Why SMEs are Changing the Digital World in Retail
The Retail sector, in many ways, has gone through challenges to reinvent itself in a digital world. The good news is, traditional retail outlets that will not adapt to new digital trends may go into decline, however retailing, on the whole, is not and is here to stay. According to “Why The Retail Industry Needs to Reinvent Itself In a Digital World” from Forbes.com “Indeed, for the first time in years, retailers plan to open more stores than they close.”
While the pandemic has put the brakes on many business activities, digital transformation in the retail sector is more critical now than it’s ever been. Digital technologies have already transformed the traditional retail business environment. Retailers who’ve put off digital transformation and kept the focus on point-of-sale strategies are finding they now need to play catch-up.
They need to rethink current business strategies to remain relevant, and here are the top retail digital trends:
- There’s No “Going Back To Normal”:
Post-pandemic life is different. From food to furniture and personal services, consumer demands and habits have changed, as have their spending styles and purchasing channels. With no clear end to the health crisis in sight, retailers are preparing for an even greater surge in digital buying. Immediate benefits to digitisation include an improved online presence and using data to enhance the customer experience.
- Increased Profits:
Digital channels help retailers operate as close to normal as much as they can.
Digitally advanced brands have already begun to capture a greater market share
by using the pandemic to innovate and attract new customers. Plus, retailers who nvest in a more robust digital presence will thrive and remain ahead of their competition.
Each of these methods supports a brand’s digital transformation. Together, they can create lasting change, helping retailers create a digital-focused mindset that helps them win new and retain existing customers under any conditions in the coming years.
Transitioning From In-Store-Only To A Hybrid Retail Experience
The potent combination of lockdowns and modified consumer behaviors has given the term “customer convenience” a whole new meaning. Pre-pandemic times, most sales transactions were done face-to-face. Many retailers didn’t have proper self-service offerings in place to meet their customers’ desire to buy online or purchase goods online that were delivered or picked up curbside.
Larger brands, many of which already have some form of digital transformation in place, managed to ride out consumer shopping transitions by upping their online shopping options, increasing self-service offerings and moving to omnichannel customer communications. This brings us to our next section embracing hybrid retail and virtual experience.
The Growing Role of AI and Virtual Experience in Retail
To meet current consumer trends and demands, retailers are investing in AI-driven, self-service solutions like knowledge management for smoother transactions and online services. Also, to enhance the consumer experience many SMEs are shifting to virtual.
Looking at an Irish example such as Brown Thomas they have adapted the hybrid working model and moved somewhat virtual. Their model “Personal Shopping with Brown Thomas”. This can be a fabulous for busy people on the go. The customer can have a video consultation with a shop assistant or wardrobe assistant, showing off clothes and outfits to the customer. The customer then pays online, and the outfit is shipped out to the customer in one-two days. All at the convenience from the person’s home.
In the end nothing replaces face to face communications and a personal experience however since the pandemic, it has taught us to embrace hybrid working and showed how convenient by offering the online experience can be. Perhaps other retailers could adapt?
As we have gone though the top trends SMEs in retail need to adopt having efficient business broadband is key! To check out options for business broadband for sme retail with Virgin Media see our internet and data services for retail and see what best suits your needs.
To adopt to the hybrid model for sme retail similar to Brown Thomas Virtual Assistant you will need superfast broadband with Virgin’s Cloud managed WiFi system. Adding extra points this will unleash your sme retail business potential, whether you need to provide internet connection for your customers’ needs running the shop. Combined with speed and reliability, Virgin Media Business uses a secure cloud-based Controller to enhance the WiFi coverage in your premises to manage customers and to keep up with the sme retail trends and stay ahead of the game!
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