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PwC: Customer centricity key to total retail

BY Michael Johnsen

Bringing together an omnichannel experience just isn’t good enough anymore. The next evolution of the consumer-retailer relationship has been dubbed a “total retail” solution by PricewaterhouseCoopers, given the rapidly growing focus on integrated, customer-focused technology.

“What’s different about ‘total retail’ is it’s more about customer centricity than channel centricity,” suggested Tom Johnson, advisory principal PwC Consumer Practice. “It drives the next level of a connected experience, which could play out in terms of personalization; it could include loyalty; it could start to include some customization — make-to-order is a classic example. The last bit of ‘total retail’ that’s been missed … is about reinventing that store portfolio around total retail and the customer centric approach, and then No. 2 is driving up contribution of all channels. It’s really rebalancing the portfolio, taking advantage of your stores and maybe including stores in the innovation capital budgeting, not just simply the dot-com or the mobile.”

That’s because customers are downsizing the number of brands with which they’re willing to engage, especially online, according to the PwC report released earlier this year. “[Customers] are saying three to five online brands is all they want to deal with,” Johnson said. “If in fact you go ‘total retail,’ you better have your brand experience across your stores, your mobile [and] your dot-com at least interlocked. There’s so many choices for the same merchandise that the [retail] brand has become more important, and that ‘total retail’ experience is up for grabs.”

The new approach may necessitate a shake-up across the C-suites of many companies with a new chief officer post, Johnson suggested. “Who’s going to own total retail? How many retailers have a chief operating officer [and] a chief customer officer?” he asked. That’s when a mind-set like this becomes really powerful, as retailers realize that they may be fragmented by channel. “There’s been two major shifts in very large retail chains where they’ve named a chief operating officer for the first time” who would own a total retail approach, Johnson said.

A total retail approach also needs to incorporate supply chain, both in making real-time inventory transparent to the consumer and delivering on consumer expectations regarding where they receive their product or service. “Fulfillment and returns are major criteria,” Johnson said. “Returns ranked very high in terms of trust and brand promise. Fulfillment also is a key driver of brand promise and trust. The bad news is [customers] expect free delivery; the good news is they don’t expect same-day delivery.”

The eight key consumer expectations and business implications for retailers to help achieve the total retail model, according to PwC, are:

  • A compelling brand story that promises a distinctive experience: Retailers should better establish a strong brand promise that solidifies a core of loyal customers. A high percentage of survey respondents were attracted to brands that tell a story in an engaging manner. As many as 79% of U.S. shoppers reported they shop at their favorite retailers/brands because they trust the brand.
  • Transparency, real time, into a retailer’s inventory: When asked which in-store technologies would make for a better shopping experience, 45% of U.S. survey respondents chose the ability to check other stores for online stock quickly. Consumers are looking for actionable inventory information from retailers, pushing retailers to upgrade technology on their supply chain, and on how products are tracked, warehoused and distributed.
  • Customized offers based on totally protected, personal preferences and information: Big data and predictive analytics help retailers use customer data to increase marketing and sales effectiveness through customizing digital coupons, exclusive content and social media promotions, among others. However, 37% of U.S. shoppers say they do not use their smartphone for shopping because they are worried about security. To ease those concerns, retailers should better safeguard data.
  • An enhanced and consistent experience across all devices: As smartphone screen sizes get bigger, and more consumers obtain newer mobile devices, mobile shopping will likely accelerate. To prepare for this growth, a total retailer will need to have the technical agility to provide one seamless experience across the following platforms: PC, tablet, mobile phone and app.
  • To maximize the value of mobile shopping, both store apps and mobile sites must improve: PwC’s survey finds shoppers do not have a strong preference regarding using an app or browser for mobile shopping. When asked how often they use an app and mobile browser for shopping, 22% of respondents answered weekly for apps, while 28% answered weekly for mobile browser, with mobile browser faring a bit higher due to convenience — 53% prefer mobile browser because of convenience. Retailers should take note to ensure their mobile site is optimized, while also ramping up apps to improve the experience.
  • Favorite retailers are everywhere: When asked what they would do if their favorite retailer shut down its local store, 53% of survey respondents noted they would locate the next nearest physical store, and 40% said they would increase ordering from their favorite retailer’s website. Shoppers today assume retailers are everywhere and always connected like themselves, and retailers need to look at store portfolio management more strategically.
  • Two-way social media engagement: Enthusiasm for social media by retailers and brands is driving consumers to engage, comment and even effect change. When asked what attracted them to a particular brand’s social media site, 61% of U.S. respondents noted attractive deals and promotions, 38% noted new product offerings and 28% said because they shop with the retailer. In return, retailers should better listen to customers on social media, transforming commentary into actionable data for new ideas and improved experience.
  • “Brands” act like retailers, and we’ll treat them that way: The gray area of overlap is growing between brands and retailers, and 44% of U.S. survey respondents noted that lower price is the main reason they buy from a brand’s website. Retailers today are partnering with brands/manufacturers to share consumer insights and collaborate on category management to drive more success.

For the full report, including charts, click here.

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Coupons.com launches omnichannel digital coupon platform

BY Michael Johnsen

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Coupons.com on Thursday unveiled Retailer iQ, a targeting and analytics platform for grocery, drug and mass merchandisers that fundamentally changes the promotions and checkout experience for shoppers and retailers by making them digital, mobile and personalized.

Walgreens was one of the first retailers to implement the new service earlier this year. 

Retailer iQ combines several innovative components into one cohesive, omnichannel platform that is designed to drive consumer engagement, activation and shopping behavior for retailers and consumer packaged goods companies. These components include digital e-receipt via SMS and email, personalized recommendations for products and coupons, integrated shopping lists, extensive targeting capabilities, real time analytics and a wide range of integrated digital media experiences. The platform integrates into the retailer point-of-sale system to manage the entire flow of digital couponing, including: creation, issuance, activation, redemption, validation and clearing. 

Retailer iQ allows retailers and brands to engage seamlessly with shoppers and offer them relevant discounts across multiple touch points. It helps retailers and brand marketers reach consumers when they’re preparing to shop, while they’re shopping and after they make their purchase — whether that’s via a desktop computer, tablet or mobile phone. In addition, Retailer iQ delivers comprehensive analytics so retailers and marketers can provide far more relevant and personalized offers than current systems provide.

“This technology pushes crumpled, indecipherable receipts and irrelevant coupons into the digital era,” said Steven Boal, CEO Coupons.com. “It’s an incredibly powerful tool. We spent three years building it and we’re proud to be working with Walgreens and our other brand and retailer partners to lead the future of promotions.”

Walgreens began rolling out Retailer iQ early this year, and the technology is now running in more than 8,000 stores. Its more than 100 million Balance Rewards members can now access Paperless Coupons and digital receipts, with the ability to clip digital offers from walgreens.com/coupons and within its mobile app. Users can redeem offers effortlessly at point-of-sale by simply swiping their Balance Rewards cards.

In fact, the Walgreens mobile app with Paperless Coupons is nominated for a Webby Award in recognition of excellence in an integrated mobile experience. 

“Our customers live in a digital world and providing them with valuable offerings, such as Paperless Coupons or digital receipts, is an example of how we make the shopping experience even more convenient,” said Rich Lesperance, Walgreens senior director of personalization and CRM. “Walgreens is excited to be on the forefront of digital and working with Retailer iQ supports our ability to deliver relevant rewards and savings through an omnichannel approach.”

The power of Retailer iQ lies in its replacement of paper receipts and promotions with an integrated omnichannel digital experience that keeps the shopper and retailer connected beyond the register. Coupons.com’s offering is a differentiator for marketers that want to know how online spending drives offline sales. At checkout, shoppers have the option to receive an e-receipt that’s delivered in a text message or an email. In addition to listing items purchased, the e-receipt also includes highly relevant digital coupons that can be added directly to their account, loyalty card or rewards program for paperless savings. Shopping lists can be created and managed, incorporating personalized offers based on purchase history. And a dashboard completes the purely digital experience, showing shoppers potential savings available and which coupons they have yet to use.

“More and more consumers are electing to receive digital receipts when offered the option at checkout,” Boal said. “Retailer iQ creates a powerful connection from those e-receipts to highly relevant digital coupons, with benefits for shoppers and retailers alike. This is a significant step toward our goal of transforming the multi-billion dollar promotions industry.”

Retailer iQ is built on top of a personalization platform that evaluates shopping baskets and shopping history in addition to other data to deliver a highly personalized experience for consumers. Whether it is information from retailers or manufacturers on the e-receipt, recommendations for adding items to the shopping list or highly relevant coupons, Retailer iQ’s data engine makes every interaction shopper-specific, whether on a PC, on the go with a mobile phone or in the store. 

In addition to Walgreens, Coupons.com is currently implementing Retailer iQ with four other retailer partners — expected to be announced before the end of 2014.

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Advocating for pain patients

BY DSN STAFF


As part of the launch of DSN’s new microsite, DrugStoreNews.com/Pain-Management, DSN had the opportunity to speak with Carmen Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, regarding a new initiative that the association is spearheading to address the current patient access problem when it comes to pain management pharmaceuticals.

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