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Fashions change fast. What was once innovative, suddenly becomes adopted by the mainstream and is seen and expected everywhere — just like technology.

Retail customers who have become used to free access to Wi-Fi in coffee shops and restaurants now expect in-store Wi-Fi — they want to be able to check in with their email and stay connected to social media while they’re shopping, just as they would at home or on the move.

However, retailers have been reluctant to offer free Wi-Fi as customers have previously come to the store to see the product up close, tried an item on, and then gone online to get the cheapest price.

Therefore, a retailer’s dilemma is: how can we use Wi-Fi to further enhance the advantages of a store?

Enabling consumer’s Wi-Fi access allows retailers to offer a more interactive experience; they can engage directly with a shopper while providing a truly personalised experience. They are able to present customers with a virtual and in-store journey and increase loyalty with unique promotions, geo-localised offers, click and collect, extended aisles, e-wallets and augmented reality

It also provides customers with the chance to communicate with staff in that store, in others stores, or even their call centre.

It’s proved successful for eight of the leading Prupim UK shopping centres which giving retailers the opportunity to promote their stores, and highlight special centre events and messages to 118 million shoppers.

With 52 per cent of people now using a tablet or smartphone while they are out shopping, it only seems natural to improve their in-store visit with an interactive experience: are you going to be offering customers free Wi-Fi?

 Posted by Ralph Hengstenberg, Marketing Director UK Markets, BT Global Services


Retail + Mobile = ?

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Balance is important in relationships. When things get out of balance the harmony is lost and the relationship suffers. At the risk of working in sweeping generalisations, the retail industry is out of balance with its customers and the cause is easy to see. Looking back over the last five years, retailers and consumers have been going in completely different directions.

Retailers have had their hands full. They’ve been working hard on consolidation, cost transformation and efficiency. They’ve been implementing ERP systems and forecasting engines, upgrading their POS platforms, transforming their supply chains and providing e-commerce channels. They’ve been updating their stores, upgrading their networks, improving manufacturing processes and being more energy efficient. This is great stuff but when you get to the heart of it, it hasn’t really changed how retail works and the life of a store employee hasn’t materially changed.

Compare this with what the consumers have been up to. Smartphones, tablets, broadband, mobile broadband, Google, Facebook, Twitter. The list goes on. People communicate differently now (who would have thought that after the 160 character restriction of SMS messages were removed, we would voluntarily choose a service like Twitter that only allows even shorter messages) and are data rich. The transition of Google from a company to a verb is a strong indicator of how behaviours have changed.

OK. All of this is well known and documented to death. Customers are now highly mobile and informed so retailers need to give the consumer what they want – e -commerce, social interaction, richer information online, wireless networks in stores, better shipping options, apps, kiosks, customised promotions, seamless shopping experiences, to mention just a few.

And this is where balance comes into it. Customers want to engage with the retailer and have the social interaction that makes the process enjoyable, but the store employees just don’t have the knowledge to engage at the level that the customer now expects. Think of the store as a dance floor; the customers are all out there looking for a good time while the store employees shuffle their feet round the edges looking slightly embarrassed, not sure of what to say. Research has shown that customers are crying out for better service. So how can balance be restored? How can retailers get their store staff back onto the dance floor?

Simple. Go mobile, but as a retailer. Not a consumer. Then learn.

It’s not consumer mobile. That’s fickle, fast changing, uncertain. It’s not the old enterprise mobile – that’s clunky, slow and unwieldy. The new enterprise mobile is fast, predictable and secure. And compatible.

Imagine the opportunities. Your store employees, free to engage customers anywhere within the store and provide all of the services you have available today. Not limited by point solutions that do one thing, but with full access to everything with all of the capabilities that you need. And as they engage, learn from the experiences and adapt and evolve the processes and systems to better satisfy the customer.

It’s Retail. Unleashed.

Video: See how an integrated mobile solution can underpin a whole new retail journey

Posted by Mike King,CTO, BT Expedite

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The recent Retail Week Technology Awards highlighted the vital role technology plays in enhancing the customer experience. And it’s not just restricted to in-store retail theatre fads or digital social trends. As our shortlisted customers proved, the right technology behind the scenes can enhance the customer experience by enabling programmes that impact the customer lifecycle and synchronise cross-channel brand experiences.

There were three ‘Customer Initiative’ projects up for prizes at the event, two for Thomas Pink and one from Liberty.

In the Multichannel Project of the Year category, Thomas Pink’s ‘Single Customer View’ project showed the power of creating one customer database across all channels. It’s not easy to do – but the benefits are worth it as the SCV acts as the foundation for a whole host of other customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives. In Thomas Pink’s case, leveraging the data from different channels by personalising and simplifying the customer experience has paid off, with signs of increased customer satisfaction, increased cross-channel behaviour and improved communication click-through and conversion.

Thomas Pink’s other award entry was for Marketing Solution of the Year. The retailer’s ‘In the Pink’ campaign was created on the back of loyalty research that revealed that rewarding ‘multibuyers’ for their Loyalty would result in incremental customer value, increased customer satisfaction and a positive impact on the bottom line.

The programme designed to tap into this insight, ‘In the Pink’ achieves a number of loyalty  aims – it thanks and rewards customers; keeps the messaging fresh and relevant; and positively impacts multibuyer activity. The result, in incremental sales alone, are way above the target set out in the original business case, with increases in average customer value and overall revenue.

Sitting alongside Thomas Pink for Marketing Solution of the Year was Liberty, with its ‘Retain/Reactivate’ customer lifecycle programme. Liberty provides a unique shopping experience and already boasts excellent customer loyalty. But the ‘Retain/Reactivate’ programme used the retailer’s multichannel database aimed to reach out to less active and dormant customers

Once again, data analysis was the starting point. The Customer Insight team dived into the customer data to identify customer ‘drop-off’ points. They could also see that enticing people back within a specific timeframe resulted in a significant increase in customers going on to make two or more orders. Off the back of this, Liberty undertook a hugely successful two-staged ‘We’ve Missed You!” marketing campaign which provided customers with various offers, depending on their current status, and resulted in significant retention and reactivation.  Best in class CRM retailers know that long-term sustainable profitability comes from the retention of existing customers, not just acquisition.

Both retailers are pleased with the results they have seen, and are already devising and implementing higher levels of CRM excellence over the next twelve months!

Tanya Bowen, Head of CRM & Clienteling, BT Expedite & Fresca


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This year’s BT for Retail Summit was held in the motorsport-themed Whittlebury Hall, just a champagne cork’s pop from Silverstone. As they pulled in from the high speed High Street chase, what did the nearly 200 delegates get out of this two-day technology pit stop?

It wasn’t a rest, that’s for sure. Two days, packed with retail technology presentations, demonstrations, articulations and explanations. And, just as Formula One winners are decided by the tiniest of margins, everyone attending was making full use of every second at the event to try and gain an advantage when they rejoined the race.

The focus was on the practical, the here and now. So we had BT futurologist Nicola Millard describing herself as a ‘now-ologist’ while unveiling the latest customer loyalty research which highlighted the importance of reducing effort for customers. Then John Ryan, stores editor at Retail Week and Drapers, raced through a whistle stop tour of the best in-store theatre around the world, ending with “I have one second left…”

This ‘every second counts’ approach ran through the whole event. Even in between formal sessions – in the Indianapolis, Hockenheim and Hungoraring suites – retailers were rattling through a room full of technology demonstrations. Clienteling? Check. In-store wi-fi? Check. PayPal integration? Check? Cloud-based infrastructure? Check. Go, go, go!!

Every one of the delegates would have come armed with analysis of how the race had been unfolding and where remedial work was needed – they’d also have predictions of the conditions they’d be likely to face and an interest in what the competition was up to.

But what shone through was the collaborative spirit. The tone was set by our new CEO David Grossman, who kicked everything off by lifting the lid on some of the latest innovations he’d seen after a recent trip to Silicon Valley.

It was an event that was geared up for sharing as retailers got together to discuss experiences, solutions, insights and challenges. So Brown Thomas, Notcutts and Thomas Pink shared centre stage in a presentation on customer loyalty; Claire’s, Jigsaw UK and Jigsaw24 shared their web design experiences; PayPal and the Logic Group shared a vision of payments beyond plastic; WH Smith and The Co-operative Food Group explained how Elfs and beetles had helped stock shelves and serve customers; and Crabtree & Evelyn and Fat Face had an open discussion on the future of the store.

All too quickly, the pit stop was over and people rejoined the race – fired up for the next few laps. The brand takes all the glory, of course, but the IT, e-commerce, marketing, CRM and operational teams underpinning it are the ones really driving the business.

We’ll have videos, photos and presentations from the event available shortly. In the meantime, you can see the Fat Face case study video shown during the event.

Posted by Justine Arthur, Head of Communications and Campaigns, BT Expedite & Fresca

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We’re about to kick off a new customer relationship management (CRM) and loyalty initiative with the garden and outdoor specialist Notcutts. The company is family-owned and it’s been ‘helping gardeners since 1897’. Now, with 19 garden centres across the country, the personal and expert service that Notcutts has always prided itself on is about to get a 21st century makeover.

We’ll be helping Notcutts build on the success of its Sage Privilege Club, an industry-leading loyalty programme with over 125,000 members. But the new loyalty, CRM and clienteling solution will bring the management of all of this in-house.

The two main planks of the new programme are: the CRM loyalty solution, a multichannel customer database and campaign manager; and a clienteling application that will put customer information at the fingertips of the customer service team.

When it comes to gardening, Notcutts believes that “there’s nothing we love more than rolling up our sleeves and getting stuck in” and that hands-on approach is just as important when it comes to tending to customers! The thinking behind the move to in-house management is that Notcutts will be able to drive more responsive and proactive services to its customers, through improved customer insight.

And as well as a more personalised experience for customers, it’ll mean a much more joined up experience too – both for customers and behind the scenes. That’s because Notcutts are also planning to roll out our clienteling tool – which generates a complete view of customer behaviour – to help Customer Services manage queries and follow-ups more efficiently. As a result, the service team will have instant, real-time access to customer activity and interaction across all touchpoints so they’ll be much better equipped to deal with customer queries.

Notcutts will be lifting the lid on its CRM and loyalty experiences at the BT for Retail Summit 2013 next week at Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire. If you want to attend, register now.

Posted by Tanya Bowen, Director, CRM Loyalty and Clienteling, BT Expedite & Fresca

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