“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” – Pablo Neruda
Quite misfit of a quote on a technical blog page, isn’t it? Not really, if you figure out that it has been used not entirely from a romantic angle; instead the desire is to focus on inevitability. How does inevitability connects to brick-and-mortar stores’ push for identity transformation? Because, it is high time that these stores accept infiltration of Technology in Retail environment as an inevitability and push themselves to undergo identity transformation, adapting and internalizing the change.
Human resource, no more, is the sole workhorse behind orchestrating the rigorous retail management process. Unlike earlier times, important aspects like in-store management, customer attendance, inventory and supply chain management, product promotion and campaigning etc. are managed by Technology. Terms like radio frequency identification (RFID), Bluetooth low technology, smart tech, GPS, multi-channel marketing, predictive analytics are flooding brick-and-mortar retail like never before. Customers are the prime reason that retail stores are opening up gradually to embrace a new ecosystem. The new age audience is tech-savvy, open to 24/7 connectivity and love quality information flow. While interacting with something so extensively advanced and dynamic, Retailers have no other option expect elevating store infrastructure standard up to customer expectation. Despite the process of identity shift is still at a very nascent state, reluctance in embracing smart tech-based ecosystem will only drive nosy retailers to annihilation and fresh competitors, armed with smart amenities, will take their place.
The Questions, My Friend, Are blowing in the Wind
Today, customers are not happy with just personalized shopping experience. In the traditional structure, retailers may deploy adequate number of attendants to assist customers individually. But can they guarantee,
- Swift purchase and transaction?
- Reliability of manually shared information?
- Quick and accurate guidance to finding the right product?
- Seamless connection between inventory and supply chain?
- Facility to compare product pricing on different platforms instantly?
The answer, in most cases, is NO!
The list, with queries that traditional retail cannot answer, keeps getting longer, such as,
- How about receiving exclusive product notifications, matching customer preference?
- How about real-time creation and launch of promotional campaigns?
- How about notifying customers as per their respective in-store habits at a particular time?
- How about managing sudden in-store customer rush with real-time employee deployment decision?
- How about understanding customer reaction to promotional offers real-time and make required changes simultaneously?
- How about following up with customers, regarding cart abandonment issues, through several marketing channels?
Let's Start with Surviving
The problem with traditional approach is the handicap putting customer details in proper use. Know your customers well before delivering the right service – one of the most fundamental rules of retail game. While modern retail with store digitization, customer touch points and analytics are nearing the objective of customer understanding, on the other hand, traditional stores, by declining such ramification, are elbowing out the opportunity to attract customers and turning footfalls into conversions. Retail stores, with the emergence of ecommerce business, are facing the ‘showrooming’ problem already. Unless they adapt with the upcoming business trends and provide customers with satisfying answers against the aforesaid queries, it will be extremely difficult to survive the competition.
Identity transformation or transition is complicated indeed, be that in case of an individual or an establishment. It means that an entity should come out of its comfort zone and habituate with an entirely new model – framework. The encouraging part that should drive retailers to undertake the path of transformation is customer attitude shift in letting retailers have their personal data. Once retailers opt more wholeheartedly for infrastructure overhaul, with specific attention to smart tech – contextual data sharing – predictive analytics oriented platform, they will receive an impression about the kind of benefit they can attain from such changes in long-run. Majority of the brick-and-mortar retail is listening to the footsteps of the change, loud and clear. Only they are declining from acknowledging. What’s required is the push and they themselves are the fittest in delivering one.