Point of View

Managing Order Costs and Velocity: A Route to Dynamic Order Management

Download this Point of View to learn how increased cost per order is more than just a margin leak for retailers and understand what can be done to address the deficiencies in the current Omnichannel order management processes….

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Benchmark Research

Stores as Hubs of Omnichannel: Myth vs. Reality

The complexities of creating a single integrated channel experience in the store are tremendous and the pressure of cost justifying each investment has slowed (not stalled) retailer’s efforts. Download this benchmark report to understand business challenges, capabilities, priorities and investment areas…

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Point of View

Democratization of Retail

Several disruptive forces are at work globally — fostering a new-age consumerism that is participative, fragmented and personal. Download this Point of View to find out the key forces disrupting retail, their impact on the retail business model, and the key capabilities retailers will need to…

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Benchmark Research

Customer-Centricity: The Holy Grail of Omni-Channel Merchandising

While retailers are making great strides with customer-centricity in marketing and customer service, merchandising has not made the same progress. The move toward customer-centricity will require not just higher levels of coordination but for many retail organizations dramatic cultural change. Download this benchmark report to learn about priority initiatives, challenges and technology trends…

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Rapid Evolution of Unified Commerce in New Age Retail

Modern POS is an integrated customer-centric platform for unified commerce. It combines real-time contextual marketing, order, delivery & inventory visibility to aid digital and location-based commerce. This infographic reflects the Rapid Evolution of Unified Commerce in New Age...

Changing the Retail Labor Model for a New Retail Environment

The existing labor model in retail is being turned on its head. The rapidly changing retail environment is creating new challenges for retailers and consumer goods manufacturers that have an impact on their labor needs. Omnichannel sales growth has led to a number of in-store challenges – increased competition accessible via a smartphone in a shopper’s hand, inventory and fulfillment challenges, need for merchandising alignment with the online experience and a much more demanding...

Engaging Connected Consumers through Location Insights

Retailers can no longer be left in the dark about consumer shopping habits in the store. The most successful retailers will be the ones that have intimate relationships with their customers, especially those that are typically harder to track in-store throughout the purchase cycle. Download this whitepaper that illustrates how a store’s existing Wi-Fi data and insights can help monitor in-store customers and define the specific areas of the store, staffing focus and merchandise that keep these customers returning. Download Full...

Changing the Retail Labor Model for a New Retail Environment

The existing labor model in retail is being turned on its head. The rapidly changing retail environment is creating new challenges for retailers and consumer goods manufacturers that have an impact on their labor needs. Omnichannel sales growth has led to a number of in-store challenges – increased competition accessible via a smartphone in a shopper’s hand, inventory and fulfillment challenges, need for merchandising alignment with the online experience and a much more demanding consumer. In this report, we will reveal findings from our latest retail labor survey, cite recent other EKN and several other industry studies that reinforce these changes in retail, and establish the need for a change in the labor model. The following pages help identify the biggest retail store labor need areas, how those needs can best be met, and how outsourcing can play a role in meeting them. Download Full...

Building a New Digital Foundation for Retail and QSR with Wi-Fi

Delivering on a unique, consistent, and ‘frictionless’ customer experience has been the mantra for the retail and restaurant business for years. A huge element in achieving this goal is having the knowledge and understanding of the customer’s behaviors across the buying journey. Leveraging Wi-Fi as an engagement model can help improve customer service wait time, provide communication via direct messaging with customers, enhance associate productivity and sales. This Point of View illustrates the current challenges & key benefits retailers and QSRs are experiencing in the adoption of store or location Wi-Fi. Download Full...

A Framework for Omnichannel Personalization

Personalizing the shopper experience across channels is a goal most retailers covet, yet few truly achieve. The gulf between vision and reality is a reflection of two factors: the lack of a clear definition of the end-state and its associated benefits, and the gap in retailers’ current business processes and technology systems. This infographic illustrates the business value of personalization, and provides a 4-part framework for retailers to successfully execute omnichannel personalization strategies....


Soon to be Unveiled: A New Customer Service Model for Retail Stores

For a majority of retailers, more often than not, the words associated with retail store managers and associates point to a strong affinity towards words like ‘productivity’, ‘asset’ and/or ‘empowerment’. However, in reality, 1 in 2 retailers rate themselves at par or behind their competitors in terms of two critical store execution yardsticks – customer engagement/sales and product knowledge of store staff (source: EKN’s Next Gen Retail Employee Engagement & Empowerment study). The obvious question: Why are the top of mind values and beliefs associated with store staff and execution in the store so difficult to pair together for consistent results? Retailers are well aware of the fact that developing the right labor budgets, effective staffing models and relevant task lists can only go so far to solve customer experience problems in the store. At best, most retailers are able to provide a working model for the store staff that is barely enough to get by, yet cannot solve the continued customer-centricity, inventory and store-presentation related problems. The key to a successful store execution model lies in the three practical concepts of business execution outlined below. Let’s review each of these concepts one-by-one. Develop a blueprint for profitable store execution by disrupting current staffing, merchandising, location-messaging and execution models in the store with new customer service, store staff reward and recognition models. Retailers that operate different store formats including flagship, outlet, big-box and express stores need to ask a simple question to their financial and store operations teams: Based on the business forecasting models, do you believe that a majority of our stores will be in business in 5...

The Greatest Impact on Customer Experience is by Building a Key Operational Capability

Retailers must focus their business transformation efforts and limited IT budgets on strengthening operational capabilities which in turn would have a great impact on their customer experience strategy. Some of the must-dos include be point-to-point fulfillment, inventory visibility and unified order management. The #1 omnichannel operational challenge that retailers have to overcome is to address the customer’s need for shipping-speed and velocity of orders. Same-day and next-day shipping is where most of the operational innovation will take place for these companies. This is especially true when it comes to the increased need for a robust order management and fulfillment infrastructure that enables shop from DC, supplier direct drop shipment, click and collect, smart locker shipment and ship from store. The relationships such as of a supplier, 3rd party fulfillment partners and on-demand fulfillment services partner are also going to be crucial for first-time right orders and on-time order delivery. While retailers will have to continue to invest in upgrading their omnichannel supply chain for order visibility and agility such as integrated DCs, cross-dock, split order and other related processes, the role played by stores will become even more critical in months and years to come. EKN’s 3rd Annual Stores Benchmark report indicates that 8 in 10 retailers anticipate an increase in fulfillment of online orders from store. Additionally, 32% of retailers are going to offer same-day shipping in the next 12 months, totaling close to 75% by the end of 2016. Stores need to be spruced up and retro-fitted with the required capabilities such as ship-from-store, click-and-collect, buy-online-pickup-from-store and other curb-side pickup ones. And, it is not as simple as...

How Best to Achieve Employee Effectiveness in Retail

Even as 1 in 2 retailers cite unified commerce (commerce or retail sales and service management without sales channel boundaries) initiatives in the store as the leading technology investment area in 2016 as per the EKN’s ‘2015 Future of Store Report’. A similar section of retailers also indicates introducing better associate and store manager training and development as a key employee management improvement area in the stores (Source: 2015 Next Gen Retail Employee Engagement & Empowerment). This means that at least to a fair degree, the successful adoption and execution of unified commerce initiatives in the stores depends upon the training effectiveness of associate and store manager. Knowledgeable associates and managers not only impart store related knowledge, expertise and experience to the customers but also assist new and part-time associates with new processes, digital tools and several shopping devices every day. While figuring out a typical ‘customer path-to-purchase journey’ for comprehending customer sales and service lifecycles across channels, companies need to similarly incorporate nuances of ‘store employee task journeys‘ just as much. Employee effectiveness is as much a function of continued store training as much as it’s about knowing specific needs associated with in-store omnichannel and digital processes, tasks and customer lifestyle needs. With the increasing business pressures associated with technology transformation and overall cost of optimization, with 7 out of 10 retailers saying so, introducing step-by-step training and development program equipped with digital and advanced web-based training tools in the stores remains a big challenge. As long as such an investment is seen as a hard cost and not an investment or a business imperative, retailers and vendors...




EKN is a boutique research and advisory firm focused on business-technology insights in the consumer industries of retail, consumer goods, travel and hospitality. Our goal is to fill a gap in the industry by offering prescriptive insights on topics of greatest importance to our audience, and to assist business and technology executives in discovering disruptive technologies and vendors.