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Retail Tech – the tip of the iceberg

We can’t go a day without seeing another retailer profiled in the media for store closings. In fact, retail store closures have jumped 286% this year and Credit Suisse estimates more than 8,640 stores will close in 2017. Sure, this jump in store closures makes it seem as though sales are way, way down and members of the retail industry are locking doors, shuttering windows and calling it quits. But is that it? Or can there be an argument made in conjunction – are store closures also the result of retailers making more efficient, technology-based business decisions?
 
In an interview with Forbes, Thomas Walle talks about how tech is enabling retailers to be more efficient in their decision making and selling strategies. On the rise of brick and mortar store closures, he states “[Retailers] should see this as an opportunity to evolve” and offers “using customer data [retailers have] gathered over the years to come up with successful strategies that bridge offline and online channels” as a solution. With the rise of digital, or online and mobile shopping, and the consumer demand for omnichannel experiences, many opportunities do arise for retailers with tech as a driving factor.

The Role of Tech in Retail 

According to Anjee Solanki, national director of retail services for Colliers International, “Retailers are getting more sophisticated, They have more tech tools at their disposal. They have learned the lessons on how to be more efficient.” Efficiency can come in many forms, but is ultimately the result of analysis.
 
Let’s look at personalization, an “efficiency” strategy that can be defined as creating individual customer experiences by way of past purchase analysis, customer behavior, market trends, etc. A study from Boston Retail Partners reported that 40% of retailers said technology around personalization is a top digital priority. Why? The goal of such priorities is clear: to grow customer loyalty, increase consumer spending, and lower return rates.
 
Incorporating personalization technologies, be it via beacons, machine learning, AI, etc. helps retailers gain major insights into the customer on a 1-1 level, thus enabling retailers to cater both digital and brick and mortar retail experiences to the customer. And consumers are all about the personalized experience right now – some 81% are likely to make a repeat purchase from a retailer who has successfully delivered a personalized experience.

Not All Loss

So while stores close their physical doors at a rapid rate, it’s not fair to consider everything a loss. It’s clear, technology is enabling the retail industry to evolve into a more consumer focused, data driven experience. Beacons, machine learning and AI as personalization strategies are only the tip of the retail tech iceberg. To learn more about a retail tech strategy around personalization, read here.