What’s in store for the future of retail?

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Retail & Distribution

09 February 2022

In the new world of consumption, stores remain a crucial touchpoint for shoppers and allow brands to make a lasting impression. Visiting a store gives shoppers immediate access to helpful advice from knowledgeable staff and the ability to experience the product first-hand before making a buying decision. For these reasons, around 46% of consumers still prefer to make a purchase in-store but what does the future have in store for retailers?

3 min

How has retail changed? A roundtable discussion

To get a real sense of what’s revolutionising retail, there’s no better place to start than the fashion industry. That’s why Cegid, one of the world’s leading retail solutions providers, invited some retail gurus to take part in a virtual round table discussion about the future of retail and the new role of the store. Here’s what they had to say.

To find out more on revolutionising retail and what’s in store, watch the round table recording:

Shopping in-store is back – and better than ever

Fashion customers have always loved the touchy-feely immersive performance that a physical store can showcase. Shoppers can let themselves go and dream, and the brand experience can help them do just that. “For a lot of brands, stores are there to give a holistic experience of a brand where you can literally step in and immerse yourself in it,” says Leanne Cahill, CEO of lingerie retailer Bravissimo.

Customers want and expect more these days, and advances in retail technology and omnichannel solutions, led by the likes of Cegid, can give them a value-added service that’s joined up with what’s online. The actual role of the store has changed. Beth Butterwick, CEO of fashion retailer Jigsaw, is enjoying the new potential and says, “Some of the devices and techniques such as [in-store] tablets … find stock, find it locally, build outfit ideas and send them home, or help store staff talk about influencers. There are many more things stores can do.”

 

The ways to pay have changed

With the right technology, retailers can now accommodate so many ways to pay. Beyond the usual cash or card, customers can digitally use an app, pay now, pay later, pay online while in the store, use loyalty points or gift vouchers, buy without queueing or buy via a sales assistant.

 

The what-happens-where-and-how in retail has changed

Supply chains are more manageable and versatile, thanks to the integration of digital and physical experiences. Customers can order online, using click and collect, they can return goods bought online in-store, arrange split delivery, select something online and something in-store, and pay for them both while in the store. All this means return rates tend to drop as well.

Customer service has changed, too

Thanks to new technology and solutions like Cegid Retail, store staff can do more for a customer’s experience. The human touch that sales assistants can offer in-store has also been enhanced. Virtual fitting of outfits can now happen for customers in-store with the assistance, opinion and indulgent expertise of tech-enabled staff. “The roles of the store associate have completely changed, they have to be brand ambassadors, sales champions, … experts in supply chain and provenance, [yet] they’re still measured on traditional KPIs. Tech is a useful tool to complement the change in role,” says Alan Holcroft, country manager at Cegid.

With omnichannel retail tools at their fingertips, sales staff can now give customers so much more. “When a customer walks into our store, we want the team to be able to see the last thing that person purchased from us, even if that was online, and join it up with what they’re saying today. A lot of our business does not happen on the shop floor, it happens in the fitting area. It’s the team bringing choice to the customer,” says Cahill. This is very convenient for the customer, and nurtures loyalty, but it’s also a great opportunity for the retailer to get closer to their customers by knowing more about their likes and habits.

 

It’s all change in the store

The in-store retail renaissance is empowering sales staff with new tools and new techniques, giving customers a broader and more compelling shopping experience, and enlivening in-store activity. “Humans can understand a customer’s need state, which machines can’t do. This is why a combination of fantastic tech and the beauty of humans is the best experience you can give a customer,” says Butterwick.

To find out more download the Future of Retail Report

Future of Retail 2022, published in the Times, examines retail trends for 2022 and beyond. Unlock this report for insights on the high street of the future, what retailers in the UK, Europe and the USA can learn from their counterparts in emerging markets, and much more.

unlock the full report

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