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Technology Revolutionizing Retail Industry

By Emily Culp, CMO, Keds USA

Emily Culp, CMO, Keds USA

Data Integration for 360-degree View of Consumer

It’s imperative that consumer data and insights are used to inform everything that a brand does to create better consumer experiences. Given the complexity of today’s consumer journey, successful utilization of data comes down to coordinating the different information in a way that’s quickly actionable. This does not always prove to be an easy task given that current technologies can provide you with an overwhelming amount of data. You should also consider that in order to implement a new consumer experience, multiple departments need to be involved. It is critical that brands collect the 360.degree consumer data, distill key insights in a timely manner, optimize quickly, and act on the data.

“At Keds, we place just as much weight on the qualitative reporting as we do on the quantitative”

Considering that many consumers are now aware of the expanse of data that’s being captured, their expectation of brand experiences has elevated. Using consumer data across channels to anticipate consumer needs and provide recommendations has gone from being a unique experience to being the baseline. It’s important for brands to be cognizant that as data capture technologies continue to improve and become even more integrated, both the appetite and expectation for customized retail experiences will increase. Building an entrepreneurial omni-channel team that can not only collect and analyze but also act on customer information is the key to being successful in the data rich environment of retail.

Role of Technology in Revolutionizing Retail Landscape

a) Reporting and Analytics (social, mobile, reporting)

It goes without saying that social media is an integral channel for brands. What many are still learning, however, is that merely participating doesn’t ensure successful programs or interactions. Social reporting and analytics are arguably just as important as the programs themselves. With new algorithms in place on channels like Facebook and Instagram, more weight is now being placed on quality content and ultimately the engagement you are able achieve. The focus is no longer on the amount of eyeballs you can get on your content.

Brands need to align their reporting to these changes in order to accurately measure the effectiveness of their social media efforts and ensure they are connecting with their consumers. At Keds, we place just as much weight on the qualitative reporting as we do on the quantitative. While monitoring and compiling qualitative social media data points is more of an arduous task, the insights prove to be extremely valuable. Creating an environment where this information is valued and then acted upon promotes a consumer centric mindset.

Recent Technology Trends in Retail Industry

1. Wearable Tech – Wearable technology is rapidly evolving to become much more than the smartwatches and fitness trackers that initially come to mind. Advances in areas like high performance textiles, that infuse technology into everyday items like yoga pants, seem to be a trend that is really taking off this year. At Keds, we are tapped into this advancement and are watching it closely thanks to Billie Whitehouse, Co-founder of Wearable Experiments and Keds Collective member.

2. Virtual Reality - As seen at this year’s CES and Big Show, integration of VR into the retail space proves to be a tremendous opportunity to create experiential retail moments for consumers. The technology has the potential to either draw consumers in-store or give them the chance to have a retail experience from their couch, which puts the industry at a very interesting crossroads. The discipline for retailers is making sure technology is used to add value for the consumer and not just for the sake of using “technology.” Technology can do phenomenal things but you need to figure out what is right for your consumers and for your business.

3. Geo Location – It’s projected that there will be more than 6 billion smartphone users within 5 years, providing a significant opportunity for the use of geo location data to impact the retail world. Both advertising efforts and brand experiences can be optimized if consumer location data is used by marketers. Geo location data provides brands with the opportunity to better understand their consumers and their behaviors. It also unlocks the ability to deliver relevant content to consumers based on their location. In a time when consumers’ purchase behaviors are continually becoming more complex, geo location data allows marketers to tap into insights to better understand that process and offer consumers valuable and relevant brand experiences.

4. Strategic Partnerships Matter – When partnerships are executed correctly, they will be mutually beneficial to both the partnering brands and their consumers. Partnerships can combine large and small scale brands, join together brands from differing categories and serve as an opportunity to delight consumers. The key to building partnerships is to establish a lens and vet opportunities against the lens to make sure they are genuinely authentic to your brand. For example, at Keds we have partnered with Refinery29 in order to create a new omni-channel business model. Refinery29 manages our Keds Collective partnerships, creates omni-content with us and distributes it in the digital and social sphere.

Importance of IoT in Retail Sector

With 38.5 Bn connected devices projected by 2020, the importance of the internet of things to the retail sector continues to evolve and grow. Given that consumers are now always connected, it’s possible to hyper target them when they opt into retail technology. Weaving together the internet of things with the retail experience provides a mutually beneficial experience as retailers can gain more data and consumers can receive more customized experiences in a timely manner. Examples of these benefits include personalized promotions, insight-driven merchandise layouts in-store and inventory management to ensure desired products are available. Retail systems can be seamlessly connected with the option to track consumers’ in-store experiences, engage with their devices and “smart” clothing, shoes, etc. and provide a personalized experience they are already used to receiving online. For omni-channel brands, the internet of things has opened the doors for consumer to have a richer experience through both the ecommerce space and in a physical brick and mortar footprint.

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