Everyone’s heard it: “Retail will change more in the next five years than it has in the last 50.” And although advances in digital technology have been driving this change, it’s the consumer that’s in the driver’s seat. Armed with a smartphone, this consumer has the world’s largest shopping mall in her pocket. She can access her friends and their friends via social channels for inspiration on trending products. She can showroom, webroom and access product pricing faster than your typical store associate. She can pull up a competitor’s digital coupon at your point-of-sale when she’s ready to make a purchase. And finally, she can access service, anytime and anywhere.
In short, she’s in control of today’s path-to-purchase. She can deftly perform product comparisons, including price checks, without the aid of an associate. She has a wealth of channels to choose from (and she does). And thanks to daily deal and promotional aggregators, she knows when and where to hit the “buy” button.
Competing on the traditional marketing levers of price, product, place and promotion is extraordinarily difficult in this environment. As a result, brands well-positioned for success in the coming years have adopted a new strategy; in other words, they compete on the retail customer experience.
But according to research, brands are struggling to pull together a compelling experience. Based on insights from consumer surveys, there has never been a greater opportunity to redefine the retail customer experience, across marketing, sales and service.
Today’s shopper’s path to purchase is no longer as simple as walking into a store, browsing the aisles, and buying a product. Shoppers are doing their homework ahead of time (and across multiple emerging channels), making them more knowledgeable and empowered than ever before. It is more important than ever for retailers to evolve, and adapt. For example:
The retail customer experience landscape continues to evolve, as new shopping channels emerge. Today’s shoppers are accustomed to moving seamlessly along their journeys, across whichever channels are most convenient. This has implications on retailers, who find themselves falling behind in the race to meet shopper’s new expectations.
As new emerging digital channels appear, brick-and-mortar retail stores still are crucial to today’s retail success. However, its role in commerce is quickly changing. To meet and even exceed shoppers’ expectations, retailers must empower their store associates with the right technology to meet these new customer needs.
As artificial intelligence moves to the forefront, retailers have an opportunity to reach shoppers with smarter, more predictive, and personalized messages than ever before. The future of the retail customer experience? It’s intelligent.
Everyday, innovative brands are redefining how they engage with today’s consumer, whether it’s personalizing every path-to-purchase, creating a seamless journey across all channels of engagement or providing faster, more convenient customer service.
For more information on Salesforce solutions for retail, visit salesforce.com/retail