A guide to surviving in the age of Retail Disruption

How to turn challenges into opportunities

In today’s fast-paced digital age, retailers are facing an unprecedented, serious challenge. Brick-and-mortar stores are facing extinction, with consumers spending most of their dollars online and making snap decisions on a retailer based on their initial point of contact. In-store shoppers seek immediate gratification; something as simple as an out of stock item can lead your customer directly to your competitor.  

The same holds true in the mobile technology realm. As mobile technology continues to transform commerce, retailers must continue to adapt and provide an enhanced, personalized and all around positive shopping experience. If a customer has one bad experience on a store app, the likelihood of them returning is slim. With Business Insider predicting that 22.5 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be connected in 2021, an increase of almost 16 billion from 2016, retailers must learn how to embrace digital transformation.

To help you begin your journey into the world of digital transformation, we’ve put together your go-to guide to surviving in this tech-savvy retail climate:

Table of Contents

BUILD TOP-NOTCH DIGITAL CAPABILITIES


To build technology that will delight your customer, you first need to understand them. Conducting a Digital Experience Audit allows you to understand the lifestyles and needs of your customers and gain insight into your customer’s experience, including how it compares to that of your competitors. In the process, you’ll discover why conversions and retention are low, how to enhance your offerings and identify future opportunities. The end result is a prioritized roadmap that is targeted to be the most impactful to your business and customer.

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COMBINE “BRICKS AND CLICKS”


Connecting the online experience to your stores is key to taking advantage of your storefronts. Retailers who are succeeding leverage their stores for fulfillment. Examples include “Buy Online, Pickup in Store” capabilities or even direct delivery. Binny’s, a Wine and Spirits retailer based in the Chicago area has armed Associates and Managers in stores with iPads that allow them to manage the entire fulfillment and delivery process of customers’ online orders. Employees can see the queue of online orders, take ownership of an order and then pick and pack the items for delivery. The iPad scans each item as they take it off the shelf and marks it complete on the customer’s order. It is then marked as ready for delivery, and with a seamless integration to a local delivery/courier partner, gives employees and managers visibility all the way to the customer’s door.  

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CREATE UNIQUE AND COMPELLING IN-STORE EXPERIENCES


Leverage technology to enhance the in-store experience. For instance, did you know that with the simple click of a button, a customer can request in stock items directly to their dressing room? A digital fitting room experience can help positively influence your customer’s purchase decision.

There are many innovative ways to utilize mobile app technology to create compelling in-store experiences. Neiman Marcus, a renowned luxury department store, transformed their app to provide relevant, targeted messages to shoppers as they make their way through the store. Shoppers can now receive information on special events or services, and allows shoppers to request assistance from a Neiman Marcus associate. Not only did this improve their customers’ experiences, but it also allowed the retailer to develop detailed customer profiles to market more effectively, build brand loyalty, and ultimately boost its bottom line.

Beginning your digital transformation can be overwhelming. Just remember, always start with the customer experience in mind.

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DRIVE PERSONALIZATION AND ENGAGEMENT


While keeping the customer experience in mind, one major aspect to consider is personalization. A personalized experience not only improves upon your shoppers’ opinion of the brand, but also drives engagement. There are multiple ways to use technology to personalize a customer’s experience. For instance, a customer loyalty program can award points to a user who has entered a store with their mobile app. This proximity system can be integrated with a loyalty platform to deliver a seamless experience and encourage interaction between an in-store associate and the user. 

INCORPORATE THE LATEST TECHNOLOGIES


Virtual and augmented reality, unmanned robots and voice recognition are just a few of the latest technologies that are reinventing retail as we know it. Retailers have much to gain by adopting this new technology. Virtual reality can take a shopper into an store located across the world. Voice assistant technology not only add to the customer experience, but they also can serve as a positive purchase influencer. Stay ahead of the competition by incorporating this technology into your brand’s repertoire.

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ESTABLISH INTIMATE AND DIRECT RELATIONSHIPS WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS


Intimate knowledge about a shopper allows you to make their experience more personal, and to therefore become an integral part of your consumers’ lives. To build this knowledge base, there are a few steps you can take. Firstly, your company must engage with your customer. Experiment with different engagement experiences to find what works best and provides the most value to your customer. Then, sync your marketing campaigns with your new engagement platform, to provide traffic, feed data, drive awareness, and increase sales.

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DEVELOP AGILE TECHNICAL ARCHITECTURE


While many companies are trying to modernize their digital systems from 20 years ago, out-maneuver your competition by developing a nimble technical architecture. An architecture consisting of a set of well-factored services, running in the cloud, and built and supported by cross-functional teams, can lay a solid foundation for a world-class set of virtually limitless capabilities.

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ADOPT BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY


In the era of Amazon Prime, the bar has been set high for speedy delivery and service. Revitalizing your supply and fulfillment chain operations can not only lead to improved customer satisfaction, but to a more economical and productive way of tracking product information. Enter Blockchain, an agreement network that makes it secure and extremely efficient to track product information from manufacturing all the way to the customer’s hands.

 

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IMPLEMENT NEW SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS


Successful inventory tracking, efficient purchasing processes and forecasting are some of the most basic yet most important operations for retailers. More sophisticated methods of tracking, purchasing and forecasting avoid the inefficiencies, errors, and delays caused by old school management. By switching to the latest software solutions you will be able to optimize your inventory levels and lay the foundation for a profitable business.

 

UPDATE YOUR MERCHANDISE PLANNING METHODS


With the evolution of retail, it can be difficult to match demand to the marketing source, making assortment planning and inventory management more difficult than ever before. The good news is that there are ways you can update your seasonal merchandise planning to nail the right mix every time so that you delight your customers, eliminate waste and keep your margins high.

 

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