The retailer of 2013 will need to change
to be relevant in the future.
The retail landscape has changed significantly over the past decade. Merchants were already in the process of embracing new technology as consumers began shopping online. New devices such as tablets and smartphones have added even more wrinkles to that process, forcing retailers to rethink the way they operate.
The retail landscape isn't slated to stop shifting, either. Over the next decade, new technologies will continue to influence how retailers engage their customers, run their storefronts digitally and offline, and manage back-end operations. Merchants must keep up with the launch of new technologies and continually refine their best practices to remain competitive and relevant.
Building the retail organization of 2023
The National Retail Federation's digital arm, Shop.org, recently put together a picture of what some of these next-generation retailers might look like
and where their focuses may lie.
First and foremost is establishing the customer as the top priority. Many merchants have always harped that "the customer is always right," but moving forward, retailers must take that mantra to a whole new level. This means improving customer service, offering relevant products based on purchase and browsing history, enabling customers to shop how they want and offering features such as in-store pickup to cater the experience to the individual shopper.
"Going forward, retailers must organize all operations around the customer first – an objective that will take time, resources, investment, flexibility and patience," Shop.org added.
To become this customer-oriented organization, merchants must look at four core pillars: shopping experience, brand development, operations management and administration. By enhancing these four areas, retailers will be better positioned to create a blueprint to transition into the future and create an organization-wide culture that revolves around the customer.
With that in mind, it is also critical for decision-makers to realize that creating such sweeping changes across retail operations is not something that just happens. Rather, they must keep an eye to the future and work toward that goal over time.
For example, many merchants have placed a greater focus on creating a seamless omnichannel experience. However, that shouldn't be the end goal - the objective must be creating a customer-centric retail experience. Going omnichannel is only one step in the path that will help merchants arrive at that destination.