Professional services

Transportation Optimization - a silver bullet to solve "last mile delivery?"

Ted Matwijec, Managing Director, ACT Operations Research – Raleigh, NC.

Learn how knowing your constraints and customer demands feeds sophisticated algorithms to provide optimal routing and balance delivery vs costs   Lately I have been seeing more and more of those brand-new Amazon Prime - Mercedes panel trucks making deliveries around my neighborhood.   Also, I have even seen the USPS delivering packages on Sunday (contracted by Amazon I am sure).  What’s going on Sunday deliveries? On demand delivery with time windows specified by a customer is becoming the consumer norm.  Remember the delivery or service call by your cable TV/Internet provider saying my service guy will be there between 8 am and noon then shows up at 11:50am.  Met their promise, but ruined your whole morning wasted sitting around! Let me assure you that customer service problem can be solved and you don’t need the resources of Amazon, UPS or Fed Ex. Amazon is clearly moving into the supply chain delivery markets much to the chagrin of FED EX and UPS to take back their “last mile” deliveries of their goods and solve this problem for the customer.    The question is how can they make the most expensive part of delivery – the “last or golden mile” to a customer profitable? From our experience in these markets, simply put, Amazon, Fed Ex, UPS and other large transportation companies have the best and brightest staff of Math, Statistical Phds that constantly hone their algorithms to minimize costs and maximize the service requirements.   When profit is measured in pennies in a transportation system – (that’s why you see the UPS guys running from each delivery back to their trucks) – the solution cannot be a spreadsheet or database or even year 2000 optimization technology. It is not rocket science, well maybe sort of, but rather advanced mathematics (think Calculus) applied to route planning optimization and fleet capacity analysis.  These transportation algorithms (remember the traveling salesman problem) have generically been around for decades, however now they are totally customized, enhanced and improved enough to cover the most minutia of system requirements – by many software companies.  I read that UPS has put 10’s of millions of dollars in R&D over the years into their algorithms to update and improve optimize their KPIs – as an example! So, why now is the “last delivery mile” more complex and expensive than ever?   The short answer, the customer is demanding it and will go other places if your company cannot provide it!   We all know how poor delivery can be written up in YELP or GOOGLE about your business – a big problem in the social media world for your marketing department.   (eg. – delivered food late for a kid’s birthday party) The good news for any retail or grocery store fleet manager is that to solve the “last mile delivery” the technology today is much less expensive and available for all size of fleets and route planners The long answer is the complexity of the business rules, constraints and requirements to execute this service.   First some examples…of customer/supplier requirement I am seeing today in our markets of retail and grocery applications - Customers: Wants confirmation of a tighter availability of their grocery delivery – eg. In the next 30 minutes Desire communications via a mobile app, email or text to the customer – about the updated arrival time. Want a positive experience to tell their friends how good their deliveries are! – We all want that on demand! Grocery/Retail Stores with their own fleets, or outsourced via 3PLs - Wants a confirmation signature the groceries have been delivered and that information is sent back to the IT system in real time, with SKU information, for example – for replenishment purposes. Wants real time updates from their drivers about location, traffic and estimated delivery window to communicate back to the customer. Wants to be able to reschedule a driver in real time for a new pickup at the store/warehouse or pick-up a returned item. So, the lengthy transportation distances between warehouses to stores is a natural issue solved by logistics teams for inventory replenishment.  Now add that complex delivery network and inventory now required “on demand” from a store location or back in the warehouse for a customer that wants it delivered this afternoon – and you get to see why the “last mile” delivery starts to become complex and expensive!  From a labor, IT system connection, communication systems, loading, unloading, time window point of view, the human brain cannot possibly manage all the variables in your network – to balance cost vs services. Lot’s of moving business costs involved to serve the customer. So, from my 30  + years in the Operations Research field, I can strongly recommend an updated math model is appropriate for route planning and optimization and is the potential strategic “silver bullet” you are looking for – to support you competing in your markets!  Of-course it is not the whole answer, you have to execute a plan, change some processes and manage the fleet – the cultural processes. Question, when was the last time you asked for your route planning algorithms to be updated in your home grown business system,  TMS or ERP system, meanwhile your points of service network has changed a lot just in the last 5 years! I have seen the market share winners in the tight margin grocery or retail store business realize that the supply chain strategy to optimize delivery to their clients from source through the delivery point is accomplished by using transportation optimization.   Managing constraints like labor, fuel costs, traffic conditions, time window, texts and emails to meet that short time window and the “last mile” requires serious modeling/computational power and IT changes. The good news is that this technology is more readily available, less expensive from providers, easier to use for your staff, and has proven real cost savings – to meet or exceed your customers expectations. How much did your optimization algorithms cut your cost in your delivery system last year? Find the hidden value in your delivery system today, using math optimization, your savings should be a min. 10%+ or more in our experience to deliver on time or earlier and impress your customers! +MORE

Darius™ for Retail

Darius Technologies

Darius for Retail is a fully integrated, cloud based shopper engagement platform. Darius delivers proven and measurable return on investment, by allowing retailers to put their shoppers at the center of everything and making it easy to engage and influence them pre-store, in-store, and post-store. Darius allows retailers to design, manage, develop and, measure interactions with their customers throughout the entire shopper journey.  The ‘tech’ bit: Darius™ is a modular ‘ecosystem’ retail technology platform that is designed to integrate and allow interaction with any existing retail systems and solutions such as Beacons, WiFi, dynamic shelf illumination, or e-coupons, and so on, to make continuous engagement with shoppers possible, wherever they are on the path to purchase. The customer experience bit: Darius™ allows retailers to put their shoppers at the center of everything by making it easy to engage and influence them pre-store, in-store, and post-store. The business bit: Darius™ delivers proven and measurable return on investment. That means more shoppers in-store, more often. It means attracting new and hard to engage shopper types. And it means bigger baskets and the increased spends that comes with that. It makes marketing budgets and, where they may already exist, retail tech investments work so much harder. +MORE

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BEFORE! Predictive Analytics

ACT Operations Research

1) Predict demand down to store and SKU level 2) Predict promotional campaign affect in the store, transportation and warehouse operations 3) Buy optimal quantities 4) Manage the risk associated with stock outs vs promotional campaigns and waste 5) considers assortment constraints and category efficiency 6) simulate store queuing for capacity analysis purposes and cost reduction purposes.  REVENUE, SALES & PROMOTION Revenue management and price optimization is a core-activity in any market oriented company operating in different industries (Retails, Fast Fashion, Chain Store, Car Rentals, Web Business, etc.). The goal of our suite is to provide, to the revenue managers, advanced analytics, using a unique combination and integration of predictive, optimization and simulation models. While the analytics tools are complex the results are always presented in an intuitive way. The core products included in the Revenue, Sale, Price & Promotion (RSP&P) suite are: Dynamic Price Optimizer (DPO), the multi-paradigm predictive paltform - Before! Predictive Analytics with Before! Sales Campaign -, the customers and market profiling analytics (CMP), the promotion optimization and what-if analysis platform - Before! Promo.  Before! Sales Campaign Before! Sales Campaign software addresses the needs of industries where the products and the merchandise assortments, have a fast renewal  dynamics, even during the same season, like the case of fashion and  fast-fashion channels, electronics or several web-business  Before! Promo Before!Promo, is a complete multi-paradigm analytical tool by ACTOR, developed for scaling enterprise companies. In the current competitive scenario the consumers pay high attention to the promotions, on the other hand promotions exposed retailers and vendors to higher risks in terms of image, in case of stock-out or costs in case of over-stock. When products are fresh-food or fast fashion for example, the risks become even higher.  Before! Predictive Analytics  Before! Predictive Analytics or simply Before!, is a complete multi-paradigm demand forecasting platform by ACTOR, developed for scaling enterprise companies. Before! provides you the capability to forecast the demand while gaining control of the related organization processes such as; planning, procurement, inventory optimization, store replenishments, etc..  Dynamic Price Optimization  Dynamic Price Optimization (DPO) is a capacity and revenue management software based on sophisticated analytical algorithms. It permits users to optimize the prices of products, assets and commodities over the time based on the expected demand, the competitor’s prices and other key-information like, for example, price elasticity.   +MORE

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CART'S INNOVATION PROGRAM

Gary Hawkins, CEO , Center for Advancing Retail and Technology

CART’s Innovation Program, done in partnership with Retail Tomorrow, is a unique offering that works for retailers and solution providers alike. Designed for national and larger regional retailers, the CART team works with the retailer’s executive team to identify 2-3 specific areas of interest like automation, in-store experience, etc. With interests established, the team then goes to work identifying the leading solution providers in each area, filtering through and curating the most appropriate capabilities. That process often entails talking with each solution to ensure applicability and set expectations. Amongst the many factors we evaluate is making sure the size and scale of the retailer is aligned with the solution provider’s resources. Connecting a young solution to a massive retailer might sound exciting, but if the solution provider lacks the resources to pilot and then scale deployments it leads to frustration on all sides. Once the appropriate solution providers have been identified we all go on-site to the retailer’s HQ to spend a day with their executive team focused around education as each solution is given an opportunity to present to the group and talk about what they do. The format allows for Q&A along with opportunity to start building relationships as everyone networks over coffee breaks and lunch. From the solution provider’s perspective, the opportunity to get time with the senior exec team from prominent retailers is invaluable. Once a solution provider is selected to participate, the CART team will work with you to review your presentation materials to make sure you’re providing the most powerful and relevant message possible about your company and what you do. The CART team will provide some coaching for the presenters to make sure you deliver your message in the time allotted (these events are pretty tightly scripted to accomplish everything).  Expectations are clearly identified on all sides early in the process. From the retailer, CART is looking for executive level commitment and engagement with the process, the executive team’s commitment to spend the day with in the on-site meeting with all the solutions, and a commitment to seriously consider piloting appropriate solutions. From solution providers, CART is looking for new innovative capabilities to help the retailer address challenges they have or provide new capabilities that are beneficial to the retailer. This involves having a good understanding of retail and how retail works and helping educate everyone in the meeting as to the technologies involved. Retailers interested in learning more about the CART Innovation Program can get more information here Solutions interested in participating can learn more here +MORE

INDEPENDENT GROCERS: THRIVING IN UNCERTAIN TIMES

Venu Gopalakrishnan, Founder and Global CEO, Litmus7 Systems Consulting.

There is this independent, silent yet powerful grocery segment awaiting massive disruption. The addressable market size 25% OF THE RETAIL GROCERY INDUSTRY SALES $131 BILLION IN ANNUAL SALES 1% OF THE UNITED STATES’ GDP *Source NGA annual report 2018 Question is how prepared are they to embrace the future with a smile? In the past, the wars for power and trade on land got small nations to unite and defend themselves. Now those wars are being fought in the invisible digital space; in order to survive, a purpose-driven consolidation of like-minded business is inevitable. The wars, which will be fought in these invisible spaces today, will become far more intense tomorrow! It’s time to get the act ‘together’. The territorial understanding The intelligence of today’s consumers will be exponentially superseded by the future consumer’s intelligence and awareness levels. In this new age of total consumer awareness, TRUST and GENUINENESS are going to be a scarce commodity. Consumers of the future will be much more sensitive to their health than today. To cite an example,Thanksgiving 2018 witnessed the sale of large-sized Turkey going down by 8.3% from previous year's sales, whereas Toms’ went up by 6.5%. One of the key reasons cited is that people have become more informed about industrial farming;hence they're a little turned off by practices like antibiotics and caging necessary to produce a 30-lb Turkey. So, the point is, the industry will see more responsible consumers than their predecessors. To illustrate the point about trust, consider this: I have Amazon Prime on my phone, I also have a Safeway and Traders Joe's within a mile, but I prefer Traders Joe’s despite the fact that they are totally ignorant about both the conventional digital conveniences and traditional loyalty programs. I go there because I trust them, I go there because I get to feel their value is rooted in their efforts to ensure the right food for the right people and the fact that they’ve managed to bring enough joy to the faces of their store agents. Understanding the threat dimensions for Independent Retailers 1. Consolidation of business: Amazon, Walmart, and Kroger will continue to increase their market shares, forcing pressure on independent business. 2. The likes of Instacarts who shields brands from consumers and such intermediaries themselves are susceptible to consolidation. 3. Lack of preparation and response from independent supermarkets to embrace the emerging digital future of retailing Preparing for the uncertain times (the 7 milestones) Combining the genuineness of independent retailers with the possibilities of what digital future can offer will help this unstructured segment thrive in the age of uncertain times. Here are some ways of doing it: 1. Purpose driven consolidation: Unlike the equity-based alliances, independent retailers will be collaborating on a larger purpose which has a market size of $130Bn and is the first step towards uniting the distributed segment, which the NGA can facilitate. 2. Reimagining business for frictionless retailing: a.  All business as stores b.  Delivering unified consumer experience across the consortium c.   All connected feeder businesses as services to help design business agility, way beyond any technologically advanced businesses can ever achieve. 3. Connected consumer: Connecting isolated consumers for a better cause and their health. a.  Re-visioning the purpose around‘Genuineness’ (cause and delight) and therefore establishing ‘Trust’ that can never be broken. b. Connecting the decentralized consumer community through “Farm-To-Table-Green” Loyalty Program designed specifically for driving good health programs. The NGA can lobby and influence the Congress to get those consumers capitalize their sustainability score to get discounts on their utility bills. c. Green Score (Sustainability): Driving awareness around sustainability among consumers through the Green Score. Today, only the relatively rich can afford electric cars and renewable energy and they are even given subsidy for their sustainable quotient. However, that community is probably less than 10% of the total population. The NGA can be that agent who drives the sustainability quotient to the rest of the world and become the world’s first agent to lobby and help their consumers get subsidies on utility bills for supporting farm-to-table efforts of NGA grocers. 4. Driving convenience together: a.   Businesses connecting to Instacart for delivery than consumers choosing them b.   “You Won’t Run Out of Stock”! Grocers know what their consumers bought and have the ability to track and replenish their home inventory c.     Always delivering convenience ahead of industry 5. Value beyond grocery. Beyond delivering grocery, help consumers with insights into their lifestyle through the following services: a.  Dietary check b.  Food budget check c.   Sustainability score d.   Subscribe to events and meet-ups 6. OneSystem® model to drive efficiency: Forget the cost of running a digital platform; long back, businesses used to build systems right from scratch, but today it is more around COTS applications and SAS models. All the systems were designed and built primarily to play around with the intelligence of consumer data and product data. But in the future, what if such information transcends to become the basic right of every business? What if brands and retailers can access such information from a common platform? Today, independent grocers can bring that future closer to them by on-boarding to a one system model, which is managed through a shared OPEX pool, essentially helping them to secure a Digital future more powerful than amazon. 7. ConsumerX (Intelligent Consumer): Delivering extreme consumer experience by converting today’s transactional consumer into an intelligent one. State of intelligence designed around intents, relationships, historical transactions and product knowledge.  Shift 'right', to think one step ahead of the curve to understand ConsumerX. The demographic shifts a) The shift to ever-smaller average household size. The 2010 census showed the average US household size at 2.58 inhabitants; it is believed that number has gone down since.  b) Ethnic mix and its impact on food choices  Conscious shift  a) At upper income and educational levels – to a greater interest and awareness of health, food quality, and food provenance. b) Shift in internet shopping - with its demands for O2O capabilities such as BOPUS and BOSFS Shift towards TRUST a) Protection of data.  b) Authenticity of products/services/value proposition.  c) Consistency of operational delivery. Aligning with these 7 milestones or more around those lines can save the genuine independent grocers to thrive in the future. So what does it all mean? If all of these independent retailers stand united to deliver 'one experience' across multiple channels, we are talking about 21000 stores and $131 billion overall business forming 25% of United States' grocery market! Does it not stand qualified to challenge the biggies?  If yesterday was all about the size, tomorrow would be all about intelligence. But the people have always loved peace and compassion! Care for them and they will protect you and your business! All businesses flourish when consumers love a brand or service! The NGA can help independent grocers enter the new age with a smile.  Embracing the models designed for the intelligence of a consumer in the 1960’s won’t help win the hearts of consumers of the future. Stand united for a Grocery Revolution. Let your consumers adore you and protect you. +MORE

The Growing Role of Data Intelligence in eGrocery

Michael Demko, CEO and Founder, Locai Solutions

2018 was marked by many advancements in the various applications of data intelligence – the ability for computers and apps to gather information, and use it to give customers a truly personalized experience – setting the stage for the next-level in convenience. Shoppers are now less resistant to the idea of individualized product suggestions, which creates a new dynamic of customer service: people expect products to be presented to them in an easy, personalized, and intelligent way.  A great user experience is an imperative part of any eCommerce offering, but the underlying logic, algorithms, and intelligence that bring depth and relevance to the user experience is where the real innovations are occurring. In 2019, personalization and AI will grow from being merely promotions and product recommendations to a set of  tools that help retailers sell time-saving solutions. By 2020 45% of retailers plan to utilize artificial intelligence to enhance the customer experience. Currently, many platforms generate lists that you can buy from, but with machine learning you can now deploy solutions that provide higher levels of convenience for your customers.  What exactly does the customer experience? A more frictionless buying experience. Upon initial sign in to an app powered by an engine like eGroceryIQ, customers answer questions about their dietary preferences, portion sizes, and favorite items. After each purchase, the order details are collected and used to modify that user's next shopping experience. If the customer reviews an item, that information is also integrated into future product and recipe recommendations. eCommerce platforms embedded with AI powered solutions will take all this customer data, integrate it with what is currently in their shopping cart, and provide them with a highly personalized and engaging shopping experience. These smart apps, using segment-of-one personalization, create a unique interface for each customer. Instead of having to sift through an entire catalog, shoppers are presented with their favorite items right away, as well as similar product suggestions – foods they might like based on past purchases.  Other applications for data intelligence include capabilities that provide shoppers with information to problem solve for quantity and product type. Customers can filter and scroll through listings to compare nutritional information and see what items fit with their dietary preferences or restrictions. AI solutions  can sift through recipes, parse ingredients, map them automatically to a retailer’s assortment and systematically scale the amounts needed for a family of 4 or a single serving enabling customers to use tools such as meal planning to maximize use of products already in their virtual shopping cart. As machine learning continues to evolve, the possibilities become endless.. Is it worth the investment? All that value for your customers translates to higher sales. Intelligent solutions mean higher basket sizes, improved loyalty & retention, increased conversion rate, and higher purchase frequency.  Furthermore, data intelligence can be used to advance your merchandising, logistics, and fulfillment efforts. According to Tech Emergence, "the predictive capabilities of AI may play an important role in forecasting inventory needs, determining prices of products based on internal and external factors, analyzing customer behavior, loss prevention, delivery services–and potentially much more."  Equipped with volumes of data about your customers, new platforms will emerge to enable you to more easily pivot your business strategies, optimize your interfaces, and offer a catalog of high selling products.  The bottom line? More convenience equals greater customer satisfaction and more revenue. Intelligent solutions for today and tomorrow According to Forbes magazine, almost half of Americans now buy groceries online. Recent surveys by Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Nielsen show that 49% of US consumers had bought CPGs (consumer packaged goods) online in the past three months, up from 23% in 2016. The rates were higher among younger demographics – 61% for millennials and 55% for Gen Xers. As these rates continue to increase, experts predict that AI will continue to expand to meet the growing needs of both grocers and shoppers. Without AI, traditional grocery stores will have a difficult time meeting consumer behavior and demands. Many are finding that simply adding an online catalog is not enough to satisfy their customers, nor drive higher sales. The key is increasing value through efficiency and continuous learning about your customer. Solutions embedded with machine learning are designed to meet the needs of both the retailer and the consumer – giving the consumer an engaging, personalized experience, and the retailer a comprehensive, sales-driving and scalable platform. In order to succeed digitally, a broad set of components are needed and we’re beginning to see more and more partnering between grocers and technology solutions. As Yeal Cosset, Chief Digital Officer of Kroger said, “Personalization based on available data will not work. If the filter of the data is only good you will become obsolete, but if it is great you will have success.” Investing in flexible platforms that enable integration with the best in class consumer and operational features will become necessary, as a wide host of 3rd party application providers continue to emerge as the industry evolves. +MORE

Five Predictions for Retail Transformation in 2019

Gary Hawkins, CEO , Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART)

As we begin 2019, tomorrow is no longer going to resemble today. The pace of tech-fueled innovation continues to grow, bringing with it increasing change across the supply chain and greater impact on traditional retail operations and models. 2019 is going to be a year of even greater change. Here are five key areas to watch this year: Frictionless shopping: The Amazon Go store with its cashier-less shopping experience has gotten the industry’s attention and this year we will see a great deal of activity in this space. There are several tech companies working to bring similar capabilities to the retail industry along with cost-effectively scaling the technology to work in traditional supermarkets. I believe the proliferation of retailers’ mobile apps having some kind of self-shopping capability - the shopper scanning their products as they shop using their smartphone and then an expedited payment process - is an interim step to a completely frictionless shopping environment. The whole idea of the Amazon Go store is to make buying products as easy as possible; the shopper having to use their app to scan and pay makes it easier to buy but not as easy as just walking in, picking up what you want, and walking out. Automated fulfillment: Kroger’s partnership with Ocado to build and operate twenty automated grocery eComm fulfillment centers is on track. We are seeing several other retailers enter into agreements with Takeoff Technologies to build mini automated fulfillment centers that can sit in the backroom, automatically fulfilling high-velocity packaged goods ordered online. Walmart is working with a partner to build an automated fulfillment center that is designed to sit alongside their stores, fulfilling high-volume products. In 2019 we are going to see even more activity in this space as other retailers will be forced to follow these leaders as automation brings efficiency and lower fulfillment costs, opening up a productivity gap. We will be seeing other technology providers step into this space as the market expands. Automated delivery: Kroger’s partnership with Nuro to use automated, driverless delivery vehicles to deliver online orders to the shopper’s home is already in pilot. Udelv and other solutions will be gaining more interest as retailers begin to focus more attention on the final mile delivery. While many retailers have signed deals with Instacart or Shipt to handle actual delivery, we’re going to see growing interest in Uber and other services to handle deliveries and fast growing interest in automated solutions like Nuro and Udelv in search of cost efficiencies. Health & Wellness gets personal: The wearables market is growing fast as Apple’s Watch and similar devices provide even more functionality to monitor key health indicators in realtime. The explosion in health data coming from these wearables will become increasingly tied to food guidance, helping the individual understand what specific food products to purchase and consume based upon the individual’s health condition and realtime data. As an example, Dexcom recently released a device that provides realtime glucose monitoring for people with diabetes. The ability to use knowledge of an individual’s glucose levels at that specific time - for example, while they are standing in front of the shelf - will inform guidance to beneficial foods. This movement is already underway as the massive food and healthcare industries converge, driven by Amazon’s ownership of Whole Foods, PillPack, and other activity in healthcare. Kroger’s Opt-UP app enables the shopper to easily understand the quality of the foods they are buying and easily filter the store’s product selection based upon the shopper’s interests, needs, and preferences. Look for a lot more activity around this space in the coming year. Melding of digital and physical retail: While most industry activity has been focused around eCommerce and automation of fulfillment and delivery of orders, I believe we are going to see growing attention to the melding of digital and physical shopping. This encompasses bringing augmented reality into the store and shopping experience; we’ll also see growing activity in virtual reality shopping as VR tech gets better and cheaper. Digital signage will spread across the store and get smarter, not only using demographic info to present messaging relevant to the person standing in front of the screen, but engagement will be far more personalized. Kroger’s new shelf Edge system is moving in this direction, lighting up as a shopper moves down the aisle to call out relevant products. Obviously there are many more areas where technology is going to transform retail but these are five key areas to watch. Each of these fundamentally changes the game: Frictionless shopping and automating fulfillment and delivery remove significant costs and will put growing pressure on competing retailers as companies using these technologies scale deployments.  Personalization will move quickly, not just in marketing but in linking an Individual shopper’s health to her favorite store’s product assortment, guiding the shopper to products to improve her wellbeing.  Lastly, shopping is about to become far more interesting and truly immersive as technology really begins to impact the shopping experience, whether you are in the brick & mortar store or sitting at home. +MORE

Litmus7

Litmus7

Our Retail Services  The most sophisticated retailers in the world trust our technology services to power up their mission critical systems.  Digital Commerce Litmus7 specializes in setup, customizing and upgrading of eCommerce Platforms such as ATG, Oracle Commerce and IBM Sterling Commerce. We provide an end to end service across all systems and technologies required to operate a high performing retail business.  Services Implementation Retailers today are dependent on an ever growing number of inter-dependent services. Litmus7 excels in making sure that the highest quality and performance is maintained as our customers scale.  High-End Engineering As more and more retailers are becoming technology companies that are in the business of retail, our services are allowing their teams to develop and deploy faster than ever. Infrastructure Services We help some of the world's largest and most stable eCommerce websites achieve %99.999 up-time and support billions of visitors around the world.  Consulting & Research We hire the best experts from all disciplines of retailers. Their wide experience allows us to look at a customer's business and potential from all angles, to conduct root cause analysis as well as identify growth opportunities.  User Journey & Experience We take great pleasure creating the best and most innovative user experiences in the world and tracking how they increase our customer's conversions as well as shopper satisfaction.   +MORE

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Pseudo Customer Centricity: Fool’s Gold

Gary Hawkins on Winsight Grocery Business, CART

Retailers must employ a customer-first philosophy into organizational culture Many regional retailers are (at last!) intent on becoming customer-centric, more than a decade after The Kroger Co. led the way and more than two decades after early loyalty pioneers proved the value of a true customer focus. But too many retailers believe that customer centricity can simply be bolted on to their organizations without realizing that true customer centricity is far more involved. Like the intrepid gold miners of the 1840s, these retailers awaken to the realization that what they’ve taken for retail gold is in actuality a false promise, seduced by the fools gold of pseudo customer centricity. I can recount meetings with senior executives from well-known retailers who espouse their customer centricity efforts; spending massive sums on consultants and solutions powered by a decade’s old approach based on customer segments integrated to the retailer’s category planning processes, and even personalized offers to shoppers. Countless of these retailers remain anchored in a product-focused world, even those who tout using technology to discover what products should be put on offer to their customers rather than starting with a vendor-funded offer pool.  True disciples of customer centricity deeply embed a customer-first philosophy into their organizational culture, extending it to every part of the enterprise. These companies realize that providing savings on products relevant to the shopper is only the beginning. Leading companies such as Amazon and Kroger are investing heavily in taking customer centricity to the next level: comprehensive, seamless user experiences across channels and devices, integrating personalized product recommendations with an understanding of the individual shopper’s specific health conditions, and laying the technology foundation for immersive shopping experiences melding the physical and digital worlds. Customer first disciples understand the dynamic flow of customers and their shopping behavior over time, putting in place capabilities and processes attuned to providing contextual relevancy inside and outside the store. And personalization—driven by past purchases and recommendation algorithms—is fast evolving to what I think of as strategic hyper-personalization, leveraging vast intelligence about each individual shopper to power a mix of recommendations to win the shopping trip, grow baskets, maximize retention, and foster customer advocacy—one customer at a time, in real time. Many regional retailers are based in more rural areas where company executives believe their shoppers are less tech savvy, relieving pressure on digital imperatives. According to Pew Research, 95% of Americans own a cellphone in 2018, with 77% of Americans owning a smartphone. Pew also calls out that in 2018, 89% of Americans use the internet. Location is no longer a proxy for customer technology illiteracy.  This year, Amazon is projected to realize over $258 billion in U.S. retail sales, an estimated 49% of all online retail spending in the United States. With this kind of penetration, and the ability to ship products anywhere overnight, traditional supermarket retailers would do well to remember that their shoppers are increasingly expecting (demanding!) the seamless and comprehensive user experience provided by Amazon, and increasingly by Kroger and Walmart. Yet, too many retailers remain mired in digital purgatory, constrained by capability silos and the inability to bring piecemeal capabilities together in a seamless fashion for shoppers.  Lastly, many seasoned grocery executives have spent their careers being rewarded for following, letting someone else bring innovation to market and only following when it has been proven successful. Years ago IT executives would buy IBM, even if it wasn’t the best choice, but because it was the "safe" choice. This practice continues today as retailers sign deals with "established" providers because they believe it is the safe choice, failing to understand that today’s environment rewards fresh, forward-looking thinking. Retail executives need to look beyond yesterday’s approach to customer centricity to capabilities and platforms that actually position the retailer for future success. The cost of failing to provide a seamless shopping experience, for failing to provide true individual shopper personalization, and failing to provide real time contextual relevancy, can rapidly obliterate any savings or security from yesterday’s "proven" approach. Tom Furphy, a former Amazon executive and the originator of Amazon Fresh, in a recent interviewspeaking to the challenges retailers face today, especially a reliance on past practices, says it all: “What seems safe is actually destructive. That’s a recipe for longer term disaster.” This article originally appeared on Winsight Grocery Business and can be viewed here +MORE

The Top Five Ways Retailers Benefit from Industry Trade Shows

Courtney Muller, Chief Corporate Development & Strategy Officer, Clarion UX

When was the last time you attended a retail or food and beverage trade show? If you have to pause to think of the answer – or know immediately that the answer is, “Never” – then it might be time to find a show or expo near you. Trade shows are the best places for those within the industry to get out of their stores and network; find new products and stay abreast of the cutting edge technology offerings; and gain invaluable education in the areas you need it most. In short, even if you spend time every day trying to stay current, you could never see it all – or know what to search for. There is no better place than a trade show … from seeing new products, meeting new people, becoming educated on a new way to engage your customers, or finding out about technology … this is the place to find what you don’t know!   Here are some of the top reasons you should attend a trade show this year: Network with Decision Makers When you think of networking, perhaps the typical “mixer” scenario comes to mind with people you don’t know awkwardly milling about a bar or restaurant, trying to strike up conversations with random people in the hopes that you might be able to benefit one another in some way. Networking at a trade show couldn’t be any more different. As an attendee, you can specifically find exhibitors with the products you seek; attend educational sessions that pertain to topics you are interested in, therefore attracting other audience members who share the same challenges; and be assured that your peers in the same industry as you are seeking similar solutions as you.  And you might even run into a colleague you haven’t seen in years! Find New Products and Foods You subscribe to industry periodicals and get Google Alerts in your inbox every day, but have you seen that new robot that identifies out of stock items and potential slip and fall hazards? Have you read about leveraging data to establish loyalty and trust with food delivery customers? A trade show is the perfect venue to scope out all that is new in the retail world from tech products to new foods and services – all in one place – to help you use technology to create a seamless customer experience. As you look for new technology innovation to keep you competitive, you may find the perfect partner for online ordering, rapid delivery, or rapid checkout through customer’s smartphones.  No matter what you want to go to a trade show to find, you will likely be pleasantly surprised by discovering even more than you thought along the aisles. See New Trends in Action Are vegan offerings a must-have? Should you offer chef demonstrations to showcase meal ideas? Are international flavors high on consumer’s minds? What chef dishes are they trying replicate at home? Be on the front line of this year’s and next year’s trends so you can bank on what your customers will be looking for in the near future. You’ll walk away with new products and great ideas you can implement immediately in your store operations. You may even realize that you are on the verge of creating an entirely different trend yourself that has yet to appear on the market – good information that you can capitalize on in the year to come. Receive Best in Class Education If school is a distant memory – or perhaps you learned hands-on in a family business and worked your way up the ranks – one of the best perks of most trade shows is the educational content provided to attendees and exhibitors alike. Whether you’re interested in operational excellence, developing your workforce, building bigger baskets, or sessions dedicated to those hot new tech trends we previously mentioned, trade shows like The NGA Show (presented by the National Grocers Association) in San Diego this coming February will have you covered on all fronts. What’s more, you can connect with presenting industry specialists to gain even more valuable insight into the topics that interest you most. Gain Immediate, Actionable Ideas The bottom line … your time is valuable and you want to spend any time out of your store obtaining the cream of the crop ideas - from new products, growth strategies and tech trends. Hear what the experts have to share, sample emerging products, uncover new technology, and refresh your enthusiasm for the business. You’ll walk away with a plan to bring all of these new ideas and initiatives into your store operation to drive profits, growth and innovation.   No matter where you are in your retail career, a trade show will no doubt provide you with opportunities, education and inspiration as you progress in the business. Interested in learning more? Check out the upcoming NGA show: National Grocers Association Show, San Diego, CA, February 24-27, 2019, www.thengashow.com  Each year, The NGA Show brings together independent retailers and wholesalers, food retail industry executives, food/CPG manufacturers and service providers for unparalleled opportunities to learn, engage, share, network, and innovate.  Given today’s ever-changing marketplace and evolving advancements in innovation occurring in the food retail industry, The NGA Show is a must-attend event, providing over 40 educational workshops, an expo floor featuring innovative and game-changing products and solutions and countless networking opportunities.  Registration is open at www.thengashow.com – early bird registration rates in effect through December 10, 2018.  +MORE

NGA Show 2019: The Epicenter of Grocery Industry Innovation

CART, Advancing Retail

In a special event leading up to the opening of the new NGA Show 2019, CART will bring together unique education, an impressive line up of speakers, and cutting edge innovation to make San Diego the epicenter of grocery industry innovation during Feb. 24-27, 2019. With a focus on regional retailers and dynamic independent operators, the CART team will present an innovation tour de force designed to help attendees not only stay in the game but help them win. CART is coming together with leading retailers through-out the industry to provide attendees a new worldview for the future of retail where transformation and disruption are the new normal: iRetail. Focused on five ‘i’s, iRetail will give attending executives a framework for evaluating their existing capabilities and provide a roadmap to closing the innovation gap. In a time of declining and disappearing industry events, the NGA Show has become a beacon of light for the industry as it has grown each year, even outgrowing its longtime home in Las Vegas, spurring the move to San Diego this coming February. CART has had a long time partnership with NGA and is taking the relationship to a new level this year, building on the success of CART’s Innovation Event at last year’s show.  Make sure to put Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, on your calendar and plan to attend the CART special event at the new NGA Show! +MORE

Technology's Profound Impact on the Supermarket Industry

Peter Larkin, President & CEO, National Grocers Association

Often cited as the one of the greatest catalyst of change within the retail grocery industry, technology is an area that independent supermarket operators must understand, and embrace.  Technology continues to have a profound impact, where virtually every detail of the supermarket industry is being touched by new solutions and platforms. I see three technology threads, each entwined with the other. One is the explosion of mobile applications and programs that are turning grocery shoppers into high information consumers. According to Pew research, smart phone adoption among Americans has more than doubled since 2011. Not only are shoppers becoming more sophisticated, but they are using technology as a way to gain more information, transparency, and convenience. At the touch of a mobile screen, consumers can instantly access to updated information on locally sourced perishables, competitive promotions, price checks and recipe ingredient lists. In turn, this migration to the digital space is shaping customer relationships with retailers. Today’s shopper does not want to be talked to but instead wants to be a part of the conversation. Consumer product manufacturers and marketers make up a second technology thread. By analyzing large chunks of customer data and retail sales, manufacturers, retailers and service suppliers are exploring innovative ways to touch their target audiences. Big data though can be vast and hard to harness. Whether it’s social media, a mobile payment system, or loyalty programs, technology can effectively create many new opportunities for savvy retailers to learn about and to connect with their shoppers to better serve their needs. A good place to see and learn about a number of these innovative solutions is right here at www.advancingretail.org. The third thread is in the store itself, where technology is increasingly employed to improve overall store productivity to program more effective lighting, to boost checkout efficiency, to track shopper traffic flows to improve layout and sales per square foot, or to offer customers immediate cost savings via real time wifi connections as they shop. A great, and very recent, example of this is Sedano's Supermarkets launch of a “robotic supermarket,” which entails an automated fulfillment center where AI-enabled robots will assemble full supermarket orders of up to 60 items. While the landscape is quickly evolving, many independent grocers are taking advantage of cutting-edge technologies to engage with their shoppers, find efficiencies, and reach new and existing customers where, how, and when they want. Independents have been making their move into digital. They are hiring dedicated staff, dedicating marketing budgets to digital initiatives, more effectively leveraging social media platforms, and integrating the latest technologies into their business strategies.  With the dramatic pace in which new apps and tech solutions are coming on to the market, it can all seem a bit overwhelming, but technology will play a defining role in the supermarket industry.  Those retailers that are on the forefront of implementing new technology and embrace the hyper-connected, tech-savvy consumer are positioning themselves for success. I’m one who is convinced that these threads will weave into a pattern of rising sales and profits. And that’s why the 2019 NGA Show will kick-off with a new educational event, spearheaded by our partners at CART, entitled “iRetail: Technology Innovation Reshaping the Grocery Industry.” The event is designed to give supermarket operators a framework for navigating fast-paced innovation while maintaining a focus on the importance of people and physical stores as we move into the future. Despite increased competition from all angles, it is an exciting time for the supermarket industry – and we at NGA are bullish about what the future holds for the independent grocers! Known as the true entrepreneurs of the industry, independents are nimble enough to quickly overcome obstacles, and are finding innovative ways to respond to changing consumer preferences, which is something they’ve always been good at given their close ties to their communities and the consumers they serve. +MORE

Locai Solutions

Locai Solutions Inc

locai is the first company to offer a full suite of software that integrates an e-commerce platform with a fulfillment management system. locai provides a flexible set of solutions including a turn-key eCommerce website, as well as access to great UX features - such as product recommendations, meal planning, and endless aisles - via APIs for easy integration into your existing eCommerce platform. These features have been proven to drive higher basket sizes, and create greater customer engagement, satisfaction, and retention. The locai platform is also the first eCommerce solution for grocers to be built on a cloud based architecture that enables order execution via the full spectrum of fulfillment formats. The locai Fulfillment Management System is versatile and capable of supporting numerous operating footprints, from warerooms to dark stores and/or dedicated distribution centers, and while fully integrated with locai's eCommerce Platform, the FMS can easily integrate with other eCommerce platforms and order management systems to create a unique solution for your brand. Embedded with real-time operating metrics, intelligent pick cart building logic and order verification, the locai Fulfillment Management System is proven to reduce operating cost per order while improving order accuracy. +MORE

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Pace of Innovation -- Shattering the Status Quo

Gary Hawkins, CART

Retailers are shellshocked by the increasing pace of technology fueled innovation that is transforming and disrupting the industry. It seems not a week goes by that we don’t read about yet another new competitor entering the grocery space or some new innovation being rolled out by an existing competitor. Case in point: Kroger’s recent announcement that it is deploying its Shop, Scan, and Bag self-shopping solution at 400+ stores. This in response to Amazon’s cashier-less Go store pilot and Walmart’s similar self-shopping solution. Supermarket retailers are challenged on several fronts relative to innovation. It is nearly impossible for a retailer to be aware of all the new innovation entering the market. As an example, CART reviews an estimated 100 new solutions each month. Beyond awareness though is the challenge of deciding what areas to focus on (supply chain, distribution, marketing, store operations, etc.) and deciding what specific solution to pilot. And then having to decide what new capabilities to deploy across operating stores. Having efficient operations, quality foods, and great pricing and service is simply the cost of entry to supermarket retail. The new battleground is innovation. This is a new world for retailers to navigate. As an example, we see too many retailers implementing different digital capabilities in a piecemeal fashion rather than working towards a cohesive and comprehensive platform. The self-shopping capability mentioned earlier is a great example. Some retailers are trying to implement this kind of capability through a third-party app or a separate app rather than bundling it into one mobile app for their customers. Shoppers are after an omni-channel, seamless experience, not being forced to interact with different apps or systems to do business with a retailer. CART is here to help. We’re able to leverage our strong retail experience, industry knowledge, and unique insight to new capabilities and innovation flowing into the market to help retailers understand where they are today relative to their competitors and best-in-class retailers. Developing an innovation roadmap is important to help in prioritizing what new innovation to focus on and to create a foundation capable of adapting to new capabilities and technologies as they come into the market. +MORE

Profectus USA

Profectus Group US

Profectus is an international technology and services company that provides leading technologies for rebate and deal management, contract compliance and accounts payable audits. The niche technology is designed to create transaction certainty and help businesses make better decisions. The Profectus USA team supports many industry verticals including grocery and foodservice wholesalers, grocery and clothing retailers, financial institutions, mining and many more. Our technology provides a road map for your success! RDM (Rebate & Deal management)  The Rebate Management system is designed for retailers, wholesalers and large organisations and delivers best practice rebate and deal management, resulting in better returns for business.​ The Rebate Management system is a secure web-based system that stores unlimited rebate and deal agreements.​ The Rebate Management system guarantees accurate rebate calculation, journal creation and claiming.​ Clients and their suppliers value the transparency of a shared web system where there is clarity on all of the details related to rebates.​ In addition, the Rebate Management system creates insights and opportunities to generate increased revenue.​  CCS (Contract Compliance Software)  The Contract Compliance (CC) system enables a full compliance framework to identify overcharges or over payments prior or post payment. It ensures contract terms originally negotiated for indirect/ GNFR (Goods Not For Resale) expenses or key contracts actually occur.​ The CC system is a secure web-based and centralized contract management system providing secure visibility of all critical contract terms.​ The CC system automates the detailed cost checking of invoices; supplier queries workflow and transaction approval process with the click of a button.​ In addition, CC creates insights and opportunities to reduce spend and improve contract terms.  Merchandise / Terms Audits  Every merchandise, sales, AP transaction and trading term agreement is audited for accuracy. The Merchandise Audits provide a detailed review of your rebate and deal agreements against claims and transaction data to identify under-claimed rebate and deal income.  Accounts Payable Audits  Every AP transaction is audited for accuracy by Profectus technologies and the audit team. The Accounts Payable audit will identify and recover duplicate and over payments, GST processing errors and aged vendor statement credits.  Contract Compliance Audits  Contract Compliance audits identify all rate errors and service type errors within invoices. Contract Compliance Audits enable clients to have full compliance framework to check invoices at line item level against agreed contract terms to identify overcharges or over payments prior or post payment. +MORE

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Retail Strategy Experts U. S. & Canada

Better Sales & Brand Management Group

PLANNING Planning for a market in the U.S. or Canada—regional or national—requires a methodical approach. Multiple elements come into play, from product to packaging, pricing and promotion. The right partners are crucial and a roll-out plan that is fiscally responsible is essential STRATEGY The key to success is a sound go-to-market strategy. We work with you to define your goals, priorities and expectations. We then recommend the best course of action based on resources and opportunities. All retail placements are backed with consumer marketing strategies to deliver sales results. BRAND MANAGEMENT Understanding the distribution and retail landscape while implementing proven brand management techniques only comes with years of hands-on experience and the right partners. We eliminate the learning curve and costly mistakes by providing a comprehensive service. Positioning – brand strategy and pricing Analysis – to decide on best distribution model Territory Management – Regional / National US and Canada Distribution Channels – set up and manage Broker Networks – set up and manage Corporate Accounts – set up and manage Sales Support – set up and manage sales teams/demos Reporting – setting goals and monthly reporting PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT Brand Concepts  We Help brands clarify & Define: A unique brand vision Positioning in the current marketplace Key Messages through ingredient stories Demographic of target audiences Formulation Development Custom formulations are developed specifically to fit the brands marketing concepts and target the desired demographic. We always keep a critical eye on budgeting and timelines throughout the process, providing frequent tracking reports of the project for your review. Specialized Formulation Development Services Include: Natural & Organic Formulations  Sophisticated, efficacious, and original formulas for the personal care industry Full Stability and compatibility testing services Wide range of ingredient claim information USDA Organic and Eco-cert Certified Cosmetic Ingredients Proprietary natural fragrances for unique, custom formulations Internationally compliant formulations Packaging Development We bring innovation and experience to cosmetic product packaging and design, key components  to the success of your brand. Our knowledgeable, experienced professional team can assist in coordinating all aspects of the development and sourcing process, creating a seamless collaboration between packaging design, formulation and functionality.  We have a strong global network of packaging suppliers, which enables us to help brands source the packaging of their choice. If we are unable to find the exact packaging to meet the needs of the brand, we develop customized packaging solutions. Strategic Planning for Timelines and Product Launches When taking the brand/product rom development to market, we develop a strategic plan, budget and timeline to achieve your goal launch date.   REGULATORY SERVICES Whether you are looking for assistance in becoming compliant in the United States and or Canada, Better Sales & Brand Managment Group can help. United States OTC Regulatory Compliance FDA Compliance Ingredient List Quantitative qualitative Prop 65 compliance Claims Review Dossiers Cosmetic Product Safety Assessments (EC) 1223/2009 Annex I, Part A and Part B EU Regulatory Compliance 1223/2009 EU Regulation Packaging Labeling: Claims & Compliance - Domestic & International INCI (International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients) Ingredient Labeling Claims Substantiation - Review packaging verbiage for compliance Canada Cosmetic Registration Natural Health Product  Drug Identification Number LOGISTICS We are specialists in logistics, calculating every detail to provide customized service to our clients with a reliable consistent relationship. Skilled in U.S. and Canadian Order Fulfillment Services, working with our partners servicing all classes of trade we are able to deliver seamless operational expertise. Fulfillment Pick and Pack Light Assembly Mailing services Cross Docking Same Day Shipping Inventory Management  Web tracking EDI set up and Management Order Processing Accounts Receivable/Payable Returned goods processing    Warehousing  We can organize central warehousing, establishing a base of business in the US and or Canada and provide state of the art facilities for all of our clients warehousing needs  +MORE

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Architecture + Design Services

api(+)

api(+)’s design team provides creative branding services for corporations requiring new prototype concepts and site adaptation services for those with existing store designs who require efficient solutions and informed decision making. Our approach is strategically driven, through researching and analyzing target consumers and integrating the competitive market environment into the design process. Our ongoing relationships with a multitude of retailers are characterized as mutually beneficial value added, allowing marketing, store planning and real estate to test new ideas while ensuring continuity in project management and image statement … critical components in today’s competitive marketing environment. +MORE

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StoreMAX Problem Store Studies

SIRS (Strategic Intel Research Serv)

SIRS provides problem store identification, evaluation, and action planning using consumer research.  We identify how your stores are performing versus their potential in total, by department, and among different demographic and lifestyle target groups.  We measure customer satisfaction and identify improvements consumers want in your stores.  We identify which types of shoppers you are attracting, which types you are missing, and why.  We determine what sales your stores can reasonably expect to attain.  We evaluate what areas of concentration will yield the greatest sales payoff.  We generate customer spotting maps which identify where you are underperfoming.  Through our Opportunity Store Group Analysis process, we are able to identify "low hanging fruit" by targeting stores groups by lifestyle, greatest opportunity for increased sales, prototype stores, least successful stores, etc. +MORE

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Commercial Design Systems

Commercial Design Systems

At CDS, we specialize in turnkey services including brand and logo development, decor design and fixture planning as well as project management and manufacturing. +MORE

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Federated Group

Federated Group

Grow your private brand program with Federated Foods. As a broker, brand owner and brand manager, we will help grow your revenues, profits and competitive position. +MORE

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Encore Associates

Encore Associates

Encore Associates is a strategic advisory and solutions firm that helps companies address critical sales and marketing needs in the food and consumer goods industry. We provide clients with access to experts who have developed knowledge, experience and relationships in every facet of the industry. Our advisors have held senior management positions with many of the country’s leading companies and understand the diverse challenges companies face in today’s highly competitive consumer marketplace. +MORE

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Events & Marketing Services

CROSSMARK

Ensuring your shoppers have a positive and memorable shopping experience is paramount to building shopper loyalty. CROSSMARK, the largest in-store marketing services company in North America, has the know-how and resources to engage your shoppers and influence behavior to drive sales. We provide retailers with integrated marketing services including: Shopper Engagement, Consumer Engagement, Shopper Marketing, and Field Intelligence.  +MORE

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Mystery Shopping

Secret Shopper

Secret Shopper® is an industry leader in on-site evaluations. These evaluations include quality assurance audits, customer satisfaction surveys, compliance audits, and merchandising and competitor shops. Once a shopper completes their training and has qualified for and been assigned to a shop, they receive client-specific instructions on how to complete the shop successfully.  After performing the shop, they submit the results online, and all shop results are stored and available in various reports to help you effectively analyze the data.  These reports are custom designed to suit your individual specifications and, with our in-house programming staff, we are able to change existing reports to suit your ever-changing needs. Secret Shopper® is a leading provider of Recorded Telephone Audits as well. Our state of the art technology and professional Call Center Personnel are trained to facilitate your customized Telephone Audit Program to your exact specifications. +MORE

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BRdata Host

BRdata Software Solutions

BRdata Host™ is a powerful, flexible, feature-rich host support system. Retailers need to retrieve sales movement while controlling price and cost information from one central database daily or weekly to achieve a competitive advantage.  BRdata Host makes this all possible at an affordable price.  It is a multi-user graphical system built on Microsoft Windows technology, which provides retailers and wholesalers with the tools they need for effective item and category management.  Gain the advantage of easy integration to existing systems as well as tight integration to all of BRdata’s software product lines. Host Support Includes interfaces to most POS systems including the Standard Interchange Language (SIL).  One consolidated database for all item information.  Item prices can be broken down into multiple zones by store department or vendor.  Sales and promos are date-driven with unlimited future prices.  Host to store compare utility checks for price and item discrepancies between BRdata Host and store POS file, with an option to modify and automatically import the discrepancy batch. +MORE

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Rosie

Rosie Applications

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Rosie is the industry leading platform for online shopping and digital consumer engagement. Designed specifically for independent grocers, Rosie provides all of the tools necessary to succeed in E-Commerce and create a distinct competitive advantage. Each customer enjoys a personalized shopping experience online via iOS and Android mobile apps, leading to increased loyalty and larger purchases compared to in-store. For retailers, Rosie maximizes the ROI of your online shopping program. Touch screen tablets and scan guns optimize order fulfillment, reducing labor expenses. Rosie's data analytics tools are deeply integrated, enabling easy access to customer demographics, high/low turn items, items most frequently out of stock, and more. Rosie's platform is optimized to position house-made, locally sourced, and other designated items to appear more prominently to customers at the retailer's discretion, creating more effective sales programs and increasing customer satisfaction.   +MORE

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Persado

Persado

Persado is reinventing marketing creative by applying Artificial Intelligence to the choice of words. The message is the foundational DNA of Marketing.  The future of digital marketing success is through the power of words.  Unlock the Power of Words By combining words with data, Persado breaks down digital marketing creative into six key elements and then runs experiments on thousands of potential message combinations to generate the best-performing content to speak to each customer across their entire journey. Have the confidence that your digital marketing is fully optimized for brand engagement and revenue performance. Get full creative accountability with Persado.  Win every moment of the customer journey. Every digital encounter with a consumer is an opportunity. What if you knew exactly what to say to each person across every digital touchpoint? Over 250 of the world's most valuable brands use the Persado Message Machine to win every moment and benefit from a multiplier effect in brand engagement and revenue performance. Persado's revolutionary Message Machine leverages the world's most comprehensive marketing language knowledge base of over one million words and phrases, powered by AI and data science. Persado unlocks the power of words to engage consumers like never before, one by one, moment by moment, across every marketing channel, driving improvements in brand engagement and revenue performance.   Get marketing solutions to your toughest business challenges with Persado Analytics Persado Analytics provides CMOs access to industry-leading, holistic and unmatched insights on how and why specific words and phrases impact marketing campaign performance. CMOs can finally have the confidence that their creative is data-driven and is 100% accountable for delivering results. +MORE

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How Marketers Can Use Augmented Reality to Their Advantage

Serena Garner, Y Media Labs

The world of advertising has been in the midst of developing for several years now. With the multitude of types of media vying for consumer attention, top creative digital agencies are rushing to keep up with innovation at every turn. One of the most recent strategies to emerge is augmented reality companies launching marketing campaigns with everyday brands. Untouched Marketing Potential Augmented reality truly entered the consumer conscious with the advent of Pokémon Go. In the game, adding imagery to the real world encourage users to immerse themselves more fully and engage more greatly with the experience. This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the possibilities augmented reality offers. The marketing potential for augmented reality enhancement is predicted to be almost a trillion-dollar industry in the next ten years. As brands discover new ways to integrate their messaging with how users consume media, augmented reality will create incredibly detailed advertising experiences tailored to individual consumers. American consumption of media has reached an all time high, and augmented reality offers the promise of sustained contact and connection at any time of day. Major companies are already exploring new ways of enhancing shopping experiences. Products like Google Lens, which can identify objects with a phone camera, will provide instant access to consumers to a wealth of information about what product they’re focusing on. Meanwhile, the marketers utilizing this technology gain consumer insights, like how long users are viewing their products and what other products they viewed, all in real-time. By integrating this idea with  glasses equipped with augmented reality software, the way we see the world will be changed.  The headset market is already projected to hit 500 million sales in the next ten years. Bringing augmented reality technology outside of the smartphone expands its application, utility, and ease of use for consumers. Understanding Consumers Like Never Before Apple has released ARKit, a new platform for developers to create augmented reality experiences. The framework can recognize the visual space around an iPad and blend new objects and information directly into this real-world setting. What the ARKit’s development signifies is the start of shopping and advertising becoming an immersive experience. With augmented reality technology becoming more accessible, it makes it easier for marketers to harness its power for highlighting brands in stores or even sending information and imagery to headsets as customers walk down the street. With augmented reality development, the opportunity also exists for enhancing a brand’s market research. With integration of GPS, for instance, a company can know where a consumer is located at a given moment and then offer nearby discounts or opportunities. As they build detailed consumer profiles, they will be able to not only respond to individual needs, but also anticipate them. These new products will use machine learning and artificial intelligence processes to deliver the things that matter to consumers most. Imagine reading a book review, then being offered ways to purchase the book seamlessly. Or, watching a video about a vacation spot, and your augmented reality glasses highlight a travel agency when you pass one later in the day. Augmented reality takes the pre-existing benefits of audience targeting and increases them by providing  immediate feedback based on real-time behavior. Online shopping will become a more confidence-inducing experience, too. Imagine being able to see how a sofa will look in your living room in accurate scale and design before you get it home. Already, shoemakers are offering customizing opportunities that let buyers see completed designs before they’ve ordered. This  reduces product returns and increases sales conversions, which all hints at improved customer satisfaction and loyalty. Managing an AR Marketing Strategy Another opportunity for innovation will be companies that understand how to make sense of all this data for the consumer. Instead of being bombarded by floating ads, highlighted merchandise, or random media at every turn, consumers will need trusted software that will curate all this information into a more streamlined, personalized experience. These firms will join forces with brands and companies to provide creative, informative, and customizable augmented reality experiences with enormous sales potential. Marketing professionals will need to be work with both the management platforms and brands to produce strategies that target consumers with precision. Additionally, they will need at least a basic understanding of augmented reality technology, its related hardware, and how best to utilize its features for improving their marketing strategy. AR Marketing is Already Happening A recent DeLoitte survey demonstrates that companies are moving into the augmented reality space. Almost 90% of mid-size firms surveyed indicated that they are already deploying augmented and virtual reality enhancements to their products and marketing. The time is now for exploring how your brand will leverage augmented reality in a marketing strategy. This can pertain to advertising, how people interact with your products or services, or any other form of augmented reality’s vast applications. Regardless of the route you take, augmented reality continues to prove its potential in marketing as an engagement and ROI booster. +MORE

Y Media Labs

Y Media Labs

WE'RE IN THE BUSINESS OF MAKING THINGS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE We believe that if we make a difference for your customer, we'll make a difference for your business, too. From apps to websites, to AI and emerging technologies, our work has featured in Apple Commercials, Gartner's Magic Quadrant and Webby Awards.  DIGITAL PROJECT MANAGEMENT SERVICES  Many agencies rush in on launching the mobile product before taking the necessary steps needed in crafting an appropriate strategy. We choose to start with why you should develop a mobile design before helping you turn that idea into a comprehensive digital branding strategy. DIGITAL BRANDING & ONMICHANNEL PRODUCT STRATEGY - CROSS PLATFORM MOBILE DEVELOPMENT SERVICES Multiple factors contribute to the overall success of a digital branding strategy, such as the overall look and feel, the app performance for an omnichannel customer experience, the specific use cases of an app and an intuitive user experience. All of this falls under the mobile app strategy, which a digital brand strategist can assist in developing and executing. With the help of mobile product managers, you can craft a branded image that leads to success, from the app development stages through the app launch. APP ANALYTICS & USER ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY   Creating beautiful and intuitive mobile designs that serve the immediate needs of a user is great. Developing a digital branding strategy that will make your product known and downloaded by millions of users is even better. And that’s what we strive for here at Y Media Labs. No digital design is truly successful unless you have a very clear mobile engagement strategy on how to capture audience insights. Additionally, you need app analytics tools in place to measure user engagement. OUR UX DESIGN PROCESS - HOW WE DEFINE THE USER EXPERIENCE  At Y Media Labs, we have a rigorous lean mobile design process to create our award-winning apps. We have developed, adjusted, and perfected this process over time to make sure that we meet our clients’ business goals while creating an amazing user experience. By integrating our proprietary user research methodology into our UX design process, we make sure that every product created fulfills both client and customers’ needs.  IOT & WEARABLE APP DEVELOPMENT SERVICES  We are a fully staffed IoT development company  prepared to take your wearable and IoT innovative ideas to the next level by leveraging emerging technologies. We are a top full service design agency with proven success in IoT and wearable application development across platforms. +MORE

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Weploy

Weploy

Pre-Qualified, Vetted, Police Checked Staff, On Demand - The simplest and fastest on-demand staffing platform How does it work? You post a job Our platform matches your request to our Weployees The first available Weployee accepts, and arrives at your office You rate your Weployee, and we facilitate payment  Who can I hire on Weploy? Right now, you can hire Weployees in the following industries. But we’re expanding our Weployee skills base daily, so get in touch below if you need staff in a different industry. Customer Service General Admin Data Entry Business Support +MORE

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The Solutions Network

The Solutions Network

  ACCELERATE your company's growth with our team of retail experts. Provide top of the line solutions for the retail industry.  We know Retail - With over 100 years of combined experience, our team knows the retail space inside and out.  ADVISORY SERVICES, SALES, 3RD PARTY LOGISTICS, & IN-STORE EXECUTION TSN excels at connecting the many elements that support our partner’s objectives, increase efficiency and grow sales. MERCHANDISING & IN-STORE EXECUTION The TSN merchandising team moves newly delivered product from the receiving department to the front of store for shelf and display stocking, then creates returns and prepares them for return shipping at the back of the store. Product Rotations Efficient product rotation practice leads to less returned or discarded product for the retailer and a greater likelihood of overall profit. TSN merchandisers are trained to be diligent in stock rotation during in-store visits so that more product is sold on time and moves off the shelf as new product comes in. IRC/Signage Placement Key placement of promotional signage can be highly effective in shortening product turn. TSN merchandisers install promotional signs in-store as well as sticker product and racks for increased visibility and improved sales. Seasonal Support From summer to back-to-school to holidays, there are many important retail seasons throughout the year. Mercury supports retail partners by stocking product and helping merchandise it creatively and effectively before, during, and after each selling season. Customized Audits Different retailers have different needs when it comes to information. One may need to know how a particular promotion is working, another may want precise information about in-store traffic flow. Whatever the need, TSN captures and delivers the essential data that helps retailers enhance their businesses. Inventory Services Tracking inventory diligently is a must for every retailer. TSN’s team employs the latest hand-held, product scanning technology to systematically collect current inventory information at the store level and instantly transmit the data for processing and action. Reporting TSN partners provide the most complete combination of survey services to supply retailers with the critical knowledge they need for peak performance in their stores. We provide valuable assessments relating to anything in-store in real-time, so that response to the information can be timely and effective. SALES TSN understands the importance of launching and maintaining programs at retail for both single products and product lines. We create maximum value for our partners with our retail relationships and market strategies. TSN takes a strategic approach to retail product representation. Whether working on a single product, or a line of products, we fully understand the objectives and issues facing manufacturers and retailers. Regardless of the scope, we create maximum value through well thought out strategies and extreme knowledge of the needs of each involved party. Upon initiation, our team works seamlessly with clients and their in-house teams to execute programs in a timely fashion. By managing and working hand-in-hand on every phase of the process, our professionals help clients secure business and make prudent decisions that assist in stable, long term, and profitable sales. LOGISTICS At TSN, your products become our top priority. TSN partners currently provide order fulfillment and logistics to a number of companies throughout the United States. With over 20+ order fulfillment centers in our network, totaling over 3 million sq. ft. in warehouse space, our trucks and personnel touch over 50,000 retail locations two to five times per week. Over 2 billion units are distributed out of our warehouses and on to retail shelves per year. Pick, Pack, Delivery: Custom full-service fulfillment Reverse Logistics: Recall and return capability Direct Store Delivery (DSD): Maximize distribution potential Reset Work: Effective resets without disruption to store operations Signage & Display Delivery: Ability to deliver programs nationwide in three days Display Installs: Our teams are experts in locating and installing displays for greatest visibility  Communicate Clearly. TSN delivers the highly targeted, memorable experiences that let you make stronger, more personal connections with your target audience, where they live, work, play and shop. MARKETING COMMUNICATION Engaging your audience in a brand exprerience generates qualified leads and drive your consumers to action – from product or service purchase to talking up your brand across their social networks. There’s no better way to get your brand story out there than with an authentic, engaging, relevant experience worth sharing. BRANDING & IDENTITY We help new and existing brands identify and define their most powerful truths. Then we help bring them to life in ways that are integrated, differentiated and emotionally engaging. SALES COLLATERAL DEVELOPMENT Sales collateral design and messaging can set you apart from your competition and help you close more deals. Our graphic designers are experienced in a wide range of sales collateral design. From sell sheets, portfolios, booklets and other sales materials, we’ll make you look polished, professional and ready for the big leagues. WEB & SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT We pride ourselves in helping clients to solve the most complex of challenges. Whether designing for the right user experience, upgrading business systems or developing a website, we have the experience and knowledge to achieve agreed and specific objectives FILM & VIDEO PRODUCTION Our forward-thinking and talent-driven team offers services which currently includes turnkey HD/2K/4K Production, 4K/6K Color Grading, Creative Editorial, Graphic Design, Visual Effects and Audio. Additionally, we offer 16mm & 35mm Film Scanning, Legacy Format Archiving, Mastering, Trans-coding, Encoding, Digital Delivery and Duplication. ADVERTISING & MEDIA We have the ability to operate as a full service advertising agency.  Our experts can provide advertising solutions in both traditional media and mobile to reach your audience anywhere. EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING Event marketing is about interaction, engaging, and inspiring your consumers face-to-face. Embrace the audience as part of the brand story with the use of multi-sensory stimuli to achieve brand identity reinforcement, relationship building and perception change. Sponsorship Activation Brands sponsor major sporting or entertainment events for the media exposure and for the opportunity to hand-deliver a specially crafted experience to the attendees of the event. When the sponsorship is a great fit, your message is delivered more authentically. Product Sampling Sample promotions are a very effective way to reach your target consumers. ROI highlights that the product experience of receiving a sample at an enjoyable event increases potential conversion to brand loyalty, drives viral word-of-mouth, and creates corporate goodwill. Brand Launches Timing is key for launching your brands in the market. Where, when and what the experience is defines whether it succeeds or doesn’t. We help you define the experience and execute the objectives. Street Teams & Ambassadors Often unconventional, street teams and guerrilla marketing programs take the show to the public without requiring big events or large infrastructure. It is people engaging people—ambassadors getting the attention of consumers and delivering a brand message, sometimes in a quirky, unofficial way. Mobile Tours When your brand goes on the road, hits the streets or engages the public, you need an experience. Our national database of energetic brand ambassadors and events allow you to reach the right people, in the right place, at the right time.  Immersed in Tech. Our team in Asia/South Pacific can help you distribute your products and technologies throughout India, China and Australia.  +MORE

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