OPERATIONS

Sears rolls out new pickup service for online purchases

BY Marianne Wilson

Hoffman Estates, Ill. — Sears has debuted In-Vehicle Pickup, a new service powered by the chain’s Shop Your Way mobile app that enables customers to pick up their online purchases at any Sears store within five minutes of arrival, without ever leaving the car.

"The In-Vehicle Pickup option takes our ‘Free Store Pickup – Ready in 5’ guarantee even further and out to the parking lot," said Leena Munjal, senior VP, member experience and integrated retail, Sears Holdings. "In-Vehicle Pickup on this scale is an industry first and another example of how we are constantly innovating and adding benefits that make shopping a more convenient experience for our members."

To take advantage of the new service, Shop Your Way members shop online, completing their purchase via computer or tablet. At check-out, they choose In-Vehicle Pickup and input details of the vehicle they’ll arrive in, then sign in to their Shop Your Way mobile app and enable location services before leaving for the store. Upon arrival at their local Sears, members:

1. Pull up to the In-Vehicle Pickup spots located conveniently outside of the merchandise pickup location.

2. Use the Shop’In feature in the Shop Your Way mobile app to initiate In-Vehicle Pickup – a timer will start on the phone.

3. In five minutes or less an associate will bring the purchase to the car and verify the purchase using the payment method used online.

"When the transaction is complete, members can easily provide instant feedback on their experience through the Shop Your Way app," Munjal said. "This feedback is extremely valuable as it helps us further enhance our capabilities across all channels."

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Staying Social With Millennials

BY Dan Berthiaume

It’s no secret that today’s teens and twenty-somethings have grown up on social media and see it as an extension of their everyday lives. But retailers who think they can just display a bunch of wares on a social media page and attract Millennial shoppers are sadly mistaken. A panel of five exceptionally bright and well-spoken Millennial consumers ages 16-21 (all offspring of prominent retail IT figures) at the recent Retail ROI “Super Saturday” event in New York gave some frank insight into how Millennials view social media. Retailers can ignore the following nuggets pulled from that commentary at their own risk of social irrelevance with the younger generation.

Think Visual
In a column published last year, I exhorted retailers to follow the example of The Kinks and “Think Visual” when it comes to digital retailing efforts. Old Kinks albums probably don’t mean much to Millennial consumers and their social habits, but video definitely does. All five Millennial panelists agreed that Instagram is their favorite social media network, and several also mentioned Snapchat.

Interestingly, all five agreed Facebook is not relevant to their generation (more on that momentarily), and only the two college-aged panelists even still have Facebook accounts, just to keep in touch with their parents. There was also mixed opinion on the relevance of Twitter to young consumers. If you want to reach Millennials through social media, do it on video-friendly platforms and through visual campaigns.

Aim True
The number one reason all five Millennial panelists gave for their generation’s general lack of interest in Facebook is an excess of spam. Young consumers are incredibly media-savvy and have been bombarded with marketing messaging their entire lives, starting with all the toys and games that tied into the TV shows and movies geared toward them as young children. They are not opposed to receiving marketing messages via social media, but they are opposed to generic messages for products they don’t want or need.

Retailers targeting Millennials with social media efforts need to take extra care they are targeting those efforts correctly. Investments in intelligent marketing solutions that track consumer behavior and preferences, preferably across multiple channels, are essential to avoid turning off potential Millennial customers. Older consumers screen out noise, younger consumers shut it off altogether.

Stay Young
The other reason all Millennial panelists agreed Facebook is not their generation’s choice social network is that it is seen as the social network for their parents. This is not to say retailers should abandon all efforts to reach Millennials through Facebook, but it does mean that retailers must keep a young mindset and be aware of trends among young consumers when designing social marketing campaigns.

Having Millennials as part of your social marketing team is essential, and processes and systems supporting social engagement of Millennials must be lean and agile to allow quick pivots in response to the fickle preferences of teens and twenty-somethings.

Younger generations are always a bit of a mystery to older generations, but mysteries can be solved. And when it comes to social engagement of young consumers, retailers need to apply leading-edge strategies and technologies to become a 21st century version of Sherlock Holmes.


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Quantum takes leap with retail science

BY CSA STAFF

Demand forecasting, inventory allocation and replenishment — the unsung building blocks of every successful retail enterprise — have gained a new level of respect with retailers striving to deliver the omnichannel experience shoppers demand.

Retailers that expect to remain viable in the future are in some form or fashion pursuing an omnichannel strategy the key elements of which include an expanded product offering, a multifaceted approach to engagement and a whenever-and-wherever fulfillment philosophy. Executing this value proposition has led to an exponential increase in the complexity of running a successful retail business in an industry that was hardly lacking in complexity. Not surprisingly then, retailers are looking for solutions to minimize this elevated levels of complexity and technology providers are obliging them by integrating powerful new capabilities into their products. This trend was especially evident last month at the National Retail Federation’s annual convention and was exemplified by enhancements Quantum Retail made to its flagship Q Solution platform.

The Minneapolis-based company introduced upgrades to its Q Solution platform that help retailers more effectively manage their businesses against the backdrop of an industry undergoing a rapid transformation.

“These enhancements are the result of a collaborative process that has involved looking at the overall market direction, collecting feedback from our clients and prospects, and adding a number of science-based updates to deliver new levels of functionality to the retail marketplace,“ added Scott Aubitz, CMO and vp of product strategy at Quantum Retail. “Quantum is focused on driving constant innovation and releasing new capabilities for our retailers who use our solutions to drive millions of decisions every day.”

More specifically, Quantum sought to address the core challenges of less predictable consumer demand and shifting buying patterns that have become commonplace for retailers in the omnichannel age. To do so it added a range of new capabilities to its Allocation and Replenshiment Solution and Order Planning Solution within its Q Merchandise Optimization Solutions suite.

“Quantum Retail’s science has always been unique in its ability to predict buying patterns of consumers to help retailers more efficiently run their stores,” said Ziad Nejmeldeen, Quantum Retail’s vp of science. “Our latest enhancements extend our science to a broader portion of the merchandise supply network while also addressing changing dynamics within the retail vertical itself.”

What that means is the company’s allocation and replenishment solution now features the ability to perform allocations for products that have no prior sales history, evaluate variable packaging configurations to determine optimal allocations and produce forecast variance alerts triggered by demand shifts. In the area of order planning, the company’s science-based approach means retailers who use its Q Demand Engine can perform time-phased inventory targets to view inventory target fluctuations based on range, seasonality, life cycle and quantities while predicting demand based on future inventory constraints.

“These updates to the Quantum Retail solution suite represent our latest evolution of the Quantum Retail Merchandise Optimization technology to address rapid changes in the retail vertical,” said Steve Buege, CEO of Quantum Retail.

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