The Future of The Store is Already Here
By David Trice, ENGAGE.cx
The retail industry has undergone some pretty incredible changes over the past few years. From new payment types to variable store footprints, how and where goods are stored and sold has completely morphed the in store experience.
Data analytics tools like predictive modelling, and “always-on” digital technology make it possible for consumers to interact with retailers in new ways. It is crucial for retailers to adapt to these forces, otherwise it can negatively impact customer perceptions of their brand for years to come.
But what if the store had a voice, a personality and a soul, and it used those attributes to connect personally with each and every customer? What if a shopper could walk into a store and the level of service, content offered, even the products being displayed reflected his personal tastes, lifestyle and preferences? What if this experience was different for each and every customer? This possibility is very real. The technologies that connect the back of the store to the front in real-time, and the analytics techniques that continue to learn from every customer’s shopping experience already exist. They have implications on everything the retailer does or offers to the shopper.
The key to offering this holistic experience to customers is to bridge the physical and the digital by developing the infrastructure that allows for knowledge sharing and smart communication. The result is a beautiful implementation of art and science – the store of the future; purveyor of the ultimate customer experience.
For consumers, this will be a welcome reprieve from the antiquated task of visiting a store, being treated as a stranger and receiving often-questionable customer service. For brands, this equals unprecedented customer loyalty and advocacy. Brick and mortars will undergo a renaissance of sorts; the re-emergence of superior and personalized customer service, convenience and excitement can and will continue to be pillars of today’s in-store shopping experience. Below are just a few examples of this realization:
● Empowered Customer Service: In-store shopping is more than just a transaction, it is a social experience. Long gone are the days of customers searching aimlessly for customer service that is knowledgeable, informed and invested in customer relationships. With technology such as mobile or tablet devices, and information mined from social platforms, sales associates will be armed with relevant information in the moment; instantly and automatically being able to access a shopper’s profile, customer preferences and buying history to provide a better and on-demand experience. Predictive analytics will be leveraged to know what a customer wants before he or she asks for it.
● Omnichannel is Omnipresent: More retailers will offer a menu of flexible fulfillment options, whether it's a preorder and pick-up in a store or shopping in a store offering free home delivery, or brands offering more virtual or pop up shopping experiences in other venues. This gives customers the ability to shop, pay and schedule delivery anywhere and anytime.
● Rise of the Planet of the Brand Disciples: All retailers have a segment of good customers, but this segment consists of their best customers--more than brand advocates, disciples not only sing a company’s praises but they also spend their money on them. They want to experience a brand in a real and authentic way. They are driven by common lifestyle attributes and emotional connections (for example Foodies or Yogis). More importantly, they put their money where their passion is. Brand disciples will develop into powerful communities that will influence major buying decisions. Again, lifestyle and behavioral analytics powered by technology will enable brands to appeal to the emotional side of this core group.
The store of the future is already here. Forward-thinking brands must throw out outdated business models and be willing to undertake inspiring experiments and new technologies to make this effort a reality.
David Trice is co-founder and CEO of ENGAGE.cx, the leading experience-driven CRM for enterprise. Prior to launching ENGAGE.cx Trice was VP of CRM at Oracle, where he led the launch of Oracle’s Fusion CRM.