Creating unified customer experiences across all touchpoints and channels is a common goal among retailers, and organizations often talk about being customer-centric and driving towards a personalized, consistent experience. Despite these priorities, many can’t deliver. At our Retail Innovation Conference and Expo workshop “What Should I Do Now Vs. Next: How to Prioritize Your Unified Commerce Capabilities,” we helped retail leaders assess where their companies currently stand and where they can improve when it comes to commerce.
Within these capabilities, there are six major trends driving the overall transformation of the industry towards customer-centricity.
1: Shipping Delivery and Transparency
Ever since one-click purchases and speedy delivery began taking over online shopping, customers have been anxious to receive all their products on demand. The ideal scenario is that time from purchase to delivery is fully optimized, but even if shipping is taking longer than desired, transparency throughout the process keeps customers satisfied. Real-time updates through online dashboards, emails, and SMS keep customers in tune with their purchases and your brand.
Anymore, this level of transparency is standard. To get ahead, retail leaders should begin implementing capabilities for customers to reroute, hold, cancel, and modify their deliveries at the touch of a button. Further, any exceptions that have altered shipping should have automated notifications for customers.
Nurturing customers as individuals is vitally important to gaining and maintaining their loyalty. A hyper-personalized approach across every touchpoint will set your organization apart from the crowd and increase sales significantly.
Right now, it is table stakes to offer your customers personalized communications and products tailored to their individual preferences, but that will no longer be enough. The next step is to time customize recommendations at the peak moment the customer is most likely to engage. Further, you’ll want to utilize emerging technologies like generative AI and predictive analytics so that you offer a recommendation before a customer even has the need for it.
3: Innovation in Blending the Physical and Digital Worlds
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Online and in-person shopping has not been mutually exclusive since the omnichannel evolution, but customers have still mainly experienced the two shopping modes separately. Transformation in the industry now allows the digital and physical experiences to elevate and amplify each other in new and exciting ways.
Retailers are already taking advantage of trends like social selling, where influencers promote their products online and customers can click to purchase directly from a post. The next level is to innovate new blended experiences such as virtual events, live product demonstrations, augmented reality, and more.
4: Data Safety
Time and time again, retailers have become victims of cybercrime and lost customer data to malicious actors. Data safety is more important than ever to organizations and individuals alike with online and digital payment options. Customers are even becoming hyper-aware of the way they allow companies to collect their information through cookies and form submissions.
If you’re leading the industry, your company is taking an assertive approach to security strategies and governance of data and technical infrastructure across the entire organization and throughout the whole life cycle of the customer.
5: Self-Service Capabilities
The concept of self-service in retail has existed for years, but the widespread need for the capability was amplified by global lockdowns and social distancing practices. Customers have also come to expect convenience and speed in all transactions, and self-checkout capabilities thrive in this landscape. Retailers on the edge of this trend are not only leaders in mobile checkouts but also curbside pickup and grab-and-go orders.
Sustainability is not a new trend, and a recent NielsenIQ study revealed that 78 percent of US consumers prioritize a sustainable lifestyle. Most brands have embraced sustainable practices, such as encouraging the reuse and recycling of products, to promote their fullest potential before being disposed of responsibly. After some brands have been exposed to less-than-eco-friendly practices, however, consumers are becoming more skeptical of “sustainable” brands.
To gain the trust and loyalty of eco-conscious customers, your organization should encourage trade-in, refurbishment, and resale to help reduce the amount of waste that goes into the landfills. Further, your brand should engage in greener packaging solutions to conserve natural resources and maximize profits.
Become a Leader with What’s Next in Retail
Do any of these challenges and priorities sound familiar to your company? At Perficient, our retail and commerce experts can help you analyze your organization’s current capabilities and create a roadmap to the future. Ask us about our experience helping retailers implement advanced capabilities in hyper-personalization, shipping exception automation and management, grab-and-go checkout, digital product passports, data privacy passports, and augmented reality (AR) commerce.
Lead the retail charge with Perficient’s retail expertise.