Retail is going through a disruption phase – with online retailers challenging bricks and mortar stores; cross-border barriers being broken down; with stores downsizing or closing due to tougher competition; with consumers being savvier than ever; with mobile technology meaning consumers can shop from anywhere at any time and with customer experience still at the very top of a long list of shopper demands.
It’s a great time to be a shopper – choice, convenience, offers and promotions and the ability to buy just about anything from anywhere at any time.
For retailers, it can seem daunting, but I firmly believe that for those who are willing to embrace, rather than run from, disruption, it offers an enormous opportunity. It’s a belief shared by many leaders, including John T Chambers, executive chairman and former CEO of Cisco Systems, who says, “When you’re a large company with significant market share, it’s tempting to view market disruptions as a threat, but we view them as an opportunity”
I’ve been encouraged to see this approach from many of iVend’s retail customers, particularly in speciality retail. Retailers from all around the world have used this time of disruption, along with the power of their iVend technology, to innovate and to drive change that adds real value to their bottom line. The key is having an omnichannel retail platform that allows them to seamless integrate every element of their business, so that they can use the information from one part of the business to inform the others to run an efficient business and offer the best possible service to their clients.
There are 4 ways that I see this being done:
- Visibility – For Effective Merchandising
Many retailers work ‘blind’ when it comes to knowing what is selling well and what isn’t. But with the right data capture and reporting tools, they can gain valuable insights into ‘what’s hot and what’s not’. They can see which products are flying out of the store with high customer demand and which ones are languishing on the shelves for weeks. This information then allows effective forecasting, ensuring that products can be effectively merchandised and that the most popular products are always in stock to maximise sales and profit. Evergreen Foods in Ireland took this approach and used iVend’s omnichannel retail platform to streamline its merchandising and supply chain operations through increased visibility of stock sales patterns.
Shoppers value personalisation – being treated as an individual, whether online or instore. One retailer who understands this well is Chateau d’Ivoire, a jewellery specialist in Montreal, Canada. They used their iVend omnichannel retail platform to empower staff to deliver a truly personalised experience. This included the development of a custom-built repair system to make after sales service faster, more accurate and convenient.
- Customer Loyalty
A positive shopping experience goes a long way to driving customer loyalty, getting shoppers to return to your store time and time again. Once you’ve won these customers with a great experience, loyalty programs, that make them feel valued and appreciated, are the key to retaining them, and again, harnessing the power of technology at a time of disruption can have a very positive impact.
Information is at the heart of all effective loyalty programs – capturing high quality information that allows you to understand who your customers are, what they want to buy and how they want to shop, and using it to build tailored, customised promotions and offers to meet those demands.
Valu Home Centers home hardware has used their iVend omnichannel retail platform to manage data collection and analysis to understand the profitability of its promotions, right down to item level.
- Customer Experience
iVend’s extensive customer research surveys have shown, time and time again, that what customers really want is a great shopping experience. Retailers who compete solely on price are missing opportunities to win and keep happy customers, who spend more when they shop and who tell others about their positive experience. Crown Wine and Spirits in Florida used their iVend omnichannel retail platform to help enhance the experience of customers to their stores, with a digitally managed loyalty membership program that eliminates the need for customers to carry cards, and speeds up the checkout process for greater convenience.