PROFILE

Marge Laney

CEO, Alert Tech

Marge Laney has one thing on her mind – Retail Customer Service. Marge has developed the market for in-store customer facing service technology with her company Alert Tech. With a keen eye for common sense solutions to customer service challenges she has evangelized empowering the customer to access assistance when they need it. This paradigm isn’t all about technology! Marge has not only empowered customers, but reinvigorated retailers. Through progressive and practical training and integration techniques developed at Alert Tech, Marge works with the top chain retailers to capitalize on customer initiated interactions to increase brand loyalty, value perception, and KPIs.

Marge goes out of her way to spread her optimistic and upbeat vision for retail customer service and the retail industry in general. People will spend their hard earned dollar with the retailer that shows them they value the customer, and Marge is excited to help top retailers react to customers in a profitable and efficient way – in the fitting room.

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  • Posted on: 07/26/2017

    Can in-store experiences save retail?

    I agree with Prof. Fader, to a point. Retailers need to know their customers and that means understanding why and how they shop their stores. And, they need the data that tells the story of how their customers shop their stores.I disagree that the sole focus should be high value customers. The low value customer today, could be the high value customer tomorrow if their experience meets their expectations. As he points out people shop to buy things and most want to get in and out as quickly as possible. A better focus would be to eliminate pain points that drive customers away or online.The fitting room is a great example. Make sure that the fitting room experience meets your customers expectation. I agree that magic mirrors and champagne are bells and whistles that retailers don’t need. What they do need is technology that helps associates run the fitting room efficiently, and provides real insight into their use.Retailers should implement technology solutions that solve problems and alleviate customer pain points, and use the data that these technologies generate to make changes and connect with customers in a meaningful way.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2017

    Will an AR try-on app cut down on online clothing returns?

    Have you ever said, "It fits, it just doesn't feel right?" No app can beat the try on.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2017

    Does Blue Apron’s ‘meh’ IPO spell trouble for meal kit services?

    The Blue Apron IPO suffered at the hand of the Amazon purchase of Whole Foods. Blue Apron and the others have proven that meal delivery is something people really like, but the price from these providers can be prohibitive.If anyone is going to do meal kit delivery cost effectively and well, it’s Amazon. The market believes in Amazon’s last-mile prowess and rewards accordingly. Again, advantage Amazon.
  • Posted on: 06/28/2017

    Can fitness classes wake up retail store traffic?

    On June 21st, Women’s Wear Daily posted and article about how Amazon’s Prime Wardrobe "is a direct assault on the fitting room." From this article:"'For a traditional brick-and-mortar specialty apparel or department store retailer, one of the only places they had the opportunity to differentiate was at the fitting room,' said Joel Bines, co-head AlixPartners’ retail practice. 'That is the one place inside a brick-and-mortar retailer where their investment in salespeople and infrastructure could actually make a difference in the sales process.'If Prime Wardrobe leads consumers to no longer even go to fitting rooms, Bines said, 'this is a huge issue for apparel retailers, much larger than the surface level impact of, ‘Oh, this is Amazon taking another shot at brick-and-mortar retailers.’ This one would be really impactful.'"Retailers need to get back to their knitting and sell clothes.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Will Amazon Prime Wardrobe change how Americans shop for clothes?

    There are three things that need to be considered when addressing the fitness of the fitting room; design, service and technology.The biggest improvements have been made in the design arena which includes cleanliness. Most retailers are making an effort to remove unwanted clothing from previous shoppers and keep the fitting room clean. I would include Macy's in that group.The hard part is fitting room service and technology that supports that process. That's where the retailers need to understand their customers' expectations and deliver on that day-in and day-out without fault.This is also where the opportunity exists for them to emotionally connect with their customers as they make their buying decisions. Few have scratched the surface of these opportunities.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Will Amazon Prime Wardrobe change how Americans shop for clothes?

    The in-store experience that retailers had best become aware of is the fitting room experience. Retailers are aware of this opportunity and for the most part have ignored it.The truth is that the buying decision is made in the fitting room or the bedroom. The customer who tries on is more than 70 percent likely to buy. Retailers who service customers while they are in the fitting room by bringing them the sizes and options they are looking for have customers that buy three times as much as the non-serviced customer buys.The fitting room is a huge pain point for the customer and is the area of the store that will make or break brick-and-mortar apparel retail.Maybe now that Amazon is saying it, they'll believe it.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Will Amazon Prime Wardrobe change how Americans shop for clothes?

    70 percent of online apparel purchases are returned due to fit issues which is a big deterrent for most consumers. It’s too much of a hassle and too expensive to return unwanted items to make purchasing apparel online worthwhile. Amazon just changed that.The other pain point with online apparel shopping is the wait. Most people don’t want to wait days for an item, they want it now. Amazon’s focus is the last mile, isn’t it?Advantage Amazon ... again.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2017

    Can humanizing self-checkouts reduce theft?

    There’s an old axiom in retail that says; the higher the level of customer service the lower the incidence of theft. Humanizing self-checkout will definitely help reduce theft and, as a bonus, will increase service when needed.Self-checkout is fast and easy when everything goes well. The trouble comes when things go wrong and you can’t find anyone to help. Having an associate assigned to the self-checkout area will increase service and reduce theft; win-win.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2017

    Did Amazon just patent tech that could end showrooming in its stores?

    Did they patent the technology to keep others from doing so? Or do they intend to use it? Either way the giant can, once again, manipulate consumers in the name of convenience.
  • Posted on: 06/19/2017

    Why are so many associates being deprived of tech by their employers?

    Yes, cost, distrust, and training are all factors but those reasons can’t stop the adoption of technology tools that help retailers compete. Isn’t it enough watching brand after brand struggle and fail holding on to the old no-tech model?Retailers need to embrace technology that helps them relieve the pain points of their associates and customers. Retailers need to move beyond the shiny object syndrome with tech pilots and implement technology that is simple to use and solves problems. Most technology that fits that bill is intuitive for both the associate and the customer with minimal training required.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2017

    Who owns the in-store experience?

    Is it 1997 or 2017? We have literally been talking about this problem for 20 years! Bob is 100 percent correct, how can we see the problem but leadership cannot?The in-store experience is in the hands of store operations, whether they own it or not. The problem with providing customer service as opposed to accomplishing tasks is that tasks are measurable, but customer service is not. As an associate, if I spend my time providing great customer service at the expense of my task list, I will be reprimanded for not accomplishing my tasks and given no credit for the service I’ve provided.There are many ways to empower store personnel to provide excellent service and measure their performance, but it takes leadership and the intestinal fortitude of the CEO to spend the time and money to make it happen.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Can retailers escape the scourge of free shipping?

    For retailers who have decided to compete head-on with Amazon, free shipping is here to stay. Ironically, as the article points out, shipping is not actually free when you buy from Amazon.Brick-and-mortar retailers have been busily helping Amazon build a moat around themselves by promising free shipping that is eating away at already reduced profit margins. They believe that offering discounts and free shipping is the only way to compete.Based on the daily body count of store closures, this strategy isn’t working too well. Trying to beat Amazon at its own game is a fool’s errand.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2017

    Is UNTUCKit the next big thing in apparel retailing?

    This is a perfect example of "know thy customer." With a good brick-and-mortar and online strategy they capture the new customers and keep them coming back.Evidently, Mr. Sanandres understands how his target customer wants to engage with the brand and provides an in-store experience that is tailored to them.Men don’t like to shop and they put up with a lot less inconvenience than women. But give them product that they like and a way to get it easily and they will be a customer forever.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2017

    Does store operations have a seat at the digital transformation table?

    It’s imperative for store operations to be included in the technology discussions that impact the stores, especially the customer experience. Lots of technology solutions are hatched in labs where techies imagine the solution working in the real world. No matter how good the lab environment, it still cannot simulate a live store environment.Most retail customer service tech is simply too complicated and requires constant attention from store staff and often slows down or adds clumsy steps to the process they are trying to facilitate. But keeping it simple isn’t sexy and without store ops' input, management often goes after the solutions with the most bells and whistles.Bottom line -- technology must solve real problems that are best identified by store staff. Additionally, retail is a game of seconds. Any solution that slows the velocity of the customer experience without measurable return on investment should never be implemented.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2017

    Can Walmart workers deliver better last mile results on their way home from work?

    I agree with Mel and Bob. Delivery requires a different set of skills and poses enormous potential liability.What might be a better idea is for each store to hire specifically for the local delivery. Plus, additional investment in small trucks that advertise Walmart same day delivery would be good for business too.How many people who would ordinarily order from Amazon might instead decide to order from their local Walmart? I would, especially knowing that I could return an item easily to the local store if it didn’t meet my needs.

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