Delivery is a promising frontier for retail, but without a satisfying customer experience — or a deeper connection with the customer — each parcel dropped on a doorstep can be a dead end. Going forward, every sale will be a promise, and each delivery will be an opportunity to build trust.
“There will be vibrant delivery services… you can see a full delivery system where online and data is the most important part of it — what you want to buy and how you buy it,” Recode Co-Founder and Editor-at-Large Kara Swisher said onstage at NRF 2019. “And I think if you don’t have that relationship, that data relationship, with your consumer, you’re going to have a much more difficult time competing.”
Every interaction with the customer — across all touch points — is an opportunity to establish and nurture that relationship. So forward-thinking organizations are exploring in the best ways to connect with customers and build trust.
Connecting With Customers on Their Terms
“Retail will always be here… [but] it’s going to be about the experience,” Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said during an NRF keynote. “We’re investing in the future, we’re really connecting with the customer… and we’re doing it on their terms.”
Connecting with customers on their terms can require a savvy combination of machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and other technologies, which help create new business models and improve the customer experience (CX). For instance, farms and retailers can deliver groceries to a backwoods cabin with no address, thanks to a mobile device with location services enabled, as SAP demonstrated on the NRF showfloor — and the customer can count on delivery within an hour.
“That’s the trust that we’re going back to,” Simon Harmgardt from SAP Canada said on the NRF showfloor. “Now [the customer] can trust that he can make that meal for his girlfriend for their anniversary.”
Focusing on the Right Technologies
“I get pitched all the time with dozens of new technologies, and it’s really about making sure we’re focused on what we’re trying to bring to the customers,” Walmart Executive Vice President and CTO Jeremy King said onstage at an NRF session. “Right now, what’s really working for us is groceries and grocery delivery and pickup.”
Implementing the hottest new technology just because it’s hot and new can seem appealing, but King suggests applying them only where they’ll be the most beneficial. SAP’s showfloor demonstration, for example, used blockchain to help customers verify that vegetables are organic and freshly harvested, and to track an order’s delivery.
“In the places where [blockchain] is really good, we can make a dramatic difference in making sure items are fresh,” King said.
Keeping the Promise
Delivering better experiences based on your customers’ shopping history, preferences and other attributes will increasingly convey tremendous advantages, as Recode’s Swisher noted. And today’s technology is the framework for tomorrow’s successes.
“With the cloud platform, all of these emerging technologies can be leveraged together to create a valuable solution across many industries,” Allie Kibby, SAP presales solution engineer said in on the NRF showfloor. “We have this farm-to-consumer scenario here, but it’s really relevant to any industry that needs tracking logistics for making sure that their products are sourced in the way that their consumers require.
“It’s making that customer promise,” Kibby said, “and keeping the promise.”