We all see it: Commerce is being radically disrupted by technology, creating shifting consumer expectations and fiercer competition than ever before.
These rapidly accelerating conditions mean that we need to urgently rethink our business strategies if we want to win in the retail landscape of the future. Physical retail needs to be more exciting, more relevant and must provide a benefit or utility not found online. It’s paramount that we partner more holistically, share knowledge and insights more freely, and pool resources in order to build the best possible physical and digital experiences for our customers.
The simple truth is that no one retailer or brand can do it all alone. Retailers, brands and venues need to come together to unlock the power of shared consumer knowledge to deliver more innovative, more engaging shopping experiences. Collaboration is today’s competitive advantage.
Through the creation of a retail technology network, we are able to provide superior benefits to both retail leaders and end users, while simultaneously transforming our fragmented industry into an integrated one. So where do we start?
We must eliminate the data deficit
Most retailers suffer from a data deficiency. While many retailers and brands have a lot of data, they don’t necessarily have the right data, or know how to make use of it.
At present, single retailers can only gather information on the limited number of products they sell to a particular consumer. But that same consumer is shopping elsewhere, buying different items in different ways. If retailers and brands can collaborate, it will provide a much more comprehensive understanding of the consumer, which could be used to generate more informed insights, and ultimately improve the collective shopping experience.
This newfound understanding can be used to generate more informed insights and ultimately to create relevant, personalized, and enjoyable shopping experiences for the consumer.
We must ensure our technology leads the way
Retailers spend most of their IT budget maintaining legacy systems rather than investing in the cutting-edge innovations that would position them at the industry’s forefront. Just as we were slow to adopt the web, mobile and apps years ago, we’ve continued the destructive pattern with a hesitance to embrace things like machine learning, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence. For your average retailer, these groundbreaking technologies are simply too risky, complicated and expensive.
An omnichannel strategy alone is no longer enough to satisfy the consumer. Forget about mobile versus app versus in-store versus online. Today, our customer is the channel — and as retailers, we must provide a seamless and transparent experience that understands and supports them along their entire journey, from discovery to purchase.
It’s time for retailers to invest collectively in shared technologies, establish higher industry standards and finally provide our consumers with a seamless, standardized way to shop.
We must increase speed to decrease friction for consumers
The simple truth is that every $100 million Amazon spends on innovation costs the rest of us $5 billion. It takes too long and costs too much to bring our ideas to fruition, thus rendering innovations obsolete by the time they reach the market. But by working collaboratively we will not only bring costs down, we will also be able to create a more consistent experience for the consumer. Instead of asking consumers to download 10 apps, for 10 different brands, you consolidate that inventory into a single program, which users can become familiar with and adept at using.
This unified consumer interface minimizes friction for the consumer by eliminating clutter and confusion, thereby making them more likely to use the product and enjoy the shopping experience.
The only way to succeed in the retail space moving forward is through shared resources and innovations at scale. In every industry, networks are the future and retail is no different. A scalable, cohesive retail network has never been attempted before, but the time is now.
So, I invite you to join the movement. Let’s come together and reshape the way the world shops, starting today.
Don Kingsborough is chief executive officer of OneMarket. For more information, see: onemarketnetwork.com.