What will 2015 bring for retailers? Will it be the continued rise of the ‘connected customer’ or fully realised omni-channel platforms? In order to reach and manage customers in the digital era, many retailers have been analysing their operations that support consumer expectations, particularly around showrooming, promotional activity, purchasing and delivery channels, analytics and overseas expansion.
As we look forward to 2015, here are five touch points that are likely to impact retailers and their retail value chain that supports their customers.
1) The rise of omni-channel courier services: With more than 10 percent of retail sales now being transacted online, the need for more flexible shipping options will become more prevalent in 2015. Progressive retailers have identified that impulse purchases are more effective if they can offer same day delivery, office drop off and after work delivery. Watch out for more focus around logistics specialists and expanded services in 2015 to meet this growing demand.
2) Personalised supply chains: In an ever increasing customer-driven market look for supply chains to be more customer centric. The evolution of personalised offers has been on the incline over the last couple of years, and supporting this are platforms such as customer relationship management (CRM) repositories, powerful promotional engine capabilities and marketing automation toolsets. The challenge moving forward will be to provide personalisation while still remaining profitable. Customer service is expensive but needs to be balanced with infrastructure, process and technology.
3) Customer centric reporting and software: Increased market pressures have heightened the need to be more resourceful and proactive. Enabling real-time decision making through reporting and analytics will be one of the keys to unlocking this. For retailers, this translates into being able to effectively capture data and turn this into actionable insights. For example, retailers might already be reporting on sales, profit and GP%. What about customer sentiment, weather or localised events? Look for more software providers, particularly ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) to integrate real-time analytics throughout their solutions turning transactional data and external inputs into a real-time decision making.
4) Omni-channel requirements hit the mid-market: Mid-market retailers have been watching closely as enterprises battle with how to be effective and efficient online and in-store. In 2015, look for mid-market retailers to increase their online presence, but more importantly lean on suppliers to make available direct-to-customer models. The goal for suppliers will be to work with mid-market retailers closer to drive product through to market, streamline inventory and reduce overheads.
5) It’s a global market: OK, nothing new there, but there’s no escaping that the internet has made retail a global enterprise. This means that regardless of size, progressive retailers have identified the potential to increase market share both locally and abroad. Whether setting up overseas or expanding locally, one of the challenges businesses face is having a flexible platform that provides the operational capabilities to support expansion. Look for supply chain vendors to increase their offering by providing multi-currency, multi-operations trading support.
As market and customer expectations evolve, so must retailers, suppliers and their supply chains to remain competitive. Focused omni-channel initiatives, improved operational insights and expansion flexibility are just some of the touch points that continue to drive interest and innovation in 2015.