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No two retailers are alike, which means there is no single solution to all the challenges they face.
But one thing is certain: Time-tested strategies create a more efficient supply chain and optimal shipping and delivery, as well as returns. And the right relationships can foster both domestic and international expansion.
That’s where a solid digital strategy comes into play, as UPS Chief Sales and Solutions Officer Kate Gutmann and Udayan Bose, founder and CEO of digital marketing company NetElixir, discussed during a recent conversation on the state of retail today — and tomorrow.
Below is their conversation with Longitudes about how forward-looking retailers can bolster their sales both online and in store.
Bose: We started our business 15 years ago, focusing on helping customers generate more online sales from their own websites. The number of e-commerce retailers we helped grew exponentially when we teamed up with UPS in 2014.
However, our customers needed assistance with improving demand generation. NetElixir helped fill that role for small and midsized businesses.
Bose: Small and midsized business can really struggle to get traffic to their websites. Then they need to convert that traffic into customers.
When we partnered with UPS, we drove about 37 percent more conversions or orders from the retailers’ websites — and at a higher average order value as well.
Gutmann: And then you get the world-class support of UPS to help you with the logistics. The partnership helps us do more for our customer so they can be successful.
Gutmann: You have to customize the consumer experience, personalize it and help create digital connections. To be successful in the marketplace, you also need access.
Also remember that more than 95 percent of consumers are outside the U.S., and yet roughly 95 percent of U.S. companies don’t sell their products internationally. That’s a massive missed opportunity.
Bose: Brands are rethinking stores in a very different way. They are creating experiential retail.
Take Nike’s House of Innovation. It offers a unique and immersive experience that guides consumers through the shopping journey. Artificial intelligence is driving experiential retail and creating exponential, powerful change.
What has also been emerging very loud and clear in the retail world is customer personalization. A customer can visit a website through voice search. Then you received a personalized experience — driven by augmented reality — with recommendations tailored to your unique preferences.
Gutmann: The store is definitely not dead. It’s just shifting. We build out, and then we cut back, build out, cut back.
Now there’s a blending of the total shopping experience. Today I feel like going to the store; tomorrow I want to shop online and pick up in the store. Then the next day I shop online, but I receive delivery to my doorstep. It’s omnichannel. It’s up to the consumer.
Bose: I agree with that. I think what is dead effectively is boring retail.
I think stores play an increasingly important role in driving the entire customer engagement. Because today’s customer is seeking very personalized experiences and smart experiences. Smart retailers can provide just that.
Gutmann: What we hear consistently from small and medium-sized businesses is the need for ease. They need to make their products available through many channels.
But how do you manage multiple marketplaces without a big team of people? How do you compete against the big retailers?
We have an IT solution, UPS® eFulfillment, which simplifies multi-channel, e-commerce sales. You can see all of your orders and inventory placement in one system — across 21 marketplaces.
We also help retailers with storage, pick, pack and ship. So now they can get one or two-day delivery, or whatever day delivery they want because all of those options are available through UPS.
That’s exciting because it helps sellers manage their margins and extends their reach and competitiveness — the secrets to retail success.
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