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Editor’s Choice: Retailers Must Shift to Seamless Digital Experiences

Note: Today’s post is part of our “Editor’s Choice” series where we highlight recent posts published by our sponsors that provide supply chain insights and advice. This article is from James Canham-Ash at Manhattan Associates and looks at the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

The latest research from Manhattan shows that 89% of consumers have altered their spending habits in response to cost-of-living challenges.

In an era where tolerance for mediocre shopping experiences is unsurprisingly low, there will always be winners and losers. It’s no longer enough to just serve the customer, today’s retailers must roll out the red carpet too—especially at a time when customers are becoming more discerning about how and where they spend their hard-earned cash.

As retailers battle to keep up with shifting consumer behavior, digitalization is one area that shows no sign of contracting, with many retailers choosing to double down on transformation projects and continuing to push forward with store digitization and omnichannel initiatives across both front and back-end processes. In fact, 26% of retailers surveyed told us that upgrading to a modern point of sale (POS) that can manage omnichannel scenarios is one of their top three business priorities for the next 12 months.

With added pressures on shopper wallets due to cost-of-living challenges, when consumers do decide to shop with a particular brand, they want easy and frictionless service with all retail touchpoints connected and increasingly personalized. This is particularly true in non-food retail where staff must continue to surprise and delight the customer, delivering an experience that shoppers cannot get from simply a screen. Not surprisingly, this puts the role of the in-store associate directly in the spotlight.

To manage this added weight, store associates must be armed with the right digital skills and tools needed to ‘go beyond’ the traditional role of customer service, democratizing concierge-level attentiveness and redefining customer relationships. Tech-enabled human touch will be a differentiating factor that separates the retail winners from the losers.

The skills required of staff in a grocery setting, meanwhile, will also evolve as artificial intelligence (AI) automates more tasks in the future. This will add urgency for grocery retailers to rethink and revaluate the role of their most valuable asset: their frontline staff.

As automation becomes more prevalent, retail staff will be able to focus on more valuable, customer-facing tasks and transition to genuine brand ambassadors. But how should they be rewarded? What skills will they require? And how much autonomy should they have? These are all questions that retailers need to start thinking about today if they’re not to lose their brightest and most talented staff.

It’s certainly true that the most successful retailers are those that are guided by the customer, but what does today’s customer value most from their store associate?

According to the respondents, it’s possessing knowledge of the product they are thinking of buying (49%), followed by having the ability to demonstrate a product and physically show it to them (24%).

Click HERE to read the full article.

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