Retail change is constant now, driven by consumer technology’s rapid evolution – which means that shoppers expect a more personal, engaging, and convenient interaction with the brands they do business with.
To rise to this challenge, retailers and brands need to transform their businesses, and part of this process means looking to the future.
Looking ahead can be hazardous, and in some cases paralysing. The need to future-proof decisions can be overwhelming due to conflicting or vague predictions about what tomorrow’s customer is likely to need.
Get zen: How to accept and plan for retail change
Typically at Greenlight, we advocate focusing on the present and getting the basics right rather than charging off into unchartered territory. For example, voice-based shopping is not something that we think is relevant to most businesses yet, as exciting as it may seem.
Whilst we advocate focusing on the here and now, it is also sensible to look to the future when planning a digital transformation project. Digital transformation is an ongoing process, and the decisions that are made today are likely to shape your success in the future. There are several areas that can help give you the best chance of staying ahead of the game and retail change.
3 steps to seamless experiences
1.) Alignment: Front-end and back-end processes, and all channels should be aligned. Getting all aspects of the business talking the same language and operating on a consistent basis is not as simple as it may sound, but once achieved, provides a foundation that will allow you to create an agile, efficient, and measurable digital business.
If you don’t think that this is an important priority, consider that any new entrants into the market today are likely to have significantly greater degrees of alignment and integration than a business formed even a year ago.
2.) Learn to love your data: A second rule is to build a data-literate business. The digital retail environment produces vast amounts of data for the business, which can be used to develop customer profiles and drive personalisation and engagement.
Looking at the data from across platforms will reveal things like how you engage with consumers, what stock to sell, and can show you a window on trends and habits. You’ll know what is coming, allowing you to adjust your processes, prepare for seismic changes, and predict market trends.
3.) Measurement: Get this right now and it will pay dividends in the future.
You must understand if your digital transformation process is working or not. In retail, it should be simple: More customers spending more time on your site and spending more money – and these work as KPIs for digital transformation, too.
A few fundamental truths will always remain: Sales, Average Order Value, Margin, Conversion Rate. I doubt there will be many businesses in the future where these KPI’s will not be relevant, and whilst other KPIs may be suggested, and seem very compelling, we recommend avoiding vanity metrics and focusing on the key four.
Whilst it may never be possible to be ahead of customers – and in most cases may not be desirable to be ahead of them either – it is important that the decisions and processes you invest in and implement today prepare you for tomorrow.
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This post was first published on The Future of Customer Engagement & Commerce.