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Report: Home goods retailer to accept digital wallet, Venmo

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A new payment option will help Williams-Sonoma tap a new customer segment.

The home goods retailer will soon accept the peer-to-peer money-transferring service Venmo for bridal registry purchases. The digital wallet lets users make digital payments — or split payments with other users, according to ReCode.

The program, which will be a new service within Williams-Sonoma’s omnichannel strategy, will enable the home goods retailer to appeal to a new, more digitally savvy customer base. Williams-Sonoma will pay Venmo a processing fee to offer the service, the report said.

The program will be launched across all of Williams-Sonoma’s properties early next year.

To watch Venmo’s COO Mike Vaughan discuss the program, which was presented at Recode’s recent Code Commerce event in New York City, click here.

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Study: Retailers triple same-day delivery offerings

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Eager to get merchandise into shoppers’ hands the same day they place an order, 65% of retailers will offer same-day delivery within two years.

This was according to the “2017 Digital Commerce Benchmark Survey,” from Boston Retail Partners (BRP).

Currently, 51% of retailers indicate they offer same-day delivery, up from 16% last year, and within two years, 65% plan to offer this service. Delivery via a third party service, such as Uber or Lyft has also increased from 20% last year to 32% this year. The reason for the increase: retailers want to provide different options that enable customers to shop, purchase and receive their goods on their own terms.

Looking ahead, same-day delivery services will be even more innovative, as retailers explore autonomous fulfillment. Brands will also pursue self-driving vehicles and “helper robots,” the study said.

“With Amazon offering same day delivery in some markets, the push is on for retailers to get items delivered to customers as soon as possible,” said Jeffrey Neville, VP at BRP. “Autonomous delivery and distribution are the next step with self-driving vehicles soon a reality and a few food delivery start-ups already testing the concept.”

These developments are pre-requisites if retailers want to adapt to the new customer journey, and accommodate the blurred lines of retail and innovative methods of shopping driven by mobile technology, artificial intelligence and rapidly changing fulfillment methods. To succeed, retailers may need to reinvent themselves to create an effective blend of the physical and digital worlds to maintain customer loyalty, the report explained.

To prepare for the future of retail, the study outlines three key customer imperatives:

Personal: Combining behavioral, historical and customer profile data empowers retailers to deliver tailored and relevant content to meet customers’ individual needs. In fact, 38% of retailers indicate that improving personalization is a top digital customer experience priority.

Ubiquitous: Customer expectations for a personalized, seamless experience require retailers to follow customers’ journeys as they research and shop from anywhere. That’s why 49% of retailers will offer customers the ability to ‘start anywhere, finish anywhere’ within five years.

Unified: Retailers’ technology, processes and organization need to be unified and aligned across channels to offer a seamless and consistent customer experience. Thus, 54% of retailers indicate that creating a consistent brand experience across channels is a top priority.

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Study: Consumers growing uneasy about increasing access to personal data

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Despite the ramping up of global data regulations, most consumers are concerned about how companies collect and use their information.

In fact, an overwhelming 96% of consumers are "somewhat" to "extremely" concerned about data collection and usage. This is understandable, as more than 75% engage in digital payment transactions at least once a month.

This was according to “Consumer Data Privacy: Strategic Opportunities to Address Emerging Consumer Needs,” a report from A.T. Kearney.

The level and intensity of consumer digital commerce engagement will continue to increase, the report revealed. And for those transacting online, consumers are increasingly using cards-on-file, both at individual retailers and third-party payment providers (e.g., PayPal, Visa Checkout) to conduct digital purchases.

The incidence of card-on-file being the primary payment method for digital purchases grew from 38% in 2015 to 44% in 2016. Strikingly, among those who keep cards on files with retailers as primary payment method for digital purchases, 44% have already have their payment credentials on file with more than five retailers.

In terms of consumer attitudes, a clear divide exists in the consumer market where 34% of consumers consider the use of their payment/purchase data to be "an invasion of privacy that should be prohibited.” A counter-balancing 36% of consumers see some benefit from data sharing, if appropriate consumer compensation is rewarded.

However, the study reveals that the following are of real interest to all consumers:

The monitoring and reporting of data use by third parties,

Usage-based compensation schemes to reward consumers,

Clear industry protocols and standards around usage and data-sharing

Against this backdrop, banks are viewed as the payments and digital commerce provider most prepared to act in consumers' best interest. Among consumers who engage in digital commerce and are prepared to share their data, 65% rated their primary bank as a provider with whom they were comfortable sharing personal information. Banks' high rating compared very favorably to lower consumer ratings for Amazon (34%), Apple (22%), Google (17%), and large national retailers (10%).

Globally — most notably in the U.K., Europe and Australia — regulators have been pushing for greater control over data collection and sharing practices by banks and tech firms. While evolving U.S. consumer attitudes could lead U.S. policy down a similar path to the U.K., Europe, and Australia, in the absence of regulation, the banking industry could provide sought-after leadership to develop standards, protocols, and service offerings to address this increasingly important consumer issue, according to the report.

“Our research shows that a significant majority of U.S. consumers have serious concerns about the privacy of their data,” said Bob Hedges, lead partner in A.T. Kearney's global financial services practice.

“A level of frustration exists over the inability to act on their concerns,” he said. “With growing consumer interest in this issue, there is the need to both have the service solutions and the public policy in place that will help protect consumer data, while allowing consumers to share it in ways they want to."

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