Retailers are being challenged and should make even greater use of digital potential, whether for addressing customers, the shopping experience or the technical equipment of the store. Because demands are rising: According to a Bitkom study, what consumers want most is free in-store Wi-Fi, followed by real-time information about products in stock, special offers via app and navigation apps.
A well-thought-out local SEO and platform strategy definitely delivers rewards to brick-and-mortar retailers. The shift to mobile, as well as the analysis of desktop PC dial-in data, has given online search queries local relevance. The 18 to 24 generation is the future consumer blueprint according to a new PwC study. Not only is it internet-savvy, it is also more focused on regional products, a general trend that we are currently seeing across all age groups.
Location-based marketing allows organizations to target consumers with online or offline messaging based on their physical location. Information such as opening hours or discounts, that is accessible online, is automatically sent to apps, search engines or navigation systems. In the future, in-vehicle voice assistants, such as those based on Amazon Alexa or Telekom’s Hallo Magenta, will be used as advertising, customer navigation or direct ordering tools, paving the way for new automotive business models and brand-new cooperation opportunities.
Omnichannel strategies allow customers to switch between high street store, web shop and social media, as well as giving them greater flexibility when it comes to delivery options, payments or click & collect models. For example, IKEA offers customers the opportunity to order online (click) and pick up the furniture at the store (collect). German supermarket chain Rewe has a similar system in place. These systems also guarantee the safety of customers and staff.
For retailers, it is important to create real experiences. Selling food or beverages online is difficult because their aromas can only be described, not experienced. Digital coffee doesn’t have that signature aroma because it’s impossible to recreate real-world consumer experiences online. Sandwich chain Pret a Manger’s multichannel coffee subscription service has driven up foot traffic at its British stores. Social shopping is another emerging trend. ShopShops’ scene scouts visit selected retail outlets in major US cities to livestream US fashions to Chinese shoppers in real time. Pinduoduo is a Chinese e-commerce platform that combines gaming with group buying. It has turned shopping into a genuine social media experience because the more people who buy a product, the lower the price gets.
High street retailers can find a new lease of life in the digital age by creating points of experience. Although customers who have been shopping online since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic will continue to shop online, the current situation is also making people more aware of their local shopping options – and offering retailers location-based marketing opportunities. Competitive advantages can also be gained by networking omnichannel services such as click & collect, and many retailers are in the process of upgrading their IT for optimum digital connectivity.
Special ICT solutions for Retail 4.0 combine network, data analysis and IT security technology for failsafe system operation and to get local retailers ready for the digital shopping world. Marketing organizations also have to become more responsive. Google offers them a new trend tool to understand fast-rising retail categories. Lastly, the results of a Trend Study on shopping in the year 2036 provides retailers with another ray of hope because it reveals that over three-quarters of German consumers believe real-life experiences will become all the more valuable as digital technology progresses.