What Keeps You Up at Night: Retail Industry

In this three-part blog series, we’ll explore what is keeping executives across the fin tech, reg tech and retail industries up at night. First up, the retail industry.

Whether you are a large retail company or a small boutique, there is one consistent factor that is keeping retail professionals and executives up at night: Amazon. As the company continues to innovate and expand, retailers are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact the retail giant will have on their business and how they can survive in the age of Amazon.

The fact of the matter is Amazon – and Walmart in recent years – have basically reinvented the supply chain and extended it right to the consumer. They have developed a working model for how to run their businesses that is better than anyone, and retailers are at a loss at what to do. They know they can’t compete with Amazon and Walmart or replicate their model, and at the same time, they are hesitant to get into business with them in fear they may lose their customer base.

With Amazon being the biggest disruptor to the retail industry in recent years, many organizations are finding that they need to be more agile with their offerings and figure out where they can streamline costs while also providing a more tailored experience to customers. They are starting to examine different ways that they can deliver a better customer experience and how they can not only win new customers but also win old ones back.

To do this, retail organizations are inevitably turning to technology, however many of them fear the implementation process, with growing concerns that technology has gotten more complicated and difficult to not only install but also to manage and maintain. However, doing this is actually easier than they think.

While it is true that technology continues to innovate and evolve, at the same time it is becoming more turnkey and more customer friendly. It is becoming easier to implement and more digestible for small and mid-size companies, allowing them to get some initial results and data points that they can then leverage to modify and connect the customer experience.

When implemented correctly, technology can make it easier for retail organizations to get to know and understand both their customers and the overall customer journey. Leveraging technology, retail organizations can successfully connect the buying, selling, and servicing experiences – creating what we call the commerce ecosystem. Thinking about the process as a single ecosystem allows organizations to deliver a frictionless customer experience that is smoother and more positive for the customer. This helps with retention rates and new customer acquisitions.

Selecting the right technology can be an overwhelming process considering how many options are available today. However, we are seeing more and more technology companies offering the entire package as opposed to ingredients to a larger meal. Solutions today are cloud-based and more integrated which means companies get the best-of-breed solutions that can be built upon as they grow. This makes it easier for companies to implement these new technologies and start seeing an immediate impact. Take Square as an example. This simple, easy-to-implement solution can completely transform an organization. In less than 24-hours, a company that once only accepted cash can significantly expand its customer base by also accepting credit cards.

Another example is the shift from self service to a better customer experience. A prime example is the transformation we are seeing of websites and physical stores into show cases that provide better engagement opportunities for customers. This transformation also provides a richer buying experience that is more informative and caters to customer needs. For example, in cases where an item is not available in the store or a customer does not have the ability to transport a larger item home, some stores are already equipped with the ability to have purchases shipped directly to a customer’s house.

From speaking with many retail organizations, we know the fear of Amazon is out there and that it is a reality. Many retail organizations are getting put out of business by Amazon. To succeed in the age of Amazon, retail organizations must be more agile and harness the power of technology to connect the customer journey.

To learn more about the commerce ecosystem, check out our recent blog post.

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