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How Will Technology Enhance your Customers’ Holiday Shopping Experience?

Former consumer electronics buyer, Frank Fotia, discusses what technology trends some retailers are exploring, in order to enhance their customers' experience.

There is a lot of talk this year about Black Friday being all about great deals and of course the pricing and merchandising strategies that will support them. I think it’s important to touch on the enablers. No, I am not talking about the consumer (although they are the obvious ones). I am ultimately referring to the technology and tools that will help retailers execute their pricing policies and add a fine polish to their merchandising strategies.

According to theNational Retail Federation (NRF), online holiday sales could hit close to $82 billion in the US this year.  $2 billion of this revenue is set to come from Cyber Monday. Yes, there is opportunity for many online retailers to take a bite out of this pie, but how can they ensure that customers get the best shopping experience and actually want to come back to shop during the year?

An article in Bloomberg touches on how Sears is offering mobile coupons and loyalty program incentives among many other things to ensure they optimize their impact during the key holiday season. Sears started offering mobile coupons and incentives earlier this year in order to minimize the impact of the decreased number of shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year (26) versus 32 last year.  Walmart is also making the shopping experience more seamless for its customers by offering online store maps to ensure that Black Friday deals can be found. Zipfit is also using technology to ensure that men find the perfect fitting jeans as quickly as possible. These are just examples of the many ways retailers are leveraging technology throughout the all-important holiday season.

There are also other ways to leverage technology. Retailers can have a good experience as well. As a former consumer electronics buyer, the word ‘holiday ‘or ‘Christmas’ meant I worked twice as hard and twice as long ensuring my pricing remained competitive and our company was not losing out on the all-important sale. I did not have a price intelligence solution that allowed me to quickly spot the gaps in my pricing and react to competitor price shifts. Not to mention, dissatisfying the customer even once by not being priced appropriately, may have irreparable consequences. Whether your pricing strategy is one that is competitively driven or one that is value-based (or anywhere in between), it is important that you consider what tools can be used to create the optimal experience for your customer.

Do you have a technology strategy in place this year? If not, it’s never too early to start planning. Black Friday 2014 is only 367 days away!

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About the Author
Francesco is a former consumer electronics (CE) buyer, with years of experience at a successful multi-billion dollar retailer. He offers first-hand knowledge on how to convert price intelligence into practical and value- added merchandising strategies and concepts. Currently, Francesco is 360pi’s retail industry lead, and is an ongoing contributor to Profitable Insights, focusing on the various ways to leverage price intelligence to help increase margins, sales and market share.