Monday, November 2, 2015

Bringing E-Commerce Features to the Storefront

One of the most interesting observations about the retail sector over the recent past is the adaptation of online features at brick-and-mortar stores. Only two years ago, it seems, retailers were anxious about holiday receipts due to the practice of showrooming, and the social capabilities of online shopping seemed to threaten brick and mortar sales. But then, it seemed to click (excuse the pun): What is more social than going out and physically being seen? Price matching is as old as retailing itself. And nothing beats experiencing a product before buying it. Put the best feature of e-commerce — its ability to be everywhere at once — to work in a brick and mortar, and you’ve created an enormous competitive advantage.

A great example of that trend is the newest UGG footwear store that opened this month outside of Washington, D.C. Deckers Brands, which owns the brand, has opened one other, similar “UGG Innovation Lab” in Santa Barbara, CA. Like that location, the Tysons Corner, Va., store uses technology to create a customized, customer-centric atmosphere.

“Omni-Channel isn’t just a catchphrase for Deckers; it’s an integral part of our culture of innovation and our retail strategy – one that we’ve made investments in for more than five years now – to engage with our consumers with respect to their preferred shopping channel” said Dave Powers, president of omni-channel for Deckers Brands, in a release. “That strategy is on full display at the UGG store, where we are merging the best of digital and physical shopping experiences, and setting the foundation for future Omni capabilities across our brands.”
By integrating online features into the in-store experience, shoppers can make selections from almost
 230,000 SKUs. But if a customer just can’t find that perfect pair, UGGs offers customization. The “UGG By You” program gives buyers control of the design process to make their mark on five classic UGG styles. And for those fancying a bolder approach, the “Bling it on Program” lets customers use Swarovski crystals to personalize their looks. In addition, the store has installed technology that reports on products that are tried on, and offers feedback to the consumer on suggested additional products. That’s very similar to an e-commerce site’s “Recommended for You” or “Shoppers Who Have Bought This Item Also Like…”

To enable that, Deckers is implementing radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology that lets shoppers who are trying on merchandise to view digitally triggered content on four 65-inch HD touchscreens throughout the store. That content comprises product information and options, style tips, videos, related marketing campaigns, and suggested complementary products. Shoppers can send themselves SMS texts with a product link directly from the HD screens.
Of course, customer associates are out from behind the cash wrap, using handheld devices to search inventory, answer customer questions and finalize sales as well. But these days, that’s old hat at many specialty retailers, which took the cue from the Apple Store.

Whether you are a retailer specializing in products from footware or home goods, keeping tabs on inventory is mission critical. Technology can provide retailers with data that initially only was captured by e-commerce stores. Now brick and mortars can know who’s trying on what, how long they engage with the product before purchasing (or not) and can make suggestions for add-on sales before the shopper even reaches an associate.

Retail Pro offers retailers a highly competitive solution that helps track inventory. In addition, our software can be used to monitor fast-selling products, keep tabs on slow sellers and otherwise help their purchasing decisions — something that’s vital in today’s borderless e-conomy.

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