Future of Retail — Customer Engagement

issue 05

Data sets of transactional, product, and customer information are now being pulled together in a way that is enabling one version of the truth to become more than just an aspiration for the industry.

store – utilising technology to enhance the in-store environment, which then drives loyalty. Integral to this is the fifth P of marketing – personalisation (the others being product, price, place and promotion). By utilising technology in-store shoppers

are being given an improved level of service and experience that has them returning to the physical store rather than simply buying online. The growth of in-store Wi-Fi is also fueling

this boom in connected devices with interactive fitting rooms just one such development that is now gaining traction in the industry. Branded apps are also becoming part of the store engagement programme for many retailers. The merging of channels as a result of the

phenomenally successful click & collect has created opportunities to up-sell to customers visiting the store to collect their online ordered goods. This convergence of ecommerce with bricks and mortar is very real today. As this trend continues, it is sensible to

dispel some myths around stores. It is wrong to think that online searching only drives consumers to ecommerce websites and that ‘showrooming’ is a threat to retail. Google found that 42% of in-store shoppers search for information online while in a store and that as many as half head straight to that retailer’s website or app whereas only 30% look up a different retailer’s website. Showrooming will become ever more

important and retailers have to embrace changing shopper habits and their journeys that involve the store. Retailers who regard online and mobile as cannibalising their store sales will have to change their thinking radically and recognise that the two areas are complementary parts of the customer journey. There are today many more clear strategies

from retail brands that focus around the customer journey. They are fundamentally looking at using the mix of channels to recruit customers, retain them, and how they can achieve better margins by managing these customers across the various channels in a seamless customer centric way. There is also a realisation that they have to

be cleverer about the product journey whereby they take advantage of moving products to customers down the most relevant channels in order to generate clear profitability. This is all part of there being more equilibrium across retailers’ stores and their online division. As part of this process retailers are re-

assessing their store portfolios. With growing success online, many retailers have been forced to take a close look at their physical estates in terms of store size, locations and number of units. They are realising that they can still hit the necessary demographics from a lower cost base associated with their bricks and mortar portfolio.

HAPPY CUSTOMERS The future for retailers in 2020 will undoubtedly involve a mobile-first and cloud-first model with the present focus on channels disappearing and a shift being made to delivering a seamless experience whatever the customer’s journey. This will give the retailer major competitive advantage in a global market for both selling and procuring their brand’s products. Technology will play a big role in the way

retailers do business and will involve a move towards role-tailored software, which will prove increasingly attractive as a way to ensure the ever more demanding needs of the consumer can be fully met to achieve the ultimate – happy customers.

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