Technology advances faster than we can blink. And it’s changing everything: the way we communicate, the way we work and the way we shop. What should retailers keep in mind? The future of retail isn’t digital. It’s human.
In our work with top retailers, we address the opportunities and threats that the digital revolution offers to the retail industry. The good news? It’s not necessarily the retailers with the latest technologies that are winning. It’s the retailers that have their fingers on their customers’ pulse that actually emerge victorious.
“At the end of the day, retail is about people,” says Kars Kooistra, Client Director at Mirabeau. “At their core, shoppers today are the same shoppers that their parents and grandparents were. They simply have far more information, more options, more channels and more capabilities at their fingertips. Retailers must find ways to connect with them through all of that noise.”
A new dimension
What has changed since generations past is that, with all that new information, shoppers are making very different choices than their parents or grandparents did. “Millenials are making more conscious purchasing decisions, and are looking for more personal relationships with the companies they buy from,” explains Marco Morales, Creative Consultant at Mirabeau. “They support ethical banks and triple-bottom-line businesses. They look at worker conditions and ecological footprints before they buy. Companies that don’t meet their expectations are considered slow, opportunistic and out of touch. Shoppers vote with their money. So while automation and AI are ways to accelerate connections, true retail success will always have a human touch.”
The inside advantage
But understanding the new digital shoppers isn’t easy. To help retailers connect with customers on a human level, Mirabeau is introducing The Click – A human touch to retail. It’s a series of articles and insights that will help guide retailers through the often-challenging digital domain, to discover the right solutions. Ones that deliver value and help them connect with their most profitable customer segments.
“With The Click, we want to encourage retailers to take action and adopt some concrete tips that they can use to start their journey today,” Marco continues. “We’ll map out the reasons why the human touch is so important, and how to use new digital tools as an accelerator to amplify the customer experience and drive long-term loyalty and profits. It’s about shaping the human click.”
Starting with the ‘why’
Although many retailers believe they are customer-centric, studies show that they’re missing the mark. “Very few retailers actually ask their customers what they really want and need, and why,” says Kars. “You get a situation in which a retailer invests time and money developing their drop shipment capabilities, while all along, their shoppers only want a wider range of payment and shipping options.”
A recent Forrester study about retail trends supports that idea. “Put bluntly, retailers don’t know what their customers need. They appear to be reacting to trends or competition, versus truly understanding their customers.” The study showed that “improving customer engagement through personalization drives loyalty and revenue.” And improving engagement starts with developing a clear digital strategy and omni-channel capabilities that align with customer expectations.
Adding true value
Marco points out that it’s all a question of nuance. “There’s a difference between being customer-centric and actually adding value. Customer-centricity in digital retail can be about providing an excellent customer experience. Adding value goes beyond usability. It’s about building value streams around the needs in the customer’s life. It is the difference between a great day of shopping, and an experience that is relevant and fruitful. That's how you build loyalty. The whole idea of being ‘more human’ in a digital retail approach is to find how your products add value to your customers’ lives and amplify it with digital tools and services. We call it ‘finding your Unique Emotional Proposition’ (UEP). Only then will you be able to develop long-term relationships that lead to repeat business and lower acquisition costs. Even more, the human side of retail is all about expanding your customer base through word-of-mouth, and increasing your visibility and reputation in a very saturated market.”
But with the constant changes in both technology and the customers who use it, it can be exceedingly difficult for retailers to decide where to start, or how to progress. The Click will be a retailer’s survival guide, showing them how to create customer-centric value and enable them to deliver it anywhere, at any time.
A look inside
The Click will begin with an exploration of why retailers should engage in the ‘more human’ approach. It will offer suggestions for where - and how – to invest resources, and what elements will increase ROI.
Subsequent articles will address the impact of the digital revolution on every step of the customer journey. From gaining awareness in a saturated market to establishing connections with customers that lead to conversion. Later, topics about fulfillment strategies, building customer loyalty and creating community ambassadors will round out the offering and give retailers a roadmap for success.
“We’ll combine our own experiences with the latest research to deliver real insight and concrete advice,” explains Kars. “We aim to make The Click a tool that helps inspire and motivate retailers to adapt to the changing face of retail.”
According to Marco, “the future is here, and we need to act fast, change with the customer and be where they are. The Click is a call to arms. Without action today, tomorrow will be very uncertain.”
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Stay tuned to The Click for the insights you need to secure your future in retail.