But it helps to take the pulse and temperature from time to time to gauge retail’s health.
Skava says that physical stores are evolving, not dying. But evolution comes along with challenges and growing pains. Things are tough; there’s no denying that — a sentiment backed up by the numbers.
In an interview with PYMNTS, Skava’s VP of Marketing Yuval Yatskan noted that we are wrapping up the worst year for brick-and-mortar retailers since the 2008 financial crisis. With 5,300 store closures through June of 2017 and as many as 20 retailers this year alone shuttering operations — across marquee names as diverse as Toys R Us and Abercrombie & Fitch — the retail industry is not all that far from the 6,163 stores that closed in 2008.
Roughly 90 percent of retailers’ revenue still comes from in-store transactions, which may seem incongruous while stores go dark. Talk about a sticky business model.
Black Friday and Cyber Weekend have officially come to an end. As predicted, online sales were at an all-time high during Black Friday ($5.03 B in online sales) and Cyber Monday ($6.6 B in online sales).
Black Friday is increasingly about “Black November” and no longer a single day event, with deals starting at the beginning of November. Amazon started their promotions 50 days before Black Friday and claimed between 45% and 50% of all online Black Friday sales. The online, especially mobile, and in-store experience are more prominent than ever before during the 5 day sales event.
For most retailers and online businesses, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most concentrated shopping period of the year within the U.S.
So, what’s next?
If you said “football,” you’re not wrong – but the terms could also apply to the holiday shopping season, which has swelled so much in recent years that it has almost become three seasons in one.
There are the weeks leading up to Black Friday, during which retailers start announcing deals and many begin to offer discounts: the pre-season. Then there are the weeks between Cyber Monday and Christmas: the post-season frenzy, when people show their best and worst sides in the name of holiday giving.
And then there’s the shopping Super Bowl, smack dab in the middle of it all: that Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, infamous for its deep discounts and early-morning door-buster events.
Augmented reality (AR) is one of the hottest technologies in the marketplace today. With the recent release of Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore (developer frameworks for AR applications for Apple and Google, respectively), consumers will be exposed to an ever increasing variety of AR in the coming months. These experiences will fall across a wide range of domains, from interactive games and entertainment to household utilities such as virtual tape measures, and retail will be no exception. We expect retailers will employ AR to deliver fun and engaging new ways for consumers to shop, while addressing key limitations of the traditional digital commerce experience.
When we refer to AR in the retail context, we mean leveraging the capabilities of a modern phone (or tablet) to see a version of the real world into which virtual items can be placed. This allows the consumer to evaluate items in the context and constraints within which they will ultimately be situated — for example, a couch can be seen in the consumer’s living room. Today’s AR technology allows the consumer to see the item from any angle, with realistic scale, shadows, and lighting. By integrating the new AR experiences with existing e-commerce capabilities, consumers will be able to easily find, evaluate, and purchase items with greater confidence that the items will meet their needs.
[PYMNTS.com] RIP retail.
Or, maybe not. To paraphrase Mark Twain, a mustachioed author famous for quips and no small amount of wisdom, rumors of a demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Consider the case laid out by Skava, a cloud-based, microservices digital commerce platform. In a recent whitepaper, the firm noted that brick-and-mortar retailers face — and certainly feel — more pressure than ever to keep stores humming as centers of commerce. After all, over 90 percent of retail sales are still done in physical stores.
In a conversation with PYMNTS, Yuval Yatskan, VP of marketing for Skava, laid out the case that retail is evolving. “Evolution” implies the retail business model has been somewhere, is somewhere and is headed somewhere — not that it is not going away.
To one customer, “buy milk” means buy a gallon of whole milk; to another, a 1.4-liter jug of unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Digital shopping lists, apps and virtual assistants must understand this and not force the customer to spell it out each time before these platforms can successfully become the new normal.
“We think about things in shorthand, not in terms of specifics,” Dave Barrowman, Skava VP of Innovation, told PYMNTS’ Karen Webster in a recent webinar. “I don’t want to have to have a long, drawn-out conversation with Alexa to order my milk. I just want her to know.”
While it’s true that eMerchants leverage machine learning to recommend products, target ads and optimize sort order and search results, Barrowman says retailers who only use AI for these basic functions are selling the technology (and themselves) short.
“Making products and ads better is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Brands are competing for every customer in a hyperconnected world. The competition is fierce and retailers are vying constantly for the customers’ attention wherever they are. Considering the plethora of customer touchpoints and channels, it is easy for the messaging, value proposition and call to action to disperse and dissipate. Retailers interact with customers using social networks, websites, physical stores, and TV to name a few channels. Add to that the different devices customers interact with brands and you begin to realize how complex customer experiences have become to manage.
Omnichannel is the orchestration of all touchpoints into a consistent, seamless and emotionally engaging journey. Commerce should be thought of as a metonymy. We intuitively think of commerce from a transactional viewpoint and associate it with the exchange of products and services. However, this intuition is dangerous and retailers who fail to realize that commerce pertains to much broader relationships and emotional connections will find themselves on the losing end of this competition.
In a wide array of devices and channels, mobile holds a crucial role. It is oftentimes the first point of engagement for the customer and is the largest purchase influencer. According to a study by Deloitte, digital, as a whole, influenced approximately 56% of total in-store sales in the US ($2.1T) in 2016, a 14% growth compared to 2015. Mobile influenced about 36% of in-store sales, or $1.4T in 2016; a growth of 32% compared to 2015. Its ubiquity and meteoric growth as an influencer have made it pivotal in delivering seamless omnichannel customer experiences.