The pace of change in the retail industry is unprecedented. So much so, Deloitte’s Alison Paul compared the digital revolution to the Industrial Revolution during her keynote at NRF 2013 in New York City, “The Great Convergence.” This so-called digital revolution is being driven by the rise of consumer technology that is transforming the retail landscape.
According to Gartner’s 10 Critical IT Trends for the Next Five Years, by 2013, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web-access device worldwide. Mobile device continues to be the game changer for in-store engagement and a primary instrument of change that retailers can no longer ignore.
The message was a loud call to action for retailers to wake up and re-engineer their approach to customer engagement to keep up with the pace of change. To win in today’s brave new world, retailers must focus on delivering what Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, calls insanely great customer service. Not just great customer service – but an insanely great experience that will 1) humanize the engagement between the customer and the brand 2) breed a passionate brand ambassador and 3) win and retain that customer for life.
Today, it’s about giving the customer what they want, when they want it and how they want it, or they’ll go someplace else. This means a couple of things:
Real-Time Visibility and Transparency
To thrive, retailers need to deliver a seamless experience across all channels because customers want to understand how your stores work and how they’re tied to your e-commerce business . Shoppers want consistency across all channels. They also want to have the confidence that when they purchase something online, the pricing corresponds to what’s in the store. The same goes for inventory. If there are any gaps in your omni-channel strategy or your supply chain, your customers will get frustrated and venture off to another retailer who can give them what they’re looking for. Today, it’s about retailers making a shift from service to experience.
Technology to Enable Change
The old adage – adapt or vanish – remains true in light of today’s digital era. Retailers understand that falling behind the curve on the strategic use of digital technologies can weaken their relationship with their associates and consumers. Just like innovative supply chain technology has powered retailers to deliver products on time to their customers, digital technologies can be a tremendous asset when it comes to taking the customer experience to the next level – from personalization both online and in the store, to optimizing checkouts to giving customers more options throughout their shopping journey. Build a smarter retail business through the use of technology and learn ways to mobilize your workforce by making digital technologies an integral part of your business.
Personalize Using Data
Big Data is all the rage, but what leading retailers are doing is transforming data into actionable intelligence. Think of Amazon: The e-commerce giant takes all your data to personalize your entire shopping experience and makes it easier for you by understanding what you like and your shopping history and then customizing your visit with every click.
Imagine you could personalize your customers’ experience not only online but across all channels to capture more purchasing opportunity per visit. Let’s say your customer comes in the store and you have data from every previous purchase, enabling you to recommend additional products to that customer.
Innovation is what will separate the leaders from the laggards. But it’s about integrating innovations into digital technologies and supply chain to deliver the ultimate experience to the customer.