Retail industry is undergoing unprecedented change. Demographic changes, technological advancements and new business models from aggregators like Amazon, Alibaba and eBay are disrupting retail setup much faster than retailers can react. Consumers are using technology more and more to take control of retailer-controlled processes. Retailers need to transform their businesses to cope with the disruption caused by this consumerization of retail.
In the new Omni-channel reality, the boundaries between virtual and physical stores are becoming blurred and retailers are being forced to question the role and functions of stores in an environment where their relevance to the connected customer is increasingly subject to challenge.
Customers are doing product research online before arriving to brick-and-mortar stores. Customers are more knowledgeable than ever with constant information from social media and web. Store associates need to be more knowledgeable to help the customers in the store and increase the sales conversion rates.
Why do Retailers need to Care about Stores?
IDCnoted that 56 percent to 60 percent of "shoppers with their smartphones in-hand say that they will be 'more likely' or 'much more likely' to buy" what they find in the store as they shop this season when assisted by trustworthy knowledgeable store associates. Also, as per A.T. Kearney Future of Stores study, 2013- consumers spend a majority of their shopping time in stores as opposed to online, catalog and mobile. Also,consumers spend more money when shopping in brick-and-mortar stores compared to online, catalog and mobile. Customers shop more than planned when they shop in stores compared to online. These numbers supports the argument that stores are not going to vanish sooner.
Companies are looking more and more in to introducing gamification within their enterprise (employees), partners and customers. To bring back the glory of stores and to engage better with new generation of retail customers, companies have to enable store managers with tools to introduce game dynamics in store operations by applying it to employee motivation, collaboration, learning and skill development.
What is Gamification?
Gamification is defined as the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, and rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service: gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun.
Employees are Key!
A company cannot have satisfied customers without motivated and engaged employees willing to transform the organization to customer centric business. Marketing initiatives will not yield better results without employee participation. To motivate employees to successfully work towards the goals of the organization, retailers have to define clear game rules and communicate to the employees, continuously illustrate progress and status, and offer high-quality rewards for desired behaviors. In effect, transform themselves into Engaged Enterprises, characterized by highly active, loyal and focused customers, employees and partners.
Business Applications to enable gamification strategy in stores
Retailers can leverage Store mobile innovations released from SAP recently like SAP Store Associate App to accelerate this strategy. This solution can be enhanced by introducing game dynamics through custom gamification engines. SAP Store Associate is a Fiori based App which allows store associates to execute core merchandising, inventory and customer service functions directly from the shop floor without leaving a consumer's side. It provides intuitive mobile functionality (product lookup, receiving, counting, etc.) and real-time access to product and inventory information during critical sales and service discussions with customers to help close deals. This solution can be integrated with custom gamification engines at the enterprise level.
Stores associates should provide best in class customer service by having access to offer competitive prices and shipping and to offer alternative shipment of products (inventory visibility at enterprise level). There is a need to motivate InStore associates by introducing game dynamics in to sales and service activities. This can be achieved by building a custom solution around SAP Store Associate App. The custom solution can have two roles: Store Manager and Store Associate which will be discussed in my next blog.