Retail Merchandiser - March/April 2017 - 101
RETAIL TRENDS SOLUTION PROVIDER
particular time. Brick-and-mortar locations served as distribution hubs, both
to get products into customers' hands
faster and to reduce shipping costs on
the back end.
Shoppers are all about the "speed of journey,"
so retailers should provide an integrated, yet
simple, mobile-friendly experience.
The 'Why' Before the 'Wow'
Technology has dramatically changed
the operations side of the retail industry,
and many retailers want to lay claim
to being first to try the next big tech
innovation. But ask yourself why before
you try. If it's not going to drive loyalty
and sales, then it might not be the best
solution. The good news is that technology is coming out from behind the
register to make physical stores smarter
and give them an edge over their online
counterparts. This holiday, artificial
intelligence (AI) and machine learning
were rooted firmly in many brands'
marketing strategies. Branded chatbots
provided customers with human-like
interactions, supporting them through
product search, recommendations and
reviews, while more advanced chatbots
engaged consumers with psychographic-based gifting solutions.
The proliferation of smartphone use
during the shopping cycle now allows
brands to connect with consumers in
real time, taking concierge commerce
to a new level. And technology-enabled platforms are primed to provide
brands with new ways to connect
and engage with consumers who are
making greater use of smart assistants,
connected and wearable devices and
virtual reality headsets.
Open Your Wallet
Your mobile wallet, that is. A shopper's
physical wallet contains more than just
cash and credit cards, so your brand's
mobile wallet also should be about more
than payments. Shoppers are all about
the speed of the journey, and one-click
payments are the price of admission.
But "speed" for consumers really
means "organization" - putting everything at the shopper's fingertips to save
time through a simplified checkout
process that supports payment methods, loyalty and rewards tracking in a
Play Offense, Not Defense
It's no longer enough to have prime
retail space and a dazzling array of
goods. The rise of online has blown up
that model, so retailers need to start
playing offense to keep pace with - or
stay ahead of - online and alternative
retailers. We saw a lot of retailers up
their game this past holiday season to
Some retailers provided advance
notifications of promotions to entice
consumers and offered price matching
to compete with online-only retailers.
Member-only promotions also created the aura of exclusivity with insider
pricing. And in a mash-up of the online
and physical world, nearly two-thirds of
consumers who purchased online during
Thanksgiving weekend picked up their
products in-store - and then also made
an additional in-store purchase.
Several brands even created an
innovative "e-gifting meets e-gift card"
solution to engage last-minute shoppers.
The e-gifting option enabled givers to
select a proposed gift item for their
recipient, and the recipient could accept
the specific item, exchange it for something else or accept the value of the item
on an e-gift card.
The coming years are shaping up to
be even more competitive, with both
brick-and-mortar and online merchants
sharpening their selling skills. Smart
retailers will put the customer at the
center of the brand experience, enabling
an immersive, simplified path to purchase for consumers and a strategic path
to success for their own businesses. O
Aimee Koontz, delivers the next generation of competitive advantage through
marketing and loyalty thought leadership
in her role as director, marketing & loyalty
advancement for Alliance Data's card
services business, a leading provider of
tailored marketing and loyalty solutions for
branded credit programs.