Here’s a stone cold dose of reality – For all of the quantum leaps in ecommerce technology made in just the last few years, the technology used in most retail stores today is so outdated that it cannot support even current consumer demands, let alone the demands of tomorrow’s consumer.
Today’s stores lack the real-time connections between the customers, associates, inventory information and pricing that are absolutely essential to omni-channel success. And retailers are therefore missing a huge opportunity to attract and retain customers.
The physical store is still the foundation of retail, accounting for more than 92% of US sales in the second quarter, according to the Department of Commerce, but it has lagged miles behind their ecommerce counterparts in convenience, mobile capability and personalization.
If retailers with a physical presence want to be relevant to 21st century commerce, they must infuse digital capabilities into every corner of the store environment. In addition to the mobile revolution, the following micro trends are dramatically impacting the role of the store: Online pure-plays opening stores; Stores as showrooms, theaters and distribution centers; Pop-up stores.
The store of the future will be defined by five attributes: mobility, relevancy, personalization, ubiquity and security:
Mobile devices present vast opportunities to enhance customer service, particularly with mobile point-of-sale (POS) and inventory lookup. Further, sensors, beacons and other technologies can identify customers via their mobile device, giving the associate the ability to personalize the shopping experience.
Geo-location and geo-fencing are two technologies that will enable retailers to understand who and where their customer is, and deliver the most relevant messages. Touch screens, virtual mirrors and virtual reality like ‘smart’ fitting rooms will provide a more immersive shopping environment.
Retailers must leverage technology that empowers them to know their customer. Mobile devices used by store associates to assist with clienteling, guided selling, inventory lookup and checkout are a few examples.
Real-time retail is the ability to engage with and deliver a seamless shopping experience wherever shoppers discover and interact with a brand. Retailers should be able to identify shoppers; analyze and disseminate customer, product, pricing, and inventory data across all channels. Those that lack this capability will be left behind.
Read More about Future Store in this report by Boston Retail Partners.