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


BOSTON, MA – May 27, 2015 – RBM Technologies, Inc. – the leader in software-as-a-service (SaaS) visual merchandising solutions for retailers — today announces the closing of a $7 million financing to fund its rapid growth and product innovation.  Existing investor Spring Lake Equity Partners is providing an additional $3 million in equity financing, and Bridge Bank is committing up to $4 million in debt financing.  With this new capital infusion and the recent addition of top quality executive talent, RBM is poised to globally expand its cloud-based SaaS software – Visual Merchandising Manager (VMM), the emerging standard for retail merchandising campaign planning, communication and in-store execution.

This new round of financing brings the total capital raised by RBM to $16.5 million, further establishes the company as the leader in retail in-store execution, and enables aggressive expansion.

“The financial strength that Bridge Bank brings, with the renewal of the significant resources of top tier investors Spring Lake, accelerates RBM’s momentum in product leadership and market expansion,” states RBM Technologies CEO E.Y. Snowden.  “We appreciate the confidence they are demonstrating in how VMM is fundamentally altering the retail landscape.”

RBM Technologies is the leading SaaS retail solution for merchandising campaign planning, communication and in-store execution. VMM helps retailers to reduce waste and stranded inventory, accelerate marketing responsiveness, and increase revenue. Since 2001, RBM has helped global brands and leading retailers carry out national merchandising campaigns with consistent execution that is localized to each store’s unique attributes. RBM’s suite of solutions gives retailers worldwide real-time visibility into each store to drive precise counts for product and merchandising materials, consistent presentation and messaging, and verified compliance for each fixture in each store. Leading retailers are using VMM to create consistent customer experiences with the right product and the right messaging, at the right time, and in the right place.

“Over the last year, RBM has demonstrated it is uniquely positioned to lead retail innovation in visual merchandising,” says partner Dan MacKeigan, Spring Lake Equity Partners.  “Spring Lake is in the business of funding growth and innovation, and we are thrilled to lead this new round.”

“Bridge Bank provides innovative technology companies with customized solutions and industry expertise to help them realize their goals,” says Dick Sweeney, Bridge Bank’s northeast region director and market manager of its Technology Banking division. “We are excited to partner with RBM Technologies and Spring Lake Equity Partners as RBM – a well-established innovator in the visual merchandising sector – expands its reach globally for VMM,” added Sweeney.

Motorola Solutions, ET1 Enterprise Tablet, RBM Technologies, RIS News

Motorola Solutions gets serious about shaking up shopping

Brick-and-mortar stores still stand as retail’s strongest channel; where more than 80% of buying happens at the shelf, retailers have been heavily investing in infrastructure, technology, operations and service to continue to provide shoppers with a remarkable in-store shopping experience. Motorola Solutions the leading communications and telecommunications equipment provider has been taking part in the reinvention of in-store shopping experience over the past several years. Currently, Motorola technology is used by the top 100 retailers, from mobile tablets to bar code scanners. Their recent launch of their mobile marketing platform — Mpact — Motorola is expanding their solutions to further meet the need to enrich the brick-and-mortar shopping experience.

From the Washington Post article:

Motorola Solutions is the latest entrant to take on the reinvention of in-store shopping. It’s launching a comprehensive mobile marketing platform — Mpact — for retailers who want to use cutting-edge technology to enrich their brick-and-mortar shopping experience.

“We believe this is going to become not only an absolutely critical part of retailers’ way of interacting with you. In fact they have to give you all of the best benefits that you’re used to getting from an Amazon environment if they want to be able to compete. They’re going to have to implement this one way or another,” said Barry Issberner, marketing director for enterprise solutions at Motorola Solutions.

Physical stores still account for the overwhelming majority of sales, so businesses are determined to optimize their in-store experience. One of the most promising solutions is beacons, Bluetooth-powered sensors placed throughout stores. Motorola will begin selling its own beacons, which will deliver location-based information and deals to customers’ smartphones. Motorola Solutions will also provide retailers analytics of the in-store location data and upkeep of the network of beacons.

It’s partnering with a handful of companies focused on retail innovations — Swirl, Aisle411, Digby and Phunware — to make the experience possible.

Motorola Solutions appears well-positioned to deliver its platform given its existing relationships with retailers. Motorola technology is already in use in the 100 top retailers. It provides everything from devices to scan barcodes to WiFi network infrastructure. Given the popularity of smartphones, Motorola Solutions realized it had the chance to grow its offerings to stores.

“What we see is that vocal minority of shoppers today — which we think will become the majority over time — that want to use that personal mobile device as an interaction tool,” Issberner said.

A unique aspect of Motorola Solutions’ approach to reinventing retail is including WiFi.

“The other folks in this space have isolated this to just the Bluetooth Low Energy capability, and we think that is really not giving the retailer the level of scalability and capability that they’re after,” Issberner said.

“As marketing campaigns get more sophisticated with rich imagery, even perhaps audio and video down the line, you’re going to need that strong connectivity,” Swirl chief executive Hilmi Ozguc said. “And unfortunately cellphone coverage isn’t great inside some of these stores.”

Motorola imagines a time when it’s normal to have a live video chat with a store employee.

“You can chat with someone at corporate headquarters at Best Buy who is an absolute expert on that TV you’re considering. That is coming. Most retailers can’t support that today, but that is going to happen and that is going to evolve,” Issberner said.

Motorola Solutions’ interest in beacons is the latest example of the building momentum behind the devices, which have the potential to remake our experiences in all physical places. But the company is staying open-minded about alternatives as well for delivering an engaging, location-based experience to customers. For example,Philips is developing lights with built-in sensors that detect the location of shoppers.

“We’re seeing a time in the market where the playing field of online and in-store is being leveled,” Aisle 411 chief executive Nathan Pettyjohn said. “For a long long time the in-store, the brick and mortar had won and dominated. They’re at a critical point where they have to digitize the physical store so it all works together, or the physical retailers are at a huge risk of losing ground.”


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.


Technology front and center at NRF’s 2014 Big Show

Anyone what has ever attended NRF’s Big Show (that’s us!) knows that it is the must-attend event for those in the retail technology space. This year should be another one for the record books as the Big Show takes over every square foot of the Jacob Javits Center.


In preparation for this year’s convention, Paula Rosenblum wrote a great article on Forbes outlining the top five retail technology trends she expects to see front an center this year.

#1: Technology to improve the customer experience in stores. Real estate is retailers’ biggest expense but sales and traffic growth to stores have been slowing as consumers continue their inexorable move on-line. It’s true that close to 90% of sales still consummate in stores but many shoppers ask themselves “Why should I take the time and trouble to go to a store, when I can just buy what I want on line?” This fact is not lost on retailers and they are continually searching for ways to create a more compelling in-store experience without breaking the bank on costs. After all, you can’t just say “Never mind” and close your stores. Leases were not meant to be broken. The store must go on.

#2: Cross-channel Order Fulfillment. We live in a world of instant gratification. If a retailer is offering something for sale, a shopper rightfully expects she can have that thing. Now. She doesn’t really care that the product she wants is in a different store, or that it’s in a warehouse on the other side of the country. By offering a product up for sale, a retailer makes an implicit promise – that the item is available for sale. In the old days, store employees would call ‘round to other stores to find out if they had a particular product in stock. That works, but it’s not very efficient. Retailers will be buying technology to make good on those implicit promises without spending valuable employee time or money. I expect this technology to be a hot topic at the Big Show. The industry buzzword for the concept is “omni-channel fulfillment,” but we know the customer doesn’t care about buzzwords. She just wants what she wants. It’s pretty simple, really. Well, it’s easy to say at least, but not so easy to do.

#3: Promotion and Price Optimization. Unless you’ve been vacationing on Mars , you know that retailers have gotten more and more promotional – especially around the holiday season. In fact, I had the opportunity to appear on a Russian TV news show this year to talk about Black Friday weekend and associated sales. Yes, Russia. The whole world is watching. It’s the Superbowl of shopping. Historically, these promotions have been a bit of a game of “chicken” between retailers and shoppers. Each waits for the other to blink. But the expansion of Black Friday madness has altered the power dynamic. The consumer is totally in the driver’s seat. Retailers will be looking at technology to help them find the most effective promotional and end-of-season prices.

#4: Big Data and Predictive Analytics: This is a very broad topic and it seems everyone’s talking about it. “Big data” has become a catch-all phrase to cover most everything, but in retail it seems to be settling in to refer to information available on shoppers and consumers in general. Things like their paths to purchase, their product reviews, reports from social media…information that wasn’t available before the internet, smart phones and social media. Predictive analytics are designed to help retailers buy more precisely so they can sell more intelligently. It’s a subject that’s been given a bad rap in the media, but really has no nefarious notion behind it. It’s just retailers’ attempt to do a better job of being…retailers.

#5: Data Security: Honestly, this wouldn’t have been very high on my radar screen three weeks ago, but the Target TGT -0.39% data breach has gotten a far more negative consumer response than anyone expected. I’m not sure if it was the somewhat odd way Target and the banks handled the matter – I still don’t understand why the banks and Target didn’t just issue new cards and get them into consumers’ hands. December 15 is probably the quietest time in the holiday season…it could have been all over by December 17. There is clearly something I’m missing here – or if the combination of NSA surveillance coupled with lack of security is a final straw for many. In any case, the very surprising blow-back is going to re-focus retailers’ attention, all the way up to the Executive Suite, on improving security.

IN-Store technology, shopper marketing

Hey, Retailers. Want to Grow? Invest in Technology.

Why are some retailers appearing to effortlessly reap the benefits of omni-channel marketing where others struggle? For starters, they invest in technology, analytics, and incentives that drive in-store growth.

IN-Store technology, shopper marketing

According to an article on MediaPost, L2’s latest Digital IQ index examined the differences between those retailers that get it, and those that don’t, to see exactly where the division lies.

From the article:

To reach its quantitative diagnosis, L2 — a think tank founded by NYU Stern clinical professor of marketing Scott Galloway — analyzed about 650 data points across four dimensions, including site and e-commerce, digital marketing, social media and mobile.

What are Zara and other digital dunces doing wrong? Galloway, on Friday, preferred to focus on what winning retailers are doing right. “The most successful specialty retailers are prioritizing technology investments, organizational incentives, and attribution metrics that drive online and in-store growth,” according to Galloway.

Which brands are winning the digital retail race? American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret, Coach, and Urban Outfitters, to name a few, by L2’s measurement. The retailers with the biggest year-over-year improvements in their digital IQ’s included Talbots — up 44% — Uniqlo — up 35% — and J.Crew — up 31%.

Overall, however, most specialty retailers still have a long way to go. While 69% of retailers in the study supported online purchase with in-store return, just 14% have made the requisite investments at point-of-sale to support in-store pickup — and only a handful have the capability to ship from the store, a service that provides for more flexible inventory management.

Retail Technology Trends for 2013, retail localization

Top 10 Retail Tech Trends for 2013

The omnichannel retail experience figures prominently in IDC Retail Insights’ Top 10 Predictions for the Retail Industry 2013. A hallmark of IDC’s offering for three decades, the annual report provides IDC’s outlook on the IT market, across industries, in the coming year.

Retail Technology Trends for 2013, retail localization

“The year 2013 will be a turning point in terms of industry momentum around delivering on the omnichannel promise,” said Robert Parker, group vice president, IDC Retail Insights. “This trend means we will be applying “new rules” to both the customer experience and supply chain execution. Technology will have a critical role.”

Here are IDC Retail Insights’ Top 10 Predictions:

  1. Omnichannel retail maturity will move from foundation to convergence, and from precision to immersion;
  2. Retailers omnichannel objectives will require platform & architecture investments;
  3. Retailers pivot merchandising and marketing on customer analytics to drive revenue and profit; relevance and reciprocity being the watchwords;
  4. Retailers will invest in customer analytics, merchandising, and marketing technologies to curate commerce and contextualize communications;
  5. The time is right to break down marketing silos;
  6. Marketing processes and infrastructures will align with the omnichannel business;
  7. Retailers will remove barriers and instead encourage the “stop start shopper;
  8. The convergence of web-based customer experience touch points to unify the customer journey;
  9. Retailers will optimize omnichannel customer service and cost by enabling trustworthy, efficient and effective supply chains; and
  10. Retailers will invest in technologies that enable visibility, visualization and virtualization.

[via Chain Store Age]