This week, I’m at NRF 2012 talking with industry leaders about the latest innovations in retail. Today, there are many prominent technology trends that retailers are looking to leverage to enhance their customer’s experience and increase sales revenue. In fact, there are more than 35 sessions at the show this year discussing many of these technologies: mobility, business intelligence and analytics, cloud computing and Big Data.
At the heart of every retail operation is obviously the customer. Without them, there is no business. So it makes sense that the most successful retailers are driven by the needs of their customers and continually looking to innovate. Retail is no longer about “where” the customer is shopping, but “how” the customer is shopping.
Well-informed and empowered by digital technology, shoppers are today choosing from a variety of channel alternatives—brick-and-mortar, online, kiosk, vending, social and mobile—to make their purchase decisions. Customers are looking for control, choice, mobile access, self-service options and personalization. And, companies are turning to technology to deliver a more personalized, interactive experience. Key to achieving this is mobile computing.
Mobile computing is transforming the retail industry. Shoppers are hitting the stores with smartphones in hand, comparing prices and making purchases. In fact, Forrester Research is predicting mobile commerce will hit $31 billion by 2016 with a compounded annual growth rate of 39 percent.
With a customer-centric approach that leverages mobile computing effectively, your business can thrive because customers are better connected to your brand, more informed about your products and expect more meaningful interactions from you across multiple channels and devices.
For example, one mobile customer could receive personalized offers from your company on their mobile devices, which increases website traffic and purchases. Another customer can visit an in-store kiosk to create a shopping list or get coupons. These could be printed at the kiosk or sent to the consumer’s smartphone, giving them a digital shopping assistant. While these customers are delighted with a personal experience that interacts with them in the way they want, your business can also get real-time business intelligence from these interactions to make smarter decisions about inventory, etc.
The mobilization of retail is not only radically altering the way consumers shop, but it also calls for greater integration with store systems and processes with different technologies and devices—even re-training employees.
It’s definitely an exciting time for retailers and I’m excited to be involved! If you are at the show, come on by our Avanade booth. We’ll be showcasing our solutions for digital marketing and multi-channel commerce as well as Connected Stores, an end-to-end store solution in the cloud that enables retailers to integrate multi-channel transactions, improve the shopping experience and achieve greater in-store flexibility. Also, check out the latest updates to Microsoft Dynamics AX2012.