How will NRF shape retail in 2018?

By Graham Jackson, CEO of Fluent Commerce

With retail’s biggest technology show over for another year, there has been much innovation and insight for industry decision makers to absorb. The exponential evolution of retail technology and how retailers can best utilise this to create an omnichannel, unified commerce experience, was one of the biggest talking points at NRF.

With over 16,000 exhibitors and 36,000 delegates in attendance, here are some other key headlines from this year’s show and how they’ll influence retail throughout 2018.

Shoppers are not differentiating between channels

These days customers don’t think about the channels that they are using. When customers are buying things either online or in-store this is a single experience for them which results in the outcome of how they view and rate this company. As a result, retailers need to focus on giving customers what they want, when they want it and how they want it, in order to keep up with current customer behaviour and expectations.

The importance of customer experience

With online purchasing growing rapidly, many retailers have prioritised enhancing their customers’ ecommerce experience. Although this approach can be considered – due to the ever-increasing number of online conversions – retailers shouldn’t underestimate the power of face-to-face engagement in keeping existing customers happy and attracting new audiences.

Despite retailers making huge strides to improve the online customer experience through personalisation, consumers still want to feel like an individual. This is best facilitated through a retailer’s staff speaking directly with the customer, ideally in person or through an online chat tool, understanding exactly what they require; supporting, rather than replacing, automated online self service and recommendations.

This level of engagement, alongside how the retailer can offer improved convenience, upsell and cross-sell related products to the customer, provide increased choice, an integrated omnichannel experience, and competitive pricing, significantly influences customer loyalty and satisfaction.

The growth of personalisation

One of the key headlines from NRF was that customer personalisation will gradually move from simplistic, seemingly endless streams of suggested products, based on buying habits and what is included in an online shopping basket, to a refined and less cluttered approach.

This can be facilitated through retailers ensuring that personalised customer experiences are provided across all channels, looking for innovative ways in which they can build on the standard email of product recommendations. This can include geo-location and targeting capabilities, which provides customers with a real-time view of product availability in various stores and the proximity of those items. Retailers should also be investing resources in analysing the insights of how customers like to consume this information, tailoring their approach accordingly.

The real differentiator; retailers should also be considering how the consumer would like to receive their products, whether they would like to collect in-store, with preferred, ‘favourite’ locations saved (based on previous buying habits), next-day home delivery, or any other customer options, depending on which is most convenient.

Decreasing hype of the mobile

If the whisperings are to be believed, the hype of mobile has plateaued. That’s not to say that retailers have underestimated the influence of the platform in offering an end-to-end omnichannel experience, far from it.

With mobile-only transactions accounting for an increasingly large proportion of sales, retailers need to think more strategically about how to best utilise handheld ecommerce. Again, this will enable them to gain a deeper insight into how to better engage with those customers that frequently use mobiles, building a more personal relationship.

From a retailer’s perspective, in-store tooling on mobile devices will continue to streamline inventory management, offering increased flexibility and mobility.

Investment in technology

The development and implementation of innovative technologies by retailers will continue to prove crucial in how they engage with customers. Retailers cannot afford to be complacent when analysing how this technology will be used; they need be taking actions based on the insights gathered through these platforms.

This is the only way in which retailers can consistently meet – and exceed – customer expectations. To effectively provide a unified omnichannel experience, retailers must deploy real-time rapid order orchestration solutions that will make the customer journey, from order to delivery, as seamless as possible.

Comments are closed.

    Inspired Lighting right-hand skyscraper
    RetailEXPO 2019 right-hand skyscraper 2
  • A1 Retail Twitter