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In the ever evolving world of retail customer experience there's always emerging industry buzzwords. Here's a look at the top 10.
The retail world is awash in buzzwords, from omnichannel and clienteling to phygital retail and most recently, the metaverse.
Moreover, the retail CX dictionary is continuously expanding as technology advances, adding new terms and phrases as they emerge.
Both retailers and brands need to keep up with the trends and technologies impacting retail today in order to remain relevant. Here is a list of the top 10 buzzwords and technologies driving modern retail technology innovation.
Understanding microservices architecture begins with understanding how traditional monolithic architecture works. Essentially, the latter integrates the functionality of multiple business components into one tightly coupled, self-contained application. At first glance, such an architecture appears to be simple to integrate and run, but it has two major drawbacks. First, it is a highly interconnected structure. This means if one component fails, the entire system fails. Additionally, keeping legacy systems up to date can prove to be extremely time-consuming and costly.
With microservices architecture, you take a modular approach, which separates each component of your business functionality, allowing each to be independently developed, deployed, and managed. When operational, each component is largely autonomous but is also capable of communicating and integrating with the others. An approach such as this allows for the seamless integration and removal of modules, as required, with little to no impact on unrelated modules within the architecture. Although the development process for such a system can be quite complex, the architecture itself is high-performing, scalable, reliable, and more secure.
Under the umbrella of microservices, headless architecture is another term that has been growing in popularity with the rise of e-commerce. The term refers to the decoupling of front-end user experience from back end e-commerce interactions. This gives retailers the freedom to utilize any front-end technology that helps them deliver the content experiences they prefer. They can, however, seamlessly integrate it with an eCommerce solution that manages the commerce function independently.
Endless aisles is an evolving concept in retail. It refers toshowcasing retailers' entire range of products to shoppers using digital devices like touchscreens and mobile devices in physical stores.
By using this method, retailers are no longer obliged to have every item on display or even in stock. Offering shoppers the ability to browse your entire inventory using a single device, they can simply purchase the item in-store and, if it is not available, the item can be shipped to them or the store for future pickup.
Clienteling is a sales technique that relies on data to establish long-term relationships with customers. It works by first gathering data regarding every aspect of a customer's purchasing behavior, including past purchases, preferences, interests, and product knowledge.
Sales associates and other customer-facing staff then use this data to offer customers a truly personalized shopping experience, often using an in-store application specifically designed for the purpose. In doing so, a retailer is able to enhance the customer's overall shopping experience, not only keeping them coming back but also turning them into open advocates of your brand.
True to its name, big data refers to sets of data so massive, that it takes sophisticated programs to actually make sense of it. It is effectively the convergence of massive amounts of data from every possible source within the business and even beyond. While previously confined only to the realm of technology, retailers have grown to realize the power of Big Data and how it can be used to get a better understanding of business operations, store conditions, customer behaviors, and more.
Big data goes far beyond the standard retail statistics such as total sales, inventory, marketing, and pricing. When you look at Big Data, you are looking at real-time information from across the supply chain and product lifecycle. It includes detailed information about in-store engagement, point-of-sale programs, online sales, distribution, inventory management, individual store information from across all regions and more. It is also used in the analysis of customer behavior across all touchpoints, taking into account demographics, social factors and timing, among others.
It takes a lot of time and effort to analyze this data, but if done correctly, it can help retailers connect with consumers in far more meaningful ways. This gives them the insight they need to personalize each customer's experience, optimize pricing, streamline back-office operations, and even predict consumer behavior.
This term is primarily related to those retailers that operate both brick-and-mortar as well as e-commerce websites. It is an omnichannel retailing strategy that seamlessly integrates a retailer's physical stores with online counterparts.
There are several brick and click strategies that can be implemented, each giving customers greater flexibility and freedom with their shopping. Two of the most common are Buy Online, Return In-Store and Buy Online and Pickup In-Store. Just as the name implies, with BORIS, the customer makes their purchase online and has it shipped to them. However, if they wish to return the item, they can do so at a brick-and-mortar store location. Similarly, with BOPIS, customers purchase the products online but pick them up from the store in person.
Buy online, ship-to-store is another popular method. It is a subset of BOPIS, where a customer purchases a product online but instead of having it shipped to their home, they instead choose to have it shipped to the retailer's brick and mortar store. The customer is then notified when the item is ready to be picked up.
Often referred to as 'Tap to Pay,' contactless payments use radio frequency identification and near-field communication technology to make transactions a whole lot quicker, easier and more secure. To initiate a payment, customers need only place their payment device of choice within four inches of the point-of-sale system. The two devices then seamlessly communicate with each other to complete the transaction in mere seconds.
There are three types of contactless payment methods available to the average consumer including NFC-enabled credit and debit cards, mobile wallets used via NFC-enabled smart devices, and wearables such as smartwatches.
In today's interconnected world, keeping consumers engaged across multiple touchpoints and platforms is key. These include everything from brick-and-mortar stores, mobile devices, online, at events, social commerce channels and beyond.
Nonetheless, simply having your products and services available across these channels is not enough. To be considered a true omnichannel retailer, sales platforms should be fully integrated and operate simultaneously to offer customers a fully seamless and personal shopping experience.
Phygital is a retail buzzword that grew in popularity at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It describes the blending of digital experiences with physical ones. Think of it as an extension of omnichannel retailing, but with greater emphasis put on the customer experience.
There is no single technique or method that encompasses phygital retail; rather it is the act of augmenting physical in-store experiences with digital enhancements and vice versa.
Mass customization is the process by which manufacturers, retailers, or brands can offer consumers the option to create their own, personalized products and experiences while maintaining the efficiency of low-cost, high-volume production.
It works by offering flexible modules that can be freely mixed and matched. Depending on the product, these can include different sizes, shapes and colors that come together to create a final product that is unique to each customer. Following this, the order is fed into the mass production pipeline, created, and delivered to the customer. This freedom for customers to freely customize a product to their liking is often all it takes to sway them to choose one brand over another.
There is a good chance that if you ask people what the metaverse is, they would each give you a different answer. That's because the metaverse, even as a concept, is still under development and being flushed out. On the surface, you could describe it as a virtual, immersive world that offers unparalleled interpersonal experiences.
At present, the closest thing we have to a functional metaverse can be found almost exclusively in the world of gaming with VR social experiences such as VR chat.
However, there is little doubt about the potential it holds for retail. Virtual and augmented reality technology is likely to displace existing social media forms as it gets more advanced and becomes more accessible and affordable to the public. By utilizing such technology, brands and retailers can ultimately offer online shoppers an experience that can easily rival brick-and-mortar stores, without ever having to leave the comfort of their homes.
Susan is passionate about creating innovative and scalable products with a focus on UI/UX design. Her strength lies in bridging the gap between business and technology, while creating solutions on how to best leverage them to align expectations and attain business goals.