New Strategies Needed to Support Retail’s Digital Transformation

Our retail customers are racing to transform their digital and operations capabilities in order to meet evolving customer demand for a more satisfying purchasing experience.

Every day, I speak to retailers who are struggling with the disruptive force of e-commerce, which is driving increased use of digital technologies to enhance the in-store experience, better understand and predict customer behaviors and create a more seamless experience for customers moving between in-store and digital channels.

The focus in-store has changed from transactional to experiential. From mobile apps that integrate in-store and digital shopping, to inventory systems that allow retail stores to be used as pickup spots or return hubs for online sales, to mobile point-of-sale systems, a host of technologies are being employed to increase convenience, engagement and sales.

Forward-thinking brands are even rolling out augmented reality to increase store traffic and provide a richer, more interactive experience. One cosmetics brand, for example, has deployed “magic mirrors” that scan the shopper’s face and virtually present multiple makeup options using the company’s products. Another retailer is experimenting with “virtual fitting rooms” as window displays. Using kinetic technology, they allow passersby to see themselves in the store’s featured items before they enter the store.

Retail distribution is undergoing a similar transformation, and in fact, has become the lynchpin in the customer-driven retail organization. Distribution is moving closer to customers and becoming more automated and data-driven to reduce order cycle times and support fast, efficient multi-channel fulfillment.

In each case, the customer experience, driven by smarter use of data, more engaging and interactive technologies and tighter integration between brick-and-mortar and online sales, is at the heart of the digital transformation occurring within retail.

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