By Gary Lombardo, VP of Marketing
As retailers hit the ground running in 2015, growing consumer demands continue to force retailers to be nimble and quick to market with new innovations. It’s no longer enough to merely keep up – today, retailers need to outpace their competitors and drive innovation to stand out from the crowd. There are many strategies retailers can pursue, but there are two that stand out: operationalizing retail intelligence and differentiating omni-channel experiences.
Operationalizing Retail Intelligence
The world is becoming more connected, as evidence by the Internet of Things, where more “things” — from refrigerators to dog collars — have their own IP address and are interconnected. This represents a great opportunity for retailers since they will have more access to consumer data, namely what the consumers are using, when they are using it, and how they are using it. Combining this with data collected across shopping channels — whether from mobile devices, desktop devices, or in-store interactions, retailers have an opportunity to operationalize this mass of data to innovate faster and differentiate their brands.
For example, a shopper who traveling — something a “smart” suitcase with an IP address and a smartphone would know — would be a lot more receptive to a hotel recommendation. The shopper could be provided recommendations for hotels — including special offers from brands — and make a selection based on preferences and charge it to a card on file. The hotel would then be notified and have the room ready upon arrival — including suggestions to local restaurants, gyms, attractions and other relevant information to the shopper.
Differentiating Omni-channel Experiences
Retailers have been “doing” omni-channel for years, but few are doing anything innovative or different. Those who can differentiate their omni-channel strategy will be at an advantage in 2015. The goal for retailers should be to focus on one (or more if resources allow) omni-channel capability that will allow them to provide innovative consumer experiences that sets them apart from the competition, rather than trying to tackle all omni-channel challenges at once.
For example, many retailers today still struggle with optimizing supply chain management specifically with properly tracking inventory availability. A retailer could decide to focus on this specific challenge to truly differentiate their omni-channel experience. When inventory data is scattered across different systems — from POS to ecommerce to ERP systems — it is difficult for retailers to provide consumers with an accurate view of what products are available. Consolidating this data into a comprehensive, single and accurate view of inventory will provide a much more efficient supply chain and allow retailers to offer differentiating services such as buy online, pick-up in-store and same-day delivery.
While retailers struggle to keep up with the evolving demands of consumers, those who operationalize retail intelligence and differentiate omni-channel experiences, thus enabling innovative consumer experiences, will find greater success in 2015 and truly stand out from the crowd.