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Simplification Can Help Retailers Adapt to the Mobile Movement

BY Ani Gujrathi

The story of the “mobile first” generation isn’t a new one. Retailers have been told for years that mobile should be at the forefront of business strategy in order to meet consumers’ evolving expectations.

Yet, there appears be a disconnect between existing mobile experiences and consumer sentiment.

A recent survey from Accenture found that only 42% of shoppers found it “easy” to complete a purchase using a mobile device, although 88% of respondents reported shopping regularly with smartphones. As the “mobile first” generation evolves into “mobile only,” it’s becoming increasingly important to address this disparity.

Failing to provide a seamless mobile experience can be quite costly for merchants – more than $1 trillion of total retail sales in 2015 were influenced by mobile phones, according to a new report from Forrester Research. E-commerce has gotten more complicated, meaning more often than not, retailers’ homegrown platforms are outdated and inefficient. While the options offered to consumers continue to grow, it becomes easier for buyers to disregard those that aren’t up to standard.

The Answer is Simple
The key to optimizing commerce for mobile is simplification. While retailers often offer multiple platforms, including both desktop and mobile, it’s essential that all channels are consistent – including pricing, products and imagery. Shockingly, the Accenture study found that only 32% of retailers offered identical cross-channel pricing. These sorts of discrepancies lead to frustration from consumers. To avoid a potential loss in revenue, merchants should focus on presenting a unified brand experience across platforms.

Developing separate sites, however, can be time-consuming and inefficient. Implementing an integrated content management system (CMS) will greatly reduce the resources and energy required to maintain multiple channels. Utilizing a CMS allows administrators to make updates across mobile and desktop simultaneously. This way, promotions and product updates can be implemented throughout sites at the same time.

Providing Comprehensive Commerce Experiences
An integrated CMS will do more than just streamline business. It will allow retailers to provide a comprehensive commerce experience, without hiccups between touch points. Taking advantage of tools, such as push notifications, can have a significant return on investment (ROI).

For example, as mobile usage increases, consumers are looking to take advantage of their devices in-store; about half of consumers would like to receive in-store promotions, although only about five percent of retailers enable them to do so.

Push notifications are a great strategy for addressing this, allowing discounts to be offered in real-time. While such deals can – and should – be implemented simultaneously across sites, offering promotions through push notifications can increase both consumer engagement and sales. Connecting consumers with the right deals at the right time can have a huge impact on revenue.

In-store offers are only one part of a comprehensive mobile strategy. Operating between platforms should be seamless, allowing consumers to begin a transaction on one site and finish on another, for example. When modernizing for mobile, this is the most important principle to keep in mind.

Unifying Channels
As consumers rely more on mobile devices, retailers need to be able to constantly evolve to meet changing expectations. Of course, offering top-notch mobile capabilities shouldn’t come at the expense of other platforms. Retailers should be able to centrally manage content, pricing, promotions, and customer communication across all platforms; customers expect their information and carts to be seamlessly unified, with payment options and preferences saved throughout the customer experience and across screens.

Together, retailers and technology partners should aim to create a cohesive experience in order to give customers flexibility and choice in when, where and how they buy your product.

Ani Gujrathi is VP of engineering at Mozu.

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Las Vegas shopping center adds digital glitz

BY CSA STAFF

Miracle Mile Shops, at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, is targeting customers online in a big way.

The 1.2-mile shopping center has relaunched its site to offer a comprehensive snapshot of its offerings while encouraging visitors to engage on its social media channels. Now optimized for mobile technology, the site lets users search stores, promotions and offerings.

In addition to its mobile accessibility, the site provides an updated mall directory. This interactive map allows users to hover over and search filter options that changes the map’s display. Other site features include:

Home Page Slider: Users can quickly find special announcements, video campaigns and store promotions all on the main page.

Sales and Promotions Page: Visitors can view the center’s events and sales in one location including branded graphics, storefront photos and sale images. Additionally, shoppers can filter through shopping, dining and entertainment related offers.

Socialize Page: Customers can now engage, follow and interact on all the center’s social media channels without leaving the site.

Store Pages: The site has added internal pages for all of its stores, allowing each merchant to have its own presence.

Shopping center operator JLL also recently expanded its digital customer outreach with the social “Go Shopping” promotion, and the Glendale Mall (a GGP property) in Southern California is offering pickup pods for online orders from Curbside. Malls are realizing they also function as retailers and need to perform omnichannel CRM activities accordingly.

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Staples on hunt for new CEO; interim chief named

BY Marianne Wilson

The long-drawn out battle over the merger of Staples and Office Depot has claimed its first victim.

Staples chairman and CEO Ron Sargent will step down after the chain’s annual shareholders meeting on June 14. His exit comes just weeks after a federal judge struck down Staples’ proposed acquisition of rival Office Depot.

Shira Goodman, Staples’ president, North America operations, will serve as interim CEO upon Sargent’s departure. A special committee will conduct a search for a permanent replacement with the assistance of an outside firm.

“With the termination of the merger, we mutually agreed that now is the right time to transition to new management to lead Staples through its next phase of growth,” said Robert E. Sulentic, independent lead director of the Staples board of directors. “Shira has tremendous experience and a long track record of success at Staples, always bringing fresh perspective and change to every role she has had.”

Sargent, who will continue to serve as a director and non-executive chairman through Staples’ 2016 fiscal year (ending January 28, 2017), was elected chairman of the company in 2005. He was named CEO in 2002, and has held a variety of leadership roles in the company. He was appointed president and COO in 1998, leading Staples' worldwide operations, retail superstores, delivery business, supply chain management and merchandising and marketing initiatives.

In 1991 he was responsible for launching Staples' delivery business. Sargent began his career at Staples in 1989 as regional VO, leading the company's market entry in Ohio.

“The entire board would like to thank Ron for his nearly three decades of dedicated service and leadership at Staples,” Sulentic said. “Under Ron, Staples made consistent advancements that ensured and extended the company’s market leadership in the office products sector. Most notably he drove the growth of the commercial contract business, which is central to Staples’ go-forward strategy. He also worked diligently on the acquisition of Office Depot and the board appreciates the strong effort he made to secure governmental approval.”

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