5 merchandising execution opportunities for retailers

5 Merchandising Execution Opportunities Every Retailer Should Know About

Do retailers believe there is a link between merchandising execution and sales conversion rates? 9 out of 10 say yes.

The ability to help customers find what they are looking for easily, better communicate in-store promotions, and increase basket size via incremental impulse purchases are key benefits of merchandising execution practices and play a big role in the aforementioned bump in conversions.

A recent survey of 250 retailers by One Door, partnering with an independent third-party research firm, found some interesting opportunities for retailers looking to turn this belief into a reality.

5 merchandising execution opportunities:

  1. Move faster – Retailers need to respond to trends and changes in customer demands with speed to keep in step with other channels. 79% of high-level retailers receive 7 or more directives a quarter from HQ.
  2. Get local – 100% of high-level retailers localize assortments to AT LEAST the individual store level, if not a specific fixture or peg. Not only do retailers need to execute faster, they need to provide product mixes that are in tune with their customers.
  3. Improve store/HQ communication – For retail teams to function to the best of their ability, store managers and employees must be able to communicate effectively with HQ. This goes beyond email and phone calls and focuses on seamless, two-way communication.
  4. Provide better guidance – 35% of retailers do not provide store-specific merchandising guidance, this means store associates have to spend additional time interpreting instructions. Sending instructions specific to an individual or store team can cut down on time spent on resets, allowing them to spend more time with customers.
  5. Measure and reward employees – 93% of retailers identify merchandising accuracy as a key performance indicator yet only 36% of retailers provide bonuses or other monetary rewards for employees who do so.

It is clear that there are incredible opportunities for retailers to improve retail performance through merchandising execution. In fact, most high-level retailers are employing many, if not all, of these tactics today.

To determine how well your organization is positioned to capitalize on these opportunities, One Door has created the Merchandising Execution Maturity assessment tool to help you uncover the hidden potential of your merchandising practices.

You can take the assessment by visiting bit.ly/MXsurvey

merchandise locally, but fulfill globally

Merchandise Locally, Fulfill Globally

Part five of our five part series exploring trends that are shaping brick-and-mortar retail experience. You can read all of the trends in The Store Is Back eBook, courtesy of RBM Technologies.

With cities expanding and more neighborhoods developing, people are driving less and looking to nearby stores. In 2016, more retailers are moving closer to where the shoppers are, which means transitioning to smaller stores in more urban areas.

retail-central-to-community-brick-and-mortar

The rise of urbanization is forcing retailers to transform their merchandising strategies. Retailers are beginning to think small, and are accommodating the local culture of the neighborhoods they inhabit. However, shoppers’ expectations are getting higher. Retailers still need to make the breadth of products in their larger format stores available within the smaller footprint.

“Associates have iPads to make our full assortment available instantly. If you want a new color, you don’t have to search another store, we can help you purchase it overnight.”

Jeff Fisher, Global Store Experience Director at Sunglass Hut

Adopting digital applications that optimize product mixes and localize visual merchandising is critical to ensuring the inventory their customers want will be available. By producing targeted campaigns and offering locally relevant merchandising, each store will develop an authentic experience and personal customer connection. What’s more, through digital devices, retailers can offer, order and deliver merchandise they can’t physically stock.

Overall, the space within brick-and-mortar stores will shrink, but customers’ demand for product range will not. Retailers will need to be flexible for the customer who expects a locally relevant, personalized retail experience with an extensive product assortment.

To read all five retail trends, download The Store Is Back today.

Simplifying the omni-channel experience

Simplifying the Omni-channel Connection

Part three of our five part series exploring trends that are shaping brick-and-mortar retail experience. You can read all of the trends in The Store Is Back eBook, courtesy of RBM Technologies.

Since shoppers are always connected, retailers have recognized the need for digital presence in addition to brick-and-mortar. However in 2016, it is no longer about merely offering these additional touch-points.

hipster-millennial-social-media-retail
Shoppers now research products before walking into a store, and they look to other customers to give them a true picture of the experience.

Customers expect to get product information, consider their options, and make their purchases with ease. They bounce between channels throughout their shopping journey, so they want an experience that is complete, seamless, convenient, engaging and consistent. It’s a tall order, but one that should be filled this year. Otherwise, customers will find another retailer that will deliver exactly what they need.

“Shoppers demand a brilliant experience more than ever from brands. They expect the brand to be connected from the physical retail store through to its online presence.”

Emma McRobert, Director Shopper Experience, Consumer Australia at Optus

Removing touch-point obstacles allows the shopper faster and broader access to the brand. This approach streamlines the path to purchase while allowing shoppers to engage with brands on their own terms. By providing access to deeper levels of store information online, shoppers can plan out and optimize their store visit, and they can streamline their checkout options based on personal payment preferences. Ultimately, a seamless, simplified and efficient retail process makes customers happy and keeps them coming back.

To read all five retail trends, download The Store Is Back today

digital-retail-goes-eco-friendly

3 Ways Digital Applications Reduce Retail Waste

With more shoppers and communities becoming ethically conscious, many retailers are working to decrease their environmental footprint. Reducing waste not only improves brand perception and builds trust with customers, but it also saves retailers unnecessary costs.

One of the best ways retailers can become more sustainable and environmentally conscious is simply to prevent waste from the start. However, this is not so simple of a task. Because each store has unique physical traits, many retailers lack the ability to track and measure stores accurately, and therefore cannot ensure all stores are executed precisely or consistently. This imprecise execution leads to discarded materials, unused product, and unnecessary packaging.

A digital application can simplify the process with a paperless system that is not only more accurate, efficient and up to date, but also much less wasteful.

Adopting a digital application to optimize store execution could fix this frustrating challenge. Here are three ways a good digital application can keep retail waste out of the landfills.

#1 Update the Process

Many retailers still depend on a manual, paper-dependent process. This requires inputting a vast amount of data into spreadsheets that get printed, and adding complex directions into large wasteful binders that are sent to stores. The excess materials are often error-prone, cumbersome, and costly. They become quickly out-of-date and are eventually thrown out.

A digital application can simplify the process with a paperless system that is not only more accurate, efficient and up to date, but also much less wasteful. A digital application helps streamline the process so there is less printing and paper waste overall.

#2 Get the Right Fit

Every store is different, and retailers don’t always know the unique attributes of each store such as space allocation, fixture size, and store layout. This means store teams don’t get what they need. They receive incorrect production quantities and merchandising setups that don’t properly fit, so they are forced to make decisions. Consequently, stores are not executed as planned and materials are wasted.

A digital application keeps an accurate model of each store and calculates correct production quantities resulting in fewer unused materials, eliminating waste in both production and shipment to stores.

#3 Keep It Local

Unfortunately, with many current merchandising systems, retailers can’t recognize individual store’s customer demographics or neighborhood culture. This means stores are regularly stuck with an excess of irrelevant products and campaigns that don’t address local needs.

With a digital application, retailers can keep track of what products are selling in each store, reorder items and track the shipment. A digital application helps deliver an accurate, localized product and promotional mix to each retail location, cutting the waste and expenses of printing and shipping.

Today’s smart shoppers are becoming more mindful about what they purchase. They are becoming ethically and environmentally conscious and expect their favorite brands to follow suit.

Retailers can address customers’ needs by adopting new technologies. A digital cloud-based application can streamline the process to reduce printing and paper waste, and calculate accurate production quantities resulting in fewer materials and lower costs.
However, optimizing retail execution to develop a more sustainable merchandising process is just one of the top outcomes achieved from a digital application.

Retailers can ultimately create a superior retail experience that connects customers to the brand without wasting or sacrificing time, efforts, and costs.

Mobile and Brick-and-mortar, retails new power couple

Mobile and Brick-and-Mortar: Retail’s New Power Couple

In a recent blog post, From Brick-and-Mortar to Brick-and-Mobile, we discussed how today’s empowered shoppers use their mobile devices to research products, compare prices and share their retail experiences along the path to purchase.

Shoppers now have unlimited access to information at their fingertips. They have grown accustomed to instant gratification afforded by their smartphones and if they don’t like what they see from a brand, they will go elsewhere with help from their mobile devices.

In the upcoming year, shoppers’ expectations for immediate customer satisfaction will only increase. This means that retailers must focus on a superior, seamless experience between mobile and in-store every time they step into their store.

Technology is now a part of the path to purchase. Retailers can no longer think of mobile and brick-and-mortar as separate entities.

Integrate and Simplify

Customers will get frustrated when the mobile experience doesn’t synchronize with the brick-and-mortar. A customer’s perception of the brand can be shaped by mobile. They are actively using their device while they shop in store, so their experience needs to flow simply and consistently between the channels. Prices, information, sales, coupons, as well as ease of use and tone of content must match.

One way retailers can make sure this happens is to break down any silos between departments. When departments communicate through one system, everyone has access to the same information, resulting in consistency, accuracy, and quick response.

Encourage Interaction

Retailers can use shoppers’ constant connectivity to their advantage by encouraging them to contribute their own content-like reviews and photos to social platforms. It creates engagement, builds and nurtures customer relationships, increases brand awareness, and most of all, generates trust with potential customers.

Empower store employees by giving them the right tools and more time to engage customers on the floor. Since store employees have face-to-face interaction with the customer, they can ensure the customer has a good experience. They can also urge shoppers to share socially, whether it’s an Instagram photo of them interacting with a new product or telling Facebook friends about a big sale.

Understand the Customer

The increased use of mobile devices has made customers accustomed to localized and highly personalized content. When shoppers research through mobile, they expect information that is directed to them. Customers want an authentic brand experience. They already have access to a myriad of purchasing options, so a brand must emotionally connect with the customer in order to stand apart.

Data collection can be used to understand customers and their shopping patterns. Retailers need to take into account customers’ preferences and behaviors along with specific store data. Understanding individual customers as well as local needs will help a retailer deliver the most relevant, personalized experience possible, both digitally and in store.

Over the past few years, mobile has transformed retail by providing people with infinite access to information and competitive options while they shop. In 2016, mobile’s role in retail will continue to gain importance, and retailers must take this into account when making decisions about upcoming strategies.

Technology is now a part of the path to purchase. Retailers can no longer think of mobile and brick-and-mortar as separate entities. In order to create a seamless brand experience between channels, retailers should consider their internal process. It is essential that retailers understand customers through data collection. What’s more, it’s important that departments communicate and share this data with each other, all the way down to the store level, to increase productivity and provide customers with a personalized, consistent and engaging experience every time they shop.

Find out how to improve the retail process through the year with the ebook, 16 Tactics for Merchandising Execution in 2016. The ebook addresses the most common challenges retailers face, and the top tactics needed to address them. When applied, these tactics will help retailers eliminate touch-point obstacles and deliver a better, more consistent customer experience across digital and store channels.

Price and Prejudice and Zombies

Price and Prejudice and Zombies

A mashup of Jane Austen’s timeless classic Pride and Prejudice got the horror treatment back in 2009 with the release of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The theatrical release of the movie adaptation hits theatres this weekend, hoping to capitalize on popular culture’s obsession with all things deceased but not really.

Austen’s book is not the only century-and-a-half old institution that has undergone a transformation to remain appealing to key demographics. Retail is battling a zombie of its own, the merchandising undead.

Is it overstating the case to compare the state of in-store execution processes that support merchandising efforts to zombies who refuse to die?

The merchandising zombie kills the effectiveness of retailers’ ability to create unique, on-brand experiences for their customers, leaving a trail of stagnant, outdated and off-message stores in its path. Luckily there is a cure.

A recent study by RIS News and sponsored by RBM Technologies found that store-level execution and merchandising effectiveness were key to putting the merchandising zombie to rest for good. According to the survey’s author: “Is it overstating the case to compare the state of in-store execution processes that support merchandising efforts to zombies who refuse to die? I don’t think so. The issues, concerns, obstacles and challenges identified in this report are all known problems and if they can be resolved then good things will happen, including omnichannel readiness, uplift in sales, improved customer experiences and more.”

While Austen’s heroines battle fictitious denizens of the dead on screen, the more real creature retailers should fear is the merchandising zombie. Luckily there is hope.

We encourage you to download the full report, Battling the In-Store Merchandising Zombie to learn more.

retail shoppers want new retail experiences

Shoppers Are Ready for New Experiences. Are You?

With more shopping options and a constant flow of information, the power of retail is now in customers’ hands. Shopping is no longer about buying things. People can acquire merchandise anywhere, anytime. Instead, shoppers are looking for unique experiences they can share with their friends.

The recent blog post, Democratization of Retail: This Shift Just Got Real, examines how retailers are exploring new, exciting ways to engage customers. From virtual rock climbing adventures to can’t-miss Snapchat fashion shows, these disruptive experiences are attracting customers through retailers’ brick-and-mortar doors. And it is just the beginning.

If retailers don’t want to lose sales to their competitors, they must embrace the new expectations of shoppers. But how can retailers think about reinventing the shopping experience, if they can’t track or measure their current execution? When a retailer is dealing with execution errors, brand inconsistencies, and non-compliance issues in stores, it’s impossible to focus on creating fresh experiences for its customers.

In 2016, retailers’ top focus should be optimizing store execution and performance.

With one application, Merchandising Cloud, retailers can reduce errors, open communication between store teams and corporate, and deliver a localized experience throughout all stores.

Merchandising Cloud maintains an accurate digital model of every store, including unique attributes like locality, layout, and fixtures. It enables execution of merchandising plans for all locations and ensures that each store receives accurate production quantities. Employees know where each campaign element goes and that it will correctly fit.

merchandising cloud optimizes merchandising execution
Gone are the days of large binders and hand drawn fixture designs.

It also provides a single digital platform that everyone uses to connect. Two-way, real-time communication ensures that headquarters can provide accurate instructions to stores, and store teams can easily report back on compliance or difficulties.

Execution, compliance, and overall store sales performance can be executed and measured with new levels of precision. The data collected can then be used to help retailers in creating future campaigns.

In 2016, retailers’ top focus should be optimizing store execution and performance. By adopting new technology, like Merchandising Cloud, retailers can easily fix execution problems and measure the results. Once retailers ensure that every store is on brand, on message, localized, and measurable they can unfold opportunities for future growth and take on a competitive advantage. They can focus on creating a superior and memorable retail experience that inspires customers, connects them to the brand, drives them to purchase, and gives them something to talk about with other potential customers.

Learn more about Merchandising Cloud and its capabilities at www.rbmtechnologies.com.

merchandising execution optimization with Merchandising Cloud

Optimizing Merchandising Execution

You’ve experienced the challenges affecting your retail execution and customer experience: a cumbersome and wasteful manual process, silos that break down communication, data that becomes scattered and inaccessible, and a general approach to retail execution that fails to work in individual stores.

We’ve reviewed the problems most retailers face in the 4 Mistakes Retailers Make in Retail Execution.

So now, what can you do? How can you optimize your merchandising execution to give your customers the best experience and improve store performance?

Use a cloud-based digital application that delivers localized visual merchandising, in-store execution, collaboration, and compliance, all unified in the cloud.

With the right digital application:

  • Everyone communicates through a single platform, so stores know what they need and have clear instructions for campaign execution. Stores can also report back to headquarters immediately about compliance or issues they face.
  • Retailers see an accurate digital model of every store, including attributes like location, floorplan, and fixtures. This allows precise execution for every location and eliminates waste in the production and shipment to stores.
  • Each store receives the right production quantities based on the unique traits of that location. Store employees know where each campaign element goes and that it will fit, so they spend less time with store resets and more time engaging with customers.
  • Campaign execution, compliance, and store performance can be measured in real-time right down to the display, fixture, or even peg. This data can help guide future decisions.

Merchandising Cloud is a digital application from RBM Technologies provides a new, better way to plan, communicate, execute, and measure retail execution. Through Merchandising Cloud, you can track store performance and deliver a high-quality retail experience to customers, while lowering merchandising costs. With Merchandising Cloud, you have the ability to accurately measure retail experience, which offers insights that will unlock future growth and put you ahead of the competition.

To learn more, download the latest white paper from RBM Technologies: Transforming Retail Experience with Merchandising Cloud.

Merchandising Execution White Paper

4 Challenges That Contribute to Inaccurate Merchandising Execution

In the rapidly changing retail industry, one thing remains the same, the brick-and-mortar store is still at the forefront of retail experience.

Stores are powerful, profitable and able to provide a personal, meaningful connection with customers. Retail professionals recognize the importance of merchandising execution and the role it plays in providing the shopper with a superior retail experience – yet at the store level, it is inaccurate, inconsistent and immeasurable.

Why does precise merchandising execution seem impossible for retailers?

1. The Manual Process

Retailers depend on a slow, manual process that requires employees to input vast amounts of information into Excel spreadsheets and add numerous pages of complicated directions into large wasteful binders. This process leads to costly human errors and confusing, outdated information that make retail execution a nightmare.

merchandising execution challenges
Binders, spreadsheets and scribbled notes are commonplace in today’s merchandising execution practices

2. Scattered Data

Retailers store data in multiple places. When the information needed to execute the proper retail experience exists across multiple systems, it causes time-consuming discrepancies that can’t be monitored. Store employees are left to deal with the inconsistencies, causing them to spend little to no face time with customers.

3. Departmental Silos

Different departments exist and operate in silos that prevent real-time, open communication and collaboration between stores and headquarters. This siloed approach puts the burden on the store manager and associates to rectify any discrepancies in the plan at the store. They, in turn, don’t get the chance to provide feedback or disclose issues, and headquarters remains unclear about what is working, and what isn’t.

4. A General Approach

Retailers do not take the unique attributes of each location into account when developing merchandising plans. Instead, they are clustering stores into large, general buckets by size or region. When a planogram fails to account for a store’s distinctive traits like space allocation, local culture or customer demographics, store employees are forced to make judgment calls. As a result, materials are wasted, stores are not executed as planned, and retail experience becomes difficult to measure.

Fortunately, these challenges can be overcome by deploying a single digital application like Merchandising Cloud that plans, communicates, executes, and measures merchandising execution. As a result, retailers improve their ability to execute plans effectively and optimize individual store performance.

To learn more, download RBM Technologies’ white paper: Transforming Retail Experience with Merchandising Cloud.