News

The BIG Show Is Back

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

With an eye on expansion, both from customer engagement and operational perspectives, retailers are eager to revitalize their brands and overall shopping experiences, according to industry experts. The upcoming 102nd annual NRF Convention & EXPO, produced by The National Retail Federation, Washington, D.C., promises to educate attendees on these and other business strategies.

The event, known throughout the industry as “Retail’s BIG Show,” will set up shop at the Jacob K. Javits Center, in New York City, Jan. 13 to 16, 2013. NRF reported a record attendance of 25,500 domestic and international delegates, comprised of retail executives, vendors and consultants last year, and “we are expecting an increase at this year’s show,” said Eric Olson, VP education strategies, NRF.

Olson credits part of this increase to an ever-growing delegation of international executives, especially those from Mexico, South America, South Africa, even as far away as Australia.

“NRF Annual is truly a worldwide-known event for retailers, and they all attend in hopes of learning what will be the next generation of retail innovation,” Olson said.

A common area of interest for all attendees, both domestic and abroad, is how to expand business into new areas and then localize operations on this new turf. Specifically, NRF reported that international expansion and operating in emerging markets, including Brazil, China and India, is one of two key retail growth drivers.

“Retailers, such as Nordstrom and others, have made international expansion part of their business model, and others are interested in learning how this can help propel business moving forward,” Olson explained.

To help retailers understand the importance of this path, NRF is dedicating at least eight sessions to the topic, including “Emerging Consumers from Emerging Markets: The New Retail Frontier” and “What Will it Take to Thrive in the Global Arena?”

The other growth driver is the proliferation of digital technology steering the omni-channel experience both inside and outside of the store. Add in consumers’ smart device adoption, and retailers finally have a way to localize conversations, promotions and pricing to build loyalty in the slowly recovering economy.

“Digital solutions are what retailers need to revitalize the store experience, especially as more millennials enter the marketplace,” Olson said. “One session that illustrates this will be ‘Retail Re-imagined – Conversations on Storytelling, the Customer Experience and What’s Next!,’ a 20-minute presentation that talks about how to use dynamic ideas to turn retail on its head and inject new life into the consumer experience.”

Before delving into these sessions and other retail tracks, NRF will set the tone of the conference with keynote sessions that provide insight into how the global economy is impacting the retail industry. For example, Monday’s keynote speaker, Kofi Annan, secretary-general, United Nations, will discuss the “Building Strong Nations: The Pillars to a Prosperous Society.”

“The discussion will focus on diplomacy and retail’s role in the larger global economy across emerging markets,” Olson said. “We are excited to hear his perspective and learn about the impact retail has on the global economy.”

On Tuesday, Bill Simon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart U.S., will present “A Job to Do: Retail’s Role in an American Renewal,” discussing how retailers must lead based on the big issues that matter to customers and communities, such as the economy and job creation.

“Retail is the engine for this country’s economic recovery, and we’re eager to hear about how Wal-Mart is fulfilling that role and how other retailers can play their part in America’s renewal,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

Besides joining these keynotes and other sessions within the show’s extensive educational agenda, NRF encourages attendees to delve deeper into industry issues “during meetings on the show’s EXPO floor as well as through networking,” Olson said.

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

Polls

Consumer confidence is high. Is that reflected in your stores’ revenues?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
News

Building Relationships

BY CSA STAFF

Loyalty programs may be commonplace across the retail industry, but few are capable of rewarding members on a personal level. Société de transport de Montréal (STM) may not be a retailer, but retail chains can learn a valuable lesson from how the transportation company rewards individual consumers for their loyalty.

In Montreal, 65% of the population uses public transportation when headed to downtown destinations. While STM is interested in driving revenue, it is even more interested in increasing its ridership. Looking to increase its ridership between 3% and 5% annually, the transportation company decided to see if a new loyalty program would help it to achieve its goal. Leery that a traditional card- or points-based program would be costly from both internal operations and customer engagement perspectives, however, STM is preparing to launch a mobile loyalty program by February.

“For us, the program is a way to deliver value as a means of retaining our loyal riders and also recognizing their loyalty,” said Pierre Bourbonnière, director of marketing, STM. “We plan on getting to know customers by gaining a better understanding of their preferences and behavior.”

STM manages fares through “OPUS” transit smart cards that can be loaded at one of 200 fare vending machines. The smart card, which can be used across the Montreal subway and bus system for up to four years, stores all purchased fares as well as riders’ personal information, including email addresses. Currently, there are 3 million OPUS cards in circulation. One million of these cards are active.

Approximately 20,000 OPUS cardholders are being invited via personalized emails and station-based advertising to join the mobile loyalty program by downloading a dedicated app. Once downloaded, riders are prompted to input their specific preferences, such as their interest in sporting events, cultural arts, restaurants and other hobbies. STM will exploit these details with the help of longtime technology partner, SAP.

By leveraging SAP’s CRM (customer relationship management) solution and a combined business intelligence tool, STM can delve into OPUS rider histories and preferences. Once that is done, Bourbonnière said, “We will create and deliver personalized, geo-localized offers from STM, as well as across more than 1,000 business partners.”

As riders launch the mobile app, they receive notifications about available rewards from business partners, including the Opera de Montreal, promoters of local events, as well as approximately 125 retailers, ranging from IGA to Tim Horton Coffee to local liquor stores. While riders can scroll through approximately 125 standard offers daily, what makes the program unique is STM’s ability to segment geo-localized promotions.

“Geo-localized promotions are based on individual’s demographics, entered preferences and our ability to offer them relevant offers in real time,” Bourbonnière said. “The key to success is offering the right individual the right offer at the right time. That formula is what makes this an extremely unique program.”

For example, IGA, STM’s grocery retail partner, may send a message asking, “Have you thought about supper? If you check in within the next hour, here is a special offer on our new arrival of oysters.”

“It may also offer free delivery to riders knowing they cannot carry a bagful of groceries,” Bourbonnière explained. “They can check in at home, and IGA can deliver the order.”

STM plans to initially launch the program among iPhone users and then will expand it to Android devices.

“The objective of the program is to follow the behavior of our riders, understand their preferences and then exploit our CRM solution to communicate with them and deliver promotions that they can benefit from,” Bourbonnière said. “Our overall challenge will be keeping up the excitement and momentum, but we are eager to be successful and deliver something innovative.”

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

No comments found

Polls

Consumer confidence is high. Is that reflected in your stores’ revenues?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...
News

Avoiding IT Overspend

BY Marianne Wilson

The strategic role that IT plays in retail is evident as retailers across the board continue to up their technology investments. And with retail innovation being driven largely by tech-related advances in customer analytics, mobile and social commerce, and cross-channel strategies, IT spending is expected to remain a top priority.

But with increased investment comes the risk of overspending, warned NPI, a spend-management consulting firm that works with large retailers to maximize IT and telecom spending.

“In the first half of 2012, NPI witnessed an increase in overspending as retailers invested in new IT initiatives, as well as the infrastructure upgrades they typically drive,” said Jeff Muscarella, executive VP IT, NPI, Atlanta.

Key to maximizing IT investment spend, Muscarella said, is to match your business needs to the product or service that is being sold and to think the process through. Equally important: Planning far enough ahead so that you can buy on your time line.

“Buy at opportune quarters and at quarter ends,” he added. “And always make sure you don’t overbuy.”

These are some of the top ways that retailers will overspend on IT in the next 18 months, according to Muscarella:

• Overbuying Support: In many instances, retailers buy more software and hardware support than they need or fail to evaluate third-party support providers.

• BI/Customer Analytics: These are big ticket items, and you need to take a rigorous approach as to what you really need to accomplish with your business objectives, Muscarella said, as opposed to taking a scattershot approach.

• Fixed-fee Engagements for Professional Services: NPI recommends bidding them on a time- and materials-basis to better understand the cost.

“The ability to approach it from a time- and materials-basis instead of a fixed-fee reduces your risk and gives you insight into how the company prices the project,” Muscarella added.

• E-commerce Platforms: It’s no secret that scalability, mobile shopping and mobile payments are forcing large-scale upgrades and new investments in this area.

“You need to do it, but it’s important to understand what you need and to buy only what you need,” Muscarella said.

• SaaS: Minimum purchase clauses, data ownership/migration costs and renewal rate increases have some companies negating the short-term savings of SaaS before the ink is dry, according to Muscarella.

“SaaS is great if you have a standard set of needs that are well defined and aren’t going to change too quickly,” he added. “But for something that is new and unique, you might want to have it in-house for a while and then later move it to a SaaS model.”

• Wireless and Data Networking: The average enterprise overspends by 20% to 50% on wireless, according to NPI, with the top culprits being paying consumer rates, not negotiating for incentives, failure to pool minutes and failure to audit usage monthly. For data, high pricing and inadequate planning are common, as retailers hastily invest in solutions such as WDM and HA. IT and sourcing teams should partner to analyze their long-term bandwidth needs for maximum negotiation leverage.

• Storage: High demand and lack of enterprise planning give vendors the upper hand in this category.

“Retailers are spending a lot on storage, which is catching them by surprise because of how fast it is growing,” Muscarella said. “To get a better deal, you need to predict your storage needs well in advance of when you buy it. You should have a six-month road map of your storage needs.”

• End-User Computing: For many retailers, POS terminals, desktops, laptops and software are in dire need of upgrades and updates. And given the interest in mobile retail strategies and payments, retailers are “mobilizing” the entire retail experience in the next 18 to 24 months.

“Before IT buyers invest in upgrades, they should establish how new computing trends will factor into their long-term strategy,” Muscarella said. “You don’t want to spend money on a technology that could be outdated in a year.”

But many retailers can’t wait. They need to upgrade their POS equipment now.

“Knowing which technology will win with your customer really comes back to knowing your customers’ needs,” Muscarella said.

[email protected]

keyboard_arrow_downCOMMENTS

Leave a Reply

Q.Bar says:
Dec-29-2012 11:27 am

in it industry you need to
in it industry you need to Laptop Accessories in pakistan then you take to visit this site i m goin here by the refrense of this site because this is a all about information acount

Q.Bar says:
Dec-29-2012 11:27 am

in it industry you need to Laptop Accessories in pakistan then you take to visit this site i m goin here by the refrense of this site because this is a all about information acount

Polls

Consumer confidence is high. Is that reflected in your stores’ revenues?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...