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Retail

The Value of Data Driven Sales

By | Retail

The Significance of Data Analytics to Retail Success

A key tool that modern retailers have at their disposal is the huge data caches that accompany customer engagement in the digital age. This information sets you apart from the Arkwrights and Granvilles of the world, and hands you the power to enact improvements and generate profit based on the most specific of customer habits, trends, and personal details.

A recent survey by Alteryx and RetailWire of nearly 350 retailers and brand manufacturers found that 81% of participants gather shopper insights, which 76% of respondents consider to be critical to their commercial performance. Similarly, IBM found in a recent survey that 62% of retailers are satisfied with the ‘competitive advantage’ that these data hoards are enabling.

It is almost surprising that these percentages aren’t higher, considering the minute accuracy with which businesses can now inspect a variety of shopper trends, and while it is inconceivable that retailers aren’t using this data, the key is clearly in the detail.

Merchandising is no longer founded in conjectured prediction. The available details are critical to understanding how to overcome key issues, including customer conversion rates, personalising campaigns to improve the increasingly-important consumer experience, and lowering the cost of acquiring new customers. In a POS context, retailers can keep track of vital customer details like profit margins, basket sizes and sales trends. It is these features, when implemented successfully, which will drive sales and enable customer retention. Of course – technophobes, be calm – it is worth acknowledging that human insight is still key to actually understanding this data, as the wealth of information must be applied to real-life solutions effectively.

“To compete in a consumer-empowered economy, it is increasingly clear that retailers must leverage their information assets to gain a comprehensive understanding of markets, customers, products, distribution locations, competitors, employees and more.”

This article is not intended to serve as a cheeky advert for our Mauve software, which does indeed implement this huge wealth of data, by the way, but rather demonstrate just how incredibly vital this information is to ensuring profitable retail practice. Having the right data can help you serve your audience better, and it really is as simple as that.

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Is Retail ready for Virtual Reality?

By | Retail

VR in Retail

As analysts and bloggers announced their predicted trends for the retail industry in 2018, one common theme was clear: consumer participation is key to developing a positive and profitable in-store experience. One of the ways in which high-end retailers are looking to enhance their offering is by utilising Augmented and Virtual Reality experiences in their physical stores. Yes, both the demand and the technology is there, so what’s the issue?

The problem is as such: 72% of 25-34 year old consumers would like to see VR and AR used in-store, but the vast majority have no idea as to how it should be implemented effectively. This is according to a recent study by Opinium, which suggests that this technology is both exciting and baffling, in equal measure. It is clear that AR and VR will play a role in the retail solutions of the future, but it seems that the first obstacle in maximising their potential is to actually make these technological innovations relevant to both product and purchase. Why will virtual reality replace traditional retail engagement, and what forms will these virtual capabilities take?

Well, this technology has already been gradually rolled out in outlets worldwide, and to considerable effect. Fashion and beauty outlets – so often at the forefront of retail innovation – provide some thought-provoking examples of this technology being used successfully. For one, Holition created a world first in-store Virtual Footwear experience for VANS, a US manufacturer of shoes. The Virtual Vans Mirror (VVM) was a great leap in innovation, and ‘created a buzz instore as well as the wider industry’, if they do say so themselves.

Nike were also experimenting with this technology as early as 2010, when a now-outdated version of AR software was implemented in a handful of malls in the U.S.. This software allowed virtual wearing of the football jersey that the consumer desired, letting the customer ‘try on’ a number of strips in a ‘Magic Mirror’. As a marketing tool, it worked. Over 25,000 users engaged with the activity and posted their photos to social media, which then reached at least 650,000 consumers worldwide.

“While VR and AR are undeniably ‘cool’, there is no practicality in customers wandering round stores with VR headsets on, or looking through the camera on their phone.”

One last example of AR being used successfully can be found in MAC Makeup stores, where customers can use magical mirrors to try out different makeup shades, with results (or so they say) no different to when a makeup artist applies products to your face. MAC have announced that ‘these mirrors provide an unprecedented level of realism’, in what will certainly induce a game-changing shift in health and beauty retail.

Right, so it can work, so why the confusion?

One scepticism is that, while VR and AR are undeniably ‘cool’, there is no practicality in customers wandering round stores with VR headsets on, or looking through the camera on their phone. However, the excitement and hype that these virtual experiences create makes them hugely lucrative marketing tools, as even the primitive Nike ‘Magic Mirror’ experience proves. It’s also worth pointing out that, as of January 2018, Amazon have filed a patent for a completely up-to-date version of this AR mirror technology, so there’s that vote of confidence too.

What is certain is that, in a market that demands and expects entertainment, both AR and VR will play a significant part in the future of the retail industry. These innovations provide a real-life brand experience, and as soon as brands can effectively realise the potential of the technology in customer engagement, they can reap the success that will surely follow.

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Eye Level is Buy Level

By | Retail

The basics of visual merchandising

Every day, consumers are manipulated and buying habits are influenced by a series of carefully-chosen in-store product placements. The research and programs at each retailers’ disposal are key to maximising sales, as predicting customer purchases is increasingly becomes an exact science.

For starters, the definitively crucial tool that can be used to maximise sales is the ‘planogram’, which serves as a visual representation of a store’s merchandise. These diagrams are utilised by the majority of modern retailers, in order to drive sales and influence customer spending. The chances are that you are engaging with a carefully-implemented planogram every time you enter an outlet, and it is the details and features of these that lead you to bitterly tell the cashier that you ‘only came in for milk’, every single time.

A common phrase in the retail industry is ‘eye level is buy level’. It sounds cheesy, but it’s deeply rooted in generations of consumer research, and, as such, is likely to be highly accurate, as various studies have corroborated the theory that customers are far more likely to purchase products at eye level than at other, harder-to-access heights. Fascinatingly, consumers have also been found to ‘read’ a shelf from left to right, just as we have been taught to read text, which further indicates that there are clearly some definite ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ spots within aisles.

In practice, the effect that these calculations have on buying habits is considerable, as eye-level products receive up to 35% more attention, which makes the area perfect for high-profit products. By tracking sales on both horizontal and vertical placements, retailers can pinpoint exactly which shelf areas drive the most sales from consumers, and adjust their merchandising suitably to maximise profits.

“eye-level products receive up to 35% more attention, which makes the area perfect for high-profit products. By tracking sales on both horizontal and vertical placements, retailers can pinpoint exactly which shelf areas drive the most sales from consumers, and adjust their merchandising suitably to maximise profits.”

Another considerable factor in product placement is the product’s position in-store, as part of the customer’s shopping experience. For example, premium products are likely to be on sale near or at the entrance to the outlet, in what is quite aggressively referred to as the ‘strike zone’, where customers are likely to ‘see first’ and ‘buy first’, according to studies. New or lucrative merchandise and offers can be installed here to maximise profitability. Another common positioning trend is the placement of everyday items deep within the store, which consumers can only find after passing, and invariably being tempted by thousands of other, less essential products.

These small but crucial details, implemented with considered grouping and facings, can be the difference between commercial success and failure, so it is no surprise that these planograms and product placements come under such scrutiny.

Click here to learn more about how Mauveworx can put your product in the public eye-line.

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Brick by Brick

By | Retail

Renaissance time for physical stores?

From one standpoint, the future of brick-and-mortar stores is unsettled: as of March 2018, some of the UK’s best-loved high street retailers have closed their doors or downscaled dramatically. It is unnerving stuff, but on the other hand, 90% of retail purchases made in the U.S., in the last quarter of 2018, were made in-person and in-store, which can be ostensibly explained by the simple idea that physical retailers offer a tangible experience that online shopping cannot match. Fear not – it is for this reason that brick-and-mortars are said to be experiencing something of a renaissance, which might just put the brakes on the ‘Amazon effect’, for the time being.

When considering this apparent re-(re)-shuffle in consumer behaviour, it is important to weigh up both the advantages of the physical customer experience, as well as the creases in Jeff Bezos’ otherwise well-ironed online solution. For one, it is this buzzword – ‘experience’ – that defines the disparity between making a purchase on an LCD screen and a physical store that has been designed with customer satisfaction and engagement as a priority. The tangible excitement and visualisation that consumers can only enjoy in-store is priceless as an engagement tool, not to mention the fact that innovative and absorbing store design has become an art form in itself.

As a perfectly niche example, Casper, whose USP is selling online-only mattresses, were forced to partner up with Target in 2017, in order for consumers to actually touch, feel, and appreciate the quality of their product. In a market such as this specific example, in which sales are definitively reliant on experiencing and physically testing comfort, it is hard to imagine a time when online sales will surpass those in-store.

You’d be forgiven for assuming that this surge in physical retail has been driven by older demographics, rather than the ‘Instagram generation’, but in-store shoppers include 98 percent of Gen Z, according to a study by the National Retail Federation and IBM. Furthermore, according to a similar study in 2016 by CBRE, 70% of global millennials prefer brick-and-mortar retail stores, which goes some way to painting a positive picture for the future. Ultimately, the unique relationship between consumer and retailer seems to revel in this physical connection, which can only be substantiated further by the news that huge online retailers like Amazon are moving into the offline market. The fact that such a giant of eCommerce is considering brick-and-mortar stores in this way alone suggests that there is a long and profitable future in store for the high street.

To find out how Mauveworx can develop provide in-store solutions to make the most of your valuable brick-and-mortar space, contact us here or check out the amazing work we’ve done to enhance other customer journeys here.

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