Retail. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear that word? Did you imagine a girl or a guy making rounds in the shop, pulling a trolley or rack full of clothing, assuming that they work in a fashion store? Or, did you visualize a scenario of a lady named Karen maybe, browsing through the grocery aisle, shifting her gaze back and forth between the product and the worker there, even asking to see the manager? Or, are you one of those people who envisage a world of digitalization, transformation or even revolution when it comes to processes of operating and purchasing products?
Regardless of what you think, there’s nothing wrong with that. When it comes to retail, almost anything is possible and believe me when I say that, because different people have different ways of retailing. Some might like it, some might not. In terms of perspective, retail workers will most likely view it from their end and for the rest of the majority, non-retail workers a.k.a customers, see it quite differently.
Customer is always right, a phrase coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge back in 1909, which can make businesses go into an automatic mode of prioritizing customers to ensure satisfaction on a god-tier level. As a result, this concept may enable customers to feel entitled or should I say, rude to a certain extent when it was never meant to be taken literally. The argument is, in the era of digitalization our focus should be on technologies, rather solely concentrating on customers. The question is now, how do you actually integrate technology into your business to elevate retail experience? You know what, let’s go on a fun ride. Put your seatbelt on and let me bring you further into this topic.
- The Change Of Consumer Behavior
- Retail Evolution With Industry 4.0
- Uniting Superior Customer Experience (CX) And Operational Excellence (OX)
1. THE CHANGE OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOR
To compare conventional shoppers with modern ones these days, I’d say there is a ginormous gap in between. Do you agree with me? If your answer is yes, congratulations! You just earned a ‘Great Minds Think Alike’ badge. If you don’t, it’s okay, let me convince you more since I presume your mind might be even greater after this. First of all, there’s no need to think so far, let’s take a look at COVID-19, what do you think? Some people can already feel the dread just by hearing the word ‘positive’. Putting this event into the retail context, this pandemic is basically revolutionizing every aspect of the world, especially retail.
Back then when retailing was pretty much traditional, retailers put customers on the podium and let the light shine on them. Products that were sold were always customer centric and it was a rather single-minded approach, making retailers short-sighted when it comes to strategies. In the digital age of retail, putting your sole focus on customers is not going to work anymore. What you need is to discover and make use of other channels and approaches to get people to flood your shop, both offline and online. Does it sound better now? I believe it does.
Not forgetting, the convenience of customers is on the rise, and let me tell you, that trend is here to stay. Any brick-and-mortar store that does not include an online shopping option or channel is, safe to say, doomed to failure in the future. That is why, brick-and-mortar shops must carefully consider what physical locations can offer that online buying cannot. It's mostly a physical experience that allows customers to see and, to some extent, test out things before they buy them. For big-ticket items like furniture and automobiles, it can benefit greatly from a hands-on approach or most people call it, experiential shopping experience during the purchasing process.
Changes in consumer behavior and the interplay between online convenience and the benefits of a face-to-face experience will continue to shape the future of retail. With that thought in mind, it is imperative for retail business owners to keep up with these ever-changing behavior and preferences via digital means if they want their firms to thrive.
2. RETAIL EVOLUTION WITH INDUSTRY 4.0
So now, what comes next after consumer’s changes? This is where I bring you into the digital evolution of retail. Have you heard of Industry 4.0 before? Give yourself a moment to think about it. The concept of Industry 4.0 actually refers to the fourth industrial revolution in manufacturing. In simpler words, it prescribes how new technological innovations can be used to control production processes. Sounds cool right? For retail workers, digitization is at the heart of Industry 4.0, which aims to free people from tedious tasks all day long. Which is why technological advancements have accelerated dramatically over the last decade to give us new methods to manage our work life, and Industry 4.0 provides workers with greater chances and freedom to accomplish their best work. As a result, the more Industry 4.0 technology a firm or organization adopts, the more benefits it will reap eventually.
In addition, with this concept, we can bid farewell to data barriers. Isn’t that great? This is because it is quickly becoming a tool for businesses, particularly in the industrial sector to support decision-making that is data driven and boost overall profitability and competitiveness. With the passage of time, the Industry 4.0 discourse has become much more mainstream and global, spawning a slew of neologisms in the fields of labor, operations, education, marketing, management, society, and innovation, as well as various industry-specific phrases such as Retail 4.0. I’m in such awe with my jaw dropping right now due to all these miraculous advancements. Are you amazed too?
Coming back to this, the term Retail 4.0 has been used to describe a variety of trends and advancements in the worldwide retail industry. It focuses on introducing innovation to the customer experience and evaluating the role of the shop in merchant-customer relationships, and is often referred to as intelligent digital. Some features such as omnichannel ability, customer interaction personalization as well as responsive merchandising have been made intrinsic to the retail industry of a new era. Without technology, we won’t be able to achieve such greatness don’t you think?
3. UNITING SUPERIOR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AND OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE (OX)
Now that you know a customer-centric approach is not enough, I’m going to tell you how you can do so much more. In retail, digital transformation has shifted many things including products and customers, therefore comes the merge of customer experience with operational performance. In certain scenarios, customers' experience is frequently misunderstood by retailers as the experience at the final touchpoint. They went all out by focusing on customer service and sales, designing the greatest online and mobile user interfaces, and investing in social interaction along with listening. But here’s the truth, all of these efforts, however, will be for naught if the underlying operations are not capable of supporting the customer’s journey. Thus, it is critical to provide trustworthy data to operational systems in order for them to function efficiently.
Imagine this scenario, a customer who has a loyalty card and shops at a retailer frequently. The identical individual is now looking through the merchant's online store. Even though the merchant collects device and browsing data, it is unable to link the activities that take place across different channels. Meanwhile, the corporate marketing department of this business continues to send unrelated email offers to customers based on what they have previously purchased from the store, without knowing what they have searched for online. If the company can properly combine all of this information taken from different channels and sources, they will be able to deliver the consumer far more relevant and timely offers.
To sum it up, retailers need to stay relevant to ensure survival in this dog-eat-dog world where nothing comes easy. As of now, the majority of technological drivers of retail 4.0 are still in development. However, we can't help but see a 4.0 technology trend emerging across all platforms, and it's only a matter of time before they take off. Subsequently, now is the moment to begin adapting to the reality of retail 4.0. Creating new infrastructures and updating existing ones must be part of an organization's strategy for operating in a continuously changing environment, without losing focus on customers. If everyone competes for cutting-edge technology that has the potential to greatly enhance sales figures, we can be confident that several positive outcomes will follow.
Before I end this article, I have good news to share with all of you. Fortunately, you don’t have to look far to learn about new strategies in retail because we have just the right thing for you. If you’re interested and keen on implementing New Retail methods for your business, stay tuned for our New Retail program in April 2022. You can also visit our website for more information on programs that can assist you in your professional and personal endeavors while you wait. Till next time, toodaloo!
Written By Syuhada Rozihas,
SHRA Corporate Trainer
Syuhada Rozihas is a Corporate Trainer at SH Retail Academy who is passionate about making a difference for herself and those around her. She has trained more than 1,000 sales professionals, executives and managers in the areas of retail sales. Meanwhile, in her free time, she enjoys hiking and running to keep her in shape, as well as baking for her loved ones. You can find her on LinkedIn.