Innovative Retail Technologies

MAR-APR 2017

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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15 Mar-Apr 2017 largest retailers who are ignoring these data sources in formulating their omni-channel strategies, and it is the next tier down that is taking advantage of that blind spot. With these blind spots on the table, opportunities to win at omni-channel should abound. Opportunities The Oppor tunity To Focus On Customer Needs When it comes to opportunities, retailers' hearts and minds, especially those of retail winners, are in the right place: They are focused on satisfying customer needs and wants, rather than on selling more stuff (Figure 5). Hopefully, the irony is not lost on the reader. After average and underperforming retailers went out of their way to call out how competitors are stealing customers and changing the profitability of business models, and after retailers of all stripes then turned away from the idea that digital's primary objective might be broader than just selling more stuff, here we have the top opportunity for winners and a top-three opportunity for peers as focusing on something more than just selling more stuff. To put it bluntly: What gives? The channels that are important to retailers may shed some light on this apparent contradiction. The store has long been the top commerce channel for retailers in our survey, and that has not changed, though the percentage citing it as a top channel has fallen from the high 90s to the low 80s over the years. What is more telling is the movement among some of the newer channels in the retail ecosystem. One-third of respondents said that social networks or their mobile-optimized app are top commerce channels, more than both the mobile-optimized site and the call center/catalog. Both mobile site and catalog have historically competed for the third of the three top commerce channels. To have social networks and mobile apps start to eclipse mobile sites and catalogs suggests that retailers are starting to feel the need to shift their omni-channel opportunities. This is why — at a strategic level — retailers are stymied by competition and lack the understanding of digital's impact that would enable an effective response, and yet — at an opportunity level — are actually focused on the right kind of response: on connecting with consumers, rather than promoting to them. For social media, retailers who simply promote in those channels end up getting blocked. If they want "in" to consumers' news feeds and timelines, they need to be relevant and engaging, rather than promotional. And mobile apps are more about retention — it is extremely difficult to focus on acquisition in a mobile app when you have to get a customer to download it in the first place. It is also an area of high priority for applying personalization, as it is easier to collect and act on individual customer behaviors and preferences over time in an app, where there is continuity and a higher degree of self-identification. To manage long-tail products in our company's assortment To better align my existing functions and processes to address channel proliferation To transform into a seamless omni-channel company focused on customer-centricity To better align the company's brand to meet changing consumer expectations To reach new markets — new pockets of customer demand To focus on meeting customers' needs rather than selling as many products as possible 60% 76% 62% 60% 62% 66% 57% 30% 46% Top 3 Omni-Channel Strategy Objectives Others Winners 32% 24% 25% Figure 5: Lofty Goals For Omni-Channel Strategy

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