Canadian Retailer - Holiday 2016 - 55
SPECIAL ONLINE FEATURE
THE EVOLUTION OF RETAIL
ENGAGEMENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE
As the industry nears closer to a
tipping point when online sales catch
up to physical sales, Cognizant asks
the question: what influence will this
have on the retail environment, both
in-store and online?
BY SEAN C. TARRY
THE retail industry is constantly evolving. Driven
by the influence of technological advances,
changing consumer preferences and behaviours,
and retailer innovation, constant evolution ensures
that there is never a dull moment for Canadian retailers. It also ensures that retailers remain nimble
and agile enough in order to continue meeting
the needs of today's empowered mobile consumer
while reacting and responding in appropriate ways
to the myriad of changes affected through the evolution happening all around them.
Canadian Retailer hosted a retail technology and
e-commerce roundtable back in October to discuss
some of the opportunities and challenges facing
merchants operating in the country and to prognosticate a little bit as well about what the future of retail
might look like fifteen years from now. The conversation was moderated by Arnaud van de Voorde
of Jackman Reinvents and Cognizant's Shannon
Warner and included James Connell, Vice-President,
E-Commerce and Marketing, Roots Canada; Kerri
Dawson, Vice President, Marketing, Liquor Control
Board of Ontario; Matthew Nelson, Vice-President
& Chief Technology Officer, Sears Canada Inc.; and
Alison Simpson, Senior Vice-President, Marketing &
Customer Experience, Holt Renfrew.
The conversation was a fascinating one as the
panel touched on some intriguing points regarding the relationships retailers enjoy with their
customers, some of the things that might influence
those relationships in the years to come, and what
retailers can do to deepen those relationships and
strengthen their loyalty through smart use of technology and data and focus on their in-store service
and offering. Canadian Retailer recently caught
up with Cognizant's Shannon Warner to continue
this engaging and thought-provoking conversation,
and to find out from her what, from Cognizant's
perspective, the future of retail will look like.
Canadian Retailer: The world of retail is changing.
And the ways consumers like to shop with retailers,
and ultimately purchase product, is changing as well.
According to Cognizant's Future of Retail research,
by 2020 61 per cent of retail sales will be web-influenced. What changes will this cause within the retail
environment, both in-store and online?
Shannon Warner: Stores will re-
main an important asset for retailers, no matter what portion of sales
are transacted online, and will
continue to play an integral role in
attracting new customers, building
the brand, and servicing customers. However, given reduced
sales per square-foot, customers'
Projected share of
expectations and the cost of doing
business, retailers must re-assess
the number, size and primary
purposes of their stores. Leading
retailers will turn their stores into
experience centres, giving customers unique opportunities to
discover and interact with products. Automation tools and sensors
will enable stores to become high
performing nodes in the supply
chain, enabling everything from
online by avid onlireal-time inventory visibility to
ne shoppers in the
more efficient services such as
last three months
and omnichannel returns.
The influence of online will continue to grow as a tool
for research, price comparison, extended product assortment, specialized content, service, and purchases. The
convenience it offers customers will make online channels preferred destinations for many shopping motives
across categories, especially as technological advances
continue to make it easier for customers to experience
products virtually, checkout seamlessly, and receive
their purchases quickly.
Finally, the way retailers serve customers will be transformed. Service associates will become product advisors
across channels, equipped with real-time knowledge of
each customer and prompted on the best way to serve him
or her based on the customers' value or potential value.
LOSS PRVENTION ISSUE | CANADIAN RETAILER