(image courtesy of info.comm-works.com)
Last week’s blog covered the first of two themes that emerged for me at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York. “Retailers are acting on the notion that customers’ needs are different than their own.” That blog painted a picture of how the disconnect between retail decision-makers and their customers has been eliminated and how, using technology, it’s much easier to understand what customers want. This week’s post will talk about a second theme which is how using that information can help retailers serve their customers even better.
Retailers are changing the way they operate to better accommodate their customers. Now that retailers can know their customers better—even anticipate their needs in some cases—they are making fundamental changes to the ways they are organized, get work done, and provide value and service. The pace of change in this industry is unprecedented and is driven by more communication, more technology, and added and changing customer needs.
Here are a few examples of how retailers are adapting themselves to serve their customers better. (Don’t think this is all benevolent…for some retailers, their survival is at stake!)
Customers don’t have to be AT the store to shop there. Customers can start shopping in any channel and pick up in any other channel. For example, buy on-line and pick-up in the store (BOPUS)
(image courtesy of kohls.com)
…or click-and-collect if you want the store employees to bring your purchases to your car as you whiz by.
(image courtesy of www.wgsn.com)
Who needs cash registers? Instead of waiting in long check-out lines, customer can go to any mobile-device-with-a-card-swipe-on-it equipped sales associate who can check them out from anywhere in the store.
(image courtesy of (www.wisegeek.com)
It’s not easy to be a retailer right now. It takes guts, new tools, a longer-than-usually-comfortable view of the future, and some big cash risks for all the new technology. There’s never been a better time to be a retailer either. In my opinion, those who learn how to create value for their customers before keeping profits for themselves will stay in the game and emerge as the long-term winners.