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Online shopping gave rise to the instant hit. Logistical issues such as queues, opening hours and heavy bags seemingly vanished. Nowadays shoppers are armed with knowledge, online research enables one-click through to the best products and price tags. With customers’ expectations growing exponentially, evolving and leading the way through digital innovation is the only option to be a great brand of the future. 

“Change almost never fails because it's too early. It almost always fails because it's too late.” ― Seth Godin.



By 2020, research company Gartner predicts 81% of purchases will be based on customer experience. Getting that experience right is the key to succeeding in the retail sphere. Forward-thinking businesses should be looking at how they are interweaving digital tools with sales, marketing, and customer service.


When technology is employed strategically and successfully, it becomes invisible. Customers see the company at the core giving them exactly what they want and doing it with ease.  


By managing customer experience with the right digital toolset, retail businesses step outside of marketing and sales.


Instead, retailers become equipped to build their profile and serve the customer in different ways. 2020 will see the rise of experience as the differentiator. With this in focus, the commerce quadrant at Columbus incorporates five key building blocks to be a successful retail business in tomorrow’s space. 

1. An effective CRM solution, to engage and know the customer base.

2. Artificial Intelligence (AI), using algorithms that are connected to predict and 

    provide the customer with relevant content. 

3. Optimisation of branding through a solid CMS, creating engaging and personalised

    web content.

4. The use of Produce Information Management (PIM), enriching content offerings

    through accurate and timely product data.

5. A solid and reliable Commerce platform, providing up-to-date pricing and delivery. 


As the market becomes increasingly defined by emerging technologies, do you think the way consumers interact with their favourite brands is changing? We do.


Both the retail journey and the purchase story can become exciting simply by interacting with consumers in different ways to give them what they want.


The latest chatbot technology, based on Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) software, allows answers to be tailored and sophisticated compared to the stock answers of yesteryear. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly able to personalise the retail journey by using the previous history to predict future needs and purchases. 


Whilst Virtual Reality (VR) is still relatively new in the retail sphere, some businesses are using it in original ways to become bigger on the commerce stage.


Woman using the VR for watching film


Amazon opened 10 VR kiosks in shopping malls across India, where customers took virtual hot air balloon rides, enabling them to interact with the experience before choosing a purchase. Ikea used VR to help customers create a perfectly designed kitchen before committing it into their house.


Using technology to engage in this way appeals to our increasing desire for engagement and experience. Virtual Reality (VR) can display the product designs of the future, whilst Augmented Reality (AR) can be used to demonstrate how that can fit into current operations. 


In 2020, retailers need to ensure the Online to Offline connection is transparent. The goal is to directly tie online marketing to offline actions, such as in-store visits and sales. It is here where data is the real goldmine.


It is predicted by 2020 that 20.4 billion devices will be connected to the Internet of Things. IoT lends huge insight into the consumer and how to provide the right experience through the vast datasets being collected. With the use of data analytics, the customer journey can be both predicted and personalised.


Unifying the customer data from every touchpoint and channel enables a single 360-degree view. Customers are mostly willing to share their data in exchange for better experiences.


Technology is empowering brands and retailers to understand their shoppers better. Now, retailers are embedding tech into every step along the supply chain and purchase path. According to IDC, 85% of enterprise decision-makers state a timeframe of two years to make significant inroads into digital transformation or they will fall behind their competitors and suffer financially.


To be a retailer who thrives in 2020 and beyond, it’s clear that the tech needs to be meaningful and unified for the customer journey to follow.


[1] https://www.gartner.com/en/marketing/insights/articles/key-findings-from-the-gartner-customer-experience-survey

[2] https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2018/09/10/10-examples-of-the-how-the-future-of-shopping-will-be-transformed-by-vr/#6bfdbe9f3966

[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2019/05/13/40-stats-on-digital-transformation-and-customer-experience/#19bf80266475

[4] https://medium.com/@wop.innovationsuite/how-digital-transformation-is-the-key-to-unlock-your-business-potential-635f96414ebf


Alternatively, read our walk-through ERP for retail guide and discover how Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can transform your retail journey...

Enterprise Resource Planning can transform your retail journey_Columbus UK

If you would like to talk to an expert about anything you've read in this blog or beyond, please get in touch with us here.


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