Retailers are investing in technology to improve the in-store experience, improve customer service and strengthen omnichannel operations, but there's one key area that is largely being ignored:...
While in-store analytics are vital, many of the 124 global retailers surveyed by in-store analytics firm Brickstream also said they are focusing on multi-channel retail. In the report released Wednesday, June 4, survey respondents reported a timeline of within a year to four years for becoming fully multi-channel, with supermarkets and department stores ranking as early adopters. More than 80 percent of retailers said stores and e-commerce are the most dominant sales channels, while 73 percent of those surveyed said mobile is the most important channel and 66 percent named social as the most vital channel.
Walmart is rolling out a program to send shoppers e-receipts via its mobile app, and while they're surely thrilled to save a few trees the real impetus is the wealth of customer data it can provide.
Motorola Solutions new indoor locationing platform combines two leading types of connectivity to create a more robust interior communication platform for retailers. MPact for mobile marketing marries low energy Bluetooth (BLE) and Wi-Fi to create a new and more robust technology that lets shoppers receive in-store messages. "If you just go to market leveraging BLE it only goes so far, and if you use Wi-Fi without BLE, there is a very high cost to implementation," explained Barry Issberner, marketing director for enterprise solutions at Motorola Solutions. "So we combined the capabilities of Wi-Fi and BLE in one package." The solution enables shoppers to opt-in and receive customized offers and personal assistance via a Bluetooth Smart-triggered loyalty app and access Wi-Fi to locate products in store, read reviews, compare prices and look up information. MPact allows retailers to locate smartphone users within 4 feet of accuracy, and requires shoppers to opt-in. It works with both iOS and Android devices, can be integrated into retailers' existing mobile apps, works with multiple vendor tags. Server software leaves a breadcrumb path through the store and charts shopper activity.
DKNY is partnering with Awear Solutions to test a new interactive tool that lets shoppers authenticate, locate and buy items in stores.
Retailers are now able to track exactly where shoppers navigate within their stores using in-store activity caught on video. This data is also helping retailers identify what ShopperTrak calls "power hours."
Oracle posted a very interesting short thought-piece Wednesday (June 19) about the different ways retail chains do—and should—handle lab strategy. Often labs are pure internal mechanisms, but they are more often the result of a tech acquisition. But the choice of strategies reveals an awful lot about attitudes of senior management. One key point is that management must be willing to accept—and learn from—failures. But if the CEO even thinks of the ultra-valuable data that comes from learning what shoppers will not accept as "a failure," the chain has even bigger problems than it thinks. By looking at the different choices made by Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Nordstrom, Staples, Tesco, Wet Seal and Lowe's, Oracle categorizes three IT lab approaches. But how a lab is corporately structured will make little difference if senior management isn't willing to first learn (and to pay a lot for those lessons) and to be open to a future that they may not like. The job of a chain is to adapt to the reality in its market. The job of a dying chain is to cling to its current tactics if the future doesn't look like what it wants it to look like.
All JCPenney (NYSE:JCP) associates will be able to do in-aisle checkout "within one month," the troubled chain's CEO said during an earnings call on Wednesday (Feb. 27). The move comes as 25 percent of sales transactions in the stores are already being done on mobile POS. The 1,100-store chain is also a few months away from going live with a new financial system from Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL, to be followed before the end of the year by merchandising, planning and allocation systems, all of which will replace legacy systems. That's presuming the board's patience with CEO Ron Johnson holds out—unlike most big chains, JCPenney's E-Commerce site isn't doing any better than in-store, and the chain lost $552 million during the last three months.
By November, the 654-store Finish Line sportswear chain will become the first major retailer to have mobile checkout in every one of its stores, just in time for the holidays. But while piloting the system in almost 50 stores, the $1.4 billion Indianapolis chain has had to wrestle with the practical versus the potential. For example, the associate-issued mobile units have full CRM access, so associates are able to review a customer's full purchase history to deliver the best experience. To avoid awkwardness, though, most associates don't access such history until after a sale is completed, when asking for a loyalty card seems natural. "It undermines the strategy," said Finish Line CIO Terry Ledbetter. "But quite frankly, it was hard to imagine how resistant customers would be to telling you who they are. 'You don't need to know who I am,'" he said, adding that the chain is exploring using an opt-in feature on its mobile app that would broadcast to all associates when a customer walks in the store.
Oracle has jumped into an E-Commerce patent fight with guns blazing, asking a court to invalidate patents that have been used to sue Walgreens, Best Buy, Sam's Club, CVS and other large chains in the past year. The lawsuit, filed on June 1, says Oracle's customers are being sued or threatened for using its Web-commerce products, including its live-chat support feature. What's unusual isn't that Oracle is stepping up to defend its customers. It's how the database giant is doing that: by using its initial court filing to list dozens of previous patents that, Oracle says, prove the Patents-in-Suit should never have been issued.