Why Digital Transformation is Important to Your Retail Operation
Are you looking for a new year’s resolution that’s worthy of your full attention? Here’s one: digital transformation. Has your business completed the process? If not, it should be at the top of your priority list for 2020. The consensus among top players in the industry is that consumers have shifted their expectations, and brands need to operate at peak efficiency to be profitable.
There is a new wave of digital disruption coming down the pike. Companies who are still behind the eight-ball on the last round might not survive.
The first frontier was about competing with online sales. As the technology and user behavior settled into a groove, the situation evolved. Now it’s about user experience, both in-store, online, and both. Wherever the customer wants to be, that’s where you need to meet them.
Omnichannel Experiences are the Second Wave
The second wave of digital transformation is all about omnichannel. It’s about a streamlined experience from end-to-end, both on the customer side and the back end. When all channels are connected, we enable exceptional experiences, imbuing the customer journey with convenience, trust, and transparency.
While we tend to think of omnichannel as something that just happens online, under the new paradigm, the practice extends to in-store experiences as well.
Gen Z is the current heir apparent, but their expectations are not much different than those of millennials. In both groups, there is a strong comfort level with digital, but the way they shop can also be a social undertaking. Unique in-store experiences play into this need, but such events are intrinsically connected to the online shopping experience. Essentially, one is an extension of the other.
The Simpler, the Better
As in-store and online shopping experiences evolve, there is an underlying need for simplicity. Optimizing for voice search, visual search, and voice-based purchasing is critical, as is the availability of alternative payment technologies, like contact-free and one-click methods of payment.
The Need for Speed and the Struggle for Sustainability
Retailers are meeting customer’s demands for speedy delivery with smart supply chain technology, but perhaps even more vital is the ability to trace and track items right from the source. Today’s consumers want their purchases fast, but they also want to know where they’re coming from. Companies can prove global sustainability and provenance using applied optimization technologies like IoT and blockchain.
It All Comes Down to Data
Digital transformation technology is rooted in artificial intelligence (AI). For AI to operate to its highest potential, it requires good quality data. The better the data, the better the customer experience. The trick is to capture the right kind of data.
While the signs of yesterday simply delivered information, these days, they can also collect. Interactive signs and self-order kiosks are two examples of how this task can be accomplished. These technologies observe or absorb data on how customers interact with advertising or information, which can then be applied to improve the overall experience.
For example, an interactive sign might tell customers how to find an item in the store. In a restaurant, a self-order kiosk allows customers to skip the line. These conveniences have been proven to boost sales averages as customers upsell themselves.