The brick-and-mortar store is here to stay, although we often get asked about what the future holds for it. I’m confident that retail stores will not just remain, they’ll thrive – and continue to be a central channel for consumers – in the ultra-connected, digitally-enabled future.
The key will be for retail organizations to quickly connect the dots behind the scenes in order to create new, consumer-centric experiences that will help differentiate them from their competitors. They must evolve their networks: to be more agile, more digital, and more connected to their consumers’ lives. The right partner is a critical component of that transformation. As our organization undertakes its own global transformation, I’m most excited about the expanded scale and infrastructure we’ll be able to leverage to help our customers grow their businesses for the new, “always on” era.
The world is changing, and retailers’ ability to quickly address new, emerging trends will determine their ultimate success. Has your organization processed and planned appropriately? I see three trends that should be driving strategic conversations for all retailers, no matter their size or location around the globe:
- We’ve Arrived at the Age of the Consumer
Built on distribution expansion activities that took place in the late 20th century, global organizations are relatively adept at getting their product into their consumer’s hands. Yet now they’re forced to shift their approach: As Forrester analyst Alyson Clark explains it, we’re entering the “age of the customer”– and in this era, consumers are empowered with enough information to completely shatter the power of global distribution capabilities.
Whether retailers can get their products to their consumers is no longer the issue. Today, consumers want to feel as if they’re having an experience – not buying a product. Through mobile, self-ordering, self-checkout, classic POS and digital integration, retailers and banks are on the front lines of consumer interaction, with unique access to a vast pool of information about those consumers: “Big Data” that can be parsed, analyzed, sifted and sliced to provide authentic, personalized experiences based on consumers’ preferences, financial profiles, shopping habits, ages, locations and much more.
We’re experts in helping our customers do just that. As the leader in driving connected commerce, we have the tools, innovations and footprint to aid organizations in the shift to consumer-driven strategies. We work with 24 of the top 25 European retailers and 16 of the top 25 retailers worldwide, as well as nine out of 10 global Fortune 500 petroleum companies. This means that every day, 80 million people interact with our technology and we manage 275 million retail transactions worldwide.
- Omnichannel Orchestration is Driving Better In-Store Experiences
We’ve seen a shift in the industry, as retailers have recognized that consumers don’t think about their purchasing journey in terms of channels – and retailers can’t either. Consumers want what they want, when they want it, through whatever channel is most convenient at that moment. If they can’t get it through a business’s available channels, they’ll find someone else who can provide it. Digitally enabled consumers expect real-time awareness of their transactions and online shopping journey as they skip from one channel to another – which means we’re seeing more and more retailers understand the need to link sales systems with merchandise planning and enterprise systems.
That omnichannel enablement requires legacy hardware and back-end processes to integrate seamlessly – and it can be achieved through an advanced, agnostic software layer that orchestrates connections across channels, making it possible for retailers to plan and execute their sales activities throughout all their channels in parallel. We’re the only true multi-vendor global service provider for the retail industry, with the ability to leverage data, insights and connectivity to drive value for our customers.
It is critical to remember that this omnichannel experience includes physical stores – in fact, they’re central to any consumer-driven strategy. When the world’s largest online retailer decides there’s value in opening a brick-and-mortar store, stores of every shape and size should realize the need to reconsider focusing all their efforts on digital enablement. The sustainable approach is one that balances channels appropriately, according to the unique objectives of an individual business.
- Industry Verticals Are Converging
Retail and financial channels are converging to create a highly interconnected commerce ecosystem primarily driven by consumer demands. Grocery stores and other retailers now routinely devote a portion of their brick-and-mortar space to hosting bank branches, while retailers such as Target, Starbucks and Walmart have developed their own payment apps with varying degrees of capability and integration with traditional bank credit cards. Another option for banks to increase consumers’ access to cash very efficiently is the expansion of POS capabilities in a store. Solutions like “cash back” at German grocery retailer Rewe or “refuel cash” at Shell stations allow consumers to withdraw money from their bank account directly at the POS, while retailers can easily and cost-efficiently reduce their cash takings and minimize their cash handling costs. Another example: furniture or home entertainment retailers that sell more expensive goods have begun piloting quick consumer credit offerings via dedicated self-service terminals in the store to stimulate expensive impulse purchases.
Through advanced technology and services, Diebold Nixdorf partners with retailers to drive foot traffic into stores, while helping them update infrastructure and software that can enable a more holistic view of their channels. This dual-pronged strategy transcends verticals – and our long-standing expertise in both industries positions us to support retailers around the globe with solutions customized for their unique business needs. In a collaboration with Shell, we harnessed our two main fields of expertise to build a tailored solution that meets the needs of both a retail bank and a service station operator.
Of course, our work doesn’t end when technology is successfully deployed. As a combined organization, we employ nearly 18,000 service professionals around the world, and rely on our own skilled technicians to meet ongoing service-level agreements. What does it mean for you? We can think globally and act locally, at speeds that exceed the competition.
The ability to quickly evolve is crucial: Even the most loyal consumers won’t wait around forever. But they don’t have to – if retail organizations build solutions driven by their consumers’ needs. Let’s work together to develop a consumer-centric strategy. Contact us today to jumpstart your transformation journey.