2015 will see the continual evolution of retail and the rapid ongoing integration of technology into how customers shop.
Retailers can no longer ignore technology or see it as a death knell to their business. Instead, by embracing technology they will be able to deliver a customer experience that will see their business grow. No longer is it enough to ‘sell stuff’ that you think your customers want.
The New World
Instead retailers need to embrace technology and the tools at their disposal to really get to know what their customers want and understand that in our fast changing world, what they wanted yesterday won’t necessary be the same to what they want today. Rather than seeing technology and the internet as a threat, those retailers that integrate it into their business for their collection of data, marketing, and even for customer purchases will thrive in this brave new world.
Traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers have for too long rested on their laurels relying on good location, great range of products and a loyal customer base. In return, they offered great personal and efficient service that on-line could surely not compete with. This has changed.
Narrowing The Digital Divide
Online retailers have narrowed the gap. Many online stores such as www.iconic.com.au allow you to shop 24-7, offer three hour delivery in Sydney, overnight shipping to other capital cities and up to 100 days to exchange your purchase. Additionally, an active call centre, a live chat option, together with a secure pay system has seen online sales of this online store grow rapidly, with customers overcoming any reservations about buying online. They also offer free shipping and free postage to return items that are unsuitable, no questions asked, removing the last objections that customers may have for purchasing online.
Omnichannel Retailing is the new buzzword in 2015. What it means is simply that as customers embrace technology, savvy retailers are doing the same to offer a retail experience that extends beyond the bricks-and-mortar store and ensures that customers can purchase from you any place at any time. Creating an in-store customer experience restricting your business to traditional trading hours is now a thing of the past, with retailers having the opportunity to make their store accessible 24-7.
Omnichannel retail allows customers to shop in-store, shop using different platforms such as your website, and across different devices such as their smart phone, iPad or computer.
2015 will see the customer’s expectations increase. Digital savvy shoppers are changing their shopping habits. They want it all – fast service and access to what you are selling; a seamless integration between their on and offline shopping experiences; a personal retail offering that caters to their wants not one size fits all, and transparency in the form of online reviews on the product. It is a tall order, however technology provides all the solutions. Providing a great in-store customer experience will no longer be enough as customers now expect bricks-and-mortar retailers to deliver on ‘customer ecstasy’ when they want it and how they want it.
Retailers in 2015 will more than ever learn to ‘customise’ for their customers. Retailers will be able to sculpt the experience they create for their customers starting well before they enter your brick-and-mortar store. Understanding and creating the ‘customer journey’ utilising big data and personalisation tools will ensure you get to know your customers and more importantly they will know that you understand what they want. Some stores have adapted new technologies that allow for their customers to receive email retail offerings which are more tailored to their customer’s profile, preferences and behaviour. In turn, throughout the customer journey, such as when they buy online, they are presented with tailored offerings. This extends to when they enter the store with tailored recommendations popping up on their phone as they browse.
Offering customers products that suits their preferences has the advantage of customers finding what they want, with the minimum of time and fuss when they want it which is surely a win-win. The retailer wins in by having better access to data and analytics they can better purchase stock that sells thus reducing the amount of stock gathering dust on shelves. This not only minimises waste but also your time and valuable space in your store.