Retail Trends,

Three top takeaways from the 2021 Retail Breakfast Club Stockholm

Our world-famous Retail Breakfast Club came back with a bang after a year in hiatus due to the events of 2020.

We were delighted to welcome leading figures from across the retail landscape to the 2021 Stockholm edition of the Retail Breakfast Club on November 12th.

The crowd were treated to insights into the latest trends shaping the retail industry from a distinguished line-up of speakers. Viveka Söderbäck, Klarna’s expert on consumer behaviour, and Mark Thomson, Director of Retail Solutions EMEA at Zebra Technologies, joined our CEO and co-founder Jens Levin.

These three speakers took a dive into how the pandemic has changed the industry, where tech is taking the stores of the future, and why the most successful retailers are those doubling-down on giving customers what they want, when they want it.

Here’s our top takeaways from the 2021 Retail Breakfast Club Stockholm:

1. Consumers want retail without limits

It’s really simple; your customers should always get what they want. 

In their eyes, there’s no difference between digital channels, marketplaces and physical stores. Furthermore, consumers will choose the channel according to their needs and their journeys are no longer linear. 

Looking at the data there are differences amongst consumer groups, specifically dependent on market and age. According to Klarna, millennials are more online than boomers, but both groups move more continuously between the different channels to a greater extent than before. The lines between ‘online’ and ‘physical’ shopping are becoming increasingly blurred. In reality, all shopping is cross-channel.

“This is why we see pure Ecom players opening up physical stores. They want to reap the benefits of having a physical location and the interaction with customers. This tells the traditional retailers that they are doing the right thing, they are in the right place.” says Mark Thomson, Director of Retail Solutions EMEA, Zebra Technologies.

It doesn’t matter where their journey begins or the first touchpoint they encounter your brand. All that matters is giving them the experience they want, when they want it and wherever they want it. They expect a consistent experience across all touchpoints and it’s your job to give it to them.

Generally speaking, customers want to feel they’re important and valued, they want convenience and ease, a great product, rich experiences and they want every interaction they have with your brand to feel worthwhile.

Your customers don’t care how your backend systems work, they’re not interested in all your different processes – all they want to do is shop on their terms. They want simple, fast and effective fulfillment, they want your store associates to be knowledgeable, they want to return goods they bought online in-store and they want everything to be seamless.

The key to delivering this is real-time data across all sales channels. This gives you a 360° view of the customer experience.

In short, your customers want an experience that has no limits and this is why the world’s leading retail brands have significantly accelerated their IT spend to focus on the consumer and are using game-changing technology to bring next generation stores to life while delivering limitless retail.

2. You must change your mindset to retail software and IT architecture

The retail software you choose – whether it’s a CRM, order management system, footfall counter or a unified commerce platform anchored by point of sale (POS) – and your IT architecture, play essential roles in helping you deliver the kind of experiences your customers desire.

What these experiences look like will differ, not just from brand to brand but from customer to customer. That’s why you need a flexible, best-of-breed way of thinking to create systems and processes that work for you and deliver on your customer promise.

To be able to drive value were it matters most, the Zebra Technology Annual Shopper Study concluded three things:

  1. Elevate customer experience; Safeguard the employees and customers, focus on customers and higher-value work and improve the shopper journey. 
  2. Smart operations; Improve productivity, connect workflows and reveal timely insights.  
  3. Optimize inventory; Improve inventory accuracy, reduce out of stocks, costs and loss, and speed up order fulfillment.

“Inventory is key. It’s the largest asset a retailer generally has. You have to make that work for you.” says Mark Thomson, Director of Retail Solutions EMEA, Zebra Technologies.

It’s crucial you build a retail ecosystem that’s as agile as possible and sets the right foundations in the organization to be able to meet new and emerging ways of shopping.

Software solutions are your building blocks. Your mindset must be to use these building blocks to enable a set of capabilities that form the experiences buyers want. 

Your IT department has to control your building blocks and create your own retail ecosystem. This means that you must find best-of-breed solutions you can use to create the best setup for your business; POS, ERP, Ecom, PIM, Payments and so on. All of these blocks are built with modern, cloud-native technology, are API first and easy to integrate to fit with the others. 

The right blocks should not only be easy to integrate and implement – they should also be easy to replace.

Rethinking your approach to software and changing your mindset brings with it a host of benefits for your business, your store associates and your customers.

3. Empower your associates to always say ‘Yes’

Empower your associates with the right tools so they can serve your customers, give them what they want when they want, and always feel like they can say ‘Yes’ to any question your customers have.

For example, if a customer wants to purchase an item but their size isn’t in stock, instead of turning the customer away, it should be a simple and straightforward job for your store associate to order the correct size and have it delivered to the customers home (or address of their choosing).

The role of the associate is changing and, increasingly, they are the foundation on which amazing CX is built. They are your brand champions and the success of your stores heavily rely on how engaged and empowered your associates are.

After all, a positive employee experience creates a better customer experience with increased sales, more repeat visits, more loyalty, and bigger basket sizes.

To summarize, by embracing game-changing technology you can have laser-sharp focus on meeting new and emerging customer expectations. If you can give your customers what they want – every single time – you’ll put yourself in the best position to be successful both now and long into the future.

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