Retail has undergone a huge transformation in the past few years. It’s also still under pressure from external forces and changing buyer behaviour. With buyers changing how they shop and why they shop, retailers need to ensure that their brand purpose aligns with their customers and enhances their internal operations. At the recent IDC Retail Summit, IDC analysts and industry leaders got together to discuss how retailers can operate in a purpose-led world.

Watch IDC’s 2022 Retail Summit on demand here.

The Need to Bridge the Gap Between Online and Offline Retail Experience

The pandemic has forced many changes in retail and now, with offline beginning to expand again, retailers need to bridge the gap between expectations created by online experiences.

Customers are used to a certain experience online, and this can cause friction between their online experience and their experience in brick-and-mortar stores. Technology can help bridge this gap, bringing aspects of the online experience such as personalisation, rewards and speed into the offline experience.

A huge part of bridging this gap is identity management. Identity management isn’t just about security. As digital shopping experiences pick up, retailers can gather more and more data on buyer behaviour. Customers and the way they buy are changing quickly. Understanding who your customers are and how they are buying is important to ensure your company can adapt to a changing buyer.

Digital Transformation Needs to be Practical

Digital transformation is a key part of retailers’ development, and is key to bridging the gap between offline and online experiences and communicating and demonstrating brand purpose. But with all change, it must be effective. Technology that is implemented must be useable and easy to adopt, for employees and customers. Incremental changes that bring value without too much disruption are ideal.

Technology can be a bridge between stores, HQ and employees. Implementing technology as part of digital transformation can help break silos in retail organisations and drive innovation and collaboration by streamlining processes. It can empower teams in stores by giving them information and connecting them to the wider team. It can provide HQ with real-time store data and ensure that teams that work in all parts of the retailer work together effectively and efficiently. Collaboration and communication are vital. When introducing new programmes, tech or functionality, being able to communicate why is important across the organisation. Retailers’ key personas and employees need to understand business priorities but also feel that changes are there to help them and build towards achieving their goals and brand purpose.

Brand Purpose Impacts Everything from Buying Decisions to Employee Productivity

Purpose is becoming increasingly important to brands, but especially those in the retail sector. Customers are becoming more conscious of the social, ethical and environmental impact of the products they buy, and purpose is now part of many customers’ buying decisions.

Customers have expectations for a brand or company experience, not just for the retailer itself but for the whole supply chain. While some of those expectations might not be realistic, retailers have to ensure that their brand purpose is as much a part of their messaging as product information.

Brand purpose is also important for employees. A clear brand purpose that aligns with the products sold is effective in both recruitment and in creating a strong company culture. A strong company culture impacts productivity and improves the customer experience. A company purpose that reflects the core values of your staff and products is now crucial.

Purpose connects value for retail optimisation. It defines the what, the why and the how of a retailer’s business, and it is one of the most influential connectors for retail proceedings and a powerful facilitator of operation and process optimisation.

Retailers are operating in a shifting environment. Purpose is key to ensuring they continue to align with their customers. It also promotes internal coordination and the drive towards an aligned and connected organisation that delivers value. It enhances performance and creates value. This is why, of all the topics discussed at IDC’s 2022 Retail Summit, purpose stood out.

For more information, please watch IDC’s 2022 Retail Summit on demand here. For more insights and key takeaways from the summit from IDC Retail Insights analysts, see Retail Operations in a Purpose-Led World: Key Insights from the IDC European Retail Executive Digital Summit 2022.

For more on our coverage of the retail sector, please visit our website.

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