As detailed in PSFK & Microsoft's 2020 Retail Trends Playbook, these four strategies outline how retail businesses can leverage consumer intelligence to remain competitive in a rapidly changing market

The current retail landscape is defined by disruption. Legacy retailers are competing for market and mindshare with direct-to-consumer startups, brands and ecommerce marketplaces. Consumers now have more choices than ever to fulfill every need, which is accelerating their expectations around the shopping experience.

In the face of this rapid change, every retail business must excel in a number of core areas to keep pace—personalization, staffing, supply chain and cross-channel experience. Foundational to each of these is the ability to leverage data-rich intelligence and ensure these insights are distributed across all levels of the organization. PSFK’s Retail Trends Playbook 2020, made in partnership with Microsoft, explores how leading retailers are turning their data-driven infrastructures into exceptional customer experience using powerful algorithms, artificial intelligence, and more. Here are four key initiatives drawn from the report that demonstrate how retailers can take advantage of consumer data using internet-enabled technologies:

Know Your Customers
Largely a consequence of poor data collection capabilities, today’s brands and retailers struggle to deliver tangible personalization, despite its 38% influence on all digital revenue. From the initial discovery stage and product recommendations to post-purchase support, companies need to collect consumer data from all touchpoints and deliver personalized support at every stage of the purchase path.

Stephen Sadove, former chairman at Saks Fifth Avenue, says,“ We are sitting on the cusp of yet another wave of transformational change. New technologies and expectations are emerging and an evolving consumer is looking for a fully personalized shopping experience. These lofty expectations are setting fire to another, potentially bigger, wave of innovation in retail: data and analytics.” Accordingly, by developing a 360-degree view of what customers need across channels, retailers can eventually provide anticipatory support before it is needed.

Empower Your Employees
Despite their attraction to digital modes of shopping, customers largely prefer interacting with human associates for immediate support and guidance. Retailers need to ensure their workforce is equipped to respond to customer needs and preferences by democratizing access to customer data and purchase profiles. The rewards are statistically proven: Companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147%. By having critical data readily accessible, employees are now empowered to handle any and all customer requests effectively driving ROI and optimizing the customer experience.

Enable An Intelligent Supply Chain
Supply chain management plays a behind-the-scenes yet strategic role in how consumers receive or purchase their product as well as the products they are able purchase. As inventory becomes an increasingly important differentiator, stores need to leverage intelligent supply chain strategies to ensure availability of the right products, at the right time to every customer.

As 52% of companies face challenges connecting the dots between data stored across different parts of their organization, leaders are making the change. Retailers at the forefront are adopting a 360-degree view of their entire supply chains—from raw material acquisition to production to last-mile delivery, by adopting intelligent, data-driven processes to not only predict inventory and aptly respond to consumer expectations, but also synchronize information-sharing amongst all members of the supply chain.

Reimagine Retail
Often the retail experience customers receive isn’t tailored to their specific needs or preferences. Retailers need to reinvent their business models by focusing on creating services, products and experiences their customers crave. By unifying data systems and understanding strengths and weaknesses, companies will be better poised to capture emerging opportunities in the end-to-end retail experience.

Survey respondents ranked “deploying new digital experiences for customers” as the top in-store technology priority for 2018, followed by “improving in-store data collection and analysis.” Moreover, when ranking the top reasons for retailers to implement IoT in their store, “enhancing in-store customer experiences” landed at number one.

The Retail Trends Playbook 2020 is a report by business intelligence platform PSFK in partnership with Microsoft that presents key trends, best-in-class examples and strategies for executing intelligent retail with the aid of data-driven technologies. Download the full free report here.