Bricks & Clicks: They lived happily ever after

RIGOR MORTIS?

Brick & Mortar retail - once a market with seemingly endless growth potential, is now a market with huge question marks in its future.

What we see nowadays is a profoundly changing customer behavior, murderous competition, less traffic in shops and malls, low margins and high costs, and mostly, a conventional non-digital culture that is not focused on innovation or the transformation necessary to develop and adopt the so urgent new business models. It is not only small retailers that are endangered by or going bankrupt, but also big chains as Wallmart (VS), C&A and Blokker (NL) are shutting down or expecting to close stores in the near future.  

E-commerce is the name of the game, and it is changing the retail business fundamentally and forever. Brick & Mortar retail hasn’t been able to respond to this new paradigm shift, yet. Moreover, traditional shops are facing a retail/e-commerce landscape, which is dominated by digital moguls such as Amazon, Google or in the Netherlands Bol.com.

 

THE CUSTOMER DEMANDS CHANGE

What is happening? Digital is changing our customers' behavior and their demands completely. And we are only at the beginning. Digitalization does not affect only Millennials. Within the wide spectrum of generations, we see that trends in buying patterns and motivations are changing profoundly. Still, the shift to digital does not mean that the physical shop experience will become obsolete. We have to understand, adapt and respond adequately to the aftershock of the digital shakes and find new strategies that embrace digital and enhance the physical shop experience.

 

CUSTOMER CENTRICITY

The future of retail lies in a customer-centric approach, where the physical shop and digital experience unite seamlessly and thereby create a synergetic effect. The physical shopping experience is here to stay, but retailers have to reinvent themselves and inject digital in their business models. They have to become designers of the entire customer experience: from buyer intention to after-sales. This means for most retailers a total shift in thinking. But this is the only way to survive.

 

The future of retail lies in a customer-centric approach, where the physical shop and digital experience unite seamlessly.

 

DATA AND CUSTOMER BEHAVIOR

How to make this happen? Two factors are key to an adequate execution. Customer data and personalization. To design the optimum customer journey, we need insights in customer behavior, hence customer data.

The future of customer experience will be a combination of different inputs and outputs. Where data and formats need to be aligned with customers. By gathering on- and offline insights into customer behavior, we can map all touchpoints and bend negative emotions into opportunities.

A big challenge in this is how to map all the offline experiences, which, as you might guess, is a less digitally traceable part of the customer journey. Configuring an integral 360-degree view on the customer journey is the way we tackle this. We are implementing various solutions for data gathering around the offline shopping process and combine it with our in-house omnichannel solution to bridge the gap between the mobile and the in-store shopping experience.

 

PERSONALIZATION AND HUMAN EMOTIONS

Secondly personalization. Retail and e-commerce will be more personalized than ever before. AI will make customization personal to unprecedented levels. And though in the future data will play a strong role in understanding our customers and responding more adequately and relevantly to their expectations, one thing that will remain constant in the formula for successful customer experiences will be human emotions.

A ‘human’ design of a continuous meaningful dialogue with the customer will result in sustainable relations and retention. Chat bots, for one, will play a crucial role not only catering for efficiency, but also in humanizing the digital experience. We believe human interactions and emotions to be the golden key to creating meaningful customer experiences. In that, we at 2SQRS, are actively working on developing the interfaces of the future that enable all kinds of dialogue: visual, voice and automated.

 

One thing that will remain constant in the formula for successful customer experiences is human emotions.

 

We see a prominent role for the physical shop experience. To prove that the physical experience is for sure not obsolete, take a closer look at the design of the IKEA customer experience. It’s a best practice for customer-centric retail, how to map people’s emotions throughout the customer journey and how to adequately define customer strategies on this. And as Tony Hsieh, CEO of the highly successful e-commerce company Zappos points out, at the end it is all about ‘delivering happiness’ to your clients. And e-commerce is never a fully digital experience. It’s a human process: from personal intent till delivery.

 

2SQRS ECOSYSTEM

An integrated approach of on- and offline experiences and how data and digital solutions will attribute is crucial for defining new digital strategies to create engaging retail experiences of the future. With our unique 2SQRS ecosystem of 2SQRS Ventures, 2SQRS Studio and 2SQRS Lab, we have the execution power to develop fast and high-end solutions for the Retail Ecosystem. We are partners in designing your customer experience. From ideas to fully developed proof of concepts. With experience from working with retailers as Albert HeijnEtosAH to GoBol.com, we are eager to define and execute digital strategies together with you.

  

Want to learn about our retail solitions, client cases or just talk to us about your digital opportunities? Get in touch with maarten@2sqrs.com

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