Keeping Up with Tech-Savvy Consumers

Abhi Beniwal, SVP of IT, Interactions
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Abhi Beniwal, SVP of IT, Interactions

Retailers and CPGs have to be committed to implementing advanced technologies to keep up with ever-changing consumer demands. Technology is reshaping the way shoppers expect to be engaged, and as a result it is altering the path to purchase. Here are just a few of the trends businesses can leverage in order to remain competitive.

“One approach to ensure product success is using predictive analytics”

Blurring the Lines Between Virtual and Reality

In the next year, we’re going to see the lines between online mobile and the real world begin to blur. There are new technologies coming out that will change the experience of online and how you look at, touch and feel a product. The reason people go into the store today is to touch, feel and see. That line of differentiation will start to get blurry. These technologies aren’t just with augmented reality. They’re more than that. For example, Google recently invested in Magic Leap, a technology that’s not augmented reality or virtual reality but something that’s actually making it hard to see where the physical world ends and the online world begins. Magic Leap is a mobile wearable computing system that works with the human visual perception system to create realistic 3D images that will revolutionize the way people communicate, purchase products, learn, play and share.

Technologies like this are not only going to be online, but also in-stores. “It will be interesting to see which retailers will make the first breakthroughs with this technology because there are a few in the forefront. The rest will be watching and following.

Reinventing the Supply Chain

As stores continue to update their layout and operations, retailers and CPGs will be faced with the challenge of reinventing the supply chain with digital channels. With shrinking store footprints, the supply chain must adapt to this new environment. According to a recent survey from Accenture, even with digital technologies helping retailers and manufacturers increase consumer loyalty and lifetime value of their products, 70 percent of CPG heads of sales believe this potential may not be realized because there is a lack of consistent, shared consumer data to improve decision making. Six in ten, or 60 percent, of these same respondents find it too difficult to deliver relevant and personalized content to engage consumers effectively through digital channels. With the dynamics of the market the last couple of years, we see more CPGs overhauling their entire systems to optimize the supply chain, as well as store operations and logistics.

Expediting Research & Development

Retailers and manufacturers realize the need to evolve to newer technology strategies within research and development at a much faster pace in order to remain competitive. As CPGs continue to create innovative products with commercial appeal, they also need to speed up their research in order to keep up with changes in the tech-savvy consumer. The retail landscape has become more complex over the years to cater to changing consumer behaviors and demands. It’s up to CPGs to deliver those products on time before consumers are onto the next thing. One approach to ensure product success is using predictive analytics. The power to see into the future and know with almost complete certainty exactly what products consumers will purchase, where they will make those purchases and how their preferences will change in the short and long term. While many IT leaders know this approach well, in the case of CPGs, the right data can be the single largest contributor to get products out on time.

Embracing Startup Technologies

Within the last few years, numerous retailers and brands have introduced mobile apps to use in-store to enhance shoppers’ experiences in the retail environment-from providing in-store navigation to mobile coupons to instant access to customer reviews anytime, anywhere. But by and large, these technologies haven’t been coming from the retailers themselves. Instead, small startup companies have been the driving force behind many of the innovations that are helping to reinvent the retail experience.

CPGs are partnering with more of these startups that have speed and ability to focus on a single issue at a time and their ability to have such an impact on a well-established environment. Larger companies have a lot of resources, but they are structured to work on a large scale. Startups can have that singular focus and dedication to create a technology that helps solve one problem, even if it’s something small. Larger brands will continue to utilize startups and hire new talent as an efficient way to get these new technologies out into the mainstream. The bottom line is that retailers and manufacturers need to adapt to understand what their shoppers would want in the future, and align their technology and consumer experience with changing consumer behavior. Future sales depend on how fast new technology strategies can be executed.

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