Few months ago, in the old world, before the pandemic hits, the retail industry experts were looking for ways to replace the overused expressions “digital transformation”, “digital advantage” and “customer experience” with other creative words. Why? Simply, because it sounded old, just a useless hype and many started to consider this as a merely crying wolf.
Then, fastforward, the wolf attacked the town, and the pandemic hit. Those who already developed a digital advantage and created a distinguished customer experience strategy in place are poised to survive, others are suffering and scrambling to put a last minute fix.
We compiled a few observations and predictions on how the new norm in the retail and other industries would look like.
Digital Transformation is Back
Lately, DT is reduced to ecommerce, virtual catalogue, shopping cart ad a customer traction app, ignoring the overall strategy to create a unique customer experience and a digital advantage. This is not digital transformation, if you want to see a real DT, look at what Starbucks is doing.
Look how Starbucks moved from a coffee company to a unique customer experience company using technology. In the new world, a unique customer experience will become an essential part of the business plan, as important as branding and differentiators.
Physical Retail will become a mix of Physical and Virtual
Retail can’t depend on the physical visit anymore. You will start seeing augmented fitting apps where the customers can try different combinations in front of digital mirrors. Digital apps will use personalization and near real-time personalization to become the customer loyalty and traction foundation.
Logistics, Scheduling, Delivery and Pickup
Consumers got used to efficient delivery where the product and the service will come to their door instead of the regular store visits. Expect pickup and return scheduling, and delivery to become the norm.
Some companies will look for creative ways to reduce the delivery cost, including creating their own gig-economy communities instead of depending on delivery outsourcing.
Payments and new Retail Business Models will be Established
This is not just contactless. Many will look for creative approaches to force a subscription model instead of one time sale, even retail will look for approaches to accomplish the same.
Small/Medium Business and the Digital Advantage
Can the SMB match the big players digital advantage? The Cloud and the other low code facilities, freelancers and the gig economy will focus more on the SMB versus the fortune-1000. SMB will be careful on what to spend but still they need to survive.
New Business Alliances will Form
New business alliances will be formed to be able to survive in this environment. Imagine retail consultants forming alliance with a digital transformation boutique and a capital funding company specialized in providing growth capital. The traditionally separate entities can consolidate and share the lead generation cost by selling a unified package that include retail consulting, technology and financing.
Vendor Relationship Management Will Change
The traditional 6 months vendor onboarding will go away. Nobody can afford spending that much time on potential opportunities anymore. Also, faster time to market and quality management will force the big players to adapt and ask the legacy procurement to be more agile, speed up the vendor onboarding process and eliminate the cost of the middle man.
Offshore Outsourcing will become a Taboo
The pandemic uncovered many of the offshore outsourcing gaps, including communication breakdown, process inefficiencies, the true cost including a lot of IP and capital waste that was simply covered before.
Adding to that; the recession will bring down the local cost and force a lot of people to come close to the offshore pricing.
Software Development will Change
Faster time to market, infrastructure cost reduction, supporting high requests and transactions volume, and the need to build stateful and responsive solutions will force many companies to adapt modern application architecture approaches such as Reactive Architecture.
Logic Keepers is a proponent of modern application architecture and building innovative digital advantage solutions using Reactive Architecture and programming.