Why the retail trade must reposition itself
The challenges have been known for years. Changing consumer behaviour, new sources of information and inspiration and, of course, online trading are massively increasing the pressure for innovation in the Swiss retail sector.
But this is having a hard time with the changes. Is it due to the speed with which the industry reacts to current trends? Or in the complexity of providing customers with an appropriate brand experience through the various channels? Or do the previous business models simply no longer work?
Insight in brief
- How does the retail sector can react to changing consumer behaviour and increasing online trading?
- Does the previous business models simply no longer work?
At the Midday Talk on 22 January, movers and shakers from the industry came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities of digitization and to share their own experiences in innovation projects.
The futurist and CEO of the Futures Agency, Gerd Leonhard, predicts that the next 20 years will see more changes in our lives than we have experienced in the last 300 years due to technological game changers such as Big Data, Cloud, Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Quantum Computing, Blockchain, 3D Printing, and Mixed Reality.
The technological revolution is in full swing. Science fiction-like future scenarios become reality. In order to survive in the digital age, new technologies are becoming a prerequisite for companies, but they are not the only success factor. Especially for retail companies, which are heavily dependent on the consumer behaviour of their customers, it is becoming increasingly important to offer their customers an experience in addition to products and services. Experiences that have an emotional value for consumers and thus differentiate a company in the market.
Milan Prenosil, owner of Confiserie Sprüngli, and Marcel Schaniel, Chief Digital Officer at Möbel Pfister, also agree: the customer must be at the centre of all strategic and operational considerations when it comes to implementing innovation and digitisation projects. Starting from the question of what moves consumers, what their needs are and how their experience can be improved and emotionally enriched, new solutions and offers can be developed that generate added value for both sides.
New technologies can help, but never be the only solution to better understand and respond to customer needs. Whether hybrid sales formats, digital advertising or mobile commerce: the first step is to find out which changes and technological solutions - based on the changing requirements of consumers - make sense for your own company and are possible in terms of organization and resources. Because innovation always means organisational change. Innovation requires fresh know-how, investment, the willingness to take risks, the willingness to rethink and, last but not least, the ability to take one's own workforce on this journey.
One thing is certain: Sooner or later, the retail industry and especially companies in the retail sector will have to deal with the issues of innovation and digitisation, step by step, if they want to meet the needs of their consumers and remain competitive in the digital age.