By Adam Forrest, Director of Product Marketing
A lot happened this week. There are a growing number of enterprises that are exploring various supply chain/delivery options, the “mobile mind shift” is increasingly changing the definition of customer experience, and on the product front, Google announced Android Wear (*note: wearables have the potential to completely disrupt customer engagement; keep an eye out for more from us on that).
Here are some of the headlines that caught my eye.
Summary: Forrester Research Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru offers her thoughts on the six digital topics she thinks relate to the biggest retail themes today: big data, same-day delivery, digital wallets, content driving commerce, wearables and omni-channel.
My thoughts: Big data, same-day delivery, digital wallets, content for commerce, wearables and omni-channel may all seem like buzzwords to many of us in the retail world, but the reality is that these six elements have the potential for huge impact on a retailer’s success. Big data, when leveraged correctly, can help identify key trends and insights that allow retailers to offer targeted offers. Same-day delivery, if relayed to the customer in a cost-efficient manner, could be a major way to build market share. The key to this is unlocking logistics and inventory (more to come on that). Digital wallets and wearables will forever change the way consumers interact with retailers in the physical store, making a true omni-channel experience even more important. And then there is customer experience management – there is much improvement to see here, especially as retailers try to break down the traditional silos between marketing and sales groups; content for commerce means giving customers all the information they need from multiple sources to make the best decision they can when making a purchase. This will become a critical factor for retailers since younger generations – like Millennials and Gen-Zers – are frequently doing more research online before making a purchase.
2. Retail CEOs underestimate omni-channel supply chain challenges
Summary: This article addresses the increasing importance of aligning the supply chain with customer expectations. Though this alignment has been identified as a key business success factor, there is a disconnect between what companies realize need to be done to stay in touch with today’s retail realities, and what they’re actually doing. According to this article, only 24% see investing heavily in supply chain management solutions as a critical area for investments over the next five years.
My thoughts: One of the biggest expenses for a retailer is the cost of the inventory on hand. Inventory availability and allocation have always played a role in the success of retailers, but it will become even more critical. As I mentioned above, same-day delivery is one way to move inventory out of the stores and into the experience; it has the potential to make a retailer extremely successful. But one of the biggest obstacles is managing inventory in a way that makes sense to – no pun intended – deliver on a same-day promise. Retailers need to figure out how to align their inventory so they can more effectively provide a buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere capability.
Summary: In this article, Forrester Analyst Josh Bernoff talks about the “mobile mind shift,” the direct result of consumers increasingly expecting companies to offer a mobile-friendly site. Bernoff offers readers four steps to better serve the mobile customer.
My thoughts: Everyone has a mobile device today. I recently heard that nearly 2/3 of Americans have smartphones. That’s incredible. And it also presents a great opportunity for retailers to leverage that mobile device as a selling tool – consider how your customers are shopping and make it mobile-friendly. But don’t force it. Sometimes your brand experience doesn’t lend itself to a mobile interface. If that’s the case, get creative. What are some things you can do to engage your customers through their mobile devices that will ultimately drive them to experience your brand in the store?
Summary: It’s not just millennials that are exploring new delivery techniques that blend multiple channels. In this article, Reporter Jack Loechner explores some recent Nielsen data that points to the growing trend of seniors ordering online and electing to pick up their items in a store.
My thoughts: This data was particularly interesting to me because, I admit, I had a stereotype in mind. But the more I think about it, it does make sense. Seniors are becoming more tech savvy with various mobile devices, like iPads, since they are increasingly using them with their grandchildren; these types of devices will eventually bypass the personal computer. At least for me, I don’t necessarily think of my grandparents as the type to shop online and drive to the store to pick up their items. But this sheds some light on why demographic studies are so important! Retailers that live nearby this older segmentation may want to revisit their in-store inventory and how they’re selling those items online to make the shopping experience as convenient – and seamless – as possible.
Summary: Contributor Micah Solomon presents a definition of what millennials are looking for when it comes to customer experience, and emphasizes that providing a millennial-friendly customer experience will challenge other generations – the Gen X-ers, Boomers and Silent Generationites – to stretch their minds to understand the differences in consumer mindset.
My thoughts: At the end of the day, success is often the result of a good customer experience. The mobile mind shift has forced many organizations to rush into a mobile presence, but the reality is that if you’re not meeting the customer’s expectations, it doesn’t matter if you’re there or not. Millennials are hard to build loyalty with, so best practices from previous generations won’t work the same way. Dig into the data around your millennial customers – who are they? What are they passionate about? Use those insights to create the right experience for them; remember, one size doesn’t always fit all.