In an article featured in Marketing Week, APT CEO Anthony Bruce provides his perspective on targeted loyalty offerings. “You have to ensure you’re changing behavior, not just offering the reward,” he says. Bruce goes on to discuss the increasing prominence of digital channels in loyalty delivery, explaining that “the [digital] trend is very much afoot today, and often new schemes don’t require the customer to have the plastic card with them.”
In an article featured in Convenience Store News, APT SVP Marek Polonski outlines steps that convenience retailers can take to maximize returns from their loyalty programs. “Getting real and reliable information about program performance in a rapidly changing environment can be extremely difficult, and obtaining it next month or next quarter is often too late,” he writes. “Executives need better, faster and more accurate insights today to maximize the success of tomorrow’s initiatives for all convenience retailers looking to win in loyalty.”
APT is pleased to announce that Sunoco has joined a number of leading convenience retailers, including Wawa, Maverik, Thorntons, and United Dairy Farmers, in extending and expanding its license of APT’s Test & Learn software to make more profitable decisions. In a recent article in Convenience Store News, Chris Williams, Vice President of Merchandising at Sunoco, discusses how Sunoco will leverage the software: “We will be analyzing the impact of adding Laredo Taco, the Stripes fresh Mexican foodservice concept, to additional locations to serve our customers and drive fuel customers into our stores. Similarly, we look forward to using the software to refine our promotional and merchandising strategies, as well as to generate more nuanced customer segmentations and smarter offers for our APlus Rewards program.”
Returns have always been expensive for retailers, and the number of returns is only increasing with a growing percentage of sales coming through digital channels: in 2014 alone, $284 billion of product was returned. Figuring out how to lower that number without causing customer attrition is a major challenge facing retailers. Should retailers limit return windows? By how much, and on which types of items? Will stricter policies intimidate customers from transacting?
A recent Washington Post article details a study that dove into these kinds of questions, examining how retailer return policies have historically impacted customer behavior. Unsurprisingly, more lenient policies were strongly correlated with higher return rates. These types of policies, however, were even more strongly correlated with higher sales, indicating that customers were more likely to make purchases given the security of a strong return policy.
Based on the study’s findings, it appears that there may be opportunities for retailers to grow sales by making return policies more forgiving. But how will these types of changes actually play out in market? Will customers purchase more in total, netting out returns? Will a more lenient policy increase shrink? If so, by how much?
Rather than relying on intuition or correlations, retailers will need to understand how customers will react before enacting broad changes. The only way to gain this insight is with a Test & Learn approach: test a policy change in a subset of stores, and compare performance to a control group of stores that maintains the status quo. Then, retailers can isolate the action’s true incremental impact on KPIs like return rate, sales, shrink, and customer satisfaction. Using these small scale in-market experiments, retailers can answer the following types of questions:
- Return Window – What will happen if we extend our return window? Will sales increase? If so, will that outweigh any corresponding increase in returns and shrink?
- Process – What will be the impact of offering free shipping on returns? Should we move to a stricter strategy for offering refunds to cut down on fraudulent behavior and/or losses from products that can’t be resold?
- Omnichannel Strategies – How can we profitably allow online orders to be returned in stores?
- Policy Variation – Are there opportunities to target policy variations to different product categories and customers?
As ecommerce continues to grow and omnichannel customer service becomes more critical, costs associated with returns will continue to eat into retailers’ bottom lines. By testing new ideas, executives can hone in on which return policies will work best for their business.
In an interview with CNBC, APT Chairman Jim Manzi provides his perspective on the growth of “click-and-collect” offerings by retailers.
Join APT this Monday, January 18th for a Big Ideas session about “Smart Data, Not Just Big Data”. We’ll be discussing innovations that retailers are considering today and why it’s important to use a Test & Learn approach to understand whether each of these ideas work. Executives from APT clients will present at the session.
Click here for more information.
Banking Strategies recently published an article by APT SVP Will Weidman, naming the top trends that FIs should watch in 2016. Weidman says, “2016 is looking to be one of the most transformative years in financial services in decades. Disruptive competitors are growing, digital and mobile continues to evolve, branches look more and more like Apple stores and interest rates have started rising. Banks will need to embrace smart innovation not only to keep up, but to truly differentiate themselves in a cost effective manner.”
Click here to read more (requires subscription).
In an article featured in Retailing Today, APT SVP John Howard predicts five trends that will define 2016 for apparel retailers. He writes, “Recent innovations include mobile app and in-store technologies, multichannel fulfillment solutions, and coordinated cross-channel promotions. These kinds of initiatives will continue to be top of mind in 2016, particularly as consumer expectation for a seamless and personalized experience–and deep discounts–continues to grow.”
In an article featured in Convenience Store Decisions, APT SVP Marek Polonski discusses the top trends that convenience retailers can expect to shape 2016. He writes, “Over the past 12 months, the industry has been abuzz with M&A activity, new in-store technologies and oscillating fuel prices. As the rate of innovation continues to increase, there will be a number of opportunities for convenience retailers to gain a competitive advantage, but only if they navigate the industry shifts correctly.”
In an article for Progressive Grocer, APT VP Jeff Campbell discusses the top 5 trends that will shape grocery in 2016, which include a focus on specialty departments and shoppability.