Will Apple and Google Rule Customer Loyalty in Mobile?
Smartphones have changed forever the information consumption habits of consumers. While those changes are most obvious in areas such as social networks, the news media and search engines, they have been perhaps most impactful in the retail industry.
Retailers Need More Than Fun When It Comes to Gamification
Consumers have been exposed to games when they shop for decades. As far back as 1896, grocers distributed Green Stamps that were collected to earn shopping rewards.Read more...
Is This the Death of Black Friday?
Black Friday is a week away, and the news is full of stories anticipating retailing’s version of New Year’s Eve. But this year will be different – a lot different, I think – so much so that I wonder if Black Friday as we know it is dying.Read more...
Augmented Reality: Beyond the Gimmick
Mikael Karlsson, mobile marketing manager for Volvo, shocked the audience at the 2012 Apps World conference when he described augmented reality as an overhyped marketing gimmick. Read more...
What Are Smart Retailers Really Selling?
Retail was founded on a very simple principle: to acquire and make available for people that which they could not easily or affordably obtain on their own. Thus, buying wholesale and selling retail was – and is today – a service to the community. Read more...

Checking in at Burberry’s New Flagship Store

While some online retailers try hard to mimic the in-store shopping experience, Burberry is headed in the opposite direction. The 156-year-old brand has opened one of the most futuristic stores in the world on Regent Street in London, and going inside is like walking into a fully online experience.

Music, an emotional experience, a place to relax – Burberry is not about shopping, says Burberry’s chief creative officer, Christopher Bailey. “The important thing for me is that when you go in, you feel entertained.” Many have compared Burberry’s new store to the Apple shopping experience, largely because it is the closest thing to it. But this Burberry store is different.

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When Customer Service and Profits Collide

A former colleague of mine was a store manager during the Great Recession, and it was imperative that he kept a tight grip on the thin strands of customer loyalty for his store. His employer’s philosophy: Keep a customer happy and they’ll keep coming back. But truth be told, there were instances when he didn’t want some of them back. Call it greedy, but he wanted to make money, and some customers made that difficult.

He was telling me a story about a repetitive occurrence in the photo lab that resided within his store. If you take the time to think about it, there are immense costs involved in operating a photo lab. Consider the investment of the photo processing equipment alone: the servers, the kiosks, the processors; an ROI that takes months, if not years, to achieve. Second, there are the various chemicals that go into the machines. Third, the photo paper itself is exorbitant in price. If the clerk who makes $7.50 an hour doesn’t properly spool the paper “in the bag,” they risk exposing it to light and destroying the entire roll (a $500 mistake). And once the remarkably short warranty is over, it’s amazing how many things break on the machines and require skilled technicians to visit the stores to make repairs. One bill could wipe out a month’s worth of photo sales.

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As We Adapt Online, We Must Innovate In-Store

The infiltration of the mobile phone into our everyday lives has had a profound effect on the future of shopping. And while retailers are right to focus on how to leverage mobile technologies to boosts sales online, they would do well to remember the vital nature of the in-store experience.

Plenty of players are reaping the benefits of approaching the physical retail space in an entirely different way, reinventing retail to produce didactic and sensory destinations that cannot be rivaled online.DphuE is one such start-up brand, completely redefining the hair dye retail experience after spotting a gap in the market for the increasing trend towards at-home hair color and the fears that consumers often have about using such a product. To tackle this, the company offers affordable salon-quality custom-blended hair dye kits.

The real innovation happens at the brand’s flagship stores, where customers can book consultations with certified cosmetologists who evaluate the best products and teach the correct usage, all within the comfort of an up-market salon environment. To differentiate from hairdressers and keep prices affordable, the one thing they do not do is dye hair. However, clients are allowed to apply their dye purchases in-store under free professional guidance – a retail concept that addresses a common consumer issue with a unique solution.

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Online Retail: What Customers Say

In-store pickup and returns of purchases made online are just two of the ways retailers are working to merge their online and in-store shopping experiences. And while it might be tempting to look to decades-old in-store practices for ways to boost customer satisfaction, retailers actually need to look online, where they’re faring better and better at keeping consumers happier.

By and large, online retailers enjoy consistently higher customer satisfaction scores than their brick-and-mortar brethren. Shopping online is convenient, deals are plentiful, and in nearly half of all online purchases, shipping is free. According to data from two major retail satisfaction surveys this year, online shoppers are reporting slightly higher levels of satisfaction year over year.

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These Retailers Remind Us That In-Store Experiences Still Matter

Las Vegas hotel-casino operators figured out a long time ago that shopping can transcend the transaction. They developed multisensory shopping centers to be their own attractions, with light shows, faux Euro street scenes, statues that come to life, and fashion shows. The point wasn’t the retail; it was to entice non-gamblers onto the property.

Today, retailers see the value in becoming destinations unto themselves. Cabela’s devotes nearly half of its floor space to immersive wildlife exhibits, educational displays, and a café. Jordan’s Furniture in New England is known for its over-the-top attractions, from IMAX theaters to Mardi Gras parades and themed “streets.” And Apple’s Genius Bar concept is about to be transferred to JC Penney’s Martha Stewart line by former Apple executive Ron Johnson.

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At Summit, A Focus on Better Experiences Online

This week’s Annual Summit in Denver was an exciting event with a mix of e-commerce merchants, marketing solutions, and everything in between. From small up-and-coming companies to industry titans, the showroom floor was full of different vendors spread across a few key themes. The focus on mobile and social is no surprise, but it seems like retailers are now geared toward providing a better experience for their customers.

One common theme that caught my eye was the increased accessibility for e-commerce retailers to “showroom” with their physical stores. Many vendors are providing HTML sites in addition to mobile app services to give consumers the chance to locate a product of interest at the nearest retailer’s store. Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are realizing that online shopping is not going away and are adjusting to survive in this new form of commerce.

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Digital Tools Help Online, In-Store Experiences Draw Closer

An estimated $456 billion annually in lost sales are due to Out of Stock, but vast amounts of data capture within e-commerce have allowed for better understanding and management as well as the ability to react quickly to developments.

Even more significantly, these solutions are designed to offer a complete brand experience for the shopper while guaranteeing product availability, real-time information and social relevance. These digital tools are providing convenience as the store begins to bridge the interface between traditional and online commerce.

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Smartphones Are Your Best Ally in SoLoMo Marketing

It is not necessary anymore to go on about the number of smartphones in consumers’ pockets. With the spectacular growth in the area, yesterday’s figures may be out of date today.

Given this growing trend, it is a pity that the majority of retailers (if we exclude the largest ones) either are not yet part of the mobile marketing wave or not using the right strategy. tells us that 94% of smartphone owners do local searches on their phones. This means that when a smartphone owner wants to find a product or service, he will use his smartphone to search. And he’ll favor the local results when considering where to buy the product or services in the area.

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With Mobile Payments, Keep Your Options Open

A few years ago, Wired magazine invited its readers to come up with how they envisioned “the future of money.” It was a lighthearted look at how currency would incorporate some of the new technologies that are more common in places other than legal tender, even going so far as to suggest that a country might co-partner with Internet entities like PayPal and iTunes.

Paper money and coinage are quickly going to be obsolete in a world of mobile currency. Our smartphones have evolved into a digital buffet, providing functionality for communication, entertainment and the sharing of information. With mobile shopping apps, they have become a means to shop anywhere, anytime. We can use them to shop with companies like eBay for physical merchandise and digital products like music from iTunes.

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Are Next Best Offers the Next Big Thing?

Quick quiz on predictive modeling: If a grocery-store shopper suddenly starts buying diapers, does it make sense to send him coupons for baby wipes, toys and … beer?

Surprisingly, that’s what U.K. grocer Tesco tried. And it worked. Because Tesco dug deeper into the buying patterns of the store’s Clubcard holders and found that new fathers also started buying more beer. Why? They weren’t going to the pub as much (Good show, mates!).

Offering coupons for beer was just one of Tesco’s successful attempts at a next best offer, or NBO. By analyzing several streams of data, retailers are finding ways to tailor the perfect offer at just the right time for a given customer. Tesco’s novel approach reportedly resulted in redemption rates of 8 to 14 percent, soaring above the industry standard of 1 to 2 percent.

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