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The speed with which new technologies are being adopted by consumers is breathtaking. The use of tablets and mobile is unprecedented.

New customer touch points have burst onto the scene, leaving retailers struggling to decide where to prioritise their marketing and digital spend: should the focus be on websites, stores or mobile?

Connected Retail has the potential to revolutionise the industry and transform how retailers operate and how they connect with consumers. It has enormous capacity to improve operations, streamline processes and lead to greater efficiencies. 

Connected Retail will improve the in-store experience, breathing new life into the high street in three core areas:

  • Improving service delivery through linking consumer data and research to purchase phases.
  • Delivering a personalised experience by tailoring products to consumers’ personal requirements to support sales.  
  • Enhancing the brand experience by creating meaningful experiences that move the consumer from transacting to conversing with brands. 

The role and impact of Connected Retail in these areas is already reaping benefits on the high street and can be understood better by taking a look at what leading brands are achieving.

In this series of blog posts, I'll be exploring each of the above areas starting with a look at improved service delivery.  

Improving service delivery 

Improving operations and processes through the use of new technology not only leads to a better customer experience but many retailers are realising operational benefits and an improved bottom line. 

Empowering employees

By linking customer data and mobile and tablet devices employees can be empowered to build better, more meaningful customer relationships. Apple is excelling at this.

Mobile POS, product demonstrations, customer consultations and access to real-time inventory in-store, has established it as a leading player in the field with the authority to build valuable, life-long customer relationships.

Neimen Marcus is also breaking new ground with its location positioning iPhone app which enables employees to quickly access a customer’s purchase history, and allows for service based differentiation in-store which helps the customer make more informed purchasing decisions and therefore, delivers a more personalised service.

Smarter selling

New technologies mean that retailers can offer an enhanced sales experience. Vanquish Japan’s digital displays change to show items related to those selected by the customers, enabling for product discovery and cross selling.

Advances are also taking place in payment processing. Nordstrom’s mobile POS checkout app is a good example of this.

The app reduces the cost to serve by enabling staff to checkout customers from the aisle and also eliminates queues improving the shopping experience.

The future 

The wave of digital and technological innovation that is sweeping across the high street is creating a shopping environment with the connected consumer at its heart.

We predict that the new norm will be a high street that is never closed, which provides a truly personalised service and encourages the shopper to explore and enjoy a brand.

So far, the industry has only dipped its toe in the water but it will not be long before many retailers are left behind. The very real benefits of Connected Retail are here now for the taking.

Rick Curtis

Published 25 October, 2013 by Rick Curtis

Rick Curtis is Chief Strategy Officer at Amaze and a contributor to Econsultancy.

1 more post from this author

Comments (5)

James .

James ., Director, Digital Strategy & Optimisation at Personal

Great article Rick,

It is great to be a able to get a little more insight in to some of the more comprehensive integration options available that larger retailer are starting to utilise as the retail industry continues to move forward.

I also believe that for smaller independents, well placed and simpler installations e.g. iPads linking to company websites and social channels. This can enhance the in-store customer experience by providing touch points that customers can identify items that they had previously seen online but can not remember the name of but they can remember their online user journey to find it.

over 2 years ago

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webmoghuls

its a great article... interesting stats..

over 2 years ago

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Jonathan Henley, Actively seeking a new challenge at potentially your organisation...do get in touch!

What some retailers need is a better form of trend analysis to help them avoid some of their awful merchandising and buying decisions.
Sadly, it seems that lemming-like fad-following beats creative fashion curation anytime nowadays,.
Some of the stuff men's retailers stock - especially if aiming for 40+ bracket - is simply laughable.

over 2 years ago

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John Shrimpton

As an eCommerce implementer we have seen an explosion in demand for mobile applications both for customers and in-store.

If done properly, a mobile channel (phone and tablets) can add enormous value to customers by providing 24/7 access to the store and by providing a more efficient and personal level of customer service in store.

It's important to get the user experience right for each device and make the user journey and information provided as relevant as possible.

over 2 years ago

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Grahame Palmer, Marketing Director at All Things Ecommerce Ltd

The biggest challenge facing the future of the highstreet is the archaic thinking and fundamental ignorance of town and city council planning authorities. They doggedly hold onto "principles" that stifle and inhibit essential change.

Their reluctance to embrace and foster change is institutionally embedded, and so long as planning authorities fail to move (very, very rapidly) towards understanding the changes in consumer behaviour, the more rapidly the highstreet will die.

about 2 years ago

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