IDC names the below trends as those most affecting the retail industry. In highlighting their impacts, challenges, and opportunities for growth, retailers can best serve customers throughout their shopping journeys.
Contextual Customer Experience
Ecommerce and omnichannel shopping have infiltrated the retail space and will likely persist in its digital future. Consumers increasingly demand frictionless, personalized shopping journeys, and retailers need to ensure consistency in their interactions with shoppers across all channels.
Think in-app ordering, pop-up kiosks, curbside pickup, and virtual fitting rooms. A contextual customer experience means that products are available at the right price, at the right place, and at the right time.
Shoppers continue to expect omnichannel retailing experiences like buying items online and picking up in store (BOPIS). Retailers respond by optimizing these capabilities and delivering those omnichannel customer journeys.
Smart Supply Chain
Supply chain capabilities must become more responsive to customer expectations. This could mean improving data accessibility in all steps of the supply chain process, increasing cross-channel visibility, and offering employee training tools to add value to customer experience throughout the shopping journey.
Retailers are expanding automation in physical store facilities to remove frictions and provide a seamless omnichannel customer journey. Automation within retail operations, especially for physical stores and supply chains, is essential for a seamless and convenient customer journey.
Sustainability and social responsibility gain traction in retailers' strategies as pressure from stakeholders for sustainable operations build. Pressure also comes from regulators, investors, and business partners, so it’s imperative that retailers don’t ignore the sustainability push.
The role of the store associate becomes increasingly important in defining the success of omnichannel customer journeys and generating long-term customer loyalty. Without skillful, competent employees, the omnichannel retail experience is sure to experience some friction along the way.