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By: ALEX LINDSTROM

From Frictionless to Seamless: How Retailers are Reimagining the In-Store Experience

Meaningful Customer Experiences

Commerce is being reshaped on all fronts – leaving many retailers struggling with how to create meaningful consumer experiences. During the pandemic, shoppers quickly adapted to the ease of shopping online with curbside pickup and contactless deliveries. As restrictions were lifted, a ‘new’ consumer was born – one that blends their online and offline shopping habits.

In today’s retail environment, customers expect a seamless shopping experience that combines both digital and physical elements. They want the right mix of self-service and employee interaction to enjoy a personalized and engaging shopping experience. 

A recent McKinsey report outlining changes in U.S. consumer shopping trends found that 79% of consumers intend to continue or increase their usage of self-checkout. The key to moving customers back to brick-and-mortar is striking the balance between tech-driven convenience and warm, personalized service. 

Openness is the Future of Retail

As such, the challenge for retailers today is to hybridize their operations, to bring together the digital and physical, to merge the algorithmic personalization of eCommerce with the immediacy and customer service of brick-and-mortar.

Yet, how do retailers do this when surveying their existing architecture? This can be especially mystifying for brick-and-mortar retailers who have a lot of legacy hardware and software, tech they’ve likely heard employees and customers complaining about for years, but which replacing seemed too daunting.

One way to do so is via a strategic posture of ‘openness’ with their tech. An ‘open’ technological approach—a new area in which retailers are innovating—offers flexibility that not only responds more adeptly to changing conditions but offers more opportunities for value generation.

‘Openness’ helps retailers to create a tech environment where new tech can be more readily introduced and integrated into their existing stack, operational and talking to other parts of their business in no time.

It’s a way forward for the retail industry, an industry still amid rapid technological change, an approach that allows for quicker testing and easier integration. Forward-thinking retailers are adopting new collaborative strategies in partnerships with their vendors that adopt that open approach.

Indeed, the ability to openly evaluate new technology systems gives a competitive advantage to retailers who can identify technology partners to work with to bring the consumer the best experience. It also offers a competitive edge, offering cost-savings operationally that result in better streamlined tech roadmaps for retailers.

In other words, openness helps to reduce the ‘wait time’ for retailers looking to continue their digital transformation journey.

“The open software approach, particularly in Grocery, allows retailers to take much more control of their ecosystem,” says Matt Redwood. “Enabling more software development in-house allows retailers to cherry-pick components relevant to them and leave the ones that aren’t.”

The benefits of open architecture in creating the ideal shopping experience include:

  • Competitive advantage
  • In-depth understanding of the consumer buying behavior
  • Accelerated time to market for implementation

Modularity: The Key to Customized Journeys

While openness is a critical component of one’s digital transformation, another is modularity. Businesses can leverage modularity to tailor the functionality of their systems on a case-by-case basis, better providing customers with personalized in-store experiences.

Self-service technologies come in various forms, from basic kiosks and digital displays to advanced systems such as mobile apps and interactive screens. To cater to the unique needs and preferences of each location, retailers must use a modular approach to identify and implement the best self-service solution. This approach provides greater flexibility for retailers in adapting to changing market trends and consumer preferences.

The benefits of modular check-out systems include:

  • Increased efficiency
  • Reduced costs
  • Increased consumer satisfaction
  • Quick reactions to new trends and consumer behavior in checkout

Advisory Services: A Personalized Approach for Every Retailer

The key ingredient that brings all this together is robust advisory services: retailers can look at the demographics, data, and revenue cycles of each store location to determine which products should be in each individual store to enhance the consumer journey. Using analytics, retailers can gain insights into specific consumer behavior and use those insights to make informed decisions on product and placement. 

Case studies of retailers benefiting from advisory services include Sephora, who used consumer data to create a more personalized in-store experience with beauty consultations and recommendations. 

Resilience and creativity are the hallmarks of the retail industry, where businesses must constantly adapt to an ever-changing and challenging world. The ability to reset and pivot the business model is crucial for achieving profitable growth.

This was critical for (e.g.) Home Depot during the pandemic, who’s customers were too often unable to purchase select high-velocity products. By analyzing what their customers needed via available data and pivoting toward a creative strategy that emphasized inventory depth for those high-volume products, they were able to increase customer satisfaction and revenue.

As the industry continues to evolve, traditional retailers must be willing to transform themselves to remain competitive or risk being left behind. The challenge and opportunity for retailers is to strengthen digital capabilities while fully harnessing the physical model they’ve built over decades.

Retailers need to find the right combination of self-service, POS, and employee interaction that meets consumer preferences specific to their store(s). This requires a willingness to innovate and adapt, as well as a commitment to using data and advisory services to better understand and respond to customer preferences.

By doing so, retailers can create loyal customers and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace as they revolutionize the consumer journey and thrive in an ever-changing retail landscape.

Customer Expectations Will Continue to Evolve

Diebold Nixdorf is one such company committed to assisting retailers in the transformational process of achieving greater openness, modularity, and ultimately value in their tech infrastructure.

Offering a holistic approach, DN’s Storevolution experts work closely with each retail client to understand their business goals, then build a strategy based on data. By connecting retailers with connected consumers, Diebold Nixdorf enables businesses to drive growth and operate more efficiently while building in the ability to respond quickly to emergent needs.

As technology and consumer behavior continue to evolve, the retail landscape is expected to undergo further changes in the coming years. To stay ahead of the curve, companies will need to be agile and adaptable, constantly exploring new solutions and strategies to meet the evolving needs of their customers.

Only by embracing innovation and investing in the right technology and expertise, can retailers hope to thrive in an increasingly competitive market.