Over the last decade, the internet has transformed the idea of marketing, as we know it. Not long ago, business owners were capable of swaying customers to choose traditional marketing methods such as cold calling, newspaper advertising and so on. Even a simple flyer could go a long way for spreading brand awareness. But within a few years time, things have changed drastically. CISCO CEO John Chambers made it clear that this is the time for digital transformation. A company has to go digital in order to sustain itself or simply die.
In reality, for all of the number of leaps in today’s ecommerce technology used in various retail stores are outdated. The current stores cannot support even modern consumer demands, let alone the needs of future customers; this is the stone cold truth. When CISCO CEO John Chambers spoke about digital transformation he predicted that 40% of companies will die within the next decade and it’s all mainly because of their denial to the digital era that is thriving more than ever. If as a business owner, you are of the opinion that content marketing is for lunatics and social media for college kids then you are sailing on a sinking ship. And before you know it, a few years have gone by and your business would have lost its existence. You do not have to be one of those people who lose their business credibility because their strategy was outdated.
The Challenge Businesses Face
For omni-channel success, stores today lack real time connections between associates, customers, pricing and inventory information. Owing to such requirements, retailers are missing on an enormous opportunity to attract or retain customers. The brick and mortar store is still the base of retail. More than 85% of entire retail businesses are physical stores, yet these stores lag miles behind their online counterparts in mobile capability, personalization and convenience. If retailers want to make any relevant impact with their business in this digital age, they must instill digital capabilities into each corner of their store environment. Since mobile revolution has gathered such a hype, physical stores need to be more proactive in digitally transforming themselves than before.
Online Presence and Its Power
Online presence is something that should not be taken lightly. Even if you believe in adopting the traditional methods to reach customers and make sales, there is no disagreeing to the fact that data too supports the claim of John Chambers.
- 44% of online searchers begin their transaction by using a search engine
- 61% of global internet users perform research on products online before making a purchase.
- 90% of businesses market with any form of content
- Nearly three-quarters of all Internet users have at least one social media account.
- 90% of users never look past the first page of Google search results
At this point you do not need online presence because your competitors are doing it, but because online is the place where your customers are.
How Do You Prepare to Become the Store of Future?
If you have decided to hop on to the digital transformation train, it is needed that you have a proper strategy in place to create the perfect online store for your e-commerce business. The store of the future should have five attributes that would define it-relevancy, mobility, ubiquity, personalization and security. Let’s understand a little bit more:
Geo-fencing and Geo-location are two new technologies that would facilitate retailers to realize who their customers are and where they are located. This would help the stores to deliver the most significant messages. Virtual mirrors, touch screens, and concepts like virtual reality will provide a more alluring shopping environment.
Mobile devices offer infinite opportunities to augment customer service, especially mobile point-of-sale (POS) and inventory lookup. Moreover, technologies like sensor beacons, etc. can recognize customers using their mobile device giving you the facility to personalize the shopping experience.
Real time retail is the capability to connect with and deliver a flawless shopping experience wherever shoppers interact or discover a brand. Retailers should have the ability to identify shoppers, disseminate and analyze customer, pricing, product and inventory data across all channels. Stores lacking this capability will be left behind.
Retailers should leverage technology that helps them to know the customers. Through mobile devices used by store associates and advanced technology retailers must get an insight on the preferences of customers, the product of their choice, guided selling, clientele, inventory lookup and more. The data can be used for creating a personalized experience of individual customers.
The store of the future requires a safe environment beyond the current focus of retails on network security and payments. Retailers need to steady themselves with consumers between maintaining trust and gathering information. There is a thin line between clever personalization and concern over personal data. While more information offers a more personalized experience, it is also a great opportunity for fraud and data theft.
Staying Focused For the Future
The reality is that we do not have a crystal ball in our hand, which can tell whether our business will survive the next decade as the digital era becomes more and more powerful. However, by keeping an open mind and implementing some digital marketing areas, companies can make progress in the age and sustain themselves further. The physical store is the heart and soul of any business but a digital transformation is in processes for all retails. While the store is not going away, it is certainly getting a lot more connected digitally.
Keeping the current trends and data in mind, there is no doubt that for any business it is high time to live digital or prepare themselves for death.