Sunday, April 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Retailers look to blur lines between online, brick-and-mortar

ATLANTA — It seems reasonable that consumers should be able to easily drift between shopping online with a mobile phone and in a store without missing a beat. How hard is it to buy an item online and pick it up at a store nearby?

But the reality is much more complex.

Will the store be prepared with the order when the customer shows up and be able to quickly match up the person, the order and merchandise? How does the retailer ensure that the shirt that caught the shopper’s eye online is at the store down the street? What if it’s on the rack in black size 8, but not in red size 4? What if another customer is trying it on in the dressing room? How much inventory is needed at each store?

And with all those challenges, how does the retailer know exactly what to promise to customers when they click “purchase?”

”It’s really hard to corral all of that inventory,” said retail analyst Nikki Baird. Yet if a retailer does it well, it delivers on the promise and brings another customer into the store where they might buy more. Marketers are also eager to get a fuller picture of customers’ buying behavior, which is raising consumer privacy issues.

The growth of online retailers continues to drive monumental changes in retail, as consumers come to expect more choices and more immediate gratification. If retailers can get it right, it’s a strategy that could help brick-and-mortar stores better compete against the Amazon.coms of the world, which have the advantage of lower costs and a much broader selection of products.

The idea of so-called “omni-channel retail” is to enable consumers to seamlessly shop wherever and whenever, blurring the lines between the different channels for shopping – online, brick-and-mortar stores, smartphones, tablets and catalogs.

It’s a challenge that Atlanta-based global supply chain software firm Manhattan Associates and Sandy Springs, Ga.-based shipping and logistics giant UPS are both working on, because delivering that flexibility calls for a major shift in the behind-the-scenes supply chain and shipping infrastructure and technology. For example, UPS has partnered with Manhattan Associates the last two years to supply technology for software that helps retailers improve their inventory management, said UPS retail marketing director David Sisco.

Retailers “need to have a very sophisticated IT infrastructure” to meet the promises they make to consumers, said Eddie Capel, chief executive of Manhattan Associates. “You’d better know exactly where all of your inventory is and how quickly and effectively you can get it into the hands of the consumer. And that is not an easy thing to do.”

John Bemis, executive vice president and Southeast retail market lead at commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle, said retailers “have to get it right immediately out of the gate.”

”Customers are not particularly tolerant of mistakes and mistaken orders. So they might give you one mistake, but they aren’t going to give you two,” Bemis said. “So you have to make sure you’re delivering as advertised.”

Improving the in-store pickup experience is an issue that electronics retailer Best Buy has been working on. Best Buy president of e-commerce Scott Durchslag said during a recent investor presentation that 40 percent of its online shoppers pick up purchases in the store. In the works are changes “that make it really easy for the sales associate to be able to cross-sell services or attach accessories.” he said. “. . . Today, that would have to be a whole separate new transaction instead of being able to add additional items to the cart.”

Separately, Best Buy recently launched Deals Near Me to tell customers on mobile devices what deals are available at nearby stores.

As companies track consumers’ purchases across platforms, technology could also give marketers unprecedented access to consumers’ buying behavior.

By linking consumers’ shopping online to their shopping in stores and elsewhere, they also want to develop profiles of customers’ shopping habits to better target them with sales pitches. However, that has generated controversy over privacy issues.

Targeting what retailers call “omni-channel shoppers” is a lucrative segment.

Such profiling could also bring a level of personal shopping to the mainstream mall store, by allowing an apparel store to pull items based on a customer’s buying history to try on during a scheduled store visit, Bemis said. Such personalized offers are offered widely by Amazon.

Retailers “want to have a single view of their customer,” whether the activity is online, on social media, at a store or from a mobile device, said Capel.

That could eventually include technology for retailers to “know exactly where you are in the mall . . . in a store, which department,” Capel said. “The theory is you’ll start to see digital marketing inside the store highly personalized to you as you move from department to department.”

Some privacy advocates have raised concerns.

”Marketers know more about you than some of your closer friends,” said Center for Digital Democracy executive director Jeffrey Chester. “It’s mind boggling the ability that marketers now have to not only collect data about you but to merge that in databases. . . . Just as in the 1930s and 1940s (when) we tried to develop consumer protection for radio and TV, we clearly need rules of the road to protect consumers in the digital era — and there’s hardly any.”

Marketers say targeted marketing means more relevant advertising and promotions for consumers.

”They want to glue that buying history, those buying patterns, into a single view of you,” Capel said, “so they can get a level of intimacy, from a loyalty perspective, that they’ve never had before.”

Cox Newspapers

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Bay Area makes growth plans

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1

 
Supervisor candidates vary on Plan Bay Area

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Earth Day means cleanup Day for Suisun City

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Hop to it: Couple lights up home, yard for Easter

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1

Ranking the best Bay Area athletes

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
Piano scholarship competition set in Vallejo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

The Edge hosts Easter egg hunt

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3

 
Alooma Temple keeps children in mind

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Fairfield author to speak at women’s expo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
The resurrection has changed the lives of Christians

By Perry W. Polk | From Page: C3

 
Understanding your health insurance

By Morgan Westfall | From Page: D4

 
Armijo graduate completes basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: C4

Highway 12 paving to slow traffic east of Rio Vista

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A5

 
Record Store Day a commercial hit

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Easter egg hunt brings out the smiles

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Dutch Bros. joins Fairfield coffee corridor

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B7 | Gallery

City sets plan to dispose of property assets

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7

 
Suisun City police log: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Counties tell Brown they need money for his law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
San Francisco probe leading to entrapment claims

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Exhibit recreates Warhol’s 1964 World’s Fair mural

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Documents detail another delayed GM recall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

At barricades, Ukraine insurgents await Easter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Official: 3 bodies retrieved from inside ferry

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13 | Gallery

13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Costa Rican a celebrity after certified miracle

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14 | Gallery

.

Opinion

Government … for the government?

By Bill James | From Page: A8

 
Editorial Cartoons for April 20, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Question of the week: Will Flight 370 be found?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Neighborhood speeders don’t get it

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

Why would a person do this?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Sound off for April 20, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
Jeb Bush, love, and today’s GOP

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A9

Statistical frauds distort equal-pay debate

By Thomas Sowell | From Page: A9

 
Are government ‘carrots’ fair, worthwhile?

By Brian Thiemer | From Page: A9

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History for April 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Book details lives of cloistered nuns

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Bill Nye says he underestimated debate’s impact

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Horoscopes for April 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D4

 
Pete spends weekends at my house but he never invites me to his

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D4

.

Entertainment

Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers has book deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Tartt, Goodwin finalists for Carnegie medals

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

New book on fracking illuminates pros, cons

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

 
.

Sports

Kings, Sharks look to put Game 1 in past

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Stults, Padres hand Giants third straight loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

A’s score 3 in 9th, rally past Astros 4-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Warriors beat Clippers 109-105 in playoff opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Hawks take 1-0 lead by rolling past Pacers 101-93

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Raptors GM Ujiri uses profanity about Brooklyn

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Williams scores 24 as Nets beat Raptors 94-87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Durant leads Thunder past Grizzlies 100-86

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Federer beats injured Djokovic to reach final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Donald shoots 66, takes lead at RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Big names among prospective Buffalo Bills buyers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Indians set two new school records for track

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Wie shoots 67, wins LPGA LOTTE Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Travis Bowl Highlights

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

Rapids, Earthquakes play to scoreless tie

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Stars Recreation bowling results

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

Jimenez leads Langer by 1 shot in Greater Gwinnett

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Award-winning archery champ shoots with his teeth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Survivors keep busy as Boston Marathon approaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Business

US delays review of contentious Keystone pipeline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Why high oil prices are actually good for airlines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Subscription sample boxes shake up beauty routines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Girls from modest families get lift in technology

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

Haunted house part of San Antonio apartment lofts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B13

 
Recalls this week: lanterns, exercise devices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B13

Review: Siri-like Cortana fills Windows phone gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
.

Obituaries

James Leroy Barbour

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
William Paul Wehrly

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Sealwyn Shirley Brucefield Shepherd Malkiewicz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Anne Irene Elizabeth Fulgoni

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Margaret Elizabeth Silva

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Lloyd G. Hoffmeister

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Ramon Isidro

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

 
Rogelio Tinoco-Zamudio

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics