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
Shoppers are heading back to the stores ready to shop — especially for apparel — this holiday season. A forecast cited in an article on MediaPost.com predicts mall foot traffic in November and December will climb 3.3 percent and bump actual sales 2.8 percent. Retailers will also get a boost from the calendar: there’s a 32-day holiday shopping season between Black Friday and Christmas.
Instead of customers going to retailers, it’s retailers going to customers, says Scott Hartley, in an article on Forbes.com. It used to be that the retail industry had merchandising, the store, marketing and supply chain areas. Over time, aspects of retail started to merge together. These days, all those areas have merged and the customer is in the middle, driving everything.
A recent survey cited on MarketingForecast.com shows that mobile is the key to driving up holiday sales. But the web retailers that also have a brick-and-mortar store may have a competitive advantage. Let’s say a customer walks into a store to purchase an item, but the location doesn’t have it in stock. It’s a major advantage to be able to take that order and have it shipped to the customer’s house.
“Showrooming” is a force to be reckoned with — and embraced. Done right, it can encourage consumers to shop in-store rather than going to the competition. An article on Mobile Commerce Daily’s website found many shoppers are using their phone in-store to assure themselves about a purchase, such as gathering product information or redeeming mobile deals.
The most expensive political race in history is also taking the lead in marketing innovation. Each campaign is generating innovative ideas for their mobile marketing strategy, according to an article cited on MediaPost’s website. For retailers, it’s like having a million-dollar R&D mobile marketing budget –— for free. Retailers can take these lessons and incorporate them into their own mobile strategy.
A loyalty program should be more than a discount card, says an article on LoyalMark.com. A strategic loyalty program can help retailers retain a store’s most valuable asset — a satisfied customer — while building up the business. For example, point-of-sale services software can track a frequency of visits, how much was spent, and what the customer bought.
Many shoppers have a personal shopping assistant at their fingertips: a smartphone. And it’s being used for more than purchasing items electronically. Mobile strategy is about leveraging mobile commerce to influence buying behavior, says an article on Mobile Commerce Daily’s website. Retailers are doing that by placing their loyalty programs on smartphones and embracing on-the-go comparison shopping.
The fastest-growing retail sector has some curves. The demand for plus-size fashion is helping brands grow and reach new customers. A BusinessWeek.com article highlighted the trend: Over the next five years, plus-size clothing sales are expected to grow 5.2 percent annually, a rate nearly double of expected overall apparel sales, 2.7 percent annually.
Retailers are using technology to start looking into the minds and motivations of their customers by tracking which products and customers are driving store sales. As noted in an article on Inc.com, companies are using specialized computer software to manage their merchandise. In the past, software was focused on reducing operational costs, not necessarily on expanding sales opportunities.
As stores gear up for the holiday shopping season, retailers should also be preparing for post-holiday returns. How you handle the return process can make or break customer loyalty. An article on MultichannelMerchant.com suggests three areas for review: the in-store return policy for items bought online; the customer service during the return process; and the turnaround time to issue a store credit or refund.
Mobile apps are now a necessity for retailers. This holiday season, customers will be shopping on their phones in force. Retailers must respond to the mobile presence demand or risk missing out on sales. In a recent survey cited in an article on VentureBeat.com, 82 percent of adults expect to do some holiday shopping on their phones.