The Candid Voice in Retail Technology: Objective Insights, Pragmatic Advice

Mobile Takeaways To Remember

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Most of us at RSR are finally coming off the road from Spring Conference Season 2016 now, and barring a show or two we’ll each attend over the summer, that means a return to a slightly more normal way of life. We’ll be right back at it in the fall, but for now, at least, we can focus on the research that we’ve got going. And for me that means our annual store report, our annual digital gift card evaluation, a perspective paper on grocery employees’ near-term future, possibly some loss prevention work (for the first time in a long time), and our second-ever Internet of Things report.

In fact, we have a planning call today to design the survey for that last one, and in prep for that, I revisited what we found in our most recent Mobile report. If you recall, I wrote up an entire series of newsletter articles from that report, and realized the one thing I never got to: best steps for what retailers who want to have a better chance of a successful mobile rollout, and how they should go about it next

Reconsider Customer Behaviors

When it comes to the actual implementation of technologies to support customer mobile capabilities, retailers are slightly out of sync with customer behaviors. This speaks to the relative newness of the mobile channel – while retailers may have jumped on the bandwagon in the last five years in response to consumer expectations, they find the features in need of re-work as both consumers and competitive offers gain in sophistication. Winners have focused their mobile sights on making relevant offers, and on gaining deeper insights into consumer mobile behaviors.

Reconsider The Store

Many retailers are trying to make it easier for consumers to use their wifi services, so that they can engage in an active dialogue with consumers while they browse in the digital space, and to observe what consumers are doing in the digital space as a way to gauge demand. But even Retail Winners know that educating the stores to embrace the advantages created by mobile, social, and cross-channel is still a top to-do.

Define What Personalization Means To Your Brand

”Personalization” may well be the most overused word in the retail ecosystem today. Anecdotal shopping experiences in all of our personal lives quickly reveal that truly personalized offers and service are still some ways off. Yet while non-winning retailers currently focus on the end product of personalized offerings – loyalty – Winners are putting in the due diligence to make true personalization a reality in the future. None of this can happen without a clear definition of what personalization means to each individual brand. RSR advises retailers of all sizes, stripes, and current performance levels to start the conversation about what their brand could do in the realm of personalization in the near future – and which of those options would have the most meaningful impact to their specific customers.

Small Retailers: Get Moving

The smallest retailers are currently faced with a tremendous opportunity – by leveraging their nimble nature, and because they consistently operate fewer stores than large chains, small retailers stand to fold more mobile solutions into the entire shopping experience than their larger competitors. For their employees, this means an opportunity to become more relevant to in-store shoppers, who have long outgunned them technologically. Also within stores, it means an opportunity to provide more customer-facing benefits leveraging the devices consumers already own and love. And in sum, it means the opportunity to makes stores more interesting places to shop. However, as shown in this research, small retailers seem to be missing their window of opportunity; too scared to go out on an adventurous limb. The time to execute – or at least pilot – bold new ideas is now.

Task Someone With Owning The Customer Experience

Only once a brand understands how it fits into the consumer’s life can it optimize its relevance. Over the past several years, RSR has conducted numerous evaluation-based retail projects, whereby we rank comprehensive lists (often based on Internet Retailer’s Top 100 list) of how shoppable a retailer is across digital devices. The collaborative takeaway from each of these projects has been empirical evidence that too few retailers have yet to task someone – anyone – with managing how consumers really do engage with the brand in the modern age. In this report, this year, retailers overwhelmingly acknowledge this fact, yet their progress has, to date, been slow. A customer experience officer is the primary building block upon which all future progress will rely.

The absolute best way to promote a mobile strategy that enables both consumers to experience the Brand and employees to support the Brand is to elect one person to take charge of the overall customer experience.

I hope we all keep that in mind as we set about what will no doubt be yet another working summer for us all.

 


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Articles & Opinions June 21, 2016
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