Category: Thoughts

Retail Stores

Top Retail Stores Dominating the US Market

Retail stores are an integral part of the people’s lives as they are highly dependent on such outlets for their groceries, consumables, and other household requirements. The popularity of retail stores is so widespread that consumers prefer traveling few miles to retail stores to do their monthly grocery shopping instead of visiting the nearby mom and pop store. Although the emergence of e-commerce and technology has been threatening the profits of retail stores, they are still standing firm with more than 90% of the shopping taking place offline. Top retail stores in the US stock a wide variety of options including consumer electronics, clothing, furniture, medicines, and home improvement tools. Here’s a list of top retail stores dominating the US market:IR_Brochure

#1 – Walmart

Walmart has become a household name in the US and is easily recognizable all across the world. Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store back in 1962, in Rogers, Arkansas. The company reported revenues of $485.9 billion for the year 2017. Walmart operates a total of 5,412 retail units all across the US. Walmart has also prioritized its online shopping portal to tackle the e-commerce giant Amazon and offer services like free two-day delivery. Retail stores such as this employs about 1.5 million people in the US.

#2 – Costco

Globally, Costco is the second largest retailer. It is also the world’s largest retailer of organic foods, choice and prime beef, wine, and roasted chicken. By operating 514 warehouses in the United States, it serves its large customer base of 90 million Costco members. Costco was also the first company to go from zero to over $3 billion in sales in under six years.

#3 – The Kroger Co.

The company started in 1883 with Barney Kroger investing his life-savings of $372 in opening a grocery store in Cincinnati. Today, The Kroger Co. operates about 2,800 retail stores in 35 states with annual sales of more than $115.3 billion. Their store format includes superstores, supermarket, department stores, convenience stores, and jewelry stores.

#4 – The Home Depot

The Home Depot started out in Atlanta with the help of investment banker Ken Langone and merchandising guru Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, and Pat Farrah. Currently, it operates 2,200 retail stores in about three countries. Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recognized the company with 2017 WaterSense Sustained Excellence Award for promoting the importance of water efficiency to its customers. Also, this year, they partnered with Google to integrate their product offerings into Google Assistant.

#5 – Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.

Unlike other retailers on the list, the first retail store with the name Boots store was opened by John Boot in Nottingham, UK. The company Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. now owns Walgreens, Boots, and other pharmaceutical manufacturing companies. The retail store specializes in pharmaceutical products and runs several online stores such as drugstore.com, visiondirect.com, and beauty.com.


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retail industry

Is CRM the Missing Jigsaw Piece for Struggling Companies in the Retail Industry?

CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, has been an unsung hero in the retail industry for a long time. However, the recent years have seen a positive change in the attitude of retailers in this aspect, because customers have gradually established their position as ‘the king’ in the market. Due to this change, leading players in the retail industry have realized that the deciding factors for their survival in the market are customer satisfaction and retention. This is where the role of CRM comes into the picture. With the help of this technique, retailers can keep track of their customers’ purchasing behavior, requirements, feedback and gaps in service, etc. and alter their services in such a way that the customers’ delight and goodwill can be increased. Let us discuss a few other key benefits that you can reap by adopting CRM strategies for your business:
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Collect Valuable Customer Data

Considering the large number of customers that companies in the retail industry deal with, it is not possible for them to keeps tabs on every customer manually. Therefore, having an effective customer relations software will help retailers to record individual customer profiles such as purchase history, contact details, the frequency of purchase, feedback, etc. This will help retailers to understand their customers better and provide better quality of services.

Better Targeting of Promotional Activities

When you know the likes and preferences of your customers, it becomes easier to tailor-make and target marketing and promotional activities for specific customer groups. For, e.g., If a customer’s purchase pattern shows more of formal wear, the players in the retail industry can use this data to promote the new collection of formal wear to this customer or group of customers showcasing similar buying behavior.

Increased Customer Loyalty

When customers feel that your company is giving them more individual attention, better rewards, and offers they are more likely to stay faithful to your brand. With mounting competition in the retail industry, customer retention has become the need of the hour. It is essential for players in the retail industry to successfully satisfy customers to ensure that they do not lose out customers to competitors. This could also mean that your existing happy customers would recommend your company to their peers, which would help you expand your sales as well as your customer base.

Useful Tool to Improve Your Offerings

Players in the retail industry can gather valuable customer feedback and opinions with the help of CRM. This will help them to get a better picture of what their customers expect from them and identify and rectify the gaps in their products/services accordingly. This will not only help meet the customer demands but also give the feeling to customers that their opinions matter to your brand, increasing their loyalty and chances of retention in the longer run.   


   

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retail store

Retail stores Vs. E-tail: Major Barriers and Top Benefits

The concept of retail stores or the brick and mortar model has been in existence from time immemorial. But with digitization spreading like forest fire around the globe, new models of trade and commerce famously termed as e-tail has taken birth. Like two sides of a coin, both retail and e-tail have their respective perks and drawbacks. While ease and convenience are the key factors that give e-commerce an edge over retail stores, the lack of touch and feel and the risk involved is a significant drawback of going digital. What are the other critical points of difference between these two models of shopping? Let us find out:IR_Brochure

Personal Assistance

Many times, especially while shopping for clothes or electronics at retail stores, we seek assistance from the store consultant for opinions and more information about the products before making a purchase. This is one of the key factors lacking in the case of an e-tail model. While making a purchase online, the customers have to go by the information given on the online shopping portal and trust their intuitions to make the right purchase decision.

Deals and Offers

As you may be aware, the cost of setting up retail stores are much higher when compared to that of e-commerce. This is one of the primary reasons why you will find more attractive price cuts and offers in an online shopping platform when compared to retail stores selling the same products. For the price conscious customers, the digital shopping model is nothing less than a boon.

The Conversion Rates

Digitization has given birth to new models of marketing and advertising as well. Though in many cases, online advertisements have been found to have a comparatively more extensive reach, the conversion rates of e-commerce sites are much lesser. In a regular retail store, out of the number of customers who walk in, the conversion rate or the sale rate is much higher when compared to the e-tail platform.

The Power of Choice

The players in the e-tail platforms widely exploit the benefits of low set-up costs by giving the customers a wide range of choice and options, which is not very feasible in case of retail stores. This makes online platforms of shopping more attractive and convenient for customers when compared to retail outlets where the alternatives available to them are limited.

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Mass Customization

Powerful Tips to Succeed in Mass Customization

A modern-day customer wants to feel special not only in the way companies treat them but also on how companies create something just for them. However, the caveat of high-price cannot be ignored. So how can companies do the impossible, making product customization possible without shooting up the final price? It is in this context that the concept of mass customization gains traction among consumers as it helps in making the customer feel like what they are getting is completely different from others and best-suited to their needs. The key to success is to know what customers want in the first place. Customer preferences can be identified by collecting a large amount of customer data on purchase history, browsing history, transactions, and numerous other data sets. As a result, companies can take a giant leap in product personalization into mass customization. So how can companies ensure success in their quest for mass customization?IR_Brochure

Learn from Data

Data is quintessential to know what the customers want. The ability of data analytics is not limited to identifying customer experiences; they can also accurately predict what customers want even before they know it. Mass customization gives companies a unique opportunity to determine customer preferences and make smart choices about supply chain and product options. By gathering data from personal and social channels, companies can create delightful experiences for customers; thereby, increasing brand loyalty and driving profits.

Using Customer Driven Design Interfaces

The advent of big data, cloud technologies, and 3D printing have opened up a host of opportunities and possibilities for manufacturers to perform effective mass customization. Such technologies put the power in the hands of the consumer to self-design the product. The additive manufacturing concept allows the user to add and customize their design over the base model to create their personalized final product. For instance, Mi Tubular Shadow shoes from Adidas allow customers to choose a basic shoe style and then choose the stripe color, sole color, lace color, and color of the upper line. With the aid of digital technologies, customers can put their feet in the digital scanner and get a truly customized end product.

Enable Customer Collaboration

Customers getting involved in the product customization process spend a lot of time to create something of immense value to them. When customers like their own creation, they look for a platform to share it with friends, family, and the outer world. If companies enable design sharing, then they can boost their customer engagement and get new customers. Additionally, other customers can collaborate on the same design to create a unique product for the market. For instance, North Face launched a gallery of designs created by the customer for its Denali jacket, serving as an inspiration point for the others.

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FMCG

Best Cross Selling Tips to Help Retailers Grab That Extra Penny

What is cross selling? Think of the last time you ordered a piece of cake at a restaurant, and the server asked you “Would like to add-on a scoop of ice-cream?” , or the last time you bought a shirt at a retail store and the consultant at the store asked you “Shall I show you matching ties to go with that shirt?”, Well, that is what cross selling is all about. To get to the bottom of it, cross selling basically refers to the art of suggesting additional items to your customers, which is complementary to the items that they have already decided to purchase – prompting them to spend a little extra at your store. Believe us when we say that if done in the right manner, cross selling not only increases your sales but also acts as a great tool to gain customer loyalty and trust in the long run. So how do you get that spot in the customer’s books? Here are some quick sales tips to help you get there:IR_Brochure

Get Your Pairing Right

You cannot pair every single item available at your store with each other. So, before a customer walks into your store, it is essential that you know what products available at your store best complement one another and can be paired together. This will make things much simpler for you to make appropriate suggestions to the customers, and most importantly make the customers feel that the suggestion you are making is valuable and appeals to them.cross selling

Be Relevant

Customers are mostly rational and make purchases only when they feel that a product provides them some value. When cross selling to a customer, what you need to be is “smart” and what you need to have is “a good presence of mind.” Just because your motive is to increase sales, bear in mind that you are making a sensible suggestion and at the same time you don’t sound pushy. What you have to do is to build a good rapport with your customer and understand their taste and preferences. Selling ice to an Eskimo depends on your marketing skills.

Keep Similar Goods Close, but Complimentary Goods Closer

From a customer’s perspective, cross selling is all about unplanned purchases. Therefore, by showcasing items that go best with one another, the customers are more likely to get attracted to combinations and make impulsive purchases. This also makes it easier for the employees at a retail store to remember the aptest combinations and make suggestions to the customers accordingly.

cross selling

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visual merchandising

Visual Merchandising Tips That Will Make Your Retail Store An ‘ Eye Candy’ In the Market

For the noobs out there who are wondering what visual merchandising is, take this scenario for instance- Suppose you see two retail stores adjacent to one another, one of them being well lit, has the merchandise nicely color-coordinated, and categorically stacked. The second one, on the other hand, is shabbily set up with lighting that doesn’t match the theme of the store and not categorically arranged – which one would you be more tempted to enter? The most obvious answer would be the former, and that is precisely what visual merchandising is all about.  Visual merchandising in the retail industry is all about the visual experience that you give to your customers through the overall store setup that prompts them to walk into your store and make a purchase. Now that you know what visual merchandising is and what it does for your business make a note of these tips that will help you transform your store into a visual treat for your customers:IR_Brochure

Put Yourself in Your Customer’s Shoes

Understanding your customers is one of the critical ingredients for success in the retail business. Well by this we don’t just mean researching the demographics of your customer, there is more to it than that.  What you need to do is to dig deeper into customer psychographics and look at things from a customer’s perspective. Through this, you will gather ideas on what exactly your target audience is looking for and evaluate the same against the existing facilities at your store. This will help you know the gaps and bridge them more efficiently. For example, many prominent retailers have started to place complementary goods such as shampoos and conditioners in adjacent rows in the display, which not only reminds the customers that these products are to be used together but at the same time acts as a cross-selling effort for the players in the retail industry.

visual merchandising

Look for Inspiration in Everything

All thanks to the Internet, you no longer have to break your head over innovation in the business, there are plenty of got-to-ideas and strategies that are widely available on the internet for you take inspiration from and replicate them in your store. Just make sure you add a pinch of your brand’s essence into these ideas to make your brand more appealing for the customers.

Engage Customers With “Sensory Branding”

Keep in mind the fact that your customers have five senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. If you can incorporate and mix these into your visual merchandising strategies, there would be nothing like it when it comes to creating an immersive and engaging customer experience. Let us take the example of a Starbucks Coffee store, a combination of the smell of freshly grounded coffee, the dim lighting, the cozy ambiance and the taste of the energy-boosting coffee is what makes it one of the most beloved and popular coffee chains in the world. 

visual merchandising

Display Speaks Louder Than Words

Have you ever walked into an IKEA store and felt that “ This is exactly my dream living room”?  Well, that is precisely what your display should do for your customer. Customers typically prefer to get a look and feel of products before making the actual purchase. Many retailers, especially in the clothing sector, use props such as mannequins and are experimenting with grouping similar category and color blocking techniques to establish this for the customer.

visual merchandising

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fmcg

Why is AI the Need of The Hour for FMCG and CPG Brands?

The recent years have seen artificial intelligence (AI) taking great strides towards conquering the world.  With self-driving cars becoming a reality, our digital moves being tracked by machine learning algorithms, and digital assistants like Siri, Google, Alexa and Cortana finding their ways into millions of homes worldwide, let us address the elephant in the room – AI has become an inevitable part of our daily lives.  If you have been following the latest retail trends, you might be well aware that AI is slowly penetrating into the retail industry in the form of self-checkout counters, customer loyalty programs, RFID to track inventory, etc.IR_Brochure

Why is AI Important for FMCG And CPG Brands?

Technology has not just made customers lazy but has also made them greedy for more comfort. But businesses have no choice but to satisfy their customer’s expectations at any cost to survive among the cut-throat competition in the market. FMCG and CPG products are inevitable items of purchase for consumers, and therefore the frequency of purchase of these items is also high. But who likes to go through monotonous grocery shopping routines and stand in long queues at supermarkets every other day right? This is where players in the retail industry can employ technology such as AI that would ensure convenience and make shopping an exciting experience for the customers. Also, the growth and wide-spread use of handheld technology such as smartphones and tablets have made it much easier for retail companies to implement these technologies into their business plan and make it more accessible for their target customers.

How is This Going to Transform the Market for FMCG and CPG Brands?

With advanced technologies like AI in place, customers as well as retailers are equally going to reap the benefits. As far as FMCG and CPG goods are concerned, most of the times customers tend to push their shopping schedules or look for alternatives due to the time and energy lost while physically making a purchase. Advance AI technologies, especially voice-activated assistants and self-checkout counters in the retail sector would mean increased ease of shopping for customers, which would eventually result in more sales and a simplified shopping experience for customers. This would ultimately result in better customer experience and higher profits.

How can FMCG and CPG Brands Use AI Technology to their Best Benefit?

Implementing AI for FMCG and CPG products is a much simpler process unlike that for bigger ticket items like a car or a TV? Wonder why? When it comes to FMCG, most of the consumers are brand loyal and prefer sticking to a single brand of a particular category of a product. Therefore, when a particular customer orders a product through a digital assistant, they just need to order by the name of the product category, e.g.: “Siri order toilet paper” and the system would automatically know from past purchase records the brand that the customer uses. Also, AI technology will make product replenishment and the supply chain more efficient for retailer companies.

 

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gourmet food trends

These Gourmet Food Trends Will Make You the Gordon Ramsay Of Food Industry

We don’t ‘eat to live’ anymore, food has become more of an experience that people like to cherish and share a part of that experience with their peers through social media. Today, people take their food very seriously – from the cooking to plating, nothing goes unnoticed in the radar of a customer’s eye. This has broken out ‘the gourmet’ revolution that emphasizes on a providing a premium dining experience to the customers. Players in the food industry are increasingly harnessing technologies to successfully incorporate diversity and a pinch of uniqueness into their offerings. Here are our picks of the top gourmet food trends that are going to transform your dining experience:
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Bring the Theatre to The Table

As we had already mentioned, dining has become more or less all about the experience that the customer gets out of it. Restaurateurs today are contemplating ideas to bring unique and memorable dining experience to the customer’s table. Underwater restaurants, themed dining areas, and roof-top dining experiences are some of the main innovations that are becoming widely popular gourmet food trends to create long-lasting experiences for their customers.

Nomadic Restaurants Are Popping Up

Have you ever looked at a newly opened small restaurant space and wondered how you had not noticed its presence before at that spot? Well, what you are witnessing is a called the ‘Pop-up’ revolution. From empty warehouses to shopping malls, or even a transport tunnel, today you get to see pop up restaurants everywhere. What makes them unique among the other gourmet food trends is their unusual location and the limited dining space and options available in them.

‘Unusual’ Is the New Trend in the Spotlight

Today’s customers are more open to experimenting with food, which gives food service industry players the liberty to experiment with various gourmet food trends. Many restaurants have started offering unusual and unique combos of food that are not commonly tried together, e.g., a popular restaurant in London sells champagne with hot dogs. Interestingly, these bizarre gourmet food trends are slowly being widely accepted and are extremely popular among the common masses.

Infusing Technology into Food

The food service industry is one of the top sectors to have benefited from the advent of technology; from drone deliveries to robot waiters, the players in this sector are leaving no stone unturned to stand out from the crowd in providing their customers a unique dining experience.


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coffee industry trends

What Is Brewing in The Coffee Industry? Here Are the Top 4 Coffee Industry Trends

coffee industry trends

Coffee holds enormous power over the modern generation, especially over the working-class population. Many of you would agree without a second thought that nothing wakes up your senses on a Monday morning as much as the smell of freshly grounded coffee. In short, isn’t coffee the oxygen cylinder that keeps you up and going on a long day at work? Affirmative!

Over the years, coffee producers and popular coffee chains have been taking advantage of the inclination of people’s taste buds towards caffeine to formulate new products offering with respect to the latest coffee industry trends. As per, Technavio’s report ‘the global organic coffee industry will grow at a CAGR of close to 13% from 2017-2021’. So, what are the techniques that players in the coffee industry are using to keep their customer base hooked on to this beverage? And more importantly what are the budding coffee industry trends that all the coffee lover should know about? Gear up as we unveil them to you:IR_Brochure

Coffee’s Transformation from A Beverage to An Experience

‘Millennials’ unlike their predecessors are more mobile and social. The older generations liked to enjoy their coffee in the privacy of their homes and were more price conscious. However, there has been a drastic transformation in the way coffee is perceived now. Millennials have taken coffee from an ordinary kitchen table beverage to a premium drink to be enjoyed at public venues. This is one of the main reasons why the number of coffee shops and premium coffee brands has boomed in the last decade. Coffee has become more of an experience that people look forward to savor in the luxury of a cozy coffee shop or even at their workstations.

Coffee Is No More A ‘Hot’ Beverage

The baby boomers and millennials are the generations who enjoy the ‘cool’ lifestyle; this probably explains their inclination to cold brew or cold coffee. Cold brew is much sweeter and can incorporate a variety of recipes compared to the regular coffee. And the interesting part is, it is not just coffee with cold milk that attracts this generation, coffee with sparkling water or the likes are also much appreciated by this group.

Nitro Boost Your Drowsy Mornings

No, we are not talking about the explosives here, we are talking about the amalgamation of nitrogen and cold brew coffee that could create an explosion of tempting flavors on your taste buds. It is a teetotaler’s dream-come-true of a non-alcoholic drink that flows through a Guinness like bar tap. Here, cold brew coffee is stored in kegs, which are later infused with nitrogen and released through a pressurized valve – what is even better? It looks just like a glass of Guinness.

Coffee Is the New Tea

Previously, we have only been familiar with coffee beans being processed to make coffee, but the new trend is ‘Coffee-leaf tea.’ Yes, you just read that right! The critical difference here is that this brew is made with the leaves of the coffee tree, which are known to be rich in antioxidants and low on caffeine – what an utterly healthy combination!

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competitive intelligence

Competitive Intelligence Vs. Market Intelligence: All You Need to Know to Impress Your Boss

Often, we come across several terms in business that sound more or less the same, but they turn out to be completely different.  Before getting into the differences, let us cut to the chase and get to the basic point of similarity between competitive intelligence and market intelligence.  Both these types of intelligence help companies to gain a better foothold in the market and require considerable amount of accurate research to succeed. So, what is the key difference between the two? Here goes- Competitive intelligence is the strategic study used by companies to understand their industry and track the moves of their rivals. On the other hand, market intelligence is a broader concept which includes the research conducted by a company on the external market it wishes to enter, their competitors, and customers. But that’s not all; there are other factors as well that differentiates the two, curious to know what they are?IR_Brochure

Focus of the Data Collected

As discussed, market intelligence gives a larger picture to companies about the market and customers. This means that it is more client focused, which helps companies to understand their customers and the general consumer behavior better. Competitive intelligence is more business focused as it comprises of data pertaining to a company’s competitors and their business strategies.

Digging Deeper into the Data

Customers are in the spotlight in case of market intelligence; therefore, the data gathered in this type of business intelligence involves economic and social statistics of people such as demographics, population, consumption, and demand. On the other hand, competitive intelligence helps companies identify competitor’s strategies, their strengths and weaknesses, the chunk of the market share they own, how their tactics are impacting your business, etc.

The Game Plan

While the ultimate aim of both these strategies is to reduce business risk and up the game in the business, the data focus of both these techniques is very different. Therefore, their application in a formal business plan of a company also differs. Market intelligence is employed by businesses to improve their existing product offerings and develop new and innovative products, which will ultimately result in improved customer loyalty. Competitive intelligence is used by companies to plan specific strategies to overcome the competition from various competitors in the market. Each competitor will have different business strategies and tactics and with the help of competitor intelligence, companies can plan different counter tactics for each of them.

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