The retail industry has entered a new era – the Digital Consumer Age of Retail. Consumers’ proficient use of digital channels has revolutionized the retail industry and technology has changed the way people shop today. To stay relevant, retailers need to understand consumers’ changing shopping habits, improve their technology and systems to provide the shopping experience consumers expect across channels and anticipate and prepare for retail’s future needs.
The consumer is always right
The old adage that “the consumer is always right” has a new meaning in today’s retail industry. While the consumer is still right, shoppers are setting the standards and retailers must meet their expectations.
Today’s consumers shop across channels and to them, it’s a single experience. Retailers must create the ideal shopping experience across all channels, but many wonder whether it is achievable. Omnichannel initiatives are no longer a special case but are driving the entire business and everything a retailer does is reacting to and responding to what the consumer wants.
For the first time in the history of retail, the consumer is setting the course and the retailer is the one doing the chasing.
To keep pace, retailers must innovate beyond the early technology approaches, which strived to simply coordinate discrete channel engagement strategies. Most are held back by legacy technology systems that don’t have the flexibility required to meet today’s retail requirements of orchestrating information and engagement across all channels. Today’s retailing requires multichannel orchestration that blends digital and physical order origination and fulfillment.
To do this, retailers must realign their organizations to access the data they need from a variety of systems scattered across departments and facilitate collaboration across departments.
The only constant is change
Change is not a new concept for retailers – it’s necessary for success. But with so many challenges, retailers are unsure what area to tackle first and they are concerned the changes will be costly and obsolete before completion.
Analyzing business needs will determine what focus areas to address and determine what changes are critical, profitable and urgent.
Move beyond omnichannel retail
The phrase omnichannel retail entered executives’ vocabulary as they struggled to understand how to approach the shifting industry dynamics while sharpening their focus on the consumer.
Retailers must focus on the overall consumer journey that encompasses orchestrated touch points involving all channels. Technology plays a vital part in streamlining operations, meeting consumer expectations and growing business.
Connect beyond boundaries
From the beginning, e-commerce has revolutionized retail and forever changed the way consumers’ buy. What started as a bold vision of a separate shopping experience wholly independent of traditional retail stores has evolved into a source of sales growth and increasing influence.
To truly deliver a consistent, engaging shopping experience channels, retailers need to break down the silos within their organizations to align talent across teams and departments.
Thriving in the new reality of retail
Consumers are setting a bold course for the future of retail. It will be a multi-year journey to reimagine the systems, processes and structures to make them more agile and responsive, but planning needs to start now. With the right technology, the right programs and the right people in place, consumer satisfaction and sales will align to exceed all projected expectations.