The customer of the future expects a consistent Customer Experience. Digital intelligence is essential for retail businesses.
The digital Future of Retail
Digitalization is still called a trend – but is it not time we change that? By dismissing it as a trend, its impact is underestimated, especially in retail where digital has become an integral part of the business.
Those who believe digitalization is merely a “trendy” quest for faster data analysis and industrial automation are overlooking the importance of the digital revolution. The changes brought about by digitalization will play a definitive role in the future of retail. We’re talking beyond digital vs. brick mortar: Today’s customer expectations have moved way beyond this. Today’s customers expect a boundless customer experience, coordinated across all channels. Retailers who can combine different platforms, those who turn to digital intelligence to communicate with customers, and provide the flexibility that satisfies customer demands in new and different ways are those who are successfully stepping into the digital future.
The true effect of digitalization comes from a fundamental shift in the balance of power. No longer does access to infrastructure safeguard a business model. A single retail space, warehouse or website does not sustain business. Instead, businesses need to focus on customer communication. A standardized customer with formulaic needs and expectation is fiction and has truthfully never existed.
The Customer of the Future
The process of satisfying customers has to include meeting their individual needs, being available to them, having products ready to be disposed, and reacting quickly. In retail, this means providing customers with several communication channels, which is not without its own set of challenges. The channels have to be coordinated and integrated with another across all divisions and levels of sales as well as customer support. But that can all be done with nothing more than the basic tools of the digitalized world.
What makes the customer of the future actually buy something and not just communicate with the seller? Here emerges the renaissance of an old familiar value: Trust is a core value in the digital economy.
Neuroscientists have recently been able to track and describe how people build trust. The effect must be a sobering trick to an enlightened person from the 21st century. Trust grows in two steps through a mostly automatic interaction of a lot of intuition and a little intellect. The process of establishing trust is always the same, whether it is in a person or a digital source. If a person learns to trust a provider, a salesman, or a platform, he or she will most likely continue to do so again as long as it is easy and intuitive to receive the information, the assessment, or the recommendation. We learn to trust without asking too many questions. The consequences for digital society can hardly be overestimated.
With Predictive Analytics into the Future of Retail
The race for the customer-friendly preparation of information is not fair because, in principle, the human factor plays no role. Already today, digital information is processed faster and more comprehensibly than traditional institutions ever could. There is more maintenance and development in the presentation of every app than a person could ever invest in his presentation skills. With the collective mind of the digital users and the growing wealth of experience, the willingness to trust virtual advice soars. And this is the core of the digitalized retail of the future: Individualized attention for each customer, optimized to their needs, which are recognized and addressed in advance. This is the challenge of using Big Data and predictive analysis on a daily basis. Even brick and mortar retailers can use diverse strengths for each customer group. Whether it’s a Look & Feel station for the online shopper, a delivery station for those on the move, community meet ups, or a chance for anonymous buying for the data shy. But only those who know the individual customer can tailor and communicate the potential of their offering in advance successfully.