The Retail industry is rapidly evolving with major changes in customer demographics, buying habits, technology preferences and service expectations. In many instances, these changes are happening much faster than mainstream retailers can adjust. Some of the key trends altering the competitive landscape include:
- Seamless meshing of online and offline experiences
- Mobile / Social Commerce
- Same-day Delivery
- Contextual Retailing (Geo-targeting)
- Predicative Analytics
With these trends in mind, HBSC is helping retailers improve operations across channels to create vastly improved customer experiences.
Seamless Shopping Experience
In today’s retail environment, organizations are challenged to provide a seamless shopping experience in stores, online and across mobile channels. Over the past few decades we have seen the progression from Mom and Pop stores to monolithic Department stores to Online Retailers such as Amazon.com and Google Shopping Express. Amazingly, Google Shopping Express is now offering over a billion products and its customers have also expressed interest in a subscription-based shopping experience.
These mega-trends have changed the customer experience expectation at an unprecedented rate. While more than 80% of retail sales still come from traditional stores, the trend towards online commerce and same-day delivery in metropolitan areas is here to stay.
Product distribution and return convenience is also an expectation. Retailers are using lockers and pickup boxes at store and non-store locations to further enhance the customer experience. Shoppers also want the ability to easily return online orders at local stores via a simple and seamless process.
Consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to compare prices, research product reviews and interact on social media (greatly relying on peer recommendations). In some retail segments, mobile sales are the fastest growing channel.
Contextual Retailing is also on the rise. Customers are increasingly turning to their own smart phones and tablets in stores to make decisions and receive discounts. Using a combination of customer behavior data, purchase history and social media profile data, retailers are figuring out how to empower and influence customers. In some cases, mobile is driving over 50% of the retail purchase decisions and mobile coupons are playing and increasing role as print media continues to transition to digital media. Additionally, personalized and targeted promotions will increase in prevalence as digital media and predictive analytics continue to become the mainstream.
As the retail environment continues to increase in competition, it is becoming an operational imperative to address overall infrastructure and logistics costs. Many retailers will need to completely replace their ERP, HRIS and IT systems and processes to take advantage of many cost lowering alternatives such as improved transaction systems, cloud computing, integration technologies, mobile apps and predictive analytics.
Companies that wish to compete in this increasingly dynamic environment must leverage innovative technologies platforms, develop new organizational competencies, improve efficiencies and become more customer-centric. The success of retail companies will be directly correlated to the technology that enabled the best customer experience. Having an inflexible infrastructure or a stagnant technology roadmap can greatly hinders an organization’s growth. The overall pace of change in the retail industry has been staggering and companies that wish to maintain or accelerate their dominance will need to build new technical and organizational capabilities. If your retail organization is seeking to win in the next 10 years and beyond, HBSC Strategic Services can help.