5 localization tactics for retail stores

5 Ways Localization Can Work For Your Stores

You’re a national shoe retailer. One of your Los Angeles stores is performing poorly but you can’t put your finger on the reason why.

If you could dig deeper, you’d realize this one store is in a neighborhood with a high population of environmentally conscious millennials. While the shoe styles are highly popular amongst young fashion-conscious shoppers, the shoes aren’t selling in this particular store because they are made of leather.

Unfortunately, your current merchandising system doesn’t allow for you to recognize these unique store attributes, nor does it allow for you to respond quickly enough to restock, remerchandise, or create targeted plans. Your current system leads to missed opportunities and customer dissatisfaction.

Localization is too important in today’s retail experience to settle for an “okay” merchandising system that can’t focus on the traits of individual stores – which is why, in 2016, many leading retailers are turning to SaaS.

A cloud-based system can help retailers better localize their stores in these 5 ways:

Create accurate digital models of all stores and ensure that each store receives the right production quantities. This means a more precise execution with the most relevant products and campaigns to easily address local needs.

Headquarters and stores directly talk to each other, in real time. With open, two-way communication, execution is simple, accurate, and measurable. Store teams can spend their time building a personal customer connection, and are able to provide feedback on compliance as well as customer satisfaction.

All departments plan, collaborate, and share through one digital application. Retail teams can fix execution and merchandising problems immediately, measure the results, and respond to trends with urgency, ensuring every store is on brand and locally targeted.

Keep track of what products are selling in each store, reorder items and track the shipment to get the most relevant products on the shelves quickly. Every store, therefore, can develop a more authentic experience.

Measure and track performance with new levels of precision. Retailers can track execution and performance results to figure out what is or isn’t working, promptly respond with a solution, and properly plan for future growth.

In 2016, localization is crucial. It is the driving force for customer satisfaction and loyalty, and overall superior retail experience. You are more than likely missing localization opportunities, and vital customer connections, with your current system.

To learn more about using the cloud to deliver better localization across all your stores, check out the new ebook, “16 Tactics for Merchandising Execution in 2016.”

4 steps to effectively localize retail experience

4 Steps to Effectively Localize Retail Experience

In our last post, Building a Community Brick-and-Mortar by Brick-and-Mortar, we examined how physical stores are becoming centers of communities, places where customers go for new experiences and to feel a connection to their distinct locale.

The retail industry is shifting. Customers are looking at stores in a new light.

We also promised a list of steps retailers can take to ensure they are properly localizing their assortment mixes to ensure each retail experience is optimized for each location. Without further ado, here they are:

Measure with precision. Measuring store performance allows retailers to quickly deliver the most relevant products, respond to customers’ needs, and develop a personalized experience at the store level.

Understand the shopper. Tracking retail experience provides visibility into customers’ behaviors. This gives retailers the ability to respond to and forecast trends as well as keep up with customers’ expectations.

Recognize the surroundings. By producing targeted, relevant and locally appropriate campaigns, each store can develop an authentic experience and personal customer connection. Achieving a localized experience strengthens the customer’s brand perception and the retailer’s position amongst the community and the competition.

Know each store’s intricacies. Individual stores vary based on unique traits like layout space and fixture size. Keeping a model of each location ensures stores receive the right production quantities, resulting in accurate execution and a better on-brand shopping experience.

Stores are becoming part of the community, and therefore, must create experiences relevant to their surroundings.

The retail industry is shifting. Customers are looking at stores in a new light. Stores are becoming part of the community, and therefore, must create experiences relevant to their surroundings. In order to successfully become a destination within these communities, retailers need help identifying customers’ expectations and the unique attributes of its individual stores.

Many leading retailers are turning to SaaS as a solution. Through a cloud-based delivery system, retailers can keep accurate digital store models, understand the unique attributes of each if its stores, measure performance, deliver targeted campaigns and merchandising, and respond to market trends quickly.

What are your stores doing to become destinations within the community?

3 Reasons why third party merchandisers need an in-store execution software solution

Many retailers today outsource their field execution team in order to place product and visual merchandising elements within their stores. While outsourcing is convenient for most retailers, retailers have very little visibility into if and how promotions are being executed within their stores. In a recent post by business2community, explains why third party merchandisers need to be equipped with mobile merchandising in-store execution and compliance software:

1. Optimized Audits:

While many field teams perform continuous merchandising audits, for third party merchandisers this is a critical exercise that evaluates core activities. Clients want to have peace of mind that the party they hired to merchandise their product is doing so correctly. That means proper shelf level, facings, and stock. Without a system of accountability, it can be difficult for managers to ensure that these actions are being performed correctly and be able to show tangible proof to clients. Though this process can be done on paper, managers often have to re-enter the data manually for clients, which leads to errors and increased overhead work.

By leveraging a Field Activity Management or In-store Merchandising Execution and Compliance software, third party merchandising field reps will be able to use their mobile devices to perform audits. By creating forms in the back-office, managers can give custom instructions to reps in the field, which can be very beneficial if your reps are handling fragile products like plants or glass. The geo-tagged photo feature offered by these types of tools will enable reps to share photos of merchandised products with each other and with managers. And because this information is available in the Cloud, managers can export it any time into organizational tools like Excel, eliminating the need for re-entry and lowering the rate of data errors.


2. Informed Client Visits:

A growing number of third party merchandising businesses means that if your field team isn’t providing great service, it will be easy for your client to find a new partner. This doesn’t only mean being educated when meeting with new clients, it also means being flexible when your current clients change procedures. If your reps have client crossover, it is crucial that reps confer with co-workers on client information. Without a streamlined system of communication, the message can be lost.

When clients change procedure or add new responsibilities, they expect that each rep who services them will know about the changes. Having to explain the same thing to the same business many times will frustrate your client. When reps are able to use messaging features with mobile solutions like Field Activity Management software, they can easily open up any and all notes left by previous reps about each client. That way, reps will always be informed about client preferences and expectations going into each visit.

3. Maximized Territories:

Competitive third party merchandising field reps have a set of unique responsibilities that differ from teams that merchandise their own product. Since the core goal of these reps is to push forward brands, they often perform additional duties like conducting market surveys, training in-store staff, and planning promotional events. Since the business is paid by clients to perform these special activities, it is crucial that each appointment is made on time. When managers have to manually assign reps to locations, it is easy for one appointment to be lost in the stack of paperwork or list of emails. If that happens, the client could miss out on a huge promotion and the retailer is inconvenienced, having set time aside to meet with a rep.

To ensure that all client and retail appointments are kept and that reps are prompt, third party merchandising businesses should use a tool that manages territories. Field Activity Management software tools enables back-office managers to view their reps in the field on one screen, allowing them to know where each team member is at any given time. They can see when reps check in at locations and when their projects are completed. This will raise the level of accountability, and give more flexibility when solving a territory mistake. For example, if you see that there was a scheduled appointment at 9am, and at 8:45 no one is on their way, you can easily find out who the closest rep is who can cover the problem. That way, your clients will never know there was a problem to begin with.

Serving by Simplifying

It is imperative that third party merchandising field reps provide excellent customer service through continuous merchandising reviews, educated client visits, and effective territory management. While all these strategies can be done on paper, it is much more efficient and effective for field teams to be able to perform them via a mobile software solution. Leveraging  i will optimize audits, ease co-worker communication, and help map out territories, launching your third party merchandisers into success.

J.C. Penney Is Bringing Back The Catalog

J.C. Penney Co. is bringing back its catalog for the first time in 5 years. In a recent article posted by WSJ, Suzanne Kapner explains, the new 120-page catalog will feature items from Penney’s home department and will be sent to select customers in March. The move to a traditional marketing approach is an oddity in the digital age, where more retailers are concentrating on investing in their online platforms.

The decision was made to bring back the catalog when the company eventually learned a majority of purchases online were actually catalog shoppers using the web to place orders. The retailer is discovering the catalog can be used as a branding tool that can drive sales. “31% of shoppers have a catalog with them when they make an online purchase” according to retail consultancy Kurt Salmon.

J.C Penney_WSJ_merchandising_catalog

How Seeing More Increases eCommerce Engagement

At the mall shoppers have the opportunity to take only a few steps into a store to gain a visual representation of what items are available prior to committing to viewing the stores range in greater detail. That all important first scan of the store can be critical.

On the other hand, eCommerce traditionally does not provide shoppers with a comparative experience online.

ecommerce store display

Online Retail Display

Online stores have only limited screen space in the first view to wow customers and keep them on their site and looking for more. Ten to twelve flat images in a standard grid as a first impression for customers makes grabbing their attention difficult.

The customers who do commit to exploring more typically have to scroll through pages and pages of products to find images worthy of continuing their shopping experience on that site. This situation can lead to buyer’s fatigue, where shoppers have browsed so many pages of items that they simply lose interest and leave the site.

An online presence should excite visitors enough so that they not only return but they tell others about the experience they had.

So how can online retailers overcome this?

It’s simple. By helping your site visitors find items of interest to them quicker and allow them to feel in control by providing an interactive experience.

Research shows that images are the most important factor in the online shopping experience, more important even than price. When we shop we scan many items and allow one to catch our eye, tracking subtle factors such as colour, shape and position.

What does this mean to you, the online retailer, seeking new points of difference as online shopping matures? It means that existing online image galleries are counter-intuitive to the way people shop in real life. A static, flat 2D grid does not meet the needs of customers to visually scan and interact with products.

Interactive Display – Show more. See more. Sell more.

With interactive display by Show. See. Sold. shoppers can view an entire collection in an engaging and immersive way that triggers the eye/brain connection promoting discovery and a genuine connection to the products displayed.. It is based on how we as humans find things in everyday life, which had yet to be translated to online retail product display.

Shoppers can swipe, zoom, spin and filter a product range then click through and buy. Seamless integration means images and copy are always up to date and site owners can easily control what is displayed. Show. See. Sold is all about user experience and engagement across all devices from desktop to mobile.

The end result of this process is a material uplift in time on site, conversion and basket size, all achieved with a little help from neuroscience which goes to show there is more to increasing your online sales than meets the eye.


Google planning first brick-and-mortar in SoHo

Google might be the quintessential “Internet” company, but even they can’t resist the draw to physical retail, spurred by their foray into computers, devices, and wearables.


What better place to plant your first retail stake in the ground than New York City, SoHo to be specific, according to reports from Bloomberg.

From the article:

About 8,200 square feet (760 square meters) of store space is available to rent at 131 Greene, according to real estate website Propertyshark. Greene Street has attracted such luxury retailers as Tiffany & Co. and Louis Vuitton in a neighborhood that has seen steady growth in upscale shopping, Consolo said.

“Google has a downtown vibe anyway, but wherever they go it would be exciting,” she said. “I believe if they went to the middle of the river, people would go there, but why not be in the center of everything?”

Soho ground-floor retail rents increased 41 percent to an average of $762 a square foot in the 12 months through September, according to a report late last year by the Real Estate Board of New York. That was the highest of any shopping district south of Midtown.


Walmart Tweaks Strategy with new Hybrid Stores

According to a recent MediaPost article, Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon recently described their new hybrid stores as “the digital thinking of physical retail.” The goal being to provide customers with the best of both worlds, the extensive inventory offered through e-commerce and the convenience and accessibility of a brick-and-mortar store.


From the article:

It’s not that Walmart Supercenters are going away. “We expect the supercenter to remain vital. It’s a powerful beast. And they perform really well on the weekly stock-up occasion, and we have the ability to flex prototypes.” Those stock-up trips, which account for about 60% of U.S. grocery spending, are a $585 billion market, where Walmart has about 25% market share.

But the problem is that Walmart has fallen behind on fill-in shopping trips, as many smaller competitors, including dollar, drug and convenience stores, have proliferated. “Our growth has been interrupted by the rapid growth in these smaller stores.” Walmart has a roughly 10% share of that $415 billion market.

With the expansion of Neighborhood Markets, first launched in 1999, and the newer Walmart Express, “we now have an opportunity to really make an impact in this area.”

These stores are hybrids, he says, “designed to not only compete in grocery but also across a much broader space, including fresh foods, fuel and pharmacy.” Nor do they seem to cannibalize sales from larger Walmarts. “Data shows we are capturing new sales, new dollars and new trips when we put these stores in.”

But what makes the concept powerful, he says, is combining the smaller stores with the power of its e-commerce capabilities.


Macy’s Put Stores Front and Center in Omnichannel

While Macy’s develops new strategies and processes to better market to Millennials and the changing tastes of their key demographics, one thing remains true for them, stores will always drive their omnichannel efforts.


According to a recent Forbes article, Macy’s is developing teams of specialists to continue to change the retail experience to not only adapt to their customers’ tastes, but help predict and anticipate those shifts.

From the article:

Macy’s localization program is an important and effective in attracting a variety of customers. As part of this program, merchandise managers analyze the customer mix in each and every store and then ships goods tailored specifically in terms of style and sizing to each store. For example, Asian customers wear smaller sizes; Hispanic customers favor flamboyant colors; and the working woman favors black and white clothing. Localized merchandise programs can make sure each customer type finds the goods they like.

For internet shoppers, stores are still important and hold appeal for young customers who often shop the stores and then order on the web. Using omnichannel fulfillment that approach has been enhanced. Customers can now order on the Internet and have the option to pick up their orders in stores. A test late last year confirmed the viability of this initiative and it is now being rolled out to most stores.

Stores are, and will remain, important for creating a fashion image in the future. They are the anchor for serving the customer well via visible, attentive and enthusiastic associates. When this is the case, it makes shopping a pleasurable experience.


Retail technology improving the in-store experience

“Brick and mortar stores aren’t going anywhere.” This is a phrase we hear time and time again and, frankly, it always rings true.


In a recent STORES article, Nadia Shouraboura, CEO of Hointer and former Amazon Exec., notes that there is a bridging of old and new approaches to retail that are helping both to thrive. To her, tracking inventory was a perfect example of this theory in action. Her company sought to bring greater inventory knowledge onto the sales floor.

From the article:

By simply tapping e-Tags with their app-enabled smartphone, shoppers can learn the story behind an item through video clips and product highlights. The app delivers personalized recommendations, styling tips, fit information and product reviews. Shoppers can add items to their fitting room with just one click, and items are delivered in 30 seconds via an onsite micro-warehouse. And more technology awaits inside the fitting room.

Sales associates use tablets that provide a view of who’s shopping in the store and past purchases they’ve made — information that can act as a selling aid.

Shouraboura noted that all the software used at Hointer runs in the cloud; with just one sample of each style on display, shoppers don’t feel overwhelmed by the selection or put off by clutter. Having a smaller-footprint store linked to an onsite micro-warehouse also pays loss prevention dividends; in fact, shoplifting is near nil.

Online sales surged during the most recent holiday season and predictions call for growth to continue. I’m all for it — I love the convenience of shopping online, the cache of inventory and the surfeit of product data. Still, I am blown away by the environment Shouraboura has created at Hointer. It’s truly a best-of-both-worlds approach.

Shouraboura is convinced that her take on the physical store could inspire the next big thing. I think she’s on to something.


How does Amazon’s anticipatory shipping change multichannel retailing?

First it was delivery drones, now Amazon is planning to start sending you items you didn’t even order, but think you might like. Based on it’s new “anticipatory shipping” algorithm, the online retail giant is hoping to move the needle on multichannel retailing by literally parking items in cities waiting to deliver them, according to a recent Gartner article.


From the article:

Citing “predictive analytics” Amazon feels it can be reasonably certain that you will buy product X, even if they have to give you a special incentive to complete the transaction. But are they really using predictive analytics or an advanced version of analytics driven by past purchases combined with wish list items? For example, it’s relatively easy to determine that a consumer of conservative views from a given commentator will be interested in his next book. Even if the Amazon customer buys these items as a gift for a loved one chances are good they will be interested purchasing again. Contrast this with a much more complex form of prediction able to determine through a variety of indicators that this person’s views are changing and therefore predicting an alternative purchase. The latter of course is much more complicated but offers both a higher risk and reward.

Let’s get back to the question of the impact on multichannel retailing. Look beyond the hype to the realities. In this case Amazon seeks to improve its availability in order to solve the instant gratification that consumers crave and multichannel retailers rely on. No question that this represents risk for the traditional model, just as almost everything that Amazon has done from day one. This is however I think a little different as it shows just how important it is for Amazon to get product into the local market and takes them a step toward being a multichannel retailer. As I noted in a previous post, Just how far can ecommerce push the home delivery model before it breaks?, there are fundamental issues with the home delivery model. Most notably in this example increasing costs will be a factor. Not just the cost of shipments that will perhaps never end up on a customer’s door step, but the costs of additional discounting that avoid the complete waste of profits caused by returning un-purchased products. One day Amazon’s retail operations will have to make a profit, and with every additional pool of inventory and node in the supply chain it is growing costs which will make this challenge even more difficult.