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Retail - Reimagined

From transformed supply chains to secure transactions, the Internet of Things is bringing manufacturers closer to consumers, delivering personal experience, and drawing the retail environment into the home.

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4 min

Retail gets real – in spacetime

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Retail gets real – in spacetime

Between emerging technologies empowering consumers and unprecedented global integration, the retail landscape is about to change forever.

When it comes to retail, Gareth Jude has seen it all. Jude has spent most of his working life in retail: in sales, marketing and general management roles, as a CEO, university lecturer, consultant, author and, for the past six years, a retail industry executive with Telstra.

The impact of digital technology as a disruptor of retailing has been unprecedented, and trends are promising an even bigger shake-up.

While Jude appreciates that successful retailing has traditionally involved a combination of art and science, the focus of 21st century retailing is more on the science – facilitated by technology.

“The fundamentals of retail haven’t changed that much, but what has changed is the advent of the internet and the smartphone – these technologies have changed the game,” Jude says.

“They empower the customer. The balance of power between consumers and retailers has changed. Customers are more knowledgeable about the products they want to buy, they have more choice about where they buy from and they can shop 24/7.”

The flipside is that retailers have the tools to know their customers much better and to personalise their engagement with them.

All in good spacetime

In what is perhaps the ultimate expression of retailing as science, Jude likens marketing in the digital era to Albert Einstein’s first theory of relativity in 1905, when he concluded that space and time are not separate but woven in to one continuum he called “spacetime”.

“Twenty-first century marketers know that there is always an optimal time and place, or spacetime, to deliver a marketing message to a customer,” he says.

While innovations and strategies may vary, what successful 21st century retailers have in common is the embrace of the “technological trinity” – the smartphone, the Internet of Things (IoT) and data analytics. And the high priest who watches over this all-powerful trinity is the “spacetime marketer”.

Spacetime marketers understand their customers and communicate with them when the time is right, Jude explains. Three technologies are key to achieving this:

  • Smartphones are the basic building block of spacetime marketing. They are the channel through which campaigns can be delivered but they can be equally important in collecting data from opted-in customers on their buying behaviour and physical movement.
  • The IoT collects useful data from digital cameras, touch screens, wi-fi networks, utility meters, home thermostats and location-based beacons, for example, and can enhance the data collected from smartphones.
  • Data analytics helps make sense of data collected and assists in developing campaigns to be delivered to smartphones.

“Retail marketers have always struggled to justify mass marketing spend by product or channel,” Jude says.

“Fortunately for the spacetime marketer, this is the most measurable marketing activity imaginable. Everything can be measured and used to justify investment decisions.”

No time like right now

John Batistich, former director of marketing and digital at Scentre Group (Westfield Shopping Centres), has held brand management roles at PepsiCo, Kimberly-Clark and Lion Nathan. In a 25-year career he has never seen such seismic shifts in how consumers engage with brands and retailers.

While he believes Australian banks and telcos are proving innovative and forward-looking in their adoption of digital technologies, Batistich fears that retailers have been slow off the mark. He understands the huge challenge that digital technology and the IoT represent for traditional retailers but warns that change is occurring so quickly that waiting-and-seeing is not an option.

“It’s both the most exciting and the most fearful time in retail history. Retailers need to understand that the power is now with the consumer like never before,” he says.

“The customer is leading the [change to the retail] business model of the future. If retailers don’t respond with the services that customers expect, they are willing to move and there will be a range of retail options available to them.”

Batistich warns that retailers who believe they are impervious to the impact of digital are in for a rude shock. Like it or not they are part of the same ecosystem.

“The online experience is now defining the in-store standard,” he says. “Consumers expect the same level of service and options whether they are shopping online or in-store. The level of service in a store matters even more in the digital world because customers have higher expectations,” he says.

From clicks to bricks

If some “bricks and mortar” retailers have been slow to acknowledge the impact of online retailers, it’s also true that online retailers have had some second thoughts.

Whether it is Amazon’s global marketplace, or home-grown online retailers such as department store Kogan and furniture retailer Milan Direct, the penny has dropped that when consumers say they want choice, they mean it. These avowedly online retailers are proving more open to providing their customers with the option to shop in-store.

Ryan Murtagh, CEO of digital commerce platform Neto agrees that the relationship between bricks and mortar and online businesses is “changing pretty rapidly”.

“Now we see people who started out as pure-play online retailers going offline. We’re going to see those two channels merge into one and this concept of omnichannel will become a household concept. We already know that omnichannel customers are far more sticky than customers that deal with you in one channel.”

Murtagh says about 60 per cent of retailers in Australia don’t have the systems to deliver the omnichannel experience.

“A lot of retailers are still stuck in legacy systems that have no connectivity to the outside world and it’s really going to slow down their growth if they don’t do something about it now,” he warns.

“If you as a retailer can’t deliver your content across channels effectively, it’s only going to damage your brand down the track.”

 

In summary

  • Retailers have no choice but to see technologies like big data, smartphones and the Internet of Things as an opportunity.
  • Consumers are demanding the best elements of online shopping offline, and an ‘in-store experience’ online.
  • Consumers are better informed and wield more power over their own purchasing decisions than ever before.

Keep competitive in a tough climate. Seize opportunities from the challenges of the retail industry and optimize your business. To learn more, download the blueprint.

 

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1 min

When it comes to retail, it’s all personal

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When it comes to retail, it’s all personal

As omnichannel booms, the onus is on retailers to provide customers with the personalised experience and easy access to information, options and service they demand.

For retailers that don’t have the systems in place to deliver the omnichannel experience, waiting and seeing what emerges is not an option, says Ryan Murtagh, CEO of digital commerce platform Neto.

According to Murtagh, the retailers that are succeeding are the ones that recognise the role of technology in providing the personalisation and customer experience consumers expect. And then go beyond those expectations to set ever-higher standards of service.

“Innovative retailers are definitely influencing the way people are interacting with their brands,” Murtagh says.

Savvy online retailers also pay attention to how consumers want to buy, and increasingly they want the choice of channels.

“That’s specifically evidenced in the fact we have this move from clicks to bricks. You know, it always used to be about bricks to clicks,” Murtagh says.

“We see people who started out as pure-play online retailers now going offline.”

The most notable example of this trend is Amazon, the original retail disruptor, Murtagh says.

Murtagh expects omnichannel retailing to become the norm, noting that omnichannel customers are “far more sticky” than single-channel customers.

“[No one] really knows what the future’s going to hold and that’s why it’s important that retailers think about putting technology in place now that’s going to enable them to think faster and move fast.”

 

Retail Innovation through Experience

  • As omnichannel booms, the onus is on retailers to provide customers with the personalised experience and easy access to information, options and service they demand.
  •    
    Retail Innovation through Experience

Technology has changed retail forever. Ask your AE how to get ahead of your competitors by harnessing the power of ICT.

 

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1 min

Integrate to innovate

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Integrate to innovate

The pace of retail change and innovation in Australia is increasingly driven by customer demand, says TAL CIO David Gillespie.

Integration is at the heart of cutting-edge customer experience, says David Gillespie, CIO at leading Australian life insurance specialist, TAL.

With more than a decade’s experience in the financial services sector, first in the UK and now in Australia, Gillsepie says the uptake of new technology Down Under is being increasingly driven by customers’ needs and desires.

“As [customers] adopt new technologies, new mobile capabilities, they expect to have access to everything at any time they want,” Gillespie says. “We’ve got to support that.”

One of the biggest problems Gillespie sees in the industry is what he terms the “set and forget” mentality, where businesses land a customer and then promptly forget about them.

“As a life insurer, it’s important that we have ongoing relationships with all our customers to help them understand and value the protection we provide them, and give them confidence that we will be there for them when they need us the most,” he says

“Whole of business alignment, from the C-suite right down, ensures an integrated approach and that customers aren’t overlooked. From a Technology perspective, we have to be at the table to understand what those challenges are.”

 

Integrate to Innovate

  • The pace of retail change and innovation in Australia is increasingly driven by customer demand, says TAL CIO David Gillespie.
  •    
    Integrate to Innovate

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2 min

Four ways blockchain will change the way you live and work

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Four ways blockchain will change the way you live and work

From smart travel insurance to comprehensive cyber security, blockchain technology is set to revolutionise just about everything we do.

A complex technology anchored in a powerful, simple idea, blockchain is fast gaining traction as the next big innovation in secure connectivity.

Blockchain is a peer-to-peer distributed database, which means that instead of your database existing on a single server system, copies of each new piece of data are sent out to all users involved in the ‘chain’ or network.

To alter any individual entry hackers would need to compromise 51 per cent of that entry’s copies, providing tremendous security. Additionally, each entry carries its entire history of verified modifications around with it, ensuring flexibility and interoperability.

Until now, much of the conversation has centred on the role of blockchain in financial services. However, new research shows the technology’s potential to revolutionise just about every part of your life – from retail to travel, and beyond.

Here are just four ways blockchain has the potential to change the way you live and work:

Insure faster, pay quicker

Blockchain has the potential to make car insurance smarter, says Andrew Hopkins, head of IT strategy, architecture and performance management at QBE. Using the technology will enable access to near-instantaneous insurance for new vehicles, simple updates for existing policies, and on-the-spot claims in the event of an accident.

“If you have a car crash or an accident, you can start taking photos or video and just send it through,” says Hopkins. The combination of blockchain and automation technology will improve claim-time dialogue too, he adds, as systems can interface with a sole trustworthy datapoint which can be added to from accident to payment. This eliminates the potentially insecure and time consuming process of translating data from one form to another.

Make travelling easier

As smart contracts for travel insurance become the norm, so too will automated travel insurance claims, says Hopkins. “Most people don’t know that if you’re delayed on your flight for over three hours, you’re due compensation in your insurance contract,” he says.

Through analysing your timetable, artificial intelligence (AI) can verify that you are indeed owed, and the AI will then instantly make your payment, saving you virtually all the administrative grind. “The opportunity is huge for the industry,” says Hopkins.

Protect your brand

The decentralised nature of blockchain makes it inherently less vulnerable to attack. The technology’s basis in cyptography also gives it a secure foundation and auditing is built into the structure of the system.

These features – the multiple verifications, the lack of a single server to attack – make blockchain ideal for use in cyber security tools, which Katherine Robins, principal security expert at Telstra, likens to a fire drill. If something goes wrong, you have peace-of-mind, you are prepared, Robins says.

Applied across whole of business, a blockchain solution has the power to bolster brand and reputation, enabling an instant, yet thorough response. “It’s not just secure. It’s also running optimally,” Robins says.

Know your people

One more notably futuristic use of blockchain relates to the booming machine learning-based field of behavioural analytics, a discipline that hinges on tracking normal organisational behaviour and flagging anomalies. This use of blockchain will give insight into behaviours which are outside the norm, Robins explains.

“So you’ll know that, say, Katherine’s not using the system she usually uses and she’s way off mark here – let’s go and investigate,” Robins says. She predicts that over the next 18 months this impressively predictive technology will grow more mass-market.

 

In summary

  • Blockchain is streamlined, giving users the potential to make insurance claims that can be assessed instantaneously using AI technology.
  • Blockchain is decentralised, making it inherently less vulnerable to certain attack vectors, ideal for use in cyber security tools.
  • Blockchain is the future, as many predict its use will spread far wider than financial services in the coming year.

Technology has changed retail forever. Ask your AE how you can integrate communications across channels and boost efficiency from your head office to your shop floor.

 

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