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The extent to which the introduction of new technologies may affect the customer and the business success of a company, was recently expressed in a press release of the US retailer, Macy’s and it reads: The RFID (Radio-frequency identification) -based stock control yielded the Group not only satisfied customers, but also a cost saving of €1billion!
Omni: consequences and trends
The driving force behind Macy’s move to technology-based supply chain management , was their focus on creating an omni-channel experience. In order to create consistency in experience across all channels required substantial efficiencies to be made in their logistics; products must be available on all channels at any time and at short notice. It is clear that the solution cannot be enormous stocks as this only raises massive costs. In contrast, the RFID technology provides a high degree of accuracy and predictability – which enabled Macy’s to make a substantial reduction in its stored stock.
The omni-channel principle is forcing companies not only to greater efficiency of their supply chain management, but also to new marketing and sales concepts. The experts of Econsultancy identified three trends in this area:
1. Move beyond your comfort zone: Extend your existing sales channels, for example if you are exclusively online so far, pop-up stores may offer a good way to approach new customers.
2. Adopt new technologies: mobile commerce has now long been established and social commerce is gaining in importance. 2016 might be the year we can use virtual reality to place ourselves in a store, and get a better view of products.
3. Personalisation: Treat customers as individuals and not as a faceless number. Follow Amazon’s lead with “personal” recommendations – Take cues from what’s in their shopping cart and use it to gain an understanding of their sense of style.
In general, I agree completely with the above recommendations. I am also of the opinion that new technologies are changing the sales approach in every possible way- but I do not share all of the opinions within the “Econsultancy” editorial: new technologies can only change the customer experience when customers are really ready for it.
Virtual Reality holds a lot of potential to increase the customer experience – so could car dealers take potential buyers on a virtual journey in their ideal car, fashion brands offer it to its customers to see the how their new outfit would look in a trendy club.
In short, there are many ideas and opportunities for the use of new tools. But so far the enthusiasm for new technology was always first demanded by the customer, only then can trading react. Multichannel and later omni-channel concepts were realised because customers demanded it. Regarding Virtual Reality and other innovative technologies, the situation is different: Only a few households in the coming years will have access to new technologies such as virtual reality. In this case, it is therefore not at all clear which will prevail thereof and which won’t.
Companies should therefore look very closely at how they can integrate what trends in their marketing and distribution infrastructure, so that they offer true added value for their customers.
Author: Thomas Berlemann; CEO DACH Webhelp