@Brian It's important to do that. I have more than once abandoned my cart or not even bothered to shop when the lines looked too long. I have to really, really want something to be willing to wait on line for it.
Paula, you made an excellent point about overinvesting in tech for retail - is there an opportunity for retailers to stagger that investment or is the current lag so great that piecemeal efforts become unbeneficial?
@Brian, generally there are a lot of little things put near checkout. This time of year, you could call some of them stocking stuffers. You're not likely to pick up a big ticket item just on impulse, but something in the $5 -$20 range that could be a gift, you would.
Hey Paula, sorry to nudge in here, but in terms of apparel, I'm wondering if you know of any retailers who are using analytics to do a better job of stocking the right sizes of clothing? Is there any optimization going on with this now, or is it coming anytime soon?
@Paula, yes, though I mean if they track the data, they know patterns and can already predict that there will be greater volume at certain times and then be sure to have enough staff on hand to prevent the lines from getting too long.
Joe- (re. IoT for efficiency) - you will find that some retailers are using "heat map analyses" to determine the best places to put promo items. That's just one example about how IoT data can be used for practical purposes.
@Paula One thing they can do then is make sure to have more cashiers on hand at busier times. Some stores do that in a low tech way -- just looking around to see when lines get long -- but it's better to be proactive about it.
One thing I notice about my own shopping habits, I have gotten so used to shopping online that I lose patience with shopping in stores. It takes too long to get from place to place, and there is not enough information about the products available -- unles syou do use your phone to look things up. On my recent Target expedition, I was looking for toothpaste (which I usually end up buying at my local CVS, but I was there, so I thought I'd give it a whirl). But I gave up b/c the Crest boxes there were not clealry labeled to identify which were pastes (preferred in my family) and which were gels (which many will refuse to use). And there's really no reason not to have that info on the box. Now when ordering online, I usually can find out what I want to about a product just by clicking, which makes me a lot less tolerant of not having access to that info in the physical world.
Starbucks is apparently using IoT to determine if an item is optimally placed based upon how many people pick up the item and then put it back down without buying it. They then send in a crew in the wee hours of the morning the next day before opening to change the merchandise layout.
@Ariella: Yeah, I've tried having perishables delivered by various companies -- with mixed (usually quite poor) results. I can't count the number of food items I've had to throw out that wouldn't have been an issue had I bought them "normally".
I actually wish retailers would stop trying to entertain me. Their music selections are usually bad and too loud. Their "entertaining" layouts are inefficient. Just make clear what aisle the toilet paper is in, please.
I am not sure real estate should be criticised. I agree store is a key channel - BOPIS/BORIS proves it. The retailers who have done well invested in their floor space. Sears, for example, just acquired. Physical scale is not necessarily an investment.
At the end of the day, people still need to go to a brick-and-mortar to run some basic errands or actually see/feel merchandise. And people are still going to quickly knock off an errand while they're out anyway.
@Joe true, and another thing that figures in is how the stores handle the returns from online orders. I have noticed that some, like Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, put those items in their clearance section. That's something that would vary by location, of course.
@Ariella: I see a lot of brands doing as good a job as they can of making it as easy as possible to return something -- but it still fundamentally involves packing stuff up, following instructions, and going to the mailbox (if not post office!).
@Joe that may be why some brands make it such a pain to return things. But they do risk losing the customers who won't buy from a store that makes it difficult to return, particularly for things like clothes and shoes that have to be tried on for fit.
@Joe well, that sort of fits with certain differentials in pricing one sees even in stores at different locations. Unless the prices actually changed on the wholesale level, the Target in one area of LI charges quite a bit more for milk than the one in another part of LI. I noticed that when I went to a further away location this weekend.
Yeah, but it's still more efficient because you're attracting more customers by having the online purchase option to begin with. Plus, many customers never return the item even though they don't like it or it doesn't fit because of the complexities/pain in the butt of mailing it back.
@Joe yes, sometimes even a single brand name will have different prices for something in-store and on the website. Target, for example, used to have some things cheaper on its site or made certain offers there, but I think that it's gotten that more uniform of late. But some work a higher price in online to cover the "free" shipping they offer
The funny thing is, I was recently speaking with a cybersecurity exec who posited that retailers care more about infosec and data privacy than the highly regulated businesses because they have more competition.
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