Consumer • Digital • Growth

Internet Shopping Experience in a store is the new opportunity

It has been quite intriguing for the last 4-5 years to see the intense war between online and traditional retail businesses. Recent announcements by few pure online retailers to open physical stores has made this war not only interesting but also opened a very wide range of new opportunities for traditional retail brands globally.

Modern consumers, especially millennials are now expecting an “Amazon like” experience when they shop in a retail store environment and that means retailers need to go miles ahead on engaging and creating convenient shopping experience. This is the finding of a recent survey, “The Store of the Past meets the Shopper of the Future. Can retailers meet modern consumers expectations?” These consumers are channel agnostic and have tendency to switch seamlessly between online and physical stores. The key is these shoppers are looking for frictionless shopping experience and the question is will brick and mortar retailers deliver that!

This new trend is leading to continuous disruption and transformation of retailing across formats and categories. No one is immune from this transformation which is largely using digital tools and technologies. Those retailers who are seeking out new trends and adopt these quickly will stay relevant in this environment.

There are some global examples on how traditional brands like Victoria’s Secret, Marks & Spencer’s and struggling to fight their new competitors like Adore Me, Zara etc. through pure online wars.

Some of my key lessons from this current scenario are:

  1. History is not the only best predictor of the future.
    Trends and fashion are now determined by comfort and affordability and this is how new merchandise is being curated.
  1. Social media is playing a very crucial role in predicting what will sell.
    Merchandisers are now looking at Pinterest and Instagram to know what women like and wearing. These are being used listening posts to determine the future styles.
  1. Physical stores will not die but transform
    Physical stores are now becoming an extension of online stores and expending what can’t be provided on online store. These will truly be the bridge to deliver complete shopping experience.
  1. It’s not either / or but all
    Since more consumers are becoming channel agnostic brands will use this as a strategy to deliver a combined experience for retaining their consumers and the key will be location as well.
  1. Amazon and Wal Mart are going to set benchmarks for customer experience.
    The stakes are too high and these guys will continue to innovate extensively to deliver 360* experience to their customers across all channels and all other brands will have no choice but to either innovate better or follow these guys to stay alive.

Corporate innovation accelerators are now looking at startups innovating Digital Transformation in retail to achieve Internet like experience in store. These ventures are building products and services around Smart Parking, Intelligent Loyalty, AI based BOT to drive augmented in-store experience, virtual trial apps, recommendation tools, AI based inventory and logistics support and many more. Exciting times ahead for traditional retail brands to make up their in-store experience.


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