If technological progress has inevitably moved businesses forward, the digital transformation brings a complete change in model. The ever more demanding consumer becomes the center of the sales process and wishes to be dealt with as an individual. The way forward for retailers seems clear: a brand that knows its customers well will be able to anticipate their needs. If it can also take advantage of disruptive technology in the area of personalization, then the resulting customer experience could end up being hugely satisfying and unique.
It is not so much what is bought, but how it is bought
One thing is nearly certain: emotional experiences strengthen customers’ brand loyalty. Therefore, whichever product or service that a vendor decides to sell, the key lies in integrating technology with a vision of how to precisely meet the expectations of your target audience. Everything points towards being a digital company above all. Everything else comes afterwards. It’s about changing the way we think about business.
The new generation of consumers is no longer satisfied with being able to make use of these technological innovations during the purchase process, but also demands comfort, sustainability, personalization, and constant experimentation. There is a desire for social presence, understood as the interaction of other individuals with the products that are being bought1. Not necessarily a physical interaction; the brand will feel less impersonal if, at the moment of taking the final purchase decision, there is a feeling of being accompanied by someone else.
Traditional retail is not dead, nor has online retail come to replace it
Not by a long shot: The rise of online shopping fuels the transformation of more conventional sales models2. If the two are amalgamated, they reinforce each other, giving rise to experiences more closely adapted to the needs of each consumer and leaving the power of choice in their hands. For instance, we see how it is becoming more common to make purchases online, but choose to pick them up at the physical store. The maxim for success is, once again, personalization.
Payment methods are also being re-invented to make them more agile and versatile. In fact, according to figures from the software and technology company NCR, 20% of consumers will not go through with a purchase if the checkout line is too long3. The more immediate the ability to purchase a product, and the more integrated the process is with mobile technology, the more likely it is that customers will feel encouraged to complete a purchase and not give up.
The future is at hand: it’s found in the most disruptive technologies
The truth is that many stores are already implementing technological innovations that signify a step forward towards the retail model that will be implemented over the coming years. We have a good example in augmented reality (AR): to experience a product in a realistic environment, as if you had already bought it, is a great opportunity that retailers can offer to make their in-store experience more exciting. A recent Forbes magazine article4 quotes a study of 1,000 North American consumers showing that 61% prefer AR stores, with 68% staying in them for longer.
Anticipate consumer desires with big data
Already it is hard to imagine retail that is not interconnected, with access to ever more information about potential customers that it is targeting. Systems of data collection and analysis are being refined to handle the massive amount of information available. Tools are being developed that maximize this potential, isolating just the right data to aid in correct decision making5. It should be possible to quickly check what’s going on with that product that doesn’t seem to be selling as well as a few days ago, or to detect what we have to start offering immediately so that people stop and buy. Predicting customer behavior is an essential part of being able to give them the experiences that they really want6.
What’s next? The new generations’ desire for individualization, immediacy, and experimentation open a large window of opportunity for traditional retail, and implies a total change of focus in the way we think about business models. At RBEWC we gather the whole sector to share ideas, hear success stories, and present new, more innovative solutions which respond to the needs created by the digital transformation.
Make sure you’re part of it! Join us from 12-14 May 2020 and add your voice to the next stage of the retail revolution.
2 3 https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2019/04/26/its-time-to-embrace-the-digital-transformation-in-retail/#5574b3125506