The retail industry is under siege

February 17, 2015 David Suydam

I know this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this assessment. And if you keep your sights focused on the success stories, such as Apple, Tiffany or Lululemon, you might even think it’s just plain wrong.

But despite the impressive results of the top performers, the rest of the industry paints a very different picture. We aren’t even past the first quarter of 2015 and already there have been ominous signs of turmoil with both Target in Canada and Radio Shack in the U.S. closing a combined 1,233 locations. This should be enough to confirm the notion that retailers are struggling to adapt to lower foot traffic and increased competition from e-commerce. Traditional retail is being disrupted.

Retail innovation

Short Fuses, Big Bangs

A recent Deloitte report identified several industries as having a  “Short Fuse, Big Bang.” That catchy yet frightening label means that, of all the industries Deloitte surveyed, retail is the top industry about to experience the highest disruption from technology advances, in the shortest time frame.

What’s really changed?

It comes down to one factor: consumer (or user) experiences.

We believe in creating experiences aimed at helping customers find and select the perfect product. We also know that retailers are looking beyond traditional merchandising interactions to develop customer-centred experiences that let shoppers get ‘hands-on’ in new and innovative ways. Technologies are relaying pivotal information to shoppers (i.e. mobile and wearable devices) around product details, in-store location, and promotions that help streamline a visit and personalize the experience.

According to Gartner, hyper-competition has eroded traditional product and service advantages, making customer experience the new competitive landscape. Competitors and alternatives abound and product innovation is subject to accelerating commoditization. Therefore, consumer experience innovation remains, arguably, the secret to lasting brand loyalty

Doug Stephens, retail industry futurist and the founder of Retail Prophet recently wrote, “The physical store has the potential to be the most powerful and effective form of media available to a brand because it offers an experience, which if crafted properly, cannot be replicated online.”

Stephens’ observation mirrors our thinking: the next iteration of in-store retail must be centered on powerful customer experiences, driven by leading-edge technology.

This is the future

We’ve identified five trends that have the potential to revitalize the in-store retail experience and give it the technology-driven advantage it so desperately needs:

  • Recognized Recommendations
  • Consumer Immersion
  • Dynamic Discovery & Be Everywhere
  • Time Stops With You (Be The Hub)
  • Frictionless Fulfillment & Zero Inventory

Over the next while, we'll write about our thoughts on these trends, provide case-studies of retailers that are already leveraging them, and demonstrate how we can help your retail business thrive amidst the disruption.

If you have any questions or want to know more about retail disruption and how we create memorable customer experiences, feel free to contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

About the Author

David Suydam

With an exemplary reputation in his field, David's vast experience as a technology consultant and solution architect has spanned more than 15 years in some of the most complex business environments throughout Canada and around the world. David's focus on creative solutions is based on a strong belief that traditional software development practices are flawed, and his team routinely demonstrates a better approach with open source, agile methods and cloud computing.

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