Leading the retail evolution demands constant adaptation and flexibility. Retail consumer trends are ever-changing, guided by customer behavior and consumption habits. Currently, customers demand enhancements to the shopping experience, but what does that mean?
Customer expectations continue to increase, with 54% of global consumers admitting they have higher customer service expectations than one year ago. Additionally, 96% of consumers say that customer service is a major factor in brand loyalty. Competition is fierce in the retail industry, and meeting customer demand can make or break success.
Focus On Omnichannel Retail Experience
Online shopping has risen in popularity by offering convenience, affordability, and reduced effort on behalf of consumers. In 2020, the pandemic forced many people to adopt online shopping methods, with more than two billion people purchasing goods or services online, with e-retail sales surpassing $4.2 trillion worldwide.
As the offline market has reopened, retailers are finding the balance between online and offline shopping experiences, resulting in omnichannel solutions. The online shopping experience will be streamlined, while the in-store shopping experience will become more dynamic with stores making technological investments and digital channels.
Personalized Customer Experience Is Founded on Connected Data
Behind the omnichannel marketing efforts, cloud-based systems are fundamental to retail growth. With many leading retailers incorporating digital solutions, customer demand for data platforms increases, shining the light on personalized experiences.
Rather than use valuable brain power to drive these improvements, AI-enabled decision-support is being brought onboard. For example, Saudi Arabia’s family-owned group, AlMaki Group, is digitally transforming the luxury retail experience by incorporating Salesforce solutions to provide personalized, omnichannel customer shopping journeys. The intention is to better cater to their customers who want a personalized shopping journey.
The Retail Supply Chain Focuses on Sustainable Business
In recent years, 85% of consumers have become more eco-conscious in their purchasing decisions and companies are adapting to avoid becoming obsolete among consumer demands. The green approach extends beyond packaging in recycled materials, but also the steps taken in the supply chain.
Various industries are shifting their processes to include different technologies into their supply chain with the hope of reducing waste. Modern supply chains need to be more agile and resilient in order to keep up with consumer demands.
Engaged Retail Workers Are Key to Consumer Experience
Customer service is a major differentiator in the retail industry, and retail workers represent the brand on the ground. As customer service has become increasingly important, there’s more pressure on the front-facing team to be engaged and informed.
Once again, data and technological tools can be a help to improve education and training. It is projected that 90% of the top 2,000 retailers will make use of edge computing to take advantage of data and improve workforce productivity by 2026. In turn, customer experience is improved, and costs are reduced (by 20%).
7 Evolutionary Retail Trends
There are practical ways to meet these demands, with retail trends providing tools and methods to enhance the customer experience.
POS Systems and Ecommerce
There are various ways of making retail purchases beyond the option of a physical brick-and-mortar store and online shipping. Businesses are investing in different digital options such as buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) services, same day delivery and more.
To streamline these processes, all aspects need to be integrated such as managing inventory, promotions, and monitoring in-store behavior.
Indoor Positioning Systems (IPS)
Indoor positioning systems are mostly used for store maps, guiding customers to various malls and store amenities. The interactive content assists customers to find their way, but they can also be used to offer targeted deals, gather customer traffic data, and track items.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Both consumers and workers can benefit from AR. Consumers want to read reviews and try a product before handing over their credit card details. Augmented reality provides an easy way for consumers to try before they buy. One practical way that AR can be used include virtual fitting room technology, such as Bazzarna who launched the first virtual fitting room in the UAE.
Other AR strategies include AR navigation and helping retail workers in other tasks, helping them to visualize the space before setting up.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI allows retail operations to be streamlined and automated, freeing up time to focus on customer engagement and other tasks. Various tasks, such as inventory management, can be powered by AI, saving money and time. AI also helps analyze consumer behavior, tracking movements both online and in the physical retail store.
Another way that AI plays a role in retail evolution is through driving demand forecasting. Demand forecasting helps to improve inventory planning, relationship management, logistics, marketing, and more.
Leveraging Robots Hardware
Just as AI can save time and money by automating processes, the hardware of robotics offers the same benefit, especially in areas of delivery, inventory management and customer service. For example, drone retail delivery is being explored and customer service robots are being rolled out in certain stores.
In another example, Carrefour employs Tally robots across its UAE stores to assist with stock management and control.
Natural language processing (NLP) has progressed alongside AI, with smart assistants becoming more advanced. In turn, they are able to serve customers more effectively and improve the retail experience.
We believe that retailers should evolve at the same or faster pace to remain on top of the consumer market and meet the expectations of an ever-changing clientele. Ollen Group is one of the leading retail management consultant firms in the Middle East & Africa region (MEA) offering retail strategy and retail design services with turnkey solutions from strategy to execution. Our retail business consultant will help your through your journey.
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