Two of the hottest buzzwords in retail for a number of years have been ‘digital transformation’ and ‘omnichannel commerce’. Attending NRF 2020 there was no shortage of kiosks offering various flavors of these concepts via software and hardware solutions as well as services ranging from implementation to process improvements. Below, I have highlighted two examples that appeal to both the abovementioned concepts, one from a client and the other from a vacation I took right after NRF.
What is OmniChannel Commerce?
Omni-channel commerce is the seamless coupling of distinct retail channels into a fabric that enables the business to better understand and service the customer. Digital transformation comes into play in the enablement of omnichannel retail — when we use technology, the internet, Internet of Things(IoT), and other cutting edge tech.
Real-Life Examples of Digital Transformation
Many of us have experienced the concept of selling photos at amusement parks. There is a camera placed strategically to capture you as the rollercoaster takes its most scary plunge, or when water splashes the boat just right. When you disembark the ride and are leaving, you are offered a printed version of the photo capturing you and your family’s expressive faces, for what always seems like a little too much money. Provided you don’t buy-in, the unused photos get thrown out, contributing to environmental pollution and costing the park money.
Visiting a park in the Playa Del Carmen area I was pleasantly surprised by the way the photo experience was implemented. Not only was the system shared across all parks under the same owner, but they also rolled out a fully digital solution that used IoT and digital delivery of the content. Digital cameras used a sensor integrated into the helmets worn by riders and potentially facial recognition technology to bundle all of the photos of you and your group together throughout the day. If you decide to purchase, then your photos would be delivered via a digital download link.
Beyond the environmental and cost savings impact of the digital experience, the digital nature of the photo delivery gave customers a reason to provide the park with their email address and an additional touchpoint with the website. From the customer’s perspective, the price of the photos was lower than with physical delivery and the checkout process was slicker and more seamless. I think it likely that this improves conversion percentages.
When thinking of the implementation of this new technology, I vividly imagine what a difficult conversation selling this new technology may have been. While this system undoubtedly came at a cost, it also likely was the correct move for the park and likely has paid for itself many times over.
The NRF Conference
This year RSM came to an unseasonably warm New York with a built-out retail experience showcase, partnering with Priority Bicycle. The showroom in Tribeca got a technology treatment with integrated customer tracking cameras, CRM, plus other bells and whistles. It wasn’t the most technologically complicated aspect that I loved most — though tracking customer movement throughout the store and having that tied to their CRM profile came in as a close second. What impressed me the most was the ability to translate a product listing page faceted search from the web into the real world.
Each bicycle hanging on the wall got an LED strip above it. While in the store customers could use the app or the website to visually see bikes that match their search criteria, be it a selection of e-Bike models or a specific price or performance range.
Digitizing for the Future
Whether it’s implementing an all-new business model, or going from paper-based to digital, there is a cost associated with making these changes. Successful businesses have a great understanding of their customers and strive to improve and innovate the ways in which they serve them. If this can be done at a lower cost and with better accuracy and efficiency, it is more than likely the project will pay off. With the two examples mentioned above, and many more you can find in the wild, it’s clear that there are likely benefits to taking a critical look at your business and looking for ways to improve your real-life services with digitization.