How Retailers Are Answering the Age of Consumer-Driven Retail

The retail landscape today looks quite different than it did a decade ago. How customers are making purchasing decisions and buying items has changed significantly. Customers will often be physically present in a store, yet still consult their smartphone to complete the buying decision. They will read product reviews, compare pricing, take pictures, and sometimes even purchase the product itself.

Rather than struggling with this consumer behavior shift, successful retail companies are coming out on top by embracing technology and blurring the line between the online and in-store shopping experience.

Delivering a Seamless Customer Experience Throughout All Retail Channels

From discovery to being ready to buy, next generation shoppers want to be able to do it all with minimal effort.

Retailers are responding to this demand by investing business capital into syncing systems. Global inventory management, merchandising, and logistical data meets with online platforms to provide a true omnichannel experience. This gives customers the information they need to know at their fingertips, such as real-time item availability and shipping times. Multi-channel communication also means that a retailer can eliminate overselling by viewing unified sales and inventory information across all stores and retail channels.

Empowering Employees and Customers with Technology

As global trends have shown, the prevalence of smartphones in brick and mortar stores is only going to increase over the next several years. Forward focused retailers have accepted this fact and have shifted their focus to providing a more mobile-friendly customer journey. Some examples of this which can be found in several stores today include:

  • Customers can bypass the traditional time-consuming checkout process and by using optimized websites and native smartphone apps.
  • A growing number of retailers are integrating in-store pickup or BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) technologies.
  • Retailers are providing customers with “call” buttons which allow them to receive service-on-demand from a sales associate.

Today, customers have a higher expectation of sales associates than ever. This new engagement technology means that employees can quickly respond to the needs of a customer, help them find the most suitable product, and increase the likelihood of a customer walking away with a purchase.

Gaining Better Business Intelligence to Drive Sales and Loyalty

How customers research and buy items is becoming more technologically driven, but it still does not compare to being able to physically touch and try on items. This creates an opportunity for retailers to utilize technology in order to deliver the ultimate customer experience.

Retailers now have the resources available to keep up with consumer-driven retail. With access to these tools, they can deliver a better and more memorable customer experience while driving sales and profitability.

4 Reasons Brick-and-Mortar Continues to Win Over E-Commerce

Even in an age where technology rules, people prefer shopping in store. Long live Brick-And-Mortar.

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Make Data-Driven Decisions When Rightsizing Retail Stores

As the online eCommerce boom moves steadily onward, more brick-and-mortar stores are closing their doors because their brand must downsize to be financially sustainable. While the public perception of downsizing may be detrimental to local companies, rightsizing can make sure that a business continues to thrive in this volatile marketplace.

Downsizing vs. Rightsizing—What’s the Difference?

The key difference between downsizing and rightsizing is that one is reactive while the other is proactive. Downsizing is where businesses are in the position of needing to lay people off. It can be stressful, disruptive, and have a significant impact on company morale.

Rightsizing, on the other hand, is a constant part of the management process. Leaders look at a variety of factors that will affect how they run their stores, including:

  • Market needs and trends
  • Alternative approaches and new ideas
  • New technologies

The focus of rightsizing is on the future, and as such, leaders use rightsizing technologies to steer their organization in the best direction for their brand. This helps  develop a clear strategic direction, which includes the gradual hiring or re-education of employees as necessary (which, as opposed to a mass layoff, can improve how locals view your store).

Store Closures Don’t Necessarily Mean Failure

A common misconception today is that the closing of a store means that the store has failed. But with the retail landscape constantly evolving, the closing of stores is often strategic and is a reflection of how consumers are shopping as opposed to outright business failure.

 

The online retail industry is growing at a rapid rate, but brands shouldn’t react by closing all of their physical stores. Consumers, as happy as they are to shop online, are even happier to find exactly what they want in a physical store for a number of reasons, including:

  • Online retailers cannot instantly deliver what a consumer wants (many consumers want to walk away with something in-hand).
  • Shopping in a brick-and-mortar store presents the opportunity for social interaction and advice.
  • Consumers want to try things on to check the quality of the garment and to guarantee fit.

Deliver the Best In-Store Experience

The key to brick-and-mortar retailers surviving today is to differentiate themselves by delivering the best in-store experience for their consumers. Associates can go beyond asking, “Is there anything I can help you find?” and can instead be presented with an entire purchase history for that customer beforehand, allowing the associate to make more meaningful recommendations. They can reserve fitting rooms, know who is in which fitting room, and be instantly alerted the moment a customer needs assistance.

Having data on consumer preferences, the number of customers visiting stores, and conversion rates is critical in the rightsizing process. Brands can make intelligent decisions on staffing levels, what sizes and types of garments sell best in which locations, and how they can improve the customer experience.

Technology is a critical player for online and offline stores alike. With the right tools and data-driven insights, any store can increase customer conversions, see a drop in returns, and significantly boost the number of people who walk out with their next favorite piece of clothing in-hand.

How Brick and Mortar Stores Can Do More with Less

The competition between online and offline retailers is driving many businesses to search for ways to cut back and save pennies. What if we told you that you could do more with less without having to lose valuable associates, sacrifice the quality of your products, or reduce the customer experience?

You can begin to shift the performance of your shop immediately by improving communication, implementing the latest retail technology, and carrying out detailed analysis.

Implementing Effective Floor Communication

Poor floor communication can reduce the overall performance of your store. Not only can it result in apathy amongst your team, but that same bad attitude can then be communicated to your customer.

It pays to be able to effectively communicate with your teams. You can begin to revise or refine your current communications strategy in a few ways.

Centralizing All Store Communications

Assign one person (the manager, in most situations) as the single point of contact for a team. This person will become the communications coordinator who will be responsible for triaging, bundling, and expediting messages as necessary.

Reduce Any Unnecessary Store Communications

The better the quality of the communication the better your overall communication strategy will be. Before an associate asks a question or makes a comment, he or she should ask themselves the following:

  • Is the information important?
  • Does the information deliver value to the team?
  • Is the information concise?

All Communications Must Be Accessible

Your team must be able to easily access what, where, and when communications are sent in a way that is convenient and reduces their time away from the floor. The best way to do this is through technology – such communicating with handheld radios, in-store tablets and smartphones, or through your POS system.

Connecting Customers with Associates Using Technology

 

In-store technology is revolutionizing the customer experience by providing customers with a way to communicate with associates whether out on the floor or trying on clothes in a fitting room. It improves customer-associate interaction and it makes the interactions between your sales associates and the customer a lot more meaningful.

High tech in retail is valuable for a number of reasons:

  • Technology can be used to recognize an individual’s purchase history
  • Associates are provided with real-time data about the customer (i.e. demographic information, purchase history, etc.)
  • Associates can find out what is and what isn’t in-stock while being provided with realistic alternatives to present to a customer for up-selling or cross-selling
  • Customers feel empowered and have a memorable, enjoyable experience

Finding Efficiencies Through Analytics

The digital world is having a major impact on retail, particularly brick and mortar stores. Brands are able to constantly keep in touch with their customers, giving the intuition needed to anticipate a customers’ needs, make themselves more accessible, and improve company/customer interactions.

Analytics in retail delivers real-time insights to stores so that they can make the buying/selling chain more efficient. These technologies can serve many purposes including improving the customer experience, inventory management, employee empowerment, and pricing and fraud management.

See Your Shop Thrive with Retail Technology

Doing more with less does not need to mean scaling back or cutting corners. The answer is to harness what today’s retail technology has to offer so that you can deliver the optimal experience to both your customers and your associates.

 

 

Just How Important is Human Touch in the Shopping Journey

A new survey released by Mindtree challenges the idea that most shoppers do not like to be disturbed by sales associates, and highlights the power of human touch to boost sales (view the full infographic here).

With the growing importance of eCommerce, it’s easy to lose sight of the one thing every sale has in common: people. And people really do like to buy from other people. Not long ago, brick and mortar retailers were casting glances over their shoulders, worried about what the rise of online shopping would mean for their sales. It turns out some of those fears were unfounded as the majority of shoppers still prefer to do their shopping in the store.

Read on to learn more about how the human touch helps to turn shoppers into customers.

The Human Touch Matters to Shoppers

Personal interaction is one of the most effective ways to encourage a shopper to become a customer. One needs to look no further than the results of Mindtree’s 2016 shopper survey for confirmation. The study found that:

  • 70% of shoppers want to interact with sales associates;
  • 34% of customers sourced information from sales associates, and 28% asked associates about offers and discounts;
  • Sales associates are a close second to websites and online reviews as sources of customer information;
  • 40% of shoppers decide to make a purchase following a positive interaction with a sales associate, versus 28% who make a purchase without any interaction.

When it comes to making a purchase decision in the store, the value of personal interaction with a member of your team is undeniable. However, the same study observed that 40% of shoppers say they are “never able to find a sales associate” when they want assistance. Clearly, there is some room for improvement when it comes to meeting shoppers’ expectations!

What Does this Mean to Retailers?

In-store sales and human touch boost the bottom line for a few reasons:

  1. Cross-sell and upselling: A sophisticated algorithm can make recommendations based on what’s in an online shopper’s cart, but it can’t make judgments based on what the customer is wearing, or register their look of delight or disgust at suggested items. An in-person connection with a sales associate lends itself to unparalleled upsell and cross-selling opportunities.
  2. Increased sales, decreased returns: Customers who have had the chance to touch and try on merchandise are more confident in their choices. As an example, let’s look at apparel shoppers. When they’ve interacted with a sales associate in the fitting room, shoppers are three times as likely to buy products from that store, and their return rates are dramatically lower.
  3. Associates can do their job even better when supported by technology: When sales associates are empowered to do their job with helpful technology, the benefits of in-person interaction can be significantly enhanced. For example, fitting room call buttons allow sales associates help customers in the fitting room on the customers’ schedule – without disruptive and ineffective door-knocking.

As it turns out, there really is no substitute for the hands-on nature of personal service. This is an area where traditional retail stores continue to maintain an edge over eCommerce.

The Human Touch Contributes to Retail Success

The majority of shoppers want to interact with associates, and shoppers who have this interaction are far more likely to make a purchase. Smart retailers will do all they can to ensure that when a shopper visits their store, that individual experiences a positive human connection.

Why is the Fitting Room so Important in Retail Analytics?

Relatively speaking, the fitting room is one of the smallest areas of any retail store. These unobtrusive rooms are often tucked away in the back, and as a retailer, you could easily forget all about them. That is, until you understand the importance of this small-but-mighty area of the store.

For example, did you know that fitting rooms are key to increased sales and decreased returns? Let’s look at why the fitting room is crucial to retail performance.

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The Dirty Truth About Magic Mirrors

Brick and mortar retail stores are looking for ways to incorporate technology in ways that improve customer experience and create measurable ROI. Especially appealing are technologies that lend themselves to a more omnichannel experience. Web makes retail easier! Metrics, analytics, insights galore.

  • What is the best way to do this?
  • Where does it make sense to connect the online to the in-store experience?
  • How can you readily incorporate the Internet of Things into your physical stores?

Theoretically, the “Magic Mirror” should be one answer to these questions.

There are a few different versions of these magic-machines, but they all rely on a complex recommendation engine that draw from catalog and in-store inventory, as well as allow in-store shoppers to save items to their in-store shopping cart.

Despite the bells and whistles, Magic Mirrors remain far from ubiquitous – or even common. Why hasn’t this “sexy” technology been more widely adopted?

And no- it’s not just because of the finger prints…

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Why Customers Get Educated Online but Buy In-Store

Finally! Kristin sealed up the last envelope with invitations to her sister Sarah’s bridal shower. This was going to be a huge event!

Her sister was marrying the man of her dreams. Kristin loved the pair as a couple and couldn’t wait to see them walk down the aisle… this wedding was going to be one for the record books. Or, her record books anyway.

Sarah was marrying a man from India. The pair decided to hold a traditional Indian wedding with intermittent glimpses of the American culture where Sarah was raised. The entire affair would last four days.

Kristin was in charge of the bridal shower. That she could handle.

As she finished addressing the last envelope, she was excited for the next task on her to-do list – shopping!

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Is the Death of Brick and Mortar Retail on the Horizon? No, and Here’s Why

It’s a scary thought for many retailers. Brick and mortar retail could end, as we know it, as more people turn to the Internet to shop online. Not so, according to The State of Retail 2015 report by TimeTrade.

TimeTrade compiled a report on the state of consumer behavior, gathering details about how shoppers shop and buyers buy.

The company looked at the psychology behind in-store shopping compared to online shopping. They examined modern consumer preferences and compared these to how well brick and mortar stores will fair going forward.

The results were encouraging for brick and mortar retailers. Here are some of the highlights.

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The Future of Retail? Predictions for 2016 & Beyond

With more retailers than ever reporting dour statistics linked to the rapidly shifting digital landscape, how can businesses expect to stay afloat? Knowing the upcoming trends and using them to your advantage can put you ahead of the game.

So what are some of our predictions for 2016 and beyond? And how can retailers best adjust their operations?

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