What’s in Store for Retail in 2015
As rapidly as the retail industry has undergone change in recent years, there's no indication that it's likely to slow down anytime soon. In fact, I'd suggest that the coming year will see even bigger and faster changes for retailers across the globe. Mobile payment technologies, evolving customer behaviors, new and unexpected competition, and more will require retailers to continually evolve.
They need to be both flexible and resilient, as well as optimistic about the future. For every retailer downsizing their operations or going out of business, there are new startups emerging and existing retailers opening additional distribution channels and entering new markets. I'd like to share some thoughts on what retailers can expect as we enter 2015. Below are four emerging trends that I expect to blossom in 2015:
1. Cloud unifies the retail chain. To tightly integrate e-commerce, order management, fulfillment and inventory management — and operate those areas of their business as a single entity — more retailers will embrace complete cloud-based omnichannel commerce solutions in 2015. The move to the cloud is all about gaining control over and insight into all retail-related operations to the mutual benefit of both the retailer and its customers.
Think of it as a marriage between a customer-centric view of a perfect order — right customer, right time, right product — and a retailer-centric view — optimal location, optimal cost, optimal time. At the same time, other retailers will move more gradually into the cloud by migrating one or more on-premise pieces of their retail operations skywards, including available-to-promise, order orchestration, order fulfillment, etc.
2. Brick-and-mortar stores add the personal touch. More retailers will apply the lessons they've learned online to their brick-and-mortar stores by providing shoppers with a personalized experience in-store. Retail operations with tightly integrated e-commerce, customer relationship management (CRM), and inventory and order management systems in the cloud will be able to target individual shoppers with offers based on their personal profile data and previous purchasing history.