In my most recent blog post I started off by noting how last year, Internet mogul Marc Andreessen proclaimed that the retail store is dead. I will return to him again, and touch upon another point he made: that “software eats retail.”
It was a provocative and witty statement, but I feel ultimately software will not eat retail but “fuel” retail. For one, as retail futurist Doug Stephens pointed out during our recent webinar on The Future of the Retail Store, physical retail stores will survive for the simple reason that people don’t shop purely for consumption and acquisition of items. Shopping is a cultural and social experience. How else can you explain celebrities going to stores when they clearly don’t need to? Or the lines that form outside retail outlets when hot new products are released? Shopping isn’t a burden – it’s a remedy to cabin fever, or a temporary escape from parenting, and ultimately a way to interact with the world.
But the larger point I’d like to make is that the leading retailers out there will save the store through smart use of technology, and by using data as a fuel source that creates customer loyalty and drives future growth. In other words, software won’t eat retail; software will instead feed retail by allowing retailers to connect with their customers on a more personal level, and by making the store of the future a smart, connected place.
Software Feeds Retail
At Mindtree, we’ve found that while some organizations have invested in digital solutions for analyzing data, typically they create too many independent tools and the work happens in silos or within single departments, leading to multiple, confusing insights across teams. When these retailers work with us to build the framework to unify all of these tools and their legacy data systems, the results are more powerful than they had imagined.
Our Integrated Customer Insights framework creates a truly integrated data store, and runs the data through a proprietary schematic mapping process that allows your team to apply clustering, segmentation, predictive modeling, and various analytical algorithms tailored to your business goals. This will give you a true 360-degree view of your customers, allow you to derive “consumer personas” that you want to target, and set up what we call “the next best action” for each of these personas. With the trigger alerts functionality, you can finally give your customers a personalized, unified experience across every channel.
These experiences will be memorable: having a promotional offer, for something on your shopping list, get sent to your phone the minute you walk into a store; getting a text message from a customer service expert offering to come help you with questions or concerns while you shop; seeing the price of an item you want go down on a digital readout after you scan it with your phone.
Smart data won’t just help you with customers. It can also help you with assortment planning – getting your inventory right the first time, help you restock at just the right moment, or help you scale up certain items based on data about the weather, big local events, and more. Data can also help take the friction out of retail – technology throughout the store can sense things like crowded departments and long lines at the register, and trigger alerts to send employees to those areas and get customers processed faster.
If the thought of letting software feed your retail growth intrigues you, I would urge you to watch a recording of the full webinar – to get a complete picture of the wide range of possibilities.