How CX took centre stage at NRF
February 11, 2019 - Transformation has been a buzzword in retail for a number of years now. And rightly so. Retail is changing - and changing quickly. That’s why everyone always comes back to the same question: “What does the future of retail look like?”
Short of gazing into a crystal ball and developing physic powers of predicting the future, there’s one place on the planet where the answers to this question come thick and fast: NRF Retail’s Big Show in New York.
The Sitoo team were there in January, not just to see the latest trends in the industry, but to help answer the question above by showing people from around the world new ways of bringing the future of retail to life.
So what does the future hold? Let’s start from the top. In case you’ve been living under a rock and have missed it, customer experience (CX) - and making this experience seamless across all channels - is the biggest focus in retail right now. Why? Because today's consumers place high demands on their shopping experience and expect retailers to be able to meet their new ways of shopping. The retailers who meet, or even exceed, these expectations are the real winners.
To deliver this kind of experience and impact, retailers are having to innovate, to transform the way they’ve traditionally done things and to embrace technology. Here’s five key things we learnt from NRF 2019:
1. Investing in tech is a priority. Whether it’s VR and AR or AI and cloud-based POS systems, the message from NRF was clear - investing in technology is a top priority for many brands. To extend this further, software needs to be cloud-based so it is cost efficient and scalable, and, with mobile now playing in key role in how consumers shop, there has to be a mobile-first mindset and seamless integration between online and offline channels as well as multiple applications.
2. Convenience is king. Certain customers will always crave convenience. They know what they want, they know how to get it, and they want to complete the purchase with as little fuss as possible. They also hate lines. When leading Swedish retailer, Lagerhaus, started using self-checkouts the average purchase increased by 10% and 90% of their sales in major cities now go through the self-checkout registers. In this case, convenience wins every time.
3. Deliver on the customer’s terms. As well as convenience, customers want to shop on their own terms. This means stores need to be prepared to be able to do this. One of the ways of doing this is with Sitoo’s POS system, where physical stores can easily be integrated with e-commerce meaning all sales channels are connected in real-time and have eg. synchronized product, stock and campaigns. And with mobile POS and self-checkout a greater focus is placed on the customer experience in the store - which means you can give more to the people who matter the most.
4. Personalisation matters. On the topic of giving more, customers are more informed than ever before and have higher expectations to match. While some want convenience and want to be in and out, others want to be delighted and given an experience they’ll remember. They welcome the use of data so their favourite retailers not only know their needs and habits, but are able to respond to them in real time.
5. The store needs to be more. Millennials and Gen Z want more from their shopping experience. Firstly, they place a far greater weight than previous generations on a company’s values and purpose. Take Allbirds as an example, now valued at over a billion dollars, the shoe store delivers exceptional shoes, have a cult following but also have values that resonate with their key audience behind their brand. And their stores bring this to life, as seen in their latest opening in London’s Covent Garden.
The experience is everything and, ultimately, this is delivered by the store’s employees. Sure, finding the right talent plays a role in making sure the best team is in place but so does utilising tech to make life easier for employees - and more rewarding for customers.
Ready to bring the future of retail to life? Let us show you how.
Isabell Aakervik, Partner Director