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Companies need to incorporate advanced technologies such as data analytics and cloud to attract new-age retailers, finds Frost & Sullivan

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) has caused a sea change in the buying patterns of customers and, by extension, the market strategies of retailers. E-commerce and m-commerce have virtually transformed every store into a distribution center and retailers need to adopt technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID), videos, cameras, and data analytics to keep track of inventory in each outlet and, eventually, enhance customer experience management.

“Retailers are looking to empower their mobile workforce to enrich customers’ purchase experience, and this will augment investments in technologies such as handheld readers and smart point-of-sale (PoS) solutions,” said Ram Ravi, Industry Analyst for Industrials at Frost & Sullivan. “RFID sales will get a further boost from the intensifying focus on loss prevention, inventory management, and customer behavior analysis.”

Frost & Sullivan’s recent study, Analysis of Growth & Security of the Global RFID Market in Retail, Forecast to 2022, thoroughly examines the competitive structure and presents the market shares of the leading companies. The study includes forecasts, product analyses, market drivers and restraints, industry challenges, and key growth opportunities for the RFID tags, readers, and middleware segments.

“To cater to the changing retail environment, system integrators need to develop partnerships with data analytics and cloud service vendors,” noted Ravi. “The growing interest in item-level tagging in the retail industry will further augment RFID demand.”

RFID vendors are leveraging the rise of IoT and pursuing opportunities addressing retailers’ pain points by:

–Investing in technology to enhance shopper experience by empowering the mobile workforce and incorporating big data analytics to analyze customer behavior patterns and enable targeted marketing. Retailers will also apply this technology to boost employee efficiency.
–Focusing on strengthening security to enhance privacy.
–Ensuring a successful implementation by focusing on performance-related parameters such as antenna design, chip size and storage size.
–Shifting focus from in-store inventory management to total stock visibility to meet the requirements of omni-channel retailing.

Analysis of Growth & Security of the Global RFID Market in Retail, Forecast to 2022 is part of Frost & Sullivan’s global Automatic Identification & Security Growth Partnership Service program.

For over five decades, Frost & Sullivan has become world-renowned for its role in helping investors, corporate leaders and governments navigate economic changes and identify disruptive technologies, Mega Trends, new business models and companies to action, resulting in a continuous flow of growth opportunities to drive future success.

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Cerebri AI Selected for Mastercard Start Path; Leverages Mastercard’s “Do It Together” Approach to Connect Top Startups with Banks and Merchants

AUSTIN–Cerebri AI, the creator of the Cerebri Values system for enhanced customer experience, was one of 10 startups recently selected from a global pool of over 1,600 applicants to join Mastercard’s Start Path program.

An award-winning startup engagement program, Start Path taps into Mastercard’s global network – including its people, products and partnerships – to connect later-stage startups with banks and merchants all over the world. First launched during 2014, the Start Path program has built a global network of innovators committed to collaboration.

The Cerebri Values system automatically matches individual customers to offers at scale to rapidly and efficiently achieve KPIs. With a single, dynamic metric, Cerebri Values monitors the true brand commitment of the entire customer base and represents the collective voice of the customer in strategic discussions. Cerebri Values is the new science of CX, deployed on a SaaS basis behind the corporate firewall via a dedicated UX or as easily-integrated APIs.

“We are honored to be chosen for Mastercard Start Path, joining an elite class of emerging companies delivering innovative solutions to the financial services sector,” said Jean Belanger, Cerebri AI’s co-founder and CEO. “Connecting with Mastercard’s worldwide experts and business partners will help us accelerate our plans to transform customer experience into a competitive advantage for Fortune 500 enterprises.”

“Collaborative innovation between rising startups and leading organizations will drive scale, unlock new opportunities and propel the future of commerce,” said Amy Neale, vice president, Mastercard. “We welcome Cerebri AI to Start Path and our global network of cutting-edge payment and technology partners.”

Cerebri AI enables enterprises to measure the value of every customer interaction – sales, marketing, service – from the customer’s point of view. Our product, Cerebri Values, is the first true measure of customer experience (CX) and is incredibly easy to use – every interaction is valued in dollars. Cerebri Values also measures the impact of next best actions on customers’ commitment to brands and propensity to spend, maximizing customer-related KPIs. Headquartered in Austin with offices in Toronto and Washington, DC, the company has 50 employees who have been awarded over 130 patents to date.

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Exclusive PC Insiders subscription program open to more than 16 million PC Optimum members

BRAMPTON–Loblaw Companies has opened up the PC Insiders subscription program to all 16 million PC Optimum loyalty members. The program originally launched last year as a small invitation-only offer of exclusive rewards and e-commerce benefits for select PC Optimum members who were also PC Financial Mastercard cardholders. For an annual or monthly subscription fee, members were offered major rewards on Canada’s top brands and family essentials, as well as free pick-up and delivery on most of Loblaw’s nationwide e-commerce sites and conveniences.

“What started as a small test quickly ballooned, drawing more subscribers than we imagined, and a long waiting list. Today that wait is over, with an open invitation to customers nationwide,” said Sarah Davis, President, Loblaw Companies Limited. “We’ve packaged up the powerful combination of Canada’s favourite products and its most complete e-commerce network for families who want exceptional value and convenience.”

For the $99 annual subscription, PC Insiders members have access to the following exclusive value and convenience offers across Loblaw’s many brands, 2,500 stores, and national e-commerce network – including more than 600 PC Express pick-up sites:

–Free PC Express e-commerce grocery pickup (worth up to $260 annually for a weekly shopper)
–Free shipping from shoppersdrugmart.ca and joefresh.com (worth up to $92 annually for a monthly shopper)
–An extra 20% back in PC Optimum points on all brands of baby diapers and formula
–An extra 20% back in PC Optimum points on all purchases of PC Organics products, PC Black Label Collection products, Joe Fresh products including those from joefresh.com*, and luxury beauty items purchased online at shoppersdrugmart.ca
–A surprise home-delivered box of our favourite curated President’s Choice items
–A $99 travel credit annually, for eligible PC travel services bookings

“This launch is a big opportunity for our most loyal customers, as the more they use the subscription the more they will save and earn,” said Davis. “PC Optimum loyalty points are already in the wallet of 16 million Canadians, and this is a new opportunity for members who want to take their loyalty benefits to the next level.”

Over the last year, initial PC Insiders members have on average received benefits that are more than twice the value of the subscription costs, with some earning many times the price. The company used feedback from initial members to evolve program offers, tailoring its rewards. It expects the program will continue to evolve and grow.

Loblaw Companies Limited is Canada’s food and pharmacy leader and the nation’s largest retailer. Loblaw provides Canadians with grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, financial services, and wireless mobile products and services. With more than 2,400 corporate, franchised and Associate-owned locations, Loblaw, its franchisees, and Associate-owners employ approximately 200,000 full- and part-time employees, making it one of Canada’s largest private sector employers.

Loblaw’s purpose – Live Life Well® – puts first the needs and well-being of Canadians who make one billion transactions annually in the companies’ stores. Loblaw is positioned to meet and exceed those needs in many ways: convenient locations; more than 1,050 grocery stores that span the value spectrum from discount to specialty; full-service pharmacies at nearly 1,400 Shoppers Drug Mart® and Pharmaprix® locations and close to 500 Loblaw locations; PC Financial® financial services; affordable Joe Fresh® fashion and family apparel; and three of Canada’s top consumer brands in Life Brand®, no name® and President’s Choice®.

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Supremex Announces Plan to Optimize Costs at its Envelope Platform to Further Support Diversification into Packaging

MONTREAL–Supremex Inc.  the manufacturer and marketer of envelopes and a growing provider of paper-based packaging solutions, today announced a plan to reduce operating expenses at its Canadian envelope operations to improve resource allocation and further support the Company’s diversification strategy into the growing packaging market.

Supremex is reducing its Canadian envelope facilities headcount by a total of 41 employees, or approximately 8% of its Canadian envelope workforce. These measures will result in annual cost reductions of approximately $2.7 million, before taxes, which will progressively materialize in the current quarter and will take full effect in 2019. A one-time charge of approximately $1.4 million, before taxes, will be recorded in the Company’s 2018 fourth quarter results.

“We regret the effect that these measures will have on employees and their families, and wherever possible, we have transitioned employees to our packaging business and worked with them on early retirement possibilities. These cost cutting measures were necessary to improve operational efficiency and improve both competitiveness and profitability in our envelope business as we continue to prudently deploy resources into our packaging activities”, said Stewart Emerson, President & CEO of Supremex.

Supremex Inc. is a leading North American manufacturer and marketer of envelopes and a growing provider of paper-based packaging solutions. Supremex operates 12 facilities across seven provinces in Canada and three facilities in the United States employing approximately 830 people. Supremex’ growing footprint allows it to efficiently manufacture and distribute paper and packaging solutions designed to the specifications of major national and multinational corporations, resellers, government entities, SMEs and solutions providers.

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Voci Technologies, a leading speech analytics platform provider for enterprises, today launched a unique solution that empowers users to leverage voice biometric technology however they choose – from passive verification to active authentication. The solution, which features an open application programming interface (API) for custom development, stands apart by making state-of-the art voice biometrics technology easy for companies to use, implement and integrate with their existing solutions. This highly accurate technology can be used to prevent fraud, safeguard customer privacy, improve the customer experience, support e-discovery efforts and many other applications.

“There is a growing demand for voice-based biometrics in the marketplace,” said Anthony Gadient, co-founder and CEO of Voci Technologies. “As those who commit fraud become increasingly sophisticated, many companies are looking to add another level of protection. Our new biometrics solution makes it easy for companies to develop and integrate advanced voice-based biometrics technology into their current processes in a form that best meets their specific business needs.”

While most solutions provide active authentication technology, which requires customers to participate in the process by stating their name or a specific pass phrase, or spoken password, Voci’s technology takes it one step further. In addition to supporting active authentication, Voci’s new biometrics solution also enables passive verification – validating the speaker’s identity regardless of what he/she says. It is optimized to handle the challenges of telephone-quality speech.

Using passwords as a form of verification to prevent fraud is not only becoming inadequate for companies, but it is also a burden for their customers who must memorize numerous passwords for different sites and who want to be able to easily make payments and conduct business on the go. Juniper Research predicts that the number of mobile users authenticated by biometrics, such as facial or voice recognition, will jump from about 429 million this year to more than 1.5 billion in 2023.

In addition, by making it easy for customers to be identified, the solution enables a positive customer experience. By identifying customers through their voice, call centers, for example, can connect their most valuable customers with personalized customer support instead of having them communicate with chatbots.

Voci’s new technology can be deployed as a standalone solution or integrated with Voci’s advanced transcription technology, combining biometrics with a user-defined pass phrase to provide additional authentication security. Voci’s solutions address the combined speech and voice recognition market which is estimated to reach $31.82 billion by 2025.

Pittsburgh-based Voci Technologies combines artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning algorithms to deliver the best-in-class enterprise speech analytics platform. Voci’s innovative technology and strategic partnerships enable contact centers of all sizes to extract actionable intelligence from voice data to improve customer experience, operational efficiency and compliance requirements. Voci’s open platform gives its customers and partners the freedom to choose the deployment methods and analytic solutions that best meet their business needs. The company is backed by leading investors, including Grotech Ventures and Harbert Venture Partners.

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Advertising among least trusted sectors; Canadians demand better digital experiences; Companies win by earning loyalty through transparency, innovation

TORONTO–Nearly two-thirds of Canadians don’t trust any organization to see or hold their personal data, finds a new report from KPMG in Canada. The report Me, my Canadian life, my wallet, finds that Canadians are among the most distrusting in the world with nearly one-third (31 per cent) unwilling to share their personal data for anything.

“Companies need to recognize how valuable – and fleeting – customer trust is,” says Peter Hughes, Customer and Digital Services Leader, KPMG in Canada. “As consumers continue to migrate to online platforms and expectations for a leading digital experience rise, the companies who are able to earn customer trust will gain much needed insight that will deepen relationships and sales. Those that don’t will fail.”

Hughes is quick to note that findings like these present an incredible opportunity for Canadian businesses. Transparency and effective communication are key to reassuring customers that their data is in safe hands and that it is being used in their benefit. “Canadian businesses need to achieve that fine balance between providing a data-driven personalized experience, and winning customer trust. And they have to believe that if they don’t, their competitors will, wherever or whoever they may be.”

Canadians far less trusting than the rest of the world

I would not trade my data for anything, not even money

World: 24%

Canada: 31%

I don’t trust anyone with my search/browsing data

World: 35%

Canada: 54%

I don’t trust anyone with my Streaming/Media data

World: 34%

Canada: 52%

I don’t trust anyone with my mobile data (location, call history)

World: 31%

Canada: 48%

I don’t trust anyone with my work “social” data (LinkedIn)

World: 36%

Canada: 57%

China (91 per cent) and India (85 per cent) are the most trusting and willing to share their data.

“We saw a distinct split in terms of organizations that Canadians trusted and didn’t trust,” says Katie Bolla, Associate Principal, Customer and Digital Services, KPMG in Canada. “Most trust healthcare providers (63 per cent) and banks (61 per cent), likely because they believe the data they share with these organizations is well protected and provides them a benefit of an enhanced, personalized experience.

“On the other hand, advertisers (15 per cent), media (33 per cent) and telecom (33 per cent) were the least trusted by Canadians, largely because people don’t see the benefit to them of the data these firms hold – they view the data as being collected for the firm’s benefit. Consumers, especially Canadians, expect increased value in exchange for any data they share –we are no longer willing to just hand it over. It is imperative that organizations really target the data that they ask for and provide consumers compelling, relevant and rewarding experiences in exchange.”

Canadians split on who they trust with their data

Most trusted sectors:

• Healthcare providers (62 per cent)

• Banking Providers (60 per cent)

Least trusted sectors:

• Advertising (15 per cent)

• Telecom (31 per cent)

• Media (33 per cent)

Not surprisingly, customers are more likely to trust firms with the data relevant to their operations where the data could enhance the services/goods offered. Most Canadians (82 per cent) trust a banking provider with their financial data (71 per cent globally), but only six per cent (nine per cent globally) would trust retailers with this information. Likewise, 45 per cent of customers (47 per cent globally) would trust a telecom provider with their mobile data, but only four per cent (eight per cent globally) would trust advertisers.

“Canadians are generally comfortable when it comes to trusting their information to an organization or institution with whom they have a relationship, especially when they feel that the organization has a legitimate reason to collect it,” says Sylvia Kingsmill, National Leader, Digital Privacy and Compliance, Forensic Services. “But the implicit contract is that this data goes no further. It’s fine for the company to whom we knowingly provide our data to use this in ways we expect or consent to, but it’s simply not acceptable for this to be misused, manipulated, sold or exposed.

“Customers are beginning to understand the value of their data, and are much less inclined to give it out than they have been in the past,” adds Kingsmill. “Businesses need to be open and clear about why they’re asking for certain types of data, how they’re going to protect it, and with whom they’re planning to share it.”

The results of KPMG’s study demonstrate that businesses are dealing with more data-savvy customers who want to be in control. Two-thirds (64 per cent) of Canadians say they can determine what information is trustworthy (67 per cent globally).

Social & online data: the struggle is real
The study shows that Canadians are more willing to share financial data than social media or browser history data.

–57 per cent don’t trust anyone with their social media data (37 per cent globally)
–54 per cent with their search history or browsing data (35 per cent globally)
–63 per cent don’t trust behaviorally tracked ads (42 per cent globally)
–30 per cent wouldn’t trust any type of business with their financial data (24 per cent globally).

“Canadian customers are anxious, with younger generations feeling it the most,” says Hughes. “They like new technology but are concerned about handing over personal data, and what that could mean for their privacy and security. We see more and more organizations looking to monetize the data they hold – whether that’s what we put in our shopping basket, how many times a week we exercise, or what we choose to watch.

“Yet many haven’t fully grasped the concerns Canadians have about how that data is collected and managed. Organizations need to continue to evolve digitally because the demand will continue to grow, especially from new Canadians who, in many cases, only know the online world. But if they want to collect quality data on their customers they also need to understand that trust is a non-negotiable. The smartest businesses I work with understand this new environment and use it to earn customer loyalty.”

Hughes notes that businesses can earn that loyalty by following three rules for success:

Be open about why you’re asking for certain types of data, how you will protect it, whether it is sold or shared outside the organization, and reward customers for sharing their data with you
Manage increasing expectations by continually innovating and being ready to deliver new digital and mobile experiences
Live a corporate culture that values the customer from every corner of the organization.

KPMG conducted an extensive, global study which included a survey of almost 25,000 customers around the world, including almost 2,500 in Canada. Further context was provided by an in-depth ethnographic interviews with customer on the ground in these same eight countries. *A supplementary global survey of 4,900 customers was conducted (over 600 in Canada) following the initial Global KPMG study.

The 2018 Me, my life, my wallet report is a deep dive into the story of today’s customer and the ways humans from every corner of the globe are both fiercely individual but also experiencing a world of technology convergence and changing cultural landscape – and what that means for how they earn, spend and save.

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GoDaddy Canada announces new add-ons for Website Builder through integrations with Google, Canada Post, Square and PayPal

TORONTO–GoDaddy, the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures, today launched new features for GoDaddy Website Builder. These new add-ons make it easier for small business owners to be searchable online while providing additional services to their customers. New capabilities include the integration of Google My Business, Online Appointments and collaborations with Square, PayPal and Canada Post.

“Our goal is to continually offer new features and enhancements to our product lineup that help small business owners grow their business online,” says Jill Schoolenberg, Vice President and Country Manager, Canada at GoDaddy. “We will continue to partner with companies that provide meaningful services to our customers.”

Google My Business
Attracting customers who are searching for local businesses is of utmost importance for a small business in Canada. Most people start their research on Google. Now, with GoDaddy Website Builder, small business owners can create a “Google My Business” local listing that appears in search results and in Google Maps, which can include the business name, address, phone number and website, all in one easy to find location on the search results page.

Website owners are notified through their Website Builder portal when reviews are posted so they can take action and track performance. Google My Business integration with Website Builder enables businesses to create, edit and manage their Google My Business listing right from their GoDaddy dashboard.

“For small businesses, it is becoming more important to be found on Google, to help attract potential new customers to their business. At GoDaddy we are committed to helping small businesses more easily connect and engage with their customers,” said Justin Tsai, VP Product Management for GoDaddy. ” Having a Canada small business be found on Google search results with quick information, on any device, is now easier with Website Builder’s new integration with Google My Business.”

Online Appointments
Almost 80 per cent of Canada’s 1.1M small businesses are services-based. To make the lives of these small business owners a little easier, and their websites more engaging to help drive results, GoDaddy now offers a new feature called “Online Appointments” which allows customers to integrate appointment setting right into their website.

The Online Appointments feature gives businesses, across a range of industries, the ability to let clients book appointments online 24×7 for their desired service. This can be used by a variety of businesses from snow removal and landscaping to home care services, massage therapists and medical professionals. Tutors, contractors, yoga studios, gyms, restaurants, hair stylists and more will all benefit from being able to manage appointments with Website Builder.

Website Builder Online Appointments lets customers quickly and easily schedule appointments online. It enables two-way calendar syncing with calendars from Apple, Google and Microsoft. Business owners will see appointments on their calendars immediately to help eliminate double-booking. Online Appointments also provides automated text notifications and email reminders to both business owners and customers, so appointments are not forgotten.

Integration with Square, PayPal and Canada Post
Another set of value-added features recently added include integration with Square, PayPal and Canada Post. Website Builder users can now also accept payments for services and products either online or in-person through the new Square and PayPal integrations, providing a more secure and reliable payment system for business owners and customers alike. If customers partially pay for a service, Website Builder automatically keeps track of what has been paid and what remains. For example, a snow remover can request customers to make an upfront deposit online, and then have the customer pay in-full after the full service has been completed.

In addition, GoDaddy has partnered with Canada Post to allow for more shipping options, such as standard, rush, priority. GoDaddy will now provide shipping estimates and tracking information within Website Builder through the Canada Post integration, which makes it easier for small business owners to ship products across the country.

GoDaddy Website Builder provides small business owners an easy-to-use tool to create a website. With thousands of templates to choose from, integrated marketing and SEO capabilities, e-commerce features and now Online Appointments, Website Builder continues to help Canadian entrepreneurs more efficiently manage their business and build a strong online presence.

GoDaddy powers the world’s largest cloud platform dedicated to small, independent ventures. With over 18 million customers worldwide and more than 77 million domain names under management, GoDaddy is the place people come to name their idea, build a professional website, attract customers and manage their work. Our mission is to give our customers the tools, insights and the people to transform their ideas and personal initiative into success.

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Taking bold actions now will allow Canadian retailers to thrive in the future consumer world

TORONTO–The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for Canadian retailers. And to keep making shoppers’ wishes come true over the next few years, retailers will need to find new ways of creating experiences and capturing value for the next generation of consumers.

“We’ve seen consumers change the way they shop, discover products and ultimately buy due to the influence of new technologies, innovative business models and disruptive brands,” says Ted Salter, EY Canada Consumer Products and Retail Leader. “Retailers can’t rest on the peak of holiday shopping to carry them into the future. Consumer-facing industries will soon change beyond recognition.”

To stay relevant for the future consumer, and to shape their evolution, retailers need to anticipate a range of probable, possible and plausible futures. Establishing a competitive advantage for tomorrow starts by addressing these five imperatives today:

  1. Challenge every assumption. Retailers need to rapidly experiment and scale the ideas that succeed as fast changing consumer needs turn heritage into baggage.
  2. Choose their tribe. Future consumers will be much more tribal in their loyalty. Retailers must refocus their purpose on the stakeholders who matter most to their business.
  3. Win every micro-moment. Retailers must be in constant competition for superfluid consumers. They can shape demand by continually adapting what they offer, when they offer it and at what price by using data to tailor each individual consumer journey.
  4. Replace brand promise with transparent impact. Today, retailers try to engage consumers by promising them a unique benefit. In the future, they’ll need to deliver measurable outcomes and not let consumers take it on trust.
  5. Master the ecosystem. The challenge for leaders today is to anticipate what ecosystems might emerge, identify those they want to create and decide where in the ecosystem they want to play. The focus should be exclusively on where and how they can add value.

“Disruption follows a timeline that is impossible to predict. But the direction is clear, buying habits are changing,” says Daniel Baer, EY Canada Consumer Products and Retail Assurance Leader. “Companies can avoid making the mistakes of those once-strong, now gone, retailers who failed to evolve by planning for the future consumer now.”

Canadian retailers are expected to have a solid holiday season for sales, although the early onslaught of winter in Eastern Canada, the rotating strikes at Canada Post, recent economic headlines, and a promotional retail environment will ensure that the holiday season is not as strong as it otherwise might have been.

Retailers cannot be lulled into a false sense of security by the relatively strong retail environment of the last several years, and need to respond to the new consumer over the near term. Consumers are focused on traditional holiday purchases including clothing, electronics, books and music – but how and where they buy continues to evolve. The “how” is increasingly through mobile device and smart assistants. The “where” is online and from non-traditional sources, such as second-hand marketplaces and direct from consumer brands manufacturers.

EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

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AcuityAds Comprehensive Study on the State of Audience Attention to Digital Advertising Has Surprises

TORONTO–AcuityAds, a technology leader that provides targeted digital media solutions by leveraging its proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to enable advertisers to connect intelligently with audiences across digital advertising campaigns, today announced the release of a new research report entitled “Attention: The New Media Currency”. The insights represent findings from a recent study conducted with over 200 brand marketers on the topic of capturing audience attention through video advertising.

“The advertising industry by and large has conquered the reach problem,” commented Seraj Bharwani, Chief Strategy Officer at AcuityAds. “Advertisers can reach most audience groups with remarkable precision using audience segmentation and classification systems provided by existing advertising technologies. Unfortunately, what remains out of reach is viewer attention.”

The research revealed a significant disconnect between what marketers believe as important to achieving consumer attention and the actual evidence.

Alex Panousis, President of Havas Media Canada highlighted the importance of the attention issue, “Everything in digital media is secondary to driving attention. As an industry, we need to better understand the factors impacting our ability to do this. The use of data and technology put part of the equation within advertiser control, so they can achieve a critical competitive advantage in today’s crowded media environment.”

The research report precedes a sequence of industry events where AcuityAds will be presenting the findings, along with strategies for tackling the attention issue, including at the upcoming American Marketing Association’s Looking Ahead Into The 2019 Marketing Landscape event on December 12th in Toronto, Canada. The full report can be accessed online here.

AcuityAds is a leading technology company that provides marketers a powerful and holistic solution for digital advertising across all ad formats and screens to amplify reach and Share of Attention throughout the customer journey. Via its unique, data-driven insights, real-time analytics and industry-leading activation platform based on proprietary Artificial Intelligence technology, AcuityAds leverages an integrated ecosystem of partners for data, inventory, brand safety and fraud prevention, offering unparalleled, trusted solutions that the most demanding marketers require to be successful in the digital era.

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Canadian retailers stepping up to disruption, but feeling the pressure

TORONTO–Widespread disruption from technology, shifting consumer behaviours and preferences across demographic groups, and changing economic impact continue to radically transform retail in Canada, says KPMG’s Willy Kruh, Consumer and Retail National Leader, High Growth Markets, KPMG in Canada and Global Chair for Consumer Markets.

“Technological disruption has fundamentally changed the retail experience, but many Canadian retailers are still playing catch up,” says Kruh. “Retailers today not only have to compete with fierce e-commerce competitors, including large global platform companies, but also respond to rapidly shifting shopping expectations driven by new technologies and demographic changes. Recognition is only half-way to doing something, and too many Canadian retailers are not keeping pace with the fact that consumers and their shopping habits are undergoing a sea-change.”

E-commerce adoption on the rise
KPMG’s forthcoming Me, My Life, My Wallet report, an extensive multi-dimensional study of consumers in the digital era, shows that an increasing number of Canadian shoppers are turning to online channels, led by the fast-growing Gen Y and Z demographics. While e-commerce adoption in Canada lags other developed countries, Canadians’ buying habits are evolving and they are gradually migrating online, driven by the growing need for convenience and personalization.

Kruh explains, “Traditional retailers are facing an urgent choice: be relevant or go out of business as pressure mounts in the face of innovative online, omni-channel and specialty competitors. Canadian retailers who fail to respond to this rapidly changing environment are likely to face dire choices, including store closures.”

E-commerce share of retail sales in Canada is expected to grow year-over-year, but is still less than 10 per cent of overall retail. An increasing number of retailers are responding by using technology to improve the customer experience either through innovative in-store experiences, artificial intelligence, online channels, loyalty programs or tech-enabled touch points. However Canadian consumers are slower to adopt digital commerce than their counterparts in the U.S., the UK and Europe.

Rise of Generation Y
Millennials will soon be the world’s largest single demographic grouping and they are already the largest generation in the Canadian workforce. Close to four in 10 Millennials live with their parents, and these parents are closer to their kids than any generation before. The merging of these two huge cohorts is reshaping retailing in Canada.

“Millennials tend to be very tech savvy and that is rubbing off on their Boomer parents,” says Kruh. “This is accelerating the shift to online and experience-based shopping, but still too many Canadian retailers are stuck in a Boomer mentality.”

Big data needs a big re-think
Data has transformed the consumer and retail sector as sophisticated analytics and an openness to big data can help organizations with their digital transformation strategies. Analytics can give fresh insight into everything from store location to product selection and, crucially, the cost to serve a customer.

However, according to our upcoming Me, My Life, My Wallet report, Canadian consumers are among the least trusting in the world with their personal data. More than 30 per cent of Canadians surveyed would not trade their data for anything; 54 per cent are anxious about identity theft; 46 per cent are concerned about the unauthorized tracking of their online habits; and 63 per cent do not trust behaviourally-tracked ads. Tellingly, only 6 per cent of Canadian consumers trust retailers with their data, among the lowest ranked industries.

“Companies must begin to appreciate that the modern customer is highly aware of the worst ways in which their data can be misused,” notes Kruh. “From hacking to unwarranted tracked advertising, customer are rightly worried. Transparency and better communication will go a long way to reassuring customers that their data is in safe hands and that it is being used in their benefit.”

He adds: “Every business needs to think hard about how to use data responsibly to build deeper insights and relationships with their customers. And they have to know that if they don’t, their competitors will.”

The case for brick-and-mortar
The majority (71 per cent) of Canadian consumers surveyed in the Me, My Life, My Wallet study believed that brick-and-mortar stores will not disappear. Half of consumers surveyed in Canada across four demographic groups do a mix of online and brick-and-mortar shopping, and most still have a positive view of traditional malls and grocery stores, in particular. Food, clothing and household goods, for example, were noted as items that consumers prefer to purchase in-store, as well as those purchased most frequently.

“Many retailers will have to right-size their portfolio of stores, but they are also planning new business models or re-evaluating the in-store experience to offer hybrid experiences for customers,” adds Kruh. “Retailers must have a clear understanding of where and how they’re investing so they can fully benefit from the connected-customer approach. Only then will they be able to deliver what consumers want.”

A number of companies that started solely online are now beginning to introduce physical “showrooms” to offer virtual-physical experiences for customers. For instance, some players in the grocery space are eyeing even more locations in the years to come. Indeed, retail companies are developing new business models, or rethink existing ones, in direct responses to the “new normal” in the shopping world.

“Amid disruption from the Amazons of the world, retailers should focus on creating value and innovating on the links between online and physical shopping,” says Kruh. “Every business needs to think hard about how to cater to what customers find relevant and enhance their overall experience. Today, consumers are most keen on digital experiences that improve and complement the physical environment around them.”

Lured by discounts
Brands are also increasingly treating social media as a sales platform, a move that reflects the growing importance of social media in e-commerce. Yet a sizeable segment (42 per cent) of Canadian consumers surveyed by KPMG do not find a brand’s social media presence important, higher than their global counterparts (29 per cent) surveyed in the same study. If they were to engage with a brand on social media, however, about half (48 per cent) of Canadians surveyed said they would respond positively if they were offered a deal or discounts.

“One of the biggest Canadian shopper segment is Generation Y parents looking to stretch the family budget. The most likely route to persuading them to hand over their personal data is to offer deals and better experience in exchange,” says Kruh.

KPMG conducted an extensive, global study which included a survey of almost 25,000 consumers in the UK, US, Brazil, UAE, France, Canada, China and India. Further context was provided by an in-depth ethnographic interviews with consumers on the ground in these same eight countries. *A supplementary global survey of 4,900 consumers was conducted following the initial Global KPMG study.

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