Industries in Depth

4 ways technology is revolutionising retail

Joerg Koesters
Head of Retail Marketing and Communication, SAP Community Network
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Four insights into customer experience

Here are four surprising new statistics that reveal how omnichannel has revolutionized the customer experience of shopping.

• By the time a consumer is shopping in the store, 80 percent of customers have already checked out the prices online. They recognize the benefit of finding information online, but they also want the convenience of being able to pick up the item immediately instead of waiting for delivery. The two forces are coming together in the rapidly-developing trend of same-day delivery from online retailers. This involves advanced analytics with real-time visibility of all inventory from cross-dock facilities to stock trucks for transport.

• Smartphones were responsible for racking up $12 billion in sales last year. Not only does this channel open up shopping to 24/7 accessibility, it also allows companies to engage customers when they are near a brick-and-mortar location using geofencing technology. A direct line to the consumer means that special promotions and other information can be pushed to them in real time.

• The vast majority of retailers (83 percent) have already recognized omnichannel as an area they need to invest in for the very near future. They know that this is about much more than marketing across new channels. It is vital to operational concerns invisible to customers, such as setting up their supply chain to serve customers no matter which door they enter.

• Protecting the private information of their customers is a “critically” or “very” important strategy for almost half (47 percent) of the executives surveyed. In other words, the collection of information to personalize the experience for customers must be done in a way that doesn’t threaten their security. Understanding what they want is positive, but monitoring behavior is perceived as aggressive to the new consumer.

The key to consistency

Brand loyalty is a hard-won prize from this new, highly-connected consumer, the report concludes. One of the keys is a consistent brand experience across channels. Consumers have become accustomed to messages that appear in context and appeal to them personally. This is actually possible now due to the amount of data available to analyze customer profiles and convert those numbers into customer insights.

While some data has been available in the past, it has been difficult to access and use the technology due to the complexity of the software. That is another aspect of technology that has changed recently as advanced data interpretation and visualization interfaces have made the power of data available to high-level managers.

The basic takeaway of this new landscape is that companies must have the right information flow in order to engage and delight the new consumer. These companies can also use data collection technology to gain the competitive advantages in more efficient supply chains, a stronger purchasing position and merchandising strategies.

Dive deeper into the latest conclusions about omnichannel reach and customer experience.

Read the Oxford Economics Report, “Creating the Customer Experience: The Omnichannel Revolution”.

This article is published in collaboration with the SAP Community Network. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Joerg Koesters is the Head of Retail Marketing and Communication at the SAP Community Network.

Image: Men are silhouetted against a video screen as they pose with Samsung Galaxy S3, Nokia Lumia 820 and iPhone 4 smartphones. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
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Industries in DepthEmerging Technologies
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