"To win with shoppers other Retailers are pursuing, we must do things other Retailers are not doing." THE "bottom line" for Retail in 2012. To be a Retailer's most valued business partner, one must live in the Retail world. Must understand Retail challenges. Must understand Retail customers, shoppers, and consumers. Must recognize the value of technology and how shoppers are using it to make buying decisions - and bring products that are differentiated. Must recognize that a product, service, and brand, are only as good "in the media" as its most recent successful offering and that through an ever stronger connected world, shopper sentiment can shift in hours, minutes and seconds vs. days, weeks, months.
Retailer business partners (and suppliers) must enable Retailers to achieve the proverbial "win" with shoppers. This is accomplished by providing the right, innovative, and requested products. This is accomplished through relevant, value-added services. And this is accomplished by leveraging over-the-top marketing and brand activation assets to provide the Retailer with additional tools to use in winning with shoppers.
Here are five Retail trends to consider in 2012.
Extraordinary Experience (Powered By Our People)
Happy Holidays! For most Retailers, both 2011 and 2010 were better holidays than expected. Retailers understand the value of the in-store experience and recognize that while online shopping is growing, the in-store experience is a point of shopper interaction and inspiration - the place where personal connections can be made (or broken). Front line employees will continue to serve as the "face-of-the-Retailer." Simply think about the times you have had poor experiences with a Retailer - typically the root cause was the employee you worked with to resolve the issue. The employee "is" the brand and therefore, the reflection of the brand. Expect additional investments in people and employee recognition / incentive programs. Expect also that Retailers will look to CG Suppliers to provide content and information on new products to Retailers and their employees so they may be product and service experts with the shopper.
Extraordinary Experience (Powered By Technology)
POS: In-store POS systems are changing. No longer must a shopper check-out at the front-of-store register but instead, are able to pay transactionally where it makes sense in-store. With portable payment systems, Retailers like Apple simplify the checkout, return and receipt handling process. Retailers will look to balance convenience with the fact that the front-end is where incremental revenue is found via basket-impulse items.
Social Media: Apps for tablet devices continue to flood the market with a few like SCVNGR, Foursquare, ShopKick, Scanbucks, and Gowalla quickly rising to the top. Retailers will invest further in understanding and leveraging these tools and the possibilities that include traffic-driving, in-store deals and promos, and linkages to loyalty campaigns. Further, expect Retailers to look to CG Suppliers to leverage information from these technologies to innovate products faster, move products more efficiently where demanded by the shopper, and simplify the value chain that links the Retailer and CG Supplier
More than ever, shoppers outside of North America are consumers of products from North American Retailers. Ecommerce has created this wedge. Global marketing and brand building via new and different social and mobile channels has built awareness and connection thus enabling this wedge. And more than ever, Retailers recognize the need to invest capital in growing in new markets despite what might be mediocre growth at home. Investors expect growth and global opportunity brings bottom line growth. Retailers will look to CG Supplier expertise in new markets where the Supplier has operations today and can help the Retailer get off to a fast start. Global Retailers look to Global Suppliers with local knowledge, products and expertise to win in new markets - and most importantly, are looking for a consistent account management structured approach to collaborating globally.
F-Commerce / Social Commerce
Simply defined, F-Commerce is the idea that companies use social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to sell products. While an interesting idea, it is one that has grown faster outside of North America. The concept offers a unique opportunity for Retailers looking to differentiate in the social commerce space while still driving shoppers to brick-and-mortar stores. Imagine marketing products and services to "Follow"ers, "RT"ers and "Like"ers - an inherent treasure trove of what used to be loyalty card data or email opt-in data - now available via social commerce platforms. This space is ripe for joint CG Supplier / Retailer investment to win with shoppers. Of course, while social commerce buzz will grow, it is still the engaged store salesperson that gets the sale - and add-on sale. Social Commerce is a strategy that complements the in-store shopping experience.
Amazon lives and breathes Retail through their customer's eyes. It engineers capability and service around its customer strategy and puts people in place to support it. In some categories and channels, Amazon has already disrupted Retail. And with Amazon's new Price Check app, they will provide a new level of disruption that crosses channels and centers on being a trusted shopping destination with the shopper's best interest in mind. The Amazon Price Check app allows a shopper to check prices across Amazon and its marketplace vendors - all via iPhone or other smartphone devices - and of course, while in store in front of the actual item. In an ideal "Amazon.com" world, one would shop the Retail store, price check and find a better deal on Amazon via smartphone while in store, make the purchase simply via Amazon's secure checkout and speedy / free / efficient delivery process, buy a Coke on the way out of the store and receive their product at home a day or two later having saved money on the item vs. buying in the store. Amazon is a valued business partner to CG Suppliers and at the same time, will continue to innovate and invest in growing their ever-growing online "store." CG Suppliers will increasingly be pressed to balance the dynamic tension growing between Retailers selling the same or similar products - but at different price points.
2012 will be an absolutely exciting year in Retail. The opportunity for Retailers to collaborate with CG Suppliers beyond product and price in areas such as social commerce, global investment and growth, customer experience and innovation will be significant. Game on.