Retail

How can retailers ensure that they are ready to handle retail's future challenges?

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Many brands are doubtful about how to move within the current retail landscape brimming with apparent unpredictability. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a retail disruption worth many years in just a matter of months. Consumers are making their shopping choices based on necessity rather than desire. Retailers must expect these digital shopping behaviors and sophisticated expectations to persist.

More and more customers are going to opt for online shopping, contact-less payment and delivery, even after the situation improves. So retailers need to be ready for that. The following pointers may help in delivering better shopper experiences and future-proofing their retail businesses.

Bust out familiar silos

Try gathering customer data, reassembling customer relationship management systems and point-of-sale systems, and give up siloed media-buying practices. To beat your competitors, streamline your services to ensure a smooth customer experience. Abolish old silos demarcating brick & mortar and digital retail operations by selecting new tactics and reconfiguring your teams.

Be tenacious about your commitment to evolve

Nice-to-haves are increasingly becoming must-haves, same-day delivery and click-and-collect are swiftly becoming standard expectations. Changing customer perceptions and actions make constant evolution a necessity. Brands who use social media for customer engagement need to take it further by owning the purchaser journey through the social media channels.

Relieve retail pain points with mobile integration

Tackling current retail pain points becomes easy by incorporating mobile innovations. From in-store wayfinding to online orders and touchless payments all these mobile integrations form major parts of modern shopping experience.  Retailers need to leverage mobile devices to make buying online, pickup in-store or delivery and contactless paying modes possible for customers to drive sales in the "new normal" situation. Traffic to stores can also be controlled by direct-response ads through strong mobile services.

Recognize the potential of your omnichannel stack

Retailers who had already recognized the potential of their omnichannel stack had an early start when the world morphed overnight into its lockdown state. Now rebuilding retailers must focus acutely on nurturing an omnichannel  primary approach. Any challenges faced by them, whether financial or otherwise, will definitely pay-off in the long run. Features like maintaining a synchronous inventory with stores, AI-powered tools and chatbots and contactless payment for faster check-outs are becoming imperative by the day.

Earlier e-commerce was an also-ran to the main show of the brick and mortar stores but now the tables are turned and it is e-commerce which is the main star. Now data and the power of the audience has gained utter importance. The most thriving retailers will be seeking to improve their customer touchpoints.

The only certainty in these uncertain times is that the retailers need to focus on customer experience at the centre and build all their innovations around it, whether technological or otherwise.

Aparajita basu roy | August 31st, 2020
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