Redefining Retail in the Tech AgePublished on September 28, 2016
“IS REDEFINING RETAIL AN UNDERTAKING WE WANT TO TACKLE?”
WE ARE FULLY EMERSED IN THE TECH AGE, SO DOES ALL THIS ACCESS TO INFORMATION HELP OR HINDER OUR GOAL OF REDEFINING RETAIL?
Of course redefining retail is a challenge we want to accept! The introduction, acceptance and integration of technology into our mainstream society should not scare us but encourage us to endeavour to take our industry to the next level. Many will admit to being afraid of change, but that does not mean that we do not crave it, need it and understand that it is will have far reaching advantages. Change is one of the few things we can actually rely on in life so embracing and using it to mitigate our progress, our reaching new heights, and our serving our customers as we do that is nothing short of our duty.
How do we go about creating the retail experience of the future? Firstly, we have to look at who the customers of the future are and how do we, as pioneers in the retail industry, give them what they desire. Customers want a personal experience. They want to be spoken to directly by a brand whose authenticity they believe in. Now, we might think that using technology to do so is the exact opposite of authentic. Many view technology as cold and calculating, complex data and hard facts only, but this is a view held by those who had technology introduced after living a very fruitful existence without it.
The customers of the future know nothing but technology and the mistrust of it is viewed by them as silly conspiracy theories of a generation that does not understand it. But that does not mean that experiences must be wholly technological, just because tech plays a role that does not eliminate the necessity of a personal element. Indeed, for the customer of the future a piece of tech is just as much a friend as flesh and blood person is. So AI can effortlessly complement a human to human experience for the customer of the future.
An example of redefining retail might be a Future Customer who adores walking into a retail environment and having an Artificial Intelligence greet them by name. When the AI identifies loyal customer, this could prompt a brand ambassador to meet them in person giving the interaction that warmth of human connection that is essential to true engagement.
Again, this could prompt distrust – where is the company getting this information and does our Customer know what it is being used for? A future retail experience could involve a competition or brand loyalty initiative where Customers will upload pictures of themselves to the brand website and the brand will then use facial recognition software on those pictures to elevate the Customer’s in-store experience. Here is another element to consider when redefining retail, your digital footprint.
WHY IS OUR ONLINE PRESENCE IMPORTANT IF OUR AIM IS REDIFINING RETAIL IN THE PHYSICAL SPACE?
Technology can be the underlying factor that creates personalization and bridges the divide between data and connection. A gap exists right now between data collection and what we do with that data. In redefining retail, we must also redefine how and why we collect data and what we do with it once we have it. We will move away from gathering information about your customer, and towards gathering information for your customer. The data we collect will not be for the benefit of the company but for the customer The data we collect will ensure the retail experience we provide is tailor made to the customer, it will satisfy their needs because we will know them better.
Data needs to inform decision making, find out what the customer wants and give that to them. Not just technology for the sake of it, but to increase engagement. Tech provides creative ways for us to reach out and can be a way that communicates a brand’s authenticity in a way that the Future Customer can relate to and grow to trust.
Information is a two-way street. As a brand we will engage with our loyal fanbase in order to better serve them, but as they allow us access to information about them, we must react in kind. Consumers are aware of what is happening in the world. Any question they have, any doubts that arise can be eased or exacerbated by a quick web search. So, our online Brand Identity must speak to our social responsibility, whether we support local, and use renewable sources. Reports on all of this and more must all be available because they will use this to decide whether or not they will even step foot in your physical store to buy your product. Technology will give information that will inform buying decisions.
Technology is moving so fast. We cannot even imagine the future but also, the past is already obsolete. So, if we want to connect with our Future Customers in an engaging and meaningful way, we must embrace technology. We will use it to embark on a redefining retail adventure, that doesn’t necessarily seek to re-make anything that does not need improvement but will make sure that we are perfectly prepared to outlast, far into this future and the next.
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