MARKETING/SOCIAL MEDIA

Survey: Retailers falling short on in-store service

BY Marianne Wilson

There is a growing disconnect between shoppers’ growing in-store service expectations and retailers’ current service offerings and focus for the coming year.

That’s according to new research from TimeTrade, a provider of online appointment scheduling. The report surveyed more than 5,000 consumers about shopping habits and perceptions and 100 senior retail executives about their plans with customer experience. Results showed that while the majority of consumers still favor in-store shopping, service expectations are quickly rising, TimeTrade said.

According to the survey, emergence of the on-demand economy gives in-store shoppers more leverage and heightens their expectations.

Key findings of the report include:

• Only 27% of consumers feel that big-name brands try to provide VIP-like service.

• When shopping in-store, consumers most highly value “prompt service” (54%), “personalized experience” (30%) and “smart recommendations” (30%).

• Lack of prompt assistance will drive the majority of consumers (85%) to leave a dressing room – and the store – and abandon their intended purchases.

• Only 27% of consumers feel retailers provide a consistent customer experience across channels. In contrast, 51% of retailers believe they succeed in this area.

• 51% of consumers said call centers provide the poorest customer experience, but only 5% of retailers named it a top priority for improvement in 2016.

• 59% of respondents would like it if store associates knew the items in their online shopping carts. But only 24% of retailers currently have that ability, and only 12% are looking to implement it within the next 18 months.

• 59% of consumers would schedule an appointment with an associate if possible; for jewelry shoppers, that number rises to 83%.

According to TimeTrade, the results of its survey suggests that retailers must focus on ensuring seamless connections between digital and traditional channels and on delivering prompt, personalized in-store service to meet rising expectations.

“Consumers’ increasing demand for concierge-like services is forcing retailers to improve the connection between digital and physical and put a greater focus on enhancing the in-store experience,” said Gary Ambrosino, CEO of TimeTrade. “Stores will remain the top shopping channel in 2016, but omnichannel retail will play a key role in driving the changing shopping experience. Retailers must evolve their approach to meet the rising expectations of today’s digitally savvy and increasingly informed consumer.”

The full State of Retail Report 2016 can be accessed here.

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News

Kohl’s, Macy’s and Footlocker join Shoptalk lineup

BY CSA STAFF

Shoptalk is out to break the mold of what constitutes a retail industry event and the clearest indication of that philosophy is a digital brochure that showcases an expanding roster of speakers and the image of a monkey sitting on a toilet. Seriously.

Organizers of Shoptalk, scheduled for May 16-18 at The Aria in Las Vegas, are taking an unconventional approach with the event billed as “the tech event for next-gen commerce.” Plans call for 2,000 attendees and more than 300 speakers with conversations focused around innovation and the evolution of how consumers discover, shop and buy.

“We’re thrilled with the progress of our inaugural event and the many unique benefits we’re bringing to our attendees,” said Anil Aggarwal, founder and CEO of Shoptalk. “Retailers, for example, will have the opportunity to network with some of the most innovative leaders shaping commerce, learn about the most important technologies, and collaborate on what’s coming next.”

Given the state of change in the retail industry, Shoptalk organizers are applying fresh thinking to every aspect of the event experience, beginning with promotional materials designed to showcase Shoptalk is not just another trade show. The cover features a caricature of a monkey sitting on a toilet wearing what appears to be an Apple watch and looking at a smartphone. Speaker descriptions are also given the quirky treatment and written in rhyming verse. Seasoned retail industry participants may find the imagery and approach unfamiliar, but the intent is for the event to mirror the pace of disruptive change transforming the retail industry

“Our speakers comprise an unparalleled grouping of key figures in commerce ranging from early stage innovators to recognized and established pioneers of retail and e-commerce. These are the minds reshaping how products, services and experiences are created, curated and consumed,” Aggarwal said. “The scope of our coverage and initial speaker lineup demonstrate that there is no other event like Shoptalk.”

The most recent additions to the speaker lineup include the following:

· Ashley Stewart Executive Chairman & CEO, James Rhee
· Foot Locker CIO, Pawan Verma
· KIND Snacks Head of e-Commerce, Amanda Greenberg
· Kohl’s EVP, Digital Technology & Innovation, Ratnakar Lavu
· Laurel & Wolf CEO & Founder, Leura Fine
· Macy’s SVP, Strategy & Innovation, Michael Tobin
· Pinterest General Manager, Monetization, Tim Kendall
· Postmates Founder & CEO, Bastian Lehmann
· Under Armour VP, Direct-to-Consumer, Omnichannel Digital, Sid Jatia
· Westfield Co-CEO, Steven Lowy
· Airbnb head of product, Joe Zadeh

To see the diverse collection of 125 other confirmed speakers, click here.

Shoptalk’s preliminary agenda includes coverage of themes and specific topics such as:

· Disruptive retail startups and pioneering brands: Sessions include startups driving product innovation, startups reinventing consumer selling experiences, re-commerce startups driving incremental sales, and curated and guided commerce startups.

· Entrepreneurship and investment: Sessions include venture capital perspectives on retail and consumer investing, venture capital perspectives on commerce technology, and retailer and other strategic investor perspectives.

· On-demand, delivery and logistics: Sessions include trends in same-day delivery and pickup, reinventing product returns, and the state of drone delivery.

· Collaborative consumption and the sharing economy: Sessions include trust enabling the sharing economy, peer-to-peer models disrupting commerce, and new retail rental models changing the nature of consumer ownership.

· Physical retail goes digital: Sessions include the future of in-store personalization and clienteling, driving in-store mobile engagement, and virtual and augmented reality experiences in retail.

· E-commerce: Sessions include brands taking control, driving transactions on mobile, and preparing for distributed commerce.

· Search and discovery: Sessions include mobile search and discovery, the emergence of visual search, and making content shoppable.

· Design: Sessions include designing next generation products and experiences, retail formats of the future, and designing for mobile.

· Changing consumer preferences and demographics: Sessions include changing consumer needs driving product innovation, tapping into millennial mindshare, and gen z teen panel: a conversation with 14-16 year-olds about their habits, preferences and interactions with brands.

· Evolving trends in marketing: Sessions include the future of digital advertising, agency perspectives, advances in proximity marketing, engaging new influencers, and innovation in core digital marketing tactics.

· Measurement and analytics: Sessions include innovations in offline data capture and analytics, new approaches to personalization, privacy in the era of increasing data, and the future of artificial intelligence in retail.

· IOT and sensors: Sessions include connected cars, wearables, and smart homes.

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FINANCE

RadioShack on comeback trail?

BY Marianne Wilson

Under new ownership and management, a revamped RadioShack is working to transform its remaining 1,720 stores, as well as its online presence, according to the Star-Telegram. “It was herculean to get the stores back into position, and they’re proof of what people want and expect,” said chief marketing officer Michael Tatelman. [Star-Telegram]

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