With the introduction of the digital world to the retail business in the late 1990s, along with the entire digital revolution, customers and consumers had a massive shift in their purchasing behavior.
With the rise of the Covid19 pandemic and its implication and acceleration on every aspect within our way of living, the retail business became one of the most challenging industries, and thus a lot of studies have been conducted to understand what’s happening to approach the myth of the future of retail.
Below are some critical insights that could lead to a bright and promising potential for growth:
Further studies on customer behavior proved the ROPO effect (Research Online, Purchase Offline), and validated the successful impact on customers who had any digital engagement within their buying journey.
Such insights validated two hypotheses:
- Retail business is Not Dead, but the traditional Brick and Mortar surely is.
- Retail business executives have to face a new testing bar for disruptions, leverage technology and digital disruption, and shift the business to Click and Mortar under what we call the Omni Channel Strategy rather than pushing each channel solely.
We know that CEOs’ top priority is to go Digital, but the question remains “What and how can they ensure such transformation to be successful?” Hence we thought of sharing with you the following:
TOP CHALLENGES FACING LEADERS IN RETAIL BUSINESS TODAY AND THE BEST METHODS TO APPROACH THEM
Should we shift our business to e-commerce and reduce our physical stores?
Even with the pandemic, and including the peak of the lockdown, 78%-85% of Total Yearly Retail Sales were still generated in physical stores.
Yet, it is important to note that those in-store sales transactions were 60-80% completed before they entered the stores.
- Definitely shutting down is not the solution in this regard but you should:
- Disrupt your physical stores by leveraging technology and other digital Initiatives, and shift your business from Brick and Mortar to Click and Mortar.
- Measure your Sales/sqm/Store and try to optimize on the number of stores as well as the store size.
- Do not shift your business completely to online [unless you are still in a start-up business stage], because you will lose at least 60-70% of your sales.
Download the paper below that states several Retail Business Case Studies and what they have done to disrupt their own business and its impact on their total sales.
We have applied the best technology and latest digital tools but it did not increase our sales as expected, WHY?
Applying the latest technology, or any trendy digital initiative as a standalone, without studying its fit within your customer journey is a recipe for failure and a waste of valuable resources. In your best shot, it might help you increase your sales temporarily.
The core of any digital initiative should start by understanding your end-to-end customer journey, the touchpoints that aid a customer to move from one step to another until s/he completes the buying journey. Mapping your end-to-end customer journey will give you a full picture of what kind of digital opportunities you can implement in order to have a better customer experience while maintaining the physical experience that is critical especially in certain Retail Businesses.
How can we boost the success of our digital initiatives?
The secret sauce is the Omnichannel Strategy. Shifting any effort from a multi-channel strategy to an OmniChannel one. A successful omnichannel retail strategy is when retailers find the digital touchpoints and drive sales by engaging with customers at the right time and place while using various channels, thus, adopt what we call the Pull Strategy, rather than the old Push Strategy.
Research indicates that omnichannel customers spend 15% to 30% more than single or multi-channel customers.
In its simplest form: Setting up a QR Code Sign on your Window Display to connect and seamlessly let the customer continue the journey that they already started through their Online or App Search is one example.
Note that such continuity for the costumer journey could bring unlimited opportunities to disrupt the customer experience (From AI to shopping assistance within the store, Dynamic Pricing, etc.).
We are in a business where our products need to be experienced physically and hard to be transformed to a digital journey.
Do not look at technology as the enemy, instead view it as a tool to defend your position with the competition. Consequently, this is why numerous digital initiatives failed. They build an e-commerce platform or a customer app just to market that they have one and defend their position with the competition.
The more personalized the retail business industry you are in, the more sophisticated your customer behavior becomes, and the more time required to digitally adapt. Thus, it’s important about disrupting the customer journey and not the customer purchase transaction.
With basic digital connectivity (omnichannel and effective) with your customer you should be able to track your customer’s personal taste and motivation, by the way, they “favorite” products, search items, and their purchase history, etc.
Hence, adopting digital initiatives within your store, for a better customer experience, engagement and personalization could be the start. Consider the cases below to get inspired:
- Dunkin installed devices to release the aroma of their coffee on commuter buses in Seoul to lure in customers to their stores which just happen to be located nearby. Hence, digitizing scent and increasing sales.
- L’Oréal created the Virtual Makeup try-on for customers to “try live” all products on their phone with just a few clicks. Hence, digitizing looks and increasing sales.
Remember, such a challenge was also the main concern for Groceries, Hypermarkets, Electronics, and other Retail Businesses 3-5 years before their customers’ dynamics digitally adapted. So your concern today might not be a concern tomorrow.
Take A Look at the below Case Studies Analysis We Gathered for Diverse Retail Businesses.
How can we uplift our in-store experience?
That’s a key question. We should stop focusing on ways and tools to turn all physical activities into online, but rather how can we leverage technology to enhance our in-store experience jointly with the other online channels, and thus turning the benefits of online experience within the store too.
Below are examples within each phase of the customer journey. It’s important to note that the key to identifying any digital opportunity is by mapping your end-to-end customer digital journey.
Store Traffic: You can implement interactive Digital Signage on the Windows Display that can connect with the customer apps or any low-cost technology like QR Code that will direct the customers to something interesting. (encourage them to check-in using the app for a chance to win something or get a discount).
Searching: Several technologies can be added as Display Banner on ITems (RFID, QR, barcode, etc.) that could engage, educate, and entertain customers in-store with product features, videos, price, color customization as well as stock availability.
Integrate AI technology to aid customers with their searching options, filtering criteria based on their current or previous search, previous purchase, or by simply filling in a simple form of other preferred brands or models.
Fitting (in fashion case): can be done using augmented reality screens and smart mirrors. Special in-store rewards and promotions can be presented and personalized by customer experience.
Decision: AI and Predictive Analysis could solve the mystery of the best fit tailored pricing and on-spot points redemption based on the customer loyalty, as well as the upselling and cross-selling best match.
Customer Loyalty: You can even go beyond the basics and help customers locate the store, provide parking assistance, and self-checkout.
Furthermore, a lot of captured data and insights can be collected and help your marketing personalize your message and lure your customer back, and increasing the next purchase value.
Also, decreasing shelf size and rent space is another benefit when applying smart shopping. The customer can easily select the product without removing it from the shelf, and the basket would be ready on checkout.
How can we make our reach to customers more Personalized?
Think of it as a Revolutionized Customer Loyalty. Previously with your customer loyalty program, your only personalization was to reach out with the customer’s name, or based on their interest that is concluded only from their previous purchased items and behavior.
Today, the more you digitize the touchpoints within each customer journey, the more data can be gathered and analyzed for better personalization and valuable insights. Thus your objective is to personalize your reach to customers based on their current search and interest rather than only their previous purchases.
I always like to refer to the example of ‘Power of Now”: Accurately predicting your client’s next purchase date and reaching out to your customer accordingly.
Now, imagine the power of your reach if you can predict your clients’ next purchase date, behavior, and most importantly their interest based on their current search (Remember the ROPO Strategy). This is how much you can reach in your personalization when:
- Implementing Digital Initiatives within the customer journey that will enable you to collect more data
- Ensuring a proper Data Governance, so every data collected could be analyzed properly,
- Applying AI and Data Science to utilize on the new goldmine (Data) for the marketing to use within their personalization set of action from Lead Generation, to Nurturing, to Retention.
Furthermore, you can personalize your customer interaction with your most important asset in-store (the Sales Specialist). A great advantage of the in-store experience is the human touch, on-condition that it’s personalized. This could be easily done by connecting the client’s digital touch-points.