You only have to glance back two years ago to notice that the retail shopping experience was extremely fragmented. Retailers’ physical shops were neither digital nor connected to the Internet, and while internet shopping was personalized, retailers didn’t know much about their customers visiting in-store.
This highlights an exciting and expanding opportunity to connect with consumers in a more meaningful way; it could be via after-care services through e-receipts, personalized digital signage as a shopper enters a store, or tailored adverts prompting them to shop for a newly released product based on their previous shopper habits when they’re waiting for a delayed train.
In essence, the lines between offline and online shopping continue to blur with some fascinating developments in the retail ecosystem emerging. By 2018, we anticipate that many shops will be digitized and connected consumers will enjoy a continuous digital experience with personalized, innovative and value-added services. The possibilities are endless.
Internet shopping has profoundly disrupted the retail market and we’re now seeing new shopping experiences launching with retailers working with partners and stakeholders at an accelerated rate to embrace Multi-Sided Markets.
Imagine if you could give customers their own digital butler, a new type of personal shopping assistant, who could pick out the latest fashion trends for them. Or you could undertake consumer sentiment analysis to allow faster responses to customer demands. Or launching a wearable shopping experience through smartwatches and digital glasses. Crucially, data is at the heart of this Digital Retail Revolution.
So where next for retail innovation?
In our Amstelveen office, we’ve been building a store of the future so businesses can come in and experiment while receiving a real-life experience of a next generation store. It’s a fascinating project to help enterprises deliver better customer experience, value and customer satisfaction at every point of interaction by making it extremely personal and digital.
We take different ‘digital building blocks’ and mix and match them so businesses can fine-tune them to fit local needs and personas. The building blocks are technologies or services such as iBeacons, Traffic Analysis, and TelePresence Robotics. For instance, a student in an airport could see an interactive sign to order their travel insurance in a nearby store and use a QR code to get fast Wifi, then be served by a teleconferencing robot and sign their insurance contract with a digital signature.
From the enterprise perspective, machine learning and data analytics assess whether a business has the optimum number of stores in the right locations and in the most appealing formats for their customers. From this analysis, stores can be re-designed and updated. All of this is underpinned by customer analytics, competitor analysis, and behavioral trends mapping to inform new digital services. We’re already started to create innovative store concepts and I’m excited about the diversity of possibilities that the store of the future holds. Let the journey continue!