As the digital and physical worlds continue to blur, it is clear that digital services will only continue to impact our lives further.

This article looks at how and why retail is leading the charge when it comes to digital transformation.

From online shopping to paying your taxes online, digital continues to strengthen our relationships with organisations and open up new opportunities to make our lives easier across every sector.

For the retail sector in particular, retail and digital services go hand-in-hand. The retailers stand out compared to other industries and ensures customers get a consistent service through both digital services and in-store.

Retail is arguably the sector that has provided what others have failed to: a multichannel experience that empowers customers to shop in a way that suits them. Whether that is online shopping, click and collect or visiting the high street.

Argos has already started to blend the digital and physical worlds by replacing its paper catalogues with tablets that let customers pay instantly and fast-track the shopping process.

It has also teamed up with Blippar, an augmented reality app that lets people scan from physical catalogues to retrieve more information on mobile devices.

Fashion retailers, including Top Shop, are also using augmented reality to let shoppers ‘try on’ products.

According to recent research from Fujitsu, online shopping is one of the most valued (63%) and most used (66%) digital service, with one in four consumers always choosing a digital option when available when it comes in retail. It is clear that this industry is leading the charge when it comes to digital.

Why is retail leading this transformation?

Fundamentally retail is an industry that is customer-facing and a big part of this is all about enhancing the in-store experience.

The development of digital technology has allowed retailers to create the right balance in-store, enabling consumers to benefit from both digital and in-store services. This approach provides consumer choice, offering the best customer experience to the variety of consumer shopping habits.

One example of this is the use of beacon technology, which integrates into Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on a person’s mobile phone/tablet to understand their shopping behaviour in-store.

This technology can then be used to collect data, allowing retailers to use location based analytics to understand how their customers are moving throughout their stores, what they are looking at and dwell areas.

Retailers can also understand the effect of promotional items, placement of products, people flow and queue management to help make decisions about the customer journey in-store.

The important part of all of this however, is not to significantly change existing in-store experiences, as a large amount of shoppers remain creatures of habit. Rather, using technology to augment customer experiences (for those who want them augmented!) is what’s important.

By doing this, retailers are allowing consumers to have the ultimate personal experience, as chosen by them.

As digital services continue to become more embedded in our lives, we can expect to see more sectors embracing them. However while retail continues to do well, it is important for those retailers who have not yet embraced digital to start thinking about it, to not only help create the ultimate personal experience for the customer, but also to help avoid being left behind.        

Econsultancy’s specialist Digital Transformation team has helped many brands transform their businesses. Get in touch to find out more about our digital transformation services