TECHNOLOGY

The top strategic initiative for retailers is…

BY Marianne Wilson

It really is—or should be—all about the customer.

Customer-centricity ranked as the top strategic initiative in a new report from BRP. According to the report, retailers must accommodate customers who “pre-shop” for merchandise online before they ever enter a store, want one-day or even same-day delivery, and expect “more” from their shopping experience – more personalization, a larger assortment, a more fulfilling experience and non-stop entertainment. Customer-led demand is driving retailers to transform their business to be more customer-centric.

“Customers use technology daily to enable and control their shopping journey,” said Gene Bornac, senior VP at BRP. “Now it is up to retailers to play catch up with their organization, processes and technology to deliver the right products for the right price in the right place.”

According to BRP’s 2017 Merchandise Planning Benchmark Survey, it is imperative that retailers take a customer-centric viewpoint.

“To innovate the customer experience, they must transform their disparate systems, processes and organization into one cohesive environment with the ability to offer customers a seamless shopping environment across any channel and the capability to deliver merchandise immediately – wherever it is needed,” the reported stated. “It is time to prepare for the future of retail – it is here – whether we are ready or not,” the report stated.

To prepare for today’s new retail model, BRP said retailers need to do the following:

•Align the organization
·58% of retailers currently have an integrated planning organization across channels;

•Integrate planning processes
·64% of retailers have integrated their business planning processes across channels;

•Implement the right technology
·33% of retailers have implemented new omni-channel demand planning systems within the last two years;

•Prioritize customer insight
·42% of retailers incorporate real-time customer feedback into their in-season planning; and

•Take action
·19% of retailers must overcome IT/business resource constraints to advance their planning activities.

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TECHNOLOGY

The top Black Friday TV advertisers were…

BY Marianne Wilson

Despite all the hype, retailer spending on Black Friday TV ads decreased this year to $90.4 million from $113.3 million in 2016. But some retailers bucked the trend.

That’s according to a report by Kantar Media which found that Target Corp. went all out on TV advertising that promoted Black Friday. Target increased its spending 118% from 2016 to $8.4 million in the month (October 30-November 26) leading up to the holiday weekend.

Although Target’s ad spend increased the most, it wasn’t the top advertiser of Black Friday ads. J.C. Penney claimed the #1 spot, spending $13.4 million, which was down 19% over last year. Penney was followed by Lowe’s ($13.1 million; up 41%), Home Depot ($10.8, up 28%), Kohl’s ($9.5 million, up 43%) and Target.

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TECHNOLOGY

Specialty apparel retailer has new ‘assistant:’ Amazon’s Alexa

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Now that Amazon’s voice-assistant Alexa supports business tasks, Brooks Brothers is wasting no time putting it to work.

The specialty apparel retailer is an early adopter of Alexa for Business, a new service from Amazon Web Services (AWS). The intelligent assistant is designed to automate and simplify tasks across the enterprise — in conference rooms, at associates’ work spaces and around the office.

Business users can set up shared Alexa devices in common areas around the workplace, including conference rooms, huddle rooms, lobbies, and communications centers. The AWS Management console manages devices, enrolls users, and assigns skills to automate tasks in each location.

Brooks Bros. was already a long-time user of AWS’ managed service Amazon Chime, a video and audio conferencing service that lets users chat and share content. Alexa for Business is a natural extension of AWS’ services.

“We are using Alexa to simplify our conference room experience,” said Philip Miller, CISO, Brooks Brothers. “Alexa takes care of all the details by allowing us to begin meetings with the simple voice command, ‘Alexa, start the meeting.’ Not only does Alexa for Busi-ness make it easy for me to provision and manage Echo devices throughout my office, but also configure them to work with Amazon Chime and my existing conference room AV/VC equipment.”

In addition to starting conference calls, Alexa for business also controls conference room equipment, schedules meetings, keeps track of tasks, and can reorder supplies. The technology can also be tailored with custom “private” voice-enabled skills that integrate within a cus-tomer’s IT applications and office systems.

Amazon is making it easy for other retailers to leverage Alexa for Business through a starter kit that includes three Amazon Echo (second generation) devices for use in conference rooms; two Echo Dots (second generation) devices for controlling equipment in large conference rooms, and two Echo Show devices for desktop use, according to AWS.

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W.mark says:
Dec-11-2017 05:31 am

Hey Deena, Nice Post, There were some issues with Alex earlier , seems it getting update frequently and learning quicker than Ok google or Siri Cheers! Wislon AWS Managed Services Consultant

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