Retailers Need to Relinquish Control to Keep Consumers Happy & Spending

As I shared earlier this month in my post, “My Top 4 Takeaways From the 2015 NACD Global Board Leaders’ Summit,” I will be exploring the top four themes repeatedly discussed during my conversations with retail industry leaders at the event more closely as part of a special NACD blog post series. The first being “Platform Proliferation” as it relates to omnichannel.  

Today, consumers are increasingly demanding more control from retailers – from being able to customize goods, to how they are purchased, to when they are delivered. This has become expected from Millennials and Centennials, who have come of age in an era where they have the ability to customize products to meet their specifications and connect with retailers through multiple channels, online and off. However, Baby Boomers, interestingly enough, are making these demands this as well. Despite the fact that the majority of Baby Boomers’ retail interactions have been transactionary and limited to brick-and-mortar stores, this demographic is discovering it needs the convenience omnichannel affords, especially as it ages.

This overwhelming need for more control by consumers is driving retailers to invest in new omnichannel strategies now and in the future.  For example, while retailers continue to drive sales through their brick-and-mortar locations and websites, many are choosing to also add direct-to-shopper options through their own online sales channels. This is not incredibly surprising since our 2014 Retail Compass Survey of CFOs, a survey of 100 chief financial officers at leading U.S. retailers, revealed that omnichannel was positioned as a top growth strategy for retailers.

And as retailers continue to experiment with new approaches as part of their omnichannel strategies, they will continue to rely on “big data,” using it to identify consumers’ buying habits, brand preferences and desired delivery options in order to refine their omnichannel strategies. This is because the more in sync retailers can become with each and every one of their customer’s needs, the better it is for their bottom lines. Google reports that “shoppers who buy from a business both in-store and online have a 30 percent higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.”

Ultimately, retailers who are able to most effectively interpret the mass amounts of consumer data and develop integrated purchasing and delivery strategies will be best positioned to connect with U.S. shoppers and their evolving shopping preferences today and tomorrow.

Stay tuned to the blog in the upcoming weeks for part two of the NACD blog post series.