Digital transformation in the retail sector, security serving customer relationship

In the age of connected objects, social networks, smartphones and new consumer behaviours, no one can ignore the digital transformation which impacts all business sectors and the retail area in particular. 

Consumers are greedy for new services, new experiences, innovations… This has an impact on the company sales strategy and it is impossible to ignore this new business model. The Information System Department is thus in the limelight and must be able to support the company strategic challenges. Solutions meeting both consumer and business expectations must be provided, without ignoring security nor increasing and omnipresent threats.

New consumer behaviours

TV connectées, tablettes, Smartphones, ne sont plus réservés à une poignée de passionnés ; les nouvelles technologies se sont démocratisées et font désormais partie intégrante de notre quotidien. Le foyer moyen français est équipé de 5 à 6 écrans, plus de 80% des habitations sont équipées d’internet haut débit, tout va plus vite. Ces nouvelles technologies ont fait naître de nouveaux comportements chez le consommateur et ont profondément révolutionné la relation client.

Connected TVs, tablets and smartphones are no longer restricted to a handful of passionate people. New technologies have become more accessible and are now part of our daily lives. The average French household is equipped with 5 to 6 screens, more than 80% of homes are equipped with broadband Internet access, everything goes faster. These new technologies have fostered new consumer behaviours and have deeply changed customer relationship.

With technology, consumers expect immediate responses to their requests, they want a close dialogue, customised and modern services. Mass marketing is over, consumers claim their individuality and freedom of choice. In a highly competitive sector, customers who do not get answers to their questions are lost customers. Indeed, 32% of the buyers who do not find a product in a store buy it on the Internet.

Companies with an image in line with the times and which make a difference have already adopted a “Web-to-store… to Web” approach. If customers do their shopping on the Internet, then why not bring the Internet into the store.

The Information System Department at the heart of the digital transformation

In this context, it is easy to understand that digital technology is an unavoidable growth factor. However, using new technologies to generate business is not just a statement, this needs to be built. Although the issues are indeed strategic, the challenge is above all technical.

Take the case of a retailer willing to facilitate the online purchase process. Solutions to simplify online registration exist with no impact on the consumer’s information security.

Many stores provide social authentication via Identity Federation mechanisms. The principle is that once consumers are authenticated to a social network, they can directly access these stores’ sites and contents, without having to create a new user account. Thus, the “acquisition” process is smoother and the risk of losing the consumers who are reluctant to proceed with another online registration is significantly limited.

Beyond simplifying consumers’ lives, relying on social networks (which are great sources of information for marketing departments) helps retailers customise the contents and offerings intended for the customer. Searching for information is not enough, it must be extracted in order to be deeply analysed and sorted. There are so many communication vehicles that information explodes. At the time of connected watches, bracelets, clothes or other connected objects, the retailer must be equipped and make the most of this increasing traceability. Customer relationship is thus the preferred option, it is targeted and more efficient.

Digital transformation does not only concern online consumers. Retailers must understand that sales assistant mobility is a strategic business challenge, which optimises personnel efficiency and customer experience.

Why not democratise tablets for sales assistants in order to help customers all along their shopping trip?  Sales assistants could retrieve a tablet configured in “kiosk mode” at strategic locations in the store and then unlock it by presenting their badge to a secured terminal. Sales assistants would then automatically access their personal work session and all their business applications safely, without having to enter their password. Far from being a futuristic scenario, this experience is already possible. A modern store, mobile sales assistants and optimised quality of service: the store of tomorrow has already opened.

These are only examples but new technologies offer multiple opportunities to improve customer relationship and business development. The Information System Department must remain at the heart of the corporate digital transformation, in order to support the company, securely, as best as possible. In a highly competitive context, companies that take the digital turn with a smart and methodical approach, give rise to significant growth levers. In terms of digital transformation, assisting employees or certain reluctant consumers through changes is critical. In this area, the most successful companies (Décathlon, Boulanger, Leroy Merlin or Darty) are those that have a perfect grasp of more and more hybrid consumer practices and their impact in the sales business