What are retailers missing out on now that will impact the industry's future?

Care to share?

Better check your blind spots when planning your strategy for the future. New technologies, trends, and strategies may emerge every now and then in areas you wouldn’t expect them to. They can be an excellent opportunity to improve your business and stay ahead of the pack. At the same time, missing out on them will make it difficult to catch up later.

In this series of posts, we asked five experts from commercetools, Pimcore, Akeneo, Findologic, and Voucherify to share their visions of the future. If you want to learn more about their stories and what they expect retail to look like in the next 10 years, check out our previous articles:

Let’s see what you and your business need to be aware of.

“Businesses need to develop the ability to deliver a true channel-less experience, or as Carrie Tharp, Vice President, Retail & Consumer for Google Cloud called it, ‘commerce without boundaries.’ From inventory, sales, and promotions to loyalty and payments, the disconnect between the in-store and digital experience that most retailers deliver is painfully apparent to customers. If the industry as a whole doesn’t advocate for consistency across channels and retailers don’t address it within their own businesses, consumers will weed out the subpar experiences from the exceptional experiences and the retail landscape will shrink. “

Anthony Meir, Global Go-to-Market Strategist at commercetools

“During the pandemic, numerous countries suffered an economic backlash due to lockdowns and restrictions on public life. The beginning of this period showed companies with the capability of immediately adapting to changes in their environment gained the lead. That leading edge in the retail sector was taken by the world’s largest eCommerce platforms driven by the newly received data on customer preferences and habits. However, many retailers are still missing the dynamics to adjust their alignment to uncertainty. So, naturally, the cause of this inability is the absence of digital technology.”

Dietmar Rietsch, CEO at Pimcore

“By analyzing how our customers build promotions and loyalty programs, I see a lot of space for understanding and leveraging customer data to build unique commerce experiences on top of them. In other words, retailers are missing the ability to work with customer data to create personalized marketing campaigns. Another roadblock that I can identify is an overreliance on legacy technology which makes it difficult, if not impossible, to pivot quickly and adapt to new customer trends, channels, and solutions.“

Tomasz Pindel, Co-founder, CEO at Voucherify

“It’s difficult to say what retailers are missing now that will have an impact moving forward as there are so many different starting positions and elements that are being done incredibly well by some retailers while others have work to do. What I will say is I tend to see a lot of focus on customer acquisition cost and perhaps not enough on customer lifetime value. My view is that those who aren’t placing the customer and their preferences at the center of their decisions, thinking, and approach will get left behind. A lot of consumers want an Amazon-like experience, so I can see the pattern we’ve been seeing of losing some well-known retailers continuing for those that don’t seize the opportunity they have now to adapt.”

Brian Graydon, Partner & Alliances Director at Findologic

“I believe that companies that want to stand out from the competition need an omnichannel commerce solution that converts visitors into buyers. It's not just about buying a product online or offline, but consumers are starting to base their buying decisions on the extent to which their personal values align with the brand's values. Companies need to care about their own brand values and incorporate them into their corporate messaging. Furthermore, the importance of social commerce in retail will play an even more important role in the future. According to Forbes, 43% of all retailers that also sell on social media generate at least half of their profit through social media. Based on these figures, we can assume that more and more retailers will also activate their products on social media but also use social media to build relationships with their customers.“

Stephan Bütterhoff, Channel Director in Central & Eastern Europe at Akeneo

Hidden innovations in retail and commerce technology

We have five experts and five slightly different visions, yet there’s a common thread in their predictions. It’s the focus on the customer. To stay in the game, eCommerce professionals should place the customer and their preferences at the center of their decisions, develop the ability to work with customer data, and build solid customer experiences. They should think about customer lifetime value instead of short-scale gains. 

Some retail and eCommerce trends might seem rock solid. For example, we don’t expect the market to lose interest in adopting omnichannel anytime soon. But major shifts in tech often come unexpectedly. In eCommerce, some trends might be a lightning-quick opportunity to gain the lead. In this environment, you must stay agile and immediately adapt to changes. 

At the same time, many managers are missing out on some of the common trends. The most important pointed out by the experts are building commerce without boundaries and leveraging social commerce.

In the next article, we’ll keep the momentum going by discussing what retail companies should invest in to stay ahead of the curve. If you want to stay in touch and discover more, sign up for our newsletter.

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Published February 3, 2023