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Choosing solutions that drive success in retail

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Want to execute seamless Omni-channel experience for your customers in your retail business?

Read how order broker cloud service can provide you scalable and reliable capability to execute a seamless shopping experience for your customers.

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How a brick and mortar retailer has competed successfully against online rivals by implementing a customer centric omni channel strategy.

 

“Customers today expect a level of convenience that brick and mortar retailers do not meet easily”

 

THE CHALLENGE:

Target has been one of the largest US large format brick and mortar retailers present in every state with thousands of brick and mortar stores since the early 20th century, initially struggling to keep up with competition of Amazon. Like many other retailers, Target had a hard time keeping pace with Amazon’s home delivery service and the convenience of the Amazon Prime Pantry functionality, that allowed customers to shop for groceries online with Amazon conveniently, quickly, and getting their orders delivered within 2 hour for free. Customers stopped shopping in stores because shopping in stores meant spending at least 2-3 hours on a weekly basis with a repetitive task that people did not enjoy and preferred to spend that time with their families, friends and not in a store shopping every Saturday.

THE SOLUTION:

Target, like many of its peers (K-Mart, Rainbow Foods, Cub Foods), started struggling competing against online competitors such as Amazon. A radical change had to be implemented quickly to avoid going bankrupt.

In 2014, the company has faced multiple challenges: an aggressive over expansion in Canada has strained the company’s financial resources while a highly publicized data security breach has also created negative impact for the retailer’s online business. As a result both CIO and CEO resigned and new leadership has taken over the company.
To tackle financial challenges and aggressive online competition, Target has initiated a bold and radical series of steps to change its business model to be fully immersed in an omni channel engagement with its customers.

As a result, Target’s revenues have increased, contributing to Target being named retailer of the year in 2018 and over performing both expected revenue and target profit figures. Current stock prices reflect well on Target’s performance, especially when comparing the prices to its peers.

What exactly has Target done to implement a seamlessly omni channel strategy that has allowed it to compete so effectively against online competitors such as Amazon? Multiple initiatives all focused on the customer.


Radical change in its stores: Target has chosen to implement a radical change in its stores by essentially converting them into a fulfillment center and a showroom style shopping experience. By doing this Target has gained a warehouse network more extensive than its online competitors, allowing it to fulfill orders quickly and efficiently. By performing this change, Target gained the capacity and ability to fulfill customer demand on multiple channels seamlessly and quickly (home deliver in 2 hours or less, like Amazon, in addition to in-store options as described below), which in turn brought a level of convenience to its customers unparalleled even among online retailers.


Online orders home delivered: Relying on its extensive network of fulfillment centers, Target gained the ability to fulfill and deliver to customers’ homes online orders quickly and efficiently, allowing the retailer to compete with online competitors effectively.
Online orders picked up in store: Customers not only have the choice of ordering online and getting the order delivered to their homes but can also pick the online order up in a store. This is a great choice to people on the road and driving by the store, allowing them to immediately or in very short time pick their order up. The warehouse in the store picks the online order just the same way as home delivery but places the completed pick for pickup. Process does not involve additional complexity but allowed Target to offer something to its customers online retailers never could, effectively out competing its online rivals with a differentiated service.


In store shopping delivered to the car: Customers also have the ability to shop in the store and scan, using their mobile phone or a scanner provided in the store, each item they wish to purchase but not actually carry the scanned items to the cash register. When ready to leave, the shopper checks out on the handheld device and goods purchased are ready to be picked up by car. For the store, the process is not more complex than picking an online order for car pickup, yet for the customer Target offers a new service for convenience not available at its online rivals. Families choose this convenient option to avoid lines at the cash registers but still be able to see and touch and try what they buy, saving time and the effort of pushing a cart through the store.


Traditional in store shopping: Customers still have the ability to shop like they used to: go through the store with a shopping cart, collect goods for purchase and check out at an automated or traditional cash register. Target is opening smaller stores closer to urban centers to reach traditional customers better.

To help customers, Target has also made available real time product availability information for its customers. Target’s website and mobile interface both allow customers to check real-time availability of searched products at stores within a defined range of distance from the customers’ location. Target has also added a cartwheel app designed to make omni channel shopping and communicating with the customer easier by providing a convenient access to weekly ads, coupons, discounts and updates.


CONCLUSION:
By applying innovative ideas and processes supported by technology to deliver on new engagement channels to customers, Target has effectively out-competed its online rivals and has come to dominate the retail space in its markets in its own segment successfully.
To implement such an omni channel customer focused strategy Target had to make radical changes quickly, however the initiatives paid off and have proven that brick and mortar retailers can compete effectively against online competitors, to the degree that online competition has felt the loss of advantage on the online side of retailing and has begun investing in brick and mortar stores (Amazon bought Whole Foods).

 

SOURCES:
1. https://finance.yahoo.com/chart/TGT
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Target_Corporation
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Target_Corporation
4. https://www.target.com/
5. https://corporate.target.com/about
6. https://www.inc.com/jason-aten/targets-small-format-stores-are-its-biggest-weapon-against-amazon-walmart.html
7. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/23/target-opens-100-mini-stores-remodels-500-bigger-ones.html
8. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/25/disney-and-target-are-teaming-up-to-open-stores-with-each-others-help.html
9. https://www.retaildive.com/news/retailer-of-the-year-target/541905/
10. https://www.insider-trends.com/a-store-in-every-state-inside-targets-retail-strategy/

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Environmental protection is one of the most important issue of today. Simply looking around, everyone can see and feel the impact we have on our environment.

We believe that by making thinking green a key part of our company culture, we can reduce our environmental footprint.

Quickborn is committed to support sustainability and as first step established a comprehensive recycling program within each of our offices in collaboration with facilities management and city council. Our employees are not only able to extensively recycle waste in our offices but can also collect recyclables from their homes and communities for disposal by facilities that are collaborators for our green initiative.

  • As part of our recycle–reuse–reduce program, Quickborn has provided our teams with reusable products such as water canisters and durable shopping bags to reduce single use plastic waste.
  • Donation of old computer parts and other items to a local partner organization supporting the ethical recycling of electronics has been organized and is accessible for our teams directly.
  • Encouraging green commuting reduces our carbon footprint. By supporting team members to commute using bicycles or electric transportation methods is also part of our program. We provide facilities to park bikes securely and support transportation costs for our team members preferring a green option wherever available.
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Retailers today must have the ability to execute marketing campaigns, communication and loyalty programs efficiently and effectively to engage with a hyper-connected, hyper-informed and very impatient customer. To execute customer engagement successfully, retailers need to centralize and analyze customer data and purchasing history at a mass scale and in a short time.
 
A good Customer Relationship Management tool will identify prospects and opportunities for driving additional value for the customer and also the retailer by processing and analyzing customer behaviour information and ultimately help retailers retain customers by recommending the most relevant offers. The main objective for the retailer is to better understand the customers, and to involve them in the relationship with the retailer at all stages of their interaction with one another by serving them better: with more relevant offers, timely information and help, but only when appropriate and useful.
https://youtu.be/z0MVy130z1Q

You can read our article on Modern Day Customer Engagement here.

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In 2018, we conducted a survey of our customers and a global analysis of the retail market. Our experts have highlighted customer engagement as a key differentiating factor for success among retailers.

Retailers today must have the ability to execute marketing campaigns, communication and loyalty programs efficiently and effectively to engage with a hyper connected, hyper informed and very impatient customer. To execute customer engagement successfully, retailers need to centralize and analyze customer data and purchasing history at mass scale and in short time.

A good Customer Relationship Management tool will identify prospects and opportunities for driving additional value for the customer and also the retailer by processing and analyzing customer behavior information and ultimately help retailers retain customers by recommending the most relevant offers. The main objective for the retailer is to better understand the customers, and to involve them in the relationship with the retailer at all stages of their interaction with one another by serving them better: with more relevant offers, timely information and help, but only when appropriate and useful.

Prospecting
Remember that attracting a new customer costs ten times more effort than keeping an existing customer.
Analysis

  1. Do we know the target customers accurately and efficiently?
  2. What are current trends?
  3. What are marketing campaigns that work?

These are all questions that need to be analyzed in detail to achieve good client engagement.

Networks
Engage social networks to work for retailers: What if satisfied customers talked about their experience to their friends? A retailer's job at this stage will be to provide maximum satisfaction in customer experiences by encouraging and enabling the concept of ambassadors:

  1. To identify and reward the engagement of customers on social networks
  2. To identify and engage the entourage of these customers

Customer Relationship
Means the recording of customer data and their interactions with the brand, for example through

  • their purchases,
  • their returns,
  • their interest in campaigns and promotions,
  • their calls and the resolution of their problems
  • their comments on social networks

All of this data must be recorded, sorted, and stored for analysis and insight.

Marketing
The management of offers and promotions, personalized or not, the creation of coupons, or simply advertising; can now be targeted smartly, if CRM data is correctly used.
A great novelty is to bring marketing teams into symbiosis with customer relation teams, for example sales teams, customer service teams or digital teams; ideally this is accompanied by a specialized tool that allows a 360° vision of the customer.
The tasks are then simplified and made more reliable by following best practice patterns. The creation of customer segments, through analysis of customer behavior, make it possible to precisely target groups of people for specific messages and campaigns.

Loyalty
Customers must feel engaged. This is mainly done through loyalty programs, with or without a card or other identifying mechanism, which is usually accompanied by rewards of different kinds.
Loyalty options are the "visible and official" part of customer loyalty. Point calculations, loyalty levels, discounts or associated gifts are tracked and appreciated over time.
There are other factors of loyalty:
The customer can also associate with a brand, in the long-term or for a particular event; this is the case when a couple chooses a brand to build their list of wedding gifts.
The customer will also have a feeling of loyalty when their experience is fully omni-channel enabled, allowing them to keep their wish list or shopping basket created on the internet when they enter a brick & mortar store.
Customer loyalty can also be rewarded by social media posts as a brand ambassador.


For each of these functionalities, Data is at the heart of analysis and decision support; a good tool should be powerful and stable and the data should be organized efficiently and the user interface should be easy to navigate, so that teams can easily access the right information at a glance for all channels of engagement.

How can a retailer best select the right tool and easily integrate it into business processes and the existing application environment?

To answer this question one option is the Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud Solution.

Beyond the standard features offered by CRM tools, including visualization of customer records and purchase history; this solution draws our attention to key points:

The business features associated with:

  • Marketing functionalities: offers and promotions, campaigns, coupon management are accessible through targeting by smart lists of customer segments, whether dynamic or static.
  • Loyalty: via management of loyalty cards, gift cards, reward programs and management of wish lists
  • Omni-channel customer journey: the tool makes it possible to coordinate all customer data regardless of channel (store, e-commerce, mobile) and to identify the trends.
  • Analysis: of results by intelligent reporting tools that enable buyers to adapt their offer and further improve the company's turnover.

We also want to highlight the ability to manage franchise operations which enables and manages access to customer information for franchisees based on their store or group of stores.

Other features simplify daily operations such as currency management, duplicate entry management, order and status management, role and privilege management.

Social media features are available to identify customer profiles and gather insights on social networks.

Technical and integration features available on cloud-based solution, along with other features such as the Web service approach, ergonomic configuration, and pre-integrated Oracle Commerce cloud suite for easy combination of payment tools (X-store), e-commerce (OCC), order management (OMS), BI (Retail Insight), make the cloud an ideal technology to deploy quickly with minimal effort and high reliability both for the users and the technical integration into the existing solution landscape.I

If you are interested in seeing or learning more about how a modern customer engagement can improve your retail business results, contact us for a presentation and demonstration of our approach here.

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Running a retail business today is one of the most challenging, unforgiving yet rewarding activities business managers are faced with. Competition is fierce, change in the industry is faster than ever and the power and influence of the consumer has grown to an unprecedented level. It is not surprising that more retail businesses have faced severe performance challenges in the last 5 years than during the preceding 50 years before that. What have we learned and what key differentiators have been observed for success in these fast times in retail? This article sheds some light on the answer to these important questions and aims to help retail organizations make decisions that have been shown to improve business performance in today’s business environment.

Based on information we have gathered from our ecosystem and also from large scale research organizations such as RIS news, we have built a retail best practice study to identify what key differentiating factors are playing a role in better performance among retailers. We studied 2017-2018 retail business performance and its correlation with software solutions used by organizations that outperformed their peers.

In overall retail business performance in 2017 and 2018 we observed that customers appear to value positive engagement experience over low prices. We also observed that retailers that address customer engagement challenges well tend to outperform peers that don’t. Interestingly retailers that compensate for a poor customer experience with low prices essentially accelerate their own decline since lower prices decrease margin and consequently the ability to innovate and invest in better customer engagement and related capabilities. This trend was observed to be true in a wide variety of retailer type and segment, including retailers traditionally viewed as discounters.

Another interesting observation is that among poor performers there is a wide variety of retailers in terms of age and size, signaling that in today’s business environment, being successful is not helped necessarily by large size or long business history and conversely, being a large or old business provides no immunity whatsoever against the immediate need to adopt to a changing consumer demand. Large retail businesses need to act with the same degree of urgency as smaller peers to avoid a catastrophically degrading business performance scenario.

In a nutshell two key differentiating abilities for strong business performance were identified:

1.      the ability to engage customers in a meaningful and unique way

2.      the ability to execute an omnichannel operation without significant issues like items not in stock, etc.

 

Omnichannel execution we have defined as a capability to execute operations in the retail supply chain with the necessary processes and solutions so that items are at the right cost, where and when they need to be.

Customer engagement is a capability that is heavily analytics driven with segmentation and clustering of customers playing a key role in enabling marketing teams to execute customer engagement on time, at scale and with meaningful information for the customer that creates value both for the customer and the retailer.

It is worthwhile noting that analytics plays an overall key role in supporting both omnichannel execution and customer engagement by optimizing merchandising and omnichannel operations alike. Having the right processes and advanced solutions that optimize those processes effectively is a universal differentiating factor that identified outperformers among retailers.

Our recommendation for retailersAssess your current business performance

With these observations in mind we are suggesting the following: Perform an assessment study on your retail business and score how well you perform on critical retail process execution:

a. Can you deliver your customers what, when, where and how they want at the cost you need to achieve to secure your margin?

b. Are you engaging your customers in a positively meaningful, unique and memorable way?

c. Are you achieving points a. and b. above but could do it in a more efficient way?

 

Choosing an IT Roadmap that solves above-identified challenges

In light of information from our research, there are certain recommendations for near term and long term opportunities every retailer can identify and action. What these specifically are depends on your individual circumstances and current maturity level in your retail processes.

Some questions you can ask yourself as a business leader to help you chose the most appropriate next steps are:

a. What business processes/capabilities are missing/performing poorly and need to be created/improved in my retail business?

b. Are there IT solution changes/new solution(s) needed for supporting my new/improved business processes?

c. Based on available budget, what process change and/or IT solution change do I get implemented when and in what sequence?

d. What are further optimization opportunities in the business?

The above observations and recommendations are only a sub-set of the complex environmental and business factors affecting retail performance and are not intended to be a comprehensive guide.

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