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How Is Digital Transformation Reshaping the Future of Retail?

Digital transformation
Nathalie Nilsson E-commerce business analytic and author
| 7 min read

Technology develops at a rapid pace and the internet has seeped into every aspect of our lives. Retail is not exempt from this digital transformation. The future of retail is expected to be even more reliant on technology and innovation than it is today. By keeping an eye on developments and adapting to them, you may ride the technological wave towards success.

From traditional stores to eCommerce and back again

In the past, brick and mortar retailers set up websites to drive traffic to their physical stores. It became well established that if you had a business it must have a website. As technology improved, these websites became eCommerce stores that expanded the reach of businesses beyond their geographical location.

Today, there are plenty of eCommerce businesses that exist without a physical store. However, the omnichannel approach to retail is growing increasingly popular, and for good reason. A Deloitte survey revealed that 84% of customers look at the retailer’s website before or while visiting the brick and mortar store. This means that your website and your store must be consistent – both in design and product information.

Providing multiple ways to buy from you is advantageous for both you and your customers. It ensures that factors, such as difficulty getting to your store, do not prevent a sale. Physical locations, on the other hand, allow customers to interact with your products and get face-to-face advice before buying. This is why we are seeing an influx of previously exclusively digital stores that have opened brick and mortar stores and showrooms. They make good use of the data they have gathered over the years and consequently choose to open their new branches in locations where they are already popular.

The importance of data

All business decisions should be made based on facts, which means you need data. This is especially true when you invest in digital transformation solutions. The more data you have at your disposal, the better you are going to be able to adapt to your customer’s needs.

Gathering and analysing data is the bread and butter of any digital retail store optimization. The goal is to provide the individual customer with the best experience possible, by offering suggestions and discounts based on their individual tastes. This is a lot more effective than the blanket discounts that traditional brick and mortar retailers use to entice customers. However, with beacon technology, physical stores willing to invest in digital transformation can also tailor the shopping experience to the individual customer.

Installing beacons at select points in your store allows you to track the in-store location of customers who have your app installed on their phones. This data is then combined with your customer’s purchase history, which allows you to send customized offers to their phone.

If you think this sounds a lot like how an eCommerce merchant will e-mail a customer a discount code for an item that is similar to their previous purchases, you are right. This sort of individually tailored on-site discounts create a sense of urgency and has a higher probability of conversion. Also, customers are less likely to consider it spammy.

The price tag

The price will always be a factor in retail. Therefore, staying on top of dynamic pricing strategies is going to become increasingly important.

Investing in electronic shelf-edge technology helps businesses adapt their brick and mortar stores to price changes just as quickly as eCommerce stores. Even better, alterations can be made from the main office and smoothly update the price tag in all stores at once.

Combining this with the individually tailored deals will ensure that, at least from a financial angle, you will be the most attractive retailer of your product type.

Price tags on a store shelf

Virtual and augmented reality

Everyone in digital retail knows the importance of communicating the qualities of their products to potential customers. However, descriptions and even photos of a product can be misrepresentative, or simply not show the full picture. This is when virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) can really shine.

By creating an interactive 3D version of your product, your visitors will be able to see the item from all angles and get a more accurate impression of it. VR and AR can also be used to create virtual fitting rooms and “magic mirrors” where customers can try on and mix and match outfits available in your store, all with the flick of a wrist. In addition, with the help of AR and photo manipulation, visitors can see what your products would look like in their home. This is particularly useful for large items such as furniture.

These technologies are not only helpful for your customers, they are exciting too, as all novelties are. As a result, customers end up having a better shopping experience.

Enhancing the shopping experience

The price and quality of a product are typically the main factors that separate retailers from one another. However, the experience itself is going to become an increasingly influential factor as to where customers go shopping.

It is no secret that your store must reflect the product you are selling both in theme and quality. The future, however, requires even more. To attract customers to your physical store you need to make the experience itself a thing of value. This is the core of destination retail, which improves traditional stores’ ability to compete with the convenience of eCommerce. Clever use of VR, AR, and personalized discounts are a part of this, but not the entire picture.

The goal of destination retail is that customers plan a trip to the store for the purpose of entertainment, rather than merely shopping. However, this requires more not just from your business, but also its surrounding environment. Investing in a location such as a big shopping mall can be just the thing your company needs. With a variety of department stores, entertainment, and restaurants they have a better chance of delivering the unique experiences that customers crave.

People in shopping mall
When it comes to progress, it is better to be at the forefront and blow your competition out of the water. Take some time and determine which digital transformation solutions can elevate your business. If you need help, consider partnering with experienced developers.

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