Retail will change more in the next five years than it has in the past 50—but not all are prepared for the oncoming digital challenges. It’s a future where retail organisations deliver seamless experiences for non-stop customers. Threatened with an exodus of their most valued customers, traditional retailers know they need to raise their game - fast.
Today’s non-stop customer is online, on the go, in stores and in touch with social networks. They expect ready access to information from across channels, and they want to get the product they want at the price they want.
Many retailers have doubled their capital expenditures to invest in new digital capabilities required for providing a seamless experience. As the number of technology options grow, so do customer expectations. As new, disruptive technologies hit the market every day, many retailers are hamstrung by legacy technology that doesn’t accommodate such capabilities.
This Accenture paper highlights four technology directives retailers need to implement to support the digital seamless retail vision:
Bringing systems up to speed
Retailers are at various levels of core strength, when it comes to technology. Some have integrated key elements, such as inventory across channels. Others have invested heavily into one particular channel. Few have invested in the kind of robust core that can seamlessly support all channels. It is critical to transform the technical spine of the enterprise to make use of legacy systems by new digital technology, while also building a solid foundation for future digital expansion.
Establish digital infrastructure allowing faster innovation
Infrastructure is often at times, an inhibitor for retailers because it takes a long time to get right. The increasing number and variety of devices, demands for access and the need to move at speed would overstretch any organisation.
Successful companies employ digital technologies in a seamless model to create a technology infrastructure to flex with the retail demands while helping increase sales and decrease costs. This entails upgrading the infrastructure to support increased remote connectivity, cloud-based services and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) demands.
Transforming data to deliver a seamless experience
There is no shortage of data in a retailer’s ecosystem. Huge volumes of data are coming from point of sale, social media placements, shipments, inventory, employee data, third parties and more. This data explosion creates opportunities to analyse this cross-enterprise data to yield better decisions about everything from inventory forecasting to how to personalise the online brand experience. However, before this information can be analysed, it must be accurate, high quality and shared frequently.
Organise for seamlessness.
Few retailers have successfully consolidated marketing, merchandising and supply chain silos to build an omni-channel organisation that supports one seamless vision of serving the customer.
How can retailers connect the seams to support a cohesive customer experience and drive growth across all channels? IT can lead a “one channel” team that seizes every opportunity to make connections that yield better business outcomes across the enterprise.
Seamless is a journey - not to be undertaken lightly. It involves hard decisions and tough choices. In today’s fast-moving markets it’s becoming a key attribute for any retailer; in tomorrow’s markets it will be essential. After all, having discovered the delights of non-stop, multi-channel shopping, customers are unlikely to mitigate their demands for a seamless experience.
Posted by Chris Donnelly, managing director Accenture global retail practice