Shopping experiences continue to evolve, sometimes very rapidly. In the wake of repeated retail store closings and industry-changing acquisitions, such as Amazon buying Whole Foods, retailers must meet the challenge of the new environment by exploring opportunities to deliver outstanding product research and buying experiences. While some may fail to adapt, retail brands that persist will need to do a better job in five key areas.
1. Connect Physical And Digital Experiences
Retailers must recognise that the customer journey is no longer linear, but has become an omnichannel, fluid experience. Therefore, brands should create seamless experiences that connect touch points between desktop, mobile, and in-store engagements.
How can you accomplish this? By taking a customer-centric view of the entire journey. As you strategically build an omnichannel approach, ask your team questions such as:
• How do our consumers research their buying decisions? Which channels are involved?
• Where do they make most of their purchases—online or in the store?
• How do we integrate digital channels with point-of-sale, inventory management, and customer support systems so data is shared?
• How do we create a journey that can be picked up anywhere through a persistent customer profile connected to previous engagements?
It’s important to view your web and mobile properties as a means to inform and inspire store shopping. As some retail brands face challenging times relative to their brick-and-mortar presence, they must focus on ways to improve foot traffic. They can do that with a healthy dose of customer data. Data must inform the decisions brands make, so integrating online and offline data in a way that drives store visits is crucial.
2. Address The Direct-To-Consumer Disruption
A trend is developing. Innovative brands are following the lead of Apple and Tesla by taking their products directly to consumers and, therefore, optimising the number of players involved in their delivery channel. Due, in part, to tighter margins and easier customer access through mobile and desktop, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) model can be appealing for certain brands.
How do retailers adjust to this trend? First, they must improve data sharing with their suppliers. Brands want to know more about their customers, which is why some have chosen to deploy a DTC model. Sharing customer intelligence with supply chain partners can help improve product development and help prevent profit margins from shrinking further.
Next, retailers must do a better job of connecting the consumer experience with brands to the experience offered in store. Apparel retailers that sell merchandise to outdoor enthusiasts, for example, should closely align both their online and in-store messaging and content with the excitement and enjoyment of outdoor activities.