Aiding the formidable and robust retail sector during and post pandemic
With the fruition of technology, consumers are present on multiple channels which offer more opportunities for companies and marketers to know and understand them. Connected retail is a single hand formula which supplies a platform to customers where one can have integrated, digitally enhanced, in store experience that connects with and involves customers on both, virtual and physical world. Shoppers are benefited with a seamless journey to shop from digital to physical, linking up their online and mobile retail experience with their in-store experience.
In recent years, the retail industry has changed leaps and bounds, in the way that brands target, acquire and connect with customers. Almostten years ago, the term ‘influencer marketing’ was never heard of and next-day delivery was almost like a bonus rather than an expectation. What’s more fascinating is that few people could have predicted their main acquisition channel to be a photo-led social media platform like Facebook and Instagram.
Today, customers are glued to digital communication 24/7, 365 days a year. They have the control to like, follow, and buy from their favourite brands on their own conditions, in the way that best suits them. In brief, one could say that the modern shopper demands more featuresfrom retailers than ever before. And the ultimate key to keeping them happy is to provide a connected retail experience – the one that is powered by data and AI.
What is exactly connected retail?
“Providing a customer-centric experience, based on how customers approach shopping with no limitations by channel.” – Gartner
The traditional model of the customer journey is no more in existence, at least not in the digital world. Approaching customers at different stages along a defined path used to be a quite predictable business but today customers have total control of when and how they interact with a brand.At each and every point, customers expect a tailored and customized experience that offers them added worth. Therefore in a digital context, communications and brand loyalty becomes more complex, dynamic, and intuitive.Connected retail means to connect the customers seamlessly through personalized marketing, combining both physical store and digital experience, supply chain, diverse payment options and providing the capability to retailers to team up more effectively.
It is just one part of a wider industry shift towards integrating the offline and online experience into a multichannel proposition where customers can move seamlessly across many different touchpoints. Multichannel approaches provide opportunities for both customers and retail partners. Furthermore, Connected Retail empowers companies to delight customers, transforming their experience with your brand, while allowing you to connect to a multichannel retail model, as well as a wider customer base and order pool with ease.
Connected Retail to meet customer’s new expectations
The savviest retailers have spent years forming Omni-channel strategies that merge physical and online channels to engage consumers in the channel of their choosing. COVID19’s impact on customer behaviour has reshuffled the deck. Direct interaction in stores has radically changed or been displaced by digital engagement, and early indications suggest that much of this shift may endure in the long term. Retailers should focus on five actions to build more pliability in their customer experience and to emerge even stronger in the revival.
1.Double down on digital
COVID19 has radically and unexpectedlyincreased customer traffic to digital channels. Seeing the facts, that online sales, which increased at a 14% annual growth rate over the past four years, grew by 25% in the last fortnight in March 2020 majorly led by grocery purchases. The deep impact of the pandemic on consumer shopping habits has increased the necessity for retailers to expand their digital presence quickly. It includes: –
Increasing the acquisition engine and moving to digital assets
Extending the digital-channel presence and engagement
Ensuring ‘zero friction’ in digital experience
2.Inject innovation into omni-channel
To adapt to new customer behaviours and preferences, retailers will need to evaluate their current omni-channel offerings and opportunities to innovate and fill in all gaps. Any addendums should be clearly allied with budding customer needs and integrated with available channels to support a reliable experience. It includes: –
Increasing Digital experience with an in-store feel
Initiatingand expanding delivery mechanisms
Partnering with others to enhance ease
3.Transforming store operations
The epidemic has hobbled traditional style of store operations, with physical distancing and self-service changing the formula for customer experience. Customers try to get in and out of a store as quickly and safely as possible. Providing safer experienceswill be critical to assuaging customers’ concerns and enabling a return to in-person interactions. Retailers must apply policies and processes to enable safe distancing, sanitizing the store and communicate proactively, clearly, and compassionately. These non-negotiable will includenew safety requirements for both customers and retailers and also include no-contact payment methods, cleaning and employee-hygiene processes.
4.Reimagining the physical network
In the last three years, customers have shifted their purchasing style increasingly through e-commerce, which has led to ever-growing declines in physical store traffic. COVID19 has hastened this trend with apparel retailers and department stores, which are projected to see a 25% increase in online saturation after COVID19. The rising amount of e-commerce transactions has forced retailers to revaluate their system of brick-and-mortar stores and use them to best support the customer experience. It includes: –
Optimizing the physical footprints
Redefining the role of physical stores