Home furnishings retailer develops next-gen cloud-based engagement platform
Crate and Barrel is taking its omnichannel experience into its own hands.
The home furnishings chain is the latest retailer to join forces with Infor to co-develop the Infor CloudSuite Retail, a suite of application offerings that can be tailored to an individual retailer’s needs. The software prod-uct is designed to deliver superior interactions for store associates and consumers.
"When the opportunity arose to work alongside Infor to create a next-generation system built upon 21st century thinking, we were excited," said Mike Relich, COO, Crate and Barrel. "Infor's end user approach to development will be combined with our knowledge of what goes into unique product offerings to produce a user experience that is not only beautiful, but one that allows us to disrupt the industry.”
With such easy access to information on the Web, retailers need a way to providing consistent, accurate, and engaging product information across multiple touch points to successfully interact with today's consumers. However, delivering the best customer experience isn't solely achieved by front-end, customer-facing solutions.
It also requires the alignment of solutions enterprise-wide, and a modern-ized foundation that can manage unlimited big data attributes, and sup-port machine learning to analyze trends. There result is more fluid, frus-tration-free interactions among consumers and employees.
By integrating the Infor CloudSuite Retail platform to the network, the architecture sources information from multiple suppliers, and uses ma-chine learning to understand trends needed to create a seamless shopping experience and speed up time-to-market for new products.
“Tracking all of our product information became cumbersome and repeti-tive, and we reached a level where this key component of merchandising needed to be automated," said Relich. "We immediately saw value in partnering with Infor and taking advantage of the great platform they are building."
Convenience store chain on the move in Florida
Wawa has big plans for the Sunshine State.
The privately-owned, Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain plans to open 25 to 30 stores every year throughout Florida during the next several years.
In 2017, Wawa will start its push into the southeast part of the state, with a first wave of stores opening in Palm Beach and Broward Counties.
"Our team is looking forward to being able to provide more than 400 new job opportunities to enthusiastic associates in Southeast Florida throughout 2017, and continuing to see that number increase as we grow our stores and open more locations in our communities for years to come,” said Denise Diillio, area manager, Wawa.
Wawa currently operates some 730 convenience in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Florida.
From SSKs to Mobile Pay: Three Retail Technology Predictions for 2017
Retail in 2016 had its share of ups and downs. While several major businesses filed for bankruptcy, others in the category saw incredible growth, leveraging technology to connect with customers in new and exciting ways. For instance, Walmart tripled its online catalog and opened more stores that allow shoppers to pick up online orders in-person. In an often-cluttered retail landscape, Walmart and others have shown that technology can be a key differentiator.
Looking ahead to 2017, technology will continue to play a major role in the consumer shopping experience. Here are three predictions for the direction of retail technology in the New Year:
Many retailers will adopt SSKs for the first time
Self-service kiosks are mainstays among grocery and convenience store retailers. Essentially, for lower cost “quick-service” shopping experiences, SSKs have replaced the traditional in-store checkout process. However, 2017 could see wider adoption for SSK technology. As Amazon Go proved recently, consumers increasingly want frictionless shopping experiences at all stages – research, browsing, buying.
As automation becomes more normalized, we could begin to see SSK technology replace POS experiences in department stores and big box retailers. Mobile pay has been a first step. However, expect other integrations to occur among major retailers to bring SSKs outside of the grocery and convenience store bubble.
BOPIS adoption will explode
Today, consumers crave omnichannel shopping experiences. They want to be able to seamlessly move from online to brick-and-mortar with little resistance across the two environments. For retailers, this means offering more buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) capabilities. BOPIS bridges the divide between online and offline, providing an altogether positive experience to shoppers. In fact, many shoppers even pick retailers because of BOPIS availability, though the majority of online shoppers still do not pick up in store.
In 2017, expect more retailers to provide BOPIS opportunities to shoppers. They will be incentivized by the possibility of improved customer satisfaction, but also by the potential for more in-store transactions. Many shoppers purchase additional items at the physical store upon pick-up. There is a lot of untapped potential here. Given the benefits, retailers will push BOPIS even harder to consumers in the New Year.
Fragmentation will slow mobile pay
Banks, retailers, and credit card companies are all trying to control the mobile payment experience. This has created a challenging degree of fragmentation in the category. Compounding this issue, of course, are the mobile manufacturers and software developers – think Apple, Google, and PayPal – that enable mobile pay through their products and services. The excessive fragmentation and redundancy with no undisputed market leader (though Apple is trying) is slowing consumer adoption overall. There are so many options that shoppers are unsure of which service to use at POS. So, they believe it’s easier to checkout via traditional methods, or simply forget about mobile pay altogether. For mobile payments to truly take off, a market leader that works across any mobile OS must emerge to bring standardization to the category.
In the immediate-term, SSKs and BOPIS will provide real value to both retailers and consumers. Mobile pay is poised to be more of a slow-burn effort in terms of adoption and POS value. But all three areas are evolving and will continue to do so in 2017.