Through a special arrangement, what follows is an excerpt of an article from Retail Paradox, RSR Research's weekly analysis on emerging issues facing retailers, presented here for discussion.
On February 27, I had the opportunity to participate in an internet radio show on Voice America where the topic was, "Precision Retail: What've You Done for Your Customer Lately?"
While it's true that the term "Precision Retail" can refer to an SAP product (the episode's sponsor), the panelists agreed that it's a bigger term than that. It's about getting to customer relevancy, and moving away from the "creepy." It's about creating a good customer experience that presents the products they want to buy in a method that's appropriate for your trip/visit.
It was a freewheeling and fun discussion, but for me the punch line came at the end. Host Bonnie Graham mentioned how the "senior seniors" don't really trust the internet. "There's a fear level ... how could I give somebody my information online?" And she said, "Of course, we are not that, but will that fear ever go away?" We all agreed it will, but I added a caveat, "I think there'll be some new technology that we'll find to mistrust."
Ms. Graham laughed, "I did not see that coming."
Well, that's the whole point of this piece. This summer we'll attend the "Wearable Technology Conference" in New York City. I'll bet whole new groups of people will be mistrustful of wearable technologies. And how far are we from human implantable technologies? RFID is really just the tip of the iceberg there.
Already, smartphones border on "too small for big fingers." Wouldn't it be easier to implant something in our ear or mouth? Need to type? Draw a keyboard. Need to take a phone call? Click your heels three times. It'll happen. Count on it.
Each of these technologies will promise to make life a bit simpler and will also be monetizable by retailers, but the reader is likely starting to cringe at the thought of some of them. Still, they will come. And while it's one thing for a consumer to say "I did not see that coming," it's quite another for a retailer to say that.
It's easy for me to opine on these things, but as retailers, what are we going to do about it? Oddly, it's the best case ever for a sound and robust technology infrastructure; for building an extensible foundation that allows us to expand into any new technology that comes along. Our stock ledgers will always have to do the grunt work of adding and subtracting sales, receipts and returns. But the variations on the theme are almost endless.
And the best possible outcome would be to say, "I did not see that coming, but I can handle it."
What's the likelihood Millennials and future generations will prove to be significantly less apprehensive around technological upheavals than past generations?