The boundaries between online and offline retailing are increasingly vanishing. It means for retailers, they have to be available for their customers across all channel. Concurrently, the traditional shop concepts require digital modernization.
Unified Commerce is the next big trend
Nowadays, customers expect efficiency, both in online shopping and in stores.
The strong competitive position of pure e-commerce players and new physical retail models create pressure on multichannel retailers. They need to transform to a digitally enabled provider of unified retail commerce.
According to Gartner, unified retail commerce demands to provide a customer-centric experience, based on how customers approach shopping, with no limitations by channel.
Gartner describes 4 customer processes with the main focus on customer-centric experience:
Providing customers with an opportunity to find what they are looking for and discover all products and services that will improve their lifestyles. The unique shopping experience has to be enabled using both stores and online channels, mobile, social, IoT-enabled devices, AI and AR technology.
Providing various payment options for smooth transactions within and across channels, for all products and their combinations, without any delays and difficulties.
Enabling customers to purchase products and services using various methods: physical shopping, click and collect, home delivery, automated replenishment, lockers, partnership with external organizations, etc.
Providing extended information and services, connected devices, automated replenishment, and voice-enabled interactions to ensure customer enjoyment and enhanced consumer experience.
Consumer preferences and Big Data
This year, it is a must for retailers to analyze insights on their customers in order to increase their sales figures and company growth.
Big Data and analytics can be used to study customers’ preferences and behaviors.
It creates a win-win situation for both retailers and customers.
Understanding buying patterns enables retailers to develop and provide customers with targeted ads and product offers, e.g., customized push notifications on smartphone which the shopper receives when enters the store.
This information allows retailers adapting their business model and strategy to stay competitive.
Comfortable ambiance in stores as a must
According to a PwC study, the preferred purchase channel the customers choose to buy a good depends on the product category.
For example, 70 percent of consumers buy their groceries in shops. However, books, music, movies and video games are preferably bought online.
It means that traditional retail stores are still in demand. PwC discovered that 59 percent of shoppers expect in-store features, such as welcoming ambiance or options to buy an extended product range.
Instant messaging as a new sales channel
Real-time online communication is becoming ubiquitous in various areas.
This also means for business, that customers wish to obtain services when they are on the go. Some time ago, Facebook took the first step when opened up Facebook Messenger app to companies.
Since the release of chatbot API for Messenger, more and more people are interacting with the AI-based digital assistants. Even those customers who are using the technology for the first time agree to make reservations and pay directly on Messenger.
The benefits are clear. Customers don’t have to install an app, they don’t need to get used to a new UI, FAQs can be answered quickly in real-time, user experience is more personalized, etc.
Though chatbots are still in their early stage, the current experience shows that instant messengers will become a key sales channel for companies.
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