How to create a smarter retail experience in 2022

pencil By Vijay Krishnanji
calendar 23 March 2022

The global retail industry is undergoing a massive transformation driven by changing consumer preferences, new operating models and layouts, omnichannel-enabled shopping behaviors, and pandemic-related factors, like necessity to ensure product availability and heightened changing consumer preference for touchless commerce.

Changing patterns of retail continue to emerge

Convenience is becoming more about the ability to balance speed with safety, product availability with frictionless experience from discovery to post-sales support. Shoppers want to minimize browsing time, avoid going to multiple stores and expect product availability. These new retail trends mean the combination of physical/digital (phygital) experiences, as well as fast delivery are increasingly top of mind for modern retailers.

Greater trust and transparency are also exceedingly important. Consumers want to engage with organizations that foster positive change and the greater good across products/services, processes and how they treat people. On top of this, it has become imperative for retailers to understand customers deeply to proactively reduce attrition, for example through more sophisticated loyalty and custom-tailored offers.

As a result, while the industry evolves to become more technology and data-driven, the customer experience must transform accordingly. Retailers who want to retain and attract must invest in customer-facing technology and back-end systems to ensure every interaction is easy, safe and fast.

Designing a purpose-built, data driven CX strategy and experience starts with empathy

Retailers need to understand what’s not working well and pinpoint areas of friction. Data is the foundation of improving the retail experience, but you can only do this once you understand the human elements behind the data. Retailers who reinvent themselves are more likely to stay ahead of the pack. Leaders in the industry stay focused on the customer, embrace analytics, artificial intelligence and automation while using real-time and accurate data as the bedrock for real-time experiences that are personalized, flexible and business value-focused.

Intelligent automation powered by Internet of Things devices, prescriptive analytics and in-store video cameras is just scratching the surface of helping retailers move from reactive to proactive decision-making, delivering real-time experiences and making it safe for customers and employees during and post-pandemic.

As the demand for real-time experiences increases, so do the threats to privacy and security. Finding the right balance between protecting consumer privacy and data while providing the experiences they want will be invaluable to building trust.

The retail experience of the future includes:

  • Analytics. Recommendation engines that analyze customer data and generate accurate, individualized customer profiles help frontline workers tailor the experience.
  • Smart scheduling and task management systems. Smart scheduling systems that harness artificial intelligence and prescriptive analytics to mine workforce-related and store traffic trends safeguard employees by ensuring that stores are sufficiently staffed to accommodate fluctuating traffic patterns but not so overrun with employees that social distancing is difficult.
  • Health and safety-oriented initiatives. Systems protecting frontline employees demonstrate concern for their wellbeing and for customers too.

Adopting an agile mindset and methodology is key in the current environment. This also entails having a flexible API-based framework on the backend to enable an omnichannel, data-driven and frictionless strategy.

It’s also important to invest early in preparing for the influx of modern, data-intensive customer and employee apps by modernizing the underlying infrastructure applications and having a robust data governance framework in place.

Discover how NTT can guide you all along this journey to become a store of the future. Learn More


Vijay Krishnanji

Director Digital & CX Innovation, NTT DATA Services