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Retailers, consumers and vendors will learn to use the many converging preference, responsiveness and modernizing solution pathways and advantages that technology offers. Shopping innovation and retail efficiency will be the two major parallel themes that retail leaders will run into. While major refreshes of basic checkout infrastructure may be delayed, selective investment in customer touch points and channel architectures will continue, with a trend toward centralized store/selling systems architectures.
Consumers will continue to drive the shopping evolution by adopting and using online and mobile tools as electronic find-and-buy-anything hubs, multitasking to manage time more efficiently, instant-messaging and texting, adding voice to their preferences, social shopping networking, and seeking and expecting openness and transparency across channels and, in the medium term, across retail brands. In-store convergence of digital shopping options, total shopping mobility and emergence of three-dimensional online platforms will grow, affording buyers and sellers an almost unlimited number of pathways to localize, target, instantly deliver, access, compare, act upon and consume information, products and services. Not delivering total cross-channel transparency will signify immediate revenue losses for retail brands. Closed, proprietary technology approaches to limit consumers’ outreach across retail brands will result in mounting customer traffic decreases, declining retention rates and long-term difficulties in attracting new customers.
Empowering the customer experience with self-service options is a key industry requirement across regions. Thus, retailers will rely more on self-service to:
--Increase space productivity and protect falling margins using vending machines in-store and at convenient locations to display and sell such items as books, cosmetics, HBC products, and packaged and prepared foods
--Deliver convenient assisted shopping options to customers via personal shopping devices, guided selling systems and kiosks
--Provide checkout choice, payment and loyalty management innovation using mobile scanning devices, self-checkouts and wireless technologies
Customer experience improvement programs must be underpinned by modernization of CRM and loyalty management platforms, as well as by one consistent, integrated, enterprise-wide strategy to understanding, anticipating and influencing customer behaviors leveraging on advanced consumer intelligence abilities.
This amounts to the emergence of the “omni-channel” shopper, an evolution of the multi-channel consumer. The omni-channel shopper wants to use all channels -- store, catalog call center, Web and mobile -- simultaneously, not each channel in parallel. The example would be a shopper with an Android-based phone who snaps a picture of the bar code of a product in the store and immediately does price comparisons on the Web as well as connecting to her social network for opinions. Perhaps one of those friends bought the product and doesn’t use it and offers to give it to the friend. Can the retailer recognize this activity and at least offer accessories? Are there services attached to the product that can be offered?
Multi-channel shoppers spend, on average, 15 percent to 30 percent more with a retailer than someone who uses only one channel. Omni-channel shoppers will spend 15 percent to 30 percent more than multi-channel consumers, will exhibit strong loyalty and will influence others to patronize the retailer.
Three critical archetypes are emerging that retailers must pay attention to:
--The Omni/Integrated: Tends to be a slightly older (30 to 50 years old) demographic, but affluent and very connected at home, the office and while on the move. Retailers will capture shopping (not just buying) patterns and proactively offer promotions. There will be selection, price, ordering and delivery consistency across the channels
--The Young Mobile: If you asked people under 30 if they e-mail, many will tell you they do so only to communicate with their parents. Their world is wrapped up in texting. Being able to identify and make offers when this shopper is in proximity to the store is something retailing is trying to figure out
--The Social Networker: This group trends young, but isn’t exclusively so. Tying into affinities around events or group activities are being investigated
How much of this will we see this holiday season? It’s unlikely that there will be anything close to broad adoption. However, IDC Retail Insights believe there will be some interesting experimentation at retailers both large (watch Best Buy) and small. There will be some fabulous failures, but the retailers that lay the groundwork this year will be best positioned to take advantage of the opportunities of omni-channel shopping in the future.
For more information, contact Framingham, Mass.-based IDC Retail Insights at 508-935-4490 or [email protected].