For many in the retail world, the months leading up to NRF’s Big Show last week were exciting, action packed, and consumed by show prep. The hard work paid off: the event was a great success, with many informative sessions to attend and interesting booths to visit. But now, as NRF excitement finally wanes, it’s time to think about what the retail industry has in store for the coming twelve months.
Themes that captured NRF attendees’ attention included the challenge of mastering omnichannel retail and how to improve shopping experiences to meet rising consumer trends and expectations. Clearly, the age of the on-demand economy is upon us. Disruptive brands like Uber have radically changed the way consumers purchase goods and services – customized offerings are now available at the click of a button, at very reasonable prices. As a result, expectations are rising. Today’s shoppers want personalized service and attention, and more traditional brick-and-mortar retailers must evolve their offerings to both improve the in-store experience and better connect disparate omnichannel touch points. This should be a main focus for retailers throughout the year to come and beyond.
Engageware’s recent State of Retail report underscores these findings. The company surveyed more than 5,000 consumers about their shopping habits, and results show that while brick-and-mortar still dominates, rising consumer expectations are forcing retailers to invest in improving the in-store experience. And there is significant room for improvement – only 27 percent of respondents feel big-name brands try to provide VIP-like service. The same low percentage of respondents believes retailers provide a consistent experience across channels.
It’s certainly an exciting time for the retail industry as it changes and evolves to meet the needs of the 21st century customer. We expect 2016 to be the year of personalization in retail, a year in which retailers set themselves apart by delivering high-level, on-demand services with a personalized touch. The store is not going away, but it is certainly evolving. Check out our Retail Scheduling Solutions to learn how Engageware can help brands deliver the customized in-store experience needed for the years to come.