Last week I joined Coffee with CART (Center for Advancing Retail and Technology) for a discussion about Technology Resolutions for 2015. The year ahead will prove to be one of great opportunity for independent retailers to become major players by embracing technology trends. In 2015 we should resolve to:
- Drive Online and In-store Convergence – A study by Retail Net Group estimates that by the year 2020 10% of consumer goods purchases will be online. This represents not only a huge potential shift in spend in a brick and mortar store from that category but also in basket size, fresh foods, and impulse purchases. In order to maintain relevance stores must embrace this convergence and build a strategy that incorporates both shopping options.
- Embrace Expanded Shopper Intelligence – Big Data is becoming not only more expansive but also more affordable to implement systems that support it. Consumers are also becoming more comfortable with sharing personal information in order to create a more personalized experience in the long run. This goes beyond traditional loyalty data, it includes mobile, web, and social data to provide a complete view of the customer. The key to successfully gathering Shopper Data will be to have a comprehensive strategy for not only the data to be collected but also the experience that it will be used to create. Consumers will give up data but will, in return, expect offers tailored to their interests; retailers must be able to hold up their end of this new social contract.
- Take Advantage of More In-Store Analytics – Along with the lowering cost of Big Data systems, tools to understand in-store shopper behaviors is also becoming more affordable. This creates the opportunity to not only take online shopper engagement offline to create a one of a kind customer experience. This is an area where independent retailers have exceled in the past and can continue to do so into the future my combining historical levels of service with technological advances.
- Accept Mobile Payment – Within its first three days of operation Apple Pay registered one million credit cards. Google Wallet and Apple Pay will soon become predominant methods of payment because of the security and convenience they offer consumers. While there will be an upfront cost to implement systems that accept these payments it will be imperative for independent retailers to make this investment to attract and retain customers.
- See the Forest and the Trees – While it’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of running a business it is important to take a step back and be aware of the quickly developing world of retail specific technology. Understanding how these programs can help you deliver the right message to the right shopper at the right time in the right place to encourage bigger baskets will be key to retail success in the coming years.
Now, more than ever, independent retailers are in a place to set the landscape for customer service. The falling cost of software, the agility of the independent retailers along with their history of superior customer service creates a unique leverage, that if properly used, can make 2015 the Year of the Independent Retailer.