Shoptalk Europe: Thoughts on Customer-Centricity

Shoptalk Europe 2017 took place in Copenhagen on the 9–11th October and was a great reminder for retailers that there’s nothing more important than customer-centricity.

During the three-day event, Shoptalk Europe managed to cover topics around everything from disruptive technologies and digitalization to logistics and marketing technologies, and much more. The same message could be seen in all of the topics: focusing on customer experience has never been as important as today. Obviously it has been on top of retailers’ minds for a long time already and the idea isn’t anything really revolutionary, yet it seems many are still lagging behind when it comes to realizing this and adopting new technologies for actually making it a reality for consumers - both online and in traditional brick and mortar stores.

The message given at Shoptalk Europe was powerful. Perhaps the most dangerous situation for retailers today is not being adaptable or changeable. We’re reading about VR, AR, voice ordering and many different kinds of new emerging technologies that might disrupt the market. It’s however important to know that these new technologies alone are not solutions for taking your company to the next level - you need to have your basics setup correctly, because we all know that any system is only as good as the data you put into it.

We all know that any system is only as good as the data you put into it.

Some retailers have been really successful in personalizing the shopping experience for consumers and have been able to utilize in-house knowledge to create good processes for themselves. However, most retailers also turn to best of breed solution providers to reap the benefits of their specific expertise areas. There is a jungle of solutions that have proved themselves leaders or experts in targeted areas but ultimately have the same goal of taking customer experience to the next level and helping retailers to keep up with market changes. While the front-end experience (in-store and online) proves well worthwhile by bringing in technologies to customize the customer journey on websites or making sure promotions stick out in the brick and mortar stores, it’s easy not to put as much focus on back-end processes, such as optimized inventory management and precise demand forecasting.

While many might argue that supply chain solutions have been around for a long time, it’s still today considered to be new technology. Much of this is of course due to analytical reasons. It enables retailers to look back at historical patterns, replace educated guesses with decisions based on smart data analysis to forecast future demand, create meaningful reports and in the end, plan better, sell more and waste less.

Making solutions speak with each other is key - now more than ever.

The challenge will ultimately lay in unifying the front-end and back-end processes, making a seamless experience for the customer. From the moment of stepping in to a store or entering a website, to getting the product home-delivered or picking it up. This applies for all channels: online and/or brick stores. Making solutions speak with each other is key - now more than ever. And with all the kinds of new technologies being available for retailers, the question that should be asked is what retailers themselves are bringing to the table? That will be their real USP.

If you want to know more about what RELEX Solutions does to unify retail planning - read our blog Unified Retail Planning - Breaking Out of Retail’s Functional Silos

Author: Niclas Lindfors, Marketing and Communications Specialist at RELEX Solutions