Retail and data: towards a 2.0 model?
The game-changer was “Digital”. Historically, e-commerce websites and physical sales outlets have historically been competing against each other. Regardless, the retail industry has changed profoundly; leaning heavily towards the goals of combining both models, thus resulting in end-to-end visibility at each step of the buyer’s journey, setting the emphasis on customer experience and data analytics.
A transforming industry…
In 2018, there were major announcements made by tier-1 retailers. The Monoprix brand has cemented a partnership with the global giant Amazon. Auchan has started collaboration with Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce mammoth. Casino unveiled a pioneering and 100% digital concept store located on the Champs Elysées in Paris. All retail players are sharing their vision of what “retail 2.0” should be, while repositioning themselves on the market and barring the road to online pure-players who are seeking hegemony.
For traditional retailers, this awakening is somehow a bit too late to catch up with Amazon and other “digital-firsts”. Nevertheless, they have to undergo the transformation which would enable them to fight back and retain their market position. For them, the challenge is huge: they must reclaim ownership over their data. This is the key to switching to next-generation retailing focused on user experience, offering personalization, and a rewarding buyer’s journey. Over the long run, customer relationship will have to be more “consumer-centric” to help brands attract fickle and wayward customers.
To implement this new approach, retailers are looking into reaping the benefits of an omnichannel strategy. This includes a single-window view across web and traditional physical stores that have so far been considered as siloes. The buyer is, therefore, considered from an end-to-end perspective; to deliver a global visibility across all customers, whether they buy online or from a retail shop. Therefore, the challenge for retailers is to better know their customers, to attract them, and improve their loyalty through screening their purchase history, preferences, and behaviors, as they amble through the aisles of a store. This granular information helps refine the sales pitch, adapt offerings in real time, and deliver a personalized experience.
…that supports the requirements of the 2.0 consumer
If retailers have commenced revolutionizing their industry, it is primarily because consumer behavior has been utterly disrupted by the availability and affordability of new technologies. It all started with e-commerce, m-commerce and artificial intelligence which, combined, have paved the way to multifarious next-generation technologies. The digitization of our habits and the immediacy of social networks have raised the requirements and expectations of users.
To support new requirements demanded by consumers, retailers must leverage data analytics and make this the catalyst of their business. They must improve their insights into their customers in a precise and granular way, including their behaviors and purchase history; to ensure they meet their expectations, and interact with them in real time (online and also in stores). This data-driven marketing will help retailers deploy a proximity, location-based targeting strategy, driven by data correlation, and the possibility to push personal notifications related to special offers.
Retailers must remove all barriers between their physical and digital ecosystems. « Smart phygital » strategies that mix and match smart points of sale, digital environments, and user interactions (online and in stores), make up the foundation of a new customer-centric business paradigm. This transformation can only be achieved through relevant and judicious use of data. At a time when retailers use multifarious technologies, including Wi-Fi, such technologies have never been so important … and readily available.
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