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The moment a customer completes a purchase is an emotional high point in their buying journey. Their decision fatigue has ended, and the customer has found something they love. We’ve all experienced this firsthand. While the customer’s shopping experience has come to an “end”, in reality, the ball is just passing into the retailer’s court. Unless you’re selling a product that the customer is taking with them, there is still work to be done to ensure a successful purchase. Retailers have many opportunities to keep the upward momentum of consumer happiness going. Now that the purchase is complete, it’s up to the retailer to successfully fulfill that order.

We have all experienced this in our personal shopping journeys. Two weeks ahead of Christmas, my siblings and I were thrilled to have finally found a present to buy for our parents. We decided on a new kitchen island, however, the process of finding one we had loved that would be available for the big day proved challenging. We ultimately chose one slated to arrive a full five days ahead of Christmas, giving us ample time to set it up for a surprise reveal.

Much of fulfillment success lies on the state of a retailer’s warehouse and unfortunately, this retail got it all wrong. On the day we were anticipating our delivery, we received an automated email saying the shipment was going to be delayed without an explanation. Since the delivery only moved two days out, we decided not to let it ruin our holiday spirit. But when the next delay arrived with only three days until Christmas, we sprung into action. We called on the retailer to find out where our product was. They regrettably let us know that they hadn’t adequately forecasted demand and had under-planned delivery routes. We weren’t the only customers whose presents were simply not going to make it. We felt sympathy for the customer service representative who had clearly been relaying this message to unhappy shoppers all day. Since we only lived an hour from the warehouse, we asked if we could go there to pick it up ourselves.

At this point, the real fulfillment issues were just starting to unfold. As we were on our way, we got a call stating that the merchandise was not actually in the warehouse and in fact, they had no idea where it was. In the long run, the product’s delivery was canceled and rescheduled several more times and the kitchen island didn’t arrive until three weeks after Christmas had passed. The retailer took a big hit on their margins to make up for the confusion from physical money they refunded us, time wasted, and resource inefficiencies. Further, our likelihood of purchasing from that retailer in the future has evaporated. It was simply not worth the headaches, constant last-minute rescheduling, and long hold times on customer service calls, despite the big discount we ultimately received. The purchase experience was a lose-lose for all parties involved.

As a customer who is also an employee of a retail technology company, I am baffled that these issues can still arise. There are so many technologies out there that can be put into place to avoid these compounding mishaps. Curious as to why some retailers get delivery fulfillment right every time and why others don’t, I spoke with Evelyn Medina. She is a member of our Consulting Services Team, who has 25 years of training experience working in retailers’ warehouses. Many best practices come from instituting advanced technologies but many also stem from good habits and organizational processes. Evelyn knows this firsthand as she can often be found onsite helping retailers improve their warehouse processes and implement technologies such as Advanced Warehouse Management and RF Barcode. Along the way, she has collected many key do’s and don’ts for warehouse organization and fulfillment that are valuable tidbits for helping retailers keep positive momentum.

Establishing Expectations: Evelyn noted that if your warehouse isn’t established with foundational principles, the advanced technologies will only go so far. The first priority should be establishing strong managers to run your warehouse. It’s all about leading by example and implementing systems of organization. Cleanliness is also a huge factor for success. So much of how a warehouse operates depends on efficient movement from one stage to the next. If your people and machinery are physically tripping over misplaced merchandise or miscellaneous debris, your team will be slowed down.

Receiving: Next, it’s all about getting the merchandise into the right warehouse location from the get-go. Merchandise being left in places it wasn’t assigned to can be a common, but a fixable problem that is remedied by proper training and management. It’s an organizational best practice to use barcode scanning to place merchandise coming in on a purchase order into a receiving dock. Some retailers can choose to use cross-docks to avoid putting merchandise into the warehouse that will be on an outbound delivery truck soon. Merchandise that will end up in the warehouse lands there through the Bin to Bin Transfer process, which assigns a piece to its ultimate destination off the receiving dock. Many retailers organize their warehouse by upholstery, case goods, bedding and so on to establish patterns. When putting merchandise in its place, train your team to position the items with the label facing out right. This makes the process of scanning items in and out of the warehouse expedient.

Picking, Prepping & Packing: Getting merchandise out for delivery is just as important as getting it in. There are some tried and true tips for picking to help run a tight warehouse. Retailers can alternate pick sequencing of their warehouse to flow picking machinery around aisles in an optimal traffic pattern. Pickers can be limited to sections of the warehouse, so they literally avoid bumping heads. Also, barcode scanners can be sent commands to pull products by route or order type dependent on demand. Retailers can prioritize picks that have special parameters such as if assembly or inspection is required, so these items can be reviewed earlier in the process of packing for delivery. Organizing trucks by reverse stop times also make for productive use of delivery time on the road.

Labels & Checkpoints: Throughout each stage, retailers want to ensure that new labels are printed, and the merchandise is scanned. Establishing good habits for keeping track of piece movement promotes the organization and minimizes the risk of theft. Retailers can monitor this by routinely cycle counting areas of their warehouse. These surprise spot checks help promote follow through of best practices on a regular basis. Of course, an annual or semi-annual Physical Inventory provides the most accurate picture of your warehouse’s effectiveness and can alert management of potential issues.

Premium Space: Finally, one of the biggest hurdles to an optimized warehouse is slow moving merchandise. Many retailers find their valuable warehouse space is being taken up by unpopular items. It is recommended to review an 80/20 Sales Report and Slow-Movers Report to avoid sitting on unproductive merchandise. Instead of holding on to inventory that is slowing your turnover rates, move the items to clearance or a reduced sale price and make space for high turning pieces.

Evelyn’s advice comes from seeing all different warehouse types and sizes operated throughout the industry. If the retailer I had ordered from over the holidays had applied just some of these tips, my bet is they would have had many happier customers and built a better brand reputation. Fortunately, you can take these insights and apply them to your warehouse. After all, the warehouse is a valuable space that serves a retailer’s ability to maintain the feeling of satisfaction the customer felt at the point of purchase all the way through to the delivery to their home.

Read more in our Ultimate Guide to Logistics and Delivery Fulfilment.

Tips from an Experienced Warehouse Trainer to Avoid Common Pitfalls was last modified: April 6th, 2019 by STORIS Marketing Team

The post Tips from an Experienced Warehouse Trainer to Avoid Common Pitfalls appeared first on STORIS.

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This winter, I enjoyed time on the road engaging firsthand with many home furnishings retailers. At the FMG Symposium, Top 100 retailers talked strategy, while Las Vegas Market buzzed with energy. Casual furniture retailers at the ICFA Educational Conference networked with one another. The stories of the current retail market have a consistent thread, regardless of the many differences among individual retailers. What became apparent from these conversations is that retailers need to look at their customer journey holistically to keep up with dynamic shoppers.

One question I heard often was how to attract new customers. While I am a firm believer in testing advertising and diversifying your marketing mix, a digital presence today is of the utmost importance. One of the best areas a retailer can invest in is their website and digital marketing strategy. Sometimes that’s a financial investment, but often it’s a time commitment to keep up with strong SEO practices. It’s nothing new that the first place customers go to research retail establishments is Google. What is always changing, however, is how to stay at the top of Google rankings. Here are 5 key SEO trends for 2019:

  1. Mobile 1st – Google’s Mobile 1st Index is critical to optimize around. Do you know what percentage of your website traffic occurs on a phone or tablet? First, check your site with “Think with Google’s Test My Site.” Every second it takes your site to load on a phone, a percentage of your hard-earned traffic bounces off your site. This tool not only provides a benchmark site speed but also provides tactical suggestions to enhance your website.
  1. Featured Snippets – When a user searches for a question on Google, answer boxes give prominence to the chosen result on a Search Engine Results Page. While this might be appreciated as a user of the internet, as a business it poses a challenge. Now we have to be number 1 in rankings and we must earn the Featured Snippet. This is especially important because this is the answer often read by Alexa, Siri, and Google Home during a voice search. When a challenge arises, the best thing to do is break it down into smaller steps. Audit live SERP results of your top keywords and see what Featured Snippets are available for you to earn. Next, write content to help you gain the coveted box for your most important keywords.
  1. Schema Mark Up- Google continues to fine tune how it learns about your business. Using Schema Mark Up is a great way to easily feed Google the data it wants. Hosting a promotional event or looking to highlight strong product reviews? Tell Google explicitly through mark up code they can easily showcase in their search results.
  1. Local Search Results – Local search gives every business a chance to lead in their own markets. The information available in your Google business sidebar is growing in both the level of detail, available information types, and imagery available to the customer. Make sure to optimize the content seen here because it’s often the cover your book is judged by. Further, Google is surveying customers to populate this information, therefore ensuring a good customer experience will promote positive reviews of your public profile later.
  1. Unique Content Marketing – One of the challenges retailers face is how to differentiate their site when they sell products available elsewhere in the market. In other words, how do you communicate to Google that your site is worth a top spot and how do you convince customers to purchase from you? It’s important to add content to your site that isn’t about the products and that is unique to your business only. From a local perspective, focus on pages that instill a sense of community, showcase design work you’ve done in your local market, and discuss charitable initiatives. Determine an educational piece you can create a following with.

Digital marketing is a key step to winning over new customers and building a holistic customer journey.  SEO is a constant learning experience. I recommend reviewing further advice from the experts at Moz’s in their 14 SEO Predictions for 2019, a worthwhile read for any retailer.

An Overview of Today’s SEO Best Practices was last modified: March 7th, 2019 by STORIS Marketing Team

The post An Overview of Today’s SEO Best Practices appeared first on STORIS.

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Security is a focus of the utmost importance as it relates to payment methods and technology networks in today’s retail environment.  The final pillar of the Boston Retail Partner 2019 POS/Customer Engagement Survey is Secure.  Today, consumers expect that retailers will protect their data and ensure a safe experience. As customers are becoming more comfortable providing retailers with their personal information, retailers must take necessary steps to protect that data.

According to the BRP study, customers are likely to allow retailers to have their purchase history, personal preferences, and personal details, but 33% stated they are less likely to allow retailers to save their credit card details.  Retailers must balance gathering customer data while maintaining their trust.  Data plays a large role in developing a compelling customer experience.  It gives retailers the ability to personalize customer interactions, plan merchandise assortments, and make strategic business decisions.  While accessing customer information offers the opportunity to customize experiences, it also provides the risk for data theft and fraud.  Retailers must address data protection.  Having a strong security plan in place can ensure retailers are proactively using best practices.

Retailers are moving towards a multi-layer security plan to ensure the protection of sensitive customer data.  The first major line of defense is end-to-end encryption (E2EE), which prevents third parties from accessing data throughout the system. Only the authorized parties have access to the encryption keys.  E2EE has significantly increased over the past few years with a reported 61% of retailers utilizing this technology defense method. 

Another protective layer in retail security involves tokenization, which enables retailers to remove sensitive information from the network by substituting payment card data with a token.  38% of respondents in the study have implemented a single token across their business and 37% plan to implement within the next 3 years.

In addition, a cloud solution provides increased security and data protection in which customer and associated information will reside at a data center instead of at the store level.  STORIS’ cloud furniture retail solution is hosted in a premier data center and integrates every aspect of a business, giving retailers unique visibility into all transactional processes.  By centralizing point of sale, customer management, and inventory control, retailers gain valuable business intelligence.  At STORIS, we understand the importance of protection.

For a decade, STORIS has taken the initiative to ensure its ERP software is PA-DSS compliant.  Since release 8.8, STORIS has been listed as a validated payment application on the PCI Security Standards Council website (https://www.pcisecuritystandards.org ), working closely with a Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) to fully understand security requirements. In addition to being dedicated to providing the utmost security with debit and credit card processing, STORIS understands the importance to secure Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and has focused continuous efforts in the encryption and storage of this data.

In addition, STORIS’ certification for Security Management Plan (SMP) is currently 90% completed.  The SMP was partially voluntary and implemented to ensure advanced security measures and policies are created and addressed to in all STORIS offices and for all STORIS employees and visitors.

Retailers are understanding that POS software needs to be updated regularly to keep up technology advancements, yet 30% of retailers continue to operate with POS hardware that is at least six years old.  With technology capabilities rapidly expanding and security rising in importance, guaranteeing the security of data is recommended as a top retail initiative in 2019.

Click here for complimentary access to the Boston Retail Partners 2019 POS/Customer Engagement Survey PDF.
Security of Data: A Top Retail Initiative was last modified: March 1st, 2019 by STORIS Marketing Team

The post Security of Data: A Top Retail Initiative appeared first on STORIS.

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Today’s customer journey occurs across multiple channels requiring retailers to provide a seamless personalized experience.  This brings us to our third pillar of the Boston Retail Partners 2019 POS/Customer Engagement Survey, seamless customer experience.

Consumers are constantly shopping, researching, and purchasing via their mobile devices, online, or in-stores. The ability to create a shopping cart that is easily accessible wherever and whenever consumers choose helps to provide consistency.  56% of consumers in the BRP Consumer Study indicated that they were likely to shop at a retailer that allowed them to have a shared cart across channels.  Today, it’s natural for the consumer to crisscross channels: shop and review products online and then purchase in-store or shop in-store and then purchase online. Unified technology allows the shopping journey to be seamless for both the retailer and consumer.

What is Unified Commerce?  BRP states, “Unified Commerce is a single, centralized commerce platform, and technology integration that allows real-time access to information across the ecosystem.”  Retailers are increasingly turning to Unified Commerce Solutions in order to deliver a consistent shopping experience across channels.  75% of consumers indicate a strong preference for shopping at retailers that offer consistent pricing, promotions, and product assortment across all channels.  Unified Commerce enables retailers to identify their customers and analyze data across all channels instantaneous.

In order to enable a Unified Commerce Platform, retailers are moving towards a cloud-based service.  The cloud enables retailers to significantly reduce infrastructure, improve security, and increase operational efficiencies by centralizing management of all data and processes.  Today there are network technologies that are robust, fast, reliable and resilient, which is significant in supporting a cloud-based platform across multiple channels.  The “always connected” customer adds pressure for retailers to ensure they can provide a secure, high-speed network to support this shopping environment.  Continuing to invest in technologies and sophisticated networks that can keep up with the ever-changing shopping experience is key for retailers to gain a competitive advantage.

Industry-focused technology partners are critical to creating the required seamless experience.  STORIS’ Unified Commerce solution is developed to help home furnishings retailers maximize their revenue potential across channels.  It consists of STORIS’ Point of Sale, eCommerce, Mobile POS, Kiosk, and Customer Experience Management (CXM) platforms that are connected through the STORIS shopping cart.  All data, including customer and product information, sales orders, inventory, and pricing, is updated in real-time.  STORIS’ cloud-based solution is highly configurable and scalable to deliver enterprise-class features and dependent functionality.

The importance of updating data in real-time and easily accessing product and customer information across channels continues to grow exponentially as shopping behavior shifts.  94% of retailers indicate they have or plan to implement a Unified Commerce platform within the next 3 years.  Offering customers the ability to shop anywhere, anytime is key to meet customer demands.  A unified experience has become the new model in the retail environment and is necessary to succeed in the home furnishings industry.

Click here for complimentary access to the Boston Retail Partners 2019 POS/Customer Engagement Survey PDF.
The Importance of a Seamless Customer Experience was last modified: February 22nd, 2019 by STORIS Marketing Team

The post The Importance of a Seamless Customer Experience appeared first on STORIS.

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Mobile Technology is the second key pillar of customer experience that the Boston Retail Partner 2019 POS/Customer Engagement Survey identifies. As customers are using different channels to create their own retail experiences, the opportunities mobile devices offer are significant to retailers.

Today, consumers use their smartphones to research products, compare prices, buy products online, and pay for in-store purchases.  The convenience of mobile devices has changed shopping behaviors and elevated expectations.  There is no stopping the power of mobile technology. In fact, 41% of consumers in the BRP study indicate they plan to increase their shopping frequency on their phone/tablet in the next 24 months.

Mobile devices also present retailers the opportunity to enhance the customer experience.  They can be used as a tool for sales associates to influence customer’s buying decisions before they get to the checkout line.  The ability to quickly look up a customer’s purchase history, shopping cart, or product information will help associates provide exceptional customer service directly on the sales floor.  Providing real-time data without physical limitations is critical to delivering quality service to tech-savvy shoppers.  Store associates often feel more confident and independent with intuitive mobile technology they find easy and efficient to use.

The most beneficial customer-facing mobile services retailers are using today are prior purchase history (67%), product information such as price, location, and availability (65%), personal recommendations (59%), mobile coupons, specials and promotions (57%), mobile loyalty programs (57%), and shopping carts/wish lists (53%).

Mobile technology in the hands of consumers and retail associates is driving the transformation of the customer engagement model.  This shift will help enhance the customer experience across all channels.   Accessibility and demand for mobile devices are driving retailers to upgrade their in-store technology to stay ahead of the competition as well as aligning their brand with the interest of online consumers.

STORIS’ mobile technology is designed to elevate the customer’s experience on the showroom floor.  Retailers can access the entire STORIS solution as well as create, edit, and complete shopping carts. STORIS’ mobile point of sale can simplify everyday business activities with efficient access to information. Store associates can easily complete orders, search for available inventory quantities, promotional pricing, product imagery, and delivery dates in real-time. STORIS’ mobile POS provides retailers with a unified retail technology that gives them a competitive advantage.

Over the next year, the use of mobile devices and tablets, both in the hands of associates and customers, will continue to increase.  Retailers must continue to improve their mobile capabilities through refined processes, enhanced technology, and trained associates.  Customer-facing mobile technology is becoming a powerful tool and will continue to provide retailers with the advantage they need to improve their customer service.

Click here for complimentary access to the Boston Retail Partners 2019 POS/Customer Engagement Survey PDF.
The Power of Mobile Technology was last modified: February 12th, 2019 by STORIS Marketing Team

The post The Power of Mobile Technology appeared first on STORIS.

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Aiman Abrahim began at STORIS in November 2017, as a Packet Administrator in our Application Development Department. In his time here, Aiman has worked on various projects including processing projects and resolving Automatic Update cases for STORIS clients. He has been designing and implementing a new .NET application to simplify the job process. He is known as a team player within the company by assisting our QA and Development departments with packet system related requests.

Aiman has been given a number of opportunities since starting at STORIS, always embracing the chance to learn while having fun along the way.

Outside of STORIS, Aiman and his brother are big fitness enthusiasts. They began their fitness adventures right out of high school and fell in love with the amount of passion and dedication it requires. In addition to fitness, Aiman enjoys watching suspense, action, and superhero movies.

Official Title: Development Support Technician

What do you do in your position on a daily basis: I make sure packets get processed and become available to clients. In STORIS, a packet is a new code set that brings additional features or updates to the application. They are added to the software in between major releases through Automatic Updates. Packets are like a blueprint. They are created, tested, and then run through a final approval process that mimics what clients would do in order to download and install these packets. I develop our internal packet system and Automatic Update system. Currently, I have the opportunity to develop and test a new .NET application to simplify the job process. The application was designed with a general idea in mind: to allow us access to data across multiple servers/accounts at the same time.

What do you like most about working at STORIS: The best thing about working at STORIS is being able to work on various projects that continually help me grow. When I first started, I was immediately given the opportunity to complete a redesign to several Dynamic Tab Settings (DTS) screens. I jumped right in during my first month working at STORIS and as the months passed, the projects became, not only more challenging but more exciting as well.

If you were not in this field, what would you be: If I wasn’t in the IT world, I would probably be in the health industry. I would do something like personal training or athletic development since I have a lot of interest in these fields.

Do you have any hobbies/hidden talents: A hidden hobby of mine is art. I’ve always had an artsy side, but I’ve never really been vocal about it. It’s been a while since I’ve had time to sit down and draw, but I think I’ll get back to it soon.

Favorite holiday: My favorite holiday would be Thanksgiving. Not only do you get to see your family, but you get to eat a lot of delicious food & dessert.

Favorite month of the year: My favorite month is October. Not only because my birthday is this month, but something about the seasons changing visually puts my heart and mind at ease.

Favorite food: My favorite type of food is Sushi. There are so many different flavors being combined into small bite-size portions. The best part is the variety.

What do you usually do when you aren’t working: When I’m not working, I usually hang out with my siblings. We’ve been fairly close since childhood. I have an older sister and two younger brothers.

Favorite place you’ve traveled to and why: Switzerland. The atmosphere there is just on a different level than anywhere else I’ve been to. It’s clear and refreshing. The people are extremely active – in fact, I saw more people walking and riding bikes than driving.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be & why: This may seem odd, but I feel as though being able to slow down time would probably be the coolest superpower. If you had more time to think and react, the possibilities could be endless.

Favorite color: My favorite color is white. It matches with everything.

Fun fact that many people may not know about you: Mean Girls is probably my favorite movie.

STORIS Spotlight: Aiman Abrahim was last modified: February 8th, 2019 by STORIS Marketing Team

The post STORIS Spotlight: Aiman Abrahim appeared first on STORIS.

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The Boston Retail Partners 2019 POS/Customer Engagement Survey identifies how retailers are faring in the quest to ensure the four key pillars of customer experience are in place to deliver Unified Commerce. The four pillars are Personal, Mobile, Seamless, and Secure.  Here we dive into the pillar, Personalization, and how engaging customers with personalized and relevant messaging is a key to customer loyalty.

Personalization is a critical component to optimizing a customer’s shopping experience. Today, consumers want to shop whenever and wherever they choose and enjoy the benefits of both digital and physical retail environments.

According to the BRP study, 40% of consumers indicated a personalized and consistent experience across channels as an important factor in determining which retail store they choose to shop with.

The ability to offer messaging and promotions based on customer context is a key differentiator in today’s marketplace.  Customers want to be recognized as individuals.  They seek out relevant product promotions and offers.  Offering personalization to a customer makes the shopping journey an engaging experience.  In fact, 68% of consumers said they would shop at a store that offers personalized rewards.

As consumers browse an eCommerce website, retailers can automatically send personalized offers and recommendations based on that consumer’s purchasing and browsing history.  This capability captures the consumer’s attention, enticing them to browse longer and ultimately purchase more products.  Likewise, retailers that identify customers when they enter their brick and mortar stores also have the opportunity to personalize the shopping experience.  The window for a sales associate to influence that customer’s purchase decision starts as soon as a customer walks into the store.  However, once a customer is ready to checkout it has become too late to gain the benefits of customer identification.

64% of consumers are comfortable with retailers identifying them via their mobile phone as long as they receive personalized offers.

Tailoring the customer shopping experience based on available information can help deliver personalized engagement, exceptional in-store customer service, and targeted follow up communication.

The most productive methods retailers are using to tailor the customer experience are suggested selling based on previous purchase (52%), personalized rewards based on customer loyalty (48%), personalized promotions (43%) and suggested selling based on online browsing history (41%).

In an age where customers reward brands that prioritize experience with their loyalty, having the right technology is key to success.  Efficient in-store, mobile responsive technology is a game changer for retail operations and sales associates alike.  Customer Experience Management (CXM) is an in-store technology application designed to support retail sales associates in delivering exceptional experiences.  Effective CXM applications are developed to allow sales associates to manage their customer relationships and experiences on the showroom floor and encourage early customer identification.

STORIS’ CXM application integrates to both STORIS’ Point of Sale and STORIS’ ecommerce platform, eSTORIS.  The integration enables these STORIS solutions to pull up a customer’s shopping cart,  personal information, shopping history, and all of a retailer’s core inventory details.  STORIS’ CXM provides sales associates with a tool that will fit in their back pocket and help enhance their job performance.  CXM is one technology solution that provides store associates with the information they need to personalize the customer experience and give retailers a competitive edge.

The BRP report states, approximately 50% of retailers are delving deeper into which capabilities can best allow them to tailor the customer’s shopping experience.  Within two year, 86% of retailers plan to provide suggested selling based on previous purchase and 78% plan to offer personalized rewards based on customer loyalty.

What technology is your business using to personalize the shopping experience? Click here for the Boston Retail Partners 2019 POS/Customer Engagement Survey PDF.
Personalization is a Key to Customer Loyalty was last modified: February 7th, 2019 by STORIS Marketing Team

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Today, people can satisfy their shopping needs from the comfort of their homes through their mobile device or tablet.  What does that mean for retailers with brick and mortar stores?  Retailers must rethink the role of their stores and motivate consumers to visit through intriguing experiences.  A key part of the solution to this challenge is technology.  Retailers must continue to invest in engaging in-store technologies that will meet shifting consumer expectations.

A recent study found that over half of shoppers have given up on a purchase in-store because the queue was too long, demonstrating that the failure to invest properly in in-store solutions to address these types of issues has a clear impact on sales performance.”  Retail Systems

Shoppers want to make the most of their store visits. The vast majority of them want to either be left alone while they shop or expect sales associates help to be quick and thorough. It’s important for retailers to provide in-store technologies, either self-service options or in-hand applications, to keep up with ever-changing consumer behavior.

76% of consumers indicated they have had a better in-store experience when retail sales associates were armed with high-level technology.” (Retail Customer Experience)

Technology is helping retailers mix digital with reality to enhance customer engagement” (Forbes).

In-store technology is the future of shopping and in order for retailers to get ahead, they must first evaluate which technology offerings are worth investing in for their businesses.

Here we highlight some key areas of in-store technology: The Rise of Smartphones

80% of shoppers use a mobile phone inside of a physical store to either look up product reviews, compare prices, or find alternative store locations (LinkedIn).

Smartphones place valuable information at a consumer’s fingertips.  They use their smartphones to read reviews, research comparative product prices, and save or send a photo to someone.  They can also use their phone to bring up coupons or special offers they may have received through email or via a store’s app.

Further, based on shopping history, retailers can target consumers by sending them personalized text messages and special offers using geotargeting.  Smartphone technology can help retailers analyze and create a more engaging experience to draw people into their store.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented and Virtual Reality are making waves in the retail world.  Augmented Reality (AR) adds a digital element to a live view often by using the camera on a smartphone, while, Virtual Reality (VR) implies a complete immersion experience that shuts out the physical world.  Retailers can use AR and VR to enable customers to picture how pieces of furniture can fit into their homes.  AR helps solve customer problems, specifically relevant to the furniture industry, by allowing computer-generated images to be placed over real-world scenes.

This will help customers view how pieces of furniture will look in a specific room in their home.  A VR headset allows customers to create their vision in a virtual environment.  Retailers adding these applications into their showrooms, custom apps, or on their website are enhancing the value of their stores.

Mobile POS

Mobile POS technology is a great way to keep a retailer’s business advancing. Retailers can use Mobile Point of Sale to increase average revenue per user, boost loyalty, enhance the customer experience, and create operational efficiencies.  Sales associates can add or update the consumer’s information into their database via a Mobile POS.

Associates also have access to inventory details to answer product questions. Further, they can build a customer’s order via a shopping cart tool. These Mobile POS features add expert value to the sales process and allow for a faster checkout.

In-Store Kiosk

In-Store Kiosks offer a digital self-service channel for the consumer who prefers independence.  Kiosks allow consumers to browse full product catalogs from inside a retail store.  They can facilitate a purchase by allowing shoppers to look up product information, availability, reviews, recommendations, and options for upselling.  The Kiosk can also be used for in-store digital signage which can push location-specific content like promotions to consumers in real-time.

Customer Experience Management (CXM)

CXM is a web-based, mobile tool developed for sales associates to create engaging experiences and reinvigorate the brick and mortar channel.  This modern application is developed to surpass customer expectations.  Sales associates are able to provide a positive shopping experience by maintaining accurate customer and product data.  They can easily track the activities and interactions they have with consumers and analyze this data over time.  CXM gives sales associates a tool that fits in their back pocket and helps improve their job performance.

In-store technologies will continue to draw consumers into brick and mortar stores and support revenue generation on this important retail channel.

Customers who have interacted with in-store technology had an overwhelmingly positive experience.  Of customers surveyed, 71% reported a high satisfaction rate with technological interactions.” (Colloquy)

These technologies will help improve a retailer’s ability to exceed customer expectations, differentiate themselves from competitors, and take advantage of mobile preferences.  Once retailers understand and decide which in-store technologies will be key for their businesses, they can then start to create new, meaningful ways to use these technologies for consumers to interact with their brands.

The Rise of In-Store Technology was last modified: November 29th, 2018 by STORIS Marketing Team

The post The Rise of In-Store Technology appeared first on STORIS.

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Almost every psychological institution will agree that relationships are the key to happiness. Well, it turns out that they are the key to running a successful business too. That warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you feel taken care of is transferable to consumer relationships. In fact, establishing a personalized consumer relationship builds loyalty, brand evangelism, and lifetime consumer value.

Forbes’ article, “Business and People: Why Relationships are Essential for a Successful Business” notes, “It is amazing how a bit of a personal touch can go a long way. Companies who embrace this culture are more successful. Companies who go above and beyond simply ensuring satisfaction stand out and are more likely to be referred via word of mouth.”

Okay so this all sounds great, but unless you’re the local coffee shop that sees the same regulars every day, how does one go about achieving this? Even the best customers aren’t buying a new piece of furniture on a daily basis.

Technology has become a critical part of building personalized relationships. It may sound counter-intuitive, but because a significant portion of branded interactions occurs online, it’s critical. Let’s look at an instance of this going wrong. I always find it’s clear to see why it’s important to get things right when you look at the repercussions of consumer disappointment.

About a month ago, I was helping my aunt move into her new house and I brought a spice rack as a housewarming gift. I had purchased it online from a retailer that sits high on the Top 100 list a few months prior. I was unpacking the tiny jars when about halfway through, I reached into to a box of broken glass. One of the jars had arrived broken. Fortunately, no one was hurt. And, having an Amazon-influenced customer mentality, I quickly remarked, “Not to worry. I will call, and they’ll send a replacement jar. Should be here in a day or so.” So, I dialed the customer service number expecting this to be resolved in no time.

When I finally did get someone on the line, the first thing they asked me was if I knew where I had purchased the item. I had made the purchase online at the retailer’s website, so the representative proceeded to look up my name, and oddly was unable to locate the purchase.

“Are you sure you didn’t pick this up from the store,” he questioned, “our inventory systems are separate, so we have to know where and when you bought it or there is nothing we can do to help you.” Now getting frustrated, I asked if I could simply send a photo of the box and broken part. It was their product and it should be easy enough to send one new jar. “I have no idea if you actually purchased this,” he replied, “so, unfortunately, there is literally nothing my system will allow me to do. I suggest you drive it to the store that’s about half an hour away. They have a different system, so they might be able to help.”

I had already unpacked and washed over half of the other jars and filled them with spices. We were in the middle of a 10+ hour moving day and I wasn’t about to drive over an hour round trip to “maybe” get acceptable customer service. So, there remains an empty spot in the spice rack. Not a major problem for us as the consumer. However, I now have a bad perception of the quality and customer service of that retailer. Many people have heard this story and the odds of me shopping there again without hesitation are slim to none.

On the contrary, if the problem had been easily resolved, I would have been so impressed and highly likely to purchase more items from this retailer. The broken jar was a minor issue that could happen to any retailer. But knowing a retailer has great customer service and acts to mitigate buyer’s remorse goes a long way to the customer.

Additionally, today’s consumers communicate with retailers in SO many ways. They browse online, visit stores, chat with customer service representatives, text with sales associates, send emails, and sign electronic documents. They shop at different store locations and online regularly. If all of these customer interactions are managed separately, how will a retailer ever build relationships? And if the retailer can’t build relationships, how will they ever thrive?

On the bright side of customer service, I was chatting with a representative at a retailer the other night. It was late, and I was tired and shut my computer completely forgetting I was mid-conversation. Not great on my part, but a shining moment for the retailer. I awoke the next morning and like a lightning bolt remembered the chat! Not to worry. Before I could even think about it, I saw an email in my inbox with a transcript of the chat, a resolution, way to reach that rep if I still needed anything, and sincere messaging hoping I was happy with the outcome and had a great night.

These staggering differences in how you handle customer relationships as a retailer are what every brand is up against. It doesn’t matter if the scenarios are literally comparing apples to oranges; customers are holding retailers to a higher bar.

That’s why retailers must ensure they are using technology to their advantage. It’s truly the only way that multi-channel, multi-store operations can accomplish this. CXM or Customer Experience Management is a key strategy sweeping the retail marketplace. STORIS has been hard at work developing a CXM platform for the home furnishings industry to help retailers shine in any customer interaction.

No matter where the customer shops, their history, profile information, orders, and shopping carts should be available to any member of your team so that they can satisfactorily service that customer. At STORIS, we are particularly excited about our new timeline feature, which catalogs interactions the customer has with your company chronologically so that there is always context to that relationship.

Retailers can also use the customer’s history to understand what they are looking for. What is more personal than someone’s home? If you understand their style, tastes, and price points, your team can click with that consumer right off the bat and ultimately drive a greater lifetime customer value.

Entrepreneur’s article, “The Key to Success? Relationships” states, “The key to business success is winning and keeping customers. And the key to winning and keeping customers is, and has always been, relationships.” It’s as simple as that. Want to be known for your exceptional customer experiences?

Request a demo of STORIS to empower your business with the right technology tools today.

Written by Caitlin Jascewsky. Caitlin writes STORIS’ educational content and manages STORIS.com, focusing on how retailers can use technology to enhance their customer experience. A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, Caitlin worked in retail for 7 years before joining STORIS.

The Key to Happiness: Relationships was last modified: November 13th, 2018 by STORIS Marketing Team

The post The Key to Happiness: Relationships appeared first on STORIS.

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Dan Kienzlen began at STORIS in August 2014, working part-time in our Systems Department. His main job focus was internal network troubleshooting. STORIS was fortunate to have Dan join our team as a full-time employee in January 2015 as an Implementation Specialist. In this position, he developed positive relationships with both co-workers and customers, while developing his training and project management skills.

Today, Dan is a Project Lead and works on mid-sized implementations, conducts advanced training sessions, and provides consulting to support our clients.

Outside of STORIS, Dan’s interests include cars, especially Mustangs, dogs, competitive games like cornhole, and online gaming.  In addition, he enjoys spending quality time with friends and family. Dan and his wife Melissa share their home with their dog Sandy.

Official Title: Project Lead

What do you do in your position on a daily basis:  I assist new clients in learning STORIS’ solution and ensure they are successful in transitioning to the system through training. I also assist existing clients with functional questions and requests.

What do you like most about working at STORIS:  It is a relaxed and positive environment. We work hard and make sure we have fun along the way.

If you were not in this field, what would you be:  I would have my own custom computer business building high-end machines for people.

Do you have any hobbies/hidden talents: My hobbies include working on modifications on my car and playing airsoft on weekends.

Favorite holiday:  Christmas

Favorite month of the year: April

Favorite food:  Any type of sushi

Favorite color: Red

What do you usually do when you aren’t working: I play video games with my friends and spend time with my wife.

Favorite place you’ve traveled to and why: Bermuda. My wife and I took a cruise there, which was a lot of fun, particularly because that is where we got engaged.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be & why: Flight because traveling places would become easier and cheaper.

Fun fact that many people may not know about you: Before going to school for computers, I considered going to school for music.

STORIS Spotlight: Dan Kienzlen was last modified: November 14th, 2018 by STORIS Marketing Team

The post STORIS Spotlight: Dan Kienzlen appeared first on STORIS.

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