INTERVIEW : Perry Kramer, VP Boston Retail Partners

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Perry Kramer, Vice President & Practice Lead at Boston Retail Partners

 

Version française à lire ICI

« 2016 will be a defining year for retailers : some will go on the top, some will fall ». Perry Kramer knows what he is talking about. Vice President & Practice Lead at the retail consulting firm Boston Retail Partners, he is helping retailers implement a Unified Commerce platform – a critical component to offer a consistent brand experience across channels. We met with him after his presentation at Mcommerce Summit early this month in New York :

:: Beginning in May, Aeropostale files for bankruptcy, following other bad news in the retail field. What should retailers do better ?

Perry Kramer – There are a couple of things retailers can do to improve their performance. First, they need to continuously improve the way they interact with customers and create a better customer experience. Just like the way they refresh their merchandise, retailers need to continue improving the customer experience. They need to adapt and offer something new or different every six to seven months, in order to surprise and engage their customers. Some of that can be done with social media or the in-store and online experiences.

To do this successfully, retailers need to create a flexible infrastructure comprised of a unified commerce environment and philosophy.

With a unified commerce environment, you don’t have to maintain six or seven applications or versions of code for the same functions in different channels. A Unified Commerce platform, as described in BRP’s 2016 Special Report on Unified Commerce, will simplify their infrastructure and also make it affordable for them to continually refresh this customer experience.

Second, retailers need to improve their understanding of each customer. To truly personalize the customer experience, retailers need to know what their preferences are, what they have purchased, what’s in their closet and what they have recently browsed online. With this customer insight, store associates can customize the shopping on an individual basis.

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Perry Kramer, during his presentation at Mcommerce Summit May 5 2016, in New York

 

:: How to compensate store associates when customers Buy Online, Pick up in Store ?

Perry Kramer – If you have a model where sale associates get commissions, you have to be very careful on how you structure this compensation in a unified commerce environment. At some retailers sales associates can receive commissions for just doing the picking. On the other end, if you don’t commission or compensate store associates it can result in bad service and internal cherry picking. You have to find a way to give incentives for the full experience impacting the product sold and picked-up in store.

Some retailers hire staff, who have no commission, just for picking products in the store or the fulfillment from other stores.

Statistically, 80% of the customers who “Buy Online, Pick up in Store” buy another item when they are in the store to pick-up their products. We need to train associates to leverage the opportunity to offer customers a persona based experience, by identifying additional recommended items for the customer: « Here is a perfect top to go with this skirt ». Even better, if the retailer has a good view of the customer, and knows what she previously bought, then the sale associate can give to the customer the right size, in the colors she likes. It is a unique opportunity to give the consumer a great experience and for the sale associate to earn a commission.

An alternative way, taken by some retailers, is to decide that anything bought online and filled through the store channel results in the store getting credit for the overall sales against its targets and having a store commission pool that is shared by all associates. The commission doesn’t goes to a specific sale associate, but to the store. In this case, everybody wins, or everybody losses.

The essential piece of this formula is to consider every sale as an opportunity to please and reward the customer. The more information you have about that customer, the greater the opportunity to be successful in that mission.

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An extract of the Report : 2016 Special Report Unified Commerce

:: What advice do you give to your clients regarding their mobile app ?

Perry Kramer : First, before you build your mobile app, make sure you have everything almost perfect on your website, including that your website supports mobile. It is much more important with an app than with a mobile website, that the consumer perceives a continuous value, whether it is gamification, rewards, coupons or forms of frictionless payment.

Secondly, the retailer must commit to continually refreshing the app. They must come back at a minimum of every six months with something new or an update, that maintains the value perceived by the customer for having and using the app.

If you look at Walgreens and Starbucks, they do a great job of keeping their apps fresh. If you just launch an app because you think you need one, you are going to create a bad customer experience that negatively impacts your brand and customer loyalty.

:: Retail is the main focus of beacons today, according to ABI. Which retailers’ use of Beacons in-Store is particulary effective ?

Perry Kramer – A sporting goods retailer is a good example. They use beacons to, first, notice a customer who is in the mall near their store and notify the customer that there is a promotion in the store. Then when the customer is in the store, they can do several things: text or email alerts on a promotion « 25 % on men’s coats » and give a special coupon; re-publish existing advertising, which doesn’t cost them anything extra; or send a coupon that is specific to the customer’s purchases. If the retailer knows who the customer is, and where she is inside the store, they can offer her a personalized coupon. It is a unique proposition.

Another good example is a grocery retailer : when a customer enters the store (and has previously opted-in to receive notifications) the retailer sends the recipe of the day to her phone with a special offer : “You will need fish for this dish and it is on sale for 15 % off… you will also need lemons – check out our fresh produce.” The retailer can use beacons to give directions to the customer for each of the ingredients. The more information the retailer has on the consumer, the more personalized the recipes can be. For instance, if the consumer never buys fish, then make sure the recipe of the day sent to that consumer is never a fish recipe. The retailer needs to drive to make every engagement relative to the consumers’ preferences.

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