2016 will be a watershed year for traditional brick and mortar stores as the connected consumer’s expectations continue to change retail.
The connected consumer represents the fastest growing sector of shoppers and is characterized as having direct engagement to the retailer; they are excited to share their interests and expectations. So what does this mean for retail? From website to brick and mortar, today’s retailers have the opportunity to utilize various new technologies that engage with the consumer and allow for direct analysis of their habits. As consumers embrace the increased number of interactive touch-points, retailers can recognize who their buyers are and personalize the shopper experience. In 2016, we will see that successful retailers are capitalizing on the use of digital services as a competitive advantage to empower shoppers in their store.
As the connected consumer’s influence continues to grow, the utilization of “Big Data” will increase. That is: with each point of engagement, retailers gain insights into how, when and why the consumer shops. In the new retail environment, one sees these data points exemplified through beacon-based messaging, location based marketing, digital signage recognition, and in-store consumer connectivity through retailer Wi-Fi networks.
The meaningful use of this technology differentiates each consumer’s shopping experience through personalization while allowing the retailer to effectively predict what will sell when, where and to whom. Many of today’s loyal consumers have begun to anticipate the added convenience and engaged experience this technology delivers.
Astute retailers like Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Target, Westfield Malls and Wal-Mart are among a growing list of retailers launching internal innovation labs dedicated to modernizing and understanding the preferences and needs of the connected consumers.
While it’s true that many factors are considered when planning an approach to retail, even the smallest variant can determine the success of a sales floor. Today, omnichannel strategies, websites, mobile applications, and in-store digital integrations set the benchmark for consumers’ basic expectations. With these new customer centric strategies, retailers must give careful consideration to creating a brand experience that flows seamlessly through their websites to their stores. When this is done effectively, the consumer’s experiences are consistent across all channels; the in-store experience is as convenient and easy to engage with as the website, and it promotes personalization, excitement and brand loyalty for the consumer.
It is an exciting time for retail; one where we will see that the successful retailers curate their brand experiences to exceed the expectations of their loyal customers.