I have been discussing with a colleague an unmistakable trend that has begun to capture the attention and investment of retailers. This trend is a logical extension and amalgamation of several trends that have found their way into strategies for major retailers over the last ten years. While on the face of it this new trend is nothing beyond common sense, the ways in which retailers achieve success in this area can be quite innovative. What I am talking about is a renewed focus on the consumer. My colleague aptly refers to it as the "consumerization" of retail. I like another term: Customer Centricity 2.0.
One needs to only survey the show floor at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Show in NYC this week. Many entering the show floor had to check their Expo hall badges to make sure they had not just entered the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Retailers, with technology vendors in tight formation, are looking for innovative ways to deliver the types of experiences that consumers demand. This new paradigm of consumer experience is an extension and combination of the customer centricity orientation that has been part of the retail lexicon for years and the multi-channel/cross-channel experience concept that has captured the attention of the industry. The result is a focus by retailers to deliver rich user experiences to customers where they are, how they want it, and all the while taking into account that they are competing for a share of consumers' time and wallets.
Think about the challenge of driving a relationship with a consumer in a universe of new consumer devices, online gaming, DVRs and Tivos, mobile phones with Web access, instant messaging, SMS, broadband access at home and more. The basic premise of selling has taken on a new look.
What innovative retailers are realizing is that a focus on the consumer in the context of consumer experience is the new customer centricity. The years spent on the supply chain was time well-spent for most. Retailers who wisely spent investment dollars building flexibility into supply chain execution, multi-nodal distribution, assortment responsiveness, and demand-sensitive replenishment are in a good position to execute. Now a new wave of innovation will take retailers to the next level. The focus now shifts to user experience design to support compelling experiences, digital advertising strategy across channels, a single view of the customer, consumer device integration and driving social connections between retailers and consumers and among consumers in support of the brand.
Reaching consumers where they are and how they live will be Customer Centricity 2.0 and we are poised to see some exciting things happen in 2008!