A tour around the show floor at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show this week made it clear that the future success of retail lies in the convergence of physical and digital channels enabled by a digital transformation. This transformation will make it possible for companies to provide an integrated, meaningful and personalized experience to customers across all relevant touchpoints at the moments that really matter: the moments of truth, the critical points when shoppers make their choices.
 
The industry still has a ways to go on the road to channel convergence. According to Capgemini’s “Digital Shopper Relevancy” study, more than half of digital shoppers said most retailers currently are not consistent in the way they present themselves across channels.
 
New tools, capabilities and approaches represent the key to creating a future retail business model that reflects channel convergence. A number of recommendations can help retailers begin to build this model.
 
Improve the in-store dialogue.
Physical stores need to offer inspirational experiences consumers can’t have in the digital space by becoming destinations of choice. They need to blur the boundaries between digital and physical by leveraging technologies like surface computing and mobile. We have not yet even scratched the surface of retail mobile devices and applications. Current applications like geo-fencing and mobile payments represent the early waves of what will likely be a flood of mobile solutions in the coming years.
 
Make sure customers can find you … and that you can find them.
Companies need to creatively promote all channels and applications (think about “gamification,” for example) to generate traffic. At the same time, location-based applications can help retailers find customers and target them with personalized promotions and offers.
 
Empower your employees.
Clienteling applications put real-time customer data into the hands of your store associates, which can lead to greater in-store conversion, increased basket size (via cross- and upselling) and improved customer experience and satisfaction in the store.
 
Think real-time insights.
Real-time analytics makes it possible to promote immediate, compelling offers to customers, regardless of channel. Think about vouchers or coupons that count down in real time, enabling a consumer to get a better discount the sooner they make the purchase, whether in digital or physical channels.
 
Invest in the last mile.
The explosion of order and delivery channels has made order management and fulfillment more important – and challenging – than ever. A recent study found that nearly nine out of 10 retailers say they support fulfillment through more than one selling channel. In this environment, flexibility is essential. With leading retailers making headlines for their ship-from-store programs, a new bar is being set for inventory utilization in retail, but many retailers do not yet have the infrastructure in place to meet this challenge.
 
A little bit of digital won’t do.
New channels and technological developments have fundamentally changed the way consumers interact with retailers. The consumer is in the driver’s seat and the bottom line is that a little bit of digital won’t do.
 
Achieving full channel convergence requires businesses to embark on a digital transformation journey. The good news: Digital transformation makes good business sense. A study by the MIT Center for Digital Business and Capgemini Consulting found that most digitally mature companies are 26% more profitable than their industry competitors.
 
Some companies have captured the true business benefits of a digital transformation. Most, however, are only beginning their journey to transform. Our research points to a real “digital advantage” for those that are able to effectively execute against a clearly defined digital transformation roadmap as they build their retail business model for the future.

This contribution is by Kees Jacobs
Digital Proposition Lead
Capgemini Digital Customer Experience