We are often asked by our clients to help them evolve. Of course we love the challenge! But it is even more challenging these days-perhaps more so than in the past 100 years, the face of retail is changing dramatically. No single catalyst can be identified as a cause, rather a series of semi-coincident events and phenomena have conspired to shift shopping behaviors:
- E-commerce (in general) has provided a powerful alternative to supplement in-store shopping. Price, selection, sourcing and delivery, promotional strategies, habit/loyalty tracking, etc. have expanded the bandwidth of retailer & consumer options.
- The smartphone revolution has brought the e-com channel into the store and into the hand of the customer, resulting in both positive (‘push’ promotions, etc.) and negative (‘showrooming’, etc.) effects.
- In-store digital touchpoints that convert semi-static brand messages into infinitely dynamic touchpoints have both positive (real-time, product specific, customer-centric messaging) and negative (content management, cost/ROI) concerns.
- Customer data (habit tracking) technologies, perhaps enriched through e-channels data alone, have enabled merchant and operational shifts in direction and with greater confidence and speed.
- The accelerated pace of change in general has changed customer perception of trends, resulting in fast fashion, shorter trend lifespan and (mostly due to ubiquitous information technology) greater awareness of trend options.
- The advent of social networking is increasing the gap between customer’s reliance on the retailer as their trusted “choice editor” and that which can be sourced through their own private/personal network.
- E-commerce retailers, due to their increasing shopping data, sourcing capability and price-point manipulation, have escalated shopper options to near infinite flexibility.
The net result of these and other shifts in consumer pattern has mandated the need to address customer more fluidly than ever before. Adopting true fluid dynamics at the store level requires a dramatic shift in strategy from that of periodic change (attempting to make a strategy ‘last as long as possible’) to one of constant change (a strategy that embraces ‘change is the only constant’).
We are all “shoppers”. What do you think about all these issues? Are their effects hitting home?