Brick and mortar still key to winning retail customer experience

87% of retail disrupters say that they believe in the benefits of physical stores and will continue to try and open them in the future. While much has been made about ecommerce’s continued chipping away at retail sales, many retail brands still think that a physical store is an important part of creating attractive experiences for customers.

The data comes from the 2018 Retail Disruptors Survey from JDA Software, who interviewed over 100 retailers worldwide. Disruptive brands are categorised as those, ecommerce-based and not, that provide high quality products and services, are faster and more responsive than their rivals and have “fundamentally changed the customer experience”.

And rather than abandoning bricks and mortar, disruptive retail brands see stores as an important part of the multi-channel approach. 71% of them believe that cross-channel fulfilment such as buy online, collect instore drives foot traffic into stores as they continue to grow in popularity.

60% also thought that loyalty programmes and interactive technology are also good ways of getting shoppers into stores.  

“The results of this survey are clear: Disruptors are more willing to sacrifice a faster growth trajectory to achieve the customer experience shoppers expect, with a mix of human- and data-driven insights for the perfect blending of art and science,” said JoAnn Martin, vice president, retail industry strategy, JDA.

“Retail disruptors realize that technology is a strategic enabler and not just a cost to be managed. This will be absolutely critical to success in an evolving and turbulent time for retailers.”

Focus on experience

Two factors seem to be setting retail disrupters apart from their non-disruptive peers: a focus on customer experience and a willingness to invest in tech to help make it better.

“Disruptors are more willing to implement new technology to improve the customer experience, but they’re also quick to change course when they don’t see benefits they anticipated. And disruptors right-size to hone in on the right technology mix that yields the best shopping experience,” noted Martin.

The kind of investments that are working for disrupters include end-to-end supply chain visibility (49%), regional and localised distribution centres (38%), and partner collaboration with vendors (38%).

Investing in customer acquisition priority areas is another key part of creating the right kind of retail experiences. 58% focus on engaging lifestyle content, while 57% are investing in customer-focused events and activities.  

“So, where do retailers go from here, especially if they want to be disruptors? They need to live and breathe the intersection between products and customers, finding the right balance between human- and data-driven insights. Deploying new technologies quickly – while also changing course if they aren’t working – will also be important to keep speed and agility top priority in order to support their stay ahead in an ever-changing retail landscape,” said Martin.

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