The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) has published a research report which examines how retailers can capitalize on the moments that truly matter to consumers in the era of ubiquitous shopping. The survey of 3,000 consumers, as well as 100 retail industry decision-makers finds that the desire for a personalized, immersive and seamless shopping experience is reaching new heights and that retailers must be prepared to rethink what they do, become trusted advisors for their customers and curate truly meaningful consumer experiences. This article is copyright 2018 The Best Customer Guide.

The research shows that retailers understand the scale of the disruption facing their business with a vast majority (94%) of retail executives believing ubiquitous shopping represents a complete transformation or significant change for the industry. And a similar proportion (93%) foresee the same degree of disruption for their own businesses.

The research revealed:

  • A strong and growing consumer desire for personalized expertise. There was a significant rise in interest among all consumers for personalized design ideas, recipes, service suggestions and other recommendations, both in-store and online.
  • Consumers are willing to share their data in return for something they value. The survey shows consumers are most interested in exchanging their data for automatic credits for coupons and loyalty points (64%), access to exclusive deals (60%), the ability to gain points and rewards (56%), and special offers for items that interest them (53%).
  • While two-thirds (65%) of industry executives view online commerce as the driving characteristic of ubiquitous shopping, and over half (53%) cite mobile purchases as key, a third (33%) say new technology like voice commerce is top of mind.
  • Some 84% of retailers see image commerce - i.e. the process of taking a picture, then using technology to identify and purchase the product - as important to success, and most consumers would shift at least half their purchases to retailers offering the experience. More than half (56%) of consumers are interested in image commerce with 63% of consumers saying they would consider shifting at least half of their purchases to retailers offering it.

The research shows immersive technology is of interest to consumers, especially in the area of design. Some 56% of home decor and electronics consumers are already using immersive technology - or cannot wait to do so. And 63% of of retailers think the technology is very important while only 37% of executives said they are investing heavily.

Blockchain is still in the early stages for retailers with two-thirds not ranking it among their top five impactful technologies suggesting its potential to enable new customer experiences and disrupt commerce has yet to be harnessed.

"The data is clear," said Adam Siegel, SVP, Innovation, Research, and Sustainability, Retail Industry Leaders Association. "Whether it's in-store, on-the-go or from the comfort of their couch, consumers are expecting more from retail brands. Retailers must continue to innovate, personalize and enhance the in-store and online - the ubiquitous - shopping experience to meet consumers wants and needs."

"The very nature of how retailers operate has completely transformed," said Karen Voelker, Global Lead of Accenture's Customer Innovation Network (ACIN). "Savvy brands are catching on - collecting, updating and consolidating data from a range of customer channels, giving them the ability to see consumer preferences, motivations, relationships, and passions that drive them."

The report notes that new business models should be centered around specific user needs and shopping styles. Product teams should be leveraging data-driven creativity to better understand the audiences they are actually designing for. And marketing promotions should be grounded in granular insights about the profitability of individual products and customers.