Online Retail Today
website personalization b2b

3 Ways Website Personalization Helps Highlight B2B’s Unique Strengths Online

In recent years, B2B companies have been advised to adopt tactics like website personalization from the world of B2C retail if they want to thrive in the era of omnichannel commerce. But given corporate buyers’ preference for experiences tailored to their company needs, B2B companies would do well to emphasize — not eliminate — the unique characteristics of their business if they want to stand out from the crowd.

It’s true that B2B buyers increasingly desire convenience and accessibility. More than two thirds of corporate purchasing agents prefer self-service product research over working with a sales rep; this is a jump of  23% from 2015, according to technology researcher Forrester.  Amazon is making strides in B2B ecommerce with a business version of its dominant eCommerce site; from which these reviews, recommendations, and Prime shipping service shape consumers’ online expectations for product content, convenience and savings.

But as they strive to emulate Amazon’s features, B2B companies risk losing out on what makes them unique. The current push to provide generic B2C-like experiences runs contrary to B2B business’ long tradition of customized customer relationships, from tailored catalogs to unique payment terms.

Corporate buyers seek out B2B sellers that can adopt this one-to-one approach online. More than three quarters of B2B purchasing agents want to see content specific to their company; additionally two-thirds expect information specific to their industry, according to Demand Gen.

B2B merchants who prioritize website personalization can use it to deliver:

1.) Products and content attuned to the phase of the B2B purchase cycle.

Based on prior interactions and predictive intelligence, personalization can pinpoint whether site visitors are in research mode or ready to buy; this aspect is imperative to present them not only with relevant content, but with live sales or support connections. Post-purchase, timely replenishment reminders and upgrade offers can spur re-engagement.


2.) A custom B2B catalog experience

Personalization tools can combine business rules with behavioral insights to present products and recommendations within pre-set parameters, along with custom pricing and bundling options. Predictive personalization capabilities can also flag potential new product categories of interest — helping B2B suppliers capitalize on cross-divisional sales opportunities.


3.) Tailor the purchase process to individual corporate customers

B2B merchants can customize the online checkout process to accommodate customer-specific needs such as P.O. generation and purchase approval routines, while personalization software tools in  tandem with saved account data can enable quick access to tailored re-ordering options.

How is your B2B business harnessing website personalization to serve corporate customers? Kibo personalization can help you soar higher. Learn more here


Takeaways from NRF Big Show & Expo 2019

This year’s National Retail Federation event promised to be the biggest yet, and they did not disappoint. The Kibo commerce crew was in full force, making connections and getting the word out about cloud commerce solutions that are inspired by our customers’ needs.

There was so much happening at this year’s show, it was impossible to see it all. So here are three big themes from 2019’s NRF Big Show and Expo that you may have missed.

Retail Machines

They’re everywhere. Developers from around the globe came to the Javits to show off the latest in retail robotics. There were robots to check out groceries, robots to scan aisles for empty shelves, robots to greet customers and answer questions, robots to sort packages. One booth was even exhibiting robots that deliver sushi to your table – though I assume they could deliver many types of food. Many of the robots and related machines on display were in support of the concept of unattended retail – which are essentially stores that don’t need people to operate. If it catches on in a big way, this will have enormous downstream effects on the industry, and we should keep an eye on it.

The End of Omnichannel?

Trends come and go in every industry, and retail’s no different. While the dream of true omnichannel is still alive and well, this year we noticed that the word, “omnichannel,” is being used less and less. In 2019 you should expect to see a lot more talk of commerce that is “unified,” “connected,” or built in the cloud. Whether this shift in language reflects an underlying shift in the goals of retail technology – or simply the next wave of marketing speak – will require some digging to find out.

Kibo is ready for Action in 2019

Last year was a year for transformation and for clarifying our purpose. We embarked on an extensive listening exercise to discover what the market needed in a cloud commerce provider. We learned that, in an unpredictable world, merchants are looking for a partner who is committed to their financial success.

We’d love to show you how we can be a partner in your organization’s success. You can take the first step to learning more about Kibo with these brief explainer videos. And if you want to learn more, request a demo today.

IRCE 2018 Recap: Five Commerce Themes Merchants Can’t Afford to Ignore

With the first half of 2018 coming to a close, this year’s Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) served as a motivational jumpstart to what will surely be an exciting second half of the year in the world of retail. Over four days, nearly 10,000 attendees rushed from room to room in Chicago’s McCormick Place West to soak in industry insight shared by 200 speakers from organizations leading the commerce charge. When class was not in session, attendees visited more than 600 vendors to talk strategy and all things eCommerce in the high-energy exhibitor hall.

Considered one of the big three must-attend events in the retail industry, the 2018 iteration of IRCE did not disappoint. This year’s event delivered even more retail tech and expertise, with pre- and post-event workshops that provided deep dives into some of the most prominent retail themes including marketplaces and B2B. Between meeting with enthusiastic merchants and tech partners, a few  members of the Kibo team were able to attend industry sessions to hear what retail leaders are talking about and working towards. Several key themes emerged at IRCE this year:

 

The entrepreneurial spirit is stronger than ever.

 

From the moment the exhibitor hall opened on Tuesday evening through the final minutes on Thursday afternoon, it was evident that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and stronger than ever. Despite constant headlines about the Amazon effect on retail, IRCE proved that retailers of all size are less intimidated by the dominance of Amazon and other big-box retailers, and instead are more motivated to specialize in their craft and offer customers novelty which giants like Amazon cannot deliver.

In fact, independent retailers made up a sizable portion of the attendee list, which is reflective of market trends as more and more independent brands and retailers open stores for the first time. The differentiator for these often digitally native merchants is their hyper-focus on building a strong customer community and consistently offering interesting elements of the in-store experience to drive foot traffic. These entrepreneurs have learned from first-hand experience and the experiences of those before them that there must be a compelling reason for customers to step foot into a physical store when the online channel lends itself to convenience. Amazon is a commodity market where price drives competition, so it comes as no surprise that these fresh, agile retailers are choosing to compete where they differentiate.

Marketing guru Seth Godin kicked off the first official day of the event with a message speaking to this point, which the audience carried into conversations well after his closing remarks. Throughout his keynote, Godin emphasized the power of leveraging niche markets to rise above the noise. He reiterated that even small brands can and will thrive against Amazon by narrowing their focus and building direct, personal relationships with the people that buy and love their products. This inspiring mantra aligned especially well with the small to midsize retailer audience.

Retail is in the midst of a long overdue transformation, and although newcomers to the space don’t necessarily face the same headwinds as their predecessors, the shift can be challenging. To rise above the noise, merchants must be relentless in their pursuit to build deeper connections with smaller subsets of the market rather than attempt to be all things to all people. Winning at retail means embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and maintaining a clear view of the customer despite the dynamic environment.

“In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”

– Seth Godin, Author

 

We’re all in this together.

 

The ecosystem is a critical component to any digital commerce strategy and allows merchants to better address pain points and drive revenue. Third-party technology vendors, service providers, and strategic partnerships with industry influencers and complementary brands make it possible to reach more customers in more ways without requiring huge investments. While the benefits are numerous, perhaps most comforting is the fact that ecosystems mean that merchants are not in this alone.

As a go-to retail event, IRCE hosted a wide range of technology and service vendors, providing something for every retailer regardless of budget or evolution along their eCommerce journey. The Kibo team visited with friendly faces from some of our current partners and talked business with a number of potential partners interested in joining our thriving ecosystem.

From sessions about optimizing the ecosystem and best practices for evaluating potential vendors, the clear message is that ecosystems facilitate rapid innovation and allow merchants to live in the possible, not the probable. Partner ecosystems address the “buy versus build” dilemma organizations often face. Ecosystems increase the speed of retailer innovation and allow organizations to introduce new capabilities without having to develop the expertise internally. Thanks in large part to the power of APIs, teams can remain focused on core competencies and launch new initiatives with less technical know-how in less time than ever before.

The onslaught of store closures and overhyped mentions of the imminent death of retail in headlines over the last year indicate that disruption is the new norm. Yet, by securing the right partnerships, merchants will be in a better position to respond to the changing landscape and align forward-looking priorities and investments to future growth.

 

For bigger payoff, think payments.

 

While the payment industry may not always receive the same level of attention as artificial intelligence or social commerce, IRCE reminded us that payments are a core enabler for commerce and top of mind for many merchants.

The fragmented nature of the payments industry makes it an especially tricky space to navigate. Despite recent consolidations between payment vendors and banks, merchants and their customers have an abundance of options at their fingertips. However, resource constraints and heightened concerns about fraud have made it difficult to determine which to support and which to forego.

IRCE provided attendees with some clarity on the topic through content and conversations with providers and peers. Numerous sessions emphasized the importance of payment technology and shared predictions about what’s on the horizon. On the exhibitor floor, attendees received first-hand demos and industry insights into new and emerging capabilities such as the “buy now, pay later” model, social commerce, and digital currencies.

A key message woven into industry sessions and conversations with exhibitors focused on the impact of mobile on the evolution of payment technology, as well as its influence on customer expectations. Mobile is already an integral part of eCommerce and industry experts anticipate mobile-friendly payment options will soon become an even more important. Estimates from a recent Business Insider Intelligence study suggest that by 2021, 45% of all online sales will originate on mobile devices. The sheer growth potential of mobile commerce makes it a key driver for what is next in payment space.

Technology decisions, especially those that are mission-critical to the business and customer experience, are about striking a balance. Payment solutions that accomplish the goal of capturing payment information are not necessarily synonymous with a great digital experience and are no longer sufficient enough to compete in today’s highly competitive landscape.  Merchants need to offer the options customers want without requiring them to sacrifice something else they want – convenience, security, or preference. The overall payment experience is a major driver of revenue and conversions, so the merchants that get it right are slated for even bigger payoff in 2019. 

 

Prioritize getting products to where the customers are.

 

As the last several years have taught us, malls and standalone stores are no longer the first stop on the shopper journey, and in some cases, not a destination at all. Brands that relied on distribution through big-box department stores and their retailer counterparts that huddled around these anchor stores to attract customers are experiencing the pinch of declining traffic. As brick-and-mortar stores remain in retail ICU, merchants are taking the competition to a new field – marketplaces.

Marketplaces proved to be a hot topic at IRCE, both on the exhibitor floor and in industry sessions. Internet Retailer (IR) grabbed the attention of a packed room as they recapped the last year and shared predictions for what we can expect in terms of marketplaces moving forward during their overview session. The IR team analyzed 75 of the most prominent marketplaces worldwide and found that shoppers spent $1.5 trillion globally last year, representing roughly 50% of all global online sales. The usual players continue to lead the pack in the US marketplace race with Amazon, Walmart, and eBay coming in at the top of the list, followed by Houzz and Wish.

The IR study also revealed a likely more surprising insight – a customer’s online search often starts on marketplaces, not search engines. Between the shift in how customers research products and the high adoption rate of these aggregator sales channels, it’s clear that marketplaces aren’t going anywhere and show no sign of slowing down in the foreseeable future. Even well-known brands like Ikea and Chico’s are joining the movement by selling on Amazon.

Thankfully, there is ripe opportunity to capitalize on the marketplace madness without relying on the likes of Amazon or eBay. As the IR session highlighted, niche marketplaces are continuing to pop up and increasing in popularity on a global scale. This gives merchants an alternative channel to reach customers without relying on listing products on the site of what many consider to be their biggest competitor. Similarly, there are a number of brands launching their own marketplace variations to take part in the successful model. Walmart, for example, continued to invest in their online marketplace by increasing the number of SKUs on their website from 35 million to 75 million in 2017.

While the marketplace conundrum is nothing new, it’s undeniably clear that retailers and brands need to develop a marketplace strategy that closely aligns with the customer journey and compliments their go-to-market strategy. Marketplaces are the digital equivalent of malls, helping to hybridize brands and make them more accessible to more people. Merchants that prioritize getting products to where their customers are, whether on marketplaces or elsewhere, will be the ones that come out on top in the retail battle.

 

It’s time to get back to basics.

 

Despite all of the exciting technologies displayed at IRCE, the “back to basics” theme popped up in sessions about AI to building loyalty and even made its way into conversations on the exhibitor floor. The shift in retail from transactional to experiential has increased the importance of building your tribe and interacting with customers in a personal way.

In a joint session hosted by Dream Beard and Chewy.com, the customer-obsessed e-tailers discussed how their companies develop strong loyalty through high-touch customer service and reiterated the idea that new technology does not always translate to new customers or higher sales.

Ryan Lane, the founding owner of Dream Beard, kicked off the session by emphasizing his goal of creating personal interactions with each customer by empowering employees. Autonomy is the secret ingredient to the Dream Beard customer service approach, and Lane shared that employees are free to get creative as long as customers are treated well. The founder also described how the company uses handwritten notes and a lifestyle podcast as ways to build deep-rooted customer loyalty. For Dream Beard, it’s all about breaking down the communication walls that technology can sometimes create.

Discussions on the exhibitor floor echoed similar ideas as attendees visiting the Kibo booth shared insights about their renewed focus on the customer experience and the operational hurdles they must overcome. Rather than trying to do everything for the sake of checking a box, IRCE attendees seem to share a methodical focus on perfecting their craft and simplifying the technology stack to optimize teams. What matters most is not whether a merchant possesses a specific capability, but that the capabilities they do have translate into great customer experiences and revenue.

 

The takeaway: it’s not about digital versus physical channels, or even being omnichannel – it’s about making your brand accessible and unique by opening up the channels that matter most to your customers and building genuine relationships for the long-term. The key to winning in retail for 2018 and beyond is organizing companies around the customer and acknowledging that at the end of the day, the only experience that matters is theirs.

 

“You have to prioritize making the customer experience the most seamless, inspirational, frictionless thing. If you don’t, every piece that adds friction, every piece that doesn’t meet their expectation, you can lose sales.”

– Joan King, VP of E-commerce, Crate & Barrel

 

Mykayla Goodwin, Product Marketing, KIBO, IRCE 2018

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Summer is almost here, and IRCE is right around the corner. Retailers and manufacturers attending IRCE are filling up their schedules with sessions and meetings, and we here at Kibo would like to meet you!

 

Before you swing by you should know a few things about us:

  1. Our order management system is advanced, powerful, and agile. It allows for omnichannel fulfillment, easier direct to consumer sales, and brilliant inventory order routing.
  2. Our platforms are SaaS based, which means you get every single upgrade and update as they are released. At no extra cost, you simply enjoy the most advanced version.  
  3. eCommerce with personalization functions and machine learning features to surprise and delight your customers and your merchandising teams.

 

So what can Kibo do for you?

 

CONNECT YOUR ENTIRE ECOSYSTEM

Driving alignment and connectivity across your ecosystem is challenging. Whether you are looking to integrate disparate commerce systems, align your digital and in-store teams, connect across your dealer and reseller network, or create connected, seamless experiences for your buyers, Kibo’s omnichannel commerce platform ensures you stay connected to drive maximum results.

 

BECOME THE AGILE SELLER

Kibo’s omnichannel commerce platform helps you stay ahead of consumer expectations by quickly adapting to changing market conditions. Our modular platform empowers you to choose the solutions and partners that align to your business needs—allowing flexibility as you grow. Whether you are changing order routing to support increased demand or keeping your eCommerce website fresh, Kibo enables your organization to stay agile.

 

HELP YOUR TEAMS WORK SMARTER

Your commerce teams are consistently asked to do more with less. From digital marketing and IT to fulfillment and in-store operations, our user-friendly solutions increase productivity, reduce time-to-value, and save time—allowing your teams to focus on new promotions, interactive content, implementation of omnichannel strategies and driving sales.

 

MEET WITH KIBO AT IRCE 2018

Booth #1117

 

Top 5 Reasons to Attend Kibo Summit 2018

 

Kibo Summit 2018 is right around the corner! This must-attend event for Kibo customers will be held May 15-17, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Kibo Summit features three full days of networking, education, insight, and inspiration.

 

Attendees can look forward to:

1. Meeting with executives and product managers face-to-face.

The Kibo staff will be there in full force, and we can’t wait to chat with you, get to know you better, and learn how we can serve you better.

2. Product workshops and thought provoking sessions.

We have targeted deep-dive workshops for each of our industry-leading products. Have questions? We have the answers. Learn about new ways to use your product, share best practices with peers, and ensure you are getting the maximum value out of your investment in Kibo’s commerce platform.

In addition to product-specific content, you can choose your favorite informative and thought leadership sessions including topics like:

– Practical Applications of AI in the Retail Sector

– Turning Merchandising Metrics into Action

– Going Direct Isn’t Enough. You Can Offer Same Day Pick Up from Any Store!

– Innovating in a Search First World

3. Networking and roundtables.

Engage with peers and experts on topics that matter, ranging from holiday readiness to technology and integrations. Gain insights, inspiration, and hear success stories from peers on what they are doing to thrive in a complex retail environment — all in a casual, collaborative environment.

4. Uncovering Kibo’s ecosystem.

As part of the Kibo family, your reach extends beyond your organization. Uncover opportunities by tapping into Kibo’s vast ecosystem of technology, implementation, and development partners to help your omnichannel initiative. Our popular Partner Showcase session will give you the introduction you need to our best of breed partner programs. Don’t miss it.

5. Nashville, Tennessee.

Enjoy Spring in “Music City” with Kibo. Business Insider and Travelocity name Nashville as a city you must visit in 2018. This friendly and beautiful city on the Cumberland River has no shortage of things to do, eat, and see. Music Row, the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, Country Music Hall of Fame, Johnny Cash Museum, Honky Tonk Highway and more are all situated close to Kibo Summit headquarters in Midtown Nashville. Nashville will be the perfect backdrop as we discuss ways to amplify your commerce in 2018!

 

Want to learn more about Kibo Summit 2018? Visit our registration page today!

nrf retail technology

NRF 2018 Recap: 3 Fundamental Innovations Retail Technology Must Support

Thanks to strong results from the 2017 holiday season, retailers were riding high headed into NRF’s Big Show earlier this month. The myriad of retail innovations on display helped maintain the positive momentum — but as merchants head home to put key strategies into action, the bar is set high to reach beyond technology as strategy and deliver memorable shopping experiences.

On the surface, NRF 2018 put technology front and center, with a dazzling array of offerings to help retailers optimize their brands. Electronic shelf displays, inventory tracking systems, store beacons, frictionless point-of-sale and self-checkout tools, cloud commerce platforms, and AI everywhere were the order of the day on the exhibit floor, which teemed with more than 35,000 attendees. There were even retail robots to act as in-store tour guides and inventory managers.

But despite the dazzle, the most inspirational stories from NRF sessions weren’t about technology deployment in and of itself. Rather, leading innovators demonstrated how technology helped their brands shift into new territory when it came to the shopping experience.

In the end, the message was two-fold: merchants must choose wisely to ensure their technological foundation is both cutting-edge, extensible, and reliable — but getting there is only half the battle. Indeed, with Amazon continuing to set the standard for easy ordering and efficient, cost-effective fulfillment, merchants can no longer differentiate merely by offering such services as in-store pickup, free shipping, or mobile payments. These features are now table stakes, not innovative strategies.

As if to underscore the point, the week after NRF brought the very public debut of the first Amazon Go outlet, a quick-shop grocery offering completely frictionless purchasing with no checkout whatsoever. Although retailers must eventually follow Amazon to such new frontiers, they’re unlikely ever to take over the lead.

Instead, retailers’ best bet is for technology and logistics to become the background services that support rich, relevant brand interactions both in-store and online. The most crucial retail technology powers such interactions without taking center stage, instead enabling a brand’s unique identity — what one speaker referred to as “heart” — to come to the fore.

 

As merchants finalize their top priorities for 2018 and begin long-range planning, they should invest in those technologies that:

 

Rethink and reinvigorate stores.

 

NRF sessions were bursting with examples of cutting-edge stores that broke down barriers between online and offline shopping, as well as in-store and organization-wide fulfillment options. From Sephora’s Beauty TIPS Workshop stores, where shoppers can try products and experiment with looks using augmented-reality tools, to Eataly food halls that mix dining, shopping, and food education, innovative brands are allocating store space to “experiential” enhancements that demonstrate deep connection to the customer lifestyle.

Store-specific mobile tools are at the forefront of these innovations, with offerings for customers and sales associates alike enabling seamless access to online resources and shoppers’ preferences. In a “Big Ideas” session, vendor Tulip reported that among store associates equipped with mobile devices, 43% reported saving a sale by accessing store-wide inventory, and 66% reported improving the customer experience.

Tools for seamless fulfillment of both online and offline orders are also essential — not only for stores acting as pickup points for online orders, but for “showroom”-style outlets where shoppers inspect and select items for subsequent home delivery. Flawless execution of these functions is crucial so as not to derail store visitors from the immersive environments merchants must create to showcase brand offerings.

 

Enable true one-to-one commerce.

 

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, was the top buzzword of the show, and with good reason. As the number and variety of available customer data points has skyrocketed, talk has quickly shifted from “advanced analytics” to “machine learning” and the big-data tools that can not only process information quickly at high volume, but predict shoppers’ intentions and proactively serve relevant experiences.

The outcome of the back-end data churn is potentially a true “segment of one,” whereby individualized recommendations generated in real-time both assist shoppers with their immediate tasks while serendipitously surfacing products and services to match as-yet-unarticulated needs. Consumers value successful realizations of this vision, with 57% saying that they appreciate the personalized communications offered by their favorite brands, according to a study by WD Partners released at NRF. On the flip side, when asked what their least favorite brands do to alienate them, 53% of consumers cited botched personalization — making it the top flaw.

The GWYN “conversational commerce” tool offered via Google Assistant by 1-800-Flowers was featured in an NRF general session exploring the leading edge of AI deployments. But less futuristic AI applications can also pay off, as demonstrated by merchants such as Cosabella lingerie, which reported a 30% lift in conversion following AI-driven design improvements to align more closely with customer preferences.

 

Redefine customer service for the entire customer lifecycle.

 

Along with the revolution in stores and online, leading merchants are also at the vanguard of radical undertakings in the realm of what used to be called “customer service.” Not only can  customer service queries now be fielded anywhere and at any time, but the need to demonstrate unique relevance requires brands to adopt proactive approaches that address consumers’ needs before they’re voiced.

In extreme cases, customer service becomes a so-called “brand stretch” that involves new partnerships or outright acquisitions, such as airline Lufthansa’s partnership with grocery chain REWE to provide flyers easy ordering of grocery delivery in synch with their return flight home. In other instances, customer service merges with concierge and personal shopper functions, such as at The Experience Desk at UK department store John Lewis, where shoppers can make reservations for in-store restaurants and sign up for technology tutorial classes to help them make the most of their purchases. In these scenarios, merchants are expanding their repertoire beyond the products and promotions they offer to include meaningful service experiences.

Not every merchant can make a major acquisition to enrich its customer service offerings, as IKEA did when it acquired TaskRabbit (and thereby an army of DIY experts willing to help assemble furniture). But IKEA’s augmented-reality mobile app, which enables shoppers to visualize furniture in their homes, is within closer reach for small- to mid-sized merchants, who can create similarly solution-focused tools to demonstrate an understanding of customers’ needs.

Similarly, while Alibaba’s use of AI chatbots to address 95% of customer queries on Singles Day made NRF waves, merchants don’t need machine automation to provide cutting-edge service. Deep troves of customer service content and detailed product specifications — along with the content management engine, personalization, and on-site search capabilities to surface relevant information at the right time — can help merchants proactively address shoppers’ questions. Making such information accessible to call center agents and store associates alike boosts the utility of content investments further, as does deployment of personalization tools to incorporate relevant how-to and product care information in transactional emails and other post-purchase interactions.

 

What trends did you spot at NRF, and how did the retail technology solutions offer support to your organization’s 2018 goals?

 

NRF 2018

From The Trenches: NRF 2018 Day One Recap

By Tushar Patel, Chief Marketing Officer, Kibo

 

Day one of NRF 2018 in cold New York City has come to a close. The show is off to a great start with significant buzz and a hopping expo floor. The Kibo Team at Booth #4145 has already had the opportunity to interact with various retailers, branded manufacturers, analysts, media, and partners. Here is what we heard from the trenches on our first day:

Brands Are Stepping Up Their Omnichannel Game

Several brands (manufacturers) are really looking at taking advantage of the omnichannel infrastructure that retailers have been putting in place over the past few years. We are hearing of significant investments from brands to go direct to consumer in 2018, leverage in-store fulfillment options (think buy online, pickup in-store) even if they do not own or operate their own stores, and exploring “experience centers” in lieu of traditional brick and mortar stores.

Personalizing The In-Store Experience

It’s no surprise that personalization (or 1:1 individualized experiences as consumers prefer) has been at the top of the list for retailers for several years. Some have executed on their initiatives, while others are getting started. It is safe to say that digital or online personalization is no table stakes. What about the store? We are hearing several retailers interested (and some investing in) personalizing the in-store experience by empowering their associates with information at their finger tips – mobile devices, real-time inventory data, consumer browsing or purchasing trends – to enable more impactful face-to-face interactions.

Death Of Homegrown Software

While the death of homegrown technology and or software systems may sound controversial or unrealistic, it is clear merchants are looking for ways to become highly efficient with their resources and technology. One of the more popular topics today was the replacement of internally developed commerce solutions and software with more off-the-shelf SaaS commerce software platforms. Several organizations are kicking off initiatives to invest in eCommerce and order management software in 2018.

Retail Apocalypse…Or Not?

In 2017, we were hammered with headlines about traditional stores (and malls) dying and closures across all industries and geographies. While this might be true, a majority of sales are still done in stores. This year we are hearing significant conversations around breathing life into stores by elevating their role in the consumer’s buying journey.  We are hearing of initiatives and strategies that will transform stores – into experience centers and fulfillment hubs.  Consumers still have an itch for face-to-face interactions with products, and retailers are investing to ensure they are meeting consumer’s expectations.

Eyes On The 800 Pound Gorilla

Last week we heard several rumors from the investment community that Target is a prime acquisition candidate for Amazon. Unfortunately we do not have a crystal ball to predict Amazon’s next move.  However, it seems that everyone we speak to is anxiously waiting to see what their next move is. No matter who we speak to, everyone is curious.  What are your predictions?

That’s a wrap for us from Day One at NRF 2018! If you would like to discuss the above or other topics, please stop by Booth #4145 on the 3rdfloor. 

More tomorrow!

NRF 2018

The Top 5 Reasons To Meet With Kibo at NRF 2018

The Top 5 Reasons To Meet With Kibo At NRF 2018

1. Time is Money

Get to know us and our products in about 15 minutes when you visit our booth 4145 during an Omnichannel Speed Session, no appointment necessary. Full list of mini sessions here.

 

2. We Believe In The Power Of Stores

Here at Kibo we firmly believe the store is still a valuable player in commerce but only if they are optimized with omnichannel technology. We have the technology, you have the stores, now let’s get to work.

 

3. Brands Are Back In Town

The industry is obsessing over retailing, but we want to put brands back in the spotlight. At NRF we invite you to find out how Maui Jim overcame the challenge of Buy Online Pickup In Store at an Exhibitor Big Ideas Session entitled “Omnichannel 2.0 for Brands” on Monday at 9:15am.

Exhibitor Big Ideas: Omnichannel 2.0 for brands
Monday, 1/15, 9:15-10:00 am, Big Ideas Room 3, Level 1

 

4. Your Vision Is Our Vision

Consistent brand experience is something many brands and retailers struggle with, and was one of the challenges Kibo solved for Brother Canada:

“We also wanted to convey who Brother Canada was, and what its soul is. Finding that balance of telling our story and selling was not easy to achieve, but we are very happy with the results.” – France Landreville, Sr. Director, Marketing and eCommerce, Brother Canada.  See full story here

 

5. Because Amazon Is Alive And Well

In this era of Amazon and Walmart it’s becoming more and more important to create your own competitive advantage. Do this by optimizing your teams, technology, and inventory with our technology.

Book a meeting and we will see you at booth 4145 at NRF.

grace hopper women in tech

Key Takeaways From The Grace Hopper Celebration

Written by Jennifer Sherman, Senior Vice President, Product and Strategy at Kibo

 

I had the opportunity to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration produced by AnitaB.org, the premier conference for women in tech. The conference had many different tracks, including computer systems engineering, data science, artificial intelligence, IoT/wearable technology, security and privacy, etc.  The days were filled with inspiration and insight, and these are my key takeaways from the conference:

1. Machine learning is quickly becoming required learning for computer scientists.
From the sheer volume of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence  (AI) sessions at the conference it was clear that not only are these popular topics for discussion, but also popular topics for application as key to the evolution and education of every programmer.  The conference provided classes on theory behind the technology, applications of AI at different companies, and where the space is going in terms of advancement of core data sciences as well as technology roadmaps that are incorporating AI into their platforms.  Here at Kibo we use machine learning to propel basic personalization platforms into individualization platforms. The conference gave further proof that retailers and manufacturers place a high importance on machine learning. This aligns well with the Kibo product offering, as we are providing these capabilities for our clients to really stand out in the crowded and competitive commerce space.

2. We all need growth and development at every phase of our career. 
I participated on a panel at the Senior Women’s Symposium at the Grace Hopper Celebration.  This was an invitation only special track at the conference for women who are further along in their career than most conference attendees.  My panel focused on navigating your career, job politics, and making big changes as a more senior leader.

While many of us may be jaded when it comes to conversations about the networking imperative, the importance of a mentor, and the job fair-like atmosphere of a big conference like Grace Hopper, I was reminded that no matter our career seniority, we all seek advice, we all still want to meet more women in roles similar to ours, and we all still wonder where our next big opportunity can come from and how we can prepare for it.

One of the general session keynote speakers, Mary Spio, had evolved her career from Air Force Servicewoman to Aeronautical Engineer to AR/VR entrepreneur and CEO.  If a background in engineering can serve a person through that extreme level of career transition and transformation, then we as an industry that relies on talent need to be ready to support women and men through massive changes at all levels of seniority.  This was the first conference I’ve attended that has run this sort of track and it really served their participants well.

3. Who run the world? Girls!
GraceHopper brought together thousands of women (and a good number of men) at all stages in their lives to talk about our careers, our technologies, our lives, our work, and our support systems.  Hundreds of recruiters were on hand to reach out to the attendees. Hundreds of meetups, meetings, parties, breakouts, and sessions gave women a chance to meet, network, and build plans.  Tens of thousands of new connections were made. The spirit of connecting and supporting was contagious, and  I personally volunteered to be a community leader for a local Dallas chapter of AnitaB.org because I didn’t want that feeling to end.  Women and their supporters were organizing, collaborating, and having a great time doing it.  Technology companies were on hand to support, recruit, hire, or just meet and encourage.

Through AnitaB.org and their annual celebration at Grace Hopper, thousands of women got a taste of what it feels like to be part of the army that is women in technology and, if they are anything like me, they left exhilarated, enthusiastic, and ready to take on the world.

Kibo at IRCE 2017

From The Trenches: IRCE 2017 Recap

Now that the flood of emails, promotions, and social media posts on IRCE 2017 have died down a bit, we thought we would provide a view from the trenches on what we heard at the annual expo in Chicago. This year, Kibo had a booth on the show floor, participated in an eCommerce Workshop, and shared a customer case study on B2B personalization up on stage. IRCE 2017 was a great conference, and here are the top five topics we heard over and over again:

1)Personalization

Retailers have been talking about personalization for the past few years, and now we are really seeing retailers making investments or creating budgets to make a purchase over the next 6-12 months.  Personalization has the power to improve click through rates by 51%, as was discussed in Kibo’s joint B2B personalization presentation with Zoro – and every audience member wanted to experience the same levels of success for their B2B and B2C channels.  

 

Personalization is a broad term, and we saw a lot of questions and discussion around elements of individualization and machine learning.  On the surface, many personalization solutions seem the same. Their underlying performance or effectiveness will ultimately be determined by how well the solution can individualize content and how finely tuned the machine learning engine really is.  If you are like many folks looking for a personalization solution, we encourage you to dig deeper on these two subject areas before making a decision.

2) Optimization as a Differentiator

No matter where you turned or which vendors you spoke to, optimization was at the center of the conversation.  Whether you were trying to increase revenue from your email channel, improve conversion rates, or maximize the customer experience with omnichannel, the name of the game is optimization.  Not only were vendors messaging to attendees on the floor about how their product will optimize their (fill in the blank), but the attendees were also leading conversations around optimizing a specific area of their business or commerce strategy.  If optimization is not in your top 5, then it should be as your competition is focused on it.

3) Manufacturers and Brands are Going Direct       

The age of channel conflict concerns for manufacturers and brands is over.  Customers want you to go direct and if you do not go direct, you will risk losing sales.  Several folks talked about creative strategies they were using to ensure channel conflict is minimized, but more importantly ensure the customer has the buying experience they are looking for. It comes down to one simple thing: jointly develop the strategy with your wholesalers, resellers, or dealer networks to find a strategy that benefits both parties.

4) Consumer Experience Needs to be at the Epicenter

This might be the most important thing coming out from IRCE – and it should be no surprise.  If your commerce or omnichannel strategy does not put your customer at the center, then it is not a winning strategy. We live in an instant gratification world where the customer expects a seamless experience.  We’ve seen success when brands and retailers sit down and determine what a  “seamless experience” really means for their business and their customer. Each retailer’s and brand’s customer target is unique and each customer is unique, so retail and marketing teams need to be discussing what the optimal experience for their customer looks like, and what tech needs to be utilized to actually provide the seamless experience. For example this can entail personalization, mobile, in-store use of next-generation technology, or simply basic building blocks like an order management system (OMS) to help drive better fulfillment.  Either way you slice it, walk a mile in your customer’s shoes and see what experience they are getting from you. Is it what you would want as a consumer?

5) Challenge Everything

Challenge the way you are doing things because consumer expectations are changing faster than retailer’s ability to respond.  These expectations span from fulfillment and pricing to product discovery and relevant content – but the only thing for sure is that retailers need to learn to adapt by bringing agility into their teams, processes, and strategies or they will run the risk of becoming irrelevant. Challenge your organization by asking the tough questions and making unpopular decisions, even if it means rethinking how you have traditionally done things.

 

Thanks for a great time Chicago, we will see you next year!