June 11, 2015

A guide to the future of shopping

Jari Kekkonen

CTO, Customer Experience Management, Tieto

Today's consumers are a more demanding - and diverse - group of people than ever before. Here's how retailers can embrace the future of shopping.

Thanks primarily to technology, the ways in which we shop have changed dramatically over the past decade. Consumers are all of a sudden smarter, better informed, more convenience-driven and more demanding than they used to be, and retailers are feeling the pressure to keep up.

However, while the story often focuses on the impact of ecommerce and mobile on brick-and-mortar retailers, the reality is that today's consumers are also a diverse group of people. A digital native expects a different relationship with a brand to someone from the older generation - their attitudes have been shaped by the internet and social media, not by brick-and-mortar stores and print. And while the ability to touch and feel products in store is still important, different shoppers have wildly different needs in terms of product information, delivery options and marketing communications.

The logical conclusion? That the future of shopping is all about the customer experience. To succeed in this new environment, retailers need to deliver a smart, personalised service that connects their brick-and-mortar stores to the digital world.

Achieving this differentiation will require a focus on the following areas:

1. Developing an adaptive store

One of the risks faced by retailers today is the possibility of their high-street outlets becoming little more than elaborate showrooms for consumers to browse, touch and try out products before moving to digital devices to compare prices, read peer reviews and search for other options.

Brick-and-mortar stores need to become smarter and more adaptive, offering the same personalised and interactive experiences that customers have come to expect from ecommerce and mobile apps. Their salespeople, meanwhile, need better tools to offer a richer and more bespoke value-added advisory service.

2. Becoming a savvy retailer

Today's consumers are well-informed. Thanks to social media and global online marketplaces like Amazon, they always have a wealth of information at their fingertips about the latest products, trends and fashions. To serve this new wave of savvy shoppers, retailers have to become savvy, too - using customer information, social listening and analytics to get a better picture of their preferences, and also to predict their needs in the future.

3. Selling and delivering anywhere

Ecommerce has brought a new level of convenience to the customer experience: an entire shopping trip can be reduced to a few clicks. As the online and offline worlds merge, retailers have an opportunity to build on this progress and personalise each step in the shopping journey for maximum convenience and satisfaction.

So, if someone buys a difficult-to-carry item in store, they should have the option of delivery direct to their home or another pick-up point. Or maybe it's more convenient for them to order a product online and pick it up in store rather than have it sent to another address. Whatever the scenario, the retailer has an opportunity to boost loyalty by ensuring the process is as simple and practical as possible.

4. Learning to me-tail

Finally, the future of shopping belongs to retailers who communicate with consumers in a way that transcends traditional marketing, becoming a key service in itself. Me-tailing means using customer information to establish a meaningful relationship between the consumer and the brand, and to personalise marketing messages to improve engagement, recommend the right products and services, and build trust.

Today's consumers know how to filter out messaging that they don't feel applies to them. Effective me-tailers, by contrast, know how a dialogue can make life better for their customers. And today's most successful brands aren't just about flashy marketing - they grow out of a superior customer experience.

You can read more about Tieto Retail Experience and the shopping of the future here. For futher reading, check out our infographic 'Digital customer journey in retail'.

Digital customer experience management in retail

Download our white paper and read how to create a digital customer experience in retail sector. We concluded over 200 Nordic retail sector decision-makers in Finland, Sweden and Norway to gain insights into their firms’ digital CEM challenges, pain points.

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