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the most recent trends have retailers rolling out “experience
store” concepts, combining physical and virtual strategies with
localization and individualization to keep customers engaged and
their brand relevant to their physical and digital lives. The outcome
of what began as a very nice “have it your way” offer has ultimately
enabled consumers to flip this personalization promise on retailers to “provide it my way or it’s the highway.” Overlay that with the
exponentially exploding digital community incorporating “e” and
F-commerce, and it becomes clear it is time for retail to once again
evolve into what i see as two primary factions in order to retain an
“allied” status with the zeitgeist consumer army.
the first is what i call “social experience retailing” and, in
essence, i would define seR as the next evolutionary step in the
convergence of experience, high-touch, high-service style retailing with real-time integration of social networking. The second
faction is “convenience transactional retailing” or ctR. This is the
flip side of the seR, providing the continued streamlining of basic
cost sensitive, commodity/neighborhood retailers that are often
based on proximity and/or convenience. in a Darwinistic sense,
every other retailer that falls in between those two extremes and
cannot evolve to be allied with one of those camps will be pushed
to “end of life” by competitors who have managed to adapt to one
faction or the other.
each of these two extremes will need to be built on a foundation
of the four c’s, with retailers serving up varied combinations of
comprehensive strategies, offering each company’s unique recipe
of convergence, convenience, connection, and cost. in this context,
i would explain these as follows:
Convergence: the unification of social networking, commerce,
and technology with the eradication of the digital divide that separates our physical and virtual domains-- augmented reality (aR)
will become a key technology that will help to close the divide.
Retailers will work together in brand sharing partnerships to provide compelling alignments that will attract customers and get
them invited into their lives and communities through the integration of seR and ctR as critical components of an individual’s life.
Convenience: retail products, services, and virtual goods being
provided through multiple physical and virtual channels become
ubiquitous to the end user. localization becomes “
neighborhooding” with virtual, smaller and better trained, localized brick and
mortar facilities supporting a retailer’s embedded customer base
while offering a global reach; a supply chain distribution system
that provides instant gratification by delivering goods and services
immediately from anywhere to anywhere; technology and systems
that empower customers to learn, explore, and make knowledgeable, informed decisions wherever they are, to then make purchases wherever they are.
Connection: successful retail brands must establish deep, personal relationships with an individual on a continuous basis; they
must reflect their value and core beliefs with authenticity since the
brand will be seen as an extension of who “they” are. in a flat world,
people are connected to each other through virtual neighborhoods