’s the key: Mobile is entertainment. Retailers are competing with other distractions for the customer’s attention, so their apps can’t just be about getting information.
Just like consumers looking for the hottest holiday toy, retailers are looking for the hottest way to market during the holidays — and all signs are pointing to mobile. Retailers can make these trends work for them during the holiday season, says an article on SearchEngineWatch.com. Satisfying customer demand is all about understanding key trends.
The National Retail Federation is challenging a pending settlement in a seven-year case, saying it still does not settle fears of credit card companies increasing swipe fees in the future. An article on Bloomberg Businessweek’s website reports the NRF is leading the charge against a settlement over allegations that two major credit card companies conspired to fix fees.
They are 50 million strong and are frugal, digital-centric and brand evangelical. That’s who retailers must adapt their messages to when wooing this emerging consumer group: Millennials. An article on iMediaConnection.com shared a few tips on marketing strategies that play to Millennials’ unique traits: focus on value over price; connect with technology; and make shopping a “feel good” experience.
Halloween this year will bring in big business, particularly for specialty stores, adult costumes and decorations, says an article on the National Retail Federation’s Retail’s BIG Blog. Halloween is a recession-proof, feel-good holiday. Retailers need to stock up so they don’t run out of inventory. They need to know what the hot costumes and top trends are this year.
It’s time for marketing to act its age, particularly for a burgeoning consumer group: Baby Boomers. Highlighted in an article on ProgressiveGrocer.com, a recent study explored the neuroscience behind the consumer behavior of seniors. Mature brains — defined as those over age 60 — have a broader attention span, are more emotionally balanced, and are still able to adapt as the result of experience.
“Click and collect,” also known as “buy online, pick up in store,” illustrates the cross-channel capabilities gaining mainstream momentum. Cited in an article on Blog.shop.org, click and collect is a trend that’s here to stay, but there are three key things to consider when implementing the multichannel tool: execution, return policies and employee training.
Customer service is about the little actions, rather than idealistic and grand mission statements. An article on Inc.com referenced a story about a leading online shoe retailer whose service reps even provided phone numbers for pizza delivery when asked. When customers sense goodness, they want more of it. For a company, that translates into increased sales and brands the company as caring and trustworthy.
Automotive purchases coupled with higher gasoline prices drove up August retail sales, and two major department store chains showed better than expected numbers, a recent U.S. commerce report said. Cited in an article on Bloomberg.com, the report found higher food prices and fuel costs are also impacting household budgets.