BRP: Retailers’ digital capabilities still miss the mark
The “digital divide” between retailers and consumers continues to grow, making it harder for retailers to satisfy customers’ expectations.
Consumers said that digital influences up to 75% of pre-store visits and is leveraged in 46% of their in-store shopping experiences. Yet, less than half of retailers deliver on the most important digital capabilities that customers desire, according to “The Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations.”
Retailers can no longer rely on legacy systems that are not designed to accommodate today’s retail environment. Many retailers that have cobbled systems and processes together in an attempt to deliver a seamless customer experience across channels. However, these quick fixes don’t execute omnichannel processes as promised — and can disappoint customers.
Instead, retailers need to adopt a new approach to unified commerce, one that requires a robust order management solution (OMS). Viewed as the brains of the operation, all transaction and customer data coming in and going out of the system is used to run the business, according to another BRP study called, “OMS — The Brains of the Operation.”
That said, 64% of retailers plan to implement a single OMS platform within the next three years. Nine percent of retailers have already implemented an OS platform to facilitate unified commerce, allowing them to engage customers wherever and whenever they want to shop, the study revealed.
To best leverage the technology, retailers are embracing this transition by moving to centralized capabilities. For example, 28% of retailers made the move this year compared to 9% last year. Another 53% of respondents plan to implement unified commerce within the next three years.
“Customer expectations are exceeding retail capabilities – creating a ‘great digital divide.’ Retailers realize that unified commerce is a retail imperative, but executing the strategy is challenging,” said David Russo, VP at BRP. “The answer may be utilizing an OMS as a unified commerce platform.”
Amazon expands its kids’ subscription box service in a big way
Amazon Prime members — specifically those with young children — are getting another perk.
The online giant on Tuesday expanded its subscription box of board books for children to all Prime members in the United States. The Prime Book Box program was initially introduced in May as an invitation-only program for Prime members in the U.S.
The program offers two options. The first subscription curates board books for children under 2 years old, the second targets hardcover books to readers between 3 and 12 years old. Each delivery contains two hardcover books or four board books, depending on the child’s age.
Here’s how the program works: Prime members create a profile that reveals their young readers’ preferences, and then they choose if they would like to receive a box every one, two or three months. Members can preview a list of curated titles and customize their box, or Amazon editors can curate the shipment. (The company refers to users’ recent purchase histories to avoid duplicating titles.)
Customers receive a preview email of books, and have five days to review the order and make changes via a link embedded in the message. Members can also skip a box and change the frequency of deliveries in their profile. Once the box arrives, customers have 30 days to return any items.
The service runs $22.99 plus tax per box, which is up to 35% off list price. All boxes are eligible for free two-day shipping.
The Prime Book Box bolsters the online retailer’s other subscription services. For example, Amazon features beauty boxes sponsored by Julep and Allure, respectively, as well as its Carnivore Club, a box that contains a selection of handcrafted cured meats.
In May, Amazon launched its “Sample Box,” which enables Prime members to purchase samples across a variety of categories, including beverages and food, sports nutrition, beauty and grooming, baby, personal care and household, and vitamins and supplements.
Sears’ partnership with Amazon shifts into higher gear
Sears is taking its ship-to-store tire program with Amazon nationwide.
The department store retailer is expanding a partnership with Amazon that enables customers to receive full-service tire installation and balancing at Sears Auto Centers for any brand of tires purchased on Amazon. The program, called Ship-to-Store, was introduced in 47 stores in May. The company is now expanding the service to all stores nationwide, including those located in Alaska and Hawaii.
The ship-to-store program is integrated within Amazon’s checkout process. Customers select the tires on Amazon, in addition to their local Sears Auto Center location and the preferred date and time for the tire installation. The Sears Auto Center then contacts the customer to confirm their appointment.
“Our competitive bundled price for tire installation, which includes the installation of the tire, wheel balancing, valve stem or tire pressure monitor rebuild kit and the tire disposal fee is resonating with these customers,” said Mike McCarthy, VP and general manager of Sears Automotive.
“We’re thrilled to extend this valuable service across even more areas and into hundreds of additional stores,” McCarthy added. “By working with Amazon, we’re proud to further meet and surpass that commitment, thanks to the ease and convenience of their program.”
This is not the first time Amazon has teamed up with a traditional retailer. Through a deal with Kohl’s, the department store retailer accepts Amazon.com returns at 82 stores in Los Angeles and Chicago. The department store retailer also features an Amazon “smart home experience’ in-store shop in 10 select Kohl’s locations across the Los Angeles and Chicago areas. These stores also integrated the Amazon returns program into the overall Amazon experience, which is located prominently at the front of the store.
This summer, the online giant also began selling its newest generation of Amazon’s Fire TV Edition smart televisions in Best Buy stores across the United States and Canada and online. Through the partnership, Best Buy also became a third-party seller on Amazon.