In the retail industry, customer experience has always been important, but it is now vital to a store’s success.
As the desire to improve customer satisfaction rises, there is a similar demand for new technologies that will help retailers improve operations and secure better outcomes. Ultimately, stores are looking to enhance their customers’ experience through intuitive applications or connected services, but at the same time they risk weakening their profitability or losing customers who prefer a personal interaction.
This raises a question: how to respond to the technological challenges of retail without neglecting human interaction? In our opinion, the answer is about enhancing the physical space of the store, making it increasingly experiential to restore the uniqueness of shopping in a bricks and mortar store. It all comes down to the concept of ‘slow retail’.
Let's look at the technological maturity of retailers for a moment
At this year’s Retail's Big Show, Jérémy Dallois, CEO of ReachFive, explained that the future of retail lies in the "digitalisation of the supply chain and the customer experience". This is a unanimous observation shared by all the players in the sector.
And it is no coincidence that retailers have gone from a phase of initial awareness to decision-making over the last few years, whether in terms of new business models or connected services for customers. But is the retail sector becoming a laboratory of innovations examining the potential of breakthrough technologies – such as AI, IoT, Big Data – with new consumer functions? Yes, I believe so.
However, this is where the challenge maintaining or increasing customer experience comes in. Let's take Monoprix, for example, which grabs the lever of conversational commerce by offering its customers the chance to dictate their shopping list to their connected speaker.
Technocentrism, the pitfall to avoid
To generalise the reality of the retail world by relying on the most powerful players would be to deny an equally important aspect – a large majority of retailers are leaping from the innovation train. Why? Because they are not able to bear the costs and expertise necessary to exploit the potential of emerging technologies.
How important is that? Not really if we focus on consumer preferences, indeed, they are not yet completely ready for the full technological package.
➔ 72% of shoppers prefer to have an item in their hand before buying it
➔ Only 29% appreciate having a personal assistant to do their shopping
➔ 49% of them feel that they would feel more comfortable if interactions with AI systems were more personal
So how can retail technologies aid consumers, taking into account their unique preferences? This is where ‘slow retail’ comes into play, albeit with a few nuances that you may or may not be familiar with.
Slow retail: how to give meaning to technological innovation
What is slow retail? It is an increase in the physical space of a store that helps improve the consumer experience. In other words, it’s a concept of trying to increase the number of items going into a shopping basket.
Beyond this commercial aspect, several challenges are emerging for retailers wishing to seize the full potential of slow retail:
➔ Efficiency: control the entire value chain of a store, from inventory management to multi-channel strategy and store security. Slow retail responds to complex devices, technological inflation will continue to increase this complexity requiring experience and real expertise.
➔ Transparency: develop a policy in accordance with personal data protection and consumer freedoms (in connection with the DGMP) to make multi-channel strategies healthy, online and offline, through connected objects in interaction with customers.
➔ Experience: create innovative experiential devices in accordance with brand DNA and consumer usage. The brand is powerful, it responds to missions, it conveys values, promises, a graphic universe linked to a precise imagination. It can help make technologies invisible, more natural.
Slow retail is a viable alternative to the multiplicity of connection options that can damage customer relations.
Beyond becoming more digital and connected, consumers are also looking for new in-store experiences, beyond those provided by the simple purchase of the brand's products and services.
Just as we see the emergence of restaurant-galleries of art, or galleries of art-restaurants – sometimes no longer knowing which concept prevails over the other – each brand must find the complementary service or services, necessarily outside the framework, to offer their customer.
To do this, each retailer needs to know shoppers better. They need to cross-check a multitude of information on their preferences and desires, collected via new in-store technologies and social networks. Can retail survive without this? Time will tell.
Checkpoint Systems, a division of CCL Industries, addresses two critical issues for its customers: Improving Profitability and Improving Consumer experience. With consumer demands accelerating at an extraordinary rate driven by technology, Checkpoint recognizes the challenges faced by its customers in the rapidly evolving retail market. We deliver intelligent solutions – bringing clarity and efficiency into the retail environment anytime, anywhere. Through a unique offering of software, hardware, labels, tags and connected cloud based solutions, Checkpoint optimizes operational efficiencies through analysis of real time data captured throughout the Supply Chain and in store then translating this to clear concise actions and tasks.
We provide end-to-end solutions enabling retailers to achieve accurate real-time inventory, accelerate the replenishment cycle, prevent out-of-stocks and reduce theft, thus improving merchandise availability and the shopper’s experience. Checkpoint’s solutions are built upon 48 years of radio frequency technology expertise, innovative high-theft and loss-prevention solutions, market-leading RFID hardware, RFID software, and comprehensive labeling capabilities, to brand, secure and track merchandise from source to shelf. Checkpoint’s customers benefit from increased sales and profits by implementing merchandise availability solutions, to ensure the right merchandise is available at the right place and time when consumers are ready to buy. Checkpoint operates in every major geographic market and employs 4,500 people worldwide.