How is disruption changing the retail landscape?
2017 started with uncertainty in the global business landscape. Uncertainty around Brexit and a new US President have impacted the long-term plans of both the UK as a nation and those of individual retailers. Shoppers tightened their belts post-Black Friday with retail sales volumes both on and offline in the past three months dropping month-on-month to show the weakest performance since November 2013. The ONS suggests that increased prices in fuel and food are significant factors in this slowdown while consumer research reports that shoppers are concerned about repaying debts. Is this the first sign of the challenges ahead?
The ongoing pace of changing consumer behaviour and technological disruption also pose both a threat and opportunity for retailers. Love it, or hate it, disruption is close on the horizon of today’s business landscape and has the potential to both help and harm.
“Love it, or hate it disruption is close on the horizon and has the potential to both help and harm.”
Today’s consumers and advances in digital technology are changing the rules of commerce. The industry has gone from location-centred commerce to multichannel to today’s connected commerce which sees consumers connected constantly to their work, home, friends, favourite retailers on multiple devices and wherever they are.
Looking back 15 years, who would have predicted online commerce would look as it does today – the iPhone was only launched 10 years ago! So, how does the industry make sure that it is ready for retail during 2017’s peak season let alone for changes through to 2027?
What do you see as the key themes for retail in 2017?
Without a doubt, the commerce revolution is here and as a leading ecommerce platform company, Shopware is also driving this revolution through its visionary position and the support of its community. I believe that it is essential for retailers to understand the challenges of disruptive events such as unwelcome platform migrations and device strategies and to use these events to their benefit. Shopware focuses on new technologies and what will take retail to the next level thus freeing up our retail customers to concentrate on products and what they are good at – retailing.
Flexibility and agility are needed to meet changing consumer behaviour and expectations. At least 70% of a customer’s buying journeys start on a digital platform so retailers need to offer a unique brand experience that meets those expectations. An understanding of each and every customer journey from the first interaction is needed, along with a clear path to purchase. Any friction reduces customers’ love for the brand and may result in them simply shopping elsewhere.
We are in the age of the customer. Retailers need to own the web store to differentiate themselves from other retailers which are just a click away. Content and commerce are coming together and customer engagement has moved on from blanket promotions and personalisation to one-to-one connections and me-commerce. In 2017, mobile first is a priority and forms a key part of omnichannel and providing a brand experience that’s seamless across channels – consistently. The time has come to commit to putting the customer at the centre of the retail business.
Technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, are starting to help retailers get closer to offering the one-to-one experience online that consumers can expect from retailers on the high street. A better understanding of individual customers can then lead to emotional engagement, a better connection between brand and customer and ultimately increased loyalty.
How is the Shopware roadmap helping retailers to stay ahead?
As retailers are listening to their customers and user testing at every point of their digital development so Shopware takes the feedback from our community into the development of the platform. Involving the industry at every step of the way results in every upgrade being close to the needs of the retailers and ultimately their customers. We can move fast and focus on what’s relevant for our clients as we take an holistic approach to digital and retail. We constantly think ahead, testing new technologies and creating a roadmap for what’s relevant to retailing in the future. The solution is open source and extendable giving retailers choice, control and flexibility to build the consumer experiences that are right for their business and to enable the emotional connection that’s appropriate for their customers.
As Germany’s leading software company, Shopware already works with 100s of retailers in the UK. These include Discovery Channel UK, Euronics DE, Brita, L‘Oréal and many more brands. I have joined to lead the company’s expansion in the UK and head up its local presence. Together, we will leverage the Shopware team’s experience, skills and capabilities to provide an ecommerce solution retailers can trust to ‘do no harm’ in these disruptive times.
Case Study: EURONICS
The EURONICS Deutschland eG is a cooperative buying group which is represented at over 1,800 sites across Germany. Its new online presence, www.euronics.de, is both an exciting and an ambitious enterprise project. In addition to EURONICS, the Shopware Enterprise Partner NETFORMIC and shopware AG itself were also involved.
The major challenge was integrating and enabling interaction between all third party providers who played a role at EURONICS in the past. EURONICS also wanted to set up a new cross-channel concept to help them stay competitive. The aim is for the customer to benefit from a wide range, local availability and different purchase options such as pick-up, dispatch or delivery to the nearest retailer or their own home. The end result is a unique, yet highly complex marketplace based on the Amazon model, with over 35,000 products available. To make this a reality, the software EOM (“EURONICS Online Manager”, comparable to “Amazon Seller Central”), developed internally by EURONICS had to be connected.
But, of course, that wasn’t all. To ensure that some initial 200 participating retailers were connected to the platform from the start, a similar number of subshops had to be installed. The concept also allowed both the inventory control systems “HIW” and “HQS” used by the retailers and the central SAP system to be integrated, and connected with Shopware through the eCommerce middleware brickfox. A high-performance search engine was also implemented with FACT-Finder. “The result is a very well implemented, high-performance platform, which perfectly illustrates the flexibility and expandability of Shopware Enterprise,” says Shopware spokesperson Wiljo Krechting.
How do I find out more?
Shopware is exhibiting at the InternetRetailing Expo at Birmingham’s NEC on 5 & 6 April 2017 (stand F33). Stop by for a coffee and live presentation of our latest software version. Alternatively, contact me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone 0203 095 2445 or reach out to www.shopware.com.