The future of retail…are you ready?Rosemary Ndinda
The global retail segment has and continues to face a host of challenges. The retail industry will and continues to undergo massive changes as the age of disruption continues to impact consumer behaviors and buying trends. Even before the covid-19 pandemic, many brick-and-mortar retailers were struggling. In this constant flux, retailers should understand and prepare strategies to retain customers and gain an edge over the competition
As we subsequently emerge from the liminal space of nationwide lockdowns into new psychological and social territory, shoppers are continually anxious about whether visiting stores will increase their exposure to the virus. Adding to the complexity, a lot of countries and economies are in stagnation, which will dampen consumer spending for months to come.
Under the outlined circumstances, reading “future of” pieces can feel like a trip to the World’s Fair. There are new gadgets, upcoming designs being conceptualized to keep us safe from biological threats, resolve our hesitancy to socialize again, and further the integration of our digital and physical lives. As much as these innovations will help us in the long run, what retailers need most right now are tested solutions they can deploy immediately.
But brands need more than a host of sanitization practices. They need actionable vision that will set them apart and entice people back inside their stores.
The good news is innovative ways of operating were already being prototyped on a smaller scale before Covid-19. Examining these approaches will allow retailers to use this moment of transition to pivot towards a more resilient and meaningful future.
The customer is one thing,…eternally discontent. The customer always wants more. Companies therefore have two days, Day 1 ..to Reinvent and Day 2…they are Irrelevant. For companies to survive they must live on Day 1.
The future of retail is driven by technology, the Web, mobile devices, Social organization and the customers search for richer experiences.
There is a sweeping transformation across retail with companies being driven by
Their customers demand for shopping experiences
a. Calling for Customer centric solutions for customers who are continually demanding the when, where and how
b. Shopping enhancement solutions
Successful store owners will be those that aspire to offer interactive, unparalleled experiences to customers through;
1. Offering choice
2. Customer Education
3. Social Connectivity,
4. Shopping assistance
5. Virtual Experiences
The above will be the trade off for Customer loyalty and repeat sales.
Therefore the future of retail will be a fusion of the real and virtual, to suit customers personal preferences, to guarantee an ultimate shopping experience, therefore increase sales and profitability.
Some of the key innovations in the retail industry are Intel Retail and Adiverse. These are virtual shopping assistants that are used to guarantee the customer, convenience, fast, seamless, choice and information. Through a swipe or use of loyalty cards, the tools offer information on products, stories, options, through interactive menus and enable customers to make purchases even without interacting with the physical products. In some of the stores, a sales associate will only be encountered at checkout to complete the sale.
The future of retail will be characterized by stores that look more like websites and websites that look more like Stores. Some of the innovations towards realizing this are, robotic assistant technologies, emotion reading software, virtual changing rooms and many more.
These ideas may all feel overwhelming for retailers in this era. It is worthwhile for retailers to look at their digital presence for their brand. There are digital augmentations available or in the pipeline that can support ongoing businesses and that can help set them apart from competitors.
Ready to jump into the Future? Let us build a resilient future together.
Author; Rosemary Ndinda Ndivo