Is e-commerce becoming obsolete? Not quite. Now that panic and shotgun reactions about digital commerce have subsided, retailers are finding that all that worry might have been for naught. This was felt at NRF — solution providers overwhelmingly offered new shake-ups on an old priority: the in-store experience.
And for good reason — Interactions Marketing “Retail Perceptions: The Next Generation of Retail” 2016 report highlights that 64 percent of Generation Z shoppers would rather shop in-store than online. Fold in finicky Millennials and you’ve got a hefty amount of customers who still want to visit bricks-and-mortar — albeit while researching and comparing products on their mobile devices. The truth is, shoppers still want to touch and feel product before buying.
Solution providers are getting savvy — and are unleashing a new wave of technology to capture data on spending patterns, emotional attachment to products and matching stock levels while fads balloon and wither. NRF was brimming with booths advertising in-store analysis, RFID trackers and optimization tactics to free up sales associates’ time. “The ideal solution is an end-to-end solution,” said Lori Mitchell-Keller, global general manager of consumer industries at SAP. This means the left and right hand need to talk — integrating wholesale with front-of-house consumer analytics will behoove clienteling.
The role of the store has shifted. Once the spot to peruse and purchase new trends, shops have become multi-faceted tools that when implemented wisely can secure brand loyalty — a tricky feat — and improve revenue and shipping timelines. With limited warehouse locations, bricks-and-mortar became a secondary option for customer pick-up and distribution centers. But consumers aren’t the one-trick ponies they probably never were: multigenerational merchandising is nearing quadratic equation levels of complexity layering in the necessity for invigorated sales associates who serve as brand ambassadors. Armed with personalized data, employees should aim to provide strategic interactions that generate sales of product that seem innate and organic.
The technology debuted at NRF in its core was shockingly simple: give the customer what they want, when they want it and they’ll probably come back for more. All the big guys are doing it: Intel, IBM, SAP and Adobe are just some of the powerhouses that presented updates and new facets to comprehensive technology that ultimately serves to do one thing: Make the customer happy.