The New Normal:
The Retail Industry is changing rapidly. More changes have occurred in the last five years than in the last fifty.
E-Commerce has grown to record highs, and will grow by 50% or more in the next three years; fueled by consumers seeking convenience, discounts and fast fulfillment.
The consumer has changed. Empowered by Mobile Devices and Social Media, they chart their own path across your sales channels and devices in search of the best value, and seeking a personal and relevant experience in their journey.
Retailers have been forced to change, to meet the new demand, and not all can weather the growing storm. Layoffs, store closures and bankruptcies plague the headlines, and many iconic retailers have fallen by the wayside.
Technology has helped to enable the survivors and those that have begun to adopt the integrated and unified commerce philosophy and infrastructure, are those who will stand fast against the rising tide.
Is it enough, however, to just stand fast or will only the bold survive? Is this the New Normal?
The Modern Age:
In the Modern Age, it is not enough to exist as a pure-play online or offline retailer. To be able to acquire and keep the modern consumer, a Retailer must be able to play both sides of the fence; or rather, to remove the fence altogether and blur the lines that have divided the channels previously.
This involves a radical shift to a new paradigm; in which, the Retailer understands the needs of the Consumer, and responds before those needs arise.
Employing new technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and data analytics can help your organization to divine consumer needs, while cloud-based and integrated solutions can ensure your organization moves at the speed of light in your marketing, sales and service endeavors.
The Modern Consumer:
To meet the needs of the modern consumer is to understand who, and what, the modern consumer is.
In April of 2016, the Millennials became the largest living generation in North America, and when combined with the younger Gen-X and older Gen-Z demographics, they become your core customers and the New Normal.
The Boomers and Silvers still carry more purchasing power, and will still be a force to reckon with for the next decade, but slowly they will transition, focusing more on retirement, than idle purchases.
The younger generations are those who have grown up in the age of technology; Gen-X saw the rise in personal computing and the internet, while Millennials grew up during the rise of the Smartphone and Social Media, while Gen-Z has never known a world without.
Growing up in an age of instant gratification has skewed their view on what Retail should be, and their expectations are driving the change in Retail today.
The post-Boomer generations have grown up in an era of Marketing like never before seen, and are nearly immune to its blandishments. Their digital adoption has forced marketers to respond, and yet here they are able to find the personalization and relevancy required to pique the interests of the modern consumer, via analytics, web cookies and search history.
Here, in the digital world, the consumer is not so much marketed to, but rather suggested to or influenced. The lines between reality, familiarity and actuality blur together as the lines between the online and offline worlds of retail have.
In the Modern Age of Retailing, some of the largest challenges a Retailer faces, are different aspects of the same issue: Consumer Expectations.
The “Netflix Effect” is a consumer expectation to be able to pick up on a new device or location, where they left off on another. The expectations are to be able to have a seamless transition from mobile device to desktop, to store and back again, without loss of data, offers, identity and prices.
The “Amazon Effect” is a reinforced expectation Consumers have from their interactions with the Online Giant. Fast, Free, or relatively inexpensive shipping rates are one of the reasons Amazon has risen to the heights of consumer satisfaction, in addition to their prices and personalized offerings. Consumers have come to expect to pay little for shipping, and are quite shocked when they see variations to that concept.
Fast-Fashion and Off-Pricer’s have brought to the price-conscious consumer the ability to obtain fresh-off-the-runway fashions, or quality brand names at vastly reduced prices, forever changing the dynamic of luxury and exclusivity. Social Media has helped to fuel these desires, Instagram in particular as Style-Bloggers and Celebrities help to create the new demand that did not exist a decade before.
Personalization and Relevancy: As mentioned above, Amazon and other E-tailers, through their data analytics and recursive algorithms have helped steer consumers to items they want through the power of suggestion. Gilt.com uses such a specific algorithm that users of their app are presented with personalized offers daily. Due to the internet and its instant gratification, the modern consumer has come to expect this from all.
The expectation is built into the experience, “You should know who I am, and you should know what I want”. Deviations from personalized and relevant offers and service put a sour taste into the collective mouths of the modern consumer.
The New Normal:
In an age where Department Stores are slowly fading out of existence, where once pure-play E-Tailers are opening physical stores to complement their online presence, and where normal Brick and Mortar stores are facing the threat of experience over purchase, the consumer is king.
Omni-channel, though a much overused buzzword, has become an all-encompassing reality for the modern retailer, and only the strong and the nimble will survive. What was once a “nice-to-have” or “maybe next year”, is a do-or-die actuality that has already seen its fair share of victims.
Consumer Expectations and Satisfaction are paramount in the modern age, and without them, no amount of technological innovation will save your organization.
Unfortunately, there is no all-corrective solution to remedy the modern retailer’s woes. There is no plug-and-play mix of technology and business process that can effectively help you to re-create the perfect retail experience. It varies from retailer to retailer as to what this solution is, and how and when to employ it. It also varies from consumer demographic as to what are the correct mix of solutions and processes to help reinvent relevancy and experience.
A great place to start is employing the services of a firm like Advantage2Retail.
For over a decade, A2R’s dedicated team of consultants, developers, programmers and architects have been helping retailers to retake control of their destinies. By lowering costs, increasing productivity through the optimization of business processes and systems, A2R’s clients are able to become lean and agile and clear up the clutter of their pasts to embrace the strategic visions of their future.
With the New Normal, and with all the challenges the modern retailer must face to be able to deliver to the modern consumer, they need every Advantage they can get.
Gain that Advantage with A2R.
Let us show you how we can help. Let’s talk: firstname.lastname@example.org
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