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
Coupons are big business, but they require effort to keep track of. Digital coupons are bridging that gap. According to recent research cited in an article on CPGtrends.com, digital couponing is gaining momentum: usage grew from 88.2 million in 2011 to 92.5 million in 2012. For retailers to cash in on digital couponing, they need to coordinate with their IT departments to create hassle-free coupon redemption.
This holiday season, the computer may be the best place to start the week: The fifth annual Free Shipping Day will be Monday, Dec. 17, and it’s expected to rival Cyber Monday, according to an article on InternetRetailer.com. Last year, 2,600 retailers participated on Free Shipping Day; it generated $1.072 billion in online sales, proof that free shipping can be a powerful motivator for shoppers.
Everyone loves a sale — even retailers. Big chains that survived the economic downturn are taking advantage of the discounted rent for prime retail space — and it’s spurring growth of new store plans. According to a recent industry report cited in an article on the Retail Traffic website, store opening plans reached a four-year high in July.
A major department store is hoping a combination of a variety of prices and footwear’s high profit margin will boost their bottom line. The location, which it is calling “the world’s largest women’s shoe department,” will contain 300,000 pairs of shoes in 63,000-square-feet of retail space, an article on the San Francisco Chronicle’s website reports.
A 0.8-percent sales growth in July – the first increase in four months – indicated shoppers are looking beyond the global slowdown, according to an article on Bloomberg Businessweek’s website. Sales in all 13 major retail categories grew; the jump was lead by auto dealers and clothing stores, followed by general merchandise stores and department stores.
A retailer’s first impression with their customer most likely won’t come from a store visit. Shoppers are now “researching online, purchasing offline,” making cross-channel retailing crucial for today’s retailers. While many companies are on the right track, it’s the DIY retailers that are most effectively harnessing the ROPO purchasing trend, according to an article on Blog.Shop.Org.
When it comes to mobile commerce trendsetting, it’s the parents — not their kids — who are leading the way. According to an article on the Media Post MoBlog website, a recent study found that 52 percent of parents own a smartphone, slightly more than non-parents. So it’s only natural that parents are more likely to use the phone for shopping, finding a store location or searching for coupons.
A company’s website should be more than a catalog on the web. Its content should attract, inspire and sustain customers – all which eventually leads to sales growth. An article on Blog.Shop.Org features a home decor flash sale company, whose assortment of limited products and fresh inventory inspire buyers and tell a story. The unique sales give the satisfaction of a quality find at a great price.
Mobile payments are retail’s next big thing to enhance customer experience, build loyalty and reach new shoppers all while improving business’ bottom line. A trend featured on MobileCommerceDaily.com, mobile payments could make up $172 billion in electronic transactions this year. Each retailer will need to customize mobile payments to its business and its specific customer needs.
Improving customer service is an inside job — and it starts with the employees. A recent article on Stores.org looked at how the Workforce Management Maturity Curve transforms company workers into individuals who actively help achieve business goals. The key in workforce transformation is getting the most productivity out of employees without creating any undue stress.
Customer service goes beyond a store’s walls, with customers readily sharing their experiences on social media, forums and blogs. An article on Inc.’s website shows that companies shouldn’t try to convert every interaction into a sale. By focusing on doing the right thing for customers, those happy customers will become brand ambassadors.