Is your retail business ready for the digital revolution?

Retailers need to adapt quickly if they are going to survive. The need to change is being driven by many factors but especially the availability and use of increasingly sophistic digital technology, that are dramatically influencing customer expectations. This is demonstrated by the growth of E-Commerce and especially the use of mobile devises and M-Commerce.

Today consumers are increasing shopping more and more with their smartphones (M-Commerce), doing product reviews, checking competitor’s prices in store and in fact retail is now anywhere and everywhere. We are now in the digital age. Some retailers believe incorrectly that they are digitally ready, Argos even incorrectly believe they have digital leadership. For a retailer to be digitally business ready for tomorrow’s shopping experience needs to offer choice, personalisation and accessibility. Tomorrows customers and in reality many of today’s customers want choice of how they buy and retailers offering highly personalised offers will do well. Having excellent 24/7 accessibility to their products when and how the customer wants them including deliveries within a few hours to wherever and whenever the customer wants is going to be critical.

Shopping is going to be so different in the future

Throughout the week, your future smartphone (the future smartphone will be the result of convergence of the smartphone, small laptop and I-Pad) can automatically add items from the internet you may want to buy based on your personal profile and shopping history. The same app will also enable you to load items to your virtual shopping bag yourself by simply scanning the barcode. These may be products at home that are about to run out, or items you come across whilst out and about.  

When you’re ready to replenish the food supply at home, you simply log into your phone, which continuously scans for the latest best deals, and then selects the food retailers that can deliver items based on your defined preferences and budget. In just one click, your food items have been ordered and paid for using a credit card securely stored on the phone.  Your shopping will be delivered to your home at your convenience.

The next day you receive a personalised message to your smartphone informing you that your favourite brand jeans are on 50% markdown at a local retailer. Armed with your smartphone, you buy it up!

These shopping scenarios are already becoming a reality as retailers recognize the importance of using new emerging technologies to engage and encourage an always-available shopping experience for consumers – resulting in fuller basket sizes that will increase the retailers’ average revenue per shopper (ARPS). Tomorrows customers want retailers to match their personal requirements, they want what they want, when they want it, where they want it, how they want it. This will determine the retailer who and why tomorrows customer’s choice to buy from.

The ultimate in-store shopping experience is all about a mixture of excellent customer service and creating a 3D theatre for customers, in a digitally enabled shop with free Wi-Fi that utilised IBeacons for a digitalized personal customer experience. This is critical because often customers will search and compare products online but want to ‘test’ the products before purchasing so they purchase the products in a traditional ‘brick and mortar’ store.

The key for the future of retail is it will be multi-channel, it will be personalised, it will be a seamless shopping experience and it will be quite different to how we shop today.

Only those retailers who fully embrace the digital future will be part of it the rest will eventually join the list of retail failures.

Six Self-Assessment Questions for Retailers
To help retail leaders prepare for the future, here are a six questions to determine what steps are required today to prepare your organisation for a digital age of personalisation:
1. Who is my customer today, and what are they likely to be buying tomorrow?
2. What can I do to ensure my business can react to changing customer behaviours?
3. How can I use available data to give my customers the shopping experience they expect?
4. What can I do to capitalise on the increasing use of mobile and interactive devices?
5. How can I provide customers with a single shopping experience across all channels?
6. Do I have the right business partner for the personalised, digital age?

Failures in 2016 to May 2016

• BHS: The largest retail collapse since Woolworths.
• Austin Reed: The iconic tailoring brand with 155 stores
• Blue Inc: The fashion retailer with 230 stores as Blue Inc and The Officers Club
• Brantano: The ‘value’ shoe firm with 140 branches and 60 concessions.
• Beales: The department store chain with 30 outlets, has agreed a CVA
• McEwans of Perth: The old iconic department store trading since 1868
• Furniture Barn: The chain of 7 furniture and bedding superstores
• Austins of Derry: Founded in 1830 and one of the world’s oldest department stores.
• Castle Bakery: The bread and sandwich retailer
• Hawick Knitwear: The iconic Scottish supplier and retailer of knitted goods,
• Ben Sherman: The menswear retailer, was sold via pre-pack administration to the clothing supplier BMB Clothing

Is your retail business ready for the digital revolution