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So That Was 2012!

February 4, 2013 By Kees de Vos
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With 2013 still only a month old, it's a good time to take a step back and reflect on just how much the cross-channel retail industry changed last year. As expected, 2012 was the year when cross-channel consolidated its status as the default retail operating model and continued its fast-paced evolution towards a more mature model — omnichannel.

Omnichannel and Beyond
Today's connected consumers have so many choices about what to buy and when and where to buy it. In the battle to gain and retain the attention and loyalty of consumers, we saw retailers shift their focus to the next big challenge: no longer is it enough just to be present in multiple channels, it's about how you exploit a truly integrated cross-channel strategy. This requires new, more sophisticated merchandising models.

As a result, the balance in 2012 shifted from a focus on providing consistent data across channels to one that was more about improving our understanding of customer behavior and trying to capitalize on it — e.g., what do they buy and from which channels, which channels do they use to select their products, and how do they interact with social networks during this process?

Last year also saw the emergence of new store formats that deliver an exciting experiential role for consumers and bring digital channels into the physical store.

The Reinvention of the Brick-and-Mortar Store
Last year saw retailers starting to change the role of the brick-and-mortar store and, in particular, the in-store shopping experience. Leading innovators developed true omnichannel experiences where boundaries between channels disappeared.

Retailers like Marks & Spencer, for example, brought the web into the store and gave customers instant access to its full range, both online and offline. The innovation didn't end there, however, as retailers began exploiting recognition technologies to generate a more interactive and value-add shopping experience. Consumers can now tag products in-store and add these to their Facebook page, create wish lists on the move and more.

2012 also saw the arrival of "magic mirrors," which allow shoppers to virtually try on outfits, take an instant snapshot and post the image to their Facebook page to check out what their friends think before adding items to their virtual shopping cart.

This trend is set to continue as the impact of digital technologies in-store continues to drive big changes in the way people shop. The merging of digital and traditional sales channels will only gain further momentum in 2013.


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