Smarter Computing For Retailers: Meeting The Needs Of The Smarter Consumer Through Insight And ActionSource: NetSuite
The retail environment across the globe is challenging retailers as changes in consumer behavior interact with an unstable global economy, rapid advances in technology, and increased competition and regulation. In some parts of the world, the economic recession has decreased consumers' spending ability, but has not stopped it completely. In June 2011, for instance, the retail sales index decreased by 0.4 percent in the Euro Zone, but in the U.S., retail sales posted a slight gain of 0.5 percent. There are also some signs that certain segments of the retail industry, such as apparel, are picking up. The economic mood in growth markets such as China, India and Brazil is positive. Low unemployment and rising wages, coupled with greater access to consumer credit, have fueled spending to the point that growth markets are expected to account for 60 percent of world GDP by 2020 and contribute significantly to world retail sales. This all suggests that consumers around the world are becoming more conscious about their spending, which is forcing retail models to adapt.
Retailers are also confronting the empowered consumer. The continued spread of mobile communications and the rapid rise of social networking have given consumers the power to redefine their relationship to retailers. Armed with more information and an ability to make purchases from virtually any Internet-connected device, consumers are better informed during the purchasing process. Whereas some retail websites provide consumers the ability to compare products and services, pervasive social media open up multiple forums for shoppers to post comments and make recommendations about a retailer's products, pricing or customer service. These consumers are savvy and seek out the highest value for products and services, as well as demanding a consistent shopping experience across all channels. Retailers need to take advantage of the opportunity to engage with their consumer on a personalized basis, and provide platforms for a new vision of electronic commerce.