Going Digital First: A Look Inside The Digital Future of Retail

“The Future of Retail is the fifth edition of Going Digital First. You might also enjoy:

The retail industry has endured relentless disruption that’s only accelerating. Likewise, the transformation has happened across industries and commerce isn’t an exception. Before any of us knew words like ‘pandemic proof’ and ‘Covid’, retail was at the front of the pack in the race to digital-first business. Tied inextricably to the payments space, the future of retail is moving swiftly in new directions.

Digital is the new black

The prominence of digital changed retail and the implications of the coronavirus changed the direction of industries across the board. Companies realized the importance of resilience and transformation drives were quickly sprung into action alongside digital diversification strategies. One of the most affected areas regarding both of these is the way people shop. Due to the digital revolution, people expect to be able to jump from smartphone to store, and phone call to tablet, enjoying a seamless brand experience. It’s not so much a desire but an expectation of the digital-first consumer.

But what is ‘digital first’? That’s a good question. It means approaching any new opportunity or strategy with the assumption that the solution should be as digital as possible. In essence, this is very simple: imagine as much of the service you’re creating as possible being used by customers in digital form.

Changing fashions

Digitalization long ago disrupted the sector, with online-only players like Amazon effectively upending traditional retail models and a multitude of high-street stores. With 61% of consumers concerned about catching an illness from brick-and-mortar retail according to research from IPSOS, the effects of the pandemic stretch further than short-term lockdowns affecting consumer choices. Contactless shopping is clearly an area that will see further focus going forward, for example.

Though it’s been talked about for years, to be digital-first is also to be ‘omnichannel’ — with every touchpoint leading to a purchase avenue. And, the blurring of lines between digital and physical experiences. Today, customers want to have digital experiences in-store too, made possible by burgeoning augmented and virtual reality solutions and the gradual move to the physical store as an ‘experience center’ as opposed to the primary stock space.

A digital native walks into a store…

Customers now view a retail website as the company’s ‘brand portal’, one with multiple entry points. They expect a convenient, pleasurable experience regardless of the channel they use for shopping. Customers now demand fulfillment options that fit around their busy lifestyles, whether it’s shopping online and picking up products in a shop near to their home, or opting for super-convenient, same-day delivery. This is particularly true among digitally native millennials and their younger Gen-Z counterparts.

That these options exist is fantastic for the consumer, but costly for the retailer. Higher in-store margins are diluted by online orders fulfilled via warehouses — as retailers are forced to price match across all channels.

Read the full article at: https://thescalers.com/going-digital-first-the-future-of-retail/

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