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Capgemini survey details critical components in successful omnichannel strategy

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Mobile shopping, same-day delivery, and growing volumes of data from online channels are forcing retailers to a tipping point to remain competitive and better respond to evolving customer needs and preferences, according to a new research report by Capgemini Group.

The study, “Are You Ready? How to Create an Always-On, Always-Open Shopping Experience” done in conjunction with information standards organization GS1, is based on in-depth interviews with major U.S. apparel and general merchandise retail leaders. Top findings show that omni-channel retailing, which provides customers with a consistent research, shopping, purchasing and fulfillment experience regardless of channel, lies at the heart of many retailer transformation efforts.

“Retailers are transforming their organizations and market approaches to leverage the power of digital and satisfy the needs of the ever-changing consumer,” said Dan Albright, senior VP, Capgemini Consulting. “The digital transformation journey to omnichannel is multi-faceted and requires retailers to reevaluate every aspect of how they serve the market. Leading retailers have already taken significant steps in their omnichannel journey, but there are still many objectives that must be met to continue building on recent progress. As the report reveals, the imperative for 2014 and beyond is to keep the strategy moving forward by enabling an agile infrastructure and greater inventory visibility to seamlessly serve consumers when, where, and how they shop.”

The results of the survey reveal four critical components required to help drive a successful omnichannel strategy:

1. Inventory Visibility. Inventory identification, tracking and management are the core competencies that matter most in omni-channel retailing. Supply chain visibility and inventory accuracy are foundational requirements for effective omnichannel operations and to allow the retailer to know where its inventory is at all times. New standards such as Electronic Product Code (EPC)-enabled Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) are enabling leading retailers to drive pinpoint precision in their inventory accuracy in real-time.

2. Web-Ready Products. Making products “web-ready” is an important component of a successful omni-channel retail operation, but is currently a bottleneck for many retailers. Key product information, attributes and images are not always accurate, standardized or readily available for retailers or their trading partners. However, emerging standards in this area can provide the foundation for identifying, capturing and sharing product data, providing the industry with the opportunity to collaborate on bringing products to the online marketplace faster.

3. Predictive Customer Analytics. Consumers are increasingly sharing valuable information through social data, product reviews, and online visits and purchases. Leading retailers are using predictive analytics to gain deeper insight into customer behaviors, trends and the forces of loyalty and purchase. Retailers that take advantage of sophisticated algorithms and data-mining activities — which analyze current social data, product reviews and historical facts to track shopping patterns — have a greater ability to create an individual shopping experience based on rich information sources.

4. Fulfillment Strategy. Fulfillment options need to be robust and varied for today’s “always-on, always-open” shoppers. Retailers are focused on building in-store, web-store and direct-to-consumer options and many are leveraging existing and new infrastructure in creative ways. By using their storefront locations as distribution centers, retailers are better positioned to deliver products quickly to the customer. Standards-based technology such as EPC-enabled RFID will be critical in providing the requisite level of visibility to make this a reality.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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Consumers can register digitally for West Elm’s wedding/gift registry

BY Staff Writer

New York — Home furnishings retailer West Elm has launched a wedding and gift registry that allows shoppers to register in stores, online or via smartphone app.

“Our customers have great individual style and definitely know how to party,” said Vanessa Holden, creative director of West Elm. “Our new wedding and gift registry features tips and tricks from some of our favorite partners, and it’s the perfect tool to help couples design a home to suit their new life together or plan for any type of celebration.”

The West Elm assortment includes handcrafted and artisan-made products. Customers will also have access to the Monogram Shop so they can personalize their gifts.

Registrants will also have access to free home design services provided by West Elm Home Stylists. West Elm retail locations will host private registry events and there will be opportunities for customers to get ideas and inspiration while browsing pieces in person before the store opens to the public.

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Barnes & Noble to develop co-branded Nook tablets with Samsung

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Barnes & Noble Inc. is teaming up with Samsung Electronics America to develop a new Nook tablet. The co-branded devices will combine the Nook software with Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 hardware, creating full-service tablets that also can access Barnes & Noble’s collection of more than 3 million books, magazines and newspapers, according to a statement.

The companies are expected to introduce the new Nook in a 7-inch version in early August. It will be sold, along with Nook eReaders, at Barnes & Noble’s nearly 700 bookstores and online retail locations and its website.

“We are very excited and proud to partner with Samsung, a world-class technology and tablet leader, to create customized co-branded devices featuring our valuable Nook reading experience and digital content catalog for Barnes & Noble customers nationwide,” said Michael P. Huseby, CEO, Barnes & Noble.

Barnes & Noble has been reining in its investments in the money-losing Nook unit after earlier tablet models did not do well with consumers. The company hasn’t released a new device since October.

In other news, Barnes & Noble announced that its Nook Media will relocate from Palo Alto, California, to a new facility in Santa Clara, California, while Barnes & Noble College’s digital education employees will relocate to a facility in Mountain View, California. The relocations are expected to occur by the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2015.

This action will result in a net reduction of annual occupancy expenses of approximately $10 million, reducing the company’s future lease commitments by approximately $102 million. The asset impairment charges resulting from this relocation are approximately $30 million, which are expected to be recorded in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014. Barnes & Noble also expects to incur cash closing costs and to adjust lease accounting items in the first quarter of fiscal 2015 to reflect the impact of these relocations.

“This move is a significant step in our ongoing efforts to both rationalize and better equip the Nook business to achieve success, while positioning the digital education team and platform for future growth,” said Huseby. “These relocations result in work environments and related cost structure impacts that are better aligned with our business objectives and our employees’ expressed needs.”

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