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The best retail
demands digital

Author: Brendan Conroy

Few industries are experiencing a greater outside-in demand for digital innovation than the retail sector. Retail technology needs to take into account that today’s retail customer is tech savvy, highly mobile, and looking for meaningful, personalized experiences. And the best retail technology needs to cater to that modern-day consumer.

Consumers expect a tailored retail technology experience

Nowadays, consumers want to order groceries online and pick them up at the curb. They want to download books and music to any device but still have the option to buy a print book in store and sit down in the cafe to enjoy it with a cup of coffee. They want easy checkouts and painless returns, regardless of channel. They want retailers to keep track of their purchasing histories, habits and preferences, and to position that information at the point of future decision making.

And shoppers don’t just want products. They want experiences and ideas. New technology in the retail industry needs to take all this into account and tailor an experience based on consumers’ wants and needs.

Retail technology needs to be agile and adaptive

When it comes to retail technology, there is no one-size-fits-all, out-of-the-box answer to such a burgeoning list of consumer expectations—no single digital solution or CX strategy that can deliver those outcomes. Successful retail technology is agile and adaptive, leveraging shopper behavior and customer insights to shift and respond to new demands and opportunities.

This retail tech approach to adaptive CX amounts to liquid personalizationi.e., customized engagement that is fluid and flexible, capable of adapting to and meeting changing consumer demands. But the best retail technology is also anticipatory, using predictive analytics to deliver engagement strategies that keep retailers one step ahead of customers to deliver experiences that delight and satisfy customers.

Taking an integrated approach to retail tech

New technology in the retail industry often takes an integrated approach to personalizing the customer experience. Retail technology may be in the form of geofencing and beacons to pull customers into a store with personalized offers via a branded mobile app or by merging in-store capabilities with online applications. Some retailers use virtual and augmented reality to drive in-store product discovery and project ideation. IoT solutions and mobile retail technology are likewise being digitally stitched together to enhance the shopper experience.

As part of their personalization strategies, retailers such as IKEA use augmented reality apps to help customers visualize furniture and decor in their own homes. Retail tech used by Lowe's includes a “virtual kitchen” kiosk in many of its stores, where guests can explore cabinet and countertop options through VR goggles. Neiman Marcus and Sephora are among many fashion retailers that have released mobile apps with virtual “try on” features for apparel and makeup to mix and match with what customers already own.

Coordinated connectivity in store and online

With more and more people opting to buy online, brick-and-mortar stores are focusing on the shopper experience, banking on the notion that consumers will visit stores if they’re offered unique, entertaining and memorable experiences. They are also doubling down on their efforts to engage those customers online. That’s where new technology in the retail industry is key. The epicenter of digital retail tech convergence for the industry is to coordinate engagement efforts across customer channels and integrate connectivity in ways that deliver a seamless user experience.

But the best retail technology doesn’t work without a coherent digital strategy. New technology in the retail industry needs to start with the right framework for innovation and that is designed to deliver the right outcomes.

Success depends on more than just deploying retail technology. It requires positioning retail tech to measurably increase customer engagement, brand loyalty and brand referral. Find out how Verizon can help you deliver personalized and digitally enabled products and services that cater to today’s tech savvy, mobile consumer.

The author of this thought piece is a paid contributor for Verizon.