Tag Archives: Omni-Channel

It’s The Holiday Season for Omni-Channel Retail

We know it’s only October, but believe it or not, a survey by CreditCard.com says that 1 percent of Americans, or 34 million Santas, say they are done with their shopping. Already. Before the first week of October.  Whether these folks are looking for bargains or are just hyper-organized, experts say those who had their Christmas shopping wrapped up before fall officially arrived likely made their purchases online.  

What about the remaining 99%?  They’ll be shopping, too. On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the National Retail Federation announced that it anticipates holiday sales to increase 3.6% to $655.8 billion.  While in-store purchases will continue to dominate, with 91% of holiday shoppers planning to spend at physical stores, that leaves about 8% or so shopping online (though about 85% of holiday shoppers will likely research online before making in-store purchases). Clearly, holiday shoppers are expecting an omni-channel experience this season with physical and digital retail converging, trying to get consumers to spend.

According to The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), “shoppers intend to take advantage of the diverse options for shopping, spending across channels. Most prominently, consumers are reliant upon omni-channel retailers versus pure play online or solely physical retailers.”

Brands and retailers will have lots to do in order to drive higher conversion rates, so here’s a quick hit list of reminders:

  • Go Digital: Centralize and digitize product content for omni-channel.
  • Get Discovered: Connect with new buyers and category managers to create new opportunities.
  • Sell Everywhere: Showcase and promote products on any channel.
  • Deliver Content Efficiently: Engage and integrate product information with Omni-channel customers.

It’s a crowded omni-channel world especially during the holidays! Can all of this happen in time to take advantage of the anticipated big boost in holiday spending? Absolutely. 1WorldSync omni-channel solutions can help your products stand out and engage the elevated expectations of seasonal shoppers.

The Evolution of Online Shopping Through a Millennial’s Eyes

It’s no secret that over the last decade, online shopping has evolved in ways we (millennials) could not have imagined. Growing up in what may now be classified as the “Digital Age”, technology has allowed e-commerce to virtually customize the way we shop.

We millennials have not only conformed the way all generations have learned to shop online but we’ve also forced industries to adapt this new transformation. For example, if I wanted to go to the mall and buy makeup I would have to physically try it on, see if I like it, and then buy it at the store. Now that millennials have eclipsed all generations from the way we communicate, access information, and live our lives on a daily basis, cosmetic etailers and app providers have even gone as far as offering facial scanning programs; allowing consumers to fill out a form based on their skin type and face shape. They even offer certain brands and products based on the user’s characteristics. If this is the new face of online shopping, it makes me wonder…what did online shopping look like before the connected consumer era? So, I decided to investigate.

E-commerce sites continue to improve in user experience and lifestyle. Current e-commerce statistics state that 40 percent of worldwide internet users have bought products or goods online via desktop, mobile, tablet or other online devices (Statista, 2016). This amounts to more than 1 billion online buyers and is projected to continuously grow. Let’s be honest… “ain’t nobody got time to go to the mall and shop!” It becomes time consuming and you are never guaranteed to find exactly what you are looking for. Been there, done that. What did people do before online shopping existed?!

Through a Millennial’s eyes, here are “5 ways millennials have helped change the way we shop”.

1. “We Know Everything” – Shoppers know as much as Salespeople
I can’t tell you how many times I hear… “Millennials think they know everything”. Well, maybe we do!

Then: When going to the mall to shop was the only option people had, they relied heavily on the salesperson’s expertise to advise them on what they needed to buy and all the features of items offered in that store.

Now: With the magical power of Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other wonderful search engines, we have the option of doing our own research and have become “smart shoppers”.  We have the potential and capability to know when we are getting a good deal. After all, every moment in a consumer’s purchasing decision journey matters.

2. Retailers now know everything too!

Then: Apparently, the introduction of retail began with retailers and shopkeepers getting to know their customer’s preferences and needs based on face-to-face interactions. Sounds a bit horse and buggy to me.

Now: In the world of connected commerce, a phone, tablet, or computer can do just that.  E-commerce sites, such as Amazon, integrate customization features that recommend products based on your interests and your online behavior paths. Ultimately, these features allow companies to appropriately offer suggestions and get to know their customers more personally based on their interests.

3. Mobile devices drive foot traffic to stores

Then: Finding the right stores with the right products you needed was either based on familiarity or luck.

Now: It’s much easier nowadays to find a product in a specific store you’re near, right at the touch of your fingertips. Most retail websites such as Target, have features that allow customers to find a store near them that carries the product they’re looking for, pay for it online, and pick it up in-store. Mobile makes it much quicker and more efficient to find exactly what you need while also providing store location information and a product finder all in one.

4. Nothing wrong with a little bit of gossip!

Then: Word of mouth influenced purchase decisions and most retailers relied upon these in order to boost sales. Personal references help, but the retailer could not directly influence.

Now: Word of mouth is a very influential factor. We share our thoughts, opinions and reviews on products within our YouTube, Instagram and Twitter community. This has affected the beauty industry tremendously with the boom of famous beauty gurus uploading “Hit or Miss” tutorials, giving their honest opinions on products and whether they are worth the price or quality. This could affect the reputations of cosmetic brands, if they have bad reviews. It can also provide them with major opportunities to position their brand towards specific targets. I’ve seen products literally fly off the shelves because of these YouTuber’s influence and the “must-have” opinions they give.

5. Products jump off the screen at you!

Then: Paper advertisements and the internet gave an image of what the product looked like but nothing can replace the actual physical feeling of a product and seeing it right in front of you.

Now: Personally, I believe there is still truth to this. Even today, a lot of sites have really stepped up their game when it comes to displaying what a product looks like before you purchase it. Products now have live 360° videos and imagery and zoom capabilities giving the shopper a better sense of what the item really looks like (Think with Google, 2014).

As you can see, we’ve come a long way since the introduction of the internet. As a result, retailers have undergone a digital transformation to meet the needs of today’s online shopping. Living through the differences in what it “used to be” compared to “now” makes us think about how much we rely on technology when it comes to shopping. E-commerce has revolutionized the way we buy and provides shoppers with a more convenient and personalized way to access what they need. At the end of the day, great shopping sites exist because of advances in technology and companies who have conformed to provide accessible, reliable product information to consumers as and when they need it.

How The Consumer Experience is Driven by “I Need to Know Moments”

According to Forrester’s 2015 Customer Experience Index (Forrester, 2015), 86% of companies want to excel at customer experience. But only 27% of brands even qualify as “good” in the eyes of their customers.

Today’s omni-channel consumers expect brands to address their needs in real-time and turn to their mobile devices when contemplating making a purchase.  A wealth of information is a mere tap away via our smartphone apps and a poor experience can be easily replaced with another viable option a click away.

These intent-driven moments of decision-making and preference-shaping have fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time “I want to buy” micro-moments of decision-making and preference-shaping, as termed by Google.  

Today’s Shoppers Demand Information Right Here & Right Now

Welcome to the new world order of 24/7 great expectations shaped by customers who expect to be able to make more intent driven decisions with a seamless experience.

Today’s shoppers demand product information in real-time. Whether it be trusted and authentic reviews, product photos or nutritional information, as consumers we’ve come to want exceptional experiences exactly when and where we want it.  And nowhere is it more apparent than in retail.  

  • Fully stocked shelves bursting with variety? Done.  
  • Loyalty program? Goes without saying.  
  • Free overnight delivery? Naturally.  

But these great expectations go beyond the “what” and are firmly rooted in the “how.”  And that’s all about “Omni-channel” being touted as shopping’s new norm.  The bar has been raised and the expectations are clear.  Consumers expect that retailers will/better deliver a seamless and consistent experience across channels and devices.

Omni-Channel Shoppers: An Emerging Reality for Retailers

For the retailer, omni-channel requires overlapping to ensure that the customer remains delighted and perceives a seamless experience from end to end. Helping a customer through their entire buyer’s journey means knocking down internal barriers to hold their hand at each stage, making sure that each hand-off is perfect. (BigCommerce, 2016)

An Aberdeen survey (Internet Retailer, 2013) cites that companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to customer retention rate of 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.

Fortunately, many online retailers and suppliers have already enabled omni-channel functions and are clearly seeing the benefits. They’ve made the required investments in understanding their consumers’ needs and then tailored the rest of the organization to meeting those needs.

It’s An Omni-Channel World After All: Engaging Consumers and Connecting Trusted Product Data Everywhere

By enabling products to stand out in a crowded omni-channel world, 1WorldSync delivers rich and trusted product content, including digital assets and insights – to engage customers and consumers – regardless of location or medium. 1WorldSync’s Omni-Channel solutions helps leading retailers capitalize on product information to drive conversion.  

Walmart is one such retailer that views the omni-channel shopper as its sweet spot. At its annual shareholders meeting last year, Walmart’s CEO, Doug McMillon addressed the importance of an omni-channel strategy (Marketing Land, 2015). He said that Walmart will keep making technology top of mind when it comes to internal and external customer facing initiatives.

“I want us to stop talking about digital and physical retail as if they’re two separate things. The customer doesn’t think of it that way, and we can’t either. One customer can shop with us in so many different ways – in stores, on their phones, at homes, a pick-up point. But they just think they’re shopping at Walmart, at ASDA, at Sam’s Club.”

Exceeding Expectations and Creating Stellar Experiences For Omni-Channel Customers

Conversely, there are countless other retailers that are lagging behind – whether they’ve taken a few wrong turns or are just late to the game.  The consumer’s great expectation remains regardless.

A survey by Synthetix (Synthetix, 2016) indicates that 9 out of 10 customers expect to receive a consistent experience over multiple channels. They expect a valuable, memorable and story-worthy experience.  They expect detailed and consistent product content to aid in decision making.  They expect to see this same level of detail when shopping for another product in another department. They expect a single view with a wide array of efficient and convenient options. And they expect to shop at any time from any number of devices – such as their PCs, smartphones and tablets.

Clearly, given the consumer’s mighty requirements for an integrated omni-channel shopping experience, retailers and suppliers must move quickly to deliver on those soaring expectations or risk the curse of any industry irrelevance.

 

  1. “The US Customer Experience Index, Q1 2015 – Forrester.” 6 Oct. 2016<https://www.forrester.com/report/The+US+Customer+Experience+Index+Q1+2015/-/E-RES117482>
  2.  “Omni-Channel Retail and The Future of Commerce – BigCommerce.” 2016. 6 Oct. 2016 <https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/omni-channel-retail/>
  3. “Why an omnichannel strategy matters – Internet Retailer.” 2013. 6 Oct. 2016 <https://www.internetretailer.com/2013/12/31/why-omnichannel-strategy-matters>
  4. “Walmart positioned to drive omni-channel marketing in global retailing.” 2015. 5 Aug. 2015 <http://marketingland.com/walmart-positioned-drive-omni-channel-marketing-global-retailing-137007>
  5. “The rise of demand for multi-channel online customer service – Synthetix.” 2016. 6 Oct. 2016 <http://www.synthetix.com/website_documents/Synthetix_Online_Customer_Service_Survey_2012.pdf>

The OG of Product Information Transparency: The Mason Jar

A picture is worth a thousand words. But who needs words anymore, likes and shares are where it’s at! Take for instance, a picture of an organic, plant-based lunch in a mason jar. It’s hard to beat the layered combo of seasonal veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, all topped off with a vibrantly colored dressing.

Mason jars stepped back into the spotlight a few years ago and show no signs of overstaying their welcome. Once reserved exclusively for pickles and country-fair jams, they have become ubiquitous props of the social media set. Practically overnight, they’ve become the Instagrammer and blogger’s favorite mode of transport for every meal worth photographing.

Breakfast parfaits, gluten-free soups, cold-pressed juices and oven-baked casseroles have transformed the crafter’s favorite container into an adult lunchbox with the amazing ability to make even the simplest salad look like a work of art. The jars are inexpensive, environmentally friendly and easy to transport. It’s no coincidence that this ‘transparent’ lunch box has closely paralleled the modern food industry’s omni-channel and transparency driven market. Let’s be honest, consumers don’t only want transparency, but equally as important, an easy way to access the information from any device and the ability to purchase products from wherever they are at any time of day.

And as we’ve talked about often, consumers demand to know more about what is going into their food. That plays into this very transparent movement: people want to feel good about what they’re eating, which goes beyond just what is in a product. Information such as the country of origin, animal safety and treatment, and if the packaging is environmentally friendly have all become major factors in the purchase decision.

“People are increasingly demanding to know where their food comes from, how and where it’s grown and why certain ingredients are used. They now expect this kind of information to be accessible at the touch of a button. The question is no longer if companies should disclose the details of food ingredients, but how.” Dave Stangis Vice President, Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at Campbell Soup Company

So while there aren’t any food labels on the iconic mason jar, you can be sure that the ingredient labels of the foods used to fill them have been dually scrutinized and given the official seal of approval.  The expansion and availability of food labels have made a real difference in providing families across the globe with the information they need in order to make healthy choices

Fortunately, resources and additional product labeling, such as the 1WorldSync SmartLabel solution, are providing consumers with many different ways to ‘see through’ the specific ingredient list, just as they can ‘see-through’ the layers of their delicious lunchtime layered taco salad. And in the spirit of sharing, we’ve included the delicious recipe. Now, what’s not to like about that?

Mason Jar Recipes (courtesy Pinterest)

The Supplier Side – Must Do: Leveraging Walmart’s Store Assortment Online Initiative

Consumers continually demand a seamless shopping experience across all platforms. So, the flip side of course is that if a customer can’t find the right product online, it becomes a source of frustration and likely a loss sale. The quest for omni-channel supremacy continues for retailers across the board. Mega retailers, such as Walmart, are investing heavily in e-commerce (think Jet.com acquisition).

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Retail: The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated

A recent headline: “Out of whack weather, gluttonous inventories and changing consumer spending patterns have shouldered much of the blame for sluggish retail sales.”  Sluggish?   Well, we tend to agree with Mark Twain on this.  The reports of retail’s death are indeed greatly exaggerated.  In fact, most retailers — including some large ones — are finding plenty of growth.

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“Silos – A Roadblock to Omni-Channel Victory”

Silos: an insular management system incapable of reciprocal operation with other, related information systems.

No matter your company size, it’s quite likely you’ve seen “silos” in action.  Or maybe you’re struggling with this right now.  The power struggles, the lack of collaboration and the loss of productivity. Ultimately, your business, your ability to sell and market better will suffer.

Chances are that you know what it looks like – various isolated groups, with little incentive to the team and little information sharing.  You might see leaders focused on their own agendas and the inevitable result is poor productivity and missed opportunities.  For example, many retail organizations have IT systems that are a decade or more old. In many cases, the technology infrastructure that supports the channels of online, mobile, catalog and in-store operate in silos which result in a huge problem.  Data silos, by virtue of their inherent characteristics, breed data distrust.  One group owns branding, the other product specs or nutritional info, so if they aren’t talking, the data (product information) will not be optimized.

We know that consumers don’t view these as different channels, they expect (and assume) that their experience will be the same, no matter how they are choosing to shop.  Unfortunately, with silo’d technologies, the inconsistencies may proliferate across channels. It’s a key reason why products may not look the same to consumers; from the store, to the circular, the website, or the mobile app. Consider the consumer journey.  The nature of marketing, selling and customer onboarding today will likely mean a journey through a dozen different touchpoints and business systems. In order to overcome these challenges, retailers must remove the silos, and implement integrated technology and information strategies.

It starts with infrastructure – systems, process and content.  All of these have to be in place, and must work seamlessly across your organization for different channels to be supported. Omni-channel leadership requires a mastery of detailed, relevant and trusted product information. This is exactly where the 1WorldSync Omni-Channel Product Information Cloud can help.

1WorldSync helps to remove roadblocks to Omni-channel victory by enabling suppliers and retailers to deliver rich and trusted product content, including digital assets and insights – to engage customers and consumers – regardless of location or medium.

This Summer, we announced several value-added apps including merchandising and sales tools including a sales kit, merchant kit, and a universal content feed solution for all customers.  This release includes significant benefits for our customers that are organizing for Omni-Channel sales growth and making their products digital, discoverable and highly shoppable. New apps in this release include information and syndication capabilities to sell products through Walmart and other global retailers, and eCommerce providers.

The 1WorldSync Product Information Cloud enables businesses to move beyond foundational product content management, to drive sales and merchandising efforts while aiding in distribution, customer integration, consumer product transparency and regulatory compliance.

Interested in finding out more about Common Roadblocks to Omni Channel?  Check out our newest Infographic.

 

A Virtual Trip Down the Grocery Aisle – How Consumer Shopping Trends are Shifting

Got the list?  Check.  Got the coupons?  Check.  Grab the kids and off you go for a thrilling ride to the local grocery store.  Up and down the aisles, comparing labels, mentally calculating totals and if you’re lucky, you’ll be unloading those groceries about 2 hours later.  Sounds like a fun Saturday.  Fortunately, for many, there’s some relief in the form of online groceries and it’s revolutionizing the way people shop.

And while technology has brought the supermarket to consumers’ fingertips online, there is also a digital wave happening within the aisles of the store, as we see mobile become part of that same shopping experience.

Really, you ask?  Take a look at some recent stats.

  • Nearly one-third of shoppers say they would use various forms of digital technology if it were offered at their grocery store. The most desired offering shoppers would like to see is an app that provides the ability to order items not available in store and the ability to scan items as they shop in order to bypass checkout.
  • Thirty-six percent of shoppers are interested in using an app or web portal to preorder prepared foods they can pick up at the store.
  • More than 40% of shoppers report buying grocery purchases online at least once a month.

Since most shoppers are never far from their smartphones, online ordering is easier. Plus, there simply are more ways to shop online for food and other household products. Certainly, digital changes are disrupting the way consumers shop and eat. Healthy living products, including dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals, herbs and other botanicals, amino acids and metabolites, as well as cosmetics, organic body and personal care products, pet products, sports nutrition and health foods are more readily available.  And just by virtue of the wide availability means that comparison shopping (prices, ingredients, etc.) is far easier.  That’s great news for consumers who are busier, pickier and far more demanding than ever.

The CPG and Foodservice industry landscapes continue to transform and grow and the demand for transparency of product information is more important than ever before. 1WorldSync solutions for transparency and compliance, such as the SmartLabel solution, can help those businesses meet these demands, regulations and ultimately, free up those crowded grocery store aisles.

“Great News for Suppliers: Walmart’s Acquisition of Jet.com”

Consolidation: To bring together (separate parts) into a single or unified whole; unite; combine.

Generally speaking, market consolidation – be it health insurance, airlines or phone carriers – has not necessarily been good thing for consumers. Rather, it’s traditionally meant the potential for future price increases as a result of less competition. But faster than you can click BUY NOW on your shopping app, that’s all about to change. Enter in the biggest news in business and retail – Walmart’s deal to purchase Jet.com, one of the hottest new names in e-commerce. The world’s largest retailer has been getting a lot more aggressive in e-commerce over the past year in the quest to expand its online inventory and set aside $2 billion over the next two years to grow on the web.

The deal could help Walmart become the No. 2 online retailer and position the company for even faster e-commerce growth in the future by expanding customer reach and adding new capabilities. And that’s GOOD NEWS for consumers because according to the folks at Walmart, they plan to win by staying laser-focused on one thing: the customer.

That plan includes adding 1 million products per month, primarily through third-party vendors selling via Walmart.com. And that right there is GREAT NEWS for suppliers. Suppliers that were smart to get into Jet.com now are a part of Walmart’s community and their products will be shopped even more than ever. Not already on board? Then your company could have the potential to be one of those one million products added.

Make it easy and partner with 1WorldSync. Our Catalog1 solution allows suppliers to organize and centralize all of their product information in one place in the cloud. When ready to extend Catalog1 for sales, distribution and compliance, there are a number of value added applications that can be added. Your company’s products can get to Jet.com, Amazon, Google and beyond.

Want to find out more? Download our new eBook, “How Suppliers Can Conquer the Product Information Challenge To Grab the First Mover Advantage,” and gain the competitive edge you need in this every changing, ever growing eCommerce world.

How Shoppable Are Your Products?

According to the National Retail Federation, 73% of back-to-school consumers plan to shop approximately a month or two before school starts. Armed with school supply lists and cranky kids, parents are beginning the annual pilgrimage for folders and number two pencils. But lists have become longer and more specific.  And certainly college-bound students have precise notions about dorm room furnishings and decorations.  A simple comforter will not do.  Enter matching sheets, pillow cases, silverware and fancy lighting.  These shoppers know what they want.

As any growing manufacturer and supplier, your products are your business.  Pure and simple, your success is predicated on getting your products onto as many shelves – and screens – as possible.  And as we’ve seen, customers determine when, where, and how they will interact with YOUR brand.   Consumers search and shop in-store and online, they expect access to richer product information to make informed decisions. To remain truly “shoppable” and competitive, suppliers must deliver on that expectation.  If not – customers will move on to someone who can.   Not convinced?  Take a look at these recent stats.

  1. 81% of consumers scour through product information online to find or verify the data about a product they are considering.
  2. Four in 10 (42%) shoppers say they’ve given up on an online purchase because they didn’t have enough information on the purchase.
  3. 88% of them say that detailed product content is extremely or very important to their purchasing decision.

Yes, product information matters – the quality, the completeness and the accuracy matters.  And as suppliers connect and partner with multiple retailers, the need for accurate, complete product information is even greater.  For example, consider Google’s 2016 mandate for GTINS (Global Trade Item Numbers which help classify and display products on Google Shopping) now needed for all products.   As of May 16, 2016, Google will disapprove relevant products that don’t meet the GTIN requirements, so it’s critical that suppliers double check that product data is correct and up to date. And according to Google, the financial implications can be significant:  “Merchants who’ve added correct GTINs to their product data have seen conversion rates increase up to 20%.”

The Google GTINS mandate demonstrates that they understand that product content (descriptions, feature bullets, images, videos, reviews) is a critical factor in driving conversion.  Consumers demand to know exactly what they are buying – and the right content makes for a great consumer experience.

At 1WorldSync, we’ve been helping thousands (21,000+ globally) of suppliers and brands to align on the product information governance strategy to apply GTIN standardization, AND implement for Google and beyond.  We work with our customers to build scalable processes to capture their product information and scale globally across the portfolio of brands in an effort to ensure the highest impact, consistency, and levels of quality.

1WorldSync’s Omni-channel solutions helps suppliers and brand owners get their products to Google, Amazon, Walmart and beyond: mobile, desktop, storefront.

How shoppable are your products? Download are latest eBook “5 ways to grow your top line by making your products #SHOPPABLE everywhere?!

Download our free eBook on Shopability today!