Posted by John Hooper
I recently attended the Retail Council of Canada’s STORE 2015 event in Toronto. The event shed light on the landscape shifts significantly affecting the retail market today: most specifically, the need for “convergence” of selling modes. From mobile to Internet to brick and mortar, today’s customers are “choosing their own experiences.” And by “harnessing disruption,” per the show’s theme message, retailers can take back some control to create a sustainable competitive advantage.
Session takeaways included the following guidance for retailers:
1. Keep it simple by understanding the most important channel for each customer: the real-time channel and brand interaction he or she is experiencing at any specific moment. Because no matter the channel, the common denominator is an extremely high shopping experience expectation. So treat each customer interaction and transaction as the most important moment in the customer lifecycle.
2. Understand the multiple perspectives of delivering optimal customer experience, from marketing and communication to logistics and organizational. This means efficiently and seamlessly aligning different objectives to one end: an optimized customer experience.
3. Appreciate that today’s connected consumers demand three fundamental components of all their interactions with the retailer, regardless of the channel:
- Convenience in how to shop, buy, collect, or return products - 61% of global internet users research products online (Interconnected World: Shopping and Personal Finance)
– the optimal online experience
- Speed in delivery
- Personalization, to make customers feel unique
Ultimately, retailers that harness this knowledge and resources are on their way to successful delivery of a brand experience that resonates and encourages affinity.
In his keynote speech on the state of retailing today Hudson Bay Co. CEO Jerry Storch said that there is a misconception in thinking that online retailing is the new frontier and brick and mortar stores are at a disadvantage in today’s new digital world. In fact, brick and mortar stores have a greater advantage and bigger upside than pure online retailers. He noted that physical store locations are still a critical part of the retail landscape, as they have a less expensive operating model than online retailers (online delivery costs can be three times greater than brick and mortar) and the traditional retailer that can “converge” its operations with online capabilities can glean better margins and greater market penetration.
Ultimately, the retailer that can service its clients, anytime, anywhere on the channel of choice and drive the best customer experience will win!