NRF 2019: Retailers Transform to Avoid ‘Retail Apocalypse”
Online shopping was supposed to spell the end of the brick-and-mortar store. The reality is that modern consumers touch retailers on multiple fronts, both in-person and online. Companies that are adapting to that new paradigm by transforming processes utilizing the latest technology are going to thrive.
At the National Retail Foundation (NRF) 2019 conference in New York, the overarching theme was that the “Retail Apocalypse”—or the end of in-person shopping— was greatly overstated, and the best companies are making sure they reach customers on multiple channels.
Online or In-Person: Everyone Needs to Transform
One panel at NRF 2019 suggested that customers are spending $100 more on their first purchase if they are in a physical store instead of online. That suggests that simply targeting the online consumer will leave a major gap for retailers. That’s why some companies that are traditionally digital native are now finding the need to offer their products in physical locations.
On the other side of the spectrum, one major grocer discussed how its transformation approach has been two-fold: redefining the grocery experience and seeking alternative profit streams. The grocer is now offering online shopping and delivery
It doesn’t matter if your company started online or is traditionally brick-and-mortar, there is a need to expand into multiple customer touchpoints to be successful. Customers may differ in how they shop with you, but they all want you to tailor to their needs.
For retailers, that creates the requirement for a technology that can capture and merge data from in-store purchases to data from online shopping behavior and create a 360-degree view of the customer. That’s where products like SAP Customer Activity Repository (SAP CAR) combined with the SAP C/4HANA suite of solutions can help. The right technology can help companies provide the same experience for customers no matter the touchpoint—be it in-person or on a device.
It’s important to remember that making that transformation to a company that serves customers on all channels seamless requires more than technology. As retailers at NRF 2019 detailed, there needs to be a company-wide mindset that is open to transformation, a holistic approach to metrics, and an open innovation culture.
The 2019 Retail Imperative
The prophesied Retail Apocalypse never came to fruition. With digital retailers branching into the physical realm, and physical retailers innovating in the digital world, the line between the two sides is blurring. It doesn’t matter where a company may have started, they need to end up in the same place in 2019 and beyond if they want to compete for consumer dollars.
Retailers that are successful in this multi-faceted—what we call omnichannel—endeavor will need to the right transformation mindset combined with technology that enables that transformation to happen. It’s ultimately about reaching your customer where they want to be and assuring you are offering the same world-class retail experience no matter where they are shopping.