By Mike Grimes

When products are delivered to retailers nation-wide, it is often the job of third-party merchandisers to set up and maintain product displays. While this approach is expensive, it is generally more cost-effective than internal processes; however, with pressure on retailers to provide increasingly exceptional shopping experiences, expanding the third-party model becomes cost-prohibitive. This is where leveraging low-cost, high-availability crowdsourcing comes in.

Crowdsourcing can supplement current compliance and shelf health measurement services of traditional merchandising providers, while also optimizing some outdated merchandising processes to make them more efficient. In both cases, crowdsourcing strengthens relationships across the supply chain in a more cost-effective and flexible manner.

Here are three ways crowdsourcing can increase the value-add of third-party merchandisers:



By Ronen Yehoshua

While more and more people shop from the comfort of their own home, online sales still count for less than ten percent of total retail sales according to the latest U.S. Department of Commerce census. Most consumers spend their money the old-fashioned way -- at retail, hospitality and services establishments, which, in turn, usually involves a point-of-sale (POS) terminal. 

Until a few years ago, retailers and consumers thought their biggest cybersecurity risks came from their online activities. The notorious Home Depot and Target mega-breaches changed all that. In fact, point-of-sale malware has become one of the biggest sources of stolen payment cards for cybercriminals. POS malware comes in hundreds of variants and POS malware kits are easily available through underground cyber crime forums. The malware steals payment card information by screen capturing, keylogging or by scanning the system's memory as the payment application in the POS terminal processes the transaction (RAM scraping). Stolen data is then exfiltrated to command and control (C&C) servers controlled by criminals and from there usually sold on the black market.

The fallout from such attacks can be substantial – Home Depot’s net breach expenses stand at $163 million, with an additional $100 million borne by its insurer. Not to mention the tens of millions of inconvenienced and disgruntled customers. Payment card theft is not the only risk. Imagine hackers hired to commit industrial sabotage by hitting all of a merchant’s POS systems with a ransomware or DDOS attack during key shopping days. The scenario is not that far-fetched – a survey by Kasperksy Labs and B2B International found that 12 percent of businesses that experienced a DDOS attack were confident it was initiated by their competition, while another 52 percent remained uncertain about the perpetrator’s identity.

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Restaurant Technologies answers three questions that determine if your back-of-house meets modern standards.

By Mike Baker, National Sales Executive Retail Grocery, Restaurant Technologies

Grocery retailers never saw themselves as the primary provider of home meal replacements (HMRs). Technology improvements have been typically geared toward the customer, focused on the center aisle but not so much toward the employee – until now. Today, retailers are concentrating on delivering more options and higher quality grab-and-go meals, pushing them to transform their people, process and technology. It’s a modern back-of-house (BOH) that delivers a successful front-of-house.

“The old, traditional grocery-store mentality of grocery making up 50 percent of the business or more is changing,” says John Mazzacco, director of foodservice at Price Chopper. “For example, we now have the largest living generation [millennials], who demand convenient and high-quality meal choices.”                      

But how can grocery operators quickly assess where and how to empower their employees with solutions to deliver a better food experience to customers? Consider asking three questions that center on three main pillars of a modernized BOH: labor, process and safety.



Develop and encourage customer loyalty in six key ways.

By John Findlay

Customer loyalty has been on the decline for years. “Must have” brand loyalty has decreased in three out of four packaged goods categories and member satisfaction in loyalty programs sits at less than half for most product categories.We’ve been quick to blame the rapid decline on fickle millennials, but the truth is millennials are one of the most brand-loyal generations. Sixty percent say they are often or always loyal to brands.

So, what’s going on? Some people suggest the decline in customer loyalty results in part from a discrepancy between how consumers think about loyalty and how brands operate their loyalty programs.

Loyalty is an emotional response. It’s a feeling. Brands, however, often treat their loyalty programs as coupon dispensaries, handing out discounts for purchases. Not only does this breed bargain hunting and put you at risk of a price-slashing war with your competition, but it also misses the emotional side of loyalty.

If we want to create sustainable brand loyalty, we need to stop looking at it from a sole purchase perspective. Instead, loyalty programs should be an extension of the customer experience, showing members that they are appreciated and offering exclusive rewards – not only making purchases but for engaging with the brand.

Here are six ways you can improve your loyalty program and boost brand loyalty.

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