Shopping and civilization go together. That’s what some historians say. In the center of ancient Athens, the Agora was a public space where philosophers like the Stoics met to discuss the meaning of life. But, in truth, most of them were there to shop! In Ancient Rome shopping became a pastime for the wealthy elite. Jump forward to Renaissance Florence or Venice and find the same focus on… shopping. People browsing goods, comparing prices, and bartering to get the best deal.
Then, in the 19th century, the department store. Grand palaces of entertainment and consumerism which were, initially, targeted at wealthy women in big cities. But, they soon caught on with the rest of us. Bon Marche in Paris, Harrods in London, KaDeWe in Berlin, Marshall Fields in Chicago, and Macy’s in New York, all became synonymous with ‘window shopping’.
Nothing has changed. Everything has changed. Digital is transforming the way we shop, but not why we shop.
Shopping is about entertainment just as much as it is about consumption. That’s why we mix social media with ‘window shopping’ on the internet. It’s why we like to stroll through stores with a smartphone in our hands checking out reviews about products, or what our friends say on Facebook, or sharing images of a jacket or a dress on Instagram to get instant feedback from our friends.
Retail is becoming hyperconnected on both sides of the equation: behind the scenes across the supply chain through to data analytics; and on the shop floor with technology that connects consumers with each other and with the stores that hope to persuade them to part with their money.
In Fujitsu’s new whitepaper, Retail’s Future in a Hyperconnected World, we look at what retailers must do to stay ahead of consumer behaviors, and make the most of the technology that they carry with them to not only boost sales, but understand why some goods do well and others don’t. Digital tracking solutions are already helping retailers understand how consumers move through their stores, where they dwell, and where they don’t. The same technology helps match staffing levels to busy times of day, or the demand generated by promotions and offers. Ensuring enough till-points are open is also vital; it eases queues and reduces the opportunities for consumers to change their mind about a purchase.
What the whitepaper shows is that hyperconnected business in retail is all about achieving a deeper understanding of the consumer, and enabling them to make frictionless purchases: browsing needs to be fun, and buying should be easy. It’s a relationship that extends across all channels: online to in-store and everything in between. The fact that many pure play retailers are now opening bricks and mortar stores – Amazon’s Go stores will multiply especially after their acquisition of Whole Foods in the USA – emphasizes the point: retail is an ecosystem of demand and supply. It always has been. Digital however makes it more connected, immediate and easier to implement.
The point is to create your own version of that hyperconnected retail concept. The whitepaper provides a good overview of what that can mean for each retail business. It’s always been vital to stay ahead of consumer needs and behaviors, it’s the only way to succeed in a sector that’s inherently competitive. Consumers’ desires haven’t changed – they want great choice, quality and service – but the channels through which they get those things have. Being hyperconnected means you can turn browsing into sales faster and yield rich analytics to keep selling… and selling.