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
Want to get your products close to the people? Drive-up service — using a “retail truck” to bring your product to the customer rather than having them come to you — is a new trend in retail. A recent article on The Consumerist’s website highlighted this “mobile” trend. This up-and-coming trend is being driven by the high cost of real estate.
For retailers, the writing is on the wall, or at least on their websites: superfans are sharing helpful information and first-hand advice, creating authentic conversations and boosting consumers’ confidence in the purchase, according to an article on PSKF.com. People tend to base their opinions on the successful experiences they’ve heard about from others. The key is to ensure you’ve got happy customers.
Internet shoppers want more than the convenience of online shopping. They want customer service after the purchase, including easy return policies and fast delivery, according to a recent survey cited by Marketwatch.com. The right system can help retailers track customers and see their order history. Then companies can start to understand what their customers want and adjust their policies accordingly.
The fashion industry is known for breaking the mold. Now it’s doing that by employing more business school graduates, according to an article on U.S. News & World Report’s website. More and more people with graduate degrees are being recruited by major retailers. And as social media and mobile adds to the mix, it will be even more important to have well-trained people overseeing the omnichannel.
Retailers need to be where their customers are, and these days, it’s on the smartphone. Mobile commerce puts the convenience back in shopping — for the customer and the retailer. With the right blend of technology, merchandising and social media, mobile technology puts retailers in control of the three Ps of buying: pre-buying, personalized buying, and packaged buying.
In social media, one size does not fit all. Recent research shows that retailers need to tailor their message on the various social network sites depending on consumers’ preferences and behavior, according to an article on the Lipstick Economy blog. Retailers also must invest in the proper analytics so they can see what people are responding to and buying.
As consumers’ attention and shopping habits go mobile, so will retail advertising. A recent survey cited on The Atlantic’s website found that ad spend in the U.S. is not in proportion consumers’ preferences. Although ad spend numbers don’t adequately portray the significance of mobile, companies are developing the apps to make mobile technology a true force in retail.
Both ends of the shopping spectrum — discounters and luxury stores — saw better than expected sales results in June. June sales for luxury chains clocked in at 6 percent growth while discount chains reported 7 percent growth, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Back-to-school shopping will be the next driver for consumer spending, according to the article.
Pinterest, a social and photo-sharing site, converts more browsers into buyers than Facebook, according to a recent survey cited in UK newspaper The Guardian. The key to success is accurately targeting your market. Retailers can live up to their Pinterest potential by pinning boards with a personal touch, using clear images and getting involved in the Pinterest community.
Retailers can turn “showrooming” — when a customer tries a product in-store before buying it online — on its head by playing on shoppers’ desire to see products in person, an article on STORES.org explains. Although retail stores are becoming a showroom for their chain’s online channel, locations that effectively “show off” their product through creative displays can convert browsers into buyers.
Some retailers have a new growth strategy in mind — focusing on international shoppers. A specialty chain hosts special events, offers complimentary personal shopping and hires multilingual employees at its stores. These details transform a domestic store into a must-see destination for international shoppers, according to a National Retail Federation article.