With all the Retail Predictions floating around how do you narrow the list and focus on the important objectives? It’s simple. Center your attention on two words: Customer Experience.
The best Customer Experience is one that makes shopping easy. With the two most prominent shopping groups being “Baby Boomers” (ages 60-70) and “Generation Y or Millennials” (ages 15-35), the spectrum on how to please these groups are vast, but oddly enough, they both want many of the same things: convenience, pleasant interactions, ease, and speed. And that is regardless of whether they are shopping online or in-store…or both.
It is not unusual to see shoppers in stores with their smartphones in hand. Given the largest segment of smartphone users are Millennials, it makes sense that the mobile device is critical for a successful, Omni-channel experience, with stores, web, catalog, and social media contributing to most, if not all, of the channels. Retailers who recognize and embrace this trend will have an edge.
In addition to utilizing phones to comparison shop, or see what options are available online, shoppers also expect to use their smartphones at the checkout counter. Whether using mobile apps or Apple Pay, the smartphone remains a game-changer for retail sales in the coming year.
The old saying “The right product at the right place at the right time” is as important in 2105 than ever. Retailers need to understand the location of their store and specialize it for that customer base. A good Point of Sale system provides valuable data on how customers shop, so retailers who have been using these systems to collecting customer data should take the next step and challenge their system for loyalty programs, cross channel capabilities, and replenishment programs based on the intelligence they already hold about their customers’ preferences and order history.
Along with retail technology to improve your customer experience, Ibeacons engage consumers through the power of proximity marketing. Placed at your business location or hot spots, these devices notify customers about deals when they come nearby. These tools allow retailers to pinpoint and offer promotions that directly impact a customer’s shopping experience. In 2014 many of these tools were tested with positive results. Be aware and be prepared.
Risks: 2014 left customers concerned about protecting their credit card and personal information. While the breach in credit card data led to some hesitation from consumers, it didn’t stop them entirely. In October, 2015 the EMV imperative, also known as the Liability Shift, will place the burden upon retailers to have the appropriate payment processing systems in place to accept the EMV chip, or else be responsible for any fraudulent charges made in their stores. Safe payment processing is coming, so again, the onus is on the retailer to take the necessary steps to prepare for this mandate.
If you haven’t already been doing this, make 2015 the year to improve your sales, inventory, markdowns and profits planning. A good plan uses a combination of analytics and gut, and if a retailer cannot be objective when setting the plans then a good planning analyst is a smart option.
2015 is expected to be a powerful year for shopping journeys. Customers are expecting little effort when making their purchases so ensure you have quick, easy accesses to all shopping portals and keep your eyes on the prize: Customer Experience. Make it quick, make it easy, make it memorable.
Retail Information Systems offers retail technology solutions that can help take your retail business to new heights in the new year. Contact us today for a demo of Retail Pro 9 or Prism, the latest thin-client version, that utilizes a mobile tablet device and offers an affordable and more agile POS option.
For financial planning, contact our resident retail specialist, Toni Rumley, at ToniR@goretailpro.com.