The Consumer Digital Transformation Retail Wakeup Call

In October I had the opportunity to speak to roughly 150 retail professionals on the “Disruptive Future of Retail” at the LPM annual editorial board meeting. My presentation explained the key trends driving the digital transformation of the global retail industry.

I was very humbled by the positive response to the new edition with the audience stating that it was “inspiring” and “eye-opening.” This article summarizes selected technology trends charts on delivering exceptional differentiated consumer experiences that are the future of retail.

The Digital Wake-Up Call
Contrary to all the retail apocalypse popular media hype, the retail industry is in the middle of a digital renaissance wakeup call. Below data is from one of my favorite annual studies from RIS News / IHL Group on the state of consumer facing technologies.

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Note the 64% of the survey respondents plan on allowing consumers to create their own shopping journey linking loyalty apps to smartphones and QR codes. A great example of the potential of these solutions is from Sam’s Club (Walmart).

Promisingly for exceptional experiences, above industry research also points to multiple other technologies designed to accelerate real-time engagement with consumers inside physical retail stores.

The Category Killing Millennials are Here
In 2019, the millennials surpassed the Baby Boomers to become USA’s leading generation. The millennials are the “smartphone first” generation with 93% owning the devices compared to 68% of the Baby Boomers. Forty-eight percent of millennials make purchases on their smartphones at least once a month with almost a third doing so at least once a week.

A favorite activity of late has been tracking all the category items that millennials are “killing.” A partial list is in the above bubbles. Note as someone in my audience was too shy to ask publicly, “breastaurants” is not a typo. It is a category disliked by millennials.

The Practical Side of Retail Technology
Consumers are very practical in their demands for shopping technology. The top 3 focus on ensuring product fulfillment, more efficient use of time inside the store, and ensuring they are getting the best price.

Money and time are two basic retail model ingredients that technology needs to continuously address.

The Critical Value to Privacy Equation
New generations are much more open to engaging digitally, provided they see value in the technology conversation. Surprisingly a majority of consumer are somewhat likely to very likely willing to allow digital identification while inside the store.

Note the increased focus on product customization, sales notification of favorite items, and special events inside the store. For the audience, I provided multiple retailer examples on why these three items are critical to current and future success.

As digitization increases, retailers need to continuously balance the value to privacy equation to maintain and more importantly increase trust in their brands.

The Shopping Journey Will Continue to Transform
As I stated in a previous article, at the crossroads of new technology platforms and next generations of consumers, continuously expanded shopping opportunities will emerge.

Shoppers and retailers will continue to experiment with new technologies that intensify the digital shopping conversation. Voice, social shopping, and autonomous stores are key solutions to watch.

Above highly graphical charts and the multiple innovation focused videos that I share with my global audiences are a harbinger of a highly intensive visually immersive world of amazing possibilities. It is a digital transformation wakeup call that presages a consumer-driven brighter renaissance for the global retail industry.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: My appreciation to Loss Prevention Magazine for the invitation to speak at your combined annual meetings with RILA and the Loss Prevention Foundation. As explained to the audience, the above disruptive digital transformation trends provide exceptional opportunities to increase and differentiate the value of the retail loss prevention function.

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