Raj Mistry, Group Vertical Sales Director – Automotive, Retail, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Education
How does digital transform retail?
Retail customers are driven by immediate gratification – if I buy something now I want it on my doorstep later today or tomorrow at the latest.
Instant gratification is a powerful force, and disrupters are geared to feed this demand and use it to take market share from traditional retailers. Unless retailers innovate and offer services that disruptive companies cannot, they’ll be left behind very quickly.
The Internet of Things and digital transformation can help retailers to satisfy customer demand for immediate service delivery, while also driving down price and improving transparency. Customers can purchase on their own terms with more information than they’ve ever had before.
Where to start on your transformation journey?
I talk to a lot of clients in the retail sector, and they all tell me they’re concerned about customer experience (CX). Top of mind is the need to deliver an omnichannel experience that considers the multitude of digital touchpoints that a customer interacts with on their retail journey.
And this is the stark reality today, only 8% of organisations in the retail and consumer goods sector currently have all channels connected, with 39% aiming to have so in the next two years. This is according to the results of our recently released 2017 Global Customer Experience (CX) Benchmarking Report.
Clients also want to use analytics to drive greater optimisation of the supply chain and store operations. Our research indicates that 43% in retail and consumer goods currently use customer analytics, with only 26% using big data analytics.
The big problem is that clients don’t know where to start?
Beacons and sensors provide the best route for retailers to track their customers, products, and assets, and drive engagement through personalised proximity marketing and self-checkout. These technologies can also help to optimise the supply chain by not only tracking where assets are, but by providing more insight into what’s happening to products in terms of weather conditions and security, as they travel from source to store.
And then there’s mobile. We’re also only at the start of mobile’s impact on retail. It’s ultimately the mobile device that will seamlessly capture, engage and sell to customers. Mobile wearables will plug into a retailer’s platform and help sellers to inform and delight buyers’ experiences in store and online.
While retailers have already embraced mobile, they’re not optimising it. This means that customers are using mobile to browse, but not necessarily to complete their purchase. Those retailers that plug this gap successfully will see a major uplift in their performance.
And there’s more innovation to come!
We’re only at the start of digital transformation in retail, so it’s time to get ready.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) will most likely replace humans in the retail world. Shoppers will no longer require a human expert on the shop floor when AI can be an expert at everything – from food to fashion choices.
Virtual and augmented reality will also bridge the gap that customers currently have between viewing a product online, but not being able to touch and feel it.
And of course, we haven’t accounted for the new inventions that are being incubated in labs and garages around the world. These innovations could disrupt the retail industry in a direction that cannot even be conceived by consumers right now.
Combine digital and brick and mortar
My advice to retailers is this: focus on digital, but bricks and mortar remain relevant in engaging customers and converting interest to sales. Bridging the customer’s digital journey with your in-store experience will create substantial opportunities.
If you fail to bridge digital with brick and mortar – your stores will increasingly become a costly overhead that will be a drain on your profit and loss.
In the video below you’ll see how we’ve helped a large appliance chain with 17 stores to transition to a hybrid retail model – in only two weeks. Hirsch’s is now combining the best aspects of brick and mortar and digital shopping.
We’re moving into a world of boundary-less retail where cognitive computing, augmented and virtual reality, and drone technology are all going to transform how retailers manage their supply chains, store operations, and customer experience.
If retailers address these new technologies strategically, they will see significant uplifts in operational efficiency and customer experience which, in turn, will generate a measurable improvement in their profitability.
To achieve DX success, retailers will need to consider whether their infrastructure is fit for purpose to launch new capabilities. A good start is to consider a hybrid IT model.
If you would like to know more about how a hybrid IT model can benefit your organisation, download our Success Factors for Hybrid IT report.