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.


Retail Technology News: September 24 – 30, 2014

What matters to Generation Z, why the holiday season should be joyous for retailers, where the affluent prefer to shop, how mobile technology is changing the retail industry, 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:


Move Over Millennials, Generation Z is on the Scene (Direct Marketing News)

How to market to Generation Z

Image credit: Direct Marketing News

Although millennials are demanding the attention of marketers across multiple industries, marketers’ sights are already beginning to fixate on a new group of potential young buyers: Generation Z, born roughly after 1995 and now estimated to be America’s largest generation.

Retail Sales Outlook

Forecast says retail holiday sales to increase 4 to 4.5 percent (Retail Customer Experience)

Deloitte’s retail and distribution practice expects total holiday sales to climb to between $981 and $986 billion, representing a 4 to 4.5 percent increase in November through January holiday sales over last season. This growth rate is a moderate improvement over last year’s 2.8 percent gain.

E-commerce holiday sales set for double-digit growth (Internet Retailer)

Deloitte projects that online sales and mail orders will increase at least 13.5% this year, far more than the 4.0% to 4.5% growth expected for all retail sales during the season. That would represent higher online sales growth than during the 2013 holiday season.

Mobile Consumers & Holiday Shopping Time (MediaPost)

Overall holiday gift spending is projected to be 8% higher than last year, according to the Prosper Spending Score. In another online shopping study, 86% of retailers expect their holiday sales this year to top last year’s. Most shoppers now have smartphones and increasing abilities to use that device throughout the shopping process, whether online or in a store.

Affluent Shoppers

Only 25% Of Affluent Consumers Prefer To Shop In Stores (Retail TouchPoints)

During an ideal brick-and-mortar experience, store associates play an important role in engaging with customers, generating sales, and being first-hand representations of a brand. However, 70% of wealthy and affluent customers feel that most sales and service staff do not make positive connections with customers, and so prefer to bypass sales personnel altogether by shopping online.

Affluent consumers shop online—even if they buy in stores (Internet Retailer)

The line between shopping online and in stores continues to blur as shoppers use the web or mobile web more than as at least one stop along their shopping journey, a new report shows. Some retailers are taking action by melding web and store to drive sales.

Halloween Retail Spending

The Boo Boom: Halloween To Set New Records (MediaPost)

The National Retail Federation forecasts spending this year will total $7.4 billion, with a record 67.4% of revelers planning to dress in costume. And a report from the International Council of Shopping Centers is even more upbeat, estimating that spending will come in at $11.3 billion.

E-retailers inspire that creepy-crawly feeling (Internet Retailer)

The average adult will spend an average of $77.52 celebrating the holiday, up from $75.03 last year. 18% of consumers participating in the holiday say they will spend at least some of that online. E-retailing leaders are responding with stepped up e-mail messaging and fun, informative posts on social media.

Mobile, Social and Ecommerce

Mobile commerce is changing the retail industry (Mobile Commerce News)

Mobile optimization is becoming a top priority for retailers. As consumers become more invested in mobile commerce, retailers are increasingly working to cater to their interests. This involves designing websites and e-commerce services that are easily accessible to smartphones and tablets. The number of retailers developing responsive mobile websites grew 164% this year.

3 Important Lessons Brick-and-Mortar Merchants Can Pick Up from Ecommerce (Business2Community)

Some brick-and-mortar merchants consider online retailers as rivals that are grabbing market share and taking customers away from offline stores. But it’s much healthier to learn from your online counterparts. Instead of seeing e-tailers as your nemesis, figure out what makes them successful, learn from their tactics, and find ways to apply their best practices in your store.

Report says social media less important in the shopping process than two years ago (Retail Customer Experience)

A new report says consumers consider social media a less important part of their customer journey — from awareness, through to post-sale activity — compared to two years ago. Conversely, smartphone shopping has grown in importance over the same period. And the Internet is now globally the preferred channel to inform retail decisions.

Further Reading

The Art of Localizing Inventory (white paper)

The term localization is arguably the hottest word in retail merchandising today. Getting the products to the store that the local market wants, in the right quantity, in the right color, in the right size and priced to sell at the highest possible margin is the Holy Grail for any retail merchandiser.

Retail Technology News: September 10 – 16, 2014

What consumers expect from omnichannel retail, how Generation Z shops, why the year-end outlook is bright for retail sales, what Apple Pay means for retailers, 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:

A Platform For Omnichannel Success (Retail TouchPoints)

Omnichannel infographic

Image Credit: Retail TouchPoints

To meet consumers’ demands for seamless and consistent experiences across all channels, retailers must evolve from a siloed channel approach to a centralized commerce approach. This infographic outlines consumers’ current expectations and retailers’ omnichannel aspirations.

“Generation Z” Is Poised To Drive A Surge In E-Commerce Growth (Business Insider)

There are surprising and important differences in behavior depending on gender, age (especially for Generation Z), income, and education. Generation Z, those aged 18 to 24, spends almost one in ten of their dollars online—and they are spending a much higher proportion of their income online compared to other generations.

RetailNext: Retail performance improves in 2014 (Chain Store Age)

Retail performance has continued to improve throughout 2014, according to the RetailNext Composite Index analyzing more than 15 million shopping trips across specialty and larger format retail stores within the U.S..

Being Hyperagile the Key to Future Retail Success (Retail Online Integration)

The retail industry is in the midst of a significant digital evolution. Leaps in technical innovation present major opportunities for retailers willing to embrace change and equally significant threats to those that stubbornly hold on to status quo.

Smart shoppers do it online, then in-store (Retail Systems)

59 percent of shoppers in the UK use their smartphones to check prices online before making a purchase in-store, according to a new survey. 44 percent say they prefer the experience of shopping in a physical store, followed by 31 per cent who stated that it depended on the type of shopping they were doing.

“Location, location, location.” How where you live influences how you shop online (The Washington Post)

In the digital era, there’s no doubt consumers are more connected to each other and to global retail brands than ever before. But despite this connectivity, the neighborhoods we live in—and the acquaintances we encounter there—still have deep influence on how we shop.

August retail sales increased 0.5 percent (National Retail Federation)

The National Retail Federation calculates that August retail sales increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 2.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year. When combined with revisions to July, August sales indicate a consistent improvement in consumer confidence and spending.

Consumer spending showing renewed life (USA Today)

The American consumer has a pulse, after all. Economists are revising up estimates for consumer spending in the current quarter and the rest of 2014 after last week’s solid retail sales report. Americans stepped up their purchases broadly, snapping up furniture, electronics, sporting goods and clothing.

How Much Showrooming Are Consumers Really Doing? (eMarketer)

Brick-and-mortar retailers worry that their expensive storefronts are just museums for ecommerce sites—expensive to maintain and feeding product sales directly to competitor ecommerce sites like But is worrying worth it if ecommerce sales only make up around 6% of total retail sales?

What Apple Pay means for retailers (Internet Retailer)

The adoption of Apple’s new mobile payment system depends on retailers installing terminals with new technology, and consumers finding it easier to pay with a smartphone than with plastic or cash. A change coming to store checkout counters could make it easier for many retailers to accept Apple Pay.

Further Reading:

Assortment Planning: Adapting to the new retail market (white paper)

Learn how to balance the complex challenges of assortment planning, SKU rationalization and localization. The current market is asking retailers some very difficult questions – questions that their existing processes and tools do not have the answer to. This white paper outlines how retailers can overcome these challenges to stay competitive and pull ahead.

Retail Technology News: September 3 – 9, 2014

How the iPhone 6 is changing mobile payments, which online challenges are most vexing to retailers, what major shift just occurred in online shopping, why showrooming is on the decline, 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:

Apple poised to supercharge mobile payments (Internet Retailer)

iPhone 6 changes retail paymentsInternet Retailer predicted just days ago that “Apple seems poised to light a fire under the slumbering mobile payments market when the technology giant debuts the iPhone 6 smartphone on Sept. 9.”  Here’s how retailers responded to the actual Apple announcement, and complete coverage of the
iPhone 6 launch

Online retail challenges hit home (Retail Systems)

Driving traffic to websites is the biggest challenge
faced by online retailers, according to new research. Forty one per cent of respondents said that getting potential customers to online shops was the top issue, while finding innovative ways to market products and staying competitive came joint second.

Exclusive: Mobile now the primary way consumers shop online (Internet Retailer)

Online retail is now dominated by mobile devices. A leading technology vendor reported that in August, mobile traffic to 26 retailer clients it has benchmarked for years surpassed 50%—50.7%, to be precise. comScore said that in July 2014, 56% of time spent with U.S. online retail occurred on a mobile device. And figures from the UK show the same pattern.

70% of retailers embrace omnichannel (FierceRetail)

Seventy percent of retailers said they have adopted an omnichannel strategy to link shoppers’ in-store experiences with e-commerce, mobile and social media platforms, according to the 2014 Retail Outlook Survey by KPMG. 53 percent of retail executives reported they feel ahead of their peers in omnichannel adoption.

The rise and fall of showrooming (Retail Gazette)

A recent report from BI Intelligence has discovered “reverse showrooming” – a trend which sees consumers reverting back to the old days of the internet and researching products online before heading to bricks-and-mortar stores to complete their purchases –has overtaken the initial trend of showrooming itself.

Further Reading:

Maximizing performance in the fast-moving world of fashion retail (white paper)

Download this free white paper to learn strategies to help retailers maximize performance in fast fashion. Learn best-practice strategies to unlock your competitive advantage.

Retail Technology News: August 27 – September 2, 2014

How parents are using technology for back-to-school shopping, what six trends retailers need to watch, who buys online, which technologies retailers will invest in next year, 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:

What Brands Need to Know About Back-to-School Shopping Habits (AdWeek)

Back to school shoppers appreciate ads

Image Credit: AdWeek

With spending on back-to-school and college estimated to reach $74.9 billion this year, the annual end-of-summer scramble for new clothes, tech products, pencils and pens now rivals the holiday season. Now, more than ever, parents are turning to tech to guide them in all stages of the purchase journey, from research to reviews to price comparisons.

Top Retail Trends of 2014-15 (RetailNext)

Retailers have faced a number of challenges this year, from record-setting inclement weather in the winter to shaky consumer confidence over macro-economic conditions. In response, retailers are developing and deploying new strategies. Here are the six most prominent trends in retail for the coming year.

Shoppers all over the world are buying more online (Internet Retailer)

Nearly half of global internet users plan to make an online purchase in the next six months in popular categories. Shoppers in Latin American browse more but buy less; shoppers in Asia-Pacific browse less but buy more, according to a new report.

Those Who Browse Online, Buy Online (MediaPost)

When shopping for clothes, event tickets, books and personal care products, there’s almost a one-to-one correlation between online searching and shopping, according to a new ecommerce study by Nielsen. Those who browse online also buy online.

IHL Forecast: 2015 retail IT spend to surpass $190 billion (Chain Store Age)

The retail and hospitality market is entering a time of unprecedented IT growth for 2015. A new report predicts overall IT spending growth of 5.7% in North America, driven by huge investments retailers in payment systems, data security, omnichannel integration and mobile proliferation and engagement.

Further Reading:

Effectively managing the evolving retail eco-system (white paper)

This white paper will give retailers strategies of how to better understand their customers and deliver the right products to the right channel at the right time and at the right price.