Nino Bergfeld, Retail Industry Advisor at Salesforce, was ‘On the Sofa’ with Stefan Schieker, Partner of invidis consulting, discussing how the interaction between the online, mobile and physical worlds of retail has been changed by the pandemic.
Over the past year, the crisis has accelerated a lot of developments, particularly in digitisation. Stefan began by asking Nino: “Where are we headed?”
Nino highlighted three key trends. “Number one is awareness: collecting data and getting to know consumers.” With stores being closed it’s hard to reach new consumers, so a lot of effort is being made to get to know them better, crafting strategies around how to engage them, including a lot of interest in revamping old-fashioned loyalty card concepts.
The second trend is increased connectedness between the digital and physical worlds – with omnichannel concepts such as click and collect seeing a much greater degree of interest since the first lockdown, as well as related areas such as inventory management and management of returns.
Thirdly, new forms of commerce have been accelerated by lockdown, such as live shopping, which is especially strong in Asia.
Watch the full On the Sofa session here:
Asked about the acceleration of omnichannel activity during and after the crisis, Nino pointed out that offline retail disappeared for a time, with concepts such and click-and-meet and kerbside pickup being reopened or launched more recently. He predicts we will go back to a more normal mix of online and offline shopping, but offline will not reach the same level of activity as before, as some areas – such as grocery delivery – saw a big uptick during lockdown which is unlikely to be completely reversed. There is greater digital maturity among brands, retailers and consumers. “This is the new reality and the rest needs to adapt and [follow it] – meaning more hybrid, more agile business models [and] more technology in-store,” he added.
The move to realising the omnichannel ‘dream’ has accelerated, but, as Stefan observed, many offerings are piecemeal. Nino suggested that many retailers’ and brands’ priorities are at a lower, more crucial level: getting to know the consumer better and making better use of siloed data. Only then does it make sense to try to make the online/offline journey seamless.
It’s not a consistent picture across sub-verticals, but “if you look at one-to-many streaming, or one-to-one streaming out of the store, there are a lot of islands created. On the other hand, it’s good because all of the retailers and brands are training this digital muscle… I think it’s important that you start trialling out and getting to know new channels, how they behave… and you also have to train your staff differently, you have new requirements [for] job profiles and so on, and it’s important that established organisations learn,” commented Nino.
Stefan remarked that digital experience platforms are often cited as the means for bringing together all the elements that go into creating a seamless customer journey. “I’m always preaching this platform idea, because a technology platform allows you to move faster and build on a common set of services, building blocks and tools that allow you to get quickly to innovation,” agreed Nino. “It’s very important for brands and retailers to get a partner who offers a comprehensive and holistic platform.”
Nino also discussed the importance of back-end solutions in creating a unified customer journey. He spoke of “the new role of the store” where discovering new products is key, but store KPIs and layout may change, and there is less reliance on complete in-store inventory if the retailer has systems that enable it to source the product in another size, colour or flavour from another store or from a distribution centre. These often require pulling together data from a variety of sources.
Asked about the importance of data, Nino replied: “Number one, it is very important to understand the consumer… along the whole customer journey.” There is “a big bucket of data around the consumer” – including transactional data and behavioural data – which can be used to “predict behaviour, inventory turn metrics and propensity scores to buy a certain category” and enables retailers to reach out one-to-one to the customer and personalise and enhance their experience. “But you can also use the data in aggregate… use that segment information and optimise your store,” Nino concluded.
Special thanks to AVI-SPL for sponsoring RISE Spotlight: Digital Signage: New Solutions for a New Era.