TouchPoints TV is a periodic video podcast which covers the Retail Industry and offers insights from leading executives on emerging strategies, innovative products and services, and recent retail news. Subscribe to the feed and stay in touch with the latest retail happenings.
Launched as an online e-Commerce platform in 2011, UNTUCKit has expanded offline, opening its first store in Soho, New York City, in 2015. Since then, the company opened 20 stores in 2017 and is planning a similar expansion in 2018. When moving offline, UNTUCKit sought to collect the same detailed customer data it was able to collect online. To that end, the retailer is testing an IoT and RFID platform from SATO Global Solutions in the flagship 5th Avenue New York City store, designed to help manage inventory and improve the overall customer experience. Fitting room data is informing the retailer about what is and what is not being purchased. Worker productivity also is improved, which is improving the overall conversion rate.
JCPenney has implemented Buy Online Pickup In-Store (BOPIS) across the chain. “Our goal is to get the product to the customer no matter how they want to purchase; make it a frictionless transaction for them,” he noted. “This year we fulfilled online orders from all 875 stores across the chain.” McFarland talked about the challenges in scaling up its fulfillment offerings. By partnering with ForeSee, JCPenney has been able to access relevant shopper data points that enable seamless checkout and in-store product pickup. McFarland’s final advice for other retailers: “The stores and online have to be the same team.”
Walmart Canada converted its mobile site to be responsive to improve the customer experience. As a result, conversion has increased and the company has subsequently developed a native web app. “One of the biggest changes we made was to mobile navigation,” Kennedy said. “One of the big learnings was the work that goes into doing analysis,” he noted. “We have taken the learnings and logic and we’re now starting to apply that to self-checkout, kiosks and other visual touch points in stores.” McFarland’s advice for other retailers: “Never stop asking questions.”
Chad McIntosh, VP of Asset Protection and Risk Management at Bloomingdale’s, shares how the training platform from Axonify allows the retailer to understand what each associate is actually retaining from educational programs. Then, gamification helps engage the associate and ensure the lessons actually stick. The retailer has saved millions of dollars and created a safer environment for both associates and customers, and is expanding to enhancement of selling skills and product knowledge.
Lifeway Christian Stores is working with Relex to solve systems and integration challenges at its 170 stores. The new solution allowed the retailer to move away from using spreadsheets in order to manage inventory more effectively. “We needed an integrated system that would allow us to have a forward-looking picture when we allocated and replenished products for our stores,” said Bill Crayton, VP, Merchandising. The biggest implementation challenge involved change management among the internal team. “We had to really work hard to educate and go through the discovery process. We identified power users so they would own it and there would be accountability.”
The Entertainer is one of the largest independent toy retailers in the UK and operates more than 100 brick-and-mortar stores, as well as an e-Commerce site. Retail TouchPoints sat down with Rob Wood, Head of Online at The Entertainer, to discuss the company’s partnership with SmartFocus, which resulted in a 44% increase in email click-through rates and 120% increase in mobile sales. Wood also shared insights on how to leverage real-time marketing and personalization to engage customers, and how it leveraged chat bots to help customers find the perfect toy.
This year the Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab is working on several new projects, including the Luxottica Sunglass mirror and an update to the Memory Mirror – a project that was delivered from paper concept to deployment in six weeks, according to Scott Emmons, Head of the Innovation Lab. Additionally, “We just announced that we are partnering with Theatro for IoT in-store communications,” designed to tie Last Call associates together across the 40+ stores. Emmons also is interested in looking into virtual try-on: “I think it’s finally come of age.”
Marta Wohrle founded Truth In Aging as a community-based initiative to empower women over 40 to identify the best beauty products. Community members review products: “They are curating their own commerce experience,” Wohrle noted. As a follow-up, Truth In Aging developed a commerce model and is now selling products recommended by the community. The business model includes three parts: curated commerce, Truth In Aging branded products developed along with the community, and branded manufacturing.
Guess received a Customer Engagement Award for Cross-Channel Strategies from Retial TouchPoints. Guess is working with Radius8 to deliver a Shop Local strategy – an omnichannel approach to bringing more shoppers into the stores. This initiative takes the traditional store locator to the next level by allowing consumers to shop the local inventory in the stores online, noted Edward Park, SVP, Guess. Guess currently is testing the strategy in 10 stores and plans to roll it out to all 450 stores in North America during Q1 2017.
Hickory Farms is “a multi-million dollar business that operates like a billion-dollar business for 12 weeks of the year,” according to Director of Information Technology Gordon Jaquay. During the holidays, Hickory Farms opens 500 to 600 pop-up stores across North America, creating a hyperseasonal bump in addition to its year-round wholesale and direct businesses. In an interview with Retail TouchPoints, Jaquay revealed that the retailer is in the midst of a digital transformation using Microsoft Dynamics 365 that will centralize key internal databases. Additionally, beginning with holiday 2017, retail customers seeking items that aren’t in-stock at a kiosk will be able to get them delivered direct from the warehouse. “The associate will now be empowered to provide that experience to the customer, so it will be better for customer retention, provide a better experience in general, and keep Hickory Farms top of mind, because we’ll be completing the sale when the customer is ready to buy,” said Jaquay.