Getting closer to the customer no matter the channel they use to shop is a major thrust for retailers. It is expected to shape retail offerings in 2015 and in the years ahead. This theme also echoed in the retail technology applications and solutions showcased at two recently concluded retail events, the NRF retail show in New York and closer home, the Retail Business Technology Exposition in London.
Delivering Contextual Data
In order to deliver unique customer experiences, retailers must be equipped with the appropriate tools. Whether it is to provide attractive product ranges, shelves packed with the right products, or proactive insight into customer’s needs -- each of these scenarios requires retailers to utilise data and treat customers as individuals rather than as a generic set of assumed characteristics.
Successful retailers will be those that tap into the hearts and minds of customers. They can do this in numerous ways: creating customer communities that focus on individual products and/or create bundles that cater to specific personal needs. Now, here’s an upsell opportunity if ever there was one.
Product offerings can be contextualised for customers at the point of purchase in real time with personalised promotions and reduced prices for the loyal customers or specific products for VIP customers. This can be realised by using loyalty management to identify customers through digital or physical media.
Beacon of Hope
There are a couple of technologies that can provide engaging retail customers experiences. The first is the iBeacon, a low-cost, micro location-based technology that utilises Bluetooth to communicate with beacon enabled devices. Retailers can use this technology to provide real time digitalisation of the engagement between customer and colleague. By augmenting this new source of data with existing sources, they can ensure a personalised, in-store experience.
The Point of the POS
We are perhaps, witnessing the death of the POS or a re-energising of this system. Even as the lines of differentiation between the standard POS and its mobile equivalent start to get increasingly blurry. I am of the opinion that this is a result of customers experiencing application overload – bored with the numerous apps available, whether it is for customer or employee enablement.
It remains to be seen whether the payment point and payment method morph on an industrial scale. With retailers realising the benefits of smaller, individual stores that offer flexible layouts and payment offerings, it becomes crucial to enhance the customer experience physically and digitally. Whatever way this pans out, the payment point and the payment method are likely to change in 2015 as contactless grows and the effect of Apple’s entry into this space takes hold.
Real-time Supply Chain Integration
As data becomes increasingly accessible to customers and colleagues alike, we will see the supply chain transform into a powerhouse. It will serve as a key infrastructure for successful retailers to retain customers. Retailers with misaligned supply chains will realise that a proper blend of product quality, marketing, pricing and channel ambience is useless, unless products are on the shelf or delivered to the door on time. Poor supply chain systems will result in dis-enfranchised customers, loss of money, trust and ultimately fail.
Going forward, store staff will use real time data to identify in-store opportunities that improve stock availability. They will use tablets and handheld devices to do this. Real time technology integration alongside slick store procedures will ensure that immediate action is taken to solve problems, rather than taking action on the stock issue in the next day’s report. Why wait until tomorrow morning to understand that you could have sold stock yesterday if it had been on the shop floor? Use your data to do something about the problem today. In 2015 will see these opportunities materialise as dashboards that enable action.
Anytime, Anywhere, Agile Responses
Since our last issue of iMpetus where we discussed the role of data insight and dashboards in providing business agility, I am pleased to say that we have added three more retail clients. We are working with them in the areas of testing, application support and business intelligence. While the propositions are different for each of the three clients in their unique retail segments, the theme of each programme remains the same - to enhance the customer experience.
Each of our retail clients wanted to get close to the customer and improve the personal experience across their channels. This includes faster resource mobilisation, imminent starts, quick trialling of ideas, understanding what works and what doesn’t, building on successes and dropping failures quickly. All these goals are a pretty good definition of the Agile element of the Mastek DNA.
Our new client wins have reinforced our belief in Mastek’s journey towards Enterprise Agility. Whilst retail technology and trends in 2015 and beyond will evolve, our clients tell us that they want Mastek to provide technology competence and quality staff, but above all our clients want leadership and guidance. They want Mastek to be a flexible and innovative partner. In short, they want what their customers want - an individual personal experience with trust and integrity. As a Retail division at Mastek, this is what we continue to strive for each day.
Don’t let poor technology decision-making drive your customers away. Get in touch with Andy Hicketts - Vice President, Retail at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can use technology to connect with your customers.