retail-store-execution-rbm-technologies-nrf-2014

RBM Technologies Exhibits Visual Merchandising Management Mobile at NRF 2014

RBM Technologies, provider of the only retail communications platform that supports fixture-based planograms, localized campaigns and execution compliance, today announced that it will be exhibiting at the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 103rd Annual Convention & EXPO in the Motorola Solutions Booth (#1501). RBM Technologies will demonstrate its Visual Merchandising Manager (VMM) Mobile solution on Motorola Solutions’ ET1 enterprise tablet, MC40 enterprise mobile computer and TC55 touch computer, showing how retailers can bring in-store execution and compliance reporting out from the back office and onto the sales floor. NRF 2014 is being held January 12-15, 2014 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York.

retail-store-execution-rbm-technologies-nrf-2014

Key Facts:

  • The planogram management and in-store campaign execution solution gives retailers the ability to provide individual store teams with real-time, interactive planograms, as well as the ability to react instantly and accurately to corporate merchandise directives.
  • The cameras on the ET1 and MC40 enable store associates to capture photos and confirm visual compliance. And, using the bar code scanning capabilities on the MC40 and TC55, retailers can further augment compliance reporting as each fixture is executed.

“NRF is the ideal venue to showcase VMM Mobile, and our relationship with Motorola Solutions gives us the perfect platform to do so. By linking store managers with corporate headquarters, VMM Mobile reduces the time required to execute campaigns at the individual store level, driving increased sales and ensuring the coordination of campaigns. It enables retailers to tear down the boundaries between data silos and leverage existing information to increase efficiencies at every step of the campaign process,” said Dan Wittner, executive vice president and chief operating officer, RBM Technologies.

VMM Mobile will be on display and available for demonstration in the Motorola Solutions Booth (#1501) throughout the duration of NRF. For more information on the NRF Annual 2014 Convention & Expo, please visit: http://events.nrf.com/annual2014/Public/Content.aspx?ID=21708

metropcs-rbm-technologies

RBM Supports MetroPCS Execution of Localized Campaigns Across Network of Stores

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–RBM Technologies, provider of the only retail communications platform that supports fixture-based planograms, localized campaigns and execution compliance, today announced that MetroPCS has implemented RBM’s Visual Merchandising Manager (VMM) solution across its network of stores nationwide. The VMM platform supports MetroPCS with localized campaign planning and execution.

metropcs-rbm-technologies

VMM consolidates dispersed campaign data into a single database to more effectively drive in-store execution of localized assortments. It utilizes unique store attribute data and fixture configurations to deliver an accurate localized product mix to each retail location. RBM’s solution also enables store managers to report merchandising issues and re-order campaign materials from corporate headquarters in real time.

Merchandising, planning, supply chain and store execution all benefit from the implementation of VMM, providing local teams with real-time, interactive planograms to react instantly and accurately to corporate merchandising directives — right down to the individual fixture level.

“Wireless carriers are constantly offering customers new plans, promotions and devices in their stores,” said Dan Wittner, EVP and chief operating officer at RBM Technologies. “By implementing VMM, MetroPCS now has access to an enhanced centralized communications solution that enables them to deploy campaign directives at the store and fixture level while ensuring compliance across their entire network of stores.”

RBM Technologies, RIS News, Mannequins

Optimizing In-Store Merchandising – Part 3: Measuring the Costs and Making the Change

RIS News recently issued a custom research report (available here) tackling the issues surrounding in-store merchandising. The research uncovered compelling evidence that suggests now is time for retailers to tackle the problem. Over the course of this series, we will examine a number of issues currently preventing retailers from becoming more compliant, and the situational factors bringing about changes for the better.

In this post, we look at the costs associated with improving in-store merchandising and solutions to making that change.

To get at the heart of what is clearly a challenging problem for retailers, RIS News asked senior-level retail merchandisers to estimate the percentage of lost annual sales they attribute to non-compliance of in-store merchandising.

RBM Technologies, RIS News, Mannequins

Thirty-seven percent said that up to three percent of annual sales are lost due to non-compliance. That means, for a company with a billion dollars in annual sales, up to $30 million is lost as a result of holes in in-store merchandising practices, and a key factor in justifying a corrective investment. The scariest part is that for nearly 15 percent of respondents, the percentage lost was upwards of 14 percent.

In addition to lost sales, waste is another problem that arises from inaccurate in-store merchandising practices. For the purposes of the research report, waste was defined as over shipping of product, over printing of materials, and cost of shipping materials that can’t be used in some stores. Nearly half of all respondents estimated their waste to be between six – 16 percent annually.

When you add the amount of loss incurred from waste to the dollar figure associated with lost sales caused by non-compliance, it is apparent that a great deal of corporate revenue is within grasp for those retailers willing to reach for the low-hanging fruit.

In the five-year period from January 2008 to January 2013, retail store sales have grown 8.5 percent while online sales have grown 72 percent. Yet brick-and-mortar stores continue to be the centerpiece of the retail industry and source of the lion’s share of revenue.

As a result, many retailers are focusing on customer-centric strategies that put digital capabilities inside stores, converting them into omnichannel hubs that expand and improve the shopping experience to attract and keep customers.

However, this strategy is only half of the solution. The other half is to solve known problems in the store that produce a measurably negative impact on sales. Chief among these is the low-hanging fruit of inaccurate in-store merchandising campaigns.

Today, the bulk of the retailing industry is operating with known data gaps, inaccuracies at the store level and workaround tools that are sorely in need of upgrading. Merchandising plans and forecasts are based on historical or aggregated averages that are essentially guesswork instead of hard science.

The ultimate solution is to tie customer-centric improvements in the store with in-store merchandising improvements that increase sales, conversions and customer satisfaction while enabling efforts to reduce waste and lost opportunities.

Does your company currently implement visual merchandising solutions to ensure campaign compliance at the fixture level? We would love to hear from you in the comments section below. Please feel free to also reach out to us on @Merch_Matters.

A free copy of the full RIS News research report is available here.

RBM Technologies, SAP Insider, mobile technologies

3 Common Retail Campaign Problems, Solved

Drive Sales and Eliminate Waste with Retail-Specific Mobile Apps

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on SAP Insider and is available to download with a subscription.

Retailers are moving past the old idea of multichannel retailing and focusing on creating an omni-channel customer experience that is seamless across all available shopping channels. However, it can be a challenge to keep brick-and-mortar stores aligned and consistent with online and mobile campaign initiatives.

RBM Technologies, SAP Insider, mobile technologies

RBM’s Visual Merchandising Manager (VMM) Mobile solution for SAP retail clients helps solve the three most common problems that make it difficult for a retailer to run a successful in-store campaign.

Problem #1: Data silos.
To alleviate problems with disparate data sets, VMM Mobile enables retailers to combine all store, fixture, customer, and campaign data into a single source of truth. Once this information is centralized, retailers can automate campaign planning processes to support complex omni-channel objectives.

Problem #2: Too much or too little localized assortments delivered to stores.
VMM Mobile allows retailers to easily forecast and deliver the correct products and quantities to each location based on store clustering information and customer preferences. Store shelves can then be filled with products that fit the store profile and fixture dimensions. This helps drive sales, eliminate waste, and slash stranded inventory.

Problem #3: An inability to ensure in-store adherence to campaigns.
Retailers need to be certain that campaigns are executed consistently in each store. VMM Mobile provides store-specific merchandising directives to managers right on the sales floor, which not only ensures omni-channel coordination, but also reduces the time required to execute a campaign.

To learn more, visit http://www.rbmtechnologies.com

RBM Technologies, SAP, Mobile World Congress

What is the SAP Mobile App Partner Program?

RBM Technologies CEO Randy Greene sits down with host Christian Baader, VP of strategy & marcom platform ecosystems and echannels at SAP to discuss the SAP Mobile App Partner Program.

“For [RBM] it has been a very natural evolution as the business has changed.” said Greene on RBM’s partnership with SAP. “Strategic partners for us have been crucial, anyone that’s trying to find their way up the hill and grow their business in this day and age needs to find a good partner like SAP.”

You can watch the interview in its entirety below.

From the SAP website:

Many partners are looking for true end-to-end support for mobile application development, a collaborative developer community, and the opportunity to showcase and market solutions in an online app store. Hear from Christian Baader, VP at SAP, about the SAP Mobile App Partner program and how to take advantage of a $7.7 billion market opportunity – and reach over 200,000 SAP customers – by joining the SAP Mobile Apps Partner Program.

nrf-big-show-2013

A look back at Retail’s BIG Show 2013 [VIDEO]

With it’s record-setting number of attendees, this year’s Big Show by NRF was one to write about – something we have done a number of times here at Merchandising Matters. The video below from NRF’s YouTube channel recaps this year’s event in New York City.

From the video’s description:
“Some of the retail industry’s biggest CEOs – including Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon, Saks, Inc.’s Stephen Sadove and Starbuck’s Howard Schultz – joined hundreds of innovators on the EXPO floor for another record-setting Retail’s BIG Show. Relive some of the biggest moments of Retail’s BIG Show 2013.”

Kevin Kelley, Shook Kelley, NRF Big Show, Shopper Marketing

Designing Stores that Reach the Minds, Habits and Behaviors of Consumers

Traditional design of brick-and-mortar retail stores is rooted in aesthetic principles such as scale, color and texture. Retail stores that take into consideration the emotional, psychological, sociological and anthropological behaviors of the consumer are few and far between.

Kevin Kelley, Shook Kelley, NRF Big Show, Shopper Marketing

During his keynote address at NRF’s Big Show, Kevin Kelley, principal at design firm Shook Kelley, outlined a new perspective of the consumer and its impact on store design, merchandising strategies and branding techniques. By understanding the environmental and situational factors that impact a consumer’s emotional response to a brand, retailers can better tailor the in-store experience and achieve higher sales.

Human behavior is universal, regardless of time or location. We behave and respond to impulses that help or hurt us. Ninety percent of brain activity exists in the subconscious. Neuromarketing explores how even the most minute perceptions impact a consumer’s decision-making process.

Advertisers take advantage of that subconscious activity to instill the sense that consumers are missing something in their lives. Through omnichannel marketing tactics, they condition the consumer to believe they need whatever the retailer is selling.

Retailers that take full advantage of this approach understand the three major situational factors that impact the consumer’s response to an in-store experience.

  1. Physical – The body moves and reacts to obstacles in a unique way. It will react a certain way to fixtures in the brick-and-mortar store.
  2. Emotional – How will consumers feel about your product?
  3. Social – What is happening in the world, their community, their home, with their friends, or in their own head that might impact their decision?

How they react to these three points can affect their decision to make a purchase or exit the store. More importantly, it can alter their perception of the brand.

The key takeaway from Kelley’s breakout session is that the in-store retail experience is not about the product; it is about the context and content retailers place around the product. The in-store experience should elicit an emotional response from the consumer, one that capitalizes on their sense of need.

Kelley does caution that the human mind can only absorb so much content. Too much information and context can cause the consumer’s mind to shut down long enough for them to exit the store. When retailers create an in-store experience that is comfortable, the consumer’s mind will slow down, resulting in more time spent engaged with their brand.

Apple Employees, Fortune 500, Retail Localization

Top 10 Retailers to Work For

Judgments about how “good” an individual person is are notoriously subjective: people can find things to criticize even among winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. But apparently it is possible to objectively measure how good a company is. The 2012 Good Company Index (GCI) ranks Fortune 500 companies using measurements of employee satisfaction, treatment of customers, commitment to sustainability and adherence to ethical standards.

Apple Employees, Fortune 500, Retail Localization

Index authors Laurie Bassi, Ed Frauenheim and Dan McMurrer inaugurated the GCI last year, but the 2011 assessment was limited to 84 companies in the Fortune 100. The 2012 rankings have been expanded to include 300 of America’s largest public companies in the Fortune 500. The GCI assigns positive or negative points to companies based on their performance and tallies the totals, with the range of possible scores running from a low of -9 to a high of +8.

RIS analyzed the results for the 43 retail companies on the list to discover the Top 10 Best Companies to Work For. In cases where two companies’ aggregated scores were the same, the retailer’s ranking as an employer was used to break a tie, followed by its ranking as a seller (i.e. its treatment of customers). There were two ties where all scores were identical: Office Depot and Kohl’s at number seven and Amazon.com and Advance Auto Parts at number 10.

Top 10 Best Companies to Work For

1. Apple
2. Costco Wholesale
3. Best Buy
4. Gap
5. O’Reilly Auto Parts
6. Whole Foods Market
7. Office Depot; Kohl’s (tie)
8. Nordstrom
9. Starbucks
10. Amazon; Advance Auto Parts (tie)

Even though the authors widened the scope of companies they analyzed for this year’s report, several retailers made encore appearances in this year’s Top 10 Retailer list, including Apple, which topped the list for the second year in a row. Other repeats were Office Depot, Whole Foods, O’Reilly and Costco, which moved up from tenth to second this year.

[via RIS News]

mobile retail solutions, motorola solutions

Moto Solutions Talks Mobile Retail

Time was, the market for industrial strength retail computers, such as handheld scanners, was dominated by three companies, Symbol, Telxon, and Psion.

All three of those companies now belong to Motorola Solutions (MSI), which split off from Motorola Mobility (MMI) in late 2010. (The Symbol deal happened in 2007, the Psion deal was just announced last week.) Moto Mobility, of course, is in the process of being acquired by Google (GOOG), but Moto Solutions continues as its own ball of wax.

mobile retail solutions, motorola solutions

I spent some time this afternoon talking to Eduardo Conrado, Moto Solutions’s chief marketing officer, about the company’s newly announced efforts in retail.

Retail businesses provide 11% of Moto Solutions’s total annual revenue, as part of the company’s “enterprise” division. So, increasing Moto’s sales to retailers can have a measurable impact on Moto’s growth.

In a loft on Mercer Street in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, Moto was showing some simulated shopping environments with different kinds of technology to make the whole buying experience in a store more mobile, as the company sees it.

For example, Moto unveiled a new handheld based on Google’s Android software that looks and feels pretty much like a ruggedized version of one of the Moto handsets. It has a built-in product label scanner, to gather product information, and a card swipe. The idea is that by having a handheld to check inventory or take a purchase, the store attendant can spend more time with a customer selling, rather than running back and forth to the stock room.

A second device is an employee badge that has a display based on the e-ink technology found in Amazon.com‘s (AMZN) “Kindle” and other gadgets. This is less sophisticated than the Android handheld, but Moto thinks it will make some staff more productive by letting them swipe an item on the show floor and see immediately on the badge’s grayscale display whether there is inventory on site, for example.

MotorolaSB1SmartBadge

Moto's SB1 "SmartBadge" is worn around the neck by sales associates and sends and receives information about inventory, tasks, etc.

Yet another example is where a shopper has an app on their smartphone for places they frequently shop. When they enter the store, news of “deals” can be pushed to the phone, and store staff can be alerted to the customer’s arrival.

A couple questions arise, of course. Will customers be into using apps on their smartphone regularly? And will store staff be capable of realizing the wild scenarios imagined for the technology?

We shall see. Browsing the aisles of major electronics retailers, something clearly needs to be fixed, as the experience is not great. Not only does the average shopper know more these days than many sales associates about the latest tablets or smartphones. The in-store displays are usually a disaster, with test units in disarray, or just plain broken, confusing or incorrect signage placed next to the devices.

I don’t know if Moto can fix any of those aspects of the retail “experience,” but here’s hoping.

[via Barrons]

Home Depot Mobile Device Deployment, tablets

Home Depot Rolls Out New Mobile Devices for Workers

Home Depot has started to roll out a scaled down, second generation mobile device for its sales associates, allowing more workers to use wireless technology to assist customers, CIO Matt Carey told CIO Journal. The 25,000 device roll-out is intended to make it possible for more store workers to help customers locate items and give information on products, even in areas for which they don’t have specialized expertise. It’s also an example of how Home Depot is attempting to use technology to increase the amount customers spend on each trip to the store, as well as sales to new customers, an area of focus as the chain has slowed the opening of new stores.

Home Depot Mobile Device Deployment, tablets

The device, called First Phone Junior, is a scaled-down version of the Motorola phone the company put in the hands of some associates two years ago, which allowed employees to better manage inventory, assist customers and speed checkout lines.

Home Depot only purchased approximately 15 of the first generation devices for each store, Carey said. The broader roll-out of the new device will add around 12 more devices per store and is part of an effort by Home Depot, over the past three years, to use technology to improve customer experiences.

Carey says that when he arrived at Home Depot in 2008, the company’s retail technology was comparable to what other chains possessed “in the year 1990.” To determine which products were out of stock, sales associates had to physically inspect shelves. The chain’s version of mobile computing was a computer terminal on top of a cart “powered by a boat battery,” with a scanner attached, Carey said. When merchandise was determined to be running low, the store’s manager re-ordered the items himself – there was no automatic system.

“That’s not a way to run a modern retailer,” Carey said.

Back in 2008, items were often out of out of stock because the inventory system was so poor, said Scot Ciccarelli, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets. The cost of shipping inventory to stores was higher because it was done on a smaller scale—one store at a time. And store employees spent 60% of their work day on stocking, and just 40% helping customers. The company set a goal to reverse that pattern.

Over the past few years Carey, who previously worked at eBay and Wal-Mart, helped bring in an automated inventory management system, which replenishes items by predicting depletion of stock, rather than waiting for items to run out. The new system includes 19 centralized warehouses located across the country, which order in larger quantity for all the stores in the region. The system took day-to-day general stock level decisions out the hands of local managers, automating those orders, and allowing them to concentrate more on purchases for special store displays or other areas that are specific to an individual location.

“We want our managers dealing with the exceptions,” Carey said.

Meanwhile, Home Depot invested $64 million to deploy 34,000 First Phones, which allowed associates to use a scanner on the device to continuously update and view inventory levels, according to a spokesman for the retailer. The First Phone gave associates instant access to product information, making them more helpful to customers, who often need specific, technical information on tools and parts. Jennifer Smith, senior director of store operations for Home Depot, said this allowed employees to develop a “stronger emotional connection in the aisle” with customers. This connection is helping the chain combat the effects of “showrooming,” when a customer comes to a brick-and-mortar store just to browse, only to make the actual purchase online.

Smith, who appeared at an event with Motorola Solutions in New York to unveil the new devices, said the First Phone devices empower store associates and make them “confident [enough] to have those conversations” with customers. She sees those conversations as a competitive advantage, she told CIO Journal.

The mobile device also helped speed checkout times, allowing employees to scan items for customers as they wait on line, instead of waiting until they reach the cashier. Last spring, the chain also began to allow payment through a PayPal account, requiring only a customer’s phone number and account PIN.

Putting mobile technologies in the hands of store associates won’t solve every problem a retailer may have. “Technology will not solve the basic issues, like cleanliness,” said Alison Paul, a senior retail analyst with Deloitte. She also said customers of some class of retailer, especially in the mid-market price range, are uncomfortable when they’re approached by a sales person bearing a tablet or other mobile device. “Shoppers are not all as tech savvy as [retailers] thought,” she told CIO Journal.

But she said retailers, often gun-shy about investing in technology because the returns aren’t big enough, should experiment with relatively inexpensive tools such as these. The new Motorola devices are “cheap enough that you can afford to try it out in a store, and then you can tweak it,” she said.

So far, the changes have helped the company move toward the goal of providing more customer service, Carey said. By the end of 2011, sales associates were spending 53% of their time helping customers, a spokesman said. And inventory is turning over more quickly. But, at the same time, Home Depot’s chief competitor Lowe’s began last year to arm employees with an iPhone that has many of the same capabilities.

“They have their play and we have ours,” said Carey.

[via Wall Street Journal]