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Current trends in the retail sector 

Current trends in the retail sector 

January 10, 2018

Generation Z, robo retail & augmented reality, retail recruiting, the challenges of the last mile – the list of current issues in the retail sector is both long and diverse. Here we present a brief overview of the latest trends.

  • Generation Z / Generation Now: This target group encompasses the generation born between the year 2000 (1995 according to some definitions) and 2010, also known as Digital Natives. The target group is defined by using new technologies as a matter of course, for example operating smartphones using voice control. According to evaluations of Google Netherlands, they expect tailored assistance from mobile services in order to identify the best products and services for consumption as quickly as possible. Social networks and recognition through them also play a very important role.
  • Robo retail & augmented reality: The fascination with robots remains high. According to the assessment of the retail report, robots will be used mainly in logistics and warehousing, remaining a rarity at the POS. The company Attraktion from Austria presented a successful use case for robots in the retail sector during the World Retail Forum: a mobile ticket vending machine for an underwater attraction in a shopping center. The playful way of addressing the robot resulted in an increased willingness to buy tickets. 
    A playful approach also plays a major role in augmented reality, providing an inspiring shopping experience. Thanks to the ability to view products in 3D and virtually in their composition, it offers a novel information medium as well. 
  • Retail recruiting: As a counterpoint to the robot clerk, the retail report also points out the continued high relevance of human personnel in the retail sector. The occupational profile of the clerk behind the checkout counter however is a model heading for obsolescence. Retailing needs "digital experts" who are able to easily integrate the new technologies into their work and use them for the benefit of customers. Real time information in the shop is an example, accessible from the cloud using mobile devices, enabling the salesperson to adequately respond to customer requests. For this occupational image, the German retail sector does however have to work on its attractiveness as an employer and on updating outmoded curriculums in education. 
  • The last mile: The retail report uses this catchphrase to point out "the greatest weakness of e-commerce", namely delivery. Major efforts are being made to successfully overcome it. The large logistics service providers DHL and UPS are expanding their infrastructure and services in order to offer even more flexible delivery. Other providers such as DPD are cooperating with local start-ups that have the flexibility to bring shopping anywhere in the city or to also pick it up there. Delivery by small, self-propelled robots is also described under the catchphrase self-driving delivery. Here the focus is not on speed but on transparency and reliability since customer confidence will be the success factor.

Currently all retailers have the same questions, but due to the highly dynamic development of technologies and target groups, they cannot be answered with a single trend that promises a lasting recipe for success.

Therefore, the answer must be to know your target group very well in order to choose those measures from the broad selection of technologies, products, services, and channels that are relevant for that target group and significantly improve their shopping experience.

That is easier said than done. The following approaches may help retailers to master these challenges.

Current trends in the retail sector

Agilität

Agility

Shell UK presented its agile approach for the implementation of fuel payments using an app. First the app with the payment function was created and promoted. Then initial customer feedback was obtained, determining among other things that customers needed human assistance at the gas pump to accept this payment solution. Only then was the payment app linked to the customer loyalty program.

Konsistentes Einkaufserlebnis

Consistent shopping experience:

The availability of products and information has increased tremendously in the course of digitalization, especially due to e-commerce and m-commerce. Simultaneously customers are increasingly using all available channels across a buying process, in some cases even across countries. The customer expects the ability to complete each step in each channel, and to find consistent information everywhere. This is only possible with a modern IT infrastructure where these data can be accessed and supplied by every channel.

Experimentelles Arbeiten

Experimental work

The fashion retailer Banana Republic is testing payment via smartphones instead of checkouts with this method in the USA. Here the smartphones are simply equipped with a cover encompassing a card reader, number pad, and scanner. Wooden bureaus and bags are needed as well, and there you have a test setting with a manageable investment volume per store. Only by trying out various trends are companies able to successfully respond to the specific needs of their market and target group.

Your contact

Frank Wille

Senior Consultant
Microsoft Dynamics 365
+49 551 490 2026

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