Digital for all now

Connected retail: tips and trends for 2017

Econocom 15 Mar 2017

At a time when retail is becoming increasingly diverse, taking on new forms and leading to new purchasing patterns, how can industry players innovate and stand out from the competition? Jean-Guillaume Roger, Retail Market Manager at Econocom, takes a look at the main trends identified at NRF 2017, the leading retail event in New York. Find out his tips for adopting new technologies to ensure a better customer experience.

 

 

1. THINK OF EVERY ASPECT OF THE customer experience

 

With retail players becoming more proficient in the technologies, 2017 will see some really immersive customer experiences, encompassing all the aspects of digital: mobile apps, social media and digital signage,” explains Jean-Guillaume Roger. The aim is to offer personalised advice, without necessarily getting directly in touch with the customer.

 

With in-depth knowledge of customer data and a full set of digital tools at the point of sales, a major clothes retailer can now offer a digital loyalty card for smartphones, which is recognised by in-store sensors that can scan a customer’s profile when they enter the store, and offer them discount vouchers and information on their favourite products, either on their mobile or on digital screens in the store.”

 

WHAT OUR ECONOCOM EXPERT SAYS:

“Whilst technology is offering more and more possibilities, it’s vital to use it use it in a way that’s in line with the brand image and the expectations of each type of customer. Otherwise, it won’t really work.

 

2. Use analytics to create a unique shopping experience, whatever the channel

 

Analytics involves interpreting and using all the data a company can exploit. For years, retail in a number of sectors was driven by discounts, whereas now it’s handling data that’s the key to optimising conversion rates and customer loyalty,” stresses Roger.

Omni-channel experience – the watchword at this year’s NRF – is becoming essential for addressing rapidly-changing consumers’ expectations with new digitally-driven services. In order to achieve this, “all the components of the value chain – the in-store sales transaction, supply chain, merchandising, production, CRM, etc. – must be shared and analysed together.”

In terms of back-office, this will involve, for example, real-time reporting on sales to warehouses to ensure more accurate re-stocking, or offering the customer a unique shopping experience, regardless of the sales channel: website, point of sales, social media, call centre, etc.

 

WHAT OUR ECONOCOM EXPERT SAYS:

To build a 360° view and use analytics correctly, retailers need to organise their IT system with a cross-functional, multi-channel view so they can collect the data, structure it and make optimal use of it. This involves an in-depth analysis of retailers’ expectations as well as any problems reported by employees or customers.”

 

 

 

3. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND VIRTUAL REALITY: what for?

 

The new generations are prepared to give more and more information to the brand if it means they’ll get a more personalised service in return,” says Jean-Guillaume Roger. But how can you offer a personalised service via a digital interface? With chatbots, for example.  “These new intelligent programs talk to clients and give them advice without requiring any human intervention. With the right database, the robot can deliver really specific, helpful advice and increase conversion rates on the website,” adds Roger.

Virtual reality is “a real asset when it comes to creating planograms. Combined with touch controllers, the headset means you can create visual representations of the store more quickly and easily send it to the category managers via a specialist app.”

 

WHAT OUR ECONOCOM EXPERT SAYS:

Retailers shouldn’t be afraid of using these new technologies, which require considerable investments, but are effective. Their ability to optimise or speed up processes mean they will have major potential in the years to come.

 

 

4. He smartphone IS THE NEW digital store…AND MUCH more BESIDES!

 

The smartphone has become indispensable for consumers: they use it to research their future purchases or compare prices in store and as such are becoming more of an expert than the sales staff. It is therefore crucial to choose mobile apps that are “both useful and designed to boost the brand identity, all the way into the customer’s pocket.”

But it’s the sales staff’s mobile devices that are really taking off: “a sales associate who has real-time visibility of stock via a device with access to all the product information will sell better than one who has to go to the till or the stockroom to get this information.

Retailers have grasped this and a number of initiatives have been launched. Of course, these technologies have been around for a few years, but they’ve really started to take off recently.

 

WHAT OUR ECONOCOM EXPERT SAYS:

The sales associate’s expertise is vital for delivering extra services for connected, increasingly-well-informed consumers. The tools they use can help them increase average basket size and reduce abandonment rates. Start on a small scale and learn from the sales people’s feedback so you can develop a tool that’s easy to use and can generate ROI!

 

 

5. Phygitalisation is fine – as long as you think about your target’s needs

 

Phygital was the retail buzzword in 2016. But is this hybrid between digital and brick-and-mortar, examples of which range from click & collect to just equipping salespeople with digital tools, still as popular? Among the digital marketing experts and consultants at the various stands at NRF this year, there was even talk of “dephygitalisation” – but, as Roger clarifies:

Phygital is here to stay, but I think there’ll be some retailers who only adopted digital tools in the first place to keep up with trends and didn’t really think about how they were going to use them who’ll scrap them.”

 

WHAT OUR ECONOCOM EXPERT SAYS:

Think about your target! The same franchise may not have the same needs for its flagship store in Paris as for a provincial branch. This discrepancy will continue, so you need to think in terms of store profiles and demographics: there’s a different solution for each point of sales. That’s where Econocom is innovative, because it develops modular digital solutions, which are available for a subscription per user or type of store so they can keep up with changing needs.”

 

So what are the highlights of NRF 2017? Reinventing the customer experience and developing new services, which require technology and data expertise and innovation in order to stay ahead of the game in an industry where even the leaders are now being challenged. It’s precisely by providing integrated technological resources – hardware, services and applications – that Econocom assists major retail chains with their digital transformation.

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