With Black Friday upon us, it's a valuable time to reflect on how we use technology to enhance the customer experience. As the retail industry continually evolves, it finds itself in a difficult situation. How do we improve efficiency and automate customer processes while still providing the personal touch so many still crave?
While it is almost an impossible task, knowing your customer is key. So, using the data you acquire on a daily basis to perform deep analysis on the demands and needs of your consumer base is becoming increasingly more important. This allows for more informed decision-making, and helps to highlight which areas of your business will suit technology advancement, and what areas may require a more labour-intensive, personalised service.
For instance, it is common knowledge that the UK has an ever-ageing population. A recent study by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) highlighted that: "The population in the UK is getting older, with 18% aged 65 and over, and 2.4% aged 85 and over". So, as we live longer, can we really choose to ignore and alienate such a large customer demographic? Of course, the answer is no. But how do you please everyone? Maybe a better question to ask is - Can we?
The younger generation has grown up with the technology that we are exposed to today. However, our parents and grandparents haven't - and herein lies the challenge.
Let's take a look at AmazonGO.
"Standing in line at the cashiers’ is arguably the most annoying part of your entire shopping experience at any local convenience store. By firing the cashier and eliminating the very need for cash, Amazon Go seeks to create a new form of shopping experience where shopping at the local convenience store is just as awesome an experience as shopping for products online." - Denis Bulaven, CEO of Hamster Marketplace
Whilst the benefits of such an innovation seem obvious, would a fully automated shop work as well in a residential neighbourhood than in say Canary Wharf - where consumers want a quick and frictionless shopping experience? For the older generation, this lack of human interaction and reliance on technology can be lonely, isolating and confusing.
As explored by the BBC, many over-50s want "shops to be more welcoming to older customers, and shopping centres to be less harsh environments for people who might want to stop and chat, particularly those who might not get to talk to many people.
Retailers who do not address these differing consumer needs can miss out on the economic power of the grey pound, which accounts for over £320bn of annual household spending - over 47% of all UK consumer spending - according to research from Saga and the Centre for Economic and Business Research.
In such a challenging sector, it is key to strong partnerships with organisations you can trust to provide the best advice. If something doesn't need to be over-engineered, then let's keep it simple.
If you would like to understand more about some of the challenges retailers are facing and overcoming through technology in areas such as big data and cloud computing in more detail, then keep an eye out for our webinar featuring Oracle at 11am on the 7th December.
Written by Tim Baskett, Retail Account Manager for Xynomix