Reminders

Retail Omni-Channel Strategies

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This blog analyzes the results of testing out a new class of cognitive/AI software — natural language processing analytics focused on understanding the personality behind unstructured text. That personality might be any public or social figure, a brand, or some form of commercial speech. In this instance, we had IBM Watson Personality Insights assess the personalities of the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees by applying linguistic analytics and personality theory to their convention acceptance speeches. We recount Watson's findings, identify important caveats, and assess how this type of analysis can help retailers improve their brand voice, customer interactions, and B2B corporate communications.

Introduction

Cognitive/AI software solutions include a broad range functionality to address the needs of organizations and individuals to make sense and uncover insights from vast amounts of structured data, unstructured text, and rich media content. IDC's view of these components is presented in IDC TechScape: Cognitive Systems Technologies, 2016 (IDC #US41005816, February 2016). One of these technologies is natural language processing.

Most cognitive/AI natural language processing software…

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It's The Transformation, Stupid!

By Greg Girard

I channeled James Carville to title this piece. Back in 1992 he earned notoriety by keeping his candidate's campaign focused on one issue with the mantra, "It's the Economy, stupid!" The stories I've seen in the general business press about the recent spate of poor earnings posted by some leading retailers miss the mark. It's the digital transformation, stupid!

The number of major participants consumers will support in any particular category is shrinking. Deloitte reports that over the last five years the top 25 retailers in the U.S. lost nearly percent of market share, $64B. They're not trading share among themselves but losing it to a long-tail of e-commerce and omni-channel specialty retailers. Why? Digital transformation.

Barriers to scale are falling while barriers to creating a defendable experience are in flux. There's plenty of promising…

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Adding a 4th "T" to the Season of Giving

By Victoria Brown

With the Holiday Spirit in full swing, many of us have found ways to give back to our communities. Giving often comes in the form of one of 3 T's:
- Time
- Treasure
- Talent

With work and families, time can be hard to come by, but when we can visit elderly homes or help in our local food shelf pantries, or delivery meals to less mobile, the benefits know no bounds.  Time feels harder to come by at this time of year, but finding that time can mean the world to those who need help.

Treasure is often construed in the format of monetary donations.  This can be contributing to a giving tree, donations to some of your favorite charities, a donation to a place in which…

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Is the fact that payments fraudsters will have to go online to perpetrate crimes against your customers if EMV capabilities are implemented in store really a good rationalization for not moving forward with new EMV payments terminals and fully encrypted payments processes? If you had water leaking from a hose in two places, would you not fix one problem, for fear the water pressure would push more water through the other hole? Well, perhaps in the latter case, you would buy a new hose, and there is a similar corollary in retail payments. Multiple security holes should be treated with multiple tactics to improve enterprise security, but every attempt should be made to secure transactions and data everywhere vulnerabilities exist. There is absolutely a cost consideration at hand, but there is an even greater risk of not doing everything possible to plug the big holes.

Investing in new payments terminals and implementing new payments processes is costly and time-consuming, but if retailers don’t seize this opportunity to close this door to fraud, they continue to be sitting ducks – just waiting for a fraudster to breach their best efforts to secure customer data. But now that the October 1, 2015 liability shift date has come and gone, stores will be liable for in-store fraud, and this stands to be very expensive when it occurs since recent breaches impacted…

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Emarsys, the biggest marketing cloud you've never heard of, asked me to join their panel at Advertising Week a couple of days ago. After meeting several members of their new marketing team, brought aboard ahead of the 15 year-old company's Series A round led by Vector Capita in mid-September, I knew my investment of time would be well worth it. I wasn't disappointed. Here's a recap of that session and others I attended over a quick 24 hours running between theaters in Time Square—ground zero for AW XII.

Emarsys Sheds Its Outer Cloak

Like I said Emarsys is the biggest marketing cloud you've never heard of, but that's if you just take a provincial North American point of view, and let's face it, that POV can be debilitating. While only now putting muscle behind its presence in North American, Emarsys has over 1 billion customer records worldwide. Despite adhering to Emarsys strict anti-spamming protocol, its 1,500 customers across 140 countries ranging from eBay and Rakuten to Volvo and Canon,…

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I just published an IDC PlanScape report—an executive "why, what, who, how" guide to seizing leadership in health hearth personal services webs (PSW). (IDC PlanScape: Health Hearth Personal Services Webs—Transforming Lives and Industries, #258015, August 2015) To unpack that label, I see financial, loyalty, operational, and brand differentiation opportunities for retail, CPG, health insurance, and publishing enterprises in immersing the food, drug, nutritional customer in a persistent ecosystem of software, devices, apps, content, and online services to help their households eat better, easier at less cost, effort, and time. Nascent PSWs that will be directed at these and other personal domains are emerging in the iOS, Android, Amazon, and Google ecosystems. Compared to the capabilities of PSWs I foresee in 2020 today's capabilities will seem more akin to the PalmPilot than a smartphone.

The Bottom Line

Companies taking leadership positions creating health hearth personal services webs will gain the opportunity to out-uber Uber. Think about it, Uber changes how you use a taxi. Here, companies can help their customers pare down their monthly grocery expenses, save time and effort on shopping chores, and care for themselves and their loved ones day in and day out. Participants will differentiate to increase their revenue, efficiency, and customer loyalty through the utilization…

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The way consumers shop is ever evolving, and retailers are striving to meet these consumers where they are.  While many retailers have begun offering multi-channel solutions to consumers in an attempt to keep up with general societal demands, without fully integrating into an Omni-Channel toolset built to meet these needs, retailers are creating more work for themselves and often miss the mark on meeting the expectations of their customers.  Investing in a Distributed Order Management solution enables retailers to track all of their inventory in one place, trend out point of origin of demand for better forecasting and demand planning, and offer consumers multiple ways to get the product they want, when and how they want it.

Allowing for consumers to drive business requirements for product placement also gives retailers the opportunity to better understand where product is truly expected to be – physically or virtually.  For the retailer, gaining better insight into the point of origin of demand enables more strategic inventory placement, and reduced overall losses due to an ability to identify demand swings early on across the network.  A higher level view of how different items are selling also allows flow…

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Reverse Logistics usually gets a bad rap for being discombobulated, time consuming, and operating at a loss. With many of my colleagues and former professors completing research on the topic, when I identify a company that's doing awesome things in Reverse Logistics, I like to applaud them and give them credit for their creativity, organization, and leadership in the space.

A few weeks ago, I took a road trip with a few friends down to the Lilly Pulitzer Warehouse sale, and was impressed with the organization of the hundreds of customers, organization of inventory, the overall ease of the flow, and clear directions throughout the entire experience. While I don’t have pictures per the agreement we signed upon entering, below are some of my experiences with their reverse logistics that I feel are exemplary and could be translated elsewhere within retail.

For those…

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3 Things Shoppers Want From Retailers

By Greg Girard

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by CenturyLink regarding what omni-channel shoppers expect of retailers for publication in Forbes. The conversation led me to the thought that omni-channel retail creates a state of ever-changing omni-factorial complexity in which retailers have to "solve for" a host of objectives-- broadly across customer, employee, and trading partner satisfaction, financial and market performance, and efficiency. Solving for these objectives demands agility of roles, labor and technology workloads, and processes underpinned by orchestration of consumer, omni-channel, and enterprise technology. Afterwards I remembered something Peter Drucker, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." I'd add that complexity eats a retailer's profitability for lunch.

Retailers are experiencing a “big bang” moment. The reality they knew is gone.

The battle between physical stores and e-commerce is over. The consumer won. The lines between physical and digital retail have blurred.

“Online retailers are becoming more physical as brick and mortar stores are getting more digital,” Greg Girard, IDC program director for omni-channel retail recently told our CenturyLink team.

The omni-channel shopper is the catalyst for this transformation. The term refers to a…

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If you had asked me at age 10 what I wanted to do when I grew up, I would have told you I wanted to be an Actuary.  If you asked me in high school, the answer would have remained – I was going to be an Actuary, take all of the exams, and go on to be a Fellow in the Society of Actuaries.  It wasn't until my freshman year of college, after an excruciatingly painful Calculus exam, that it even crossed my mind that there were other ways to use math to solve puzzles that could help others.  A stressed freshman whose whole life plan had just been uprooted, I sought advice from my faculty advisor, as well as my peers.  Several of them had similarly started as Actuarial Math majors, and found that they loved the hands on experience that Industrial Engineering brought to the table.

One of those very women who suggested I look into Industrial Engineering, was the President of a sorority I later came to join and fall in love with for so many reasons more than the relationships I gained, or the contributions it allowed me to give to others.  This organization also gave me my first exposure to my career, as well as the ability to apply my education first hand.

When I think about my education before college, I don't think I'd ever even heard of "supply chain".  My education…

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