The world of retail has transformed completely – with consumer expectations increasing, brand loyalty decreasing and digital transformation well underway.
It’s against this backdrop that retailers need to innovate in order to survive – and to ensure they invest in innovation effectively in order to thrive.
That means evaluating whether every link in the retail chain – from production, storage and sorting to distribution logistics and the stores themselves – is playing its part in delivering an experience that meets new consumer expectations.
The good news is that most retailers have invested in technology in response to the pandemic and the vast majority plan to continue investing in this area.
Ensuring this investment leads to meaningful innovation requires a smart focus on key technologies that can drive results throughout the retail chain.
Boosting Business Intelligence
Retailers need to invest in solutions that enable a data-driven approach throughout the entire supply chain.
That means business intelligence solutions that enable smarter demand forecasting and inventory management in distribution centers, as well as at manufacturing plants.
This should also include the use of RFID technology to more accurately manage inventory at plants and gain insight into the movement of products.
One crucial innovation for retailers is their investment into smarter physical stores that can support online orders.
While online orders have traditionally been fulfilled by distribution centers that might be based far away from customers, the retail process can be streamlined by sending orders from a physical store that could be based in the same area as the customer.
Similarly, retailers are using physical stores as places to fulfill online orders through the use of smart pickup lockers.
Getting this right requires innovation and integration in several key areas – including integrating online channels with inventory in physical stores.
Successfully delivering on the potential this offers also means innovating throughout the retail chain – a modern ecommerce platform still requires a reliable approach to everything from sales and payment to delivery.
Equally importantly, creating the best possible in-store experience is a crucial part of meeting new expectations. That might mean harnessing data insights to inform better store layouts or creating more engaging promotional marketing and point-of-sale materials. Retailers can also support brands in reaching shoppers more effectively through the power of their data, whether that’s by measuring footfall driven by window displays, or using eye tracking software to understand how to maximize their in-store presence.
“Our solutions deliver significant value to retailers by boosting revenue from both brands and consumers. Harnessing the power of analytics, we allow retailers to understand how to truly meet consumer needs through more effective in-store displays and layouts, resulting in brands investing in premium placement of their products and increased sales,” says Iris Gologan, Product Manager, Stefanini EMEA.
Retailers must also embrace the latest innovations in their online offering to succeed in the new landscape.
This includes harnessing the power of data to more reliably display the specific products individual consumers are looking for when visiting their online stores.
This approach should also enable retailers to display the ‘next best product’ to consumers based on real-time data collection and social media insights.
Retailers should also invest in enhancing the shopping experience and bringing their product range to life through offering virtual store visits online.
While retail has always been about understanding and meeting consumer needs, the speed at which consumer expectations have increased is a more recent development. The good news is retailers also have access to new levels of data to understand consumer behaviour and expectations, alongside new technologies to meet these.
The retailers that will thrive in the future will harness the power of business intelligence to understand consumers, while making use of the latest technologies to successfully innovate and meet new expectations.