As 2020 approaches, it is a good time to reflect on the changes retail has experienced over the last decade and how they have influenced the vision of a successful retail environment in the new decade.

Retail has experienced many ups and downs, from the entrance into a digital age and advancement of retail technology, to experiencing a retail apocalypse causing many store locations to close their doors. The future for brick-and-mortar looked bleak as retailers began to loosen the reins and became lax on creating the type of customer experience that keeps shoppers coming back—but not anymore as 2020 brings a resurgence of brick-and-mortar retail, and it is in high-demand.

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Integrated Omnichannel Retail for the Next Decade

Make 2020 the year of delivering seamless customer experiences in your stores

Brick and Mortar is Back

The retail apocalypse is nearing its end, giving brick-and-mortar the opportunity to make the comeback of a lifetime—surprisingly, Millennials and Gen Z are to thank for this movement. Retail locations are finding new footing and a new role in 2020, and that is because 43% of both Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to do in-store shopping opposed to only 29% of Gen X. It seems odd that the generations who are conditioned to constantly accessible technology, are practically glued to their phones, and have never turned to a leather-bound encyclopedia before consulting Wikipedia, would prefer in-store experiences over online shopping. That’s just it—it’s the interaction they crave and authentic experiences that can only be had in person.

In true Millennial and Gen Z fashion, they desire a personalised shopping experience catered to them, in fact, a staggering 63% of Millennials note that they will actually spend more on a product if it comes with a personalised experience. For stores, curating truly unique atmospheres that need to be experienced in the physical realm will be the differentiating factor between flourishing brick-and-mortar retailers and the rest of the competition. With these generations making a significant dent in the buying power of today’s consumers, brick-and-mortar will need to deliver on the desire for immersive experiences (like using augmented reality to digitally transform a physical location) or truly perish.

Data is Do or Die

From leveraging consumer insights that drive personalisation, to implementing leaner inventory practices that make time for employees to provide out-of-this world customer experiences, data driven retail will be do or die in 2020.

Those who flourish will truly embrace the ability to manage inventory from a single stock pool. This, in turn enables data to be centralised and analysed in order to provide deeper more accurate insights related to understanding customer needs, preferences and trends.

Retailers who continue to silo data as a result of multiple storage or collection methods will become irrelevant. The importance of centralised data analysed strategically will be the foundation that supports every other trend, including our next point.

Data will Drive Personalisation in the Customer Experience

With the goal of cultivating a more personalised retail environment, retailers can tap into the abundance of data available about their consumers. Social media influence and social shopping and retail are even more intertwined now than ever before. Online activity provides the data insights into preferences, buying habits, and interests of consumers—driving personalisation in the retail sector moving into 2020 and beyond.

The tactical use of this data makes creating personalised promotions easier than ever—an excellent tool to target retail customers and keep them engaged with your brand. Customising relevant data points with targeted deals and offers generates more profitable purchases leading to more revenue for the retailer.

Additionally, data will help deliver the right personalised shopping experience that meets the expectations of consumers across generations. A direct mailer may appeal less to Millennials but will grab the attention of your Baby Boomers, while offers through social platforms will garner favour from Generation X.

Consumers Are Over 2-Day Delivery

Your consumers are on the go—and they take their devices wherever they travel—which means they have access to your products at the press of a button. But without the ability for consumers to flip instantly and effortlessly between shopping channels, you’ll lose out to retailers who do provide these abilities.

From filling carts for in-store fulfilment, to BOPIS (Buy Online Pick-Up in Store) and Click and Collect, consumers what the convenience of “just in time” retail that meets their needs at lightning speed—which means that 2-day free shipping, is two days too late.

This also means that consumers want to skip the long lines for checkout. Optimise your physical location with the ability for consumers to checkout through mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices or kiosks that arm your floor staff with the tools that allow your customers to pay for product without having to wait in a long line that ends at a stationery terminal.

Integrated Omnichannel Retail Gets Crowned King

The 2020 retail trends are moving toward putting the consumer more in control of their retail choices and behaviour. Which opens the door for Retail 4.0—the “new retail”— a hybrid approach between physical and digital retail that relies on consumer data for a more customer-centric experience throughout the supply chain. Retailers that employ a fully integrated approach for their business technology systems are outpacing non-integrators due to improved data access. The backbone of this approach is managed application infrastructure and is the only way to successfully move into the future of retail.

Integrated omnichannel retail breaks barriers between customers and their purchase mode using multiple touch points for a single purchase. The result is improved customer engagement by providing a consistent shopping experience across channels. Adopting this approach can improve data accuracy by as much as 95% and streamlines the processes on the backend to seamlessly transition them on the front end, providing a better customer experience, with multiple paths to purchase.

Looking ahead, with 20/20 vision, it’s clear that data will be the key to streamlining processes and cutting away retail excess, while leading to heightened success in 2020 and beyond.

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