New Roles "Brands that are leveraging data science today are largely forced to do the heavy lifting themselves. That will change in 2018 - we'll have tools that won't just manage analysis; they'll also prescriptively recommend and execute the best course of action based on a marketer's desired outcome. Not only will the technology actually deliver on those promises, it will also be broadly accessible to all growth-oriented ecommerce brands. Roles that are nearly entirely dedicated to operating software, for example, will start to be phased out - both in house and across the broader services industry. Marketers will be forced into - or more accurately, will finally be able to experience - roles that are increasingly strategic, creative, and above everything else: customer experience oriented."
Digital transformation is affecting all aspects of our lives, but the retail sector is experiencing particularly severe turbulence at the moment. On both sides of the Atlantic, there are regular news stories about store closures and job losses on the high street, and the underlying dynamic isn't hard to identify: an accelerating shift away from in-store shopping towards e-commerce, particularly via mobile devices (a.k.a. This ebook, based on the latest ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature, looks at the rise of e-commerce and the digital transformation of retail companies. This trend doesn't necessarily mean that the high street is heading the way of the dinosaurs. However, the selection pressure on retail businesses is changing, and those that fail to adapt certainly face decline and even extinction.
The rise of e-commerce over the last 10 years or so has forced retailers to adapt to the changes demanded by consumers. E-commerce growth continues to accelerate and outpace growth in the brick-and-mortar channel, and online sales accounted for almost 20% of total US sales this holiday season, based on preliminary estimates. In addition, department stores have offered discounts and promotions as a key tool to drive demand and bring consumers into stores. Over time, this strategy can dilute a store's brand and leave stores looking picked through. Also, it trains consumers to wait for discounts instead of buying products at full price. There has been a significant number of store closures in the last few years, and we expect that to accelerate in 2017 and in the following few years. As the department store channel shrinks, and more brands fight for less space, we think brands will need to be more creative, flexible and diversified in their approaches. One way brands can disrupt the more traditional wholesale channel without taking on the significant real estate risk that comes with opening their own stores is to open pop-up stores. With pop-ups, brands have complete creative control of the brand experience and how their messaging is communicated to consumers. They can tell the story they want to tell and explain in their own voice what the brand stands for. In some cases, brands use pop-ups more as an advertising tool than as a place to transact commerce. These kinds of pop-ups usually offer some kind of special experience to draw consumers into the store. Pop-ups can also be set up in locations other than malls, allowing brands to reach their target customers where they are. Retailers and brands can also use pop-ups to test the waters in the most expensive shopping areas, often at discounted rents, while landlords can use the temporary stores to show off the space to prospective long-term tenants. Mall operators are receptive to pop-ups, as they bring something new and unique to consumers. Real estate firm Related Companies has used pop-up shops at the Time Warner Center in New York City to provide a fresh feel and add variety for consumers.
In recent times, we have seen figures showing that the number of searches from a mobile phone, for the first time, have overtaken those from a desktop device. This trend has been reflected in the way people shop online as we use our smartphones more than ever before. In the US, for example, 19% of all eCommerce sales come from a smartphone and by the end of 2017, this figure is predicted to rise to 27%. This means new and evolving challenges for retailers. Desktop still outperforms mobile in terms of sales conversion, showing that people often do the research from their smartphone, but when it comes to making the purchase they wait until they are at home in front of a computer.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality( AR) have drastically evolved throughout time. Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation. It immerses the user by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality first, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing. Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancements atop an existing reality in order to make it more meaningful through the ability to interact with it. AR is developed into apps and used on mobile devices to blend digital components into the real world in such a way that they enhance one another, but can also be told apart easily.