What we have been reading – February

This Is How The Pandemic Improved Customer Service

“It’s hard to see a silver lining in the COVID-19 pandemic. But look closely. Companies have taken quiet but dramatic steps to improve customer service — and the results are impressive.
Better customer service is happening on a broader scale, from large cable companies to small businesses selling critters. They’ve added better technology, personalization, and more ways to communicate. They’ve retrained and redeployed customer service teams and overcome new challenges — all in the name of better customer service. “The pandemic changed the structure of everything we experience from how we shop and socialize to how we work,” says Baiju Shah, chief strategy officer, for Accenture Interactive.”

Source: Forbes


How the beauty retail market can survive Covid-19

“It’s clear that beauty – which comprises of cosmetics, skin care and more – is one of the biggest and fastest-growing categories in retail.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a shift in purchasing behaviours. As many Brits continue to work from home and a plethora of social and cultural events have been cancelled, the demand for beauty has inevitably dropped as demand for loungewear and sportswear increases.

Sona Abaryan, retail expert at data collector Ekimetrics, said retailers have notably seen growth in skincare product consumption throughout the pandemic. “As remote working is here for the long-term, people are more focused on selfcare and their health, rather than cosmetic products,” she explained.”

Source: Retail Gazette


Adidas officially aims to divest Reebok

“Adidas has concluded its strategic assessment for Reebok with an announced plan to unload the smaller brand. In a press release, the company offered few details about a possible sale or spin off but said it has now “decided to begin a formal process aimed at divesting Reebok.”  Explaining the decision, Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted said in a statement that “we have come to the conclusion that Reebok and adidas will be able to significantly better realize their growth potential independently of each other.”

Source: Retail Dive


Big Interview: James Kitto, Vice President of Sales, Samsung

“According to Samsung, 2021 represents almost a new chapter in the technology industry. Kitto told Retail Gazette that customers were already embracing a new digital era of consumer experience, but the crisis has radically accelerated that.

Kitto remains confident that Samsung’s stores will return to pre-pandemic levels once the vaccines have been rolled out and lockdown restrictions are lifted. “In a world where Covid is in the rear view mirror, there should be no reason why retail can’t recover,” he told Retail Gazette. With the KX store’s unique selling point being experiential retail before Covid, Kitto believes this is the same reason why retail will remain strong in 2021 and beyond. “Giving people a reason not to buy online is the reason why retail will exist going forward,” he said.”
Source: Retail Gazette

Wearing enhanced CX on your sleeve: How wearables can drive in-store conversions

When all is said and done, retailers have two key resources to drive revenue and operate a successful business: the products they procure or have had manufactured for them, and the people comprising their workforce.

Product reinvention is an ongoing process as organisations look to keep up with trends, changing consumer habits, and to differentiate themselves in a crowded market, but it is only in recent times that the people in the industry are having to evolve the way they work.

In a retail world where e-commerce now plays an increasingly prominent role, and as the lines between entertainment, leisure and shopping continue to blur, store staff are required to deliver more than just shelf replenishment and conduct transactions. Increasingly, they are there to serve – and that can manifest itself in ways ranging from personal shopping and product recommendation, to technological knowhow – and in some cases they must entertain and be a brand ambassador.

Expectation levels are high among consumers. They visit stores typically for inspiration, information, and, if they’re on a mission to buy something, heaven help those retailers who can’t fulfil that demand.

In short, when you consider this environment, the retail associate’s role is critical to ensuring a positive brand reputation and in helping customers achieve what they set out to do when they first decided to visit a store. As RSR Research’s Brian Kilcourse put it recently, the retail winners in today’s market don’t see the store as something akin to a walk-in vending machine, as Amazon Go advocates may promote, “but as a place that is one-part shopping, one part fun, and one part social”. 

Empowering retail staff to perform as required

Customers expect staff to have knowledge and to be flexible and understanding of their needs, therefore staff need to be both engaged and given tools to better do their job.

Key performance indicators (KPI) are important in most business environments, but on their own they are just a number on a dashboard, or a report. The secret – and this is particularly true in retail where there is currently an issue with happiness and motivation levels according to research from ex-Waitrose managing director Mark Price’s newly established Engaging Works organisation – is to make sure KPIs are meaningful, reasonable and achievable.

KPIs for staff are typically sales targets, or sometimes conversion ratios. The circle is complete when the targets are aligned to compensation, meaning more money in the store associate’s pocket if they achieve their goals.

For a member of staff to understand what their individual target is, they need to be better informed about wider company strategies and how their work impacts the overall store or department they reside in. When all this is at stake, it’s crucial that an employee’s progress towards the objective is clear – and there are many new ways of ensuring this happens in retail.

Data science and wearable technology

Using modern, dynamic forecasting methods, aligned with clear suggestions for cross selling – which could be based on the time of the day, the weather or on calendar events – will enable a more productive sales environment. This openness to using data science can help retailers better engage staff and, as a result, achieve better results.

And as the demand from wearable devices in the consumer market grows, with Samsung Gear and Galaxy, AppleWatch, Fitbit and other manufacturers like Garmin proving popular, why not use this type of technology in the retail environment to help make the most of the data science available?

By using such wearable technology, retail staff can dynamically and easily monitor progress against their targets, and access company information they feel can help them achieve their goals. This link to business intelligence is key to making KPIs tangible.

With the wider population in the UK using fitness devices as a community tool, to compare cycling, running and walking performance with peers, and to strive to do better, it suggests the backdrop is right for forecasts, KPIs and wearables to have a similar impact on the shop floor.

Who is winning? How I can I overtake? How much further do I have to get my bonus? If such gamification makes the job of being a sales assistant more fun, than there’s a good chance productivity and retail success levels will rise as well.

Source: 365RETAIL

Welcome to the Retail Apocalypse. Are you going up or down?

2017 has been one of the most difficult years for the retail industry. On the edge of bankruptcy, companies ask – What is going on and why is this happening? 

Ruthless competition, the need to adapt to new technologies and a lack of investment in innovative solutions are causing retailers (and also other types of businesses) to collapse. This combination has led companies to deeper levels of recession.

According to Moody’s, the number of distressed US retailers has tripled since the Great Depression. In a general perspective, its report verifies that 13,5% of American retail and apparel groups are at risk of foreclosing and nearly 16% occurred during the Great Depression.

Big and small retailers such as Macy’s, Sears, Neiman Marcus, Crocs, or even Guess are some examples that are going through high levels of store closure. Sears is closing 10% of its stores and JCPenney is shutting down 14% of its business – the equivalent to 138 stores.

Stop. Inhale and exhale. We might be able to help you.

Retail business is highly fickle and too unpredictable. So, today, organizations that make data-driven decisions are at the top of their game than businesses whose decisions are driven by instinct.

Half of all U.S. households are now Amazon Prime subscribers – a single data-driven company that has realigned its organization’s culture to make sure that everyone knows the value of the data – and how to make the most of it.

Data has the power to outshine human intuition in a broad variety of scenarios, and for this reason, retailers benefit from a clearer customer understanding.

Being a data-driven retail business means measuring everything there is to measure. However, to improve performance retailers need to make sure the insights gained from data are used to decision making and, ultimately, that are more crucial to growth.

Firstly, data-driven decision making starts with the all-important strategy. This helps focus retailers attention by putting aside all the data that’s not helpful for their business.

To become more data-driven in 5 steps retailers should:

  1. define goals and their own strategy;
  2. identify key areas for their business;
  3. optimize data targeting;
  4. collect and analyze data;
  5. lastly and most importantly – turn insights into action.

But, lets face it. Implementing these strategies and solutions it’s not easy. That is why 67% of companies still follow a traditional business model because they lack of understanding and ignore the capabilities and limitations of BI solutions. Moreover, 42% of business leaders think their company would need training and education and that they would also need to promote that culture internally among their organization. Finally, 39% are concerned about the financial investment and data management.

With small steps it is possible to improve performance and incorporate the learning into the business.

For example, companies who have enabled data-driven decision making and business intelligence solutions say that they have benefited from predictions on activity related to machines, customers or business health by 38%.

And, in general terms, 45% of organizations who have invested in business solutions and have become data-driven say that they’ve already got a positive impact on their businesses and 27% say they will have an impact on the next one to three years.

So, by becoming a data-driven retailers are able to:

  • Stay competitive among forward-thinking organizations that already use data to their leverage.
  • Concentrate their attention on the customer and enjoy a clearer insight into the customer and their circuit.
  • Be cost-effective – it can be costly to store large volumes of data. Retailers should put data to work and use it to the company’s advantage.
  • Detect new or anticipate opportunities, as well as expanding and raising more desirable conditions

In short, retailers who become more data-driven and invest in BI become more alert and are better able to answer to markets transformation and innovation.

Inovretail has broad variety of solutions for your business. Define your goals and we’ll help you achieving them by leveraging your data and turning your insights into action!

How a digital sales assistant enhances customer service

They say content is king online, and increasingly in physical retail, it is customer experience (CX) that takes on that regal moniker.

In order to deliver that all-important CX, stores are being designed in new ways – often with fewer products on show, brighter spaces, and a nod to the growing range of digitally-enabled services retailers now have as part of their offering. But central to CX success is the retailer’s overall service proposition.

Be it click & collect, ship-from-store for 90-minute and same-day delivery, or the straightforward inventory checks and product advice that in-store customers will regularly request, the service provided in shops must be flawless, especially against a backdrop of such intensive competition.

With prices often similar across the board and commodity items now available at the click of a button or swipe of a screen, in-store customer service is the differentiator for shops looking to attract busy consumers. It is crucial for retail executives and their store managers to do all they can to ensure their staff are up to the customer service challenge, and there are various ways of doing that.

Engaged staff = engaged customers

Retail is going through a challenging period, and according to the former managing director of Waitrose, Mark Price, retail employees are among the unhappiest of any industry in the UK.

The findings come from his new Engaging Works website, which was set up to help people find jobs and employment that make them happy, and which measures the workplace happiness of thousands of individuals. It found that against the 13 questions asked to workers around issues such as reward, recognition, empowerment and wellbeing, the retail sector scored worse than average.

In response to what Price describes as the most relevant question of all, “do you feel happy at work?”, 58% of retail workers said they were. That’s compared to an average of 65%, making it the second worst industry for happiness. There is clearly a lack of engagement felt by retail employees, and this is a dangerous place to be for the sector.

It cannot be underestimated how important it is to have engaged staff, who are up to date with efficient and understandable in-store processes, especially taking into account the aforementioned service-oriented scenarios facing shops today.

The last thing you want as a customer, when collecting an item that has been ordered online, is for the process not to be clear and to have disinterested staff who add unnecessary time to what should be a quick in-and-out shopping exchange.

I saw at the start of September Debenhams talking about how it has evolved its click & collect strategy over time to meet the needs of changing customer demands. At the onset of the multichannel revolution in the early 2000s, many retailers – including Debenhams – set up online order collection points at the back of their stores to try and encourage upselling, but over time they’ve realised that customers don’t want to navigate the whole shop to find their order. They want convenience.

If a store is large, or on multiple floors or areas, having an efficient process for customer collection is critical. When collecting their order, people don’t want to be waiting around while the assistant goes off to find the goods either. So, what’s the solution?

Digital assistants to the rescue

There seems great potential to utilise the growing trend for wearable technology across the retail workplace. With the right data science and systems set-up, these devices can be used to pass inventory information and other crucial order/delivery and operational messaging between staff.

It could be to instruct associates to retrieve the customer’s order at a time that will fit neatly with their arrival in a store, or it could be used to provide general information the customer needs about the availability of stock. Having that info ‘on the wrist’ can help retailers deliver seamless, valuable and face-to-face customer service.

With such a system in place, it is possible to implement a kiosk-based or mobile app-based approach, where a collecting customer can enter their required product details on arrival in a store which then feeds through to staff on their digital devices and informs them to get the product ready – or, at the very least, prompt them to go and meet the shopper.

Using technology at all stages of the customer service process also gives retailer yet more opportunities to gather data, which can be fed back into their operations to help them shape their business proposition as well as enhance their understanding of the shopper. Mark Price’s research about retail staff contentment is concerning, but with wearable technology, there’s an opportunity to better engage staff to help engage the customers – keeping everyone happy!

Article source: Modern Retail