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In our previous retail blog posts, we have discussed the need for speed as an accelerator for most businesses. One of the few known facts of today’s business climate is that the ever-steady pace of change keeps increasing.

We are moving closer and closer to real-time business and therefore the need to establish a full digital data supply chain within most companies is vital.

Once here, it will affect the entire value chain all the way back to the production lines and then, everything we know today will be questioned. I recently heard someone say that 25 years from now everything that humans do will then be handled by robots and machines – everything from driverless vehicles to 3D printing seem to ensure that what we know as facts today will be different tomorrow.

One thing is certain – the pace of change makes it an interesting time to be running or trying to run successful businesses, with the need for true business agility as the prerequisite for future success. (If your journey has already begun – component based SW/ERP with the fastest time to market seem to be the road ahead – joins us at IFS World Conference in Boston in May to learn more of the journey ahead.)

The speed of change not only puts a strain on traditional retailers – their constant comparison with best-in-class eTailing has ensured that their traditional business model has gone from multi- to omni-channel – but also that we as consumers finally are in the center of their attention demanding services in accordance with our wishes and demands.

Customer-centric services and the ability to understand your consumers is the essence of being able to provide the retail experience of the future, something that has evolved further with the increased importance of eCommerce. The old truth “one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself” has become what it all along was supposed to be – treat others as they want to be treated!

The question then becomes how will retailers know how consumers actually want to be treated?

The answer to this is in multiple parts:

  1. Ensuring and understanding consumers’ buying patterns and decision-making before it actually occurs,
  2. Which of course is centrally enabled by ensuring trustworthy data, and easily-accessible tools close to the source of data (in many cases ERP centric data flows combined with other types of Big Data),
  3. With the means of taking actions there and then, whether it is a personalized campaign based on ‘tracking’ in the store (read more about the suggested Beacon revolution in Norway this year at Scandinavian Retail), or various intelligent pricing patterns based on your viewing patterns on any of the more intelligent fashion eTailing platforms.

The only ones who do not seem to adhere to this are the retail operations of banks and financial institutions such as insurance companies who seem to believe that they can still get far with just a decent internet banking experience.

Trust me – this is about to change.

The challengers in the industry – such as home insurance from the largest grocery retailers or car insurance from the largest gas station chains – are already here, and they will transform this conservative segment profoundly over the next couple of years.

Another fact of the new today is that the boundaries between the producers, wholesalers and retailers of consumer goods will continue to blur.

In a recent survey presented by Accenture in their Technology Vision 2015 – “81 percent believe that in the future, industry boundaries will dramatically blur as platforms reshape industries into interconnected ecosystems.”

Accenture - The Evolution

As a consequence, I expect we will see more announcements like this:

On January 17 2015, the Husqvarna Group opens its first concept store, located in Barkarby Retail Park, north of Stockholm, Sweden. The store will offer a wide range of Husqvarna and Gardena products and solutions.

That text is the opening statement in a press release from Husqvarna last month in which Kai Wärn, President and CEO of Husqvarna Group, said:

The concept store will give customers a unique brand experience and allows us to collect customer insights, test new shop concepts and train dealers and retailers. The concept store is an opportunity to interact with end-customers directly and pilot new shop concepts, enabling us to become an even better business partner to our dealers.

Whereas the understanding of client behaviors and their influence now seem reachable for traditional retailers with the right tools, the means to an end seem far away; and, honestly, I think that the ‘bricks and mortar’ retail experience for most of us lacks an edge.

The experience is just not there and can be found more often in smaller lifestyle-like shops – far away from the malls, where most of the everyday retail activities in the major cities across the world occur.

It struck me the other day as a refreshingly new fashion concept for men provided by an eTailer that tried their very best to understand my needs as a potential shopper of theirs – more of that in later posts as the result of the experiment is revealed.

In my role as the newly-appointed Global Industry Director for the Retail Industry, I am continuously interested in understanding ‘shopping of the future.’ So if you have something to recommend, please do – leave a comment here, or reach me directly: ulf.tillander@ifsworld.com.

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