Boston Retail Partners: retailers recognize the importance of enhanced data and analytics

Retailers realize the importance but struggle to successfully understand and utilize analytics

Boston, MA , 2017-Mar-24 — /EPR Retail News/ — According to a new special report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP), retailers recognize the importance of enhanced data and analytics with 44% indicating improved analytics is a top priority. However, the ability to leverage analytics to improve business performance lags intent due to a lack of organizational alignment and inconsistent processes according to the BRP SPECIAL REPORT: The Fine Art of Analytics.

“It is becoming essential for retailers to broaden their analytical capabilities to effectively address strategic business decisions,” said Gene Bornac, vice president, BRP. “Analytics provide advanced visibility into sales performance by channel, by assortment, and further by item, which helps guide more accurate planning and allocation decisions.”

Implementation of a successful unified commerce analytics approach requires organizational alignment across all business segments. Without organizational alignment, it is difficult to maximize the benefits that big data can bring to omni-channel performance.

However, as organizations increasingly integrate their systems, omni-channel opportunities to gather and utilize data in interesting ways to make smarter merchandising decisions. Real-time analytics are a key part of identifying and understanding the customer across channels and creating the right assortment available at the right time for that customer. By prioritizing an investment in a systems architecture that handles collection and utilization of data universally across the organization, retailers can best position themselves for profitability and key differentiation to their customers.

This Special Report provides insight into BRP’s 2016 Merchandise Planning Survey, highlights the challenges facing leading retailers today relating to data and analytics, and offers next steps for retailers to make the most of the data that exists across their organization.

To download the complete BRP SPECIAL REPORT: The Fine Art of Analytics, visit: https://bostonretailpartners.com/2017-brp-special-report-analytics/

The Special Report sponsors are Logility (platinum), ANT USA (gold), JustEnough (gold), TXT Retail (gold) and Island Pacific (silver).

About Boston Retail Partners

Boston Retail Partners (BRP) is an innovative and independent retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

For more information on BRP, visit www.bostonretailpartners.com.

Media Inquiries:

David Naumann
916-673-7757

Source: BRP

EarthLink and Boston Retail Partners to help retailers transition to a true unified commerce platform

ATLANTA, 2017-Jan-18 — /EPR Retail News/ — EarthLink Holdings Corp. (ELNK) and Boston Retail Partners (BRP) today (Jan. 16, 2017) announced the launch of a new Unified Commerce as a Service offering to help retailers transition from current faux omni-channel environments to a true unified commerce platform. The Unified Commerce as a Service offering delivers a unique combination of consulting expertise with direct access to technology solutions that provide the clearest path to achieve a unified commerce environment. Combining EarthLink’s network, voice and hosting services and BRP’s consulting and implementation services, Unified Commerce as a Service helps retailers define their unified commerce strategy, select the right hardware and as a service software for their environment, implement advanced technology and networks, and provide architecture and integration services that will enable a seamless customer experience.

Going beyond omni-channel, unified commerce eliminates the barriers between internal channel silos to leverage a common commerce platform. By bringing all retail systems together on an integrated platform, unified commerce positions retailers to better respond to customer demands, provide enhanced customer experience across channels and respond in real time. Unified commerce combines in-store POS, mobile, Web, customer history and loyalty, product information and reviews, suggested selling, order management, order routing, call center and clienteling into one integrated platform. This new retail paradigm delivers a channel-agnostic customer experience that is personal, mobile, seamless and secure.

A flexible, real-time network is key to integrating the data analytics needed to support a persona-based unified commerce experience. The EarthLink and BRP Unified Commerce as a Service offering will leverage SD-WAN to support as a service options as part of a retailer’s unified commerce strategy. Retailers will benefit from EarthLink SD-WAN Concierge, a fully-managed service built on personalized and proactive expert guidance and a robust SD-WAN platform that helps ensure optimal network connectivity in support of all unified commerce applications.

“By joining forces in the summer of 2016, EarthLink and BRP have created a robust offering for retailers that establishes a new path to unified commerce,” said Joe Eazor, Chief Executive Officer and President of EarthLink. “With the launch of Unified Commerce as a Service at NRF, we are enabling retailers to more rapidly adapt the technologies needed to provide a seamless, cross-channel customer experience.”

According to BRP’s 2017 POS/Customer Engagement Survey, 52 percent of retailers indicate that omni-channel integration is a top priority and 71% indicate that they plan to have a unified commerce platform within three years, up from 9% today. While retailers understand the importance of moving to a unified commerce model, it can be a daunting endeavor when considering the scope of a commerce platform that enables and supports every customer touch point in real-time.

“Combining EarthLink’s technology and network expertise with BRP’s consulting and industry insight offers retailers a one-stop shop to move to a unified commerce platform, which simplifies and speeds the process,” said Ken Morris, Principal, BRP. “We recognize that it is challenging for retailers to implement a unified commerce platform, however, the benefits of decreased overall costs, increased revenues and improved customer satisfaction are well worth the investment.”

To learn more about EarthLink and BRP’s new offering please visit us at NRF booth #3963.

About EarthLink

EarthLink (EarthLink Holdings Corp.) (ELNK) is a leading network services provider dedicated to delivering great customer experiences in a cloud connected world. We help thousands of multi-location businesses securely establish critical connections in the cloud. Our solutions for cloud and hybrid networking, security and compliance, and unified communications provide the cost-effective performance and agility to serve customers anytime, anywhere, via any channel, or any device. We operate a nationwide network spanning 29,000+ fiber route miles, with 90 metro fiber rings and secure data centers that provide ubiquitous data and voice IP coverage. To learn why thousands of specialty retailers, restaurants, franchisors, financial institutions, healthcare providers, professional service firms, local governments, residential consumers and other carriers choose to connect with us, visit us at www.earthlink.com, @earthlink, on LinkedIn and Google+.

Media Inquiries: 

David Naumann
916-673-7757

Source: BRP

Boston Retail Partners 2016 Merchandise Planning Survey

Survey of Leading Retailers Reveal that Planning Organizations are not Ready for Unified Commerce

Boston, MA, 2016-Nov-19 — /EPR Retail News/ — According to a new report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP), savvy retailers know their current planning tools are not capable of supporting the unified commerce environment necessary to satisfy today’s customers. According to the BRP 2016 Merchandise Planning Survey, retailers understand that merchandise needs to be available across channels, however, this makes planning exponentially more complex and challenging.

Today’s retailers wrestle with a myriad of business and IT issues as they strive for an efficient and effective omni-channel environment. The common issues include: current organization structure is not set up to plan and support an omni-channel environment, planning applications are ineffective and not integrated, and the current environment can’t support the complex analysis of the high volume of data required to optimize planning decisions and meet customer demand.

“While unified commerce is the desired model to which most retailers strive, planning organizations are struggling with the current lack of system, process and organization integration to support the necessary model,” said Gene Bornac, vice president at BRP. “The good news is that retailers recognize that there is a problem and there are a number of very good tools available to address the current planning needs. The bad news is that getting the budget and resource commitments to upgrade systems is a huge challenge.”

BRP’s 2016 Merchandise Planning Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current state of merchandise planning and their priorities and challenges as they strive to meet the needs of today’s omni-channel customer. Key findings from the survey include:

What are retailers doing today?

  • 71% do not have formal omni-channel demand planning processes
  • 38% plan brick-and-mortar as an individual channel
  • 44% have integrated planning teams but 86% need improvement

How can retailers overcome today’s obstacles?

  • 44% indicate that improving analytics is a top priority
  • 21% indicate that disparate systems and process challenges are the biggest planning obstacles
  • 41% plan to upgrade their omni-channel demand planning systems within two years

What integration issues are retailers facing?

  • 63% have integrated the planning organization across channels but 75% need improvement
  • 70% have integrated planning business processes across channels but 83% need improvement
  • 53% have integrated planning systems across channels but 77% need improvement

The 2016 Merchandise Planning Survey report provides retailers the following insights:

  • Understand key industry trends in merchandise planning
  • Identify how your merchandise planning capabilities and processes compare to your competition
  • Discover practical ideas and opportunities to improve your planning

To download the complete 2016 Merchandise Planning Survey, visit: https://bostonretailpartners.com/2016-merchandise-planning-survey.

The 2016 Merchandise Planning Survey sponsors include: Logility (platinum), ANT USA (gold), JustEnough (gold), TXT Retail (gold) and Island Pacific (silver).

About BRP

BRP is an innovative and independent retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

For more information on BRP, visit www.bostonretailpartners.com.

Media Inquiries:

David Naumann
916-673-7757

Source: Boston Retail Partners

Boston Retail Partners: 56% of retailers say consistent brand experience across channels is their top digital priority

Boston, MA, 2016-Oct-07 — /EPR Retail News/ — According to a new report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP), 56% of retailers indicate their top digital priority is to create a consistent brand experience across channels. According to the BRP 2016 Digital Commerce Survey, retailers understand that consumers expect a personalized, seamless experience wherever, whenever and however they shop and they are focused on delivering a unified experience.

“Today’s unified commerce imperative moves the heart of the transaction to a centralized platform,” said Jeffrey Neville, vice president at BRP. “This allows retailers to become more innovative and agile with their digital commerce offerings to further enable a personalized customer experience. It is promising to see that retailers are laser focused on delivering the seamless, cross-channel experience consumers expect.”

BRP’s 2016 Digital Commerce Survey of top North American retailers offers insights into retailers’ current digital commerce priorities and initiatives as the digital and physical worlds converge to facilitate a seamless experience across channels.

The key digital commerce trends driving today’s initiatives are:

Personal – Effectively engaging customers requires retailers to offer personalized, relevant, compelling and consistent brand messaging across channels.

  • 40% are focused on improving personalization as a top digital priority
  • 50% will have customer identifying technology within the store in 2 years
  • 58% plan to utilize geolocation within 2 years

Ubiquitous – Heightened customer expectations for a personalized, seamless experience necessitates that retailers have the ability to follow the customer’s journey as she shops across and among channels.

  • 46% are improving the mobile shopping experience as a top digital priority
  • 75% will host a single shared cart across channels within 3 years
  • 50% will offer “start anywhere, finish anywhere” within 5 years

Unified – Retailers’ organization and infrastructure need to be unified and aligned across channels to offer a seamless and consistent customer experience.

  • 56% are focused on a consistent brand experience across channels as a top digital priority
  • 73% plan to utilize an OMS at the center of their unified commerce platform within 3 years
  • 75% are adding new roles and employee initiatives to accommodate omni-channel tasks

To download the complete 2016 Digital Commerce Survey, visit: https://bostonretailpartners.com/2016-digital-commerce-survey.

The 2016 Digital Commerce Survey platinum sponsor is NetSuite and the gold sponsors are EarthLink, Manhattan Associates, Orckestra,Radial and Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

About BRP

BRP is an innovative and independent retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)
Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM
Unified Commerce | Customer Experience | Order Management | Networks
Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Networks | Private Equity

For more information on BRP, visit www.bostonretailpartners.com.

Media Inquiries:

David Naumann
916-673-7757

Source: Boston Retail Partners

Boston Retail Partners report identifies key areas where retailers should utilize social media to improve the customer journey

Boston, MA, 2016-Aug-24 — /EPR Retail News/ — According to a new special report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP), social media produces unlimited opportunities to create a memorable and personalized customer shopping experience; however, most retailers are not successfully executing their social media strategies. According to the BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Enhancing Customer Engagement Through Social Media, 81% of retailers using social media to engage with customers indicate that their processes need improvement.

“Social media provides retailers with unprecedented visibility into their customer base. It provides a venue where retailers can directly communicate with their customers and it can be an extremely powerful tool for collecting and using customer insights to improve planning decisions,” said Brian Brunk, principal at BRP. “Retailers can understand who the customer is, what she wants, when and where she wants it, and even why she wants it based on social media postings and feedback.”

This Special Report provides insight into BRP’s 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey and highlights the social media opportunities and challenges facing leading retailers today.

The report identifies five key areas where retailers should utilize social media to improve the customer journey:

  • Experience – 69% of retailers see opportunities to utilize social media to enhance the customer experience
  • Interaction – 75% of retailers support customer interaction via social media
  • Endorsement – 59% of retailers plan to utilize brand advocacy/ social media endorsement as a source for identifying their most valuable customers within three years
  • Satisfaction – 59% of retailers utilize social media comments as a means of measuring customer satisfaction
  • Insight – 60% of retailers capture customer feedback and insights from social media and online comments

To download the complete BRP SPECIAL REPORT: Enhancing Customer Engagement Through Social Media, visit:

https://bostonretailpartners.com/2016-brp-special-report-social-media/

The 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey sponsors are Aptos (platinum), Experian Data Quality (gold), Fujitsu (gold),Manhattan Associates (gold), NCR (gold), PCMS (gold), Radial (gold), and Enactor (silver).

About BRP
BRP is an innovative and independent retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)
Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM
Unified Commerce | Customer Experience | Order Management | Networks
Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Information Technology | Private Equity

For more information on BRP, visit www.bostonretailpartners.com.

Media Inquiries:

David Naumann
916-673-7757

Source: Boston Retail Partners

EarthLink Holdings Corp acquired Boston Retail Partners, LLC

ATLANTA, 2016-Jul-17 — /EPR Retail News/ — EarthLink Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: ELNK), a leading network services provider dedicated to delivering great customer experiences, today announced it has acquired Boston Retail Partners, LLC (“BRP”), a highly regarded management consulting firm focused on the retail vertical. BRP’s experienced consultants work with leading retailers to deliver strategic solutions that address the business and technology challenges unique to the industry.

BRP provides technology strategy and consulting across the full breadth of retail solutions, including point of sale, e-commerce, customer relationship management, mobile, payment security, enterprise resource planning, order management and supply chain. Together, EarthLink and BRP will extend EarthLink’s capabilities in the retail sector to provide clients with deep expertise and end-to-end technology solutions that address the entire retail organization and improve customer engagement and loyalty. The transaction is part of EarthLink’s ongoing strategy to provide deep vertical expertise to its clients and to strategically expand its consulting portfolio with end-to-end solutions to best serve client needs.

“Retailers today often struggle with leveraging technology to create the retail experience of the future, including the shift to cloud-based solutions, the rapid rise of mobile, increasing bandwidth requirements and the prevalence of legacy systems. Many large retailers have relied on BRPs’ expertise and talented people to navigate these challenges,” said Joe Eazor, Chief Executive Officer and President of EarthLink. “We are excited to bring together our deep network expertise with BRPs’ proven track record of success, in order to enhance our already strong presence in this space.”

“Customers expect a consistent, personalized and satisfying shopping experience wherever, whenever and however they shop and retailers need a robust, fast, reliable, resilient network infrastructure to enable this real-time retail experience,” said Ken Morris, principal, BRP. “Delivering on that experience requires a different approach that sets the stage for unified commerce. According to our recent Customer Experience Survey, 75% of retailers indicated they have implemented or plan to implement a single, unified commerce platform within the next three years. Leveraging EarthLink’s network services and solutions with BRP’s retail expertise enhances our ability to help retailers successfully implement comprehensive unified commerce solutions that enable real-time retail.”

Headquartered in Boston, BRP has 40 nationwide employees.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

About EarthLink
EarthLink (EarthLink Holdings Corp., NASDAQ: ELNK) is a leading network services provider dedicated to delivering great customer experiences in a cloud connected world. We help thousands of multi-location businesses securely establish critical connections in the cloud. Our solutions for cloud and hybrid networking, security and compliance, and unified communications provide the cost-effective performance and agility to serve customers anytime, anywhere, via any channel, or any device. We operate a nationwide network spanning 29,000+ fiber route miles, with 90 metro fiber rings and secure data centers that provide ubiquitous data and voice IP coverage. To learn why thousands of specialty retailers, restaurants, franchisors, financial institutions, healthcare providers, professional service firms, local governments, residential consumers and other carriers choose to connect with us, visit us at www.earthlink.com, @earthlink, on LinkedIn and Google+.

About Boston Retail Partners, LLC
Boston Retail Partners, LLC was founded in 2009 by retail industry-recognized thought leaders. BRP is an innovative and independent retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to its clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology and process solutions. The company focuses exclusively on the retail industry and consults in three key areas: IT strategy, vendor selection and project implementation. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)
Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM
Unified Commerce | Customer Experience & Engagement | Order Management
Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Information Technology

The company is a recognized thought leader in the retail sector and continually takes the pulse of the industry through benchmark surveys including the industry-leading annual POS/Customer Engagement Survey they have published for 17 years. In addition, the company publishes benchmark surveys on Customer Experience/Unified Commerce, E-Commerce and Merchandise Planning. For more information, visit www.bostonretailpartners.com.

Cautionary Information Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
This press release includes “forward-looking” statements (rather than historical facts) that are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described. Although we believe that the expectations expressed in these forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot promise that our expectations will turn out to be correct. Our actual results could be materially different from and worse than our expectations. With respect to such forward-looking statements, we seek the protections afforded by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These risks include, without limitation:

(1) that we may not be able to execute our strategy to successfully transition to a leading managed network, security and cloud services provider, which could adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows;
(2) that we may not be able to increase revenues from our growth products and services to offset declining revenues from our traditional products and services, which could adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows; (3) that if we are unable to adapt to changes in technology and customer demands, we may not remain competitive, and our revenues and operating results could suffer;
(4) that failure to achieve operating efficiencies and otherwise reduce costs would adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows;
(5) that we may have to undertake further restructuring plans that would require additional charges;
(6) that we may be unable to successfully divest non-strategic products, which could adversely affect our results of operations;
(7) that acquisitions we complete could result in operating difficulties, dilution, increased liabilities, diversion of management attention and other adverse consequences, which could adversely affect our results of operations;
(8) that we face significant competition in our business markets, which could adversely affect our results of operations;
(9) that failure to retain existing customers could adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows;
(10) that decisions by legislative or regulatory authorities, including the Federal Communications Commission, relieving incumbent carriers of certain regulatory requirements, and possible further deregulation in the future, may restrict our ability to provide services and may increase the costs we incur to provide these services;
(11) that if we are unable to interconnect with AT&T, Verizon and other incumbent carriers on acceptable terms, our ability to offer competitively priced local telephone services will be adversely affected;
(12) that the continued decline in switched access and reciprocal compensation revenue will adversely affect our results of operations;
(13) that failure to obtain and maintain necessary permits and rights-of-way could interfere with our network infrastructure and operations;
(14) that if our larger carrier customers terminate the service they receive from us, our wholesale revenue and results of operations could be adversely affected;
(15) that we obtain a majority of our network equipment and software from a limited number of third-party suppliers;
(16) that work stoppages experienced by other communications companies on whom we rely for service could adversely impact our ability to provision and service our customers;
(17) that our commercial and alliance arrangements may not be renewed or may not generate expected benefits, which could adversely affect our results of operations;
(18) that our consumer business is dependent on the availability of third-party network service providers;
(19) that we face significant competition in the Internet access industry that could reduce our profitability;
(20) that the continued decline of our consumer access subscribers will adversely affect our results of operations; (21) that lack of regulation governing wholesale Internet service providers could adversely affect our operations; (22) that cyber security breaches could harm our business;
(23) that privacy concerns relating to our business could damage our reputation and deter current and potential users from using our services;
(24) that interruption or failure of our network, information systems or other technologies could impair our ability to provide our services, which could damage our reputation and harm our operating results;
(25) that our business depends on effective business support systems and processes;
(26) that if we, or other industry participants, are unable to successfully defend against disputes or legal actions, we could face substantial liabilities or suffer harm to our financial and operational prospects;
(27) that we may be accused of infringing upon the intellectual property rights of third parties, which is costly to defend and could limit our ability to use certain technologies in the future;
(28) that we may not be able to protect our intellectual property;
(29) that we may be unable to hire and retain sufficient qualified personnel, and the loss of any of our key executive officers could adversely affect us;
(30) that unfavorable general economic conditions could harm our business;
(31) that government regulations could adversely affect our business or force us to change our business practices; (32) that our business may suffer if third parties are unable to provide services or terminate their relationships with us;
(33) that we may be required to recognize impairment charges on our goodwill and other intangible assets, which would adversely affect our results of operations and financial position;
(34) that we may have exposure to greater than anticipated tax liabilities and we may be limited in the use of our net operating losses and certain other tax attributes in the future;
(35) that our indebtedness could adversely affect our financial health and limit our ability to react to changes in our business and industry;
(36) that we may require substantial capital to support business growth, and this capital may not be available to us on acceptable terms, or at all;
(37) that our debt agreements include restrictive covenants, and failure to comply with these covenants could trigger acceleration of payment of outstanding indebtedness;
(38) that we may reduce, or cease payment of, quarterly cash dividends;
(39) that our stock price may be volatile;
(40) that provisions of our certificate of incorporation, bylaws and other elements of our capital structure could limit our share price and delay a change of control of the company; and
(41) that our bylaws designate the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ flexibility in obtaining a judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or employees.

These risks and uncertainties, as well as other risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ significantly from management’s expectations, are not intended to represent a complete list of all risks and uncertainties inherent in our business, and should be read in conjunction with the more detailed cautionary statements and risk factors included in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2015 and our Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2016.

For media inquiries, contact

David Naumann
916-673-7757

Source: Boston Retail Partners,