December 17, 2021 | REINT JAN HOLTERMAN
Retail is detail.
Success in retail requires retailers to keep a close eye on many aspects of the shopping process. Store location, assortment, signage, shelf space, restocking, checkout queues, store cleanliness and customer support, just to name a few. And with new online entrants, you can add same-day deliveries, pickup-in-store, digital payments, customer-friendly return policies and digital loyalty apps to the list of topics that need detailed attention.
Behind the scenes, making this all happen can be quite a challenge. Traditional ways of managing retail stores and processes won’t work anymore. What is needed is an integral approach where journeys, stores and business operations are managed together as a whole—and where changing one part of the equation will immediately impact the other two parts.
Consumers expect smooth, personalized shopping journeys that seamlessly bridge online and offline channels, and that continue uninterrupted over time. According to research by Microsoft (2020) the average customer uses 3-5 channels when interacting with a vendor, although I suspect post-Covid this number is now even higher. To offer frictionless shopping experiences, people, processes and systems need to be connected in order to exchange the right data at the right time via the right channel.
With the blending of channels, the store often plays various roles at the same time, be it fulfillment hub, personal experience center or traditional shopping venue. The store is a critical asset in many journeys, and to remain so, it needs to adapt to market innovations as soon as they occur. In its Digital Store Playbook (September 2021), Forrester presents a four-stage model of digital store maturity, and concludes that most retailers are still at stage 1: building the technical foundation. This is also visible in their investment plans, with 75% of retailers confirming they plan to invest in store operations technology by 2022.
Consumers value high-quality products and convenient shopping trips, but above all they appreciate low prices and high discounts. That’s why retailers must continuously improve their store processes to stay cost-competitive—and keep up with pure-play online retailers, too. A survey conducted by DataDriven (2021) across 166 ICT decision makers in global retail reveals that 74% of the respondents state becoming more efficient is an “extremely high” priority for them. Not surprisingly, 58% of these same retailers report either a large (13%) or moderate (45%) increase in their overall ICT budgets for 2021, to realize cost savings by optimizing their day-to-day business processes. No doubt, these optimizations will impact both store setup and consumer journeys as well.
So, now what?
A paradigm shift is needed. I think the time is now to connect the dots and start innovating journeys, stores and retail operations in a holistic and cohesive way. A software platform that takes an integral approach and smartly combines these three elements may then be just what is needed. A platform that lets you orchestrate consumer journeys straight from the cloud while it easily integrates with the existing store ecosystem of hardware and software applications. In other words: a retail software platform that lets you connect journeys easily, scale stores flexibly and operate your business efficiently. Too good to be true? Then watch this video and learn more.