COVID-19 has and will continue to have a massive impact on commerce. For many, the effects have been devastating. Retail sales are down close to 20 percent in the United States, with many categories suffering even more precipitous drops.
The retail environment is likely changed forever, meaning more online shopping, further declines in mall and department store traffic, and a greater reliance on gig workers to shop and deliver. But these changes didn’t just start with COVID-19. Many of the trends we’re seeing today are an acceleration of those that were gaining steam prior to the pandemic.
Now more than ever, retailers must invest in customer-focused strategies and digital-centric technical capabilities. Here are a few strategies worth exploring:
- Channel Blurring. Go beyond dual-channel capabilities to eliminate the idea of rigid channels altogether. The purchase process from awareness to selection to completion to service is best delivered across platforms and touchpoints so customers no longer see distinct channels—instead the focus is on engaging and buying.
- Predictive Engagement. Predictive engagement provides relevant and personalized interactions between a business and its current and prospective customer. Combine full contextual awareness of location, real-time behavior, inventory, and competitive pricing with past purchases and demonstrated preferences to generate a highly appropriate “next action.”
- Experienced-based Commerce. Ironically, while we’re experiencing an almost unimaginable change in how we’re engaging with stores and restaurants, the ongoing importance of curation of digital and hybrid experiences will likely emerge as one of the most dominant characteristics of post-pandemic commerce.
- Seamless Ecosystems. Even when commerce returns to somewhat normal, consumer demand for on-demand goods and services will continue. Therefore, a combination of new insight into the availability and location of inventory and the ability to seamlessly connect to the means of delivery will be a dominant aspect of a longer-term digital commerce ecosystem.
- Demand-driven Supply. A final aspect of the shift that we’re experiencing reflects the need to more closely match the investment in supply with the realities of customer demand. Digital commerce requires a higher level of availability for more items combined with a more sophisticated ability to personalize merchandise.
Required Capabilities for a Next Generation of Digital Commerce
Each of the strategies described above relies on a common data journey:
- Accessing the sources of data that define the digital landscape and interconnecting each device, system, and application that plays a part in that ecosystem
- Managing and refining data into an intelligent data layer that provides governed access to the right information in a form that is more easily understood and used
- Applying the power of data insight and discovery to understand the past, predict the future, and closely monitor and adapt to what is happening in real time
To ensure a successful shift to digital, retail organizations must support capabilities across this entire data journey.
To learn more about how TIBCO can help your organization shift to a digital-first business design, read this whitepaper on the future of retail and how to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic more relevant and powerful than before.