POSTED 26.11.18 / BY HOTWASABI

future of retail

In the modern world shoppers are more demanding, discerning and sophisticated while the traditional selling models are not good enough to secure a sustainable sales flow.

 

  • The shopping experience has moved beyond the physical stores, and begins quite some time before the actual purchase takes place

 

Ultimately, what will make stores interesting in the future is the same thing that makes them interesting today; the physical experience of being there, talking to real people who know their products, touching such products and the unbeatable joy at leaving the store with the product in your hands.

 

There is a clear preference amongst most consumers to shop in physical stores for most product categories, but a receptiveness to blending the online and brick-and-mortar experiences.

 

Almost a third of consumers (31 percent) now shop online at least once a week. Consumers want their online shopping experiences to be fast and convenient. Supply chain and logistics improvements are fueling growth of online commerce, free shipping continues to be the top incentive whilst the biggest jump over the past three years has been easier online returns.

 

More than three quarters of consumers (79 percent) say it’s likely they would select drones as a delivery option if it meant they could receive packages within an hour. One survey has revealed that 74% of customers did not physically test the product before they purchased online. The majority of consumers no longer feel the need to go to a store to ‘touch and feel’ the product before buying, as it has become much easier to order online, try or test the product at home then return at their convenience. The fashion and apparel industry is experiencing increasing upheaval mainly due to rapidly evolving shopper expectations.

 

In a world with instant access to information, where competition is just one click away, attracting and keeping customers is crucial to survival. Mobile technologies can help reaching these goals by enhancing the shopping experience and gaining information and intimacy with the customers. Shopping will become a unique and specific experience to each customer. By sharing information about individual preferences, needs and expectations, a truly tailor-made shopping experience is possible. The answer lies in putting the customer at the center of the value chain through an enhanced shopping experience. Whenever customers interact with the commerce, a new opportunity arises to know them better and offer a more personalized service, which could extend up to negotiating prices on a one-to-one basis.

 

The retailer can provide the customer advanced services in the shopping area that interact with the buyer’s mobile device; Improving the consumer/seller interaction, leveraging the e-commerce offering inside

the store, empowering consumers and optimising the checkout experience. The buying will probably start on the Internet and may finish online or in the shop. Both channels have to be synchronized in a user-centric experience. seven in 10 consumers would be willing to opt into in-store tracking and mobile push notifications if they were properly incentivized by retailers.

 

In the world of VR e-commerce clothing holds the most potential, however while more than half (55 percent) of consumers say they expect VR will impact their buying decisions, consumer interest may be waning, down from 63

percent a year ago. This is likely due to the slow and unimpressive splash VR has made so far in the retail space. A third of consumers saying they would likely shop more with retailers that offer a VR experience and a quarter saying it would cause them to purchase more online. The product categories generating the most interest include clothing and apparel (57 percent), consumer electronics (41 percent) and household goods (40 percent).

 

A unexpected growth area is the rise of luxury e-commerce; more than four times as many consumers made luxury purchases online in the past year compared to two years ago. Luxury players have reached a tipping point where they can quickly scale their e-commerce operations. As more consumers complete their shopping online, they become more comfortable with the thought of purchasing more expensive items online.

 

The power of omnichannel shopping and the physical/digital shopping convergence that is creating a new wave of changes within fashion and apparel. Retailers need to embrace the new normal of a frictionless omnichannel shopper experience if they want to stay competitive and operationally ready.

 

However consumers love stores; they can touch and try products and shopping is also a social event. Physical stores still handle the  majority of purchases, but the stage seems set for wider adoption of e-commerce as consumers warm up to the idea and retailers roll out broader programs. This growing emphasis on the marriage of in-store and online retail environment also extends to coupons (52 percent); additional information, including product content and reviews (36 percent); and indoor store mapping showing them aisle layouts and

product locations (30 percent). Connected consumers, “always-on”, will be provided with a new end-to-end shopping experience which natively includes the asset of the physical store, without interrupting their digital experience. The store will bring a strong asset for the retailer bringing what e-commerce services struggle to perform: a touch experience, immediacy of product availability, advices and services. In one word, the digital store will become an amplifier of the consumer digital experience.

 

 

Technology can be a strong lever to improve the shopping experience for customers. The continual increase in omnichannel sales has forced apparel and fashion retailers to take an active interest in creating frictionless, omnichannel shopping experiences. Fulfillment, delivery and order accuracy are equally as important and can only be guaranteed by strong technological backing. The enhanced consumer journey involves

three phases of shopping: the pre-store preparation, the in-store experience and the post-store services:

 

- pre-store; The online channel can really support this step as one third of the worldwide population is using the Internet already, with penetration growing, providing applications and connection between the store and the customer, are the first steps in building a relationship. Functions like an online shopping list or suggested items for the customer can bring a customer to the store, with increased frequency. Usage of mobile devices, shops can attract customers walking by outside, with advertisements, special offers or simply presence on the Internet that makes the brand known to more people.

 

- in store; virtual pre-store experience gets enriched by knowledgeable staff and touchable products. Additional information on products can be made available via tags at the shelf edge or on the product through the customer’s mobile device. Usage of a virtual basket makes the customer independent in the way of shopping and improves the speed of the checkout and payment process. Physical shops can attract the customers with leisure or social experiences like in-store coffee shops to make the customer stay in the shop and feel at home. Connection to social networks is important, attracting friends to join a person in the physical shop or to be a reference for a later purchase, use of digital signage as a new interactive visual merchandising tool that wows shoppers.

 

- post-store; Growing importance of the supply chain, fulfillment has become a top investment area for retailers, with 29 percent of capital expenditures last year going toward solutions like transportation and

logistics, delivery options, order management, inventory visibility and returns management. The most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level – tapping into their fundamental motivations and fulfilling their deep, often unspoken emotional needs.

 

The customer experience is a critically important driver of emotional connection customers who engage in an omnichannel experience, for example, are much more emotionally connected and therefore consistently more profitable. A major apparel retailer we found that among customers’ key emotional motivators were their desire to feel a sense of belonging, be thrilled by the shopping experience, and have a sense of freedom and independence.

 

Technology like Mobile Payments, Smart labels (NFC, QR, barcode, image recognition) remove barriers separating web, mobile and in-store experience. Electronic Smart Labels (ESL) with NFC becomes a kind of “digital magnet”

for shoppers’ smartphones in the stor. Geolocation & Geofencing, which is starting to appear on the latest generation of phones, allows the user to configure some specific actions when he enters a particular perimeter. Beacons and Bluetooth Low Energy Technology will also facilitate location of devices and direct communication between retailers and consumers within the store. Big data analysis & personalisation with High-resolution Customer Knowledge; derived from a complete “data footprint” of the instore and online connected customers using Advanced Forecasting; from Pattern Based Strategy and AI-based Predictive Analytics.

 

With the growing use of innovative store technologies such as mobile apps, digital media, wearable devices, artificial intelligence, internet of things (IoT) and robotics, retailers need to invest in and increase their level of preparedness in embracing these advances at the store level. The divide between technology and

fashion is increasingly becoming blurred. Adoption of digital technologies is the future of retail and the backbone of a frictionless omnichannel shopper experience. Implementation of digital technologies such as 3D virtual reality stores, wearables devices, augmented reality and 3D printing is still low when compared to Internet of Things (IoT), in-store beacons, digital fitting rooms, interactive virtual stores or interactive

digital signage. Adidas has been testing a new process at a pop-up store in Germany that allows shoppers to design a sweater with various colors and patterns, undergo a laser body scan to determine fit and receive a

knitted, hand-finished, washed, dried and ready to take home product within a few hours.

 

In the future products in stores could interact with shoppers and reveal their lifecycle. Where have the

products been? What are they made of? Which people were involved in production? With the growing environmental awareness and interest in the origin of products this would add a totally new and enticing dimension to the shopping experience. New wearable devices will also appear complementing and extending some of the new uses already introduced by smartphones. Will Internet-connected glasses enable new ways of shopping? Will your eyes replace the camera to scan a barcode or identify a product directly? will retailers redesign the store of the future to better accommodate all these new behaviors and opportunities. Over the next one to two years, 52% of retailers plan to use augmented reality and robotics in their stores. Many of these new technologies – such as bots, automated processes and machine learning – provide the opportunity to augment employees’ capabilities. This can be particularly valuable in an industry like retail where attrition and dependence on temporary workers is high. Technology will be instrumental in enabling omnichannel e-commerce, and to providing the right customer experience.

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