Technology solutions provider Pitney Bowes Inc. notes in its annual outlook report that personalization and hyper-localization will be key drivers of global commerce in 2016.
The firm also expects small and medium-sized businesses to be able to better leverage technology – especially the digitalization of physical communications. Other notable drivers of global commerce include the expansion of “Internet of Things” technologies aimed at creating better business outcomes as well as more effective use of data analytics in the prevention and detection of fraud on a global scale.
The company also expects further implementation of omnichannel marketing across business segments.
All of these “key drivers” are underpinned by a client demand for digital convergence, said Roger Pilc, chief innovation officer at Pitney Bowes. “Businesses will need to transform their competencies to seamlessly serve customers across the physical and digital worlds of commerce,” Pilc said, adding the company will continue to make investments in the Internet of Things, data analytics and “machine learning” to meet these demands.
For Pitney Bowes, the Internet of Things, machine learning and data analytics continue to be areas of investment to enable us to better serve our clients.”
For the retail industry, personalization and hyper-localizations have been top-of-mind for the past year and several presenters during the WWD Fashion and Apparel CEO Summit this past fall acknowledged the need to engage shoppers via a more personalized experience. They also noted investments are being made to expand deeper into urban markets with smaller footprint units to offer more localized assortments. Kevin Mansell, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Kohl’s Corp., for example, said at the summit that the company is rolling out smaller-format stores, which are half the square footage of their full-line units.
Mansell said the smaller stores will put a strong emphasis on the omnichannel experience, and “will increase our capacity to ship from stores and put us in [closer] proximity to customers for buy-online and pick-up-in-store.”
In the Pitney Bowes report, hyper-localization also means creating business models that are global in scale, but local as well. “As cross-border e-commerce becomes more mainstream, consumers are becoming savvier,” said the researchers in the report. “Retailers and marketplaces must continuously improve the global consumer experience, but shopping experiences across the world are not all the same. The challenge facing retailers is to create deeper, more personalized localized experiences that resonate with consumers from varying countries and regions. To make international purchases not only possible, but probable, retailers must deliver what their global consumers want, while also taking into account how they like to shop.”
It’s a tall order, but the firm notes improving technologies can make it feasible.
And technology can also help small- and medium-sized business become better competitors. “Significant shifts in technology, mobility and information are creating new global commerce opportunities for small and medium businesses,” the company said. “New tools and technologies enable small and medium businesses to better target, engage and serve new customers from around the corner to around the globe. These new technologies and cloud-based solutions are becoming available to integrate physical and digital experiences and simplify processes on one platform.”
Pitney Bowes serves 1.5 million small businesses, 90 percent of the Fortune 500 list of companies and more than 200 retailers.