Digital business will touch every step of the customer shopping journey, so it’s crucial that the digital store, a digital business asset, delivers three competencies, according to Gartner, Inc. These competencies include: customer essentials, customer experience, and customer engagement.
“The digital store (see Figure 1) is not just about futuristic digital technologies, but is the store of the past, present and the future,” said Miriam Burt, research vice president at Gartner. “This is because customers expect the quintessential elements of all three to co-exist in the digital store.
Gartner analysts presented their latest insight into the future of retailing during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2015, which is taking place here through Thursday.
Ms Burt explained the three competencies retailers must include:
The store must deliver the customer essentials – the basics. These translate into the age-old elements from the past which make up the essence of retailing such as, stock availability on the shelf, informed and readily available store associates, consistently good information on products, a hassle free checkout and an easy returns process.
“Well established technologies, such as electronic shelf labels and RFID used in the past in the back office for stock management, are now being used in innovative ways at the front end to enhance the customer experience,” said Ms Burt. “Retailers need to evaluate how these ‘old’ technologies can be used in conjunction with newer applications of technologies such as NFC, augmented reality and smart machines for robust execution of the in-store basics.”
Figure 1: The Digital Store
The digital store must also deliver a connected, consistent, contiguous and convenient cross-channel shopping experience that the customer demands at present. “Through in-store beacons, for example, retailers can offer shoppers personalised deals, discounts, recommendations and rewards based on how the shopper has been interacting in all their channels,” Ms Burt said.
Retailers also need to find innovative ways to enhance customer engagement to improve customer loyalty and increase sales. They are increasingly tapping into the trend of the convergence of personalisation and collaboration for innovation. Some retailers, such as those in specialty and home improvement, are allowing their customers to use in-store 3D printers to create their own product.
“Digital business transformation is important for enriching the customer experience and enhancing customers’ engagement. Retailers today understand that it is not just about the buying or shopping experience, but about offering their customers what they need to help them live better lives,” concluded Ms Burt.