It’s clear to see: new technology is changing the retail industry. For example, 34 percent of retailers are currently experimenting with autonomous technology. However, though adopting new tech to stay ahead is great, it’s just as important that retailers understand what they’re getting into before implementing that tech into their business structures.
Preparing for Retail's Digital Transformation
While preparing for the digital transformation can be time consuming and offers a learning curve, with a few simple steps retailers can use technology to get ahead of the competition and better serve their customers.
Start With Strategy
According to a recent survey by PwC, 69 percent of retailers pointed to emerging technology as an area where they had planned to ramp up focus in 2017. Still, more than two-thirds of these same retailers stated they had not even begun that process.
Before getting started, it’s important to have a digital strategy in place to avoid potential headaches down the road. And you don’t have to take it on all by yourself. Tap into your personnel and develop a group of strategic leaders with different perspectives to create a solid rollout plan for the digital future.
Put the Customer First
New tech implemented? Great. So what are your customers doing? How are they responding to these changes? Asking these questions shows, at minimum, that you’re paying attention to their personal preferences; the next step is to adjust accordingly. For example, Delta Air Lines introduced a feature in its mobile app that allows flyers to track baggage while traveling, giving them real-time notifications from check-in to claim. New hands-on technology like this can allow you to be more present with your customers than ever.
From mobile app usage to social media and website interactions, there are ample opportunities to use data you’ve already gathered to keep up with trends and, most importantly, your customers. For example, online retailer Revolve Clothing has 50 metrics for every item it sells, which is used to gain insight on customer browsing and purchasing habits and to make targeted recommendations. This strategy has helped Revolve consistently grow its business by 30 percent each year. Data can be a huge asset — use it!
Adapt, Don’t Abandon
Keeping up with trends is important, but don’t abandon what’s worked for your business during these transitions. Instead, adapt and make changes along the way. Use existing data to target your customers at a personal level and see what works best for them. Even with the expansion of new technology, many customers still want the ability to shop in brick-and-mortar stores.
The digital transformation is underway. In 2016, 18 percent of retailers said they would prioritize digital, and 24 percent said the same last year. With this uptick in digital prioritization, expect more of the same in 2018 as the transformation continues.
Paul Dobbins is director of account management at Fortegra, a provider of credit protection, warranty, and specialty underwriting products and services.
Related story: 5 Tips for Dealing With Stressed Holiday Customers
Paul Dobbins is National Director of Sales & Account Management for Fortegra Financial Corporation. Fortegra and its subsidiaries comprise a single-source insurance services provider that offers a range of consumer protection options including warranty solutions, credit insurance, and specialty underwriting programs. Delivering multifaceted coverage with an unmatched service experience for both partners and their customers, Fortegra solves immediate, everyday needs, empowering consumers to worry less and Experience More.