Best Practices: A survival guide to the digital retail revolution
According to a 2018 survey by Kantar Media, the sales revenues of large local retailers have decreased by 31% since 2015 in the USA. The retail revolution should happen right now. This sends a wake-up call to the industry, beset as it is by a drop in attendance and power of attractiveness.
The digital wave has been a game-changer that has profoundly altered consumers’ behaviors and expectations. More than ever, brands are coming to a crucial turning point: transform or perish when confronting more agile brands.
Here are the 3 key elements on which retail must build in order to thrive in this new era.
80% of the 3 million catalogs distributed in France go unread. Is the digital world to blame? Nowadays, 93% of consumers search for prices or product information on their mobile devices, while 84% prefer to make their inquiries in stores. The retail revolution might not stop at the physical store concept.
Behaviors have changed, and the competition between channels and brands has heightened. E-commerce launched the attack by offering a broad portfolio of products that are always readily accessible. Now m-commerce has joined the race, and stores are struggling to drive customers to their premises.
In such a highly competitive context, brands are vying with each other in ingenuity to be more attractive and better fulfill customers’ expectations. Brands that choose the path of transformation are those that will win their clients’ hearts (and wallets).
#2 Customer intimacy
Consumers’ behaviors have changed so drastically that brands can no longer address their customers the same old way. Retailing has entered an era of ultra-personalization: targeting must be precise and relevant, messages personal and unique. This is the sine qua non to succeed in capturing customers’ volatile and sporadic attention.
To best address customers, retailers need to know their expectations, needs and preferences to succeed in this retail revolution. This is where data comes in. In the digital era, marketing strategies must be driven by data analytics, which helps study users’ profiles in order to better understand and meet their needs.
#3 Customer experience, the icing on the cake for the retail revolution
User experience is an essential brick of next-generation retailing. It leverages a phygital approach, which merges the online and in-store customer journeys to create a single pathway with different points of entry.
Concretely, it provides easy access to information at the point of sale and on the Web, through a chatbot, a personal assistant, digital signage systems,etc. It also delivers an immersive experience through virtual reality or gamification. Both a vehicle for engagement and a catalyst for loyalty, customer experience is now indispensable for a sector struggling to win over and retain clients.
In a highly competitive environment, customer experience is the cornerstone of a strategy to attract customers by immersing them in the world of a brand and enabling them to choose their own journey. This powerful lever eventually turns customers into brand advocates.
Retailers must focus on setting a proximity link with their customers, as this is a key differentiation factor. This includes a unique and innovative user experience.
Many brands have already gone in this direction: the Casino Group with its phygital flagship concept-store « Le 4 », Sephora with its virtual reality store devoted to its Christmas collection, and a leading US retailer which has deployed dynamic shelf tags that can identify a customer passing by and deliver a customized promotional message. The retail revolution is definitely under way.