Retailers understand that to keep customers satisfied while enhancing the overall shopping experience, they must stay ahead of the curve and adopt new and cutting-edge customer-centric technologies. “Successful retailers use technology to amplify and enhance the core human element of retail, not replace it.”
“Retailers now use social media and analytics to extend a sense of intimate, human connection to every person in a national or global audience. Retailers can interact with millions of digital users as though they were meeting person-to-person with each of those potential customers.” NRF, How Technology is Making Retail More Human
The National Retail Federation (NRF) kicked off their flagship event, Retail’s Big Show Annual Convention & EXPO, yesterday in New York. The Big Show is one of the largest events in retail, drawing over 33,000 attendees and hundreds of exhibitors featuring the latest retail technologies and solutions.
The Big Show’s agenda is packed with industry-leading experts discussing everything from how to leverage wearables to increase sales to implementing consumer data points to customize the customer experience. One featured keynote at NRF, From Data to Delight: An Insight-Driven Revolution of the In-Store Experience, featured top retail executives from different industry segments explaining the metrics that are important in shaping and measuring the most impactful retail experiences for consumers.
“The old saying, ‘the customer is king,’ rings truer than ever. In a recent field research project on the in-store experience by Deloitte, findings reveal that retailers are investing in intimate customer knowledge and then rendering dynamic and highly personalized interactions. Retailers who are capitalizing on the power of customer analytics to create curated touch points and ultimately know their customers better understand the linkage between emerging customer insights and in-store customer delight.”
Keynote moderator Rod Sides, Retail, Wholesale and Distribution Leader for Deloitte LLP, sat down with Deloitte for their recent 2016 Retail and Distribution Industry Outlook to share his thoughts on how the retail industry is growing and how businesses can help provide the “in-store customer delight” that consumers expect.
Question 1 – Where are the opportunities for growth in the retail sector?
“Retailers with optimized distribution systems and enhanced supply chains will be at a competitive advantage in the coming year. While supply chain and distribution costs are not necessarily rising, consumers increasingly expect faster delivery—at the same price points,” said Sides.
Retailers like Amazon, who offer same-day delivery, have created a monster with consumers because they have caused a significant shift in expectations with regards to shipping. As a result, smart retailers, Sides says, are investing in their supply chains to provide faster and more efficient fulfillment. And retailers are not only improving their distribution systems and supply chains, but they are also leveraging their existing physical store space – for example, establishing partnerships that offer the “store-within-a-store” concept. PYMNTS.com explains this concept:
“Take JC Penney, for example: It has had a successful in-store relationship with Sephora that has flourished for over 10 years. Housing mini Sephora stores within the department store chain’s larger footprint has allowed the retailer to both attract a younger (read: millennial), more product-savvy beauty consumer, while introducing its core customers to new products and brands. Partnerships like these have helped aid in JC Penney’s resurrection as a department store that can stay competitive amidst the changing winds of retail.”
Alliances like these not only enable the retailer to offer a wider range of products and services, they can expand customer reach and monetize existing real estate.
Question 2 – What is the next “big” thing?
The name of the game is new technology – specifically, those tools that help consumers navigate the worlds of digital and physical. Brick-and-mortar stores aren’t going away anytime soon, and industry experts believe that combining old and new is the best plan.
“The most successful approaches find inventive ways to capitalize on both old and new, augmenting retail’s age-old strengths like the bricks-and-mortar store experience with digital features. The result is a new, converged retail environment that draws on the best of both worlds.”
Sides believes that more retailers will harness the power of technology, making the move to the cloud. Retail IT departments will not only look to cloud technology for cost savings but as a way to enable adoption of other technology solutions.
Question 3 – What should businesses be mindful of as they plan for growth?
Faster doesn’t necessarily mean safer. As Sides predicts, new technology will usher in more rapid consumer adoption of mobile payment technologies. And as retailers forge ahead, becoming more efficient and more technologically advanced, the threat of hacking and cyberattacks rise.
“With more data mining and increased digital communications comes more risk. Cybersecurity will continue to cut across all aspects of the business: disruption, convergence of digital online, social, new ecosystems, and mining customer insights. Cybersecuity continues to be a major concern for retailers and is now a board level issue.”
In 2016 alone, there were 980 data breaches reported in the U.S., with over 35 million records exposed. In a large percentage of breach cases, malware was the culprit, infiltrating the retail system and stealing clear-text cardholder data to be later sold on the black market.
Along with adopting new technologies, retailers will need to consider solutions that can keep cardholder data safe from cyber threats. The PCI Security Standards Council, the gold standard in card payment security, believes that solution is Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE).
New technologies and security are key – but so is knowing when to act quickly, states Sides.
“Agility is also key, as is speed to market. Traditional retailers must work to move ideas from concept to reality much faster, instituting new features as quickly as the online competitors, rolling out these new ideas in weeks, not years. With the market becoming more fragmented, speed and agility will become a clear differentiator for retail.”
NRF’s Big Show will run through tomorrow.