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Q & A: Meeting the Rising Demands of Consumers in an Omnichannel World

BY CSA STAFF

John Byrde, General Manager, Omnichannel Technologies of omnichannel commerce solutions provider Radial, discusses challenges and opportunities for retail CFOs who are evaluating IT decisions.

Chain Store Age: How do you meet the needs of the modern omnichannel consumer?

John Byrde: One of the biggest problems retailers are facing is effectively responding to consumer demand in a seamless way regardless of where, when or how a customer chooses to engage. To solve that challenge, retailers must integrate every sales, fulfillment and service channel. This can be really complex, but is imperative to stay competitive.

At the same time, retailers are looking for solutions that won't cost millions of dollars, or take years to deploy like on-premise technology typically does. If I'm a retail CFO, how do I get segmented channels integrated in a cost-effective way that doesn't cripple my resources and budget to implement?

The answer is that today's retailers are leaning toward the cloud and managed services for lower cost and faster time to market.

CSA: What advantages can a best-of-breed software strategy offer retailers?

JB: The market is shifting; technology vendors are making it easier for retailers to integrate and launch systems. This also means retailers have more options, and with that comes the ability to consider best-of-breed. In many cases, retailers are matching best-of-breed solutions to legacy systems they may not want to rip and replace. It results in quicker time to market and provides faster ROI than an enterprise implementation.

CSA: What type of solutions ensure a positive seamless experience?

JB: Retailers know they need to provide a seamless experience anywhere the consumer engages. Your order management system (OMS) is key to deliver on that promise and can only do so if it provides full visibility to your entire inventory (stores, warehouses, in-transit, etc.), and uses that full view of your inventory to source orders/items from the optimal location to drive the best profitability while still meeting the service level agreement (SLA) you have promised the customer.

Beyond your OMS, customer service needs to be seamless across channels. A customer who initiates an inquiry via chat should be able to continue it later through the call center or any other channel without having to reiterate. Anyone interacting with a customer should have access to that customer's contact history -order, open carts, inquiries, previous contacts, etc. If you do this, you will see a real uptick on client satisfaction and increased revenue per customer as you can capitalize on upsell opportunities.

CSA: How can retailers mitigate fraud risks?

JB: Card present fraud has become more difficult with the introduction of chip-based payment cards, which means criminals will continue to shift their attention to e-commerce. In fact, e-commerce fraud is estimated to increase 100% in the United States over the next three years. Retailers need to understand their true cost of fraud and determine if trying to manage it in-house is feasible.

There are a lot of tools out there, but with the shift in liability moving to retailers, it's more critical than ever to take a closer look at managing fraud. Are they turning away good orders; what's the impact to their customers; are they losing revenue and customers? Answering these questions could be an eye-opener. The best solution could be outsourcing not only to eliminate the burden of managing fraud, but also to remove the fraud liability they now face with EMV requirements.

CSA: What solutions does Radial offer that can help retailers and CFOs with these issues?

JB: Radial offers a comprehensive set of cloud-based omnichannel commerce technology and operations solutions, enabling brands and retailers to profitably exceed retail customer expectations. Our solutions connect supply and demand through efficient order management, store fulfillment, dropship technology, fulfillment, freight and customer care services and fully outsourced payments, fraud and tax services. They add flexibility and scalability to retailers' supply chains and optimize how, when and where orders go from desire to delivery.

Click here to learn more about solutions from Radial.

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Bonobos moves to the cloud for content management

BY Marianne Wilson

Bonobos has decided to move from a consumer file sync and share solution to enterprise-wide content management in the cloud.

The menswear retailer is deploying Box’s content management platform enterprise-wide for managing and collaborating on content in the cloud.

Bonobos launched online in 2007, and now has more than 23 physical “Guideshop” locations nationwide. With Box, the retailer is able to power its asset heavy workflows and empower employees to collaborate securely from anywhere.

“Our business depends on finding the most efficient way to distribute digital assets to our employees, retail partners and customers,” said Dominique Essig, chief experience officer at Bonobos. “Box gives us a secure platform to manage large volumes of content, marketing materials, and training programs on any device, so that we can provide a truly unique shopping experience to our customers.”

Other retail organizations that rely on Box for content management include Gap, New Balance, Benefit Cosmetics, Neiman Marcus, American Apparel, Fossil, Barneys New York, and Sephora.

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Report identifies holiday shopping challenges

BY Marianne Wilson

Consumers expect to spend the same or less on holiday gifts this year.

That’s according to Berkeley Research Group, whose 2016 Holiday Retail Outlook report also identified five major challenges facing retailers as they head into the holiday season.

In the report, 76% of consumers said expect to spend the same or less on holiday gifts in 2016, and just 15% say they’ll spend more. Among those expecting to spend less, the top reason (30%) was rising household expenses, followed by declining income (27%) and excess debt (25%).

The report also identified five major challenges for retailers as they look toward the 2016 holiday season: value shopping, channel shift, technology, mobility/delivery and the rise of millennial spending power.

To combat these challenges, the report advises retailers to do the following;

1. Reignite loyalty programs: Loyalty programs are most influential for consumers when shopping at mass merchandisers (55%) and least influential at office supply retailers (24%).

2. Cater to local preference: Nearly 70% of respondents said it is important to them that stores carry goods that cater to the local community. It is most important to millennials (76%) and least important to baby boomers (61%).

3. Accentuate visual merchandising displays: Fifty-six of respondents believe that window signage is very/extremely influential in getting them in to physical store locations.

4. Improve store planning and execution: The biggest reason (60%) that consumers leave a store without making a purchase is that they couldn’t find what they were looking for. The second biggest reason (51%) was high price.

5. Transform the shopping experience to resonate with today’s shoppers: To get consumers to visit physical stores in malls, retailers need more effective ways to lure them in, especially Baby Boomers with more income than Millennials.

“Retailers have been facing a new and more challenging environment in recent years,” said managing director a Keith Jelinek, leader of BRG’s Retail Performance Improvement practice. “The convergence of five major trends — value shopping, channel shift, technology, mobility/delivery, and the rise of Millennial spending power — has had a dramatic impact on the landscape.”

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