Five Strategies Shaping The Future Of Retail

Paul Dearlove

In January, I attended the National Retail Federation conference in New York City. This opened my eyes to the enormous disruption technology is creating in retail. To survive this disruption, retailers must rethink their game plan. If they don’t, their competitors will.

Here are 5 strategies retailers must consider to future-proof their success:

1. Attract customers with in-store experiences

Did you know that Nike’s New York store now offers customers an in-store basketball court? As customers play, cameras analyze their footwork and generate shoe recommendations.

By investing in such innovative, engaging experiences, retailers can bring their offline experience into the age of Brick and Mortar 2.0.

2. Enhance assortment planning with AI

What if retailers could know exactly what their customers wanted? Marketing and inventory management would be minimized, allowing retailers to invest in an engaging shopping experience.

By adopting AI-driven Business Analytics, retailers can understand exactly what their customers want. This allows retailers to right-size their operations, which involves establishing small outlets that stock exactly what local shoppers are looking for. By offering smaller, smarter product inventories, retailers will reap higher ROI.

3. Coach customers through their decision journey

Winning customer loyalty is a game, and consumers are coming to the field with more knowledge than ever before. They can spend hours researching reviews and comparing prices before coming to a decision. To convert consumers into customers, retailers must meet them at every moment of their decision journey.

In a way, retailers must approach this like the coach of a sports team. They must manage their customer’s game plan, guiding them towards their goal with advice at critical moments in their decision journey. This involves learning what each customer responds to andoffering them the best assistance on dynamic channels. That could include smart messenger bots on social media or in-store AR assistants.

4. Give customers a greater connection to products

Most customers want to touch products before they buy. To cater to this, consider digital twin technology. This technology can put virtual copies of products into the hands of consumers, including virtual changing rooms and 360-degree product shots. By bringing online shoppers closer to products, you can make them feel more secure about purchasing online.

Customization can also bring customers closer to products. By connecting customers to the manufacturing process through drop shipping and 3D printing, retailers can get closer to offering customers their perfect product.

5. Simplify shopping at every stage

In today’s complicated world, consumers are starving for simplicity. To stand out from the noise, retailers should offer simpler access to their products and services. By optimizing supply chains, retailers can offer customers simple same-day delivery. Through conversational AI, retailers can allow customers to order products with one word. By embracing simplicity, retailers will grow sales.

It’s important to remember that this isn’t retail’s first cycle of change. As with every other cycle, the retailers that survive will be those that transform themselves before disruption forces them to change.

For more on digital disruption in the retail industry, see The New Retail Reality: Moving Beyond Sales.


Paul Dearlove

About Paul Dearlove

Paul Dearlove is head of SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Australia and New Zealand, based in Sydney. As a former professional athlete, Paul has a keen focus on high performance and believes there are many skills that can be transferred to the corporate environment.