At the Shoptalk event held in Las Vegas this month and the NRF Big Show in January, the underpinning themes among speakers, exhibitors and attendees centered on internal change management, consumer engagement and how to navigate the rapid convergence between online and physical stores.
With change management, the objectives are clear: break down silos and get everyone — from the C-suite to the sales associate — rowing in the same direction. But with improving customer engagement, building loyalty and offering a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels, retailers and brands need to turn to technology.
It’s important to note that despite the financially based wishes of nearly every CFO, there’s no silver bullet when it comes to deploying technology. No single solution is available that can fully manage all aspects of footwear retailing. From data optimization and predictive analytics to mobile commerce and sales associate training, multiple platforms are needed to succeed. Most importantly, a strategy is needed to make it work.
But why make these investments? If footwear brands and retailers don’t up their game with the right tech and a focused strategy, another competitor will and, in the process, gobble up market share. There’s also a looming giant called Amazon, which is now emerging as the default setting for consumers looking to buy anything from footwear and cosmetics to fishing gear and carpets.
Then there’s the matter of millennials. They come in large numbers, but this demographic is particular in how they shop and the brands they gravitate toward. As a result, customer engagement with millennials is of particular importance.
For example, retail operations platform provider Brightpearl recently released research that showed 41 percent of U.S. millennials admit to “being less loyal to retail brands” than they were a year ago. The survey also found millennials to be easily “turned off” by a brand or retailer that doesn’t offer flexible and reliable delivery and payment options.
Derek O’Carroll, CEO of Brightpearl, said retailers and brands “that sell directly to consumers but don’t offer a seamless end-to-end buying journey are setting themselves up for failure. Shoppers no longer have the patience for unsatisfactory shopping experiences — which, according to our research, are very common.”
Brightpearl found that 71 percent of all respondents said that if a shopping experience was poor, “they would never shop with the same online store again, while a quarter of millennials would change where they buy goods based on their shopping experience.”
Meanwhile, in a separate report from callback solutions provider Fonolo, researchers found that the customer experience, or CX, is a priority for retailers and brands. The company said retailers are “striving to take customer experience more seriously than in the past and, as a result, are realizing that CX is what makes the difference in ROI, sales, customer loyalty and overall success.”
But the authors of the report conceded that this is easier said than done. “The customer of today is informed, connected and possesses more product and service knowledge than ever before. To succeed, companies must continuously meet the extraordinary demands and expectations of today’s connected consumer,” they stated.
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