SMALL TO MIDSIZE RETAILING
New technologies are helping small to midsize retailers understand their business better and are leveling the playing field with the big retailers.
Retailers face a number of challenges. The U.S. economy has improved, but consumers are spending cautiously, sales growth has been steady but not remarkable, and there is more competition than ever before. Small to midsize retailers face these same challenges, yet they must be able to do more with less than their larger competitors. Last year we discussed how SMRs were investing in social, mobile, and cloud-based solutions to compete successfully with better capitalized Tier 1 and Tier 2 competitors. This year, we will dive deeper into the specific priorities and technology investments that are elevating how well SMRs are able to improve the customer experience and supply chain execution (inventory control and distribution), better engage their workforce and customers with a digital experience that transcends device or interaction point, and grow their business in general. Knowing where to invest their limited resources can be the difference between successfully balancing retail operations or falling flat on their faces.
E-COMMERCE SPECIAL REPORT
An integral part of omni-channel success, e-commerce must undergo efficiency gains in fulfillment and synchronization with brick-and-mortar to improve the overall customer experience and move the sales needle.
According to Forrester, online retail sales in the U.S. are expected to reach $294 billion this year, or approximately 9 percent of all sales in the U.S. By 2018, Forrester expects online sales to account for 11 percent of total U.S. retail sales. 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. Streamlining the customer’s digital path-to-purchase and delivering a smooth experience are akin to watching Olympic athletes in action — they make it look so easy when it is anything but. Indeed, a seamless e-commerce experience is heavily dependent on the brick-and-mortar store, technology, and next-level customer service.
By leveraging technology along with training and development, LP shares data that benefits the entire enterprise.
Consumer needs dictate that retailers take an omni-channel approach across their business. This, however, doesn’t come without its asset protection challenges. As such, we've partnered with highly regarded leaders in the fields of loss prevention and asset protection who bring extraordinary experience and sophistication to the pages of the 2014 Annual LP Research Supplement.
Our friends at LPRC, ASIS, LPF, RetaiLPartners, and more review the latest trends, risks, and preventive techniques in omni-channel retailing, spotlighting ways to stay ahead of the curve and integrate these approaches with your company’s holistic LP strategy.
With brand-new, digital paths-to-purchase, retailers are absorbing what those changes mean to their businesses — step up or get left behind.
Thanks to their love of smart mobile devices, consumers have shaken retail to its foundation. With brand new digital paths-to-purchase, times have truly changed, and retailers are absorbing what that change means to their businesses. In this, our third annual benchmark on the state of Mobile in Retail, we want to find out exactly how retailers are responding to these new challenges — and how the best are able to convert them into opportunity.
CMO SPECIAL REPORT
Industry reports confirm that the CMO must take ownership of the customer experience as shopper behavior and new technology transform the retail industry.
By now, you have likely been overwhelmed by the reports screaming of the changing behaviors of today’s digital customers. They are online — ALL THE TIME. They are sharing. They are complaining. They are raving about our products. They are raving about our competitors' products. At this point, I would normally share an overwhelming graphic about how many tweets are generated per day (it’s 58 million per day by the way).
Marketers, it’s time for a re-evolution. I carefully say "re-evolution" and not "revolution" because what I suggest is a shift in view — a leap forward into a better version of ourselves — not a complete and total overhaul.
ANNUAL LOSS PREVENTION GUIDE
The LP team and the highest levels of management across the enterprise must work synergistically to improve sales and solve companywide business problems.
Retailers are always searching for technology solutions to mitigate theft and fraud, but not just any technology will do. They are looking for innovative, next-generation solutions that will address the challenges they face today, and those that lie ahead. With the 2014 RILA Retail Asset Protection Conference just completed, we saw many of the emerging technologies, software or cloud-based products, and physical security solutions showcased by industry leading solutions providers that will assist with the challenges retailers face in asset protection and throughout the enterprise.
WFM SPECIAL REPORT
According to Retail Systems Research, there’s a massive gap between modern WFM/HCM (human capital management) solution capability and retailers’ execution of sophisticated labor management practices. In its recent report, “WFM 2013: The Store Employee in the Customer Age,” RSR revealed that only 33 percent of retailers consider themselves highly capable of absence management and recruiting. Slightly fewer consider themselves highly capable with their hiring/onboarding and labor budgeting and planning systems. And most startlingly, well under a quarter of retailers rank themselves highly capable of forecasting and scheduling, task management, and labor analytics.
The laggard state of retail WFM adoption is no doubt — at least partially — a product of the propensity for retailers to leverage multitasking POS software for labor management functions like time and attendance and scheduling. This approach, however, often fails the scalability test as the business expands, and the retailer finds itself returning to old labor management classics: pens, paper, and Excel.
There’s no prescriptive approach to establishing true, seamless, anychannel retail commerce, but experts agree on four imperatives to the equation.
The race to any-channel (or omni-channel, if you prefer) seamlessness is looking more like a disorderly, staggered-start distance medley relay than it is a sprint. Retailers, bound by legacy, channel-specific sales and fulfillment systems, and equally legacy mindsets, are for the most part only making incremental advances toward presenting an any-channel brand and meeting any-channel consumer demand. The field of merchants in the race is so scattered around the track that it’s become difficult to determine who’s leading and who’s flailing. Retail technology vendors fuel the race with cheers, hype, and promises of the spoils of victory, only to quietly turn their attention to the plodding task of mapping next moves as batons are passed and split-time performances assessed. It’s a new event, one without precedent and rife with complexity.
MOBILITY SPECIAL REPORT
Mobile POS races to the bottom, customer service apps reign supreme, and BYOD begins to make perfect sense.
If retail mobile adoption stats are any indication, there’s a stout infrastructure of mobile devices, applications, and the networks that support them in retail. Our annual survey of retail tech buying decisions revealed that for the first time ever, retailers plan to spend as much on mobile hardware and software applications as they do on traditional fixed retail systems in 2014. The applications those mobile devices will support are many and far reaching — from inventory management to POS to clienteling and a host of other customer experience enabling apps.
Still, mobile adoption and mobile execution are two entirely different things. Mobile is pervasive; that’s lost on no one. But is it effective? How? What’s the quickest path to mobile device deployment success and ROI? Rather than go long on the plans of your retail peers to plug mobile devices into their retail systems infrastructures, this report will seek to identify where early adopters have stumbled, why, and how you can avoid the same mistakes. We’ll also discuss mobile trends such as bring your own device (BYOD), how machine to machine (M2M) and geolocation are bridging the gap between enterprise and consumer mobility, and how these trends can either fuel your initiatives or bring them down in flames.
Omni-channel is evolving and maturing. Retailers are turning from envisioning the future of digitalenabled shopping toward making that vision a reality. However, for all the work that has been done, one particular function of the retail business has been held apart: the supply chain.
Changing the supply chain is time consuming, resource intensive, expensive, and risky. And though most retailers have grappled with how digitallyenabled consumer shopping behaviors are changing, most have responded with a thin layer of omni-channel veneer and a supply chain unchanged — isolated and protected at all costs.
Like a pressure cooker locked down too tight, however, the forces acting on supply chain are only building greater pressure, from shifting consumer behaviors to demands for omni-channel service. And those forces won’t be easing up anytime soon. While the retail supply chain has been designed and refined to serve one channel only — stores — most retailers are looking to other channels, digital channels that only increase retailers’ need to become more seamlessly omni-channel, like mobile.
TECH SPENDING 2014
2014 retail technology budgets are strongly influenced by consumers’ newfound control of where, when, and how they shop — and how much they pay.
Retail technology budget building isn’t what it used to be. Not long ago, technology spending decisions traced a direct path from CIO to CFO to the board of directors. Today, these decisions are being driven by a much larger board of consumers, pushed down to the CMO who answers to that board and implemented with the blessing of the CFO and the assistance of the CIO. The consumer is calling the shots, and the newly empowered CMO is listening.
Our 2014 tech spending forecast illustrates this changing dynamic, driven in some cases by fear of — and in other cases the opportunity presented by — consumer control.
PAYMENT SECURITY/PCI SPECIAL REPORT
Payment security is a responsibility shared by retailers, vendors, acquirers, and processors — all working to secure card data as it’s being accepted, processed, transmitted, and stored.
Recent industry reports underscore retail as the hottest target sector for stealing valuable payment card information. And according to Trustwave’s 2013 Global Security Report, 63% of the breaches investigated in 2012 were a result of security vulnerabilities introduced by a third party responsible for system support, development, and/or maintenance of business environments. Verizon noted similar findings in its recent breach report. These vulnerabilities often come by adding or reconfiguring a new system, new software, or through other integration failures. One seen most often is a very simple one — not changing factory default passwords in added system components — leaving you open to a vulnerability you may not even be aware exists.