The Changing Face of Retail

Posted on by Chloe Gibbins Self Service Systems, Innovation, Exhibitions / Events

The Changing Face of Retail

The Rise of Digitalisation

Digitalisation is changing our world – our everyday lives are in a constant state of change. One key reason for this is the constant spread of digitalisation, which now affects virtually every area of our lives – from the way in which we read our newspapers in the morning and how we communicate every day, to how work flows at the office and even fundamental matters such as how we look for a partner and do a daily shop. Family trips to shopping centres at the weekend are now a thing of the past – instead, consumers, in many cases, now shop for fashion and lifestyle products online.

It is still unclear whether and to what extent the food industry will see a demand to buy food products with just a few clicks on a smartphone. What is certain, however, is that the trend is already in full swing, with more and more retailers making their product ranges available online. Alain Caparros, CEO of German supermarket chain REWE Group, is in no doubt as to what this means: “We need to reinvent ourselves. If suppliers like Amazon deliver a full range of products right to your front door in the future, why would customers then travel to the city centre on a weekend with the whole family and pay for parking? We need to make shopping in our stores a real consumer experience again.” (Caparros, Alain. “Zeit ist die neue Währung.” [Time is the currency of the future] in “Der Spiegel” 36/2016, p.72)

The Multi-Option Omnichannel Consumer

What makes modern consumers tick? Unfortunately there is no clear answer to this question. The spread of digitalisation in our everyday lives has now reached the shopping behaviour of end consumers. In our multi-option society, consumers want to take full advantage of the myriad of possibilities on offer. This is linked to a rapid expansion in the range of products available to consumers as various communication channels have been networked. The constant availability of different options has resulted in a hybrid consumer – one who changes their mind, always has a plan B and even a plan C in the back of their minds and, thanks to the Internet, is better informed than ever before. One day consumers will choose to shop online, but the next they would rather go to the supermarket – both options should dovetail with one another. It is not retailers who determine how and when consumers do their shopping, consumers decide for themselves when and where they want to research and buy products. They do this without adhering to any identifiable system, which makes it more difficult for retailers to remain in control of consumers’ shopping behaviour. A patterned change has occurred.

What does all this mean for retailers? To be able to offer the range of options demanded by consumers, store-based retailers now, more than ever, need to provide omnichannel solutions which meet the different needs of end consumers – both offline and online. Consumers, nowadays, often rush from meeting to meeting and want a healthy snack without any hassle, ideally delivered straight to the office. If their work day finishes after the store has already closed, then on the way home they want the option to be able to collect goods ordered online beforehand. If they want to go on a big shopping trip, at the weekend, with the whole family, they expect an exclusive shopping experience. It is only when retailers understand and respond to the individual needs of their customers that loyalty is retained with store based retailers.

In this context, the major concerns about the ‘showroom’ effect do not apply when it comes to food retailing since this effect predominantly affects the fashion industry. Quite the contrary, in fact – the aim should be to keep customers in the store for as long as possible, so that they are encouraged to buy through a stimulating presentation of goods in an environment which inspires buying, and in doing so increases average takings. In the same way, retailers also need to adapt to meet the needs of ‘ROBO’ consumers. An optimised and informative online presence is essential for this to allow you to benefit from customers who research online first before making their purchase offline in an actual store.

Opportunities for Retailers as a Result of Digital Optimisation

A major factor in a consumer’s decision to buy a product is having rapid access to the necessary information around the clock. As such, only retailers who expand their core business will be able to survive in the future. The concepts used need to be flexible, information needs to be accessible, shopping must be a real consumer experience and customers must receive expert advice. In this regard, retailers should call on solutions such as intelligent overall systems, which not only recognise decisions to buy as spontaneous and momentary actions, but register and understand this decision-making process as a whole. For example, customers and their needs across the board need to be considered both offline and digitally.

Further consistent development and professionalisation of all functions, processes and systems are the only way to survive today’s competitive pressures, including from the constant stream of new, innovative competitors. Click & Collect is an omnichannel service which poses challenges for the food industry in terms of maintaining freshness, for example. However, it has nevertheless become established as a separate entity, thanks to innovative delivery concepts. Wanzl is offering its holistic ‘Wanzl connect’ store system as an uptrade which includes all key components required by retailers of the future. With the aid of a software-based solution, this system has perfected the shopping process for multi-option, multi-channel customers so that they enjoy a shopping experience which offers clear added value. For example, customers can optimally plan their shopping trip in advance. They can enter their shopping list into the app and the indoor navigator then guides them throughout the store, saving them time. Attractive offers are also displayed to the customer on the app and unnecessary waiting times are reduced – if there are 50 customers in the queue for the checkout, the system detects this immediately and deploys the necessary staff.

For more information, visit us at EuroShop 2017 in Düsseldorf between 5th-9th March 2017 – Hall 13 / Stand A89: http://www.euroshop-tradefair.com/