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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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....

Creating a Frictionless Customer Experience – Brand’s Playbook

Friction – or customer experience failures that cause customer dissatisfaction and create incentive for consumers to abandon engagement – leads to lost sales, loss of loyalty and a diluted brand experience and has a far-reaching impact. Brand owners need a holistic gameplan to aggressively identify and eliminate points of friction. The Brand’s Playbook for a Frictionless Customer Experience illustrates the value of being frictionless and provides recommendations across 4 key areas for suppliers to focus on. Download Full...

Creating a Frictionless Customer Experience – Retailers’ Playbook

Friction – or customer experience failures that cause customer dissatisfaction and create incentive for consumers to abandon engagement – leads to lost sales, loss of loyalty and a diluted brand experience and has a far-reaching impact. Retailers need a holistic gameplan to aggressively identify and eliminate points of friction. The Retailer’s Playbook for a Frictionless Customer Experience illustrates the value of being frictionless and provides recommendations across 4 key areas for retailers to focus on. Download Full...


NRF 2016: The Top 5 Solutions Flying Under the Radar

Finally, a retail tradeshow that focused as much on the nuts and bolts of executing on a clear, customer-centric retailing strategy, as it did on the glitz and glamor of the latest-greatest technologies. Much has already been said about the show – including by the ever reliable Deb Weinswig and the prolific Joe Skorupa. EKN’s own coverage of NRF 2016 includes the top 5 trends in retail enterprise IT and the top 5 retailer announcements and their impact on 2016. To round things off, we’ll be hosting our annual NRF Roundup VideoCast on Thursday, January 28 at 12PM ET. Register here. The BIG Show – as the name suggests – provides a platform for retail technology providers to showcase their vision and capabilities. Given the nature of the beast, the largest vendors with the biggest microphones tend to drown out smaller, niche players in terms of share of voice at the show. Based on our assessment of the solution landscape across various categories and a rigorous schedule that involved covering almost every square inch of the show-floor, here are the top 5 experiences and solution providers it would’ve been easy to miss at the show. Listed in no particular order. Shoptelligence What it is: A personalization engine focused on improving in-store conversion and basket-size by providing ensemble recommendations. What impressed us: Clean, easy to use store associate app UI; simple but effective utilization of product and customer metadata; store-centric recommendations that factor in inventory availability, basket profitability What we’re keeping an eye on: First chain-wide deployment at a struggling footwear retailer; Ability to focus on and scale specific use-cases...

Some Old and New Dreams at NRF 2016

Phew what a NRF! And yes, in its second year the “Sunday opening” at the Big Show worked out just fine for most exhibitors, visitors, media contingent and analysts. In fact, the night before, our very own 2nd EKN Annual Retail Advisory Council Dinner was a smash hit as a great ensemble of retailers gathered to discuss the year that had gone by and make plenty of New Year predictions. For a better part of Sunday, proceedings at the expo felt like ‘more of the same’. It felt as though I was re-visiting last year’s trends, technologies, gizmos and gadgets again. However, that perception faded Monday  as I squeezed out time from one of my meetings to visit the Intel booth  After Monday’s frantic juggling of retailer/vendor meetings, booth as well as innovation lab tours, came Tuesday’s ‘last day’ semblance and the feeling that normalcy will return once again on the journey back to Boston from Penn Station New York after conquering yet another Big Show. Detailed below is my humble take on the top five retail industry trends that will have an impact this year and also given below are the leading sites/booths with super cool technologies, customer science and geeky gizmos. This year like any other year, retailers must prepare to counter new business challenges using a combination of business/IT simplification, customer science, data insights and upgraded retail software user interface/experience strategies. Read on to explore the mega trends, leading business challenges, and several innovative solutions that solution providers showcased at the Big Show. 1. Building customer experience (CX) and traffic insights in the stores: Retailers of all shapes and sizes are deeply concerned about declining quality...

Internet of Things (IoT) Lacks Clarity Today But Promises Much

Defining and structuring IoT is a stepping stone to companies achieving digital nirvana. This is especially true as more and more enterprises seek a path towards complete digital transformation of their businesses in complex areas such as customer buying journey, customer loyalty, product management and marketing mix modeling. Per my own reading of this space, Internet of Things or Everything in retail, hospitality and consumer goods refers to the business processes and applications that use sensory information, digital data and content from interconnected and uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices (such as beacons, RFID, sensors, mobile devices, Wi-Fi access points etc.) within the existing Internet infrastructure. IoT is relevant for consumer industries as there are several connection points between the unpredictable worlds of digital consumer behavior, product demand, offers, loyalty and revenue. The problem for enterprises is identifying strategies and execution plans to fast-track IoT and other new innovations. There are countless strategic priorities facing retailers on a daily basis. However, among these priorities exists an urgency to find new operational efficiencies such as near-instant replenishment, localized products, customer messages and customer personalization opportunities, both within and outside the four walls. The crucial role that web connected devices and sensory technologies play in de-mystifying consumer journeys and product insights can be very useful to consumer industry companies. When business actions are taken in response to IoT insights in stores, restaurants, hotels and distribution centers, more often than not such actions lead to increased customer satisfaction, fewer stock-outs, consistent customer experience, targeted promotions, enhanced revenue, among other benefits. The reasons such benefits are there for the taking includes but is not limited to the fact that by using IoT, companies can understand and model their businesses to suit distinct consumer journeys or...




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.