MOBILITY

David’s Bridal alleviates stress — for associates and customers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A specialty retailer’s new point-of-sale upgrade is helping to meet — and surpass — its customers’ expectations.

David’s Bridal has created a reputation for enabling brides—and her entire wedding party— to choose a gown right off the rack. But as it expanded its offerings and services, the retailer has also established a robust special order business.

“We feature bridesmaids dresses in 45 colors and 13 sizes, but we can’t carry all of these in-store,” Diane Garforth, the chain’s senior director of supply chain systems and operations said at Manhattan Associates’ Momentum conference in Las Vegas (May 8-11).

That’s where special orders come in. Once the measurements are taken and styles and sizes are recorded, the retailer creates the dress order, including a pick-up date. The chain added a mobile point-of-sale system to drive more flexibility and customer engagement during the shopper’s visit.

However, this homegrown solution had its share of issues. One of the biggest was a lack of insight into on-premise inventory and arrivals of incoming orders, an issue that could make stores — and associates —unprepared for in-store pickup appointments.

“Our associates couldn't use the devices to see if orders had arrived in store,” explained Rajesh Mathusamy, senior quality assurance analyst. “And if they were available, employees couldn't determine which orders were complete or if they needed to be assembled. We also couldn’t see if pending orders were in transit from the distribution center to the store.”

Ready for a POS refresh, David’s Bridal opted for a combination of iPods and iPad mini tablets that supported an integrated store inventory management system from Manhattan Associates. “It was like gaining an event management system that provided one view of the bride’s ongoing activity, including the status of all of her ordered gowns — hers, her bridal party’s, and even the mother of the bride,” Mathusamy said.

The solution also manages receiving operations for orders shipped to the store from the distribution center. Using the mobile device’s embedded scanner, associates scan item barcodes to confirm individual pieces packed in each delivery parcel, and can even validate when they add new items to orders waiting to be picked up.

The retailer piloted the integrated mobile POS system, which ran on the Apple-based iOS 9 operating system, in two stores in April 2016. Four more stores were rolled out three months later. By August, the new mobile POS solution was available chainwide.

David’s Bridal is currently preparing to upgrade its fleet of iPad Minis, which will be dedicated to store-level receiving operations, to the iOS 10 operating system, according to Mathusamy.

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News

Update on Walmart Mexican bribery case

BY CSA STAFF

There’s been a new twist in the U.S. lawsuit over Wal-Mart’s alleged bribery in Mexico.

A federal judge has orderedmDouglas McMillon, CEO of Wal-Mart, to submit to questioning in a lawsuit by shareholders hoping to learn what he knows about suspected bribery by the retailer, CNBC reported. McMillon was president of Wal-Mart International during a period when shareholders led by a Michigan pension fund alleged the chain concealed suspected bribery by its Wal-Mart de Mexico unit to government officials in order to accelerate store openings.

“It appears to the court that McMillon has unique knowledge of relevant issues in this litigation that only he can explain," U.S. District Judge Susan Hickey wrote.

Click here to read the full report.

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MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Study: Gen Z digital, decisive and drone-ready

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

More than any generation before it, Gen Z has high expectations related to customer service and engagement across emerging channels.

That’s according to a new report by American Express, “Raising the Bar: How Gen Z Expectations Are Reshaping Brand Experiences.” The study, conducted by Forrester Research, surveyed 1,027 North American Gen Y (ages 23 to 37) and Gen Z consumers (ages 16 to 22).

Gen Z is already financially empowered, with 81% making purchases on their own. It also has mobile spending power, with 59% having made a purchase via mobile app in the last year. Meanwhile, 33% of Gen Z respondents have used a device specific mobile wallet (i.e. Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Android Pay) in the last three months, data revealed.

Their financial independence also influences their high expectations among brands — especially when it comes to gaining their trust. That said, 46% of Gen Z respondents said that data security and privacy is a must-have to keep their business.

Members of Gen Z are also mobile natives. Thus, they don’t find it invasive to receive texts, notifications or offers from brands via mobile — even more so than their Gen Y predecessors. In fact, 22% of this group are more likely than Gen Y to prefer in app notifications to receive offers, incentives and sales notifications.

Compared to Gen Y, 23% of Gen Z’ers are also more likely to prefer interacting via social media to receive offers, incentives and sales notifications. This group is also 100% more likely than Gen Y to prefer interacting via online chat technology (i.e. WhatsApp).

“Our research shows that Gen Z is two steps ahead when it comes to interest in payments solutions and technology, and their expectations of brands,” said Luke Gebb, senior VP, enterprise digital, American Express.

For example, Gen Z also shows increased proclivity towards adopting self-service and automated resources. More than twice as many Gen Z consumers ranked using text/SMS messaging, searching online resources and talking over the phone with an automated system (i.e. not speaking with a customer service rep but rather using automated menus) as their top three preferred customer service channels to solve a problem, over Gen Y. Gen Y was twice as likely to want to use chat messaging on a company’s website and 25% more likely to resolve an issue via phone, according to data.

Gen Z’s brand loyalty is closely tied to seamless customer experiences. For example, Gen Z respondents said they were more likely than Gen Y to become disloyal to a brand due to poorly designed mobile features; slow response during online chat for sales or customer service issues, and poor features/responsiveness on social media.

Meanwhile, Gen Z was two times more interested than Gen Y in features that embody instant gratification. These include one-hour deliveries made by drones; the ability to purchase products or services via chat apps or social media (i.e. making a purchase via Facebook Messenger); personalized experiences via bots and AI, and the ability to pay using a watch or other wearable device, the report revealed.

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