Blog | January 21, 2014

Are Retail VARs Missing The Customer Experience Bandwagon?

By Jim Roddy, president, Business Solutions magazine

mobile shopper

Two trends slammed me square between the eyeballs last week at Retail’s BIG Show, hosted by the NRF in New York City:

  • The #1 issue retailers care about today is enhancing the customer experience.
  • Channel executives told me they believe more than 90 percent of retail resellers aren’t helping their clients enhance the customer experience.

Ouch.

Retailers are looking for technology that will allow them to create a memorable shopping experience. The tech they’re talking about includes an integration of interactive digital signage, in-store mobile POS systems, online shopping functionality, social media communication, and detailed customer analytics.

Retailers believe that by creating a superior and memorable customer experience, they will increase customer loyalty and gain more share of wallet, in addition to gaining new customers. This trend doesn’t just apply to top 100 retailers. SMB retailers — even some one-location shops — are seeking to compete with major players by making their store and website a destination, not just shelves with inventory.

Respected vendor executives told me that the vast majority of VARs are not taking advantage of this situation, choosing instead to push the same old solutions or talk with clients only about back-end efficiencies.

The landscape on this topic is still somewhat foggy, but I have two suggested actions for retail resellers.

The first step is to obtain a full understanding of the situation, which means education. To learn about the customer experience wave, read these four articles produced from NRF by Integrated Solutions for Retailers, our sister publication:

A second step is to speak with your vendor partners about what technology is available or will be available to affect the customer experience. Many vendors have insights and opinions on where this is heading and what solutions are needed, and they’re more than willing to help you navigate the terrain.

This trend could have a significant impact on your business — for better or for worse. Learn as much as you can about customer experience, then act accordingly.

Retail’s BIG Show and EXPO, hosted by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and billed as the world's leading retail event, was held Jan. 12-15 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. The event attracted 30,000 retail executives and 550 exhibitors from more than 80 countries together for educational and networking opportunities.

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