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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.

  • Posted on: 05/12/2020

    How should retailers manage touch-but-not-buy?

    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. This is a problem right now both for online and brick and mortar stores. According to an article yesterday published by CNBC: “Sixty-five percent of women said they will not feel safe trying on clothes in dressing rooms, due to the Covid-19 crisis, according to a survey by retail predictive analytics company First Insight. The firm fielded 1,066 responses from consumers on April 30. Meantime, 54% of men will not feel safe using dressing rooms, the survey found. Sixty-six percent of women, and 54% of men, said they will not feel comfortable working with sales associates in retail stores.” So what is a retailer to do? Closing fitting rooms will generate huge returns and the newest styles and the most popular sizes will go out the door only to be returned weeks later and will require sanitization in addition to all the other labor intense activities to get them back on the sales floor, and probably sent to the clearance rack. The answer is sanitization of each fitting room after each use. As a manufacturer of fitting room service systems we are working on a system that uses ultraviolet light to sanitize the fitting room and any clothing left behind. The question is, will retailers invest in this technology?
  • Posted on: 03/11/2019

    7-Eleven to take a page from Starbucks with a café concept

    Wawa has tables for those that want to eat their hoagies before they get back behind the wheel and it's working out great for them. They're similar concepts with similar offerings. Not everyone likes the vibe at Starbucks, so this might be just the right place to grab a quick sandwich or a cup of coffee and check email in a more comfortable environment for them.
  • Posted on: 03/11/2019

    Will other cities follow Philly in banning cashless stores?

    Thirty percent is a significant amount of commerce to turn your nose up to, retailers! Are you doing so well that this makes sense? I love the audacity of Amazon and others who don't want to bother with cash so they deem it irrelevant. Cathy hit the nail on the head - Whether retailers like it or not, every paper bill says “this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private.” Deal with it!
  • Posted on: 02/25/2019

    Should district managers be held more accountable for store performance?

    Customers come to stores to experience brands and buy. Managers and associates need hardware and software tools to provide the best experiences possible. These tools should be accompanied by simple behaviors that create and enhance customer interactions that impact metrics. District managers should then have access to real-time data that can be used to coach managers and associates and also serve as a measure of their performance. What gets measured gets done.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2018

    Is traffic a flawed measure of engagement?

    Traffic is a very important gauge of customer engagement for retailers whether online or in-store. Online retailers measure time, page views, cart size, etc. Similar traffic and engagement can and should be measured in-store. A customer who enters an apparel retailer, looks around and then leaves without purchase is very different from the customer who enters, looks, gathers some items, uses the fitting room, then leaves without purchase. The percent of door traffic that utilizes the fitting room is a very important metric that should be tracked. This customer is 70 percent likely to buy. If they don’t, the reason should be of great interest to the retailer. The good news is that this and other valuable information is now readily available with the use of sensor technology in fitting rooms and on clothing. Gone are the days of the in-store experience being unknowable and unmeasurable. Retailers just need to make the investment in the technologies that provide this information and offer tools to act on it.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2018

    How should specialty retail respond to Amazon’s apparel push?

    Is the answer an innovative fashion breakthrough? Or is it satisfying the customer who makes the trip to the store and wants to try, buy and get on with their life? That's what Amazon does with their Prime Wardrobe. Their customers order, wait, try, buy and return what they don't want for free. And get on with their life. No bells, no whistles. Having the clothing selection the customer wants notwithstanding, brick-and-mortar retailers need to focus on a fitting room experience where customers try and buy as efficiently as possible. Cutting out the order, wait and return part of the equation will make their customers happy and their balance sheets a lot healthier.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2018

    Retailers stand out by vetoing the ‘pink tax’

    Well said, James! Women should vote with their wallets and their feet. On the sales tax added to feminine hygiene products issue, that's a state and local government issue.
  • Posted on: 02/22/2018

    Can mobile apps put an end to disgusting store restrooms?

    I just did a quick poll around the office and 100% of the Millennial women think it's a brilliant idea and grabbed their phones to find if it's available in Houston. Finding a clean, available bathroom when shopping can be challenging. Notwithstanding all the issues raised, Good2Go seems like a pretty interesting idea.
  • Posted on: 01/29/2018

    Robots are not the answer to store challenges

    Brilliant! Nikki nails it! Retailers seem to be hell bent on providing their customers with online experiences in-store. As I've said many times, if I'm going to make the trip to a store only to be met with an internet experience, why bother? Not only is this fascination with robots irrational, it's financially irresponsible. Instead of investing time and money on removing human interaction from the store experience, retailers should be investing in tech that encourages and enhances personal connections. Once you remove the faces and emotional connections from brand interaction, you're left with a value proposition based on the lowest price and the fastest transaction. This neither builds loyalty or a viable business, unless you're Amazon.
  • Posted on: 01/22/2018

    Amazon Go goes live

    I'm with Paula and Sky on this one. Margins in grocery are pretty tight. If inventory starts walking out the door unpaid for, how long can this model make economic sense? On the convenience side, if I'm spending an additional five or 10 minutes reviewing my receipt what time have I actually saved? And finally, do we really need another experience that keeps us head down on our phones and disconnected from the people around us?
  • Posted on: 01/22/2018

    Does Whole Foods have a backroom problem?

    As a long time Whole Foods shopper I started noticing differences late last summer. Product I could only find at Whole Foods, and a driver of why I shopped there, began to disappear. Deterioration of the quality of the produce and empty shelves became noticeable just before the holidays. I'm now shopping at H-E-B's Central Market.
  • 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.
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