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: 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.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2017

    Are off-pricers immune to apparel’s challenges?

    I see little threat to TJX, Burlington Coat, and Ross from newcomers or online competitors, even Amazon. These retailers understand their customer and provide the products they want at the prices they are willing to pay. And, unlike their online competitors, they are able to create a personal shopping experience that meets their customer’s expectations. Find it, try it, buy it.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2017

    Should Amazon buy Macy’s?

    This discussion reminds me of a similar discussion back in the late '90s; should Macy’s become more like Walmart? They did, and their current condition is the result. The race to the bottom has confused their customers, and rendered them unable to sell anything without a coupon.Amazon has a business model that works for Amazon. They are known for fast and cheap. They are not experiential, nor do they create brand loyalty through personal interaction.It’s been said a million times, brick and mortar holds the keys to creating personal experiences that create brand loyalty. Providing a place for customers to interact with a brand’s products and their people has the potential to build strong emotional connections. Emotions are the primary reason why consumers prefer brand name products.Macy’s needs to get back to the basics and sell experiences. Will they? Probably not.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2017

    Will customers try Kohler showers before they buy?

    This is so smart! These are big ticket items that need to be experienced to make a buying decision. Currently, people must use a high-end product in someone’s home or an upscale hotel in order to fall in love with it and want it in their home. Just like buying apparel, you need to try before you buy.You don’t have to have an intelligent toilet, a sonic bathtub massage, or a high-tech shower. If you never experience one you will have your need satisfied in the mundane alternative and be perfectly happy.The current buzz is that all of these products can be "experienced" through AR online. I don’t agree. You may be able to virtually experience sitting, standing, or laying on an item, but you can’t feel what it’s like to use the product. Associating a product with a positive feeling at the point of purchase will sell more with no discount required.
  • Posted on: 05/31/2017

    Will personalized pricing only lead to more discounting?

    If personalized pricing is the strategy, then discounting is the tactic. As a customer, I would never expect to be targeted with "Just for you, Marge, pay more!" Even if I’m the target of a special event campaign like a designer trunk show or a pre-season event, I expect to receive some price consideration if I buy.Retailers who utilize a personalized pricing strategy may be opening a Pandora’s box they may not be able to close. I will not only want to pay less, as a preferred customer on those terms, I will expect it.

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