Digital Transformation by Christmas: What Retailers Still Aren’t Getting Right With Technology
In both retail and marketing, there’s a “conversation” with customers in some way. Whether it’s merchandising, in-home or digital flyers, banner ads, in-store marketing, events, or email, every day there's communication with customers to see what works. What was the magical “thing” that resulted in the purchase decision?
One of the biggest shifts over the last three years is consumers’ ever-changing expectations. What used to be “surprise and delight” is now standard and fully expected by consumers. Being out of stock in-store, Instagram ads that showcase products that aren't in stock after clicking through, inability or reluctance for stores to help customers source items from other locations, poor mobile experiences, lackluster customer service both in-store and online, and slow and painful checkout experiences are now unforgivable in the minds of consumers. These problems are yours to solve if you want to win the retail race and create exceptional and unique digital-first customer experiences that will drive loyalty and revenue for years to come.
Lean Into Digital Innovation
Rebecca Minkoff’s smart dressing room concept is an activation other retailers should be paying attention to. Imagine if you were able to have Rebecca Minkoff personally curate looks for you in real time. Using RFID tags, Minkoff has created smart dressing rooms and smart mirrors. By touching the mirror, shoppers can order a drink and get real-time suggestions based on the clothing they brought into the dressing room. The RFID tags allow Minkoff to “suggest” additional items via the screen in the mirror to complete the look or complement style sense, as well as other options to customize the lighting. By implementing this technology, Rebecca Minkoff sales are up 200 percent.
There's a wide spectrum of how big or how small you choose to embrace, implement or test a digital-first retail strategy. What you're doing short term isn't as important as how you're shifting your overall strategic approach. This requires embracing technology to amplify your customers’ experiences, while creating brand loyalty.
Throwing Out the Box
Whether a retailer has already dipped their toes into digital innovation or it's a legacy company with an age-old strategy that has worked for years (or even decades) but just isn’t driving results anymore, completely rethinking its approach is a must.
An example of this is Staples' rebrand. Staples identified a major shift in the gig economy, and decided to launch an activation that would connect its customers with services that go far beyond the standard print job. The company opened event and co-working spaces for customers to engage with all of its services.
During busy times, the number of people with arms full of merchandise who take one look at the checkout line and promptly dump their merchandise on the nearest table and walk out is astounding. What if each employee had access to a connected mobile payment platform enabling them to check out customers with arms full of merchandise instantly without the wait? Think about how much revenue that would represent annually.
Retail has the potential to thrive. Sales don’t get better by chance, they get better by change, and change requires taking the first step of many in your digital-first strategic journey. With peak holiday shopping starting earlier than ever, if retailers start now they have just enough time to jump-start their digital strategy before the season hits.
Jennifer Shannon is senior vice president of global marketing at Rangle.io, a premium digital product consultancy.