IoT 3 mins read

Why retail is more uncertain than ever 

Predicting customer behavior has become nearly impossible for retailers – the only certainty is uncertainty.

Andrew Busby Andrew Busby
Image representing IoT in Retail

Just as you thought things were going to get better after the Covid-19 pandemic, it appears that they’re about to get a whole lot worse.  

Inflation, skyrocketing energy prices, the cost-of-living crisis, global supply chain issues, food shortages and the war in Ukraine…. The combination of all these factors will mean that 2022, and most likely beyond, will be the most uncertain time retail has faced in a generation. 

Around the globe, people are already being impacted by rising costs. Even before the war in Ukraine, food insecurity was becoming a major issue. A recent survey by the Food Foundation in the UK found that over a million adults, or someone in their household, have gone without a meal at all for at least a day in the last month.  

Against this backdrop, predicting customer behavior has become nigh on impossible for retailers – the only certainty is uncertainty.  

IoT in retail for effortless experience 

So, what can retailers do to mitigate the issues and still provide excellent support their customers? 

Delivering an effortless experience, one where great customer service is foremost, will be vital. After all, in an inflationary environment, where household budgets can purchase less and less, customers will not simply tolerate bad service. Service will have to be consistently outstanding. 

And to do that, you need three things.  

  1. You must know as much as possible about your customer  
  2. You must be able to deliver an effortless experience
  3. You must understand how your business runs at every stage in the process.  

And for those outcomes to occur, three things need to happen. 

  • You will have to not just capture, but also interpret and then intelligently use, data. Data about everything. Which in turn means that every “thing” or device needs to be connected to everything. To achieve that, you need to IoT-enable your operations. I’m not simply referring to smart fridges; IoT enablement benefits not only the entire supply chain but also helps to meet sustainability targets.
  • You will need hyper-connectivity driven by an integration platform that seamlessly manages applications, APIs and microservices – ensuring an agile and holistic view of not only the customer but inventory, wherever it happens to be in the supply chain.  
  • And you must be able to drive maximum operational efficiency via business process management excellence, to understand every business process in every part of the organization and then to be able to optimize and rationalize where necessary. 

Summary 

Where once delivering a great customer experience was seen as a must for both online and physical retail, will consumers now trade this for lower cost / better value? Or will great customer service and experience be even more critical as consumers feel the ever-tightening grip of inflation? 

Either way, good CX has placed a different emphasis on a retailer’s operation. It means that anything approaching customer loyalty will become a necessity as consumers jump from one to the other retailer seeking out value, service and price.  

Perhaps ’twas ever thus, but one thing is certain; a lot more will be played out before we truly know how the new retail landscape is going to look. 

See how business process management can help you drive maximum operation efficiencies here.  

And see how integration and APIs can ensure a holistic view of customers, inventory and supply chain.

Click below to see how IoT can help with managing the retail customer experience.  

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