2019 Digital transformation trends in Retail

Since the emergence of eCommerce and moreover mCommerce digital transformation of the retail and related fields appears inevitable.

8 min read, Jul 21
digital-transformation-retail

Already 65 percent of customers complete in-store product evaluation only after looking up detailed info on a smartphone, therefore, it’s definitely time for store owners to go digital. While online purchasing only is still a possible future, technology entrance in all aspects of a store or even a brand business operations is the only way to stay in the game on such a competitive market.

The reason is that customers affect the market conditions more than its every particular representative including conglomerates like Amazon. Big players rather stand out as proclaimers and trend establishers. They have the resources and instruments not just accurately define the needs of potential buyers but actually fulfill all demand aspects.

All four steps of a customer path the one should go through to acquire a product have a defined direction for growth.. Research should be simple and comprehensive, comparison - convenient and informative, ordering - transparent and suitable and delivery - timely and secure.

Each stage completes the customer experience that is the essence of the domain. The technical progress in particular in scopes of AI and AR/VR gave the ability to extend its borders and satisfy significantly raised buyer expectations.

Retail digital transformation trends 2019

The main direction of going digital retail 2019 is the increase in investments from the field players and making an advancement into the existing trends by using IT innovations. The majority of the strategies will be focused on:

Balancing up real and digital experience

Since the connection between online and in-store exploration becomes stronger the update requires both of them. It concerns presentation, accuracy, relevance, and synchronization of product and brand information that provided personally or with content.

No less important are other goals of advertising and digital marketing campaigns: brand awareness and discoverability. Since the significant part of everyday customer attentions are on gadgets they are the most efficient instrument is the marketer’s toolkit.

That’s why whether queries initially brand-oriented or not the path to searched content should be short, clear, universal and ubiquitous. Until the level of customer experience is insufficient, relying on buyer patience won’t bring fruits: they rather turn to another company nearby.

Speeding up shipping and delivery

Being the ending link of the supply chain digital transformation retail trends influence its other segments since they affect the kind and quality of a product and its path to an end-user. Especially, it concerns Last-Mile delivery since its service level completes the brand image even if it's provided by a separately.

The way to efficiency is being already established by the ongoing logistics business process automation. It’s the integration of digital management systems in warehousing and inventory, transportation and logistics, security and resource planning including workforce.

Additionally, such software solutions allow setting up the already demanded state of visibility that gives customers the possibility to monitor and if needed affect all stages of the product acquiring from a store and ergo establish the desired level of trust between deal parties.

Personalizing within the omnichannel strategy

Keeping the sufficient level of focus on each direction of advertising and marketing defines the trended model of this business scope operation. The biggest challenge is to show a custom approach within every channel considering the diversity of society segments in views, habits, and preferences that can’t be entirely narrowed with the product specifics.

Despite concerns of personal data privacy customers expect a high level of understanding of their current and future needs. That can’t be established without developed data analysis and forecasting one of the results of which are predictive recommendations for all-time personalized product suggestions.

Another challenge of experience personalization is its “loudness”. Too eager attempts to connect, suggest or even casually inform about something may result in a much higher level of rejection that implies an initial precaution and canät be outweighed by average customer engagement. AI approaches allow tuning the campaigns optimally without constant comprehensive researches and surveys.

Simplifying and securing payment processing

One of the main customer safety concerns is providing personal data during purchasing. Especially, it concerns info required for payment operations such as credit card information. It outlines two tasks for store owners: setting the required level of data encryption as well as establishing partnerships with reliable transaction operators.

Trends for cashless checkout now more than simply swiping a credit or debit card near a cashier. Besides self-service registers more and more mobile devices are included in the process. Moving payments online makes them more straightforward and traceable for smartphone owners.

Such approaches to business running turn stores more in showrooms and purchase handing-out centers. The rising rental rates and ubiquity and trust to eCommerce and delivery services modern store experience can become obsolete. It’s already losing in human touch not just in handling operations but also consulting services leaving them out to technology.

Technologies empowering digital transformation trends in retail

AI and data science

Artificial intelligence algorithms and data-driven approaches are bricks and mortar of the supply chain digital transformation and retail in particular. Optimization of workflow, decision-making, collaboration and personalization of advertising and customer experience can’t be implemented without them on the appropriate level.

Data science for retail stores can become a powerful instrument for strategic planning concerning demand, pricing, marketing, etc. Machine learning models are able to perform complicated calculations to define required metric readings as well as following actions concerning operation adjustments in logistics, eCommerce, etc.

Big players like Amazon, Walmart, etc. already improving customer experience by employing retail data science applications to maintain support interactions with chatbots, increase future revenue with personal recommendations and simplify checkout eliminating physical cards and checks from the process.

Offline access

Since the most significant impact on customer engagement has digital marketing approaches the metric is strongly dependent on the network availability and connection quality. Considering that store owners can’t maintain constantly and fully maintain the factor they should provide an offline way to a brand.

Whether shopping experience web or in-store initially it should be seamless and smooth. Smart beacons allow starting more close interaction with visitors by sending out branded content using Bluetooth of their devices. With features like geo-fencing and data-science for retail land-based stores, it’s an additional marketing tool for raising the walk-in frequency.

Online marketplaces are also forced to enter mCommerce that adds to the list of challenges concerning mobile optimization and network access and stability. Transformation defined by this trend can be quite pricey especially for the SME sector considering that leastways two platforms should be covered: Android and iOS.

Progressive web apps became a solution that solved both problems. PWA is a multi-platform technology transforming a responsive website into a native-like mobile app. It can be installed directly from it on a Home Screen and allows accessing all content even offline. It also improves overall website performance contributing to its SEO rankings.

Cloud computing

Not every company can afford own infrastructure for data storage. Cloud-based services can fill that gap by giving access to online storage for storing significant amounts of collected information for retail business data science needs concerning marketing and overall strategy definition.

Amazon provides such solutions for retailers with its on-demand platform AWS implemented at server farms worldwide. Cloud is also becoming a core of various eCommerce solutions including storefronts that allow a simple transformation of an online store into PWA.

AR and VR

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality can make digital experience actually immersive and integrate it into stores through various devices. They allow upgrading visualization by bringing a fusion of imagination and visual content from minds to screens.

Making the try-on process virtual allows cutting expenses on testers or in-store goods damaging. AR technology allows creating simulations for warehousing management needs concerning inspections and product maintenance.

Robotics

Retail as the entire supply chain is one of the fields where a robot workforce will likely replace human on low executive positions. Warehouse workers, store assistants, couriers, customer support team members and even teamsters can lose jobs since their employment is a much less cost-efficient strategy.

AI and data science used in retail contribute to this direction as well by powering electronic executives with intellect and constantly updating experience allowing making their performance more custom and proficient. Nevertheless, neither customers nor companies are ready to remove human touch from interaction-related business areas.

More simple solutions like drones and pick-up towers are already changing the goods delivery pointwise. Supported by conglomerates like DHL and Alibaba it will find the wider distribution in the nearest time since it meets the destination where the fields aim: to transparency and acceleration.

2019 might bring new additions to the list of digital transformation trends in retail however their definitions have been stable for a couple of years. The informational technology domain empowers the process of solving existing challenges and widening possibilities.

It also contributes to its progress by apprising the retail pros and startups in the application specifics and necessity of digital solutions. Although unlike logistics this field is much more dynamic and flexible thanks to its digitization, in particular, its representatives prefer to invest in efficiency proven solutions. Considering the current state of the digital transformation its outcomes still require time to achieve that status.

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