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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Top 5 questions - before investing in merchandise planning technology

The average consumer has changed. Retail has changed to keep up with consumer expectations. And, new technologies are continually evolving to change buying behaviours all over again. The only element that remains constant in the cycle of change is executing a customer-centric, interactive and personable brand experience. Effective merchandise planning helps you deliver just that!

Can it provide an omni-channel presence?
A customer expects seamless and consistent brand experience in-store, online, through mobile apps and social media. To remain accessible to the customer on multiple channels requires omni-channel planning and forecasting. Products, promotions and pricing has to be consistent across all retail channels – reinforcing customer trust, purchase frequency and loyalty.

Can it crunch Big Data?
Consolidated enterprise data in the form of Big Data is run through a common analytic engine to gain actionable customer insights and understand purchasing behaviour. Merchandise analytics can be used to ascertain trends and future market potential in different seasons, occasions and allow intuitive management, reducing lead times.

Is it working with real-time information?
Retailers need to provide on-trend, timely and precisely-priced merchandise as and when the customer demands it. Accurate demand planning in a highly competitive marketplace is key to optimize product lifecycle and profitability. Real-time visibility and control of business operations helps make quick strategic procurement, promotions and placement of merchandise.

Is it scalable?
When business is changing and growth is happening around the world, around the clock, your software systems and processes need to be agile. Merchandise planning, in an expanding enterprise, needs to be as cohesive as it is comprehensive. Flexibility in the system architecture leads to optimized assortments and optimal merchandise cycles.

Does it provide stable automation?
The most elemental and important feature is the stability of the merchandise planning process. All functions mentioned above can only be productive when the system platforms are aligned and stably connected to enterprise operations. It can drive superiority in the supply chain and competitive advantage in customer demand.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Online in-store – shopper’s paradise

Retail Mobile Technology

Smartphones are getting smarter and making their users more savvy shoppers. Today, customers research, review, compare, purchase products online and in-store. Research shows more than 80% shoppers use their smartphones in-store, while shopping. The customer’s mobile is the starting point of most shopping journeys. It begins with searching about the various categories of interest. The search leads to the customer browsing deeper into the product information, while in the physical store, and ready to make the purchase.

Most shoppers use their phones to ascertain pre-shopping information like searching the store location and timings, comparing prices and understanding the store or brand specific promotions and ensuring the product availability at the store. Customers who use mobiles more often buy more. This is seen across product categories like health and beauty, electronics, home care and appliances. Browsing through substantial product information and reviews surreptitiously influences customers positively and removes any doubts regarding a purchase. Sometimes, customers also buy experience enhancing accompaniments for the selected products after reading about them online.

Mobile technology in retail is impacting a broad spectrum of business functions such as campaign and promotion management, customer service and acquisition, retention and loyalty management, space planning and optimization, operational processes, demand and supply forecasting, inventory management, security management, etc. Retailers are focusing strongly on mobile connect and analytics to gain actionable customer insights out of the enterprise data. For this, mobile technology like mPOS and beacons are being introduced into the retail store to deliver superior shopping experiences.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Top CEOs redefining the rules for new age retail

Nike CEO Mark Parker talks about being the Goliath in a David market. “The last thing we want is to be a big dumb company that feels we can put a swoosh on something and people will buy that. Our management approach hasn’t come from studying and reading business books. It’s more intuitive, from the culture of sports. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve. How do you adapt to your environment and really focus on your potential? To really go after that, you have to embrace the reality that it is not going to slow down. And you have to look at that as half full, not half empty. Companies and people look at the pace of change as a challenge, an obstacle, a hurdle, we like to look at it as opportunity: Get on the offense.”

Speaking on the changing landscape of retail, Macy's Inc. CEO Terry Lundgren isn't losing sleep over how he's running a retail empire in an age of booming internet-based commerce. He says “A bifurcated view of the retail environment – one in which brick-and-mortar retailers fight against a rising tide of internet retailers – doesn't paint an accurate picture of how the average retailer shops. Rather, at least for Macy's, the two are complementary tools used by consumers. The customer starts with a device, then they want to touch the product or sit in the sofa. Afterwards, they might walk out of the store and buy it online."

Omni-channel retailing has become the norm in the industry and customers expect access to retail brands through multiple channels as per their convenience. The physical and digital platforms are blending to create an ecosystem that delivers instant value, information, products, services, payment options, rewards, cash-back, discounts, recommendations and updates to the customer anytime, anywhere. Walmart's CEO Doug McMillon, elaborates further, "I want us to stop talking about digital and physical retail as if they're two separate things. The customer doesn't think of it that way, and we can't either. One customer can shop with us in so many different ways - in stores, on their phones, at homes or a pick-up point. I get excited about what our technology team is now capable of. As we add new capabilities and join these unique assets together effectively, we're going to have something special."