The Changing Face of Retail

As many of us may have experienced, retail is changing. The ways our customers expect to be able to shop are evolving at what can sometimes feel like a dizzying pace. The retail store is no longer just a place of brick and mortar. Even changing rooms, that staple of the clothing industry, can now be accessed virtually from your living room.

When customers do walk through your doors, they expect to find themselves on a connected sales floor, with access to both their local store and your entire supply chain. These customers see not just your in-store inventory as their domain, but your entire global stock. The expectations from today’s customers are high, but with a little ingenuity and the right tools, you can both meet and exceed them.

First let’s talk about those in-store customers: giving people access to your entire stock is a great way to move inventory.  Because, at the end of the day, what your customers want is access to product at the right price, regardless of where it’s coming from. To make sure your staff knows exactly what you have available, keep them up-to-the-second by feeding their mobile devices cloud-based inventory lists.  

This close relationship with omni-channel sales and mobile technology is how Ashley Furniture plans to expand its revenue streams from $4 billion to $10 billion by the year 2022, while simultaneously saving their customers some serious time at checkout.

The store of the future should be capable of putting a deeply personal customer experience onto your customer’s mobile device. Today with the aid of Cortana and Windows Phone 8.1, your customers could set alerts that tell them when you’ve got a sale going on. You are also be able to send them personalized offers when they walk through your door, thanks to the personal shopping history their mobile device shares with your store as they enter.

Have you ever thought of trying on clothes from the comfort and privacy of your living room? Another in-store solution that can easily become a game changer for at-home shoppers is Kinect technology. No longer just the purview of the Xbox community, the Kinect is a motion and sound sensing augmented reality device capable of turning any open space into a virtual changing room, a photo booth, or (when paired with your customer’s mobile device) a mobile point of sale. In your retail locations, the fun of Kinect can be a real show stopper, but in your customer’s increasingly connected home it can mean a world of difference. Never before have online shoppers been able to try before they buy, and it could certainly mean a boost in consumer confidence.

Of course, what’s good for the customer and your staff is equally good for you. No matter what sort of device you prefer, you’ll be capable of accessing both your storefront and all your metrics at the touch of a finger. With role-tailored UI capabilities, you and your management team will be able to monitor sales figures, collaborate quickly and easily, and provide helpful information to customers with only a few swipes and clicks!

Get connected to your customer. Understand where, when and how they are shopping. Personalize the experience and make it a great one! Using the new Marketing and Social Engagement features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, you can start your journey to the store of the future! 

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