What’s in store for 2019 for Dynamics 365 Retail? The last 15 years has had a major transformation for retailers since the internet and social media has created endless options at their fingertips, anywhere and anytime. As the changes continue to alter the retail landscape, retailers are making their operations faster, smarter and more agile. As 2019 has started so has retail trends. These top four trends are emerging in retail and could help empower retailers to create unique shopping experiences.
1. Customer Experience and Expectations
The customer service needs have changed immensely with customer demand through time with innovation. Today, we are at a point where the new generation of consumers have grown up with technology.
Did you know millennials make up a quarter of the U.S. population today? To learn their spending capabilities, it is best to learn about their needs. Millennials view things differently from their predecessors because they are more diverse, more educated and likely to never be married at the same age any other adult generation was. “The average student loan debt for millennials graduating in 2017 was nearly $40,000.” Despite this, they are smart and savvy and have become a fiscally responsible generation. 73% of millennials stick to their budgets every month and 16% have saved over $100,000.
The new generation, Gen Z, are seen has the digital natives since they have never been without technology. Similar to millennials, Gen Z are savvy shoppers and 89% consider themselves conscious shoppers. According to the Retail Trends Report, 72% said they would switch from their favorite brand if they found a similar product at a lower price. Gen Z wants to have a more personalized experience by connecting with their brands. Being able to provide younger generations with a unique shopping experience will assist in store’s being able to stay relevant.
2. Retail Changes Face
Retail sales have risen 23% since 2010, and year-over-year sales have averaged just under 4% since 2012. Major growth has happened specifically in the e-commerce sector of retail. In 2018 more than 5,000 retail stores closed their doors and nine major retailers filed for bankruptcy including Gymboree and Payless Shoe Source. A new X-economy has occurred as a new business model to attract millennials and Gen Z.
Most physical retailers have shifted their focus to online stores, while e-commerce leaders are opening small stores that strategically target buyers. This includes pop-up kiosks where customers can test products, repair damaged products and speak with associates. Direct-to-consumer are rising as 75% of customers prefer a personalized experience. For example, subscription boxes increased by 890% from 2014 to 2018.
Also, brands engaging with online influencers targets a more realistic approach for millennials and Gen Z. They grow relationships with them on their social platforms causing 92% of consumers to trust the products they promote.
3. Buying at the Everywhere Store
2019 will be a crucial year for most retailers as e-commerce becomes the new reality. Technology has emerged businesses to make their products available 24/7 for customers because they want to be able to purchase their items on their terms, whenever and wherever.
As previously stated, social media selling continues to grow for retailers. Online boutiques, for example, have made a major statement within the last few years. Even Pinterest has launched a “shop the look” feature which allows users to shop the pinned products, increasing company website traffic two to three times as much. Shopping has officially been redefined.
4. Automation Streamline Operations
As customers want a more seamless experience when shopping, retailers are looking to use robotics and automation technologies to offset healthcare and labor costs due to minimum wage. Customers want a faster checkout time and more flexible delivery, that will begin making a major impact across operations. 2019 will allow more retailers to leverage robotics, automation technologies, and intelligent supply-chains, which includes self-scanning and self-checkout options.
Blockchain will also be used more as it has become popular due to its efficiency in processing financial transactions. Blockchain can eliminate the manual process that once took days to complete, into an automated process that takes seconds. For retailers, this tool is prominent because it can enable companies to build anti-counterfeit items, track stolen products or track items with specific qualities.
Companies that deploy more digital technology will see more benefits in inventory, management, data analysis, fulfillment and employee management. “83% of shoppers believe they are more knowledgeable than retail store associates.” Digital tools can better assist associates to have better access to product information and complete transactions via a mobile point-of-sale device.
Dynamics 365 for Retail
Microsoft is continuously helping modern retailers adjust to customer expectations by driving new technologies and changing target audiences. They are currently higher than ever before by altering customer demands with the tools and technology needed to create a more personalized retail experience for their customers. With tools from Dynamics 365 for Retail, retailers can gain valuable insights into their customers’ needs, so they can provide better service and exceed expectations at each touchpoint. As retail experiences continue to rise, retailers must rely on technology to deliver customer expectations.
The retail landscape has evolved as much as the customers have. Modern retailers must continue to explore new business models and opportunities to build a personalized experience for their customers and drive growth. Dynamics 365 for Retail offers flexible deployment options and adaptive solutions to ease retailers when expanding operations. Retailers must transform their cultures to improve their workforce with tools that refine communication within an organization. Microsoft will continue to empower businesses to redefine their culture.
Shopping experiences have been redefined by making it possible to purchase products through any platform, from social media to smart speakers. Customers today expect a seamless shopping experience every time by being able to buy in-store, pick up in-store, or receive home delivery. Dynamics 365 provides retailers a consistent shopping experience across every channel and offers flexible fulfillment options. Office 365 helps teams get more done to role-based workspaces in Dynamics 365 that deliver the right information allowing retailers to empower their employees to have better experiences for their customers.
Retailers must optimize operations to become more efficient. Microsoft is empowering retailers to use more tools that streamline their processes and provide greater visibility into operations and actionable insights. With Azure and Dynamics 365 retailers are being provided with tools that automate workflows, simplify communication and improve productivity.
New technology is changing the way retailers do business and the way customers shop. Innovation will continue to challenge retailers to evolve on a regular basis. Although there is a high risk when facing uncertainty, the rise of socially conscious consumers makes it difficult to remain stagnant. Retail leaders face many difficulties as they navigate through this time of ambiguity. As businesses face new verticals, Dynamics 365 cloud deployment options make scaling easier to better manage their seasonal demands. With this program, retailers have more flexibility to adjust how and where they want, leverage new extensions to add new capabilities, and easily manage system updates and new features within the organization.