News & Events

7 Key Learnings from NRF Big Show 2014

January 29, 2014

We were at NRF Big Show this month, not just to show the latest Checkpoint’s innovations but also to hear about retailers’ concerns, challenges and plans for 2014.

Here are 7 key learnings:

1. Consumers Don’t Care About Omni-Channel
It’s all about the experience. If they’re shopping at a retailer online, in store or through a mobile device, they expect to find the product they intend to purchase, be able to return it easily and get the same level of quality service, both in store and online. “Omni-channel´´ is overused as a term. Consumers don’t care how we call it. It’s not about getting the channels right as much as it is about how to sell in retail. The focus is and should be on guest facing experience and having the right merchandise at the right place and time.

2. Accuracy and Speed for Customer Satisfaction
Macy’s has a relentless focus on accuracy. Any mistake a retailer makes is a big risk. If you offer Buy Online Pickup in Store and you promise that when the consumer shows up, the item will be there, it really has to be there. Accuracy and speed are vital, and the enabler is technology.

3. Business process change remains CIOs’ number 1 priority
Technology that touches the consumer is particularly critical. Retailers are getting more engaged in IT in general, for example they will focus on mobile payments to be as easy and frictionless as possible in order for consumers to adopt it. Another example is L’Occitane who is implementing the use of tablets in store by staff, to show product information and consumers reviews. They believe this is a very important step in interacting with customers in-store.

4. Success Comes with “Uni-channel”
Peter Longo, President of Macy’s Logistics and Operations would rather call omni-channel “uni-channel.” Many retailers developed “separate´´ organizations inside their company for their online business with different buyers, planners, etc., and ran two silos side by side. Consumers recognized it and saw it wasn’t unified since it had different prices, return policies, promotions, etc. Retailers view merging physical and online experiences to allow for seamless interfacing with the consumer as being the best solution. Whatever you call it, “you really can’t do omnichannel without RFID. It just isn’t possible´´, commented Bill Hardgrave, Dean and Wells Fargo Professor, Auburn University Harbert College of Business

5. RFID is no Longer a Choice
“You’ve got to get inventory accuracy first, and then you can address the other things´´ reminded Bill Hargrave at the Apparel RFID and Customer Experience session. “Of the top 30 retailers in the US, 2 out of 3 have something going on with RFID. If you’re a retailer and you’re not in that group, you’re already behind´´.

6. Identify your “Demand Chain”, don’t focus on Supply Chain only
Kohl’s uses the term “Customer Centric Retailing” to define all the ways they interact with the consumer. It used to be easier when there were just stores. Now there is a proliferation of devices for shoppers, and this is just the beginning. Mike Molitor, SVP of eCommerce at Kohl’s pointed out the need to focus on the consumers’ “demand chain” rather than only on the retailer’ “supply chain”.

7. Customer Expectation is the Driver
Retailers need to achieve the single transaction that starts in one place and ends in another. “One guest experience” is the term Neiman Marcus, President and CEO Karen Katz and Senior VP and CIO Michael Kingston used. It’s a matter of ensuring each consumer’s experience is good, it’s not just about the various distribution channels. From the consumer’s perspective, there is really only one single channel, and that is their interaction with the retailer.