In today’s digital era, retailers, vendors, marketers, and entrepreneurs are putting their best innovative foot in the marketplace to stay real and true. The reason behind this business strategy is to catch the eye of tech-savvy customers. But you know what, these modern-day retailers are not just juggling one issue, instead they are facing a whirlpool of challenges one after the other. The word ‘trend’ as you may have read and heard a lot number of times than required to repeat in an SEO-friendly blog is what bugs these professionals. Our dear search engine, Google dates this word back to Germanic roots meaning to revolve or turn around. Bloggers, technologists, writers began fashioning it and turned them into trends, trendy, trending, trend-setters, etc. as and when their mood took a creative dive.
So coming back to the challenges faced by retailers, they are the actual ones who have to stay in-sync with tech trends and market shifts. Accordingly, the company’s product offerings, marketing campaigns, business strategies, and vision alter. But this is not restricted to just one industry: almost every company from every industry is adopting the consumer culture. And when the consumers come into the picture so do their ever-changing demands as per the latest trends.
In Mirror Review’s latest magazine issue of ‘The 10 Most Customer-centric Retail Solution Providers To Opt For In 2019’, we capture the thoughts of visionary leaders who are taking the modern retail industry to the next level. The curious minds of ours wanted to know about this industry from the inside, trends that are influencing and dominating it, and how retailers have curated their solution offerings keep the trends in mind.
Let’s take a deep dive in the retail pool to know about the ongoing trends in the customer-centric retail industry.
- According to Gower Smith (CEO & Co-founder, Swyft), consumers are embracing self-service and retail automation technologies in preference to staffed interactions. AI systems will continue to deliver more intelligent and personalized experiences that aren’t obtainable with manual staffing. Traditional retailers are being disrupted and need to re-equip stores with technology to not be left behind. Robotic product delivery is disruptive and automated micro-warehouses in urban areas will transfer products to delivery robots for immediate gratification of consumer needs. The trend of urbanization with continued demand for immediate gratification will continue.
- According to Anil Bandari (Founder & CEO, MATRiX ANALYTiCS CORPORATION), data, data analytics, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be the upcoming trend to watch in the retail space. As of now, only few big retail companies are leveraging them in an optimal way, however, in coming years, every retail company will need to use them in order to survive and stay competitive in market.
- According to Stephen Borg, (CEO, AOPEN Global Solutions), there’s a huge trend in machine learning and machine vision: applying AI to IoT. Demand for gesture based and facial recognition analytics is growing. There is also a growing trend to drive heightened levels of convenience through facial recognition for loyalty, identity services and payments in a secure platform that does not compromise privacy. Retail chains are already installing intelligent kiosks that use cameras, touch-enabled displays and specialised peripherals to offer multiple services. We can expect to see increasing self-serve options, not just in retail but also for government, healthcare and other industries. The distinction between display signage and kiosks is also blurring, as screens become interactive and intelligent. Further, we are seeing that our customers recognize isolated and be-spoke systems such as proprietary non intelligent signage is losing relevance for AI driven content based on business rules pulled from multiple asset channels across all available interactive opportunities, surfaces and messaging. Customers are outgrowing traditional signage and we find products like our signage software player as part of the meldcx suite that can talk to any existing or multiple CMS, channels at the same time regardless of operating system being adopted to provide choice and flexibility to achieve these outcomes.
- Andrea Calcagno (Co-founder, Chairman & CEO, Cloud4Wi) shares that personalization of experience will be the # 1 trend. Shoppers expect to live compelling “shareable” experience when they are on the online store, but above all in the store. The store is not just a place to shop, but it is becoming a place where people want to listen to music, eat amazing food, touch, feel and play with product and most importantly, hang out with their friends and community. This means retailers must rethink about their concept of store. In this re-design process, retailers must be forward-looking. They have to get inspiration from the members of the Generation Z. The Gen Z’s are tech-innate; they can effortlessly “swim” in the digital world, and they are used to using technology to personalize their experiences. Despite their young ages, they already hold unprecedented influence over family purchasing decisions and wield enormous economic power of their own. There are about 2.5 billion Gen Zs out of the 7.5 billion people currently in the world, and their spending power is close to $200 billion annually when you factor in their influence on parental or household purchases.
- Dale Sperling (CMO, STASH) is using cutting-edge technologies to enhance Stash’s customer experience. She shares, “Our personalized digital, advice tool, called the STASH Coach, utilizes data science to provide and help customers navigate their financial lives, maintain balanced portfolios, and improve their abilities to grow wealth.”
- Vincent Lee (CEO & Owner, Wavelet Solutions Sdn. Bhd.) reveals that one of the key trends booming in this market is O2O, also known as Online-to-Offline, which implies the use of the digital tools with the purpose of encouraging customers to make a purchase in the physical “offline” setting. Currently, we are observing the rising demand for membership, promotion and voucher management solutions among SMEs and big conglomerates, due to their strong desire to embrace O2O as a part of their business strategy. Another trend gaining its popularity in the business arena is omnichannel solutions. Shifting from multi-channel, where all business applications are synced one-to-one, to the new approach of unified integrated applications, the business world is witnessing the emergence of the omnichannel platform solutions. CRM is one of the main areas embracing the omnichannel approach as the new trend. By connecting all communication channels (social media, email, voice, SMS) to one CRM hub, the businesses save their time, cost and other resources, to serve their customers. The use of machine learning and AI tools leads to the further automation, where chatbot technologies assist in addressing the customers’ enquiries at its fastest pace.
Brilliant insights coming from these versatile leaders are enlightening, right? It is equally amazing to read their business stories in a leading business magazine issue such as ours. Catch their company’s inception journeys, remarkable achievements, leadership, vision, and a lot more here.