The Future of Retailing
Retail is undergoing an enormous transformation, leaving many asking, “What is the future of retail?” If you’ve ever asked the question; “What’s next for the retail industry?, How can I best prepare for it? What do my customers want or what should I be doing as a retailer?” then this post is for you. This post sheds light on the three core customers expectation that we think will make the biggest impact on the retail industry in the near future.
With the rapid increase of mobile devices & smart appliances, e-commerce and the marketing associated with it, the retail industry has seen and will continue to see the tremendous transformation as the digital world continues to infiltrate the four walls of traditional stores, where shoppers are armed with smartphones and an entirely new set of expectations.
The retailers who will thrive in the next decade will be those that reimage and redefine their stores for the digital age. Tomorrow’s winners will be those who are able to provide conveniences, experience and options to their customers.
What do customers want from retailers?
- Convenience: Customers increasingly value the ability to buy quickly and easily. Customers lead busy lives and their time is becoming more and more limited and fragmented every day. So when it comes to shopping, they may not always be 100% focused or fully engaged in the task at hand. So in order to keep up with this, retailers must innovate in ways that make it easier and more convenient for their customers to get what they need and not miss a beat in the process. The real winners of the future retail industry will be companies that help customers save time and simplify their day to day shopping routine.
- Experience: Customers want pleasant shopping experience. Shopping sometimes for customers is a social experience that they do with family and friends in other to spend time with one another while fulfilling their own needs. Retailers who will thrive in the future will be those who offer tailored products and experiences to customers, hence retailers must invest in predictive customer analysis and use data from an intersection of multiple sources to better customers and delight them.
Retailers must provide an authentic customer experience that supports the brand value and position, that lets the personality of the retailer show through and allows customers to connect with the brand of a deeper level.
Shopping experience continues to evolve, sometimes very rapidly, hence retailers should be ready to take advantage of consumers’ growing appetite for the authentic experience if they want to compete in the new marketplace. By using social media and digital technologies to connect with customers’ expectations, retailers can create a new trend of shopping experience of shopping. By incorporating the best of digital into the human experience of shopping, customers will be able to recapture the nostalgic joy of shopping. Retailers can drive more people towards their stores by ensuring they leave not just with their products but also with memories.
A customer-centric experience first approach requires companies to reorganize their logistics operations, fulfilment and customer service.
- Options: Customers want more choices when it comes to shopping. We live in a time of abundant choice. Customers have a huge range of options that impacts on the way businesses can attract and grow their customer base, build high value and loyal customers. Offering options are about partly meeting your customers wherever they are and partly empowering customers to make the right decisions.
The “paradox of choice” theory from Barry Schwartz, professor of Social Theory and Social action at Swarthmore College suggest that choices can sometimes be overwhelming and even leads to not making a decision at all. So it becomes ever more important to support your customers with the right choices. Whether that means implementing online tools to help customers make decisions, targeting your marketing to reach the right people and streamlining or curating the choices that you offer your customers, this will help them to feel secure in their decision. More than ever, retailers need to anticipate customers need before they do.
The future of retail will need retailers to constantly evolve, innovate and unify their channel efforts so shoppers’ path to purchase is as frictionless as possible. Today’s forward-thinking retailers must concentrate their efforts on creating a path to shop that responds to customers’ demands integrating in-store technology, mobile, cloud, analytics and social media in a unified system to boost customers engagement.
Is your retail business ready for the future?
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