The Retail Landscape for 2018
Like many industries, the retail landscape is rapidly changing to keep pace with ever-evolving technology. Industry analysts are quick to call it the end of retail as we know it. The reality is that the needs of the shoppers are changing and the retail experience needs to adapt.
Amazon’s emergence meant that consumers no longer needed to go to a store to browse aisles upon aisles of products because the e-commerce giant had more selection at better prices. Now, when someone walks into a store, they often know what they’re looking for, but want to confirm their gut feeling about a purchase before making the decision. With this in mind, retailers are looking to create an omni-channel shopping experience, where the in-store and online experiences flow together seamlessly.
This is why the brick-and-mortar shopping experience isn’t going anywhere any time soon. In fact, in the US, online shopping only accounted for 11.7% of total retail sales in 2016. So what are the best retailers doing to stay ahead? They’re using the latest technology and data to their advantage by:
• Enabling employees with the tools & resources they need to do their jobs efficiently.
• Connecting each shopper’s online and in-store experiences.
• Enriching the in-store sales experience and making it personalized.
Enable Your Employees
Retailers often operate with young, transient workforces, so creating a meaningful connection between workers and their brands can prove to be challenging. Managers may try to create this connection through posters in the staff room or store-wide emails, but nothing compares to communicating with employees on their terms.
A platform like Salesforce offers employees the information they need to be prepared for their next shift. This could include consistent training across all retail locations, a look book of new products or the most recent updates from head office. Access to this information can put retail employees ahead of customers and help them create the best, most informed in-store experiences.
Execute on the Intelligence
With in-store and online experiences together, retailers have access to plenty of data about a customer’s preferences and shopping habits. The key is to get all of this information to be translated into actionable insights.
It doesn’t mean that sales reps pull up customer buying history as soon as someone walks in the door, but use the information at a higher level to encourage purchase and brand affiliation. For instance, if a fashion retailer is releasing a new jacket, using marketing automation tools, they can send a targeted email to all individuals who have been browsing jackets recently.
Salesforce recently announced a new connector between Marketing Cloud and Commerce Cloud that makes it easy to leverage your e-commerce data for marketing purposes. With the connector in place, marketing teams can trigger personalized email journeys based on consumers’ online shopping behavior. For instance, if someone adds a pair of shoes to their cart, but never checks out, Marketing Cloud can trigger an email with a coupon to incentivize the purchase.
Enrich the Experience
When a potential customer walks into a retail store, there is a 70 per cent chance that they’ve already done their research online, so they’re ready to make a purchase. Apple stores are a great example for all of us for integration of technology into the customer experience. When customers walk into an Apple store, they are greeted by a Genius. Within a few quick questions, they know which type of device you have and can help you:
• Set up a service appointment.
• Walk through the latest iOS update.
• Find the best laptop for your needs.
Since transactions can happen anywhere at any time, retail stores have to fill in the gaps left by online shopping. The Apple Genius is a great example of how retailers are embracing technology in the store to provide the best experience possible, aided by the abundance of information available at their fingertips. This is the information retailers can use to improve the sales process by delighting their customers.
As retailers gain access to more technology and data, they’re going to find creative ways to incorporate them into the consumer’s path to purchase. If you’d like to find out about the technology trends about your industry please get in touch.