This year’s STORE2017 conference reverberated with transformative trends that are shaping the retail world. Key among these trends is retail’s digitization, which is driving unprecedented organizational change, technology adoption and innovation.
The annual event, organized this spring by the Retail Council of Canada, provided a forum for retail experts to define the big issues and share strategies for engaging consumers and driving success.
Erin Elofson, head of retail, financial services and telecom, Facebook Canada, got right to the point in her presentation, “The Hacker Way: Building a Culture of Retail Innovation.” The good news: Consumers are always “going shopping.” The bad news: They’re distracted and impatient. For instance, 40 percent will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Retailers may wish to take heed of Facebook’s 10-year roadmap. From a technology standpoint, the social media giant has its eye on artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and connectivity, including drones.
Elofson had three recommendations for attendees:
- Focus on impact: Pick one to three priorities that matter.
- Move fast: Keep experimenting and iterating.
- Be bold: The only strategy guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.
In another STORE2017 presentation, “The Truth About Online Consumers,” Willy Kruh, Global Chairman & National Leader, Consumer Markets, KPMG International, shared findings from its recent survey of global shoppers, summarized in the KPMG 2017 Global Online Consumer Report. Echoing some of Elofson’s sentiments, KPMG’s report said “millions of consumers no longer ‘go’ shopping, but literally ‘are’ shopping — at every moment and everywhere.”
KPMG’s research found that over two-thirds (about 67 percent) of consumers had used a smartphone for product research while in a physical store. That figure rose to 77 percent among Millennials.
Simona Salter, vice president, client management and merchant services, American Express Canada, also emphasized the importance of mobile in her presentation, “The Future of Operations: The Transaction Behavior of the Anytime, Anywhere Consumer.” Mobile commerce grew 142 percent in 2016, she said. Overall, American Express sees these major retail trends:
- Convergence: Online meets offline.
- Convenience: Consumers wants to shop on their own time.
- Personalization: Shoppers want relevant, contextual information, products and offers.
- Frictionless: Make it easy.
Facing these realities, retailers need strong technology solutions to deliver a seamless experience. For example, Cegid’s Unifed Commerce Platform, Yourcegid Retail Y2, offers capabilities to address each of the four trends mentioned above. The cloud-based software includes tools for digitizing the store and making it simple for consumers to buy offline and online.
Technology providers like Cegid also recognize that consumers are constantly connected to their mobile devices, both in the store and outside its four walls. The latest POS and clienteling software is built for mobile commerce, ensuring that store associates have access to a 360-degree view of the customer and product availability, all without leaving the shopper’s side.
Interestingly, KPMG’s study found that Millennials are more likely than other generations to buy goods online from sources outside their own countries. “In many countries, the tendency to buy internationally is highest among Millennials,” said the firm’s report. “This could indicate potential growth for cross-border online shopping as consumers increasingly seek unique or specialized products from other countries.”
Millennials also value individualized customer service, such as customized promotions, more than older generations, according to KPMG. “Providing excellent consumer support, loyalty programs and benefits, and a forum for feedback, will all remain vital to earning the loyalty of customers across generations. However, in order to attract the younger consumers, companies need to offer more personalized interactions, more customized experiences and one-on-one engagement,” the report said.
To meet this type of demand, retailers require a real-time, holistic inventory and customer view. Best-in-class retail technology like Yourcegid Retail Y2 empowers retailers to centralize all customer data, including preferences, purchases, contact information, loyalty program participation and special requirements. With this technology at their fingertips, store associates can tailor every interaction to the individual consumer, offering personal product recommendations and customized pricing to reward loyal customers.
To learn how Cegid can help your retail business navigate important trends, such as those showcased at STORE2017, contact us today. Let’s work on re-inventing retail together.
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