The Development of Connected Retail – Trends To Be Aware Of

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Connected retail means to connect the customers seamlessly through personalized marketing, combination of physical store and digital experience, supply chain, varied payment options and providing the capability to employees to collaborate more effectively.

Online companies like Amazon are also building the environment of connected retail, by providing store locations from where customers can pick their products which they had ordered online at a convenient time for them.

Retail will change more over the next five years than the last 50 years.

Rise of Connected Retail

73% of consumers prefer to do business with retailers who use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant.

Focused and Convenient Shopping

Consumers shop according to their convenience, price factor, personalized service and hassle free payment and delivery options. Consumers are becoming less loyal and focus more on the benefits which retailers have to offer.

Connected Customer

Consumers have advanced adaptability towards the latest technology and are also well informed of all the options, touch-points and services available. There is no limitation of variety and services available to the consumer, physically and inline.

Competition

As the market is growing, innumerable players are becoming part of it with the same objective of providing the maximum and the earliest to the consumer. The players need to be consistent across all channels to maintain the same level of service and develop loyal customers.

An effective connected retail can be accomplished when infrastructure, customers and brand is aligned and integrated to deliver the same level of benefits at omni-channels.

Getting Ready for Connected Retail

It is never an easy task to connect and engage with your customers, irrespective of which industry you are in, but if you haven’t yet adopted “the retail connection” then to acquire and maintain consumers will be very challenging.

The speed with which new technologies are erupting and are being adopted by consumers is astonishing, and also acts like an opportunity for the retail industry to streamline their supply and customer process and make the customer journey delightful.

Customers are available on various touchpoints, and retailers need to be there on all the platforms like social media, digital stores and mobile.

Retailer’s influence to connected world

The connected world provides a lot of touchpoints to the customers, and the focus of the retailers is to make this a seamless experience, but as retailers they have to focus on higher level of integration, collaboration, availability and means to provide more information, IT infrastructure, organized workforce and excessive security. These factors contribute to the success of the retailers and provides them with a differentiator when they achieve any one or more of the factors in an efficient manner.

Forrester predicts that by 2016, Connected Retail will influence 44% of retail sales.

The three key factors which retailers need to enable are:

Improving service delivery – by collaborating and gathering insights from consumer data, research and purchase phases

Delivering a customized experience – by providing tailor-made products

Enhancing the brand experience – by building relationships with the consumers and develop loyalty

It has become a challenging approach in today’s time to integrate all the processes and strengthen the brand image, this strategy benefits in and helps retailers gain a competitive edge by:

  • Reaching the consumers on mobile
  • Maintaining consistency across all the touch-points
  • Collaborating effectively among various teams
  • Ensuring high level of security
  • Reduction in operating costs

Retailers not only need to excel and provide customers with great experience but also need to maintain the service and quality of delivery to remain on the top in this dynamic environment.

Transforming the Customer Journey

Improving operations by employing latest technology not only improves the processes, reduces the cost but most importantly leaves an impact on the customers which helps in building a brand differentiator and provides a competitive edge.

60% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience.

Connected retail solutions enhances the customer service by providing assistance to customers on mobile, via IVR and personalized customer contact service with the help of data and advances in technology. Information about the customer, geography, likes and dislikes etc. are all available at the click of a button which acts as a catalyst in providing excellent service. Personalized and interactive services are accessible by the customers to make the most of their buying journey and have a hassle free experience. Advertisements and promotions can be reinforced based on the customer’s needs, location, device, interest etc. These factors can be leveraged and will have a multiplier effect if the retailer has a connected online and physical store and is using all the touchpoints to make the journey memorable for its customers.

73% of consumers prefer to do business with retailers who use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant.

Optimize Employee Productivity

By connecting customer data, mobile and other devices employees can be empowered to perform and deliver better due to access to technology and information which will help them take faster and effective decisions. This in turn will improve the processes with the suppliers and customers and benefit in building long lasting relationships.

Apple is excelling in this due to real time access to information and adding value to the customers through product demonstrations and high level of interactions.

Connected retail goes beyond transactions and gives the customer a view of the brand and a platform go understand and bond with the brand at a personal level.

Food for Thought

Picturize a shopping experience, in which you enter the store and you are greeted by your name, and there is a digital shopping assistance in place to help you navigate around the store and you get all the details of the products via smart displays and at the time if billing receive customized offers. How complete and enjoyable will this experience be when the focus is always on you.

Retail has gone beyond omni-channels to connected retail to provide the most to the customers and gain a competitive edge. Retailers need to create a branded experience throughout the customer journey roadmap.

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About Gunendra Patil

Gunendra Patil is Vice President: Digital Transformation at Happiest Minds Technologies and has 18 years of IT experience in Business Transformation. His special interest is in using latest of technology and business processes to develop Customer Experience and Engagement. He also holds a Patent in using mobility in Retail for Customer Experience Enhancement.

Image courtesy of Flickr creative commons: https://flic.kr/p/pNVFCn

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