Retail has changed a lot through 2020, the pandemic has been exceedingly problematic for brick-and-mortar retail, regulations, shifting consumer sentiment and a rapid acceleration to flexible fulfillment has revolutionized the landscape. While many brick & mortar retailers have moved to eCommerce or social media platforms to continue to sell products, consumers are also changing, increasingly shopping from mobile devices, using contactless payments & expecting convenient fulfillment, many retailers are now lagging behind the curve.

Cognizant center for the future of work conducted a study of large businesses that experienced the “Laggard Penalty” (Not adopting technology early enough to reap the benefits, and subsequently losing traction in their industry as a result)

“on average the penalty these businesses each incurred over the 4 year study was $692 Million when compared to early adopters.“

While this is a general study, the same principle applies in the retail industry, evolve with your customers, or pay the price. Ultimately, being customer centric means providing an experience that reconciles with the customers expectations, which in 2020 & beyond is technology.

“87% of consumers increased their contactless payment usage during 2020”

Companies like Adyen have introduced new payment functionality, including pay by link to speed up the payment process and reduce contact points for customers and retail staff. Adding a mobile app, contactless payment, omnichannel fulfillment and cross platform engagement is certainly a precinct choice to continue to compete in an ever expanding and increasingly competitive space, but it can also present a challenge… a changing definition of your brand’s identity.

The core of value as a retailer is the brand, the concepts that stand at the core of what the retailer is and ultimately the motivation for customers to use the store and continue loyalty. Regardless of business level: entry level, mid market or premium, brands all have to claw out a small section of the market around their offerings. However, when all brands are working to increase convenience, centralize the customer experience and find ways to digitize engagement, it can be easy to lose the essence of the brand while chasing evolution.

Here are some paths to driving this in-store & omnichannel retail experience:

Flexible Implementation

Avoiding hardware and software updates that don't work contingently is essential, customer loyalty is built around customer experience, hardware & software needs to be easily manageable and customizable to the needs of the end customer. Without simple UI & reliable data flow, friction will only increase at the point of sale and drive customers away, rather than to your store. Leveraging SAAS can be an easy way of achieving enhanced engagement. Software platforms continually evolve but focus on providing additional value, in the same form factor, retaining the consistency in the core experience while offering optional enhancements.

Mobile POS tools also have the versatility to be installed as a static POS when needed, this empowers retail staff to provide a traditional experience at the point of sale, but also an engaging & personalized experience throughout the store, without losing key functionality. Retailers have to identify software providers that work to provide value to the customer journey, while minimizing friction. Customers are seeking seamless experiences in store and in-store technology should reflect this goal.

Centralizing The Experience

Evolving the retail experience does not mean de-centralizing it, while the experience is siloed based on preference, the central facet of the operation needs to retain it’s connectivity.

"44% of retailers agree that POS needs to be completely centralized and delivered to stores seamlessly."

This aligns with what customers are now expecting. The experience has to stay completely integrated to enable customers to feel connected and recognized by the brand on every channel. Consumers have to feel engagement in the same way as they would in store. This can be increasingly challenging given the additional availability of DTC fulfillment and quick shopping workflows, but by keeping the customer at the center and leveraging an integrated omnichannel approach, retailers can effectively connect with customers, empowering an engaging experience while still offering an increased level of convenience.

Expanding Your Offerings

“70% of retailers will be using API’s to expand their retail experience by 2023”

This statistic is hardly surprising, retailers are looking to leverage more than just singular functionalities, brands seek to implement ecosystems that meet every need of their customers while retaining seamless service. Brands have to worry about point of sale, order management, fulfillment, clienteling and customer experience. In order to bridge this gap, retailers have to develop strategies and leverage technologies that drive a connected experience. Customers want a great experience at their fingertips, creating a platform that is easy to use, but packed with power and engagement technology enables the customer to have a self-guided experience that retains the core value of your brand. Expanded fulfillment also provides access to a much wider range of products, ensuring that every customer finds the exact items they are looking for, quickly, conveniently and enjoyably.

Make It Convenient

“One of the most under-the-radar trends of 2020 has been bracketing, customers purchasing multiple versions of the same item to try on and see which one works best, 62% of consumers reported engaging in this activity.”

The reason for bracketing: shipping is expensive, the additional cost of $10 on every order or the shipping delays that have become more common during the pandemic has pushed customers away from just buying in their regular size and hoping for the best. But, this results in negative trends for the retailers, inventory fluctuations… and handling multiple returns that have to be carefully sanitized and processed to avoid issues. Customers need an accessible way to be sure if the product will fit them correctly, from virtual consultations to live chats, “clothing free trials” a la Amazon Wardrobe or free shipping retailers need to craft in consumer uncertainty when shaping these experiences to ensure customers stay engaged, active and end their experience satisfied with their purchase.

Ready to evolve your retail experience around your core brand?

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