Here’s how retailers can activate our experts’ top insights on the future of retail from NRF 2023.
Jan. 30, 2023 | By Ryan Hopkins, Megan Cohill, Travis Salazar, Nicole Kendrick and Tim Knox
1. Smart Retailers Act Like Tech Companies
Gone are the days of retail companies rolling out cardboard displays at NRF. Today, Retail’s Big Show is all about the industry’s future: technology.
The pandemic forced brands to fast-track digital transformation—or fail. Efficient curbside pickup processes, contactless payment methods and increased investment in e-commerce all saw rapid expansion in record time. Consumer expectations kept pace with the innovative solutions made available to them, and now those customers desire all the options, all the time.
Successful retailers must self-identify as technology companies to keep up with market demands. The store of tomorrow won’t include snaking checkout lines and slow restocks. It’s drone delivery, smart shopping carts and predictive ordering.
Clinging to the ways of the past won’t cut it. Embrace technology innovation to stay competitive.
2. Get A Clear Picture of Your Customer
NRF 2023 was all about eliminating friction for consumers. But to win the battle, retailers need to know their customer better than they know themselves. How? By leveraging technology like customer data platforms (CDP) to tailor solutions to each individual’s shopping habits.
Retailers know more about their customers than ever before. Yet too many are data rich and insights poor. To unlock effective personalized shopping experiences, you need to construct clear customer personas. And that starts with getting your data in order.
Think about big, customer-focused efforts:
- Robust search functionality for e-commerce
- Supply chain visibility and resilience
- Customizable delivery options
- Seamless omnichannel experiences
None of these are possible without knowing exactly who your customer is, what they want and how they want it. You need data you can trust to confidently create targeted recommendations.
Retailers need to prioritize a comprehensive enterprise data strategy to break down silos, reduce friction and upsell smoothly.
3. Invest In Your Employees
The Great Resignation abruptly reminded retailers that employees are an integral part of the customer experience. The talent shortage stands in the way of many companies’ transformation goals, with gaps in technical talent identified as one of the top challenges for organization leaders just last year in TEKsystems’ State of Digital Transformation Report.
Good employees are hard to find and even harder to retain. Especially if those employees see retail work as a short-term stepping stone. Retailers are investing in their associates early and bringing visibility to long-term career opportunities to curtail turnover.
Elevate employees who already understand your customers and your product. Show prospective retail workers that they aren’t just taking a job—they’re launching a career. Consider:
- Automating mundane, time-consuming tasks that steal associates away from serving customers to improve in-store experiences for everyone involved.
- Tackling talent gaps and waning retention rates at the same time by giving your employees opportunities to grow into corporate positions through upskilling and technical training.
- Providing better benefits to show your people they are valued and shape their perception of retail employment as a professional career.
Creating a learning pathway for retail associates opens up access to technology jobs, lowers barriers to entry and empowers your workforce.
4. Create Emotional Ties to Convert Customers
Brand loyalty is no longer a given. Customers’ ties only extend as far as the company that can best meet their immediate need or match their energy.
Retailers can win back buyers by acing the fundamentals. Position your brand as intuitive and trustworthy. How can you put these principles into practice? Check in:
- Corporate mission matters to the next generation. How do you demonstrate a commitment to your values? For example, if your brand messaging preaches sustainability, share the steps you’re taking to shrink your carbon footprint.
- The rise of influencers reshaped the way we shop, with seven out of 10 consumers trusting recommendations from influencers just as much as their friends, according to a recent Sideqik study cited by Forbes. We want to buy from who we know, like and trust. Who are your biggest fans? Invest in them as brand ambassadors.
- Motivated buyers expect to find what they’re looking for when they shop your site, and they have little patience for brands that don’t deliver. Research from Google Cloud revealed that a single failed search attempt can risk losing a customer permanently, and search abandonment costs over $300 billion in lost revenue in the U.S. alone. Ask yourself, are your products appearing when and where they should be? Investments in search and product discovery technology will command loyalty and grow your business.
Don’t lose sight of building a solid brand foundation as you look ahead to what’s next.
5. The Bottom Line: Customer Over Everything
One message we heard loud and clear at NRF 2023? The relentless pursuit of new technology for its own sake won’t result in instant growth. Chasing the latest and greatest tools won’t translate to returns if no one uses them. ROI follows problem-solving, not gadget-collecting. Don’t fall into the trap of investing in new technology before mapping out a strategy.
Successful business transformation starts by keeping your customers in mind. How do they interact with your business? What would make their lives easier? Put your customers first. The right technology solutions will follow.
Not sure where to begin? Invite a technology partner to meet you where you are, develop scalable solutions to get you where you want to go and use organizational change management to make sure it sticks.
About the Author
Retail and CPG Solutions with TEKsystems
From creating flawless, omnichannel customer experiences to mobilizing data for real-time visibility for demand planning and supply chain management, we’re there every step of the way. Dive in to learn how TEKsystems can help you harness the power of technology to deliver delight to your customers.