REAL ESTATE

Elizabeth Allen joins UCR as VP

BY Dan Berthiaume

Dallas – UCR Dallas, a retail real estate services provider, has named Elizabeth Nabholtz Allen as VP who will specialize in retail project leasing. Allen has extensive experience in property representation. Prior to joining UCR, Elizabeth was the director of leasing for RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust for Texas, where she directed leasing for more than 5 million sq. ft.

Prior to RioCan, Elizabeth worked at The Weitzman Group for 10 years as a general broker. She represented properties for a wide range of landlords including Westwood Financial Corporation, Kimco, GE Capital Solutions, Bianco Partners, Oakridge Investments, JPI, Strode Properties, Billingsley Company, and Cypress Equities. She also assisted with site selection for tenants including Sally Beauty Supply, Armstrong McCall, GameStop, Simply Mac, AIO Wireless, YUM! Brands (Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC), Firehouse Subs, Zzz’s by Ashley, Kidville, Chipotle, The Cash Store, Fantastic Sam’s, Planet Beach Tan, Foot Solutions, Rainbow Apparel, Quikset Jewelry Repair, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, Edible Arrangements and Goodwill Industries.

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Tech Commentary: Make the Holidays Brighter–With Analytics

BY CSA STAFF

By Murali Nadarajah, Xchanging Malaysia

Consumers can purchase virtually anything they want anytime from anywhere, from the Internet to social media to mobile devices to good old brick-and-mortar stores. As a result of today’s omnichannel approach to retail, chain stores now have access to a massive collection of customer data that hasn’t existed until recently.

So what does this mean for chain store retailers? They can better predict consumer behavior and respond in real-time to consumers’ individual needs by analyzing this data. And especially now, as we get further into peak season, the insights gathered can be a game changer in deciding which retailers come out on top of this year’s holiday rush.

Whether through a smartphone app, store associate or instant chat on the website, to understand how the buyer expects to be spoken to in today’s world, retailers need to delve deep into their customers’ shopping patterns. Let’s take a closer look at the types of analytics that chain store retailers should be paying close attention to this holiday season, all of which could hold the key to not only improving customer experiences, but increased operational efficiency and profits across multiple areas, as well.

Customizing the Customer Experience with Predictive Analytics

There is a growing focus among retailers on understanding customers’ personal characteristics and shopping preference–the traditional one size fits all approach can no longer address the unique requirements of today’s empowered and informed customers.

Chain store retailers can capitalize on this shift by analyzing predictive analytics, which leverages data generated from social media, feedback forms and point of sale systems to extract relevant information related to customers’ preferences. By using this powerful data, retailers can better manage their back-end operations by accurately forecasting future demand, creating a real-time supply chain to engage customers more effectively across regions.

Accessing Difficult to Reach Shoppers with Marketing and Customer Analytics

With predictive analytics, chain store retailers are armed with valuable data that can be utilized to personalize the shopping experience for existing loyal customers. To attract new customers in today’s hyper-connected world where they are constantly bombarded with messages from a variety of channels, it’s more difficult than ever to grab–and keep–their attention.

By leveraging marketing and customer analytics, chain store retailers can draw in these difficult-to-reach customers. Analyzing real-time customer data–obtained through sentiment analysis and understanding motivators of buyer behavior to predict their response– will allow retailers to collect detailed insights on customer preferences and introduce targeted marketing campaigns by varying the look, messaging and tone for the intended customer set.

Engaging More Intimately with Customers as a Means of Building Loyalty

After customers are acquired, retailers can use analytics to consistently engage with them throughout their lifecycle, converting them into loyal brand advocates over time. This data also allows for measuring, managing and analyzing a marketing campaign more efficiently.

Enjoying the Gift of Analytics

There is a huge opportunity to achieve a competitive advantage from analytics. On the product side, it helps in tracking customer needs, leading to the design and creation of innovative product lines, revenue streams, and in some cases, new markets. For operations, this data can help chain store retailers gain a better understanding of how to improve efficiency across their business.

The global retail industry uptake is being driven by rising GDP growth rates, increasing disposable incomes and growing consumer spending sentiment. According to market research firm Lucintel, the market is expected to be worth approximately $20 trillion by 2017. To fully tap the market opportunity, especially during peak season, retailers can use analytics as a powerful tool to stay one step ahead in customer relationship building and streamlining multichannel operations, among other “gifts.”

Murali Nadarajah is CEO of Xchanging Malaysia.

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Rethinking retail with robots at Lowe’s

BY CSA STAFF

An innovative experiment in customer service involving robots is underway at a Lowe’s Orchard Supply Hardware store in Silicon Valley.

The home improvement retailer has introduced two robots called OSHbots to the aisles of the Orchard Supply store in San Jose, Calif., to help with basic customer service functions such as locating products, assessing inventory levels or sharing information about promotions. The OSHbots can recognize multiple languages and can also connect shoppers with employees at other stores for specific questions requiring a high level of expertise. Orchard operates 71 stores in California and Oregon that average about 36,000-sq.-ft.

"Using science fiction prototyping, we explored solutions to improve customer experiences by helping customers quickly find the products and information they came in looking for," said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs. "As a result we developed autonomous retail service robot technology to be an intuitive tool customers can use to ask for help, in their preferred language, and expect a consistent experience."

For store employees, OSHbot will provide an additional layer of support by helping customers with simple questions, enabling more time for them to focus on delivering project expertise, according to Lowe’s. For example, the OSHbot incorporates scanning technology first developed for the Lowe's Holoroom home improvement simulator. A customer may bring in a spare part and scan the object using OSHbot's 3D sensing camera. After scanning and identifying the object, OSHbot will provide product information to the customer and help guide them to its location on store shelves.

The OSHbot was developed through a partnership between Lowe's Innovation Labs and Fellow Robots, a Silicon Valley technology company specializing in the design and development of autonomous service robots. The partnership was initiated through SU Labs, a Singularity University program that connects corporate innovation teams with startups and other organizations to explore exponentially accelerating technologies and create new sustainable business solutions.

"The last decade was one of rapid technological advancement and prototyping, especially in robotics," said Marco Mascorro, CEO of Fellow Robots. "With OSHbot, we've worked closely with Lowe's Innovation Labs to take autonomous retail service robot technology out of the sandbox and into the consumer market – enhancing the in-store consumer experience and creating smarter shoppers."

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