Innovative Retail Technologies

MAY-JUN 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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tal and physical shopping experience. Retailers have long been reluctant to deploy beacon technology because of its requirements for shoppers to enable Blue- tooth on their smartphones while in stores. But because of the increase in wearable devices, smart home technology, and VR usage in stores, such concerns may become a thing of the past. More retailers are jumping on board; Tesco launched its MyStore concept, which involves an app that allows customers to create a shopping list at home. When they're in the store, they click a button to tell them the precise location of these products. Be- cause their data is stored centrally, it creates a cross-channel view of customers, which affords Tesco the ability to tailor experiences along customers' individual journeys from the digital realm to physical stores. 4. Blend Traditional And Digital Enterprise Engagement Roles With customers' expectations for a seamless experience rising, it is more critical than ever to ensure employees are working in concert to make sure that an enterprise's marketing and messaging is consistent across all chan- nels, regardless if the channel used is digital or traditional. Some companies are taking the monumental steps to integrate their digital and traditional roles and functions within departments and sometimes across customer-facing roles throughout the en- terprise. This helps to alleviate internal silos that often stall true omni-channel engage- ment from happening. For instance, multiple marketing managers, for example, assigned to individual channels, creates a disjointed marketing presence. In this integrated role-based format, it's vital to make sure employees who are performing newly merged functions that span what used to be separate areas of the enterprise understand why it's critical to integrate traditional and digital channels and data to ensure efficient and effective customer engagement. This involves a well- orchestrated communications plan with continuous opportunities to promote aware- ness and education. Communicating benefits generated from the solutions through internal case studies on an ongoing basis is also important in gaining traction with an integrated offline and online channel strategy. Organizations that supply employees and managers with the technology and processes to help them deliver such objectives will ultimately start to see positive results tied to customer satisfac- tion, loyalty, and the bottom line. Best Western, for example, hired an outreach officer who works across multiple platforms and departments to connect with people to understand what they do. Since starting in his new role, he has developed a communication plan that links all the stakeholders in the organization and has identified the processes that impact differ- ent groups and what they need to know to adjust to certain changes. 5. Become An Insights-Driven Culture At their core, insights-driven enterprises focus on closing the knowledge gaps that exist in their organizations. They deliver on common governance, policies, and procedures that address data challenges and help to adopt a common approach to change management challenges regarding data integration. Enterprises that operate on an insights- driven model run activities that support master data sources within the enterprise. In insights-driven organizations, IT collaborates with nontechnical key decision makers to ensure they have the capabilities and access to data to make knowledge-based decisions anytime and anywhere. Ovum believes the creation of an insights- first culture hinges on having a thorough understanding of how departments within the enterprise function. Only then will the enterprise come together to repair the dis- connect of complete data delivery through- out by building entire teams and committees to work toward the goal of enterprisewide information governance. 6. Invest In Augmented And Virtual Reality (AR And VR) Virtual and augmented reality have the potential to change the retail landscape as we know it. Both are already disrupting the retail space in a big way and may help retailers successfully blend the in-store and online experience. Lowe's, for example, is helping customers envision what an installed product such as a refrigerator would look like in their home by creating a remodeled virtual space for customers to explore. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, augmented reality should encourage, not replace, human contact. Applying human contact to AR and VR scenarios will enable as- sociates to browse inventory through digital devices, increase sales by allowing custom- ers to try before they buy (both online and in-stores), and connect offline marketing to online stores through augmented catalogs to close the purchasing loop. 7. Let The Internet Of Things Guide You To Better Customer Experiences CES 2017 saw an increase in the launch of new connected household items such as mirrors, hairbrushes, beds, pillows, pans, and trash cans. In fact, Ovum forecasts that there will be 15.3 billion consumer devices in use by 2021 connected via the Internet of Things, and the benefits of this relatively new techno- logical capability are still unfolding. Connected devices and wearables allow companies to create hyperpersonalized moments that empower customers, give them autonomy over their own data, and can engage in ways that invite customers into the stores. In return, the data gathered from these connected experiences provides a clear directive for companies on how to improve the customer experience. Samsung's Family Hub smart refrigerator, for example, allows users to connect to their local grocer to place orders, access recipes, or gain an inside view of the refrigerator from their phones, among other things. As Samsung demonstrates, IoT turns any object into a bountiful source of information about its customers' behaviors and preferences. Retailers that can quickly figure out how to leverage the new breed of data from con- nected devices will gain the ability to track activities, identify choices, and evaluate outcomes, ultimately adopting a new level of proactivity that hasn't previously been available in single-channel environments. In the long term, they will find a new way to understand customers' individual behaviors, link that data throughout the enterprise, and gain competitive advantage in this new era of retail. 31 May-June 2017

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