How to revitalise your retail strategy for 2020 and beyond


Rebecca Guest, Service Delivery Manager at Columbus UK

The rise of e-commerce has introduced a higher standard of customer experience. As shopping becomes increasingly detached from the notions of queuing, restrictive opening hours and excessive use of carrier bags, retailers must ensure their online and offline channels satisfy evolving customer expectations for digitally driven experiences.

In 2020, more than ever before, retailers need to ensure shoppers can move between online and offline channels seamlessly with sales, marketing and customer service teams all working in harmony to engage them. Digital technologies are key for this. When technology is employed strategically and successfully, it becomes invisible – for customers, the only visible action is the company giving them exactly what they want.


Here are the seven technologies required to achieve a seamless, ‘invisible’ retail strategy in 2020:


  1. Chatbots

Customers want to talk to businesses in real-time and businesses need to adapt quickly to meet this demand. The latest chatbot technology, based on Natural Language Processing (NLP) software, allows answers to be tailored and sophisticated compared to the stock answers of yesteryear.


  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Over 20 billion devices are predicted to be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) by 2020, according to Gartner. As data increasingly becomes the lifeblood of organisations, retailers will be among the biggest benefactors of new algorithms coming to the fore to predict trends, anticipate demand and provide the customer with relevant content.


  1. Virtual Reality (VR)
    VR is still a relatively novel technology in the retail sphere, but some businesses are already using it in innovative ways to become bigger on the commerce stage. We will see this technology become more widely adopted by brands throughout 2020 as VR tools offer another viable way for retailers to meet rising consumer expectations for engagement and experience.


  1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

An effective CRM solution will be instrumental to understand and engage the customer base in 2020. Managing customer experience with the right digital tools means retailers can stretch the boundaries of marketing and sales, build customer profiles continuously and serve the customer in new and differing ways.


  1. Content Management Systems (CMS)
    Optimising branding through a future-proof CMS helps create engaging and personalised web content and puts the business in control of measurable, personalised and experience-driven buyer journeys.


  1. Product Information Management (PIM)

A PIM solution makes it faster and easier to create and deliver compelling product experiences. In terms of the customer experience, a well-executed PIM strategy can enrich content offerings through accurate and timely product data.


  1. eCommerce
    A reliable e-commerce platform not only provides up-to-date pricing and delivery but has a major part to play in the way customers perceive brands. A mobile-optimised and user-friendly web store enables retailers to react to market opportunities much quicker and provide customers with a consistently high level of service.


Thriving in the age of the ‘experience economy’

In 2020, retailers need to embrace experience as a strategic differentiator to keep customers at the heart of their operations. Those that move ahead with deploying emerging technologies to create meaningful and unified customer experiences will reap the rewards in the decade ahead.


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