Today’s shoppers are not only aware of innovative technologies, but they are also active users of these technologies. Hence, they’re also referred to as digital or Omni-shoppers.
The retail industry is experiencing digital transformation at a mind-boggling speed. You should expect the evolution over the next five years to progress at a rate not seen in the last fifty years. Shoppers are literally carrying retail in their pockets. These changes have created a challenge for traditional retailers to understand the substantial impact of digital in retail and devise strategies to win the market.
Here’s a quick look at five key trends and recommendations that you can use to step up your game.
Deliver Extraordinary Customer Experience
Customer experience is above everything else. The customer has multiple channels at their disposal to purchase the items they desire. Since online and mobile channels can’t equal that emotional interaction which happens during a casual visit to a store, retailers face an even bigger challenge to streamline the overall customer experience.
According to Forrester, customer experience (CX) is finally gaining the attention it deserves, with 84% of companies seeing CX as a higher priority than they did two years ago.
Online Store Presence
With eCommerce, it doesn’t matter whether the consumer vacationing in Hilton Head, visiting their family in a different country or sitting at home. If the consumer comes across a product that they like, they can place their order from anywhere and have it shipped to the location of their choice.
As a retailer, you should understand the buyer’s location-independent environment and act upon it accordingly. Several hosted eCommerce platforms are available that specialize in helping small retailers build a professional online store presence that will enhance your brand and increase sales.
Stop Thinking of Digital as an ‘Option,’ Create a strategy
You can’t explore digital only superficially anymore. In fact, there’s an urgent need to redefine your entire business model – digitally. You should, therefore, create a clearly-defined digital strategy, supported by outside experts who create a culture designed to accelerate change. If you use only in-house resources, you’ll likely struggle to truly innovate.
Always bear in mind that it is the underlying business strategy which drives digital transformation, not the technology itself.
The trick is not to use technologies like cloud computing, mobility, big data and social in isolation, but combine them to maximize the impact on buying behaviors.
Face-to-face interaction matters, and it always will. The store clerk greeting a customer can and should never be underrated. Automation is not about letting go of that human factor.
Done right, automation can be used to quickly:
- optimize business processes,
- improve overall IT operational efficiency, and
- boost employee productivity.
Next-gen technologies create multiple opportunities to innovate your business model and take the customer experience to a whole new level.
Automation technology such as software-defined WAN will play a vital role in digital transformation. SD-WAN creates a fast, agile store network with cloud management and automated failover to ensure mission-critical applications are always on. Retailers who are looking to make a successful transition should use automation to optimize every aspect of their business to achieve better performance and growth.
Make Risk-Taking a Cultural Norm
As retailers undertake this journey, some will get it right while others struggle. However, the fear of failure should not be a deterrent for you.
Where there’s transformation, there’s failure – and vice versa. The way you perceive failure must change. You need to think as a startup: be agile and iterate. Catch up with a trend, analyze it and then eliminate weak links in the value chain to maximize impact.
A recent report from MIT highlights: “Companies that avoid risk-taking are unlikely to thrive and are likely to lose talent, employees across all age groups want to work for a business committed to digital progress.”
Retailers who want to compete in a digitized world must first understand that digital transformation is a process of business evolution and then partner with industry professionals to develop required capabilities, strategize and lead.