Re-imagining Retail Merchandising by leveraging New Technologies
Long after the fantasy drama series, Game of Thrones has concluded, it will continue to remain a fan favorite through its merchandise. The costumes, props, weapons and the Iron Throne is a revenue-generating machine for both HBO and the retailers not only as a hugely popular international show but also as a business venture. With thousands of products to market, it takes an army of retailers, marketers and digital innovations to just handle the merchandises.
Products like toy collectibles and fashion brand collaborations are the tip of the iceberg where proper merchandise planning can make or break your retail business. Understanding how your merchandising can affect the customer experience and the sales is the pivot on which the entire retail industry revolves.
Disruptive Technologies changing Retail Merchandising
Like any other industry, retail is facing the technology onslaught with its own brand of innovations and business acumen. Brand strategies and business models gathered through years of traditional expertise from various branches of retail are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Now, retail businesses really need to revamp their traditional outlook on merchandising strategies to reflect the changing times using cognitive technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data and Analytics.
So where does that leave both the online and offline retail stores?
Today, technologies like 3D printing, robotics, augmented reality and Virtual reality are complementing merchandising to boost the revenue goals of brands. With AI, Machine learning and analytics making their presence felt in the retail sector, businesses now have the upper hand.
The best way to capture the customer’s attention is meticulous retail brand merchandising that leverages these technologies to meet the customer who is in control now.
Nike is probably the best case study that promotes this merchandising concept. Way back in 1985, Michael Jordan, the greatest sportsman of all times was fined $5000 every time he set foot on the basketball court for an entire season. His fault: wearing colored shoes instead of the customary white sneakers.
Nike was ready to foot the fine happily as it helped created their current brand image of a trendsetter and a deal breaker. What attributed for their continued dominance in the sports arena is the meticulous planning, foresight and analyzing the customer data to meet the market fluctuations with flexibility and agility by leveraging these technologies.
The next-generation merchandising will be driven by organizations that invest in their foundational technologies and enhance them accordingly. This entire process requires merchants to
- Have a flexible and modular system architecture that allows them to operate in a decoupled fashion through various API’s and microservices.
- Enable data-driven management that focuses on quality control and data governance. It must support the big data processing, analytics, and storage of the data.
- Invest in advanced analytics and machine-learning models that provide prescriptive and predictive analysis on market, finance and customer data to help the monitoring, feedback mechanisms. This will enhance the machine learning models capabilities over time.
- Enhance the customer experience with consistent visualization across the merchant interface
Responsive Merchandising is Retail’s Future
Customer experiences are directly influenced by responsive merchandising. Whether physical or digital, responsive merchandising is about enhancing their experience within the limited micro-moments that occur in a great in-store experience.
Being attentive and responding to a potential customer’s needs and wants is what responsive merchandising is about. In order to create a personalized customer experience, merchandisers need to continuously upgrade their marketing tools using AI, automation, machine learning, and other cognitive technologies.
The current customer is forever looking for instant gratification in real time and probably fashion retail is the most visible example where these technologies are widely implemented. Top clothing retailers like Ralph Lauren, Lululemon and many more are looking at ways to interact with the customers in their brick and mortar stores by leveraging smart mirrors, AR/VR technologies into the dressing rooms where they help customers to try on clothes virtually to get the right fit.
Marketing intelligence is the basis for transforming retail businesses. The retailers aggregate and analyze data in real time at the device level for actionable insights and securely send data to the cloud for extensive analytics. Using these data-driven insights, retailers now have a comprehensive view of in-store operations that improve inventory management, increase operational efficiency, and deepen customer engagement.
The retail market future is centered on time and sales that’s becoming increasingly harder to obtain. Only the teams that fully capitalize on their ability to forecast trends will realize the potential of retail merchandising when augmenting AI for more creative ideas.
Retailers providing better customer experiences, who continue to invest in the right customer-focused technologies will survive the competition. Start your modern merchandising journey today paying close attention to how to remain fully invested in the future tech. With deep consumer insight, speed and agility, retail merchandising will transform your customer experience.