By Ilana Goddess, Product Marketing Manager

If there is one message to take away from the NRF 104th Retail’s Big Show, it’s that the retail world is evolving. Over the next few years, retailers will have no choice but to respond to the needs of the digitally savvy consumer and provide one seamless experience to their customers, whether they are shopping on-line or in-line.

Three of the many important themes that wove their way throughout the NRF show last week include mobile, personalization and digitizing the store.

  1. Mobile. One thing became clear at NRF. Mobile sits at the epicenter of omni-channel commerce and is the bridge between online and off-line business. Retailers should adopt best practices, like responsive design, store applications, QR codes, and payment forms such as PayPal, to capture their customers and create a fast and seamless mobile purchasing experience. During the breakout session, Retail CIOs Reflect on Their Priorities and Emerging Technology Trends, toy and juvenile-products retailer, Toys R Us, reported that 50 percent of their online business comes from mobile devices versus personal computers.
  2. Personalized guest experiences. Over the next few years, retailers will increasingly need to engage with consumers through personalized high-touch experiences. A challenge will be how to achieve this digitally. One retailer who is leading the way with site personalization is the athletic shoe company, Brooks Running. Brooks has found a way to offer an in-store experience online with its Shoe Advisor service. A customer who needs help deciding what type of running shoe fits his or her needs can answer a series of 5 questions relating to their build and activity type. Then, they’re presented with a couple of options that would fit their needs best. It’s like having a store associate online with them.
  3. Digitizing the Store. How do retailers bring together the innovation of ecommerce and the tactile nature of an in-store experience? By uniting what is now many disparate systems into one consumer transaction platform. This allows all consumer touch points to be drawn together so a customer is recognized at any point of interaction with a brand. According to a recent survey conducted by NRF, nearly 40% of retailers worldwide would prefer a single platform over the heterogeneous technology environment that exists today. There are many business challenges that must be resolved before this becomes reality, but the discussions at NRF should give us confidence that we’re on our way.

It’s no secret that technology has changed the way we shop and will continue to do so in the future. To be successful, retailers will need to be nimble and continue to be in-tune to the wants and wishes of today’s digitally savvy consumer.