These new consumers are equipped with a strong sense of entitlement and the expectation of consistent, high-quality service across multiple retail channels. The depth of product features, prices and alternatives discovery that drove online visits is now expected on-the-go with a consistency between click & bricks. The single most critical consistency in being able to deliver that is a smartphone with an individually branded retailer application that can deliver this dual functionality.
This was evident at the recent Retail World Congress held in Singapore from 19 to 22 March 2013, where some of the brightest minds in the retail industry met to discuss the future of the business.
Omni-channel, the new retail paradigm
The proliferation of smart phones and tablets, coupled with the ubiquity of wi-fi networks, is urgently demanding a change in retailers' traditional go-to-market model. The traditional attributes of retail being location, product, price, quality and service are simply a prerequisite now rather than a differentiator. Retailing in the connected world is about understanding the impact of mobile, online and social media.
This irreversible trend is "omni-channel" retailing. Omni-channel retailing is no longer just a concept and is now best defined as multiple and individually-relevant touch points equipped with unfailing memory and the intuition about consumers' preference available both digitally and physically. This is helped by the game-changing ways in which wireless technology and applications are coming together to form solutions that are empowering sales associates and connecting with the already connected customer with their personal tastes, at their preferred locations, through their preferred media.
A traditional retailer's move towards omni-channel is an organic shift and a 'must', but what is striking is that some of the pure-play Internet vendors are shedding their online purity and moving into the setting up of a physical outlet. Even Amazon has installed lockers in shopping malls from where customers can pick up deliveries. Could this be the baby steps towards brick and mortar?
Embrace the converse
In June 2012, Motorola Solutions in New York called out to the retailers to embrace omni-channel retailing to sustain and grow their businesses. The future is not about the number of stores added, but about connecting with the customer, understanding what they want, when they want and where they want.
Today's global retail leaders are embracing technology to do away with these perceived occupational hazards, thereby garnering massive competitive advantage.
With digital space and smartphones, no longer does one size fit all. There is a compelling need for mass personalisation. Failure to change and to deliver an integrated shopping experience across all channels puts a retailer at risk of becoming irrelevant.
Customer experience revolution
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