The Future of Retail: Insights from Retailers

17/06/2021 | by Proximity

The Future of Retail: Insights from Retailers

Last month, we held several virtual events with our retail network. During these sessions we took the opportunity to discuss the retail landscape with like minded retailers.

We asked attendees to participate in a short questionnaire about customer experiences, digital roadmaps, traditional POS, customer data, social commerce and of course customer expectations. We are sharing the answers to provide insights into the direction in which the respondents feel retail is heading and how this will impact the future of retail.

‘Do you think in-store customer experiences are likely to become more important’

This first question resulted in a unanimous answer – 100% of respondents stated that yes, they believe customer experiences are likely to become more important now that retail has re-opened its doors. As consumers have been conditioned to the convenience of digital shopping, retailers need to create more immersive customer experiences to draw shoppers back to brick-and-mortar stores.

How much has your brand’s digital roadmap accelerated in response to the pandemic?

  • Not at all – 12.5%
  • 0-6 months – 6.3%
  • 6-12 months – 37.5%
  • 12-24 months – 25%
  • 2-5 years – 6.3%
  • Not accelerated, just more broadly accepted – 6.3%
  • Budget has restricted the speed of acceleration – 6.3%

The results suggest that the majority of our respondents’ brands have sped up their digital roadmap by around a year. The pandemic has forced retailers into embracing ecommerce much quicker than they otherwise would have done, which is likely to be a long-lasting impact of the pandemic.

How far do you feel your brand is utilising its customer data to the fullest on a scale of 1-10?

  • 1 – 0%
  • 2 – 11.8%
  • 3 – 23.5%
  • 4 – 11.8%
  • 5 – 23.5%
  • 6 – 5.9%
  • 7 – 17.6%
  • 8 – 0%
  • 9 – 0%
  • 10 – 5.9%

The majority of respondents stated that they felt their brand wasn’t utilising its customer data to its fullest potential. This suggests that there is a common feeling among retailers that there is an opportunity to further advantage of the customer data they already have. When data is done well the results can be staggering – nurturing relationships based on insights has proven to increase sales and customer loyalty time and time again.

When do you think traditional Point of Sale will become obsolete?

  • Never – 35.3%
  • This year – 5.9%
  • 1-2 years – 11.8%
  • 2-5 years – 23.5%
  • 5-10 years – 11.8%
  • Other – 11.8%

While our audience don’t feel that traditional point of sale is going anywhere tomorrow, and a large portion feel that POS will always exist. It’s clear that there is a common feeling amongst half of the respondents that traditional POS will become outdated . This is a substantial figure, and goes to show that innovations in the way brands transact lie ahead.

Do you think Appointment Booking will continue to be popular after ‘normal life’ resumes?

  • Yes – 94.1%
  • No – 0%
  • We didn’t see a large uplift in appointments to begin with – 5.9%

Appointment Booking is a feature which has been picked up by many brands over the last year and a half. But, will they still use it after retail is as busy as before the pandemic? The vast majority of our respondents believe so, and we agree. Regardless of whether or not consumers are shopping physically or digitally, no matter where they are, they can continue to shop by appointment with their favourite brands and communicate with the sales associates whom they have forged relationships with. The power of personal has an everlasting effect on shoppers and the fact that retailers can now have that same connection with their customers is something that will not be forgotten now that retail has reopened.

What do you think customers now expect from stores?

  • “An experience and no shopping friction.”
  • “Exclusivity that is part of the purchase story. They don’t just want the product quickly, they want the journey of getting the product to be as special as the product itself.”
  • “Fantastic service, experiences and a place where they can form relationships.”
  • “A brand experience.”
  • “To know them and be there when needed, but not when they’re unnecessary.”
  • “Experiences and personalised services.”
  • “To touch and feel product, and to have great experiences.”
  • “Great customer service.”
  • “An experience which adds value to anything they receive online – inspiration, personalised service, to touch the product, to interact with experts etc.”
  • “A safe and inviting environment with a retail space designed to represent your brand, and great customer service.”
  • “Consistent and seamless experience from web to store with the same availability and convenience to order what they want.”

Nearly all of the responses highlighted consumer experience as being a high expectation from retailers. As touched upon above, we know how important it is to give customers an exciting experience to encourage them to return to bricks and mortar stores. To learn more about the impacts that our clienteling tool can have on your brand, reach out to and follow us on LinkedIn.

Written by Proximity

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