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RM’s Own Jurassic Paddock


By Stephanie Crets
 

The Retail Merchandiser office is pretty much obsessed with dinosaurs. At least one person has a dinosaur-themed shirt on in any given week. I have a Jurassic Park mug on my desk, holding my pens. We all couldn’t shut up about the new Jurassic World movie. So, when a package from Animal Planet arrived with a bunch of dinosaur eggs to hatch, needless to say, I was more than a little excited.

The eggs are called Hatch ‘Ems and there are two dinosaur series to choose from. RM hatched a Tyrannosaurus rex, Spinosaurus, Apatosaurus, two Triceratopses and a Stegosaurus.

I began the hatching process by putting the eggs in transparent cups. Throughout the first day, the eggs cracked slowly. By the next morning, little dinosaurs were poking their noses out. I let them grow for a few more days and helped them out of their shells (a la John Hammond helping his baby Velociraptor out of its shell in the Jurassic Park movie). Soon they outgrew their cups and I moved them to a big bin filled with water (labeled “Crets’ Critters”), where they only grew more.

Although very slimy, they are made of a foamy substance, and anything spiny on a real dinosaur is actually soft and safe for kids to play with. When you take them out of the water, they will dry out over a few days and shrink to tiny proportions, but their colors become vibrant.

Each package also comes with a bonus fact card so you can learn even more about the dinosaurs you hatch.

Animal Planet offers a bunch of different Hatch ’Em series to choose from. With the rainforest series, you can hatch a black panther, cobra, macaque, tree frog, tiger and parrot; with the safari series, you can hatch an elephant, cheetah, zebra, rhino, hyena and lion; and with the sea creatures series, you can hatch a clownfish (just like Nemo!), dolphin, crab, turtle and shark.

So, if you want a creative, educational way to take care of a T-rex or tiger pet, then Hatch ’Ems is a fun way for kids – or dinosaur-obsessed adults like me – to hatch and grow a little creature, while also learning.

 

3 Customers Not-So-Patiently Waiting for More Trade-in Offerings


Jeff Trachsel, CMO for NextWorth Solutions
 

Five years ago, the average consumer knew nothing about trading in used electronics for cash or store gift cards. Times have changed. Today the average shopper is more informed about his or her purchases than ever. And trade-in is quickly becoming a critical tool to help them get the most bang for their buck when purchasing new products.

While trade-in has traditionally been focused primarily on mobility, savvy retailers are now learning that customers appreciate the ability to trade in more than just phones. This newfound behavior of asking “how much is my old one worth” before purchasing a new product is expanding to more and more categories. So, by making a variety of device types available for trade in, retailers can increase traffic, nurture customer loyalty and pad in-store spending, too.

Here are 3 types of consumers not-so-patiently waiting to trade in more than smartphones.

#1: Early adopters who want the best of everything – not just phones

Tech trailblazers want the best device on the market – and they want it before all of their friends. But this drive to be the ultimate “alpha” user comes at a cost. Trade-in programs are big in the smartphone vertical for this very reason: they allow trend hounds to score the best new devices out of the gate, but soften the blow by offering credit for their cast-offs.

Market-driving product releases like the Apple Watch have made smartwatches a big trade-in target. For example, customers looking to fund a preorder for the new Apple Watch, or simply earn cash for an unwanted smartwatch, can get paid up to $150 on NextWorth.com, dependent on model and condition.

This creates a win-win consumer cycle. As early adopters’ “starter smartwatches” are traded in, their first-gen devices like Samsung Gear 2, Samsung Galaxy Gear, Sony Smartwatch, Pebble and Motorola Moto 360s become hot commodities that provide the opportunity for new users to give smartwatches a try at a lower price point.

Other devices primed for trade-in potential include portable speakers and action cameras. Music aficionados are passionate about good sound; trade-in programs allow consumers to satisfy their search for the best portable speakers, from Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth to Beats Pill XL. Likewise, rapid advancements in the quality and durability of action cameras have led to growing demand for trade-in programs for devices like GoPro Hero.

Whether it’s a device to fill a niche interest or simply the next must-have on the market, accepting a diverse range of technology devices for trade-in helps cultivate repeat customers within the hot early adopter segment.

#2: Return on investment (ROI)-minded homeowners feathering their nests

Many consumers use trade-in programs to upgrade their home amenities and to offset the cost of improvements like new appliances.

Sometimes, these upgrades are designed to help make a home more energy efficient. By trading in outmoded, less efficient refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and other appliances and for using ENERGY-STAR-certified replacements, not only do homeowners enjoy long-term energy savings over the life of the appliance, they get a rebate from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Offered by many major brick-and-mortar and online retailers, appliance trade-in programs can also help homeowners make ROI-informed property upgrades before listing their home for sale, or try out-of-the-box smart home technologies like Whirlpool’s Interactive Cooktops at a lower price.

#3: Business owners with an eye on the bottom line

Trade-in programs are a boon to business owners who must maximize their company dollars to turn a profit. Trading out-of-date tools for a reduced price on newer models just makes sense.

Corporations who employ a large number of staff and supply a large number of devices have long embraced trade-in programs to keep employees’ technology up to date. But now, in addition to managing the cycle of smartphone upgrades, IT managers are also brokering trade-ins for individually issued devices like company tablets and shared resources like digital printers.

Industry-specific trade-in programs are also valuable for cost-conscious business owners. Tools, for example, are an expensive yet critical cost of business for construction companies. To help diffuse this cost, big brands will sometimes help incentivize trade-in programs to drive sales. For example, in 2014, NAPA AUTO PARTS teamed up with DeWalt for a trade-in program that encouraged customers to bring in their old cordless drills (complete with bits and batteries) to receive an instant trade-in rebate of as much as $100. Customers could then apply that rebate toward the purchase of new tools like grinders, high-speed polishers and cordless impact wrenches.

In short, think outside the smartphone. Get creative with your trade-in program, and help your customers tap into more redeemable value.

 

About Jeff Trachsel
Jeff Trachsel is Chief Marketing Officer of NextWorth Solutions. NextWorth has been defining, running and optimizing trade-in programs for major retailers nationwide since 2006. The NextWorth Solutions team has more than 100 years of combined experience in the CE trade-in industry. Its unique combination of expertise, team and platform enables it to provide unparalleled trade-in support and experience to its partners, driving their key business objectives. Through the delivery of turnkey in-store and online trade-in platforms, NextWorth Solutions is fundamentally changing the way people buy, own and disown consumer electronics.

Sick of Doing Everything by Hand? WorkJam Helps Retailers Streamline Scheduling


By Stephanie Crets
 

If you’ve ever worked in retail, you’re probably familiar with the outdated ways in which you might find out your schedule. When I worked at a clothing store in the mall, I would fill out a form that listed my availability every few weeks. If I needed to take a vacation day, I’d fill out another form. My supervisor would post the printed schedule, one that was likely put together in Excel, in a communal area so everyone could see it. And then everyone would copy his or her schedule down, again by hand. This is a time-consuming, antiquated process that costs retailers time and money that could be better spent elsewhere, which is why retailers are in desperate need of an upgrade.

Not only that, but retailers are stressed out over the recently proposed overtime legislation by the Obama Administration. In our current retail environment, salaried workers who make more than $23,660 a year cannot receive any overtime pay, even if they work insanely long hours. But the proposed rule would up that line to salaried workers making $50,440, letting workers be owed what they deserve for their hard work and long hours.

Retailers are concerned that this will increase costs across the board, where they will have to hire fewer people and limit the number of advancement opportunities for workers. However, if retailers take the steps to upgrade their own systems and ways of conducting behind-the-scenes business, they might not feel the brunt of the costs.

A company called WorkJam offers retailers an employee relationship management platform to address all the different aspects of today’s worker-supervisor relationship.

“There’s a lot of pressure on retailers to maintain their margins,” says Steven Kramer, CEO of WorkJam. “Although we understand both sides of the argument, we are sensitive to the retailers. The solution is finding the middle ground, something that will allow managers to free up time from these manual processes, streamline operations and be more productive.”

Ten years ago, which is about how long ago I was working at a clothing store in the mall, these types of technology advancements didn’t exist – and my iPhone was definitely not yet running my life. Therefore, it’s important for retailers to realize what’s out there now and utilize it to their advantage, especially the ease and convenience of smartphone apps.

“Companies have been so focused on customer experience, there hasn’t been much focus for optimizing their own operations,” Kramer says. “The nice part about this platform is that innovation and technology leads to higher employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction.”

The WorkJam platform allows employees and managers to:

  • Set and manage availability;
  • Create schedules;
  • Manage shifts;
  • See open shifts;
  • Request sick time and vacation time;
  • Post and participate in training sessions;
  • Communicate with everyone; and
  • Rate managers and each shift.

Another unique feature is that this entire platform is wrapped into a rewards program where employees can earn digital badges for accomplishing certain milestones, such as great customer service, taking an open shift or completing training topics. By racking up badges, employees will then get priority for schedules and vacation requests. According to WorkJam, these incentives drive better employee productivity and will make it easier for managers to reward them for hard work.

By switching to a digital platform, retailers can also maintain better compliance practices. “How do you maintain compliances if you have all these manual processes occurring? If someone calls in sick, what controls do you have in place if it’s all manual?” Kramer tells RM. “Our system is geared towards setting legal and corporate compliances. These are all parameters you can set up in the app. You have the controls in place that you can see where you need to pay overtime, approve something, etc. You know ahead of time instead of taking a hit later on.”

Although the official court ruling for the overtime legislation is still months away, retailers can start making changes now to better improve productivity and communication and decrease margins across the board.

 

24 Hour Fitness: Come for the Workout, Stay for the Growing Retail Business


By Stephanie Crets
 

When you’re working out at the gym, the last things on your mind are how the gym merchandises and conducts its store operations. You might buy a protein bar or a new pair of running shorts, but other than that, gym members are generally oblivious to all the work that goes into running the retail side of a fitness center.

24 Hour Fitness, a leading health club throughout the United States with more than four million members, knew that it had to improve on certain factors as it expanded its operations. It needed quick and easy access to important store data without utilizing IT services, which is where Mi9 Retail came to help.

“Mi9 will help 24 Hour Fitness achieve the age-old retail goal of getting the right product at the right time in the right quantities to the right locations, which in our case is 450 clubs and growing,” says Andrew Dottermusch, senior director of retail for 24 Hour Fitness.

Mi9 Retail, a provider of enterprise retail merchandising, business intelligence and store operations software, created a solution that will help 24 Hour Fitness increase efficiencies throughout its corporate offices and retail operations. Mi9 Retail provided a suite of services for analytics, data management and financial controls. This will better assist 24 Hour Fitness with inventory management, buying and pricing throughout all of its retail channels.

“Mi9 will allow the retail team to significantly reduce the time currently invested in the mechanics and processes of achieving that goal, so they can refocus on business insights and strategic decision-making,” Dottermusch explains. “This critical shift will assist 24 Hour Fitness Retail in better meeting members’ needs and in turn drive incremental revenue.”

24 Hour Fitness is replacing a system that is more than 10 years old. Everything will now be streamlined and automated to support the growing retail business in health and fitness clubs. With this information, the gym can learn what customers want, and how to better provide and price it and keep it well stocked.

“Providing our members products to support their health and fitness goals is partly an offer of convenience, but more significantly, provides them solutions that establish 24 Hour Fitness as a source for and authority on individual wellness,” Dottermusch says.

Minions Cut the Ribbon at Chicago’s New Studio Xfinity Retail Experience


By Stephanie Crets

It’s all about the kids and the innovative retail experience at the brand-new, state-of-the-art Studio Xfinity in Chicago. Comcast brings together media and technology with this first-of-its-kind facility. The moment you step through the door, people are commenting on how beautiful the space is. Screens, or “Studio Spaces,” surround you, along with a bunch of demo stations to try out the latest and greatest Comcast Xfinity products.

Executives from Comcast and even Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele came out for the ribbon cutting on July 9.  The excitement of Comcast choosing Chicago to house this new retail experience was palpable. “We are leaders in Chicago and we are pleased that Comcast has chosen our city for these things to move forward,” Steele says.  “We get to be the first to share this expansion in our community.” He explained the studio will also help create new jobs and enhance Chicago’s job market.

“It represents the continuing raising of the bar for us for the customer experience,” says John Crowley, senior vice president of the greater Chicago region for Comcast. “Not only will you see new products and services and get to test them out. We’re actually testing new ways to serve our customer.”

After the official ribbon cutting, some very special guests were brought out to celebrate with all the kids in attendance: mascot minions from the upcoming Minions movie. The kids rushed to them and people took selfies with them as they danced through the crowds.

The new store has a variety of interactive touch-points, plus two different entrance experiences. The front house a media portals to engage the sidewalk traffic and garner interest, while the back of the store has its own media portal and connects to the parking lot for the regular customers who need to complete a transaction.

On entering the store, customers will be greeted by an associate with an “Associate Toolkit,” a software application that allows the associate to quickly authenticate customers and see their entire transaction history. The store offers a variety of interactive games that are facilitated through the store associates, allowing them to be more than just salespeople.

“We wanted to create these situations where associates can engage with customers,” says Joe Karadin, director of physical design at ESI Design. “They become presenters and actors, in a way, and they get really into it. It’s different than any other retail environment where the associate is only there to assist; here they are stars on the stage.”

There are trivia games, multiplayer games and an app that allows the customer to take a photo, attach Minion goggles to the photo and upload it to the main Studio Space screen.

“This is all driven by a hardware backend where the associate can program out all the media throughout the day on their tablet,” Karadin says. “It’s a completely flexible media distribution environment.”

If the store is having a Minion celebration, as it was today, the associates can program all Minion-themed studio spaces. But to change to the next event,  such as the upcoming Taylor Swift 1989 event, they can switch everything at the swipe of a screen on their tablets.

“We wanted to create a physical environment but also the software and games and Associate Toolkit as part of the entire package,” Karadin says. “We felt that just designing the space wasn’t enough; we wanted to know what experientially that meant for the customers.”

According to David Williams, vice president of sales and marketing for Comcast, “It’s all about being able to have a great place to hang out, grab your kid, watch some great TV, get a cup of coffee and enjoy yourself. It’s a unique kind of place to be.”

Head down to the brand-new facility at 901 W. Weed St. in Chicago for a retail experience unlike any other.

For more photos of the event, visit Retail Merchandiser on Facebook.

Taco Bell Delivery is Finally Here


By Stephanie Crets
 

So, there you are: sitting on your couch in your pajamas, a Netflix series blaring on your television screen, when suddenly, you get a craving for a Doritos Locos Taco and Cheesy Gordita Crunch from Taco Bell. But you can’t possibly pause your show or be bothered to put jeans on again. And now you don’t have to.

Taco Bell has officially rolled out its delivery service in 90 cities in California and in Dallas from more than 200 restaurants. It has teamed up with DoorDash, an on-demand delivery service, to provide burritos and cinnamon twists right to your front door. This is the first national partnership for the delivery company, which began in 2013 in a Stanford dorm room.

DoorDash aims to connect customers with their local businesses, so users can purchase foods and goods and have them delivered within 45 minutes. You can access DoorDash as an app on iOS or Android or simply go to the website.

While there is no minimum order, DoorDash requires a $3.99 flat delivery fee (along with encouragement to tip your delivery driver). But if you’re just trying the service out, your first order fee is only $1.

Unfortunately for you late-night cravers, the delivery service runs only until 11p.m. But the good news is, the average wait time for delivery in the preliminary runs was only 38 minutes. Just think, less than a full episode of Orange is the New Black and you’d have Taco Bell at your doorstep.

“We’re testing and learning at the speed of the on-demand economy,” Tressie Lieberman, vice president of innovation and on demand at Taco Bell, stated in a press release. “We’re thrilled to partner with DoorDash and leverage their like-minded commitment to customer service and innovation. This partnership enables us to provide consistent quality service and the feedback we need to elevate the delivery experience and evaluate where Taco Bell delivery goes next.

Taco Bell plans to have more cities included in the delivery service after this test run is complete. If you want to get your city to the top of the delivery list, tweet #TacoBellDelivery with your city.

Chicago next for #TacoBellDelivery, please!

If you’re one of the lucky ones already in the delivery cities, head here to place your Taco Bell delivery order: www.doordash.com/tacobell

*Photo Credit to Taco Bell

 

SDCC Retail Exclusives


By Stephanie Crets
 

Celebrities, artists and retailers are all on their way to one of the biggest comic and entertainment events of the year: San Diego Comic Con (SDCC). As an avid convention attendee, going to SDCC is a dream of mine, but I don’t know if I could commit to spending most of my time waiting in line for panels and short glimpses of my favorite celebs and likely miss out on all the exclusive goodies in the dealer’s room. Such as the 30-plus exclusive Funko POP! figures to pick up while you’re there.  (Anyone want to grab me the exclusive Helena from Orphan Black Funko POP?)

For those of you lucky enough to go, here are some SDCC exclusives to keep an eye out for when you’re not camping out for a panel or autograph session.

Bandai America Inc. Booth #3535

  • Limited Black Edition Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Legacy Saba Saber for $175
  • Limited Edition Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Dino Charger Power Pack for $30
  • Limited Edition Tokyo Vinyl® Mighty Morphin Power Rangers White Ranger for $25

Blizzard Booth #115

  • World of Warcraft: Funko POP! Murloc Vinyl Figures 3 pack for $29.99
  • World of Warcraft: Cute but Deadly Shadowform Illidan Figure for $17.99
  • World of Warcraft: Nexus Whelpling Plush for $24.99

Dark Horse Comics Booth #2615

  • Archie vs. Predator #1 San Diego Comic-Con International Exclusive Variant Cover by Colleen Coover for $5
  • Dragon Age Inquisition Deluxe Playing Cards – Series Two for $8
  • Elfquest: The Final Quest Hardcover – Convention Exclusive for $30
  • Games of Thrones: Robert Baratheon Crown—SDCC Exclusive Mini Replica for $60
  • Halo UNSC Pelican Dropship Replica—SDCC Exclusive Bronze Edition for $50

Petco Booth #2913

  • Star Wars Chewie Plush Bone Toy
  • Star Wars Yoda Ears for Dogs and Cats

Toynami Booth #3229

  • Chronicle Collectibles Terminator Genisys ½ Scale Endoskull for $20
  • Robotech GBP-1 – Stealth Fighter – Heavy Armor for $99
  • Voltron Altimite DX Transforming SD Voltron for $150

Titan Entertainment Booth #5537

  • Adventure Time: The Original Title Cards Vol. 2: Print Limited Edition for $40
    Sherlock Titans: 3″ Sherlock Priest Disguise for $15
  • Doctor Who Titans: 4.5″ 10th Doctor Tuxedo for $20
  • The Autobiography of James T. Kirk for $25

 

Christmas in July for Amazon Prime Customers


By Stephanie Crets
 

Christmas in July is for real this year. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, that is. For its 20th birthday, Amazon is celebrating with a global, site-wide sale that boasts to be even bigger than Black Friday.

On “Prime Day” on July 15, deals will be available exclusively to Prime members starting at midnight with new deals popping up every ten minutes; a tactic to get people to keep coming back for more.  I don’t think I’ve ever made more than one Amazon purchase in one day, but I might if the sale is as good as they say.

July is generally a low spending month for consumers, with last year’s overall monthly spending taking a dip. Economists reason that people are waiting for back-to-school sales, so this celebration is a clever way to boost sales.

If you don’t have a Prime membership, Amazon offers a 30-day free trial, so you can gain access to all the deals with no repercussions and without paying the $99 annual fee. But once they get you for free, you’re hooked. Trust me.

It seems like a hefty fee, but you can’t beat free two-day shipping – or free shipping in general on extremely heavy items – along with even more TV and movie streaming if you can’t get enough from Netflix. They reeled me in with the free, fast shipping and kept me there with streaming services.

According to a survey by the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners conducted last fall, Prime members spend an average of $1,500 annually, while non-members spend $625. This isn’t too surprising since non-members are likely seeking out other online retail stores to shop. Without the free shipping convenience that Prime offers to its customers, they have little reason to be as loyal to the company. Prime members, however, end up saving money on shipping in the long run, especially if they were avid Amazon shoppers before joining.

It seems like Amazon is trying to reward its dedicated, high-spending Prime members with some crazy sales. Hey, I’ll take it!

CGS Brings Solutions for Omnichannel Fashion Retailers


By Stephanie Crets
 

Omnichannel sales have grown in the retail industry and retailers find it challenging to adapt quickly to the ever-changing platform. Not to mention, fashion retailers must keep up with the rapidly changing trends, seasons, styles and designs. So meeting customer expectations while also maintaining sales can be a complicated endeavor. That’s where CGS comes in.

CGS provides business applications, enterprise learning and outsourcing services to professionals in the retail industry. Its most important application is the BlueCherry ERP (enterprise resource planning) app that offers end-to-end solutions for fashion retailers and lifestyle brands including, but not limited to, omnichannel planning, distribution and real-time product visibility. After listening to its customers and industry experts from Gartner and WhichPLM, CGS expanded upon its BlueCherry offering and launched BlueCherry PLM (product lifecycle management) at the Product Innovation Apparel 2015 event this past June in New York City.

“The last five years have been spent getting ready for this release,” says Paul Magel, president of the Applications and Technology Outsourcing Division at CGS. “When we originally released PLM, it was marketed to our current ERP customers or to new customers with a main focus on ERP. We acquired more than 50 PLM customers over this timeframe and their input to the product, along with the input from the industry analysts, is what has led to the industry-leading, best-of-breed solution we are announcing now.”

According to Magel, other unique application features include:

  • Adobe Illustrator plug-in where users can receive designs directly from the designers themselves, which lets users seamlessly move sketches, colors and comments back and forth to the PLM platform. Users can also assign seasons, classifications and fabrications to designs, increasing their adoption and efficiency.
  • Digital asset management for image organization and storage of key metadata for easily searchable content.
  • Workflow and project management capabilities where users can create seasonal calendar templates and manage all tasks, dependencies and durations in a user-friendly PLM dashboard.
  • The PLM landing dashboard allows users to have quick access and launching capabilities of all style data and attributes within the system.

BlueCherry ERP already has more than 250,000 users worldwide, including 50 world-class brands and retailers, so enhancing its platform will bring greater success not only to CGS, but also to its users. The solution offers better visibility and control over retail collections, improves global supply chain operations and boosts time-to-market, according to CGS.

Retailers tap technology and mobilize operations for streamlined execution, communication

Guest blog by Vladik Rikhter

The lives of field sales representatives and district managers require a certain level of dedication. Driving from store to store to check on the progress of a new promotion or a recently proposed sales strategy for an underperforming product is stressful and time-consuming enough. Then, there’s all that information to track from dozens of locations those corporate offices have to manage and assess. Even worse, the same data is coming from scores of stores and associates in different regions. Compiling that information and analyzing it takes time. Those are hours not spent traveling to stores to verify that a store manager installed a promotion appropriately or that products are on shelves properly. These are the real responsibilities of district managers and field sales representatives for retailers and consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs). Beyond that, organizations need to manage the information coming in from every store and process it in a way that can reveal insights into sales dips and other issues, which are tasks that take even more time to complete.

However, none of those standards or concepts for improving sales can be formalized without the data from managers and field associates. The metrics we use haven’t changed, but the way we collect the data and monitor its application has to adapt. Technology is the answer, and mobile technology, specifically, has the capability to simplify the process of reporting sales figures, unifying communications between different levels of management and improving operational execution for retailers and CPGs.

Bringing context to sales data, improving communication

The sales reports retail that field reps compile have always told us how much of a product sold, what the status of inventory is and the promotions that succeeded or failed. They’ve never offered additional context, though. There are reasons products move and why they go ignored by shoppers. Sometimes it’s a matter of placement; other times it’s just a simple mistake in the way the promotion was installed. Processing that feedback into something actionable prevent mistakes in retail execution demands a faster solution that helps get to the true root of the problem. Integrating mobile technology enables district managers and CPG reps to address this on two fronts. They can communicate instantly with store employees or corporate to verify the progress of a product or a promotion, whether through real-time data or shared images.

The planograms carefully developed to maximize sales and customer exposure to store promotions aren’t too difficult to understand or assemble. They are, however, heavily dependent on careful, accurate execution from store employees. Solutions that quickly enable store managers to share information related to planogram execution and hear about adjustments to make can save dollars. Even if it’s only a few hundred dollars a week, that amount of money adds up over time.

Communication solves problems in operational execution

Frequent communication, whether through conversation or the sharing of data and images, is the only way for management and sales teams to ensure success. Every store has some problems to solve. Looking only at their failures and simply saying, “it needs to improve” won’t lead to solutions. Data leads to a sounder understanding of the problems stores have and helps create a channel for store managers and sales reps to solve problems together. The more stores and management communicate, the more information can be created to piece together the actual cause of a problem. Technology gives teams what they need to do that. With mobile solutions and other tools that enable instant feedback and communication related to execution, stores can receive messages from their corporate offices to prevent problems from lingering. Additionally, we no longer have to wait a week to learn a problem exists. Visual evidence that a worker misaligned an element defined in a planogram or listed promotion prices incorrectly allows for instant problem solving.

Technology is about making our jobs easier. The seamless, speedy sharing of information is just one way technology has achieved that, and retailers and CPGs need to find solutions that wipe out persistent problems in the industry.

Even as retailers continue to thrive in the face of challenges from e-commerce and other trends, finding ways to improve operations is vital to continued success. Technology won’t solve every problem, but, in so many cases, it will clear a path to the solution.

Vladik Rikhter is CEO and co-founder of Zenput