Retail Sector: Pain Points, Problems and Solutions
«Adaptability». That was the opening word for the Brandwatch report ‘The Retail Sector in Spain 2021’. The research pointed out how the retail sector had to adapt to a profound change that involved everything from a post-pandemic scenario to complying with hygiene and health measures to new trends in consumption and sustainability.
In this article, we will discuss various retail pain points and how to solve or adapt to them thanks to booming retail trends and the most disruptive technologies, which are put at the service of retailers to build their future.
What are the pain points?
Pain points are the problems or uncertainties customers in a particular sector have at a specific time. Knowing the pain points helps to find quick and reasonable solutions so that the difficulty does not persist. It also helps to solve their problems and offer them better products or services, which impacts your business’s profits or brand image.
Changes in the Retail Sector
The pandemic and the consequent digitalization due to physical distancing have altered a sector that has faced major changes in a short time: e-commerce, remote payments, and attractive websites to sell more. Those who had adapted during previous years already had an advantage. Those who didn’t have had to get on with it or will have to do so as soon as possible.
A website with an attractive design, an app for shopping with a few taps of the finger, or a chatbot to make travel reservations are some of the ways in which the retail sector can face one of its main pain points today: meeting the needs of increasingly digital users.
These changes are taking place in a context of an increasingly demanding public, with higher expectations and looking to purchase products or consult their doubts in more channels. Omnichannel (contact between customers and companies through various channels: web, social networks, telephone…) has become a must in recent years.
To expand omnichannel in retail, the sector must make a strong commitment to digitization, both in online commerce (which includes creating an e-shop but also email marketing strategies to attract and retain buyers) and digital customer services (as in the case of chatbots).
All this must be done without disregarding the physical store. Colors, smells, staff attention… The physical space must become a pleasant place to visit, an entertaining experience that goes beyond the purchase.
How do you get more people to enter the store (physical or digital) and buy a product? Personalizing the shopping experience is key for users to feel more comfortable and consume more.
To achieve this, technology is once again an ally of the retail sector. Thanks to Big Data, companies can collect large amounts of data that, after analyzing them, provide consumption trends or orientations in order to, for example, design a physical or digital space in which the user feels at ease, wants to spend time and, as a final point, spend money. Or also, in order to create customized offers and discounts for a group of customers.
Another technology that helps to personalize and improve the experience is Mixed Reality. There are already virtual fitting rooms in stores to check how a dress or jacket looks on you with just a click. And there is no need to go to a shopping mall for this: a fashion brand can also create an augmented reality app so that anyone can try out its catalog at home thanks to the camera on their cell phone.
What do customers want to buy? What will they want to buy in a few months? Knowing this would eliminate any doubts about what to put on your store’s shelves or how to design a marketing campaign to attract more buyers.
Therefore, understanding your customers’ purchasing intentions would help to calculate warehouse stock, prepare the physical store or design a promotion accordingly. To do so, there are social listening technologies that measure conversations in networks and, combined with others that analyze engine data, allow appropriate decisions to be made.
Thus, knowing users’ purchasing intentions would help to calculate warehouse stock, prepare the physical store or design a promotion accordingly. To achieve this, there are social listening technologies that measure the conversation in networks and, combined with others that analyze search engine data, allow appropriate decisions to be made.
With the rise of online commerce, the usability of applications and web pages has become a paramount issue. The design, the information architecture, the interface… are concepts that cannot be neglected so that the purchase and return experiences are pleasant and do not frustrate users.
Ideally, usability should be taken into account from the beginning of the creation of the corporate website or e-commerce. To this end, having or partnering with a UX/UI team (user experience and user interface) is one of the best decisions a retail company can make when faced with a product launch, rebranding, or a usability problem. By relying on their work from the beginning of a project, errors can be avoided in later phases, forcing the company to retrace its steps.
Problems and Solutions in the Supply Chain
In recent months, supply shortages have been all over the news. Many industries and businesses have been affected by a lack of raw materials or chips. This affects product stocks in stores, prices, and future launches. The crisis is especially noticeable during peak consumption times such as Black Friday, Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or sales.
Problems in the supply chain are not only related to the lack of supplies or the time of purchase but also when users have to return a product and face logistic difficulties in doing so.
To avoid these supply chain issues, Artificial Intelligence has become an asset for the retail sector. Specifically, it helps industries and retailers to predict whether suppliers will suffer delays and to take an alternative in their case.
Cardboard boxes for shipping orders, trucks with carbon dioxide emissions… Sustainability is on the radar of many consumers concerned about the environment and the future of new generations. Retail companies that want to please these consumers or meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are looking for more sustainable work processes that do not affect their business and improve their brand image.
Technology and sustainability are once again coming together to help the retail sector. For example, thanks to Blockchain and IoT, retail companies can ‘issue’ tokenized carbon credits to offset their gas emissions. There are also ways to use less energy, such as cooling the servers where they store their data.
Do you need help to implement technology in the retail sector?
As consumer buying trends and desires change, technological innovations are emerging that can be successfully implemented to meet these demands. The industry must be aware of all this to continue to innovate in the shopping experience and not disappear.
At Plain Concepts, we know the technologies that allow retail companies to continue to innovate and meet the desires of consumers who are increasingly personalized and aware of their decision-making power. From the first designs of a new e-commerce app to the development of technological solutions for the supply chain, we collaborate with you to attack those pain points.