The retail industry is going through the digital transformation phase, thanks to the disruptive technologies and trends including social media, smart phones, tabs, IoT, data analytics and cloud for enabling the sea of changes. In 2015, the digital enablement initiatives have significantly changed the retail platform from back office operations to customer experience. From the buzzing trend of increasing mobile adoption in 2015, currently, the shift is expecting to be in the field of customer experience. The top four major trends we can expect in the retail platform in 2016 are:
In 2016 we can expect the seamless adoption of Mobile payments in the retail sector. Many retailers are partnering with mobile wallets to increase their customer base and offer more convenience. These tie- ups are expected to help retailers to set a strong foothold in the digital payment ecosystem and ease the payment process for customers who are increasingly preferring to go cashless. Apart from a convenient payment option, mobile wallets bring in cash-back offers and additional discounts for the consumers. On the flipside, the retailers get the scope for targeted marketing and a chance to reduce operational costs. They will also be able to use predictive analytics to further customize offers by looking at customers’ locations, purchase histories, and demographics. We can also expect enhanced security and increased trust in cashless payments in 2016. Retailers should focus on investing in mobile fraud detection and prevention technologies to safeguard the customer transactions and build trust with them.
The consumer adoption of IoT is expected to increase in 2016 and this will be a game changer in the retail industry too. It will give tools and insights for the retailers to transform their business. In the IoT- enabled world, the retailers should get more opportunities to communicate and engage with the customers through interconnected devices. In 2015, the IoT technologies are in their evaluation phase. However, retailers should be adopting these technologies to identify customers much before they reach Point of Sale and engage with them during the shopping cycle. Beacons, the micro-location-based technology devices that can be used in-store for tracking and communicating with the potential and existing customers will be playing a very crucial role in the retail solutions arena. These micro- computing devices can easily figure out interested customers, loyal customers, potential customers exactly where he / she is, what they are interested in when they enter into store environment. This provides an opportunity for retailers to provide a much engaging customer experience by sending contextually relevant, hyper-local, significant messages and advertisements on their smartphones. With beacons, customers will be increasingly using the mobile even for in- store shopping. This can be for promotions, product information or for suggestions. Retailers can provide personalized service to their regular customers in a more effective and convenient way using beacons and other interconnected devices.
Personalized engagement has become the key to increased customer experience in this age of social media, smart phones, tabs and widespread access of internet. Tailored promotions and personalized communications regarding offers can have a great impact on the purchasing decisions of the retail consumers. The new age customer knows that his/ her purchasing behavior is available to the retailer and they have become more demanding in terms of getting a much personalized engagement with the retailers. We can expect in 2016 that retailers should focus more on Social Master Data Management and leverage advanced retail analytics for deriving contextual, personalized recommendations for the much more demanding retail consumers. We can also expect new definitions for retail components like Systems of Records, System of Intelligence and System of Engagement for more personalized engagement in 2016. These traditional components will be required to work in real time to build a more connected and personalized customer experience. Platforms like Mobile POS should become popular in stores, simply because they can be system of records as well systems of engagement, in 2016. This can take the retailers to the fourth trend the Omnichannel retail experience.
The word Omnichannel grabbed the retailers’ attention in 2015 itself. Omnichannel brings in seamless customer experience, regardless of the channel or device a customer uses. In the Omnichannel retail world, customers can engage with a retailer via a physical store, an online website or mobile platform or through social media. More retailers are expected to be entering into the Omnichannel world in 2016. Some of the upcoming trends in Omnichannel involves:
Be it online, offline, mobile, or brick and mortar, the digitally empowered retail customers are expecting a seamless customer experience irrespective of the channel. Retailers who are able to adopt the right technology/ trend to enable the right data at the right time to the right customer and at the right context are going to stay ahead of the competition in the retail space. 2016 is just around the corner. Let’s wait and watch for more updates.
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