There are some big changes predicted for retail in 2017. We’re no longer looking at the shift to digital or omni-channel experiences – this year we’re talking about retailers moulding their businesses around the customer.

It’s not a radical idea – it sounds obvious. It’s just that previously most retailers have never had the resources to be totally customer-centric. But 2017 marks a change – the technology and data is there and appetite for improving customer experience is greater than ever.

So in 2017, retailers will be looking at improving experience. From individual communications and customer service to ultra-convenience. And this means big things for CRM and marketing departments – how they communicate, use information and view the customer.

We take a look at some of the things we can see changing for retailers in 2017 – where smart organisations will invest their time and where marketers will see their results improve.

A clear picture of the customer

In recent years marketers invested heavily in attribution, analytics, CRM and social listening technology. The problem is now they’ve got so many disparate systems their data is disjointed. We need to link-up the systems to get a clearer picture of who the customer is.

By centralising our customer view we’ll spend less time gathering data, number crunching and analysing. Marketers will be able to use single-customer view solutions such as PureIntelligence to see all their data in one place. This will enable them to get insight quickly – spot trends, patterns and opportunities. They’ll be able to roll-out communication strategies that take into account all the customers’ interactions, regardless of where they take place.

In 2017 marketers will benefit from a clearer picture of the customer and develop stronger relationships through using this insight.

More automation less broadcast

As retailers improve their understanding of their customers, marketers will develop more complex customer journeys. There will be more pressure to deliver personalised one-to-one communication. The demands of managing multiple, personalised conversations will mean more automation using systems such as PureTargeting. This means more emails will be deployed automatically as a result of interactions such as web browsing, store visits and previous purchases.

Retailers will look at generating more sales from replenishment emails reminding customers to re-stock their favourite items and some retailers will even promote subscriptions for customers wanting to receive regular shops automatically. The marketer’s time will be spent on promoting ultra-convenience and they’ll attribute more resource to designing automated emails promoting this, than working on broadcast campaigns.

Moving to enriched data

In 2017 we’ll be looking at enriching the data we already have to predict the customer’s next move and prompt future behaviour.

Machine learning, profiling, trends and third-party data will all allow retailers to be one step ahead of the customer. Solutions like PureIntelligence will allow marketers to overlay this picture giving them a more in-depth view of the customer.

Retailers will increasingly be able to suggest future purchases and predict their next move by looking at what similar customers did. Marketers will be able to use tools such as PureTargeting to monitor behaviours and send communications that trigger responses. This all leads to greater convenience for the customer, a more personalised experience and more opportunities for the retailer to turn big data into actionable insight.

More integrated digital experiences on the high-street

High-street shops will continue to be developed into showrooms which invite customers to experience, touch and feel their potential purchases. The purpose of shops will be to inform and engage the customer helping them during the consideration phase of their path-to-purchase.

We will see the integration of more technology into store to aid customer experience. Thanks to the introduction of the long awaited high-street hub in 2017 (The Grocer, 2016), more retailers will be able to get online and integrate their businesses with the digital world. Free WiFi, more near-field payment methods, 4G tablets, Google beacons and delivery options such as click-and-collect will all be more prevalent. Retailers will continue their bid to make stores hubs of customer experience rather than centres for hard-sell.

And these are just a few of the changes we’re predicting. Undoubtedly we’ll also see more investment in mobile, a greater variety in payment options and delivery services, but these are the obvious – they aren’t news.

The big changes of 2017 are far more likely to be internal – changes in insight, attitude towards the customer and experience which will change retailers from the inside out. All things that will help retailers improve experiences and retain custom without the need to continuously discount.

And we’re excited about 2017 and the role our technology has to play in it. If you’d like more information about the developments for retail then speak to our Account Management Team who can help you future-proof your organisation.

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