Individually targeted advertising, more common use of data analytics and a faster shift to cloud and mobile technology were trends retailers could expect in 2014, according to the SAP Community Network blog.
The blog looked at a future of technology report by analyst firm Forrester, summarised in a Forbes slide show, and the retail trends it contained for 2014.
The most interesting concept was the innovation of wearable electronic devices that allowed micro-segmenting and geo-sensing customers in store. Continuous, real-time streams of data from mobile devices and online customer activity would deliver greater insights into customer behaviour and desires, the post predicted.
Another trend followed the experiences of customers on retail websites. The quality of the experience could affect where shoppers chose to buy.
The report outlined the following five retail trends:
1. Digital convergence erodes boundaries.
According to the Forbes piece, “Physical and digital worlds are converging. As a result, consumers expect uniform service, whether they are in the physical world or if they are in the digital world.”
That’s especially true in retail, where consumers demand the same experience in every channel, whether in-store, online, mobile, or some combination. “The good news is that technology now exists to serve a market of one, to provide personalised customer service that starts with a mobile device, continues throughout the shopping experience, and ends with home delivery,” says Randy Evins, retail industry principal for SAP.
2. Digital experience delivery makes (or breaks) firms.
“A great digital experience is no longer a nice-to-have,” Forrester notes. “It’s a make-or-break point for your business as we more fully enter the digital age.” That’s increasingly the case in retail, where online shopping is surging.
“By capturing and leveraging relevant information, retailers can tailor the experience to individual customer needs and tastes,” WHO IS HE? Haig continues. “And customers really do respond: research suggests that the upper half of your customer base will spend up to 50 percent more with you if they receive a personalised offer.”
3. Firms shed yesterday’s data limitations.
Retail will be all about that kind of Big Data – and the ability to sense and respond. “Cloud computing, data analytics and in-memory computing are crucial tools in combining and leveraging … social data with POS data, loyalty data, and syndicated data,” explains Craig Downing, director of global cloud marketing for SAP.
“In fact, that’s a perfect example of Big Data in action – millions of bits of data that, with some sophisticated analysis, can reveal true insights. Once you have that, you can begin to understand how pricing, merchandising, and couponing strategies can alter your customer experience and your margins.”
4. Sensors and devices draw ecosystems together.
“The Internet of Things will move from hype to reality with the ubiquity of connectivity and proliferation of devices,” the Forbes piece predicts. That will revolutionise traditional “spray-and-pray” promotional campaigns.
“Wherever you touch the customer, regardless of where they are, you have opportunities to differentiate yourself from the competition and deliver a unique brand experience,” says Mark Ledbetter, global vice president of retail strategy for SAP. “These include innovations like mobile apps, real-time promotions, micro-segmenting, and geo-sensing to follow customers when they come into the store.”
5. Firms learn from the cloud and mobile.
Traditional systems need to be optimised to take full advantage of the cloud, the Forrester report states. Similarly, mobile initiatives need to be integrated with your broader, omni-channel strategies.
Cloud computing and mobile platforms hold great promise for retail, enabling retailers to capture and analyzs customer data, and to make highly relevant offers, all in real time.
“Cloud computing lets you capture and deliver customer data to and from every touch point at the moment you need it,” Garvis says. “So … you know exactly what coupon, game, app, text message, or other means of engagement to use with [each customer] specifically.”
As for mobile, the bourgeoning technology is a key enabler of retail sales associates. “Your entire business system should be available in their pocket or on their belt, wherever they happen to be,” Haig believes. “That requires mobile devices, wireless infrastructure and, most important, mobile enabling of enterprise systems.”