Retailers are facing new challenges when it comes to making sure their customers are getting the best treatment possible — or risk losing them to competitors. 

During a recent Adobe panel with senior retail executives, five key challenges for retailers were identified: customer-driven disruption; trust; digital maturity; data alignment; and customer expectations.

In this day, the customer is king. They are more empowered than ever, and retailers need to be able to accommodate disruption driven by customer behaviour.

Brands also need to recognise that they need to meet information needs across all channels.

Retailers need to think more broadly about their relationship with consumers,and to understand exactly the kind of needs the consumer wants fulfilled.

The second challenge — trust — is a critical issue for retailers. They need to understand that when trust is strong, they are able to engage with customers more deeply and in many different ways.

Not all companies are transforming at the same pace or as well as others, giving rise to the third challenge: digital maturity.

The retail sector is massive and complex, with many inter-connected dependencies. A critical factor for successful digitalisation is ensuring that the foundational technology can support all the aspirations of the business.

There is a temptation to chase the latest and fastest-growing trends quickly. However, retailers need to get the basics right first — and that includes a commitment to investing in analytics to ensure effective customer insight. 

The fourth challenge — data alignment — is imperative when customer experience is the key competitive touch point. Brands must have a deep understanding of their customers and consumers, which is not possible without a robust data architecture.

The final challenge is customer expectations — as most retailers know, they are ever-rising. Keeping customers is cheaper than getting new customers, so attending to customer retention is important. 

Understanding these needs and personalising the experience of each customer is essential in the world of modern retailing.

Four approaches toward challenges

According to Murray Howe, head of industry strategy, APAC at Adobe, leading retailers are taking four different approaches to respond to the challenges.

The first is redesigning stores and physical spaces to become — or support — an experiential shopping outcome.

Retailers are experimenting with technology and data to identify opportunities that bridge the physical and digital experience, particularly via mobile, and delight customers throughout the shopping experience

The second approach is optimising the customer experience through digital touch points. Retailers have told Adobe that one of their priorities is making experiences fun and valuable — to put themselves ahead of the competition.

Third, some retailers are scaling personalisation. It’s one thing to build pilot projects that seem to suggest a successful way forward, but it is another thing to roll them out across the enterprise while still capturing all that new value.

The fourth and final approach focuses on the retailers’ ability to take control of their data. Retail marketers recognise that data is the most valuable and important asset they possess.

About this author

Athina Mallis is the editor of the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit of which Adobe is a corporate member. Our members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.

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