2017 was an especially mutable year for international retailers, seeing those retailers who adopted a nimble tech strategy, and adapting their business thinking to meet their customer emerging as winners. Technology remains central to providing data insights into the customer and what they want from a retailer, as well as how to enact a relevant strategy that visibly delivers in line with customer expectations. As an industry that impacts everyone, every day, now is the time to take a close look at the industry specialists’ take on the technology helping transform retailing.
Here are some of the National Retail Federation’s key insights for 2018:
- In-store technology that’s focused on the customer and used in partnership with the personalised, human touch helps to drive authentic relationship interactions, and also remove friction and “pain points” for customers in their shopper journey. Tech like tablets and mobile POS’s means retailers can meet customers in the store moment, answer questions, and facilitate ordering and purchasing. Skipping queues and saving time with personal attention add up to a great service experience that drives repeat custom.
- Engaging the customer with innovative tech like Augmented Reality is gaining traction, because it’s both a fun way to shop and also make an informed purchasing decision. Customers are trying out products and merchandise from clothing and make-up through to furniture to see how they fit their body, complexion, lifestyle, and home environments. An AR experience also identifies retailers as taking their customers seriously and committing to more than just the hard sell: instead, they are essentially enabling the best product solution for the individual.
- Blending of physical and digital experiences: the online and the brick-and-mortar stores needn’t function as two separate environments competing for spend. Combining them makes for a powerful, new ways of doing business, as well as helping with “right-sizing” the physical store environment. Smaller B&M stores with limited inventory exist as show-rooms for the sensory experience, providing a personalised shopping experience while acting as the service point for online ordering, purchasing and collection. Larger, physical stores carrying more inventory extend the digital store’s distribution range as pick up destinations. B&M stores can also be used to variously expose the retail offering to a wider shopper demographic, or target a specific demographic through carefully chosen locations.
Trends set to continue in 2018:
Health and wellness: customers the world over are especially focused on achieving improved and even peak physical, mental, and emotional performance, so providing authentic products and services that help customers on their wellness journey is a step in the right retail direction.
Responsible industry practices, better and more transparent business processes, and greater accountability for retail’s social and environmental impacts have also emerged as decisive influencers of spend.
Recent years’ rapid development of technology and its accelerated generating and analysing of data is driving a revolutionary transformation of the physical/digital retail spaces. Customers, however, are making it clear that these are not replacements for old school quality service and the human touch, but rather tools to be used to engage them, to deliver unique experiences, to eliminate friction on their shopper journey.
UCS Technology Services are geared to support retail clients in 2018 through innovative, in-house design and development of applications and point of sales solutions; and ensuring analytics are enabled through providing comprehensive BI across our retail solutions. All UCS TS’ solutions enjoy attentive, retail-focused support services developed over 25+ years of industry experience.