Retail is going through a period of flux. From big box stores to specialty shops to online vendors, everyone’s trying to figure out how to survive.
It has become all about the ability to adapt as technology transforms the retail landscape.
“As a shopper, your basic needs don’t change,” says Piers Fawkes, founder and editor-in-chief of PSFK. “But your behavior is dependent on the technology that’s around you.”
The PSFK consulting team’s Future of Retail report identifies nine major trends that are part of the “seismic shift” changing the retail world, and provides examples of companies that are making an impact.
Consumers want to be more informed than ever, and brands are fulfilling that demand
Retailers are training their staff to be experts in whatever field they’re in.
In an effort to curb the impact of showrooming, Best Buy’s redesigned stores include multiple points of customer service and coaching — the Geek Squad Solution Center, a home theater design center and the Pacific Home & Kitchen section.
Retailers are letting customers make decisions for them
Take the Barclaycard Ring — a “community-powered” credit card service from Barclays. There’s a forum which lets members suggest features, and it also shares the card’s financial statements and performance numbers with the members so that they can see how the project is doing.
Personal data is being used to customize everything
Perhaps it’s a bit creepy, but when consumers decide to share personal data with retailers (like purchase histories and biometric fit profiles), they’re often using it to customize the experience for each customer.
Neiman Marcus, for example, has a “location-aware” app called NM Service which sends customer preferences right to its sales staff. A user checks in when they get to the store, letting staff give recommendations tailored for the individual.
this is on Fifth Avenue between 43rd and 44th streets in New York City.
In thinking about retail … this helps illustrate the tremendous challenges they face.
- online switching costs are pretty much zero — just type another URL; these two stores are physically touching — just walk next door
- they carry much of the same inventory from plasma TVs to computers to home stereo equipment to software, CDs, DVDs, etc.
- they both sell Apple iPods; consumers have already decided to buy an iPod for Christmas (for some reason), which store do they walk into? what differentiates the store with the blue awning from the one with silver letters? they both have “black friday” discounts but the price ended up to be about $1 from each other; both have geeks on staff, one called Geek Squad and the other Fire Dog
- and then there’s Amazon.com which is tax free and offers free 2nd day shipping.
THIS is a challenging marketing problem for retailers such as the ones pictured!
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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