With our Digital Retail Transformation Assembly rapidly approaching, Digital Diary sat down with one of our sponsors, censhare, for an exclusive interview.
censhare reveals major trends that are found in the retail industry, along with insight into where the industry is heading, and what retailers can expect from the growing technology landscape that empowers business operations.
With the emergence of the omnichannel customer experience, what is the role of the physical store?
There’s a misnomer about technology and brick and mortar stores that technology is putting them out of business. The truth is, brick and mortar retail companies aren’t going out of business because the demand to buy things online is so high, they’re going out of business because they refused to evolve with the time. The two largest retail companies in the world, Wal-Mart, and CVS are still considered brick and mortar, and even Amazon is buying physical stores, as proven by their purchase of Whole Foods. The omnichannel customer experience is nothing new, there are just more channels now than ever before, but the physical store is as much a part of the customer experience as it’s ever been.
With a new generation about to enter the market, how can retailers prepare to meet the different demands of generation Z?
First, the demands of generation Z are no different than millennials, or generation X or even the Greatest Generation. They still have the same basic needs; they have to eat, they have to sleep, and they’ll need toilet paper. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the fact that people don’t have to leave their homes to eat, sleep and buy toilet paper, but people want to occasionally leave the house, as written about our VP of global marketing, Ian Truscott. Why do companies allot millions of dollars into their budget for travel when we can communicate faster online than we can converse in person? Because people like to go places and see who they work with. Humans also want to see and touch what they’re buying before they buy it and more importantly, sometimes you want something now, not in 2 – 3 business days.
How is technology playing an increasingly important role from an experiential and customer service perspective both online and in-store?
The answer to this question could take up several times. Technology empowers both customers and businesses alike; customers demand a better experience and businesses are adopting new technologies to provide a better experience. Businesses who realize this and take advantage of it are the ones who will be successful in this era.
From an experiential perspective, data that is collected on consumers is used to give them a better shopping experience, both online and in-store. Personalization is key in providing a stellar customer experience. Kroger gives a great in-store experience using data. They give steep discounts and give relevant coupons to you directly at checkout based on previous purchase history.
For businesses, technology makes it necessary to remain competitive and maintain their reputation with the growing expectations of consumers. With the complexity of retail today, with shipping not just to stores, but also online and with vendors sourcing items from around the world, a solid digital infrastructure is necessary for anywhere close to the kind of customer service that is required today.
Consumers are adopting voice-activated technology. How can retailers prepare for and take advantage of changing consumer search behavior?
Voice-activated technology is really only a small part of changing consumer behavior, but it does affect retail, especially with products like Amazon Echo and Google Home being so accessible. However, there will always be things that people need in the moment. Unless you are extraordinarily patient, Amazon Echo isn’t the answer when you’re out of toilet paper.
The real change to real-time marketing will be in-store experiences. Investments in technology that can geo-target people who are actually shopping in your store will be necessary. If you can combine the data of a buyer’s previous search history with the geography of where they are actually standing, that is a powerful marketing tool. This is already beginning to happen, especially with Toyota’s recent announcement that they will begin integrating Alexa in their vehicles.
Will marketing die when we enter the age of machines?
Marketers would never allow this to happen, they simply wouldn’t market the machines that would kill marketing off! The reality is, this question carries more weight than you might think. While marketing won’t die, it’s possible that machines can do the marketing and place products in front of the right people at the right time, which is the bigger concern than will marketing die. Again, Ian Truscott weighs in on this exact topic, where he argues that while machines (virtual assistants) might alleviate our shopping responsibilities and have a better idea of what and when we need things, they still won’t eliminate the need for companies to get their message in front of the right people. Ultimately people will make purchasing decisions, not their Siri’s.
What advice do you have for C-Level executives looking to stay ahead of retail trends and technologies?
C-level executives should first listen to their customer service staff. Customer service is a company’s frontline and while they collect a wealth of data, their personal knowledge of a customer’s experience is more often than not, wasted.
Additionally, executives must listen to their IT staff. The IT staff knows the limitations of the current infrastructure and are able to give both a conceptualized and realistic vision of what new software can actually do. Having a strong relationship with the technical backbone of your organization will inevitably create strong advocates of the marketing solutions.
We’re excited that censhare is attending the Digital Retail Transformation Assembly this February. Can you give our readers a hint as to what you’ll be showcasing?
Our solution is a digital foundation that includes DAM, PIM, and MRM. We have recently been featured in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for digital experience platform and have shown up as a leading vendor in Forrester’s recent report on marketing resource management. Our digital solutions run on a semantic database, which unlike a traditional file structure, assigns assets to any other assets that relate to it, similar to how a Google search brings up related items to the keywords you search for.
What are the benefits of attending an intimate C-Level event like ours?
When you buy enterprise level software you’re not just buying technology, you’re also engaging in (hopefully) a long-term partnership. We’ve found that events like this are a great opportunity to not only speak with people serious about purchasing a software solution but also speaking with people who know what they’re talking about to understand the current business challenges of some top organizations. The people we meet at these events tend to remain in our network long after the event is over with.
Thank you Censhare for joining us! You can meet censhare at our upcoming Digital Retail Transformation Assembly to discover firsthand insights from esteemed professionals in the industry.
C-Level experts from across North America’s retail industry are coming together February 15-16, 2018 at The Park Hyatt Aviara in San Diego, CA to anticipate the highly complex digital environment that will develop over the next few years for our Digital Retail Transformation Assembly.
Retailers are uniquely positioned to leverage new digital technology such as Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and more to deliver enhanced, personalized customer experiences.
Through a cutting-edge program designed by the industry, for the industry, we will provide a fresh and up-to-date insight to help move your organization to the next level of digital leadership. A series of executive education roundtables, keynote presentations, collaborative think tanks, educational workshops, and networking sessions will offer industry-specific topics and trends to ensure your company sustains its competitive advantage.
This is not just another “Retail” event. Spaces are reserved for the best in the business. Enquire about attendance here!