The Role of Technology in Retail: Is it enough?
My friend and colleague, Jon Stine, @joncstine1 recently penned a blog regarding technology in retail. Jon has extensive retail industry and technology expertise and offers a great perspective on the role of technology to address challenges retailers face. The challenge from my perspective for retailers with store fronts, is best summed in a question. Can you deliver a killer shopping experience – from sofa-to-store aisle?” Sadly many retailers are not able to answer yes this question. The vast majority of the retailers don’t invest in innovative shopping solutions. Many retailers are content to follow the same old formula of price discounting, coupons and Sunday circulars. A well proven formula that is just too hard to break from. However, it is a formula we know no longer fits the new connected consumer.
The evolution of the connected consumer has been highlighted in popular press at great length for at least the last three plus years. However, many retailers have missed the evolution of the consumer. You know, the Millenials generation. It will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2020 and command over $2.5T in purchasing power. This segment is always connected and values experiences as much as price. And by the way, since they are always connected, they never shop without their device. Yes, the evolution has been occurring for some time and yes the Millenials are reshaping the shopping experience. What are you going to do about it?
Retailers are facing a strategic inflection point, which could mean an opportunity to prosper or a slow ride toward demise. At least that is my point-of-view. Jon is arguing a few factors that are relevant to creating an innovative shopping experience.
- “Showrooming” is multidirectional (in-store and online) and it is here to stay.
- Leveraging big data can have a profound impact on your brand and the experience you deliver – it should be considered as the starting point as you create a new shoppers journey.
- Security must become a strategic imperative for the way you conduct business – trust is won in drips and lost in buckets. Cybercriminals are well funded and profitable and hacking will continue as the new normal.
As mentioned in Jon’s blog, retailers have long chosen to focus on maintaining their ongoing operations, rather than investing for growth and innovation. Growth and Innovation don’t come cheap. As a matter of fact, growth and innovation are more than a technology roadmap. It is a business strategy. Why do consumers flock to Amazon or any of the “new concept” stores? I argue it boils down to the experience. Amazon provides the ultimate in clienteling and sales assist. The new concept stores I had the privilege to tour in NYC offer innovative shopping experiences. My store tour was during NRF 2015.
The collection of stores we visited all offered a unique & engaging shopping experiences.
Rebecca Minkoff – connected fashion store with technology envisioned and planed by EBAY. Bringing together the online experience to the physical store. In store interactive shopping display. Once the shopper selects the clothes they want to try on they tap a button to have a sales associate bring the items to a dressing room.
Under Armour Brand House – to create a physical space that becomes a destination for shoppers. The strategy for the stores is more about telling a story and engaging the shopper through story telling. UA founder Kevin Plank is more interested in aligning its product communication and retail presentation than anything else. His claim is that UA focuses 80% on storytelling and 20% on product – just the opposite of so many other product retailers.
Converse – yup that old classic, Chuck Taylor canvas shoe. Converse has been offering online customization for some time. But what if you wanted an immediate and unique shoe to wear to an event. Now you can visit a Converse store, select your favorite Chuck’s and then set off in creating your own personalized style.
Similar to the way Amazon offers a unique shopping experience these stores invested in delivering an innovation. It wasn’t a technology solution alone – it was a desire from top to bottom to give the shopper something unique and innovative.
Do you want help in delivering growth and innovation in your retail environment? Intel isn’t going to solve all of this on its own. We work with very talented fellow travelers that offer solutions to achieve growth and innovation.
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