Empowered and informed through digital technology, shoppers today have access to multiple non-store channels to make their purchase decision. These channels are growing rapidly, threatening the existence of the physical store.
With an increase in online-only stores such as Amazon, eBay, Alibaba etc., traditional retailers are under threat, as they offer customers personalised deals that undercut the high street prices. Most shoppers however, still visit the store to touch, feel or try a product before using their smartphones to search for the cheapest deal online. The retailers should adapt their strategies to take advantage of this and convert this threat into an opportunity.
Smartphones and superfast connectivity is making customers more digitally connected than ever - retailers will need to rise to the challenge of engaging the new connected customer across the different channels. This new omni-channel shopping experience is redefining the boundaries of retail and is driven by the below key customer trends:
The rising customer expectations are driving the demand for a connected store experience, which calls for greater integration of store systems and processes with different technologies and platforms and training of employees. The stores will need to be connected to communicate with the customer in new ways and becomes much more than a place to browse and buy – it becomes a means of delivering a personalised experience to the customer, gives them added value and generates brand loyalty.
Providing a connected experience through free in-store WiFi and offering customers access to product details, reviews and price comparison can help increase footfall into a store and promote loyalty. This will establish a communication channel with the customer and enable the retailer to collect data that can be used to offer real-time deals and deliver a more targeted personalised experience.
Retailers need to transform their stores to be more dynamic to deliver real-time solutions to that are more relevant and personalized to the customer profile/behaviour. The below diagram illustrates the landscape of a connected store.
The above will engage the customer but understanding their preferences, shopping habits and lifestyle is crucial to fostering an on-going relationship. The mobile service providers hold the key to achieving this transformation i.e. network usage data and the customer profile.
Mobile network operators produce billions of rows of network usage data every hour, which includes how and where people use their mobile devices, socio-demographic breakdowns, mobile web and app usage, cinema, sport, social, location and travel information. In retail context, this information highway is a golden opportunity to derive new actionable insights into purchase behaviour that could influence smarter decision-making and drive new business opportunities.
WiFi data gives retailers information on in-store behaviour, which can be acted on to generate real-time opportunities to enhance shopping experience. The network usage data, on the other hand, helps to understand what customers are doing either side of a store visit. The two data sources put together can help retailers provide a consistent and enriched customer experience across all channels.
About the Author
Joffey Chandy - Business Unit Head, Torry Harris Business Solutions, UK