Quantum Retail named among CIO Review’s 20 Most Promising Retail Tech Solutions [CIO Review]

CIO Review - Top 20 Retail Technology ProvidersCIO Review’s Retail Technology Special edition named Quantum Retail Technology one of the 20 Most Promising Retail Solutions Providers.

In a profile featuring Quantum Retail founder Morgan Day, VP of Corporate & Account Strategy, CIO Review highlighted that Quantum Retail Technology is “Leveraging Consumer Demand to help Retailers get the Maximum value from their Inventory.”

Read the full article here.

Retail Technology News: November 12 – 18, 2014

How consumers plan to shop this holiday season, where millennials actually spend their money, what retailers need to know about omnichannel for 2015, which technologies retailers are investing in, retail trends in the U.S. and across the Atlantic, and more—welcome to Retail Technology News, a weekly wrap-up from Quantum Retail of some of the top stories in the retail industry. Here’s what was news last week:

2014 Holiday Retail Sales Forecast

Brand Keys: Holidays sales to grow 4%; apparel/accessories top categories (Chain Store Age)

2014 holiday retail sales growth projected at 4%

Image credit: Chain Store Age

Retail sales this holiday season will grow about 4%, according to a survey by brand loyalty and customer engagement consultancy Brand Keys. 54% of consumers say they are going to start holiday shopping in November. Only 25% of consumers–
10% fewer than in 2013–indicated they are going to wait until Black Friday, Nov. 28.

90% of users will make holiday purchase through apps (FierceRetail)

Mobile and tablet apps are playing an increasingly large role in the purchasing habits of consumers;
94 percent of respondents in a recent survey
strongly agreed or agreed that they are purchasing and researching products on apps more than before. 91 percent of consumers intend to make a purchase through a mobile or tablet app this holiday season.

Survey: Consumers seek Black Friday deals (Chain Store Age)

When asked which Cyber Monday offers they will take advantage of, 70% of consumers said deals. In addition, 2% said coupons, 31% said cash back, 51% said storewide discounts and 68% said free shipping.

86% looking for apparel, shopping familiar stores this Thanksgiving (FierceRetail)

Thanksgiving Day is for eating turkey, watching football and shopping for apparel. According to a recent research, 86 percent of consumers plan to purchase apparel during Thanksgiving sales, beating out electronics and recreation items, both 67 percent. And most consumers plan to visit stores they already know and love.

Retailers Will Break Holiday Delivery Promises Again This Year (Forbes)

Last year’s debacle in which packages failed to reach their destinations in time for Christmas was a wake up call for many retailers and shipping companies. This year, all the parties involved claim to be better prepared for a season in which shipping services will be in greater demand as more consumers place online orders than ever before. But are they?

Survey: Half of consumers oppose all-day Thanksgiving store hours (Chain Store Age)

Half of all consumers dislike the idea of all-day Thanksgiving store shopping hours, although younger consumers are more open to it.According to a recent survey, 50% say all-day shopping hours on Thanksgiving Day are a bad idea that detracts from the traditional celebration.A third of consumers say stores being open all day Thanksgiving is a great idea that provides more time for holiday gift shopping and 17% can’t make up their mind.

Marketing to Millennials

Report: Call them “MALLENNIALS” (Retailing Today)

The younger generation appears to be more brick-and-mortar than anyone expected.  They may live and breathe online, but come the holidays, they are going to the mall, says a new survey. 89% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 33 who plan to buy one or more gifts said that they intended to shop at the mall this holiday season.

Have a merry millennial Christmas (FierceRetail)

To say that millennials are changing retail is an understatement. This generation is impacting not only how consumers seek out product information and how products are bought, but are redefining the holiday shopping experience, as well—most recently by sounding off in the controversy over retailers opening on Thanksgiving Day.

Omnichannel Retail Trends

Omnichannel: What you need to know for 2015 (Retailing Today)

If you think embracing omnichannel is tough, you’re not alone. According to the third annual Retail Insight industry benchmark report, 94% of retailers, suppliers and logistics firms surveyed haven’t executed a long-term omnichannel strategy, and 37% don’t even have one.

Search drives in-store visits (RetailWire)

Three in four consumers who find local information in search results to be helpful report being more likely to visit stores. That’s according to a recent Google, Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands survey. What should and shouldn’t be customary information on retailer apps?

Don’t Be Clueless About the Path to Purchase (Multichannel Merchant)

Following the path to purchase in order to gain key customer insights is important.  According to this infographic by Kenshoo, inspired by the movie Clueless, follows a consumer’s journey on the path to find the right jacket while highlighting statistics on paid search, social and mobile marketing.

Mobile, Social, and In-Store Technology Trends

Robots, tablets and apps: In-store tech beyond payments (Retail Dive)

When it comes to technology in retail, most of the focus these days is on mobile — how websites and apps perform on mobile, how beacons sync up with customers’ phones, and of course, payments. But some retailers are getting geek-tastic about other technologies in their stores too.

Survey: Retailer use of social media for product development grows 550% (Chain Store Age)

The current use of social media data by retailers for merchandise planning is limited, with only 39% using it for product development and only 35% using it for promotional planning.Still,, this is up significantly from 2013, with a 550% increased use of social media for product development and a 190% increased use for promotional planning.

Shopping Trends and the U.S. Economy

October retail sales beat expectations (Retail Dive)

Consumers loosened their wallets a bit in October, sending retail sales, minus gas, autos, building materials, and food sales, up .5%, the biggest rise since August and beating expectations of a .4% increase, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Overall retail sales grew .3%, beating expectations of a .2% increase.

The economy is getting better. So why are shoppers still hunting for rock-bottom prices? (The Washington Post)

The jobless rate is at a six-year low, gas prices have dipped below $3 a gallon, and consumers are more upbeat about the economy. These are the kind of economic conditions that should encourage consumers to loosen their purse strings this holiday season, and indeed, surveys show that shoppers plan to spend more this year.  But consumers are also stubbornly clinging to one recession-era shopping behavior that has retailers scrambling: discount prices.

Lower income shoppers to spend more of holiday budget in-store (FierceRetail)

Fifty-four percent of shoppers, who make less than $100,000 a year, plan to spend more of their total holiday budget in-store than those with higher incomes. A strong digital presence may actually push more consumers into physical stores and convert browsers into buyers. 72 percent of consumers will use mobile for holiday shopping, but 58 percent are using the device to find store locations and 52 percent will use it to check prices.

UK and Europe Retail Trends

U.K. e-retail sales get back on track in October (Internet Retailer)

Apparel sales and mobile transactions help to boost online sales 14% year over year and 7% over September. E-commerce sales in the United Kingdom rebounded in October, as an estimated 8.8 billion pounds ($13.76 billion) were spent online during the month. That’s the highest amount since December 2013 and an indication that the 2014 Christmas shopping season has officially started

‘No second chances’ say silver surfers (Drapers)

Over 55-year-old shoppers are less likely to give online retailers a second chance if they encounter a problem than their younger counterparts, according to new research. A recent online survey of UK adults revealed that a quarter would not order from a retailer again if they received an incorrect or damaged item.

How to Connect With Nordic Customers (Multichannel Merchant)

The Nordic countries – Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland – are an attractive group of markets for international ecommerce businesses for a number of reasons. Their increasing sophistication and adoption in online shopping has driven curiosity with the quest for good deals and unique products. Fundamentally, it means that Nordic consumers are buying more and more from foreign sites.

Further Reading

Maximizing the Results of Your Existing Legacy Allocation System (white paper)

The economics and competitive landscape of the modern retail marketplace have left retailers looking for ways to maximize their existing infrastructure to better support the emerging challenges they are facing today. This white paper addresses options for retailers who currently use packaged or custom-built legacy allocation systems, and explores methods that drive improved results in the form of increased sales, margin and reduced markdowns.

Retail Technology News: November 5 – 11, 2014

Why shoppers say online and in-store experiences are disconnected, how retailers are using search and social media, when consumers plan to start holiday shopping, what matters most to millennials, and more—welcome to Retail Technology News, a weekly wrap-up from Quantum Retail of some of the top stories in the retail industry. Here’s what was news last week:

Search, Social Media, and Online Retail Trends

Survey: Consumers find disconnects in online, physical retailing (Chain Store Age)

Retail online and in-store experiences are disconnected

Image credit: Chain Store Age

83% of consumers say most of their shopping takes place in-store, they still report a variety of disconnects between the in-store and online retail experience. 44% of U.S. consumers think retailers offer different prices online and offline, 52% find
stock availability an issue compared to online shopping, and 26% think staff are poorly informed.

Search drives in-store visits (RetailWire)

Three in four consumers who find local information in search results to be helpful report being more likely
to visit stores. That’s according to a recent Google, Ipsos MediaCT and Sterling Brands survey. What should and shouldn’t be customary information on retailer apps?

Survey: Retailer use of social media for product development grows 550% (Chain Store Age)

The current use of social media data by retailers for merchandise planning is limited, with only 39% using it for product development and only 35% using it for promotional planning. However, this is up significantly from i2013, with a 550% increased use of social media for product development and a 190% increased use for promotional planning.

2014 Holiday Shopping Plans

90% of users will make holiday purchase through apps (FierceRetail)

Mobile and tablet apps are playing an increasingly large role in the purchasing habits of consumers, and as many as 94 percent of respondents in a recent survey strongly agreed or agreed that they are purchasing and researching products on apps more than before. In addition, 91 percent of consumers intend to make a purchase through a mobile or tablet app this holiday season.

Brand Keys: Holidays sales to grow 4%; apparel/accessories top categories (Chain Store Age)

54% of consumers say they plan to start holiday shopping in November, “a trend we’ve commented upon for a number of years,” according to Brand Keys founder and president Robert Passikoff. Only 25% of consumers–10% fewer than in 2013–indicated they were going to wait until Black Friday, Nov. 28.

Marketing to Millennials

Report: Call them “MALLENNIALS” (Retailing Today)

The younger generation appears to be more brick-and-mortar than anyone expected.  They may live and breathe online, but come the holidays, they are going to the mall, says the new “2014 Holiday Shopping Behavior Survey” from Simon, a global retail real estate leader.

Retailers cope with ‘I want what I want when I want it’ syndrome (RetailWire)

What’s the difference between a customer who must always be deemed right and a petulant child? Instant gratification, or “I want what I want when I want it” is apparently a widely recognized and acceptable behavior, especially among Millennials. At what point does meeting customers’ instant-gratification demands go too far for retailers?

Millennial females more likely to choose fun, family-friendly products (Fierce Retail)

A recent Resonate survey found that millennial females value shared experiences, and learning and knowledge in their day-to-day lives, significantly more than other groups. The study revealed that 56 percent of female millennials have children in the household and prioritize buying differently because of this. In addition, the same percentage of this group value work beyond income.

Further Reading

Drapers: Use every channel to reach your customer (report)

Consumers have had no problem in adapting to an omnichannel experience. Yet as retailers try to leverage every interaction for maximum profitability, even in the best cases, many are feeling ‘omni-challenged.’ This article explores how retailers can take advantage of every customer point of contact to build a closer relationship, including new enabling technologies, such as mobile and social.

 

Retail Technology News: October 29 – November 4, 2014

Why the holiday outlook is delightful for retailers, which technologies will shape the future of marketing, what millennials expect from retailers, how retailers are struggling with omnichannel, and more—welcome to a special “trends” edition of Retail Technology News, a weekly wrap-up from Quantum Retail of some of the top stories in the retail industry. Here’s what was news last week:

2014 Holiday Shopping Trends

Shopping Trends to Expect this Holiday Season (Multichannel Merchant)

How shoppers research gift ideas

Image credit: Multichannel Merchant

This holiday season is an important one for retailers,  as shoppers become more savvy,  any details a retailer can get from customers will help with the bottom line, according to an infographic by SDL.  The latest Holiday Shopper Study reveals the product research and buying habits to watch for this holiday season and the upcoming year.

Will retailers give away the store this Christmas? (RetailWire)

Retailers are acting a little too much like Santa Claus when it comes to Christmas promotions, according to researchers from Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. Discounts aren’t always necessary, according to the study’s authors.

Holiday shoppers have more to spend, looking for deals: report (Retail Dive)

More than three quarters — 77% — of U.S. consumers plan to spend at least as much as they did last year at the holidays, if not more, according to a new survey. The study found that even millennials plan to spend 15% more this year.

95% of online shoppers will use click and collect this Christmas: stats (Econsultancy)

This is a huge increase from the 45% of online users using click and collect last Christmas. Obviously the main benefit of click and collect is the ability to pick up purchases when and where the customer chooses. The other benefit is that theoretically click and collect should always be free to the customer. Almost 80% of the online shoppers surveyed said they expect click and collect to be offered for free.

Retail Technology Trends

5 Revolutions That Will Shape the Future of Marketing (Multichannel Merchant)

In the next 20 years, so much change is going to happen so quickly that large portions of the populace are going to have a difficult time keeping up. But marketers who truly understand the key forces behind these changes will be in a better position to adapt and survive. Looking ahead, there are several horizon-level revolutions that everyone in marketing should be aware of, because they are about to be felt with a force that is difficult to overstate.

60% of U.S. shoppers will divulge personal information to favorite stores (FierceRetailIT)

A majority of U.S. shoppers, 60 percent, said they would be comfortable giving out personal information, anonymously, to their favorite stores in exchange for benefits and rewards. Another 56 percent would give out the same information to a product brand and 46 percent to a product app, according to a recent survey. And MMillennials are more likely to feel comfortable sharing personal information than older shoppers.

Young shoppers challenge retailers to create a more engaging in-store experience (The Retail Bulletin)

71% of the 16-24 year olds surveyed said they visit large retail environments at least once a fortnight with two-thirds visiting to look for a specific item.  However, they were found to frequently make their final purchase online, and increasingly through their mobile phones.

Survey: 6 in 10 shoppers ‘showroom’ in store (Chain Store Age)
Fifty-seven percent of consumers use their smartphones to assist shopping activities in store. 60% of survey respondents compare retailer’s prices to their online competitors, while 63% use their phones to check prices at other local stores. Electronics retailers are at the highest risk for suffering lost sales due to showrooming.

Omnichannel Retail Trends

Retailers are omni-channel laggards (RetailWire)

According to SPS Commerce’s third annual Retail Insight industry benchmark report, only five percent of retailers believe they are “advanced” when it comes to omni-channel capabilities, and between 35 and 40 percent believe they’re lagging.

E-Commerce’s Role In Omni-Channel Success (Integrated Solutions for Retailers)

The proliferation of online shopping has been alive and well for years, but now more than ever, customers value a seamless shopping experience — both online and off. However, the online shopping experience doesn’t end when the customer clicks the “buy now” button. It ends when the customer receives the right order on time or sooner than expected.

69% of consumers expect consistent pricing from brands (Retail Dive)

69% of consumers surveyed expect the same pricing and discounts whether they’re in store, online, or on their phones. Showrooming is still a major issue and is being abetted by smartphones, the survey also found, with 62% of respondents saying they use their phone in store to compare products and prices and 77% saying they visit a store to check out items they plan to buy online.

Further Reading

CIO Review: Most Promising Retail Tech Solution Providers (report)

Customers expect retailers to optimize their experience at every touch point. Meeting these expectations will require retailers to effectively utilize current innovations and sciences enveloping the dynamic retail space. This article looks at technology that leverages consumer demand to help retailers get the maximum value from their inventory.

 

Retail Technology News: Special Omnichannel Edition

While articles and blog posts about omnichannel retailing are nothing new, omnichannel has seemed omnipresent in online media recently. As noted here recently in The Omni-Challenged Supply Chain, while “Consumers have had no problem adapting to an omnichannel experience, and a majority of them already use multiple channels when shopping,” even in the best cases, many retailers remain “omni-challenged.”

The eight pieces below from just the past week reflect that reality. Though 90% of shoppers expect consistent brand experiences across channels (Reuters), just 5% of retailers have fully executed an omnichannel strategy (FierceRetailIT). And while omnichannel behavior varies considerably over time and across product categories (MediaPost), omnichannel customer engagement drives profitability (RIS News).

Here’s what was news in omnichannel retailing over the past week.

Revising The Supply Chain For An Omnichannel Era (Retail TouchPoints)

Omnichannel supply chain challenges

Image credit: Retail TouchPoints

Tactics like ship-to-home and return-to-store; order online and pickup in-store; and even providing anytime, anywhere access to inventory availability
all are on the upswing, according to Aberdeen Group research. More than 61% of retailers have now implemented these fulfillment streams as part of
their offerings, up from approximately 50% in 2013.

Comment: Social media is key to a multichannel strategy (Essential Retail)

Social media is a crucial means for both retailers
and suppliers to build a presence, own the conversation and engage with shoppers. As increasing amounts of marketing budget are being spent on digital channels, communication from brands is becoming more sophisticated.

Think O for Omnichannel: Infographic on Integrated Retail Operations (attune)

The fashion industry is moving at its fastest ever pace, driven by the emergence and convergence of consumer technologies. Our infographic shows fashion retailers how to turn these challenges into opportunities, by reorganising business processes for the new customer-driven retail industry.

Ninety Percent of Holiday Shoppers Expect Consistent Brand Experiences Across Channels and Devices According to SDL Survey (Reuters)

Ninety percent of consumers said they expect the customer experience to be consistent across channels and devices used to interact with brands this holiday shopping season, according to a new global study. This is a growing expectation from shoppers, representing a 17 percent increase from what consumers reported last year.

Omni-Channel Behaviors May Ebb And Flow (MediaPost)

Omni-channel activity is still quite fluid. While most product categories continue to see increased omni-channel habits (shoppers consulting live and online channels to make decisions) the most established ones actually saw slight declines. While 65% of shoppers for consumer electronics reported omni-channel behavior, that was actually down five point since last year. Apparel was down three points.

Only 5% of retail has fully executed omnichannel strategy (FierceRetailIT)

In spite of rising consumer expectations, just 5 percent of retailers believe they have advanced omnichannel capabilities, according to a new report. 75 percent of retailers report experiencing increased demand for more rapid fulfillment and 44 percent of suppliers report greater demand for more robust item information. But between 35 and 40 percent believe they’re lagging in these areas of expertise.

Omnichannel: Buzzword Or What’s Next In Retail (PYMNTS)

The world is ready for omnichannel: 50 percent of consumers expect the ability to buy online and pick-up in store, and nearly three-quarters note they are likely or very likely to use a local store if the retailer makes inventory information available online. So the people are ready and merchants stand to gain, but the omnicommerce experience so far just isn’t delivering.

Retailers Share How Customer Engagement Drives Omnichannel Profitability (RIS News)

Many retailers are leveraging customer data and analytics to achieve better execute on providing customers a positive experience in the channel that they’re shopping in. But with such a variety of solutions being offered, the struggle lies in dealing with current legacy systems – the need to break down siloes and integrate marketing across platforms from commerce to fulfillment, marketing communications to customer service.

Further Reading

Making Omnichannel Inventory Optimization Profitable (white paper)

What’s always been true of inventory management – that it can make or break a retailer’s business model — is still true today, only the stakes are higher in the instant-gratification world of omnichannel retailing. This report explains how to create a 360-degree inventory optimization game plan built on a foundation of real-time accuracy and visibility, and use inventory management as a competitive weapon.

 

Retail Technology News: October 22 – 28, 2014

Why Halloween has more treats than tricks for retailers this year, how consumers will use mobile devices in holiday shopping, where Apple Pay is a hit (or a miss), what beats call centers for customer service, and more—welcome to Retail Technology News, a weekly wrap-up from Quantum Retail of some of the top stories in the retail industry. Here’s what was news last week:

2014 Holiday Shopping Outlook

Survey: 90% of holiday shoppers expect consistent experience across channels and devices (Chain Store Age)

2014 holiday shopping outlook

Image credit: Chain Store Age

Ninety percent of consumers said they expect the customer experience to be consistent across channels and devices used to interact with brands this holiday shopping season, according to a global study by SDL. The figure represents a 17%
increase from what consumers reported last year.

Halloween-Thanksgiving-Hanukkah-Christmas-New-Year Buying Begins (NPR)

At any big-box store, you can find the annual
holiday mash-up now on garish display: Halloween costumes are stacked next to the decorative turkey napkins and pre-lit Christmas trees. This year, most merchants are optimistic, predicting strong sales throughout the peak shopping period.

Holiday Shoppers: Half Will Use Mobile, Half Won’t (MediaPost)

As holiday shopping nears, many, but not all, consumers will be turning to their smartphone to assist in that endeavor. Pretty much the same as last year, half of shoppers will use mobile devices in one way or another for shopping and the other half won’t, based on a new study.

Americans opening their wallets for Halloween (CBS News)

Americans are getting into the spirit of Halloween this year, buying record numbers of costumes as the annual fall tradition continues to broaden its appeal with consumers. More than two-thirds of Americans celebrating Halloween will buy costumes this year, a record for the annual Halloween spending survey conducted for the National Retail Federation.

Halloween Is Handing Out Many Treats (Not Tricks) To Retailers (Forbes)

Halloween has become one of the fastest-growing consumer holidays, making it big business for retailers with an estimated tw0-thirds of Americans gearing up to celebrate the scariest holiday of the year. Collectively, this is estimated to equal $7.4 billion in sales – a number hard to ignore.

Online & Mobile Shopping

Where did Apple Pay hit and miss? (Internet Retailer)

Apple Inc. launched its much-awaited mobile payments system Apple Pay last week, drawing praise from many experts because it allows a consumer to pay with a wave of her phone and identify herself quickly with a fingerprint. But it’s far from perfect, Forrester Research says in a new report.

In-Store Mobile Shoppers: 30% Compare Prices, 27% Look for Sales, Coupons (MediaPost)

Holiday shoppers will be looking for deals. As the pre-holiday shopping surveys roll in, issues around product pricing and deals continue to lead the list of consumer desires. Before the holiday shopping trip, consumers expect to use their mobile phone for a range of activities, including price comparisons, gift ideas, and product reviews.

Retail in 2015: The age of uncertainty (Retail Customer Experience)

There is often a disconnect between what a consumer wants, and what a retailer thinks the consumer wants. Did your customers tell you they would like an app from you, or did you develop one because everybody else is doing it? To get inside these ideas and poke around a bit, we did two separate surveys for this year’s Future Trends report, one among retailers and one among shoppers.

44% of US shoppers combine online and in-person shopping (FierceRetail)

Shopping and completing a transaction through more than one retail channel is gaining popularity among consumers. Looking at 15 product and service categories, 44 percent of U.S. shoppers combined online and in-person shopping activities, up 7 percent from 2013. And while using a smartphone to research a product is a growing habit, it seems most consumers, even those ages 18 to 24, still purchase in a physical store.

The Retail Internet Of Things (IOT): Turning Your Store Into An App (Retail TouchPoints)

To all the innovators that are reading this article, I want to ask you to explore a very simple sea change in the way you need to adapt the world in 2015. The retail mall, the city and the shopper are all about to change profoundly. This change is not based on a technology as much as a new way of looking at the mobile landscape.

Do online chats beat call centers for customer service? (RetailWire)

According to one recent survey, 72 percent of smartphone users would prefer to use live online chat versus calling to speak with an agent. Another study earlier this year found that satisfaction rates were high for those who had used live chat online to communicate with a brand. Three-quarters (73 percent) were “extremely satisfied” or “satisfied” with the level of service live chat afforded them.

Use of mobile doubles for researching and completing online purchases: report (Mobile Commerce Daily)

In the past year, Internet shopping via a PC or laptop dropped from 78 percent to 63 percent, while the use of smartphones doubled from 8 percent to 15 percent and tablets from 5 percent to 10 percent, according to a new report. The findings underscore the need for retailers to have a well thought out omnichannel strategy and infrastructure in place.

Mobile Shoppers Need Better Customer Care Or They’re Out (MediaPost)

Consumers have high expectations for retail care when shopping via a mobile device, and if those expectations aren’t met, 71% say they’ll abandon the experience entirely. But 75% of shoppers say the ability to get “customer care” impacts their shopping experience.

Will Millennials reward retailers for one-on-one attention? (RetailWire)

84 percent of Millennials (age 18-29) said that being able to redeem rewards/loyalty program points for a session or consultation with a chef or nutritionist would motivate them to shop more with that grocer. And Millennials’ interest around in-store sessions and consultations isn’t limited to grocery shopping.

Further Reading

Adapting to the New Retail Marketplace (white paper)

Evolving consumer path to purchase patterns are creating a new set of challenges for retailers that their existing infrastructure may not support. This white paper examines options for addressing those challenges and details methods used by innovative retailers to leverage these opportunities.

Retail Technology News: October 15 – 21, 2014

What the holidays have in store for retailers, how digital technologies are changing the traditional path to purchase, why retailers and consumers may be missing the mobile connection, what consumers would rather do than talk to a sales associate, and more—welcome to this week’s edition of Retail Technology News, a weekly wrap-up from Quantum Retail of some of the top stories in the retail industry. Here’s what was news last week:

Ecommerce, Online, and Brick-and-Mortar Retail

NRF: Per-person holiday spending to rise 5%, with 44% of shopping done online (Chain Store Age)

2014 holiday consumer spending outlook: up 5%

Image credit: Chain Store Age

The average person celebrating Christmas, Kwanza and/or Hanukkah will spend $804.42, up nearly 5% from 2013, according to the National Retail Federation’s 13th annual Holiday Consumer
Spending Survey. Consumers will spend more on
gifts for family and friends this year, but about the same amount as last year on traditional items such as decorations and food.

How Much Longer Can the Traditional Store Remain Shoppers’ Fave? (eMarketer)

Thanks to digital devices, the path to purchase
starts long before consumers step foot in-store. Still, brick-and-mortar is far from dead, as evidenced by a June 2014. Among digital shoppers worldwide, 72% said the traditional store experience was important when making a purchase—the highest percentage out of locations and channels studied.

Infographic: It’s time to wake up to the future of commerce (The Future of Commerce)

According to the “State of The American Consumer” for 2014, part of an ongoing study of American consumers from 2008 to the present, conducted by Gallup, customers who are fully engaged represent an average 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth over the average customer. And companies that engage both consumers and employees see a 240% boost in performance-related outcomes.

A record 44% U.S. holiday shoppers will go online (Internet Retailer)

44% of the average consumer’s shopping will be on the web, compared with about 40% last year, according to a survey released today by the National Retail Federation. That proportion, which includes browsing sessions where shoppers don’t make a purchase, is the highest since at least 2006, when the NRF first asked the question.

Online continues to replace in-store browsing (RetailWire)

Whether through a laptop at work or a smartphone before bed or in-store, online searches continue to replace much of the shopper discovery process that comes from in-store browsing. Today’s digital consumers — “the most connected ever” — are shopping earlier in the holiday season, using online video to help with research and turning to smartphones as personal shopping assistants.

Mobile Commerce and Payments

Millennial Moms Active Across Screens, Mobile Impacts Purchase (MediaPost)

Millennials are the apple of seemingly every marketer’s eye, and mothers in the coveted demographic are esteemed for their role as household decision makers. Millennial moms — women aged 18-34 with at least one child at home — tend to have higher rates of device ownership than average, with 85% having a smartphone and 43% a tablet in the U.S.

What’s Next In Retail Payment (Retail TouchPoints)

The race to replace cash has spawned a crowded landscape of innovative payments technologies, from wearable devices to chip-enabled cards. But while some seem better suited to a sci-fi flick than a retail store, others are fast gaining a foothold in the mainstream market.

Most retailers losing the speed game with mobile shoppers (FierceMobileIT)

Shoppers are in more of a hurry than ever before, especially when it comes to mobile shopping. And the unfortunate reality for many retailers is that their online pages are just too slow for the mobile crowd. That is one of the findings of the new Radware study, “2014 State of the Union: Mobile Ecommerce Performance,” which looks at how consumers perceived their mobile shopping experience.

Mobile Shoppers & the Need to Chat, Tap or Talk (MediaPost)

The majority (62%) of online shoppers expects live mobile chat to be available and most (82%) said they would use it, based on a survey of 2,100 consumers. The survey found that 75% of consumers would rather use live online chat than speak to a person. Previous studies have shown that a large number of in-store shoppers would rather use their mobile device to get product information than deal with a salesperson.

Further Reading

Maximizing the Results of Your Existing Legacy Allocation System (white paper)

The economics and competitive landscape of the modern retail marketplace have left retailers looking for ways to maximize their existing infrastructure to better support the emerging challenges they are facing today. This white paper addresses options for retailers who currently use packaged or custom-built legacy allocation systems, and explores methods that drive improved results in the form of increased sales, margin and reduced markdowns.

 

Retail Technology News: October 8 – 14, 2014

How the use of mobile devices while shopping is changing, what the future holds for mobile payments, why the holidays are looking joyous for retailers, which marketing strategies appeal most to millennials, and more—welcome to this week’s edition of Retail Technology News, a weekly wrap-up from Quantum Retail of some of the top stories in the retail industry. Here’s what was news last week:

Mobile Shopping

Survey: 62% of shoppers want live chat with brands on mobile devices (Chain Store Age)

Shoppers want live chat on mobile devices

Image credit: Chain Store Age

Sixty-two percent of consumers expect live chat to
be available on mobile devices, and 82% would use
it, according to a new study. Seventy-five percent of survey respondents stated that they would prefer to use live online chat versus calling to speak with an agent.

Innovations Changing The Face Of Retail (The Retail Blogger)

It’s an exciting time for retailers and consumers. Significant developments in technology have meant that the whole shopping experience has been transmogrified into a fully immersive, multichannel and techno-savvy experience. And things are about to get even more technologically tantalising with several new innovations which were unveiled at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Mobile Shoppers Spend 26 Minutes in a Store; 9% Leave Within 5 Minutes (MediaPost)

The amount of time shoppers spent in a store increased to 26 minutes, up from 22 minutes a year ago, based on the latest monthly store tracking from a retail analytics firm. The percentage of shoppers who entered a store and left within five minutes dropped two percentage points to 9%, meaning fewer shoppers are essentially in and out of a store quickly.

How Proximity Marketing Is Driving Retail Sales (Forbes)

While the traditional “Four P’s” of marketing strategy have served companies well over the years,  another “P” – “Proximity” – may be most relevant today, as it represents the final connection between companies and consumers.

Mobile Payments

Consumers Bullish on a Mobile Payments Future (eMarketer)

Even in a persistently fragmented market, US proximity payment transaction values doubled between 2012 and 2013 to reach $1.59 billion as more consumers warmed to paying for their daily cup of coffee with their phones. Values are projected to double again this year to $3.50 billion and further accelerate through 2016.

The State Of Payments (Retail TouchPoints)

The past year has seen a rise in credit spending and significant advances in mobile wallet technology.This infographic, courtesy of Merchant Warehouse, provides an overview of worldwide payments in 2014, with a glimpse into the upcoming winter shopping season.

$397-Per-Person Spending by Mobile Payments Next Year; $759 a Year Later (MediaPost)

By the end of this year, one in 10 U.S. smartphone owners (16 million people) will use mobile payments. In two years, 36 million people will be paying by phone and two years later it will be one in four smartphone owners.

Retail Sales Outlook

Holiday Sales Seen Rising 4.1 Percent (ABC News)

Americans are expected to spend at the highest rate in three years during what’s traditionally the busiest shopping season of the year, according to the nation’s largest retail industry trade group. But the spending trends that have become prevalent in the years since the Great Recession are expected to continue.

Dollars Getting In-Gear for Holiday Spending (MediaPost)

Sales in November and December will increase 4% to $617 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. This would represent 19% of the retail industry’s annual sales of more than $3 trillion, according to the NRF. The forecast is based on an economic model using indicators such as consumer credit, disposable personal income and previous monthly retail sales.

Christmas Shopping Starts in October for 26% of Shoppers (AdWeek)

A new Google survey finds that 26 percent of all shoppers start searching for gift deals not in the days leading up to Thanksgiving—but before Halloween. Retailers are responding by offering Black Friday-styled discounts through the entire month of November, rather than limiting the annual event to a single day.

Social Media and Demographics

Social Networks Are Driving More Online Sales And Influencing Offline Purchases (Business Insider)

Today only a fraction of retailer’s online sales are actually generated directly through a referral from a social network. But the volume of social commerce is growing quickly, in the triple digits in many cases. Overall, social commerce sales grew at three times the rate of overall e-commerce last year.

Social’s Role in Holiday Shopping Small, But Growing (MediaPost)

While e-commerce is growing by leaps and bounds, new surveys show that social media still plays a relatively small role in holiday shopping — although this role is growing at a slow, steady rate. 13% of consumers plan to use social network sites to make purchases or otherwise assist them in their shopping; that’s a modest 2% increase from 11% in 2013 and 8% in 2012.

Attention Brands: This Is How You Get Millennials to Like You (AdWeek)

Millennials have less interest in rebellion and revolution than boomers did, and tend more toward problem-solving. They also have a different relationship with their products and the brands that create them. This is a group that will adopt brands. If you can create a friendship with these consumers, you really take it to the next level.

Further Reading

4 Strategies to Optimize Assortment Planning (white paper)

Assortment planning is one of the first areas retailers should assess in order to increase profit and margin. Matt Garvis, Director of Company Strategy, will be taking you through the top four strategies to optimize assortment planning, including: SKU rationalization, clustering, forecasting and financial plans.

 

 

The Omni-Challenged Supply Chain

By Linda Whitaker

Consumers have had no problem adapting to an omnichannel experience, and a majority of them already use multiple channels when shopping. But the race to implement the omnichannel interface has drawn significant expense, and retailers are focusing an increasing amount of time and energy on trying to leverage every interaction for maximum profitability.   Even in the best cases, many are feeling what I call omni-challenged.

The Omnichannel World

The omnichannel world in retail

By now, we’ve all seen plenty of omnichannel representations like the one above: the customer at the center of the retailer’s world interacting with a myriad of touch points that support a seamless and rich shopping experience.

So far so good, but a closer look shows that to successfully support this valuable interaction requires many retail functions.

Moving from omni-challenged to omni-channel

It’s a beautiful picture, and all that inter-group cooperation gets me feeling warm and fuzzy. Because really, to create the kind of omni-play that customers want, and are starting to demand, you need total alignment within your retail organization. Marketing, Merchandising, Store Operations, Supply Chain, and E-commerce (assuming the latter even exists as a separate group in our new omni-world) all need to work together in perfect harmony.

It’s at this point that my vision of the groups holding hands, singing kum-by-ya and dancing in a circle turns sour. Maybe it’s due to memories I have of the customer centricity movement a decade ago (and a decade before that).

The center of the circle is not a happy customer anymore but a swirling vortex, into which time, money, and resources are sucked; never to be seen again.

Okay, so I have some battle scars.   Things will definitely be easier this time around, right?

A simple concept?

Omnichannel is a retail strategy that is not hard to conceptualize. It’s about taking advantage of every customer point of contact to build a closer relationship, including new enabling technologies such as mobile and social. It requires communications to be with one voice and a consistent brand experience. When well executed, today’s retailers are effectively having one-on-one interactions conducted on one-to-many platforms.

Sounds straightforward enough?

The challenge is that the implications and specifics for any single retailer can be expensive and are anything but well-defined.   Investment in the customer experience requires not only changes to each customer touch point, but also to the core systems, distribution network, and internal processes underpinning them. Corporate performance metrics also need to be modified to align with a cross-channel shopping and distribution path.

What omnichannel looks like and the corresponding omni-challenges will be different across retail organizations, and how to get there requires different strategies; there are no cookie cutter solutions. Each retailer must decide where, when and how to invest.

Approaching Omnichannel as an ongoing process, rather than as a discrete project is for most retailers, if not all, the most realistic way forward.

Land Grab 2.0: Cause and Effect

Industry-wide there is currently a significant amount of investment being made into improving the customer experience. Effectively much of North American and European Retail are approaching their target markets as if they are engaging in a customer land grab much like the online retail land grab of the late 1990’s.

Retailers are using a variety of techniques to lure customers, among them: social commerce, a portable path to purchase, new store formats (showcases, multi-formats), expanded delivery options (click and collect, next day delivery, store to home shipping, portable fitting rooms), mobile promotions, and store digitization (mobile maps, tailored promotions, store associate support, captured customer behavior).

Some of these tactics have proven quite effective while for others the jury is still out, and in many cases simply unproven because ROI tracking is not in place. With operational, process, and system implications, the ripple effect can be significant and benefits measurement very difficult.

While every retail function will feel the impact of these changes, one of the largest from an overall revenue point of view is in inventory and supply chain optimization. Why? For most retailers their inventory investment translates to their biggest point of both opportunity and risk.

Because of this it is key to recognize that the customer experience initiatives listed above add a high level of uncertainty to customer demand, associated supply chain costs and complexity in managing the supply network.

Knowledge is Power

Gauge your ability to predict and manage the impact of omnichannel initiatives against your business objectives and the mix of tactics that represent the best places for investment in your environment.

A good place to start would be exploring your comfort with two key areas as they relate to your business prior to defining your omnichannel process.

  • What is your company’s Customer Demand Path?
  • What is the anticipated ROI of Expanded Delivery?

Supply networks are driven by customer demand. But customer demand is not a single point of demand anymore. It’s a path, consisting of the point-of-purchase, receipt of the goods, and some subsequent returns. I think of it as a subset of the full path to purchase.

The demand path is complicated by the fact that customers now want more choices about where and when to receive merchandise.   We are moving away from the simple world where an out-of-stock at the point of purchase implied a chance of a lost sale and that, in turn, determined demand.

For most retailers at least a portion of the customer demand path is hidden due to a basic lack of information. A first critical step is to identify a plan to capture this information starting as soon as possible.   Data capture and pattern recognition may be done in stages. Some retailers start with aggregate path information, attempting to understand demand at points on the path, before moving to the actual path.

For example, you may find that for a class of items, you have 20% returns to stores. Without the demand path, you may or may not be able to determine that 80% of those are items sold and delivered through the e-commerce channel. With only aggregate information, (and removing old assumptions about the link between demand and lost sales) you can improve inventory distribution, but you may not be able to address the cause of the returns in the first place.

Once the demand path is understood (and a great many learnings will come out of that), cost/benefit analysis can proceed around delivery options and other supporting supply chain operational changes.

For example, a program to provide free shipping may have increased sales by 10%, but profitability could go down 20% due to increased costs. This may end up being the best decision from a strategic standpoint, but understanding the impact is critical.

Elevate Execution and Decision Making

Visibility into the demand path allows you to optimize inventory delivery, and create or modify strategies to optimize availability at the desired points of pick-up and return.

Many of these improvements can be added to existing inventory order and fulfillment solutions, so day-to-day execution can be optimized against live customer experience initiatives.

For more value, a supply chain analysis tool can be used with the demand path to assess the impacts of these changes before they are deployed. This type of analysis can be used at a micro level, to improve individual product performance, all the way to the macro level, for insight into large scale initiatives.

Exploit it in the long term (this is where we all hold hands and start singing)

Thus far we’ve looked at understanding the customer demand path, and a method to assess the costs and benefits of particular strategies, in the context of current inventory and supply chain systems.

All of this near-term effort should be done with an eye on the long-term prize, when the standard will be a real-time supply chain capable of making customer specific decisions.

In this case, marketing, merchandising and the supply network will come together to create strategies that maximize lifetime customer value and execute them with customer specific offers in real time.   Optimized offers will understand not only the customer’s desires but also the retailer’s current state of the supply network, inventory lifecycles and availability, vendor support, and competitive positioning.

Oh, was I daydreaming again? Did I just say all that out loud? What can I say; I’m a sucker for a good old-fashioned vision. And I’m battle ready. Let the games begin.

Retail Technology News: October 1-7, 2014

Why the holiday season looks bright for retailers, how mobile payments may take off, which factors matter most when choosing low-cost and big ticket items, where millennials and boomers prefer to shop, and more—welcome to this week’s edition of Retail Technology News, a weekly wrap-up from Quantum Retail of some of the top stories in the retail industry. Here’s what was news last week:

Retail Sales Outlook

34% Of Consumers Plan To Spend More This Holiday Season (Retail TouchPoints)

Holiday retail sales expected to increase 34% in 2014

Image credit: Retail TouchPoints

Some shoppers already are developing their
shopping strategies and plan to start buying earlier than ever.  34% of consumers said they plan to start shopping in October. The same number (34%) of consumers said they plan to spend more than they did during the 2013 holiday season.

Retailers Hiring the Most Employees for the Holidays (24/7 Wall St.)

Retailers across the nation are accepting waves of new employee applications in preparation for the imminent 2014 holiday hiring season. Seven of the nation’s largest retailers will together add nearly 400,000 jobs this winter. Higher consumer spending and improved employment across the nation are enticing retailers to ramp up holiday hiring this year.

Holiday consumer electronics spend to reach $34 billion (Chain Store Age)

The 2014 holiday season will see the highest levels of consumer spending on consumer electronics since 1994. According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) holiday outlook, total tech spending during the holidays will increase 2.5% to reach a record $33.76 billion during the 2014 holiday season.

Mobile, Social and Ecommerce

Ecommerce Research Chart: Website usability and revenue growth (MarketingSherpa)

Companies that evaluate ease of use frequently, as opposed to reacting only when there are problems, have a higher chance of being in the “rising revenue” group. For example, 39% of marketers who evaluate their site usability daily report that their company is outpacing its revenue growth goals.

Report: Consumers ready to make leap to mobile payments — with some help from retailers (Chain Store Age)

Consumers are well positioned to make the transition to mobile payments — with a little help from retailers, banks, payment networks and retailers, according to a new report. The report reveals that security is top of mind for active users of mobile payments.

The Mobile Payment Industry Is About To Explode, With Apple Leading The Way (Business Insider)

Mobile in-store payments are projected to grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 154%, to $189 billion in 2018 from $1.8 billion in 2013,. But while the growth will be explosive, in-store mobile payments will still account for less than 4% of brick-and-mortar transaction value by 2018.

Personal shoppers now available online (The Columbus Dispatch)

Buying clothes online is nothing new. There is, however, a new wrinkle (so to speak): Shoppers no longer have to browse merchants’ clothing racks—actual or virtual—to figure out what to buy. Nowadays, all they have to do is await the arrival of outfits and accessories that someone else (or a computer algorithm) has selected especially for them.

Demographics and Shopping Habits

How Price Affects a Consumer’s Path to Purchase Comparing a small purchase and a much bigger-ticket buy (AdWeek)

Knowing and trusting a brand is a prime consideration for low-cost impulse purchases, while good reviews top the list of criteria for expensive purchases. This infographic shows how the buying journey differs for a small purchase of less than $10, compared to a large purchase over $1,000.

Why Stores Still Rule Retail (Forbes)

For all the talk about online retail, the vast majority of purchases are still made in person, in a physical location. E-commerce sales were just 6.4 percent of total retail sales for the second quarter of this year, up from just 5.8 percent the same period 2013. Not all retail is created equal and some shopping needs to be done in person.

Retail disruptors: Those pesky kids are causing havoc – WRC2014 (Planet Retail)

On their current trajectory, today’s millennials in the US will be spending $1.4 trillion a year by 2020, accounting for 30% of total US retail sales. By then the oldest of this generation will be 43. Millennials have little patience—retailers need to shorten the path-to-purchase, reducing friction wherever possible.

Marks & Spencer named as best retail brand at representing baby boomers, poll shows (Retail Times)

With the youngest baby boomers reaching the half century milestone this year, Research Now has carried out a study to gain insight into this generation of consumers. The study of 1,200 respondents from the UK, looked at how members of the baby boomer generation feel about themselves, aspects of their lifestyle, attitudes and behaviours towards technology, and perceptions of brands and advertising.

Further Reading

A 10-Step Guide to More Profitable Allocation (white paper)

This guide takes you through 10 successful strategies that will help you locate profit, understand your customers and achieve efficient and strategic allocation execution.