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: 12/30/2016

    Amazon considers floating warehouses

    NASA has already done this. It's called the International Space Station. Is this ready for deployment here on earth? No.This is another skunkworks project brought to you by Jeff Bezos and company, funded by the profits of a company that has returned zero to its stock holders by way of dividends and probably never will.Projects like these keep Amazon in the press and keep people believing.
  • Posted on: 12/30/2016

    How can the retail job market survive the AI revolution?

    The operative words in this article are: piloting, tests, experiments and potential. Nowhere are the words: successful scaled deployment. While it’s fun to play with skunkworks projects that get a lot of attention and press, it’s quite another to deploy them across thousands of stores.AI will play a role in back-of-the-house functions for sure, but the front of the house will continue to demand human interaction because customers will demand it.
  • Posted on: 12/28/2016

    Will data-driven checkout get shoppers through the line faster?

    Sensor technology definitely has the potential to reduce wait times in retail and not just at the checkout. In fitting rooms we’ve learned that fitting room utilization without occupancy visibility runs between 50% and 70%.That’s a lot of underutilized real estate! Lines cause cart abandonment and that is a direct hit to the retailers’ bottom line.We published an eBook, "What’s your Queue Costing You" a while back which discusses the positive effects of queue management on the satisfaction and retention of customers and sales associates.The problem with applying technology to processes that have been run without technology since day one is that retailers often fall back on the "this is the way we’ve always done it" mentality.
  • Posted on: 12/20/2016

    Will a higher minimum wage translate to better service levels?

    Raising wages will not guarantee better service. What will guarantee improved service is better associate selection and training.Offering better wages along with a well structured selection and training program will definitely help attract people who will look at retail as a career rather than a stepping stone or side job.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2016

    Will Amazon button down the menswear category with its new private label line?

    I agree 100 percent with Paula. No apparel buying decision is final until the item has been tried on. Online apparel returns run 30 to 50 percent, and 70 percent of the returns are due to fit issues. Virtual fitting rooms and reviews just can’t take the place of the try-on.
  • Posted on: 12/13/2016

    Are retail surveys hopelessly flawed?

    To keep surveys short, retailers often make questions too general which leaves them up to interpretation by the customer.For example, "My fitting room experience was just right" was a question used by an apparel retailer to find out how well the customers liked their fitting room experience. The customer was asked to rank their experience from 1 to 5; 1 being the worst and 5 being the best. No other questions regarding the fitting room were asked.When the responses were tallied the average for the question was, you guessed it, 3. What did that tell the retailer about their customer’s fitting room experience? Nothing.
  • Posted on: 12/12/2016

    Rent the Runway borrows from Apple with a fashion rental flagship

    Sounds like the "Apple style" of service is just good old-fashioned helping the customer where they’re making their buying decision -- in the fitting room.Rent the Runway has obviously discovered that the fitting room is the most important square footage in their stores and that devoting payroll and a data-driven service strategy is the key to unlocking the fitting room's power.Bravo Rent the Runway for discovering the key to success in brick-and-mortar apparel retail -- fitting room service!
  • Posted on: 12/12/2016

    Is in-store videoconferencing omnichannel’s logical next step?

    Online videos are a great way to browse and research online without the aid of a real person. They are educational, consistent and can review a lot of detail that the store associate may not know, remember or have the time to discuss with the customer.Picture a store associate videoconferencing with a customer while standing in front of a customer who has made the trip to the store to talk to an associate in person. Awkward and irritating for both the associate and the customer.The trouble with many of these techie solutions is that they just aren't scalable at the store level. I say keep videoconferencing out of the store and in a call center.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2016

    HSN and QVC shop for retail store space

    Just like internet sales, QVC and HSN battle high returns. Twenty to 50 percent of online sales are returned and 70 percent of the apparel returned is due to fit issues.People try and buy whether that's in the store or at home. If they don't like what they see and/or try in a store it's there for the next shopper to pick up. If they don't like what they see and/or try when they're at home it goes back to the retailer at a much higher cost and is rarely able to be resold.Bottom line -- it's much more profitable for high-return items like apparel to be sold in-store.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2016

    Will greeters make Penney a more inviting place to shop?

    Is greeting the customer a good idea? Yes, if you have all of your other customer engagement bases covered! Will it sell more stuff, especially clothing? No!Apparel department store retailers need to engage with customers where they are making their buying decisions -- in the fitting room!Take the payroll being used for the greeter initiative and make these people available to keep the fitting rooms clean and maybe even offer some help. Your customers will love shopping in your stores and you'll sell more. I guarantee it!
  • Posted on: 06/20/2016

    Winning digital minds, analog hearts

    The fit experience for apparel retailers will never be successfully satisfied digitally. Shopping may be digital, but the decision to buy is still an analog process requiring the customer to try on before saying, "Yes, I'm going to buy this garment."Customers won't decide to buy until they have tried on an article of clothing, either at home or in the store's fitting room. Between 20 and 50% of apparel purchased online is returned. 70% of that is returned because of fit issues.It's not that virtual fitting shouldn't be allowed, it's that it's simply will never really work, and the resulting returns will always be a fact of life.
  • Posted on: 06/20/2016

    Why aren’t retailers closing more stores?

    I agree with Paula 100%! It’s not that there’s too much brick and mortar retail, it’s that there’s too much of some retailers.Brick and mortar needs to focus on making the customer glad that they made the trip and provide them with an experience that makes their buying decision easier and more enjoyable.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2016

    Walmart Canada to stop taking Visa at the checkout

    Who's running the show up there? First it's getting rid of fitting rooms, now it's limiting purchase options. What's next?Walmart is definitely going to be the loser with these moves. Limiting customers ability to buy is not a smart or sustainable strategy.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2016

    How can online returns be minimized?

    Customers need to try on their selections in order to make their final buying decision. Of the 30 to 50% of apparel purchased online, 70% get returned due to fit issues.Restricting customers from returning items and labeling them as serial returners when they buy more than one size of something and return the rest is ridiculous. They do that hoping to find something that fits! Standardized sizing and virtual dressing rooms can help, but they will never replace actually trying something on for fit, feel, and look.Online returns, especially for apparel, are never going to go away. Ever.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2016

    Does Walmart need fitting rooms?

    All I can say is, WOW! Evidently Walmart thinks that their customers are different from the rest of the world who need to try on clothes before they make a buying decision. They evidently are hoping that more people just give away or throw away clothes that don't fit once they try them on at home rather than returning them to the store which costs them lots of money in payroll and margin.There's only two reasons people use fitting rooms; to make a buying decision or to steal something. Does Walmart believe that their customers mostly use the fitting room to steal rather than make a buying decision?As our ongoing research confirms time and again, the biggest mover of apparel retail conversion is fitting room usage. Period.Walmart would be better served to clean up their fitting room act by creating a clean and secure fitting room environment. They would not only reduce any shrink problems, I guarantee they would sell more.

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